Morning sun, part two.

Just Dandy. See what I did there?

Spring arrived. The time of allergies. The time of sneezing. Not from this little guy, but from Live Oaks. So much pollen. More pollen in years. At least, that’s what the weather person said who comes on at six.

Everybody is sneezing around here. Even the dogs. None of us are amused. Especially in this season of the witch. If we are walking somewhere and sneeze, people glare at us. No. We don’t have “THE VIRUS.” We have allergies. That what our docs told us. We have some kind of steroidal stuff that we spray up our noses.

It’s really not a big deal. It’s just a season in the swamp. I’d say that we get used to it. But, we never do. Just like we don’t get used to Carnival Season. When you think about it, even with a change of costumes, so much of Mardi Gras looks about the same. That’s a little comforting.

The picture. I think smartphones are amazing. The sharpness of the dandelion is something. I didn’t have to do anything magical, or technical. I just pointed the lens and waited until it found its focus point. And, check out the background bokeh. All those little circles pinwheeling around make the picture a little more interesting.

Just like everything seems a bit surreal right now, it’s even more so in my photographic world. Nobody is working. Most events have been cancelled. Travel photographers can’t travel. Music photographers have no music to shoot. Commercial photographers assignments have been cancelled.

When they can, I know a bunch of professional travel photographers who use the newest, most high end smartphone to do their jobs. Some of them don’t even bother to bring their DSLR or Mirrorless cameras. I don’t have that many guts. But, one of my agencies asked me to work using my smartphone in order to produce a different kind of photograph.

Different photographs. For sure. Because phones are so ubiquitous nobody pays attention if you make pictures in their presence. Sometimes I don’t even focus. The camera does. I just stick my hand into the middle of something and push the button. That creates another kind of energy and sensibility.

I didn’t take smartphone photography very seriously. But, lately I’ve seen some stunning work in print and on walls. This has been going on for awhile. I just never noticed it. Now that I have, I’m eager to test it. Not just with my version of nature pictures, but with real people, maybe at a second line or Indian event… if they ever happen again.

When we come out of the season of the virus, most everything will have changed. That’ll be the time to fix things. To make things better.

Even though I was pretty bleak yesterday, I still have a kind of hope. But, you can’t eat hope.

Instead of laying back and waiting, I think we ought to prepare, sharpen ourselves, train, get stronger and spring into action as soon as we can. I certainly don’t want to go back to the way things were with everybody screaming at each other, with intense polarization, with true greed showing at every turn.

I want things to be better. Much better. We can do this. I know we can.

Stay safe. Look after each other. Enjoy every sandwich.


In the early morning sun. 

“This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco
This ain’t no fooling around
This ain’t no mudd club, or C.B.G.B.
I ain’t got time for that now” — The Talking Heads

I awoke with the song “Life During Wartime” in my head. I had to hear it. The best version in our library is from their live shows in 1984. I saw that tour. My then wife, Cherie, and I were taking a break from Los Angeles Olympics coverage. The Talking Heads came to a venue in Orange County, California. We were exhausted from working 18 hour days. It was just the energizing break that we needed.

It’s hard to believe that 36 years years have passed since then. There have been changes. So many changes. The world can live in isolation because we aren’t really isolated. We can’t reach out and touch somebody, but we can see and hear them via the digital tools that were unthought of in 1984.

Of course, there is the book 1984. And, the amazing commercial that Apple dropped during the Superbowl. But, we had no idea where any of that was going.

Today.

Things weren’t great, but they were sort of cruising along.

Until. Until. Until.

CoVid19 escaped from China. Now, the whole world is shut down. People are sick and are getting sicker. The most compromised and aged are dying. Most business are closed, or working in a very reduced manner.

Things only seemed to get worse yesterday. Even though I knew it well beforehand, Jazzfest was postponed until October. Most music tours were cancelled. Most of the producers of those things seem to think that they could resume in October.

But, wait.

The CDC and the rest of the federal government are planning for an 18 month siege.  There goes October. There goes any of the things that I enjoy. There goes any of the ways we earn our livings.

When we finally emerge from our homes, what will be left? Will we emerge to find out that there is very little left?

God. I hope not.

Life During Wartime, it is.

The funny thing about listening to the Talking Heads live album is that even though I haven’t listened to it in a very long time I know every word. 36 years indeed.

Stay safe, take care of each other, and enjoy every sandwich.

 


Flying away.

“Now the darkness only stays the night-time
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
It’s not always going to be this grey
All things must pass
All things must pass away
All things must pass
All things must pass away”  — George Harrison

I think that’s all we need to know. In one song.

It was the last song George Harrison ever played live. He was on a British talk show, along with Ravi Shankar. The host pretty much begged him to play. George couldn’t think of song that he remembered the words to, then he started strumming. He’s been gone a long time and I still miss him.

The picture. Look up, look down, look all around. Actually I flipped this picture. The plane was pointed in the other direction. I’d rather have it look like it was ascending than looking like it was headed into the ground.

It’s a positive picture.

 

 

 

 

 


Sometimes in winter.

Bold color.

That’s what I promised you and that’s what you’ll get. Today is day three of our thirty day pause. Luckily, there is so much to do around this place, so much to read, so much to watch and so much organizing of my archives that I doubt anybody will get bored.

Eventually, we’ll have to sneak out for groceries.

We appear to be self sufficient, but are in a place to help our neighbors and community if they need it. That is so important. And, around here there are so many very elderly blue bloods that I’m sure someone will need something.

So.

For now, we are good. I hope all of you are too. It’s an eye opening thing to realize that I don’t have to explain the feelings or how we are responding because this is global. It’s universal. Hopefully, this will make us realize how alike we are, rather than to drive us further apart.

The picture. See it, photograph it. Unlike yesterday’s picture, this image needed nothing right out of the camera. I did add a little glow to it to make it a little more gauzy and romantic.

Oh yeah. I almost forgot. Music. We have so much music that we couldn’t listen to it all in a lifetime. But, I’m finding music that I’d forgotten about. Now, that’s really cool.


No longer Gray.

Surreal?

That’s probably the least of things around here. It really comes down to people, who as Jerry Seinfeld once said, are the worst.

Even though all St. Patrick’s Day parades were cancelled. And, even though the governor put a limitation on crowd sizes, some people just had to gather on Magazine and Bourbon Streets to get drunk and celebrate the holiday. Mostly, they got drunk.

The police broke up the gathering on Magazine Street, while some of them were shouting about their right to assemble peacefully, forgetting that the rule concerns protests. The police did not disperse the crowds on Bourbon Street. I suspect locally owned club and bar owners’ money came into play.

Of course, there are all the airport disruption issues that were created by the Federal Government when they imposed virus tests for incoming passengers without thinking the process through.

I saw pictures some of the 13 approved airports. Crowds and crowds and crowds. In most cases, it took 6 hours to retrieve luggage and at least four hours to make it to customs and immigration. The travelers were packed about six inches apart. Forget about the six feet of separation.

Sheesh.

When did my country become a banana republic? Never mind, I know. When did people become so selfish and show such disregard for other people’s welfare? When did people panic at every little comment? In most of New Orleans not only did toilet paper and hand sanitizer become rare, so did chicken. WTF? Chicken? Who started the rumor that drove people to buy all the chicken in Greater New Orleans?

Nothing good is going to come from any of this.

The picture. That’s really what you want to know about, isn’t it? This is the gray picture. I liked the picture well enough that I set out to make it prettier in post production. Oh yeah. I posted it to notches unknown. There’s a little gray, but mostly it’s orange. Much brighter. Much prettier.

Stay safe. Take care of each other. Enjoy every sandwich. And, for God’s sake, stay out of Wal-Mart.


Something for y’all.

Empty.

That’s how I felt when I awoke. As a friend said, we are paused for thirty days.  For some people a deep kind of sadness has settled in. They, like the rest of us, know that the virus will forever change us. All of us. I was reading a thread on Twitter. It was so bleak that I could only read about five tweets.

Enough.

If you haven’t seen the videos coming out of Italy, you should They are about as uplifting as anything that I’ve ever seen. All of the folks who are confined to their houses started playing and singing music.

The sound floated through the city streets.

Then, they got organized. They played certain tunes at certain times. A true wonder. Before they did that, they started clapping. Clapping for all of the medical personnel.  For the doctors. For the nurses. For the technicians. For the orderlies. For the EMTs in the street. For the guys who cleaned everything so carefully.

It hit me. Like a ton of bricks.

I have been given something to do. Something I can focus on. A way to use my best talent. Make pictures. Doh! Make bright, colorful, happy pictures. I can’t really do much to give comfort to those who I don’t know. But, I do have a pretty vibrant community right here, on Storyteller. I can brighten your day. For a minute. For five minutes. Maybe even for longer.

Pictures. I made this picture a few weeks ago. I did my layering thing shortly there after. I set it aside. I don’t know why. Yesterday, I made a picture of a couple of train cars in the fog. It is gray and sort of bleak. It’s a fairly good picture. I was going to publish it today. I thought, nah. You’ve got enough gray things floating around right now.

You get the colorful picture today.


In the New Orleans Sky.

I know one thing as we head into a very different time and space.

Enjoy every sandwich.

The late Warren Zevon said that on the old version of David Letterman’s show. He said that knowing he had less than six months to live. He was dying from lung cancer. When Letterman asked him what he learned from this,  Zevon responded with, “Enjoy every sandwich.”

He played a couple of songs in what turned out to be his very last live performance. And, he left us with his best album. He didn’t live to find out that his album won a Grammy for best album of the year.

I’ve been thinking about that as I watched everything around me be cancelled or postponed because of the escalating numbers of CoVid-19. Most musical tours are postponed or cancelled. Every major sport, the same. Even local events like the Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday.

I watched a video clip of the New York Yankees (I was born and raised to be a fan) and last year’s World Series champs, the Washington Nationals play a spring training baseball game. They are practice games. They really don’t count. The help to get the players in “baseball” shape.

The Yankees bat boy came out of the dugout and handed the home plate umpire a note. The umpire read it, called the two team managers out, who waved all of the players off the field. The game ended in the middle of the fourth inning.

Major League Baseball cancelled the rest of spring training and postponed the start of the season by at least two weeks, effectively making the start of the season an unknown. That same umpire who called the game said to the reporters as he walked out of the clubhouse, “Guys, I’ll see you in June.”

This is how it’s been going everywhere with almost every kind of non-essential event. Even Broadway went dark, prompting the late night shows to work without an audience.

But, the worst information of all came locally. Yes, our confirmed patients are growing exponentially. Yesterday there were 17 known cases of the virus. Today there are 31.

That’s still not the worst news.

Four people went home after visiting my swampy, potholed city. They are now ill with the virus. They caught it during Mardi Gras. Apparently, it’s been floating around New Orleans since at least early February.

Remember when I was in too much pain to work for the last couple of days of Mardi Gras, including Mardi Gras Days? I was miserable from both the physical and emotional sides of me.

Say what you will. Talk about it being a God deal. Call it divine intervention. Call it anything. But, without my pain, I could be sick right now because I work in the heart of the crowds. Isn’t that something? I’m humbled and filled with gratitude.

Anyway. We are just about that point when our lives will change forever.

Enjoy every sandwich.


Rebirth even now.

I was thinking.

Yeah, I know. That’s very dangerous. But, after the constant flood of bad news about CoVid-19, I think that we all need our moods lifted, even if it’s only for the length of time that you need to read Storyteller.

There’s magic in photography. I should use it. You should embrace it.

For me, making a photograph always lifts my mood, even if I’m in a good mood. Things just get better. If I’m in a bad mood, it changes. That’s the power of art. So, I advise you to keep making art. Keep doing what you do. At the very least things won’t get worse.

Here’s one thing.

We did a massive grocery shopping. I think we bought enough food for about a month. Even the dogs have that much unprepared food. What I saw was encouraging. Instead of moving on certain products such as toilet paper like sharks on a feeding frenzy, people actually helped each other. What a wonderful thing. We can’t self isolate. We must work within our communities to look after each other, to care for each other.

The picture.

What a weird exposure. The light meter sought out the brightest part of the scene, so much so that I can’t brighten the shadows beyond what you see. If I do that I lost contrast and depth. I made this on another dog walk. I forget exactly where. And, that’s another thing. That steroid injection I got about a week ago is seemingly doing its thing. Now THAT’S something to be grateful for.

Stay safe.


Hanging around.

Despite whatever you are thinking, the picture is not upside down.

I know. I know. It looks upside down. I made the picture standing directly under the tree and looking up. It is the perfect symbol for our current times.

The world seems upside down.

If everybody isn’t busy hating people who are not like them, then they are busy being fearful of just about everything. In some places people are marching in the streets. In some of those places marches turn into riot. In my country, the president has turned our allies into foes, and his has turned dictators and despots into his friends. He thinks. They are playing him like a fiddle. I could go on. I won’t.

That’s not all.

There is a virus that the same president thinks is named after beer. Mexican beer. In less than a day, New Orleans grew for one infected person to six. This does not bode well. The City of New Orleans essentially closed the weekend. They cancelled two St. Patrick Day parades. The Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday and a second line.

I would have likely photographed Super Sunday and maybe the second line in normal times. Even if it wasn’t cancelled, I would not go to the Indians event in these times. Everybody is hacking and coughing and they might be standing six inches in front of you. That’s the last thing I need.

I have no idea what our future holds, both here in NOLA or in the rest of the world. That’s so far beneath my pay grade that I can’t even get close.

Anyway.

Stay safe. Wash your hands. And, keep your hands off of your face.