Sometimes when I live a place that has been home or feel like home I get sort of blue. mostly because I never know if I am going to return. It happened as I was making these last few pictures. The weather was almost fall-like in New Orleans today. Bright, warm sun light. Dry air. I’ve been riding the ferry to Algiers for the past couple of days to make a good skyline frame. It’s a free trip and you can stay on board for as many round trips as you’d like. After a couple of evening trips and no lighted skylines I asked around. Apparently, after the storm a lot of high rise business did not return so there is a pretty dark skyline. From my standpoint, that meant my alternative was using a low sun in the image as dusk arrived. This image was among my last. I certainly hope that my feeling is wrong and that I’ll be back. But, who knows.
I don’t know if this is a good or bad weekend to be in New Orleans. On one hand, The French Quarter is hopping with returning college students who are finally getting out from under the thumb of their parents which creates good business on Bourbon Street. On the other hand, the Sunday paper is filled with Katrina stories as we are less then a week away from the fourth anniversary of an event that changed our lives. No matter how much recovery has gone on, we live with a certain kind of feeling that was born of watching the flooding on CNN and then returning home to find most of your possessions or all of your home destroyed. I cannot even begin to describe the feeling I had when I finally walked in my door only to find water marks and mold two thirds of the way to the top of a 14 foot high ceiling. I was lucky. Art and some music and about 60% of my photography files survived. The people with whom I’m staying came home to find that everything was gone. The way that we live today is governed by what we learned. When late hurricane season approaches, everyone keeps a full tank of gas in their cars. I store my work in three places including a cloud somewhere on the internet, we always have extra canned food and water. And, gee, I live in New Mexico now. And yet, I would like to return. I’ve never felt more at home here then in any other places. I’ve lived in a lot of places. Too many.
So. I was walking down a street in the Big Easy and and I saw this guy wearing cook’s clothes sitting on a box of bottled water talking on his cell phone. I make few snaps and He asked what was doing so I told him. He asked me to wait a minute. He went inside and came out wearing his chef’s hat. Toque, a chef’s hat they tell me. First, he started posing for me using his hands to make funny gestures. I told him to be himself. This is him being himself. Typical. New Orleans. Happy. A lot of thinsg have made me smile in this city — especially its recovery.
A couple of my editors have more or less asked for the same kinds of images. They’d like to see Americana, Regional Details, Mom and Pop businesses and a sort of general New Orleans run down sensibility. I don’t think they meant for me to put all of those symbols in one picture. But, I did. This is a bar called Vaughn’s, located in the Bywater of New Orleans. The exterior looks like it is about to collapse. I’m not sure when the last Po Boy was served there, but they host some pretty amazing bands including trumpeter Kermit Ruffins and The Bar-B-Que Swingers who started smoking meats outside to cover up the smell of the pot that they were smoking. Or, so the legend says. At any rate, this picture has everything about which my editor’s dream — all in one picture. That’s it. I’m done.
I have no idea why Brad Pitt wants to pour his own money into rebuilding the Lower Ninth Ward. But, he does. He’s building homes for people who lost their own homes. That may be all that really matters.
There are about a dozen homes built and occupied already. There are another five or seven that are in various stages of construction. They are all green homes with solar panels, water retention systems any other green features. They are all modern. They are all very colorful. And, not one looks like any other one. That’s why I called it Disneyland. The colors are very much in keeping with the colorful nature of New Orleans. They are all raised and looking at the cement work and pile driving that was going on, I’d say that they would withstand at least Katrina-type winds.
Oddly, it’s very quiet out there. Very few people live there. It’s countryside in the city. With luck that will change.
Pride. In the Name of Love. I spent part of today touring The Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans. You remember the Lower Ninth Ward. It flooded so badly during Hurricane Katrina that literally nothing was left. A once vibrant neighborhood was left in sticks and broken bits of cement. In a small section of the L9, actor Brad Pitt’s Make it Right group is starting to take hold. I’ll write about that tomorrow. For now, it’s enough for me to ask a personal favor of you. Go see Pitt’s new movie “Inglorious Bastards,” and give him some support. You’ll see why tomorrow.
At any rate, most of the Lower Ninth is turning into what it was — river bottom land. River grasses and all manor of wild things are growing on most of the land. But, every now and them you’ll see something like this picture; a mowed and trimmed piece of property that seems to scream out, “this is my family’s land and we aren’t letting it go. ” Pride.
Even a four year old girl can use an i-Phone. In this case she discovered my Etch-a-Sketch app. You know, “there’s an app for that.” What I haven’t said yet is that she has a highly skilled teacher mom and a computer whiz dad. They read to her a lot and she is around technology whenever she isn’t attending “big girl school.” If the truth be told, she understands the i-Phone better then I do.
One other thing. This is live from New Orleans.
I leave for a New Orleans in a few hours. There are three tropical storms brewing. One has made landfall on the Florida Panhandle coast, one will probably make landfall as a tropical storm around next Friday somewhere along the Gulf Coast. The third storm call Bill may turn in a hurricane. I’ll be returning on 24 August. Hurricane Katrina made landfall on 29 August 2009.
Yes. Everything changes. But, not like this.
No matter how large horses really are, it seems that children just need to be near them. These little girls have absolutely no fear when it comes to petting and visiting horses at an event being held at Los Glondorinos, New Mexico. I may be just guessing, but I’m thinking they would like to be riding them.