What came before.

The city that care forgot. That’s us. New Orleans. Even as some areas are gentrified and priced out of the locals ability to buy or rent, others still languish almost 16 years after they were flooded by Hurricane Katrina.

It’s likely that many of these neighborhoods were failing long before the storm did its thing and put the final nails in their coffins.

And, that’s too bad. In this day and age of low housing stock and extreme rising costs of home ownership or rental, these flooded houses might have been able to reduce the pain.

However, these old buildings have been sitting for a long time. The city deems them unrepairable and demolishes them. I suppose that might be the way to go. But, it seems wrong to me even though I know it costs less to build something new rather than to restore and rebuild.

And, you wonder where my weird dreams come from?

Mix real life New Orleans with other real life experiences with whatever is buried in my brain and you get strange dreams.

I’ll write more about part of my dream in the next coming days. I haven’t forgotten. I can’t forget.

When I first photographed this abandoned house, the bushes and trees were green but manageable.

The next time I went back everything was overgrown. And then, the last time I returned everything was dying in place.

I haven’t been back in a while. I suspect that by now the little remaining wood of the house has started to rot. The bushes aren’t dying because they have truly been embedded themselves in the ruined building.

Photographing them is easy. It’s really just documentary work, and presenting the pictures to you.

As always.

One more thing. I’m starting to lose direction. I replied to a friend, that for me, social media has become a waste of time. It started from a question of privacy. She posted something on her blog and I started receiving ads for it here, on Storyteller.


I’ll let you know, but I’m giving serious thought to ending Storyteller after 11 years of almost daily posting.

When I started this blog I thought it would be a way to generate work in one form or another. That hasn’t happened. I thought it would be a good way to build a community. I’ve grown a good number of readers but I never hear from you.

I read a lot of other blogs. I started looking at some of their comments. They get 80 or 90 on each post. At best, I get two or three on every other post, or something like that.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s me. I don’t know what it is about me but it is me.

They say with age comes wisdom. Understanding “It’s me” is very wise. I think.

Details, Details, Doors
Details, Details, Doors.

A promise is a promise.

I wrote, yesterday, that I would show you what was across the street from the old car repair shop. This is it. A 1932 Ford Panel Delivery Truck. It’s for sale. There’s a bit of a funny story to be told. While I was researching this old thing of rusted beauty, I ran across an ad for one up in British, Columbia. The owner said it was the only unrestored one left in the world. Good Try. I certainly didn’t travel up to Canada to photograph it. I like old cars. But, traveling that far for this truck… sheesh.


This one is located in Algiers Point, just across the river from New Orleans. I have no idea if it’s running. Or, if it even starts. It actually looks pretty solid. It was last inspected and licensed in 2012. It might make a great project for somebody. Not me. In fact, I tried to talk a guy who was just passing by into buying it. I told him that he looked like he needed a project. He wasn’t having it. Smart guy. While I was researching around, I found out that a completely and properly restored version of this truck is worth about $30,000 – $35,000. The asking price for this hulk is $15,000. Ray’s rule of thumb says that, at a minimum, the price you paid is equal to the restoration cost. Unless, you restore this truck because you love this model, there is no return on investment.

The pictures.

This is an interesting neighborhood. The repair shop that I showed you yesterday is across the street. This lot used to have a building on it. It’s pretty easy just to walk around the neighborhood and take pictures. The neighbors seem friendly. My danger radar didn’t come on. The bells didn’t ring.

The pictures were made pretty much as you see them. With the bright overcast light, it was sort of like working with a big, huge soft box. I added a little more pop to the color. But, that’s about it.

Oh. Why four pictures? You know that I think less is more.

This post sort of needs them.

The top picture is a detail picture. It really needs to be huge. It could be a huge picture hung on the wall. You could call it fine art. You could. I won’t. But, there are some technical limitations to this WordPress format. Yes. I could tinker with the code to make bigger pictures. But, I don’t think anybody wants me to do that. After all, I’m a coding idiot.

The middle picture is probably the view I photographed first. A lot of my composing and framing is straight ahead. If I had to choose only one picture, this would be it even though isn’t my favorite picture.

The third picture is simply an establishing shot. You see the truck, the lot and the neighborhood.

The fourth picture is my favorite… AS A PHOTOGRAPH. Unfortunately, you can’t see enough of the truck, the lot or the location.

There you have it. That’s sort of how I think. Especially about little photo essays.

Oh. And one more thing. Help a brother out. Printing, mounting, matting, glazing and framing a gallery show doesn’t come cheaply. Please slide over to Storyteller for November 4 for details.


Ford front grill.
Ford front grill.

Just so you can see it
Just so you can see it.

In the weeds
In the weeds.

Black and White
Black and White

You’ve heard of Cadillac Ranch, yes?

If not, it’s a group of Cadillacs half buried along Interstate 40 located in West Texas. Just west of Amarillo. You can also say located on Route 66, if you prefer. They are placed in a straight line that some say are pointed in the same angle as the Great Pyramid at Giza, Egypt. The cars range in age from 1949 to 1963. The burying was done in 1974. They are spray painted, coated in graffiti by passersby, and are probably one of the most photographed road side attractions in the country.


That’s it for Cadillac Ranch.


I found Cadillac Farm. At least, that’s what I’m calling it. It’s in the neighborhood back behind what used to be the St. Bernard Housing Projects. The projects were torn down after the levee failure that occurred during Hurricane Katrina. They were flooded. The surrounding neighborhoods were as well. Like a phoenix the projects rose from the ashes, er, mud and were rebuilt as Columbia Parc in what is now called the St. Bernard Bayou District.

The surrounding neighborhoods are coming back, at least along the street that gave the original projects their name. St. Bernard Avenue. But, once you start poking around the back streets, recovery is hit and miss, like many areas of New Orleans. That’s where all these Cadillacs were parked.

So. How did I find this place?

The story jumps below this picture. Because, it’s long.

A Touch of Red
A Touch of Red

I was going to a church that is located between the interstate and the new Columbia Parc complex. To photograph a jazz funeral.

However, I didn’t do that because it was very formal. No big brass bands. No outdoor crowds. None of the usual jazz funeral stuff. Many mourners dressed in black instead of white or bright colors. Even though the community was invited, it seemed very private. So. I paid my respects, didn’t make pictures, left and looked around the neighborhood.

This confused me a little, because…

Broke Down
Broke Down

The man who passed was Smokey Johnson. A musician. Even though he was local, he wasn’t. He was bigger than that. He was Fats Domino’s drummer for something like forty years. And, he wrote one song called “It Ain’t My Fault” that became sort of the anthem for brass bands walking in second lines. The song is an icon. So is Fats Domino. And, the musicians who played with him. After all, Fats did nothing less than invent rock n’ roll. In 1947. In Cosmo Matissa’s studio in the French Quarter. During an unnamed hurricane. No disrespect to Elvis Presley, but even he said that without Fats, he wouldn’t have played and sang the way that he did.


Back to Back. Chicken Shack.
Back to Back. Chicken Shack.

These cars. All Cadillacs. All black and white. Varying ages. I have no idea who owns them. Or, why they are there. A couple of them are hearses. Most are not. There’s even a convertible. Unlike just about everything else in New Orleans that looks remotely abandoned, they are untagged. No graffiti.

I photographed them in the morning, which is why they have a nice golden glow. Nobody was around. But, I had a feeling that somebody was watching. I’m willing to bet that if I had done anything else other than wander around with a camera in my hand, somebody would have appeared with a shotgun is his hand.

All in the Missing Details
All in the Missing Details

The pictures. The cars are as you see them. The light was right. The subjects were right. The scene was right. I cleaned and sharpened them up a touch because you have to do that in the digital era. The pictures. Not the cars. They look like they have to be restored just to get to the point where you can really start restoring them. The cars. Not the pictures.

If only I had any idea.
I have no idea.

I resumed work on my almost forgotten Central City project. Event though I go there on alternating Sundays to photograph second line parades, I really haven’t taken the time to document the neighborhood’s progress. Or, lack of progress.

I am happy to report that the neighborhood is slowly started to come back. From the storm. And, from years of neglect. It’s got a long way to go. But, it is progressing nicely. I can also report that the shell of a Victorian, gothic-looking three-story house that we bought for back taxes is also coming back. The back wall has been restored. The interior has been restored to the point that the kitchen is almost ready for appliances. The stairs still need finishing and a bannister installed. It is certainly habitable as it stands.

All of that said, I have no idea why this little American Flag is attached to the fence. It caught my eye as I was passing by. I actually drove around the block, down two more streets in order find my through the maze of one way streets and returned to it in order to make the picture.

If you look closely at the flag, it’s very well done. I don’t know why it’s there, but I have a very good idea of who made it. Not the person, exactly. But, that work is very good. The stripes are correct. The stars are correct. It looks like the handiwork of a Mardi Gras Indian.

The picture. The picture as I made it in the camera is just fine. It needed a little darkening. A boost in contrast. You know me. I’m trying to go further. So, I added a lot of aging, cracking, weathering and scratching after the fact.

Rain & Bricks
A little rain in the brickyard as I call it.

Luckily, I had some more files from the last time I was in New Orleans. So. I’ll stop whining about being at the bottom of the barrel. I’m not. And, I’ll be able to produce new work in few more days. Better yet, this picture dovetails very nicely with my new blog site at HUB, since my post there was about making pictures in bad weather. Before I write much more, if you’d like to see the new blog please go to http-::raylaskowitz.hubpages.com:hub:Travel-Photography-Made-Easier . The blog is more how-to oriented than Storyteller when it comes to making pictures.I’m writing to those people who are traveling for pleasure, business or whatever and want to take a few snaps. However, I still try to stay away from photo-speak and heavy technical jargon. Nobody likes reading things that you need a dictionary to understand.

Not to worry. I’m not abandoning Storyteller. I enjoy telling you little stories and sharing my pictures with you.

Anyway. Back on topic. This picture was made in the same area where I found all that graffiti, and ducked into the old power plant and cannon ball factory. The area is not always as bleak as this picture looks. But somehow, bright sunny days and clear blue skies aren’t really appropriate for this old broken down and abandoned place. To my eye, it looks a little better in the gloom and rain. Maybe I’m wrong. I’ll go back on a really pretty day and test my theory. Maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. So will you.