New Mexican Roads

W

owzer! WordPress fixed the things that they broke. I have captions and I don’t have to do a work around just to use columns and paragraphs.

I have other stuff to say, but I’m excited. It’s the little things, you know?

If it seems like I’m publishing a lot of road pictures, you’re right. But, that’s what I did in New Mexico. I traveled around, learning about the state and making pictures. I also learned about the people and enjoyed a lot of wonderful food.

It’s odd. I really like Northern New Mexican food, which is kin to Mexican or Tex-Mex food, but nowhere near the same. I cannot say the same for New Orleans food. The only time that we eat it is when out of town guests come for a visit and they want to sample New Orleans food.

That’s not quite true. I like a restaurant called Mandina’s which is Northern Italian – Creole. It’s not fancy and yet you can see the city’s moves and shakers.

I really like taking guests there because we can tour. We walk up our street to the green streetcars, ride along St. Charles and transfer at Canal Street to the red streetcars. Get off in front of the restaurant.

Our guests love it. They get to ride our famous streetcars, they get to see parts of the city the they might not normally see. They get real locals food. And, if they want, instead of transferring at Canal Street, we can get off and walk around the Quarter.

They wonder, what’s not to like?

My guests learned what’s not to like, one night when we returned home. The lawn was flooded up to our porch. WTF?

Turns out a water main broke in the middle of the street. By the time the city came to repair it, there was a lake that stretched for about two blocks. This happens a lot in the city.

Yeah.

What’s not to like?

T

here’s not very much to talk about from a technical standpoint.

The most important take away, is to think about reworking your pictures every now and then.

As much as I liked the perspective and compression, the picture never really never did it for me.

After tinkering with a few day ago, I finally figured out the problem.

The picture was too light.

I made it on a cold winter day. It didn’t feel that way.

I darkened it, added colors of winter and I like the picture way more than I did.

One more thing about this picture. It doesn’t look like what you think of when you think of New Mexico does it?

When you drive east of the Sandia or Sangre de Christo Mountains, the land starts to flatten out as it makes its way into western Colorado.

It looks like what it is. High plains and farm land as you leave the high desert.

Can you guess which way the mountains are?


Golden light everywhere.

Golden light. My favorite light.

As you might remember, I very rarely photograph sunsets. Instead, I make pictures of the sky right before and after sunset. I also turn around a look at where the light is falling. Sometimes that’s much better than a predictable sunset.

It’s a little risky.

You might come home with something wonderful. Or, you might return with nothing. If this stuff was easy what would be the fun in that?

However.

I believe that I was made to make pictures. I think that I’m a natural. Or, I’m just whistling through my hat. There are all kinds of naturals. Athletes. Musicians. Artists. Doctors. Nurses. The list goes on forever. They are the ones in class that never seemed to be trying and yet did very well. An old friend of mine used to call me “the zen photographer.” He said it never looked like I was trying and yet I came back with good pictures.

It annoyed him.

He worked really hard. He made great pictures. But, each one was like giving birth to twins. Very painful. Well, I really don’t know what kind of pain giving birth is like. I’m not equipped that way. But, you get the point.

Comments like his were common over the length of my career. Even now, when I think I’m barely working. When I’m making fake nature pictures. A lot of you like them. I’m grateful for that. But, I just see stuff and make a picture. Maybe it’s easy because I’ve done this for 40 some years, but it doesn’t feel right to me.

This looking back in review is great. Or, it’s miserable.

Along with the understanding of 40 years of image making comes the realization of many, many failures. We’ll get to that later. Much later. It’s enough to ask, how many of you have awakened in a cold sweat in the middle of the night and think, “my God, why did I do that?” You try to write it off to being young until you realize that you did something similarly stupid about a month ago.

It’s human.


Autumn sky.

In the morning.

The air was lighter. The sun was clearer. The shadows were longer. That’s what I felt and saw. That’s the picture that I made just a few hours ago. Today.

I made it at the end of a walk. The light wasn’t great until the moment I saw this scene. I tried a couple of different compositions, but this one did it for me. I saw it as a painting the from minute I pushed the button. So, that’s how I treated it in development and post production. It’s a little magical, but it hasn’t crossed the line.

Now, as I often do.

The rest of the post isn’t about the picture.

When I was a young guy I started my musical journey by listening to the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and other bands of those early times. Along came Cream. Wow. I never heard anything like them. Apparently, I was hip for a 14 year old. I bought their first album and kept building from there.

Cream was Jack Bruce, Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton. Three super stars in their own right. Jack Bruce passed a few years ago. Eric Clapton will turn 75 next March. He’s planning some extensive touring next year after a couple of years of relative inactivity because of physical issues. Ginger Baker was 80. Earlier last week, his family said that he was in critical condition in the hospital. They asked for our prayers.

I knew right then that the outcome wouldn’t be good. When you are 80, have a number of physical ailments, being in critical condition isn’t a good thing.

Ginger Baker passed yesterday morning.

His drumming was inspiring to a couple of generations of rock drummers. Yet, at his essence he was a jazz drummer. He explored African poly rhythms. He could play with anyone, yet he made his name with Cream and the very short lived super group, Blind Faith.

Ginger Baker was also outspoken. He was cantankerous. He could get angry at the drop of a hat. Clapton once said that when Cream was playing their best live music, it seemed like a musical fist fight between Baker and Bruce. It often scared him because of its violence. And, he was life long heroin user. That may have contributed to his death. But, I don’t know. He was 80 and sick. But, never frail.

Once there was three. Now there is one.

Yesterday was hard. These guys are aging before our eyes. Most of my musical heroes are in their late 60s or 70s. They made the music of my life’s soundtrack. You know the rest.

Ginger Baker 1939 -2019 RIP

 


Nature returns.
Nature returns.

Nature always balances things.

At least I hope so.

I made this picture while I was waiting for the second line to start. It’s one of those pictures that I made on my way to somewhere else.

Here’s what you are seeing.

The mowed lawn used to be buildings, as did all the foliage in the background. They were likely falling apart before the storm. After the storm, most of them fell down, or were demolished. The brick wall is actually part of the Sportsman Club, which is ground zero for many of the Uptown Mardi Gras Indians. And, the church steeple? It’s an old abandoned deconsecrated Catholic Church. The church, the school, the living quarters and a good-sized piece of land have been for sale for at least five years. It’s starting to be demolished from neglect.

I kept the colors a little muted today. They say that all art is autobiographical. Make of that what you will.


Industry
Industry

I don’t know about you, but I need a little break from the news. For the most part, the news was terrible. All week. You know what I’m talking about. Allen Toussaint passed. Beruit blew up. Baghdad blew up. Paris was shot to hell. Nothing but death and destruction. All week long.

Enough.

So, here’s a graphic picture made while I was out on the road. I like the shape as much as I do the subject. Probably more.

Have a great Sunday.

Eventually, I’ll get out and photograph another second line. That’ll be fun. It always is. I looked at the route sheet and printed a map. The parade rambles all over Central City. That’s always a good thing. There’s other stuff to photograph. A neighborhood and a second line. What could be better? On a Sunday.

Oh yeah. There’s my never-ending quest for gallery money. Actually, it does end. As all things must. In a few weeks.

http://www.gofundme.com/gk8bajd8

Please see November 4th Storyteller for all the details.


Paris
Prayers.

I don’t know what to say. We pray for peace.  Always. We pray for the dead. More dead. We stand united with France. Again.

I live in New Orleans. We were born of France. Our oldest neighborhood is call the French Quarter. That ought to tell you something. My heart is heavy. Again. Dammit. Between one thing or another, it’s been heavy all week.

There’s not much I can do.  I can work. Tomorrow and Sunday. On the streets. Because the work is the prayer. And I can listen to this song.

“There’s a whole lot of magic
When you’re in Paris
And I swear I’ve never seen
So many pretty women go by
And I can’t stop from dancing
I’m spinning ’round like a clock
That’s wound up too tight
I want to tell you ’bout all I see
Stars in my eyes that you would not believe
I’m a little funky wearin’ out my shoes
Don’t mean anything unless I’m dancin’ with you
Midnight, midnight in Paris

Well, we’ll have another bottle
Monsieur Luigi
So we can toast the autumn
Since it’s all around
And I’ll always remember
Singing in the park when the rain came down
I want to tell you ’bout all I see
Stars in my eyes that you would not believe
I’m a little funky wearin’ out my shoes
Don’t mean anything unless I’m dancin’ with you
Dancin’ with you
Midnight, midnight in Paris
Midnight, midnight in Paris
Midnight, midnight in Paris
Midnight, midnight in Paris
When you’re in Paris”

— Performed by Stephen Stills. Written by Donnie Dacus & Veronique Sanson


Crossing the Bridge
Crossing the Bridge

A couple of semi-left out images. Just a little drive by work… I doubt these will get stolen. Remember that very graphic picture of the bare trees against the backlighted cloud that I published here yesterday? A guy with whom I went to high school, liked it when he saw it on Facebook so much so that he used it on his page. No thanks. No credit. What should I do? Because it’s him, my first inclination is to not ask him to take it down. He already knows better. My first inclination is to have my attorney send him little love letter with an invoice attached.

Whaddya all think?

I’m pretty generous with pictures. Early last week a friend of mine who is starting a beautiful travel agency website (he’s shifted careers and has become a travel agent … go to http://www.tripsbygreg.com)  just sort of casually asked if I have anything from New Orleans. He’s actually from New Orleans. He knows I have  stuff from New Orleans. Heh, heh, heh. Without any second thought I sent him, I think, ten pictures. He’s a friend.  He asked. No problem. Happy to do it. He back linked me. That’s my pay. I’m happy. He’s happy. The world is right.

But, just stealing a picture from me because you can… well, that ain’t happening. It’s time for artists of all disciplines to take back what is ours.

These pictures?

They are a great example of what not to do. Don’t photograph and drive. Don’t text and drive. Don’t drink and drive. For most people, it’s probably not a good idea to change the radio station and drive. You can see great examples of how some people drive on the interstate. Just look at the cement guard rail on the highway itself. On both sides of the highway, in fact. It seems like a lot of people have been bouncing off of them. Look at all those tire marks. How hard is it to drive in a straight line? Apparently, it’s harder than I thought. What do I know?

The Mercedes Benz Superdome.
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome.


The street between two sections of the St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery.
The street between two sections of the St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery.

I had a clever title for this post all ready to go. “Scenes from the Seventh.” Except, I learned the other day that the St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery and the streets I passed through were not located in the 7th Ward. They are located in the 9th Ward. That’s where I took these pictures. The 9th Ward. Not, the 7th Ward. I’ll figure it out one of these days.

There are two things about this post.

One. No rants. Today. No rants. No fools. No fun. Figure that out.

Two. Although you might think I visited the inside of cemeteries again in order to make these pictures, I promise you that I didn’t. Even the angel in the clouds was made from the street. I made a point of staying outside the cemetery walls, even when I took a picture of the cemetery walls.

So. Let’s start with that. The cemetery walls.

Walls like these, usually made of brick, were erected to protect the graves, tombs and markers from creatures of the night. No. Not vampires. Worse. Knuckleheads with spray paint who think that they need to tag everything that doesn’t move. And, some stuff that does. The thing for you to also note, is our city streets. Look at how well they are maintained.

A local altar.
A local altar.

Nope. I still didn’t go in a cemetery. This is in some guy’s side yard. I wanted to show you some details so I worked as close as I could with a chain link fence separating me from the scene. The guy — at least, I think it is a guy — is taking no chances. Yes. Our Lady of Guadalupe is in the center. But, that tannish-brown thing at the bottom of the picture is the top of Buddha’s head. The read and blue mirrored bits are kind of Hindu and at the top, out of the picture, is an old 35mm camera. I didn’t know there is a camera god. Maybe I should start praying to him or her. Think about it for a minute. The camera god is the god of negativity. Negatives? Get it?

Angels above us.
Angels above us.

Nope. I still didn’t go in the cemetery. I promised you. And, I always keep my promises. Sometimes. Or not. That little square bit in the bottom right hand corner is part of the fence at the gate.

That’s the story.


Old corner store and nothing more.
Old corner store and nothing more.

The level of demolishing is equal the depth of the water.
The level of demolishing is equal the depth of the water.

I guess by now it’s pretty obvious to you that I borrow bits of song lyrics or even song titles to write the headlines. This one comes from a song called, “The Neighborhood,” by Tom Waits. It sort of suits these pictures.

But…

It’s not as bad as it looks.

As I was wandering in around in this neighborhood which is called The Irish Channel — I think — I noticed that there was a lot or rehabbing and new construction going on. That figures. This is a fairly popular neighborhood with younger couples and families.

The reason I wrote that I think this is The Irish Channel is because like many neighborhoods in New Orleans, the neighborhood boundaries are flexible. Not only do they stretch and contract over the years, but they move around a little. For instance, my second house was located in The 7th Ward. Or, Esplanade Ridge. Or, the very edge of Treme. Or, District 1. Wait, wait, wait… that’s a police district.

Oh. In case you are wondering, The Irish Channel is located in the general area called Uptown. Even though it seems a world away from our house, it’s about five minutes away.

The pictures. Yes. I helped them out a little. I made them look like the things my eyes saw. So, I added a little color. A little contrast. And, blammo… these pictures.