If you are lucky, you’ll be outside to see it as it drops down over the earth like a dark curtain. For me, it just depends. If I’m done with inside work and a dog wants to go out, I get to see nature’s magic. Magic and renewal. A 24 hour cycle. A kind of rebirth.
Sometimes, I’m trapped inside. I see dusk and nightfall through my studio windows. Sure, I can see the light. I can see day turn to night. But, it’s just not the same.
We — the dog and I — were walking along a little fence. When we turned the corner this is what I saw. I almost got too excited. I calmed down within a few seconds. I steadied myself. I made five frames. I knew I made a picture of what I saw.
That’s how it’s been for the last few days. A lot of photographer’s luck, combined with timing and a little bit of knowledge. When the weather finally cools down, I’ll go looking for pictures in earnest. This is the time when we all got impatient because it seems like summer will never come to a close.
I saw a little meme of Facebook. Southerners say, “We made it through 20 weeks of summer. Only 32 weeks to go.” That feels about right. Right now.
A deep blue sky at just around dusk. I was lucky to make the picture. This is one of those times when a tripod might come in handy. In my own defense, I wasn’t expecting to see such a sight. So, I did what I could.
Dan Rather tweets and posts on Facebook. Yesterday, he said that the points of light in this dark time, are the arts. He talked about any of us who keep going. To keep making work. To continue to grow. I guess that I’m one of those artists to whom he was referring.
I never really think of myself that way. I suppose that you never do when you are in the midst of your work.
Speaking of photographer’s work, I’m in mourning today. Photographer and videographer Robert Frank passed yesterday at 94. Without him there would be no me. Without him, there would be none of the guys and ladies I came up with. Without him there would be no photojournalism as we know it today.
He turned the photography world on its head when he released his seminal work, “The Americans.” The self-congratulatory photographers, and a lot of photography critics at the time, thought his work was terrible. It was grainy, sometimes the horizons tilted, he made statements about America that weren’t so pretty. He told the story of the underclass.
Basically, his work was honest but it wasn’t pretty.
That’s what opened the door for a lot of us.
You know what Neil Young would say about that. He once famously said that, “when he was in the middle of the road he headed towards the gutter where things were a lot more interesting.”
This weekend and week is about as rough as it gets. First came Peter Fonda. I didn’t know him, but his work influenced me. Then came Nancy Parker. I met her once at the Krewe of Zulu on Mardi Gras Day. A true sweetheart. Next comes Governor Kathleen Blanco. I met her at some event. She helped rebuilt the city after the destruction caused Hurricane Katrina. She stood down the president when he wanted to nationalize the state in the aftermath of the storm. She was the aunt to a very good friend of mine.
It didn’t stop there.
My oldest friend in New Orleans died on Sunday. She had breast cancer. It was in remission until it wasn’t. She was 48 years old. She leaves a husband and a 12 year old son. They both adored her.
Today, I hurt.
I suppose that I’ll go to the celebration of her life on Sunday. From there I’ll go to the first second line of the 2019 – 2020 season. I wasn’t sure if I’d photograph that. I suppose the decision was made for me. My vision was clarified in no uncertain terms. You know, the people in the Mardi Gras culture call this, “home going.” I guess. It doesn’t hurt any less.
The picture. It’s old. Most of you haven’t seen it. It’s me. Today.
You know what I say. The work is the prayer. It had better be.
The picture almost looks like it could have been made in France. It wasn’t. It was made at a park and baseball stadium now called, The Shrine on Airline.
To me and many others, we think that’s a stupid name. It is home for the next two weeks to a AAA baseball team, called The Baby Cakes. That has to be the stupidest name ever for a sports team. The name and the team branding was created by two 22 year old designers from San Diego. They spent a whole three days in New Orleans. They thought they knew us. Anywhere is more complex than that.
The name is sort of a shortened version of the baby that comes in a king cake. It doesn’t make sense in the way that they used it. There was a big commotion about it, but team management kept the name. The sold a lot of merchandise, which is what mattered to them. After all, who doesn’t love an evil little baby holding a baseball bat in traditional Mardi Gras colors?
In two weeks, the Baby Cakes last ever game will be played in Greater New Orleans. They are moving to Wichita, Kansas, where a $90 million dollar stadium is being built for them. The team owns the name so that may travel with them. Thankfully.
At this point there is no replacement for them. There are a lot of AA teams located in the Gulf Coast. Hopefully, one will come here. I hope so. The baseball quality will be better since that’s where the stars of tomorrow play, as opposed to AAA where the stars of yesterday are rehabbing or hoping to catch another shot at the “big show.”
See what comes out of a simple little picture. Hopefully, you just learned something. Or, not.
One more thing.
I’m a New York Yankee fan. I was born to be one. Their AA team is based in New Jersey. Maybe the parish can lure them down here,
After a long day driving upriver towards Baton Rouge on the Westbank’s River Road, I came to this little spot in the road. Blue hour coming. Dusk coming. Trains on one side. Power lines on both sides making great leading lines. What could be better?
Actually, there are two River Roads. One on the east bank of The Mississippi River, where I live. And, one on the Westbank, which some people call “the best bank.” Maybe if you live there. I always get lost on there.
Anyway, it feels like you are way out there when you drive along the river, even if you are fifteen minutes from home. You are in the countryside. The southern countryside. There are still little tiny communities of former sharecroppers homes, that were slave quarters even earlier in history. Yes, descendants of both of those eras still live there.
Even though I always get lost, I like going there. I’ll be back once hell’s weather begins to cool down a bit. Air conditioning or no air conditioning, it’s no fun to get out of the car to make a picture and walk into a blast furnace.
The picture. After a long day of looking for pictures, I was vibrating. So was the camera. What you see here is the result of that.
A particular kind of summer sky. If you aren’t looking up, it’s likely that you’ll miss it. If you don’t see light, and color, it’s like that you won’t get it.
I was talking to a somebody that I know a little. I was describing what I saw. She looked at me with a quizzical look on her face. It came down to, “Oh yeah. you’re a photographer.” But, she didn’t see it. No dramatic light. No golden color.
That’s what separates us for so many others. Us? Visual artists. We see a little differently. We feel a little differently. We see and feel with more than our eyes. We see with our brains. We feel with our hearts. With our souls.
With any luck this picture is good enough to capture what I saw. What I felt.
I feel good about this picture. It’s simple. It might be good enough to be part of my summer series. Then again…
Written about someone who wants to stay on the road and not go home. That’s us right about now.
First, the good news. It is very likely that the levees will not overtop. We are expecting 10 to 15 inches of rain in the next two days. If it’s steady it won’t overwhelm the pumps. It will add more water to the already high Mississippi River.
There is even better news. The Rolling Stones will not be denied. They are already in town. And, their stage crew is building their stage, lighting and video screens as we speak. They are playing on Sunday. Come hell (not likely) or high water (likely).
The predictable news. The storm’s outer bands are reaching us. There are winds of about 20 mph with light rainfall. It is not steady, it is more like spitting. It’s on and off as the cyclone spins.
There is no bad news. We are as prepared as I’ve ever seen. That’s the city. The parishes. And, us. The only possible bad news are power failures, which are unpredictable. Yesterday, I saw Entergy crews checking the likely weak links. But, storms are storms and you can’t know what will fail.
Have a good thought for us.
The picture. Red skies at morning, sailors take warning. Red skies at night, sailors delight. We’ll see about that. It looks like I’m a million miles away. Nah, Earhart Expressway. The back way to the airport.
Just remember, you thought you knew what the Tibetan word Nameste means. Around here, that’s Cajun for the answer to this question.
So damn hot. There is a twitter tag called #neworleansheat. New Orleans heat doesn’t like us. And, we don’t like it.
I made this picture at about 7:00pm. The all seeing dog wanted a walk. I convinced her to wait until she couldn’t. Off we went. I made this picture at about our apex.
By the time we made it home, I was walking in a haze. Everything was shimmering. I felt like I was walking through water. I looked at little dogaroo. Her tongue was hanging out to the pavement. We made it home. We drank a couple of hundred gallons of cold water.
I was feeling a little weird. On one hand, I felt peaceful. On the other, I felt a little disoriented. I wasn’t hungry. I took a break. I laid down. Eventually, things cleared up.
Be careful, you will suggest. I thought that I was. That’s why we walked so late. That is, until I checked the temperature.
At 7:15 pm.
Oh, and that bad feeling?
It might be closer than I thought. We have a tropical depression in the gulf that is going to turn into a hurricane or one of those lingering heavy subtropical storms that flooded upriver Louisiana a year or so ago. Depending on which weather model you watch, we are in the middle of it. Or, not.
To make matters worse, the gulf water is hot. In the mid-to-high eighties. That fuels storms. And, in Mississippi gulf waters there is such a bad poisonous algae bloom that you can’t go in the water, you can’t eat anything caught in the water. Hell, you probably shouldn’t even look at the water.
This was caused by diverting Mississippi River waters from the north into Lake Ponchartrain. If that wasn’t done, we, in New Orleans, would have been flooded. The water from the lake flows down river until it arrivers near the Mississippi State border.
Meanwhile, the clown in the high tower was blabbering about how good the environment is doing. All the while, he is gutting environmental restrictions. Oh, he finally admits that there might be something going on. But, get this, Americans aren’t causing it. It’s a global thing, idiot in chief. Last I looked, America is part of the globe.
No. There isn’t climate change.
If you believe that, I gotta a lotta junk that I’ll sell you. You’ll probably think it’s gold bullion.
And, about the cold water that dogaroo and I drank? I fill all the dogs’ bowls with cold water from the refrigerator because cold water directly from the tap is 84 degrees. How refreshing is that? It’s wet. That’s about it.
We all think of New Orleans as being a giant city. It’s not. It’s a city of about 375,000 people. We are losing about 1,000 people a year due to all sorts of reasons. Broken infrastructure. Institutional racism. Crime. Horrible schools. High Taxes. Very high rental prices. The list goes on.
That’s not what this post is about.
Instead, it’s about the region in which we live. Fifteen minutes outside of the city lies Southeast Louisiana. If it matters, leaving the city means traveling from a blue city to a red state. It doesn’t matter to me. Even though we might not agree politically, I find the people to be sweet, kind and caring.
So, we don’t talk politics. Or, religion.
Aren’t those topics what you are supposed to avoid during holiday dinners? With people who really look like you because they are you. Sort of.
I like crossing the big muddy and tooling along the roads on the Westbank. You never know what you’ll find. I find pictures like this one. I find good almost home cooked meals in gas stations. I find people who ask why you are taking a picture. When you tell them, they ask to be in a couple frames. They either tell, or guide you, towards locations that they think might make a good picture.
They are country folk.
To them, New Orleans is the “big city.” A place in which they aren’t comfortable and don’t feel safe. And, yet, the are only 10 or 15 miles away.
The picture. Wandering along River Road around sunset. I’m pretty sure that you can figure out the rest.