He Thinks So


Some assembly required. That’s what was needed on this artistic experiment. In an effort to tie some life lesson to this picture, I think that most of our lives require some assembly.

I’m not just ruminating about the times when the cracks appear, but when the light shines in as well.

In fact, if you alternate light and shadow making their way through our cracks you could say that we are always in some stage of assembly.

That’s a good thing.

Without that constant work, I for one, would be bored.

Often, I marvel at folks with whom that I attended high school. They graduated from high school, they attended a local college, they married their high school sweetheart, worked for 40 years and are now retired.

I really have no idea what challenges they were presented in what amounts to 50 years, but they really seem settled. Or, did they settle?

I, on the other hand, never stayed in one place with the exception of now. I couldn’t stay with one women. I had a lot of adventures.

Which is the better life? For me it depends on which day you ask that question.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Enjoy every sandwich.

Experiments. A friend of mine seems to think that I have a collection of these. If I do it wasn’t intentional. I do them so infrequently that I’d have to search to really know.

They are time consuming to make and their really is no pattern.

This is a combination of two pictures. One, is obviously a stand of trees that has shed its leaves for winter.

The other is undetermined in this picture. It’s really a Camellia that I photographed very tightly. You may see that picture this week.

I layered and adjusted them. You see the result.

I’d ask you like it and if you like to see more, but I never do it until the pictures are ready.

Defying Gravity


Seriously spooky.

All in my head.

I saw one scene. I photographed it. I saw another scene. I photographed it. When the time came I combined them.

Oooh. Spooky.

The picture does have an eerie feeling to it. Like something out of H.P. Lovecraft. Can’t you just see Cthulhu lurking back in those trees? Lovecraft wrote in a number of themes. Threat to civilization was one. Another was fear of science. A third was the subject of race. And, finally religion and superstition.

Mix all of those together in a toxic stew and what do you get?

2020.

If we distill some of that into the “Era of the Rona,” as I heard a young guy call it, you start observing more than you did in the early days of sickness and death.

I think we are getting too comfortable with the virus. While we all seem to be following the rules of masking, at least in my limited world, we aren’t keeping our distances and I saw one guy shake another’s hand. I miss that too.

But…

We can’t do that right now.

On the other hand, we are wearing our masks. We went to make groceries — a New Orleans way of staying I’m going grocery shopping — I noticed that everyone was masked except for one guy. About four or five people ganged up on him and told him to get out. He didn’t know what to do. He knew that four or five is more than one so he left.

That’s good. We have to take care of each other. Making that guy leave was taking care of him. Think about it.

This is all hard to do.

I photographed Big Queens Kim’s funeral procession. Before I write further, everyone was masked. Our great NOPD street cops had cloth bags tied at their wastes. If they came upon somebody without a mask they reached into their bag and gave them one. They were new and sealed in plastic. Nothing else was said.

One of the hardest things about going was saying hello to other photographers. We are sort of tight knit. We haven’t seen each other in about six months. Normally, there would be hugs and talking closely. We couldn’t do that. We couldn’t shake hands. We tried elbow bumps, but that felt stupid.

I think I’ve also said about our cops, that if they were in any of the cities were protests turned to riots, the riots would never have happened. They know how to handle crowds. Down here, when one group was determined to destroy things, the cops isolated and arrested them. Everyone who came to protest, protested.

We don’t fear our cops. During Mardi Gras my routine is to find parking early, walk over to C.C’s. (Community Coffee) and have a cup before I go out to make pictures. I need the caffeine boost. Usually that means that I’m sitting at a four top — ooh, restaurant talk — by myself.

Often I’m joined by two or three NOPD. We talk about this and that as you do. After sitting with the same group on a couple of occasions, I asked them why they are so good at crowd control. They said, they try never to overreact, they talk with the citizens around them and they never ever draw their weapons unless a citizen’s life is in peril. Not their’s. One of them said that he thinks there is too much tactical gear on the streets which implies an aggressive approach.

There you have it.

We might not have Mardi Gras next year. It depends. Obviously, on this day of reflection about Hurricane Katrina, other traditions come into play. Mardi Gras was blamed for the rapid spread of the virus in early March. I’m not sure that’s fair. Unless, we do everything we can as a city to calm down the virus there is no way Carnival should happen.

That’ll be a horrible shame.

Aside from the long term planning and energy that everyone puts into the production, and all of us who celebrate it as something more than partying, the city needs the money. We’ve been shut down for so long that the tax base is almost non-existent.

The Picture

Wow! See what you get from one spooky looking picture? You get to see my mind wandering around through so bad neighborhoods. I told you about the picture, so…

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your masks. Keep your distance. Enjoy every po’boy.

Stranger To Himself


In the gloaming.

Very experimental.

Since the all seeing dog isn’t walking so far these days because she isn’t quite well, I haven’t been looking about very much.

I’d start seriously looking for pictures as our restrictions drop, but the sky is too blue and the sun is too bright. Ridiculous, I know. My best work is done either at the ends of the day or in bad weather. We’ve had some powerful rain. At night. Everytime. Usually at like 2 or 3 am.

So.

I’m reworking a lot of pictures using new techniques and apps.

I think you’ve seen the base picture. I know the folks who follow me on Instagram have. I’ve experimented so much on this one that I think if I posted the two versions side by side you might not recognize the original version.

I’ve been posting a lot of bright, hopeful pictures. Now, it’s time for the other side of the coin. The picture is dark. It’s broken. It’s eerie. The bright balls of color come from someplace else. Are they good? Bad? That’s up to you. And, me.

To me, it looks like some kind of space alien invasion. I may be seeing it that way because we’ve been watching a bunch of space aliens invading the earth on Netflix. They’ve imprinted themselves on my brain.

Or, it might just have to do with the state of our planet, and the general lack of leadership needed to win the war against the virus.

Which brings me to a piece I read in The New York Times about old school wars and what’s happened since World War II. During that war we fought to win. Since then, we’ve fought to hold the line, ending combat in a stalemate. You may not approve of warfare. Or, you might. I fall in the former category because I saw the truth. That said, I still believe if you are going to fight, you should fight to win.

That’s not what’s happening in our war against CoVid-19. Our national leaders seem content to hold the line instead of killing the virus. The death count keeps rising, yet we have been encouraged — no, make that bullied — into opening businesses too soon. In many places, way too soon.

You know the potential result. Another virus surge in places where it has calmed down. Or, there will be lies about the success. I read both sides of the story, conservative and liberal. I reckon that somewhere in the middle lies a bit of truth.

Anyway.

I read a piece written by a conservative writer who actually works in The White House. He wrote that Florida’s open standards have been a success. Success? My ass. There have been 2,500 new cases in the last three days. Who know how many people that those newly tested people have infected. And, where they live. Some success.

The way to win this war is to put politics aside, appoint a single leader and give him or her all the powers of a wartime president. That means requiring companies who can make all sorts of protective gear to make it. That requires the power to shut down the country if need be. That requires the power to help our foundering states and cities.

I know, I know. The far right will scream bloody murder saying that they don’t want to live in a socialist state. The horse is way out of the barn on that one. The minute we accepted $1,200 checks we became a little more socialist. The minute businesses accepted PPP aid, we became a little more socialist. Free food distributed by The National Guard. More socialist.

Get over it.

Shutting down the country is a little tricky. There are no good choices. Shut down business for too long and there will be extreme financial ruin the likes of which we’ve never seen. Don’t shut it down and the virus continues to run in cycles. There will be death and… more financial ruin. The likes of which we’ve never seen.

I’ve always been a “cut the leg off to save the body” kind of guy so you know what I think. Win the damn war. Don’t let us wander around in the desert for 30 years.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.

Another Halloween


Ghostly hoops.

Escape.

Escape from the French Quarter to Uptown. When this ghostly apparition got there he couldn’t figure out what to do, so he started playing basketball. When nobody else arrived, he looked at me — your trusty photographer — and hissed. Then, he pointed. I left quickly. His yellow eyes were watching every step I made.

That’s the story. I’m sticking to it.

I’m pretty sure that everything is a story. That’s why we do stuff. As Jimmy Buffett once wrote, “We do it for the stories we can tell.” He was right.

Unfortunately, lately I haven’t been doing that. These hurting body parts have taken  on a life of their own. Everyday is a new adventure in “what’s gonna hurt me today?” One of the once unspoken reasons for changing my photographic content is that it hurts me physically to do it. But, it hurts me emotionally not to do it.

A good friend says that coming out for a second line is like going to church. He’s right. Not only do I get to make pictures, but I see a lot of friends, I meet new people, I eat BBQ sausages and I soak in the great vibes. And, there is a spirituality to the whole thing.

If I give up, I lose that. I’m not ready for that.

So.

I have to get a little aggressive. My doctors are nibbling around the edges. For sure, they are kind. They give me the medications that I need to get by. I don’t want to get by. I don’t want to exist. I want to flourish.

If traditional medicine can’t do it. I’ll shift. I spent a total of seven years in Hong Kong and China. I trusted the old ways. Maybe it’s time to make a move toward that again. Time for a few phone calls, texts and emails.

Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, I thought after writing about him, I should listen to a little Jimmy Buffett. So, I am.

“Don’t ever forget that you just might end up in my song.”

Highway 61 Revisted


Out there on Highway 61

“Oh God said to Abraham, “Kill me a son” Abe says, “Man, you must be puttin’ me on”

God say, “No.” Abe say, “What?” God say, “You can do what you want Abe, but

The next time you see me comin’ you better run” Well Abe says, “Where do you want this killin’ done?”

God says, “Out on Highway 61””– © 1965 Bob Dylan/Warner Brothers Music

Yep. This is it the Highway 61 that Bob Dylan wrote about so many years ago. Not this part exactly.

But, further on up the road. In Mississippi. Rosedale, Mississippi. At the crossroads of Highways 61 and 49. Where Robert Johnson made a bargain the devil. He traded his soul for musical genius. He wrote “Traveling Rosedale Blues,” which eventually was morphed into “Crossroads,” by Eric Clapton.

That’s a little history for you.

This place is Highway 61, or Airline Highway, way down road from the area that the song is about. So far down south that it is almost located at its starting point on Tulane Avenue in New Orleans.

This place is called Shrewsbury. It’s a light industrial and railroad neighborhood. Everything still works there. But just across the street is a shopping mall and Old Metairie Road, which is home to a lot of wealth without paying outrageous New Orleans taxes.

The picture. I made it is eerie as I could. It just felt that way. The original scene was actually bright, sunny, with pre-storm clouds rolling in. In many ways, this picture feels like an album cover. Yeah, yeah. I know. With music streaming… what’s an album cover?

I may rework the picture again. I’d like to make it feel even more evil. Ahahahahahaha.

Green World


In an eerie light.

A semi-tropical place.

Yep. That’s us. We look that way. The heat feels that way. The humidity feels that way. Essentially, we live in an outdoor hothouse. Even when the cooler air and lower sun of winter rolls around, we are still a hothouse. We just don’t feel it.

I was out wandering around with dogarito. Don’t ask. The name just came to me. I saw this little stand of leaves. They were nicely backlighted. I took my time photographing them. When I looked at them on a big monitor I was happily surprised. I worked on a bunch of them. How many pictures are in a bunch? Oh. I don’t know. It’s sort of like the weather guy on television the other night. Instead of saying something like 97 degrees, he just said it was going to be “dang hot.” Do you have any idea how much I appreciated that?

I did not appreciate that “dang hot” really meant 96 or 97 degrees with a “feels like” temperature of around 114 degrees.  Yep. That’s summer in the swamp. It’s “dang hot.”

Keep scrolling.

Hidden in the shadows.

You didn’t think that I’d leave out a little news commentary, did you?

This is not about the state of caged kids. Although that situation is still precarious.

This is about national discourse.

Of course the “Tweasel in Chief” is the prime driver of the rudeness and nastiness in public discourse today. I need not run down the list of his accomplishments, but it’s starting to affect everybody else.

Elizabeth Warren and the Tweasel got into an eight-hour Twitter fight yesterday. Eight hours? Really? Don’t either of them have something better to do with their time?

Then, his press secretary was asked to leave a restaurant because she works for the Tweasel.  She said it was more about the restaurant owner than her, forgetting that the newly appointed members of the Supreme Court made that behavior okay when they agreed that a baker could deny service to a gay couple.

Then the press secretary’s father got involved by tweeting a picture of tattooed Hispanics who might possibly look like gang members, comparing Nancy Pelosi’s campaign staff to MI-13 gang members. He’s a Southern Baptist minister. Praise God.

This list goes on and on and on.

Get a grip. Everybody.

Just because Tweasel is nuts, mean and stupid, doesn’t mean that we have to be.

Keep scrolling.

A still life.

The name Tweasel was created by a toddler after she heard me call the orange haired dufus in the White House a weasel and after she heard somebody else say that he is treasonous. She looked at me, smiled and said, “Oh, a Tweasel.”

Out of the mouth of babes.

After Time


Beyond the blue.

After time. After the blue hour. By luck. And, by chance.

That’s life. Blink once. It’s gone.

I was on my way to some place. I looked to my left. An interesting scene. But, very dark. I thought, “I wonder if…” I pulled out my handy iPhone. I made four pictures. Three of the four looked good.

You just never know.

Until you try.

 

Skull Duggery


Glaring at you.

A little skull for you.

Because we are into our long Halloween weekend. Because it seems normal in the swamp that I call home. Because I saw it. Because I made the picture.

Simple. Like a skull.

The picture. It’s pretty much as I described it. f5.6 and be there. I worked on it a little in post production. Mostly to hide its flaws. My photograph’s flaws. Not the skull’s. Shooting a little after noon, does not a great picture make. I knew that. But, sometimes… you have no choice.

Wires


Looks like that place again…

It’s not that place. It’s a different one.

It appears to be lost in time. As do I. Because, I’m not making very many new pictures these days. Except for this one. I saw it. I pushed the button. On my iPhone. The sky was sort of milky just before it turned colorful. I took the colorful pictures also. But, from the minute I saw the quieter version, I knew what I was going to in post production.

I did this. A painting. Without using painting software. I’ll get back to that in a bit.

That’s the first time for that sort of continuous thought. Usually, I make the picture and tinker around. There was no tinkering this time. I knew exactly where to go. I suppose there was a little experimentation on my way to creating my vision. But, the steps were intentional.

About painting software. I don’t use it. I’ve tested it. I think it is trying too hard. You know. Push a button for watercolor. Or, push a button for Van Gogh. I don’t think creativity is enhanced. Or, works that way. It’s sort of like using a paint by numbers kit to make something to hang on the wall. It might like okay. But, it’s not from the inside. Where art is created.

And, that’s it.