Along the parade route.
Along the parade route.

This is normally a huge parade. It didn’t disappoint. The Original N.O. Lady and Men Buckjumpers Annual Parade is 31 years old. It is bold. Powerful. Loud.

It was bigger than huge on Sunday. I’m not sure if people were making a statement about last weekend’s events. Or, if an 80 degree Thanksgiving weekend brought everybody out on the street.

Second lines are happy, joyous and safe events. They are neighborhood events. Tell me that I shouldn’t go and guess what? I go. So did just about everybody else in Central City. The streets were packed. At one point, I was in the Stooges Brass Band. At another point, I was in Rebirth. I had no choice. What could be better? Two legendary brass bands. And, I got to walk with them. How cool is that?

As I wrote last week, this is my last second line for a while. I’m not sure if I’m retiring from the parades, but I’ve got other stuff to do. I’ll go out with a lot of visual noise. A big racket.

I had a helluva great shooting day. I’m not exactly sure why. I was very focused. No pun intended. I saw with eyes wide open. I don’t know why. I just did. If I could bottle that and sell it, I’d be a very rich man.

As I’ve said in the past, WordPress is a writer’s blog. That said, there are a lot of bloggers that discuss “getting in the mood to write.” I don’t know what to tell them. All I know is I have a pre-event routine. Doing the little things that I do may not guarantee that I’ll photograph well, but it sort of sets the mood. Opens the door. Helps me to get in the zone. Or, something like that.

Anyway.

You’ll see the pictures over the course of the week. Even then, I’m not sure that I can show you all — or, even — most of them. I’ll try my best.

The pictures. What is the heart and soul of a second line? Social Clubs? Brass bands? The neighborhood itself? The second line? For me, I suppose it really is about family. Joy. Reunion. Sort of a rolling party.

So.

That’s what these pictures are about. These are the moments for which I look. The ones that I anticipate. The moments I to which I react.

They are also about just being there. Seeing. Situational awareness. Paying attention.  Constant motion. I wish I could tell you more than that. There’s no secret to taking these pictures.  Just a lot of practice and hard work.

Then there’s this. You know what’s coming. There’s only about a week or so to go in this funding campaign.

https://www.gofundme.com/gk8bajd8

Good teeth.
Good teeth.
Last hug.
Last hug.


Two Before Me.
Two Before Me.

Two Before Me.

That was the caption when this picture was first published. In 1980. That’s the caption I use today. The two women in the picture are my Mom and Grandmother. My Mom was 64. My Grandma was 94. They are both long passed. I can’t quite remember when my Grandma passed. Maybe two years after this picture was taken. My mom left in 1996. 18 years. Well, a few months less.

They told me that the pain would grow less. It did. They told me that in about five years time, I wouldn’t think about my mom on a daily basis. They were pretty much right. But, they didn’t tell me that eventually, I’d start remembering more and missing her again. Not every day. Just from time to time. Today is one of those days. I’m not the only one. Maybe you are too.

A lot has happened since 1996.

A lot of new people are in my life. Good people. I’m lucky that they are with me. I’m actually having sort of a rebirth. Because of them and with them. I wish she could have met them. I’m pretty sure she would have liked them. Especially those who are closest to me.

After all, she liked The Beatles. She liked The Doors. Well, the early Doors. Heh! She liked the Rolling Stones. Besides the music, I can’t ever recall her saying a bad word about anybody. I think that she liked everybody that she met. She liked going to a church where the Mass was said in English and they played guitars. She cried when the Kennedys were killed. And, Martin Luther King.

I suppose I learned more than I knew from her. I’m really only understanding that now. Every now and then, when I write this blog I close by saying, “Thanks, Mom.” I’ll tell you why someday.

Thanks, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

 


Father and Son at the Treme Second Line.
Father and Son at the Treme Second Line.

There’s a saying that goes something like, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” This picture illustrates it almost perfectly. I made it during “Treme Sidewalk Steppers Annual Second Line Parade.”

Here’s the story. The paraders walk over long routes. People sort of jump in and out depending on where they might happen to be at the time. The parade also takes breaks at certain stops in the neighborhood. Our first break came at Kermit Ruffins’ Speakeasy. It’s a neighborhood bar, club and restaurant. Kermit is closing it in a few weeks. But, it’s all good. He bought the old Ernie K. Doe’s Mother in Law Lounge and would rather put his business energy there. After all, he is a hard-working musician and he was beginning to stretch himself a little too thin. I believe he plays six nights a week at various clubs around town. He takes breaks from those standing jobs when he a special gig somewhere, like at Jazzfest.

Anyway.

We stopped and the main line (the Sidewalk Steppers and the brass band) started milling around. I was standing next to the guy with the cigar, when out of nowhere comes his son, dressed just like his dad. He threw his arms around his dad and there I was. Click. Click. Click. When they saw me, they sort of straightened up a bit and posed for me. I gave dad my card and asked him to call me. When he does, I’ll give him a few prints. Likely, he’ll want the more posed pictures. But, to me, this is the moment. The decisive moment.


One night in the French Quarter.
One night in the French Quarter.
Counting the cash.
Counting the cash.
Playing for free.
Playing for free.

I have a couple of friends who call themselves street photographers. I like their work. But, I’m not sure I get it. The name, not their work. I get their work. I shoot portraits on the street a lot. Y’all know that. But, I just think of myself as either a photographer or a photojournalist. Sometimes, an artist. So. I dunno. On the other hand, a lot of guys who call themselves street photographers seem to shoot from about a million miles away, almost like they are afraid of their subject. Me? I like to engage my subjects. I talk to them. I hang with them. Sometimes I give them a couple bucks if they ask. Oh. Checkbook journalism. Hahahahahahahaha. How close do I like to work? Two of these pictures were made with a 16 mm lens. The horn player was made with a 55 mm. Like I said, I like to work close.

The pictures? F8 and be there, once again. Very little post production because pictures like these really don’t need it. Nor, should they have it.


A big bag of freshly popped popcorn. 


I had a request for some of my more “lyrical” images. I had to do a pretty deep file search since I usually keep my images organized by the actual shoot. Maybe I should change that and build files that reflect those sorts of themed collections. Since my files go back for years and years and years that would be a massive undertaking and it might be deprive of the joy of discovering missing gems. Well. Maybe not missing. But, tucked a way in a safe place. You know about those safe places. You can almost never find anything that is put in a “safe” place because that place is safe even from you. So, this  re-editing and creating new files will take some thought… before I even attempt it. If I attempt it. I don’t know that I want to be that organized.

This picture. I can’t even remember when I made it. It lives in a collection of images that I assembled for a nature thing I did a while back. That’s always a problem since I do not consider myself to be a nature photographer. In any way. When my pictures appear to be of nature, they were probably made in some small corner of a city or garden or something. I didn’t hike for ten miles, camp overnight and wait for the perfect two minutes of light. In my case, the light was there, The flower or tree or something was there and I saw it. I pushed the button and there it was.  So. Back to this picture. It’s a reflection. I likely saw it reflected in a light-colored car. It’s over exposed. But, that lends to the gentleness of the picture. I think it was kind of an accident. 


I don’t have a picture that is really appropriate for today — 911. I do want to reflect on the day and what it means, But, I do have this. I photographed a second line parade in Central City, New Orleans. When the parade passed by Lafayette Cemetery No. 2, they broke into an old spiritual called “I’ll Fly Away.” Hearing it played by a marching band is something very special.

This is it. Peace y’all.

“Some glad morning when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away;

To a home on God’s celestial shore,

I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

I’ll fly away, Oh Glory

I’ll fly away; (in the morning)

When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,

I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away).

When the shadows of this life have gone,

I’ll fly away;

Like a bird from prison bars has flown,

I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away)

Just a few more weary days and then,

I’ll fly away;

To a land where joy shall never end,

I’ll fly away (I’ll fly away)”

 


Yesterday, I posted about a post-Isaac birthday party that I was lucky to attend. I showed you a look at the “subject of honor.” Today, I thought that I would give you a look at a couple of the musicians.


Well. The winds blew and the rains fell and blew and fell and blew and fell. For 60 hours. Then the power went out. For six days. But, I’m lucky. I’m told. Some people in New Orleans won’t get their power restored for another week. No power equalled no blogging. As Neil Young once wrote , “Keep on blogging ’till the power goes out.” Well…

Anyway. It got hot. Real hot. Mind bending hot. A friend of mine came to the rescue. I stayed at her parents house. They had power. They live two and a half miles from me. I dunno. On the last day I stayed with them, their neighbors had a surprise mariachi birthday party for a birthday girl. They invited me. I took full advantage of that. I was tired of photographing storm-related stuff. So, I photographed this little neighborhood party. I must had a lot of pent-up something. I photographed as well as I ever have. I shot a 8 gig card. About 480 pictures. My first selection was 134 pictures. Normally for something like that, it’s around 20 or 30 pictures. This time, I have at least 10 portfolio candidates. I’m still amazed. I am never THAT productive. Or even close.

So. Here’s the picture. It’s the birthday girl and her dad. She’s wiping away tears of joy after she saw her big surprise. The mariachi band.