o. I turned in another direction and saw this sky which was very different from the one that I showed you yesterday. The brightness of the light as I looked across the scene changed everything including the color intensity.
In case you are wondering, the weather is still cool and dry. In fact, it’s even cooler today than it was yesterday. The weather should stay that way for a few days. Warmth will return for a day or two as summer struggles to hold onto its grip only to fail as the sun moves lower in the sky until it begins to rise after the shortest day of the year.
We’ll pass through Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, The Twelfth Night and, with luck, Mardi Gras. That’s a funny way of looking at things, isn’t it?
Mardi Gras matters down here.
Not only are there a huge number of tourists who pump millions dollars into our economy that we dearly need, but there is a feeling of celebration in the air. We could use a little celebration after these two long, dark years. I could use being on the streets to photograph something that I love. For me, that’s enough.
In other words, I’ve come to a place where I have to weigh risk and reward. It’s not lost on me that if I get sick with the virus I could die. But, living the way I’m living now may keep my body alive, but my spirit and soul are dying. If they die, what I have preserved?
I promised you a few more details and pictures from this place. The General Laundry Cleaners and Dyers building. That’s its formal name.
It was built in 1929. By Owner Robert Chapoit, after his laundry first building was burned to the ground. In the 1960s, the American Can Company used it. The USPS wanted to tear it down in 1974 in order to add a parking lot to their postal facilities.
They were stopped cold by neighborhood residents.
Instead, it was added to the National Registry of Landmarks in 1974. It is now on a different list called “The New Orleans Nine.” A list of nine structures that are important to the history of the city that should be restored and maintained in some form. As of two years ago, the city council was still deciding what to do with it. It is one of six art deco buildings in the city. None is as colorful as this. Some have been rehabbed and repurposed into condos or work-live spaces.
That’s a brief history.
Obviously, it is still standing two years later. There is currently a huge redevelopment of the land that lies just upriver of the building. A greenway is now open on what was once dead railroad tracks. It stretches from The French Quarter to City Park. It opened the way for further new building and conversion of abandoned and broken buildings. This place is a block or so away from that land. I guess we’ll see what happens next.
The pictures. I just took them. I photographed what I saw. I’d like to work from the back as well. But, the scrap yard foreman says it’s unsafe. I need a hard-hat. Like many photographers and Boy Scouts, I’m always prepared. I got a hard hat from the trunk of my car. According to the foreman it still wasn’t safe. I suggested that he and his crew not go in the back of the building since they were dressed about like I was. He didn’t like that.
Where there once was energy there is now just dust gathering. Remains. And, a strange silence. These pictures are, in a way, a reminder of days gone by. A time when people actually made things. A time when there was a lot of pride in the work done. Things made. Tasks accomplished.
Before you think that you know where I’m going with this, you don’t. Remember, Storyteller is not a political blog. This is not about the simplistic and jingoistic “Make America Great Again,” political slogan of 2016. That silliness won’t last. It never does.
This post is about the future.
This post is about buying a building that was left in shambles, restoring it and creating another new craft-based business. It was the future. But, the future is now. It’s already starting to happen. And, it has been for the past couple of years. In all the left for dead Eastern manufacturing cities. Small businesses are opening that are owned by craftsmen, artisans and small businessmen. Some make shoes. Watches. Guitars. Clocks. Furniture. All kinds of metal work. Musical instruments. And, some businesses are focused on repairing the disposables. You know. All that technology that is intended to break down, to wear out. So you can buy another “new and improved” later model of whatever it is that broke.
That makes America great again. It makes any place great.
The pictures. They were all made in Central City, New Orleans. The neighborhood has a long way to go. But, it’s heart — Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard — has been redeveloped already. It’s sort of a mix of community development and gentrification. Some buildings are in their third or fourth phase. One business closes. And, another moves in. That’s the difference. The building doesn’t go fallow. And, a neighborhood remains reborn.
See? I did have a pretty good shoot in Cairo. Considering my shooting night was really about an hour, it was exceptional… for anyone. Especially me. I’m not sure what this building was originally because it has what looks like loading docks in the back, and store fronts along the street. It’s one of those buildings that I’d like to buy and renovate. Unfortunately, in Cairo there is really no need for it. Nobody would use it. But, in New Orleans… well, that’s a whole other story. This place would sell for a lot of money even in the abandoned and boarded up state that you see here.
The picture is simple. See it, frame it, push the button. Very little post production. No need for it. Somebody painted parts of it green without my help.
Well. You know I like color. Bright, energetic , bold color. These pictures are certainly colorful and bright. While I was exploring the ruins of the power plant, I took the time to explore some other abandoned buildings near by. The whole area was once devoted to heavy manufacturing. There were railroad sidings that ran through cobblestone streets. Many of the buildings were of pre-Civil War design and construction. Others were built in the late 1800s. Today, they are in various stages of decay. Some have been repurposed as design firms and different kinds of studios. So have been torn down. The building in which I found this very colorful graffiti was a medical supply manufacturing company. It’s pretty much abandoned today. I say pretty much abandoned because it is being used. If you wander into the deepest regions of the ground floor or climb the rickety old stairs you’ll find plenty of evidence of people living there. I suppose you could call them homeless. But, they’ve dug themselves in pretty well. They have tents, beds, cooking areas, coolers, chairs. All that kind of stuff. I didn’t see any people who might live there. I suppose they hit the street corners by day. They probably return at night to hide among the ruins. I did see three other people while I was there. A photographer, and assistant and a model. We talked for a moment but stayed out of each other’s way.
The pictures. Most tagging is purely destructive. But, I do like graffiti when it is bright, colorful and artistic. This work fills that bill. But, in order to get to it I had to wander deep into the bowels of this building. That’s how I know there were what could be called semi-permanent residents lurking around somewhere. Piles of stuff everywhere. Most of these pictures are just time exposures deep in the dark. I intentionally underexposed them since I know that my post production software — Lightroom and Photoshop — likes to see images lighter and more over exposed then I like. I added a lot of post production manipulations in OnOne and I made the pictures are as you see them. I suppose you could say the taggers and I are co-conspirators in this work. I’d really like to photograph them at work. But, that’s not going to happen. Even if I could convince them that I mean no harm, they wouldn’t want to let me see them work. You know why. If you know a tagger or two, please have them call, email or text me. Really.
As you all know, I like old broken stuff. Houses. Cars. Trucks. Trains. Boats. Anything. There is an old power plant in New Orleans that is about 160 years old. Maybe older. It’s been abandoned for many years. It is reputed to have been a cannon ball factory during The Civil War. Yes, It’s just that old. I’m not sure if that rumor is true. But, the building is old. And boarded up. And closed. There are fences around it. Barbed wire too. But, one day, one of the doors was open. People were working inside. Hard hat types. They couldn’t see me, so I crept right in. I’m sure that I would have gotten thrown out if they saw me. So, I made sure that they didn’t see me. In I went. I made this picture, walked across a sort of gang-plank. I climbed some iron steps and had a good old time. Picture. Picture. Picture. I walked back down the stairs. The guys were still working. Out the door I went. Nobody was the wiser. Even me. I’m apparently not very wise.
The picture. Well, it’s mostly frame, point and shoot. But, a pair of soft-soled quiet shoes helped a lot. I must have taken so lessons from my late Cocker Spaniel. She’d walk around the house. Clank, clank, clank. You could hear her dog tags bouncing off of each other. But, when she wanted to be stealthy, she was. Very quiet. I could be trying to eat something and didn’t want to share with her. I’d think I was in the clear. I’d look down and there she was, looking up at me. Anyway. There was an amazing amount of light in that old building. Really. It was too bright for how I envisioned the picture. So. Off to post production-land I went. This is the result.
Relax! Let you eyes wonder and quiet your mind with some visual therapy. A picture is always more than you can see. You will also find my own illustrations about things I find funny and interesting. Have some fun, life is short!