Mostly confusion.

Something awoke.

It started by binging 11-22-1963 on Hulu. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s a Stephen King book made into something else entirely. I won’t tell you much in case you do decide to see it. The title should tell you that the book is about the assassination of JFK. I can also tell you that a guy travels back in time in hopes of stopping it.  Time intervenes in many ways.

That’s it.

Anything else could ruin it for you. Don’t multi-task. Just watch it.

I’ll tell you one more thing. The very end isn’t quite what you think. It was very sad for me. It brought up distant memories of people in my past. Some were lost to events. Some were lost to time and place. Others were just lost.

Do you ever think about what it would be like if you could be with them again? Could you pick up right where you left off? Would it be awkward for you? For both of you? Would you just be reeling in the years?

I don’t know. I didn’t go to my high school reunion. I was injured. It was the start of my back problems.  I also didn’t really feel like it. Our next big one comes up in 2021. I have to think about that. It’s my high school’s 100th anniversary. It should be a big deal. I dislike big deals.

The picture. I stacked and layered four images together. I filtered it. I added stuff. I subtracted stuff. This is the picture that emerged from my experimentation.

I did another experiment. It was prompted by this very bloody weekend in New Orleans. As I write this at about noon on Sunday, 15 people have been shot. Of those, five are dead. I made a picture of a brass band playing during a second line. I layered it with red stuff that looks like blood. It is powerful. I just don’t know if I should publish it here.

To those of you who said that they wanted to see a picture of me in my seersucker suit, you should all know better. Saying “a picture or it didn’t happen” is an Instagram thing. I won’t ever play that game. And, when did I ever publish a picture of myself on Storyteller? It’s not that kind of blog.

Enjoy.


The best. Or not.

That is so subjective. But, it’s my subject. Hmmmm.

Just about every kind of media shows their best of something or other. This is the best of the ruined, abandoned and falling apart buildings that I founder the course of 2016.

There are a few more, but I created my own internal set of conventions. Rules to live by. For me.

I wanted the pictures to TRY to represent every month of 2015. That didn’t happen. I tried not to use pictures that were heavily manipulated in post production. With the exception of the Bohn Motors building, I pretty much succeeded. I tried to show you pictures that you might remember, but with a little spice of newness mixed in. There is one picture that you’ve never seen. See if you can figure out which one.

I didn’t limit the pictures to one location. I mostly show you pictures made in New Orleans. I travel. A lot. More than you know. But, that’s for other stuff. My other work. However, in trying to collect a picture from each month I had to stretch a little. For instance, the pictured called “Port Hudson” was made near… wait for it, Port Hudson, Louisiana. The picture called, “Once Upon a Club,” was made in Natchez, Mississippi. The rest are New Orleans pictures.

To update you little bit. Despite the city’s best efforts to tear it down, Club Desire is still standing. It’s really salvageable. It’ll come down some time in 2016. The picture called, “Not Der No Mo,” was made at the remaining old school housing projects in Central City. They are no longer standing. Some foundations remain. But, the buildings are gone.

For me, the best way to keep moving on this short three-day project is to tell you the rest of my scheduling plans. That way, I’ll really do what I say that I’m going to do.

So.

Wednesday. The best of the little things I’ve seen. Pictures made on the way from one place to another. Pictures made on the fly. Glimpses. Moments.

Thursday. The best of the Mardi Gras culture. Mardi Gras Indians. Second lines. Social clubs. I’m saving that for last because you’ve seen a lot of it lately. Between my gallery show and the events of the past few weeks, you’ve seen a lot.

Friday. New Year’s Day. I have nothing planned. But, we have a little household tradition. It started years ago. I like to work a little on New Year’s Eve. That — hopefully — sets the tone for the new year. So, likely you’ll see something brand new. Hours new. Like a new-born baby.

Don’t forget to click on the picture to open it.

 


Super fresh meat.
Super fresh meat.

I’ve been to this place. I’ve explored it inside and out.

You’ve seen it. A couple of times. This is the building that’s collapsing on itself. Some of the second story is laying on the first floor.

Every now and then while I’m passing by, I look at it again. The lowish sunlight intrigued me, so I stopped and walked around. I did exactly what they told me never to do. I shot directly into the sun. It almost blinded me, but the camera was fine. The sensor too. I helped it out a little — well, a lot — in post production. I wanted the building to look as falling apart to you as I saw it.

The thing to really check out is the sign. Look closely at the little symbol-thing to the left. It took me a couple of seconds but I realized what it is supposed to be. A T-bone Steak. Now, isn’t that attractive? Mouth watering, indeed.


Summer growth at an abandoned house.
Summer growth at an abandoned house.

Back to it.

Broken. Rotting. Falling Down. Abandoned.

There are thousands of these buildings all over New Orleans. Some were badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Others have been rotting for decades. Sometimes, the buildings that have been left abandoned for years are said to be “being demoed by neglect.” That’s kind of an easy way out for a property owner who ran out of money. Leave the building. Leave the city. Don’t pay property taxes. Let somebody else deal with it. Usually, that’s the city. There is a big, long process to either tear the building down or sell it for back taxes. After all, this is city government we are talking about. There was an auction of vetted, abandoned properties the other day. Oh no you don’t. Not me. A falling down building is about the last thing we need in this house. Besides, I already have one. Not the house the house we live in. The other one.

Anyway.

This is a little collection of pictures I made the other night. This is just a classic situation. There is a beautiful church next door. The houses in the neighborhood are in great condition — I’ll show you in the next few days. The church too. Then, there’s this place. It looks like somebody made an effort to restore and renovate it. They probably ran out of money too.  Just like the owner. Or maybe, the work was done by the owner. Now, summertime nature is taking over. The house is becoming rapidly over grown. If I remember, I’ll check back during winter. I’ll see how the place really looks.

The pictures. Yes. I did some work in post production. I wanted the pictures to look aged. A little old and weather-beaten. I think that I got there. Hopefully, I’ll just keep rolling. This is part of a long-term project that just sort of petered out. Like a lot of things.

Nature returns.
Nature returns.
Abandoned windows.
Abandoned windows.


Gang Tags. Broken Houses.
Gang Tags. Broken Houses.

A friend of mine asked how I could jump from second line parades to broken buildings to southern summer scenes. I replied, “It’s all one song.” I’m not that clever. I borrowed that. Once, when musician Neil Young was playing at a concert, someone yelled out, “The songs sound the same.” He replied back to the heckler, “It’s all one song.”

There you have it. My work is all one lone continuum. It has been for around 40 years.

These pictures are all 7th ward pictures. I made the top one when we were walking back from Lionel Ferbos’ jazz funeral and second line. The middle picture is from the building that used to have a second floor. But, it fell down. The third picture is a Katrina Cross. You know about them? Right?

When every rescue agency that could, came for us, they needed a way to mark the buildings. The ones that had been searched. No need to duplicate efforts. It was hot. Just about like it is today. And, they had a lot to do. So they drew a cross and circled it. Most are gone now. Some are still there fading away. And, a few have been turned into memorials. This one says that the building was searched on September 13 (2005). There were no bodies. No animals. And, it was search by a unit of the National Guard from California.

Falling Down.
Falling Down.
Katrina Cross
Katrina Cross


Mid City. Construction.
Mid City. Construction.

When I write Storyteller, it’s usually late in the evening. I usually listen to music. It falls into what has become a sort of trendy genre. Americana. It’s all over the place. Most senior musicians say, after hearing that they now fall into this “new” genre, “Oh, I’ve been playing that for years. It just never had a name.” So. Tonight, I’m working to Neil Young’s “Greendale.” It’s a ten-year old concept album about a strange little fantasy town called… “Greendale.”

And… I’m still into “Grunge City.” This is a picture from Mid City. A lot of Mid City was torn down. After the storm. A lot of it flooded, But, that wasn’t why. The City, the Feds, FEMA and the VA decided to build a cutting edge medical corridor. Two new hospitals. A teaching hospital. Research facilities. It’s a mammoth 24 block area. Most of the existing housing stock was torn down or moved… see my posts about Hoffman Triangle. But, some original buildings remained. They may have flooded, but they were solid stock. However, the constant pile driving, hammering and work is tearing them down by accident. This is one of those buildings. Every time that I see it, it looks worse. Eventually, it’ll be torn down. Or, it will fall down on its own. By the way. It’s across the street from all of this work.

The picture. Mostly I let nature — or the construction crews — take its course. I added a little to it because, well, where would this series be without my adding stuff?

 


Flags
Safety in Central City
Door
An inside door on the outside.
Brickyard
Doorway to nowhere.

Doors. I have this thing about Doors. No. Not The Doors. They were a great band, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about… oh, never mind. You see the pictures. Within a few hours of finally being home, I just had to run out and make a bunch of pictures. I immediately resumed my Central City project and I went back to the building with the graffiti. So. Let me talk about what you are looking at. The top picture is just on the edge of Central City. I was attracted to the all the signs and flags more than I was to the door. But, the door made a great subject from which to build my composition.  The second door — the inside door on the outside — was also made in Central City. I suppose this building was about to fall down anyway. But, when Hurricane Isaac struck last summer, it tore off the entire side of an apartment building. If you look at it from the front or the other side, the building looks fine. But, when you walk around to the downriver side of the building, not so much. Kind of like a movie set. I’ve also made some overall images, which show the situation much clearer. I’ll post one eventually. Finally. The doorway to nowhere. I went back to that building with the graffiti. I approached it from another side. I found this door. I also could smell cooking. My homeless friends were cooking over a grill. They asked if I was hungry. There you go.

So. These pictures. The making of them was pretty simple. Poke around. Find them. Photograph them. The fun is in the post production when I try to make my normally bright and energetic pictures look a little more beat up and muted.


xsarn-2
On Marais Street

So. I met this guy a few weeks ago when I was poking around what is now called “The New Bywater.” New Bywater, indeed. It’s a an area of the Upper Ninth Ward. At one time it was downriver from a neighborhood called St. Roch. Well. It still is. The neighborhood didn’t move. It was just renamed. By realtors. While St. Roch was mostly built and developed by Germans, this area was developed by Italians. In fact, the building that Scot — that’s his name — is standing near, is actually Italianate in design. But, you wouldn’t know it. Not today.

So who is this guy? Well, he’s the king of this particular block of Marais Street. That’s not what he calls himself. He’s actually a pretty smart and well read guy. We talked for a while on a variety of topics.  He also was a reporter for the Times-Picyune for ten years. He knows the area very well. Unlike a lot of guys I photograph in neighborhoods like these, he didn’t ask for anything except for a few pictures. I sent them today via email. He is living in the only functional and habitable house on the street. He looks after the others for their owners. Yes. This neighborhood was heavily flooded during Hurricane Katrina. The difference between this area and The Lower Ninth Ward is simple. The  buildings in the Lower Ninth Ward were mostly swept away by powerful water. In this neighborhood, the houses took on 12 or 15 feet of water, but the water flow wasn’t strong enough to move the buildings. So, they sit in various stages of remediation. Or not. Some are just abandoned. They can be bought for very little money if you can find the legal owner. As you get closer to the main street in the area — St. Claude — many of the houses have been rebuilt by a new population. Hipsters.

The picture. The photographic technique is simple. The approach is also simple. Smile. Talk to the subject. And, ask if I could take his picture. Oh yeah. Make sure that I kept my promise. Send him some pictures.