“Red and white, blue suede shoes
I’m Uncle Sam, how do you do
Gimme five, still alive
Ain’t no luck, I learned to duck

Check my pulse, it don’t change
Stay seventy two, come shine or rain
Wave the flag, pop the bag
Rock the boat, skin the goat

Wave that flag, wave it wide and high
Summertime done come and gone, my oh my

I’m Uncle Sam, that’s who I am
Been hiding out, in a rock and roll band
Shake the hand that shook the hand
Of P. T. Barnum and Charlie Chan

Shine your shoes, light your fuse
Can you use them old U.S. Blues
I’ll drink your health, share your wealth
Run your life, steal your wife

Back to back, chicken shack
Son of a gun, better change your act
We’re all confused, what’s to lose
You can call this song the United States Blues”

U.S. Blues — Robert Hunter/Jerry Garcia — The Grateful Dead

I’m not feeling so patriotic this Independence Day, so you’ll have be happy with some lyrics sung by The Grateful Dead.

I made these pictures over the course of the last ten years. During my travels. In many parts of The United States.  For those of you who celebrate our national holiday, burn a hamburger for me. For those of you who live in other countries and for whom July 4 is just another Thursday, enjoy yourselves. Do whatever it is you want to do. To our friends to the north in Canada. I’m sorry.

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A long way.

There are days and there are days.

I tried to photograph balloons. There were three. Not enough. There was wind. You’d think that balloons like wind. They do. But, not much more than 10 miles per hour. The wind was stronger than that. So no balloons in the air. No dusk balloon glow.

I gave up.

I started heading back. Then, this picture happened. At 60 miles per hour. Luckily, the magic smart phone came to the rescue. All I did was hold it on the dashboard with a finger. It did the rest and I slowed down.

I have one more day to make a balloon glow picture. We have cold and windy air. With only (more…)


In the French Quarter.
In the French Quarter.

It’s a holiday. Independence Day. 4th of July. It is the day The Declaration of Independence was signed. The birthday of my country.

Bottom line. It’s sort of a big deal. In The United States we celebrate in many ways. Fireworks. Parades. Baseball Games. Carnivals. Barbecues. Fairs. Picnics. Concerts. Hot dogs.

And…

We display our flag.

I’m in the middle of a huge digital house cleaning. It’s all images. All day. Every day. Sorting. Filing. Building master collections. Cleaning out the extras and mid process work product.  There are reasons for my madness. I’ll get to that later. Much later in the summer. I discovered a very scattered collection of American flags. They live all over the place. In various files. On various hard drives. I’m not disorganized. I have pretty well-kept collections. I just file either by date or by location. Sometimes by subject if I have a big collection of images.

So.

I thought I’d assemble a small portfolio of American flag pictures for you. This little group suits my style. It’s as much about the little things that make up The United States as anything. I’m not a big boom boom guy. So, no fireworks. I’m not big on huge buildings and monuments. So, no pictures of large places. I try not to eat too much processed food. So, no hot dogs.

I like little, more symbolic things. Hopefully, this portfolio won’t bore you.

I’ll tell a little story with each picture.

The above picture was made in the French Quarter. As I often do, I made it on the way to someplace else. I think I was photographing Easter parades and was walking on a street that ran parallel to the parade. Much faster to get around that way.

Pictures of everything.
Pictures of everything.

Las Vegas, Nevada. I was walking through a casino when I spotted a young woman taking a picture of the flag. A huge flag. Oh, how could I resist?

American flag used as a hat on a Mardi Gras Indian.
American flag used as a hat on a Mardi Gras Indian.

A flag as a hat. Sometimes, people call something like this disrespectful. Not this time. This is a Mardi Gras Indian. A big chief. He’s entitled. As much, or more, than anyone. The picture was made on Bayou St. John prior to the parade.

American flag and the blues.
American flag and the blues.

Memphis, Tennessee. The home of the blues. American music.

Katrina return.
Katrina return.

Lower 9th Ward. Hope and pride, post Hurricane Katrina.

American flag and Katrina Cross.
American flag and Katrina Cross.

The Bywater. We are still so affected by Hurricane Katrina. There are still Katrina crosses spray painted on buildings. Nine years later.

Flag art.
Flag art.

Sometimes the flag is art. No disrespect, just an artist’s statement.

Uptown American flag.
Uptown American flag.

The house is in shambles. The flag is bright.

American flag and the cost of freedom
American flag and the cost of freedom.

The real cost of freedom. The National Cemetery at Chalmette. We left the beads. I was raised to always leave something to show that I was there.

Hanging American flag.
Hanging American flag.

Virginia City, Nevada. A reborn ghost town.

For my foreign friends. Thank you for hanging in there with this. These pictures, like most images are symbols. Icons. They have meaning. Hopefully, to you as well.

And now, as musician Eric Clapton closes his shows, “It’s high time we went.”