“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
Well, if this isn’t something…
Seeing the flag.
Shell Beach. St. Bernard Parish.
Summers end, maybe.
Stars and bars.
Hanging American flag.
Uptown American flag.
Pictures of everything.
American flag used as a hat on a Mardi Gras Indian.
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.
I’m not going to get into a political thing on a holiday. I’m going to appreciate what I have. Remember what the notion of the USA means. And, hope that we can fix the damage already done. You know what I say about hope. It’s like miracles. They take hard work.
For those of you in The United States, happy Fourth of July. For those of you everywhere else, happy Wednesday.
That’s how old my country is today. We’ve been through a lot. Wars. Depressions. Recessions. Floods. And, disasters. Expansions. Growth. Painful modernization. New technology. Old technology. Threats. And, challenges. We sent men into outer space. We went to the moon. We shortened the trip from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean by building a canal. (So you know, I accidentally dropped the part about oceans, making it look like we shortened the trip to the moon by building a canal. Sheesh. Perfection is for angels.) We’ve helped to conquer many illnesses. The list of accomplishments, and some setbacks, is long. There is a lot more to come.
We have a few very challenging months or years ahead of us. But, I am confident that the man who shall not be named will not hurt my country permanently. Unless he blows up the world. In that case, I suppose it doesn’t matter.
Wait a minute. That’s not what this post is about. Nor, is Storyteller.
Storyteller is about art and photography and stuff. It’s that stuff part that gets me. Art — any art — is influenced by outside affairs. It isn’t just generated out of an artist’s head. The outside creeps in, spins around and comes out in some form of art. Sort of like dreams. But, different.
I made the base picture years ago. Well, not that many years ago. Seven. In 2010. In Las Vegas. In the Venetian hotel, casino, shopping mall and food court. They were featuring a — get this — Independence Day art exhibit at time. A Chinese woman was taking pictures of the flag. You can see her in my picture. I photographed her. She turned around. And, photographed me. Fair is fair.
I added my usual mix of flowers and bright spots, spun them around and you are looking at the result.
Happy Independence Day to those of you who live in the United States, and those who are abroad. To the rest of the world — most of you — enjoy Tuesday.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Memphis, Tennessee. The home of the blues. American music.
Lower 9th Ward. Hope and pride, post Hurricane Katrina.
The Bywater. We are still so affected by Hurricane Katrina. There are still Katrina crosses spray painted on buildings. Nine years later.
Sometimes the flag is art. No disrespect, just an artist’s statement.
The house is in shambles. The flag is bright.
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.
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.”