Out on the road.

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ouisiana is leading the country in Covid-19 infections. We are nowhere near 70% vaccination rate. Orleans Parish beat the CDC in mandating masks indoors again.

Now I’m starting to hear whispers in the wind that musical venues will close again and that includes both Jazzfest and French Quarter Fest. The loss of both of them will cost the city a lot of money. It’ll hurt musicians once again.

The anti-vaxxers are causing this.

Not only are we leading the country in new infections, but we are among the bottom two or three states in vaccinations.

Many of my friends are angry. I’m angry. Until the virus is managed or defeated I can’t doo much of anything. And, the things that I do have to be thought of through the lens of risk v reward.

It also seems the regional and local leaders are handling this better than our national leaders, at least in blush states. In other states legislators are moving to restrict scientists and governors.

Then, there are people like Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida who restricts masking and vaccinations. He says that his state is doing just fine, if almost six thousand new infections per day is doing fine.

This isn’t a political issue. Or, it shouldn’t be. This is a life and death issue.

Anti-Vaxxers claim that their freedom is being restricted if they are forced to get jabbed.

Nonsense.

What about my freedom to not get sick and die? Let’s put it this way. If I get sick I have nothing to lose. I’m coming for you. My breath will be like dragon’s breath.

That’s just how angry I am.

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hen I was first diagnosed with CLL, once we got over the shock, we took a drive to Natchez, Mississippi.

That’s about a three or four hour trip. It took us ten hours.

We stopped to take pictures just about everywhere. Broken down buildings, Civil War battle fields, cemeteries, and old stately plantation houses and just about everything else in between.

We stayed in Natchez for three days and explored the area. Because I was here, there and everywhere, people got to know me.

You know that’s how I work. I talk to people. We’d be walking to a scene, and some guy would be biking in the other direction and would wave hi because he met us somewhere else.

Anyway.

This is a drive through shooting.

You can almost see where the camera is located at the top of the dashboard.

It was a little sporty, but I was careful. To me, it was one of those risk v reward things. It was different than being around people, but in many ways the same.


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he road. It may come soon enough. Oh, I’m not thinking about traveling for work. There is no work. I just need to be away from this place for a while. Or, forever.

I’m going talk about Portia, my friend who was murdered a couple of days ago. But, first, a little bit about this picture.

It’s pure art. Art that was made in the camera. Art, that for me, symbolizes travel. A storm is brewing. Cars and trucks are racing through the low light. The land seems to be glowing.

That’s the picture.

This is about a murder.

Portia was stabbed to death a few days ago. The story remains at the top of our local media, both print and broadcast.

Because.

Portia was a physical therapist who worked with the elderly all over the state. She went wherever she was needed.

Portia was also a drummer. She could be found in drum circles playing at Congo Square. She could be found playing drums on second lines.

The police chief said it hurts so badly because she could have been his mother. He also said that we are in the longest sustained period of violent crime since the weeks following Hurricane Katrina.

Those of you who have been thinking of coming to New Orleans, don’t. It’s hot and humid as hell already. Violent crime is through the roof. And, we are still opening up. Oh yeah, hurricane season just started. A season in which all reliable sources will be busy and violent.

Stay safe.

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ictures like this one are mostly about seeing and adjusting your camera so you can make the picture you had in mind.

In this case, because being out on the road is about pure motion, I wanted the picture to reflect that.

I’m guessing, but it’s a very educated guess, that I made this picture at f 5.6 @ 1/2 second, with a 20 mm lens.

I hand held the camera because I wanted my natural body motion to help the picture. And, because I’m lazy.

Tripod? We don’t need no stinkin’ tripod.

And, no. This wasn’t a drive by or drive through shot. The picture was made on the side of a service road.

The color was not enhanced. Sometimes this is what you get with a relatively slow motion exposure at certain times of day.


Sometimes this sort of thing happens.

We are opening. A little.

The governor said that we will open the state according to phase one on May 16. They mayor argreed. That’s exciting.

It seems like Jefferson Parish opened a little too early. The fine folks who live there decided to have some fun. In one day the amount of cases doubled compared to the total of two other parishes. The all knowing folks on Facebook tried to say that’s just tested positive cases. That unless hospitalizations or deaths were counted, it didn’t matter.

Huh?

That just raised the odds of hospitalization and death. You can only roll the dice so many times before the odds collapse and you get hurt. People. They’re the worst, said Jerry Seinfeld.

Let’s talk about something else.

Let’s talk music. Let’s talk new music.

In the past few months and into June a lot of new music is being released. Some is out now. Some is coming. The Rolling Stones released a brand new single. It rose straight to number one on a bunch of charts. They say that they have an album almost ready.

Along comes Bob Dylan, who was not to be out done by those English youngsters. He released two songs. One rose straight to number one. In “Murder So Foul,” he contends that JFK’s assassination started our downward decent that continues until today. It’s something like 13 minutes long. He’s also announced a double album which should be released in mid-June. He’s teased us with a song from the album.

Not one to sit on her hands, Norah Jones released three singles to be followed by a new album which is due in early June after being postponed in May. Manufacturing problems. The songs are out takes from her streaming songs which were released a month at a time.

Finally, a singer songwriter, Steve Forbert released an album of cover music that is just wonderful. In case you are wondering, he’s a Mississippi musician from around Laurel. He’s been playing for about 40 years. He had a couple of hits in the early 1990s.

There are others, but these are the ones that matter to me.

Unfortunately, nobody can tour to support their new music. As I’ve said in past Storytellers, touring bands won’t get back out until October 2021. This could be extended if people don’t start following simple directions and CoVid 19 keeps rolling and rolling around. Or, we could get lucky. Nah, even I don’t get that lucky.

The picture. Y’all have seen a green version of it. Once I found those light thingies, I’ve been reworking a lot of pictures. You may see it again.

Someone is copying every artistic move I make. Not the same guy as last time. Another guy. This photographer was a successful stock shooter until the bottom fell out. Successful stock photographers don’t have a creative bone in their body. Heh! I suppose that’s why I wasn’t successful at that particular genre.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


Summer rain storm.

New Orleans. The rainy season comes in the summer. Sometimes, we get a little rain every day. Rain might not fall for long. But, it will fall. And, usually, it starts out falling pretty hard.

That’s okay.

I think what most people dislike is not the rainfall, but the inevitable soupy humidity that follows. As we know, what falls down must rise back up. As steam.

Of course, this creates a natural greenhouse, or hothouse, effect. Everything grows. I do mean everything.

I made this picture during a rain storm. I’m not exactly sure what the umbrella did for the man crossing the street. The rain was falling sideways. Yes. This is sort of a drive by shooting. With a camera. The street in front of me is Canal Street. I was coming out of the French Quarter. In front of me is the CBD. I’m sorry to say that the picture is three years old.


Wok and chopsticks.
Wok and chopsticks.

A very interesting thing happens when I complain loudly on Storyteller. WordPress changes their ways.

A few of you tried to help out. I really appreciate that. Way more than you know. The solutions that you offered didn’t work out because under the basic formatting, Laskowitzpictures.org looks a little different from your formatting. Mine costs money. I get to pay for the silliness of “the customer knows worst” scenario.

But.

You helped out in another way. Apparently the technicians at WordPress monitor certain things. Not specifically by blog or web site. Instead, by certain key words. Your comments help bring complaints to the surface. So, thank you. That should also give you an idea of why key wording is so important. Call it tagging. Same thing. Do it as best you can. It helps people find your work.

One more thing.

Don’t over tag. Write tags for what is on your blog page, not what you wish was there. And, keep the combination of categories and tags to no more than 15. WordPress told me that. The way their software works with Google searches limits us to 15 words. Anything more and the software throws all of them out and Google can’t “see” your page.

Guess what?

I clicked on my dashboard and the old formatting reappeared. Magically. Imagine that.

The actual format desktop is much more minimal and cleaner looking. But, how I see the page is how I want to see the page. After all, I’m an old guy. I don’t write code. I design by seeing and by tinkering with the page itself. Just like I do with my work. Tinker. Tinker. Tinker. It’s all just a bunch of toys. Those of you of a certain age will see what I’ve done there. Heh.

Today is about round.

Every picture has a round element in it. Even those little candy shots on the ice cream, which is on a donut, has some roundness to it. I’m not in the habit of shooting food porn and plastering it all over Instagram, I do take pictures of food when I can play with it. Just like a toddler. Playing with food.

So.

A wok and chopsticks. And, the donut-ice cream-candy shots. If I see a picture I take it. You just never know. Most of my family and friends are used to it so they don’t care. I don’t eat very many sweet things, so the sugary desert was somebody else’s. I think I know who it belonged to. She ate it in about two gulps. Big ones.

The lights are just those big paper party lanterns that you can hang in your backyard. I kind of blew the highlight exposure while trying to keep the dark background properly exposed. So, I did the obvious thing. I tinkered with the digital file. Now you have no idea what you are looking at.

Seems right.

 


Seasons Greetings.
Seasons Greetings.

Holiday season.

These are my last two pictures of the 2016 holiday season. I didn’t make a lot of “big” Christmas pictures this year. I didn’t feel like it. As we all know, the passing year was a rough one.  2016 was hard on everybody. I guess it shows. Especially, since I believe all art is autobiographical.

Don’t get me wrong. I had a fine Christmas. It’s not about the holiday. It’s about all that preceded it. And, what many fear will come. Storyteller isn’t a political blog, but the world is changing and not in a good way. Two political events happened this year that nobody believed could happen. And, a never-ending war in the Middle East blossomed into one of the largest humanitarian crises the world has ever seen. Innocent people were killed. Ancient cities destroyed.

Of course, there were the passings. People left the planet. Ancestors is what we call them in New Orleans. We mourn. Then we celebrate their lives. So many artists — in the form of musicians — died in 2016.

Everybody matters.

But, some of those who left inspired all of us to do better, to create on a higher level, no matter our art. The cycle of mourning and celebration never seemed to end this year. We all need a break.

Santa and me.
Santa and Me.

So.

2017.

I have no idea. I don’t know what’s coming. As they say, it’s above my pay grade. Well above my pay grade. But, I do know that I have to shake this off and move beyond it. To be better. To create at another level. I can’t speak for any of you. You all know what you have to do. Or, not do.

The pictures. I took them walking around. There is a sense of isolation in both of them. You know. That, “all art is autobiographical” thing. Rearing its ugly head. If you look closely at “Santa and Me,” you can see a dog leash on the bottom right of the picture. Guess who was with me? Yep. The dog. The one who sees things. Who helps me take pictures.


In the shadows.
In the shadows.

A Christmas night visit turned into a picture. A kind of spooky little picture. Full of shadows and mystery. Hiding places. And, fog.

This is what happens when you take a camera everywhere. I anticipated taking a few Christmas pictures with old friends. But, on the way I saw light peeking through shadows and couldn’t resist. This is the kind of picture that they tell you absolutely has to be taken with a tripod. Maybe. Maybe not. I made this one hand-held. On the spur of the moment.

I have one more seasonal picture to show you. Then, I’m moving on. I gotta get away from 2016. It seems the year won’t let go. So, I will. Let go. That is.


Christmas in The Quarter.
Christmas in The Quarter.

It’s almost here. Christmas.

Today is the day before the day before. Excitement is in the air. Everybody is being good. Even the dogs. Packages are arriving… to our neighbor’s houses. Because we don’t want anybody to know where they are coming from. Very, very sneaky in this house. For us, Christmas Eve is the thing. I cook traditional Russian food. We head upriver to see the bonfires that guide Papa Noel to New Orleans. If we are all lucky, you’ll see some of those pictures on Christmas Day.

Luck is involved because it feels best when the temperatures are cold and the air is crisp. Our cold snap is gone. Likely it’ll be around 70+ degrees and kind of foggy. One year, we just gave up on the river festivities because the location is about 50 miles away and who wants to drive in fog?

The picture. Another Christmas tree. Exposed for the lights rather than the tree itself which is a shadow. In this case. Sometimes, I do that for the dramatic effect. Sometimes I don’t.


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Yes. A little like… Christmas.

I found a little house with one string of white lights draped along a white picket fence. Nice. Simple. Minimal. I’m happy to have photographed this place. Usually, my eye is drawn to the bright and colorful lighting. This is just a small, neighborhood home. That speaks volumes in its limited decorations.

The picture. Oh yeah. All sorts of post production. Maybe too much. To me the image looks like it was made through a sheet of ice. Cracked ice. Makes it feel more wintry to me. Especially since the last time there was snow in the city was over a decade ago. Maybe we’ll get lucky this year. Maybe not.