Ink and gold.

He was sitting.

My neighbor was worried that he was doing something he shouldn’t be. I thought that I’d check him out using the guise of liking his ink. He turned out to be a nice guy and that’s all I need say about that.

I haven’t seen him since I made this photograph. If I do, I’ll make sure he gets a print.


Wrapping Up

It’s Sunday and I don’t have much to say. The teachers in my life are going a little crazy not knowing in what form they are going to teach next semester. Most of them want to teach remotely. They don’t want to get sick, nor they want to bring it home to somebody who might be compromised.

I mostly stay home because of my age and one compromising condition. I had to laugh when I looked at my Google analytics. I drove a whopping 22 miles in June. Not in a day. Not in a week. But, the entire month.I have to cut down on this wandering around.

However, I am going to get out and make 15 year anniversary Hurricane Katrina pictures. I’ve mostly put all of that behind me, but I haven’t been looking at what’s happened in the five years since I did it last. When I mentioned that to my neighbor she said why are you starting now? You’ve got six weeks.

I have to find the locations. I have to make the pictures. And, I have to stay dry and try not to get shot. It’s hot, but that’s never stopped me in the past. Time to get out there, stay away from people and make a few photographs.

The Picture

I told you why I made the picture. I didn’t tell you how. I walked up to him and I used a little photographer patter. I said that I noticed his ink and could I made a few pictures? He nodded yes and away I went. Then we talked for a while, which is when I came to know that he is a nice guy. I made a couple more pictures and we were done.

I see so much street photography, being a member of about ten groups, that almost has nothing to do with the work of making pictures. The pictures are taken from behind or they are taken from across the street or down the street with a long telephoto lens. In these pandemic days a lot of people are feeling lonely. You don’t have to get within six feet and a couple of words might help. Do be careful. But, you know what I’m saying. Make a friend.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. You know what to do. Enjoy the summer weather.

Oh, after reading about Ruth Bader Ginsberg fighting cancer again, the woman from whom I got the saying — Mary Chapin Carpenter — posted a picture of RBG and said, Stay Mighty. I don’t know MCC, but thank you for that.

Among the Notes.

I need to get out more.

I made the portrait before I returned to New Orleans. I was back for a visit when I ran into this guy on the street in The French Quarter. He’s an old friend. We had a coffee and went our own ways. I thought, at the time, that it was very cool and I could have my old friends back if I just returned. So, I did.

It didn’t quite work out that way. Many old friends were leaving. Even the man in the picture. He moved to Breaux Bridge. A place that’s become home to all sorts of musicians. Famous ones. regional players. Local players. This guy has a pretty good statewide reputation as a fiddle and accordion player. He is also a pretty good Cajun singer.

That’s his story. And, the base portrait is his picture. He’s used to being photographed so taking a picture of him in a coffee shop is no big deal. Actually, if you’re around me for any length of time, you get used to being photographed.

The picture. You know about the portrait. The rest is my usual odd bits and pieces of information. I did do a lot of work in OnOne. The picture as it emerged from Snapseed was just too raw and kind of glaring. So, I needed to finish it and help the color to settle down some.

The corner.
The corner.

Early in the evenin’ just about supper time,
Over by the courthouse they’re starting to unwind.
Four kids on the corner trying to bring you up.
Willy picks a tune out and he blows it on the harp.
Down on the corner, out in the street
Willy and the Poorboys are playin’
Bring a nickel; tap your feet.
Rooster hits the washboard and people just got to smile,
Blinky, thumps the gut bass and solos for a while.
Poorboy twangs the rhythm out on his kalamazoo.
Willy goes into a dance and doubles on kazoo.
Down on the corner, out in the street
Willy and the Poorboys are playin’
Bring a nickel; tap your feet. — John Fogerty & Creedence Clearwater Revival

I like to make pictures that are about the sense of something. This picture sort of gives me the feel that John Fogerty wrote about back in 1970. Oddly, Fogerty is a Bay Area guy. From California. But, he sure captured the feel of the South with this song and so many others he wrote way back then. Of course, he mis-spelled Poorboy. Everybody knows that its po’boy.

Me? You know me. I like to photograph at the beginnings and ends of things. On the way to some place else. I took this picture while I was waiting for the Fathers Day second line to start. I had lots of time to wander around since they postponed the start time for about an hour to avoid a passing rain storm.

Yes. I talked to him. I took the picture. Then, I walked over to talk to him. I showed it to him on the camera’s LCD. He responded with, “Man, that’s alright. Can I get one?” Absolutely.

Hanging out in Treme.
Hanging out in Treme.

Sometimes, it just better to watch the parade, have a cocktail and enjoy the day.

Here’s a story for you.

When musician Neil Young was a young man, he was playing a concert. He played a new song. Brand new. First time in front of people. The audience didn’t respond. They didn’t clap. They didn’t stand. They didn’t boo. They were quiet. They didn’t know what to make of it.

When Neil came off stage prior to his acoustic set, he asked his manager what he should do with this very quiet audience. His manager – a new guy who was filling in for his regular manager – said to play something that they know. So, he went back on stage and played the same song again. The one that got no fan reaction But, this time he played it without the band. Just him and his guitar. Still nothing. No reaction. Not even a boo.

So, he finished his main set and headed backstage for a quick break prior to his encore. Once again, he asked his manger’s advise. Once again, the manager said to play something they know.

So, Neil and his band head back out and played that new song for the third time of the night.

I’m a lot like Neil.

Treme. New Orleans, Louisiana.
The kid.

Once I was photographing a big jazz funeral and I needed a little height, so I hopped up on a stoop. Then this young guy hopped up to next to me. He was pretty cool. Every time that I would lean out too far, he’d brace me by either hanging on to my belt or just putting his hands on the part of me that was leaning out. I’m not sure if I would have fallen on my face, but he made sure that I didn’t. I just had to take his picture. So, I asked. He said sure and kept posing for me. That wasn’t working so I just waited… with this as the result.

Very little post on this one. I just darkened the sky a bit which was way too light, mostly because I was exposing for his face and I rarely use fill flash in situations like this.

Once, there was a corner store. Now, there is a boarded up old building.
Once, there was a corner store. Now, there is a boarded up old building.

Needing a little color, I got lucky.
Needing a little color, I got lucky.

I’ve driven by this place many, many times. It’s a quick way to get from anything way down river — like The Bywater, Old Algiers or even locations further out in St. Bernard Parish — to my neighborhood. It is odd, for me, because the di Franco building (as I call it) is this big, massive corner structure that’s just begging to be photographed. I probably never stopped because I’m usually coming back from just having worked somewhere else and my energy is pretty low. I photograph in fairly short bursts. Anything more than about an hour, and I stop seeing. You know. My work looks effortless if you watch me do it. But, whatever goes on inside me that allows me to see and react expends a huge amount of internal energy. It’s not to say that I can’t work, take a break and come back to it. But, it’s not the same.


This time, I stopped. Even though I knew where I was by street names and landmarks, I really had no idea where this place is in relation to New Orleans’ ward system. That is, until a few minutes when I started writing this tale. Even then, you have to figure out which map is most current. In New Orleans, ward numbers get overlapped with neighborhood names, old faubourg names, and local slang. This place is located in the 8th Ward, although some maps call it the Upper 9th Ward. It’s long thin district that connects Lake Ponchartrain to the Mississippi River. There was once a railroad that connected the two. The trains are gone, but the tracks are not, even though some of them were paved over at one time.  Some of the neighborhood names that are contained within the district are very well-known. St. Roch, The Marigny Triangle and Milneburg among them.

So. This building and the neighborhood around it. Very interesting. I’m pretty sure that this was one of the many Italian grocery stores that dotted the New Orleans landscape around the turn of the 20th Century. They were neighborhood stores. They started dying out with the advent of the Schwegmann’s superstores, which were the forerunners of all things Wal-Mart. This began in 1946 and reached a sort of apex when they opened a massive store on Old Gentilly Road that was a 155,000 square feet and was the largest grocery store in the world. You can never dismiss Schwegmann’s even though they eventually failed due to bad timing and over expansion, because they pioneered a lot of modern concepts, one of them being self-service grocery stores. This, back in 1869 on Burgundy and Piety Streets in the Bywater.

Was that enough of a left turn for you? Heh, heh.

I’ll try again. The building fell into disuse and eventually was flooded by the levee failure following Hurricane Katrina. Are starting to sense a pattern here? It’s sort of like delineating years with BC and AD, except it’s PK and AK. Pre-Katrina and After Katrina. Somebody may be trying to bring this building back. There are new  window frames. There is evidence of remediation and construction inside. But, it also looks like it’s stalled. And, may have been stalled for some time. I wasn’t content to stop by photograph just the building. The neighborhood behind Elysian Fields is fairly new to me, so I took a walk. The neighborhood seems to be coming back. Lot’s young hipsters there. Lot’s of brightly colored houses too. But, the neighborhood shows evidence of the feared “jack ‘o lantern” effect. A restored house here. A restored house there. And, five abandoned and falling down structures in between.

On way back to my parking spot, this guy came cruising by on his bike.  Being the guy that I am, I just pointed the camera and pushed the button. Picture number two for today. This picture works pretty well as a sort of “setting the scene picture.” And, the red milk carton basket adds some need color.

The Stooges

The Stooges

The Stooges plus a Pigeon Town Stepper.

Well. You know that I like to work close to my subjects. Here’s three pictures that should show you just how close I really work. Two of the three images were made with a 16 mm lens, which means pretty wide. In the bottom picture, that Stepper kept swinging his props. Look at the trombone player. He looks like he’s dodging a punch. The Stepper hit me in the head with his props. Luckily for all of us the props are made out of foam. I’m kind of laughing as I write. Normally, photographers get pushed out of the scrum. But, most of these guys are used to me and a few others and just sort of deal with us. The picture? Oh. I think you can figure it out. Stand my ground. Focus. And, push the button.

Hard at work in The Napoleon House.

Cooking. Working in a commercial kitchen is harder than most people think. It’s hot and fast paced work. Older kitchens are designed something like a dungeon. Of course, The Napoleon House is one of the oldest buildings in The French Quarter so that makes the kitchen — even with modernizations — one of the oldest kitchens in The Quarter. This is one of my “walking and passing by” photographs. But, the cook saw me and gave me a helping hand. He thought my interest in making a picture like this was amusing. So, he opened the kitchen window so I could make something more than a snapshot.

The picture. After he opened the window, the picture was more-or-less frame the picture and be patient. When the moment arrived, I pointed and shot. Blammo.