Sorry. I’m a little late. Well, a lot late. About ten hours late. But, I have a good excuse. Or, maybe the best excuse. I was working. I worked from 2pm through midnight. Yes. I stopped for coffee. A lot of coffee. I had dinner. But, I just kept taking pictures. Once I get settled into the Mardi Gras routine I should get back on my usual schedule. I hope.
These are just a few pictures from the first heavy day of parades. Three parades. As you have come to know, I try very hard to give you look at the little details, rather than an overall scene. I do this for two reasons. I hope to show you what most people normally don’t get a chance to see. And, since everybody is carrying some sort of camera these days, I have to stretch at public events. That’s good for all of us.
You are looking at one picture from three parades. The Krewe of Oshun. The Krewe of Cleopatra and the Krewe of Cork. Yes. Our names get a little tricky, but they honor all sorts of people, things and places. Except for one. The Krewe of Cork. Cork does not refer to a place in Ireland. It refers to the stopper in a bottle of wine. And, it shows a little.
Photographing Mardi Gras parades are usually a study in marathon running. Or something like that. It’s gruelling. It’s a lot of walking. It’s physical. It’s also pretty repetitive from year to year. So, this year I had to make two things happen. Since I’m in the middle of another very busy year, I had to figure out a way to cut out some of the physicality. And, I had to figure out how to make my pictures a little different from last year’s pictures. So. Here’s my trick. At least for this year. I just go to the start of the parade well before the parade actually starts. I do most of my work there. I photograph krewes as they prepare. I photograph marching bands as they prepare. I photograph just about everything that goes into making a successful parade. Then, I walk with the parade for a few blocks. A few blocks may not seem like much, but dodging in and out of the crowds and then finding my way back can be a bit of walking. I describe it as playing full contact football.
I think the pictures are a little different and somewhat more revealing than last year’s take. As far as these pictures go, my intent is to make them a little more mysterious and “swampy” feeling. I’m not quite sure that I got it. Maybe next shoot. Or, the one after that. It does take some time. Some work. And, a lot of patience.
So. I know what you are wondering. “What’s the deal with Sweet Caroline?” Well. I never saw or heard or anything like it. But first, a little back story. This is the ‘titRex Parade. No. It doesn’t mean what you think it does. The name is short for Petit Rex. No. I didn’t misspell it. It’s French. It’s a DIY Mardi Gras parade, which was started in response to the big huge super krewes that take over major streets for hours on end. They say that it was inspired by Bacchus. That’s a huge parade. Many of the Bacchus floats have trouble making turns on New Orleans’ narrow streets. By comparison, this parade is tiny. And, so are the floats. Check them out. They are about 12 inches long. They are pulled like a child pulls a pull toy. The really cool thing is that if one break downs, it can be picked up and fixed by one person. Break downs are a major factor in parade delays. This parade is really nothing more than another kind of second line parade. Those, for me, are the best. There are maybe two marching bands. Maybe a dozen floats. The parade rolls through St. Roch, which is now called The New Bywater, and eventually finishes in The Marigny where it sort of blends into the Krewe of Chewbacchus. That’s another DIY parade, albeit a little bigger. But not too much bigger.
So. Back to Sweet Caroline. You know it. It’s an old Neil Diamond song. Let me further set the stage. The people who live in these neighborhoods and attend the parade are either hipsters, old hippies or folks who look like they got trapped in 1967. Nice people, but they like hipper kinds of music. Normally. Maybe. Here’s what happened. The first marching band stops. They start playing Sweet Caroline. When they get to the break and the chorus the entire parade starts singing at the top of our lungs. Not only do we sing Sweet Caroline, but if you remember there’s a three beat count using horns and bass that sort of goes like, “boom, boom, boom.” It’s instrumental. But, we sang that too. What a glorious and joyful noise. Everybody was smiling and laughing. As a wise song writer once wrote, ” Live Music Is Better. Bumper Stickers Should Be Issued.”
The pictures. Come on. 🙂 By now, you know me. F something and be there. Just find the picture and take the picture. The best way to work in the street. I do have to tell you one thing. I really like parades like this. I can just join the parade and walk with them.
I don’t have a picture that is really appropriate for today — 911. I do want to reflect on the day and what it means, But, I do have this. I photographed a second line parade in Central City, New Orleans. When the parade passed by Lafayette Cemetery No. 2, they broke into an old spiritual called “I’ll Fly Away.” Hearing it played by a marching band is something very special.
This is it. Peace y’all.
“Some glad morning when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away;
Normally, I share my work here. Today as is no exception. But, I’d also like to share a couple of websites with you. I’ll get to my work in a minute. But, first a note about the websites.
Lost Brothers is a subject near and dear to my heart. During the Vietnam War there were a lot of photographers who went missing. They were either captured, KIA or were otherwise lost in the fog of war. This project is an attempt to tell their stories through the memories of the people who lived in the places where they vanished. Tim Page is heading this up. For those of you who don’t know about him, he worked for a number of magazines during the war. He eventually came home with a plate in his head. He continues to photograph, teach and keep the search for these missing photographers alive. It’s http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/111709504/lost-brothers. For those who don’t know, kickstarter is a way to utilize crowd source as funding method. If you think that this is a worthwhile project, even donating as little as a buck — O
ne US Dollar — will help.
Wise is just a fun site that I thought I’d share with you. Okay. It’s scientific. These are images of our universe that have been newly produced. I think they are quite stunning. Go to http://wise.ssl.berkeley.edu/gallery_images.html Enjoy!
My work. I was re-editing — okay curating, if I want to be contemporary — some of my Mardi Gras work and stumbled onto these images. All but one are motion studies. The image that isn’t a motion study is a parade picture that I really like.