Seeing it from a different perspective.

Broken… or well-worn?

That’s my biggest change. A change in my personal viewpoint. It took my Storyteller break to help me see the difference. It took those days to help me understand that I’d better stop reading so much bad news. More importantly, I stopped reading viewers comments at news websites. Both sides are nuts. I’m not on either side. Most people seem siloed. The more you try to change them, the deeper they dig. They angrier they get. I’m not angry.

Who needs that?

Even though I don’t make New Year resolutions, I did kind of did make one.  By all accounts 2018 was a disaster. It left everybody unhappy, depressed, out of sorts. Me too. A lot of that was well beyond my control. You know what I’m talking about. Some of it is within my grasp, yet I didn’t do much to fix it.

That can’t go on.

For me, personally, if I live my life feeling negatively I don’t get much done.

Let’s just use Storyteller as an example. I started worrying about my yearly numbers. Don’t do that. It starts a cycle of posting for one reason only. Reader views and likes. Those numbers add up to nothing. Instead of doing that, post your truth. Post your best picture whether or not you think it will be well received. Post your best story. Let it fly.

Stop overtly selling.

There are a couple of bloggers that I’ve just stopped reading. They wrote a book. In an effort to drive people to the book, they stopped telling their stories. Everything is sell, sell, sell. Lead me to your work. Don’t shove it down my throat. That’s sort of a rule among more sophisticated sales people.

Besides. Probably 20% of the emails I receive want to sell me something. Facebook, Twitter and now Instagram have become never-ending sales tools. Don’t drown me in it. My reaction is to never buy anything. We both lose. You don’t make a sale. And, I don’t know what I missed.

Enough.

I’m not leaving social media unless personal security becomes a bigger issue than it already has. I want everybody to see my work. But, I’m not going to convince you to buy it. I’m not going to share most news events and I’m not going to get in what used to be called a flame contest. There’s no need.

I’d rather post about art. In all of its forms. That’s what I understand best. That’s what I like.

That said, this picture. I made it at a second line. The tuba, or sousaphone if you want to split hairs, was resting. It was waiting to be played on a long walk through Central City.  I saw it. I photographed it.

You can look at the picture in one of two ways.

The instrument is busted up. The sidewalk behind it is busted it up. My city is busted up.

Or, it’s well-worn and repaired from playing a lot of music. The sidewalk is torn up because the city is 300 years old and that’s why a lot of us live here.

Yeah, sure. There is plenty to repair. The streets are potholed. The water pipes and pumping stations break down. Power fails.

Yet, one yearly statistic made me smile. The murder rate was lowest that it’s been in 50 years. That’s a start. A pretty big start. Hang on to that and build. Build a little more. And, keep building.

A little housekeeping. The new website/blog is about ready. I’m a little afraid to push the button. There are a couple of reasons for this. They all center around the unknown.

I have no idea what Facebook and Twitter will see through my distribution channels. I have no idea whether I can build portfolio pages from which pictures are sold or licensed. I have no idea about static background pages that are not the main page. And, I don’t know if I can post multiple pictures in one post. There is no going back once I push the button. I can’t know those things until I do that.

I suppose that I should jump and fix things on the fly.  Nobody will die if I get parts of it wrong.

Wish me luck. Or, at least, a soft landing spot.

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Left in the flood waters.

What was once.  What isn’t is a distant memory.

These are things that I found during the early days of recovery following Hurricane Katrina’s destructive path. Or more precisely, the Federal Flood, given that the levees broke because of catastrophic failure.

I saw things. Terrible things. I’ll show you some of the more publishable things over the past few days. So terrible that when I finally returned to my own flooded house after photographing what remained of the Lower 9th Ward, I sat on my old friend Uncle Joe’s porch with him. I held my head in my hands. He put his arm on my shoulder. He said, “I told you not to go, but like a moth drawn to a flame you had to.”

He was right. He is usually right.

Uncle Joe is now 83 years old. He lost his house, but the Feds replaced it with a factory made house that looks just like his old house, but a little better. He’s a Creole man. He’s lived in Mississippi and New Orleans all his life. He’s seen everything. He’s been through every kind of racial issue there is. Still he smiles. Still he bares no ill will. He’s a guy that I can only aspire to be.

Heroes are where you find them. He’s one of mine.

Flooded musical instruments.

What I found.

You know how I feel about all marching bands. Big high school bands and the little brass bands that play at second lines. I love them all. I love their music. I love the compact and on point sound of a great high school band. I love the chaotic sound of a second brass band. It’s the same, but very different.

When I returned to New Orleans after the storm, I was standing on Canal Street and St. Charles Avenue. Two Canadian women were standing next to me. I told them that if they ever were lucky enough to see the St. Augustine Marching 100 it would change their lives for the better. A minute after I said that, they came thundering up St. Charles in between the buildings that formed a sonic canyon. I almost couldn’t make pictures. My eyes were wet. I never thought that I’d see them again. It was a gift. It helped spur my return to New Orleans.

So.

When I found these pictures, I was broken-hearted. Whoever owned this stuff marched and played in the St. Aug’s Marching 100. If the hash marks mean what I think the mean, he played in the band for all four years of high school and came back as a band helper after he graduated in order to pass on his knowledge to the next generation of band members. It also means that he was very, very good.

A lot of people went out to the Lower 9th Ward to see what the water destroyed. A lot of them would pick stuff up as kind of bizarre souvenir. I couldn’t do that. Most of the 9th Ward is sacred ground, meaning a lot of people died there. I have no idea how these items came be there. But, I’m not messing around with ghosts.

Besides, I take pictures, not stuff.


Lone tuba.

First and foremost.

Our prayers and thoughts go out to the people who live along the Gulf Coast in Texas. Twelve years ago, they came for us. Now, it’s our turn. Whatever they need. Whenever they need it. You’d have to have been here and gone through a major storm to really feel it deep inside. We did. We know.

Our hearts are in our throats.

Thank you for reaching out. We are fine here in New Orleans. Right now, it looks like we will get about 6 inches of rain over a four-day time span. That’s about like a normal summer storm. Yes, some parts of the city have other worries. All the pumps are not yet functional. Some of the electric turbines are still not up to full speed, and, for certain, the drainage system needs about 20 years of work. But, everybody is well aware of the issues and what we need to do.

So far, mixed sun and clouds. No rain. No wind.

I mostly only pay attention to the NOAA hurricane reports since that’s what the local television stations weather people read. I reckon given their percentage of being wrong and right, I’m about as qualified to read them as they are. Besides, I know when to shelter in place and when to evacuate. As Bob Dylan once sang, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

The picture. I made it on the day of the Great American Solar Eclipse. While I was waiting. My first inclination was to make the picture with just the tuba, the bench and the bicycle in it. But — aha — this woman came walking by. Those magenta tights were just the ticket to make the picture a little brighter and more colorful. I had to wait a minute because there was somebody walking in front of her. That turned out to be a good thing since she framed herself with that square sign board. Luck. Luck. And, more luck.

And, patience.


Tuba waiting.

Here’s what I did.

I photographed the Mother’s Day second line hosted by the Original 7 Junior Steppers. I’ve done it since the mass shooting four years ago. No fear. But, this day was especially poignant with the passing of Deborah (Big Red) Cotton.

I set out to work. And, work I did. I made some 600 digital exposures. By the time I finish culling and editing I will probably cut that down to no more than 60 pictures. You won’t see more than 10 or so of them. That’s how I work. Less is more.

Hopefully, my curating skills are up to the task. I haven’t really started it yet. I’m trying to give the pictures enough time to marinate. For the record, the phrase was first said by a friend of mine. He doesn’t blog. I just gave it a lot of exposure.

The picture. This is pre-parade. The musicians gather around, say hello, and decide what to play. Most of the songs are pretty much street standards so there isn’t much of a need to rehearse. Besides, the minute the tuba starts, everybody would think the second line is starting. That would be confusing to say the least. The condition of the instrument is — in a word — beat. This is likely a student tuba that was recovered after the storm. It still honks, so there is no problem.

Post production. There isn’t any except for what’s necessary. After all this is a RAW file.


Tuba or something like that...
Tuba or something like that…

So. What would you like to know first?

The framing campaign slowed down quite a bit yesterday. That’s okay. I got a lot of likes and a couple of shares for my Indian portrait. I’m always appreciative for that. I always try t let you know that.

This is a sousaphone. Most people just call it a tuba. On the streets, most people know that the tuba starts a second line. It doesn’t matter what you hear first. Somebody yelling, “Let’s start.” Somebody blowing a whistle. Even that little whoop-whoop sound you hear from a police car that is trying to run you over. Oops. I meant pass around you.  None of that matters. The only thing that matters is the sound of a tuba starting the parade. When you hear that you know the parade is starting to roll.

The picture. A detail. I saw the shining brass and I focused on the tuba, er, sousaphone itself. If I would have had a little more time, I would have stopped down and tried to keep everything in sharp focus. As it happened, I’m happy enough to get the repeating circles in sharp focus.

Now please don’t forget. There are 28 days to go in my gallery printing, mounting, matting and glazing donation campaign. I still need your help. Lots of help. See Storyteller on November 4 for the details and for the list of gifts you’ll get when you donate a few dollars.

See directly below for the link to go fund me. Anything helps. It means a lot.

gofundme.com/gk8bajd8