About passings.

We were talking.

A friend and I.

About music. Musicians. How fast time seems to be passing. How old they are getting. Compared to us. Seriously, they are around ten years older than I am. That’s not much older.

This morning, I learned that Gary Duncan passed. He was 72. He was one of the founding members, as one of two lead guitar players, of Quicksilver Messenger Service.

You’d have to be a fan of San Francisco music from the 1960s and 1970s to know who they were. They broke out along with Moby Grape, The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. The so-called San Francisco sound.

In Southern California, where I grew up, we had the Los Angeles sound. Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, The Doors and The Beach Boys were among the household names.

Both musical sounds are my bedrock. Sure. Earlier, I listened to my parents music. Big band. Show tunes. Some jazz. I broke away from that when The Beatles, Rolling Stones and the rest of the British Invasion poured through the radio sound waves.

But.

I started to come of age with California music. I am forever grateful for that. Rest in Peace, Gary Duncan. I’m sure you are playing around with Skippy Spence. And, your co-lead guitarist, John Cippolina. I’ll save Skippy’s story for another post. I barely know John’s story.

Which brings me to stories.

Today is the last day ever of our New Orleans newspaper, The Times-Picayune. It was bought by the competing paper, The Advocate. They sort of merged. The masthead will have the T-P’s name over the Advocate’s. For now.

By completing the merger, they had too many editorial staff members. So they terminated all of T-P’s staffers. They gave them two months notice because they had to under laws governing mergers and acquisitions. They kept producing quality journalism.

Eventually, they rehired 6 or 7 of the former staffers back at 20-40% lower salaries. The rest are looking for jobs. Some are creating start ups.

As the days wound down, the soon to be ex-reporters started asking what stories we, the readers, wanted told. For the last month or so, they told a lot of my kind of stories. Little stories. With little pictures.

The best kind.

Any newspaper can publish big national and international stories. The buy AP memberships, the subscribe to New York Times or Washington Post feeds. That’s easy. You pays your money and you get your stories and pictures.

But, little stories.

The kind where reporters talk to local people about, well, anything. Why are you interesting? What makes you a little different? Or, a little the same? And, that’s where some of the best pictures are made. That’s what I think.

Anyway.

I have no idea what my words have to do with my picture. Except to say that everything flows in its own good time.

Gary Duncan passed because it was his time. The newspaper merged and partially closed because printed newspapers are coming to an end. Actually, almost anything printed is coming to an end.  A smart newspaper owner, at every level, has long ago made the digital product the prime method of delivery. Papers like the New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal are great examples of that.

There’s more.  Just a little.

Online newspapers can’t make the advertising money that they once did. The business has inverted. They need your subscriptions. Paid subscriptions

Yeah. I know. We are in the era of “nobody wants to pay for nothing.” Artists of all stripes suffer because of this. If you want us to produce, we need the money to produce.

In the journalism world, it’s different. If you want to hold people accountable, they must be exposed. Usually by reporters. Photographers. Editors.

Journalists.

That costs money.

 

Advertisements


A giant mural.

They say it comes in threes.

Ronnie Virgets. Chef Leah Chase. And, now Mac Rabennack.

You might know him as Dr. John. The Night Tripper.

The good doctor passed today. His family said that he had a heart attack around day break. He’d been sick for a long time. I’m not sure with what. Doesn’t matter now. I know that he lost a lot of weight. That’s a hard thing to do in New Orleans. About 18 months ago he cancelled two shows at Tipitinas. That was the last of his scheduled performances. He spent that time at home, but on the Northshore.

Needless to say, New Orleans is reeling. We are sad. So sad. We haven’t even buried Ms. Leah yet. Her viewing is planned for Saturday, with the funeral on Monday. We are all invited to attend. We will.

Ronnie Virgets was a beloved author. His writing is the stuff of legends. I arrived on the scene a little too late to know it well. And, he wasn’t that well known out of the city. That’s too bad, because what little of his work that I did read caught the heart, soul and spirit of the place I call home.

But, Mac.

Oh man, oh man. He’s beloved everywhere. He started making his own albums in the late 60s. He was a session player until then. He had a rough start in New Orleans, doing things that would make tough guy rappers run home crying to their mamas. He’s been sober for longer than I have. Things change. We change.

How well known?

When you have a Beatle tweeting about his passing, you know how much he mattered to the music world. He played with just about all of music royalty, without ever adopting those trappings himself. Not only did he produce his own work, but he was an enthusiastic collaborator on other musicians projects.

Yes. I knew him. You’d see him in grocery stores or running errands. He was old school and gracious when he met a fan in the usual places. I photographed him once, formerly, at his home. I was paid for a half day. The shoot ran well over that. There weren’t any problems. We were telling stories and laughing so hard that tears were rolling from our eyes. Like they are as I write. I wish I was laughing now.

I wish that I could show you a picture from that take. Sometimes, a client will ask for an embargo until they have gotten their best use of an assigned set of pictures. I’ll call them tomorrow and ask if I can post one here. There shouldn’t be a problem.

For now, here’s his mural, painted in Central City. I almost like this better than the environmental portraits that I made at his home.  I made this picture on the way to some place else. A second line.

What can I say?

Desitively Bonaroo. The best of the breed. That he was.

Rest in Heaven, Mac. You meant a lot to us.