Drawbridge.

A

ccording to The Washington Post, The President just said that Congress had reach a bi-partisan agreement on the infrastructure bill. All I can say is that is about damn time.

If ever there was a city in need of infrastructure repair it’s New Orleans.

You are looking at one of two drawbridges that cross the Intracoastal Waterway connecting the rest of the city to the Lower 9th Ward and locations further downriver.

Look at it. At the time when I made this picture it had been painted and it’s already rusty.

There are really three points made in this picture. Both drawbridges should be replaced with something modern. The Intracoastal Waterway — known locally as MR-GO — should be closed because it brought the water from everywhere that destroyed the Lower 9th Ward.

Finally, see that concrete structure on the right side of the picture? That’s the new levee built after the old one was broken in many places allowing the water from MR-GO to food and destroyed the Lower 9th Ward.

Now, about the potholes in my street.

O

nce again WordPress has made it way too hard to do anything with this block system. It will be the thing that finally drives me away.

I’m sure that I did it. At least what those fine morons at WordPress will claim.

Yes, WordPress if you are reading, I just called you morons. I’m sorry if I offend anybody with this next line, but leave the fucking thing alone.

They created some way of trapping copy with a blue box. You cannot edit anything in the box. If you hit the delete key, the paragraph is removed. The box continues to move upward deleting and deleting.

The only work around that I could figure out is to go back to a saved draft and use that.

Of course, this means all of the categories and tags are removed. If you schedule posts as I do, that is removed as well.

Moving is looking better and better.

Life is way too short.


What we leave behind.

Junkyards.

I don’t know what got me thinking about this. Maybe it’s because I often watch documentaries on various streaming services. I’ve internalized the broken, the abandoned and the left behind. If truth be told, I’ve poking around abandoned stuff long before the dawn of Netflix. It’s always interested me. It could be because when I was very young we travelled by train. As a train approaches the train station, it passes through the backside of cities and towns. Those neighborhoods are run down at best. Abandoned at worst.

They made an impression.

Photography philosophy

After all, art is autobiographical. I make pictures of me. Not portraits. Pictures of what’s inside me. The subject matter may be less important than the feel of the photograph. I like working close to the subject because I’m trying to get inside. Of the subject. Of me.

I follow a woman on Instagram who offers online workshops. The one I checked out was about the process of making pictures. It included a little Zen meditation. And, a little bit about breaking mental blocks. It’s an interesting workshop. I won’t take it because all it would do for me is support what I already know and do.

I’m a big believer in always carrying a camera. Any kind of camera. You never know when a picture might break out. In my newspaper days, we always carried our gear with us. We used to joke that we saved a lot of lives. If we carried our gear nothing would happen. But, sure enough, if we didn’t there would be massive breaking news.

I’m also a believer of letting the picture take you, rather than you taking the picture. When you are really drawn to something you’ll make a hard u-turn in heavy traffic just to get back to the scene. You’ll miss dinner. You’ll get up way too early. You’ll travel to places you never thought would interest you.

That’s obession.

And, speaking of obession.

A little news of the day

There was a woman walking her dog in the Ramble of Central Park in New York City. A man, who happened to be black, was doing a little birding. She confronted him and started yelling. He started videoing her. While she was screaming at the police she was dragging her dog in a way that could have killed her. A little scared cocker spaniel.

Eventually, the internet did its job. She was identified via LinkedIn. Her dog was taken away to keep her safe. I don’t know what will happen to the woman. I was disgusted. When she called 911 the very first thing she said was that there was a violent Black man threatening her. She’s white. She knew exactly what she was doing. Exactly.

The comments on Twitter were almost just as disgusting. People defended the woman by saying they couldn’t see the cause. The man started his videotaping well before the start of the incident because he was birding. They said he should have just walked away despite her coming to him. They worried about the dog over a human being. WTH?

You know how I feel about dogs. They are better than people. You know how I feel about cockers. They are better than most other dogs. But, I would never choose a dog over another human being.

Stay tuned.

I could speculate about the causes, but I won’t. All I know is that we live in interesting times. “May you live in interesting times,” is the worst possible Chinese curse.

The picture

I went to a new doctor. An orthopedic doctor. No worries. I’m finishing old business. His office is in a sort of weird place. A large group of doctors own a place that could have been a school or old military quarters. There is a lot of stuff left behind. You know. The American way.

The subject turns out to be an old, abandoned air conditioning system. I knew this because right next to it was a more modern one, the kind we are used to seeing. Also, there is a descriptive metal plate with instructions about how to diagnose air conditioning problems.

I had two cameras with me. i chose the lesser one. I have no idea why. I framed the subject and pressed the button. I walked around looking for different or better views. Eventually, I chose the first version. Sometimes, it’s your instinct over technique.

Stay safe. Enjoy every sandwich.


Train wheels and engines.
Train wheels and engines.

Look what I found. Can I keep them?

Puuuuleeeze.

I need them. It’s the season for giving. Give them to me. Of course, I’ll need a crane, some strong helpers and a place to store them. I’m pretty sure the living room is out.

Here’s the story. I decided to look around for more train pictures. You like them. I like trains. So I went looking for them in all the old places. Like the song says. I wanted to see my favorite streamliner. It was moved. Closer to the road. You’ll see it tomorrow.

Anyway.

We stopped. One of the cocker spaniels and me. I started taking pictures. Another car pulled to a stop. A guy with a camera. And, a dog. The dogs made friends. My new shooting buddy and I started taking pictures. Pretty soon a JPSO car pulled up. What is that, you ask? A Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Deputy. We held up our cameras. He nodded and waved us over. Basically, he told us how far we could trespass. After all, railroad property is actually protected by Federal laws.  Thankfully, he didn’t over react. That’s the way down here. He also met the dogs. He liked them. They liked him.

While I was googling around making sure that train wheels are really called wheels, I found a lot of new word combinations. You know, railroad terminology can be a little quirky.

Here’s a few words that I learned. All train terms that you can find when you look up “train wheel.”

Driving Wheel. Bogie. Pony Truck. Sand. Slippery Rail. Trailing Wheel. Wheel Climb. Wheel Flange. Wheel Tapper. Wheel Tread. Wheel Set.

This is a teachable moment. Google around. Tell me what these words mean. By the way, sand is pretty much what you think it is. The railroad definition is mostly about how it’s used.

The picture. The usual. I’m boring. Except that it was hands and knees time. And switching from the camera’s viewfinder to the lcd screen. Of course, the spaniel and her new friend thought it was time to play. So, there’s that.


Old corner store and nothing more.
Old corner store and nothing more.

The level of demolishing is equal the depth of the water.
The level of demolishing is equal the depth of the water.

I guess by now it’s pretty obvious to you that I borrow bits of song lyrics or even song titles to write the headlines. This one comes from a song called, “The Neighborhood,” by Tom Waits. It sort of suits these pictures.

But…

It’s not as bad as it looks.

As I was wandering in around in this neighborhood which is called The Irish Channel — I think — I noticed that there was a lot or rehabbing and new construction going on. That figures. This is a fairly popular neighborhood with younger couples and families.

The reason I wrote that I think this is The Irish Channel is because like many neighborhoods in New Orleans, the neighborhood boundaries are flexible. Not only do they stretch and contract over the years, but they move around a little. For instance, my second house was located in The 7th Ward. Or, Esplanade Ridge. Or, the very edge of Treme. Or, District 1. Wait, wait, wait… that’s a police district.

Oh. In case you are wondering, The Irish Channel is located in the general area called Uptown. Even though it seems a world away from our house, it’s about five minutes away.

The pictures. Yes. I helped them out a little. I made them look like the things my eyes saw. So, I added a little color. A little contrast. And, blammo… these pictures.


The things I've seen mean a lot.
The things I’ve seen mean a lot.

Well. I started out in one direction, had to deal with some little nastiness and decided to change directions. After all, they say all art is autobiographical.  I suppose a few hours ago, I was feeling more this way than some other way.  I’ll show you the other version in a day or two. I have a little collection of pictures of things I saw along the way. I’ll post them together.

This is obviously the remains of a gas station. I have no idea when it went out of business and was abandoned. I’m guessing sometime during the depth of the recession. You know. The one from which we still can’t seem to completely recover. Let’s not go down that road.

This picture is the result of a lot of artistic liberty and a lot of layers in Photoshop and OnOne. I added a little of this and a little of that. I experimented. I added and subtracted. Finally, I came out. That’s the trick you know. Getting yourself out…


A little French Quarter thing.
A little French Quarter thing.

Sometimes a whole city can be illustrated in a detail or two. I think this one comes close. It’s just a rusty, painted over, worn little wrought iron fence post cap. I can’t even remember on what street I saw it. But it caught my eye. You know the rest.

I used to have something very similar on my fence in the Seventh Ward. But, somebody stole them. I found them in a shop in Ponchatoula. State law says that if you can prove something like this is yours, the store in which you found them has to give them back. The store owners gave them back. I reattached them. They were stolen again. Ah. New Orleans.


GRA-32
Old Power Plant

As you all know, I like old broken stuff. Houses. Cars. Trucks. Trains. Boats. Anything. There is an old power plant in New Orleans that is about 160 years old. Maybe older. It’s been abandoned for many years. It is reputed to have been a cannon ball factory during The Civil War. Yes, It’s just that old. I’m not sure if that rumor is true. But, the building is old. And boarded up. And closed. There are fences around it. Barbed wire too. But, one day, one of the doors was open. People were working inside. Hard hat types. They couldn’t see me, so I crept right in. I’m sure that I would have gotten thrown out if they saw me. So, I made sure that they didn’t see me. In I went. I made this picture, walked across a sort of gang-plank. I climbed some iron steps and had a good old time. Picture. Picture. Picture. I walked back down the stairs. The guys were still working. Out the door I went. Nobody was the wiser. Even me. I’m apparently not very wise.

The picture. Well, it’s mostly frame, point and shoot. But, a pair of soft-soled quiet shoes helped a lot. I must have taken so lessons from my late Cocker Spaniel. She’d walk around the house. Clank, clank, clank. You could hear her dog tags bouncing off of each other. But, when she wanted to be stealthy, she was. Very quiet. I could be trying to eat something and didn’t want to share with her. I’d think I was in the clear. I’d look down and there she was, looking up at me. Anyway. There was an amazing amount of light in that old building. Really. It was too bright for how I envisioned the picture. So. Off to post production-land I went. This is the result.


Well. Not really. Although it looks like some Martian creature walking down the road, it is really the St. Claude Avenue Bridge. It is the gateway from the rest of New Orleans, especially The Upper Ninth Ward and The Bywater, to The Lower Ninth Ward. I’d like to call it a draw bridge. But, it is really a bascule bridge. Sounds kinda fun, yes? It was constructed in 1918 to span the Industrial Canal, which is part of the intercostal waterway. At one time trains, as well as one lane of cars, trucks and buses rumbled across it in each direction. Today, it simply carries two lanes of vehicular traffic each way. Oh yeah, pedestrians and bicyclists share a very narrow three-foot path way along the outer lane of traffic. By today’s standards it would not be built. It isn’t really wide enough for all that traffic. That’s about all I know. I suppose if I really want to make a proper picture, I’m going to have to park somewhere and walk across the bridge. But, after having driven across it a number of times that doesn’t look like a lot of fun.

Anyway. This picture. I made a family portrait on Thanksgiving night, when everybody else was starting their black weekend buying all sorts of things that will break in a few months. That’s a whole other rant. Anyway (again). We decided to make the picture in front of a haunted plantation called The Le Beau Mansion in Arabi near the Domino Sugar Mill, or factory, or something like that. I believe I’ve published a picture of it on Storyteller during the summer. On the way home, we crossed the St. Claude Avenue Bridge. I made a bunch of pictures from the front passenger’s seat. See? I don’t always make pictures while I’m driving. While I was editing the file, it struck me that the picture of the bridge as we passed over it, made it look like something out of War of the Worlds. So here it is. The glow? Well. Sometimes it’s foggy near the bridge. That’s not the real reason. In an effort for all out transparency I must tell you that I am hiding some imperfections. I knew that turning  up the ISO could cause a lot of noise, but I really had no other choice. The word “could” turned into “would,” so… I added the glow in post production. 


A few weeks ago I posted a picture of an old falling apart house that was located out a country road. A day or so ago, I ran into its city cousin so I decided to photograph it in much the same way. In the musical world, I guess they would call that covering myself. In the publishing world, I guess I would be plagiarizing myself. No matter. The first was one was my picture so I just consider this variations on a theme. The thing about doing this in New Orleans is that there are many abandoned houses within the city limits. But, it is very rare to find the old iron fences. Mostly, they are stolen and sold for either scrap or to an antique dealer. Usually, an antique dealer located on the Northshore. Of Lake Ponchartrain. Why there? The dealers don’t know where the old fence came from. Or, so they say. The picture,itself, was easy. I was just walking down the street and there it was. It probably won’t be there the next time I go to that place.