Alvin Coco agin… at the second line for Leah Chase in Treme, in New Orleans.

A little clean up time.

Sometimes pictures don’t make the final cut. They are close enough. I thought I’d show you a few from two second lines that missed the first cut… a little bit. Single Ladies. And the jazz funeral for Chef Leah Chase. I thought I’d stack them up all in one big pile. Didn’t Doctor John say something like, in New Orleans nothin’ is separate from nothin’?

He’s pretty much right.

Next?

Maybe a Sunday second line. The Perfect Gentleman roll for Fathers Day. At 3pm. The very hottest part of the day. This was the parade that just about killed me a couple of years ago. The temperature was 114 degrees on the street. The parade was supposed to roll at 1pm. It was postponed for some reason. First, to 2pm. Then, 3pm.

I took refuge on a very deep stoop, with about a dozen other people. I tried to stay hydrated. When the parade was organizing itself, I was standing on that very hot street. I realized that my vision was getting blurry. I felt like things were moving around in waves.

Some kind of heat thing.

I bought more water, sat down in a little bit of shade. I rested for a while and gave up. I walked back to my car, turned the air conditioning on and drank more water. I went home.

That closed my second line season.

That won’t happen this year. It’s nowhere near as hot. In fact, for us, it’s downright pleasant. It’ll get a little hotter by Sunday. I won’t be bad. I, like all, the rest of us, know what to do.

Housekeeping.

I really do like this new format. Funny thing about it. I was struggling to add the details. Like buttons. Social media buttons. Translator. And, like that. I found out why I was having a hard time. It was already done. Apparently, the minute that I activated this template, everything started to migrate. It just took a little time.

If there is something that bothers you. Something that I could do better. Let me know. This is still a work in progress.

Oh. The title?

Something Bob Dylan said about his infamous “Rolling Thunder” tour. He said there weren’t enough masks. That caught my attention since New Orleans is all about masking. He added, that when a man wears a mask, he’ll tell truth. Without a mask, he likely won’t.

Now, that’s something.

 

Leah Chase was Catholic. That didn’t stop representatives of almost every religion coming out.

 

 

 


I didn’t quite make it.

Not because I couldn’t stand it. Instead, I realized that “best of” collections are best done before the turn of the year. Not on the first, or second of January when I said I would return. Instead, I’m back. Sort of. On December 31, 2018. Tomorrow is January 1, 2019. That matters to some people. I’m still on the fence about that.

These are the photographs that I think are my twelve best plus one more. That’s fine because what you call a “baker’s dozen” we call lagniappe. A little bit extra. I think you can figure out which one it is. It’s not the picture directly below, although it is the lone black and white image in a sea of color.

You’ll also notice that the pictures are my people work. Street pictures. Documentary pictures. Photojournalism. They are not my more intentionally artistic pictures. They are not what “the dog saw.” Those pictures are for another time. Another place. These are pictures that get a little closer to the heart of me.

For a little bit of what I’ve been doing during my break please drop down to below the last photograph.

It’s like cabbage.
A daughter’s kiss.
Dancing days are here again.
Big Chief John
In black and white.
Sunset in a special place.
Once in a great while…
Secret garden.
Loud noise.
Waiting.
Smiles.
Jazz portrait.
Rain gear.

So, what did I do?

There are two answers to this question.

Personal stuff. All holiday, all the time. As I said when I begged off, it was about family, friends, neighbors, the guy on the street.

I followed my advice about working in the French Quarter or a second line.

Always keep some one dollar bills folded in your pants pocket. I did that.

Sort of.

I kept them in my car’s seat divider. I gave them to sincere sign holders on the neutral ground. I’m sure they made more money then I did over the Christmas Season, but it was the Christmas Season. Those folks were they guys on the street. Literally.

Professionally.

A lot.

Freeing myself from a few daily grinds allowed me to photograph more frequently and with more focused intent.

When I worked with my not-as-new-as-it-once-was super smart phone I really experimented. I wanted to find its limits. I haven’t yet.

When I worked with real cameras, I focused on what I do in the street. I still haven’t made it to the Quarter to photograph all things Christmas. I have a few more days until the Quarter turns into all things Mardi Gras. Yep. That season is almost upon us.

January 6 is the Twelfth Night. The first day of Carnival season.

Most importantly, I’ve been rebuilding Storyteller into a more fully functioning website. It actually lives here on WordPress, but isn’t activated yet. It may take a few weeks for a soft opening and will continue to be a work in progress over the next few months.

That’s it for my yearly wrap up.

As far as 2019 goes, I hope it will be a “damn sight better than the old one.” That’s a quote from Sherman T. Potter during the old M.A.S.H. television show.

2018, in a word, sucked. But, I’m old enough to know that just when you thought things couldn’t get worse… they do. I hope that I’m wrong. Really wrong.

I don’t make resolutions because I know that I’ll break them within a week. We also don’t go out partying on New Year Eve because when I used to drink I thought it was amateur night. Usually, we stay home helping the dogs get through the noise. We probably will do the same thing. They are fine as long as they can see their people. If we aren’t worried, they aren’t worried. I will try to make a picture after midnight. That sets the tone for the year.

Happy New Year 2019.


Tuba, a tool of the trade.
Tuba, a tool of the trade.

… the truth, everything else is just cheap whiskey.

There you have it. Cheap whiskey. Nothing more. Nothing less. I think I’ll forget about any rumors about anything until I know it to be true. For me. At any level. Anywhere.

That said, tools of the trade. That’s what these pictures are about.  Sparkling. Glowing. Well used. Beaten up. Doesn’t matter. They serve a purpose. A great purpose. Just like cameras are for me. I once had someone tell me that they were mostly using their smart phone, even the they had a closet full of beautiful Nikon cameras.

Whaaaa?

I may buy new camera bodies. Experiment with new lenses. They are well maintained. But, they are my tools. Of my trade. They aren’t beautiful to me. They are technological marvels. Think about the digital processing ability in those little, tiny bodies. Whew. Amazing. But, Beautiful? Not to me. I buy them, trade them and sell them when I need something that helps me do my job a little better.

I recently bought a new lens. An 18-105 mm G Series Sony. After all the trials and travails of the last second line, I made a couple of really good pictures. Whether we all agree on the causes, we all agree that the second pretty much was chaotic. And, not in a good way.

This lens. Is magic. I made more keepers than I do on a good day. As I said to a friend, my pictures at this second line are a result of technology and luck. Not talent.

I want to amend that slightly. No photographic talent. When you push me, I push back. Not physically. Although it almost came to that with the undertaker. Nah. I just grind away harder. Some people flow like water. I really admire that. Boy, do I admire that. Me? I have a sort of grinding ethos. Like a marginal New York Yankees baseball team.

The pictures. Pre-parade. While I trying to sort out the mood of the parade.  The tools of the trade. If you look closely at the top picture, those guys have all the tools of their trade. A tuba, ragged jeans. And, a beer.

Sparkling brass.
Sparkling brass.


 

The look and feel.
The look and feel.

2016.

What could I write that hasn’t been already written? It’s been a rough year. It doesn’t seem to want to let go. There’s also been some wonderful moments. Especially when you look at them at a more granular level. Dig in.  Forget all the noise. Just listen to the signal.

In my case all I really had to do was look at my work for the last year. I thought, “Hmmm, some of this isn’t half bad.” On the other hand, some of this year’s work falls into the “what the hell was I thinking” category.

And, so it goes.

Here are twelve pictures that I made in 2016. Twelve pictures that I like. One for every month. But, not organized by month. Are they my best? I don’t know. Ask me tomorrow. Or, the next day. Or, the day after that. My thinking changes on a daily basis. As it should.

Enjoy the work.

Dreams.
Dreams.

 


 

I Went Down to the River
The Mississippi River

Two Thousand posts. One a day.

That’s how many posts I’ve made on Storyteller.

That’s a lot.

Or, to put it another way, 5.479 Years. Or, 65.75 Months.

It wasn’t always Storyteller. And, it wasn’t always on WordPress. It started out on eBlogger. It started out as a New Mexican blog. Because that’s where I went after the storm.

But, as many New Orleanians have found out, you can’t really leave. I came back at every possible opportunity. Holidays. Mardi Gras. Celebrations. Just because. It doesn’t matter if you are from here. That really takes some time and effort. Like being in New Orleans for a couple of generations. Or, if you adopted this place once. If it gets inside you, you have to come back. I came back.

I’ve seen a lot. I’ve photographed it too. Happiness, Joy. Sadness. Rain. Water. Hurricanes. Floods. Dancing. Mardi Gras. Second Lines. Funerals. Music. I can’t even begin to list it all.

So. What to do to celebrate two thousand posts?

I really had no idea.

Then, it came to me. I’ve been back for four years. The actual return date was July 8. Close enough. Two anniversaries in one. Now, what to do? It came to me again. Pictures. Doh! But, how many? The best? The  most storytelling? The most colorful? Well, my best, most colorful and most storytelling are different from yours. Besides, they change a lot depending on a lot of things.

So. I created some rules or conventions. No broken stuff. No pictures from outside of the city. No “out on the road” pictures. No pictures that didn’t weren’t about New Orleans. No nature. Sounds pretty negative, huh?

How about this?

The pictures had to be about the sense of place. The feel. The color. The sound. The heat. The people. The energy. The music. They had to give you a sense of what I feel. What I see.

These are them.

Oh yeah. Some technical issues had to be overcome and a few boundaries set. How many pictures? One for each month that I’ve been back in the city. So, 48. I had to mess with WordPress to see if I could actually publish 48 pictures at one time. Yes, I know that I have really been publishing this blog for about 66 months, but I wanted the pictures to be about New Orleans. I also tried to display these pictures as a gallery. It can be done, but you have to open them since they are no bigger than about 1800 pixels wide. That’s not very user-friendly. And, I couldn’t write enough to explain what you are seeing. So…

One more thing. These aren’t the best of four years work. Be my very definition they can’t be. I made some pretty good pictures — I thought, anyway — away from the city. These are the best 48 pictures that tell you my story. In my city. Because… all art is autobiographical. They say.

I hope this works. I hope you like it.

Orange
Very First Second Line
KVD-2
Mardi Gras. Crew Du Vieux
The St. Louis Cathedral has become a magical place for me, especially when I am chasing light and weather.
The St. Louis Cathedral has become a magical place for me, especially when I am chasing light and weather.
Satchmo Second Line dancers.
Satchmo Second Line dancers.
The French Market, normally a busy place, is closed for the night.
The French Market, normally a busy place, is closed for the night.
Magic
The French Quarter
My favorite building in The French Quarter.
My favorite building in The French Quarter.
One night in the French Quarter.
One night in the French Quarter.
Motion & Color
Motion & Color
On a bright Sunday
On a bright Sunday
It was wet.
It was wet.
Flambeaux
Flambeaux
Another Mardi Gras Indian Portrait
Another Mardi Gras Indian Portrait
From the front. St. Louis Cathedral during magic hour.
From the front. St. Louis Cathedral during magic hour.
Pictures in the house.
Pictures in the house.
Big Chief Juan Pardo
Big Chief Juan Pardo
Interstate 10 heading into New Orleans.
Interstate 10 heading into New Orleans.
Summer light in the residential side of The French Quarter.
Summer light in the residential side of The French Quarter.
A very gentle street portrait I made at a second line parade.
A very gentle street portrait I made at a second line parade.
Walking, rain or shine.
Walking, rain or shine.
Mardi Gras World and the skyline.
Mardi Gras World and the skyline.
Vaughn's at dusk.
Vaughn’s at dusk.
Second line music.
Second line music.
Details. Tuba. Stickers.
Details. Tuba. Stickers.
Dance Two
Dance Two
Big jazz funeral yesterday. Huge, in fact.
Big jazz funeral yesterday. Huge, in fact.
High School Marching Bands. Krewe of Druids and Nyx.
High School Marching Bands. Krewe of Druids and Nyx.
Brass band member taking a coffee break at CC's.
Brass band member taking a coffee break at CC’s.
Stuff. For Sale. Used. Cheap.
Stuff. For Sale. Used. Cheap.
Keeping It Real
Keeping It Real
Spy Boy Dow
Spy Boy Dow
Buried in color.
Buried in color.
Making music... a tight portrait
Making music… a tight portrait
A little dancing and eating lunch.
A little dancing and eating lunch.
A big storm blew through the city.
A big storm blew through the city.
Mardi Gras Indian
Mardi Gras Indian
Young Prince
Young Prince
Sean's.... again.
Sean’s…. again.
Blue
Blue
French Quarter
French Quarter
Leading the band...
Leading the band…
The brass band prepares.
The brass band prepares.
New Orleans from Algiers Point.
New Orleans from Algiers Point.
A little leveling, the king and his fellow paraders.
A little leveling, the king and his fellow paraders.
A light tight.
A light tight.
Purple Big Chief
Purple Big Chief
It was hot.
It was hot.