The queen and her court.

Royalty in Blue.

The queen and her court roll by at the head of the Treme Sidewalk Steppers second line. This was a big deal since it is their 25th Anniversary.

Unfortunately, they start on Rampart Street across from the Quarter. A few years ago, they started putting up police barricades and hiring security guards. You know the ones. The ones who wear badges that say the word security. The kind you can buy online for ten dollars.

I dealt with it that year, didn’t go last year and decided to get as far away from that silliness as I could this year. I went into what was just about my old neighborhood. The same so-called company was still working the ropes. I just walked around them.

I actually don’t like to photograph the floats since I normally can’t get a good angle on them. I did this time. I sort of had to make a picture like this because the actual second line was chaotic. The brass band was scattered amongst the walkers. The walkers were all over the place. The guys with the ropes couldn’t control anything. Everybody walked around them.

I let the second line come to me. That was the best thing that I could have done. I stood on my little patch of ground and made pictures.

That’s the story of the picture.

I have another story. It deals with wondering what we why we are on the planet. A friend of mine sent me an email about that. I don’t know why people come to me. I’m no guru. I barely understand what I do, let alone what others do. I have to process his words before I reply to him. Then, I may talk about it here. In general terms. No sense in embarrassing anybody when they are reaching out. Or, ever, really.

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Rev. Dr. G.G.
Rev. Dr. G.G.

Smiles.

I reckon about now a lot of people could use one today. Or, a lot of them.

It’s Inauguration Day in The United States. It’s pretty fair to say that the entire world is nervous. No worries. I’m not going to go all political on you now. Storyteller is supposed to be a refuge from all of that. I don’t speak liberal. And, I don’t speak conservative. I am on the side of mankind. Justice. Fairness. Caring.

I know what I know. I do what I do.

But, I wouldn’t presume to take over an airliner and fly it because I didn’t like how the flight crew treated me. Because. Because. Because. I don’t know how to fly a jet passenger plane.

Okay. That’s a metaphor.

But, we in The United States are about to be lead by a group of people who have no idea how to lead a country. And, by a man who thinks that he can tweet policy. A man who has no intellectual curiosity. A man who attacks anybody who even remotely crosses him in word or deed. The list goes on forever. Just like the road.

So.

Like the rest of the world, I’m nervous. I have no idea what’s coming. All the tweeting, posting and instagramming in the world isn’t going to help. For the rest of the day, I’m going dark. If you decide to make a comment or two, I’ll come back to you on Saturday. However, you know what I think. The work is the prayer. There is a jazz funeral for justice, a women’s parade and a children’s parade occurring during the day starting at about 10:30 am. By the time you read this, I’ll be there.

Making pictures. Doing the work. Making the prayer.

These pictures. Welp, they came from the Undefeated Divas second line. I know these people. They are my pals on the scene. For the technically minded, F 5.6 and be there. Somewhere. Anywhere.


 

The real thing.
The real thing.

Americans.

There has been a lot of talk about people over the election season. Americans. Who are they? Who should be included? Who should be excluded? What does the new President Elect mean for some of us? For those who thought the debate would get better after the election, well, you were wrong. It got worse. Now it’s in the streets. Peaceful protest is the American way. The violent hatred is not.

With that.

I thought that I would let you meet some of the people I’ve met and had the privilege of photographing along the way. My way. As I started curating this little collection, I became more and more humbled. These people are real. They aren’t “talent.” They weren’t paid to be in my work. They let me into their lives. Even for just one brief moment.

They are all Americans.

Oh yeah. This is one alien among them all. I think he or she arrived in 1947. In Roswell, New Mexico. See if you can spot him or her.

 


Walking krewes fill up Royal Street.
Walking krewes fill up Royal Street.
Everybody is happy on Fat Tuesday.
Everybody is happy on Fat Tuesday.
Hey, buddy can I play with your beak?
Hey, buddy can I play with your beak?
Keeping the beat.
Keeping the beat.
A friend I don't really know.
A friend I don’t really know.
"Hey mister, if you throw me something I'll throw it back."
“Hey mister, if you throw me something I’ll throw it back.”

First. I think this is about it. I had a really good shoot over the past three weeks. I made more pictures than any of my agencies can ever handle. I probably could turn Storyteller into a Mardi Gras blog. But, you’d get bored. I’d bore myself. That’s just how many pictures I made. I made so many images that I had to clean out my computer’s hard drive. I think I produced something like 500 gigs. That’s a whole lot of pictures, even for me. I’m afraid to know what I did to my external hard drives and cloud storage. This may cost me some money.

Anyway.

Let me know if you want to see more Carnival pictures. But, if I don’t hear from you, I think it’s time to move on. Besides. There’s the huge St. Patrick’s Day parade coming up in just ten days. Yeah, yeah. I hear you. Around here, we never stop. Then, just to stay in practice, there’s French Quarter Fest in early April and Jazzfest in April and May.

So.

These pictures. We have a whole lot of what I’ll call sub-krewes in the city. The represent all sorts of neighborhoods. I suppose you could almost call them a third line parade. They are walking parades. They are usually very casually organized and they sort of fill in the gaps. Most of the people who participate in them are very well masked and costumed. They have a great time. Usually. This year, with temperatures just over 30 degrees with rain and sleet, it was a little more work than most years. A lot of people left very early.

Here we go.

The top picture. Unlike the Krewe of Zulu, there is no elegance here. The guy in the polka dots suit is the parade leader. I’m not sure whether he is the grand marshal, the captain or just some guy they ran into on the street. But, he did a good job.

“Everybody is happy…” Well, she certainly was. I started to photograph her when my camera battery died. One thing about these little Sonys that I like to work with so much… they are battery hogs. I always have spares. She waited while I changed the battery and continued to blow kisses at the camera. Mardi Gras.

“Hey buddy…” She liked his nose, er, beak. I almost passed them by, but I caught the motion of her gloved hand and did my sort of point and shoot thing.

“Keeping the beat…” This woman with the old leather drum walked the entire length of the parade never once missing the beat. She had help from a guy with a snare drum, but she keep the parade marching.

“A friend…” This woman. I don’t know her. I don’t know her name. But, come Fat Tuesday we always run into each other. This has been going on for four years with the exception of last year when I was in Australia. She always has a huge smile for me. This may not be the most iconic picture that I could post. But, this is what Mardi Gras is for locals. It’s a chance to visit with friends and family. Even friends whose names we don’t know. And, only see once a year.

“Hey mister…” This is kind of funny. The paraders throw beads up onto the balconies. The people on the balconies throw beads down on the paraders. Seems like a fair exchange.

That’s it. Mardi Gras 2014.

 


Watching the parade.
Watching the parade.
Shorty hits the street.
Shorty hits the street.
The musicians crank it up.
The musicians crank it up.
Greetings and hugs.
Greetings and hugs.

The pictures that you are viewing are from the first parade I photographed on Sunday. Even though, for me, the Mandela second line was probably more meaningful, this parade was the first one of the day. It was truly the more neighborhood-based parade. Most of the paraders and the spectators were local 9th Ward folks. Even the use of the word spectators is stretching things a bit since the parade and the spectators tend to turn into all one thing. Yeah. There is this little rope that moves with the main area of the parade. The place where the officers and dignitaries walk.  But, I can’t think of a time when that barrier meant anything to anyone. Even when the rope bearers try to enforce the line, people just step over it. This is, after all, New Orleans.

I’d like to tell you that this parade was something special done to honor a fallen neighborhood member or somebody like that, but in the “parade season” most of these events are an excuse to get together on a Sunday morning, hang out and have a moving block party. The bbq wagons come out. The whiskey man makes his appearance. Folks with fast and shiny cars show up. Everybody has a good time. It’s especially good when Saints aren’t playing or are playing the late same.

I hope this post gets a few more views. I’d like to think that I did really good work on Sunday, but hardly anybody is seeing it, at least at this level. Yeah, sure my representation will represent it and some other readers will see some of these picture, but still… Yeah, yeah. The more I read the more I’ve come to understand that even the so-called SEO and social media experts can’t predict anything with any reasonable rate of return. They are like the weather people on your local television news station. They’ll tell you that good work will rise to the top. Really? So what’s good? Another cat picture? Another sunset? A selfie? I dunno. Maybe y’all can tell me.


KB038
“Hey Mister, What Is That Thing You’re Sticking In My Face?”
KB010
“Sunglasses?” “Really?”
KB043
“Well?” “What Are Looking You At?”
KB021
“Hey Buddy…”
KB013
The Queen, She Said.
KB045
Best Friends

Yes. Sunday and Mardi Gras. About dogs. And their people. From my point of view, the main parade yesterday was the Krewe of Barkus. Yes. Barkus. Bark. Bark. Bark. Except these dogs were all pretty good. They visited with each other before showtime. Then they walked throughout The French Quarter. It was their parade. The streets were packed. With humans and visiting dogs. Dogs everywhere. People too. Quite frankly, I’ve never seen The Quarter so packed with people. I suppose, we are starting to get the early spillover from next Sunday’s little football game. They call it the Superbowl. Combine those crowds with the normally heavy Mardi Gras crowds and you get one full French Quarter.

Anyway. Please have a look at the dogs and some of the people who make New Orleans unique.

That’s it for the first week of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. We are taking a break. The city. Not just me. The NFL asked us to do that. So we started Mardi Gras a week early, worked in a week-long pause, and will resume again on the Monday after the game. For my part, it’s really messed with my timing and planning. No. I’m not working in the city next week. We are heading to Memphis… for the BBQ at The Rendezvous and a lot of Blues. Musicians are going to play there from all over the world. It’ll be a little crowded there too. But, nothing like New Orleans. And, Memphis is sacred ground to me because of all the great music made there. Once, I walked into Sun Studios and wanted to kiss the floor. Elvis, Dylan and U2 recorded there. Then there were guys like Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and, and, and… I know I’m really lucky. I live in New Orleans. A musical city. I’m traveling to a Memphis. Another musical city. These days so much of my life is about pictures and musical sounds. Thanks.

The pictures. Well. You know what I do. I bet you didn’t think I could do it with dogs. It’s easy. I just talk to them. They have no idea what I’m saying. Or, do they? Do they seem to like the tone of my voice.


Yesterday, I wrote a little about Freret Street and its relationship to Central City. I thought I’d give you all a quick look at the street and some of the things that you can see there. It’s an overview and I’m sure I’ve missed something that somebody might think is important, but these kinds of shoots are always a work in progress.


A lot of people who talk about the redevelopment of Central City point to the Freret Street corridor as a good model. One that the developers of Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard should follow. I’m not sure about that A dozen or so semi-upscale restaurants does not a community make. But, as a walk up to the Central City work, I had a look at Freret Street. Well. Mostly I go there to eat. Yes. There are some good restaurants and some over rated ones. But, I suppose that’s in the eye of the beholder. Anyway… here’s my idea of a busy restaurant. This is a server at Dat Dog. Yes. Hot dogs and sausages. They start at about $8. That’s a lot of money, huh? It’s a lot of money for different sausages that are grilled on the same grill, and therefore, all taste about the same. Andouille? Kielbasa? Tastes about the same.

I’m not a foodie. I’m a photographer. A storyteller. So I won’t say anything further about the food. Here’s the picture. I shot it at a very slow shutter speed to capture the energy in the place. Funny story. The server looked it at on the camera. She said something to the effect of too bad it’s out of focus. It’s classic me. Oh well. She’s not a photographer…


In New Orleans, there are parades for just about any reason. We celebrate two weeks of Mardi  Gras season with a seemingly unending number of parades. There are parades that celebrate the life of someone who has newly passed; these are jazz funerals. There are second line parades which wind throug

the neighborhoods for almost any reason. There are parades for St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Days. And, yesterday there were  Easter parades that would through The French Quarter.

Until yesterday, I had never been to an Easter Parade. There are three. The Historic French Quarter Parade, which is highlighted by a stop at the St. Louis Cathedral for Easter Mass. People there are dressed in their easter finery. There is The Chris Owens Parade and The Gay Parade. In case you are wondering, as I did, who is Chris Owens and why does she have a parade, the answer is simple. She was an exotic dancer and club owner who wanted to do something special for the entertainers in The Quarter. She’s been successful. The parade has been rolling for 29 years. It’s a family affair.

I wanted to do something a little different. Parades all start looking a little bit the same. The big difference between these parades and Mardi Gras parades is that these are very wholesome. Not a lot of heavy partying going, not much drinking, no competition for beads. But, still through the lens they do look the same. So, I decided to focus on the faces. Here are some of them now.