Coming Out
Coming Out

The first one. The first second line of the 2015 – 2016 season.

It happens to fall in the middle of my two weeks of Hurricane Karina stories. That’s fine. It’s about a neighborhood that was flooded by the storm. It’s about the people who live there. It’s about their celebration. It’s also about a social aid and pleasure club that is celebrating their 30th anniversary. The Valley of Silent Men Social Aid and Pleasure Club.

I’m going to leave the storm out of this post. Or, at least my memories of it. For today.

Today is about the second line.

Hold on.

Forgive me. I  want to say one thing about the storm and how it relates to second lines. Pre-storm, I’m not exactly sure that those who weren’t directly involved with them even knew they existed. They were certainly hard enough to find for those not in the know. Immediately post storm, there was danger of having them come to an end forever. The social clubs and musicians were scattered around the country. Their neighborhoods were devastated. They didn’t have homes to come back to. But, they did return very early on in the recovery. They had to. They are like me and photography. I can’t not take pictures. They can’t not walk. I wrote about that in an earlier post. Today, ten years later, they are big powerful events. They get plenty of pre-second line publicity.

I don’t normally do this, but I’ll give you a little preview of Tuesday’s post. It’ll be about recovery. It’ll be about what’s been done. And, just how long we have to go. I’ve been discussing this a little bit in my past few posts, but with all of the Sunday “special” stories about New Orleans recovery, a huge amount of controversy has been generated. It doesn’t help that the mayor has been blowing his horn about our “big” recovery story. Well, it ain’t so. We have a long, long way to go. The same people who normally get left behind are still being left behind.

I could go on and on and on and on. That’s enough for today.

The pictures.

  1. Coming out of the front door. This is how a parade starts. I’ve been intentionally framing a little looser. I want to show you how the main subject relates to the scene.
  2. This is luck. I focused where I thought the trumpet player was going and he sort of pulled back. I like pictures in which a tiny detail becomes the main subject. When people talk about “fine art photography,” this is an example of it within the broader scope of my work.
  3. This is Tyrone. He is honoring the latest ancestors of The Valley of Silent Men Social Aid and Pleasure Club. They passed in the last year. May they rest in peace.
  4. This little princess was about the fourth person out go the door.
  5. The second line passes through the neighborhood. That guy pulling that giant cooler is selling cold drinks. We all needed them. The parade started as planned, but late in the day. 3pm. My car’s thermometer said it was 97 F. Still we came out. We had to.
A Trumpet Player's Hands
A Trumpet Player’s Hands
Honoring the ancestors who passed last year.
Honoring the ancestors who passed last year.
Little princess
Little princess
Passing through the neighborhood.
Passing through the neighborhood.


Ruins, Maybe.
Ruins, Maybe.

Remembering Hurricane Katrina. Day Two.

The more that I work on this project, the more the memories start to return. We left New Orleans on Sunday, August 28 2005. In the morning. We put all the things that we wanted to take with us in a pile on the floor. Cameras. Computers. Digital files. Legal documents. Financial and insurance documents. Medical stuff. Some keepsakes. That sort of stuff. And, very few clothes. The spaniel, who knows everything before humans do, added her favorite toys. She made sure that her toys went into the car. She sat on the pile until they were sure that her stuff was packed too.

We didn’t take many clothes because we didn’t think about being gone for very long. As I recall, I took enough clothes for about a week. All light summer clothes. I can’t even remember if I took long pants. It was very hot that day. That summer. About like this one. I took flip-flops and running shoes.

I locked the house and the gate. We pulled into the street. We saw our neighbor, Mr. Joe. At the time, he was in his late 70s. He lived sort of catty corner from our house. We stopped to ask what he was going to do. Leave? Or stay? He said that he was staying and would look after our house. I remember wishing him, “God Speed,” and we hit the road. I had no idea that was the last time we’d live in that house. Or, the our neighborhood would be so badly flooded. Luckily, I did see Mr. Joe again, unlike many of my former neighbors. He lives in a factory built home that looks like the house he originally lived in when we were neighbors. Right on the corner. If I remember correctly, he is now about 87 or 88 years old. He’s one of those wiry guys. He’s got more energy than me. He’ll probably out live all of us.

That’s my story for today.

The pictures. I’ve driven by this place a hundred times. I never stopped. Today, I did. I stopped because the number two caught my attention. It’s my second day of this project and there is that big number two. How’s that for a sign? No pun intended.

I’m not sure if this business closed before the storm. But, I can see the remnants of flood waters.  I can see what’s left of a Katrina Cross. I can see that it has been multiple businesses. Oh, and the bottom picture is really just a scene setter for the top picture. The yellow building is a social club. The kind that sponsors and pays for second line parades. They are likely mowing the lawn in front of the old cleaners. That’s what we, in New Orleans, do. That’s especially what social clubs do for their neighborhoods.

This picture was kind of a lucky one. The day was cooling off and the light was okay. It’s my usual kind of picture about remains. Ruins. Junk. Not to worry. I actually planned project this out. I’m happy to say that it’s pretty balanced between broken places and new, restored and made-even-better places. The list isn’t complete and likely it will be filled out opportunistically, but it isn’t a downer. And, I am sticking to my picture a day workflow. I could take a shortcut and photograph a couple of places in a day, but what would be the fun in that? Besides, I’m on a mission.

A little housekeeping.

I’m sorry if I haven’t replied to emails from your blogs. My email has been compromised by the very people who host my commercial website. For some reason, somebody employed by them went into the site and pointed my email settings back to their old third-party email provider. On a Friday night. About midnight. That service was terrible and after years of problems, they — Livebooks — finally decided to fix the issue, by no longer offering email with their hosting service.

Fine with me.

I switched to Go Daddy for email pretty seamlessly last June and haven’t had a problem since except for a systemic failure that actually made the news. Every morning is no longer an exercise is terror.

Unlike the rest of the digital world, Livebooks doesn’t offer customer service on a weekend. I suppose that was the point of repointing my email connection on a Friday. night. Unfortunately, they control the website underpinnings and  they control their end of the administration. They have to repoint my email connections. I can’t do that remotely. I’m sure they’ll do this on Monday. It’ll take a while to propagate the connection.

I’m sure I’ll start shopping for a new commercial website hosting company right after that. That’s fine with me, too. I really don’t think Livebooks has the kind of revenue to remain stable. They just raised their hosting rates. But, not for me or people like me. We are grandfathered into their oldest plans. In fact, in 2013, they almost went of business until a wedding website bought and saved them. For me, that’ll mean another new redesign. And, a bunch of work I hadn’t planned on. I’m actually thinking of combining my two websites, here on Storyteller. While WordPress can be a little frustrating at times, they do have pretty good customer service. And, they do work on the weekend.

Like me.

 

A scene setter.

A scene setter.


Happy to see each other.
Happy to see each other.

I just had to.

I had to come out on Sunday. I had to be part of the Perfect Gentlemen Father’s Day second line. I had to make pictures because last week was very, very hard. A lot of people left the planet. In New Orleans. And, in Charleston. Some I knew. Some I wished that I knew. My way of honoring them and mourning for them is to do what I do best. I don’t really do that much. I take pictures. I write a little bit.

I’m doing both. For them. For me.

For me. It was a little more than an offering.

As you know, I haven’t been all that well. There are two issues. They are unrelated. Supposedly.

One was repairable. I did that. I’m supposed to walk a little. About fifteen minutes, four times a day. That is, until I get stronger and the repair heals. Then, I should walk more. Until I’m somewhat normal. I’m not so sure my doctor meant that I should walk about four miles, sometimes backwards and sometimes at a jog, in typical New Orleans summer heat.  While I was walking, back stepping and jogging in the parade my repair felt fine. But, on my return back to where I parked that changed a little. Well, a lot. I hurt. I’ve rested some and I feel better. The other issue is chronic and forever. They tell me that I’m probably one of the lucky ones because it will likely never progress. Now. The data is with me. I guess that time will tell.

The pictures.

Yep. I was right in the middle of things. Right where I like to be. And the middle was kind of messy. Normally, a second line starts from a building. Could be a house. A bar. A club. A cafe. This time, it just sort of started in the middle of the street. The band started it playing. DAM — Dignified Achievable Men Social & Pleasure Club — just sort of assembled and started walking from the middle of nowhere. The ladies — CIA Ladies Social & Pleasure Club — where not pleased. They ended up walking through what amounted to an uncontrolled crowd. Then things fell into place. I’d say, “like normal.” But, this is New Orleans. We aren’t normal.

I’ll post more pictures throughout the week. Sunday was a good day. You should see the pictures.

Hugs and happiness.
Hugs and happiness.
Reaching out, Fathers Day Second Line, CentralCity, New Orleans.
Reaching out, Fathers Day Second Line, CentralCity, New Orleans.
Finding out loud.
Finding out loud.


Resting in Central City.
Resting in Central City.

I made this picture about a year ago in Central City. How do I know without looking at the metadata? It was maybe six weeks before Fat Tuesday. I wanted to photograph the outdoor neon sign, but the bartender-owner invited me inside. I asked if I could take pictures inside. He told me I could photograph him and the bar, but it was up to each customer if I would be allowed to take their picture. Some said yes. Others said no. I honored that. Except for one woman who said no but kept leaning into every picture. I smiled and said, “In or out, but not both ways.” She laughed and said okay and offered to buy me a drink.

So back to my steel trap calendar like mind. Mostly, it’s rusty. But, I remember this because they invited me back on Fat Tuesday “when things really happen.” Okay. Maybe I’ll make it this year. Last year I was in the middle of never-ending traveling. I happened in there on a road break. But, I didn’t get to see Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras Day as foreigners from, oh let’s say Texas, call it.

The picture. Well. I pushed it a little. Well, a lot. I was shooting with an NEX7 which is a fine camera in available darkness. I pushed the ISO to over 6000. You can make a technically proficient picture at a high ISO like that, but your exposure has to be dead on. Balancing all these levels of light was a little tough and so the exposure wasn’t right on. Or, maybe nowhere close. So, I repaired it in post production using photo magic. That’s not a brand name. That’s what I call it when I get lucky enough to pull off something like this. Photo magic.