The time of year. Spooky. Ghostly. A good time of year when things aren’t what they seem.
This is another short post. We have power, but no internet. Our gear is new and works fine. It turns out that our internet provider took some heavy hits. They are working to repair the damage but who knows when.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Two days… vote.
Spooky. Scary. That’s the season. The season of the witch. It’s really scary around swampville today. Sometime early in the morning my phone went crazy with a 36 hour hurricane warning. You have no idea how it feels when you get any kind of notification like that. Your heart pounds. You are wide awake. Your brain is moving too fast. And, then they say that we may have to evacuate.
Evacuate to where? In the season of the other witch — CoVid-19 — where do we go? Anyway, this storm has moved slightly to the east, but we will get hit pretty hard. We have no idea about is strength. Yet. It has to pass over the gulf, which is still very hot with summer’s heat. That charges it.
I already know the answer to my next question. And, I don’t like it.
I have a 505 area code. New Orleans has a 504 area code. My code is from our sojourn to the high desert in New Mexico after Hurricane Katrina did its thing. How did I receive an alert that is relevant to the 504 area code?
That’s easy. The least invasive is Google. I use Google Maps and their direction service. Google knows where I am. So does Apple and Samsung. I don’t like it, but that’s on me. Telling them where I’m located makes life easier.
The alert didn’t come from any of them. It came from the feds, through NOAA. They track my movements too. I read a piece in the New York Times, by Kara Swisher, who has been doing heavy digital studies for twenty years. She said that the government knows where we are every moment of every day. Mostly, they just collect the data. Sometimes they use what they’ve collected. This was one of those times. At least it’s for good.
But, what if it’s not? People were fighting against leaving their contact information at restaurants in case someone got sick and they needed to do some contact tracing. Who cares, we already are known to the people that matter.
Ms. Swisher said the only way to beat what amounts to a huge invasion of privacy is to buy a “burner” phone and only use it to make calls. You should also use an alias. After a few calls, dump it and start again. If you buy a smartphone and use it to check your email, or go to social sites you are immediately known.
Some life, eh?
Halloween and the picture. I haven’t been photographing a lot of holiday stuff lately so this is a retread. But, I’ve always really liked this picture. I made it the Quarter. Originally, it was in glorious color. But, when I experimented with it, I found that I liked this version a whole lot better.
Normally, I would photograph the Krewe of Boo. That’s cancelled this year for obvious reasons. Assuming we don’t take to big of a hit from the storm, I may wander around the Quarter looking for new and even more scary pictures on Halloween. We’ll see.
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance.
I saw one scene. I photographed it. I saw another scene. I photographed it. When the time came I combined them.
The picture does have an eerie feeling to it. Like something out of H.P. Lovecraft. Can’t you just see Cthulhu lurking back in those trees? Lovecraft wrote in a number of themes. Threat to civilization was one. Another was fear of science. A third was the subject of race. And, finally religion and superstition.
Mix all of those together in a toxic stew and what do you get?
If we distill some of that into the “Era of the Rona,” as I heard a young guy call it, you start observing more than you did in the early days of sickness and death.
I think we are getting too comfortable with the virus. While we all seem to be following the rules of masking, at least in my limited world, we aren’t keeping our distances and I saw one guy shake another’s hand. I miss that too.
We can’t do that right now.
On the other hand, we are wearing our masks. We went to make groceries — a New Orleans way of staying I’m going grocery shopping — I noticed that everyone was masked except for one guy. About four or five people ganged up on him and told him to get out. He didn’t know what to do. He knew that four or five is more than one so he left.
That’s good. We have to take care of each other. Making that guy leave was taking care of him. Think about it.
This is all hard to do.
I photographed Big Queens Kim’s funeral procession. Before I write further, everyone was masked. Our great NOPD street cops had cloth bags tied at their wastes. If they came upon somebody without a mask they reached into their bag and gave them one. They were new and sealed in plastic. Nothing else was said.
One of the hardest things about going was saying hello to other photographers. We are sort of tight knit. We haven’t seen each other in about six months. Normally, there would be hugs and talking closely. We couldn’t do that. We couldn’t shake hands. We tried elbow bumps, but that felt stupid.
I think I’ve also said about our cops, that if they were in any of the cities were protests turned to riots, the riots would never have happened. They know how to handle crowds. Down here, when one group was determined to destroy things, the cops isolated and arrested them. Everyone who came to protest, protested.
We don’t fear our cops. During Mardi Gras my routine is to find parking early, walk over to C.C’s. (Community Coffee) and have a cup before I go out to make pictures. I need the caffeine boost. Usually that means that I’m sitting at a four top — ooh, restaurant talk — by myself.
Often I’m joined by two or three NOPD. We talk about this and that as you do. After sitting with the same group on a couple of occasions, I asked them why they are so good at crowd control. They said, they try never to overreact, they talk with the citizens around them and they never ever draw their weapons unless a citizen’s life is in peril. Not their’s. One of them said that he thinks there is too much tactical gear on the streets which implies an aggressive approach.
There you have it.
We might not have Mardi Gras next year. It depends. Obviously, on this day of reflection about Hurricane Katrina, other traditions come into play. Mardi Gras was blamed for the rapid spread of the virus in early March. I’m not sure that’s fair. Unless, we do everything we can as a city to calm down the virus there is no way Carnival should happen.
That’ll be a horrible shame.
Aside from the long term planning and energy that everyone puts into the production, and all of us who celebrate it as something more than partying, the city needs the money. We’ve been shut down for so long that the tax base is almost non-existent.
Wow! See what you get from one spooky looking picture? You get to see my mind wandering around through so bad neighborhoods. I told you about the picture, so…
Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your masks. Keep your distance. Enjoy every po’boy.
The light at the end of the tunnel is about to come. Not for the United States, which is shredded beyond recognition. Today that isn’t at top of mind.
The all seeing dog, Sophie Rose, is in my head. She had her dental appointment today. Oh boy. The right side of her jaw has a very bad infection. She had four teeth pulled, kinda. When the vet started to pull them, they just sort of popped out. The bone was infected and some was a little crumbly.
Sounds terrible, yes?
It isn’t. The holes where the teeth were are already healing, because the teeth were so loose. She’s going to be in a lot of pain for the next couple of days. She is getting a high end narcotic, that I apply with a syringe, without a needle. She’s getting an injection and more antibiotics. She’ll be hurting for a day or two. She should be looking pretty good in about ten days when she returns to her vet.
There’s one more thing. Jaw infections can be indicative of something worse. Cancer. Her vet says he 80% sure that it isn’t going to be cancer. .
I just hate this. Not that Sophie is sick. That happens to all of us. But, the pain. I can’t stand it. You know the pain that I had been suffering through. Forget that. If I could carry her pain I would. She’s such a sweet, loyal and happy dog, that she doesn’t deserve this.
You know my next request.
Have a good thought for her. Pray to whoever your higher power happens to be. Oh, yeah. You might think about us too.
In case you are wondering, she comes home tonight.
Storyteller is supposed to be about photography. About art. Throw in a little design, and you’ve got it.
The picture. It was a normal end of the day thing. It wasn’t very special. I started playing with it. First, I made the perfect picture. Meh. It met all the so called technical standards. Meh. I tweaked it a lot. Meh.
I was using one group of settings. I accidently pulled the slider too far. Ah Ha! Something interesting. I worked on it from there. This is what I made. Something a little different. Some dark and brooding. Something that is almost evil.
It may be about my day. It’ll get better. I am sure of that.
I made it that way. Unlike the speeding picture which happened in camera, this image was made after the fact in post production. By me. The original photograph showed a bright and sunny winters day.
I had a vision. I knew my final intent. I wanted to make what I kiddingly call a “Halloween Picture.” So I went to work. I removed most of the color, When I added black, I removed just enough of it to make the silhouette of the tree brown. You can see it mostly in the branches.
I knew when I was finished. That’s the thing about using vision to guide you. You know when you know.
That’s it for today.
If you are in the United States have a good Martin Luther King Day. If you are anywhere else in the world have a good Monday. Or, Tuesday.
Escape from the French Quarter to Uptown. When this ghostly apparition got there he couldn’t figure out what to do, so he started playing basketball. When nobody else arrived, he looked at me — your trusty photographer — and hissed. Then, he pointed. I left quickly. His yellow eyes were watching every step I made.
That’s the story. I’m sticking to it.
I’m pretty sure that everything is a story. That’s why we do stuff. As Jimmy Buffett once wrote, “We do it for the stories we can tell.” He was right.
Unfortunately, lately I haven’t been doing that. These hurting body parts have taken on a life of their own. Everyday is a new adventure in “what’s gonna hurt me today?” One of the once unspoken reasons for changing my photographic content is that it hurts me physically to do it. But, it hurts me emotionally not to do it.
A good friend says that coming out for a second line is like going to church. He’s right. Not only do I get to make pictures, but I see a lot of friends, I meet new people, I eat BBQ sausages and I soak in the great vibes. And, there is a spirituality to the whole thing.
If I give up, I lose that. I’m not ready for that.
I have to get a little aggressive. My doctors are nibbling around the edges. For sure, they are kind. They give me the medications that I need to get by. I don’t want to get by. I don’t want to exist. I want to flourish.
If traditional medicine can’t do it. I’ll shift. I spent a total of seven years in Hong Kong and China. I trusted the old ways. Maybe it’s time to make a move toward that again. Time for a few phone calls, texts and emails.
Meanwhile, I thought after writing about him, I should listen to a little Jimmy Buffett. So, I am.
“Don’t ever forget that you just might end up in my song.”
You see them in windows. On balconies. On the street. Well, maybe not on the street. But, if you look hard enough you might. In a city that loves Halloween, anything is possible. You can look around the city in every ward, on every street and you’ll see Halloween spookiness. .
But, for the real adventure head to the French Quarter. That’s where the real stuff comes to life. Or, comes to death. It’s everywhere. While there is a big parade called Krewe of Boo, you’ll find some of the weirdest people wandering around in the best costumes throughout the Quarter on the big night. If you haven’t been to the city on Halloween, you owe it to yourself to come on down.
Before I sound too much like the tourism board, check out the picture carefully. The skeleton is wearing eyeglasses and has hair. You don’t see that very often.
No matter what, it’s all in good fun. So, have some.
I’m a few days late in showing you Halloween. No worries. I’ve got it now.
New Orleans is the right place to celebrate ghouls, ghosts and witches. During normal times it’s a bewitching place. Ghosts seem to be floating around everywhere. Walk down a deserted French Quarter street at about midnight and you’ll likely scare yourself. It gets even worse when the fog rolls in. Somebody just passing by becomes a ghost in the fog.
Maybe he is a ghost. Maybe she isn’t.
So many weird things have happened during our history that somebody born in about 1810 must be wandering around today looking for his or her killer.
If you’ve never visited the city, this is a good time to do it. The air has finally cooled enough to open all the windows. And, Halloween is wonderful down in the swamp.
Pictures like this one are best made by looking. Maybe you’ll find a few. Maybe you won’t. But, the fun is in the chase, not always in the finding. It’s a really good way to discover parts of the city that you normally never visit.