As the sun lowers near dusk.

Today.

Today is a sacred day. On a bright fall morning in 2001 our world changed. Terrorists crashed two airliners into the Twin Towers in the city of my birth, New York. They crashed a third plane into the Pentagon, the hub of our military in Washington D.C. They tried to steer a fourth plane back to the district, when very brave passengers, knowing they would lose their lives, forced that plane to crash into a field in Pennsylvania.

If you ask me about my personal opinion, I’ll say this. Of course, I’m sad. I was even scared at the time. But, I believe the bad guys achieved their purpose. They changed the world. As one false step lead to another, we ended up — for now — in hateful place.  A polarized place where seemingly everybody is against somebody who is even remotely different from them.

I’m happy to report that I’m not that way. I guess, for the most part, I’ve seen enough in my life to not really be afraid of much. Even death. I don’t want to die, but I’m not afraid of it. I don’t know when these changes came to me. They sort of just slid in there. In a way that also explains this picture.

For sure, we should stop, think and reflect on this day. We should make an extra effort to be kinder than we were yesterday. But, we also have to move on in our own ways. For me, that’s making pictures. It’s the only way that I can defeat the bad guys. A friend of mine who lives in Memphis say that as artists we need to “art harder.” I agree.

For those of you who do something different, keep doing it. Do more of it.

That’s how we win.

So.

This picture hasn’t got anything to do with my thoughts for today. Sometimes that happens. I’m just chasing the wonderful autumn light these days. Someday, the weather will actually change and the temperatures will match the light. #nolaheat is relentless.

Peace, prayers and love.

Advertisements


Potter’s field in New Orleans.

I’m going back.

Carole King wrote it. Just about everybody recorded it. “Going Back.” A song for the ages. A song for me.

I was alright. I’d gotten over the shock. Of the feeling of loss. I knew it wouldn’t last. I didn’t expect it to arrive yesterday.

Here’s what happened.

My old friend and I have mutual friends. One of them was a good friend to me. We haven’t seen each other since the storm. Hurricane Katrina. She moved to North Carolina after the storm and a failed marriage. We do keep in touch. It’s hard not to in these days of every kind of messaging available to us. She texted me. Was I going to the memorial? Yes. Could I pick her up at the airport? Yes. Could she stay with us if have we the room? Oh, we got room.

On August 29th, we observe the 14th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall at Buras, Louisiana.

It’s been fourteen years. Since we were driven from out home. Fourteen years since I saw my friend. Other friends. How did that happen? Where did the time go? Did I waste it? Did I just pass it?

Or, did I fill it with work? With fun? With light and love? God, I hope so.

All I know right this minute is something Neil Young wrote.

It’s better to burn out than it is to rust.


Dusk comes to what is now called The Shrine on Airline.

Ah, dusk.

The picture almost looks like it could have been made in France. It wasn’t. It was made at a park and baseball stadium now called, The Shrine on Airline.

To me and many others, we think that’s a stupid name. It is home for the next two weeks to a AAA baseball team, called The Baby Cakes. That has to be the stupidest name ever for a sports team. The name and the team branding was created by two 22 year old designers from San Diego. They spent a whole three days in New Orleans. They thought they knew us. Anywhere is more complex than that.

The name is sort of a shortened version of the baby that comes in a king cake. It doesn’t make sense in the way that they used it. There was a big commotion about it, but team management kept the name. The sold a lot of merchandise, which is what mattered to them. After all, who doesn’t love an evil little baby holding a baseball bat in traditional Mardi Gras colors?

In two weeks, the Baby Cakes last ever game will be played in Greater New Orleans. They are moving to Wichita, Kansas, where a $90 million dollar stadium is being built for them. The team owns the name so that may travel with them. Thankfully.

At this point there is no replacement for them. There are a lot of AA teams located in the Gulf Coast. Hopefully, one will come here. I hope so. The baseball quality will be better since that’s where the stars of tomorrow play, as opposed to AAA where the stars of yesterday are rehabbing or hoping to catch another shot at the “big show.”

See what comes out of a simple little picture. Hopefully, you just learned something. Or, not.

One more thing.

I’m a New York Yankee fan. I was born to be one. Their AA team is based in New Jersey. Maybe the parish can lure them down here,

They are called The Pork Rolls.


Little or nothing.

“Baby, baby, take the long way home.”

Written about someone who wants to stay on the road and not go home. That’s us right about now.

The situation.

First, the good news.  It is very likely that the levees will not overtop. We are expecting 10 to 15 inches of rain in the next two days. If it’s steady it won’t overwhelm the pumps. It will add more water to the already high Mississippi River.

There is even better news. The Rolling Stones will not be denied. They are already in town. And, their stage crew is building their stage, lighting and video screens as we speak. They are playing on Sunday. Come hell (not likely) or high water (likely).

The predictable news. The storm’s outer bands are reaching us. There are winds of about 20 mph with light rainfall. It is not steady, it is more like spitting. It’s on and off as the cyclone spins.

There is no bad news. We are as prepared as I’ve ever seen. That’s the city. The parishes. And, us. The only possible bad news are power failures, which are unpredictable. Yesterday, I saw Entergy crews checking the likely weak links. But, storms are storms and you can’t know what will fail.

Have a good thought for us.

The picture. Red skies at morning, sailors take warning. Red skies at night, sailors delight. We’ll see about that. It looks like I’m a million miles away. Nah, Earhart Expressway. The back way to the airport.

Just remember, you thought you knew what the Tibetan word Nameste means. Around here, that’s Cajun for the answer to this question.

“Are you evacuating?”

“Nameste.” (Nah Imma Stay)


So close, yet far away.

It’s a funny thing.

We all think of New Orleans as being a giant city. It’s not. It’s a city of about 375,000 people. We are losing about 1,000 people a year due to all sorts of reasons. Broken infrastructure. Institutional racism. Crime. Horrible schools. High Taxes. Very high rental prices. The list goes on.

That’s not what this post is about.

Instead, it’s about the region in which we live. Fifteen minutes outside of the city lies Southeast Louisiana. If it matters, leaving the city means traveling from a blue city to a red state. It doesn’t matter to me. Even though we might not agree politically, I find the people to be sweet, kind and caring.

So, we don’t talk politics. Or, religion.

Aren’t those topics what you are supposed to avoid during holiday dinners? With people who really look like you because they are you. Sort of.

I like crossing the big muddy and tooling along the roads on the Westbank. You never know what you’ll find. I find pictures like this one. I find good almost home cooked meals in gas stations. I find people who ask why you are taking a picture. When you tell them, they ask to be in a couple frames. They either tell, or guide you, towards locations that they think might make a good picture.

They are country folk.

To them, New Orleans is the “big city.” A place in which they aren’t comfortable and don’t feel safe. And, yet, the are only 10 or 15 miles away.

The picture. Wandering along River Road around sunset. I’m pretty sure that you can figure out the rest.

 


Everything in one picture.

Hong Kong.

Not this picture. This is near home in New Orleans.

I was watching the last season of Anthony Bourdain. The show made me nostalgic. It made me a little sad. Not for Tony. We know his end.

It made me miss some of the things that I had. That I did. I thought about living there. I liked it. A lot. Maybe more than I like living in New Orleans.

I think, even after my paid expat time was up, I should have stayed. Yes. It’s expensive. Yes. It’s crowded. For certain I was in the minority. But, there’s a lot to be said for that. It changes your thinking. Your viewpoint changes. You learn a lot. About people who are different from you. About yourself.

If my word for the year is learning, the Lunar New Year brings us to the Year of the Pig. I’m not exactly sure who those two intersect, but it’s worth a thought. Or, two.

Bourdain met up with a cinematographer who worked a lot with Wong Kar-wei. He made those dreamy introspective scenes. He led Bourdain on a merry chase throughout the city. To places I loved and frequented. Some of it changed. Hong Kong never stands still. Others have not. They didn’t hit all of my spots. But, they hit enough.

I haven’t been to Hong Kong in 11 years. I’ve grown older. Slower. A little broken. I’m not even sure if I could walk many of the city’s streets. I could try. I could take breaks. I would probably see more.  You know. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

I should go. This year. Before it slips my mind.

When is a very obvious question. Between my two lives, I’m booked until at least September. That could work. The weather there is about like it is here. The temperatures would start dropping. It would be cool, but not cold. We’ll see.

See what’s happening here? It’s like a journey through the past. Only it’s headed toward the future. There are a lot of places I’d like to visit. Before I can’t.

Oh yeah. The picture. The dog who sees stuff was groomed. She got a haircut. The groomer shaved her down to her body. She needed it. Between rain, and falling leaves and the wetness on the ground, she was matted. Sure, I brushed her. I combed her. But, when her fur is long, she picks up everything. Funny thing about her fur is that it weighs a lot. She started out her day weighing 24.5 pounds. Just under the maximum cocker weight of 25 pounds. Off came her fur. We weighed her again. Twenty three pounds. That’s a helluva diet. She lost 1.5 pounds in three hours.

This is the long way of saying that she was in a great mood. She was ripping around on our walk until she lead me to this. She stopped. I photographed. I made two good pictures. Off we went. There’s really not much to this picture. Winter silhouetted trees and a sunset. What could be easier?

They say that anything worth doing is worth working hard to achieve. Sometimes. Other times, the best thing is the easiest thing. It just sort of flows. As I wrote yesterday, I am just the conduit.

Be the conduit.

 


Creativity.

Creativity.

I was reading something about that this morning. In The New York Times. It was a piece about “The Artist’s Way.” A book which is 25 years old. A book that all of us who claim to be creative, want to be creative or, who are creative, should read.

I’ve only read a chapter or two. I borrowed it from a friend who needed it back well before I was done. It’s full of philosophy and exercises and thoughts that will help. You not be doing anything creative yet, but want to. You may be a working creative and are stuck. You may want to change genres. There is something for all of us.

Oddly, since I didn’t read much of the book but have a very good idea of what the author says, I found that say about the same things.

Things like.

Photography block? Go outside and photograph the first things that you see. In a new city? Photograph “what is it like to be…” Need inspiration? Talk to your friends and colleagues. They don’t have to be photographers. Need to fill your head with creativity? Head to your nearest museum or art gallery.  Practice, practice, practice.

And, so on.

One thing caught my attention 25 years ago. Neil Young says it. Bob Dylan says it. Van Gogh said it. “Let the higher power speak through your work.” Whoever and whatever that is. That’s a version of my, “the work is the prayer.”

It took me many years to learn this. From all sorts of sources.

There is one more thing. You can’t hurry it. You can’t hurry the process. You can’t hurry the technology. You can’t hurry your own learning.

As a friend if mine once said early in my learning, “the river flows in its own time.”


In between light and dark.

In between.

At the edges. Where the good stuff lurks. Where our imaginations create stuff. Where our dreams arise. Where nightmares come into being.

That’s why I like making pictures like this one. At night. Or, dusk. Things are lurking in the darkness. In the shadows. You can see some of it, but not all. You have to guess. Use your senses. Interpret. What you see is not what someone else sees. What they see may not be there at all.

Pictures like this one are scary. Or, not. They are moody. Or, not. They might even be artistic. Or, not.

Most of the time, their beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

All of this is why I look at paintings rather than photographs for inspiration. It’s why I read rather than look at pictures if I am traveling to a place. I’d like my imagination to kick in, rather than look at what’s already been done. I think that I can get closer to the edge that way. As musician Neil Young once said, “whenever I find myself in the middle of the road, I head straight to the gutter where things are more interesting .”

Me too. Not all of the time. But a lot of it.

The picture. The usual thing. See it. Photograph it. Make it what I saw while I was working in the field. I do that in post production if the camera’s technology can’t keep up with my mind. The computer’s can.

Happy Sunday.


At the end of day.

Quietly.

As the day comes to a close. I looked through the silhouetted trees, mostly bare from cold winter days and saw that faintest gleam of an orange sunset.

I decide to try to make a picture. This isn’t me trying to be cute by dropping the main subject into a tiny area of the picture. This was literally all I could see of what was a wonderful sunset.

I suppose if I had been some place with a long clean view I could have done something a little better. But, I wasn’t. I certainly couldn’t get there in the few seconds that this light was settling into the horizon.

Lately, that seems to be me. I’m out-of-place for almost every picture. Oh sure. I make the best image that I can. But, my work could be so much better. I’m not sure if it’s laziness or old age setting in. All these book projects that I have to do will be the test.

Anyway.

After I wrote about Pegi Young, we went grocery shopping. We like the middle of the week because every store is much less crowded. We went to Wal-Mart because we needed all kinds of stuff besides food. It used to be that we’d hit four or five stores, but this is easier. Besides, some of those stores don’t exist anymore. I suppose that’s Wal-Mart’s fault or Amazon’s.

I’m pretty sure the gods were following us. All of them. First, over the speaker system came, John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Then, Bowie’s, “Heroes.” At just that moment we ran into a group of people who are learning disabled. They are being taught how to shop and to take care of themselves. They are all friendly and kind. One shook my hand, gave me a fist bump and a high-five. When one did that, others followed. One of them hugged musical miss. Of course, she hugged him back. When we turned the corner and headed towards another aisle, she grabbed my hand. I looked into her eyes. Both of us had diamonds coming from the corners. So strange. Yet, so perfect. We just lived what I wrote about.

Listen, kids.

Don’t make me write about you. It just could come true.