New Mexican Transportation.

W

hen I was a young child my family used to travel from Long Beach, California to Brooklyn, New York. In those days we either took Santa Fe’s El Capitain or Super Chief.

Those were the days. The food was great. The cars were luxurious. The staff was helpful and friendly. Though the ride was very long, it was enjoyable. Four nights total. We were traveling coast to coast.

Usually, the train was at least three hours late. Once your train got late, it kept getting later because we’d pull over for passing freight trains. We didn’t know it at the time but passenger trains lost money, while freight trains were big earners.

That caused real problems for us.

If our late arriving train was any later than three hours, we’d have to stay over night in Chicago.

If we got a little lucky we could travel across the city to another train station to catch a New York Central System — later a Penn/Central — train to New York City called The Broadway Limited. That train was usually late too.

That didn’t matter because all we did was catch a taxi from Grand Central Station to 16th Street in Brooklyn.

Amtrak is a ghost of those days. In 1971 all but one of the legacy railroad companies joined a national system called Amtrak in an effort to staunch the flow of red ink. It’s never worked. One by one, routes were closed.

Coastal trains still flourish, sort of. Long distance coast to coast trains are not so great even with fairly new equipment.

Until this year.

President Biden is a big fan of Amtrak. He famously used to work in Washington D.C. and return home each night to Delaware. He supports Amtrak and is looking to fund it as part of the infrastructure bill.

Amtrak immediately started to plan new routes and restore older routes. Cities and towns are clamoring for new or restored service.

We’ll see.

T

rain time. That’s a song. I cannot count how many train songs have been written.

There’s a reason for that.

At the very least, riding the rails is romantic. At it’s best, it is wonderful way to relax while still moving toward your destination.

This photograph is part of my Picture A Day project. I’m fairly fearless when I approach people. I asked if I could take their picture and they were happy to pose. But, they’re used to it. Train riders take pictures of them all the time.

All I did to the picture is darken it, which seems to be a trend for me these days.

Oh, and the headline?

This is post number two. I was trying to multi-task and forgot to schedule it.

So, you received two posts yesterday. Storyteller Squared.

Sorry about that.


Stars and bars.

Sometimes just leaving Orleans Parish is like going on a road trip, not that I drove very far, maybe 12 miles. But, it’s another world.

I had to buy some electronics and a paint bucket. Best Buy is the best place for digital gear. I was grumbling while I drove. I had to buy a charger for my new iPhone 12. Who sells a phone without a charger?

Apple, that’s who.

Even the folks at Best Buy laugh about it. Of course the store makes money, but the people who work there think that Apple is just greedy. And, their charger costs twice what other legit makers charge.

Oh, they do give you the charging cable.

I actually like going to that big shopping center except for it’s organization. It was built in stages by different developers. To go from Best Buy to Home Depot required me to drive through two parking lots and work my through two stoplights.

Uuugh.

But, I was able to stop by a cool little restaurant that we used to eat at when we first returned from New Mexico. Entering it is like stepping back in time.

I took a look around and asked the guy behind the counter if I could take a few pictures. He shrugged his shoulders, so I did.

This picture makes me think of trips through tiny little midwestern towns. It sort of excited me when I looked the finished product.

Stopping and eating here was a big deal for me. It was my first time actually eating inside a restaurant since the start of the pandemic. It’s true that we have eaten at two restaurants previously, but we were outside and about 6 miles from the next table.

Let me tell you, it felt really good. Better yet, the food tasted really good.

Now that’s something to feel a large measure of gratitude for being able to do.

Now you know why I’m late with this post. I ate lunch. Sorry about that.

No. I’m not.

Heh.

There is nothing to this photograph other than that I like the subject matter.

There is little to no work done in post production. Mostly, I brightened and sharpened it a bit.

That’s it.

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Keep your distance. Get your jabs. Look after each other. Be patient. Enjoy a restaurant or two. They need us.


Floating the sky comes a train.

Yesterday was some day. I almost didn’t get my second jab. My place could have been given to another, but apparently my healthcare system really cares. I was called about a half hour after my appointment was scheduled to make sure that I was still coming.

I said yes and I did.

Then, I voted. Huh? What? Were?

Small regional election with national implications. That’s what.

I realized that I hadn’t eaten breakfast and it was almost 2pm. No wonder I thought my jab had some fast acting agent in it. I still don’t know that by tonight I won’t have a reaction, but Pfizer isn’t known for that.

I guess that I’ll find out.

No matter what happens I’m glad that I’m vaccinated.

If you haven’t done it yet, it’s your turn.

If you think you are making some kind of misguided political statement, you are wrong. All you are really doing is keeping the world from reaching a point of herd immunity. You are keeping us shut down. Get over yourself and get jabbed.

As your mom would say, “Don’t make me come over there.”

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay mighty. Wear your mask. Keep your distance. Get jabbed. Look after each other. Chase every train, you’ll be better for it.

Trains. I really love trains. If I’m out and about running errands, I’ll go out of my way if I think I can see a train.

I don’t even think about photographing a train, although that’s so much better.

This is a long bridge that makes trains look like they are floating in the air is called The Huey P. Long Bridge. Locals call it the HueyP.

It crosses the Mississippi River in an east-west fashion even though it looks like the bridge is headed north. That’s just a quirk in the river.

I saw the long freight train as I was getting ready to leave. I stopped, made the picture and was on my way.

For some unknown reason, I thought the picture would look better soft and cotton-like in post production.

There are days when I wonder what I was thinking.

That orange box is a billboard.


The original title was going to be “The Boys of Summer,” after reading about a number of great baseball players of my youth passing. But, Eddie Van Halen died. He was 65, a year younger than I am now.

He died after a very long battle with cancer. He family was with him. He was a smoker, but he thought holding metal guitar picture in his mouth may have had a lot to contribute to his throat cancer.

I wasn’t the biggest Van Halen fan, but I admired his guitar playing. He befriended Eric Clapton because that’s who he patterned his playing after. Of course, Clapton followed the originals, especially Robert Johnson.

Rest in Peace Eddie Van Halen.

It’s time to talk about baseball players so let’s just “Jump,” to the next topic.

Apparently, I was born and bred to be a New York Yankee fan. Some of that fell away because I grew up in Long Beach which made me a Dodger fan too. If they both happen to make it through the playoffs and play each other in the World Series, I revert to type and root for The Yankees.

I probably started following baseball seriously through baseball cards when I was about 7 or 8. I remember listening to Dodger games on my transistor radio, sometimes late at night under the covers.

I’m still a baseball fan today. When I think back to all the great players I got to see I feel very lucky to be on the planet at the same time they were.

2020 has been rough for a lot of reasons. Obviously. I’ve discussed a lot of them here. But, the boys of my summer are dropping once or twice a week. Many were in their 80s, which should tell you how long I’ve been a fan.

Bob Gibson. Tom Seaver. Lou Brock. Horace Clarke. Lou Johnson. Jay Johnstone. Al Kaline. Don Larson. Ron Perrinoski. Claudell Washington. Jimmy Wynn. Bob Watson.

To be sure, this isn’t all of them. These are the guys I remember seeing play, either in the stadium or on television. On an old black and white television that received six channels via an old fashioned rabbit ears.

We got six channels instead of the usual three because we lived in Long Beach and received three local Los Angeles channels. Two of the three local channels broadcast baseball.

It really hit me today when I read that Ron Perrinoski had passed. He played for a couple of teams but chiefly for the LA Dodgers. He was a lights out reliever who came in for big name starters like Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.

I thought to myself that a lot of these guys had died recently. So, you get to read a large part of Storyteller dedicated to them.

Under the heading of all the news that fits, there is one more item to discuss.

Hurricane Delta. It’s a very late season storm that could hit us almost dead on as a category 3 or 4 hurricane sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning and hang around until late Saturday night.

This one doesn’t seem to have much cone variance so it doesn’t look great out there. Just when we thought it was safe to come out of the water. I’ll let you know more as the week rolls on.

As usual, the picture has nothing to do with most of Storyteller. What I wrote might be more important than the picture, although I like it a lot.

I made this picture a few years ago when I was on the road to someplace north. It was during the time when I photographed everything that moved.

The truck was moving and so was I, so I thought it was a good idea to make a few pre-dawn pictures.

I think the picture feels like being out on the road. It gives you that sense of travel.

The crop is radical for two reasons. The picture just had too much dead area in the sky. And, I wanted to test this shape in the universally hated block system. It seems to have worked out just fine.

I made the picture on a full frame mirrorless DSLR. Surprisingly, it generated some noise so I corrected for that in post production. But, I did little else.

Stay safe. Stay mighty. Wear your masks. Look after each other.


Crossing a railroad overpass.

Once again. A road and sky picture.

It’s not really what it seems. It looks like I am out on some distant road. Not really. I was running errands. I drove out to Jefferson Parish. I was getting ready to drive home. I realized that I was driving up and over a railroad bridge, which made a good picture. So, I sort of did a drive through.

I learned something.

A smart phone is much harder to brace and trigger than a more normal DSLR or Mirrorless DSLR. In an effort not to drive off the road or run into another car, most of the pictures are cockeyed, pointed to the wrong place, or have my fingers in them. Even this picture required a heavy crop because too much of my car was in it. If I knew how to do a one time bit of coding, I would have made this a panorama stretching across the top of the page.

Alas, along with my inability to paint, I also barely know the basics of coding. I know just enough to do more harm than good. I did make another version of the scene, with the car hood in the picture. But, it’s too psychedelic for even me.

The good news is that in the past few days of low autumn light and cooler weather, I’ve made a lot of interesting pictures. That’s how it goes. On some days you can’t see. On other days, you see everything.

The weather is even cooler today. But, I’m not around to make pictures.

That’s also how it goes.


Way Out West.

Morning fingers.

Hopefully, I stopped the first post before WordPress posted it. We’ll see.

I’ve been rooting around in my files, looking for unseen pictures. You know, lost pictures. Same thing happens in music except now original masters are lost forever because a UMG (Universal Music Group) storage facility burned to the ground. The list of musician losses is heartbreaking. This happened almost ten years ago. The facts are just emerging now.

Same thing happens with photography. I lost just about all my slide film archives to Hurricane Katrina. Even the few images that were salvageable stank from that murky flood water. Luckily, the good material had already been scanned and traveled with me. Still…

The work that I am starting to post now, is from portable hard drives that also traveled with me. I haven’t seen it in a long time. You’ve never seen it. I started digging around in the old archive for images that will be used in a couple of projects. And, started finding some pretty interesting pictures.

This picture is not one of them.

That doesn’t mean that I can’t like it.

I did what I call contemporary post production on a RAW file. This picture is very salable. Since I’m trying to build passive sales for me, and eventually for my estate, this is just one more thing to stack upon my pile of stuff to do. This won’t get done in a summer. If I can market about 20 of these old — but classic works — every month, I’ll build a nice collection of revenue producing images.

This picture. I-25. Near Santa Fe, New Mexico. I saw a little exit with a slight grade so I got off the interstate and found a good vantage point. I waited for the right trucks to pass by. That contemporary post production that I mentioned? The finishing touch is to use a setting called glow and bring the radius back to almost zero. The sky turned all soft while the subject remained sharp and silhouetted.


A new storm.

Road trips.

You know them. You like them. Probably.

You drive. You listen to specially curated playlists of road music. You eat gas station food. You drink bad coffee. You stay in motels of questionable quality. Even the ones with big names.

You’re having fun.

Until.

You decide to make tracks to a certain destination. You drive on. And on. You stop for gas. You eat in the car. You speed on. And on.

Until.

You become one with your car. Places whizz by. Signs become a blur. You’re not even going that fast.

Your eyes.

Tired. So tired.

You see. But, not see.

That’s it. You stop. For the night.

Because.

Everything that you see looks like this picture. And, that ain’t a good thing.

The picture. It was planned for yesterday. So was the prose. But, you know what they say. If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Chef Leah passed. That stopped me in my tracks. Funny thing, I had a song in my head the whole time that I searched for her picture and started writing. I couldn’t quite place it. I had part of the melody. And, no lyrics. Last night it came to me. “Mandolin Wind.” An ancient Rod Stewart song. A beautiful and appropriate song. So, while I write to you today, I’m listening to his work from that era. When he was young. When I was young. When the world was younger than today.

Oh yeah. What did I do? I did all the post production that I wanted to make the basic picture, which was good enough. By then, that road trippy feeling was in my head. I stacked the same picture on top of itself. I skewed them slightly. I clipped their edges by cropping. I added some edge darkness. Voila!

By the way, I’ve been seeing a lot of this lately. Wallah. Huh? It’s voila, pronounced wallah. Sheesh.


Into the sunset.

Moving. Changes. Life.

If you read Storyteller yesterday you know that changes are on my mind. Most for the better. Some not so much. Today, bright and early, I got a reminder of changes. My new phone shows me anything it thinks is important the minute that turn it on. Note that phrase, “anything it thinks is important.” AI has invaded my little home.

Anyway.

My neighbor and friend sent me a private message via FB in which she attached a long statement about my drugstore. They are closing. Today. My files and prescriptions are being sent to Walgreen, which I suppose is better than CVS, who I escaped from to go my little pharmacy. Apparently, the parent company — Fred’s — decided to close it.

That’s bad enough.

But, in talking with one of the women who was so helpful to me over the past couple of years, I learned how the staff found out.  When they arrived for work last Tuesday — not yesterday — there was a hand written note on the door from Fred’s management.  They had no other notice. No notice of how their salaries would be handled. No two weeks notice. No nothing.

Huh?

Is this what we’ve come to? No consideration for the employees. No consideration for the customers. No consideration for people. If that’s what corporations are doing these days, it’s time to take a big step back. I would suggest that we buy local. But, that’s what I thought I was doing.

Basta! (that’s Italian for enough.)

Ironically, yesterday, I received an email from Kamala Harris, the junior senator from California. You might know her from her very lawyerly-like grilling of Kavanaugh during his hearing. It was kind of a general email to those of us who interacted with her in some way over the past year. She wants me to run for something. It doesn’t matter what office as long we populate it with like-minded people.

Maybe I should.

Certainly it is time to take back my country from high dollar corporate interests. From the one percenters. From the people who are too big to fail, as they flail around looking for any penny that they can find. Your pennies. My pennies.

I keep hearing from my friends who say that 65 isn’t old. That I’m not over the hill because the minute I climb over it there is another hill in front of me. And, when you consider who runs the country, and their ages, I’m still young. That’s saying something. Maybe I am.

See what happens?

Take away my local pharmacy and I get angry. I’ve been angry since about 7:15 this morning. I’m calm. Anybody who really knows me knows that’s not a good thing. Never mistake my calmness for giving up. Instead, I get resolute and lethal.

Oh.

The picture. You want to know about the picture. How could I forget that? It is one of the many I made when I was driving and shooting. I made it before the one that I posted a few days ago. You can just see the clouds starting to come together. Again, I didn’t really do very much to it. Nature took care of my work. As usual.


Over the mountain.

“I lit up from Reno, I was trailed by twenty hounds, Didn’t get to sleep that night

Till the morning came around, I set out running but I’ll take my time

A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine, If I get home before daylight

I just might get some sleep tonight, I ran into the Devil, babe. He loaned me twenty bills

I spent that night in Utah, In a cave up in the hills, I set out running but I take my time

A friend of the devil is a friend of mine, If I get home before daylight, I just might get some sleep tonight

I ran down to the levee, But the Devil caught me there, He took my twenty dollar bill

And he vanished in the air, I set out running but I take my time

A friend of the Devil is a friend of mine,  If I get home before daylight

I just might get some sleep tonight. ” — Jerry Garcia, John Dawson, Robert Hunter (Grateful Dead)

From a  song I like called, “The Friend of the Devil,” because it speaks to this place. I-80, just east of Reno, Nevada on one winter morning as I was headed toward Utah after stopping by the military cemetery at Fernley, NV.

The picture. I made it through the windshield as I was going about 80 mph. I dressed it some in post production. I even added a running frame to it.