I spent part of this weekend in New Orleans, and I can report that it’s all still there

A lot of residences still don’t have power, some streetlights were still out, and in the residential sections I saw lots of branches waiting to be hauled away, but they appear to have escaped any major destruction. They didn’t cancel Southern Decadence (a huuuge gay pride event), and my hotel was full of FABULOUS men. Which I will take over the usual gaggle of douchey fratboys any day of the week.

I went for the opening of the Odd Works photo exhibit at the New Orleans Photo Alliance gallery, which features 2 photos taken by yours truly. (It was curated by this dude. I should send him a thank you card.) It was a “soft opening”, because about 1/3 of the art is still stuck in transit. So essentially it was just an excuse to get together and drink booze and swap storm stories. I actually know some of the NOPA members now, so I spoke to people and had fun and didn’t feel like my high school’s biggest nerd at the prom. There were lofty Art-based conversations, and also conversations that involved topics like snake-handling and making fun of iPhone users. (Apparently they complained so bitterly about not being to “like” comments on photographs that Apple built a new Facebook app from the ground up. When you’ve been living without electricity for the better part of a week, this kind of technophile whining is a little grating.)

While thinking of things to do, I realized it’s been a long time since I went to a cemetery in New Orleans. When I dropped the photos off the previous weekend, the director had me leave them at his house with his wife; they live in the Garden District literally across the street from Lafayette Cemetery #1. Unlike St. Louis Cemetery, it’s in a neighborhood where you’re unlikely to get mugged–St. Louis is behind the Iberville Projects, and the city does not recommend people wander around it alone with several hundred dollars of camera equipment. And it’s only a city block square, so it’s small enough to see most of it. I went right after I checked out of my hotel and I had it mostly to myself. I shot a roll of B&W in the Lomo LC-A+ and finished the cartridge in the Rollei A110.

Then I drove up to the French Quarter because there were a couple of things I wanted to do on Royal Street. Royal is probably my favorite street in the Quarter, it’s a lot of galleries and small specialty stores and lacks the depressingly mediocre and tourist-oriented sleaze of Bourbon Street. (Other nice parts of the Quarter are Chartres, St. Ann, and Pirate’s Alley.)

I wanted to see the “Something Old, Something New” exhibit at the Historic New Orleans Collection. The whole thing was interesting, but that painting was fascinating. It’s telling that the pose deliberately doesn’t show the chest, where the presence or absence of breasts would have been a strong hint. I looked at for a long time and concluded that the subject is a man. There’s a hint of a shadow on the upper lip, although by itself that isn’t proof (see: Frida Kahlo, me when I get lazy about plucking, etc.). No, it’s something about the eyes. That painting was done in 1837, and it really makes you think. What would it have been like to be transgendered in a time where most people didn’t know even that existed?

Then I went to Papier Plume, my favorite pen shop and just a few blocks up the street. I needed some sealing wax and fresh dip pen nibs; I can get them on the website but I like going into the store. The owners are really friendly, and REALLY passionate about pens and inks and stuff. When I gave the woman (it’s run by a husband and wife) my Visa, she recognized my name from all the times I’ve bought online and even remembered what town I live in, and she covered the sales tax since I’m a repeat customer. (You call that “lagniappe” in Louisiana, “a little something extra”.)

Then I had lunch, then I decided that I had sweat enough for one day and came home. I might go back next weekend, which is kind of crazy, but NOPA is having a “push pin show” at the HomeSpace Gallery–that’s where Hope and I saw the tintyping demo last year. You just show up with a couple of your photos, they don’t have to be framed or anything, and you stick them on the wall any old way–literally with push pins if you want. It’s a fun and informal way to show work and meet with other photographers.

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