Lomographers of Acadiana: Pointe a la Hache, LA

I had my photography group’s meetup here last month. Pointe a la Hache is the parish seat, but since Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon it’s almost a ghost town. It’s right on the east bank of the Mississippi and the primary business was fishing, so both of those things really hurt the town. There are less than 200 people living there these days, and the only business left is a combination diner/convenience store. (Unless you count the Catholic church.)

The damage to the courthouse precedes the hurricane, though. Some idiot who was about to go on trial in 2002 decided that burning down the courthouse would be a good way to destroy the evidence against him; instead he was convicted of his original crime AND arson. Parish business is now conducted in the town of Belle Chasse; there have been several ballot measures to move the seat there officially but they always get rejected. Sentimental reasons, I suppose.

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Jail

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaqumines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Jail

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Pink Slim Dress: LeBeau Plantation, after the fire

The Pink Slim Dress has a dumb name but is an awesome camera. It’s the SuperHeadz knock-off of the Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim, which it re-created faithfully except for the Viv’s annoying habit of breaking if you breathe on it too hard. It’s great for photographing large buildings, like LeBeau was before a bunch of gas-huffing chucklefucks burned it to the ground–I used it last spring, when Trish and I photographed the house in slightly better days.

LeBeau Plantation, after the fire

LeBeau Plantation, after the fire

LeBeau Plantation, after the fire

LeBeau Plantation, after the fire

LeBeau Plantation, after the fire

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LC-A+: LeBeau Plantation, after the fire

LeBeau Plantation, after the fire

LeBeau Plantation, after the fire

LeBeau Plantation, after the fire

LeBeau Plantation, after the fire

LeBeau Plantation, after the fire

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I didn’t realize that idiocy was so flammable

As previously mentioned, I drove down to Arabi on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and photographed what’s left of LeBeau Plantation. There was police tape strung across the property line along the road, but I just stepped over it. It was obvious I wasn’t there to vandalize the place or anything and I didn’t seriously think anyone would call the po-po on me, but I was technically trespassing on a crime scene so I didn’t hang out. I didn’t rush, but I did my thing and left. (The gaping hole in the chain link at the back of the house is still there, but I guess the damage has been done.)

I also shot film in the LC-A+ and the Ultra Wide & Slim, but didn’t finish the rolls. These are the digital shots.

LeBeau: after the fire

LeBeau: after the fire

The whole thing still stank of charred wood. And the property was all muddy even though it hadn’t rained in several days, because they kept the fire hoses on for hours, to make sure it didn’t flare back up.

LeBeau: after the fire

LeBeau: after the fire

LeBeau: after the fire

I think public stocks need to be brought back as punishment for shit like this. Put those morons in them for a week, plunk down a giant bin of rotten vegetables, and let people hurl away. Look, I was young and dumb once, I drank and smoked pot, and obviously I understand the allure of abandoned properties. But holy fuckballs, I never did anything a fraction as stupid or callous as purposely setting fire to a 165-year-old building.

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LeBeau Plantation: 1850-2013

487650-R1-18-7

I sold a print of this house, which Trish and I photographed last April, on Friday morning. Which is good, but the reason why I sold it sucks: it burned to the ground about 2:00 in the morning.

plantationruins

The woman who bought the print said her husband grew up across the street from the house and used to play in it as a kid, so she wants to give him the print as a Christmas present. He was one of nine kids, and they all played there as children, so she might be buying more.

No one’s lived there in decades and it has no electricity, so when I heard about it I pretty much figured it had to be arson. But I thought it would turn out be accidental: teens having a bonfire or homeless people trying to stay warm, it got out of hand, oops. Turns out it was deliberately set by a bunch of grown-ass men; they were drunk and smoking pot and trying to “summon ghosts” (the place has a reputation of being haunted, which I’m sure is bullshit), and when they didn’t show up, one of them decided to set the place on fire. You can’t see it, but I’m making the angriest, most disgusted face you ever saw right now.

I never could figure out who owned this property when I researched it earlier in the year; turns out a foundation has owned it since the 1960s with the stated intention of restoring it. They’ve collected about $100 million towards that goal and spent about 1% of it, mostly in the form of huge salaries for themselves. Typical Louisiana corruption, in other words. Too bad they couldn’t have parted with some of that money to hire a night watchman.

It’s a very eerie feeling, to know that something I photographed is gone forever. That must have been how Clarence John Laughlin felt towards the end of his life, going over the plates for Ghosts Along the Mississippi and realizing that about 1/3 of those houses are just gone.

I’d like to go photograph what’s left, but that’s going to have to wait because it’s probably still an active crime scene right now.

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