Adventures off the beaten path in NOLA

Earlier this month, a friend of mine realized a long-deferred dream and moved from Wisconsin to New Orleans. We had Good Friday off from work, and I drove to the city to both take her to a “welcome to Louisiana” lunch and to photograph a couple of things on my list.

Fort Macomb is in the Venetian Isles neighborhood, and although it looks like the country it is in fact within the city limits. (You may remember it from the last episode of the first season of True Detective, where it stood in for Carcosa, the mystical/cursed city of the King in Yellow.) I’ve been there before, but only shot the outside from the adjacent marina dock. While I was able to get around a couple of chain link fences this time, alas, the front entrance had been padlocked and it would take someone a lot more athletic than I to actually get inside.

Fort Macomb

Fort Macomb

Fort Macomb

Fort Macomb

It probably doesn’t look much different inside than Fort Pike, which is only a couple of miles away. More overgrown, probably. I was fortunate enough to get inside of Pike during one of the brief periods it was open to the public—it’s always getting shut down due to hurricane damage and/or budget cuts. It’s the only Third System fort in Louisiana that’s even sometimes open to the public, and a perfect example of one of the things that makes me deeply angry about this state: they view “lock it up to keep out anyone who might be interested and then ignore it” as the depth of their responsibility to the historic places in their care.

ANYWAY. So then we went to the Luling Mansion, built for a cotton merchant just after the Civil War and somehow managing to survive into the present day, the former grounds surrounded by modern development and the house itself carved up into apartments inside.

Luling Mansion

Luling Mansion

Luling Mansion

Oh, and we also made a quick stop at the St. Roch shrine, because that place is awesome.

St. Roch chapel

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Lomo LC-A+: Fort Pike & Fort Macomb

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Supposed to be nice weather on Saturday, about 70 (I guess that polar vortex thing has stopped pumping out its freezing deathrays… for now) and no rain. I might drive up to Rayne, which is only about a half hour from Abbeville. They have a Catholic cemetery where the burials go in the wrong direction (north-south instead of east-west) and a couple other sites of interest.

I’m also working on an idea inspired by reading Judika Illes’ Encyclopedia of Mystics, Saints, and Sages–I’m currently on the Rs. Most of the listings mention major places of veneration, and when there’s one in Louisiana I make a note. I thought it would be cool to photograph them as a series. A couple of them I have already, like the Saint Roch shrine in New Orleans. Apparently there’s a shrine for Santisima Muerte in New Orleans! But first I have to finish the book.

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Lomographers of Acadiana meetup: Fort Pike and Fort Macomb

First off, I have to admit that it was dumb of me to schedule the meetup 2 days after I drove back from Alabama. Getting back in the car and driving 3+ hours was the last thing I wanted to do. However, I’ve been trying to shoot Fort Pike since last spring; it was closed for months after Hurricane Isaac, and when it finally re-opened last fall, first weather and then the holidays kept getting in the way.

Technically, the forts are within the city limits of New Orleans, but they are way the hell far away from anything. Macomb is part of the Venetian Isles community, which is outside the levee system, and it’s taken a real pounding in the last few decades. They had made some attempts to clean it up enough so it could be open to the public, but essentially gave up after Katrina. Pike, which is on the Rigolets, the strait which connects Lake Pontchartrain to the Gulf of Mexico, is even further away from the city. It’s fared better though, and has periodically been open to the public.

These are just the digital shots, I shot a roll in the LC-A+ that has to be developed. I also shot my last pack of Impossible Project color film; I bought a 3-pack when they allegedly improved it and was just as disappointed in it as I’d always been. The last pack has been sitting in the fridge for a year and I finally decided to get rid of it; surprisingly, all of the photos are worth keeping. Apparently the trick is to refrigerate it until it’s a year past expiration, and THEN use it.

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It looked like the state made some kind of half-assed effort at restoring this one room, which had new plaster and a few pieces of wooden furniture, then went “fuck it”. The plaster was filthy and coming off in chunks.

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I’m not sure Macomb is accessible by land anymore. It might be around the other side, but it was so beat up looking that I wasn’t even tempted to try and enter it. Hope and I drove past it and went into a bar to ask directions, they were like “It’s basically across the street”. We were looking right at it before we saw it, it’s almost camouflaged.

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