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

If you like my work, please consider supporting more of it.

Vacation #2: Bayou St. John, NOLA

This is a neighborhood in New Orleans that’s bounded by the waterway of the same name, where Marie Laveau used to conduct Voodoo rituals. The banks are one of her possible resting places–her body is commonly said to be in plot 347 in St. Louis No. 1, but although some of her descendants are known to be buried in it, there’s no real proof that she is.

Pitot House, 1790s

Pitot House

Pieux fence

Pitot House - pieux fence

Magnolia Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that sometimes hosts Voodoo/Vodoun rituals.

Magnolia Bridge

Max Planck commemorative plank

Magnolia Bridge - Max Planck commemorative plank

images

Locks

Magnolia Bridge

Like me on Facebook!

Vacation #2: St. Louis Cemetery No. 2, NOLA

This was the only St. Louis cemetery in NOLA (there are three) that I hadn’t yet photographed. It’s where Henriette deLille is buried, the first American-born person of African ancestry to be declared Venerable, which is like 2 steps away from full-blown Catholic saint. (It goes Servant of God -> Venerable -> Blessed -> Saint.) It’s also the St. Louis that most tourists think is No. 1 when they’re driving into the city, because it’s visible from the freeway.

St. Louis No. 2

Silencio

Headless

St. Louis No. 2

St. Louis No. 2

St. Louis No. 2

Like me on Facebook!

Vacation #2: Rosalie Alley, NOLA

Between Piety and Desire in the Bywater is Rosalie Alley, which you’d probably pass and not even know was there. It’s where the peristyle for La Source Ancienne, the Vodou society headed by Sallie Ann Glassman (who also owns/runs the Island of Salvation Botanica), is located, and the fences are covered in art.

Rosalie Alley

Rosalie Alley

Rosalie Alley

Rosalie Alley

Rosalie Alley

Like me on Facebook!

Random stuff: Kodak Ektar in the Ultra Wide & Slim

Adam's Fruit Stand

Adam’s Fruit Stand in Matthews

New Canal Lighthouse

New Canal Lighthouse, Lake Pontchartrain, NOLA

Leeville Cemetery

Leeville Cemetery

Moresi Foundry

Moresi Foundry, Jeanerette

St. Roch shrine

St. Roch Shrine, NOLA

Steamboat house

Steamboat House, Holy Cross, NOLA

Association tomb

Association Tomb, Valence Street Cemetery, NOLA

Like me on Facebook!

Metairie Cemetery, NOLA : slightly expired Fuji Neopan in the Yashica MG-1

This weekend was rainy and thus no good for photography; I spent a good chunk of it uploading photos that were taken over a period stretching back to last September. These were taken a few days after last Christmas, when I took my sister to New Orleans. If you’re ever in the city and only have time to visit one cemetery, I recommend Metairie (which yes, is actually in NOLA and not Metairie). St. Louis No. 1 is more famous, but for sheer volume of weirdness, you can’t beat Metairie–it’s one of those enormous cemeteries that you can drive around in. And you don’t have to pay to get in there, unlike St. Louis.

Egyptian tomb

Sphinx

Angel in the trees

Grieving woman with wreath

Tomb of shipwreck victims

Tomb of Josie Arlington

I always found black and white film to be particularly well-suited for graveyard photography. The grain really goes with photographs of carved stone, and the subjects don’t have a lot of color anyway.

Neopan was my go-to 35mm B&W for years, and when Fuji announced they were discontinuing it, I panicked and bought a few dozen rolls. Which I then felt like I didn’t want to use, but of course film doesn’t have an infinite shelf life and now it’s all expired, although it’s been in the fridge since the day I bought it. Anyway, I need to just let it go and actually use it before it gets too much older.

When I went to that camera shop in Lynchburg last November, I was delighted to find that they carried Ilford, the film (and paper) that I cut my teeth on back in high school. I bought a few rolls, since I knew I’d need to find a new black and white film soon. I need to shoot a roll of that and see if it’s as good as I remember it.

Like me on Facebook!

Krewe of Muses 2015: Are you there, God? It’s us, Muses.

That was actually the title of their theme, in honor of their 15th year. Muses, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned in years past, is an all-female krewe whose coveted signature throw are shoes that have been decorated with glitter, feathers, and beads. It’s the one parade that I’ve been to every year since I moved to Louisiana (barring the first year, 2010, because I arrived about 10 days after Mardi Gras). It’s actually kind of my Carnival season highlight, as I have zero desire to deal with the insanity of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, or even Lafayette. I don’t even get the day off where I work now, because our customers/vendors are all over the world.

I was hugely disappointed to discover that Muses is apparently now drawing large enough crowds to require crowd control barriers all the way down St. Charles Street, where in the past they’ve always been limited to the intersection with Canal Street and maybe the first block down. This makes it harder to catch the throws, particularly when it’s as windy as it was on Thursday night. I know, I KNOW parades are not just about the throws. But the throws are what makes you an active participant in the parade, and not just a passive observer watching it roll/march by. It’s not about having the plastic beads and old shoes, which no one actually needs. It’s about catching them, and there’s something just sad about watching them fall short into the street.

Plus, the barriers kept me from catching another shoe. I KNOW she was aiming for me, we made eye contact, and some total douchecanoe threw his arms in my face and snatched it away. Fuck that asshole and I hope he dies a slow and lingering death of testicular cancer. That wouldn’t have happened if there wasn’t a barrier, because she could have dropped it right into my hands–which is how I got my shoe last year. I was at the start of the parade route last year, around Magazine Street, and I may try going back to that next year. It’s a more residential area and hopefully they won’t have barriers up.

Maybe I’ll try to find Airbnb accommodation in the area, instead of staying in an Uptown hotel. In the past I stayed at the Iberville Suites, but when I went to make my reservation the first week of January, they were charging over $600 a night! I about fell out of my chair. It’s expected for hotels, especially if they’re near big parade routes, to jack up their fares a bit during Carnival season, but that was more than 3 times what I’ve paid in the past. Totally ridiculous. I wound up staying at the Astor Crowne Plaza; they didn’t offer a free breakfast, but the room service breakfast I ordered did not cost $500, so I still saved money. Un-fucking-believable. It was so NOISY, though; my room was on the 2nd floor facing Canal Street, and all night it was police sirens and people yelling and cars blasting hip-hop. I don’t think I got more than 20 minutes of sleep at a stretch, until it finally quieted down around 4:00… for about 2 1/2 hours.

Anyway, I don’t want to imply that the parade sucked or I didn’t have fun. Muses were amazing as they always are, and I actually did catch a respectable amount of non-shoe throws. I’m sure the fact that I did a sign this year helped. I spent weeks mulling over possible phrases, before settling on “Throw me something Muses-ter!”. (“Throw me something mister” is a traditional phrase that’s shouted at the krewes.) I did a Google Image search for each letter in the phrase, printed out one I thought looked interesting, cut them out, and glued them onto a piece of posterboard. Except for “Muses”, I used their logo. I was pleased with the result, which was fun-looking and big enough to read from a distance without being too large to easily hold. I gave away most of what I caught, to kids that were behind me and also to a couple from Chicago I got to talking to that were at their first parade. I just kept a few things that I didn’t already have from past parades.

I didn’t have any concrete plans for my Friday in New Orleans, other than eating at Elizabeth’s and avoiding the French Quarter. My first stop was Valence Street Cemetery, which was satisfyingly old and decayed, all crumbling tombs and busted wall vaults.

open wall vault

Society tomb

Then I explored the Holy Cross neighborhood a little bit, and took some photos of the Steamboat Houses on Egania Street.

Steamboat House (color effect)

Steamboat House

Then I had lunch at Elizabeth’s (fried chicken livers with pepper jelly, fried eggs and country potatoes), did some shopping at F&F Botanica (dressed Steady Work candles, Road Opener Oil, Fortune Incense), and by then I was feeling the effects of standing all night and getting about 3 hours of sleep, so I headed home.

Mystic Krewe of Barkus: Bark Wars

I have this thing where every year I try to go to one festival I haven’t been to before (this year I’m reallyreallyreally hoping that can be the Los Isleños Fiesta in St. Bernard Parish, which I always seem to miss), and every Mardi Gras I try to go to one parade I haven’t been to before. Last year was Krewe de Vieux, and this year I went to Krewe of Barkus. It was yesterday, and they had ridiculously good weather for it in New Orleans, sunny and about 72 degrees.

I didn’t get very many good photos. I could kick myself because I aaaaalmost brought my old digital camera, even started to put fresh batteries in it, then thought nah, I’ll just use my cell phone, this isn’t going to be “art” and it will be one less thing to carry. Well, my phone picked yesterday afternoon to act like a toddler not getting its way. The camera function kept crashing; or the focus would get all weirdly shallow and focus on the wrong thing. Like the crowd behind the parade would be in focus instead of the dogs, or a dog’s paws would be in focus but its face wouldn’t. And almost everything came out blurry, that camera usually has better action capture. It’s not like anything was moving fast. I deleted about 2/3 of the photos I took and wound up with less than 20 worth keeping. Oh well, just means I need to go back next year, right?

Bark Wars

Bark Wars

Bark Wars

Bark Wars

Bark Wars

Barkus’ human handlers must include a small army of discreet pooper scoopers; I didn’t notice any scooping but I walked back to my car along their route and I didn’t see any dog poop either.

I didn’t want to try to drive back through the French Quarter, which was a madhouse getting into–there were like 8 parades happening yesterday–so I decided to skirt the worst of by going down North Peter and getting on the freeway via Elysian Fields. Which I realized would take me past Island of Salvation Botanica, where I haven’t been in… gosh, I think it’s been a couple of years now. I just haven’t been hanging out in the Marigny, I guess. So I checked my phone and it looks like they’ve expanded their hours, they’re now open 7 days a week and even until 6:00 on Sunday.

The place has gotten a little more commercial, everything was slightly overpriced, and it even sells “Voodoo Dolls”, which I know they know is not actually A Thing, but it’s something tourists like to see. I didn’t see as many of Sallie Ann Glassman’s own oils, and the ones I did see had gone from 1 ounce to 1/2 ounce bottles–but the prices were still the same. I can’t really complain, because I know a lot of that money is going to the restoration of the city and the neighborhood–there were a couple of buildings I noticed that had businesses in them that were empty shells the last time I was there–but I think I will be buying most of my spiritual supplies from F&F Botanica when I’m in NOLA from now on.

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.

PICT1802

PICT1831

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.

PICT1828

PICT1815

PICT1841

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.

PICT1845

Like me on Facebook!

Lomographers of Acadiana: Algiers Point, NOLA

This was October’s meetup. Algiers is an old neighborhood, only the French Quarter is older. It’s on the Westbank, but because of the way that the Mississippi River curves around New Orleans, it’s geographically east of the Eastbank neighborhoods. And the most direct way to get there from western Louisiana is to cross the river twice: first via the Hale Boggs Bridge in St. Charles Parish; then again within the city, via either the Canal Street Ferry or the Crescent City Connection.

It’s a quiet neighborhood, mostly residential, since tourists rarely bother to cross the river. It’s really pretty though, I could see living there if I lived in NOLA. It felt like a real place, and not like the amusement park that the French Quarter and even some of the adjacent neighborhoods sometimes feel like.

Some of these were taken with the Smena 8M and some with the Polaroid Z2300.

French Quarter from across the river

Algiers Point is directly across the river from the French Quarter, you can see St. Louis Cathedral and the Cabildo.

Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church

The door to the organ loft was open in this Catholic church, so Hope and I poked around up there. I guess this leads into the bell tower.

Opelousas Street

Algiers Point is supposedly Hoodoo Central in NOLA, but none of the rootworkers advertise. I guess people just know about them if they live in the city and are into it. I’m positive that this place–which looked like a store building, not a house, but didn’t have any signage and had a residential-type door–was one of them.

Preston B. Delcazel Memorial Park

The Snow Dome

Like me on Facebook!

Previous Older Entries