Mardi Gras: Krewe of Muses

I shot 2 rolls of high speed Fuji Superia during the parade and 1 roll of Kodak Ektar in St. Louis Cemetery #3 the next day. These are just some shots I took with my digital Polaroid or my cell phone.

Tuesday is Mardi Gras, but the preceding Thursday is the day I’m starting to look forward to the most. This is the second year I’ve gone to see the Krewe of Muses parade and spend the night and following day in the city, and I hope to do it next year. The hotel where I stay used to be the Iberville Suites but it’s now a Marriott Courtyard. They made some much-needed improvement to the rooms (especially the bathrooms), and they also have complimentary wi-fi now. I had a great room with a view of St. Louis Cemetery #1, and far away from the elevators and ice machine–I didn’t hear a peep from any of the other guests all night. They have valet parking in an inside lot, so I don’t have to worry about my car, and it can’t be beat for convenience because it’s only a pleasant 10 minute stroll from the parade route. (Actually less, but I like to walk a few blocks down St. Charles, away from the crowds and police barriers at the intersection with Canal.)

PICT0468, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

These kids were actually part of Babylon, the first parade. Muses rolls with Babylon and the Knights of Chaos, but Muses is really the only reason I’m there. Anyway, I thought they looked like Village of the Damned kids.

PICT0481, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Camel Toe Lady Steppers.

PICT0487, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

610 Stompers.

PICT0491, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Cherry Bombs.

PICT0495, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Bearded Oysters.

SSPX0091, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

I caught what I thought was just a keychain penlight–what’s cool about Muses is they don’t just throw beads, and even their beads are usually unusual or fun, they have light-up medallions, fun shapes, Muses logos. Anyway, this seems to be some kind of Muses bat signal.

SSPX0090, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Still haven’t caught a shoe–I only saw one or two all night–but I did get some shoeLACES, so…progress? They say your chances of getting a shoe are better if you hold a sign, but I’d need a 3rd arm, unless I want to forget about taking photos. Maybe next year I’ll try it.

PICT0507, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

The following morning I had breakfast at Elizabeth’s, then went to St. Louis Cemetery #3, on Esplanade in Bayou St. John. It’s one of the cemeteries they built during the bad yellow fever epidemic in the 19th century, like Cypress Grove; like that cemetery, it’s big enough to drive around in.

PICT0508, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

This person died in 1893, and look at how decorated their tomb is! That blows my mind when I see it.

PICT0510, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

I’ve never seen a variation of my name in a Louisiana graveyard. And the only person entombed in it died about 6 weeks before I was born! DUN DUN DUNNNNN.

PICT0511, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

I knew EJ Bellocq was buried here, so I drove around looking for his family tomb but couldn’t find it. But there was an office, and a very nice woman working there knew exactly where it was and pointed it out to me on a map. I’d actually been taking photos right next to it!

PICT0515, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

I left him a photograph.

I took a brief trip over to Magazine Street to buy some stationery at Scriptura, then went to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. There was an exhibit by Deborah Luster that I really wanted to see called Tooth for an Eye: A Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish. She took long-exposure black & whites of homicide scenes, they were really haunting. (One of them was a photo of the Danziger Bridge, which nearly made me start crying.)

That was the only reason I went to the museum, but there were a couple other exhibits that were new since I last went and that I really enjoyed. One was oils by New Orleans painter Micheal Deas; painting isn’t really my thing but some of them were amazing. And there was a collection of Alonzo Wilson’s costumes designed for Tremé, mostly the Indian suits worn by the Guardians of the Flame, but also some Mardi Gras costumes worn by other characters.

SSPX0089, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

I never noticed before, but most of the Indian suits in the first season employed the meteorological symbol for hurricane. And the Big Chief’s breastplate is obviously inspired by the search party graphics spray painted onto houses after Katrina. 8-29 being the date of the storm, ? being the unknown date when recovery would be complete. I’m not sure that date’s ever going to arrive.

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submission: CURRENTS 2012

Hurricane Rita totally destroyed my grandparent’s house in 2005. When I moved to Louisiana 5 years later, there was nothing left. I took this series of photos in and around the village of Henry, LA to remind myself that the storm didn’t destroy everything.

I’m more nervous than usual about this submission, because I can’t help but think that my habit of using so many different cameras is going to count against me. Like the judge will look at it and go “Ugh WTF, this is all over the place”. But hey, I am the kind of photographer than I am. I’M A FREE FUCKING SPIRIT, YOU CAN’T CHAIN ME TO ONE CAMERA!!


LC-A+: Perry, LA 14, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.



rice silos 2 (B&W), originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.




cow cemetery 21, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.



landry cemetery 3, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.


granny’s property 2, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.


plant in tree, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

This exhibit will be displayed during PhotoNOLA at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. It would be a personal milestone to be in a museum, and a LOT of people would see my work. Notification is October 15th!

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another show, another trip to NOLA

I decided to go to the Push Pin Show, basically because I will use any excuse to spend time in New Orleans. There are things I love about the country, but it’s also nice to recharge my batteries in a more liberal environment. Saturday evening was hot and humid, but a cold front moved in that night, making Sunday quite pleasant: temps in the low 80s, a slight breeze, and LOW HUMIDITY.

A push pin show is just what it sounds like. I didn’t want to be greedy, so I only brought 2 photos along. I had bought some pre-cut mats at Michael’s, but the sizes were wonky and I didn’t like the way they looked, so I opted to just tack ’em to the wall (which is what most other people were doing, anyway). The pins aren’t going through the actual image, since I have a white border, so if/when they’re matted it won’t show anyway. I also added one of my business cards, which has the address of my Etsy shop and my Facebook page, among other info. I have a couple of new “likes”, so clearly that was a good idea.

This dog was just cold chillin’ at the gallery.

This trip I decided I wanted to explore a little bit of the Bywater neighborhood, which is where the HomeSpace Gallery is located. I saw a bit of it last year, when we had a photo meetup in the Marigny–the 2 neighborhoods sort of bleed together–and went to a tintyping demo at the gallery. It’s a sort of working class/boho artistic neighborhood–I read an article in a NYC publication that compared it to Red Hook, which I found fitting. It reminded me of Lincoln Heights, the Los Angeles neighborhood where my sister and brother-in-law live: you get a sense that this a real place where real people actually live, and not some tourist playground.

I decided to pass up the free hotel breakfast on Sunday morning in favor of something actually worth paying for. Elizabeth’s is at the end of Gallier Street, a residential street, and it’s in a converted, 100-year-old house. I had the duck waffle: duck and sweet potato hash with a well of pepper jelly, served on a cornbread waffle. And I couldn’t resist a side of praline bacon, their specialty. (You could tell who was from Louisiana and who was there from somewhere else for the Saints season opener by listening to them order it: in Louisiana you pronounce it “prah-leen”, but everyone else says “pray-leen”.) It was all ridiculously delicious of course, in addition to being enough food for two people, and the service was fast and friendly. The ‘rents are going to NOLA this weekend for a medical convention, and I told Mom they HAVE to eat here while they’re in the city.

In my ongoing quest to photograph every cemetery in the city (I could live to be 100 and still fail at that goal), I went to St. Roch. There’s a chapel dedicated to the titular saint, who Catholic residents prayed to during the cholera and yellow fever epidemics of the 18th and 19th centuries, right in the middle of it. And I’d read there’s a strange little grotto tacked onto the side, filled with medical braces, cast-off prostheses, and even body part casts. They’ve been left by people who believe they were cured by intercession of the saint. It was (Firefly nerd alert!) morbid and creepifying, but really interesting (and photogenic!). And I literally stumbled over another photographer as I was leaving the chapel (he was lying on the ground), so clearly a popular spot.

(I’ve been thinking NOLA cemeteries or Louisiana cemeteries or maybe just rural cemeteries would be a good photobook idea, but I also feel like it’s been done. Opinions?)

A note: St. Roch is supposedly a bad neighborhood, but it seemed quiet and peaceful while I was there. It was a Sunday morning, I imagine not much crime goes down on Sunday mornings. As in any allegedly “bad” neighborhood, use basic common sense (be aware of your surroundings, don’t flash your equipment or carry lots of cash or wear loud clothing) and you’ll be fine.

I had wanted to go to Conrad’s Store, a funky thrift store on St. Claude’s (down the street from Island of Salvation Botanica, where I’ve been a couple of times), but they never opened. I suspect Conrad preferred to stay home and watch the Saints game. Maybe I’ll try again next month when I pick up the photos.

So instead I went to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art (which is on Camp Street downtown and not in the Bywater). I had an ulterior motive: the next NOPA show will be displayed there during PhotoNOLA, and I’m probably going to make a submission. They have a couple of great photo exhibits right now, and I recognized the names (and work) of some of my fellow NOPA members: Sesthasak Boonchai’s Broken Flowers and a Heidi Kirkpatrick piece that was donated by Peter Buck.

I came across this painting on the 5th floor, and it was a deeply surreal moment because I know exactly where that is: it’s the corner of St. Mary and Sophie Wright, and it’s a few doors down from the NOPA gallery. I went into that bar the night the member’s exhibit opened–the first time I ever had a photo in an exhibit, unless you count school exhibits (and I don’t)–and ordered a whiskey sour. Is there a word for the feeling of unreality you get when you see a location that you know first-hand portrayed in art? The Germans probably have some 7-syllable word for it.

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