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We don’t get too many 3-day weekends at the job; between receiving raw materials from all over the world and shipping finished product all over the world—places that don’t necessarily share our holidays, in other words—production falls behind too fast if we’re always shutting the place down. We’re even open on Mardi Gras, highly unusual in south Louisiana. All of which is to say that I savored every moment of my Memorial Day weekend. (Except for all of the self-righteous sneering I saw on Facebook yesterday about people having BBQs and whatnot. Do you think the people doing the sneering spent all day weeping and wailing in a military cemetery? I don’t.)

I kicked around several ideas for something to do on Saturday, and at the last minute remembered that my department manager mentioned last month that she went to the Strawberry Festival in Ponchatoula and that the town has a lot of antique stores, which she knows I like. I Googled it, and most of them are clustered around the intersection of Pine and Railroad, the original town center. I pride myself on knowing where all the best antique stores within a 2 ½ hour drive are, so I had to check it out.

I wound up buying another Polaroid SX-70, which I know is kind of crazy because I just bought one last month that I haven’t even started to refurbish. But this one has the metal body, which I really prefer over the plastic. However, it’s also an autofocus model with a sonar unit (I didn’t take a photo of the camera but this is what it looks like), which I’m not crazy about. For one thing, it seems like something that’s likely to no longer work. For another, I prefer to focus the dang camera myself. Also, I dislike it on purely aesthetic grounds. I wish it could be removed, although it can at least be turned off and the camera returned to a manual focus setting. Anyway, it was only about $30, and the patches were already halfway peeled off so it looked like an easy clean-up. I got them all scraped off and bought a set of oilskin patches from an Etsy seller that have a graphic flowers-and-birds design in primary colors on black. I’d had that favorited since I bought the first SX-70, but since that one has a black plastic body I don’t think that skin would look as striking on it (because it would be black on black). For that one I may spring for the alligator skin, or maybe I’ll just come up with something crazy myself. Whichever camera I wind up liking better I’ll keep, and put the other one up for sale in my Etsy shop.

It didn’t take long to see all the stores, and at close to 90 degrees it was a bit warm to just wander around. Although it did look like an interesting town and I’m adding it to the list of possible meetup sites. I knew I was going to pass Denham Springs on the way back home, which is another town that has a lot of antique stores in the old downtown area. Most of them are in buildings that date back to the beginning of the town, like the first furniture store and movie theater. My favorite is Heritage House, which is in the old boarding house. Every room is like a little store all on its own.

American Tourister train case

When I was a kid, we still had kicking around the house a set of light blue Samsonite luggage that was my mother’s when she was first married. Either to my father or her first husband, I’m not sure, but they were probably 15 or 20 years old by the time they became my toys. I was obsessed with the train case and used to daydream about running away from home just so I’d be able to actually use it. I have no idea what happened to that luggage set, probably it got sold or given away when we moved from the house on Torres Avenue to the one on Conovan Lane, because I never saw it again after we moved.

All of which is to say, I’ve had a vintage train case-shaped hole in my soul that I’ve been trying to fill for years. They’re a not-uncommon item in antique stores, but they tend to be overpriced and/or torn to hell on the inside. I found a closet at Heritage House that had 3 train cases; one of them was way too beat up, one of them was too small, and then there was this one. A few light scuffs on the outside, I can live with that, inside… it was definitely used a lot, but it had an interior plastic lining that could be very easily cleaned. It even had the sectional tray that fits inside the lid! Vintage train cases are ALWAYS missing that tray. Cost, with tax: $23 and change. And at the counter they gave me the key, so I can even lock it if I want. I Googled this brand, looks like it dates from the mid-1960s.

The rest of the weekend I was pretty lazy. Sunday I cleaned and ran some errands in Lafayette, including to Ulta. I now own all 3 of the Urban Decay Naked eyeshadow palettes, so my life is complete. (I like make-up, okay DON’T JUDGE ME.) Oh, and I think I hit a dove with my car on the way home! Two of them were in the road, they flew up as my car approached but one flew TOWARDS my car instead of AWAY from it. There was a thump and an explosion of feathers. I love animals, but whatever. Doves are basically the pigeons of rural areas, and to quote George Costanza, we’re supposed to have a deal with them: they get out of the way of our cars, and we ignore the statue-crapping. I would feel worse if it had been some kind of egret or heron, even though those are as common around here as seagulls were in California. After the ‘rents went to bed I watched the Hannibal season finale (OMFG NOTHING WILL EVER BE OKAY AGAIN), and streamed a few episodes of this insane Korean soap opera I have recently become addicted to, Vampire Prosecutor. It’s about this prosecutor? He’s a vampire. Monday I got the car washed, re-read The Virgin Suicides, and ate a hamburger. I like mine with melted cheddar, a pineapple ring, and BBQ sauce. Try it sometime!
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I really enjoy the drive on LA-82, which runs from my hometown of Abbeville for almost 150 miles to the Texas border (where it becomes TX-82). It’s very rural once you leave Abbeville, the largest town it runs through after that is Cameron, which has a population of about 2,000. I see something new every time I drive it.

These are just some digital shots from last weekend, I shot some film but didn't finish the rolls so they're still in the cameras.

Fishing cabin near Grand Chenier

This old cabin outside of Grand Chenier is famous. Seriously, everyone who drives on LA-82 stops to take a photo of it. A couple of months ago someone made an Etsy treasury inspired by True Detective, they used one of my photos of another subject, but they also used a photo of this cabin taken by someone else.

Our Lady Star of the Sea Cemetery, Cameron

It’s funny because it’s a dead end sign in front of a cemetery. Eh? Eh? This is the cemetery of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Cameron. (Incidentally one of the ocean goddesses I keep on my altar and a very important one to people who reside in hurricane-prone areas.)

Creole, LA

Of course one of the main attractions for me in Cameron Parish is, unfortunately, hurricane damage. (That overturned schoolbus I photographed several times was along LA-82 in the parish, but that seems to have finally been hauled away, I didn’t see it during the Sabine Pass trips.) This was the outskirts of Creole.

Old house between Abbeville and Mouton Cove

This is between Perry and Mouton Cove, not far from Abbeville. Last year when I passed by you could barely see the house for all the stuff growing around it, but someone seems to have decided to cut it back. Which is probably why I just this time was confused by the fact that there’s a fireplace on the OUTSIDE of the house.

Holly Beach

This was on the outskirts of Holly Beach, “the Cajun Riviera”. You couldn’t pay me to vacation there, it’s basically an acre of trailers and shacks crammed together on the beach. It looks like a Central American barrio. Apparently it was even worse before the hurricanes, which wiped the place off the map.
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Between Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon, Pointe a la Hache lost over 50% of its population, so there are a lot of abandoned properties in the town, especially along LA-15, which runs parallel to the east bank of the Mississippi River. Hope and I picked one more or less at random to photograph.

Old House

There was some damage around to the back of the house, nothing that looked like it would be impossible to fix. But if whoever lived there lost a steady income thanks to the oil spill, maybe they couldn’t afford even minor repair. Or maybe they just couldn’t afford to keep it up; those old houses need constant repair, and they are really hard to heat and cool. It’s sadly ironic that what made them suitable for the climate in the days before central air/heat—raised off the ground, high ceilings—now makes artificially cooled/heated air leak out of them like water through a fishnet. Too, since the levees were built they don’t get as much natural a/c from river breezes. And of course insulation has come a long way in the last 100 years.

Old House

Someone’s keeping the property mowed, but the house is starting to both sink and crack, and vines are growing over the outside. Left to itself, it will be unrepairable within not too many more years.
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Cameron Parish

Fire is one of those things I've learned to ignore since moving to south Louisiana. There's always a column of smoke billowing into the sky somewhere on the horizon, and it's always just someone torching a canefield or a pile of brush or a bunch of garbage. We have a semi-tropical environment, which means rain all year 'round, which means it's never dry enough for fire in a rural area to get out of hand. Very different from my upbringing in California, where every summer some idiot's improperly doused campfire winds up burning down half the state.
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Sabine Pass Light

Remember how I said I couldn’t get close enough from the Texas side to get good photos? Yeah, this is pretty much the best photo I got—taken with my digital of course, because I don’t have long lenses for any of my film cameras. I hardly ever need them, because I don’t take photos of things like wildlife. I prefer to get close to my subjects. I could try to crop out a bit of the foreground, but I don’t know how much that would improve things; you can only do that so much until things start to get grainy, in a bad way. Too, I find something kind of interesting in this photo, the old wrecked lighthouse in the distance, at the end of a cracked and littered pier.

I could have gotten a little closer if I’d walked to the end of the pier, but there were about 20 no trespassing signs scattered about, hand-scrawled on pieces of plywood in a script I think of as “redneck murder font”. I may have attempted it anyway, but there were people fishing right nearby, and for all I knew it was their property. I don’t want to get shot over someone thinking I’m trying to steal their moldy lumber and desiccated tire scraps.
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muses shoe


2013 was a pretty lean year for me so I didn't have the funds for a hotel room--especially not during the last week of Carnival, when they all jack up their rates--so I wasn't sure until the last minute if I would go. I decided to compromise by parking on a residential street near Jefferson and Magazine (you should have seen the amazing parallel park I pulled off on Camp, there was like a single inch between bumpers) and catching them at the start of the parade, before they join up with Babylon and Chaos. They were past by 9:30 and I got home shortly after midnight.

Actually, it wasn't that much of a compromise, because I don't really care for the other 2 krewes. Babylon at least has some interesting floats, but Chaos' are usually lame (and occasionally they're grotesquely sexist), and the krewe members are assholes--I've seen them like, shrug at people asking for throws. What the hell?

I thought it would be nicer watching from a more residential area too, but actually I missed my usual spot, on Gravier a few blocks down from St. Charles. There were people on porches, in yards, on the sidewalks, on ladders, on the grass between the gutter and the sidewalk, and in the streets, so the throws were more spread out and they literally threw a lot of them. On Gravier, they just drop them over the sides of the floats and into your hands. (Also, residential area = lots of children, or, as I refer to them, "throw hogs".)

So I didn't get as much swag as I usually do, but I can't complain because I GOT A SHOE! A lot of the large krewes have a rare signature throw (Zulu's painted coconuts are the most famous) that is the most coveted, and for the Muses it's women's shoes that have been decorated with glitter, feathers, and beads. This was my 3rd parade and I'd never gotten one; they mostly give them to little girls, people they know, or people who've made some kind of effort like holding a sign or wearing a costume. I wasn't trying to get one--I didn't even notice that one was being held out--but it dropped right into my hands!

I didn't take too many photos this year, partly because I didn't want to spend the money on high-speed film, but mostly because I thought I'd just enjoy the parade for once. I took more at Krewe du Vieux, which I went to for the first time on February 15th, so many that I haven't gotten them all edited yet.
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Anyone else watching this new HBO show? It takes place in my corner of Louisiana, Cajun country/Louisiana prairie. (Yes, south Louisiana has prairie. It's not all gator-infested bayou.) It's always nice when Hollywood remembers that the state isn't entirely made up of just New Orleans, much as I love the city. In fact, the murder victim in the pilot is found in Erath, which is literally down the road from me: if you go to the end of my street and cross LA-14 (which is a rural highway, so probably not what most of you think of when you think of a highway), you'd be in Erath.

true detective

Visually, I'd say it's entirely an accurate representation of south Louisiana, which makes sense because they filmed it here. The rustling cane fields, the murmuration (seriously, that's what it's called) of starlings swirling through the air, the single huge oak standing out in a flat field. And of course, the abandoned church. I'm sure it was a set built for the show, but things like that exist here; I've photographed a bunch of them. When something in Louisiana burns down or gets wrecked in a hurricane or just abandoned, it doesn't always get torn down and tidied up.

And the writing and acting is good, too. The storyline is more of a slow burn, but I prefer that to car chases and explosions every 30 seconds. Admittedly, the popular notion of Louisiana as (to use the A.V. Club's words) "a lawless, hothouse trouble spot populated by weirdoes, freaks, perverts, vampires, hoodoo wimmen, and gangsters plotting to assassinate the president" sometimes gets old to those of us that live here. The only show to ever realistically portray Louisiana as a place where (mostly) normal people live (mostly) normal lives remains Tremé; perhaps not coincidentally, that show had dismal ratings. (Also--sort of--the '80s sitcom Frank's Place. Which lasted a single season. And also the premise was that Frank had to run the family business and stay in NOLA rather than sell it and move back to New England because of a Voodoo curse. So that's really kind of a wash.)

But you know, I'll take weird religious serial killers and creepy abandoned churches and matriarchal brothels out in the wilderness over the current "reality" TV portrayal of Louisianans as a bunch of mouth-breathing, gator-wrasslin', drunken hillbillies.

Oh, and if you saw the photo of Dora Lange as a child surrounded by men on horseback wearing pointed hoods and thought OMG KKK, no. Those were Courir de Mardi Gras:

Courir de Mardi Gras_Dejouant ses bourreaux_HRoe_2012

The pointed hat is a traditional part of the local Mardi Gras costume. Wearing cheap plastic beads and flashing your boobs and/or dressing like a streetwalker is a New Orleans thing.
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Last weekend the weather was slightly less hot and humid than it had been for the past 10 days or so, so I went out shooting. I really don't want to spend the entire summer cooped up indoors, so if we get the occasional weekend that isn't totally unbearable--or raining, we get most of our rain in the summer here--I'm going to go somewhere. When Mom and I were cleaning out Granny's apartment (before she died, when she was in the nursing home), I found a guidebook for Acadiana, which is comprised of 22 of the 64 parishes of Louisiana, stretching east to Cameron Parish and the Texas border, west to Lafourche Parish, and as far north as Ayoyelles Parish. (We live basically smack in the middle of it.) I've bookmarked about 2 dozen pages, so I shouldn't run out of ideas anytime soon.

Saturday I explored a little bit of St. Landry Parish, which is about an hour north of us. I've been there a couple of times, but mostly just to antique, and once to go to Evangeline Downs in Opelousas. Some of the parishes are tiny, or are basically just one town or city and some surrounding rural areas, but St. Landry is both fairly large and contains several towns and communities. In fact, it's probably going to take at least another trip before I see everything that I want to. I like the area because it's a little hilly, and reminds me a bit of the Bay Area. I miss the hills and mountains sometimes.

First I went to Arnaudville, which for the past several years has become something of an arts center for the area. There are several galleries and a lot of south Louisiana artists have studios there, and there's even a place where people can take art classes. I mostly saw painting and sculpture, not much photography. But I did find some abandoned buildings to photograph!


Lots of black-eyed Susans blooming this year.


You see a lot of these rusty old arrow signs in the country around here. A lot of people run businesses out of their homes (or barns) in the rural south. I always wonder what they used to advertise.

As I was leaving town I saw a sign for Leonville, less than 10 miles away. Leonville is in my book, it's a historic town that was founded by free people of color before the Civil War. Alas, there isn't much to the town itself, other than a couple of gas stations and a convenience store, so I used the rest of my film up on the church and cemetery.

St. Leo the Great church

Interesting details on the stained glass.

I was too close to the town of Washington and my favorite antiques mall (the one inside the old schoolhouse) to resist swinging by, but I didn't see anything I couldn't live without. There was a pretty big stash of old Kodaks and Anscos in the gym, but most of them were pretty beat up.

There were a couple of Baby Brownies, but they were both broken. Even if I never use the camera due to the difficulty in obtaining 127 film (there's one company in Croatia that still makes it, and a few boutique sellers who wrap their own onto salvaged spools and custom-made backing paper), I'd still want it to work.

There was a Kodak Tourist that was in perfect condition, but I don't really need another 620 folding camera. Still, it was marked down from $45 to $30... and I actually don't currently have a 620 folding camera, I sold my Foldex 20. I might give it a home if it's still there next time I go.
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April's meetup had to be re-scheduled because of Granny's funeral, so it was last Saturday. I chose Fort Jackson in Plaquemines Parish, a decommissioned masonry fort from the 1820s. There are a lot of those south of New Orleans, but most of them are closed right now because of Hurricane Isaac. I didn't find anything online that said Fort Jackson was closed, and in fact there was a Civil War re-enactment there just a couple of weeks ago, so that must mean it's open, right?

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*bangs head repeatedly on nearest hard horizontal surface*

FUCKING LOUISIANA, I SWEAR. Of the many, many things that are annoying about this state, top of my list right now is that our parks and historic sites are constantly getting shut down due to hurricanes. And since fixing them up isn't a budget priority, they stay shut for months or sometimes even years--and then by the time they get them open again, oh hey look out, here comes ANOTHER FUCKING HURRICANE. Katrina shut all the forts down for so long that they were only open for about 18 months before Isaac came along and shut them all down again.

What's frustrating is there were still lots of people there; even just the outside is pretty interesting, and it's right on the river. If they opened it and charged a small fee, they would probably have enough money to fix it up by the end of the summer. Maybe I'll write a letter to whoever is in charge of parks and rec for the state. I'm not going to bother with Jindal, because he's a Rethug douchebag who doesn't give a shit about this state outside of how he can use it as a springboard to higher office. Good luck with that, brah.

However, driving through Plaquemines Parish gave me an idea for another shoot. I kept seeing signs for a town called Pointe a la Hache, which I thought sounded interesting, so I Googled it when I got home. It's the parish seat, but it's very near where Katrina made landfall, so it got pretty wrecked and only about 200 residents have returned since the storm. So it's got kind of a ghost town vibe, and there are a lot of ruined buildings. The courthouse was damaged by arson over a decade ago and has been left as is, there's been a "temporary" courthouse in nearby Belle Chasse since. The parish council has tried 3 times to move the seat to Belle Chasse, but it always gets rejected. Louisianans: we love to pay lip service about how much we cherish our history, but we don't want to actually spend any money on preserving it. *sigh*

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I broke my usual no-cropping-film rule, because I couldn't always get in close to the Indians. Whenever I couldn't totally get rid of the crowds, I tried to incorporate them as a framing device; this worked especially well with the pictures of children.

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Sometimes the people watching a show are interesting, too.

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This didn't come out great, but I like the cemetery in the background.

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I just like old signs.

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Super Sunday has nothing to do with football, let's get that straight right away. It's the Sunday before St. Joseph's Day, when all the Mardi Gras Indian tribes mask together in Central City. The neighborhood used to be the Magnolia Projects, notorious for violent crime even amongst New Orleans housing projects. Post-Katrina, it's been "rejuvenated" into Harmony Oaks, a mixed-use development. It still contains low-income housing so it hasn't been gentrified, and it looked pretty nice. I hope it's successful.

I arrived about 11:30 (there's plenty of street parking in the area if you get there before noon) and left soon after 2:00. It was starting to get too crowded to get good photographs, but by then I had shot a roll of Ektar and lots of digital, so I was content.

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A lot of them lay out the suits in AL Davis Park before they get started. Indian suits are all made entirely by hand, and are only worn once. Those patches are thousands of tiny beads. Again: ENTIRELY DONE BY HAND.

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Of course I had to check out the neighborhood cemetery (St. Joseph), which seemed awesomely overgrown and run-down even by NOLA standards.

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Officially, I am still a childfree old hag. Unofficially, AHHH SO MANY ADORABLE BABY INDIANS!

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A lot of the kids drop out of masking when they're teenagers because it's so time-consuming. If they keep doing it past 15 or 16, chances are they're "lifers".

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This was my favorite suit that I saw all day, unfortunately I have no idea what tribe this guy belonged to. By then I'd been there a couple of hours and seen so many eye-searingly bright pinks, greens, and yellows; the black and white with just touches of gold and red really stood out. And of course I love the skull/skeleton motifs. It's like an Indian interpretation of Baron Samedi.

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This was Wild Magnolia, they're the largest tribe that I saw--at least 12 or 15 people--and they all had color-coordinated bright green suits. Possibly because someone looked at a calendar and realized that super Sunday was also St. Patrick's Day this year?

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This tribe was also pretty large and contained a lot of children. I think it was either Creole Wild West (the oldest tribe) or Yellow Pocahontas.

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Wild Tchoupitoulas' wild man is a wild woman! There are a lot of women in the tribes, and not just as queens.

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This is definitely the best facial expression that I captured all day.

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I was just starting to feel hungry when I realized I was standing literally 3 feet from Ms. Linda Green's booth. If you've ever seen the No Reservations episode where Anthony Bourdain goes to south Louisiana, you'll recognize the purveyor of the best yaka mein in the city. Yaka mein is a NOLA version of a Chinese noodle dish, slow-cooked brisket and spaghetti in a beef broth with green onions and a hardboiled egg. I've made it at home (although I sometimes use udon noodles) and this was recognizably the same dish, but that stuff she's squirting into it must have crack in it or something. I could have dived into that pot and eaten my way out.

So, Super Sunday AND Ms. Linda Green's yaka mein. That's 2 things I can cross off my NOLA bucket list. Oh, and lagniappe: I also had my first sno-ball of the season.
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Happy Mardi Gras! It's kind of a yucky day today, but I had my celebration last week.

I used 1600 film, but it was a moving parade hours after sunset so there's still a lot of blur. That's the kind of photos I like to take of people, though. I'm not a fucking studio portraitist.

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Pussy Footers.

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The Rolling Elvi.

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Stilt walkers. I would break my neck if I tried to do this.

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Some high school dance troupe, I forget which one. (And this is why I get pissy when people make ignorant boob-flashing cracks when I say I'm going to a Mardi Gras parade.)

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Lady Godivas Riding Group.

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Heh heh heh. This year's theme was "Makin' Groceries". Making groceries is a NOLA colloqiualism for food shopping. The most common explanation is that it's derived from the French expression "faire son marché", to do one's market shopping--faire is literally translated as "to make" but it's also used in the sense of "to do".

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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.)

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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.

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Camel Toe Lady Steppers.

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610 Stompers.

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Cherry Bombs.

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Bearded Oysters.

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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.

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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.

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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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It's been noted that I'm in New Orleans so much that I might as well live there, but I like the country, too. I love visiting cities, I don't necessarily want to be in them 24-7.

Anyway. Saturday was the Piety Street Holiday Market, and a friend of mine in the New Orleans Photo Alliance had a booth, so I decided to go. They have the market every 3rd weekend in the Old Ironworks in Bywater; there are 2 in December and I think they have extra vendors as well. It's a combination craft fair/flea market, and I think there's sometimes live music. And of course food, because this is New Orleans we're talking about.

christmas cactus, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

I love Bywater. It's the Berkeley (or Red Hook) of New Orleans. If I WAS going to live in the city, I'd want to live either there or in Marigny.

I just went for something to do--I'm done with my shopping anyway--but actually I was really surprised with the quality of the stuff being sold.

old checks, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

My friend was selling, among other things, "paper ephemera": old checks and bills. These are from 1895, 1899, and 1907. People had such cool handwriting back then, all spidery and curlicued.

I also bought a mixed-paper journal made from an old French-language children's book (I'm always meaning to do something like that myself, I have enough paper craft supplies), and a couple of 4x6 matted prints from a local artist. (One for me, one for a friend.)

nola doorway (filter), originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

The one I'm keeping is a photo of a doorway on Rue Dauphine. Clearly, I like photos of doorways in New Orleans. I take dozens of them.

snowballs, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

I also had a key lime snowball. Snowballs are a southern Louisiana thing, and they are miles better than a grainy, gritty snowcone. They're more like Hawaiian shaved ice, with a very fine, snow-like texture. Lots of places are seasonal, opening around either Mardi Gras or Easter and closing around the time the clocks are set back. But some places are open year-round.

rooster graffiti, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

There was a really cool mural on the outside of the Old Ironworks.

saint lucy, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Afterward, since I was in the neighborhood already, I drove to St. Roch to take some photos of that delightfully morbid body part chapel with my Z2300. I also realized that last time I neglected to take any photos of the statue of St. Lucy. Yes, those are eyeballs on a tray.

Then I drove over to Magazine Street. There's a stationery store called Scriptura that a friend told me about, I bought some stationery and a pocket notebook and replenished my NOLA postcard stash for Afterwards I went to 2 galleries on the same street to see a couple of different photo exhibits that opened as part of PhotoNOLA.

I really enjoyed the Contemporary Antiques exhibit at the Octavia Art Gallery. It was curated by Frank Relle, but a lot of the photographers are amateurs, and most of their photos were taken with cell phones. It's fun to see the kinds of things that catches other people's eyes, and the sheer amount of photos--blown up to 6x6 (I think, I didn't measure them), with identical white mattes and mounted floor-to-ceiling--was dizzying. I'm an old school film photographer, but I like that literally everyone carries around a camera with them on their phone now. I think it encourages people to pay attention to their surroundings, to look for beauty and fascination in the mundane, and I think it probably teaches them things like composition and framing without their even knowing.

I also went to the Leslie Addison and George Yerger exhibit at the Cole Pratt Gallery. I've been interested in these artists since shortly after I moved to Louisiana and they were featured in an issue of Louisiana Life. They use plastic cameras (Holgas, mostly) like myself. In a way they encouraged me to start taking my own work more seriously, because I looked at their photos and thought "Hell, I could do that. I DO do that."
box_camera: (book)
So, I had made plans to go to New Roads this weekend. (Sadface: I found out last weekend that the delightful--and reliable!--New Roads-St. Francisville ferry stopped operating last year, when they opened a stupid boring bridge over the Mississippi instead.) But upon checking the handy weather app on my Tablet (Advertising! SEND ME SOME BUXXX, B&N!), I saw the forecasted high was 85. I would tromp around in 85 degrees in summer and be grateful for it, but the first week of November? Eff that noise. Plus I woke up annoyed after a dream in which I cooked dinner and a bunch of people showed up annanounced and there wasn't enough food and then they complained about there not being enough food. I literally woke up muttering "Get the fuck out of my kitchen, assholes!" Too much dairy before bedtime.

ANYWAY. So instead I went shopping in Lafayette. LOL, bitchezzz be shoppin'. Only instead of shoes and chocolate, I bought dip pen nibs and English tea and scented candles. You know, basic everyday staples. Most of that was procured at World Market, where I was dispatched by mater to fetch gingersnaps and lemon curd. I love that store to a probably unhealthy degree and limit my visits to a bimonthly trip, where I keep my head down and try not to look around too much, lest I buy half the store.

The dip pen and nib set was actually bought at Michaels (boycott Hobby Lobby, they are a bunch of god-bothering nutballs who don't want to give health insurance to their female employees). I was looking at calligraphy ink when I saw they had the Manuscript round hand set #1 for just $9.99, which seemed like a decent price. A couple of the nibs are too wide for anything but calligraphy; which I took a class in in high school and remember being both good at and fond of--my favorite script was half uncial, a late antiquity/early medieval lowercase script used predominantly by Irish manuscript copyists (the Book of Kells was written in uncial). It was one of those ones where the s looked like an f, although there was a modern s introduced later. But some of the nibs are narrow enough for letter-writing, and the pen itself, although just cheap wood, is light and shaped nicely and pleasant to hold.

I was actually at Michael's in the first place to get supplies for a new cross stitch project. I've finished with the primary stitching in the hurricane tracking map (aka the project that is taking half of my life to finish), but there's a LOT of backstitching--it's a MAP, after all--and I've never been crazy about backstitching and I need a break. When I put together my absinthe treasury list on Etsy (I've since done 4 more treasury lists, SOMEBODY STOP ME), one of the things I included was a cross stitch pattern for a 1900-ish absinthe advertisement, which I then decided to buy. I mean I know you can convert anything to a pattern for free with programs you can download also for free, but it was $5 so eff it. She emailed it to me in a PDF pattern less than an hour after I sent the payment through PayPal. It's big but fairly simple, and there's no backstitching.

The first bit though, UGH. I always start in the middle and work my way outward, and just coincidentally the middle of this pattern was where a lot of elements converged. So of a 10 x10 block of stitches, there were a bunch of colors that employed maybe 2 or 3 (sometimes just 1!) stitch. So I would unwind a skein, wrap it around a bobbin, cut off a length, thread my needle, make a couple of stitches (which takes about 3 seconds), run it under some other stitches to anchor it, cut my thread... and repeat again about 80 times. It took me the entire length of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Swedish version, no duh) to do that first square. (I watched it for winter porn. I think I might watch the Fincher version again too, for Daniel Craig porn. He spends most of it wearing glasses and bundled into a series of manly but comfy-looking scarves, which is basically the thinking woman's version of the sexy librarian look for men.)

Last night was David's birthday, so I made bastilla (Moroccan chicken pie), which is not hard but is labor-intensive, so it's kind of a special occasion thing. I also made baklava for the first time (since I had a ton of phyllo dough in the freezer), which is much easier than I thought it would be. We've had a bottle of rosewater in the fridge for the longest time--an Indian friend gave it to Mom because she said I was thinking of making ras malai, my favorite Indian dessert; I was, until I started looking at recipes and decided it sounded too complicated--so I made it Persian style: almonds instead of pistachios, cardomom instead of cinnamon, and 1/4 cup of rosewater in the honey-sugar syrup. (You can also use orange blossom water.)

SO THAT WAS MY WEEKEND. How was yours?
box_camera: (Default)
I had a super busy weekend, although I wasn't out late either night and thought I was getting enough sleep. Clearly that is not the case, as I forgot to unlock the front doors at work this morning, and am making crazy spelling errors--instead of "daily calls", I nearly sent out an email titled "daily spells". Seasonal!

ANYWAY. Saturday was the fall festival in Denham Springs, a little town across the river from Baton Rouge. I went to the spring festival earlier this year, and it was pretty lamesauce, and this was a nearly exact repeat of that one. But! The real reason to go is that it's in the town's "Antiques Village". The original downtown area is nearly all antique stores: the old bank, the old movie theater, the old boarding house. And they always have sales during the festival.

I mostly bought stuff for other people, but I did add a new camera to the collection: a Kodak Brownie Bull's-Eye (the earlier black model made from 1954-1958). I don't really need another 620 camera, but it's the "older sibling" of my Kodak Brownie Hawkeye. (The Bull's-Eye has some differences though, mainly in not being a fixed-focus camera and also taking 8 6x9 cm exposures instead of 12 6x6 cm ones.) I love owning camera "families"; I also have 2 late generation Land Cameras (the Button and the Rainbow), and both the Argus Matchmatic and the Argus C3.

The flash that I got with my Hawkeye works on both models.

And on Sunday it was back to New Orleans to pick up my photos from the push pin show. NOPA sent out an email late last week that was kind of unclear, I thought it was saying that if we didn't pick our photos up from HomeSpace Gallery on Saturday they would be at the NOPA gallery on Sunday. They had already told us that if we didn't pick them up by Sunday, they would be thrown out. I wanted to eat brunch at Elizabeth's, which is in the Bywater, same neighborhood as HomeSpace. I knew they'd have a long wait, so I gave my name, fought my way across the French Quarter traffic to the NOPA gallery in the Lower Garden District... and was told no, they're still at HomeSpace. They had trouble finding "sitters" for the gallery so I could pick them up at NOPA "later". Except I couldn't, because I DON'T LIVE IN NEW ORLEANS. It's a 2 1/2 hour drive, I can't just drop by any time I feel like it.

(Side rant: People in Louisiana are very provincial, in that they tend to forget that the place they live in is not the only place that exists. I used to think it was a small town/country thing, but people do it in NOLA all the time. I'm constantly having to remind NOPA members that I don't live in the city.)

So I go BACK to Elizabeth's, thinking great, I could have just slept in and saved a bunch of gas. But as I'm eating my strawberry cream cheese stuffed French toast and praline bacon (worth a 2 1/2 drive, truth be told), I decide I might as well check the gallery, since it's just a few streets away. They were open, I got my photos, much mental eye-rolling ensued. Communication in that group is not crackerjack.

And on this NOLA trip I think I discovered the nexus of the universe: Cypress Grove, Greenwood, Odd Fellows, and the Masonic cemeteries are all at the intersection of Canal and City Park Avenue.

The only way the Slark tombs could be more impressive is if the family had been named Stark. THINK ABOUT IT.

Greenwood may be the largest cemetery I've ever been. There are a lot of beautiful monuments in the front, but as you drive in--yes, it's so big that you can DRIVE AROUND IN IT, IT HAS ITS OWN STREETS--the tombs get newer and start to have a sameness. Still, taken as a whole it's pretty cool. With the streets and the above-ground tombs that look like tiny houses, it's easy to see where the phrase "cities of the dead" for NOLA cemeteries comes from.
box_camera: (yay omg)
It's no secret that I go antiquing a LOT. I always loved antique stores, but they weren't as plentiful in California as they are in the south. There are entire small towns here whose entire downtowns are made up of antique stores, and they all have "antique festivals" in the spring and fall--essentially just the same festival crap you see anywhere, but the stores themselves will usually have sales to go along with it.

Mostly I'm looking for vintage cameras of course, but occasionally I will come across something interesting that I just can't say no to: opera glasses or absinthe spoons or brooches. (Actually I have quite a decent collection of those last.) In the past couple of years, I'm seeing more and more typewriters. I guess as the kids who never used them become old enough to start buying antiques, they're starting to be seen as "exotic". It's been in the back of my mind for a while that it would be fun to have one for writing letters, but I just hadn't found one that I had to have. Either they were too busted, or too big, or too expensive, or not old enough.

Well, I'm sure you can imagine where all this is heading:

underwood champion, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

I went antiquing in Breaux Bridge on Saturday, and found one that hit all the required marks:

Under $100 ($43)
Over 50 years old (1948 model)
Not too big (portable model)
More or less working condition (the 2 key sometimes sticks, but how often do you use it)

I've written a few letters on it since Saturday night, and it's so much fun! There's something satisfying about keys you really have to pound on, and the noise they make, and how you have to slow down or all the keys get tangled up.

The case is scuffed, but it latches and the handle is intact. I want to get some compressed air and blow out some of the dust, and maybe scrub the keys with an old dry toothbrush. And I'm waiting for a "new" ribbon from an eBay seller, although the one in there still has some life in it.

typewriter close up, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

Something about keys that stick up, instead of being flush with the keyboard, tickles my fancy.

I just really like giving old things another chance to do what they were meant to do.
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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.
box_camera: (homosexuality is an abomination)
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.
box_camera: (yay omg)
Thursday I only worked until noon, then I drove to New Orleans, checked into my hotel, and walked down St. Charles Street until I found a good spot. I had originally planned to be at St. Charles and Louisiana, but the fact that the streetcar route was closed for the parade put the kibosh on that. Which worked out to my advantage, because I learned that away from major intersections, the crowds are a lot thinner and the NOPD doesn't bother to put up crowd barriers. You can walk right up the floats and Muses will drop the beads and other goodies right into your hands. As I was walking home, a very drunk, very gay man demanded to know what the FUCK I did to get all those beads. I started to explain, then just shrugged and said "I just kept shoving people out of my way" instead. This earned me a "YYYEEEEEAAAAAHHH!!!" and a high five.

Please do not ask me if I flashed. No one does that at the St. Charles street parades, which are family events that people bring their kids to. For fuck's sake, there are high school marching bands in those parades. It's not Bourbon Street, okay?

675748-R1-12-25, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

675748-R1-10-27, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

675748-R1-07-30, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

675748-R1-06-31, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

675748-R1-02-35, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

675748-R1-01-36, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

June 2014



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