Monday, February 20, 2012

Louisiana Moment

On Saturday night here in rural coastal Oregon there was a Mardi Gras party at a local dive bar in Port Orford. This year Mardi Gras occurs two weeks earlier than last. I am almost totally clueless about Mardis Gras traditions, but each year my curiosity is piqued, and I wonder what other people do to celebrate.

One day in 2008, I went to New Orleans. These photos are not very good, but they’re all I will likely have. They go back well before photography was serious for me. I spent three weeks camping in the blazing Texas sun at the Kerrville Folk Festival, returning to Baton Rogue days before this quick trip south down the Mississippi. It sure is hard for me to put myself in a time and place where I would only snap 30 photos and spend 3 hours in a place like New Orleans. Today I am liking black and white versions that simulate Tri-X 400. The clouds over Lake Ponchartrain really looked like this. This view is looking roughly northeast up Decatur St. from very close to the river in the French Quarter.
New Orleans, Andrew D. Barron©6/14/08

C’mon take me to the Mardi Gras
Where the people sing and play
Where the dancing is elite
And there’s music in the street
Both night and day

Paul Simon
Take Me To The Mardi Gras

That song is from the same album that celebrates film photography (Kodachrome) and the prophetic, wistful take on America as a whole in An American Tune. Indeed, then as now, “you can’t expect to be bright and bon vivant so far away from home.” These guys were walking down the sidewalk near Jackson Square.
Street musicians, New Orleans, Andrew D. Barron©6/14/08
Most of time I, did’t know where I was. All of these years later, I can sight-see some more. Here is the Steamer Natchez; the low blue building on the left is the Aquarium. The World Trade Center New Orleans looms behind.
Steamer Natchez, New Orleans, Andrew D. Barron©6/14/08
Clouds above the Mississippi, New Orleans, Andrew D. Barron©6/14/08
Check Point Charlie, New Orleans, Andrew D. Barron©6/14/08
At that time, I had done almost no street photography, and not very much travel photography. This kind of shot was only to tell me that indeed, I was once there. Bourbon Street.
Bourbon street, New Orleans, Andrew D. Barron©6/14/08
I once considered relocating to Baton Rouge. On that singular trip to Louisiana I learned a lot. I was exposed to the great Tab Benoit, who’s ballad, New Orleans Ladies comes to mind when I see these pictures of the streets from the chorus:
All the way from Bourbon Street to Esplanade they sashay by

The end of a way too short visit to this amazing city. (alternate)
Tab’s album, Night Train to Nashville was out only six weeks when I was there. A few months later, I myself was on a proverbial night train to Nashville, moving there in a u-haul in September.

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