Mardi Gras 2018

I spoke to Bruce Guilden at the opening night of his “GO” show opening a couple years back.  While talking, I mentioned that my favorite book of his was his monograph on Mardi Gras, “Hey Mister, throw me some beads.”  In what was quickly becoming a trend of that conversation, he scoffed at me and said that it was his least favorite book.  When I asked him why, he said it was because it was such a hard subject to connect to.  Then it was my turn to laugh.  

“You have to experience it to connect with it” I said, “If you’re on the outside looking in, it doesn’t make any sense, but the pictures in that book were like Christmas for a kid growing up in New Orleans.  Those shots on the old NOPSI busses with the crews on their way to the parades–well I used to ride those busses and for me it makes it deeply personal.  For me there’s a deep connection.  But like I said, If you were on the outside looking in, how could you connect?”  

After that, Bruce was a bit gentler with his jabs and I like to think that I got the tiniest bit of respect from him as we continued our conversation.  That being said, he probably just tired of me–in fact it’s the more likely explanation. I didn’t have the heart (or maybe it was balls) to tell him though that he had completely botched the title though.  It should have been called “Hey! Throw me something mister!”  He would have known if he had been horse from screaming it with someone on his shoulders trying to get throws at Bacchus.

That conversation bounced around in my head for a year and finally I made up my mind.  This year we would go to Mardi Gras.  Despite the fact that I’m “taking-off” a year from photography, I decided to shoot a few of the parades and a little of the chaos that *is* Fat Tuesday in the Bywater.  It was as insane and lovely and volatile as I remembered it–or vaguely remember it as the last Mardi Gras I was in attendance, I drank a medium sized bottle of Vodka by myself, acted ridiculously indecent with many different female cohorts before eventually passing out at the K&B (presumably now a Rite Aide) on the corner of Louisiana and St. Chuck after purchasing a second bottle of Vodka that I aimed to split with a homeless Vet I had just had the pleasure of meeting named Burt.  By comparison this carnival was down-right tame and child centric, although we did get-in a few ginormous Daiquiris here and there.

It was lovely to be with family again back in a city with a soul surrounded by people who choose to live there because it’s a fantastic and special place to be.  The kids felt all of that.  They loved the old houses and the near-ancient traditions, the food and the music.  They loved it for all the same reasons I do and I’m so glad they got the chance to experience this circus first-hand and not just from the outside looking in, like some people.  They shouted and screamed for throws.  Ester got a shoe at Muses-her pride and joy.  Elliot at one point had so many beads on him I though he might fall over.  Ella caught all kids of specialty throws that would light-up and blink.  Everyone had a great time and I felt this immense sense of gratitude, respect and love for the the city of my youth for having brought my family into the folds of it’s warm–very, very warm and muggy–embrace. 

All pictures shot on my Leica M7 at 35mm on Kodak Tri-X film pushed +2 by the Icon.   

Gentle monster

On the day that I made these images, I remember thinking that I had never experienced a sun shining so bright–nor, for that matter, had I ever seen concrete reflect as much lights as Broadway was currently endeavoring to do that late winter afternoon as I moseyed towards Il Cafe for a much needed coffee and respite from my aching feet.  The sun was so incapacitating and I was so hopelessly blinded that I almost didn’t see this man, the gentle monster, hiding in the long shadows as I made my way south past electronic stores selling old iPhone and Samsung models alongside dated looking digital drum kits and karaoke machines.  Past jewelers smoking unfiltered cigarettes pulled from chest pockets of colorfully striped, sweat-stained polo shirts who couldn’t help wiping their leathery foreheads with the backs of hairy hands and then on their wrinkled, pleated pants.  

It was almost surreal how I noticed every detail twenty degrees from center but almost nothing directly in my path.  So when the gentle monster slipped from the shadows in his pressed white suit and hat, making his way towards the curb, searching for something unknown to me, it caught me off guard.  Unlike everything else he was pristine.  Perfect.  I pivoted to my left as he moved towards me and got off the first shot, managing by chance to almost frame his name above him.  Then I slowed and moved together with him, chasing to frame center this time just as he looked away.  When he turned back I knew I had the image.  He smiled and I walked on–happy to take a coffee and rest my feet.  

Gentle Monster, shot on my Leica M7 at 35mm on Kodak Tri-X pushed to 800 at the Icon.     

Size matters

This will be a simple, cheery post for a weekend that has over-flowed with a wide-variety of naps.  I’ve taken quick naps, long naps and medium-length naps.  I’ve had naps on the couch, naps on my bed and even a nap on the floor.  I napped after the gym, I napped before the gym, I napped after lunch and before dinner.  I have not napped in a box and I have not napped with a fox but I’ve pretty much spent the lions’ share of the weekend either sleeping or waking-up or preparing to sleep again.  

This is what I’ve been reduced to.  And I’m trying to adhere to my promise to not go out and buy a shit-ton of film and start shooting like a mad man because this is supposed to be my year off from photography so I can contemplate what the hell I’m going to do next with it… at least as far as my film photography is concerned.  Who knows I’m might pick up a digital camera again and take it to LACMA or the Hammer for some of the new shows that are opening this week.  We’ll see.  Ugh… color. 

Regardless I’ve had a few shots that I’ve been thinking to post that I just haven’t gotten around to posting because I’ve been sleeping so god damn much and as anyone knows who’s ever tried to write on a blog or post on IG it’s a rather complex task to accomplish while unconscious.  You’ll notice I wrote “complex” as opposed to “impossible” because I’m damn near positive that you, dear provaeur of film based photographic arts, know someone–perhaps a girlfriend or boyfriend or friend friend–that can somehow manage to post on social media even while blackout drunk or even unconscious.  We all know someone.  You may be that someone.  

Well I am not.  I post strictly in-between naps and rarely while drinking.  Which brings us to the post at hand.  Sure it’s supposed to be a 12 foot tall ballon-primate, but for fuck’s sake,  Koons’ Monkey sure does look like a penis.  The people experience the piece seemed to think so as well.

Shot on my LeicaM7 with the 35mm Cron on Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed +2 at the Icon.      

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