Posts Tagged ‘new orleans’

NOLA: Day eight. Lafitte.

2010/06/24

Today Chris and I went south to Lafitte, La. which is the last car-accessible populated area along the bayou before one reaches Barataria Bay, north of Grand Isle.

This southern part of the state is still attempting to recover from Hurricane Katrina. Docks, buildings, vehicles and even boats are frozen in a post-Katrina state where their owners just gave up on the attempt to recover. The BP oil spill is yet another blow to the region and who knows how much recovery we’ll see completed five years from now.

Right now, Lafitte is a bit like a ghost town if you ask me. Almost every dock had shrimp and fishing boats tied up. Nothing that may seem out of the ordinary to a tourist or an out-of-towner, but the community lives on commercial fishing. The boats tied up are a sign of trouble in the industry. On a normal day, they would all be out fishing and making money.

The town seemed almost abandoned aside from workers at convenience stores and gas stations. Many locals have taken up employment working with clean-up crews and though they are out during the day, they aren’t on their boats. The boat rental businesses looked completely closed up. It would have probably been easier to buy a boat today than attempt to rent one. And there were plenty for sale.

After driving around we found one of the sub-contracted companies working for BP doing cleanup. In a parking lot beside the water there was a pontoon boat that had been hauled out of the water on a trailer. The water line was stained with thick tar the whole way around the boat. This is one of those craft that has a pump on it with operators sucking tar off the surface of the water out in the bay. Beside the boat was a pair of trailers loaded down with small, yellow oil booms.

These are segmented in five-foot sections to be able to make tighter curves inside the narrow inlets and hug the edges of the bayou. Although the oil itself hadn’t begun to wash up in Lafitte with the tide or wind, it was surely being carried in very small amounts on the hulls of boats coming and going to aid in oil removal. They were preparing for its arrival with the booms staged at the water’s edge.

NOLA: Day seven

2010/06/23

It’s the beginning of summer and not the most active time of year for any New Orleans business. The ones in the food/fishing/tourism/hotel sector are suffering more day-by-day with fewer travel reservations being made by out-of-towners, largely because of the perception of oil-tainted seafood.

Ok, coming clean from yesterday’s teaser, I was interviewing managers of strip clubs along Bourbon St. This is a unique business sector in the city since it doesn’t quite rely on fishing, it only needs an influx of people. The general consensus from the women and men at the doors of the clubs is that business is up a little for the season.

The oil workers who are posted up and passing through New Orleans are providing a bit of a windfall bump in patronage of the strip clubs. While I could not nail down a recorded interview with an owner of any of the multitude of the clubs along Bourbon St. in the French Quarter, I did speak with a few of the people who work in those establishments.

Scott, the manager of Stiletto’s Cabaret commented “what we have done to our environment and the economy is absolutely horrific.” He moved to New Orleans twelve years ago and spoke about the changes which he’s seen on Bourbon Street during that time, Hurricane Katrina being the biggest blow that New Orleans had seen since he arrived. The town hasn’t quite recovered since. While his feelings regarding the BP oil spill mirror the feelings of every other resident of New Orleans, he didn’t say that money wasn’t being made.

This is the same sentiment I heard from doormen and dancers on the sidewalks of Bourbon Street last night. Everyone hates the oil spill, but there are additional dollars flowing into this sector during a normally slow time of year. Not record-breaking profits, but business is up a bit. The flip side of the cash influx is that it is coming while thousands of people are losing their ways of life along the shores and in the bayous of the Gulf Coast. No one wants to revel in any profits being made off of the misfortune of the whole region.

NOLA: Day six

2010/06/22

I’m investigating a new facet of the oil spill’s effect on various sectors of the local economy. I won’t spoil it here, but I’ve got 4 interviews with different business managers tomorrow. The new approach has me out of that bit of discouragement I was in after going to Grand Isle last week. We’re still set to get to Venice probably Thursday and hopefully an interview or several with fisherman. I’m not counting on getting an interview with an oil worker, but I’m definitely going to try that one too.

Last night I had limited battery power and didn’t get the images up that I wanted, but I updated the day five blog post with a few photos.

NOLA, day two

2010/06/18

Last night was concluded with a search for a lizard or gecko that had slipped into my place just after I returned from taking a few photos. the search ended in futility and only exhausted me a little more.

High temperature today will be in the mid-90’s with humidity over 70%. It feels well above 100 degrees outside. I’ll be out shooting soon enough.

Here’s a wide-angle look up-river from the riverwalk just a few hundred yards from the New Orleans Cathedral in the middle of the French Quarter.

This is the view of the Cathedral from the river wall at about 1 AM. The river is to my back.

Turning right is a landmark that goes without introduction.

The Cafe DuMonde. No, I’ve not been there but the call of a beignet is strong. Maybe I’ll stop there  before I leave.

So, I need to step it up with the photos and contact-making. I brought a full portable strobe kit & I intend to use it. I also brought my film camera with my last two rolls of Kodachrome that I’ll ever shoot & develop. I have to make those count too.

NOLA, day one

2010/06/17

Yesterday I traveled from Philadelphia, Pa. to Atlanta, Ga. to New Orleans, La. It was a bit of an ordeal.

After my flight was delayed by an hour, we boarded and sat for 40 minutes because the pilots were late. I’m wondering how you arrive late to fly a plane that has already experienced a departure delay. We taxied out to the holdingarea and stayed there for 45 minutes. When we finally made it to the hold-short line, we had another 10 minute delay then finally left the ground.

Arriving in Atlanta over an hour late, I had missed my connection to NOLA by 6 minutes. I was put on standby and wandered around the Atlanta airport for about an hour. That place is like a mall. They have little rooms for rent and a spa. When I was eating a late lunch, I could swear I smelled a swimming pool. It reminded me of swimming lessons at the YMCA when I was little.

I barely made it onto the flight as a standby passenger, but I made it, which is what counts. Well, maybe. We taxied out for miles and miles and somewhere out there I dozed off. I awoke to a bad smell coming from a baby across the aisle. His mother was apologetic to us around her. The captain made an announcement that we’d be off the ground as soon as possible then we were on our way.

Arriving in New Orleans was nice. Let me say that it was humid. I mean, it reminded me of my deployment to Guam during early typhoon season. Wow.

I met my friend Chris Williams who is a photographer I know through the Leica Users Group. His work can be seen here: http://zoeicaimages.blogspot.com/ Chris got me situated in a nice little studio on Chartres just a few feet from the edge of the French Quarter off Esplanade.

I slept like I’d been beaten up.

It’s just after noon now and I’m writing from Cafe Envie just a few blocks from where I’m staying.

Regarding photos… they will come. I’ve only taken a few photos so far but just little night scenes near where I’m staying. I’m going to wander around the riverfront, see the French Quarter and maybe find a barber for a haircut. Chris and I are heading to the coast early next week to shoot some photos there. I may try to find my way down to one of the little towns on the peninsula where much of the shrimp and fishing boats are ported.