Here’s a bunch of random stuff.
On our last day in New Orleans we took the trolley out to the Garden District. I was very happy to walk under The Pearl neon sign and see that it was turned on this time.
I have always liked wandering around graveyards and the Lafayette Cemetery was near to the trolley.
There is a great bookstore nearby and I was finally able to find a copy of Maira Kalman’s “And The Pursuit of Happiness”. I have been looking for a while now, and was so happy to find it. She sent me the nicest email about the Willard Suitcases and I was eager to see this book, as I really like her work. I especially like that she mentions the numbered graves at Gettysburg since they are so much like the ones at the Willard cemetery.
We flew back very late into BWI and this is what I saw out the window as we flew over DC.
I had a great shoot on Wednesday with another amazing writer. Poets & Writers asked me to photograph Neil Gaiman and he is the nicest guy. I can not post any shots until the story runs sometime this summer, but I will as soon as I can.
And finally, we drive Peter to DC tomorrow to help him find a place to live and get him settled. The usual melancholy has been creeping in and so I have been listening to a lot of Percy Grainger. I have always been so taken with his music. I seem to recall as a boy listening to a CBC program with my dad that used this piece as a theme. Here’s another that I especially like. The thing for me about Grainger is that there is an element of sadness in his music in spite of the light-hearted feeling of the tunes. He was a pretty out there fellow and the one quote of his that I think of often is him talking about his work. When speaking of his use of harmony, he said “My efforts even in those young days, were to wrench the listener’s heart with my chords. It is the contrast between the sweet and the harsh…that is heart-rending…And the worth of my music will never be guessed, or its value to mankind felt, until the approach to my music is consciously undertaken as a ‘pilgrimage to sorrows.'”
I am going to break a few of my self-imposed rules in this post. I have always assumed that the reason people come to this site was to see interesting aspects of the world that they might not otherwise notice. I have never wanted it to be about me. But this post is mostly personal.
Peter Carroll and I have been working on a project on Tilghman Island for the past several years. In conjunction with the Tilghman Island Waterman’s Museum, we have been documenting the life of the watermen for two films that Peter has been shooting. The second of those films had its premier on Saturday evening at the elementary school. The auditorium was full and everyone loved it.
Then on Sunday Cristine and I flew to New Orleans where she was to receive an award from the Commission on Adult Basic Education. We walked around the city most of the day yesterday and it was as amazing to me as everyone said it would be.
Cris got the Kenneth J. Mattran Award for “Promoting Literacy Nationally and Internationally”. I was so proud and it was great to see people come up to her and thank her for being so inspirational.
After the luncheon we bugged out and walked back to the French Quarter. I would love to have seen this neon sign lit up, but The Pearl was closed today. Next stop was Cafe´du Monde for beignets and coffee. Later as we were walking down an almost totally deserted RiverWalk, we saw a video crew doing a stand up shot of a guy with the river in the background. It turned out to be Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel.
So here’s where I really break my self-imposed rule (don’t ever have a picture of me in this blog). My great friend Tania Werbizky has at various times in her life been totally obsessed with the Weather Channel. After Jim was done with his work, I approached him and asked if I could take a photograph. He was so nice and immediately suggested that he and I be in the shot. So Tania, I mentioned you to Jim effing Cantore. How’s about that?
Our hotel is just next to the Superdome and this is the view from the 17th floor hallway. / It is impossible to walk around this city and not think of hurricane Katrina and the devastation it caused. And looking at this building that housed so many people in such great need is more than a bit unsettling. This is an amazing part of America and I feel fortunate to have finally made it down here.
We are heading North today after an amazing, recuperative stay in South Carolina. Spring has arrived in full force; trees are budding out and the weather has been beautiful. / I got a ton of work done on the suitcase project while here. The American Society of Picture Professionals is featuring the project in a story in their next publication. They are the first to have focused on the preservation aspect of the materials since many of their members are curators. I am so happy to get this side of the story out. And I have sent six images to the Exploratorium that they will be using to produce postcards to sell in the museum store. Finally, today I got a nice email from Yvonne Boots-Faubert who looked at some of the fabric/sewing based contents of the cases and wrote a nice post on her blog. Check it out. I am so happy when people look at the photographs and are stimulated enough to get creative and apply it to their own interests. Thanks, as usual, to all of you who are following this site.
Cris and I celebrated our 25th anniversary yesterday with a very long walk on the beach. It was a beautiful day and the light was perfect for me. And as you can see, it was mostly deserted.
When we walk, I am constantly stopping to take photos. She usually just keeps moving but I eventually catch up.
Some of these guys are really tiny. The shell on top with the red bit was no more than an inch across. The guy above was probably 3 inches.
I have only occasionally seen the above type of shell. Reminds me of an exotic African cat.
This shell was very small, but so beautiful.
There is usually quite a bit of plant matter laying about. We saw what was left of a huge palm tree at the high tide line. I am not sure if the plant above is a water or land based plant.
Sand dollars are somewhat rarer this year. We didn’t see any until yesterday.
I say it to people all the time when I am complimented about my photographs, because it is important for me to give credit where it is due. I absolutely could not do what I do without the constant support and encouragement from Cristine. Not just emotionally, but in practical terms as well. She works very hard at a demanding job to provide us with all the things that a photographer with a spotty income could never provide. For that and the last 25 years I am more grateful than I can say.
Cris and I are in South Carolina for a bit. My brother and sister-in-law generously invite us to stay in their place down here and it is amazing. We usually come in January, but since Cris is on sabbatical this semester we decided to come down in March. We were walking on the beach the other day and talking about flotsam and jetsam. I was spouting off about the distinction between the two. A few minutes later Cris looked down and saw this. It was clear that it wasn’t just dropped on the beach; it had been in the water a long time and was quite near the water line having just been washed up. It is completely dead, but we couldn’t help wondering about the life of the owner. 21st Century jetsam (or is it flotsam?)
I had a very nice time on Talk of the Nation today. Ari Shapiro was great and it was fun to talk about the suitcases. My heart was beating a bit as I was being introduced, but once we got rolling it went really well. Here is a link to the audio. The studio was interesting. NPR no longer has a broadcast facility in Charleston (I’m down here for a bit of a late winter break.) so they sent me to an independent recording studio that does this sort of live feed on a regular basis. You can see by the picture that it was a comfy little space. / Pardon the repetition for regular visitors to this site, but if you are new here and just want to see the suitcase posts, here you go. Some other links are here, here, and here. Comments are always welcome. Thanks for all your support and interest, and big thanks to Ari and A.D. at TOTN.
Ari Shapiro, who is guest-hosting NPRs Talk of the Nation saw the Slate piece on the suitcases and thought it might be a good idea to have me on the show. So, this coming Monday at 3.40 pm Eastern time I will be interviewed, and there will probably be some time for phone calls. I am so pleased that the project is getting so much positive attention. / Welcome to all the recent guests to this site. I would also like to add a note to all of you who have taken the time to comment here, or send me email. I am really touched by the stories of your own connection to the asylums and to mental illness. I always attempt to respond to you all, but lately I have really been inundated with mail due to the recent attention the cases have received. Over the next few weeks, I will be cutting back on my other responsibilities to focus primarily on this project. So if you haven’t heard back from me yet, I’ll hope to be in touch soon.