bloom county: opus dear lj

the tomb of the unknown fangirl

a california yankee in king cake's court

Saints of New Orleans (not the football team), round 1
book & candle
So I have this project I’ve been ruminating on for a while, Saints of Louisiana. About 2/3 of what I photograph seems to be religious in nature somehow: churches, cemeteries, shrines. And last fall I read Judika Ille’s Mystics, Saints, and Sages. Every entry has a section at the end listing major international places of worship or veneration for each figure, and gee, there certainly are a lot of them in south Louisiana. Most, but by no means all, in New Orleans. Coincidentally, I had already photographed a couple of them, such as the St. Roch shrine, which I semi-jokingly like to claim is my favorite place in the city. (It really kind of is, though.)

So I thought, why not do them all? I’d like to turn it into a book whenever I’m finished, even if it’s just a self-made one from MILK
I managed to get a couple more shot before summer weather shut me down, like Charlene Richard’s grave (the “Little Cajun Saint”), but then I kind of put it on hold until the weather got nicer. Like I said, a lot of them are in New Orleans, and I’d like to combine a bunch of them so I can do them all in 2 or 3 trips.

Saturday before last was one visit and I crossed a few things off the list. The primary visit was the New Orleans Chapel of the Santisima Muerte—“Most Holy Death”. I liked the Facebook page a while back and I contacted Steven Bragg, aka Sta Muertero Steven, who built and runs the chapel, through it. He was extremely nice, told me to photograph whatever I wanted, and even invited me into his home (the chapel is in his front yard, essentially) to shoot his personal devotional space.

The Three Robes

La Blanca

St. Michael

La Negra

La Roja altar

Halloween decorations

Next stop was the national shrine of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, the matron saint of both the state of Louisiana and the archdiocese of New Orleans. She has a double meaning, because to some followers of New Orleans Voodoo she is an avatar of Erzulie Dantor, and the child in her arms isn’t Jesus but her daughter Anais. Some people credit her with turning Hurricane Katrina away from the city (too bad she couldn’t keep the levee from breaking). The statue was commissioned by the head of the Ursulines (a religious order with very long ties to NOLA) in 1810. It was smaller than I expected! And in the photos I’ve seen it’s usually high up in a wall niche, but that day it was on a little table. There was some construction being done to the outside of the building, so maybe they were afraid the vibrations would knock it off and cause it to be broken.

Our Lady of Prompt Succor

Then I went to Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is the oldest original church in New Orleans. It was originally a mortuary chapel for St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, which is right behind it. There’s an international shrine of St. Jude there, which used to contain a statue of St. Expedite. I didn’t see it, and I wondered if it had been removed because St. Expedite is such a favorite with rootworkers. I only saw a statue of St. Florian; but looking at the photos now, there’s another statue in there that might be St. Expedite, but I can’t see it clearly enough to tell. It looks like he’s holding something up and looking towards the ground, which makes me think it is, because St. Expedite is always depicted holding up a cross and stomping on a crow. If it is him I don’t know how I missed it, other than wanting to be fast and discrete because there were a lot of people in there. I’ll go back and take another look next trip.

Saint Jude Shrine

Peace Garden

Ex Votos

Then I went to the cemetery, because it was right there and I had time, even though it’s packed with tour groups on the weekends and kind of annoying. I just popped in for a few minutes to kill the rolls (I was using my Lomo LC-A+ and Yashica MG-1) with some photos of Marie Laveau’s tomb. Not the Glapion tomb; the unmarked one.

Side note: a while back somebody in one of the NOV/Hoodoo Facebook groups that I belonged to at the time (I recently quit several of them) claimed he was going to “sacrifice a dove” at her grave during an upcoming trip to NOLA. I don’t know why you would even do that, because animal sacrifice is not and has never been part of the veneration of Marie Laveau. People offer her money, alcohol, candles, flowers, even beauty and hair products (because she was a hairdresser by trade). She doesn’t want your tortured-to-death* animals, okay? I was like, you know there’s a constant crowd of tourists around that tomb, right? Enjoy the shocked/outraged reactions (which I suspect was the real motivation for this nonsense) and your stay in jail, probably.

*I have nothing against animal sacrifice when it is an established part of a religious ritual practiced by people who know what the fuck they’re doing. I’m pretty sure this proposal did not fall under either category.

Marie Laveau's tomb (maybe)

Marie Laveau's tomb (maybe)

Marie Laveau's tomb (maybe)

Grand Gulf Military State Park, Claiborne County, Mississippi
art: nouveau
I found this park when I was researching ghost towns in Claiborne County. There are a lot of them in western Mississippi, where the river remained the only reason to found a lot of towns well into the 20th century. But the Mississippi is an old river and it wanders, so a lot of them eventually wound up miles away from the only reason they existed. Add to that the cream of the male population getting wiped out in the Civil War, boll weevil infestations that destroyed cotton crops, the Great Depression, and the general urge of young people to just go “fuck this small town shit”, and there are a lot of emptied-out towns littering the banks of the Mississippi. A lot of them just have 1 or 2 buildings left; Trish and I went to one last year that’s still pretty intact, Rodney. I wanted to go back there, but the last few miles are over dirt roads that lead down the old river bluff, and with all the rain in the preceding week I thought it was wiser not to attempt it.

Grand Gulf used to be an actual town and is now a park, the buildings are a mix of original buildings and reproductions. It’s a large park, but the roads get pretty sketchy the further you wander from the main area, so I didn’t try to go too far.

Confederate Chapel

This building actually used to be in Rodney, it was Sacred Heart Catholic Church. The park installed it in the 1980s as the “Confederate Chapel”. A plaque on the outside says it’s dedicated to “men who died for a cause”. A REALLY BAD ONE.

Dog Trot House

Confederate Cemetery

Water Wheel

Water Wheel

Old Church, Grand Gulf, Mississippi

This is one of two original, unrestored buildings that I came across, I’m assuming it was a church.

In non-crumbling old building news, I had my 90-day review yesterday and Boss Lady gave me “exceeds expectations” across the board. She’s going to recommend I get the pay raise in my employment agreement, and it’s 25% of what I’m making now so my bank account is really going to notice that. Pay raises can only be approved by the owner, and I guess he could go naw mang, we can’t afford that. I have it in writing, but Louisiana is a “right to work" state, which is a classic example of conservative double-speak and really means “right to get totally screwed by your employer through no fault of your own”. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen, because I really want to upgrade my phone from the cheap piece of crap I bought when I was unemployed to replace the Blackberry that got rained on. I’m leaning towards a Samsung Galaxy. I could afford one now, but it would take less of a bite post-raise so I’ve been holding off on it.

LA-82, Vermilion & Cameron Parish, Louisiana
bloom county: opus dear lj
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.

Lomographers of Acadiana: Pointe a la Hache, LA
bloom county: opus dear lj
I had my photography group's meetup here last month. Pointe a la Hache is the parish seat, but since Katrina and the Deepwater Horizon it's almost a ghost town. It's right on the east bank of the Mississippi and the primary business was fishing, so both of those things really hurt the town. There are less than 200 people living there these days, and the only business left is a combination diner/convenience store. (Unless you count the Catholic church.)

The damage to the courthouse precedes the hurricane, though. Some idiot who was about to go on trial in 2002 decided that burning down the courthouse would be a good way to destroy the evidence against him; instead he was convicted of his original crime AND arson. Parish business is now conducted in the town of Belle Chasse; there have been several ballot measures to move the seat there officially but they always get rejected. Sentimental reasons, I suppose.

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Jail

Plaquemines Parish Courthouse

Plaqumines Parish Courthouse

Plaquemines Parish Jail

I have 20 new photos in my Etsy shop
bloom county: opus dear lj
I have 20 new photos listed in my shop, and you can get free shipping now until the end of October if you use the coupon code NEW2013. (That's only for prints, not vintage cameras.)

church door

I was in New Orleans yesterday (more on that later), and when I came back and checked Etsy I found that I'd had photos featured in 3 different treasuries. This photo was in 2 of them, and about 2 dozen people have favorited it so far. That's great, but I wish someone would buy it.

I'm pretty frustrated with the whole feedback system of Etsy, although I understand why they have it. But people don't like to buy from you if you don't have a lot of feedback, and you can't get feedback until you make sales, so it's a catch-22. And I've made some sales, but only 1 person has bothered to leave feedback! If feedback is so important to how well your shop does, Etsy should make it mandatory. Like you're not able to make more purchases until you've left feedback for the previous one or something.

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St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Weyanoke, LA
art: mark ryden deer
My friend Trish told me about this church near St. Francisville in West Feliciana Parish. It was built in the 1840s for the families that lived on nearby plantations, by the same architect who built Christ Episcopal in Napoleonville (which I've also photographed). He thought the English country church was the ideal for all rural churches, and that's clearly evident in his design for this one. When the highway that leads to St. Francisville was built in the 1920s (and as more people started to own automobiles) they started attending Grace Episcopal (which I've also photographed!) instead.

It was deconsecrated in the 1940s, and now it's just a brick shell slowly being overtaken by the forest. There was some talk last year of renovating it, but nothing's been done so far, although the roof was replaced in the 1980s when a tree fell on it. Either they're waiting to raise a certain amount before they start, or like so many "renovations" in south Louisiana, it's never getting past the talking-about-it phase. Frankly, I prefer it the way it is. It's not like there's a shortage of perfectly preserved little country churches in this state.

PICT0799, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

To get there, I took US 61 North, then turned onto LA 66 past St. Francisville. After about 12 miles, there's a little private road called Cap Eddies, that was blocked by a gate. I left my car on the side of the road and ducked through the gate, which luckily had wide bars. I took this photo from where I parked my car.

PICT0768, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

I walked a short way down the road--which I never saw anyone go down the entire time I was there--maybe a quarter of a mile. From there is a little path leading to the church. I took this photo from where I left the road and entered the path.

PICT0769, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

The outside is pretty intact, it doesn't have the masses of vines growing on it that you see on a lot of other old buildings in the south.

PICT0774, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

PICT0781, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

PICT0796, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

There are still some patches of plaster inside, but it's mostly bare brick.

PICT0797, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

PICT0795, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

PICT0792, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

It was a beautiful day--we're having an exceptionally cool, dry March--and very peaceful. After I took my photos (I also shot a roll of 35mm, one of 120, and a pack of instant in my Holga), I sat on the grass in the sun and ate some snacks I had brought for lunch. I could see my car from the church, so I didn't have to worry about it. I could have stayed all day.

friends only
bloom county: opus dear lj

Comment if you want to be admitted to my themepark. With blackjack! And hookers! In fact, forget the park!!

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