Jackson Square in New Orleans. You can see a larger view of it here. The view is from the top of the French Quarter Visitor Center across Jackson Square to the Saint Louis Cathedral. The Visitor Center is just next door to the world famous Cafe du Monde, and the fabulous beignets and cafe au lait.
The Cafe du Monde and Jackson Square seems to be a common beginning point for a further exploration of the French Quarter. Just to the northeast lies the French Market—what used to be a farmers market but is now mostly booths selling crafty wares. To the northwest lies Bourbon Street and all that entails. If you're up and about early in the morning (prime time for photographer's light!) you'll see sidewalks and streets being hosed down, washed with detergent and scrubbed with stiff bristle brooms to rid the walkways of the previous nights dissolute behavior. Note that even with the morning civic ablutions, when you walk past a sidewalk drainage culvert you cannot escape the acrid sour aromas of all that passed before. Time your walk to breathe out as you pass the drains.
Begin your day at Cafe du Monde, but be prepared to wait. There's usually a long line out front for seat-yourself table service. But here's a tip: Walk behind the seating area and there's a smaller line for take out only. Get your cafe au lait or black chicory coffee and a bag with fresh warm beignets and walk over to Jackson Square and have your breakfast on an uncrowded bench. They dump a couple of inches of powdered sugar into the bag and put the beignets on top. Make sure the bag is folded and sealed securely at the top and shake the bag before indulging. Powdered sugar gets everywhere, even in your lungs if you're not too careful. Just be sure not to inhale when the beignet gets close to your face. Ahhhhh. There's nothing like a fresh hot beignet. Don't buy the mix as a tourist purchase, make your own from scratch, there's no comparison even given the brand name.
There's no end to the entertaining street performances, both static and mobile. Art stands surround the wrought iron fence of Jackson Square and performers vie for your attention and tips throughout the Quarter. I'm happy to tip a dollar or two for compelling performances. But I think the current trend of posting signs that no photography is permitted, or not permitted without tipping is wrong. A tip is a voluntary contribution and up to the patron to decide whether or not to accommodate the convention.
An aside leading up to the next image
I've talked before about using common sense when photographing in public places, and that while you're on public property you can take a photograph of just about anything. Unless someone has a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as standing at an ATM machine entering a PIN, if you're on public property you're fair game to be captured by the camera wielders. A very good source detailing photographers' rights can be found at Bert Krages website. He's a lawyer based in San Francisco and is considered one of the leading experts on United States Photography Law. On the link to his website above, you can download a handy PDF that after printing and a couple of judicious snips with a pair of scissors, you'll have a small booklet you can carry with you to remind you of your rights.
The gentleman above is an example. As I was leaving Cafe du Monde, pictured behind the man and his hand, I framed the image in an unobtrusive way standing at the curb edge of the sidewalk. He noticed and said I was not allowed to take a photograph of him. I replied, "Actually, we're on public property and I can take a photo of you" said with a smile and in a nice non-confrontational way. He said, "Hell no you can't. Not without putting money in the tip jar." At that point I realized I erred in even engaging him with logic or legal precedent and started to walk away. Interestingly, several of the people waiting in line said to me as I was leaving. "You really should tip him." The only thing I said after that was "Yes, actually I'm happy to tip performers, but I won't be hijacked into doing so...thanks." There's really no point in arguing, perceptions of what is right or wrong, legal or illegal is often a confused mess made worse by the sense of personal authority regardless of established legal precedent. Of course there is the issue of what needs to happen if you choose to make money off of an image captured legally in a public venue if a subject can be identified. A model release, which I keep in my photo bag, is required. The image above wouldn't fall into the requirement since his pose circumvents the need.
Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo at the corner of Bourbon and St. Ann Streets.
The sign on the door jamb at Marie Laveau's reads "No: shoes, no shirt, no service… No smoking—this means you! No photos, No filming… No sneezing, No coughing, No food, No misbehaving'… Hell, No Nothing."
The sidewalk facing window at Marie Laveau's. I'll risk the voodoo hex on my mortal soul for taking the shot.
Ah well, as I've said before, it's sometimes better to walk away than to confront and insist on your rights. There are plenty of other opportunities.
It didn't take long to find one.
Tanya Huang, top, and Dorise Blackmon are fabulous musicians. Both of their instruments are modern amplified carbon fiber works of art, and their mastery of the instruments shine through. They stake out a corner near a parking space in the road at Royal and St. Ann Streets, but you can hear them from more than a block away. I was happy to contribute, and even bought one of their CDs. You can visit them on their website here. They do instrumental covers from classical to pop and beyond. They're worth a look and listen.
The gentlemen above were a delight. Their only instruments were what must have been the first instruments known to man—the human voice. They got a contribution too.
Walk with me now as we explore some of the sights and sounds flavors and aromas in the rest of the Quarter. I'll present the images with just a note or two for quick scanning. You're free to linger of course.
Who Dat is everywhere!
A public bathing series in Jackson Square
Jackson Square is an oasis in the Quarter. There are no hucksters or performers or other artists allowed inside the wrought iron boundary, though the noise from outside can envelope at times. At the center of the square stands the statue of Andrew Jackson astride a horse.
I know it's a primitive pistol poking out, but it is an importune placement nonetheless leading one (yes, perhaps a perverse one) to think that Jackson is exposing his Johnson.
Leeandra Nolting, an OS and New Orleans denizen, and who is utterly charming and adorable, proffered this further insight to the statue of Andrew Jackson and his suspected diddling.
"Fun story—Jackson had an affair with the Baroness Pontalba. Once he ran into her in the street though, and he didn't tip his hat as he was with his wife. She got pissed and later when commissioning this statue had it placed so that he's looking straight at and tipping his hat at her apartment.
I have no idea if there is any truth to it or not—it's the story mule carriage drivers tell tourists. They also tell tourists that this here mule is a direct descendant of Napoleon's horse, so take any story they tell with a grain of salt…
They were both larger-than-life personalities who'd been shot multiple times and lived (she was shot four times in the chest and lost most of her hand to bullet wounds inflicted by her own father-in-law at point-blank range)."
At the northwest end stands the Saint Louis Cathedral, built in 1789, though the first church on the site was built in 1718.
Inside, it's simply gorgeous.
In a little alcove dedicated to Saint Thomas the Apostle, also known as Thomas the Doubter or Doubting Thomas, you see an image where he receives the Stigmata. A friend who was walking around with me that day mentioned that she became the typical ugly American when seeing this image in Europe and mentioned sotto voce, but overheard, that it looked like Thomas was flying a Christ kite.
Wandering around some more pics
Not color corrected fleur-de-lis flag
locks not effective
Cornstalk Fence gate at the Cornstalk Hotel.
Jeanne d'Arc near the French Market Cafe
"Com'on dad, I'm ready to go."
Going home after a day on the street
"Hand Grenades—Drinks and Beer To Go"
Bourbon Street—not too crowded, but it was still earlyish
Gator pralines and sundries
Ashley Bourbon, a transvestite hooker tour guide who offered helpful tips on where to go and what to see. I think she worked for tips too, but since we didn't use any of her information I'm not sure if any in our group spotted her a tip. She was friendly. If you click on the link, it will take you to the Flickr page where the image is hosted and under the image is a fabulous story from Leeandra Nolting about her encounter with Ashley.
I just like how this turned out, peeking in through a window at night to look at what's inside the gallery.
I was in New Orleans last weekend for a memorial service to celebrate the larger than life friend who recently and suddenly passed away. It was great to see some friends that are scattered across the country, some recently seen and some friends met for the first time. Dangerous Dan McKay would have liked that I think since his life was all about reaching out to friends near and far. He got his start in New Orleans as a disc jockey and radio personality, but I think his bon vivant began at birth—larger than life indeed. In fact, the physical size of his head was mentioned more than once—and affectionately. The House of Shock, co-owned by Dan's brother Ross, was the perfect venue for a rousing remembrance of a life fully lived, but much too short.
The memorial was partly profane and partly hilarious. The testimonials were terrific, the video production of his life which included all the various permutations of his afro was endearing, the fireworks near the end was a wonderful bonus and the four sudden 20 foot tall pillars of flame a scorching sendoff. (You can see an awesome image of the pillars of flame on a friend's Flickr page here.)
It was great to see the friends gathered. We had a good time before and after the service wandering around New Orleans which is also at times both profane and hilarious. And then there's the food. I'm not sure I ever cleaned my plate, but I think I still gained about 10 pounds.
Oysters at Royal House on the corner of Royal and Saint Louis Streets in the French Quarter
Thanks for visiting, I hope you enjoyed the images. This post is dedicated to a special friend, you know who you are sweetheart. Thanks for the years of support and affection. We Dat for friends. xo
all photos © 2010 barry b. doyle · all rights reserved
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