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the various and sundry creations of sylvus tarn
New Orleans
at dawn...

In July of 2016 I went to New Orleans for a conference.[1]

New Orleans. /Pictures/SonyRX100/2016RX/20160724GatheringRX

When I created this page four eight years ago, I got as far as the one sentence and the single photo shown above, (though I'd pulled 3 of them.)

Shades of my elementary school years, when I came home with stacks of blank, green lined paper with my name and the date, or, on really special occasions, one sentence out of the assignment that was supposed to fill the page.

The habit goes back a loooooong way.

New Orleans vernacular architecture.

New Orleans had a special place in my heart: everyone seemed to love it, from my relatively conservative, but globe-trotting parents to my bohemian pagan friends. But before I managed to go, NOLA was hit by Katrina.

Love the color on this one.

So this trip was my opportunity to see New Orleans for the first, and so far, last time, and I realized that there were more reasons than an inability to organize a mess of photographs for failing to document the trip better. But hey, now we're in a pandemic, it's pouring rain here, while Laura, an ‘unsurvivable’ storm lumbers through Louisiana and Texas.

Perhaps it's time to tell this story, as best I can.

Four years later.

The pandemic has “ended”, but we're currently suffering a heat index warning that, but for global climate change, would not be expected before July. I should be taking advantage of the rain to weed my rampart garden, wild with the growth of a month's absence to Japan.

It's too hot. And I think about Juneteenth, the resiliance of the people who created this far more honest shadow of July 4, Independence Day.

Once upon a time, I did a favour for an organization that equated to a donation of my time and skills, and they responded by suggesting I apply for a scholarship: this could, perhaps, be justified on the basis that I had certainly helped them out—it was, if you like, a way to give me something of value that didn't cost them too much, but I thought perhaps it would be better to save the scholarship for someone too poor to go on their own. Say, a young person of colour.[2]

No, no, they said, you should apply; and because the conference was in a city I wished to visit, I failed to heed my conscience,[3] applied, received the free membership, and went. —It had been some years, perhaps, since I'd gone. I didn't know very many people, and of those I did, the bonds had attenuated with time.

My greed and selfishness were repaid by intense loneliness and a deep awareness that I'd made a mistake. The hotel staff were very kind, and it was their generosity that was most welcoming. I got up early and photographed these houses in a city whose Black population suffered deeply during Katrina, and reflected that maybe they wouldn't’ve awarded the fellowship of a PoC anyway; but the trip was an uncomfortable one. Exploring and photographing were the most satisfying bits of the trip, instead of visiting with my peers.

This, perhaps, seems overly melancholy: there were some good things, backstage visits to cool museums and tours encompassing NOLA's rich history. But the org in question is a shadow of itself; their conferences are only online, now: it has been a long time.

And though my association might have limped along for awhile, that was the beginning of the end. To be frank the raison d'etre that fueled this org has fallen from favour; the public has moved on to greener, more fashionable (& certainly more profitable) pastures.

COVID severed my relationship with the local chapter, and though I hold everyone in affection, and perhaps, someday, I will rejoin, for now, that part of my life has ended.

[1]And that is as much as I wrote then, because my feelings were a bit complicated.

[2]There aren't many in this discipline.

[3]I should emphasize, that though I consider my behavior poor, theirs was not equally so: it is not a symmetrical situation.