New Orleans

These are all from a trip to New Orleans a friend and I took this past week. The vibrant color is real and aptly represents the positive energy of the neighborhoods we visited. Most of these were taken in the Bywater, some in the Warehouse District.

 

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Last week I wrapped up another road trip. We drove form NYC to Florida to visit friends and relatives, and to get some relief from the cold. On the way we stopped for lunch at South of the Border. It wasn’t how I remembered it – but my first visit was on one of those a dark, rainy nights where the world is all but invisible..

I was here only once before, years ago. My parents were stationed in Orlando, Florida and I was going to school in upstate New York. After freshman year I accepted a ride from an acquaintance who lived in Miami. He had a van, long hair, and he drank a lot of coffee and smoked a lot of cigarettes between Annandale and Orlando. I was feeling crummy the whole trip – the last night at school had been celebratory and I probably smoked two packs of cigarettes along with whatever we all drank at the final party of the year. So I quit. I’d been smoking since I was eleven, I was addicted, but that was it – I just didn’t want to ever smoke another cigarette – so I didn’t. Still haven’t.

My driver wanted to go straight, without stopping, all the way to Florida. He mentioned dinner at South of the Border – something to look forward to. Other than that he didn’t say one word to me the whole ride, and, since he was a graduating senior on his way to law school that fall I was too intimidated to start up a conversation. I remember it was raining – dreary. Finally we pulled into the small metropolis that was SOTB and walked into a shabby little building where you had to order at the counter then take your food to a table nearby or out to the car. It was crowded.

After several minutes on line my companion stepped up to the counter and ordered for both of us. A woman at his elbow received her order but told the counter attendant to take it back. “He breathed over my food” she said. Loudly and glaring in our direction. I steeled a sideways glance at my companion. He was looking down at the counter, his cheeks reddened. After some back and forth the lady was brought a new dinner – the styrofoam container sealed shut. We stepped aside to let her pass.

We took our food to the car. We ate in silence. My friend drove. I slept a bit after that, and when we arrived in Orlando he helped me to the door with my bags, said hello to my parents and went on his way.

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The Flight 93 Memorial: Stoneycreek Township, PA

I traveled out to western Pennsylvania for a workshop and found the Flight 93 Memorial on the way. I decided to stop and take a look. I had experienced the the devastation of the Trade Center towers up close, and the experience of reliving the events of 9/11 through the eyes of those who witnessed the path of flight 93 offered a new and sobering perspective.

It’s a long and winding road up to the site of the crash. I was immediately impressed by the landscape; the area looks different from everything around it, as if it was designed for a specific purpose apart from the farms and small towns surrounding it.

 

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The topography was reminiscent of Montana – not how one envisions Pennsylvania.

As you drive in toward the site, you are greeted by rows of trees planted in honor of those who perished on flight 93:

 

trees_72Next, the parking lot, flanked by a series of placards with historical information and describing the layout of the memorial and the plans for the 2200 acre site:

 

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since911board_72The memorial is a simple but powerful design, and it involves a journey. You can begin at the assembly area where docents tell the story of flight 93. I arrived too late for the lecture, which was fine with me.

 

Theater_72Visitors walk along a long, low, black granite wall that was designed to follow the path that the plane took once it hit the top of the hill. The plane had taken off from Newark, bound for San Francisco after a 30 minute delay. Because of this delay, some of the passengers learned of the attacks on the Twin Towers by cell phone around the same time the hijackers stormed the cockpit. They surmised that flight 93 was meant to be part of the attack, and realized the flight had taken an abrupt turn off course, toward Washington, DC. They rallied, forced their way into the cockpit themselves and brought the plane down to avoid reaching the terrorists’ target.

This is the path the flight took after turning upside down and hitting the field at 563 mph:

 

walkway_72Tourists like to photograph their loved ones at this site. Others leave offerings to the memories of the victims in niches along the way:

 

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If you look closely you can see a golden boulder out in the field beyond the wall. This marks the point where the plane came to rest, in pieces strewn all along the path.

 

boulder_72The wall ends at a series of marble panels about 8 feet high. Each is marked by the name of one of the 44 victims. Visitors leave flowers and artifacts here, too.

 

beamer_72Walking along the black wall, envisioning what happened that day, witnessing the sobriety of the other visitors, and their silences was a powerful experience.

There is a lot of construction going on at the site. A museum is going up at the top of the hill, at the point of impact, seconds after local residents spotted the plane flying upside-down. At the bottom of the hill they are building a walkway. I’m not sure where that leads, or what purpose it serves, but maybe I’ll return one day and find out.

 

future_72One of the more striking aspects of my visit was that the day was so similar to September 11, 2001. Clear, warm and beautiful – it brought back that day with startling clarity.

What’s Left Behind

This was a school and home for children with disabilities. The institution closed in the late 1980’s, and in its sixty-two years thousands of children with myriad diagnoses were housed in the wards of several buildings that made up the campus. The institution was self-contained, with recreational facilities, play areas, gardens and greenhouses and treatment rooms. I was allowed access to two buildings and these are some of the images created.

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Lean-to sketch

Thinking a lot about homes and shelter. This is a 3-d sketch of an idea about a little lean-to. Like the “forts” we used to build in the livingroom by pulling together the dining room chairs and draping blankets across the backs. We’d crawl in and feel safe in our little cocoons. Image