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Monday, June 21, 2010

The Spill

Notice the difference? Photo: Charlie Riedel/AP

On my way to work this morning, NPR did a story on the interrelationships of businesses in South Louisiana, and how the ongoing BP oil spill is affecting businesses from engine repair shops to businesses that sell ice. One of the business owners interviewed was from a company I had called on in Houma several months ago. When I made my sales call, he had a little over 100 employees. In the interview this morning he said he is down to about 70 because they can’t keep their guys busy. When the oil spill shuts down the fishermen, shrimpers and oystermen, they don’t need to use their boats. If they aren’t using their boats, the boats are unlikely to need repairs. When the engine repair shop struggles, it affects other businesses that try to do business with them, even businesses like mine that have nothing to do with fishing, oil, or any other offshore activity.

I can’t imagine what it must be like for the families for whom – for generations – life has centered around the gulf. This blog is about my experiences in this part of the world – learning the geography and culture. But even for someone who has only been here for a few short years, the stories and images of the spill are crushing. I hope that each of you that read this blog has had the opportunity to see or hear interviews with residents of South Louisiana over the last several weeks. If you have, you’ve undoubtedly seen or heard someone who has been beaten down by hurricanes, the economy, and now an oil spill. I recently heard James Carville speak, and he says he feels like Louisiana is under attack. I wouldn’t blame the men and women of the gulf coast for one moment for feeling that way. Yet for the most part, these men and women retain their unique sense of humor and joie de vivre, and have been their usual kind, courteous, welcoming selves to the onslaught of media.

If you’re wondering how you can help, allow me to make one simple suggestion: keep talking about it. One of my friends on Twitter lamented last week that #oilspill no longer shows up in the “Trending” section. Two things not to do: do not boycott BP, and do not support the ban on offshore drilling, as contradictory as that may sound. Boycotting BP, as I hope everyone has heard, only hurts the independent owners of BP gas stations – not the larger company. On a half-joking note, we also want to make sure BP remains solvent long enough to fix this mess. In terms of the offshore drilling ban, it may seem strange that we in Louisiana want the drilling to start again, given the mess at our doorstep. But one must understand that the oil industry provides thousands of jobs for Louisiana men and women, and the current ban only exacerbates the economic problems faced by the businesses, like the engine shop described above, who rely on those boats going out to do their jobs every day.

There are websites where you can volunteer to help with the cleanup if you wish. However, I have not been contacted yet to volunteer. Furthermore, I had lunch last week with a coastal studies professor from LSU, and he said on a visit to the beach a day earlier, there were 10 people cleaning up for every tar ball on the beach. Monetarily, you might consider donating to a wildlife organization. Last, you might buy one of these t-shirts. Each shirt nets $5 to Tri-State Bird Rescue, and they’re not bad looking. 

Finally, some of you may be wondering, since this is primarily a photoblog, whether I can get any pictures of the effects of the spill. From what I've heard, BP has made it fairly difficult to get anywhere near the affected areas. So I doubt I'm going to be able to take any pictures of oiled pelicans. However, I do have an appointment in Houma later this week. If I see anything oil spill-related, I'll try to take some photos.  

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Comings and Goings

Hello, dear reader. My travels have slowed down a bit over the past few weeks, but I've still been out taking a few photos. I'm not sure when I'll be able to do another cohesive post, so I thought I'd tide you over with some miscellaneous stuff I've seen over the last month or two.

First, here are a few pictures I took in and around my home parish of Ascension Parish about two months ago. These first few are from the town on Donaldsonville.

formerly bank of ascension

donaldsonville building

donaldsonville fdl

“Art Bank”
"art bank"

tractors welcome you to donaldsonville


These next couple were taken in Iberville Parish on the same day. They were right next door to each other, and look like replicas of famous River Road plantations. The first is clearly a replica of Oak Alley Plantation. I know the second one looks familiar but I can't place it. Perhaps one of my South Louisiana readers can help.

oak alley plantation doppelganger

everything new is old again

This is a little hidden gem tucked off River Road in Ascension Parish, seemingly abandonded.

hidden gem

abandoned quartet

These next few were seen along LA-3127, primarily in St. James Parish.


You can find out more about the picture below here.

roadside/bayouside memorial

I saw these sugarcane trailers near the road in St. Martin Parish.

waiting for sugarcane

A whimsical (South-Louisiana-related) photo taken in our pantry as I was working on macro shots. My wife asked why I was taking pictures in the pantry. There's really no good answer for something like that.


These next few were taken in Napoleonville, in St. John Parish. Napoleonville probably warrants a more detailed post somewhere down the line.

christ episcopal church sign

christ episcopal walkway

christ episcopal church bell

E.D. White Historical Site, located near Thibodaux. (More information here.)

ed white historic site

Neat building in Napoleonville.

cajun corner cafe


These next few were taken a couple weekends ago at my in-laws' camp at Flase River, in Point Coupee Parish. False River is an oxbow lake – formerly part of the Mississippi River that cut itself off. The first couple are of a charismatic duck that had laid her eggs in the yard right next to the bulkhead.

protective mother

stay back, mother at work

duck eggs

Practicing macro again...

fleur en jarreau

An abandoned pier on False River.

abandoned pier

Have I mentioned that LSU is a pretty big deal here? At some point I will get over to campus and do a post about it.

geaux chaise

Next couple are Ascension Parish again.

hot boiled crawfish

This one makes me sad. Alligator Bayou Tours was a jewel of Ascension Parish. You can read about the controversy that forced its closing here.

for sale

Manchac Road, which runs through the Spanish Lake basin.

manchac road

ford in bloom

Now in Iberville Parish.

bayou paul colored school waymark

bayou paul colored school

To wrap up our little excursion, here is a house I photographed last weekend near St. Gabriel.


abandonded in iberville

That's it for now, but I received my Father's Day present early (below, along with a tripod generously lent by my lovely mother-in-law), so keep your eyes peeled for better and better photography in the near future.

father's day arrives early