Friday, October 07, 2005

Storyville


Iberville Housing Projects from Basin Street, New Orleans

This was where Storyville stood. Where Louis Armstrong was born, and sang the Basin Street Blues. Where jazz was dreamed up. Where EJ Bellocq photographed the prostitutes. It was the underbelly, the joy, the passion, the fear, the anger, the sex, the death. The wild sweaty life. They tore it down and built a big prison, what you see here. The Iberville Housing Projects. Now empty and quiet, its residents storm-tossed first to the Superdome, then the Astrodome, who knows where now. Next door is St. Louis Cemetery #1, where Marie Laveau sleeps. All's quiet and dead on Basin Street tonight, and it's lonely.

24 comments:

zebulon said...

What about the cemeteries, by the way? I mean, they obviously pose some problems in terms of hygiene, since I highly doubt they resisted well.

Larcenette said...

Just to say that I'm absolutely found of your pictures...

And I really support your family and the whole victims of Katrina...

mistress lilith said...

such emotion pours into my heart as i read your blog...its so real and so touching....keep it up. My condolonces to the victims of Hurricane Katrina...its peopel like you who give awareness and make the rest of the world stand up and take notice.
God bless you and your family and all those hurt by Hurricane Katrina....may the Lord keep you safe.

you may not want to read my blog...but i warn you the content may not be pleasent for your liking, but do drop by and leave a comment if you so wish...

Click here to see hurricane aftermath pictures said...

You are so gifted as a photographer.

Good work!

Victoria said...

This was such a beautiful blog, that I had to let you know how touching it is. I was very moved by your pictures, and I especially like the ones of the cats. I think it is horrible how ineffective FEMA has been. If you get a chance please read the links in my post, which are articles about my Uncle's rejected attempts to help. It is disgusting. It doesnt say in the articles, but he went anyway and handed things out to people directly.

http://missvictoriasjournal.blogspot.com/2005/10/uncle-butch.html

charleyh said...

zebulon,
As I came home last Sat and passed by the Lake Lawn cemetaries in Metarie, all veiwable tombs appeared in place. Although I did go down St.Charles Ave, I didn't pass by any other cemetaries. Have not heard of any problems with this in the local news. (Except for in some of the small towns south of us after Rita passed.)

SparklingSecret said...

This Journal is simply breath taking! it brings a tear to my eye!

Melanie Teegarden said...

I've been reading this for a few weeks, and I figured if I'm going to be around that long, I should say something. So, here it is: you just can't imagine how much your story resonates with me. I was born at Charity hospital, lived all around the area that has been destroyed...various addresses stick in my mind, things my mom made me memorize every time we moved. 5131 Oak Drive, Marrero. 804 Hickory Street, Gretna. Somewhere on Surfwood Road, New Orleans. The apartments off of Carol Sue Avenue. The place with the crayon picket fence in Thibodaux. Many, many more. My mom was fifteen and living homeless in the French Quarter when I was born in 73. I still remember throwing rice to the pigeons in Jackson Square, sitting on the levee with mom and her friends while they smoked joints and drank stinky things out of paper bags. I remember her dirty, bare, calloused feet beneath her shredded bellbottoms. She never wore shoes back then, because her pants were so long that nobody could tell the difference.

Anyway, that's getting rambly. The places, the memories, and the people really hit home with me. Your mom, even. God, the pictures even remind me of my own mom, somewhat. And the life she lived, definitely. We moved to Virginia years ago, and I brought my mother up from the shelter she was living in and installed her in a little trailer up the road from my house. We filled it with furniture and she watched her granddaughters during the day, and I made sure the bills were paid. She died a hard death a year later, but I always kind of knew that was coming. Nothing about her life had ever been easy, she'd never caught a damned break anywhere it seemed. She was 43. Your pictures of your mom were some of the first tears I was able to shed about all of this. About my mom, about the loss of my childhood home. I had been so numb with shock, so deep in survival mode that the tears hadn't come yet. But the pictures and the words here...we could have been neighbors, you know? You could have been one of the pack of kids that I roamed the poor, rough streets with as a kid. The experiences are so close. It takes my breath away.

I hope your mom will be okay. She's been kicked by life an awful lot, and I can tell she's trying still. She has that look of hope in her eyes even now. Even with the bloody nose, and the tears. You can't imagine how much I want your mom to be okay. I couldn't fix life for my mom, but dear god-or-whatever, please I want your mom to be okay. Better than okay. Bread and roses, you know?

Shutting up now. Thank you.

~Melanie

véronique vilhet said...

Nos pensées vont vers vous tous, sans relâche.
merci pour votre témoignage.
Il nous donne à comprendre combien nous faisons tous parti du même peuple, de la même famille.

:: Kami :: said...

what a great blog please let us know more...
keep up the good work.

starbender said...

So Sad. My heart goes out to all of you.

Wrufian said...

I was randomly going through some blogs when I came upon this one and it shook me up. While I usually wear my heart on my sleeve, I was reading with tears running down my face. The photos, the stories, the commentary.



Hey Seige...I am glad your family made it out alive. My condolences to all your friends, neighbours and fellow countrymen that did not.

Much respect
A Canadian Friend

eddmun said...

This blog is a great work of art. It tracks the destruction, but also perhaps the creation that will come of Katrina later on.

Please, keep up the good work.

// eddmun

Kate Lilac said...

Even though the topic is so sad, it is wonderful to see such an incredible talent as yours. Your photographs and your writing are beautiful.

cron said...

and i thought i had problems. u humble me in the most heart-rending way. millions of miles away, a different faith yet going thru your blog, i could somewhat smell the air that surrounds and the hardship that stares at you in the face. I hope your family is alright. i hope you are alright. your blog is more than an eye opener. it's a learning experience. take care.

djshawn said...

I really like your thoughts.... and this is my second time visiting your site. I think I like! I am gonna put you on my favorites and visit often. I may want to put a link on my blog to yours..... come see me and tell me what you think.....


"Life as I know it"

Heather said...

Awesome pictures. Awesome writing and commentary. One of the most moving blogs I have ever read.

My heart truly goes out to your family, friends, and neighbors, and all the victims of Hurricane Katrina and Rita.

May God take care of you, and bless you.

curious servant said...

I am so touched by your blog. Thank you for sharing all these details.

I am a believer, and I know that life can be hard.

Praying for you.

uglybugga said...

This is what I would call true photo journalism. I have lost everything not so long ago and know life can be rebuilt, not the same but new and different.

Oracle347 said...

butternyk,
You're kidding right? Seriously...That's just offensive...

clayton cubitt said...

Oracle347, agreed.

butternyk's comment has been deleted, as will all future spammers, trolls, carpetbaggers, and cockroaches.

The rest of you rule.

Pops said...

Amazing stuff-
absolutely riveting
pops

Snaggle Tooth said...

Congrats Clayton,

you've made the big time on the most viewed blogs this week! 2nd to top-
I was referred over to read last week, read right through to the beginning.
Hope all the reads can help ya n t'other folks out there without home to get back on track with OK again.
Alot of contributors have been made aware their funds weren't directed properly to help.
Keep up the good work!

ixxidust said...

I just spent two weeks working on Basin Street trying to help every last person who found their way through the gates of the Municipal Auditorium. The most I could do was take down their name and pre-Katrina address, if they had something to verify it, if it hadn't been lost in the storm waters. And then I'd tell them their Red Cross check would be mailed to whatever address they had now, even though many had no address, many were living in their cars or under bridges all around New Orleans.

I can tell you right now that the anger and fear and death still lives on Basin Street. People would come to us, haunted, having just seen what was left of their house and neighborhood in the Lower Ninth. Prisoners were released near where we worked and drifted in, dumped on the streets still in their prison garb, with no money and no place to go. Families who hadn't eaten in days came after a long drive from Georgia or Texas or someplace and begged us to tell them of any place they could stay. Men just off the train or the bus, from Michigan or from outrunning Hurricane Wilma in Florida, dragging all their belongings asked us where they could sleep for the night. No one can live on the streets; there is a curfew. And there is no place else for them to live in New Orleans, except for their mutilated moldy homes. That is, if those houses aren't in the Lower Ninth where no one is allowed to stay or in many cases, even see. From what I heard numerous times, Red Cross was not allowed to set up shelters and FEMA was not allowed to bring in trailers in the City of New Orleans. People were invited back to their city and then had no place to go.

So we sat for two weeks taking applications for a measly $360 per person to be sent to a place once known as home which no longer exists. And even if it did, the post office is barely starting to deliver the past two month's mail.

And yet the people of New Orleans would tell us over and over how grateful they were that we were there. They were grateful that someone was their to listen to their story and care about them. Their stories were horrific, nights on roofs, abandoned in jails, chaos and terror at the Superdome, but we tried to listen. For two weeks we tried to let people know that we cared what had happened and was happening to them, even if there was little we could do except take their name and address and tell them a check will arrive someday. It wasn't enough but it was all we could do. God bless them all.

And thank you for such a lovely site. It captures all the pain and glory of a devastated land and the people who call it home. My prayers to you and your family as they rebuild their lives.

ixxidust