[Jimbaux understands that you don't understand.]
We’ve got a few pictures for you from the Friday afternoon drive from Bayouland to Woadieville of June 8, including a couple of similar shots of The Chip Local in the rain, but let’s get a few things out of the way first after some back-channel communication that’s gotten back to me since recent discussions, hence the choice of today’s song.
Open Up Your Eyes
I mentioned recently about mass-e-mail-forwards, particularly those of a political nature and those trying to trash public figures, and probably just about all of you find those things arriving in your inbox at some point. If a message has already been forwarded at least three times before it arrives in your inbox (which is evident based on the forwarding history, particularly of the e-mail in question) and then YOU forward it out in a mass e-mail to all of your contacts, especially when your e-mail signature includes various contact information, not only are you essentially giving the ‘joke’ or the political or ideological message that you are sending something of a seal of approval, but there’s something of an expectation that at least some of the recipients might forward it out to the far reaches of cyberspace, all while your name and contact information is still on it. So, it then becomes about as public as a comment that you make under your own name on a an internet article, such as Jimbaux’s Journal. It’s not like a private message that you’d send out to one or to a few of your contacts.
As for Jimbaux, he does send brief e-mails with links to the latest blog posts to a few friends and acquaintances, and even though they are original content instead of forwards that arrived in his inbox that he’s just forwarding, there’s still no real expectation of privacy (that’s why almost all of the content is inside these posts anyway) unlike a personal message but very much like the mass e-mail forwards full of political and ideological stuff, some of it incredibly stupid. (Calling some of it “political and ideological” is actually far too much of a compliment.) So, if you mention in a comment on Jimbaux’s Journal — which is public — about me sending a mass e-mail, then you shouldn’t have a problem with me doing the same thing by mentioning stupid mass-e-mail-forwards that I really don’t want in my inbox (but which allow me to learn plenty about you) when I reply to your comment, especially when your comment might be full of unwarranted assumptions and misstatement of facts (i.e., lies) about me.
On that note, I do get plenty of private feedback from readers – most whom I have never met and will never meet – in the form of e-mails (since that’s the only way for people who know of me of no other means than the internet to contact me, since I don’t publicize a telephone number or a physical mailing address.) If someone gives me private feedback, then the only appropriate way for me to respond is privately as well. The only ‘exception’ – if we can even call it that – to that rule is that I sometimes quote private feedback in posts without saying who said it, as you’ve seen recently here; that allows the expressed sentiment to be publicized while allowing the identity of the person who expressed it to remain a secret. When their comments don’t involve any sensitive personal information about them, I occasionally tell people who comment to me privately that I’d love it if they’d post it as a comment on the site; some do, some don’t, and it’s their choice, of course.
Why Can’t You Realize?
(You’re not listening to today’s song?) Also, feedback that I’m getting seems to indicate that some people think that I’m on a “campaign” against police, or something like that. This is silly and patently untrue, but my guess (and, yes, it’s only a guess, since, otherwise, it would be an assumption) is that that sentiment is a shallow and narrow-minded idea that because I preach that any incident could go the route of the 2008 NOPD incident and others like it and that anyone who takes pictures (i.e., you who read this site) should always be prepared for that and know what to say and be willing to stand up for yourself, that I somehow think any incident probably will go that way and, therefore, that all police are bad. Come on, people! I mentioned how a dog unthinkingly barks at every person who passes in front of the house, but some of you are essentially doing that by accusing me of doing that.
Police exist because we need them. We need their protection. In order for them to be able to protect us, a certain amount of power must be put into their hands, power that’s greater – or at least different – than the rest of us have. That alone is not the problem.
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” – Abraham Lincoln
The problems come – and, yes, as Donovan, a few other readers, and I can tell you, they do come – when the power entrusted in law enforcement is abused, whether it be due to fear, ignorance, or some other factor that is not as easily identified. This abuse and overreach is tolerated and overlooked when people, due to their own fears, allow themselves to be influenced by the dangerous mindset of “if the police stop to check you out and make things difficult for you, then you’re surely doing something wrong” which leads to the “if you’re not doing anything wrong, you don’t have to worry about the police” mentality.
Always be mindful that such an encounter, as I wrote above, could lead to abuse, but don’t automatically expect that it will, especially when an officer might merely be responding to a complaint, which he is required to do. The police, as public officials, have largely thankless and potentially dangerous (yes, that’s redundant) jobs, and their jobs are made more difficult by grandstanding legislators who put feathers in their own caps for points back home, all while making law enforcement more complicated. We often accuse some police officers of being ignorant of the law, and often very rightly so, but legislators, as I said, often like to do things that make the law – and the ability to understand all of it – more complicated. That’s plenty of stuff for one person to remember, especially when he or she is expected to make many split-second decisions in potentially deadly situations.
So, please don’t confuse a campaign to get people to not assume so much and to get individual information gatherers to be able to stand up for themselves and know what to do in such situations for being a campaign against the police. That’s silly.
Let’s get to some pictures.
Yes, kiddies. Back in May, I reported that the pictures that I took on May 2 of Chip would be the last I ever got of him because he had apparently retired a little earlier than I had expected. I didn’t see him for three weeks on the train, he had told me that he wanted to retire this summer, and I had since heard some radio chatter among other crews that made me think that he would not be returning; so, basically, I . . . <ouch> . . . assumed . . . <gasp> that he had retired. Dammit! Yes, yes, I assumed. I mean, really, who am I to follow my own advice? Well, at least nobody got hurt or harassed by my assumptions, and, furthermore, I only said back then that it “seemed” that he had retired, meaning that I wasn’t totally certain.
Anyway, I heard Chip’s voice over the radio as he was coming eastbound into Schriever, and I scrambled to get into position for a shot.
Who Climbs On Top Of His Truck In The Rain To Photograph A Train?
Why, Jimbaux, that’s who! I mean, I’m here, so is the train, and six additional feet of elevation would greatly improve the shot; so, why not do it? It’s something of a physical test, and I passed by climbing both up and down from the truck without slipping and falling to get this shot.
How’s that? I don’t take very many rain pictures, but there’s something I don’t like about what I can only describe as the “flattening” of the raindrops in this picture. Can anyone offer any information about this? Here’s another picture taken a second (or less) later that gives you a bit of a better idea of where we are.
How’s that? It was so good to hear Chip’s voice on the radio again.
Good Bayou, Better Bayou
Let’s keep going east. When I was a kid (a statement that I don’t like, for some reason), Bayou Terrebonne was less of a ditch than it is now, now that bridges over much of its northern portion have been replaced by fills.
That’s not terrible, but it’s not as good as Bayou Lafourche, which I photographed 17 minutes later here.
Ah, for the days when we would go swimming there among the turtles and fish!
Geometry Is Logic
I’m beginning to realize that my cause of standing up for the rights of photography is part of a greater cause of getting people to not assume so damned much. Even in a picture that I posted on the Facebook fan page yesterday, there have been a couple of commenters challenging the facts that I posted based on their own unwarranted assumptions. Also, as for the e-mail forwards we’ve been discussing, heck, maybe Michelle Obama actually is a whore, but you don’t know that and have no way of knowing that; so, please stop thinking that it’s okay to forward to all of your contacts stupid crap to that effect. The same is true with the idea of Trayvon Martin being a “thug wannabe” as a commenter in a recent Grumpy posting said and with the idea of George Zimmerman being a “scumbag” as someone commented to me by telling me to “stop pretending Zimmerman is not a scumbag,” as if I’m somehow in a position to know if he is or if he is not a scumbag. I think that it was Albert Einstein who said that only fools think they know anything, or something like that.
How that relates to both the above subheadline and the below image is that I have recalled over the years some people, often in a criticizing manner because they think I might be too close to the track, presuming to know where I am standing in relation to the track by what they see in the image. Actually, you can come close to knowing this, but it’s obvious that some people don’t understand optics; once when I showed a picture that showed a track in the foreground in which you could only see the top of the rail that was the farther away from the camera of the two rails, someone opined that I was too close to the track. I guess he doesn’t understand that if I’d actually be close to the track at all that he would be able to see plenty of ballast between those two rails, or at least be able to see the bottom of the inner rail. That’s like looking at a solar eclipse and thinking that it must be unusually hot and bright on the other side of the moon compared to all other times; the moon is, of course, always much closer to us than it is to the sun.
Anyway, those who might be quick to judge and who also don’t know enough about optics to realize that they don’t know enough about optics (no, that was neither repetitious nor a mistake) and the trajectory of this road might be quick to think or to go so far as to tell me that I’m about to get splattered by the truck in this image in Paradís.
As Obi-Wan told Luke, “Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them.” Remember, this photograph is the truth, but, like any photograph, and like any truth, it’s not – and never is and never can be – the whole truth.
In terms of getting the shot at this location, in a more literal sense, it’s essentially impossible to ensure that there is no automobile eclipsing the train at this location; so, one must take what he can get, get back in his truck, and continue to head back to the city.
I Forgot That I Wasn’t Supposed To Roll Down The Window
I had had a problem earlier that week with my driver’s door window not going back up after it would go down. It did it once while I was driving, but then it worked normal for awhile. I took it to my mechanic in bayouland, and it worked fine for him. He said that he couldn’t do anything with it until it didn’t work, and he told me to take it back to him at that point. It was supposed to be very rainy that weekend, and I made a mental note to not roll down the window, a note that got overlooked when I got to the Huey P. Long Bridge and noticed a unit pipe train descending it. A really long red light right here allowed for the ease of getting this shot:
Damn, what is it about Dodge trucks in my pictures today? Anyway, it’s time to roll up the window, but this time, it doesn’t work (finally), and I remembered that I wasn’t supposed to roll it down in the first place. It’s supposed to be rainy all weekend (as you’ll see in the upcoming Sunday Sermon), and there’s probably no place that will work on this over the weekend. What in the heck do I do now?
Deacon Nitro To The Rescue
Having friends who know more than I do about mechanical stuff (which isn’t much) is a really good thing, isn’t it? I guess Nitro was so uplifted by his participation in the Sunday Sermon five days before (and the possibility of participating in them again in the future) that he had no problem helping his brother-of-the-faith Jimbaux free of charge.
Well, isn’t that neat? A trip to O’Reilly Auto Parts and a trip to Nitro’s place the next morning to install it made it all good, my homies.
It was indeed rainy over the weekend, and I ended up playing music and drinking beer with my pal Moon the next night. What would Sunday bring? Stay tuned to know.
A Little Bit More On Discussing Politicians
I though about doing it, but I really don’t feel like posting the stupid ‘joke’ about Michelle Obama knowing “what the inside of a whorehouse smells like,” and it’s one of the few such things that remained in my inbox from that sender because it was one of the few that I hadn’t deleted either shortly after opening or even without opening it. With the interested and inquiring reader, though, will be shared the details.
I’ll tell you a little story of some things that happened in 2008, not coincidentally, the last Presidential election year.
In May 2008, I met someone whom we’ll call “Rep-Girl” for reasons that should soon become obvious. We went on a date and went to the New Orleans Museum of Art, then went get coffee at the PJ’s at the American Can Company, then went to visit the Bayou Boogaloo, and then ended up somewhere else I can’t remember later that night. That was quite a busy first date, and I decided afterward that I wanted some more; based on how the date went, I didn’t think that there would be much disagreement with that sentiment. I got an e-mail from her a couple of days later, and she described how much fun she had and how random it all was, but that there were some things happening (and she mentioned a few) in her life that made her not want to continue (or, start, really) dating me. Oh, well.
Sometime in the fall, I head from her again. The problems in her life had apparently settled down, and she wanted to go out again. We did for a little while, and she even invited herself up to Rich Mountain with me that fall. You’ve seen my fall 2006 pictures from there, but I ended up not going up there that year (with or without her) due to lack of money.
Well, all of this was during the time of the Presidential election, and she was all upset about Obama winning and with people talking negatively of George W. Bush’s actions. I think that it was election night or maybe the night after when we were sitting at Nacho Mama’s or some such place on Magazine Street, and she shows me a text message that she had just received from a friend: it said that we should not be too mad about Obama being elected because “we all know a nigger can’t keep a job for four years.”
Much like with the ‘joke’ about Michelle Obama being a whore, I actually really don’t find stuff like that to be offensive; I just, rather, think that it’s incredibly stupid and quite revealing about the person who tells it. You can see why it was not very long after that that I called this whole thing off. She was quite good-looking – okay, actually, she was hot – and had already visited my workplace twice, causing some misplaced ‘admiration’ (for lack of a better term) from some of my male coworkers, but no matter how good-looking a woman is, if you’re afraid of what’s going to come out of her mouth even when you’re alone with her, it just isn’t worth it.
Have You Made Your Daily Allotment Of Unwarranted Assumptions Yet?
There are probably several of you reading this story of Rep-Girl who have made a decision based on the above six paragraphs about a particular way that you think that Jimbaux votes in the voting booth, but the truly educated among you will realize that I said practically nothing about politics or ideology in that story and that you therefore still don’t have enough information and therefore still aren’t in a position to judge how I vote or which one of your oh-so-convenient labels to place on me.
Well, remember from our story that there were nearly four months between the May date with Rep-Girl and the time that we started seeing each other again. During that time, there was someone else in my life whom we’ll call, yes, “Dem-Girl.” Do you see where this story is going?
I liked Dem-Girl plenty for several reasons, and we had similar senses of humor, which is important. I was a bit put-off, though, about her idolatry of Barack Obama. It wasn’t so much that she seemed to agree with all of his policies that bothered me; it was the fact that she allowed herself (yes, it’s always a choice, even if most people don’t realize it) to be swept up into the euphoria of essentially worshiping the man himself. Even to this day, I often tell people that I don’t have so much of a problem with Obama himself (even though I do disagree with some of his policies and decisions) as I do with the drunk-on-another-human-being zealous followers who become indignant about anything short of thinking that Obama is indeed the messiah, the kind of people who interpret disagreement – or even apathy or uncertainty – about Obama as either disrespect, ignorance, or both.
On the night of Obama’s big speech at the Democratic National Convention that summer, I got a text message from Dem-Girl right after the speech saying, “Who wouldn’t vote for him?” That said plenty about her, even if I might have indeed voted for him (something I’m not revealing here, and you really don’t need to know it anyway.)
Let’s see, who wouldn’t vote for Obama? Maybe someone who realizes and is disappointed that our disgusting celebrity culture has overtaken even the noble office of the President Of The United States? Maybe someone who realizes that for whom to vote for President is often a calculated decision based partly on things beyond the candidate, like who the other candidate is and who is in control of either house of Congress at the time? Maybe someone who is more sober in his interpretations of what is happening? Maybe someone who realizes that the sun will rise the next day no matter what? and that who is President therefore doesn’t have such a huge impact on his life? and who therefore realizes that political discourse is largely a game people play, despite the fact that their ignorance and their focus on superficiality has consequences for all of us?
So, anyway, by the time Rep-Girl returned to my life in the early fall of 2008, Dem-Girl was still in the process of exiting. After awhile, it doesn’t matter how much our jokes made each other laugh or how good she was in the sack; stupid idolatry like that I just find to be repulsive. Coincidentally, November 2008 happened to be the 30th anniversary of the mass suicide at Jonestown, and all of the media coverage on that made me realize that it was the natural end-progression of that kind of idolatry.
Sheep Of Different Flocks Are Still Sheep
Superficially, it would seem to some, Rep-Girl and Dem-Girl were very much different. However, in retrospect, they were actually very much alike! The essentially suffered from the same sickness. They played the same hopeless zero-sum game, just on different teams. Does that make sense? They, like plenty of people, like some of the people who have confronted and harassed photographers, and even like some of the readers on this site, just find it easier to assume, just lump things together, just simplify this overly-complex world into easily digestible labels.
The joke that a former reader and former friend (who has posted several comments here full of unwarranted assumptions and misstatement of facts, even as the stories are just above his comments) about the First Lady being a whore was a comparison between the current and former first ladies. I’d have found it just as stupid had it been the other way around, implying that Laura Bush “knows what the inside of a whorehouse smells like.” (The joke strongly implied that Michelle Obama did know by stating that Laura Bush did not know.)
As with the stories posted on this site, in politics, it’s just easier for some people to assume, to label, and therefore to hurl insults and names instead of actually discussing facts, particularly facts that actually matter. That is why, as much as I can (and it isn’t always possible), I stay away from words like “liberal” and “conservative” and “terrorist” and “racist” and such; those terms are so loaded that they become empty. Despite that, though, facts are apparently unimportant to some people, including some who visit this site.
“Who Are You With?”
I guess by now you’ve read the story of Donovan’s recent police encounter in Welsh, Louisiana, in which he was asked the “who are you with?” question. I’ve mentioned at length in recent postings of why this is an inappropriate, disrespectful, and condescending question to ask someone, but there’s a fairly simple explanation that I have not yet made until now.
When “who are you with?” is the first question that an inquisitor asks you, he has apparently already decided certain things about you, things that he is not yet in a position to know. That’s not fair to you, and it’s often a sign that the encounter will not end well, since it’s a sign that the inquisitor is assuming and judgmental. I have heard of some photographers who are miffed by getting asked “what are you doing?” by a police officer, as if it’s supposed to be obvious, but that’s actually the most fair question a police officer can ask you at the beginning of his questioning. A friend told me on the telephone that in all of his police encounters, any time that it starts with “what are you doing?” it always ends well!
“Just The Facts, Ma’am.”
When an officer asks you what you’re doing, he’s basically saying, even though it might be easier to do like a normal person and just assume, that he doesn’t really yet know what’s happening, and that even if he thinks that he knows, he wants you to tell him. He’s giving you a chance. It’s the most fair thing that an officer can do. Do you remember what Sgt. Joe Friday said? Just the facts, ma’am.
Those, my friends, are the facts. Well, they’re my interpretations too, which I know enough to know that they are not all facts. What are your interpretations?