9/11 Freedom Photography – Part 4 of 5

by Jim on 2011/09/28

[They call Jimbaux white devil, black Jesus; heaven closes, hell freezes.]

This is Part 4 of 5 of Jimbaux’s 9/11 photography project, inspired by the assault on American civil liberties, including the New Orleans Police Department’s deprivation of Jimbaux’s constitutional rights in April 2008, by our fellow Americans in the wake of the September 2001 terror attacks.  Part 1 included shots of Amtrak’s northbound Crescent just after dawn in New Orleans and Slidell.  Part 2, which has generated an interesting discussion in the comments section, of which I may re-enter soon, focused primarily on another mode of transportation.  Part 3 showed Norfolk Southern Railway train 130 building itself at and near NS Oliver Yard in New Orleans, and we will resume our journey there now in Part 4.

Compare This Shot To The Last Shot Of Part 3

Last time, we left off with a northward view from the Almonaster Boulevard overpass of the empty pipe gondolas of the 314 moving northward as NS train 355 was crawling toward the junction in the other direction.  Here, we see something similar, but, this time, we see another block of another type of car found on the QLINSB (the Union Pacific Railway train that mostly becomes the 314) and the 314, chlorine tank cars.

Oh my god!  Not only does he know that those tank cars are chlorine tank cars, but he’s taking pictures of them!  Surely, he’s up to no good, right?

Anyway, here’s the end of the train, with two coil cars (designed to carry coil rolls of steel) at the end, probably also empty.

The above shot is a wider view designed to show you the other tracks in the foreground.  The below shot is a bit tighter.  You can compare them and tell me what you think.

Look closely in the above shot.  Look toward the end of the 355 under the I-10 bridge.  What do you see?  Yep, that’s the headlight of another train behind the 355!  When will I be able to get off of this overpass?

A Super-Local

The 355 is actually a super-local that NS is quick to abolish when traffic levels fall off.  It consists entirely of local traffic in the form of cuts to set out for the local trains, and it sets out most of its train in Hattiesburg.  Here he is almost entering Oliver Yard.

It wasn’t a really long train, as you can see.


Well, lo and behold, what’s this “train” behind the 355?

And, yes, you do indeed see a third southbound train off in the distance past NE Tower!  Will I get down from this overpass before it gets dark?

All we have here is one locomotive and the NS car 4, the office car “Michigan” of Conrail heritage.

Yeah, there’s yet a third southbound train coming, meaning it will be the fourth train I shoot from this bridge, and I’ve been up here for a long time and am burning in the unimpeded sunlight.

This really needs to end.  Oh, and while I’m up here, yes, some police cars do indeed pass by, but nobody seems to be bothered by my presence.  As another friend thought on his own, I suspect that after the April 2008 incident involving yours truly, there was some sort of internal meeting at the NOPD to ‘educate’ the officers about the existence of foamers.

The Southbound Intermodal Train

I really don’t know where this train originates (probably either Front Royal, Va., or Atlanta), but this is the 22Q, a testament to NS’s ridiculous way of naming trains.  Maybe I’ll finally be able to remember that the 22Q is the southbound and that the 22R is the northbound.  When I was in school, I learned my even numbers and odd numbers, but I never learned even letters and odd letters!

Anyway, here’s a really short intermodal/auto-rack train.

I can’t decide if I like the above shot or the below shot better, but I think I’ll go with the below shot, and I think I’ll call it my shot of the day for this entire outing.  You’ll probably disagree, but probably only because your favorite shot of the day is one that I had already done before today of whatever train it was, unlike this:

That’s a good way to end what seemed like nearly two hours standing in blazing sunlight all alone at the top of a bridge.  While I was up there, I got a text message from the Cajun Porkchop that said “say foam location.”

The Recrewed CSX Job at Alvar Street

Finally, we move away from the Norfolk Southern Railway, and we won’t even visit the NS again on this day.  That CSX job that is returning from CN Mays Yard finally got recrewed with a first trick crew, and is on his way to the place where I was hoping to shoot him two or three hours earlier when the light would have been way better than this:

Most of the traffic in this train originates at the various chemical plants and refineries along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Racial Profiling?  Racism?

It looks like Bison Bill has taken part in what has become a rather intense discussion – one that I may eventually rejoin – in the comments section of Part 2.  No, Agent Bell did not use the term “racial profiling,” but he said that the NOPD (white) guys were wondering what this white guy (Jimbaux) was doing on the bridge.  Ergo, I was racially profiled.  I don’t think the term itself needs to be used here for the practice to have taken place.  As I said a few weeks ago, I now have a new appreciation for the “driving while black” phenomenon, and I have newfound sympathy for the thousands upon thousands of black people who become the victims of it.

I’ve expressed plenty of indignation over the way I was treated in that incident, but I’ve never expressed any indignation about being racially profiled.  Those thugs-with-badges could have racially profiled me and still not told me that I could not take pictures and prevented me from taking more.

As I wrote two months ago, words like “liberal,” “conservative,” “terrorist,” and “racist” are convenient little labels that we (over)use to mask much more complex problems, and I avoid using those words as much as I possibly can.  Those words usually reveal plenty more about the person saying them than they do about the person upon whom they’re being applied anyway.  These words are used to shut down debates and discussions, for to label someone with any of these words is to bring a universe of judgments upon him to the point that he’s no longer credible in the eyes of some.  These words have become so loaded that they are, paradoxically, empty.  Does that make sense?

We’ve been given a ridiculous example of this in the last few days with this flap about the AP’s transcript of a recent speech from President Obama as being “racist.” This is an excellent example of the word’s meaninglessness.  Are you a racist?  Am I a racist?  Do either of us have pulses?  I think that the answer to the third question will give you the answer to the first and the second!  As I recently commented on Michele’s well-thought-out post on the matter, all of us are “racist,” but the problem is what we do about it.

Few People Even Know What “Racist” Means

Racism is not about skin color, and it’s not even about race.  It is, rather, about the culture, the values, and the behaviors that are – rightly or wrongly, fairly or unfairly – associated with the race.  To end racism would be to have every single human behavior that you could identify be equally likely among all races, and what a boring world that would be!

Calling someone or something “racist” is like multiplying it by 1.  It doesn’t change the value of it at all.  It does, however, allow you to factor some things out of it if you so feel it necessary.

How You Say Something Is No Less Important Than What You Say

I hope that you’ve noticed through my writings that I’m usually very careful about the words I use and how I structure my sentences, and how we say what we say is actually part of what we say.  If we say that “white people put Africans in chains and on slave ships” and that “black people robbed me and my neighbors,” those both might actually be true statements in the most literal form, but don’t you see how stating such things in such a way leaves us in never-ending cycle of blame, mistrust, and resentment?  More specifically, the people who put the Africans in chains and in slave ships hundreds of years ago were white, but if you say it like the above sentence says it, it leads one to think that white people who weren’t even born at the time are just as guilty of that crime against humanity.  Similarly, if you just say “black people robbed me and my neighbors,” now you’re saying that all black people — including the 99% who are harmless — are responsible.  I don’t think that you need me to tell you that that just ain’t right.

This leads us to a way of thinking about the whole affirmative action debate.  There’s absolutely no doubt about the fact that most minority groups, and even women, where disenfranchised and robbed largely en masse, but the solution to that isn’t to blame the majority group and everyone born into to it in the future, for that just perpetuates the resentment and mistrust that we need to get past, and it also suggests that everyone in that majority group is equally “lucky” in their chances.  I’ve surely watched as plenty of the white males with whom I went to school did some really stupid, and criminal stuff, and all got out of it because of who their fathers were (which made me think even less of them than I had before), something that would not have been afforded to this white male.  If that isn’t enough for you, though, how about this site that met my eyes as I left Alvar Street on the way to lunch?

I don’t think she’s any less white than the traders who put the Africans in the slave ships centuries ago, and she no more – and no less – deserves her fate than anyone else suffering it regardless of ethnic background.  I really wanted to help her, but this white boy is not privileged enough to have been able to help her in any way other than to expose her plight to the world.  That’s all that I could do.  (Please keep in mind that every picture presented here in the five parts of Jimbaux’s 9/11 day of photography is presented in the order in which it was taken.)

Karen Hunter, the author who claimed the AP transcript of Obama’s recent speech was “racist,” said that she teaches her journalism students to clean up people’s grammar in quotes so that they don’t look ignorant, but since I, like most people regardless of color, usually drop my g’s at the end of gerunds too, I’m wondering who the racist is here, since the President (who, I suspect, could not care less about this flap) speaks like I speak.  Hunter is saying that people who talk like that sound ignorant?  Again, I think if anyone is “racist” here, it’s Hunter.  Like Michele said at the end of her recent post, the most racist thing that one can do is falsely accuse someone of racism.  (Y’all check out Michele’s site, and make sure that you tell her that Jimbaux sent you!)

People can’t handle the truth, and our culture incentives people who don’t tell inconvenient truths.  Play the video here of the reaction to some of Ron Paul’s statements during a debate to see an excellent example.  It still amazes me that the vast majority of Americans have no clue why the 9/11 attacks happened.


After I left Alvar Street and passed the poor stranded woman, it was time for some lunch and some air conditioning.  I went to meet Saint Jude and his lady friend for a bite to eat on Freret Street, but I didn’t stay there long, because, as I told Agent Bell several hours earlier, my intention was to shoot the two inbound Amtrak trains at Broad Street this afternoon.

I was really tired.  Remember that I was functioning on an insufficient amount of sleep, and I was about to climb my fifth (and, thankfully, last) overpass of the day.

Back At Broad Street

I had returned to the scene of the crime, the crime committed against me by a pair of criminals in the New Orleans Police Department.  While waiting for the train to show up, I decided to shoot other things, especially stuff that illustrates that it’s common for human beings not in automobiles to be atop this bridge.

Plenty of people walk on that ledge behind where he bikes.

The City of New Orleans

In this case, we’re referring to the train, the daily passenger train between Chicago and New Orleans, seen here a few minutes from its arrival at New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal.

Yes, the lighting is quite terrible.  This shot looks plenty better closer to the winter solstice; perhaps I’ll have to try it again for you then, eh?  That’s I-10 and Xavier University at left.  Below is a closer view.

That’s about where we will finally end Part 4.  There’s only one more part left, thankfully, and we’ll see it soon enough.  As I’ve mentioned, I’m eager to get this 9/11 project done and slow things down at Jimbaux’s Journal; this 9/11 project has really sapped the life out of me lately, and I therefore hope you are enjoying it!

What is your favorite picture in this post and why?




1 Alex K. September 28, 2011 at 01:41

“These words have become so loaded that they are, paradoxically, empty. Does that make sense?”
Yes. Yes it does.
I recently had a conversation where I detailed how lazy pop music lyrics are. As an example, turn on the radio, listen for 10 songs, take a shot for every time you hear the word “baby”, “Yeah”, “sexy”, or any series of words that leads you to believe the singer is drunk or horny or a combination of the two plus a third option. After that, call an ambulance, you’ll have alcohol poisoning.
A lot of the news and media today is run by buzzwords. Phrases we can latch onto without paying full attention to what we’re hearing. Who wants to know that in a 3 day span, military troops managed to cleanly squash several surges of anti American sentiments voiced by the residents of the small village in which the troops were stationed, by shooting the village elders, who had ties to Al-qaeda in that they were forced to pay protection fees to them to be able to grow crops to sell to feed their families, when Fox news will tell you “Our boys in Iraq killed some alleged terrorists. Go America!”
That was a hypothetical situation, I know practically nothing of what happens in the middle east, or the upper or lower east for that matter, but it’s not a real stretch of the imagination.

As for racism, it exists as a concept, and by doing so perpetuates it’s own existence, mainly through thoughtlessness and careless wording. “A black man robbed me” rather than “I was robbed” and skin color merely being info written down to find a suspect. Even then, someone will look at local crime reports and notice a trend in crimes committed by specific nationalities, and then it won’t be racism so much as interpretation of facts.

2 Frank September 28, 2011 at 15:47

I think you’re a little too impressed with yourself… ‘freedom photography’. I’d tell you to give it a rest, but I think you’re a little too dellusional to heed my advice. So, carry on!

3 Daryl Brown September 28, 2011 at 16:05

Hi James. Nice work as usual. Iwas picking up a load at Reilly foods today on Jourdan Rd. There is a track that runs along side the road and noticed some stacks of rail with metal ties. Also saw some on the line itself. Can you input on these? When I got docked i saw a headlight and it was 2 New Orleans Public Belt gensets with 6 cars. Locomotives looked great. Wish I had a camera. Keep the good stuff coming….Daryl

4 PPA September 30, 2011 at 10:13

Were you messing with the colors again in image #10? I think we have a new color called Jimbaux’s CSX green (vs. CSX gold). Yet the color looks correct in image #11. Why did you change it?

5 EDITOR - Jimbaux September 30, 2011 at 10:40

PPA, you forget, again, that it looks no different to me. I don’t see the difference. I can’t see the difference. It’s a disability, remember?

6 Tom Beckett September 30, 2011 at 11:27

I too share your frustration with NS train symbols. When I was in Binghamton, we had, among others, 12T, northbound, runs Allentown PA to Buffalo; and 31T, also northbound, runs Enola PA to Montreal. These are symbolled, respectively, 932 and 931 on CP south of Binghamton. The opposite trains were 13T/933 and 930/30T. Confused yet?? I suspect the 12T/13T pair may have been considered east/west, where 30T/31T may have been north/south, which would account for the difference. Then there are the locals. We had H88, which was the Binghamton turn from Gang Mills(Corning), but also H1E, H1G, H2A, and a few others, many of which seemed to overlap duties. I occasionally thought NS picked the symbols out of a hat. And don’t start me on symbols for extra sections!!

For what it’s worth, CP, like the D&H before them, could also get confusing. They are set up as a north/south railroad, but some trains overall route is east/west, such as NS 205/206, whose end points are Chicago and Albany NY, so it gets and east/west symbol. Conversely, trains 252/253 run Binghamton-Montreal, north/south, so get 252 south and 253 north, which also goes against the grain, so to speak.

What a mess!!!

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