January 2011 Sampler

by Jim on 2021/01/01

Welcome to the January 2011 Sampler essay. The are a couple of notable thing about this sampler essay.

The first is that it is the first sampler essay that includes pictures taken during the lifetime of Jimbaux’s Journal, which was launched in January 2011. So, some of these images have been published before, but, with the possible exception of some time in the spring, there is no month in 2011 for which all of my presentable images have already been published, and, as I am doing these monthly 2011 sampler essays in 2021, I don’t now have time to do all of the images from that year anyway.

It’s also perhaps the largest sampler essay that I have done. I don’t care to dig back and check, but I don’t think that I have done one that has as many as the 18 images that are in this essay, and please note that, due the the method behind these sampler essays, that number is a function of the number of days on which I took a presentable photograph, regardless of the overall quantity of presentable photographs that I took on one of those days or in the month in question.

I think that, on some level, this sampler-essay practice is a silly concept, but it has merits, and I will continue to do it for this year, as it provides a good cursory glimpse into that time and of that time of my life. In the case of January 2011, the month was a strange, difficult, exciting, hopeful, and somewhat transitory time in my life.

Sunday, The 2nd

I have no memory of what I did on New Year’s Day 2011, but, the next day, The Duke and I went Port Hudson National Cemetery, visited nearby Saint Francisville, observed the construction on the John James Audubon Bridge, and then used the Mississippi River ferry that the bridge would soon make obsolete.

That was interesting, and that is an interesting area.

Monday, The 3rd

The next day, what appears to be Union Pacific Railroad train MNSEW is crossing Bayou Lafourche and Louisiana Highway 1 at Lafourche Crossing.

This is a special place for me, and, as I look back on this image, one thing that comes to mind is how terrible people can be.

Tuesday, The 4th

The Kansas City Southern Railway’s business train was coming into town for an all-important college football game.

This is the exact spot at which, a little bit less than three years earlier, I got harassed and prevented by New Orleans Police Department officers from taking additional photographs of this exact same train. When I got this shot on this day, I felt like I had won a court case, or something.

Thursday, The 6th

I was again trying to be a normal person, and Saint Jude recommended that I photograph the Phorty Phunny Phellows.

You can look up what that is, because I don’t really care anymore.

Saturday, The 8th

This train on the mainline in Paradís may have been stopped.

The last picture that I would take that year was made at this same location and looking in this same direction.

Wednesday, The 12th

Home is important.

I just don’t feel like saying more about this now.

Thursday, The 13th

This is Third Street in Gretna, where the mainline of the Texas & Pacific Railway ran down the middle of the street.

Prior to World War II, all of that railroad’s interchange traffic with eastern railroads moved through here.

Friday, The 14th

The westbound Amtrak Sunset Limited moves through the swampy village of Chacahoula, a view that I have done many times.

That picture was in the very first post here on Jimbaux’s Journal.

Monday, The 17th

This was the Martin Luther King Day parade in New Orleans.

This was the last big people thing that I did before leaving Louisiana for six months, and it was actually somehow an appropriate way of ending my time here.

Tuesday, The 18th

I am at the sacred place, and here is an old car still with very legible “BURLINGTON NORTHERN” logoing and lettering.

I liked the Burlington Northern.

Wednesday, The 19th

This was my last day in Louisiana, and I am back at the sacred place.

That is the Louisiana & Delta Railroad’s Schriever Job, preparing to shove those cars into the east storage track.

Thursday, The 20th

Here is Mobile, Alabama.

I had left Louisiana on an adventure that was at once ridiculous and enriching.

Friday, The 21st

I think that I spent two nights in Savannah, Georgia.

I thank Bison Bill and his really nice wife.

Wednesday, The 26th

I am in Maryland, and snow is falling.

This Cajun boy was really excited!

Thursday, The 27th

Here is Largo, Maryland.

All I will say is that a recurring dream that I have, in addition to the usual dreams of being able to fly and being naked somewhere, is that of being in school and falling behind on classes and failing to show up to classes.

Friday, The 28th

Here is a southward view toward Braddock Road in Alexandria, Virginia.

The Braddock Road Metro station is just to the right.

Saturday, The 29th

I had gotten alerted via Facebook to a demonstration at the Egyptian embassy, protesting the Mubarak regime and the USA’s support for it, and I went there to interview people and photograph it. This is why I wanted to be in Washington!

I genuinely felt hope and excitement for my life, that this is why I came here, but all of that would vanish in a few months; there was snow on the ground, and, as my father says, the snow has a way of hiding the city’s sins. It’s really far deeper than that, though; I think that blaming the sins on “the city” is not the right approach, that the snow hides your own problems.

Sunday, The 30th

Finally, more somberly, the next day, I went to The Wall and nearby attractions.

There was both a broader and a very personal context to what I was doing. The archetypal urban-rural divide, in terms of values and so much more, was very much at play here. I think that you know that I have a mix of those values, but, six months later, I grew tired of the big, cool capitol city and wanted to go home; six months later, even New Orleans, which is a big city compared to the place of my origin, both started to seem smaller and started to seem too big for comfort anymore.

I want the “heartland” to be better. I want it to have the values that I idealize, that of civic republican virtue, but, a decade later, I will never purge from my brain the indelible impression that white rural America’s support for the horrific Trumpism has left there.

I want you to be better, America. I love you. I criticize you out of love, because I want you to be better. I want to love and be proud of you and be proud to call you home, to call you mine and to have you call me yours.

That’s all.


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