Paul Rappoport PHOTOGRAPHY: Blog https://www.prappphotos.com/blog en-us (C) Paul Rappoport PHOTOGRAPHY (Paul Rappoport PHOTOGRAPHY) Thu, 06 Jan 2022 22:13:00 GMT Thu, 06 Jan 2022 22:13:00 GMT https://www.prappphotos.com/img/s/v-12/u271244789-o888735298-50.jpg Paul Rappoport PHOTOGRAPHY: Blog https://www.prappphotos.com/blog 82 120 A 2022 NEW YEAR'S CELEBRATION https://www.prappphotos.com/blog/2022/1/a-2022-new-years-celebration
PAUL RAPPOPORT PHOTOGRAPHY
 
 
2021 has been a tough year. 
 
Not much different from 2020 unfortunately, except for a few bizarre twists and turns. 
 
Just in part, consider the virus, the variants, the politics- foreign and domestic- global alienation and estrangement, isolation from loved ones, the loss of control over our lives and our destiny. 
 
Who among us has not felt waves of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness? 
 
I know I have.
 
It has not been good.
 
How many times these past two years have we felt like we were just going to lose our minds? 
(May Be) Communicating Intensity(May Be) Communicating Intensity
 
Sure, at one time or another, we’ve all felt a little nuts.
 
But the clock ticks forward, as it must— as must too, our gaze. 
 
Mired in the caverns of despair serves no one well. 
 
This is no time to lose our heads.
 
 
 
Air-Head MusiciansAir-Head Musicians
 
 
 
True, sometimes we feel all alone,
 
Like no one knows we’re even here, 
 
Or how we’re feeling inside. 
 
We may even want to retreat from the world at large.
 
But isolation makes us feel worse. 
 
Like an observer, estranged, alien, and unable to engage with others.
 
 
 
 
BalconesBalcones
 
 
 
 
But, we know from scientific research as well as anecdotal evidence, 
 
that stress reduction can heal and rejuvenate.
 
In fact letting our hair down once in a while, "letting it all hang out”, 
 
Even if it makes us look a little crazy, 
 
May be just what the doctor ordered.
 
 
 
Reveling at CarnivaleReveling at Carnivale
 
 
 
 
Sure, sometimes we feel lost, 
 
not knowing in what direction to turn.
 
We get confused and can’t find our way home.
 
 
Picasso IntersectionPicasso Intersection
 
 
 
We beg the powers that be to give us some love,
 
Some insight:
 
Provide answers to our plight and suffering.
 
 
 
PetitionerPetitioner
 
 
 
Still others become passive, detached, 
 
Sitting out the game, lost in the crowd,
 
Feeling Zombie-like.
 
Audience at PompidouAudience at Pompidou
 
 
 
 
At its extreme,
 
We sometimes lose our sense of self.
 
We may feel less human: even stone-like,
 
Or not knowing who or what we are anymore.
 
 
 
Trans-Formation Liberation #2Trans-Formation Liberation #2
 
 
 
But psychological evidence shows that we need to push back. 
 
To keep body, mind, and spirit strong.
 
To apply ourselves despite the onslaught from within and from without.
 
We need to tough it out.
 
To show some muscle.
 
 
 
Barcelona BoysBarcelona Boys
 
It is healthy emotionally to push forward. 
 
To refuse to take the crap that life is dishing out.
 
To assert, state, and define for ourselves and others, the noble character that we are!
 
To know when to tell the demons to Piss-off!
 
Damn it! Just piss-off.
 
WC FeelsWC Feels
 
Yes, now, this moment, this very moment, is definitely the time.
 
The right time!
 
2022 is the year to rebound.
 
To look not just to “normalcy” but to normalcy and beyond— to recovery and a bright future.
 
2022 is our time to come in out of the rain.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
It is time to grasp 2022 as OUR TIME.
 
A time to change gears.
 
To regain control of our lives; of our personal psychology.
 
To not allow things beyond our control to define us.
 
It is time to re-define ourselves.
 
To get back on our feet.
 
Time to stand tall. 
 
Taller than ever before!
 
 
 
Stilted in the MaraisStilted in the Marais
 
Now, this very moment, I am sure of it,
 
Is THE best time to pick ourselves up,
 
To lift up our skirts,
 
To turn on the klieg lights,
 
And yes, to totally, with all the flair we’ve got, dance in the streets.
 
 
G. Zimbel's Marilyn, #2G. Zimbel's Marilyn, #2
 
 
 
It is no longer a time to remain depressed, 
 
To let the insanity that surrounds us, take over.
 
We can’t just say, the hell with it, "I’m not doing this anymore".
 
We all know where that kind of thinking gets us.
 
 
 
animal skullLouie
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sure, sometimes you feel like you don’t have it anymore.
 
You’ve run out of gas.
 
You just want to lay down and give up.
 
"Covid has defeated me. Democracy is dying" (if we let it).
 
It just seems easier to throw up our hands and be done with it.
 
But don’t let that kind of thinking get a grip on you.
 
Believe me, it’s just a morbid fantasy.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
2022 is the year we bounce back.
 
As one.
 
As friends.
 
As family.
 
As a nation. 
 
Lofty, together, unified.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Okay, maybe that was a little much. (Definitely a grandiose fantasy. Sorry.
 
I can see that.)
 
But if we allow ourselves to imagine success, to reach for wholesomeness, for good,
 
Even to feel special,
 
Maybe even like a 1933 Chrysler, wouldn’t that be uplifting?
 

 

 

Hood Ornament, Chrysler, 1933Hood Ornament, Chrysler, 1933

 

 
2022 I’m betting is the year we rebound,
 
The year we overcome loss and suffering,
 
The year we push down barriers of all sorts,
 
The year we jump hurdles.
 
 
 
 
"Boardr" On Deck"Boardr" On Deck
 
 
This moment is the time we allow ourselves to imagine the positive.
 
To fantasize a bit.
 
To take that ego boost wherever we can get it.
 
You can even for a moment, suspend reality, and believe you’re Elliott Gould. (That’s ridiculous.)
 
Wouldn’t that be cool though? (at least for a few minutes?)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
This is no time to capitulate.
 
To lie down, prostrate ourselves, and give up.
 
To close our eyes and pretend.
 
Don’t go to sleep!
 
 
 
 
  Close EncounterClose Encounter
 
 
 
 
2022 is the year we regroup.
 
We need to put things behind us. 
 
Not to repress, but to learn from.
 
To take control and wake up, 
 
From our slumber.
 
 
 
 
Bunnies in the Nest, #1Bunnies in the Nest, #1
 
I sense a HAPPY NEW YEAR.
 
One where we will come together more (I am not naive),
 
Put our heads together,
 
And even imagine a glorious kiss from the universe of an uncommon kind.
 
 
 
 
Rhinoceroses, animals,Rhinoses
 
 
 
 
My optimistic self says we will once again re-connect.
 
Humanity needs socialization to resume, to succeed.
 
It is a psychological truth that companionship, being together,
 
Relying on...
 
...And yes, even lying on each other, can comfort and rejuvenate.
 
 
 
Elephant Seals, colonyElephant Seals, colony
 
 
Granted, not all togetherness occurs in the same fashion.
 
Some socializing can perplex us,
 
Or disarm us, even annoy us.
 
Some congregate in strange ways. 
 
But sometimes we can just feel comforted by,
 
Being alone together.
 
 
 
 
Meeting at Goat HillMeeting at Goat Hill
 
 
 
Now is the time, at the New Year,
 
When we must show our courage,
 
To not chicken out,
 
To bring those chops, 
 
That muscle memory, those recollections of a life worth living,
 
Home to roost.
 
 
 
The ContenderThe Contender
 
 
So I wish you all a good year.
 
Enjoy. Let’s lighten the load.
 
Lighten up.
 
Have a happy year. 
 
A bonded together year,
 
To find ourselves best in each other’s grip.
 
 
Amis Pour la VieAmis Pour la Vie
 
 
A year where we can be together,
 
Not as an artifact or a memory in time, but in the flesh,
 
Where love, warmth, comfort, and optimism prevail.
 
 
 
Luxembourg LoversLuxembourg Lovers
 
 
(Yes, for the curious, found at Jardin du Luxembourg)
 
And remember, whether it’s 2020,
 
or any other year,
 
we all have something to offer.
 
We all come bearing gifts,
 
And if not in anyone else’s mind, then at least, it must be, within in our own.
 
Remember, you, (we, all of us) especially after these miserable political and pandemic years, are a superhero!
 
 
SuperheroesSuperheroes
 
 
 
 
Haha. 
Gotta love it.
Happy New Year Everyone.
My best,
Paul
 
(note: all photos are from the prappphotos.com / paulrappoportphotography.com website)
 
 
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(Paul Rappoport PHOTOGRAPHY) https://www.prappphotos.com/blog/2022/1/a-2022-new-years-celebration Mon, 03 Jan 2022 19:53:24 GMT
Travels In Spain https://www.prappphotos.com/blog/2016/5/travels-in-spain Travels in Spain:

Andalusia, Barcelona and Madrid

 

 

This post accompanies the photographs in the gallery for Spain

in the Travel section of the Portfolio.

As you will see from viewing the work and reading the descriptions below,

this "travelogue" of sorts is more about my experiences along

the way rather than a description of where

to go and what to see. 

I am happy to have you along for the journey.  

 

 

Dona Azul

As you stroll easterly along Alfonso Street in Seville, you’ll first pass the Museo de Bellas Artes and then the bus station at Plaza de Armas at the foot of the Cachorro bridge. There, along the canal, colorful murals decorate the walls along the canal.  The most alluring of the lot, with her blue coif, I call “Dona Azul”.

 

De Rojo

Taberna del Papelon of Seville, very red and active, begs to be photographed. So oblige I did. The passersby caught my eye, as well as the unusual window reflections and the blue accenting taxi sign. Although too chilly to sit outside, once the shutter was tripped, the tapas inside, as well as the chorizo, wine and cheese offered a second reward.

 

Seville Oscuridad

The elevation of the Metropol Parasol in the old quarter of Seville allows for a rooftop view of the city. Here, as evening sets in, the golden hued domes and steeples-- set against an evening’s graying sky-- speak to a city of significant history and charm.

 

Animador

As you cross the footbridge on your way to La Mezquita (the medieval Islamic Mosque of Cordoba) you will find yourself transported back in time by the mesmerizing music of the “Animador”. I was struck by the color of his accordion, his classical Spanish persona, his sweet face. 

 

The Hands of Semana Santa

Witness a religious procession in Seville during Holy Week: Here, brawny young men, the “costaleros”,  frequently laboring types working on the docks, parade through the city carrying a metal and wood-beamed “float”, often weighed down by religious figures, statues and biblical scenes. During the practice run depicted here, I found the position of the various hands uniquely symbolic.

 

“Chicuelo”

This was the nickname given to Manuel Jiminez Moreno, the famous bullfighter from Seville.  This detail was taken from the statue in Alameda Square, placed there by the mayor of Seville.  The fine decoration of the “suit of lights”, especially the montera  (bullfighter’s hat), and that haunting look, caught my eye.

 

Co-Locate

The cities, villages and neighborhoods in Andalusia offer a divergent array of tastes and styles in everything from architecture to costume to cuisine. Sometimes the contrasts can be found side by side as in this photograph of entryways.

 

Calle Pages

In the Albaicin neighborhood of Granada, first settled by the Romans and later by the Moors, winding, narrow, stone-covered streets still exist today as they did a thousand years ago. During the day and evening hours in this quaint section of town, the streets are bustling with shopkeepers and shoppers, locals and tourists, and children at play. In the later hours, some still find themselves afoot, as captured in this dramatically toned scene on Pages Street.

 

 

Nerja Beach, Painted Cove, Sunstorm, “Varieted”, Medtide

Nerja, a beach resort along Spain’s Costa del Sol, sits on a promontory overlooking the Mediterranean Sea with the Sierra Mountains as a backdrop. In addition to the cliffs, coves, and hillsides, the changing weather patterns in the off-season make for fertile seascape photography. This series of three picturesque scenes and the two surfside shots are just a few of the many opportunities available to those with a photographic bent.

 

Frigiliana and El Adarve

The old district of Frigiliana, a small village in the mountains north of Nerja, was settled by the Moors and is known for its architectural style typical of the craftsmen who settled there. The town, built on a hill with steep-stepped and winding alleyways, narrow cobbled streets, and white-washed houses offers a glimpse back in time. From this perch, the Andalusia countryside glistens below. 

 

Picasso Intersection

On an early spring day when the bright sun enticed people from their homes, I was seated at an outdoor café on the Plaza de la Merced in Malaga, the city where Picasso was born. My view of Picasso’s Les Femme d’Alger-- a mural on the rear wall of the Casa Natal de Picasso (the house in which the artist was born)-- caught my eye. But the art was obscured by the sign that came between us. I thought, rather than move my table, I would just incorporate the sign into the photo. I think it works much better that way.

 

Casa Fantasia

Just about every rule of photography has been trashed in this shot. The subject is uncertain, the composition defies reason, and the saving graces of beauty or “meaningful message” remain elusive. But street photography sometimes is more about capturing an unspoken experience of immediacy, place or sensation than it is about following the rules. There was just something about this particular visual frame that said to me, “take it”!

 

Petitioner

Here’s a “friend” of mine who I photographed over a period of several days. I found him in dramatic poses, gesticulating as he cavorted about the beach. This particular display captured the essence of his “work”.  Was he communing with a higher power, living out a fantasy, or was he an actor rehearsing for a play? Maybe the wine bottle tells the tale. When we met sometime later, much by accident, there was little unusual about him other than that he had left his sandals on the beach and commented that it was a very good wine.

 

Malaga Heights

The long walk up the spiraling road to Alcazaba, the 11th century citadel atop the city of Malaga, is rewarded by many beautiful vistas of the city and beaches below. While some views remain completely unobstructed, others deny you much visual opportunity at all. In “Malaga Heights”, the dense foliage and early blossoms of spring conceal the distant views, surprising us instead with the splendor within arm’s reach.

 

Agility

When surrounded by so much natural beauty it is easy to forget how much imagination and creativity can be found in commercial art and design. In this storefront in Barcelona the graphics of this Nike sneaker display, with its image of the runner in the background intrigued me. I found it extremely effective in  communicating its message which is what inspired me to document it.

 

Mercado Delights

This image, shot in a Barcelona market, is a reminder that art-- if we are willing to see it and to take the time to do so-- exists all around us.  Here, a commonplace and mundane event—drinks for sale-- when viewed at the right angle and with the proper lighting and presentation, can become a work of art.  Capturing one of these images serves as a reminder to me of how much I am missing everyday.  I pledge to keep my eyes open.

 

Passeig de Gracia

Antoni Gaudi’s architectural achievements can be found throughout the city of Barcelona. Here, on Passeig de Gracia, you will find Casa Batllo, one of Gaudi’s many masterpieces. Although not the primary subject in this photo, there is a glimpse of the building in the far right corner. It was while visiting Casa Batllo that I captured this highly unusual street scene primarily centered on the motorcycles and the array of reflective mirrors in the foreground. I softened the feel of the background to emphasize the varied reflections.

 

Barcelona Boys

This could be Barcelona’s answer to Venice Beach, CA. With the turbulent sky as background, the postures and positions of the young men and their colorful apparatus and attire created a photographic opportunity.  The shot is taken from a low vantage point, enhancing the dramatic effect of the photo.

 

Quimera

The unusual combination of elements in this photograph make it unique. The dramatic and colorful sky, the curious shape of the building in the distance, the glistening reflections of light on the water, and the ambiguous activity on the water’s surface come together to create an almost mythical or illusory image. Taken in the evening in Barcelona, it was the last shot of the day with available light.

 

Dias Madrid

Few shots shout “Madrid” like this one with its narrowing linear perspective.  The architecture and rust-colored hues capture the classical style so familiar to the city. This picture, shot in early evening, was taken just blocks away from the famed Plaza Mayor.

 

Balcones

In this black and white shot, a man alone, in black coat and hat and white scarf, stands poised on a balcony gazing down at the street below. The juxtaposition of the human figure with the building in stark muted white adds contrast and drama. The repetitive nature of the stylized windows and dark railings adds another layer of interest. All these elements materialize in a candid serendipitous moment.

 

Dulces and Spiral Hues

The best way to mark the end of an exciting journey is to do it the same the way we bring closure to a fine meal: with a delectable sweet. This candy shop window in Madrid, with its exquisite lighting, colorful display, and textured candied-strands serves as a fitting exclamation mark. In Spiral Hues, a cropped close-up of the candy in the window converts the recognizable object to an abstraction. 

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(Paul Rappoport PHOTOGRAPHY) Andalusia Barcelona Cordoba Frigiliana Gaudi Granada Madrid Malaga Moors Nerja Picasso Seville balcony beach candy castle citadel fortress hillside holy week landscape matador mirrors motorcycles mountains museum music palace resorts restaurants seascape semana santa sunset tapas travel https://www.prappphotos.com/blog/2016/5/travels-in-spain Tue, 03 May 2016 17:47:24 GMT
Need an Excuse To Hug New Orleans? Try Jazzfest! https://www.prappphotos.com/blog/2015/5/need-an-excuse-to-hug-new-orleans-try-jazzfest           To travel with me on this musical odyssey you will need to momentarily close your eyes. Now, in your mind’s eye, imagine that the world’s most talented musicians instantly appear before you. Imagine they are not only playing your favorite rock, blues, or country tunes, but zydeco, Cajun, gospel, R&B, bluegrass, African, Carribean, jazz and more.  You’re not hearing any of this on your earbuds or through a streaming service but live and almost within arm’s reach.

         Eyes still closed? Good. Now imagine that these exceptional tunes emanate not just from your favorite pop artists but from some of the most creative and inspired musicians and singers you’ll ever hear: from veterans who have performed for years-- the musical backbone of their genres-- to young inventive talent who bring abundant energy, fresh ideas and new takes to the classics.

         Now imagine finally that you can switch from one genre of music to another in an instant, not by changing channels or by tickling a touchscreen, but simply by strolling a few hundred feet in either direction to the next stage. Now open your eyes. Imagine no further, because all this time you’ve been at Jazzfest. Jazz & Heritage StageJazz & Heritage Stage

          When it comes to New Orleans, most people fall into one of three categories: either you've already been there, you plan on going, or you’ll end up there eventually whether you know it or not. How can I be so sure? Because the seductive power of the gumbos, crawfish po’ boys and beignets; the plethora of music venues city-wide, and the charm, warmth, and humor of the local folks provide too great an allure for most of us. So, if you ever needed an excuse to cop your New Orleans fix, Jazzfest is as good as any. It’s your perfect "get out of jail free card".

         Jazzfest (officially known as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, originating in 1970), held annually the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May, takes place at the Fair Grounds Race Course-- a long walk or short trolley or bus ride from most places in the city. Zydeco RoadrunnersZydeco Roadrunners   

         Picture the venue as a big oval with 11 stages strung along its circumference. Most bands play on open stages while others perform in spacious tents. In the middle of the oval you’ll find scrumptious food, crafts and clothing for sale, as well as the work of visual artists like Terrence Osborne who painted the official poster in 2014 for Jazzfest’s 45th anniversary poster. Richard Thomas & Paul RappoportRichard Thomas & Paul Rappoport You’ll also find my friend Richard Thomas (pictured here)—a painter who first appeared at Jazzfest in 1977 and has been an anchor and teacher in the New Orleans artistic community ever since. Among his many works for Jazzfest, Thomas created the official 20th anniversary poster featuring Fats Domino and more recently has been honoring the life and work of Louis Armstrong with a series of portraits. Thomas’ contributions to the NOLA community by bringing art into the lives of children, prisoners, and the needy remains unparalleled.                                                                                          

         The festival as solely a jazz venue is a misnomer. Although true in its nascent period the event has become far more inclusive. And what often escapes most presumptions about its mission, the music purposefully provides a pathway to the greater cultural Heritage of the area while the heritage inevitably takes you back to the music. This completes the circle…or the oval if you will.

         It gets hot at Jazzfest but a few shade trees at the Fair Grounds provide some shade later in the day. Sometimes it rains--like the first weekend this year--and it's always crowded.  Some spectators come with blankets, others with beach chairs, but most with nothing at all except for large hats and plenty of water.

         Bring no edibles though. You can't take it in and you wouldn't want to anyway given that the myriad food vendors will ply your palates with endless plates of the most exquisite southern dishes money can buy, including jambalaya, gumbos, etoufees, various po' boys, oysters, shrimp, alligator, beignets, pralines, and so on. The “fest” is a feast: a feast of music, culture and food. And if you haven’t had your fill by 7PM when the day is done, Bourbon Street, Frenchman street, and the rest of the Crescent City awaits you. NOLA NightsNOLA Nights

         Despite this bounty of bacchanal, however, New Orleans will forever remain defined in part by “Katrina” -- the once in an epoch flood.  For many locals the flood is less a story of a Category 5 Hurricane that devastated the city and more about the levees, canals, and the army core of engineers that failed them. Close to 2,000 people died and over 700 others are still missing. 80% of the city was under water and the damage from the storm is estimated to rise above $150 billion (https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-hurricane-katrina). To this day-- 10 years later-- people are still dying in its aftermath.

         And yet New Orleanians move forward, exhibiting a remarkable dedication and resilience. It’s the incredible comeback story from this once submerged city that inspires others and draws you to it, identifying with its people, relating to their loss, and aspiring to their determination. You feel its pain but also revel in its grit. It’s this New Orleans that you can’t help but acknowledge, applaud and embrace. Along the EsplanadeAlong the Esplanade

         Being at Jazzfest means that you transition daily from the “fest” to this remarkable city and back again. You become unmistakably a part of both. Residents experience it the same way. Jazzfest and the City of New Orleans become one.

         This year’s headiners like Elton John, The Who, Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga, No Doubt, Steve Winwood, Chicago, Ed Sheeran, John Legend and others get the attention they deserve, but big names alone do not make Jazzfest. Honestly, the superstars provide great entertainment, but “Jazzfest” is everything else. Dr. John "Mac" RebennackDr. John "Mac" Rebennack

          Other than the more two dozen or so big stars, there remain roughly 400 performances by local or lesser known artists—and most no less talented for sure-- including the likes of Reverend John Wilkins, Ruby Wilson from Memphis who channeled Bessie Smith, Ruby WilsonRuby Wilson Young Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Young Hunters Mardi Gras IndiansYoung Hunters Mardi Gras Indians Leroy Thomas and the Zydeco Roadrunners, Marcia Ball, the Dukes of Dixieland, and hundreds more that grace the fest’s stages. Some names easily roll off your tongue like Jerry Lee Lewis, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Aaron Neville, and the list goes on.

         Just a single day at the fest can be so exhilarating and even exhausting that you’ll need a break to catch your breath. So you head back, freshen up, go out later in the evening, and maybe look for more music and a few drinks-- or just head to one of the city’s many great restaurants for dinner.

         This year my wife and I avoided the hotel scene and instead rented a small apartment in the Marigny-Bywater section of town, a ten-minute car ride or 20-25 minute walk from the French Quarter. This was a new neighborhood for us and what a gem it was.

         The Marigny-Bywater is a transitional residential neighborhood still working its way back. It’s home to blue collar types, retirees, young professionals, artists, tourists, drinkers, stoners, and colorful characters of all types. It’s here in the Marigny where you can sense the great spunk and spirit of a city that has a lot to say and a lot yet to do. 

         We settled in here amidst the pot-holed and sometimes tree-lined streets. Every block was a new adventure. Turning every corner another surprise. In this direction were art galleries, NOCCA, (the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts) and an upscale restaurant. In another direction a local bar, a few sandwich shops, and a mix of homes: some beautifully rehabbed, others abandoned and still others in various states of repair. Flora'sFlora's

         Populated by warm and engaging people with a palpable energy that screamed “reinvigoration”, we made friends quickly and got the inside scoop on the area. We shopped at the old Mardi Gras store, now the Mardi Gras Zone 24/7 grocery—funkiest-ever of all groceries with a special mardi gras section upstairs and pizza ovens downstairs. Then we dropped in at Euclid Records on Chartre St. to scout some old vinyls (Ask “Lefty” if he’s got your old gold.) and then crossed over the Piety street bridge to the new Crescent Park for a Mississippi view of the Crescent City at dusk.

         We dined at Feelings Cafe-- seated outside in the delightful backyard garden where the atmosphere and cuisine were superb; breakfasted the next day with cousins Cliff and Chana on Dauphine Street at one of Satsuma’s two “local and organic” coffeehouse cafes and consumed a delicious Asian repast at Doug Crowells’ Bao&Noodle on Chartres Street-- super fresh and tasty and don’t miss it. Dinner at Feeligs CafeDinner at Feelings Cafe

         New Orleans never disappoints. One afternoon on the way back from Frady’s where hot lunches and po’ boys southern style amaze even the locals, we found ourselves cut-off from the Marigny by a freight train on Press Street. We eventually wound our way around the snaking train emerging “on the other side of the tracks” at the corner of Press and Royal streets.

         It was here that we were confronted by a rusting and faded historical marker designating this very spot as the place where, on June 7, 1892, Homer Adolph Plessy was taken off the East Louisiana Railroad and taken into custody by the police. Plessy, a “black” man of mixed race was supposed to sit in the “colored car”.  By brazenly boarding the “white car” Plessy was in violation of the “1890 Louisiana Separate Car Act that separated railroad passengers by race” and was promptly arrested. 

         Near Press and Royal StreetsNear Press and Royal Streets Four years later Plessy lost his case. In 1896, the Supreme Court of the United States, (Plessy v Ferguson) ruled against him, establishing legal precedent whereby laws requiring the separation of the races were deemed constitutional. I read the marker but could not believe my eyes. It was right here, at this very spot, at the intersection of Press and Royal streets in the heart of the revitalization of today’s New Orleans where a profound infamy occurred 119 years ago, altering the course of race relations in America. It took another 60 years for this injustice to be corrected. In 1956, in Brown v Board of Education, the Supreme Court reversed this decision and we were back on the right side of the tracks again.

     Crescent City 'n' Ole Miss.Crescent City 'n' Ole Miss.      New Orleans was at one time the center of the slave trade, the largest city in the south, the birthplace of the Creole culture, the home of the Cajun people, the birthplace of Jazz, the childhood home of Louis Armstrong, and yes, the mixing of black and white in what has become one of the friendliest and most welcoming of all American cities.

         To know this you do not need to close your eyes. You have nothing to imagine. You just need to return to the music. The music is where all things coalesce, heritage included. Listen to the lyrics, feel the rhythms, hear the beat of the drums. Pay attention to the ones that went before and follow the legacy. This is the soul of New Orleans. This is the magic of Jazzfest.

 

copyright Paul Rappoport                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Please Take a Minute to Visit the Portfolio

Additional photos from New Orleans and Jazzfest 

can be found in the Travel Gallery under "New Orleans"

or via this link

http://www.prappphotos.com/p403261610#h47466299

 

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(Paul Rappoport PHOTOGRAPHY) Bywater Cajun Jazzfest Marigny New Orleans Zydeco jazz music concert southern cooking https://www.prappphotos.com/blog/2015/5/need-an-excuse-to-hug-new-orleans-try-jazzfest Sun, 31 May 2015 21:12:34 GMT
Escape to Yucatan https://www.prappphotos.com/blog/2015/4/escape-to-yucatan              It was mid-December and time to escape the winter’s cold.  My wife and I booked a flight to Mexico for a two-week stay in the Yucatan.  Since this would be our first time there it allowed for plenty of speculation about what we would find.

            Once off the plane at Cancun airport-- having walked the gauntlet of hotel-hawkers and limo drivers-- we tacked left as everyone else veered right. (Not an unusual scenario for us.) They were headed to the beaches for fun in the sun while we hopped a city bus to downtown Cancun.  It was there that we boarded another bus for a first class, four-hour ride with air conditioning, a movie, and a bathroom, to Merida. Did you say Merida?

            The Yucatan peninsula, bounded by the Gulf of Mexico on two sides and the Caribbean Sea on the third-- a somewhat inhospitable lot of land some might say-- is a tropical not-so-paradise.  It is a land of rainforests and jungles, prone to hurricanes 6 months out of the year and characterized by extreme dry and wet seasons. The summers are extremely hot and much of the water there is undrinkable. Oh, and just for effect, remember that asteroid that scientists say wiped out the dinosaurs-- it landed just off the Yucatan coast. One has to wonder what the attraction is.  Merida, where we were headed, is the capital city of the state of Yucatan.

            We arrived at our apartment rental late in the evening greeted by our delightful host who was ready with a welcoming smile and a small repast before bedtime. The neighborhood, in the midst of gentrification, was a mix of newly renovated properties, some still being rehabbed, and others with “For Sale” signs.  Many ex-pats from Canada and the States have settled full-time in Merida while others, as snowbirds, have bought and refinished their properties for winter sojourns.

            Merida is an extremely walkable city.  You can get to anywhere you might want to be within 15-20 minutes by foot. There are also plenty of buses and cabs. Staying on the narrow sidewalks and navigating the crowds in Centro, the primary commercial district, can sometimes be a challenge. But the streets are clean, the city extremely safe, and the cultural venues plentiful.  Museums, galleries, theater, a planetarium, the symphony, movies—all are part of Merida’s city life. We attended a concert given by the Orquesta Sinfonica de Yucatan,

Sinfonica de YucatanJose Peon Contreras Theater

visited the Museum Peon Contreras, were in and out of a slew of galleries, and strolled the streets filled with boutiques, flower shops, Mayan crafts and arts, fine dining or casual restaurants, street vendors and more.  Just be aware that one’s potential downfall comes in the form of consuming too many marquesitas, that Yucatecan delicacy that comes in the form of a hot, crispy, tortilla-type pancake filled with either cheese or Nutella-- or for the true gluttons among us, both.

             But Merida is also a city of neighborhoods (called colonias or barrios) adding a local flavor to the city’s overall personality. Since the climate allows for an outdoor lifestyle, the streets are always filled with people and activities.  Local churches anchor each neighborhood and are often associated with a square or plaza which provide venues for people to gather. Whether it’s in the main Plaza Grande in the historic Centro district where we spent an evening watching traditional folk dancing or in the plaza Santa Lucia listening to the Serenada Yucateca, there’s always plenty of entertainment to choose from. Merida offers a plethora of cultural activities almost on a daily basis—and all are free. Just bring a chair, a blanket, or your natural padding, and partake.

Near House and Local PlazaBarrio Santiago

 

            The diversity of neighborhoods is also striking. You can find older residential barrios where attached homes sport rich hues of primary colors or walk along the elegant promenade of the tree-lined Paseo de Montejo, (named after the Montejos; father and son conquistadors who conquered the Mayas and renamed the city Merida after the city in Spain) where you’ll witness the splendor of restored mansions from the 19th century.

Along the PaseoAlong the Paseo de Montejo

            Once you leave the city you’ll discover a countryside dotted with small towns and villages-- and depending on the direction you take, either a vast swath of Mayan ruins to the south and east, or the Gulf of Mexico to the north and west. We did both, venturing out on day trips in all directions.

             If your pleasure is the ruins, it’s easy enough to rent a car, hire local vans or small tour buses, or take one of the many full-size public buses which take about an hour and a half or more depending on your particular destination. We spent a day at Chichen Itza (translated as At the Mouth of the Well…), one of the most popular archaeological sites in the area. Chichen Itza dates back to the period between 600-1200 AD.  Be prepared for crowds and vendors galore-- the latter tarnishing in my opinion the profundity of the experience to some degree. But don’t misunderstand, witnessing these pyramids and structures and the history of this amazing civilization moves the soul and the imagination in ways difficult to describe.

UxmalUxmal

            Uxmal (pronounced “ooshmal”) was constructed between 850-1000 AD. It’s architectural style, different from Chichen Itza’s, lends a very different feel to the experience.  After time spent walking the grounds here and experiencing the calm and contemplative sensibility of the site, it is difficult upon leaving to not feel spiritually altered in some way.

            Because Merida is geographically situated at the center of this region, it is possible to have it all. You can gratify your city self in town, your intellectual and spiritual needs at the ruins, and your desire for leisure and nature on the Gulf.  We spent a day at Progresso, a less than ideal beach setting given its commercialization and at times touristy crowds-- especially compared to the beautiful beaches on the Caribbean coast-- but nonetheless adequate enough to fulfill one’s draw to sand, sun and waves.

            Celestun on the other hand, a local fishing village to the west and home to natural wetlands and the Celestun Biosphere Reserve, puts you right at the mouth of the estuaries. Take a boat ride through the mangroves and settle-in for a while with the flamingos, pelicans, herons, sea turtles and varied wildlife. The beach is expansive, the fresh seafood at beach-side restaurants inviting, and the quaint town replete with local color.

DSC_0682 - Version 2Flamingo Colony, Celestun

            By the time two weeks were up our speculation had been answered and our expectations exceeded.  Every day was a new adventure and we had only had a taste.  One of the signs that you have made a discovery is the desire to return.  Although there are many other enticing destinations in the world , Merida and the Yucatan are still on the list.

copyright Paul Rappoport

 

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Photos from the Yucatan

can be viewed here in the Travel gallery:  http://www.prappphotos.com/p198820034#h412919e5

 

      

 

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(Paul Rappoport PHOTOGRAPHY) chichen itza gulf of mexico marquesitas mayan ruins merida mexico uxmal yucatan https://www.prappphotos.com/blog/2015/4/escape-to-yucatan Tue, 21 Apr 2015 18:27:50 GMT