New Orleans

Posted by Ellen

By 1957, when this picture was taken, New Orleans was no longer running streetcars out to Desire. If Desire was where you wanted to go, you'd have to take a bus, and that's how things had been for almost a decade.

But in mid-June of 1957, a college student named William D. Volkmer found himself in New Orleans for a brief stopover en route to ROTC summer camp. His goal for the visit: to find a streetcar named Desire:

I approached the operators on their break at the foot of the Canal Ferry loop and asked them if they could roll the destination sign to "Desire" to allow me a photo shoot. The first three or four cars only contained signs for the two remaining streetcar lines, Canal and St. Charles. Then on about the fifth try, bingo. Car 910's signs still had the full complement of abandoned streetcar lines, so the kindly motorman set it for Desire and continued on his rest break until I had completed my photographic endeavor.

Posted by Ellen

Above, Mardi Gras, 1906, at the Canal Street ferry terminal in New Orleans. A crowd awaits the arrival of Rex in his royal chariot, seen below.

Posted by Ellen

Willie Nelson's guitar, Trigger, is almost as old and torn up as Willie himself. Willie marked his eightieth birthday with a show last weekend at the 2013 New Orleans Jazz Fest; Trigger's been his concert workhorse for forty years now, ever since a drunk stepped on his prize Gibson guitar and he needed a replacement fast, from off the shelf.

Trigger is a classical-style guitar with with an electric pickup attached. It was meant to be played acoustically, strummed with the fingers, not amplified with a pick, and forty years of picking have worn right through the wood on the front face, leaving a big hole that's getting bigger.

There are also scrapes and scratches and dings and cracks, all of which seem completely predictable for anything in Willie Nelson's life, even something as precious to him as Trigger. And then there are the autographs, more than a hundred by now, beginning with Leon Russell and including the names of fellow musicians, friends, and of course his lawyers. The signatures are scratched into the wood, not inked on the surface; the cellphone camera failed to pick them out clearly.

Jazz Fest weather in New Orleans is supposed to be hot and humid; there may be rain and mud, but always there should be sweat and sunburn. This year, Willie and all the other performers sang into a hard, cold wind, nothing like what's normal for New Orleans in May. Most festival-goers were not prepared for the shivery conditions, but the music definitely took the edge off the chill.

Posted by Ellen

He's delivering milk to the Restaurant Louisiane on Iberville Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, circa 1903.

Just behind the milk wagon--look through the wheels--is a jumble of something spilled on the sidewalk at the curb. Another wagon must have recently stopped by there, delivering coal. Somebody from the restaurant will have to come out and scoop it up.