nolabeings NOLAbeings

Documenting a few of New Orleans' many stories.
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288 9 Oct 20, 2017

"There was a film team from France, they came here to do a TV series about architecture and lifestyle around the world. And they came here and they only had a week and [when they arrived] they had the whole story already written. They were only trying to catch stereotypes. I was helping Lily on that - she was a fixer for that. And it really just bothered us a lot that they were only going for bayous and plantations and gators, even though there is so much more. You need to spend time here to understand how it really is. From seeing all the people who come here and just come in and out and film and then leave, and do their story that they bring back to whatever country they're from... and then discovering more and more about French down in the south and the southwest, we wanted to make something deeper about the culture. [So we're working on] a film told entirely in Louisiana French. Basically it's a cultural portrait of the different communities that speak French in Louisiana, which are Cajun, Creole and Native American. It's an exploration and a study of the connection to their own ancestry and land through language and environment. So it's very exciting but also very energy-taking, trying to be a documentarian. I worry it's going to [become harder] because there are more and more cuts in funding to the fields of culture."

485 16 Oct 11, 2017

"My grandmother is Serbian and lived her whole life in or near Belgrade which is the capital of Serbia. But because of different wars - WWII and then the Civil War - without ever leaving her home she lived in 5 different countries over time. A few years ago I was really unhappy and really unfulfilled by my work and feeling like I needed to do something completely different, and I decided that I would move to Serbia and live with her. And she spoke no English and I spoke no Serbian - so I had to learn pretty quickly. I ended up being there for almost a year and making a short documentary about her. She was 92 or 93 at the time and was in really good health - she lived alone. I came back to New Orleans after spending a year there, and her health quickly deteriorated. When I went back this time to Serbia, she was unrecognizable. Really really thin. She had dementia so she didn't recognize me. She was basically completely bedridden. When someone has dementia and they're bedridden and unable to really care for themselves, it feels like in a big way they're not there. But there would be some moments where she would remember a song or something, and start singing, or grab my hand and say 'Let's go down to the kafana!' which is like a restaurant and bar with live music. She's like 'Let's go, let's do it. Let's make a run for it!' And so she made me laugh a lot in those moments and you could see a glimmer of her full self. I tried to spend as much time as I could with her over the past year when I was back in Serbia. And then a few days after her 96th birthday, this January, she passed away. That was a very difficult experience because I was so close with her and because she opened up all these worlds to me - maybe without realizing it. It was difficult, but it was also really beautiful because I got to be there for the funeral and I had this feeling when she passed away that - this is very cheesy - but that my heart sort of broke open and a lot of light came in."

402 7 May 25, 2017

“One time I was serving a customer – he said 'Hey you know something? You Arabs, you just came to kill innocent people, to blow them up and that's it. You make bombs and you kill innocent people, that's your job. You don't belong here.' I told him, 'I mean come on, don't be silly. While you were doing your drugs or hashish I was fighting for this country. So you can't talk to me like this, just because of the accent or something...'” --- I'm proud to have worked on this short film about Ihssan, a New Orleanian from Iraq who came to the US on a refugee visa after serving as an interpreter and cultural advisor for the US Forces. The film was made in collaboration with the Refugee Services Program. Full film (5 mins) link in bio.

397 6 May 18, 2017

"I grew up in New Orleans and went to a school called John Curtis. I was the first African American to go to school there, in 1979. But it was a good experience. Everybody treated me like I was part of the family. I was a running back. I went to Southern Methodist University and then I was drafted in the first round by the Patriots. We played against the Saints my rookie year. All my family, my [high school] coach, Coach J.T. Curtis came. It was good to come back home and play against the whole team... but I'm always a New Orleans person. I'm a Saints fan, to be honest with you."

319 4 May 14, 2017

"I remember when I was five or six going to Jazz Fest, my mom would just put a sticker with a piece of duct tape and our names on it and 'If lost, return back.' Then she'd just be like... 'Run it!'"

512 11 May 13, 2017

"I write poems and songs and roasts and toasts and stuff for people, so my company is called Toast of the Town. It's a blast. I've been doing it since high school. [For example,] if a group of people want to give the bride something, I interview all of them with my little tape recorder, and then I write it in second person like they came up with it. [...] They tell me the flavor - whether it's gotta be raunchy or funny - a lot of it is sentimental. You know, I'll write something for someone who just passed away. My mom was a poet, so I started reading her stuff when I was little. She died when I was only 26. I wrote her two or three things before she passed away. She said 'I think you got the gene, baby. I think you got the gene.'" 2017

405 11 May 11, 2017

"What's occupying my mind? The uncertainty of what's to come. Will I live the next year in this city or in another environment, that's gonna be somewhere else? I'm getting a new visa so hopefully I can continue working in this beautiful place. I have to be here... it just feels right." "How do you cope with uncertainty?" "I consume a lot of music and a good bit of alcohol, and I make sure I am in good company all the time."

429 4 May 7, 2017

"I've been coming to JazzFest at least maybe 20 years. I love the Gospel Tent. It's always outstanding. It's my favorite. If it wasn't for my religious background, I don't know where I'd be today. But God has brought me a mighty long ways, 'cause I was in Hurricane Katrina and Rita so I lost my house out there, and now I'm back, working my way back. So God has been definitely good to me. I love the people who are here. We socialize, we help each other, we reach out to each other. In a lot of states you go to - and I've been to a lot of states - they don't do that. People don't reach out to each other, and they don't reach out to you with love and consideration. And that's what I love about New Orleans. We always help each other." beings 2017

514 10 May 6, 2017

"It's the craziest thing when people bully you for being too skinny, but it's just like, in my community, you have to be a little thicker to be considered beautiful. I used to be bullied for that and bullied like 'your hair is too thick, too nappy.' So I used to sing and write music to get through all that. I would put my emotions out. [Music] got me through a lot. The gospel choir - that's how I started out when I was younger - and now I endeavor in jazz, R&B, and just everything that I can get my hands on that sounds good in my opinion. My dream is to become a musical theater singer. I've always wanted to sing. When I wake up, sometimes I think to myself that I am on stage in front of thousands of people. I envision it. I think that's the first step of becoming somebody - you have to envision it in your mind." beings 2017

895 15 May 6, 2017

"I'm from here - born, bred, and will probably die here. I document the city of New Orleans. I've been doing this for 40 something years. I lost most of my photo work in Katrina but I've still got some now. I have stuff in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And I'm the only one that has a shot of Ray Charles without his glasses, that I took out here. It was hot and he wiped his brow. I took a shot. I got photos of Allen Toussaint and Bonnie Raitt, that's in Bonnie Raitt's trailer. The city needs to be documented so in the future, people will be able to see what it was like. If you don't worry about the future, it's not going to ever happen. You've got to be positive about the future. Wouldn't you like to know if somebody had a documentation of like, the Civil War? And had video of it - wouldn't you enjoy that? People keep searching for the past. Whatever we document now, the future is going to look at that. What you're doing now - people are going to look at years in the future and go 'Wow, that's what it was like back then!' You know? Maybe something 'back then' will trigger something better for the future." 2017 beings

485 3 Mar 28, 2017
nolabeings: Remember Roxy? She

Remember Roxy? She's one of ten incredible women I'm featuring in my Instagram takeover on this morning. Come say hi over at !

255 1 Mar 21, 2017

“This is a 1979 Seville Cadillac designed by Gucci - they only made 200 of ‘em. It’s 38 years old and it’s my toy. I bought it 20 years ago.” “You got money from the accident?” “Not really, I got God. All good things come to those who wait. The guy who owned it before me drove it down the street one day after church. I was standing on my corner, and believe me, here comes this man in this car. I never knew it was Gucci. He had a ‘for sale’ sign in the window, and I told him to hold this car for me. He wanted $6500. I got it for six thousand. I just take care - we was raised to take care of what you got, no matter how old it is. The engine - you can eat off the engine, that’s how clean it is. You see? Other people would would change it, put big tires on it. It’s original. You’ve seen the book for yourself.”