New Orleans is a city of contradictions.
At one time it was the most racially liberal city in the south. Then, after the Civil War, the tide turned. Post-Reconstruction the Confederacy was re-glorified with a vengeance. This meant statues. TONS of statues, and of course one of Robert E. Lee. It’s atop a doric column at Lee Circle, near downtown, and recently I was eye-level with General Lee, so I snapped a picture. Here’s my interpretation of that shot, rendered in pen, ink and watercolor:
Lee Statue at Sunset © 2011 John Tebeau
I took the photo at an event on the rooftop of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. There was a fine little cocktail party up there, and the sun was setting gently, the sky behind the general peacefully aglow. Lee stands like he won the war, one foot perched audaciously over the edge of his platform. Modernity is audacious, too. It intrudes on this stately scene in the form of the streetlight to the right.
Lee Circle from an actual old postcard:
Lee Circle, fron an old postcard
- “Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop” by John Tebeau © 2011
Yeah, Jean LaFitte. What a guy. Murder, robbery, pillage and murder. He liked murder. It’s alleged that he and his bother used a “blacksmith shop” as a front. A Legitimate Business, if you will. A place to hold sit-downs, make deals and, probably, party.
The joint (now a pub) sits at the quiet end of Bourbon Street, and is a fan favorite to this day. I rendered this little picture in ink from a photo I took recently. Enjoy, and when you’re down in New Orleans, stop by Lafitte’s. Grab a cold drink and cop one of the chairs outside on the sidewalk, facing Bourbon. I recommend sunset time. Watch the sky fade from blue to pink to black as the clouds cruise overhead like plastic shopping bags blowing over the rooftops. Then make the short hike over to Frenchmen Street and catch some local jazz. The odds are strong that you’ll have an excellent evening.