My New Orleans – Director’s Commentary

My New Orleans from Daniel Morales on Vimeo.

00:02 Allen Toussaint’s “Tipitina and Me,” a striking minor-chord variation of the legendary New Orleans song. Apparently Elvis Costello wrote lyrics for this version of the song, and I’m sure they’re great, but I can’t imagine anything other than the instrumental version.

00:04 The neighborhood where I grew up has these tiles in all of the streets. I took my senior yearbook photo next to one of them.

I took all this video when I was back in New Orleans in April/May 2009. A few days before I flew home from Tokyo, I jammed the door of my camcorder and it stopped working. I was totally bummed out during the start of my trip and had given up hope of taking any footage, but eventually I snapped out of the funk and borrowed my buddy Vasu’s camera.

00:09 This is the neighborhood where I grew up. The street used to be in disrepair, and there was a big dip right in front of this blue house on the corner. It was a lot of fun to ride down it on a bike, and it filled up during floods.

00:15 612 Webster St. My memories of this house include: feeding our first cat (a black cat named Mr. Cat) in our little backyard, my parents sweating to the oldies, riding little plastic cars and motorcycles around, my mom bringing my little brother home from the hospital.

I’m not sure if the tree in front was there or not. If it was, it has grown quite a bit.

00:23 600 Webster St. Two doors down from the first house. Memories: playing basketball in the backyard, shooting off fireworks on the corner, carving pumpkins, watching the Gulf War on CNN, leaving apple empanadas out for Santa at Christmas, eating vegetarian food like “spinach balls,” waiting out a hurricane in one of the bedrooms upstairs, old computers (Commodores, Amigas, and all the awesome games that my Dad bought or pirated from friends), running my forehead into our shed and splitting it (my forehead) open, snow in New Orleans, eating all the snacks my Mom’s friends brought when she hosted “Quilt Group.”

00:30 Eleonore is only a few blocks over from Webster, but the street tiles cut out at some point.

00:34 This is Eleonore. We lived on this street briefly after living in Texas for sixth months. The filmed some commercial for a bank on the street one time and you could see my brother way in the background.

00:41 A curious house. The kitchen was on the second floor (“flood-proof” you might call it), and there were two distinct second floors with separate stairways that met. I had my own room for the first time. Memories: listening to the Top 10 songs on the radio every night (Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World” comes to mind, as does that terrible “Big Bad Wolf” song), listening to Weird Al Yankovic tapes, watching constellations move at night for a science project, eating pizza and root beer with friends, rooting for Charles Barkley and the Suns in the ’94 NBA finals, Easter Egg hunting, drinking powdered tea (and probably becoming addicted to caffeine).

00:49 The front of Audobon Park from the streetcar tracks. We have always lived close to the park, and I used to bike around it quite often. My mom used to walk around the park at five in the morning, and I would ride ahead a bit and then wait for her to catch up.

00:56 A close up of the fountain. That’s all I got.

01:02 This used to be a pond with two bridges on the ends. There was a track that went around the pond, and it was fun to ride around real fast and then zoom up and down the bridges. That was a long time ago. During middle school and high school we used to play ultimate frisbee here. It was the perfect size for us back then. Probably a little small now. In the distance you can see a little hut that sits on the edge of the golf course.

01:09 This is a shot of the pond closest to our old houses. We used to feed bread to the ducks here, and one time my babysitter took us to this area and we were unknowingly included in a photo that was included in a volume of park photos. We were tiny in the photo, but it’s still pretty cool. You can see the cypress trees with cypress knees.

01:16 The Audobon Zoo, from The Meter’s legendary song, “They All Ask’d For You.”

01:23 The elephant exhibit has been there forever. It’s exactly how I remember it from when I was little.

01:30 The fountain and oaks in the area between the reptile exhibit and the sea lions (?). Nice, quiet area perfect for picnicking.

01:38 This shot might be my favorite serendipitous shot. Run, you crazy looking chicken, there’s a lady with a camera after you!

01:50 Camp St. This is where we live now.

01:54 Here’s Camp looking from State toward Webster. It’s only three blocks from the other houses where I’ve lived. It’s a pleasant little neighborhood.

02:01 A relatively new New Orleans house. I think the newest of any we’ve lived in.

02:08 The back house. It used to be a garage, but we converted into a little house – my Mom’s pet project to tempt us home more often. It works – she stocks the freezer with frozen pizza and the fridge with beer.

02:17 The yard. Nice little garden, which is where all of our late-cats rest in peace.

02:23 This is Butthead. No joke. That’s his real name. He had a brother named Beavis, but he ran away. Butthead is still really skittish and hasn’t warmed up to me yet, so I try to spoil him. I gave him kitty treats two to three times a day when I was back home, but he still wouldn’t let me approach him. He looks far sweeter than he actually is.

02:27 Bill is the big, fat, orange cat. He might be our nicest cat yet. He loves attention, especially early in the morning. For some strange reason, whenever Butthead is on the couch, he’ll let you pet him if you’re sneaky about it.

02:36 My firm belief. I have lived a rambling, cat-less life for the past nine years. I think my resolution for 2010 may be to acquire a cat.

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