Greetings, dear readers. For those of you out there in railroad-enthusiast land (who don't follow any of my other work), yes, it indeed has been a long time, and, oh, what's this new venue?
I have plenty to explain about this, but, before I do, let me set up this set of pictures, briefly tell you what is happening in the pictures before showing them to you, and then use the text among the pictures to describe the reasons that you haven't seen railroad picture essays from me in awhile.
I took these pictures on the afternoon of Friday 6 October 2017 of a train of the New Orleans & Gulf Coast Railway was coming up Madison Street in Gretna and then Brooklyn Avenue in Algiers (it's the same street but in different cities) from Belle Chasse and into Gouldsboro Yard.
My actual website has some problems. It crashed in early September. Fixing it would require knowledge of coding that I do not have, which is to say that fixing it would require money - that I do not have.
I am devastated, and about the only recourse that I can see is the crowdfunding platform on which you are reading this essay.
If you have followed my work for a long time, you know that I put my heart and soul into it. You know that it is a labor of love. And you know that it is who I am.
Many people find what I do valuable or useful, and these images and ideas and stories and information will be floating around the internet long after I am dead, but the huge problem is that, ever since I burned out of being a very good school-teacher, the best uses of my talent - the best ways for me to share my gifts with the world - do not fit neatly into paid work opportunities.
I wake up every day wanting to work. I wake up every day wanting to spend 10 or more hours working on photography, research, writing, teaching (not the classroom kind, not anymore), music, gardening-and-farming, and the sharing of information and knowledge - whether in the form of photographs or in the form of research and writing - with the entire world.
But I am prevented from doing almost all of this work, and the reason is that I need to eat and need shelter.
Think of how bassackwards that is, or think of how bassackwards my situation - which is hardly unique - reveals society to be.
You live in a world overflowing with material wealth, thanks to the marvels of technology and capitalism. You live in a world in which tens of thousands of farmers are going broke every year not because they can't make enough crops but because they can't sell the crops that they make, even despite the fact that we turn plenty of food into gasoline!
You live in a world in which lab-grown meats and additional improvements in agricultural technology will soon decimate the price of rural land, in which retail outlets across the continent are shutting down because they are no longer necessary, and in which self-driving trucks are about to unemploy millions of American men, and people still think that the way of addressing this is to "bring back jobs"?
I have so much work to do. I want to work, but, in order to work, I need to eat, and the family farmland was sold before I was born (and isn't even being used for farming anymore because, again, it's not necessary!)
I am certainly able to do the work that I am good at doing and wish to do, but I don't have permission to do it, because, in our world, my survival depends upon me doing, for the feudal landlords, things that I'm not that good at doing or that I'm no better at doing (probably made more difficult for me due to some form of apparent autism that I might have) than any of the many other persons competing for the same opportunities that are increasingly scarce.
So, quite simply, I am not allowed to the work that is the best use of my talents.
Imagine if you were a really good chef, and society told you that in order to do chef work, you had to farm (you know, for the ingredients.) Imagine if you were an excellent framing carpenter, and society told you that in order to do that work, you needed to also either do lumberjack work or, worse, be the realtor for all homes that you build.
Wouldn't that be terrible? That is analogous to the bad and worsening situation in which I find myself. I am mostly denied permission to do what I am best at doing for reasons that have nothing at all to do with those things!
My constant preoccupation with mere survival is preventing me from doing so much work!
Again, isn't that so bassackwards? Look, the 19th Century happened. The Great Depression and the two world wars happened. It now takes about 1% of the population to produce all of the food that we can't even eat, and that number will continue to drop!
I know that the traditional paradigm is to work for money, but that's still true only for those whose talents are best suited for such work; for me (and many people like me), it's the opposite: for the work that I do, for the ways in which I can best help the world, I need money in order to work.
I can't work if I starve. I can't work if I am homeless. I can't work if I can't concentrate, and I can't concentrate if I'm constantly doing things to avoid homelessness and constantly worrying about that. And, since the family farmland (which my ancestors did little to actually earn) was sold before I was born, it's illegal for me to work for myself.
It's also unnecessary! The marvels of modern technology and capitalism, like these big grain hopper cars that you see here, have made our world of abundance that you and I did nothing to earn.
I love these Canadian hopper cars, on their way back from the rail-to-ocean-going-vessel grain elevator in Myrtle Grove, the end of the line.
What I need from you is, what my work needs from you, if you are both willing and able to offer it, patronage. I need - and, when I say the word "need," I really mean it - you to enable me to work.
You are reading this essay on my page on a website called Patreon, which is a way for creators to get paid not to do work and not for doing work but, rather, so that they can work; the payments, most of them in the form of a pledge for a monthly payment, come from supporters or fans of the work being offered.
For as little as $1 per month, you can patronize Jimbaux's Journal, which is to say that, for as little as $1 per month, you can enable me to work.
I hope that, for most of you, $12 per year is not too much for which to ask, and I hope that you value my work - and my life - enough to become a patron.
That's the first Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad car that I ever see. If I continue (or resume) my practice of publishing huge sets of pictures on the 10-year anniversaries of their having been made, I will, in April of 2022, publish large sets of pictures from my last trip to South Dakota.
Anyway, I hope that, if you haven't already done so, you check out the home page here on my Patreon account, read the descriptions that I have there, check out the narrated slide shows that explain my work and my philosophy, and consider becoming a patron, which you can do by following the directions on the right column of the page.
The mail carrier was waiting for the train to pass!
This is not as good of a way of presenting my images as my blog was, right? I do miss my website, and I hope that you can help me get it back.
Also, obviously, I had to stop doing the decennial retrospective postings, but that was something of a relief, as that was plenty of work.
However, if I can get my blog back soon, I can start preparing to pick back up for my 2008 pictures for once 2018 gets here, which will be very soon!
Here, the train snakes through Gouldsboro Yard, and we are now in Algiers, the portion of the city of New Orleans on the western bank of the Mississippi River.
I am aware that some of you would be disinclined to become patrons of my work simply because you dislike some or many of the opinions that I have expressed. Oh, well. You have to speak your truth, and I have to speak mine; we can't and won't always agree, and I figure that people who are okay with allowing me and so many of the rest of their fellow Americans to die or at least be so needlessly degraded aren't likely to become art patrons anyway, but I do wish to express one way that those who just might be inclined to patronize my work can know that much of my work will survive separate from my opinions.
I have created a rrpicturearchives.net account under my own (i.e., legal) name and will post more on there as I can, and I may do the same for flickr, especially as it would allow pictures of almost all subjects. That way, my images and the information that accompanies them will survive long after I am dead in a medium on which adding my personal opinions about other things would be inappropriate if for no reason other than impracticality.
So, if you think that you might be inclined to patronize my photography work but don't want to associate with my opinions (again, I doubt that that's a large group of people, but this is still, I feel, worth mentioning), you can become a patron with the knowledge that my images will be floating around on the internet for your great-grandchildren to see and use.
Also, for those of you worried about "political" issues from me, please check out my essay on ranked-choice voting! Let me know if it is helpful.
I recorded a song a few years ago and shot video for it, and I got some crowdfunding help for it. The reason that I haven't yet publicized it is explained in narrated slideshow #6 (again, see the home page), where I mention so many more things that I could do if finally freed to do them! Quite simply, I am downright terrified that the loss of anonymity from the video's publication would compromise my ability to eat, because, being a wage slave, there are certain relationships I simply am not allowed to avoid; I very simply need the power to walk away from any threatening situation.
Again, please check the home page here and all of the narrated slide shows to see what I mean.
As always, I can be reached at [email protected].
That's all for this episode.