photo by Ryan Sparks
I know, I know. Another damn post about the swamp. Every few months I try to get out to Jean Lafitte to snap some new photos and fantasize about fulfilling my childhood dream of becoming a park ranger. I can’t stop taking pictures of where I grew up. I even dedicated an entire zine to it (ahem, click here to buy).
Lately I’ve been working seven days a week between two jobs, which leaves me with little free time. So when I got an unexpected day off from work recently, I called up my good friend Ryan Sparks and we high-tailed it to the West Bank. Just don’t tell maw maw and paw paw I went on “that side of the river” without visiting them. I kind of feel bad that I didn’t swing by their house. Old Cat’lic guilt dies hard, y’all.
Springtime is the perfect time of year to make the trek to Lafitte. March through May hits that sweet spot; the temperature is delightful, plus you can spot gators sprawled out on the banks without getting eaten alive by mosquitos. I’m also that weirdo that gets really, really excited to see snakes. Copperheads are my favorite, but as a former card carrying member of the Gulf Coast Herpetological Society, I appreciate all things scaly. Insects are another story. I want nothing to do with anything that has more than four legs. Banana Spiders, however, do not phase me. Go figure. If you want a reptile free experience, go in the cooler fall and winter months.
A torrential downpour let up right as we ponied up to the Bayou Coquille trailhead, which allowed us to play around with our cameras without worrying about getting our gear soaked. Be warned: I wore my shit kickers and I still almost ate it on the slippery board walk, so make sure to wear sturdy shoes. I do love the swamp after a good rain though. The duckweed turns the color of pea soup and the air shrugs off the tension of humidity. The canals were especially chocked full of vegetation on this trip, which created an illusion of carpeted clearings throughout the swamp. I wonder how many tourists try to step out and land knee deep in mud. I wonder how many of them know better.
art by William Seward Bonnie
Come for the zines, stay for the pretzel plate. The second issue of Catahoula is here! The Spring Issue features over 40 pages of art, photography, poetry and prose by artists and writers from New Orleans and beyond. The theme, “wander,” stretches the meaning of the word. Poems and essays cover everything from daydreaming, being homeless, the exploration of one’s self, travel writing to seeing one’s hometown with a fresh set of eyes.
I decided to throw a launch party as an excuse to get together over cocktails. It gets lonely sitting at home editing copy with just a laptop and a few cats. My friends at Sarsaparilla were gracious enough to invite us into their space. In case you’ve never been, Sarsaparilla is a weekly pop-up bar serving affordable craft cocktails and small plates every Tuesday inside Dante’s Kitchen. The mood is come-as-you-are; enjoy live music and board games while you stuff your face. Oh yeah, I’ll also have zines available for sale.
Catahoula Issue Two Launch Party
Sarsaparilla (inside Dante’s Kitchen)
736 Dante St.
Tuesday April 19 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
RSVP here on Facebook
A little zine news for ya: Catahoula is now in stores! That’s right, you can pick up the winter issue at Defend New Orleans on Magazine St. in the Garden District or at Crescent City Comics on Freret St. The current issue features “Allons,” a story (written by yours truly) about what it was like growing up with a swamp for a backyard. Print copies are $8 (plus tax), but you can also pick up a digital copy for a measly $2 by clicking here.
What is Catahoula? A labor of love, mostly. I’ve been wanting to make a print zine for about three years, and after graduation I felt the need to tackle a new creative project.
Since the first zine only featured my words and art, I want to open the spring issue to writers and artists eager to share their own work. Interested in submitting your work? I’m looking for short stories, personal essays and poems (2,000 word max), photography and original artwork.
The theme is “wander.” From travel to day dreams, I’m leaving this wide open to interpretation. Anyone can submit; you don’t have to live in Louisiana.
Send me your best work to firstname.lastname@example.org with the words “Catahoula Spring Issue” in the subject line. Please send artwork as a JPEG or TIFF file and everything else as a Word document. Deadline is March 20.
I’m excited to announce a project I’ve been working on called Catahoula; the first issue of this quarterly zine features words and photography by yours truly. I’ve toyed with the idea of creating a zine for several years, so I am ecstatic this project has finally come to fruition.
The first issue features “Allons,” a story I wrote this past summer about what it was like to grow up with a swamp for a backyard. I grew up in a typical Westbank subdivision, but my experience was slightly different than my neighbor’s thanks to the proximity of my parent’s house to the levee. Living next to the swamp was fun, but it wasn’t easy. Snakes, armadillos, wasps, and a slew of other animals constantly invaded our home and yard, and the threat of hurricanes was ever present. Growing up in this environment really shaped the person that I am today: someone who yearns for the outdoors and tries not to place too much value on material things since you never know when a storm might take them away. I haven’t lived on “the other side of the river” for 15 years, but I try to make it to Barataria Preserve, the location the essay centers around, at least twice a year. All but one of the photographs (the squirrel photo was shot at Audubon Park) were taken there.
Order a print or digital copy of Catahoula through MagCloud by clicking here. Print copies are $8.00 and digital is $2.00. I’m also giving away two digital copies of Catahoula to two lucky readers. Leave your email in the comments section for a chance to enter. I will pick two winners at random. Winners will be contacted early next week.