Anywhere But Here: House of The Rising Sun

Photo of a fortune teller doll bust in a green glass case. The doll is dressed in a red and green jester's costume and is sticking its tongue out.

Reporting from a stop light probably somewhere in Florida, take it away Gunner.

Hello dear reader, if you’re out there. I’m still not convinced anyone reads this column but on the off chance that someone does here, we are again so sorry to leave you hanging for oh so long. Sometimes it’s hard to (quite literally) pump the brakes and stop the van and edit all these photos I take, putting an explanation behind them is even more difficult because sometimes they just are what they are. You see I very much prefer to keep driving keep shooting, one more mile, one more day, on to the next one, anywhere but here, hence the name you get it, okay, great. I’ll try to do better. But alas, here we are. At a red light, writing to you. Just kidding—probably.

Black and white photo of an old-fashioned vertical sign on the side of a road announcing the approach of hurricane season.
Photo of an old, run down pastel yellow fire department building with vines growing along the front and two open garages with broken white doors side-by-side.
Photo of an old red tin barn with an old man with a short white beard wearing a black hat, blue jeans, and an oversized, bright turquoise plaid shirt sitting on a wooden bench in front of the building with a white styrofoam cup sitting next to him
A photo of a large pile of random items and brush dumped on the side of the road. A large dirty white mattress is haphazardly resting against a black and white no dumping sign. Bright green trees and vegetation surround the area.
A black and white photo of an old building with brick walls and a white wooden roof with a hand-drawn shop sign. The small building sits in front of a poorly maintained parking lot with weeds growing out of the concrete and cracks everywhere. The front of the building is black and open to the air. A small doorway is visible to the left.
A photo of the drive through window  of an old white building that has been spray painted to look like an underwater ocean with seaweed and a swimming turtle and a shore line above.
Photo of a single floor, faded tan brick building with a brown brick roof and two black windows. Two large red, white and blue American flags hangs vertically from the roof on either side of the left window.
A photo taken on a gloomy, cloud-covered day of an old boarded up off-white house with a splintered black shingled roof. The side walks around the home are covered in cracks and overgrown weeds. A line of brightly colored, newly built, orange, yellow and blue condos sit contrastingly behind the old brown wooden fence in the background.A single palm tree is to the left of the old house.

This is a long one so buckle up. I figured I owe it to you potentially existent readers after the lapse in programming. So, without further ado on this month’s episode, we were heading west across the Florida panhandle by way of Apalachicola (quite possibly the best town name in the state) towards Mexico Beach, which by the way is still cleaning up the mess Hurricane Michael made over four years ago.

A photo of a sand washed road with small white sand dunes covered in dark green sea grass on either side.the skin is cloud covered and the entire photo is tinged a blue-ish gray.
Photo of a wooden building and a gravel parking lot. The building is painted to look like a scene in the everglades with a man piloting a a fan boat in light turquoise waters covered with trees and vegetation towards the top of the buildings wall and a large swatch of bright green grass hiding a large, dark green alligator at the base of the building's wall.
A close-up aerial photo of the head of an alligator emerging from the water.The water and the alligator's head are completely covered in bright green moss so that the alligator looks like an imprint in the water.
Black and white photo of a large, hand-painted wooden sign inside a shop and a metal board covered in alligator-themed souvenir magnets.
Photo taken from a car dashboard of the outside of a brightly bubblegum pink- and turquoise-colored building. The doorway to the building is through a large green alligator's mouth.Behind the building is is a multi-storied off-white apartment building.
Black and white photo of a bearded man with sunglasses holding up the palm of his right hand to the camera to show two sets of black stitches in the shape and pattern of an alligator bite.

On to Alabama for a very mediocre surf session, and a quick van nap in Mobile and then continue goin’ left to Mississippi for a fan boat ride with some alligators and an alligator attack survivor named Dale, or something like that.

Photo of the dark green wooden shop doors with tinted windows and a small pieces of paper taped the left door with the words "ONE DRINK MINIMUM PER PERSON" handwritten in black marker.
Photo of a jade green wall in the inside of an antique shop. The wall is covered in displays antique rifles for sale.
Close-up black and white photo of a stop sign with white lettering that reads "STOP" and smaller lettering beneath that reads "TALKING TO COPS".
Black and white photo of a sidewalk shop window with 5 stacked LED signs advertising different types of tours hanging from the inside of the shop.
A small gray, brick sidewalk shop with a large, dirty white sign with faded red lettering. A colorful array of LED alcohol and drink signs cover the shop window from the inside and the door is wrapper in an image of a glass coca cola bottle.
A close up photo of a set of marble white crypts with imprinted words imprinted on the from of each and a small bouquet of dark green plants resting on the marble lines separating each crypt. TO the left of the bouquet, The letter "X" has been painted horizontally in red three times in a row.
Close up photo of the front of an off-white, dusty beige building with wooden doors. The glass in the doors is very dirty and someone has used their finger to draw a star with a circle around it in the dirty glass.
Black and white photo taken from the ground of a group of old marble statues of three humans draped in cloths set in the side of a marble building.
Black and white photo of the inside of a dimly lit, small dive bar with a mirror behind the bar and two shelves crammed with bottles of alcohol. The walls are brick and logos of various alcohol brands hang from them. Two large working fans hang from the ceiling.
Black and white photo of a black framed photograph hanging from a painted wooden door. The vertical photograph is mounted on white paper and is of a man standing in the middle of an eerie and wet tree-lined street. The man is staring at the camera while a cigarette dangles from his mouth. He is wearing a suit under a black duster coat and a bowler hat and holding a closed umbrella. A small black signature is scrawled in the bottom right corner of the mounted paper.
Photo of the outside of a shop with white wooden-lined glass doors. A bright green LED sign that reads the words "JAZZ CASINO" is hanging from the inside of the glass door. The reflections of large building across the street are visible in the window glass.
Photo of the display case of a shop with a single spotlight shining on a mannequin bust dressed with a large green, black and yellow feathered wig and wearing a sparkly green mask across its eyes. Masquerade masks of various shapes and colors are scattered at the base of the display case and hang from the left and right walls.
Photo taken by the photographer of the photographer's black sneakers standing on concrete with a small, faded, rectangular metal plaque embedded into the ground. The words embossed on the plaque read "PERPETUAL CARE"

Finally on to our final destination and the point of this whole giant ramble, New Orleans. Voodoo, Rabbit Jambalaya, Cajun Casinos, Nick Cage’s future grave, an original Henri Cartier Bresson. What else…? No, don’t say beignets we have no time for french fried gluten in this story. Alright well, I believe I’ve hit my required word count without saying anything at all but you know that they say, a photo is worth a thousand words, and wow I can’t wait to tell my editor that one, alright green light, gotta go, be back soon I promise.

It’s 2023 and, yes, we’re still trying to convince Gunner not to take photos while driving moving vehicles—but the best-laid plans and so on. The Anywhere But Here series follows the exhaust fumes of somehow-unscathed photographer Gunner Hughes through adventure and misadventure across the country( and sometimes other countries). Usually finding the backwater towns, roadside religions, old-salt locals, cash-only dive bars, and much more character than you might see off the main highway.