Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dancing The Continental

There is a lot more going on in St. Louis than I realized before I started this blog. Today, the Grand Center arts and entertainment district had a festival called Dancing in the Street and Off the Wall. There were several stages with local dancers, more about which in the next few days. The highlight was a performance on the walls of the Continental Building (see also yesterday's post) by Project Bandaloop, a group of acro-dancers from Oakland, California. Their vertical ballet 10 or 15 stories up the facade of the building was spellbinding. More about them and other dancers this week.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


This is the Continental Building in mid-town St. Louis, near St. Louis University and the Grand Center entertainment district. When I was a student at the university during the late 60s and early 70s, it was a derelict office building. Now, like so many old buildings in our city, it has been rehabbed into upscale apartments.

This photo was created using a high dynamic range (HDR) merge, pulling together a greater breadth of light and dark tones. There is an online tutorial about using this technique with freeware and without a tripod here. The eye can distinguish 20 stops of light (one stop is double or one-half a given amount of light). The best cameras can manage only four to six, beyond which the highlights are blown out or the darks have no detail. HDR can help overcome that.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sunflowers and Boxcars

South of the Arch, between the Mississippi River flood wall and some railroad sidings, sunflowers push through the track side gravel.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thursday Arch Series

The very top, 630 feet or 192 meters above the base of the structure and quite some distance more to the river. That varies with the season and the water level, of course.

If you visit St. Louis, you really should ride to the top. Notice the slit windows looking downward. It's most fun in a high wind. The Arch was designed to sway when necessary. We have some pretty wild thunderstorms but the Arch has been around for 41 years and it hasn't fallen over yet.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

From the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame

Last Sunday afternoon, I was out taking pictures between the railroad yard and the Mississippi River floodwall south of downtown. The area has a stark landscape with its own kind of beauty and I will post some pix in the next few days. I met John, who was out for some exercise, and had a long, fascinating talk. He is a member of the St. Louis Soccer Hall of Fame and was one of the leading scorers in the history of Southern Illinois University. He played professional soccer in England and later became a teacher when he returned home. John has strong opinions about why St. Louis Cardinals fans are weenies compared to supporters of Buenos Aires' Boca Juniors (and I can attest to that myself), American educational policy, sexual politics, English soccer hooligans, social issues and the quality of the United States government.

You meet the most fascinating people when you walk around with a camera and ask someone if you can take their picture.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Theological discussion

Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.

Ecclesiastes 6:9-11

Money, its a crime.
Share it fairly but don't take a slice of my pie.
Money, so they say
Is the root of all evil today.
But if you ask for a raise its no surprise that they're
Giving none away.

Money, Pink Floyd

Sign in front of a church in my neighborhood.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Smash's Friends

Some members of the Smash Band. There is a pattern to be noted here. The instrumentalists are all white, male and tend toward expansive middle age. The saxophone player seems to be an exception. Smash himself looks to be the oldest and of the greatest diameter. There are two female singer-dancers, one black, one white, backing up Smash. Take it as you like. At least it's evidence for the saying that you're never too old to rock and roll.

TOMORROW: A fine theological point.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


Well, it turns out Smash is an old fat guy with a big voice and no fashion sense. So what? Mick Jagger is an old skinny guy (64! Can you believe it?) with weird fashion sense. Smash is still belting it out with his band. He rides a Harley. Not a bad guy, I suppose. Once a year, he and another local character, Tony Twist (his actual name), a bad-ass former St. Louis Blues hockey player, help organize a Bikers For Arthritis fund raising ride. Here's hoping Smash doesn't have the Big One while standing on this stage in the middle of Market Street.

TOMORROW: Smash's friends

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Our Six Month Anniversary - Blow The Horns!

Hard for me to believe but the first post of this project was on March 22 of this year, six months ago today. I didn't exactly understand what I was getting into, how much work it would be or how much fun I would have. Would never have guessed that the blog would get nearly 10,00 hits in such a short time, that an NYC CDPBer lives on the very block where I grew up, that my pictures would be published on a blog from Argentina or that a CDPB colleague from Shanghai would be my tour guide to her city. What a great ride. Thank you to all of our visitors and commentators.

This weekend is the Taste of St. Louis downtown, where a number of local restaurants sell small portions of their best stuff, there is entertainment, art (sort of), lots of people trying to sell you cell phone service, replacement windows or vacation timeshares in the Ozarks, and security people hassling you because the organizers prohibit "professional": cameras (who gets to define that?). When ShadowyOne and I showed up to shoot there late Friday afternoon, a popular local group, the Smash Band, was playing. Smash in an in-your-face radio personality on a morning drive time show. The band was pretty good but the enormous wall of speakers started to shake the fillings out of my teeth.

TOMORROW: What do you think a guy who calls himself Smash looks like?

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm low on material so how about football cheerleaders? (Or, why I hate football.)

I haven't shot any new material since I got back from vacation except the balloon race so I'm scraping the archives. These are three of the cheerleaders for the St. Louis Rams, the local football team. Not the world's football. American football. The picture was shot back at the Fourth of July parade. The season started this month and the Rams are 0-2.

Actually, I hate football. It's all violence and glitz with a dash of sex. It reminds me of America's wars from Vietnam forward. It is about capturing territory at all costs and then inevitably losing it, while wearing uniforms that make the players look like steroid-inflated spacemen. Many veterans of the National Football League are near cripples, their joints wrecked by years of smashing into other large men as hard as possible. IMHO, the line from
Shakespeare's Macbeth fits well: "It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." The football championship, the Super Bowl, is usually held in early February. Most Americans watch it. For many years, my wife and I have gone out to dinner in a TV-free restaurant during the game for our private Stupid Bowl party. If the restaurant is open, you've got the best table in the house.

The only professional sport I follow is baseball, with its greater variety of graceful athleticism, no time clock (I think that it exists in another dimension) and subtle, intellectual decisions. Baseball is not deliberately violent, although throwing a small, hard ball at 150 km/h and swinging around hefty ash wood bats has its risks. Baseball has strategy like chess. football like warfare.

So that's my rant for today. And anyway, a picture of three pretty young ladies will probably draw hits from the portal.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Thursday Arch Series

The Thursday Arch Series is back after its and my vacation. Sometimes I wonder how long the Arch will be here, catching the setting sun in its arms as in this picture. Far longer than me, I hope, waiting to share its beauty with future generations.

TOMORROW: I hate (American) football

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Last baseball photo of the year (probably)

It is hard to say what lies behind it, but feelings about the Chicago Cubs baseball team run strong. The Cubs last won the championship 99 years ago, the longest dry spell of any Major League Baseball team. Some maintain that the name of the team stands for Completely Useless By September. Their antique stadium, Wrigley Field, has been their home since 1916 and was the last Major League park to get lights for night play. Every single game is sold out.

At the end of the Cardinals - Cubs game last Sunday, we met this gentleman wearing a jersey with the logos of all 26 Major League teams. Note the Cubs' insignia over his left kidney, crossed out with a big red X. Your interpretation is as good as mine.

By the way, I want to apologize for the really awful color in this photo. Don't know what I had set wrong on the camera but it looked weird when I saw the original JPG. I tried to color correct it in Photoshop and probably mad it worse. I'll be more careful.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

After the game

After the baseball game Sunday, co-blogger ShadowyOne posed for pictures at Busch Stadium with her husband, Brian, and their friend Skeet, who drove up from Nashville, Tennessee. That's actually Skeet who has his hand on her shoulder.

The crying shame in this is that my daughter, my own flesh and blood, married a Cubs fan. Brian is a great guy and I love him but...a Cubs fan? He is wearing their uniform shirt in this photo but you can only see a little of the logo. And Skeet is no better. Blog contributor U "R" Us, who lives in Chicago these days, has been seen wearing a Cubs hat himself. I wonder whether my father felt like this when I rejected the Republican party.

Our friend Curley from England commented on this picture that "it's just rounders." That's right, in a sense. But how would an English family of, say, ardent Arsenal fans feel if one of the children married a rabid Chelsea supporter? I rest my case.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Near the end of a bad season

ShadowyOne, her husband Brian, their friend Skeet and I went to the Cardinals - Cubs game yesterday afternoon. The St. Louis and Chicago teams are arch rivals. The Cubs are leading in the weakest of the six Major League baseball divisions. The Cardinals rallied in August to come close but have lost 10 of their last 11 games, nearly assuring elimination. Baseball teams usually play six days a week so the standings can change quickly. The Cardinals won the championship last year but have disappointed in 2007.

In the pictures above, Cardinals third baseman Scott Spezio nearly falls over backward catching a pop foul while the Cubs' right fielder grabs a fly ball off the bat of Rick Ankiel at the wall. 335 feet is about 100 meters.

You can just see a black circle with the white number 32 on Spezio's sleve. This was the number of Cardinals' pitcher Josh Hancock, who died in an auto wreck after a game in April while very intoxicated, talking on a cell phone and not wearing a seat belt. See my post of May 2 .

A couple more off-the-field shots from the game over the next two days.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Great Forest Park Balloon Race

Co-blogger ShadowyOne and I went to Forest Park yesterday afternoon to shoot The Great Forest Park Balloon Race, an event that has been going on for 43 years. On the big day, a balloon that looks like the Energizer Bunny takes off from a large open field. Fifteen minutes later, many other balloons take off one after the other, filling the sky with color. The Bunny eventually finds a place to land. The winner of the race is the other balloon that lands closest to the Bunny.

The day was perfect. The wind was light and variable, keeping the balloons over the city center. The bunny landed in the playground of a nearby community center. One landed in the parking lot of a grocery store a couple of blocks from a corner of the park and another actually came down in the street. You can read the story about the race in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch here.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

One more from China

I'll be out this weekend shooting some new local material. In the meantime, think about who may be watching you. This is the north edge of Tienanmen Square in Beijing at the entrance to the Forbidden City, for centuries the home of Chinese emperors. For all of its explosive entrepreneurialism, China remains a police state. There are far more police on the streets than in the U.S. and many prominent storefront police stations. Mao's economic and social policies are now viewed with skepticism but he is still revered as the liberator of the country from foreign domination. His portrait is inescapable. It is on every piece of paper money. No Chinese people we met refer to him as just Mao. It is always Chairman Mao..

Friday, September 14, 2007

Ni hao, y'all

Home again after two fascinating, exhausting weeks in China. It is a must experience if you have the means. My wife and I may have seen the shape of the future (and the air is worse than you could imagine).

Many thanks to ShadowyOne for keeping the blog up to date while I was away. I may ask her to do a few more days until I get some new local material. It was interesting to see my city through someone else's eyes.

Sincere thanks, too, to Shanghai CDPB's Song Jing, who acted as our tour guide for an evening and took us out to dinner at a typical local restaurant we would not have found on our own. This was one of the joys of the CDPB community.

I took a zillion pictures, of course. Some of the best are on my Flickr site, so have a look if you are interested. There will be a few more over the coming days as I get all the material organized. This pictures below are from a boat ride down the breathtaking Li River between Guilin and Yangshuo, in the southeast of the country. The drizzly day was magical.

My brain is still somewhere over the mid Pacific but all will be back to normal soon.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Drown Your Sorrows

Sorry; I guess it's me (ShadowyOne) again; I imagine Bob was pooped & out of the habit of daily posting anyway. For today, we have some pseudo-baseball related shots. Our Saint Louis Cardinals are in the toilet; it looks like a post-World Series win slump. So everybody drown your sorrows with America's other pastime. I love the pro-sobriety message on the huge (24 oz) stadium beer.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Think Pink

Another classic zoo shot. I like the reflection in the water, myself. Just picked Bob up from the airport, so you guys can all relax; I assume your regular contributer will be back tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Summer's End

A fire crew had their truck out, with the hose hooked up like a shower, and some local kids took the invitation. Saint Loouis has apparently finally ended an awful heat wave, and we're now ready for autumn.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Saint Louis IX

The statue of Saint Louis IX in front of the Art Museum. Taken the same night as this.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Pray for Joe Roddy

Joe Roddy is the alderman for my neighborhood. Why someone was inspired to paint this on the side of their building puzzles me, though. For non-Saint Louisans, the creepy face is a billiken, Saint Louis University's mascot.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Central West End

Taken at Duff's restaurant in the Central West End. A lovely corner of my beloved neighborhood.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Happy at work (portrait)

I thought that I'd contribute a little something that my father (your regular host) couldn't. For those who don't know, I am in management with Saint Louis Bread Co (Panera Bread, for those elsewhere in the US). Bob and I had discussed the possibility of me taking some shots of the bakers who work overnight at each café, to post for the breakfast theme day on August 1st, but I got a bit overwhelmed and couldn't do it. Also of note is the factoid that this photo was taken at the Kirkwood, MO bakery-café, the first ever SLBC/Panera café (it will turn 20? years old this fall).

But finally, I like this photo just as a portrait. I often wish that I could be as happy at work as Camille (the photo's subject). And also, I like the beige and green of Camille's outfit in the foreground, and the warm oranges and cool blues of the background.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Go Will!

I love signs! (I've got my eye on a couple of other ones in my neighborhood for upcoming posts.) This one is on a stretch of Manchester Road that I don't travel down very often; I happened to spot it on the way to see my friend Will DJing at a bar one night. I told him I'd snap it the next time I drove by... after taking some unsucessful shots of it in darkness, I left for work early one day to get it in the dawn light.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Secret Garden

I figure everyone's had enough of festival photographs, so here's one of a gorgeous, secluded spot in the Botanical Gardens, one of many spots that remind me why I should get back to the Garden more often (it's only a few blocks from my house, after all).

If anyone is interested in seeing more of my weekend (and other) photographs, my flickr photoset is here. Please feel free to leave comments on the photos there.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007


Dancers drinking a ceremonial glass of ouzo before a dance at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church's annual Greek Festival this weekend. It is always a sight, with so much delicious food cooking, pastries, music, dancing, and plenty of kids catapulting around. I was exausted. I have many, many more pictures from this festival and the Japanese Festival; I will post them to Flickr when I get a chance, and provide a link there.

Monday, September 3, 2007

More Japanese Festival

More pix from the Japanese Festival; there were so many, it was very difficult to choose. The first is a Caucasian girl in kimono, posing for her mother; the second is a traditional drummer; the third is a father and son playing with one of the little wax toys created by the man from yesterday's post.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Midwest Matsuri

Sorry that I didn't have time to post an explaination when I first put this up; I'd spent most of the day at the Missouri Botanical Garden's annual Japanese Fesival, had popped back home with just enough time to dump my memory card (and briefly open anniversary presents with my husband on our first anniversay), then went back out to the Big Muddy Blues Festival on Laclede's Landing.

The man in these pictures was doing a very quaint bit of performance art. He clearly spoke little to no English, but encouraged audience participation with body language and gestures. Among other things, he made little paper cutouts, produced a katana blade with a flourish that then turned out to be a bubble-blower, created detailed little creatures out of wax (in the first picure, blindfolded), and balancing a little ball on an umbrella (2nd picture). He moved around the circle of onlookers in very, very rapid loops, and so it was quite difficult to catch him in a good shot.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Daily Photoblogers Meeting

(ShadowyOne forwarding a photo and message from Strangetates in China - he cannot access blogspot there)

Hello from Shanghai! My wife and I had a delightful evening with Jing of Shanghai Daily Photo,, a terrific photographer and hostess for her city. Here we are on the Bund promenade along the river with the towers of Pudong behind us. We walked down Nanjing Road for dinner in a Shanghaiese restaurant, where Jing recommended delicious examples of the local cuisine. Who would have thought I would enjoy fish lips soup? More adventures in China to come.