Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thursday Arch Series

I thought about giving the Arch series a week off because I have absolutely no recent material. However, being a slave to habit, I went digging in the archives to see what I could find. This one isn't bad. I like how the radiating lines in the grass make the Arch look like a giant sundial.

I get to play art critic and photojournalist at the St. Louis opening of The Character Project photography show. Could be fun.

City Daily Photo Blogs monthly theme day - shadows. Mine aren't made with visible light. Oh, and a preview of The Character Project show. Much more of that on Saturday.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Admitted To The Bar

Sunday was was warm and sunny as I wandered around the Earth Day festival. I was thirsty but there was nowhere to buy just a bottle of water. The food stands all had long lines. There were a couple of bars but the only non-alcoholic beverage they sold was Red Bull. I don't quite get this product. Granted, I have never tasted it. The article cited in the link says that it would take 128 cans consumed in an hour to kill you. It originated in Thailand and was adapted for Western tastes by an Austrian businessman. Check the contents - I wouldn't drink it if I were diabetic. The entire concept runs contrary to the natural and balanced themes of Earth Day. Readers who have swilled the stuff are invited to comment.

Anyhow, I eventually found a stand sponsored by the Sierra Club selling fresh-squeezed organic lemonade. Just what this photographer needed.

HEY, I GOT A PRESS PASS, SORT OF: I have been contacted by a representative of The Character Project, a web site, book and touring photographic show exploring the character of Americans in pictures. Check the work on the web site - it's a knockout. The exhibit comes through St. Louis this weekend. The sponsors asked me to cover it on STL DPB. I got a VIP pass to the private opening Thursday night with permission to shoot the event. Should be on the blog Friday and Saturday.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Earth Day In Forest Park - Falun Gong

Every time I have attended Earth Day festivities in Forest Park there have been members of falun gong. They demonstrate their practice, as here, and talk to anyone interested about what they believe and do. It looks very peaceful, but at the same time a product of intense concentration and discipline.

I got an email from the queen of the faeries herself, telling how much she enjoyed the pix in yesterday's post. She invited me to come to the St. Louis Renaissance Faire next month to photograph all her subjects and the other goings on - with comped tickets! Be there or be square, I say.

taurus caffeinensis.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Faerie Queen

St. Louis celebrates Earth Day in Forest Park on the Sunday after the official date. There was a big turnout. I'm all for conservation, emissions control and renewable resources. However, it seemed like every New Ager, homeopath, herbalist, spiritualist, crystal purveyor and arcane healer in town had a booth there, hawking their ideas or wares. People can believe what they like - you pays your money and you takes your choice. Me, I'm a hard science guy. Gimme a double-blind, peer reviewed study every time.

To my delight, though, I met the local fairies. There were a number of people promoting the area Renaissance Fair, which takes place in late May and early June. It's full of re-enacters, trying to live the life of 15th and 16th Century Europe. I'm fully occupied enacting the 21st Century but it sounds like a lot of fun. I've never gone because it's out in the exurbs but the Faerie Queen from this group talked me into it. Makes me want to run out and see
A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Big Sky Country

Fooling around with HDRs again but this one is different. Usually I shoot handheld and blend three images. This was on a tripod (yes, me!) and made from seven shots, like the big boys do it. It has smoother tonal transitions while keeping the whole light-dark range.

The view is from mid-way down Art Hill in Forest Park, beneath the Art Museum, looking north toward the Grand Lagoon. It was taken with a 17 mm wide angle lens. Note the other photographer in the green shirt working off a tripod in front of me. She was shooting film. Such discipline.

bunch of fairies.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


It's not crack or meth. Apparently they are talking about their hamburgers. Well, that's how I feel about White Castles. This is the tiny White Palace restaurant. The name is similar. All was explained in a post about this place last year, as well as my three or four steps removed relation to it (closer than to Kevin Bacon). See the Bonus Factoid for the details.

By the way, you can just barely see the Hard Times Lounge features yesterday in the lower right corner of the bottom picture. Can you spot the tiny Budweiser sign?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hard Times

A bar on the edge of downtown with a strong sense of propriety. Don't you 24 year olds be trying to come in here wearing a basketball jersey and your baggy pants falling off your behinds. And none of that wack crack stuff, either. They call - is it 3-0 or 5-0? - as soon as someone figures out what it means. I got no idea. In any event, it's the perfect place for people of a certain age to relax after they've lost their jobs and homes.

TOMORROW: addiction.

There is a new Arch photo today on GATEWAY.
About time.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thursday Arch Series

One of the things the Arch does well is loom. On a dark day like this, it looms over the Mississippi, threatening to channel the force of lightning across the river into Illinois or some such thing. It's a little threatening, a symbol of something ominous. Caveat visitor.

TOMORROW: the first of a couple of days about urban addictive behaviors and the economic conditions that go along with them.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


This is the main highway bridge over the Mississippi at St. Louis. Its official name is the Bernard F. Dickman Bridge but nobody around here knows a thing about Bernie (mayor of STL in the 30s - I looked it up) and nobody calls it that. Everybody refers to it as the Poplar Street Bridge, for the small street it leaps over as it leaves Missouri. Three Interstate highways cross the river on it. For all that, it looks kind of dull and the ramps and interchanges on both sides are a mess (interesting discussion here). Still, it has a massiveness that suits the river it crosses. Check out those heavy duty shock absorbers between the bridge deck and supporting piers.

Thursday Arch Series.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Big River, Gray and Brown

Skies full of dark spring rainclouds over the Mississippi. The bridges are the the Eads, the oldest bridge over the middle and lower river (the big part) and behind it the McKinley. The water level is high at this time of year, full of snow melt from up north.

I thought about titling this post Old Man River but PJ of Pensacola DP beat me to it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Purple Rain

Twelve miles, twenty kilometers southwest of the Arch, right in front of my house on a wet spring Sunday. The flowering tree in the foreground is pink dogwood. The petals on the sidewalk and street are from a redbud tree, which are in bloom all over St. Louis.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Worst of Us

There is a neo-Nazi convention in the area this weekend. They held a pathetic little rally under the Arch on Saturday afternoon. The police, in effect, fenced them in and kept the public at a distance. There were not many of them. Only a handful of spectators watched in the steady light rain. In the bottom picture some of them offer their reaction.

I wondered whether I should post this. In the end, I thought that we need to be reminded that this horror still exists in our city and country. Revealing its existence was the right thing to do, despite its repulsiveness.

BUT ON THE OTHER HAND, we attended a riveting performance last night of Berlioz's La Damnation de Faust by the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Marguerite's inherent goodness was rewarded, Faust's sins were terribly punished but Mephistofeles, the deep core of evil, was triumphant. Where's the lesson in what I saw and heard today? In any event, nobody but nobody writes glorious high-art bombast like Hector Berlioz.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Not Paris

Back in The Lou. This is an image from the archives of the area north of the Arch. I apologize for not leaving comments on my friends' blogs recently. We're exploring new dimensions in jet lag here. I'd shake it right off when I was younger but the second law of thermodynamics is at work and it's not so easy any more. Should be back up to speed over the weekend.

WHAT'S UP IN ST. LOUIS THIS WEEKEND? Well, the marathon on Sunday, if I get up early enough (don't hold your breath). Oh, and there's a neo-Nazi convention in town this weekend at an undisclosed location. Does that mean Cheney is speaking to them? They say they are coming by the Arch this afternoon. Your intrepid photographer may have to record this.

Friday, April 17, 2009

La France, Toujours

Farewell to Paris and France. They are at once refined and crazed, logical and obsessive, beautiful and sardonic, politically conscientious and politically volcanic. We walked in the open door of what I took to be an art and design school across the street from the Luxembourg Gardens when we spotted this. It translates as something like "Sarkozy (the president of France) you are breaking our school." (French speakers, please correct as necessary.) Sounds like funding cuts are threatened. Would American students have this kind of hilarious sarcasm?

J'aime la France et y retournerai un jour.

Gotta get out and shoot some local material this weekend. And thanks to Eliane for helping with my lousy French.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thursday Arch Series

Well, what did you expect? Home now, jet lagged, thinking about work over the next few days. No idea what I'm going to post after this. Maybe I'll round out the week with a bit more of the City of Light.

There are a whole bunch of Paris photos on Flickr
here and still more to edit.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Objets d'Art

We spent yesterday afternoon at the Orsay Museum, the showplace of the Impressionists. It occurred to me to photograph details of paintings that interested me. Well, at least after the first adolescent joke. But what joke? Isn't this in the tradition of Marcel Duchamp and Rene Magritte? Fabulous dinner for our anniversary last night at Les Bouquinistes. It was recommended by my brother who works for a French company and travels here often.

We're at the airport and about to board. Had a fabulous time. This city is full of endless pleasures.

I'll be editing more pictures on the plane, which I'll upload to Flickr when I get home tonight.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Les Impressionnistes et Les Photobloggeurs

What a delightful day. We enjoyed a very French two and a half hour lunch with blogger friends Peter of Peter's Paris, Cergie of Cergipontin and Olivier of Evry Daily Photo. The venue was Restaurant Fournaise on Chatou Island in the Seine, west of the city. It is sometimes called the island of the impressionists, as several of them, particularly Renoir, painted the scene.Wonderful company, wonderful food and a gorgeous spring day.

I hope to get many more photos edited on the plane home tomorrow, which I will post here and on Flickr.

Monday, April 13, 2009

STL DPB In Paris: At The Bird Market

We walked around the city for hours yesterday. On the Ile de la Cite, not far from Notre Dame, is an outdoor market selling flowers, garden products, pet fish and birds. One vendor allowed you to hold the birds on your finger and feed them seeds. We met a Spanish couple who had the knack and were kind enough to let me photograph them.

I've spoken quite a few sentences in French to actual French people and have often been understood. Why, last night I made a restaurant reservation without a word of English. Hope they have a table when we show up tonight..

DEMAIN: les photobloggers de Paris (et moi aussi).

Sunday, April 12, 2009

STL DPB In Paris: Pere Lachaise Cemetery


When we were younger we laughed at jet lag. Out of the airport, into a rental car and blast off across the motorway, autoroute, autobahn or what have you at high speed for hundreds of kilometers. No more. We had trouble sleeping Friday night, then slept very late Saturday. After finally getting out the door, we spent the afternoon at Pere Lachaise Cemetary, where many illustrious French (and one infamous American) find their rest.

There are maps that lead you to the graves of the famous, although some are hard to find. Among the residents we found were Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Amadeo Modigliani, Honore de Balzac, Eugene Delacroix, Moliere, Marcel Proust, Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison. I've got a lot of pix but little free time while I'm here. Well, something to do on the plane Wednesday.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

STL DPB On The Road: Paris

Our anniversary trip is in progress. We made it in Friday morning and went to the cute little apartment we are renting in the Left Bank - Saint Germain des Pres area. The first order of business was a nap, then a stroll around the nearby Luxembourg Gardens, illustrated here. Didn't get a post up yesterday because of trouble with the apartment's WiFi router. All that is solved. Many more photos in coming days.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Thursday Arch Series

ShadowyOne and I were wandering around the Arch grounds after the pillow fight last weekend, taking the odd snapshot. We spotted a can of Red Bull lying on the pavement and I decided to use it as a prop. Any meaning you find in this picture is your business.

This gave me an idea for a new approach to the Arch series: placing odd objects in juxtaposition to the monument. You know, sort of like the garden gnome in Amelie - one part is always the same and another always changes. We'll see what comes of it.

WHAT'S GOING ON TODAY: Mrs. C. and I are off on a little getaway to celebrate our 35th anniversary, which is next Tuesday. We visited this place the first time we traveled outside the U.S. on our 10th anniversary. Twenty five years later and we're back again (not that we haven't been there in between). There could be a meet-up with a famous CD photoblogger.

I hope to upload a post from our destination around mid-day or in the afternoon US central time. Stay tuned.

There is a new Arch photo
today on GATEWAY.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Forest Park In Spring - Defeated Daffodils

Early spring flowers in Forest Park after rain. They look like they are dejected, or sad, or possibly bowing in obeisance to a greater blossom.

There is a black and white version of this photo
here. I like the color just a bit better but I could go either way.

Thursday Arch Series (with a new idea!) and a new Arch photo on Gateway. And it's a travel day, too.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Missouri Healh Care For All

As I mentioned yesterday, I went out to photograph the Rally For Compassionate Missouri Budget on Sunday afternoon. It was organized by Missouri Health Care For All to draw attention to the threat to our state's already-meager Medicaid system by Republicans in the state House of Representatives. There was a good crowd. Many Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders attended.

Note the woman in the white cassock and red stole in the upper left photo below. It is Rev. Teresa Mithen, pastor of St. John's Episcopal Church in St. Louis. Rev. Mithen is my daughter's oldest friend - they have known one another since they were that big and Mithen officiated at her wedding. She's a very cool person.

Monday, April 6, 2009

More From The Pillow Fight, Or, What You Learn At My Alma Mater

Word of Saturday's mass pillow fight spread throughout St. Louis on the web. These students from St. Louis University, my alma mater (A.B. 1971, J.D. 1974) showed up to battle the soft machine. Why they decided to paint themselves in silver is beyond me. It's not even one of the school colors. But so what - I did much dumber stuff when I was there. You would have to find my secret dossier to find out what.

Hey, check out the fourth comment to this post
from a St. Louis U. student. These people painted themselves silver as camouflage, to blend in with the Arch in case of trouble with the cops. How absolutely clever!

I went out to shoot the Rally For A Compassionate Missouri Budget on the steps of out Old Court House. Republicans in the Missouri House of Representatives want to use the recession as a reason for yet further cutbacks on social services, particularly health care. I've been pretty P.C. in most of my posts but my header does advertise the occasional rant. Well, here's one. I am horrified and angered by the I keep all my money, it's okay if you die in a hole somewhere attitude of much of the Republican party in this state. It's a vision of society that looks back to the Industrial Revolution and beyond, when workers and the poor were treated as a commodity. That's not a society where I want to live. And I don't want to move to Massachusetts or British Columbia to live with the like-minded. I'd rather do something positive here. So, tomorrow's post will feature the rally.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Pillow Fight Under the Arch!


Several weeks ago, Hayden Carter of St. Louis Improv contacted me through the blog and invited me to record some of their street provocation theater. Saturday was the day for a Worldwide Pillow Fight, the local version held under his loose supervision beneath the Arch. It was a fun-for-all free-for-all until the park rangers came along and did a Big Brother number on the mêlée.

Check the link above to St. Louis Improv's Facebook page for upcoming subversive activities.

WHAT'S ON TODAY: a rally in opposition to the horrifying cuts in social services being pushed through the Missouri legislature by the Republican majority. It will be held on the steps of the Old Court House and is led by Rabbi Susan Talve, one of this area's most admirable religious leaders. I'll make it if I can.

oh, this is fun. Let's stick with it.

AND BY THE WAY, team member ShadowyOne was along for the festivities yesterday and was smart enough to bring her FlipVideo. Check out live coverage of the pillow fight on YouTube. Click the HQ button for higher resolution. The person wandering around in a blue jacket and hat taking pictures is me.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Didn't have anything worth posting from Forest Park, as I mentioned yesterday, so it's back to the Botanical Garden. A fellow photographer with a full kit shoots the cherry trees over a dusting of snow.

My iPod spontaneously decided to work again. I think it had something to do with my iTunes library. I don't use it since I only rip music from CDs, never download from iTunes, but the program needs the file. It was on the server at my office. We put in a new server with a different name and it drove iTunes crazy. I created a new library file and all is well. What a pain.

TOMORROW: There is supposed to be something absolutely crazy going on downtown today. I've been invited to photograph it. Won't say what it it is until I'm sure it comes off. Hey, wait! It happened! It happened! Giant pillow fight under the Arch! Stills and video here at 6:00 AM US Central Daylight Savings Time on Sunday (11.00 GMT).

Friday, April 3, 2009

Payday Loans

Payday loan offices offer small short term loans to people, often just until their next pay check. These are people who are desperate and often have no other source of credit. The rates of interest can be breathtakingly high. As the interesting article on the subject in Wikipedia states: [in a study of US payday loans] the most frequent rate was $25 per $100, or 650% annual interest rate (APR) if the loan is repaid in two weeks. Low income people can become entrapped.

The practice is banned for being unconscionable usury in a minority of US states. Rules vary greatly among other states. Is this practice permitted where you live?

a few readers suggested I take my messed up iPod to an Apple store to see if they could do something with it. I did that today. Their best guess is that the unit is okay but that there are corrupted files. They think the only way to fix it is to wipe the 40 GB of music on it and rebuild it from scratch. It's all from CDs, no downloads. Um. In my spare time.

TOMORROW: not sure. I'm thinking of going back to spring in Forest Park.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Thursday Arch Series

This was taken in broad daylight. I was just fooling around with exposure. It was shot at - 2 stops. I need some new ideas for this subject.

renewed my subscription to
Photoshop User magazine. Thing is, I hardly ever have time to read it (or much else).

lender of last resort.

There is a new Arch photo
today on GATEWAY.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

CDPB Monthly Theme Day: Yellow

I dunno. It's what popped out of my feverish brain. Interpret it as you will.

Chicken out with City Daily Photobloggers around the world today. Click here to view thumbnails for all participants

Don't know. Maybe Apple planned it that way.
But wait a minute. I'm writing this on a MacBook. Should I be worried?

Thursday Arch Series