Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Lammas Fair, Ballycastle

Carnival Ride, Lammas Fair, Ballycastle 3

When we were planning this trip, Carolyn told me that we would be in the neighborhood of the Lammas Fair, the oldest in Ireland. I boggled. A Tibetan Buddhist festival on the Emerald Isle? No, I was very wrong.

This may be indeed the oldest such event but you wouldn't know it. The venue is Ballycastle, a town on the north coast of County Antrim. Today, it is an enormous tacky flea market, with uncountable vendors selling similar junk. The visitors had a great time, though, and we were pleased that we didn't hear a bit of American English in the throngs. Another striking thing was the large number of musicians playing and singing American country music, which seems to be very popular here. One is pictured below. Cowboy hats in Ireland? They do have a lot of cows.

Carnival Ride, Lammas Fair, Ballycastle

Carnival Ride, Lammas Fair, Ballycastle 4

Country Singer, Lammas Fair, Ballycastle 1

Vendor at Lammas Fair, Ballycastle 2

Vendor at Lammas Fair, Ballycastle 1

Monday, August 30, 2010

Trouble and Beauty

Belfast Mural 1

A brief note. We don't rest on our vacations. We're out to see the world. It's late Sunday and I'm a bit tired but the day was full of powerful images.

Before we left Belfast, we walked around a nearby road with many Unionist murals from The Troubles. Living in the US, I was aware of the conflict in Northern Ireland for two decades but did not understand it at all. It is astounding to view the remnants of such violence and hatred. I recommend you check the link on this one - it's a long story.

The city is relatively peaceful today but we saw many buildings with in-your-face displays of the Union Jack and the flag of Northern Ireland, and some doing the same with the flag of the Republic of Ireland. The city is safe but it's
not all over.

In the afternoon, we visited the Giants Causeway on the north coast of the island. Huge hexagonal basalt columns formed by volcanic activity are thrust up along the shore. You have never seen anything like it. Legend has it that the Irish giant, Finn McCool, built it as a pathway to meet and battle his Scottish counterpart.

There are many more of these images for me to edit but that's all for Sunday night.

Murdered By The Enemies

Our Wee Country

Giants Causeway 1

Giants Causeway 2

Giants Causeway 3

Sunday, August 29, 2010

STL DPB On The Road: Belfast

Belfast Bus Ad 1

A long walk around central Belfast today. The city seems almost normal now unless you notice certain details, like the heavily fortified police stations. It has a rich and heavily conflicted history, with a peace process delicately moving forward. Wonderful pubs, many high-quality restaurants (c'mon, European food standards blow the US away), fascinating architecture and warm people. The locals say that if you can't have fun in Belfast, you can't have fun at all.

We went on a couple of fascinating walking tours. I particularly recommend Arthur Magee's Belfast Free Tours. Well, free in the sense that the price is left to your discretion but it's worth what's in your wallet - your generosity will be rewarded. It's about history, politics, religion, rich and poor, us and them, violence and peace and, most of all, a sense of humanity in a complex city. It's a must. We also enjoyed the tour of Belfast's city hall, comparable only to San Francisco's in terms neoclassical grandeur.

A bit more Belfast this morning, then on to the small town of Portrush via the Giants' Causeway. And by the way, there are lots more pictures from the trip going up on Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/photos/bobcrowe/sets/72157624797408770/.

Our National Trust

Gum Bin

Play Me, I'm Yours

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Away down Knowth...

Knowth 2

Knowth. Rhymes with south, creating the opportunity for a terrible pun. HAR!, as Virginia might say.

Anyway, Knowth and nearby Newgrange, 45 minutes drive north of Dublin, are neolithic burial mounds, some parts of which are 5,000 years old. Millenia later they were used by other peoples as religious sites, towns and fortifications. They have channels within them that catch the sunrise of the winter and summer solstices , and spring and summer equinoxes.

Out and about in Belfast today. We were surprised to find that there was no checkpoint of any kind at the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland, not even a sign that we had crossed over. Our first hint was that the road signs were no longer bilingual in Irish and English.

Knowth 1 BW

Friday, August 27, 2010

STL DPB In Dublin, In Jail And In Kathmandu

Kilmainham Gaol 1

We visited Kilmainham Gaol yesterday morning, the most notorious prison in Ireland. It was here that the English confined the leaders of the Irish revolutions (six between 1798 and 1919) and executed many of them. It was an unspeakably cruel place. Our guide gave some of the young members of the group signs reminding us that even children were imprisoned for the crime of being poor. Vagrancy, in this context, meant to be homeless.

On Peter Kelleher's advice, we drove down the coast to the toney village of Dalkey, home of Bono and other wealthy Irish. It felt like a local version of Carmel-by-the-Sea. We climbed to the top of Killiney Hill to see the obelisk, a make-work project for the destitute, and its sweeping view of Dublin Bay and surroundings.

And now for something completely different. Dinner was at Monty's of Kathmandu, a brilliant Nepalese restaurant in the Temple Bar district. It had an all-Nepali staff, fabulous food (the chicken momos were to die for) and the best nan we've had anywhere, including India and Nepal. I gotta have a set of those glasses to remind me of my Buddha nature with every sip of malbec. And then, a few doors from the restaurant, a little more local weirdness.

Today, a stop at Newgrange and then on to Belfast.

Kilmainham Gaol 2

Obelisk on Victoria Hill

Monty's of Kathmandu 3

Monty's of Kathmandu 1

Monty's of Kathmandu 2

Eustace Street, Dublin

Thursday, August 26, 2010

St. Louis Ramblers In Dublin

Wall of Fame

It's late Wednesday night here in Dublin as I write this. A full day of wandering around the city, details of which will have to wait. Lots of good pix today, too. Not sure when they will get edited. For the moment, a detail from a monument to local pop and folk music heroes, the Wall of Fame. And, since Cieldequimper reminds me that there has to be a Thursday Arch Series photo on Thursday, an image from Christ Church Cathedral, the city's Anglican HQ.

We were out late because of an invitation from one of my readers, Peter Kelleher. He is an Irishman who lived and worked in St. Louis for twenty years and has been back in Dublin for two. STL DPB keeps him up with his home for nearly half his life. Terrific dinner (here), good conversation and a pint at a traditional pub to finish the evening. Adventures are planned on the outskirts of the area for today.

By the way, I generally agree with the statement in the first picture. Given the choice, though, I'd prefer a glass of good Argentine malbec.

Christ Church Cathedral 1

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

STL DPB On The Road: Dublin

Spire of Dublin

So we got 3 or 4 hours of sleep on the plane, maybe, arrived at the hotel at 10 and the room wasn't ready until 2. Carolyn and I went staggering around central Dublin to kill some time.

Things have changed here since our last visit 8 years ago, not surprisingly. The center looks a bit more worn down. Lots of vacant storefronts. The ethnic mix is different. There are a couple of Polish groceries in the neighborhood of our hotel. The hotel bellman was named Krishna. The young man who took our lunch order had a notable Chinese accent and wore a New York Yankees baseball hat. Someone warned us about unlicensed cabs run by Nigerians, circulating at night. A group of Irish friends at the bar at our hotel were drinking Coors Light (yuck). The people at the next table at dinner (at Sixty6, excellent) were Spanish.

The picture above is The Dublin Spire, planted right in the middle of O'Connell Street on the site where in the 60s the IRA blew up a copy of Nelson's Column, like the one in Trafalgar Square. I don't know what it means but you can find out through the link.

Serious tourism later today.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Last Look Homeward

Fountain At Citygarden

I'm writing this in a lounge at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, getting ready to board our flight to Dublin. The weather there into mid-week sounds fairly awful (not sure if that link will work) but we're still excited. Dinner for Wednesday confirmed with one of my readers, despite the predicted howling storms.

This is one of the fountains in Citygarden where children are invited to play. It's an HDR, which is how the multiple-image of the running children happens.

Pix from Ireland soon.

HEY, FIRST PIX FROM IRELAND, taken this afternoon at St. Stephen's Green. More in the morning, this time.

St. Stehpen's Green 1

St. Stehpen's Green 2

Monday, August 23, 2010

Arc, Not Arch


Something nice about St. Louis to remember today as we fly to Chicago and then on to Dublin. This is part of Bernar Venet's 2 Arcs X 4, 230.5 Arc X in Citygarden. Benet's work has obvious beauty but the abstract mathematics may be hard to understand.

I'll have a post tomorrow morning if I have time to write one during our layover at O'Hare this afternoon. Something from Dublin shortly thereafter. I got a very nice note and invitation Sunday from one of my readers. He lived in St. Louis for 20 years and has now resided in Dublin for two. He gave us a number of tips about things to see and invited us to meet him for dinner Wednesday night. Needless to say, we accepted.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Moooon Over St. Loooou

Moon Over Busch 2

Busy day yesterday, much of it at my office trying to clean things up before leaving town. Some of the family went to the Cardinals baseball game again last night. The home town heroes beat the San Francisco Giants 5 - 1 but the best plays were in the sky. Glad I brought the long lens.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

I Am So Out Of Material...


...mostly from tons of work to clear before I travel, that I'm going deep into the archives. This was shot in Dublin in October, 2002. Heaven knows what kind of camera I was using back then. I remember this man: his jacket was worn, his expression was sad and his music was sweet. What will the city be like when we get there next week?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Shut Up

Make Some Noise

Warning: curmudgeonly post. We do advertise the occasional rant.

Downtown St. Louis can be pretty quiet. On a night when there is no sports event or Lady Ga Ga concert, you can shoot the proverbial cannon down Market Street and not hit anything. Our core has been bled by highway construction and suburban sprawl.

The sports events - baseball, hockey or football - are a big exception. The new baseball stadium is in its fifth season and is mostly nice, except for the horrible noise level. There are huge, unavoidable speakers everywhere. They blast out advertising, up-tempo rock music and pseudo-cheers at a volume that is unquestionably dangerous to our ears (plus really, really annoying). There was a piece in the New York Times yesterday about the damage caused by teens' use of MP3 players and such, and also the added risk of today's high ambient noise level. The Cardinals' audio assault on their fans is irresponsible. I much prefer the Cubs' home, Wrigley Field in Chicago, where the only sounds are the cheers of the crowd and a simple organ.

I've been guilty of plenty of noise self-abuse. When I was in college, my friends and I used to lean loudspeakers into one another, tent fashion, stick our heads in and play Led Zeppelin's Communication Breakdown at maximum volume. In later years, I've been known to play the Dies Irae from Berlioz's Requiem at a sound level similar to the end of the world that it describes. Now I gave difficulty understanding speech if someone else is talking or there is much background noise. What a dope. Take care of yourself. And turn it down, Cardinals.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Thursday Arch Series

Arch 2010-08-14 - 1 - Holga IR
A few years ago, I had my first DSLR, a Canon 10D, modified, replacing the light sensor with an infrared chip. The idea was to get the same effect as infrared film. It was fussy to use and I didn't get good results. Now we do it in the computer and it's hard to tell the difference. So, this dramatic picture of the Arch was made with a virtual infrared effect. Not bad.

AND THE WINNER IS: yesterday I asked if anyone cared to guess where Mr. and Mrs. Crowe are off to next week, based on just a few hints. The correct answer came from our friend Cieldequimper of Versailles Daily Photo. We arrive in Dublin, Ireland, on Tuesday. After some time there it's up to Northern Ireland for several days, then back to the Republic before returning home. C de Q gets a print of the STL DPB image of her choice.

Several people guessed Seattle, a reasonable choice based on the hints. The critical difference is the statement about the black liquid the locals drink that is supposed to be good for you. Seattleites like the jolt from their coffee but I don't think they would claim health benefits. On the other hand, for many years the slogan of Ireland's favorite beverage was "Guinness is good for you." Your opinion may differ but that's what they say.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

But What's The Score?

Surreal Scoreboard

Scoreboards in modern sports stadiums can be overwhelming. I remember the scoreboard in old Yankee Stadium when I was a kid. It had short words, simple numbers, essential information, maybe an analog clock. The board in the new Busch Stadium is a multi-channel circus. This section of the video screen looks like it was taken over by one of my favorite contemporary artists, James Rosenquist. He started his career as a sign painter.

Notice that the board is in transition from one image to another. If you look carefully, you can see the back of the man in yesterday's photo, showing the text I mentioned on his shirt.

I've been posting strange pix of a stadium video board this week. Maybe I'm out of ideas. Maybe it's creative. I dunno, you pick. But we have a nice Arch photo tomorrow, something a little different. And next week STL DPB is on the road again, bringing fresh subjects by late Tuesday or Wednesday. The location is greener and cooler than St. Louis. The inhabitants drink black liquid and say it's good for you. Anyone care to guess? The first person who submits a correct entry by this weekend wins a postcard print of the STL DPB picture of her or his choice. Staff, agents, lackeys and counsel of St. Louis Daily Photo are excluded. Same applies to my kids and possibly a certain Alabama magnolia blossom, who may know (but she can have a card if she wants anyway). Contest otherwise void where prohibited by law, common sense or good taste.

MID-MORNING UPDATE: my friend Jan Jaboor, one of the resident artists at Soulard Art Market, sent me an email about the charming gentleman in yesterday's picture. It turns out he is a Busch Stadium fixture and that's not a sleeveless shirt he's wearing, it's body paint (quelle horreur!). He's been written up in the local weekly alternative paper and has his own web site. The site lists the games he will be attending. Turns out he is going to a Cardinals - Cubs game in Chicago on September 25. My wife, our son and I will be there, too. Can't wait to see him again!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Less Than 15 Minutes Of Fame

Die Hard Cards Fan

Bread and circuses at the baseball game, except the bread, wrapped abound a hot dog, costs $5. Another wacky thing they do at Busch Stadium to entertain the crowd is to hold a fake dance contest. One contestant is wearing Cardinals something-or-other, the other a shirt of the visiting team. It's sponsored by Hardee's, a Midwestern and Southern fast food chain that sells things that tend to make you dead faster.

Anyway, this goes on between innings in a grass strip behind center field, right below the giant video screen seen yesterday. The visitors' supporter is always geeky, dancing like an arthritic robot. The home team's representative might actually be talented, or at least full of reckless enthusiasm. It was the latter on Saturday afternoon. This gentleman's shirt read Die Hard Cards Fan. The back reminded us that Cubs really stands for Completely Useless Before September, the last month of the baseball season. He won, of course, and was awarded a cheap plastic replica of the World Series trophy. Remember from yesterday that the Cardinals win it occasionally and the Cubs win it, well, never.

The crowd went wild.

Making Sense

Monday, August 16, 2010

One Of The Risks Of Appearing In Public...

Kiss Cam

...according to one of my photography heroes, Diane Arbus, is the likelihood of being photographed. They do this Kiss Cam thing on the scoreboard of Busch Stadium during every Cardinals game. TV cameramen roam the stands, looking for couples to ambush, throwing them up on the giant screen and pressuring them to have a smooch. The crowd thinks it's cute or funny. But what if you don't want to be put on display before the masses? What if you are sitting next to your sibling or your best friend's spouse? What if the person in the next seat is someone you shouldn't be out with, at least in someone's opinion?

Too bad. There is no privacy if you appear in public in this electronically-packaged age.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Cubs Shirt

Part of the theme of yesterday's post was futility. Today's theme is the Chicago Cubs baseball team. The Cubs have not won the baseball World Series in 102 years (the team is 140 years old), a longer championship drought than any other major North American professional sports team. Our team has won the championship 10 times in that span, second in baseball only to the New York Yankees. The Crowe family attended the Cardinals - Cubs game yesterday.

According to Wikipedia:
The Cubs enjoyed one more [National League] pennant at the close of World War II, finishing 98–56. Due to the wartime travel restrictions, the first three games of the 1945 World Series were played in Detroit, where the Cubs won two games, including a one-hitter by Claude Passeau, and the final four were played at Wrigley. In Game 4 of the Series, the Curse of the Billy Goat was allegedly laid upon the Cubs when P.K. Wrigley ejected Billy Sianis, who had come to Game 4 with two box seat tickets, one for him and one for his goat. They paraded around for a few innings, but Wrigley demanded the goat leave the park due to its unpleasant odor. Upon his ejection, Mr. Sianis uttered, "The Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more." The Cubs lost Game 4, lost the Series, and have not been back since. It has also been said by many that Sianis put a "curse" on the Cubs, apparently preventing the team from playing in the World Series.
Feelings run high between fans of the Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals. In the top photo, one of the heirs of the St. Louis Daily Photo fortune expresses her opinion about her husband's preferred team. Below, we see that the Cardinals admit almost anyone with a paid ticket and that the Cubs' talented but hotheaded pitcher Carlos Zambrano thanks Heaven that he can escape the field alive. The problem was that, um, the Cubs won the game and red-clad Cardinals fans skulked out of the stadium.

Go Cubs

Carlos Zambrano

Crowd Leaving The Stadium

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Resistance Is Futile


Don't struggle. You're being sucked in. Nothing in there will harm you. Ha ha ha ha ha. It's only the Arch garage.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rain Gauge

Rain Gague

The bronze statue of Lewis and Clark landing on the west bank of the Mississippi at St. Louis has been on this blog many times before. It's my rain gauge, a marker of the river level. We are now a bit down from flood state. Meriwether Lewis is dry almost to the waist but poor William Clark has nothing but the brim of his hat above water.

By the way, Lewis is not wearing a funny hat. That's the stock of his rifle. And Clark is not using a snorkel, although he needs one. That's the barrel of his rifle poking up out of the water. Why one points down and the other up is something we would have to ask the sculptor.

Sorry for the lack of comments these last couple of days. I'm speaking at a legal conference in Columbia, Missouri, half-way between St. Louis and Kansas City. On the run, as always. The Internet service at the hotel is spotty.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday Arch Series

Arch 2010-08-08 - 1 BW Holga infrared

I went out and shot some new Arch pictures last Sunday. It's been a while. Here's one of the results.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Spike Out Hunger: Party

Spiking Out Hunger 24

Although the Spike Out Hunger volleyball tournament supported a good cause, a lot of the reason for young people to turn out was to party with their friends. Looked like everybody had a good time. We geezers, though, know a little more about protecting your skin.

Spiking Out Hunger 30

Spiking Out Hunger 29

Spiking Out Hunger 27