Sunday, October 31, 2010

Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil

Jesus And Satan Have A Drink

As promised, the first of many pictures from the Halloween street party in our Central West End neighborhood. Maryland Plaza rocks with ghouls, zombies and, for some reason, quite a lot of cartoon characters. Everybody comes, including those old pals, Jesus and Satan. Well, they were friends once, weren't they? Having a drink together mellows old conflicts.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Signs Of Winter

Pool Closed 2

One of the nicer things about Citygarden (and there are a lot of nice things) is that they let children splash around in all of its waterways. We haven't had a freeze yet and the water is still flowing but the authorities have decided to kick the kiddos out. Not all of them pay attention.

Apologies once again for few/no comments. Very long day at work yesterday. Had to get a post up for today and then desperately finishing the process of selecting and editing my entries for Seen 2010, STL's big year-end photo competition and show. I did pretty well last year and the deadline for entries is this weekend!

Pool Closed 1

Citygarden 10-24-2010

Friday, October 29, 2010


Civil Courts Building 2008-10-26

I shot this Tuesday night after the political rally I had covered. It's facing west toward the architecturally wacky Civil Courts Building with the lights of Citygarden low in the foreground. The image is a three-shot handheld HDR. I had the ISO pumped up to 3200. Worked out okay.

What's on this weekend:
we have a pretty damn good Halloween street party in the Central West End Saturday night. It's not the West Village in NYC or The Castro in San Francisco, but it's busy and a lot of fun. I've gotten some good images there in the past. Should be posts about it starting Sunday.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursday Arch Series

Arch 2010-10-14 - 1

Taken last weekend while walking around Citygarden, looking for something to shoot. The light is nice. I really like the way the green copper dome of the Old Courthouse catches the soft sky.

You never see the south leg, on the right, really glow with sunlight. The Mississippi, downtown street grid and the Arch itself are on a north-northeast - south-southwest axis. Since the monument is triangular in cross section, the part of the south leg you can see here bends away from the afternoon sun. Sometimes I wish the whole thing could shine.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Missouri: Vote No On Proposition A

No On Prop A Rally 1

Next Tuesday is election day in the US. The prospects are good that the Republicans will retake control of the House of Representatives (the horror... the horror...). Far under the national radar, we have an important state proposition here in Missouri.

Since the 50's, the City of St. Louis has had a 1% earnings tax. Kansas City has it, too. Proposition A on next week's ballot would require a referendum on the tax by the two cities voters now and every five years thereafter, bypassing the normal legislative process. It would prohibit any other municipality in the state enacting such a tax. A rally in opposition was held in Kiener Plaza last night.

The effort to bring it down comes from very wealthy and very conservative interests, notably one Rex Sinquefield. His eventual goal is to repeal the state's modest income tax and replace it with a higher sales tax, which, of course, hits working people and the poor harder than prosperous citizens. Sinquefield has apparently contributed $12 million to this measure. It's on the ballot state-wide, even though it only affects the two major cities. I'm never seen a picture of Mr. Sinquefield but I get a mental image of Mr. Burns from The Simpsons.

Our suburbs get the largest part of their revenue from real estate taxes. The city doesn't have that kind of tax base. The earnings tax provides one-third of St. Louis' income. Supporters of Prop A offer no alternative. Repealing it would cause disastrous cuts in city services or huge increases in sales and real estate taxes.

I have worked in downtown St. Louis for 36 years and I gladly pay my 1%. It keeps my community alive.
Missourians, help preserve our two major cities. If they go in the tank the rest of the state goes with them. Vote NO on Proposition A next Tuesday.

Sorry no comments today. Out late shooting and off to work early today. Back to regular schedule by tonight.

No On Prop A Rally 2

No On Prop A Rally 3

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lawn Bowling

Cricket Bowler Composite

American sports fans, forget about Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee. We got some serious hurling going on. Sundaram here is a fast bowler, trying to blow the ball by the batsman. I did not realize the the bowler's feet completely leave the ground at one point in the delivery. Cricket bats have a lot more surface area than the baseball variety but I know I couldn't hit one of his throws.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Swing Batter Batter

Cricket Batsman 1

Baseball season is over except in San Francisco and Dallas-Ft. Worth, but it's always cricket season somewhere in the world. I was cruising around Forest Park yesterday suffering from the dreaded brain-and-eye cramp syndrome, looking for anything to shoot. I found some Indian guys playing pick-up cricket on one of the athletic fields. Bingo.

I've never attended a cricket match but I've seen it on TV around the former British Commonwealth. We've been to India a couple of times, where it's played everywhere. The batsman below lived for many years in Varanasi, where we saw boys playing the game on the ghats, the steps leading down to the sacred Ganges, holding the wickets in piles of cow dung. Still have only the vaguest idea of how the scoring works.

Tomorrow: a fast bowler.

Cricket Batsman 2

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Player With Railroads

Railroad Bridges

Midwestern poet Carl Sandberg called Chicago the player with railroads (as well as hog butcher to the world, which is not so romantic). It could have been us. The main transcontinental railroads ended up going through Chicago rather than St. Louis. We were left in the caboose.

Nevertheless, we, too, were molded by the geometry of railroad lines. I was poking around these trestles south of the Arch yesterday, playing with lenses. I have 50 and 85 mm prime glass that I hardly ever use. They are supposed to be exceptionally clear. Check. This is with the 85 mm at f 8.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Devil Wears Dentures

Camel Showcase

This, uh, exhibit was off to the side of the Hispanic Festival a few weeks ago. Snus is a variation on chewing tobacco and snuff originating in Sweden (and here I thought they were all so healthy). It is illegal in the European Union with the exception of Norway and Sweden but its popularity seems to be growing in the US. It looks like R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (one of whose web sites is - get this! -, the purveyor of Camel cigarettes, is at war with the American Dental Association. I didn't go inside this place. The outside was scary enough.

Moral question of the day: if you had been unemployed for a
long time (which, in this country, may mean that you have no health insurance), your kids were sick and your house was on the edge of foreclosure, and the only job offer you could get was from the marketing department of a tobacco company, would you take it?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thursday Arch Series

Arch 2010-09-11 - 1

It gets harder and harder to find new angles from which to view my favorite monument. Here's one, though. I was between 13th and 14th Streets looking east, between Chestnut and Market. This undistinguished office building sits square in the way but, at least here, it makes for some interesting geometry. The Civil Courts Building is reflected in the glass.

Sorry I lost track of the day of the week again.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's For Dessert?



We sometimes think of graffiti taggers as vandals, people on the edge of society, or perhaps outlaw artists like London's Banksy. What I found around the abandoned building we've explored the last few days didn't fit those categories. How many typical taggers have a taste for elegant French desserts, or can spell properly in that language? I'm pretty sure the people in the homeless encampment down the alley are not eating a lot of souffles. Why, there's probably not a bottle of Grand Marnier among them.

This has the look of the Articans to me. But why would one of them write the word souffle on a steel support beam in the first place? You know, why not mousse au chocolat or
deep fried Snickers bar?

Green Tire


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Johnny? I thought It was George.

Drummer In The Sun

More good images that I got in and around Artica. On the first day of the event there was a band playing on a loading dock at one end of the building we've seen the last two days. They called themselves Johnny Vancouver. I wondered why - the only Vancouver I know of is George, the British naval officer who explored the coasts of what in now Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska in the 18th Century. The delightful Canadian city is named after him.

But who can question band names? I mean, after Mott The Hoople, Smashing Pumpkins, Slick Dick And the Volkswagens and The New Pornographers, Johnny Vancouver sounds absolutely sedate. I wanted to ask them about the name but they kept on bashing away. The music wasn't exactly up my alley. I'm not much for popular music. I guess I like unpopular music. Bang On A Can, anyone?

Fuzzy Lime Boots

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Stake A Claim


Five Cent Shower

This is back inside the building we saw yesterday. It looks like there once must have been plumbing in the small room. Certainly nothing that looked like a shower when I was nosing around there. In any event, whom would you pay? The bottom picture is the floor of the enclosure. I don't think they like claim jumpers.

This Space Has Been Claimed

Monday, October 18, 2010

Can Your Dog Do This?

Dog On A Ladder

I didn't know dogs could climb ladders. Maybe they just have to be of a certain length. This was going on in the back lot, so to speak, behind Artica. There is an abandoned industrial building where some of the prep work for the festival took place. You can see a bit of in on the right side of the bottom picture in last Wednesday's post. Anyway, I thought this was a pretty good dog trick.

The relatively new owner of the building is an acquaintance of mine. There is a new bridge across the Mississippi under construction nearby. The owner hopes that, when completed, it will bring the traffic needed to rehabilitate the area. Best of luck, Mark.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Artica: Fashion


Artica 39

Artica has no admission charge. It won't take the shirt off your back. It can, however, put a shirt on your back. Someone stenciled the logo, if you can call it that, from this year's event on some recycled tee shirts and gave them away. If I had needed a shirt, I'd have made the day famous.

As it happens, I was given a free tee shirt yesterday. A gigantic new Apple Store opened in a local mall and, being of the Mac persuasion, I went for a look. The gray shirt they gave everyone says "-Apple logo- St. Louis Galleria." Hmmm. Maybe I should paint an Artica stencil across it.

Artica 40

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Artica: Shall We Gather At The River?

Artica 34

The parade we saw yesterday headed a half-mile south to the cobblestone levee that descends to Mississippi. This spot was just downstream from the old Admiral riverboat. For decades, it cruised the river with happy partiers. After the hull became too costly to repair, it spent its last few years as a floating casino. Its condition became too bad for even that use and it closed a few months ago. I don't know what will become of it.

The marchers were at their leisure when the parade ended. One struck a heroic pose. Others floated small paper boats down the mighty river, reminding me of Hindu pilgrims on the Ganges at Varanasi. Someone tried to impress the girls by teaching them the Macarena. One young man succeeded in impressing a girl.

There is a good-sized set of photos from article on Flickr here. More still to come.

Artica 1

Artica 37

Artica 36

Friday, October 15, 2010

Artica: Everybody Loves A Parade

Artica 32

Well, almost. Late Sunday afternoon the Articans staged a parade near the Mississippi, ending on the levee leading into the river itself. It was lead by the rhythm of the St. Louis Drum Line. One of the leaders mentioned that there was no parade permit so, if the cops come by, be cool and pretend you know what you're doing. In fact a couple of them did roll down the same street and just kept on going. There wasn't much of an audience - it was done for the fun of participation. Some spectators, though, were unimpressed.

Artica 30

Artica 29

Artica 33

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thursday Arch Series

Arch 2010-05-22 2

I really, really need to go shoot some new Arch material. No fresh ideas at all, just need to get my rear over there and look. So, down to the archives again. This one was shot last May. It's not bad and has never used it on the blog.

There are corridors of trees leading up to the monument with what look like vaulted ceilings. They are a certain kind of ash tree and there is a parasite heading this way that's going to kill them all. The National Parks Service is trying to decide whether to tear them out now or wait until they are attacked, as well as debating what to replace them with. This is happening at the same time as the development of sweeping changes in the plan of the Arch grounds. I will document how it unfolds.

Back to Artica tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Artica 3

And now for something completely different. There is a loose (and I mean loose) creative organization in this town know as Artica. From time to time it arranges open air events, often in a section of the old industrial-commercial wastelands north of the Arch. Its most recent event was last weekend. It was refreshing to go from the cleanliness, fitness and charitable intent of Pedal The Cause to a beer-swilling, near-anarchist creative exuberance of Artica. Yin must have yang.

Sunday afternoon brought a performance of the Celestial Theatre Company, a small troupe with a penchant for the absurd and florescent/blacklight costumes and props. This performance was called "While Nero Burns..." Above and below center, Natalie Toney provided sit-down narration while Bill Kranz and Mike Ketcher did stranger and stranger things. More over the next couple of days.

St. Louis has a reputation as being a little dull, a once-important industrial city that has become just another gray spot in flyover country. Well, it's not exactly so. We have our own deep layer of weirdness. Ain't it grand?

Artica 8

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pedal The Cause - Searching For A Cure For Cancer

PTC 10

Yes, and it's a long, long look. A final post from Pedal The Cause, showing just a few of the more than 700 riders.

, a complete change of pace: Artica. Any one for some Dada theater with florescent-colored props?

PTC Composite 2


Monday, October 11, 2010

Pedal The Cause: Kickoff Party

PTC Kickoff 4

Meet Kwesi Prince, brain cancer survivor. He and his family attended the Friday night dinner and kickoff party of Pedal The Cure. Kwesi was treated at St. Louis Children's Hospital and he's doing fine now. People like him are what the event is all about.

It was a pretty good party. You could get your bicycle tuned or your your music mixed. You could see Tour de France cyclist Christian Vande Velde talk to a local TV news reporter or have him sign your bike jersey. You could watch the gaggle of teenagers in the ride sway between adolescent goofiness and decorum. Everyone had a good time, including the photographer.

In response to yesterday's post, a couple of commenters suggested I ride next year, maybe the 60 mile route. Well, the last time I rode a bicycle i needed a steroid shot in my knee. That is so not going to happen.

PTC Kickoff Composite

PTC Kickoff 7

PTC Kickoff 5 Christian Vande Velde)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pedal The Cause


Next assignment: Pedal The Cause. This is the first year for this cycling fundraiser for cancer research at Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Children's Hospital and Siteman Cancer Center. That are all affiliated and provide top-shelf care. Why, they've patched me together from time to time.

There were over 700 riders covering 25 and 60 mile courses (60 miles!). Some enormous bucket of money was donated for a cause that will keep people alive. The announcer mentioned that 20 years ago the survival rate for leukemia was 10%. Now it's 90%. That's what the cash buys. Many of the riders were cancer survivors. Well, I suppose I am, too, although my treatment was not long and dramatic. Were it not for some of these very institutions I would not be here today writing this.

One note to the organizers: the event and your work is dedicated to the good of mankind. So next year could you skip the bottled water imported from Iceland? The amount of wasted energy to bring water here from Fiji, France, Iceland and so forth is appalling. And how about biodegradable bottles?

PTC Composite 1


Saturday, October 9, 2010

How Sweet The Sound: The Audience


As they say, the crowd went wild. The audience was primarily but not exclusively African-American, and the show was the best of their religious musical heritage. The music was designed to move people and they moved.

I am the volunteer photographer for Pedal The Cure, a fundraiser for cancer research and treatment at Washington University Medical Center. The kickoff was last night and the main event, a long bicycle ride, is this morning. Pix tomorrow.