Friday, December 31, 2010

A Day-Late Arch, A Year's End


The Thursday Arch Series got shifted to Friday. New York City is an intense experience and it can throw off a long-ago immigrant to the Midwest like me. So, since the office closed early yesterday, I went out on the street in late afternoon and shot this.

Now 2010 is about over. My family and I have come through fine but I'm not all sanguine about the future. There are just so many of us, what, almost 7 billion? May we take 7 billion great pictures while there is air to breathe and water to drink.

Tomorrow, New Year's Day, is supposed to be our 2010 picture of the year post. I got a couple of ideas.

Sorry for the lack of comments yesterday. Our Internet and phone service at home was down for much of the evening. Curse you, AT&T.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

From The Lower West Side

From the Highline 4

Back home now. A little more from NYC while I get some new local material. A tiny, urban-sized ice skating rink sat beneath The Highline in what is still known as the Meatpacking District of Manhattan. Few people were on it but this young woman had an obvious talent for figure skating. Carolyn, Conrad and I enjoyed the way she flung her hair behind her in a spin.

We passed a compact neighborhood store as we walked back toward the train station. This is now an upscale area and little luxuries abound. The flowers for sale in front were a riot of color. When I started to edit the photo, I thought that the colors were out of control, harsh, too bright and simple. I like this B&W version better, with its focus on shape and texture.

Neibhorhood Shop, Meatpacking District BW

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ex-New York/New Yorker Photoblogger Meetup in, Um, New York

Photobloggers Meetup in NYC

When I was new to CDP almost four years ago, I saw a picture on a New York City photo blog that blew me away. I was taken from an el platform in Queens on a wet day with the towers of Manhattan in the background. Wait a minute, I thought, that was my stop in Sunnyside when I lived in NYC. I commented and soon got to know Conrad Dhing, who lived on the same block I grew up on. We met and walked and lunched and took pictures in NY a few times when I was home to see family and a nicer guy you could not meet. A year and a half ago he took a job in Maine and is now the proprietor of Bangor Daily Photo.

Well, he's in town this week visiting friends and we met in the snow chaos of Manhattan yesterday. We had lunch in Chelsea Market and then walked the Highline, the amazing strip of elevated freight rail line on the lower west side that's been turned into an ingenious city park. Fabulous.

The top pic is me, Mrs. C and Conrad just before we went our separate ways (Penn Station was bloody pandemonium yesterday afternoon with the trains still operating on a weekend schedule). Thanks to nephew Mike for the snap. Below, the beautiful old apartment buildings of W. 23rd Street and the Empire State Building in the sunset. Bottom, Conrad's autograph in a snowplow canyon.

Home today.

I love New York.

From the Highline 1


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dis Is New Yawk. We Don't Care About No &%#@!* Snow.

Brian On 8th Avenus

So the snow has ended. The Crowe - Wilson family went crazy and hired a minibus to take us to dinner in Manhattan at Guantanamera, a Cuban restaurant near Columbus Circle. The owner is Argentine, not Cuban, and from Mendoza. We had a long talk about Argentine wines. Not being one who sits still easily, I met Brian and his friends from Boston out front between courses. The group below were hanging out at the bar when we were waiting to be seated.

I haven't lived in the NYC full time for 43 years but on nights like yesterday I sure wish I still did. There is nothing like it on earth. Visits make me so so homesick. I love it. It's the modern capital of civilization and the origin of me.

Patrons at Guantanamera

Monday, December 27, 2010

Oh Hell, Oh Hell

Grand Central In Snow

Yow, we weren't singing Christmas carols yesterday.

Plan A was get on a plane in St. Louis, fly to New York's La Guardia airport, pick up rental car and drive about 45 minutes northwest to my sister's house in New Jersey.

Plan Q(4)(f)(iii) turned out to be get on the last plane from St. Louis foolishly allowed to take off for the northeast; get 3/4 of the way there when the captain tells us La Guardia just closed from heavy snow and we're going to Hartford bloody Connecticut; captain tells us New York's Kennedy International Airport just got plowed and is allowing some landings and we're going there; land at JFK in heavy snow an hour after the scheduled arrival at La Guardia; wait an hour for the bags to come up; find that the taxis have all fled; take a big, safe-looking bus to Penn Station; get kicked off the bus at Grand Central Station in the midst of thunder snow and put in a tiny van with way too many other weary souls to the other train station cross-town; get out in blizzard chaos at Penn Station; get on a train to New Jersey; can't find the &^%^%$ next platform at the transfer station until a kindly transit policeman takes pity on us and shows us the way; get on the next train only to be stuck a few minutes later at a frozen switch; eventually get to Ridgewood, NJ, where my brother and brother-in-law meet us in an SUV; fail to get up the last steep hill to my sister's house and hike up the last quarter mile in blizzard conditions.

And now here we are, warm, fed and safe. There may be 2 feet / 61 cm of snow here before it all ends on Monday. Oh, and hurricane force winds here and there overnight. And so to bed.

Above, the view at the Park Avenue South bus transfer point looking toward Grand Central Station. Below, ominous security sign on the NJ Transit train to Ridgewood. Both iPhone photos.

Suspicious Acts

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Early Christmas Present

Gizmo 1
The newest member of the family, Gizmo, who arrived recently at the home of my daughter and son-in-law, who hosted dinner yesterday. A couple of months ago, Brian found Emily's old. old, sweet-as-can-be cat lying in a sunbeam, unmoving (sniff!). However, they fell in love with this tiny thing at a shelter. It is fearless, affectionate and supremely calm. It lets the dog lick it. Gizmo seems to be a kitten with a lot of Buddha-nature.

Flying to New York this morning and then driving to see my family in New Jersey. Snow in the NY area could get in the way.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas At The Crowes'

White Christmas At Home

To borrow from the Bard, what is so rare as a day in June? A white Christmas in St. Louis, almost. I can't remember the last one. So this is chez nous, and we've put some our favorite decorations out front! And remember, friends, this post was brought to you by Taittinger La Francaise, the official champagne of the Crowe family (not that we pony up for it very often).

A merry and peaceful Christmas to all of our friends around the world. Let's all hope that the coming year is, at the very least, amusing.

- Bob and Carolyn, Emily and Brian (and Killian and Gizmo) and Andy and Claire (and Weasel)

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Christmas Spirits

The Christmas Spirits

It looks like jolly old Santa is waving us in to share a drink. Unfortunately, this establishment appears to be out of business. The owners couldn't predict their own future.

This was shot yesterday afternoon on ultra-funky Cherokee Street, way down on the south side. Note that the tiles in the entryway spell out "Hippodrome." Huh?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thursday Arch Series

Arch 2010-12-19  1

The year winds down and the quiet of the holiday season settles on amazingly snowless St. Louis. Our office is in theory open to mid-afternoon today but I don't think many people will be in except me and the receptionist. Even I won't stay all day.

It's going to be a good weekend. We've agreed that none of us will spend more than a nominal amount of money on stuff. (See the brilliant link on our colleague Wayne's CDPB in Vancouver.) My son Andy, of Chicago Flair fame, will be driving down tomorrow with his delightful S.O., Claire. Dinner at our house tomorrow night with this crew and daughter Emily while son-in-law and chef extraordinaire Brian finishes a visit with his family in Houston. Even bigger and better culinary events on Christmas itself, more about which later. NYC on Sunday!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Irrational Exuberance

Seasonal Decorations BW

Younger readers or those outside the US and Canada may not know the novelty Christmas song from decades ago, I Yust Go Nuts At Christmas. Sung by one Yogi Yorgesson with a broad and probably fake Scandinavian accent, it tells a story of uncontrolled behavior brought about by holiday madness. There are lots of examples around this week.

This house in St. Louis' suburbs is far from the craziest but it's not bad. Nothing expresses the spirituality of the season better than an inflatable Homer Simpson wearing a Santa suit on the front lawn. It was tough to decide whether to use this or the color version of the picture on today's post. In the end, I decided the stripped-down version was the stranger of the two.

If you want so see some really outlandish Christmas home decorations, check this set on Flickr. What does it all mean? Semioticians, have at it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ye Of Little Faith

Believe Meter

A so-called Believe Meter in Macy's window. I can't read the first word on the gadget due to the Lensbaby blur but the others are Wish, Dream and Believe. Looks like St. Louis hasn't quite made it up to Wish yet, let alone full credulity. This town isn't exactly full of hard-core skeptics. Perhaps Macy's doesn't believe we'll buy enough.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Believe BW

What do you believe in? Or maybe the question should be: do you believe? Those cherished ideas may seem clear and well-understood, but they begin to get hazy when we explore the edges. This photo is of a window at the downtown Macy's. They would like us to believe in giving, through their agency, of course. Maybe what we believe to be true needs to fit the data; maybe it doesn't. It's up to you.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winter Night, 6th and Chestnut

Winter Night, 6th and Chestnut
Shot a few steps away from the location of yesterday's picture, standing at the edge of Kiener Plaza looking north on 6th Street. There are romantic horse-drawn carriages in the area that will swirl visitors through the wonders of downtown St. Louis. No takers on this not-too-cold evening, though. It's quiet. It usually is.

By the way, horses don't have to feed the meter after 6 PM.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Star of Wonder, Star of Light

Kiener Christmas Tree 1

The official municipal Christmas tree in Kiener Plaza (with a bit of pixel modification). The star and moon may be leading us somewhere. Unfortunately, Bethlehem does not lie in that direction. East. St. Louis does, though.The Son of God was not born in East St. Louis but Miles Davis was.

Correction: I just remembered that Davis was actually born in Alton, Illinois, a bit up river. However, his family moved to East St. Louis when he was 1 so I'm going to leave the story alone. I like it better that way.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Order In The Court

Downtown Courthouses

Like most American cities, St. Louis' law courts cluster downtown. The three stone buildings shown here are: lower left, the state civil courts building, whose goofy architecture has been discussed on the blog before; lower right, what is now called the 22nd Judicial District of Missouri Building and used to be the federal courts before they built the fancy new one at the upper right. Hard to tell from this perspective, but the new federal courthouse is almost exactly as tall as the Arch, completely blocking the view coming downtown from the west. The structure in the center with the aqua glass windows is just an office building but it's got nothing but lawyers.

How many lawyers compressed into what volume of space creates enough fissionable material for a bomb? Maybe the Iranian government knows.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday Arch Series

Arch From Market Street 2010-12-05

Watching the world, or a little part of it, go by. I was parked on Market Street at 8th, shooting hand-held HDRs through the windshield as the sun set. This was the one I liked the best.

I got no new material. Need to get into the diving bell and explore the depths of the archives for tomorrow. Must get out and shoot over the weekend, There is an all-day music, poetry and theater review at a homeless encampment on Sunday. Sounds like a fertile field to me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Primary Evacuation Assembly Area

Every city has its odd details, features that don't make sense in the urban context. They may be great or small. New Yorkers, think of Staten Island; Parisians, the Montparnasse Tower. They can be smaller, too, something that could escape your notice. This picture is an example. The sign is on the Mississippi flood wall in a barren area north of the Arch. Hardly anyone works around there and about the only residents are in a nearby tent city built by the homeless. So who would need to evacuate, and for what? I mean, if the river is threatening flood you could take a leisurely walk up the hill to the city center. Is someone anticipating The Rapture?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Math, Art And Christmas

Beernar Venet's Arcs For Christmas

Another shot of the Christmas decorations in Citygarden. This is Bernar Venet's 2 Arcs x 4, 230.5 Degree Arc x 5. The smooth bronze arcs are just about math. Venet is not a mathematician but observes that Cezanne was not a botanist yet he painted flowers and trees. This is very intellectual stuff. I don't think the artist would like the Christmas lights. They mess with the purity.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Down And Out

Last Views Of 0The Admiral 2

Uuunnggghh. I never get sick. Been from Tibet to Tierra del Fuego with no more than a runny nose but did I get flattened by a virus yesterday. We had out first snowfall Saturday night and I really wanted to get out and shoot it but I spent the day in bed shivering. So here's another photo of the soon to be scrap Steamship Admiral taken Saturday afternoon. Our Metrolink light rail line zooms across Eads Bridge over it to mark the passage of time. Sorry no comments. BRB.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Low Water

Riverfront 2010-12-11 1

A dull day around St. Louis yesterday. The weather never lessens the drama of the Mississippi, it only changes it. The water level is low at this time of year as the river begins to ice over upstream. I wondered if this is the end of the paved part of the levee, with only muddy bottom below. I'll have to go back when the water is still lower to find out.

This photo is a nod to our colleague
Alejandro Gulminelli of Buenos Aires' Una Foto Por Dia, one of CDP's best photographers. It feels something like his style.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like...

Citygarden Christmas Lights 3

I'd like to do some posts on over-the-top, garish Christmas decorations. Problem is, I hate cold and wandering around residential streets in the dark with a tripod could attract the attention of the authorities. So I began to work up to the idea with some shots in Citygarden on a relatively mild evening. The lights in these globes throbbed and changed colors, sometimes all the same tone and sometimes varied.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Looking Southwest

Laurie Anderson, one of my cultural heroes, once recorded a song called Coolsville (check the great video through the link). No one ever put that label on my town. We have some cool spots, some hip events (hey, like this blog!), but nobody graduates from college wrestling with the decision whether to locate in San Francisco, New York or St. Louis. But it's been home for 43 years and I'm happy life set me down here.

This picture was shot from my office window on a particularly gloomy day. I was looking southwest across the city using my biggest telephoto lens. Maybe the sun will come out tomorrow.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thursday Arch Series

Brad Under The Arch

Here's Brad again, whom we met on Monday, standing guard beneath the Arch. You get the impression he's into the superhero look, but unusually dressed in angelic white. Then there are those white, deep-pile carpet squares. They look a lot like lambskin. Ecce agnus dei.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

So Long, Old Friend

Last Pictures Of The Admiral 1

We can count the remaining days of the Steamship Admiral on our fingers and toes. It was once the grand dame of the central Mississippi, sailing up and down the river on fabulous excursions and luxurious soirees. It had dance floors, restaurants, bars, gorgeous views and a strong whiff of romance. I got to go on a few of these trips during my college years in the late 60s, since the daughter of the captain was a friend of a friend. High style, indeed.

It stopped cruising in 1979 when its hull became unsound. After a period of idleness it became a permanently moored casino. That, in turn, was surpassed by newer and shinier money vacuums and the casino closed earlier this year. No one had another use for it. It was literally sold on eBay and is heading off for scrap in the next couple of weeks. Sic transit gloria mundi.

Sorry no comments yesterday. Very long day at work, followed by dinner with an old friend who is in town, the woman who introduced us to Nepal a dozen years ago. It took place, of course, at The Lou's wonderful Nepalese restaurant, Everest.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Eads Bridge, Winter Afternoon

Eads Bridge, Winter Afternoon

Well, not technically winter but we're barely two weeks from the solstice. Close enough. The color palette in this picture reminds me of a Canaletto painting but, brother, this ain't the Grand Canal. The sun was just about to set, which is why the middle and western parts of Eads Bridge are in shadow.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Brad, Servant Of The Lord

Brad Lee 4

I was cruising the riverfront late yesterday afternoon looking for images when my eyes were grabbed by a most unusual sight. A man stood on the stage under the Arch and just above the Mississippi, clad in pure white winter clothing, as if wearing arctic camouflage. He was standing in a posture similar to military parade rest, holding a mostly white flag. I had to meet him.

What was his name and why was he there? He said I should call him Brad, Servant of the Lord, and that he was standing there for the Lord Jesus Christ, available to pray with anyone who requested prayer. The Lord had spoken to him and he would be there, under the great monument along the mighty river, on Sundays from 10 to 4 until the Lord told him otherwise. And winter is coming.

He gave me a copy of a letter he had folded into his pocket, telling a touching story of how he came to his faith through the recovery from cancer of someone close to him. Inside the paper was a crisp dollar bill. The note contains the words In God We Trust and they were circled with a pink highlighter. I'll put in in one of the Salvation Army fund-raising kettles that are found in front of all our big stores at this time of year.

Brad Lee 3

Brad Lee 1

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Paragraph 1: Gray. Paragraph 2: JOY!

Forest Park 2010-12-04 4

Yesterday was a nasty late autumn day. The temperature hovered around freezing while a strong, damp wind blew from the north. The skies were leaden. Forest Park looked like a series of images from a Zoloft advertisement.

But wait, there's more! Last night was the opening and awards ceremony of Seen 2010, STL's big year-end photography show. I WON BEST IN SHOW, YOU KNOW, LIKE, FIRST PLACE IN THE WHOLE THING with this entry that took the Architecture division. I also placed first in the humor division with this one. So woo hoo! La vita รจ bella.

Forest Park 2010-12-04 1

Forest Park 2010-12-04 2

Saturday, December 4, 2010



Back in the dumpster. You know, there's some decent stuff down there. Medusa here is from the Artica festival a couple of months ago. I took this picture and neither my camera nor I turned to stone. Must be a fake.

Really got to get out and shoot some new stuff today. Problem is I'll have to spend much of it at the office. First year law students in this country have their heads filled with hoary English maxims, since our system is based on their traditions. Stuff like equitas agit in personam. (One million bonus points if you figure this out on your own, or you can put yourself to sleep by reading this,) The most important maxim told us that the law is a jealous mistress. No showing up late, ever. So hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to work we go...

Tonight is a big night, though. It's the opening and awards ceremony of Seen 2010, the big STL year-end photo exhibition at Studio Altius. I had three pix accepted in the categories of architecture, portraits and humor. If I win anything I'll mention it tomorrow.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Peat's Eyes

Peat's Eyes
The graphic signature of St. Louis artist, friend of the blog and sometime lucha libre promoter Peat Wolleager. This is on the part of the Mississippi River flood wall where graffiti is permitted. Are some of those eyes crying?

Gotta go shoot some new material this weekend.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thursday Arch Series

Arch 2010-10-23 1

Nothing special, just the view just the view from the levee a little downstream. The white dots are plastic spheres that mark the position of high voltage electric lines that cross the Mississippi here. Nice light.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

CDP Theme Day: Time

Well, what is time? That's actually a pretty deep question but, like here, it can be something as simple as a magazine. This is an old image (the issue is dated 2003) I did as an exercise when I first tried to learn Photoshop. The original Time cover featured my very distant cousin Russell promoting a new movie.

This picture was on STL DPB once before, celebrating an anniversary of the blog. I couldn't resist dragging it back one more time.

Interested in how other CDP members interpreted the theme? Click here to view thumbnails for all participants