Thursday, December 31, 2015

An Expensive Lunch

At The Whitney 2015-12-28 4

The Whitney Museum has an upscale restaurant with the bit-too-clever name of Untitled. Mrs. C and I had lunch there on Monday. The food was original and flavorful but the prices, for what you got, were outrageous. (Click the link to see the menu if interested.) The portions were quite small by American standards, which was okay since most of our restaurants serve portions more suitable to cattle than humans. The "braised lamb, hakurei turnips, cabbage", a delicate, delicious little nest of veggies might - maybe - have contained an ounce/28 grams of lamb, for which I was charged $27. Welcome to New York. Well, it was the only meal we had to buy on the trip.

The bottom picture shows the restaurant's large windows and the line outside waiting for tickets. I was standing to the right of the revolving door when I took the pix in yesterday's post.                

At The Whitney 2015-12-28 9

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

In Line

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It got cold again in New York on Monday. Because neither of us remembered to buy tickets for the Whitney in advance, we had to stand in a long line in the chill outside the door. Later, we were waiting for our table at the museum's upscale restaurant. It had a window wall looking onto the sidewalk and that line. I shot these with my little Olympus. It has a flip-out screen so you can shoot from waist level with little chance of being noticed.

These people have quite different reactions to the situation. The young Asian woman looks sad, and did the whole time I was watching. Her companion is quite perky. The woman on the right looks distraught in both photos. Did someone not show up to meet her?                       
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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

At The Whitney

At The Whitney 2015-12-28 1

A pair of elderly women peer out over the Hudson River from the new Whitney Museum in lower Manhattan.

Our plane was late (had to be de-iced at LaGuardia) and it's way past bedtime as I post this back home. More about the visit over the next couple of days.                      

Monday, December 28, 2015

My Strange Family

The Legend Of Evil Santa

Weird Crowe family tradition: this ornament has hung over the Christmas dinner table for 40 years, first at my father's house and now my sister's. Someone spins and spins the string, then lets go. When the ornament stops turning, whoever Santa faces will have bad luck in the new year. Everyone calls him Evil Santa. Did I say we go through a lot of wine in this family?

Below, quality family time - a niece, spouse and brother sucked into their iPhones.

Every family has ups and downs but this one has had less than its share of bad luck. I am the oldest of four siblings. We are all still alive. We are all still on our first marriages. Everyone graduated from college, and there is a Ph.D., an M.B.A. and a J.D. sprinkled around the group. We all still like each other and make an effort to get together a couple of times a year. We turned out okay.

Quality Family Time

Sunday, December 27, 2015

New Jersey Transit

NJ Transit 2

So we got a taxi from LaGuardia Airport to Penn Station with amazingly little traffic, then got a train to the town in New Jersey where my sister and her family live. Easy. The New Jersey Transit trains we took had a rather nagging nanny state tone. Do people actually clip their nails on the commuter trains? Do people need to be told not to jump off moving trains, particularly when the door is closed?               

Too Much Information

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Before Dawn

Airport Before Dawn

0 dark 30, as they say, at Lambert Airport in STL. It's way too early. NYC soon.


And now here we are.

5th Avenue and W 37th Street

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Brunch At The Chase

Christmas Brunch At The Chase 1

As mentioned, the Crowe and Horrocks families had a sumptuous Christmas brunch at the Chase Park Plaza, Chef Brian presiding. 

Above, an ice sculpture Christmas tree in front of a real one.

Below, Madeleine with a "Santa got me what?" look (wearing grandma's glasses, which she thinks is funny) followed by Ms. M and her parents. The bottom pic needs explanation. Our flight is so early tomorrow morning we're spending tonight at an airport hotel, leaving Emily and Brian's home before they serve dinner. So my wife and I could get something to eat, I bought what is probably the loneliest product in the supermarket. However, we're still so stuffed from brunch we'll likely put it in the freezer. 
Christmas Brunch At The Chase 2

Christmas Brunch At The Chase 3

The Lonliest Product In The Supermarket

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve At The Office

Christmas Eve In The Office 2
I promise I won't work all day today. There are no photos on my hard drive appropriate to the occasion so how about some cheer from my usual hangout?

Dinner tonight at Emily, Brian and Madeleine's home.  It's a wonderful thing to have a professional chef in the family. Brian's parents and brother are visiting from Houston and it's nice to have them here to join us. 

A break from tradition for us tomorrow with Christmas brunch at the rooftop restaurant of the Chase-Park Plaza, overseen by Chef Brian. Early flight to LaGuardia on Saturday, weekend with my family in NJ. And all of Monday to spend on the magical island where I was born. (Okay, I confess. I'm still a snob about it.) There will be photo ops galore.             
Christmas Eve In The Office 1

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Not A Monsoon Wedding

An Indian Wedding At The Chase
I mentioned that son-in-law Brian had to work Sunday. He was supervising the food service for an Indian wedding at the swanky hotel where he is banquet chef. I got this shot of the bride and groom as I was walking through the lobby. They were just outside for photos. The colored surface behind them is the pool cover but, hey, it goes well with her dress.

My knowledge of Indian wedding customs is nearly zero, although I hear the parties are a blast. What little I have comes from seeing Monsoon Wedding on a long airplane ride. That's good enough, isn't it?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Audrey's Swedish Lesson


St. Louis got an IKEA this year. To many local shoppers this a Big Deal. It's as if your area has been recognized as a major city only when the Swedish retailer comes to town.

I had never set foot in one. Andy and Claire were looking for something or other and decided to go to the store. Might as well ride along for a look.

First impression: the place is bloody enormous. And, unless you know its interior back alleys, it is laid out to make you walk through the whole damn thing, department by department. It's exhausting. One of the first things you see is the sign above. Steffe will have to tell us how to pronounce it. Most of the products have Swedish names, hard for Americans to remember. And Swedish signboards everywhere you look, not to mention their I-am-told-famous Swedish meatballs in the cafe.

It didn't make much of an impression on Audrey, who is as yet unacquainted with English, at least in the active sense. However, she can lock her eyes onto something, if only briefly. It could be me and the camera in the store or someone walking around our home. But who knows, kanske en dag kommer hon att lära sig tala svenska. 1                         

Audrey Visits Ikea

Audrey 2015-12-20 4

1. Maybe some day she will learn to speak Swedish, per Google Translate.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Madeleine Monday

Madeleine 2015-12-20 2

We went to see the Christmas decorations at the Chase-Park Plaza, STL's grand old hotel, where Madeleine's daddy is executive banquet chef. He had to work yesterday, supervising the food service for an Indian wedding. The lighting made for bokeh heaven. My model was pretty good, too.                      

Madeleine 2015-12-20 1

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Other One

Audrey 2015-12-20 1
Grandchild #2, Audrey Crowe, is in town with our son Andy and his wife Claire. She is not quite four months old. Andy shows that she may not be ready for her first flight. 

Madeleine and Emily were over for dinner. It was impossible to photograph the two little girls together but I'll try again today. Madeleine's reaction to her cousin was cute. She would come right up to the baby but wouldn't touch her. And she got rather upset if her mother or grandmother held Audrey. No Competition!                            

Audrey 2015-12-20 2

Saturday, December 19, 2015


Julie's Last Day 1

Julie Shanahan, my law partner of thirty years, retired yesterday. She is one of the finest human beings I have known, generous, patient and always thinking of others. One hell of a good lawyer, too. I looked at her empty office before I left last night and, um, got a bit moist-eyed.

Now, plush as Crowe & Shanahan's offices may be, we do not have a private beach. Our other lawyer, Don, is a free spirit. One wall of his office is papered with a scene of coastal Tahiti. It was an appropriate backdrop. Julie owns part of a condo in southwest Florida. She will spend the first quarter of 2016 there. And then what?

She is just 57. Sadly, like a good number of American lawyers, she's had enough. Too many hours, too much pressure, serious enough to demand another way of life. She might become a national park ranger. She might become a judge. Time will tell.

The crew wanted a picture of all of us. Below, from left to right:

Don, our other lawyer who's been with us 27 or 28 years; Cindy, my paralegal for 33 years (the woman is a saint) and Don's wife (when we hired Don she stuck her elbow in my ribs and told me to get him to take her out to dinner); Kaari, Julie's paralegal; Rachel, our receptionist for 20-something years; Julie; Jennifer, Julie's administrative assistant; Dawn, Don's paralegal for half of forever; Jazmyne, my administrative assistant; Kathy, our office Manager; and the old guy in the back. We are losing one of the family.                               

Julie's Last Day 2

Friday, December 18, 2015

On Tap


There is a restaurant in Citygarden with an odd name, more about which presently. You can't find a Budweiser at the bar. 4 Hands, Urban Chestnut, Ferguson and Schlafly are local breweries. (No idea about Sofie and the generic wood handles.) The variety of beer in this country is so much more interesting with microbreweries springing up everywhere. We don't drink a lot of beer but we think mass-produced American lager (like, say, the whole Anheuser-Busch lineup) is swill. Our favorite is Schlafly's Kölsch, made in the style of Cologne (Köln), Germany.                        

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thursday Arch Series

Arch Construction 2015-12-05 2

We have not seen much of the Arch in recent months. This is why. Most of the grounds are still quite torn up. This is the view from the west, looking from downtown, turned 180 degrees from the photo in the post of December 9. 

The entrances to the museum under the monument and the tram to the top used to be narrow, under the legs and facing toward the center. It will be completely rearranged, with a broad new entry some distance to the west and facing downtown. That's a really good idea. More photos when there is something to see.                      

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Sense Of Scale


There have been many pictures of Kiener Plaza in the nearly nine year run of this blog. It won't be around that much longer, at least in its present form. The plans for restoration of the Arch grounds extend into downtown. The plaza will be ripped up and replaced with something different. We'll see if it is an improvement.

One of the fixtures is the statue of The Runner, plowing through a fountain in the warmer months. In the winter, agile visitors can climb up the base for family snaps. My knees wouldn't make it up that high.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015



10 South Broadway, the local headquarters of HO+K, one of the leading architectural and design firms in the world. Founded in St. Louis in 1955 as Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum (sounds like a law firm), it now has offices around the globe. You can see photos of its work on its own website here.                      

Monday, December 14, 2015

Madeleine Monday

Madeleine Christmas Pageant 2015-12-13 1

Last night was the children's Christmas pageant at St. John's Episcopal Church, where Madeleine and her parents, Emily and Brian, are members. The little kids got to play lambs. Emily was a shepherd but could not possibly have had a big enough crook. Ms. M was reasonably cooperative. There was a payoff at the end. 

This was a color correction nightmare for a photographer, with a mix of flash, fluorescent and incandescent lamps, along with front and back lighting. I'm not real happy with the results but probably no one cares but me.           
Madeleine Christmas Pageant 2015-12-13 3
Madeleine Christmas Pageant 2015-12-13 4

Saturday, December 12, 2015


Skateboarders Downtown 1

I ran into a group of skateboarders downtown on a Sunday afternoon. They went from one building to another, wheeling off architectural features until the security guard chased them away. There are a few more of these shots. 

Skateboards go back further than people may realize. I had one in the mid 60s when I was in high school. My friends and I would find an empty car on the 7 train in Queens early on Saturday morning, then try to slalom among the grab bars while the train was moving. It could be bruising.                     

Friday, December 11, 2015


Citygarden 2015-12-05 4

Back in Citygarden: The chest and shoulders of Erwin Wurm's Big Suit framed in one of the many nooks and crannies of Mark di Suvero's Aesope's Fables. Red and pink. A metal cherry?            

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Canyon Walls

Luther Ely Smith Plaza 2015-12-05 3

These are the buildings beside the square we saw yesterday. Above, the swanky Hyatt Hotel. Below, the very pleasant but less pretentious Drury Plaza Hotel, part of a regional chain.

Yesterday and today's photos are HDRs converted to black and white. They are three shots, taken at -1 2/3, 0 and +1 2/3 stops. Three of the four were converted with Photomatix, which can produce results from dramatic to garish (less risk with B&W). The Hyatt image is done with Photoshop's HDR Pro. That's better for simple balancing of strong lights and darks in a picture with high contrast. It makes for a more natural image but with less punch. I go back and forth.                    

Luther Ely Smith Plaza 2015-12-05 4

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Some Progress

Luther Ely Smith Plaza 2015-12-05 1

The renovations around the Arch have made quite a mess. One little bit of it is finished and reopened. This is Luther Ely Smith Square, where the city streets end at an expressway in a trench below street level, followed by the Arch itself. The old square was, um, rather plain. The new plan has made it more attractive. A deck was built over the road so pedestrians can walk directly from downtown onto the Arch grounds. That's an improvement.

Mr. Smith was a prominent citizen of St. Louis some decades ago. He was instrumental in creating the civic effort that led to the Arch's construction. I bet you couldn't find one local resident in ten thousand today who could identify him. I had to look him up on Wikipedia.

There will be more of this type of post as the overall plan moves forward. Some time I'll write one of my occasional rants about the awful things the project is doing to downtown traffic patterns.       

Luther Ely Smith Plaza 2015-12-05 2

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Classics

Downtown 2015-12-05 2

What with the demands of work, family and, um, this blog, I have way too little time to read. A partial solution is audio books I listen to while driving. I'm most of the way through Cambridge classicist Mary Beard's SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, a superb work if you are interested in history. 

The Romans' architectural achievements come round and round again through the centuries. This is St. Louis' Old Court House, seen many time on these pages. If this ain't Roman, I'll eat my galerum.                

Monday, December 7, 2015

Three Views Of Geppetto

Citygarden 2015-12-05 3

In Citygarden, two blocks from yesterday's location, Tom Otterness' Kindly Geppetto stands at a quiet intersection, ever ready to blast Pinocchio's cranium. He never unleashes that left-handed swing, though. The puppet may yet grow up to be a real boy.

I saw the smooth, chocolaty bronze of the statue against the sunset-orange brick of the Wainwright Building and knew there some good shots to be had. My regret is that I didn't think to walk around to the front and shoot the puppet maker's face against the azure twilight sky. Another day.                 

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Citygarden 2015-12-05 2

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Winter Sunset

Downtown 2015-12-05 1
Kiener Plaza, late yesterday afternoon. Note the reflection in the building windows.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

When You're Out Of New Material...

Madeleine 2015-12-04 1 can always resort to pictures of grandchildren. These were taken at Madeleine, Emily and Brian's house last night. As with most kids these days, she is fascinated by electronic screens. She will watch my album of photos of her on Flickr over and over, as long as we let her. She also thinks it's funny to put on grandma's reading glasses.          

Madeleine 2015-12-04 2

Friday, December 4, 2015

Holiday Spirit

Happy Holidays With Razor Wire

Does anything express the season's joy better than wrapping paper banners hung on a fence topped with barbed and razor wire?

This was too bizarre. The scene is a large vacant lot in the run down industrial area north of the Arch. STL's rich and powerful want to build a new multi-zillion dollar football stadium on the site. The owner of the local team wants to move it to Los Angeles to make buckets more money than he can here. So the local supporters held a rally here, showing support for building the stadium and keeping the team. I got there too late to shoot the rally but this was worth the stop.                 
Toy Factory At River North