Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Some Things Don't Change

Late post. I left my laptop at my office last night.

Our iconic statue, The Runner, is back. I think it came from the 1904 World's Fair. (To paraphrase Marlon Brando, we used to be somebody.) The circular pool is now much smaller, giving the sculpture more of a direct impact.  In the old installation, persons unknown used to dump red or blue dye into the water if something special was going on with the baseball or hockey teams. Now it has infinitely variable LED lighting.

And, of course, Fredbird, the Cardinals' idiotic mascot, often hangs around. Here, he is challenged by a fan of the San Fransisco Giants who were in town.

There is a good photo how the eastern half of the plaza used to look here.  Pretty bland and often unkempt. Also, there is an overview shot of the new plaza here. Hard to tell from the picture but that big lozenge of grass is hump-backed. The developers claim that if will provide seating for 2,000 people for concerts. I'm sceptical but we will see. Otherwise, it doesn't look very useful to me. Only a bit of shade around the edges and our summers are hot. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

What We Lost

Kiener Plaza 2011-12-24

These are old pictures of what used to be the west half of Kiener Plaza. There was an amphitheater surrounded by a collonade. The stage, below street level, was was in the middle of a wide brick floor that could contain, for example, the Kansas University band and cheerleaders. (Some phase of the college basketball playoffs was in town.) In back, there was an irregular waterfall flowing down concrete steps, a treat for local families during our hot summers.

It was a delight, and well used. I shot political demonstrations there, music performances and civic events. Apparently, the amphitheater did not fit the very flat plans of the new architects (see yesterday's lead picture). Losing it is the worst thing about the new Kiener Plaza.

KU Band At Kiener 1

Hispanic Festival 2012-09-08 17

Kiener Plaza Unoccupied 1

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Kiener Reopened

STL's main downtown square, Kiener Plaza, has been closed for a year for renovation. It was completely redesigned and opened again this weekend.

There are pluses and minuses. A lot of it looks quite barren to me. The new landscaping, where it exists, is better. (It couldn't have been much worse in the old one.) There is more seating and a cute, if somewhat cramped, children's play area. It will look better when the trees fill in.

I'm going to cover this for a few days with some comparison shots to the old plaza.           

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Canción Mexicana

A Mexican festival needs Mexican music. I'm a bit amazed by people who play this kind of accordion. A piano keyboard gives a performer reference points to the notes. This instrument just has dots strewn across it. Must take a long time to learn.      

Friday, May 19, 2017

We The People

We're all Americans. I don;t care if some of us wear a hijab, a rapper wears a backwards baseball cap, a Hasidim wears a wide-brimmed black hat, a biker wears a bandana or John Wayne wears a cowboy hat. 

Makes me think of this picture from the Women's March with a similar spirit.              

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Clowning Around

This person in the first picture was pretty out there, aggressively sticking his face in my lens here and there through the afternoon. It was the kind of clown that can give clowns a bad reputation, scaring children and such.

The second one makes me think of a kachina. I don't know if that was the intention. We will be spending some time on the Navajo and Hopi reservations in September. I'll think about it some more then.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Shoot From The Hip

As my friends know, I like to shoot people in the crowd at public events. But sometimes it is so packed that it's almost impossible to do. You could park yourself on a corner to shoot people coming towards you but even that may not work if you can;t get a long enough view.

There is another way to go about it. Sometimes I will walk through a crowd with the camera at my hip, finger on the shutter button. If I see something interesting I point the camera in the general direction, click and hope for the best. Almost no one notices. Surprising how often I get a good result.     

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Squared Circle

They always have wrestling at Cinco de Mayo, the faked and staged American commercial version. Often it's the Mexican variant, lucha libre, with its colorfully masked contestants. Not this time, at least while I was there. But anything goes, as long as it looks violent but really isn't. It is a field trip in cultural anthropology.       

Monday, May 15, 2017

Whack The Piñata

A surprise at the Cinco de Mayo festival: an effigy of The Donald (may Scottie teleport him to another galaxy) with the head fashioned into a traditional Mexican piñata. Wouldn't you like a whack at that? James Comey knows what's inside.

There were two identical heads sitting on the ground. Looks like the plan was to perform the ceremony three times. I would have loved to have photographed it but there was no indication of the time and no one to ask. It might have been cathartic.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Primal Scream

Entertainment at the Cinco de Mayo festival, if you find this entertaining. A heavy metal band, not at all Hispanic, with a crazed bass player. I have to admit to listening to some of this stuff when I was young, Led Zeppelin turned up to 10 and so forth. Then I got bored with it and learned that there are other ways to howl.      

Saturday, May 13, 2017

One Love

Later in the day at the  Hispanic Festival. This person was hardly a Spanish speaker but if someone would buy the banner, so what. I never did get the "one love" concept myself. But if people bought the record...              

Friday, May 12, 2017

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Rare no post day yesterday. I was at work way too late, too brain frozen, and left without my laptop. That's where all the pictures are.

A few more  things to finish up from the People's Joy Parade. I could have used one of those smiley heads Tuesday evening. Maybe it would have improved my attitude. (Actually, wouldn't it be great to wear one to a Trump rally?) But it would also be great to be like the young lady in the second picture, with your hand on the control of the blast horn on a big tractor truck. Talk about a means of expression.   

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


A feature at every PJP run by one of the Artica crew (they have a fund raiser coming up that locals should attend): an old, tricked-out Cadillac with a propane torch mounted to the roof. Watch out for the utility wires and trees!  It's okay - he's had some serious fire control training. But what fun! Just riding down the street on the top of a huge sedan and, at your whim, pyro blast!  I'd like to do it.    

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Vive la différence.

Waiting for the People's Joy Parade to start. I used to have one of these Volvo 244s, white with a tan interior. Wow, that was a long time ago.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Madeleine Monday

Not more taco chips! Actually, that's fine with her. A late lunch after the Cinco de Mayo festival at Tower Taco. It's far enough down Cherokee Street that it wasn't too crowded. Minimal face painting was available for children in the PJP staging area because there were so many kids in line. The patrons weren't fussy about it.         

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Oda a la Alegría

It's the beginning of May. The Lou has the double dip of the People's Joy Parade and the Cinco de Mayo Festival. There's nothing like the PJP anywhere. No bureaucracy. Anyone can join who shares the spirit.  And lots of people do.

Cinco de Mayo isn't a big deal in Mexico. It marks the unlikely victory of the Mexican army over the wannabe French imperial forces. (Did you know that France was briefly the colonial power in Mexico? It was a bad idea.) In the US it has become a celebration of Mexican-American culture and an excuse to swill large amounts of Jose Cuervo and Corona. (I prefer Sol or Pacifico when drinking Mexican suds.) There's tons more of this to come.
¡Alegría, hermosa chispa de los dioses
hija del Elíseo!
¡Ebrios de ardor penetramos,
diosa celeste, en tu santuario! 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

High Water

After work yesterday I walked out onto Eads Bridge to have a look at the river level. Pretty high, although I've seen worse. 

A look at the first picture in Wednesday's post, shot five days earlier, will give you an idea of the change. Note the position of the ramp to the helicopter barge. The bases of the lampposts are usually far above the water. That's a street to the right of them. The water has come well up into the Arch park. There is so much water, flowing so quickly, that it creates turbulence and whirlpools after it passes the legs of the bridge.

The rivers should start dropping today as we enter a gorgeous, sunny weekend. A couple of big events to shoot today.           

Friday, May 5, 2017

Across A Big River

The rain has finally stopped. River levels are falling (the Mississippi is quite an effective drain) and the highways have reopened. You can't really get a sense of the height and width of the river unless you walk beside it, which you could still do on the Illinois side a couple of days ago. Both pictures taken from my office window. The first was focused on the raindrops on the glass.

A couple of major annual events to shoot tomorrow. The weekend should be gorgeous, even if the ground beneath our feet is soggy.        

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Thursday Arch Series

Ominous skies. This was taken last Saturday. We expect another inch or two of rain today.

There is a striking series of photographs of some flooded areas on the local newspaper's website here and here.              

Wednesday, May 3, 2017


This is the edge of the Mississippi last Saturday afternoon. The river level is normally much lower. The old cobblestone levee, now underwater, is used for parking. These days driftwood floats downstream and washes up on the shore.

That was then. We had torrents of rain for the rest of the weekend. I had some business in Illinois yesterday and as I drove back to this side I could see that the water level was well over the base of the flagpoles in the upper right of the top photo. Maybe a 3 or 4 meter rise in three days.

The major highways that approach St. Louis from the south and southwest are closed due to flooding. Tuesday was sunny but at least 3 inches / 7.5 cm of rain are predicted for today and tomorrow. We may float away.      

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Impressionism By Windshield

In the old, run-down industrial area south of the Arch during last weekend's downpour.  I was in my car, water streaming across the windshield. Auto focus was out of the question and manual focus was approximate. If Monet painted modern ruins... Well, he did lots of train stations. Not too different.        

Monday, May 1, 2017

City Daily Photo Theme Day: Let's Eat

Hedonism simplified. Get your life in order. I suppose it's a matter of taste and priorities, but some people might ask for seconds and never make it any further. My father, who was in commercial sugar business, would have approved.

The location is Clare, Michigan's famous Cops & Doughnuts. It's heaven for those with a sweet tooth and a nightmare for endocrinologists and dentists.   

Sunday, April 30, 2017

When It Rains

Go out and shoot it. It's pouring off and on all weekend here but I need material. If the rain gets too hard you can take pictures from the safety of your car. This photo was taken on the Mississippi riverfront under the Arch. The heavens opened a moment later.

If you look closely you can see that this is a color picture. No desaturation used.            

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Deja Vu

Desperate for new material so reaching back into the archives (but not too far). This is a familiar image, something seen here many times before. Maybe a bit more dramatic with the cloud pattern and some extra post-production twiddling.

Gotta get out and shoot something new today, rain or shine. The forecast is for the former, and lots of it.               

Friday, April 28, 2017

Happy Trails

There is a wonderful trail system around Clare, just the thing for walking off the effects of the slab of meat seen yesterday. I assume Andy's tee shirt is from some bar and restaurant and is meant to be ironic, if a little obscure.

I really need new local material but it's supposed to start pouring later today and continue for days. There must be something to shoot in that.     

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Chef Andy

As you may have guessed from yesterday's post, I am rather hard up for material. Missed some local events last weekend like Earth Day and the March For Science. The forecast is for storms all this weekend so I'm scraping.

My son, Andy, is getting into the small town lifestyle. He has this big electric meat smoker gizmo. There was a visit to the local meat market which resulted in the purchase of an 11 pound  / 5 kg pork shoulder. He brined it for five days, then slow cooked it in the smoker for nine hours, keeping an eye on both the air and meat temperature.

Finally it was done. An artist must carefully check the quality of his work.