Friday, August 31, 2007
About four months ago, I moved from the heart (read: the most expensive part) of Saint Louis' Central West End neighborhood to the "gentrifying" (read: used to be dangerous, now is rapidly developing) neighborhood just to the south of the CWE. The house that we have moved into is more than twice the size of our old apartment, has as many or more amenities, its own yard, and is exactly the same cost to us monthly. So we have to set the burglar alarm every day; it's so worth it.
The restaurant "Sweetie Pie's at the Mangrove" has attracted me since we moved, for several reasons: one, it has a neon sign that we can tell people to look for when they're trying to follow the directions to our new house; two, I like the sign itself, for the neon ice cream cones (though several layers appear to have burned out recently), and its design in general; three, I just want to eat there (it's soul food, and supposedly quite good); four, it gives me a daily head scratcher about the origin of the "Mangrove" part (our mini-neighborhood is sometimes called just "The Grove," after the Tower Grove neighborhood further south), but no mangrove trees grow for hundreds of miles to the south of here.
Melroy's is just a bonus neon storefront about a half block down. I guess it's a tattoo parlor, though I've never looked closely. I don't think I'd want to get a tattoo there in general, especially since they've been advertising for a new tattoo artist for as long as I've been driving past it.
On a photographic note, I realize that both of these pictures should have been taken in twilight low-light (rather than no light), but earlier today I had planned to take them a bit after I (should have) left work at 7:00 PM, and didn't end up being able to do it until about 9:00 PM. Sorry. Better new pictures coming up soon, I promise.
Tomorrow: ideally, some new pix of Central West End life
Thursday, August 30, 2007
Taken at the Cardinals game on the Fourth of July. I love the composition and the light and colors (of the dusk and clouds, of the green on the hotel roof and red of its sign, and of the outfits of the fans), though unfortunately there is a bit of noise in the picture due to the neccesity of shooting with high ISO (Emily needs a more advanced camera, with dSLR, hint, hint).
About my guest posts: so far, I have been recycling some photos taken in the past few weeks to contribute to the blog (no free time lately to take more), but hopefully I will have some great stuff coming up this weekend and after. Saint Louis has so many cool things going on (to photograph, natch) on Labor Day weekend: the Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Gardens, the Big Muddy Blues Festival on the Landing, and the late summer highlight of my own neighborhood, the Greek Festival at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church. And... I may actually have a little time in which to go see some of it (although it may involve dragging the ball and chain around, too, since it is also the weekend of our first wedding anniversary). Hope to have some good new stuff to show off.
Tomorrow: How sweet it is
P.S. 你好 to Bob in China! Hope you're having fun!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
As my father draws a lot of inspiration from the Arch (near which he works in downtown Saint Louis), I draw a lot of inspiration from the many and varied attractions in Forest Park. I attended high school a stone's throw away from the Missouri Historical Society Museum in the park; since becoming an adult, I have lived in the Central West End neighborhood near the park for over five years. Almost all of the atrractions in Forest Park are free: the title of this post is the motto of the Art Museum. Even though admission is free (supported by donations and taxes), many of the museums and attractions are truly world-class (see my first post regarding the Saint Louis Zoo).
This was taken at dusk from the front of the Art Museum, and just slightly down the steep hill below (known city-wide as a fabulous place for sledding in the wintertime). The statue at the right is Louis IX himself.
Tomorrow: even more sultry lighting (I can't get enough)
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
This was taken at a Cardinals night game at Busch Stadium, for which my lovely père gave me the tickets. I think that the smoke was the residue of fireworks (lit after a home team home run). I missed a good bit of the game trying to get this shot with the moon in the right place, and without too much camera shake.
Tomorrow: from baseball to art (the most important things in life)
Monday, August 27, 2007
Hello, all. This is my first guest post for my dad while he's travelling. I took both of these recently at the Saint Louis Zoo, which is an amazing zoo, and not just amazing for a middling-sized town. It has some wonderfully innovative habitats, especially the most newly constructed ones. The second picture, for example, is in the fairly recently built hippo habitat, where one may look right into the pool in which the hippos swim (through plexiglass, of course).
Tomorrow: Smoke and Mirrors
Sunday, August 26, 2007
The first picture is the street a couple of hours after the storm passed. The second is part of the tree that knocked down the power lines after the branches that hit the cables were trimmed away. The owner of the van was in the vehicle when the tree hit it. He was not injured.
Beginning tomorrow, new team member ShadowyOne will post pictures here while I'm on a long journey to China. I will try to upload photos during the trip, probably starting Thursday in Shanghai,
Saturday, August 25, 2007
More than 40,000 customers lost electric power. My home went out at mid-afternoon. A very large tree up the street blew over, pulling down several sets of electrical cables and snapping a utility pole in half. The electric company says that everyone will be restored by tonight.
I hope to post a picture of the dramatic-looking damage in my neighborhood later today.
Friday, August 24, 2007
This picture makes me think of the ethereal abstract beauty of the Arch. It reminds me of the graph of a function from calculus class many, many years ago. I admit that I am obsessed with the Arch. I feel lucky to live and work near such a superb, enormous work of art.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
The Thursday Arch Series will be on vacation with me for the next couple of weeks. I hope I can find other images to interest you. Next Thursday I will be in Shanghai.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Studio Altius is a professional photography studio in
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Everything changes. In the last several years, scores of beautiful, vacant office and commercial buildings have been converted into lofts, condos and apartments. Twenty five years ago, downtown had hardly any population. Now there are thousands of new residents firing a revival, spinning off hip restaurants and clubs, shops and, for the first time in decades, a grocery store (which is about to move across the street and double in size)!
I'm glad I didn't move our practice to the boring 'burbs. It's exciting downtown again. I like cities. Life happens there.
Monday, August 20, 2007
"Oh, Billy, I dunno. I was wondering if they were having a sale on lost tots, ya know, cute little kids. End of the fair clearance."
"Well, maybe they do but HOLY #*&!^@, here comes a tornado! Where we gonna go?"
They both dive into the small building.
Life at the fairgrounds. And thank you for the phone service.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Saturday, August 18, 2007
This image was cropped from a larger, unsuccessful photo of kids who won prizes at the Washington County Fair. I saw that hair, eyes and mouth line and it just said Rockwell. Some people think his work was really square but it also has a great deal of unselfconscious charm. This picture just happened to look like his style.
Friday, August 17, 2007
There was an all-brass group (with singer and percussion) called Banda Tesoro, or Treasure Chest. They were hot, and they should have been, playing on an afternoon that reached 104 F./40 C. The temperature never slowed down their pulsating Mexican groove.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Tattoos seem to be a generational thing in the US. I'm in my late 50s and middle class. No one I know in my category has any. My 30 year old daughter has a bunch of them and my 27 year old son says he is giving it serious consideration. I find them unattractive and disfiguring. A good-looking human body is fine the way it was delivered. Obviously many people feel quite the opposite. It's one thing to have a tattoo on a young, fit body but quite another thing 30 years later. What's your attitude about tattoos?
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Look carefully at the first picture: black lasers for eyes, aquiline nose that suggests she could tear you, a slight sneer and a provocative, even aggressive pose.
She reminds me of the most famous opera about a Hispanic woman ever written in French, Carmen. In the first act, after Carmen and the other women working in a cigarette factory spill out into the street during a fight, she tries to charm the soldiers who might arrest her. Carmen sings about her passion for life and romance. L'amour est un oiseau rebelle que nul ne peut apprivoiser. Love is a rebellious bird that no one can tame. She ends her song with the phrase, si je t'aime, prends garde à toi! That is, if I love you, you better watch out for yourself.
I didn't speak to this young woman. I only took her photograph. But just from the effect of her image, I feel that she has a lot of Carmen in her. Do you agree?
Monday, August 13, 2007
This festival wasn't so big. St. Louis has a smaller Hispanic population than many other American cities. Attendance was low do to the severe heat but the performers were fabulous. More of them over the next few days.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
The white building in the background was for decades the headquarters of the Missouri Pacific Railroad and, after a merger, a principal office of the Union Pacific. Like so many old commercial buildings downtown, it is being converted into upscale apartments. The new development, which looks beautiful, has the idiotic name of Park Pacific. Yes, it's on a small park but the Pacific Ocean is, oh, 2,000 miles (3.200 km) to the west. Why don't they call it the Park Mississippi? The river is 10 or 15 minutes walk away.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Paul Pagano, who calls himself Father Time, is a St. Louis institution. This eccentric, irrepressible octogenarian shows up at public events in the city, beaming with happiness and dressed to attract attention. He used to drive around downtown in an old bus with loudspeakers blaring God Bless America. There are a couple of photos of it on his Web site. Click Vintage and scroll across.
You can hire him for your party or event! Maybe some day I'll do posts on other famous STL characters like Beatle Bob or Baton Bob. (See also here.) Unfortunately, Baton Bob caught enough crap in this town for his joyful strangeness that he moved to Atlanta. The sight of this bodybuilder marching around the Central West End in a tutu and tiara, doing his drum majorette routine, always brought a big smile to my face. People loved him but the authorities didn't get it and he left us. St. Louis has a wacky side and a straight-laced side.
Friday, August 10, 2007
This weekend's event is the St. Louis Hispanic Festival, held downtown on the same site as Strassenfest. The Cardinals are home this weekend just a few blocks away, guaranteeing cursing drivers. Last weekend Germans, this weekend Latinos. Our big Japanese Festival is not until the first weekend of September. What fills in the gaps? Maybe I can get those damn
Thursday, August 9, 2007
Notice the light dot in the upper set of windows, a bit right of center. You can't see it at this resolution, but when I zoomed in on the original I saw that it was a face looking downward. The windows are at about a 45 degree angle so it it possible to look straight down.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
There were a variety of shows at the Washington County Fair last weekend. My wife and I wanted to be sure to get there in time for the chimp show. What could be more fun?
Almost anything. It was a sad little company: a couple I'd guess were in their 60s, three chimps in their 30s and 40s according to their mistress, and this eight year old. Their tricks were mostly dull. The show was humorless. The older chimps seemed to be phoning it in. Their costumes were campy, even embarrassing. The woman controlled the animals with a chain and metal collar around their necks. Obviously, she wouldn't want the animals running out into the audience but it made them look like slaves.
The juvenile, pictured above, looks like he is suffering from agonizing depression. The image is striking but I think the posture was just part of the act. If you look carefully you can see that he is holding sunglasses.
Things picked up a bit when they brought out a pony. One of the chimps hopped on its back as the pony ran in a fast circle. That was the highlight of the show. Still, it's no wonder this troupe works county fairs.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
Monday, August 6, 2007
My wife and I went to the Washington County Fair on Sunday in the blazing heat. Washington, Missouri is about 45 miles southwest of St Louis. The population certainly considers itself part of the St. Louis metropolitan area. The fair itself, however, is as country as Minnie Pearl's hat. This is a carnival ride in the amusement area.
I got lots of good images at Stressenfest and the Washington Fair, which will keep me going on posts for several days.
Sunday, August 5, 2007
Notice the trumpet player's lips, dented from his embouchure.
Saturday, August 4, 2007
There's some good stuff to shoot around here this weekend. For one, there's Strassenfest (or, for German purists, Straßenfest), an annual Deutsche beer, wurst and oom-pah party held downtown. Out on the edges of the metro area, there is the Washington County Fair, an extravagant bit of rural Americana with tractor pulls, livestock judging, country music, carnival rides and terrifying things to eat. In short, a photographer's paradise. However, there is a huge, stagnant high pressure system parked over the central United States. The air quality is foul and it's likely to get close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit / 38 degrees Celsius for the next several days. Have to wait and see how brave I am. Most Americans - certainly including me - are air conditioning weenies.
Friday, August 3, 2007
Thursday, August 2, 2007
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
How age changes us. The subject of the first photo was a very special Sunday morning breakfast when I was in college. 3 or 4 AM Sunday morning, after a night of partying.
White Castle is something special to me. (See also here.) I have a previous post about it. A few years ago they had an ad campaign with the theme, "Hamburgers for breakfast? Why Not?" Hors d'oeuvre-ish, square little burgers, about 2.5 inches (6 1/3 cm) on a side, slightly greasy, full of onion flavor, moist (grilled with steam, if you can imagine that), nutritionally worthless and absolutely deeelishus. Their trademarked slogan is "What You Crave" and, by God, I still do. Back in my reckless youth, they were particularly appreciated in the small hours, washed down by the last brewski of the night (except they didn't have light beer back then and we couldn't afford Budweiser. The can in the picture is for illustration purposes only.) Now they are a rare treat when there is an exceptional need to reward myself.
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TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series