Friday, August 31, 2007

The Sweetest Thing

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

Rosy-fingered... dusk

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

Dedicated to Art and Free to All

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

Smoke and Mirrors

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

Émilie au Zoo

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

After The Storm

Our power was out for 27 hours. My wife and I spent Friday night in a hotel. The experience reminded us how totally dependent we are on technology. Power outages from severe thunderstorms and ice storms are common in our area. Last summer, a huge storm system knocked out power for over 300,000 customers in the St. Louis area (our home was spared.).

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

Storm and Power Outage

Severe thunderstorms swept through the St. Louis area yesterday afternoon. This is the view to the southwest from my office as the storm blew in from that direction. It was still bright in the east over Illinois, creating this dramatic light.

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

Graph Of A Function

Friday Arch supplement. This was shot through a window of of what we call the Old Cathedral, the historic (by American standards) mini-cathedral near the feet of the Arch. It's web site refers to it as the first Catholic cathedral wast of the Mississippi. The Mississippi River, which splits our country from the Gulf of Mexico to nearly the Canadian border, is an historical great divide. I find it hard to believe the Old Cathedral's claim. There were extensive Spanish Catholic missions in what is now our southwest, particularly in California, in the 17th century.

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

Thursday Arch Series

For me, one of the most interesting things about the Arch is how it fills space, reminding me of the work of sculptor Richard Serra on a much grander scale. But the Arch's magic trick is that it fills space differently from every point of view.

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

Verticals and Curves

A worker applies a fresh coat of white paint to the Old Court House, begun in 1829 and built in stages over the next few decades. The banner on the lamp post advertises the exhibits in the Court House and those in the interesting museum below the Arch. Collectively, they are known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, managed by the National Parks Service. The Arch is often referred to as the Gateway Arch, literally the gateway to the west. It commemorates American westward expansion, begun in the early 19th Century during the administration of Thomas Jefferson. (At whose expense?)

Hey, mom, look at me!

Studio Altius is a professional photography studio in St. Louis, available to rent for those who do not have their own lighting and backdrops. They occasionally have a promotion where they bring in models and you can run amok with their equipment, just having fun. Their web site just put up pictures from the last of these sessions, featuring my portrait work. To have a look click here. Now you can find out my real name.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Downtown Housing Boom

I've worked in downtown St. Louis for 33 years (the horror! the horror!). When I started out as a baby lawyer in 1974 there was still a certain vibrancy. It was the hub of the metropolitan area. There was a lot of street level retail. The finest mens clothier, the top-of-the-line bridal shop, famous restaurants, private clubs whose memberships were coveted, and the liquor store that sold Dom Perignon lined Locust, Olive, Pine, Chestnut and Market Streets. The years passed. Highway development and suburban sprawl bled the City of St. Louis, particularly downtown, to near death. Tumbleweed might have blown down Broadway. Not much was left but lawyers, accountants, politicians, and those that feed off them. And sports venues. The only reason many people came downtown was to see a baseball game.

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

All Your Needs Met

"Hey, Phyllis! Whaddaya think, maybe we should get some information about this stuff. Or you could buy some souvenirs for your sister and that lazy bum husband of hers."

"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

Dirt Track Racers

Automobile races are often held on Sunday all around the world, so why not at STL CDBP? Back at the Washington County Fair, the noise level was high and the dust was flying. I have no idea how big the engines were in these vehicles or what kind of money was at stake. A big crowd waited for spinouts and wrecks while an announcer yammered about total points in the summer racing series. I assume all the drivers still had weekday jobs. Nobody knew from NASCAR and the NHRA where I grew up in NYC. Hell, you were lucky to go faster than a crawl on the Long Island Expressway near where I lived. People called it the Long Island Distressway, the BIG LIE and the Longest Parking Lot In The World. To us, racing meant the dash into a subway car before the doors closed.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Norman Rockwell Lives

Norman Rockwell (see here, too) is a name well known to Americans (and probably Canadians) but maybe not people from other countries. The premier illustrator of middle American life in the 20th Century, his work had sweetness, wit and an instantly recognizable style. He painted 323 covers of the old Saturday Evening Post, which is still around in some form. There are lots of examples in the first two links of this paragraph.

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

Mexican Groove

Another performer from last weekend's Hispanic Festival.

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.

I'm as white an Anglo as they come but I really enjoy the energy and rhythm of Latin American music. One of my favorite travel memories is of sitting in a restaurant in Mexico City on Independence Day, as several mariachi bands entertained the crowd. One of the groups played an unimaginably intense version of La Bamba.

If you have had memorable experiences with music or other arts away from home, share them with us.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday Arch Series

It's been a while since I've shot pictures of the Arch. I went out last weekend on a cloudless, torrid day, looking for new points of view. Many of the pictures I took were up the sides and edges. The Arch's well-known shape is not obvious here. Does this form remind you of anything?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tattoo You

Ethnic festivals in St. Louis not only have entertainment and food, they also have marketing. Anyone who wants to sell something to the attendees and can pay for a booth might be there. The Hispanic Festival had people trying to sell newspaper subscriptions, cellular phone service and home remodeling. This mannequin with all-over tattoos was trying to draw people's attention.

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

Chica Mexicana

There was a group of young Mexican-American women dancing in the intense heat at the Hispanic Festival on Sunday. This chica was fabulous, full of energy, beauty and perhaps danger.

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

Las Bailarinas Bolivianas

Era muy caliente hoy en la Fiesta Hispanica de San Luis - 104 F./ 40 C. Which is nearly as far as I can get in my poor Spanish. When I walked up to these ladies, pointing to my camera, I did manage "¿Permiso, señoras?". to which one of them replied, "Sure, no problem. Are you from the newspaper?"

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

They're The Colors Of The Swedish Flag, Too, But Are There Jalapeños In Sweden?

A principal sponsor of the St. Louis Hispanic Festival, Cerveza Corona, right next to the stage where the salsa and mariachi bands are working it out (more about which later).

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

Father Time

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.

As he says on his web site: No one has ever associated the figure "Father Time" with "God Bless America." I'm helping people make memories when I see them. In addition, I play over 50 songs on my harmonica and as long as I stay healthy and able, I will be doing this for a long time.

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


There was something fun to do for everyone at Strassenfest last weekend. I had fun taking pictures. This couple had fun increasing their g-forces in a centrifuge. The two of them remind me of the old nursery rhyme about Jack Spratt.

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
kids co-contributors of mine to cough up some material.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Thursday Arch Series

This photo was shot lying on my back directly underneath the apex of the Arch. The horizontal slits are the windows of the observation deck. almost 190 m above me.

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

The Saddest Chimp Show In America

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

How Many?

Carnival rides at Strassenfest don't come cheap. Like the sign says, you need a few of these $1 tickets, depending on the degree of nausea they induce. This ticket seller looks to me like the carnival version of Yoda. Know you not that if the Twister you would ride, angular momentum must you master? Use the Force, but first two-and-twenty tickets must you buy.

Monday, August 6, 2007

County Fair

When you sign up for CDPB, you pledge to post one picture a day, every blessed day, of you city. Not your county or equivalent, not your region, but your city. Phooey on that, I say. If you live in New York or Paris, well, maybe. You don't lack for material. For those of us out in the hinterland, we'll take our images where we find them.

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


I got out in the heat and walked around Strassenfest for a couple of hours Saturday afternoon. St. Louis has a large German population (think Anheuser-Busch) and they put on an annual street festival in the most miserable part of August. Carnival rides, beer, bratwurst, craft vendors, beer, games of purported skill, oom-oah bands, beer, men in lederhosen and ladies in dirndl dresses and beer (and maybe spam, eggs, bacon, cheese, spam and spam). Meine Damen und Herren, bottoms up.

Notice the trumpet player's lips, dented from his embouchure.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Gratuitous Cuteness

Another good thing to post when you are running out of inventory is cute kids. Gets 'em every time. This is a neighbor's child in the street in front of my house.

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


A good quick fix when you need something to post is a reflection in a mirror glass building. This is the Bank of America building on Market Street in the heart of downtown. The upper section shows the AT&T building a block away. The glass in the lower area is bent back at a 45 degree angle, reflecting the stairs and railings underneath. I like it that one interior fluorescent light fixture penetrates the curtain wall.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Thursday Arch Series

Simple. A curve, cloudless sky, a gradient from high contrast to no contrast. It looks different on every day, at every hour and in all kinds of weather.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

CDPB Theme Day - Typical Breakfast (Then and Now)

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.

But today? Booorrriing! Whole grain cereal with sliced banana and strawberries in non-fat milk, eaten at my desk at eight in the morning. Everyone now, especially people around my age, is nutrition conscious, fat content conscious, vitamin conscious, roughage conscious and lucky to be conscious. What happened to my youthful joie de vivre?


Saint Paul (MN), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - New York City (NY), USA - Tel Aviv, Israel - Hyde, UK - Port Angeles (WA), USA - Mainz, Germany - Stockholm, Sweden - Paderborn, Germany - Singapore, Singapore - Haninge, Sweden - Nottingham, UK - Ampang (Selangor), Malaysia - Manila, Philippines - Boston (MA), USA - Seoul, Korea - Singapore, Singapore - Joplin (MO), USA - Chandler (AZ), USA - Paris, France - Sequim (WA), USA - Greenville (SC), USA - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Boston (MA), USA - Chennai, India - Madison (WI), USA - Baton Rouge (LA), USA - Toulouse, France - Seattle (WA), USA - Mexico (DF), Mexico - La Antigua, Guatemala - Selma (AL), USA - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Albuquerque (NM), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - San Diego (CA), USA - Lubbock (TX), USA - Jakarta, Indonesia - Sheki, Azerbaijan - Sydney, Australia - Mumbai, India - Seoul, South Korea - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Cypress (TX), USA - Saarbrücken, Germany - Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina - New Orleans (LA), USA - Budapest, Hungary - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Austin (TX), USA - Singapore, Singapore - Villigen, Switzerland - Montréal (QC), Canada - Stayton (OR), USA - Melbourne, Australia - Silver Spring (MD), USA - Moscow, Russia - Springfield (MO), USA - Inverness (IL), usa - Arlington (VA), USA - Cologne (NRW), Germany - Anderson (SC), USA - Oslo, Norway - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Manila, Philippines - Kajang (Selangor), Malaysia - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Bandung (West Java), Indonesia - Stavanger, Norway - Bastia, France - Hong Kong, China - Wailea (HI), USA - St. Louis (MO), USA - Chicago (IL), USA - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Sydney, Australia - Bucaramanga (Santander), Colombia - Kansas City (MO), USA - Grenoble, France - Paris, France - Evry, France - Saigon, Vietnam - Prague, Czech Republic - Cape Town, South Africa - Brookville (OH), USA - Brussels, Belgium - San Diego (CA), USA - Wellington, New Zealand - Newcastle (NSW), Australia - Saint Louis (MO), USA

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series