Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween In the Streets 3

So, this is the last of the Halloween series. These pictures don't require explanation except to say that one image portrays a blood relative and blog team member, plus an in-law.

TOMORROW: The Thursday Arch series has been pre-empted by the CDPB Monthly Theme Day - Blue(s). Come visit and be sure you have your computer speakers turned on.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Halloween In the Streets 2

More from Saturday night's Halloween party in the Central West End:

Upper left: the CWE is a tolerant, open-minded neighborhood. S/he can't take that cigarette into any restaurants, though.

Upper right: Louis and Marie, out looking for cake to share with the people during the costume competition. They look like they are already members of the un-dead, so what's that thing doing on their shoulders?

Lower left: strange people wait their turn to get on the stage for the costume competition. And, no, that person with the POLICE jacket is not one of the competitors. Love the way the lettering caught my camera's flash.

Lower right: the devil wears Oscar de la Renta.

TOMORROW: Halloween itself, the last installment of this tomfoolery.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween In the Streets 1

Saturday night in Maryland Plaza in the Central west End, where all the ghouls were out and St. Louis says BOO! Nobody cared if you take their picture. Everything was on display.

TOMORROW: More local weirdos party down.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Darkness

Halloween has become such a big deal in the U.S. and I've heard the marketeers are spreading it to Europe. When I was a kid in NYC we would throw together a crude Frankenstein get-up and go around our apartment building mooching candy, without any parents keeping watch. One development of recent years are big commercial haunted houses, where you can wander through dim corridors and have high-tech spooks threaten you with chainsaws and axes. Some fundamentalist Christian churches in this country have opened religious haunted houses, trying to scare the youth straight with terrifying scenes of eternal damnation. Whether this is good for mental health has been questioned. There is an interesting discussion of religious Halloween terror here. Also, check this fascinating documentary film on the phenomenon, Hell House.

The biggest haunted house in St. Louis is The Darkness. Click What's New on their home page to see some pictures of the show.

I don't get into Halloween. The world is scary enough as is. Do you participate in Halloween and, if so, what do you do? What does your community do about Halloween?

MONDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY: The Halloween theme continues

NEWS FLASH: the gracious Karine from Buenos Aires has done me the honor of using one of my pictures of her city on her blog today. Check it out here.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Peace and Onions

At the Soulard Farmer's Market near downtown. I did not get this man's story, just his picture. He was selling onions and other produce. His hat has the badge of a military boarding school in central Missouri. He has a taste for out-of-season Mardi Gras beads - our small but raucous Mardi Gras celebration is in the same neighborhood. It is hard to see at this resolution, but his sunglasses have a Miller Lite beer logo over the nose. You might be able to see my reflection just to the left of his nose and, a bit farther still, U "R" Us, who had just finished a 14 mile / 22.5 km training run.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fiat Lux

Let there be light. This is an old power and steam plant in an industrial area along the Mississippi. I may show the whole facade tomorrow. The full wording across the top says Union Electric Power and Light, the original name of our electric company. The plant gave us light but is hardly emblematic of it any more.

TOMORROW: Peace and Onions

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thursday Arch Series

Very soft, barely there, almost hallucinatory. Today's Arch photo is ambiguous about what is on the other side of the portal.

TOMORROW: Let There Be Light

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Introduction to Ted Drewes

My professional association had its big national conference in St. Louis last week. I took some friends from Seattle and Port Angeles, Washington, out to dinner at STL's most popular Italian restaurants (Trattoria Marcella, for the locals). For dessert, we went to Ted Drewes, one of St. Louis' great institutions. There has been a link to their web site on my sidebar since I started the blog. Ted Drewes serves freshly made frozen custard, made on the spot with all-natural ingredients in semi-antique machines. Their most famous treat is called a concrete, frozen custard mixed with any of a score of flavors and so thick that if you hold the cup upside down the contents won't fall out. It's heaven.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Detroit Marathon: And the Winner Is... mom and dad, anyway Chicago CDP blogger U "R" Us, who ran the half marathon (13.1 miles / 21 km) in 1:59:18. That's not bad for his first long distance event. He placed 107 out of 237 for men aged 24 to 29 and 1,385 out of about 5,000 overall in the half length part of the Detroit Marathon. This photo was shot when he had run almost 10 miles / 16 km.

If you like, you can post a note of congratulations on his CDPB.

MORE DETROIT RUINS PHOTOS: U "R" Us just posted a bunch of Detroit ruins pix on Flickr. My Flickr site has the photos I posted yesterday and a growing number of others.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Postcard From Detroit

Sorry, Mary. This sucked me in. We went on a self-guided Detroit ruins tour Saturday. Perhaps no other American city has such a huge inventory of abandoned industrial and commercial buildings. You can find extensive detail on a few web sites, like The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit and Detroit Ruins . Or just Google "Detroit ruins."

The two left pictures in the collage on top and the bottom two large pictures are inside the Packard Motors assembly plant. Some of the writing in the "Exit" photo on the lower left looks like it might be Arabic. Detroit has a large Middle Eastern population, particularly Syrian, and I would appreciate help with translation if my guess is right. Packards were luxury cars that ceased production in 1958. The factory is enormous: 3,500,000 square feet or 325,000 square meters, and goes on for block after block. It is also completely unsecured, with no fencing and most of the doors broken in. We went in two areas. One had mountains of old shoes with no sign of how they got there. It was terribly eerie, like we had stumbled upon an old concentration camp. Another area had several beat-up old motorboats. We didn't stay long.

The bottom right picture in the collage is the old Michigan Central railway station and office building. I recognized it the moment I saw it. It is the building in the long opening scene of Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass' brilliant film, Naqoyqatsi, from a Hopi word that means a life of killing each other, war as a way of life, or, in a modern context, civilized violence. See here for some interior shots.

The top right photo in the collage is the pawn shop across the street from the train station. Even it is going out of business.

These are lots of good things about Detroit, as Mary shows us in her Detroit CDPB. However, these images were so arresting I could not resisting posting them.

TOMORROW: The family champion in Detroit

Sunday, October 21, 2007


Every year my husband and I usually go to Eckert's Orchards in Illinois at least once. They have pick-your-own pumpkins in October, which is when we always go. But they also have other fruit and Christmas trees seasonally, so there are home-grown goodies available from May through December. They claim to be the biggest pick-your-own orchard operation in the United States.

These photos were both actually taken in the central area off of the parking lot, where those who don't care for the dusty ride out to the field on a tractor-pulled wagon may still get their pumpkins. My actual photos of the fields (smallish orange blobs in a sea of green) didn't look as good. So much for authenticity.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Art and Storm

Hello from beautiful Detroit. There must have been a communication mix-up with ShadowyOne but my hotel has free DSL. So, here's a snap taken earlier this week of the often-posted statue of St. Louis and the front of the St. Louis Art Museum, whose motto is "Dedicated To Art And Free To All."

Friday, October 19, 2007

I ♥ St. Louis

In the old industrial area south of the Arch, under the railroad bridge across the Mississippi. Who loves what?

THIS WEEKEND: ShadowyOne covers the blog while I'm in Detroit

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday Arch Series

Another from the archives during a very busy week. My professional association's big national conference is here in STL for the next few days. More of the Arch in color, not my usual style. This was shot during the Fourth of July festival called Fair St. Louis. That thing sticking up in the middle is a giant video screen, showing what's going on at the main stage down the hill behind the Arch along the river.

I ♥ St. Louis

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hip Hop Kids

Back to dancers to help me fill a very, very busy week. These kids were terrific. I can't dance to save my life. The very thought of trying to do so reminds me of the famous (to the initiated) Firesign Theatre line, "He's no fun, he fell right over." (Some explanation here - scroll about a third of the way down the page or search for the word "fall." Well, I guess you had to be there. )

A game of tag is going around CDPB. I have been tagged by by Victoria of Joplin, Missouri and Viola, who I believe is in State College, Pennsylvania. See Victoria's post of Tuesday for an explanation of the rules. With the way my time is stretched at the moment, I'm not going to pass the tag along but I jotted down eight interesting (or not) gee-whiz facts about myself:

  1. When I was in high school, I held the door open for Jacqueline Kennedy and her children leaving a theater in NYC. This was after Jack died. Such days of innocence.
  2. I have rheumatoid arthritis but the rapid advances in treatment control it very well.
  3. According to a web site that lets you track this, I have had the privilege of visiting 34 countries if you count Vatican City and Gibraltar. .
  4. I grew up on the very same block in Queens, New York, where NYC CDPBer Ming the Merciless lives now.
  5. I am the oldest of four children. All of us are still on our first marriages.
  6. I met my wife in a bar on St. Patrick ’s Day 34 years ago.
  7. My son calls me Bob and my wife mom, following the example of Bart Simpson. My daughter sometimes calls me Bruce. Click here for the reason. We can recite this together from memory.
  8. When my daughter was a toddler, I taught her to sing Frank Zappa's "Dog Breath In the Year Of the Plague." She still loves me for it.
  9. Bonus factoid: I was at Woodstock.
TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Weatherman, Segway and Southern Comfort

Shot at some event or other last summer, Mike Roberts, a weatherman for the local NBC affiliate gives his evening report while riding a Segway in front of a giant inflatable Southern Comfort bottle. Kids, don't try this at home. You should never give a weather report while drinking Southern Comfort.

The Segway was provided courtesy of Glide Tours St. Louis, a really cool company that will teach you how to ride one of the gizmos and take you on tours about town. One of their groups was kind enough to let me take their picture, which I posted on June 8.

TOMORROW: Hip Hop Kids and my answers to the tag game questions

Monday, October 15, 2007

Westward From the Arch

Superman won't mistake it for Metropolis. Ah, beautiful downtown St. Louis. You can see a bit of the baseball stadium at left center. My office is a bit to the upper right in one of those rectilinear buildings. I posted a picture pointing out my window on May 6 when I had nothing better to upload. The blurry spot at about 1 o'clock is from a dirty window in the Arch observation deck. The buildings on the right with the light green pointy tops and on the left with a darker green dome are ever so slightly shorter than the Arch. Just a matter of perspective. There is no zoning rule that buildings cannot be taller than the Arch. It's a mutual understanding.

Might not be able to post every day over the coming week. My professional association's big national conference is here, starting in a couple of days. I'm visiting Detroit (first time!) next weekend to support our pride and joy, Chicago CDPBer U "R" Us, in the Detroit Marathon. Don't mean to horn in on Mary's territory but I may post a couple of pictures from there.

TOMORROW: A New Vehicle For Meteorology

Sunday, October 14, 2007

How DO You Get To the Top of the Arch?

It's a long way to the top and the cross section gets pretty small up there. How do people get to the Arch's observation deck?

There is a tram system, one in each leg. Eight claustrophobic little cabins. oval in cross section, are strung together. One person sits in the back, facing the door. Four others are squeezed along the sides, as you can see in the first picture. It is cramped in there. Everyone silently prays that it doesn't get stuck. (It happened once this year but that was the first time in a long while.)

The second picture shows the outer doors and one on the wheels that clamp over a rail. Obviously, the angle of curve changes as the tram goes up and down. The cars start to get slightly out of vertical pitch and then every once in a while kerchunk, the mechanism rights it again. Gets a squeal out of first timers.

I took the third picture on the way up, sitting in the back center seat. I am quite tall and you can see that my camera is above the level of the inner doors. Notice how close together the other passengers' knees are.

There is a good diagram of how the system works on this page. Interesting pages explaining the system are here and here. The last of these links tells a fascinating story of how the tram design was decided upon, after the Arch itself was finished. There are a couple of cute amateur videos shot from inside the cars on YouTube, like this one.

TOMORROW: The vastness of St. Louis from the skies. Well, we like to think so.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Above, Across and Down the River

Another shot from the top of the Arch, looking southeast across the Mississippi into Illinois. The dock in the foreground is the base of riverboats that can take you on a ride for a couple of hours. The cars in the lower left are parked on the levee, the old cobblestone slope from Wharf Street into the water. When the river is high this area is inundated.

A small barge is going downstream, heading south toward Memphis and New Orleans. The barge flotillas are usually much bigger, with many individual barges cabled together and a big push boat at the rear. They mostly carry coal and grain.

The first bridge is the main crossing for motor vehicles. The second is for the railroad. Old Man River is the reason our city exists.

TOMORROW: How Do You Get to the Top of the Arch?

Friday, October 12, 2007

What's Really On Young Men's Minds?

Am I right?

Pictures taken at our city's Oktoberfest celebration last weekend.

TOMORROW: Down the River, Across the River

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday Arch Series

Okay, I caved. This week's Arch picture is a "postcard" shot, contrary to my usual style.

I shot this on my way from the garage on the day I took pictures from the top of the Arch, like last Thursday's post. The pool in the foreground of this picture is the same as the one in the lower right of that photo shot from above. Doesn't look like the same place.

TOMORROW: What's Really On Young Men's Minds

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cowboy Fiddler

Well, not exactly. This man was playing the violin for tips at Soulard Market last Saturday. He was pretty damn good, playing a variety of music from country and western to classical. I think he was wearing the big hat because his skin is so fair. His gaze is distant. This could make him seem disengaged but I think reflects complete confidence with his instrument.

You can see what look like long scratches under the brim of his hat and the base of the violin. They are bits of thread broken off the bow. The bow strings are made of horsehair and they slowly break off. Eventually you have to get the bow restrung. Some violinists pull off the loose strands immediately. Some, like this guy, don't care. I was a simply awful violin student as a kid so I was probably in the latter group.

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Go Fly a Kite

A family Sunday afternoon on Art Hill in Forest Park, the largest urban park in the United States. Blog contributors U "R" Us and ShadowyOne (sometimes known as Thing 1 and Thing 2 or simply the kids) test the wind. Notice the nearly identical color schemes of their clothes. Must be the fashion these days (I wouldn't know). Also note the camera on ShadowyOne's left hip, ever at the ready. That's my girl.

TOMORROW: Cowboy Fiddler

Monday, October 8, 2007

Alligator On a Stick

Soulard Market is the oldest farmers market in the U.S. west of the Mississippi. The site, just south of downtoan. has been in continuous use since 1843. The market is shaped like an elongated H. The long arms are covered but open to the sides. The vendors sell produce, flowers and crafts. The cross bar, indoors, has spices, a pet store, places to get a snack and the butcher shop pictured above. Looks like they has a special going last Saturday. I'd rather have my alligator on a stick than in my lap.

Technical note: this scene had a mix of incandescent and fluorescent lighting that made the white balance almost impossible. Fortunately, I was shooting in RAW mode. The color in this image isn't so great but it's good enough, using quick correction in Adobe Bridge and Photoshop.

TOMORROW: Free As the Breeze

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Marathon Man

Well, half-marathon man. Chicago photo blogger U "R" Us is in town for the weekend. He is training for the half-marathon (13+ miles or a tad over 21 km) at the Detroit Marathon in two weeks. He ran 14 miles / 22.5 km on a hot St. Louis morning. It is supposed to be autumn but it was 90 F / 32 C here today.

The picture was taken on Eads Bridge (see also here). It was completed in 1874 and was the first span across the mid and lower Mississippi River.

TOMORROW: alligator on a stick

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Roller Derby!

Roller derby is an American original. People skate around an oval track, trying to pass and block one another. It gets rough. Roller derby was popular in the 50s and 60s, The sport faded but came back strong in recent years. When I was a kid there were separate competitions for men and women. Now it's women only and they are tough.

Our city's funky Soulard neighborhood has its own little Oktoberfest going this weekend. One of Friday night's features was an exhibition by our home town heroines, the St. Louis Arch Rivals. The fast action was hard to shoot outdoors after sunset but it was a great show. Gotta get to one of their regular games. Also had a long talk with Dan here on the right, who describes himself as the team mascot. Really interesting guy. And who wouldn't want such fine mistresses?

By the way, I'm going to dump the daily poll but not do away with the idea altogether. It's a tough job to come up with something clever every day - there's only so much water in that well - and it clutters up the sidebar, too. I think I'll do one a week. Comments welcome.

TOMORROW: Marathon Man

Friday, October 5, 2007

Informational picketing

I left my office building at lunch the other day and was confronted by an enormous inflatable rat directly across the street. What's that? Well, the old office building there, now called The Alexa, is being converted into upscale apartments, like every other old building downtown, it seems. (Better than destroying them.) The man with the sign is a member of the Operating Engineers union, which represents a variety of workers in the construction and building maintenance trades. His sign indicates that Horizon, apparently one of the contractors, is paying its workers less than union scale wages.

This is called informational picketing. The picket is giving information to the public. He is not asking other workers to stay off the job. The sign is very polite and he makes much of his point non-verbally with a huge red-eyed, fang-toothed...rat.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Thursday Arch Series

And now for something completely different. Well, sort of. See U "R" Us' guest post of April 13. Last Sunday, I rode to the top of the Arch for the first time in perhaps 20 years. What fun! If time permits, I'll post something soon about its surprising design and construction. The observation deck at 630 feet / 192 meters above the base is a bit vertiginous. This picture was taken mid to late morning, looking northwest. During the time I was working, the shadow of the Arch crept across the grounds like a sundial.

Most of my Arch photos are simple black and white images. This one had to be in color.

TOMORROW: Labor relations

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

A young dancer

Another participant at the Grand Center Dance in the Streets festival. She seems unsure, still in need of an adult hand. Her face looks like a porcelain figurine.

I can't dance to save my life. I'm a bit clumsy, no athletic ability whatever. Why do I post pictures of dancers?

TOMORROW: Thursday Arch Series

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Good Looking Geek

From the Grand Center Dance Festival last weekend. For our international visitors, Geek Squad is the name of the installation and service department of Best Buy, a major consumer electronics chain. The guitarist is looking pretty good, for a geek, anyway.

Monday, October 1, 2007

October Theme Day: Cemeteries and Tombstones

Dusk at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetary. JB, as we call it around here, was founded in 1826 as the first major American army base west of the Mississippi River. It contained the country's first formal infantry school, a large military hospital during the Civil War and was an ammunition storage facility during the First and Second World Wars.

Today, it is the burial place of thousands upon thousands of U.S. servicemen and women. It is vast and quiet. When I visited near sunset on a beautiful Saturday evening, the grounds were hushed, nearly empty. The expressions of the few visitors reflected the solemnity of these fields.

Memento mori with other City Daily Photo Bloggers at these sites:

St. Louis (MO), USA - San Diego (CA), USA - Cleveland (OH), USA - New York City (NY), USA - Boston (MA), USA - Mainz, Germany - Hyde, UK - Arlington (VA), USA - Cape Town, South Africa - Saint Paul (MN), USA - Toulouse, France - Arradon, France - Menton, France - Monte Carlo, Monaco - Montego Bay, Jamaica - Ampang (Selangor), Malaysia - Joplin (MO), USA - Cottage Grove (MN), USA - Bellefonte (PA), USA - Mexico (DF), Mexico - Seattle (WA), USA - Baziège, France - Baltimore (MD), USA - Chandler (AZ), USA - Sequim (WA), USA - Stayton (OR), USA - Stockholm, Sweden - Austin (TX), USA - Singapore, Singapore - Anderson (SC), USA - Orlando (FL), USA - Greenville (SC), USA - Wassenaar (ZH), Netherlands - Nashville (TN), USA - Tenerife, Spain - Manila, Philippines - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Jacksonville (FL), USA - River Falls (WI), USA - Chateaubriant, France - Quincy (MA), USA - Rabaul, Papua New Guinea - Buenos Aires, Argentina - Crystal Lake (IL), USA - Inverness (IL), usa - Lubbock (TX), USA - Phoenix (AZ), USA - Moscow, Russia - Norwich (Norfolk), UK - Crepy-en-Valois, France - Minneapolis (MN), USA - New Orleans (LA), USA - Montréal (QC), Canada - West Sacramento (CA), USA - Toruń, Poland - Philadelphia (PA), USA - Christchurch, New Zealand - London, England - Paderborn, Germany - The Hague, Netherlands - Selma (AL), USA - Sunderland, UK - Kyoto, Japan - Tokyo, Japan - Stavanger, Norway - Fort Lauderdale (FL), USA - Weston (FL), USA - Portland (OR), USA - Forks (WA), USA - Saint-Petersburg, Russian Federation - Maple Ridge (BC), Canada - Boston (MA), USA - Sydney, Australia - Wellington, New Zealand - Montpellier, France - Jackson (MS), USA - Wailea (HI), USA - Petaling Jaya (Selangor), Malaysia - Evry, France - Saarbrücken, Germany - New York City (NY), USA - Santa Fe (NM), USA - North Bay (ON), Canada - Melbourne, Australia - Port Vila, Vanuatu - Cypress (TX), USA - Saint Louis (MO), USA - Paris, France - San Diego (CA), USA - Wichita (Ks), USA - Haninge, Sweden - Prague, Czech Republic - Zurich, Switzerland - Budapest, Hungary - Paris, France - Saigon, Vietnam - Grenoble, France - Zurich, Switzerland - Port Angeles (WA), USA