Monday, January 31, 2011


'59 Chevy Impala 1

Out cruising yesterday, desperate for material for the week. This beauty was sitting at the side of the road in Forest Park. It is a restored 1959 Chevrolet Impala, a serious piece of classic Detroit iron. Strange, though, that General Motors named this model (it's still in use) after a slender and agile East African herbivore. This baby isn't any of those things.

We have a severe ice, then sleet, then snow, then plunging temperatures and howling wind storm moving in on us today. The clairvoyants say we may have .75 inch / 2 cm on ice on the ground by late tonight. Who knows, maybe I won't be able to get to work. May have to sit around the house, editing pictures and writing comments. But I'll probably get to work.

There's a photograph in need of a supply of Zoloft on Downtown St. Louis 365.

'59 Chevy Impala 2

'59 Chevy Impala 3

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mid-Winter, Mid-Latitudes

Arch Grounds 2011-01-29 1

On the Arch grounds yesterday afternoon. We are not having nearly as bad a winter as the Northeast. It's above freezing during the day this weekend and the recent snow is melting (although I hear some bad stuff is on the way). The reflecting pools near the Arch are drained but some big puddles remain. The shapes and subtle color of late afternoon on a mostly cloudy day got my attention.

We take the long view today on Downtown St. Louis 365.

Saturday, January 29, 2011



An image from the Riverfront Times St. Louis Web Awards: the sound mixing console for the audio engineer when there is a live band. I've seen these before but I couldn't begin to remember what all those knobs and buttons are for.

Speaking of which, I once had the chance to visit the New York recording studio of Sean Combs or Puff Daddy or P. Diddy or whatever his name is. A good friend of my son had become the absolute bottom flunky sound engineer. He had the key to the non-descript West Side commercial building and took us up one Sunday afternoon. No one around. The control rooms looked like the flight deck of the Starship Enterprise. Oh, and there was a one-for-all WC whose walls were covered with pictures of the man himself.

We discuss the pleasures of fine dining today on Downtown St. Louis 365.

Friday, January 28, 2011

First Annual Riverfront Times St. Louis Web Awards

RFT 1st Annual Web Awards 1

Most U.S. cities have a so-called alternative newspaper, a free weekly with some investigative reporting, articles of interest you won't find in the regular paper and lots of stuff about entertainment and nightlife. Ours is The Riverfront Times. It's been around for years and years and it's a good read.

A couple of weeks ago I got an email from someone at the paper saying that I was a finalist in a category of their first annual web awards. What? Was this a scam? Never heard a thing about it. It was for real, though, and I was a finalist in the category of best Flickr stream. What? Out of the thousands of St. Louisans' Flickr streams? Not for my blog. They didn't know about the blog and, besides, there was no category for best local photo blog. (!) There were categories for things like best sex blog and best tweet. How could any tweet be best?

Anyway, they invited me to their awards party and said I could shoot pictures. It was at a nightclub on the edge of downtown, someplace I would never go on my own. It was a cavernous space with black floors, walls and ceiling. On the left was a stage where a DJ was working. On the right, a sound engineer's station. In the back, a gloomy bar and lounge area. People milled around, talking to their friends and drinking. Eventually some guy got up on the stage, thanked everyone for coming and said he wasn't going to bore us with the names of all the nominees and winners so we should just look at their web site in the morning. Then back to milling around and drinking. I was there alone. I may well have been the oldest person in the place. Took a few more (photographic) shots and left.

Still, it was an interesting experience. Above, two guests who enjoyed dressing like kids and wearing weird makeup. Below, the trophies, made from old computer circuit boards; the bar (Lurch...want...daiquiri...) and an overview of the crowd. They damn well better have a photo blog category next year.

We think about Roman architecture and crossing the Mississippi today on Downtown St. Louis 365.

Again, apologies for the lack of comments. The work days have been long. I come home, eat dinner, prepare the next morning's posts and go to bed. It will change. It better.

RFT 1st Annual Web Awards 4

RFT 1st Annual Web Awards 3

RFT 1st Annual Web Awards 2

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday Arch Series

Arch 2009-11-28 #1

I've always liked this one, how the contrail seems to be erupting from the ground behind the wall, visually overwhelming the monument.

But that's not what's on my mind right now. I am pissed. As some of you know, I nave a niche specialty in federal administrative law. The agency before which I practice has kept their evidence files scanned into their servers for some time (no more paper) and gives counsel a copy on a CD. Worked fine. The agency recently decided it needed to encrypt the CDs for privacy reasons. Well, okay. But I use a MacBook Pro laptop and the new encryption systems only works on Windows. They have no intention of making a Mac version. But you can run Windows on a Mac these days, and I do. I got my first encrypted disk on Tuesday and the IT guy at the hearing office showed me how to use it. Went fine.

Yesterday, I got another in a different location. It looked like I decrypted and extracted the needed files but then I couldn't open them. Oh well, there was a public Win machine I could use. As I was closing the folder, I got a message asking if I wanted to securely delete the encrypted files. I said yes. The files vanished. So did my entire Windows installation, all my Windows apps and the majority of my photos and documents on the Mac hard drive. &^%#@*!

I have most but not all backed up. The originals of the last few days Costa Rica pix are gone for good. I know the person who runs this project for the agency and she will receive an email from me later today. And Republicans keep saying you can't trust the government.

ANONYMOUS: thanks for your gracious response.

We look at art and education today on Downtown St. Louis 365.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Gee But It's Great To Be Back Home

Forest Park 2011-01-25 1

Okay, back to the local stuff. This is what we were greeted with when we returned home last weekend. That building up in back is a pavilion preserved from the 1904 World's Fair, when STL was considered a suitable venue for such an event. It's been used for all sorts of public occasions - weddings, political rallies, concerts and more. Speaking of which, one time when I was an undergraduate at St. Louis University the Grateful Dead were in town for a big theater performance. The following afternoon they just showed up here and started playing. The SLU dorms emptied out and headed for the park. Wow, man.

A NOTE TO ANONYMOUS: after giving this much thought, I have decided to ask you to stop posting Biblical quotes in comments to all my posts. My blog it not a place for others to express their ideas on matters unrelated to it. If a socialist or a member of the Tea Party commented with daily excerpts from from the words of Karl Marx or Ronald Reagan, no one would be surprised if I objected. It's okay to post comments about the photo, the subject of the photo, the text, what's happening in your area relating to the post, or me (whether positive or negative). It's not okay for others to press their own causes on my blog. Whether I agree or not with such comments is irrelevant. So, please.

We're looking at urban geometry today on Downtown St. Louis 365.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Memories Of Costa Rica: ¡Cuidado! ¡Hay Caimanes!

Palo Seco estuary 8

Hey, kids, don't you know that there are alligators in these waters, big ones with huge teeth and steel-trap jaws?

Indeed, we saw several of them upstream in the Palo Seco estuary, like this, for example. However, these boys were very near the mouth of the estuary at the Pacific ocean. Alligators are fresh water reptiles and probably don't like all the brine at this location. I hope the theory is correct.

We look at the big picture today on Downtown St. Louis 365.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Memories of Costa Rica: Nothing Could Be Finer Than To Eat At Carolina's

Carolina's 6

Or Cah-row-LEE-naz, if you are speaking Spanish. Back in cold, snowy St. Louis, we remember this place in Tamarindo as the best restaurant we've eaten at in a long time. Carolina, second from left above, is flanked by her two cooks and the young lady who served our meal.

Attention was paid to every detail. Guests are personally greeted and bid farewell at the door. There is no drinks list; they will make you anything you want (like the Tamarindo margarita below). The silverware is changed at every course. The staff is full of charm. When I asked for a copy of the set menu to bring home, they brought it on a small plate covered by a napkin, rolled and tied with pink ribbon. That's class.

And the food! There is a five course tasting menu for $50, $65 with wine pairings. You might pay three times the price in New York. We ate there twice during our stay and have nothing but praise. Imagine dishes like an ahi tartar salad, once with with fruit ceviche, once with chive cream and caviar; pomegranate curry soup (mind blowing); and banana fritters with vanilla ice cream and hot chocolate sauce. Some of the wine pairings were ingenious - like a smooth, rich shrimp risotto with a bone dry rosé
from Bordeaux.

If you ever find yourself in Costa Rica, you owe it to yourself to dine here. Oh, and by the way, if you don't get the reference in the title, click here.

We are burning effigies today on Downtown St. Louis 365.

Carolina's 3

Carolina's 1

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Transition From Costa Rica To St. Louis

Fiesta de Santa Cruz 2

A quick post from the Miami airport on the way home. This gentleman was in harm's way in the street during the horse parade in Santa Cruz. There were hardly any Americans around the town. The only U.S. sports gear I saw was this, one Boston Red Sox hat and my Cardinals cap. For my home town readers, this was a David Eckstein shirt. How long was he with the Cards, two years? I suppose being World Series MVP was worth his visit.

Sincere apologies to my CDP for the lack of comments this week. We've been touring our booties off. We normally return from a vacation more tired than when we left. That's the way we like it. Carpe diem. Back to normal later today in frozen STL.

Since we just returned from the warmth of Costa Rica, Downtown St. Louis 365 has something from last year's sunny Hispanic Festival.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Temporarily Tamarindo: More Adventure!

Water Slide 2

We took a long day trip yesterday with a guide to Rincon de la Vieja National Park on the slopes of a volcano. The name means "the old lady's corner." Never did have that explained to me.

Activities include horseback riding, walking suspension bridges in the canopy, riding a zip line, covering yourself with volcanic mud, bathing in natural hot springs, riding a huge water slide and taking photographs. The only other couple on our trip was Kelly and Ralph from Chicago. Above, Kelly hits the final chute of the slide. Below, the intrepid Mrs. C zooms through the last section of the zip line.

We are heading for the airport this morning and will be home by late tonight. Frigid temperatures and snow await us. I don't have any new St. Louis material so I may post some memories of Costa Rica for a bit.

We inspect a state of disrepair today on Downtown St. Louis 365.

Zip Line 1

Friday, January 21, 2011

Temporarily Tamarindo: Road Trip to Guaiatil and San Vicente

Guiatil Oven Shop 1

I hear it got to 6 F / -14 C in St. Louis last night and they just had 8 inches / 20 cm more snow. Bwa ha ha ha ha ha... This is what it's like down here. I shouldn't cackle, though. We'll be home Saturday night if the gods of the air are with us.

We got to the other part of our road trip yesterday, visiting the tiny villages of Guaitil and San Vicente. The former is known for its potters who work in the style of the indigenous Chorotegan people, the heritage of this area for 4,000 years. There is no particular store, just a group of homes with workshops and display areas. We read that the place to go was the Oven Store. It was good advice. The whole family are excellent artisans, speak better English than my Spanish and produce beautiful work. Carlos, above, and the young lady just below were at their craft when we arrived.

The hamlet of San Vicente was a few kilometers down a gravel road. There was a tiny museum of local culture that no one would ever find without good directions (there is no sign on the road), along with a garden of medicinal plants. There were no other gringos for miles around.

Today's agenda: el volcán!

We lay down the law today on Downtown St. Louis 365.

Guiatil Oven Shop 2

Guiatil Oven Shop 4

San Vicente 2

San Vicente 3

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Temporarily Tamarindo: Booze Cruise

Blue Dolphin Cruise 2

That's what most people call it, although it's an overstatement. A four and a half hour ride with Blue Dolphin Cruises on a catamaran to a cove where you can snorkel or kayak, or stay on the boat and take pictures. (Who might that be?) A good lunch of arroz con pollo, salad and more, plus all the beer, rum or cacique (a deadly Costa Rican liquor that's sort of sugar cane vodka) that you cared to pour into yourself. No one got tipsy enough to fall overboard, although that might have made for some great pix.

Above, the lovely and exotic Rosie from Brazil, perhaps taking three sheets to the wind. Below, a couple all the way from Finland; relaxing on the foredeck in the setting sun;
Capitán Gerardo at the helm and with some of the crew (one of whom is inexplicably wearing a Minnesota Twins baseball hat).

The odds of lots of things happening are tiny but, still, they happen some times. There were 21 passengers on the boat. Two of us were graduates of St. Louis University School of Law. She graduated several years after me and practices in Washington, but we had a long, pleasant talk over cocktails about how awful many of the professors were that we had in common. Go figure.

Once again, it's very late. Downtown St. Louis 365 will go up Thursday morning local time (conveniently, the same time zone as home).

Blue Dolphin Cruise 3

Blue Dolphin Cruise 6

Blue Dolphin Cruise 5

Blue Dolphin Cruise 4

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Trmporarily Tamarindo: Why To Be Here (Plus Confused Religious Symbols, Thursday Arch Series On Wednesday And A Visit To Philly)

Tamarindo SUnset Moonrise 2011-01-18

So why bother to come all this way? The images above were shot a couple of minutes apart on opposite sides of the sky last night (and thanks for the help from our friends at Adobe). Plus, it's way below freezing at home and a snow storm is moving in.

We took a day trip yesterday but less than we would have liked. It's been taking us so long to get our butts up and out of here in the morning (well, we are on vacation). We were going to drive to Liberia, the big town in the region, and Guaitil, known for its pottery production. We only got to the former. It has some interesting architecture and a pretty new main church. The statue below is supposed to be the the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I think, but it looks pretty Hindu to me, what with the flaming topknot and brightly colored lotus in his hand. The elliptical wire halo looks, I don't know, Copernican.

The town of Filadelphia (W. C. Fields alleged epitaph: I'd rather be in Philadelphia than here) is not far south of Liberia. The arch at the entrance to town suggests that there is something of archeological interest there but none of the guidebooks mention it so we didn't stop.

Today's agenda: booze cruise.

Big monuments today on Downtown St. Louis 365.

Church of The Immaculate Conception, Liberia 1

Arco de Filadelphia

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Temporarily Tamarindo: The Beach

2011-01-17 Tamarindo 4

Another exhausting day, this time not doing much of anything.

After a late start, we decided to walk the beach from where we were staying to the town center. It was nearly high tide and there were bits around the point that were tough going. It took about an hour with photo stops, trudging through the blazing sand and sky.

The beach is my enemy, in a way. My heritage is Irish and Polish, people so pale that some of them have nearly translucent skin. I'm about as white as they make 'em. I've had skin cancer. Usually I'm completely covered up. Yesterday I was wearing shorts, a short sleeved shirt and sandals. Luckily, someone now makes 90+ SPF sunscreen and the stuff works. No pink at all. By the time we got to town we were beaten down by the trek and radiation.

There was a very pleasant lunch at Nibbana (the standard of food service here is very high) but it left us full and sleepy. Somehow I thought it was a moderate walk back to the condo but it took a half hour, uphill, in drenching humidity and on bad roads. PLOP on the sofa when we returned, open a beer and do some photo editing. Vacationing in paradise turns out to be a bit of work.

Road trip planned for today.

We go shopping for a wedding dress on Downtown St. Louis 365.

2011-01-17 Tamarindo 3

2011-01-17 Tamarindo 6

Monday, January 17, 2011

Temporarily Tamarindo: Adventure!

Estero Palo Seco 1

What a day. I took something over 1,100 snaps. Three-quarters are junk but there are some gems in there. We took a boat ride up the Palo Seco estuary, enjoying the mangrove swamp environment and looking for wildlife. We went ashore at one point, searching for howler monkeys. viz., the chap above.

There is a big regional festival this weekend in the town of Santa Cruz, an indeterminate distance east of here over some muy malo roads. This is cattle country, Central American division, and there were close to 700 cowboys and girls in the horse parade. The horse traffic jam was as bad as going into New York through the Lincoln Tunnel on Monday morning. even if there was no toll. This rider took pity on his horse and offered to share his cerveza with it.

Returning after dark, there was a serious traffic accident on the dirt road back to Tamarindo. In the US the police would have moved it to the side and let traffic pass slowly. Here, la policia completely blocked the road. In the best of my weak Spanish I asked an officer how long the delay might be. Una hora, mas o menos. I got that. I asked if hay una otra ruta a Tamarindo. The policeman consulted with a colleague. Es muy complicado, he told me. Check.

Then a taxi driver carrying some Americans back to Tamarindo offered to let me follow him through the back roads around the blockage. Well, that would be great, but, um, you aren't taking us to the
banditos headquarters, are you? No, he was just being helpful. We have a GPS with a Costa Rica map and, at one point, we were in a completely black, uncharted zone. But here we are, back at the condo, after one of the best meals we've had in a long time at Carolina's. More about that tomorrow, I hope.

It's 1 AM as I finish this. Downtown St. Louis 365 will go up when I regain consciousness.

Fiesta de Santa Cruz 1 crop

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Temporarily Tamarindo: STL DPB In Costa Rica

Tamarindo 2011-01-15 2

All must be revealed: yesterday we flew from Miami to Liberia, in northwest Costa Rica, then drove an hour to the town of Tamarindo on the Pacific Ocean. Holy bleep, this beats being in St. Louis in January. And we owe it all to our friend and colleague David Selden of Tamarindo Daily Photo, who owns the condo where we're staying. Dave lives in the Phoenix area but spends a lot of time here. I don't blame him. This is the place. I'm telling you, if you have a way to get to Costa Rica, you should come here.

I met a couple from Cincinnati when I was shooting on the beach at sunset and they suggested we dine here. OMG. It's looking like a good week.

Above and first below, sunset at Playa Langosta, where the apartment is located. Bottom, flying off the south coast of Cuba on the way down.

Downtown St. Louis 365 is fixing bicycles today.

Tamarindo 2011-01-15 1

South Coast of Cuba

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Birds Fly South For the Winter

AA 562

The Crowes are heading toward warmer climes. We flew to Miami last night. When this post goes up, we will be sound asleep at an airport hotel. Mid-morning flight today to our destination.

These pictures were taken at the St. Louis airport and on board the plane. Some people take meticulous care of their investments or religious practices. I am an obsessive manager of our American Airlines frequent flier accounts, the master of upgrades. I did not pay for the gin and tonic in the second picture.

I hope to add a bit to this post by Saturday evening, US Central time, revealing our destination and the CDP pal who got us there.

We mess with your vision today on Downtown St. Louis 365.

Lifetime Memories

Friday, January 14, 2011

Travel Day, But To Where?

The Clevelander

The Crowes are on the road again today. This photo is not in St. Louis. So, where to now? Cleveland? Who goes to Cleveland in January? Who goes to Cleveland? (Actually, it's not so bad. My brother and family lived there for a few years. It's got the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.)

Guesses as to this location are invited. However, this is not the final destination. We'll spend the night there and fly out Saturday morning to the end of our trail. May have a supplemental photo on the blog from there by Saturday evening our time, early Sunday at the latest. I plan to horn in on the territory of one of our CDP friends for a week.

We're talking about the skyline today on Downtown St. Louis 365.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thursday Arch Series

Arch 2011-01-08 4

I was wandering around the Arch grounds last weekend, looking for something, anything different. To my surprise, I ran into a prop. That's not common - the National Parks Service keeps the area pretty tidy. But here was this big orange traffic cone, and to no apparent purpose - no snow or ice, no repairs, just the normal pavement. So I screwed on my wide angle lens, laid down on the ground at the base of the cone, shot this and went out on a limb in Photoshop.

Today on Downtown St. Louis 365: the President of the United States.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It's Peat Again

First Night 2011 14 (alley off Grand)

The graphic signature of friend of the blog, sometime lucha libre promoter and artist Peat Wollaeger seems to be everywhere these days. Found this one in an alley just off Grand Boulevard. As much as St. Louis gets knocked by outsiders (and sometimes by the locals), somebody loves it. I do, too.

Pinocchio gets treated for a headache today on Downtown St. Louis 365.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

El Restaurante del Dia de las Tapas Muertas

Sanctuaria 2

On Sunday night Mrs. C and I had dinner with our daughter and son in law. We wanted their advice on things to see and do in the place we're going this weekend, a location they have already visited (in no small part due to the wonderful help of one of our CDP colleagues). More about all of that by the weekend.

We wanted to try a newish restaurant in The Grove neighborhood with the odd name of Sanctuaria. Patrons don't get blasted with the Rolling Stones playing Gimme Shelter as they enter. Rather, it's an Americanized tapas place with a beautifully done, lightly applied, Mexican Day of the Dead (El Dia de los Muertos) theme. Very sophisticated. The food was excellent, the prices were moderate and the people were great. Definitely recommended.

Things keep going round and round today on Downtown St. Louis 365.

Sanctuaria 1

Monday, January 10, 2011

Geese On The Arch Grounds

Geese On The Arch Grounds

We get an awful lot of geese through here at some times of the year. It may have something to do with the Mississippi River flyway, followed by several species of migrating birds. There was a crowd of them around the Arch on Saturday, but just the lawn to the south of the monument. I wondered if the groundskeepers had done some seeding. They kept a cautious distance from me but didn't run away. They can be very aggressive and I was glad to avoid a confrontation.

Can bronze sweat? Find out today on Downtown St. Louis 365.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Save Our City

Save Our City

Somebody, PLEASE! For one explanation, see today's post on Downtown St. Louis 365.

This is something new I found yesterday on the graffiti-permitted part of the flood wall.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Wipe Out

Wipe Out

Okay, who's old enough to remember The Ventures playing Wipe Out? Yeah, there we were, me and my friends hanging out under the el on Queens Boulevard in the 60s, wearing slicked back hair, black pointy-toed, two eyelet lace-up shoes (sometimes known as PFCs, or Puerto Rican fence climbers), black pants and white shirts, listening to California surf music. We didn't know surf from the wake of the Staten Island Ferry. But we were all so cool.

Now the wipe outs I see are those crazy water skiers on the Mississippi. I don't think the guy out on the river in a polar bear suit we saw yesterday is enough back-up. They need an on-site chiropractor.

Today on Downtown St. Louis 365 we talk to the homeless about what's going down.

Friday, January 7, 2011

I Wouldn't Do This For Love Or Money

2011-01-01 Waterskiing in the Mississippi 4

Okay, so the water temperature was about 34 F / 1 C. The skiers were, for the most part, wearing wet suits (although often with bare feet and hands). But good grief, they're out in the Mississippi River. It's not as filthy as it once was but still it's full of icky creepy disgusting organisms of every sort, not to mention untold tons of pesticides and fertilizers from agricultural runoff. Forget the wet suit. If I knew how to water ski (which I do not), I'd insist on a hazmat suit.

This character in a polar bear outfit with red scarf and cap, below, is apparently the safety patrol. If I were thrashing around in a nearly-frozen river trying desperately to cling to life and and this appeared looming over me, I'd begin wondering what circle of hell I'd been consigned to.

Today's post on Downtown St. Louis 365 is all about macho cops.

2011-01-01 Waterskiing in the Mississippi 5 BW