Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Whiff of Latex

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I've photographed this group at the Pridefest parade for the last couple of years. Don't know who they are - no signs or banners, and I'm too busy shooting to ask someone. They carry ordinary blow-em-up-yourself balloons. If you have ever inflated one, you've probably noticed the odd, not quite rubbery smell of the latex. Now imagine that in a small area, multiplied hundreds if not thousands of times.

The aroma was more prominent than garlic at a cheap Italian restaurant. It made me queasy, but then whatever it takes for the shot.  Anyway, latex is a recurring theme at an event like this.

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Friday, June 29, 2012


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It's time for the most colorful photo-op of the year in St. Louis, the Pridefest Parade. Now, I'm as straight as the shortest distance between two points (although I've been hit on a couple of times at this event) but nobody cares. Everyone is delighted to have their picture taken. Everyone is tolerant, everyone has an attitude of live and let live, and let's have some fun while we're at it. It's a great day in the Lou. These are some of the first images I edited. Days' worth of material to come.

The temperature here hit 108F / 42C yesterday. Bone dry, 15% humidity, more like Phoenix or Las Vegas than the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Exactly the same forecast for today. The first six months of 2012 have been the hottest since record-keeping began in the 19th Century. We've had almost no rain in May or June. Someone's gonna have to write an update of The Grapes of Wrath.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday Arch Series (Two-Fer)

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A pretty standard (non to mention back-lit) picture of the Arch, but someone dumped red dye into the Kiener Plaza fountain. It made the spray run pink for the breast cancer fundraiser. Sorry about the scaffolding around the Old Courthouse, but when you're that old you may need a facelift.

Below, the view 14 blocks straight west of the top pic from the far side of Milles Fountain. Good place to cool off for all the runners and walkers.

There won't be much outdoor shooting from now through the weekend unless I want to photograph people dying in the streets. It was 99 F / 37 C yesterday. The forecast for today is 108 F / 42 C. Saturday it cools off to 105 F / 40.5 C. My plan is to stay indoors and start posting pix from last Sunday's Pridefest Parade. It was a jaw-dropper, as usual.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012


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Okay, no high marks for the pun but these pictures illustrate something. It is a very,very good thing to have caring people beside you. We saw some of that on Tuesday with the people from my office gathered around our friend who has been through the cancer maze. My mother died of breast cancer when she was 56 and I was 24 (my parents got a late start for the time, but that's another long story). I had recently graduated from law school in St. Louis and two of my three siblings were in college or grad school. She should have had more of us.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pretty In Pink

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I think the most ebullient group at Komen were some young men wearing the event tee shirt and pink tutus. They walked right up to this older man like he was their old Uncle Charley and started a chat. I had to ask if they knew him. They did not.

The man in the yellow shirt had another purpose that speaks for itself. The huge motorcycle is, I think, a Honda Gullwing (correct me if I'm wrong). The green, yellow and red sticker on the back is the decoration given to US military veterans of the Vietnam War. The pink tutu brigade went on to block the adjacent sidewalk and needed an "outta my way, big boy" look from another marcher.

By the way, attendance at the Komen fundraising events around the country has dropped a lot since they decided to cut financial support for Planned Parenthood. It outraged a lot of people. Although the action was quickly reversed, they suffered a great deal of damage to their reputation. The attendance in St. Louis was 71,000 in 2010 and 64,000 last year. I just read that it was 51,000 last weekend.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Joan's Team

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The woman above who appears to be directing traffic is Cindy. She has been my paralegal for a few weeks shy of 30 years. Yes, I recruit staff from the kindergartens. I put her photo on top because it's eye-catching and illustrates the ease with which she tells me what to do.

Yesterday, I mentioned that one of my co-workers had been through the turmoil of breast cancer and came out well. For the last few years our staff has formed a team to support her and aid the fundraising effort. That's Joan beaming in the top row center of the next picture. To the left in the picture is her sister, Julie, who has been my law partner for 27 years, Jackie, my administrative assistant, Joan's son Jack and her husband Mario (Judge Silva to you these days). To Joan's right are Sarah, Julie's administrative assistant, Don, the other lawyer in the firm and Cindy's husband for about 20 years, and Lynne, a friend. In front, we have Cindy on the left and her and Don's daughter Alayna on the right, with Alayna's friend Emmy in the middle. 

Cindy and Don wish you peace and happiness in the following picture. Don is from Green Bay. He always wears that hat.

We stick up for one another. The core of us have been together for decades and treat one another like family - family we actually like.

However, if you don't care for the Crowe & Shanahan team, you can support Team Hooters, seen in the bottom picture.

And speaking of which, if you don't understand the tee shirts, you were never a lustful American teenager. Let me know and I'll explain.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Race For The Cure

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St. Louis had the annual Susan Komen Race For The Cure yesterday. There were 64,000 participants last year. I have not seen any figures yet for this year's event but Olive Street became a competitor to the Mississippi River in the size of its flow.

A dear coworker has been through the dark tunnel of breast cancer and came back out into the light. The staff has had a team the last few years to support her and the fundraising effort. I work with an amazing group of people, more about whom tomorrow.

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Back To The 21st Century

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Some last shots from the Renaissance Faire and then it's time to move on. None of these images fit the 16th Century French theme. The dashing chap above makes me think of a cavalier, the supporters of the king during the English Civil War in the 17th Century. The two shots below are of tossing the caber, a traditional Scottish game in which people try to throw a big log without dislocating both shoulders.

There is a lot going on this weekend. Today has the annual Susan Komen Race For The Cure, benefiting breast cancer research. Last year there were more than 64,000 participants, just in this one middlin' city. My coworkers formed a team in support  of one of their number who is a breast cancer survivor. Pridefest is also on this weekend, with the grand parade tomorrow. I usually get wonderful stuff there. Oh, and the first and hopefully annual St. Louis Fringe Festival is this weekend. We're going Sunday afternoon and evening. Stay tuned.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Axel The Sot

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The Renaissance Faire doesn't just have wandering weirdos. There are terrific performers, some of whom come back year after year. One of my favorites is Axel the Sot.  He plays a very bawdy and very funny set, literally shooing away children unless their parents are with them. (I was surprised by the young age of some of the kids sitting through this with mom and dad, but then they have to learn some time.) You can get a sample of Axel's show here but please do not click if you are easily offended. (That should boost the number of hits.)

Farther down are quick shots of other performers. I have no idea if the Faire pays them anything. At the end of each set the players pass the hat, usually telling the audience that this is how they make their living so please be generous. The Faire runs three weekends in a row (four next year); heaven knows what they do during the week. What a way to make your living, driving hundreds of miles from one festival to another, depending on the kindness of strangers.

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday Arch Series

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I scrounged up a couple of Arch pictures last weekend. Still looking for new inspiration. I need some time off to think. I need a sabbatical. I need to retire.

Ha!, as Virginia would say.

Anyway, this was taken from the park in East St. Louis, Illinois, opposite the monument. The Malcolm Martin memorial overlook is just visible on the horizon. See that cylindrical building to the left of the Arch? Just below and to the left of that. Behind me is the Gateway Geyser, our water jet that blasts a stream as high as the Arch is tall (which is pretty damn high, at least by local standards). More about that soon. By the way, that structure on the right is a big grain elevator. The whole area looks like part of the Midwest prairie.

There may be another post or two from the Renaissance Faire before I'm done. You did want to hear about Axel the Sot, didn't you?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Trojan Rabbit

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IMHO, the second funniest movie in the history of cinema is Monty Python And The Holy Grail. (The first is Blazing Saddles. As Gene Wilder said in the film, what is a dazzling urbanite like you doing in a rustic setting like this? It's a question I have sometimes asked myself in the mirror since landing in STL.) Anyway, in one of Holy Grail's most famous scenes, King Arthur and his knights have been denied access to a French castle. They devise a trick to gain entrance. It is a variation on The Iliad's Trojan horse, but this one is a rabbit. The results are disastrous. At the Renaissance Faire its only purpose was amusement. I wonder how many people get the reference these days.

So put on your armor and scream Ni! at the heavens.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Pirates Of The Midwest

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What Captain Jack Sparrow has to do with the Renaissance in general and 16th Century Lyon in particular is, well, not obvious. This well-made impersonator was wandering the grounds of the Faire, swigging heavily from a bottle of water, stomping over to the champ d'honneur and taking fake pot-shots at the knights.

There was a witty novel a few years ago called Bear vs. Shark. Who would win a fight between a bear and a shark? Similarly, who would win a fight between a mounted knight in armor and a pirate armed with cutlass and pistol? My money is on the waterborne contestants.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Ye Olde Dunking Booth

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The perfect amusement for a hot day. The system is simple: put friend in booth; throw ball at target; hit target; man on top pours large bucket of water down chute, thereby soaking friend. Not my idea of fun but, hey, they're young.

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Eat Your Heart Out

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If visitors to the Renaissance Faire are feeling a bit peckish, they can visit this little cafe. It's got a Michelin rating of two stents. Don't let the nags concern you. Order a beer afterwards, kick back and watch the jousting. Don't worry, be happy.

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Faeries Are Back

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We've seen some of this before, haven't we? (Click here.) It's either just part of the violent faerie shtick or this guy likes being smacked around by women. Chacun à son goût. In any event, the merry band has become a fixture at The Lou's weirder events. They aren't nasty all the time. Some of them have beautiful smiles.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

The Joust

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The Renaissance Faire always has a jousting tournament (sort of), twice a day, every day. I've yet to see a limp body carried off in the back of an oxcart but the crowd loves it. Where else are you going to see jousting in the 21st Century? Well, The Excalibur in Las Vegas, sure, but besides that?

The knights (who never say nee!, but then the whole place is reeking with Monty Python references, more about which later) bellow their ferocity, contempt for their opponent, their loyalty to their liege lord and their fidelity to their sweetie. Faint heart never won fair lady, as they say. 

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Village People

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This group of people was hanging around a small, fenced off area area at the Renaissance Faire. There was a bit of a platform in the middle. They might have been performing something or other. They might have been there just to engage passers-by with their period costumes and merry attitude.

The girl was the daughter of one troupe. She had the sweetest disposition and no fear of large strangers pointing black cylinders at her. The young woman in the second and third pictures was a fabulous juggler of lemons (see June 3rd's post). I believe that the man in the right of the last picture had bigger jaws than an alligator. He looks so much more charming in the top photo,

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Renaissance Faire

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Every late spring St. Louis puts on what's called the Renaissance Faire in a town park about 45 minutes west of the city center. The conceit is that it's a make-believe visit to the Lyon of 1518. Many members, like the father and daughter here, go deep into period costume, staying in role with everyone they encounter. They speak with heavy Midwest-French accents and are taught a few words of the language. You can really throw them off if they take their leave with an au revoir, à bientôt by replying  jusqu'à l'année prochaine! That's beyond the training.

We see this man and his daughter every year. He totally stays in character playing Charles IV. Le gentilhomme not only made his costume but his daughter's dress. Handy guy to have around. What gets confusing, though, is that there are also 18th Century pirates, faeries, belly dancers, Scottish caber-tossers, wizards, Cavaliers. people with heavy Midwest-English accents and Budweiser. More in coming days.

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