Saturday, November 30, 2013

Zero To Ninty Five

Zero To Ninty Five

My wife's mother, Elvira Kruse, on her ninety fifth birthday yesterday, surrounded by her great grandchildren (or most of them). Madeleine is in her lap. The little one above and to the right with her hands in her face, Olivia, is actually three weeks younger. Elvira doesn't move around that well but she's completely sharp. You can see the clarity.

Below, son Andy points out the most important rug rat in the place, who is being held by sister in law Dorothy. I believe Madeleine would rather be doing something else.         

Andy, Madeleine, Dorothy 2

Friday, November 29, 2013

My First Thanksgiving

My First Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner at Elvira Kruse's Home in Marysville, Kansas. First, the star of our show, who has not decided it's time to wake up and smell the turkey.

Below, the family around the dinner table. From left to right, son-in-law Brian, daughter Emily, son Andy, prospective daughter-in-law Claire and Mrs. C (wearing her Calgary Stampede shirt). Bottom, sister-in-law Mary Lee and the birthday girl, my mother-in-law, 95 today and looking pretty good.         

Thanksgiving Dinner 1

Thanksgiving Dinner 2

Thursday, November 28, 2013



It's Thanksgiving Day in the US, a mixture of gratitude, calorie bombing and football. Christmas is just ahead. This, however, is a gift suggestion that I do not endorse.

Found at 43rd and Main Streets in Kansas City. Out to the cornfields this morning.         

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fossil Fuels

Amoco, Skinker and Clayton

We don't go on many road trips but today is the start of an annual trek. We drive to Marysville, Kansas, for Thanksgiving weekend, leaving this afternoon with an overnight stop in Kansas City. Dinner at our favorite KC restaurant with Emily, Brian and Madeleine. On to the town where my my wife's mother lives on the morning of the holiday and straight back on Sunday. 400 miles/644 km each way. Elvira Kruse's birthday is right after Thanksgiving. She will be 95 this weekend.

The sign in the picture is a St. Louis landmark. It's been there with a couple of design changes for decades, even though BP (British Petroleum) took over Amoco (American Oil Company) some years ago. It looks bigger in person than it does in the photograph. The view looks west on Clayton Road from Skinker Boulevard at the southwest corner of Forest Park.         

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Something You Don't See Every Day

Carolers, 7th and Pine

A spinoff, I suppose, from the Festival of lights in Kiener Plaza - a group of Christmas carolers at the corner of 7th and Pine downtown, just around the corner from my office. In general, if I rounded this corner heading for lunch, say, and saw a group of eight people like this singing, I'd think a movie company was shooting a remake of Meet Me In St. Louis

The group is standing in front of a state office building that houses the regional Court of Appeals, the workers compensation office and the Missouri attorney general. They could use some glad tidings and good cheer.          

Monday, November 25, 2013

Ye Of Little Faith

Repent Or Perish

It's hard to understand but most of us, particularly in this country, have seen it. The young man carrying the sign had a headset microphone and a loudspeaker in his hand. He paced the sidewalk around the little festival and tree lighting ceremony, spouting the usual rant. If you think of it as behavior, he wasn't getting a lot of positive reinforcement. Dr. Skinner would be puzzled.

The man in the knit hat was one of the event officials. As I passed by the two of them I heard the official shouting "I want you outta here now. We have a permit and it's just for us. Get off of this block!" Or words to that effect. The preacher ignored him but the official stayed stuck tight. The cops didn't come. Then it occurred to me: the organizers may have a permit for the plaza but the preacher was on the public sidewalk that surrounded it. In the end, it was kind of a freedom of speech in a public place issue. Good that we still have that.          

To Save Sinners

Madeleine Monday

Madeleine and Killian 2

Madeleine and Killian 1

Meanwhile, Killian, Madeleine's family dog, decides it's time for a sloppy kiss. Grandma tries to push the pooch away but the kid seems completely blasé.        

Sunday, November 24, 2013

I Didn't Know They Were Acquainted

Santa ♥ Ms. Missouri

Santa and Ms. Missouri seem to be on very friendly terms. If I were an old guy with snow-white hair I'd find this exciting. Actually, I'm not that far off but I dress better than Santa.

The whole Ms. America/Ms. Missouri (formerly Miss) thing is pretty awful. I remember watching Miss America as a kid and thinking it embodied unattainable elegance. There was an evening in a cousin's living room in Ireland when the whole family, young and old, watched the local equivalent, the Rose of Tralee Pageant, with rapt attention. But really. It's such an out-of-it vision of women and their place in society. Makes me think of Frank Zappa's Suzy Creamcheese.        

Ms Missouri And Santa

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My Camera Went To The City Christmas Tree Lighting And All I Got Was This Lousy Picture Of Batman

Christmas With Batman

OMG was it crowded. Actually, there were a few more salvageable images that I'll drag through here.

Batman and Christmas, a traditional combination. Almost as good a Santa with his hands all over Ms. Missouri, which I may post tomorrow.        

Friday, November 22, 2013

Louie And The Rainbow

Louie And The Rainbow

The town's favorite saint and king on his perch atop Art Hill, ordering a bit of extra color in the sky.         

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Action Shots

Argentina v Bosnia 5

I don't know much about soccer, or football if you prefer. I've only been to two professional matches. Both of them were in Buenos Aires, one with the north side team, River Plate, and their south side rivals, Boca Juniors. (That Boca game was a wild experience.) So, if I had any soccer sentiments they might be Argentine.

Unfortunately, Argentina's great star, Lionel Messi, didn't play. They said he had a leg injury. Maybe he was adverse to playing on a cold Midwestern night before tens of thousands of screaming Bosnian fans. Who knows. It was a great game nonetheless, with intense play and many scoring opportunities by both sides. As you can see in the third picture, the Bosnians were pretty tough.

On the same subject, congratulations to J.M. and condolences to Steffe on Portugal's victory over Sweden in Stockholm this week. Portugal moves on to the World Cup.

Oh, by the way, Argentina won 2 - nil. That's soccer talk for 2 to nothing. Baseball starts again in just over four months.               

Argentina v Bosnia 8

Argentina v Bosnia 6

Argentina v Bosnia 4

Argentina v Bosnia 7

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hardcore Bosnians On Tour

Hardcore Bosnians On Tour

I like Bosnians. Our firm has a number of Bosnian clients and nicer, harder working people you may never meet. My business banker is Bosnian. (Hi, Edin!) But the country's soccer fans are pretty intense - not that it's unusual for the sport.

There were thousands of them wrapped in the flag, literally and figuratively, at the game Monday. I'd never seen the flag before and it's pretty cool, an original design. A group of them were out in the bleachers (top photo) behind a somewhat intimidating banner. When the game was almost over several of them lit traffic flares, astonishing conduct at an American sporting event. I was surprised the police didn't rush them but the flares went out soon enough.         

Bosnian Fans 3

Bosnian Fans 2

Bosnian Fans 1

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Argentina vs. Bosnia-Herzegovina

Argentina v Bosnia 1

This wasn't on my schedule.

We are starting to get international soccer matches in STL. Last spring Chelsea played Manchester City. The summer brought a game between Real Madrid and Milan Inter. Last night it was the national teams of Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina at Busch Stadium.

I walked over after work to take some pictures - lots of crazy people like in the video in my previous post. A local woman approached me on the street. She and her husband were stuck with two extra prime tickets, which she offered at a steep discount. Only one of me but she wanted some payback. I waffled, then bought a ticket for 60% off face value.

Glad I did. What a match. St. Louis has a big Bosnian population and there are many more around the US. The ratio of Bosnian to Argentine fans was maybe 50 to 1.

Gotta get to work. More of this to come.         

Argentina v Bosnia 2

Argentina v Bosnia 3

This Will Be Explained In The Morning

Last night was, um, unexpected. It's late Monday night as I write this. Another post will go up in the morning my time, GMT -6.         

Monday, November 18, 2013

Morton Subotnick

Morton Subotnick 1

Morton Subotnick, a pioneer of electronic music, spoke about and performed his work Saturday night at the Kranzberg Certer. O M G. It's been many a year since I've heard such a transcendent performance.

Subotnick, 80, played a synthesizer, what I took to be a MacBook Pro, a microphone and assorted touch pads. He spoke of using two of his best-known works, Silver Apples of the Moon and A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur as a base while adding new "pallets." The performance's theme was Lucy, perhaps the mother of us all.

Although this is, to a point, the boop squeak kind of electronic music, it has structure with complex rhythms and harmonies. The sections passed like chapters of a novel or scenes of a play. So many thoughts and associations went through my head while listening: The Rite of Spring extruded in silicon. God's own glass harmonica. All the tribes of all the planets of all the stars in a jam session.

His sound exploited the entire room. The music moved around you; or, if you prefer, since motion is relative, you moved through it.  Many of his works are available on CD and for download. However, a stereo recording is a limited substitute for hearing the music in three - or four - dimensional space.

When I spoke to Subotnick briefly after the show, he told me he came here in 1964 for a St. Louis Symphony performance of one of his works. He was booed. Good things come to those who wait.           

Morton Subotnick 2

Subotnick performance 1
crummy iPhone photo
Subotnick performance 2

Subotnick performance 4

Sunday, November 17, 2013

But Is It Justified?

Optimism 1

Found on a vacant building on 11th Street between Olive and Locust. It used to be some kind of Catholic residence, I think, or maybe a home for wayward lawyers. I'm not sure. Downtown redevelopment has passed it by.

The banner in the bottom photo is for a casino and luxury hotel complex a half mile away.

We went out to hear Morton Subotnick last night, one of the pioneers of electronic music. Hoping for some pictures.        

Optimism 2

Experience The Best

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Some More Of Those Buildings

AT&T At Sunset

A couple of the buildings mentioned but not shown in yesterday's post. The big one in the top picture is the AT&T building that's about to become vacant. It's a pretty big hunk of real estate by our standards. The federal courthouse seen yesterday is on the left. The two are actually about the same height.

The bottom photo shows the Bank of America building I referred to yesterday as the Darth Vader Tower. This is the only time of day and weather in which it has any visual interest.

These were taken last night from our office windows. As I've mentioned, we've been in the same building for 22 years and are about to move. The new place will have better configured space and lower rent but, damn, I'm gonna miss these views.          

BOA Tower Sunset

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Mix Of Styles

Downtown Architecture

A downtown lesson in comparative architecture.

Top right is the federal courthouse. It has streamlined references to the classical, with its colonnades, quasi-temples in the top corners and domed top. It also exactly blocks the view of the Arch from the main highway running east into downtown, but what do they care.

The dark glass, International School structure is the low rise part of a Bank of America tower. The high rise part just to the left is an austere black, featureless octagon. I sometimes call it the Darth Vader Tower. The reflection in the glass is an old AT&T building that looks like a commercial castle. A block over is a modern 44 story tower that AT&T just announced plans to vacate, dumping about a squillion square feet of office space onto the already-depressed downtown real estate market. Good for tenants like me, I suppose.         

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday Arch Series

Arch 2013-11-02 2

Taken on the same day as last week's Arch photo, and with the same technique. It's so pretty it looks fake, the kind of dressed-up picture you might see on a web site for a resort or a new housing development.

I've been pretty bad about visiting my friends' blogs this week. I've been working stupid hours. Hasn't been much time between coming home, having dinner and falling asleep. This will get better, I hope.        

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Tribe, But Of What?

A Family

North of the Arch and the Laclede's Landing entertainment district is a derelict industrial area. Not like Detroit, but thank heaven for small favors. One of them is a long, narrow building that looks like it contained an assembly line, the structure in the center of this Google Earth link

The place is covered with graffiti, inside and out, but when I drove by the other day I saw something new. It's hard to tell unless you can zoom in on the high res version but this group of - something - is all female. They are wearing briefs and shoulder sashes. None of them have hair. A few are missing a body part here and there, probably because the figures were put in the wall in sections, maybe of paper. It's enigmatic.         

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

It Gets Dark Early These Days

Tracks At Sunset, Webster Groves

4:30 in the afternoon at a railroad crossing in suburban Webster Groves, where I live. The sun in mid-November goes down well before I leave the office, making me feel like I've worked an even longer day.         

Monday, November 11, 2013

Why Not An All-Madeleine Monday?

Madeleine 2013-11-10 6 (hands)

Carolyn's brother Mel and his wife Pat passed through town yesterday on their way home to Kansas. (We'll be there for Thanksgiving.) They had to stop by Emily and Brian's house to see Madeleine. These pix were taken with an 85 mm prime lens with just window light, which turned out to be a bit cool. So I tried my first black and white images of my granddaughter.

The top one is definitely the winner, with Mel's huge, weathered farmer's hand next to her tiny, soft one. I think the fourth one shows a lot of personality, though - you're trying to sell me what?            

Madeleine 2013-11-10 3

Madeleine 2013-11-10 4

Madeleine 2013-11-10 2

Madeleine 2013-11-10 1

Sunday, November 10, 2013


I Win St Louis

Not a clue what this means. Maybe it's a projective psychological test. Found on the flood wall along the Mississippi.         

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Thwack Pinocchio

Thwack Pinocchio

Low on material so I took my camera out at lunchtime yesterday. I walked through Citygarden to one many of our many food trucks, wandering through the sculptures on the way back. All of them have appeared here before. This one is Tom Otterness' Kindly Geppetto, showing the creation, or maybe the destruction, of Pinocchio. Who knows.           

Friday, November 8, 2013

An Urban Ruin

Fourth Baptist Church 2

The remains of the Fourth Baptist Church in the Old North St. Louis neighborhood. The historic building was gutted by fire five years ago. You can read the sad story here

You can't see it in this picture but there are a few words stenciled across the boarded-up main entrance. They read, "the lord is my shepherd ."