Friday, February 28, 2014

The French Monarchy And Cake

Birthday Cake At The Art Museum

Well, of course, it was a queen - the last one - who supposedly took part in this dialogue: "Your Majesty, the peasants have no bread." "Then let them eat cake."  We here in STL are doing a variation. The only French monarch to make sainthood, Louis IX, astride his horse in front of the art museum, offers a cake to the city for our 250th anniversary. What a nice guy.                        

Thursday, February 27, 2014

It's Thursday And There's An Arch In There Somewhere

Arch And Icy River-4

It's really cold again. Not bad by the standards of people further north but I'm tired of it. This too shall pass. Soon, please.                           

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Genetically Modified

Barkus Parade 2014-02-23 4

I've seen this breed of dog, and maybe with this owner, at the parade before. Don't remember the name - Jilly, an expert in all things canine, would know - but I don't like what's going on. The little animal is bred to look like a pathetic cripple, its left eye scrunched up and tongue always lolling out the left side of the mouth. I find it more sad than cute.

The woman with her daughter and dog below are doing a pink/mauve theme. Note the matching stuffed toy dog in the girl's arm. The big parade on Saturday will get way crazier than this.

Some scholar somewhere must have researched the history and motives of parades. Maybe had its start with victorious armies but I'd love to know what keeps the tradition going, particularly at events such as this.                           

Barkus Parade 2014-02-23 8

Dogs And Owners

Barkus Parade 2014-02-23 12

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the weirdest of them all?

I must be poorly socialized or full of existential angst or just a snob or something. I would no sooner do something like this than watch an episode of Duck Dynasty.  Everybody here is just out having some fun with their dogs but while I'd shoot the event, I wouldn't walk in it. My shoes are cleaner that way. And besides, I don't have a dog.                                 

Don't know if it's the same in New Orleans, but the Mardi Gras colors here are purple, green and yellow. Seems a bit bilious, which I guess is appropriate for the occasion. The big gigantic crazy parade is this Saturday. There is an other parade next Tuesday night on the actual evening before Ash Wednesday. Never got out to shoot that one before but it starts right in front of our new office building so no excuses.                      

Barkus Parade 2014-02-23 11

Barkus Parade 2014-02-23 7

Monday, February 24, 2014


Barkus Parade 2014-02-23 2

It's time for the first event in St. Louis' run-up to Mardi Gras, The Barkus Dog Parade. (Barkus . . . Bacchus . . . get it?).  Fat Tuesday is a surprisingly big deal here. As I have noted before, St. Louis loves an excuse to drink in public during the daytime.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of dogs and their owners turn out for the pooch promenade through the Soulard neighborhood. It was packed yesterday with relatively good weather. One group is sillier than the next. The little one above looks to be in an encounter with the Grim Kennel Master. Some people dye their dog's fur. Some put together little floats.

More to come.                   

Barkus Parade 2014-02-23 3

Barkus Parade 2014-02-23 6

Madeleine Monday

Madeleine 2014-02-22 1Floating on her mother's shoulder: La Serenissima.            

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Winter On Art Hill

FP Pano 2014-02-22 1

I'm learning how to do Photoshop panoramas - take rows and columns of shots - at least four but there is no specific limit - and let the software  stitch them together to make a big whole. This is a six-shot pano, looking down across the wintery grass on Art Hill to the Grand Basin in Forest Park.

Mrs. C's recovery from her knee replacement is remarkable. The physical therapist had her up with a walker in the hall while I was there yesterday. She was remarkably stable and had little pain. Which gets to why I'm writing so few comments - family duties, office time to make up for when I'm at the hospital, and I gotta go shoot something. She will be home tomorrow. Things will straighten out.                               

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ice In The River

Three Barges

We have had a few mild days but it's back in the freezer next week.  These are barges on the Mississippi, pushing through ice.

Mrs. C's surgery went very well. I'm sure she will be dancing at our son's wedding in June.              

Friday, February 21, 2014

That Would Be A Thousand, Then

Cakes Ready To Deliver 8

Just a quickie. New dimensions in overwork and too much to do at home last night. Mrs. C is getting a shiny new knee today and we have to get up at 3:45 for the first surgical appointment of the morning. How unnatural.                            

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Explore St. Louis

There are lots more cake pictures around and we'll get back to that. But it's pouring so I thought I'd post this, shot a few days ago. Gloomy. Look closely at the sign. Do the authorities really want people to explore St. Louis today?

PS: there is an occasion today that calls for a theme song.

PPS: okay, I openly admit that I, um, appropriated the following from a Facebook post by Virginia. However, whether single, married or in a relationship, photographers may find it fall out of your chair funny. I did. And non-photographers probably won't get it at all. 


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Cake Boss

April Morrison - Washington University Francis Field Cake

Another work in progress. Artist April Morrison (an actual pastry chef) works on a design for Francis Field at Washington University. The 1904 Summer Olympics were held there. We had the World's Fair the same year. We used to be somebody.

The cake in the foreground of the second picture celebrates the St. Louis Walk Of Fame along the Delmar Loop in University City. The list of inductees contains names you wouldn't associate with The Lou. Betty Grable is from here! And Phyllis Diller! The middle cake refers to Joe Edwards, the unofficial mayor of The Loop, and his celebrated bar, restaurant and performance venue, Blueberry Hill. 87 year old St. Louisan Chuck Berry still performs there regularly.                            

Cakes Ready To Deliver 1

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Paint Me A Cake

Henryk Ptasiewicz Cale Painting 2

I met the painter Henryk Ptasiewicz four years ago. I was taking pictures in Citygarden while he was making an open air watercolor. I asked if I could photograph him at work. He agreed and we've been friendly ever since.

It turns out that Henryk painted the STL250 cake in front of the Old Courthouse, seen in Sunday's post, and several others that are about to hit the street. And, he invited me over to the "cake factory" yesterday afternoon. In the first and second pictures, he's working on a piece for a Jewish congregation in the suburbs. Martin Luther King once stayed in their residence.

Further down, cakes for the Tivoli Theatre in University City with a Vincent Price theme and another for the airport.                              

Henryk Ptasiewicz Cake Painting 1

Henryk Ptasiewicz Vincent Price Cake

Henryk Ptasiewicz Airport Cake

Monday, February 17, 2014

Malcolm's Cake

Malcolm Martin And Camera Cake

The late Malcolm Martin was a lawyer in downtown St. Louis for many years. We used to work in the same building and I knew who he was, even if I didn't know him. Never married, no children. He created a trust to buy the land in East St. Louis, Illinois, directly opposite the Arch, to preserve the view of downtown for the public. An overlook was built there (seen here a number of times before), graced by his dapper statue.

Martin and the overlook got one of the first STL250 birthday cakes. It's designed to look like a camera (no idea why). There will be more of it later because, when you walk around to the back, the Arch frames it very nicely.

Madeleine Monday                       

Madeleine 2014-02-15 1

The tyke with her first Valentine's card, sent by Grandma Crowe. I think she'll have a taste for calamari when she grows up.                         

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Birthday Cakes

Cake At The Old Courthouse

A couple more STL250 birthday cakes since Saturday was so busy. No time to shoot, except a few of my granddaughter, for whom there's always time. I spent the day yesterday (and will again today) at a traveling workshop put on by the Rocky Mountain School of Photography. Very good quality and lots of new ideas. Then out to dinner with the next two generations at a new barbeque and taco joint (how could you go wrong?) on Gravois called Spare No Rib.  Good eats. Long day.

So, the top cake is in front of what we call the Old Courthouse, the other outside of the Old Cathedral a block away.  The list of all 250 cake locations, one for every year of the city's history, has been released, but they haven't all been baked and distributed. Lots of them will turn up here through the course of the year.       

Cake At The Old Cathedral

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy 250th Birthday St. Lou!

Happy Birthday St. Louis!

It's our semiquincentennial! According to people who study such things, it was 250 years ago today (more or less) that French trader and explorer Pierre Laclede, along with his teen-age sidekick, Auguste Chouteau, founded a trading post just south of the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Laclede named it after le saint roi, Louis IX of France. Just look what happened.

As part of the festivities, 250 fiberglass "birthday cakes" are being placed all over the region. The first 50 are up and the lot of them will be around through summer. I'm sure there will be photos of many more but this is certainly #1.

The illustration below is a fanciful account of the event. It is supposed to show Pierre and crew notching a tree to mark the location. Well, they must have marked it the summer before 'cause ain't no one dresses like that here in February.

There is something else to mention that's good about this place.  We get our heat in this region from natural gas. People with little income could get very cold at this time of year. The public utility, Laclede Gas, sponsors an excellent program, DollarHelp, to keep such people warm. Customers like me and my wife voluntarily add a dollar or more to our monthly bill to support the cause. Of course, all contributions are welcome.

DollarHelp reached out to local bloggers to help publicize the program and a contest they are running. They are hosting a “Share the Warmth” photo contest on their Facebook page. Customers will have a chance to win the ultimate winter warm-up – a trip for four to Cardinals Spring Training in Jupiter, Fl., and a meeting with Cardinals star Matt Holliday.  All they have to do is submit a photo demonstrating how they “share the warmth.” Customers who share a photo by Feb. 25th will also be eligible to win one of nine runner-up prizes including regular season tickets to a St. Louis Cardinals home game. So, St. Louis, get snapping.

And happy birthday to us!              

Friday, February 14, 2014


Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri
You will never find a politician without something to say. These are some of the dignitaries from the Missouri side of the river who attended the bridge opening and, of course, had a few comments.

Above, happy-go-lucky Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, wearing his Cardinals hat and a scarf to match. Next, Senator Claire McCaskill, much admired in the Crowe household.

Beneath the senator are a current and past member of the House of Representatives, Lacey Clay and Russ Carnahan. The latter was my congressman until last year. As American readers know, the 435 members of of our House of Representatives are re-apportioned among the states after each decennial census. Missouri's percentage of the national population went down a bit and, as a consequence, we lost one seat in the House. The Republican dominated state legislature re-drew the boundaries in such a way as to eliminate Carnahan's district, and thus a Democratic seat in the House. No idea what he's doing now. He looks a bit ghostly in the crowd beside the stage.                               

Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri

Congressman Lacey Clay of Missouri

Former Congressman Russ Carnahan

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thursday Arch Series

Gateway Arch From SMVM Bridge 1

Gray skies, urban grit and Saarinen's arc, colorless on this day, relieved only by a mustard colored hoodie. Most of the old industrial buildings at the bottom are vacant. Several have been on the blog before (like here and here). 

This was taken from the Missouri-side approach road to the new bridge (which I think I'll call the SMVMB for short).                                 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Send In The Clown

Fredbird On The Bridge 1

It happens a lot around St. Louis. Fredbird, the baseball Cardinals' irrepressible, relentlessly idiotic mascot, was in attendance at the bridge opening. Fredbird. Red bird. Cardinals. Get it? Har har.

Fredbird is famous for clamping his (its?) beak down on people's heads. All in good fun. In the second photo, he seems to be about to try it on some politicians. From left to right: Sen. Claire McCaskill (yay), Rep. Lacey Clay (yay) and, most immediately, Rep. Ann Wagner (not yay). Might it do some good?

Tomorrow: you can see the Arch from the bridge. Mostly.                      

Fredbird On The Bridge 2

New Bridge Opening 2014-02-08 6

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Special Effects

New Bridge Opening 2014-02-08 17

A couple more shots of the S.M.V.M. Bridge. I'm trying to learn Lightroom in the hope it might make my workflow faster than with Photoshop, which I've used for years. These images were made with a couple of whiz-bang Lightroom presets.                            

New Bridge Opening 2014-02-08 15

Monday, February 10, 2014

Everybody Who's Anybody

New Bridge Opening 2014-02-08 11

All the swells showed up for the new bridge opening. Well, at least of the political class. Lots of ordinary people came, too, like the chap in the second picture. And me, too, more or less ordinary except for the bag and two cameras hanging off me, one of which had a telephoto lens as big as Crocodile Dundee's knife.

It took a long time for the official opening ceremonies to get going. Only a fraction of the dignitaries who were present made it onto the small stage. In the third picture, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon braved the cold with a woman I cannot identify. The governor's actual first name is Jeremiah but that's too many syllables for a modern American politician. There was another governor, Pat (instead of Patrick); U.S. Senators who go by Claire, her actual name, and Dick (instead of Richard); and U.S. Representatives who introduce themselves as Bill (instead of William, but that's okay because he's an old friend of mine), Lacey (two syllables, his middle name, to distinguish himself from his father who previously held the seat, both of them William) and Ann, whose district I live in but who emphatically does not represent me.

I almost hit the Governor of Illinois in the head with said large telephoto lens in the crowd afterward but fortunately (for me, mostly) no harm done.

Lots more to come. BTW there is all sorts of interesting stuff about about the design and construction of the bridge here.                  

New Bridge Opening 2014-02-08 10

New Bridge Opening 2014-02-08 12

Sunday, February 9, 2014

New Bridge On The Mississippi

New Bridge Opening 2014-02-08 3

For a several decades, STL has had one main bridge that carried the Interstate highways (55, 64 and 70) across the Mississippi. It's choked with traffic at rush hour and always seems to be under repair. A couple of other old bridges were essentially extensions of the city streets. It was time for more capacity.

Thus, the brand-new Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge, just for I 70 and another means of access to downtown. It's a wonder the thing got built. Illinois wanted a toll bridge with many more lanes. Missouri, a low-tax, low-service state, insisted it be free and who cares if it's wide enough. Since the men and women of the armed services are held in high esteem these days (it wasn't always so - think Vietnam), Illinois wanted to call it the Veterans Memorial Bridge. Cardinal-worshiping Missouri wanted to name it the Stan Musial Bridge, after the greatest god in the team pantheon, who died last year. Hence, the compromise, with a name that falls liltingly off the tongue and probably has too few lanes (just two in each direction).

The public was invited to wander around on it yesterday afternoon. Many big-shot politicians showed up, including some I actually like. Cars may travel on it today. It is handsome. I hear the night lighting is fabulous. Much of it is visible from my office window so we'll get that later.

So, we will have several days of architecture, crowds, politicos, signage and barge traffic on the ice-filled Mississippi.                         

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Lonliness Of The Rail Yard

Union Pacific Freight Cars

Okay, it's completely corny and it's the wrong state but what I can't get out of my head as I write this post is the old Waylon Jennings song:

Between Hank Williams' pain songs and
Newberry's train songs and Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain
Out in Luckenbach, Texas ain't nobody feelin' no pain
I haven't heard a train song in a long time. Train pictures, though, are always at hand. The graffiti-permitted floodwall faces the yard in the first two pictures.  The ironwork in the bottom shot forms part of the base of a railroad-only bridge that crosses the Mississippi closer to the Arch.The monument is in the background somewhere but you can't see it in the mist.

Something different to shoot today: a brand new bridge across the big river. It's open to pedestrians today and cars tomorrow. Pix on Sunday morning.               

Union Pacific Freight Cars 2


Friday, February 7, 2014

I Got Nothing So Why Not Post...

What's For Dinner

At least it's enthusiastic.

So short on time...                   

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Snow On Hawken Place 2014-02-05

The view from my front porch yesterday morning. Mrs. C's little Prius could get buried. I know, I know, Birdman and other northern friends, it's not much by your standards but it's a big pain in the booty by ours. And bitter cold again last night.

Still, going through this in pleasant Webster Groves is better than living under the I 55 viaduct near downtown. Which some people do.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Happy Birthday, Bill

William S. Burrough's Gravestone 2014-02-02

Oops, forgot about this, leading to a rare second post in a day.

Today is the one hundredth birthday of one of St. Louis' most famous and infamous sons, William S. Burroughs. His writing has the power to shock even today and most of his life was wild, to put it mildly.  My pupils must have dilated hugely when I read The Western Lands and Cities of the Red Night.

He spent his last 13 years in Lawrence, Kansas, not far from Kansas City and home of the University of Kansas, but asked to be buried in the family plot here. They had money - his grandfather invented the adding machine. Now he rests in beautiful Bellefontaine Cemetery, the location marked by only a small stone.

Burroughs often wrote with ripping, outrageous humor. Here's an example with him reading the notorious Dr. Benway bit  from Naked Lunch (see also here). I like the photo that goes with this on YouTube, showing Frank Zappa standing by the writer, smiling with obvious admiration. WARNING - this recording is not for  minors, the easily offended  or people who are certain they know what good literature is.                            

Red Baron

Mansion On Missouri Avenue 1

It's snowing again. We're tired of it. Sure, people from Maine and Minnesota will think we're weenies but this has been the worst winter we've had in a long time. Same for most of the eastern two-thirds of the country.

So, to pass the time, some architecture shots. These large, old homes are on Lafayette Square, an historic district near the city center. Many of the beautifully restored homes are French in design, as discussed in the link. These however, are in what's called German Baronial style. Germany was the most important source of immigrants here in the 19th Century. Some of them hit it big (think Adolphus Busch). They built homes designed to impress, usually of red brick, based on patterns familiar to them. Sort an equivalent of today's McMansions way out in nether Chesterfield.                                    

Mansion On Missouri Avenue 2