Monday, October 31, 2016


Happy Halloween to those of you who enjoy it. I got out for a while Saturday to shoot the massive street party in our Central West End district. Not the best year for images at the event. It gets more crowded every year and I had some kind of bug. Still, there were a few keepers.

This isn't a holiday that appeals to me. I don't like being scared, naturally or artificially. No slasher movies, no Trump websites.   As far as I'm concerned, you can save all these grisly memento mori references for an ascetic monk's hut. 

Goofy costumes are okay. The only time I've done that as an adult was at a party thrown by a colleague. I made a mitre out of cardboard, put MasterCard and Visa logos on it, bought a Los Angeles Angels baseball jersey and went as the pope.


Sunday, October 30, 2016


A bus stop on Lindell Boulevard at Euclid in the Central West End last night. I went to  shoot at the outdoor Halloween party in Maryland Plaza but headed back to the car when it became too crowded to move. This was a bit of luck found on my way.

We'll have some Halloween pictures starting tomorrow to carry me until I get to Seattle this week.

By the way, Pierre Laclede was the French trader who founded St. Louis in 1764.      

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Shall We Dance?

These two were consuming generous amounts of the official beverage of Oktoberfest. They insisted that I take their picture and get both shirts clearly. Aren't they sweet?            

Friday, October 28, 2016


I suppose that leather pants could be comfortable if they were soft enough, more like gloves than shoes. It's a way of proclaiming "I'm German," a statement like a French beret or cowboy boots. We saw people wearing them at the Fischmarkt in Hamburg last month. Does it look a little silly to you?             

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Beer and Zombies

We have a little one-day Oktoberfest in our Soulard neighborhood. Last Saturday the oom-pah band and beer were flowing freely. One participant was getting an early jump on Halloween. If you've had enough German brew, why not dance with the undead?         

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


It finally feels like summer is really over here. It was a long one. Every autumn Citygarden covers its long stone wall with a row of pumpkins. The color is striking if you get the light right.             

Monday, October 24, 2016

Palms Out, Palms Up

More of the same, but pretty good ones. I need a break. Going to a conference in Seattle next week, though. I'm supposed to work but there's so much to shoot in that city . . .  

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Traffic Cop

Well, that's what these pictures make me think of. Probably not a good uniform out amidst the exhaust pipes but, if this were their job, they would still be obeyed. Japanese people are, above all else, respectful and polite. We've walked around in Tokyo traffic and everyone keeps their cool.            

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Peppermint Sticks

The first of the Japanese dances involved walking in a circle while clacking these candy cane sticks in many rhythmic patterns. Not exactly a get up and boogie number but fun to hear and watch.             

Friday, October 21, 2016


Late post today. These 11-12 hour workdays gotta stop.

Anyway, the title means hello or good day in Japanese. The St. Louis Art Museum has a special exhibition going on called Conflicts of Interest: Art and War in Modern Japan. I think the beginning of the title is a pun. It's about art, propaganda and illustration during Japan's military conflicts from the 19th Century to World War II.

The museum held an event recently with Japanese-themed activities. These women are preparing for a folk dancing demonstration. I thought it was a bit staid but those gorgeous kimonos and the crimson obis with a dash of yellow at the back were stunning.             

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Two true river stories:

1.  When I was a senior in high school in The Bronx in the spring of 1967, I had made the decision to go to St. Louis University (heaven knows why). Hanging around the school library, I pick up a then-popular folk music magazine called Sing Out. My eye was caught by a column by the blues harmonica player Tony "Little Sun" Glover. The title was Ten Best Things To Do When You Got The Blues. At the end of the list, Number 1 said piss in the Mississippi. It'll give you a feeling of immortality. So as soon as I got here... 

2.  Many years ago Mrs. C and I visited Varanasi, India, what the Brits used to call Benares. It's the holiest city in Hinduism. A guide took us to the banks of the Ganges before dawn. He hired a little rowboat and gave us each a waxed paper cup with a tiny candle. As we floated out into the stream the sun rose over the opposite bank. The idea was to send your candle down the Ganges and say a prayer. I thought of my children.

Each year Artica has a parade down to the edge of the Mississippi. People do their own version of the same thing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Truer Words Were Never Spoken

There was a group at Artica making an artistic statement about how all of us - and perhaps all things - are interwoven. The sign says "We are all connected in some way." You know the question that has been put in many different forms: if a butterfly in Africa beats its wings, does it affect the weather in Topeka? Yes, but perhaps invisibly.

They marched in the festival's parade carrying a great length of many fabrics tied together. There were long balls of yarn unfolded among its segments. Point well taken.   

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

I Could See This At The Whitney

Need some filler. This was inside the ruins of the Cotton Belt Building. I noticed what seemed to be a burst of railroad ties through a busted out doorway. It looks like something you might see at The Whitney in New York.                  

Monday, October 17, 2016


As the fire at the end of Artica slowly died, the spectators formed a circle and walked or danced around it. In the end there were just embers and the eerie illuminated fin atop the Four Seasons Hotel floating above them.          

Sunday, October 16, 2016


Artica ends with a bonfire on Sunday night. It is usually some kind of human figure, like at Burning Man. It's been an angel recently. This year the artists and carpenters who make the structure collapsed the form into a circle and lattice, incorporating the angel's wings into the structure and spray painted onto the front.

It's interesting to observe the stages of the pyre: wings of fire growing into a disk, engulfing the whole structure until it collapses among the viewers.  

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Let's Do This

First, an aside. It seems that three-year-old Madeleine can't figure out the difference between Donald Duck and Donald Trump. When she sees the bewigged politician on TV she points at him and squeals "Donald Duck! Donald Duck!" And, you know, I think she's on to something. Close your eyes and listen to both of them...  

Anyway, back inside the ruins of the Cotton Belt Railway Terminal. Our industrial ruins can't hold a candle to Detroit's (anyone ever seen Naqoyqatsi?) but this is a pretty good example of the genre. Maybe someone is trying to do something with it. That's a utility bucket sold by a national hardware and home remodeling store.         

Friday, October 14, 2016

A Good Question

Found in the ruins of the abandoned Cotton Belt Railway Terminal adjacent to the Artica site.  Literally in a hole in the main floor. We Americans may well ask ourselves the question. Seems to me part of the answer is pretty obvious.                 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Thursday Arch Series, Sort Of

Thursday Arch pictures have been few and far between as the redevelopment continues. The whole project won't be finished until next summer. But on Sunday evening I turned around from the action at Artica and found this.          

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


I mentioned yesterday that Artica comes alive as the sun sets. That's when strange apparitions begin to happen.               

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Chill Out Or Warm Up

Things don't really get going at Artica until after dark. I've never stayed that late due to family demands. But Sunday night Mrs. C went to a debate watching party (the horror) so I was on my own. I stayed late.

The crowd doesn't really roll into this event until dusk. They set up little camps, waiting for the pyre that ends the event. Some bring props. This is a propane torch that can erupt at the push of a lever. More about the fire soon.   

Monday, October 10, 2016

Banjo On The Hill

I had to work a lot of the weekend and then choose from two events to shoot: Artica, the annual wacko arts festival in a derelict post-industrial area on the north riverfront, or Artists' Studio Open House, in which local artists open their work spaces to the public.  I went with the wackos, a natural inclination.

I've seen the lone piper on the battlements of Edinburgh Castle. The lone banjo player on the rubble beneath the old Cotton Belt Railway freight terminal was just as moving.       

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Gratuitous Violence

The Renaissance Festival always has a jousting show, but it was different this year. After a few runs on horseback with lances, the knights dismounted and engaged in hand-to-hand combat. It got nasty.

These pictures are in chronological order. It felt genuinely dangerous. Never before did one knight slit the throat of the other and leave him to die, spouting fake blood, in the dust. I thought it was horrifying, perhaps reflecting the darker side of America. The audience was  full of children. Madeleine, of course, was too young to get it but she did look over my shoulder while I was editing these shots. "He's mean!" she exclaimed. 

Yes, really mean.              

Saturday, October 8, 2016

In Days Of Old When Knights Were Bold

The Renaissance Festival always has jousting, a crowd-pleaser but about as real as American professional wrestling. There's more build-up than action - lots of trash talk, boasting and killing time. But once the competition begins, well, stay out of the way.

It's usually pretty tame but this year's version became graphically violent and, you know, there were lots of kids in the audience. More about that tomorrow if time permits. Two major annual photo ops overlap this weekend, Artica and Studio Open House. I want to catch as much of both as I can but I also need uninterrupted time at work. We'll see how it goes.