Thursday, November 30, 2017

Ars Gratia Artis

There is a storefront at 8th and Pine that has been vacant for 20 or 30 years. Its former use was unusual. The phone company filled it with physical phone books from all around the country. In pre-internet times, you could go there to look up a phone number in Chicago or Dallas. I did occasionally.

It's obvious what happened to that idea. This season Art St. Louis filled the dark interior with glowing, onion-shaped constructions, pulsing and changing colors. Maybe it was supposed to be Christmas-y. I thought it was spooky.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When life gives you patio furniture, make sculpture.

Found at 6th and Chestnut, walking back to my car from Kiener Plaza. This is the outdoor seating area of a T. G. I. Friday's restaurant. (One of my law firm's slogans: Thank God it's Friday. Only two more work days until Monday.) Getting pretty chilly for dining al frecso so maybe this furniture was just stacked up for the winter. It made for pretty interesting geometry.       

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


The Arch is sort of downtown's eye of Buddha. It peeks at you from unexpected places and always seems to be watching you. Better behave yourself and brush up on catenary geometry.       

Monday, November 27, 2017

Back To What Passes For Normal

Time to get back home. Too much to do, no ideas, the usual. So go walk around with a camera.

Someone funded an outdoor ice rink in Kiener Plaza downtown, open from Thanksgiving to New Year's. As you can see from some people's dress it's not terribly cold. We have had only a couple of nights below freezing and as high as 74 F / 23 C in the last week. It ain't right.  

Sunday, November 26, 2017

B&W Challenge Day 7 - Big Piece Of Rock

The biggest one around. Glad I got to see it. This is the end of the seven day run but I've taken some more pictures recently that I'd like to edit in B&W. They get done that way when the image is right.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

B&W Challenge Day 6 - Hay Bales

Marshall County, Kansas, near Mrs. C's family's farm.                

Friday, November 24, 2017

B&W Challenge Day 5 - 120 Wall Street

The last building on Wall Street in New York, where it meets the East River. My father worked here much of his adult life. I loved to go there with him on Saturdays, play with the office machines and watch the boats in the river.

Taken from the walkway on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

B&W Challenge, Day 4 - ICP

An iconic institution for people who share my passion, the new quarters of the International Center Of Photography on The Bowery, just south of Houston Street in lower Manhattan. (I think the school is still at the old place on Sixth Avenue in Midtown.) This street used to be New York's skid row, but, like much of the island, it is becoming thoroughly gentrified.

It you look closely, you can barely see the white lettering in the pavement featured in the post of November 12. Of course almost no one notices it.

I think I'll finish this series with three of my favorite B&Ws from the archives.  

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

B&W Challenge, Day 3 - Off Season

No people, no words. Busch Stadium, taken through the center field gate, late afternoon on a chilly November day.        

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

B&W Challenge, Day 2

Once again, the plan is seven days of B&W photos, no people, no words. Need to go back in the archives to do this series. That's okay. I have a black and white album on Flickr and it made me go back and see what worked and what didn't.

I think this worked. Taken from the Illinois side of the Mississippi. Eads Bridge in the middle layer. The bottom layer is a floodwall with heavy concrete and steel supports to hold back the river.       

Monday, November 20, 2017

B&W Challenge, Day One

So there's this meme going around where somebody challenges somebody else to post black and white pictures for seven days, no people, no words. Nobody challenged me (sniff) but I don't have any better ideas so I'm just gonna do it. 

We start in Citygarden with Tom Claasen's Two Rabbits. They look passive enough but those of us of a certain age cannot forget another apparently innocent bunny

I may have to hit the archives to finish this exercise but I'm interested in shooting some dead empty shopping malls on Thursday, Thanksgiving in the United States. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

It Would Be An improvement

We took Ellie to STL's wonderful children's museum, The Magic House. (Yes, she is officially Madeleine but we all call her Ellie and I'm changing my usage.) I had not been there since our kids were young. It's been greatly expanded and improved. Ellie had a ball. 
There was an area devoted to American government. To my surprise, there was a mock-up of the Oval Office. The children could pretend to sit at the president's desk and Ellie took her turn. I think she was taking a call from Putin.

The Constitution requires that the president be at least 35 years of age. A video system lets the kids find out how long they have to wait. I hope it won't be nearly that long (months preferred to years) for a major improvement on the incumbent. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Times Square 2

The hordes. I don't think I've ever been there when it wasn't busy. And if you are a New Yorker, the sign in the first picture will resonate. 

Note Olivier in the right of the third picture.         

Friday, November 17, 2017

Times Square 1

Everyone has seen pictures of Times Square and many of us have walked through it. It used to be rather tawdry but the city cleaned it up, after a fashion. Now it's all megawatt advertising glitz and family friendly if your eyes aren't too sensitive. During my recent visit, many of the blinding signs were advertising movies. Incongruously, the display on Walgreens pharmacy was rotating beautiful black and white photos of African people. It was packed during a damp, chilly autumn evening.

Tomorrow, some of the people in the swirling scene.       

Thursday, November 16, 2017

9/11 Museum

Beneath the plaza of the World Trade Center is a museum about the devastating events of September 11, 2001, and the thousands of people who died that day. I've been there once before and I still find it a very difficult place. The horror and suffering it depicts are overwhelming, almost too much to bear for the living sixteen years later.

Olivier and I visited it on the last afternoon of our meet-up in New York. I took a lot of pictures on my first visit. but could not make more than a few this time. It was just too hard. As you descend the escalator into the cavernous space you are met with the sign in the first picture and wonder if it will literally be true. Just beyond is the mangled fire truck. The blue escalator in the last picture is the exit back upstairs. Stairway to heaven? The color could not have been accidental.     

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


One dictionary defines oculus as a circular or oval window or a circular opening at the top of a dome.  I do not know how this new building at the World Trade Center got its name.  It has ribs that flare in like a cathedral ceiling and then back out like wings. The general shape, seen from above, is something like a football; maybe sort of oval. The eye reference may be that it contains a major transit hub, completely reformed after the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Then throw in an upscale shopping mall (there are Apple, Kate Spade and Hugo Boss stores). The name doesn't exactly work, other than it is memorable.

But it is such an eyeful! Every angle, every view has something uniquely interesting. Sometimes, like in the second picture, you get the tower of One World Trade Center in the frame.   

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Legos In Rockefeller Center

If you've been to New York, you can imagine how expensive ground-level retail space is in Rockefeller Center. Some companies will pay up, though, to show off their stuff in a spectacular, high-traffic location.

There is a big Lego store on the concourse leading west from Fifth Avenue to the central plaza and skating rink. The picture above is a model of just that, all made from Legos.  The second photo looks like a giant Lego insect buzzing the entrance to Radio City Music Hall.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

Things To See At Moma...

. . . other than the show that has my photo in the book, if not out on the floor. You could look at Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, or not. Or the clothing in the show, ranging from wild to mild. Or one of Louise Bourgeois' spiders. Or one of the museum's escalators that is awfully reminiscent of some of M. C. Escher's work. Or a Dada eye-twister. Fun for the whole family.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Signs In The Street (In Saecula Saeculorum)

Most of the time you need to keep your gaze forward while walking the streets of New York. Don't run into the hoards of other pedestrians, food vendors' pushcarts, potholes or traffic. (Although New Yorkers, including me when I'm back, have a particularly aggressive way of crossing the street, as if saying to oncoming drivers C'mon. I dare you to hit me. I've got a badass lawyer.)

But sometimes you should look down at the pavement for unusual detail. The words in the first picture are painted onto the sidewalk at the entrance to the International Center of Photography, much beloved of us shooters. For ever and ever throughout the universe? So, after our species extinguishes itself, which does not seem a remote possibility, the computers that may replace us can use your image millennia from now on billboards on Tatooine? The lawyer in me says nobody who enters the building sees this and the release is unenforceable.

Further down, playing cards that have somehow affixed themselves to the sidewalk on E. Houston Street (New Yorkers pronounce it HOW-stun, not HOU-stun), and a stencil that is all too believable.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Along The High Line

The High Line has become a major tourist attraction in New York. It is an old elevated freight line running from W. 34th Street to the Lower West Side that has been transformed into a linear park. It has views of the Hudson, rooftop gardens and striking new architecture. The trail is surrounded by art (that red sign below is by one of my favorite contemporary artists, Barbara Kruger). The people watching is, of course, unparalleled. 

The Whitney Museum of American Art is near the southern end, more about which soon.      

Friday, November 10, 2017

Is Fashion Modern? Reflections On Very Minor Fame.

Well, it finally happened. Your humble blogger has one of his photographs published in a book by the mighty Museum of Modern Art in New York. It's the black and white one of St. Louis motorcycle policemen. If you have money to burn, you can buy a copy here.

The show, Is Fashion Modern?, is a review of 111 items of clothing and accessories from the last century, looking at their cultural, social and design significance. (The link may not work after the show closes next January 28.) The museum used my picture in the section on biker jackets. Olivier and I went there last Sunday, where the staff had a copy of the book and a couple of free tickets waiting for me. Had to have him take my picture at the entrance to the exhibit, where a couple of new fans appear to be admiring the work. It's nice to have recognition, even some as small as this. I shoot pictures for the love of it; heaven knows I don't do it for the money.