Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Dragon Breath (Dumpster Diving)

I have absolutely no fresh material. Lots of family stuff last weekend and overwhelming amounts of of work. (Did someone say I was going to retire soon?) So we have to dive into the archives.

This was taken in June at the eastern gate of Tower Grove Park. I don't think I have published before. A pair of griffins on pedestals face each other. The one on the north blows fire and smoke.

Probably have something for theme day tomorrow.     

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Boo! The Horror!

Ellie is a kindergartner at Gateway Science Academy, a charter school in the city, even though we live a bit outside of the municipal limits. On Saturday evening they had a function for the kids I'd never heard of, Trunk Or Treat. Any family that cared to decorated their car trunk for Halloween and passed out treats to the moppets. Ellie had a blast.

I am not in touch with popular culture but I am told that her costume is one of the characters in The Incredibles animated movies. Above, she poses with a classmate who is dressed as, well, I don't actually know. There were games, like tossing a ping pong ball painted like an eye into popcorn bags. And they had a DJ! I didn't know Ellie could dance but she boogied out, even with music only the parents would know.            

Monday, October 29, 2018

Madeleine Monday

I slept soundly Friday night, woke early but, since it was still dark, lay in bed for a while thinking. An idea occurred to me: I'm going to get Ellie roller skates today. She comes bounding upstairs to say good morning when she is with us. I ran the idea by her. "Yay!" was her answer.

It was a lot harder than I thought to buy children's skates. A big national sporting goods store, which had lots of them on its web site, had nothing in the shop but a small selection of adults' roller blades. So we went to Walmart. They don't even have them on the shelves, only on their web site. We wanted to see and touch the merchandise. So Target was a couple of buildings down the strip center. We gave it a try.

Bingo. Very small selection. The girls' stuff was all commercialized Disney themes, but she's into that. We got mismatched aqua and purple Frozen skates with pink and white Minnie Mouse joint pads and gloves. Fine with her.

She took to it instantly. Not zooming around but on her own two feet and eight wheels.

Sunday, October 28, 2018


Back home at last. I was sitting on our front steps yesterday afternoon while Ellie was doing something we will see tomorrow. A monarch butterfly flitted by and settled in the fallen leaves. We don't get many of these in our area. If I hadn't noticed it in the air I probably would not have seen it among the browns and oranges.          

CORRECTION: Mrs. C, the house lepidopterist, botanist and grammarian, looked this up and informs me that this is not a monarch butterfly. It's called a comma, oddly enough. I'd be a mess without her.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Rock

Almost everyone has heard of Alcatraz, in its day the baddest federal prison of all. It is located in the cold waters of San Fransisco Bay. "The Rock" closed as a prison in 1963. Now there are daily tourist excursions. The island is 1.25 mile from San Francisco and the currents are strong. The government claims that no one successfully escaped.

Since I have an iffy sense of balance, paddle boarding escapes me. My son did it on the lake shore of Chicago when he lived there, and still gets out on the lakes of central Michigan where he lives now. I have a friend in New Orleans who paddle boards through the bayous, dodging alligators as she goes. I wouldn't stay upright when the first ripple came by.   

Friday, October 26, 2018

Dining At Bubba Gump

Work is getting in the way of editing photos. Better get my priorities straight.

Mrs. C has a cousin who lives in Los Gatos, California, sort of out the back end of Silicon Valley towards the ocean. She has a middle-aged son who lives nearby. We've met him a few times. They picked us up from the Sausalito ferry last weekend, took us on a bit of a walk and then suggested dinner. We were on Pier 39 (see previous post) and our hosts took us to the last restaurant of the strip, Bubba Gump. There are many of them around the US.

The restaurant theme is based on the movie Forest Gump. The character had some developmental disabilities but his charm and determination took him far. At one time he was captain of a shrimp boat. The restaurant is all about shrimp. If that is not to your liking the options are limited.

I was taken aback by the balancing skill of the young man in the first picture until I noticed that the bottoms of the glasses had slots and were designed to stack this way. Margaritas were long on color and ice and short on tequila. The entrance to the place is in the lower right of the last photo.       

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

We Interupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programing

I still have some California material I want to post but this is worth a diversion. There was a full moon rise last evening. This was taken from my office window. The territory in the foreground is East St. Louis, Illinois. The Mississippi is just off the bottom of the frame. Although it was cloudless the air wasn't exactly clear. Wish the moon were sharper.   

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Pier 39

The northern tip of San Francisco has an area known as Fisherman's Wharf. Obviously, fishing boats used to dock here but that's long gone. A number of tour boats and ferries now make their base and hundreds of sea lions have decided it's the place to hang out.The center of it, Pier 39, has become a circus. It's full of tourist junk, tasteless jewelry shops and mass market restaurants. (We ended up at Bubba Gump's for dinner but that's a long story.)

There was an entertainer out at the end who was pretty good. He tried to whip up the crowd, telling us candidly that noise attracts more people, a bigger audience and, hopefully bigger tips.   

Monday, October 22, 2018

Muir Woods

We took an excursion Saturday to Muir Woods National Monument. the area north of San Francisco that is home to the giant redwoods. The experience is staggering - the silence, the feeling of awe, the sense of the depth of time. Wish the light wasn't so contrasty and that I had a tripod, but we make do with what is at hand.              

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Tarnished Gold

We took an excursion yesterday to Muir Woods and got dropped off in Sausalito, a touristy town across the bay from the city. There was a mandatory stop for pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge.  It was  a bit hazy and the light was terrible so B&W was the way to go. More dramatic this way.   

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Green Apples, Bowler Hats

Mrs. C and I took some time off to visit the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. It's a don't miss. We were last there several years ago. Since then there has been a huge expansion, tripling the exhibition space

The featured show was about the later work of René Magritte.  Some people consider his paintings simple and repetitive, if a bit strange. The audio guide explained how complex the paintings are, challenging the viewer to think about odd juxtapositions and the subtle layers of the seen and unseen.  

It's obvious I like to take pictures of people in museums looking at the art, such as this old favorite.  You have to wonder what what gets through.   

Thursday, October 18, 2018


We did a walking tour around SF's large Chinatown yesterday for as long as my back was cooperating. A lot of the area is visually explosive and full of color. There are more of these I may get around to editing but I'm supposed to be going to school here. At least some of the time.    

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Welcome To SFO

Flew into San Francisco late yesterday afternoon. We really lucked out at the conference hotel and got a room on the 42nd floor with a sweeping view to the northeast. The tall building on the right is called Millennium Tower. It has sunk 17 inches/43 cm into the ground since construction. You can't see it in this picture but it is tilting a bit. Many people who bought zillion dollar apartments find that they are now nearly worthless. Lots of lawyers and engineers have all the work they can handle.

Just south of our hotel is a neighborhood called The Tenderloin, perhaps the worst in the city. As the taxi drove through, we saw many homeless people, rundown buildings and cheap hotels.  A man was was lying prostrate on the sidewalk being tended to by emergency medical technicians. There seemed to be a liquor store on every corner. There is no place for low income people to live here. Our driver told us that the median price of a house in the city proper is $1.3 million.      

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Out Of My Reach

The field where much of Artica takes place is flanked by a long-disused railroad warehouse, known as the Cotton Belt Building, for the name of the defunct carrier. A few years ago, Artica founders Hap Phillips and Nita Turnage got permission to paint the side facing the Mississippi. Later, someone added the lame logo and slogan of the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Bureau. Sure doesn't add anything.

In the air this morning. Going to a different climate, in lots of ways.         

Monday, October 15, 2018

I Got Rhythm. Or Onions.

My heart continued to do the jitterbug most of Sunday. It's not as dangerous as it sounds but you'd rather the arrhythmia went away. They had me on an IV of some potion that slows and gradually smooths your heartbeat. Late last night, during my sleep, it went back to normal rhythm. Getting out of the hospital in the next couple of hours. I'll make that plane tomorrow morning.

The pictures are some of the stranger ones from Artica. Some people had baskets of perfect, fresh onions. Never got an explanation why. When most participants floated their little paper or wooden boats down the Mississippi, they threw onions into Big Muddy. Some man was eating one raw. They gave one to Ellie. I'm not getting the symbolism.       

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Artica Once Again

Our rather wacky alternative art festival, Artica, is back this weekend. I shot a lot of it on Saturday. Bill Kranz of the black and day-glo troupe The Celestial Theater is always in attendance. The whole experience is hard to describe. More pictures to follow will help explain.

The weekend always ends with the immolation of Our Lady Of Artica, seen below, sort of Burning-Man-On-Mississippi. I'm usually there to shoot it (see here) but I'm back in the bleeping hospital again.  

I sort of worked my way to exhaustion yesterday. I shot at Artica the whole afternoon, walking rough terrain as my back arthritis got worse and worse. Just toughed it out with a few breaks. But then I promised someone I'd shoot an improv festival in the evening. More of the same. Came home exhausted, fell asleep with my clothes on, got up at 1 AM to undress and brush my teeth and I was in a fib, like last April - very rapid, irregular heartbeat. So back to the emergency room. The shocker gadget didn't get me back in normal rhythm this time so I was admitted. Been on an IV all day to slow the pulse and lower pressure. It's doing that but the beat is still irregular. (*&%&!

No other symptoms. They will probably let me go by Monday afternoon or evening. They better. I got a plane to catch Tuesday morning.


Saturday, October 13, 2018

I Like This One Better

More apocalyptic. Of course, doom is not approaching. Maybe for our species but not this city, this week.

Plus, I'm out of current material. I'll get a ton of new stuff this weekend between Artica and the improv festival I'm shooting tonight. And then there's that prominent left coast city I'm going to next week. Stay tuned.


Friday, October 12, 2018

Storm's Coming

From the top of the Arch looking back into the city. Downtown runs a bit wider left and right than this. You can see some of the baseball stadium at left center, now surrounded with construction of a new hotel, apartments and office space. The dark skies in the rear moved off to the north/right and never really hit the city center.

We are a medium size city with pluses and minuses.  See the tall building most of the way back, just right of center? It is vacant, and likely to remain so. It was built for a single tenant, AT&T, who moved the operations to Texas. Very hard to re-purpose. As you may have heard, we have Ferguson and all that it implies. On the other hand, we've got the biggest urban park in the US, Forest Park, a bit bigger than either Golden Gate or Central; a thriving arts scene, including a world top tier symphony, theater everywhere you turn and fabulous oddball events like last summer's Fringe and this weekend's indescribable Artica. We've got what may be the best zoo in America  (although San Diego has its partisans) and more interesting restaurants than I can count. There is severe, soulless suburban sprawl, but the old, inner suburbs and the city proper are vibrant.

I'm staying. I'll never retire to someplace else.        

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Thursday Arch Series

Haven't had one of these in a while. It felt like I had exhausted the possibilities. Now there are new ones. This is the glass awning over the new entrance I've mentioned the last couple of days.

Had the steroid shot in my back yesterday morning. It takes a few days to kick in. Hope that's by the weekend because there are a couple of big events for me to shoot. First, our off-the-wall alternative arts festival, Artica, (photos from last year here), with its Sunday night Burning Man-ish conflagration of the wooden Our Lady of Artica. Then, on Saturday night, I promised I'd shoot the final evening of the annual three-day Compass Improv Festival. (Locals should go! It's a hoot!) Whew. And I'm on the road again next week (sans infection) to someplace that is, shall we say, picturesque.                     

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Long Way Down

630 feet or 192 meters, to be exact. Taken from one of the narrow slit windows in the observation deck on top. Before the new work, the area in the center used to be open to the highway below (which wasn't the best idea in the first place). Now there is a continuous plaza from downtown into the Arch grounds. 

We saw some of the circle at bottom center in yesterday's post. It slopes downward as you get closer to the new entrance. There are a few inches of water in the middle where kids can splash. You can see the half-circle of glass awning also mentioned yesterday. The entrance to the visitors' center and the tram to the top is at the bottom center.        

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

New Way In

I've occasionally mentioned that there has been a large amount of work around and under the Arch for the last three years. Everything is done now. People used to enter underneath the legs; there was a puny museum between them. Now there is a fancy new entrance west of the monument, closer to the city itself. Outside is a circle depressed into the ground, lower as you approach the Arch. Half of the circle is covered by a glass awning. Inside, an arc of glass looks back to downtown. This lobby leads to a far larger and very well done museum.

Maybe we will have a look from above tomorrow.        

Monday, October 8, 2018

Madeleine Monday

Getting better bit by bit, except for the &^@(* back arthritis. Still not out that much but I needed a Monday picture. I chose Ellie in front of the house on a warm (too warm) autumn afternoon.      

Ellie wanted to ride to the top of the Arch on Sunday. Fun for her but not such a good idea for me. Still long lines waiting for the tram (which an employee described as a combination of an elevator, a tram and a ferris wheel-spot on) and a fair amount of walking.

The ground is strewn with crab apples from a tree beside our house.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Stir Crazy

Tired of laying around this house. Saturday was a step better - got out in the car twice for errands in the neighborhood without difficulty. Not sleeping so much and appetite better. It got to the point where I had to take a picture of something or I'd lose it. There is always a subject to photograph if your eyes are open. This is our front porch with Ellie's sidewalk chalk, a bubble wand and the jar she uses to catch fireflies.

On the other hand, my SI joint arthritis has flared up. I'll get a steroid shot Wednesday but you can't have them very often. I want one of those computerized exoskeletons I've been reading about.            

Friday, October 5, 2018

Hundertwasser In Paris, Plus. Where Have I Been?

The self-named Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser translates directly into English as "Peace-Realm Hundred-Water". The other names he chose for himself, Regentag and Dunkelbunt, translate to "Rainy day" and "Darkly multi-colored." He was born Friedrich Stowasser in Vienna in 1928. His work, the subject of the second show at L'Atlier des Lumieres, is very difficult to describe in a couple of sentences so see here or the link above if interested. 

These posts have been rare lately. In brief: I came down with a significant bladder infection shortly after we arrived in France (who knows how). Got weaker and lost my appetite. An English-speaking doctor in Arles did a brief exam, misdiagnosed it as a lung infection and prescribed a lesser antibiotic. By the time I got home I'd had a serious, untreated infection for two weeks and was in bad shape. I was hospitalized for a couple of days early this week.

The infection is gone with Cipro but I'm still very weak, sleeping a lot and having trouble eating. I went to work Wednesday. By mid-day I was so weak my staff had to drive me home. My doctor says it will just take time but I'm frustrated by the lack of progress. I'm a busy guy. There are a couple of interesting things to shoot in town this weekend and I don't know that I'll get out for them. Updates to follow.