Sunday, October 20, 2019


As noted earlier, the Sunday night of Artica ends with the immolation of a wooden effigy, Our Lady of Artica. The central figure is essentially the same every year but the details and surroundings vary. I liked this year's version with the multiple arms/flags suggesting a Hindu deity and the halo-like structure surrounding all of it. 

These pix could be better. I was seated some distance away and didn't have a tripod. What was scary was that part way through the burn a gust of wind blew up from the northwest, sending a blast of fire toward the crowd on the right of the lower picture. The crew were all in professional fire protection suits and several members of the STL fire department were on hand. Still, I'm told that some of the audience had a wow, cool man attitude and didn't clear out quickly. Fortunately, no one was hurt.                             

Saturday, October 19, 2019


Artica takes place in an area of semi-abandoned commercial buildings north of the Arch. It's a bit desolate and no one much cares about graffiti. One of the Articans, Robert, I think, created this near the entrance gate. The the set of tools is complicated.                  

Friday, October 18, 2019



If you have been to Artica you why the caption is a terrible pun. It is a Saturday - Sunday event. When it is fully dark on Sunday evening, the fire dancers come out to whip up the crowd. This is followed by a torch thrown at the wooden effigy of Our Lady of Artica. We will see some of the finale tomorrow.

I was lucky to get these photos. My back was bothering me, the field where the effigy was located was very rough and it was pitch black. There was a free lawn chair maybe 50 m away where I set myself up with an f 2.8 medium telephoto. Pretty hard to grab focus.          

Thursday, October 17, 2019


I swear the sky had these hues late afternoon on the second day of Artica. They may have been, um, enhanced in the computer but I did not add a color filter. The circle contains the festival's logo, a stylized version of the wooden Our Lady of Artica. The structure is the light bridge over the day-glo croquet field.               

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


It's not just in Dr. Seuss stories. One of the things I love about Artica it the individuality, the gentle weirdness of the performers and audience. Definitely not habitues of your typical suburban shopping mall. Do what you feel like but have fun. Probably not a Trump supporter in sight. It's so refreshing compared to the suit and tie stuff I have to do on weekdays.         

Monday, October 14, 2019



In the late 19th Century, there were a number of events in which the US government opened up previously restricted federal lands to settlers. They were often a first come - first claimed race for homesteads, known as land rushes or land grabs. The largest was in Oklahoma, . No one said the land was, um, empty.

A couple of our stalwart Articans ran their own version during the festival. At a signal, a couple of dozen people ran across a rough field to claim their pieces of turf. A few indigenous residents already happened to be there. They were ignored or bowled over. I tried to photograph the melee inside the homestead zone but there was such chaos that I would have needed a platform or crane to get above the fracas. There was a lesson to be learned here but most people were too busy with their beer.           

Sunday, October 13, 2019


Another day offline yesterday. My life is too crowded. We took Ellie to the local Renaissance Festival (more about which later), which chewed up most of the day. I'm walking better but my leg muscles are still weak from months of under-use. Fell asleep again when we got home.

Anyway, back to Artica. The event is completely free form, including music, sculpture and performance art. I'm not sure what's going on here. The tiara resembles that of Our Lady of Artica (more about which later). The dress might be that of an 18th Century noblewoman on hallucinogenics. There had to be a second person under the skirt but I never got a peek.

Friday, October 11, 2019


Sorry no post yesterday. I was at the mighty Washington University Medical Center getting my back worked on. They gave me an IV that doesn't put you to sleep but just makes you . . .smooth while they burn nerve roots in your lower back. It really helps but after Mrs C took me home I fell hard asleep. She had to wake me for dinner. Then a frantic day at work.

Anyway, last weekend brought us the annual Artica festival. You might call it alternative art, or just way out there. I missed most of it while I was in Texas but got by late Sunday afternoon. One piece involved  playing croquet on some rough land. The metal arch contained black light spotlights. All the equipment was painted in day-glo colors and looked wild at night. Unfortunately, it was too dark to photograph that action.            

Tuesday, October 8, 2019


And just what is that supposed to mean? Mess? This suggests Texas has a bit of an ego and thinks it it is pretty tough. If I make faces and thumb my nose at it what are they going to do, sic Ted Cruz on me?

Otherwise, more pix from the Teas State Fair. The giant figure is the fair's logo, Big Tex. His hands and arms are always posed the same way, Makes him look like he's directing traffic on the parking lot. Then just more signs. It's like Texas has its own smaller scale version of nationalism. I might come back if I happen to be in Dallas at this time of year but usually we just change planes there.       


Texans have a love affair with cattle, or so the people who make money off the transaction would have you believe. Of course, beef consumption is part of the American fabric. I'm not a vegetarian. My remote ancestors were omnivores. I don't eat much beef, though. In part that's because of the nutritional issues but mostly because of the environmental damage. Is there a form of food production that is more harmful to the planet? Having a habitable place to live in a century apparently doesn't trouble the Texas Beef Council.

But then I fly. I know, I know. The ethical issues in all of this are hard.           

Monday, October 7, 2019


Toto, I don't think we're in Greenwich Village anymore. And, I think I found my new profile picture.

Taken at the Texas State Fair.           

Sunday, October 6, 2019


Yay! I got the pig races!

We are in Dallas for a wedding. The State Fair of Texas is in progress right in the city. As a photographer I could not pass this up. None of the family would come with me; it was 95F / 35C in bright sun. They told me I was crazy. They were right. I'm still not walking well and I damn near got heat stroke. But I got some terrific shots. 

I happened to walk by a building where pig races were about to start. Can't pass that up. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

More of this to come.        

Saturday, October 5, 2019


So here we are in Texas, alien territory to me. This is what you see when you walk off a plane at Gate C2 at Dallas - Ft. Worth International Airport. Hope the American Airlines captain gets her next flight. 

Our hotel is in what passes for downtown in this big city. It's spread out. A plaza just outside the door has this sculpture of Pegasus. It was the logo of Mobil Oil, which became Exxon-Mobil, which became a mountain of fraud and deceit. Bottom, what we see while waiting for an elevator back to the lobby, with the convention center sprawled out beneath us.

Friday, October 4, 2019


"Love is all you need," John Lennon sang. "It's easy." Not necessarily. It is effortless for a parent to love a child and vice versa. It's in our genes. But perhaps serious, abiding love comes with time, maturity and deep commitment. Your opinion may vary.

Found on the riverfront south of the Arch, next to the Paint Louis section of the flood wall. 

Another travel day today.  A lone star tonight.        

Thursday, October 3, 2019


There is some complicated theory about why Chicago, rather than St. Louis, became the railroad hub of the Midwest US. We are more central but, if nothing else, Chicago doesn't have that big river in the way.

This is an old, big rail bridge across the Mississippi. It is on the southern edge of downtown with three hard arches crossing the river. I don't know what the boxy, blank building on the right used to be, or how someone hung out that window to paint a simplified face. Must have had some cliff climbing skills.       

Wednesday, October 2, 2019


This old building downtown used to be a warehouse with access to a railroad yard just in front of it. Now it's partly a hotel and partly fancy condos. The trompe l'oeil paint job might be thirty years old and is showing its age. The equestrian statue in the center is identical to the Apotheosis of St. Louis statue in Forest Park. Note the painted eagle flying across the far left side of the building.

Note also our bizarre Civil Courts building just to the right, with its Ionian columns, pyramid and sphinxes on top.              

Tuesday, October 1, 2019


There isn't a lot of orange stuff around STL. After all, this isn't the Netherlands or Florida. I drove around aimlessly on Sunday afternoon looking for material and found this. It's a bit north of downtown, looking down hill to where the Mississippi should be. That gray slab is a piece of the flood wall that was closed earlier when the river was high. It's not now but the roadblock gave me something to shoot.