Friday, September 25, 2020

WHAT A TELEPHOTO LENS IS GOOD FOR

Inside the Climatron. The interior landscaping and airflow somehow divide it into four wet - dry - cool - warm zones, each with its own characteristic plants. I have no idea what the red flowers are. They were some distance away and it was hard to focus just on them and not the surrounding leaves. (I should have put the focus on single point but I didn't think of it.)  The flowers look to me like they are rising in jubilation.            

Thursday, September 24, 2020

LOOK BUT DON'T TOUCH

Still wandering around the botanical garden. I saw a small number of these little dangerous-looking things but not a placard to identify them. They look a bit like those illustrations you see of Covid-19 particles. The spiky balls resemble thistles but not in the traditional Scottish sense. Can anyone identify them?               

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

CLIMATRON

One of the most famous buildings in St. Louis, at least to locals, the Climatron in the Missouri Botanical Garden. It is a geodesic dome greenhouse, built on the concepts of the architect and engineer R. Buckminster Fuller, and turns 50 years old next week.  In 1976 it was named one of the 100 most significant architectural achievements in United States history. You can see more details about the structure at https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/our-garden/gardens-conservatories/conservatories/climatron.aspx .

The long pool in front of it is full of lily pads, some floating Chihuly glass ornaments and a bit of sculpture. It looks especially good at night when it is lit by changing color lights.

                    

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

HERE COMES THE SUN

Since as usual there is nothing going on around here, I went to our gorgeous botanical garden on Sunday to get some exercise and images. They have a bunch of Chihuly glass around the place, this one on a side of the rose garden. (I was standing underneath its twin on the opposite side.) It looks like it needs a haircut worse than I do in these no-close-contact times.  These could be solar rays or a punk rocker's yellow died hair.

I didn't know it before but the garden takes these glass tubes out for the winter. Freezing temps could damage them.     

Monday, September 21, 2020

MADELEINE MONDAY

Watch out world, here I come.
 
We took Ellie and her new bike to Tower Grove Park for a workout.  It is usually quiet and has some long, fairly flat straightaways, perfect for her level (she hasn't learned the gearshift yet.) But under these conditions, can she fly!
 
Note the doll in the rear bike seat. Parents and grandparents in this country all know American Girl Dolls. They have their own special store in some cities, are horrifically expensive and have outfits and accessories that require a second mortgage to buy. Fortunately by now there are knock-off versions with decent quality and priced for those who drive Toyotas rather than Mercedes. That's what Ellie has. They all come with a card giving their names and characteristics. This is Alaine. We assume that she is Québécoise because her card says she likes poutine.
 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

PLENARY INDULGENCE

 
The caption above might not mean much unless you were brought up Catholic like me. A plenary indulgence was something of great value. Rather than going into theological arcana here you can check the link if interested.

But Catholics have a wonderful concept of absolution - do this, think that, and all your sins are washed away. I didn't pay attention to the business under this awning - it could have been a bar or ice cream shop - because the concept on the awning was so good, sort of a spiritual Groundhog Day. Do all the nasty you want, come in here and emerge in saintly white.  

Saturday, September 19, 2020

WALK ON BY

It's a good idea to wear a mask even if you are just walking down the street with no one nearby. You don't know when others will come down the sidewalk to meet you. It applies even if you are 10 feet / 3 m tall.

Donald Baechler's Walking Figure has marched down Olive Street for years. S/he (it's ambiguous) has a vigorous stride but never gets anywhere. Is there a metaphor in this?               

Friday, September 18, 2020

GHOSTLY BUNNY SAYS WEAR A MASK

  

About a week ago some group went around putting masks on downtown statues. The reason is obvious. As I drove to my office last Saturday morning I made a survey of where they were located. However, by the time I went out to photograph them that afternoon many of the masks were gone. Some could have been stolen but at least one was inaccessible without a ladder or bucket truck. Like the masks on the statues of players outside the baseball stadium, they were all St. Louis city flags, tied on as well as possible. A couple had fallen down around the statues' necks. My best guess is that they blew off.

So here we have one of Tom Classen's Two Rabbits. (The other is back in the shadows.) I think they look ghostly. You can't tell from the outside but they are cast bronze coated with I-don't-know-what.      

Thursday, September 17, 2020

THURSDAY ARCH SERIES

I dunno. What can you do with this thing after photographing it for twenty years? As Shakespeare said about Cleopatra, age cannot wither her, nor custom stale her infinite variety.                   

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

HARD CURVES

We have been looking at Laclede's Landing for the last few days. Its southern border is Eads Bridge, the old stone structure on the left. The view here is in the new northern extension of the Arch grounds that replaced a garage. It wasn't pretty but it also wasn't very noticeable. It was the closest, cheapest parking to the monument and the clubs and restaurants in the Landing. What's there now is, well, odd. It feels like it has paths to nowhere and a you-can't-get-there-from-here feel. There is a lack of seating. The landforming and landscaping is not particularly attractive, IMHO. There are some nice views of the Mississippi, though.                

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

A MORE ATTRACTIVE EXAMPLE

Same sign as yesterday but in a more pleasant setting. There must some significant business activity in Laclede's Landing to have someone caring for the flowers.

I keep thinking about where this church the sign mentions might be, even looking on Google maps. There is nothing at all in the immediate area. However, if you walked 10 or 15 minutes south across the Arch grounds you would come to what we call the Old Cathedral, the oldest church in town. That has to be it.       

Monday, September 14, 2020

FRENCHY-FIED

An affectation. It's true that we were founded by the French trader-explorers, Pierre Laclede and August Chouteau. (No one here except a real Francophone can come close to pronouncing the names correctly. https://news.stlpublicradio.org/arts/2014-02-27/pard-my-french-st-louis-peculiar-way-of-saying-local-street-names ) They both have streets named after them but Chouteau, the second banana, got the more important thoroughfare. 

Anyway, the city mothers and fathers decided to give second names in French to several streets around the Arch, Old Courthouse and Laclede's Landing. They still have common American names, Broadway, Chestnut Street and so on. This placard is on the 19th Century stone foundations of Eads' Bridge. There is no church anywhere close, although there might have been one ages ago. Alors ça va.     

Sunday, September 13, 2020

WE DO

And many other things that wouldn't surprise you in the least. Sometimes we take pictures.         

Saturday, September 12, 2020

LEVITATION

 

This would make my knees wobble. I think he was installing windows in a building in Laclede's Landing that was undergoing restoration. I'm also glad he saw me taking his picture.       

Friday, September 11, 2020

HUBRIS

I guess the owner has never been to Harry's Bar in Venice or the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis in New York.         

Thursday, September 10, 2020

THURSDAY ARCH SERIES


I've been complaining about having nothing to shoot. I was at the office part of the day yesterday and, while looking out my window, realized that I have not been to the Laclede's Landing area in a long time. It is a district just north of the Arch that contained old commercial buildings, some from the 19th Century. There was extensive restoration maybe thirty years ago. The area filled up with restaurants, bars and clubs, along with some office and residential space. The place was hopping on weekend nights.

Then, a few years ago, the foundation that supports the Arch renovated the whole grounds. Work on the north end shut off the main vehicle access to the Landing. Most of the businesses quickly withered and were given no compensation for the damage done to them.

Now access is some better if not as good as it was. A few businesses have come back but there is still a lot of empty space. I took this photo through one of the alleys. It's quite unoriginal - everybody takes this shot. Still, there is a bit of drama.              

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

EUREKA!


After all those wasted years in therapy, all I had to do was go to the history museum.        

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

FLY LIKE THE WIND


I mentioned in yesterday's post that another Cardinal great, Lou Brock, died Saturday at the age of 81. Although he was an exceptional hitter (the statue shows the moment he made his 3,000th base hit, something quite extraordinary), his great fame was from his speed and deceptiveness as a base runner. He set what was at the time the Major League record for stolen bases. It still remains the National League record. He had such skill at deceiving pitchers and such sudden speed that he was without peer.

These pages have noted before that the Cardinals are St. Louis' state religion. When Mrs. C and I went by here yesterday afternoon we found a growing mound of flowers and tributes. I expect it to grow.            

 

Monday, September 7, 2020

IF STAN MUSIAL CAN WEAR A MASK SO CAN YOU

One corner of our baseball stadium has a group of statues of the most famous Cardinals in history. (One of the foremost, Lou Brock, died yesterday at 81.) They wore the flag of the City of St. Louis as a mask, sort of like a bandito face covering. Stan Musial, The Greatest Cardinal Of Them All by universal acclimation, followed all the safety standards.

So if Stan the Man can do his part to protect the rest of us, you can, too. None of this my right to be free and kill your grandparents. I'm a grandparent.          

Sunday, September 6, 2020

TORO NAGASHI


Late post. The family went to this event at the botanical garden last night and got home late. There were long walks and my lumbar spine feels like it's rusted out these days so no editing until this morning.

The event is called Toro Nagashi. There is a mid-August Buddhist festival in Japan called Obon that honors ancestors. Toro Nagashi occurs at the end when ancestors return to the spirit world. A flame representing them is transferred to a lantern, toro, along with notes of well-wishes and memories, and set afloat.

Not the best photo but they didn't allow tripods. You can get a bit of the feel.             

Saturday, September 5, 2020

DETAILS, DETAILS





Details of the ruins of the old Sears building on South Grand. There is a sign indicating that the owner wants to pass it off for redevelopment. We wish them good luck. The terra cotta decoration is less elaborate than the Dinks Parrish Laundry we saw a couple of weeks ago. It looks like some of it on this building has been stolen but local artists have added their own ornaments.

Friday, September 4, 2020

MORE OF THAT FANCY STUFF


More terra cotta decoration. A local friend gave me a tip about this. I've driven by but never paid attention. It is the old Sears building on South Grand Boulevard near Gravois. That thing in the top center is not a letter N for Napoleon. It is a scroll with the date of construction, 1925.

The details are worth a look, which we will come to next.      

Thursday, September 3, 2020

A LONG WAY FROM LONDON

When Americans visit London and take their first Underground ride, they are surprised and a bit confused by the ubiquitous recorded announcement to "mind the gap." It refers to the space between the edge of the door and the edge of the platform. If I recall correctly, some of the station platforms are curved, meaning there really may be a gap.

This isn't public transit. It is the side of another Mexican restaurant on Cherokee Street. Of course, it refers to social distancing but if you have never been to London the meaning would be lost.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

IS THIS OKAY THESE DAYS?

 

We will ask our resident expert, V de Q, for help on this.

This figure has stood on a pedestal at Cherokee and Jefferson for many years. I always thought it marked the beginning of the Cherokee Street shopping district. It may also have been a reference to the Anglo-American tradition of a cigar store Indian, signifying that the business behind it was a tobacconist. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cigar_store_Indian

Yet it has survived decades of social change. I never looked at it very closely until I took this picture. I am not knowledgeable in these matters, but the tablet the figure holds looks like an example of the Cherokee language, part of a very sophisticated culture. Perhaps someone knows more about it. 

                

Monday, August 31, 2020

BONUS POST - CITY DAILY PHOTO THEME DAY IN FLUX

 

Some of you know that I've been involved with the City Daily Photo group and website for more than 13 years. People all around the world had their own local daily photo blogs. Once connected to the parent blog, a thumbnail of your quotidian image would appear there with a link to the post on your own blog. You made comments on other people's posts. They made comments on yours. We made friends around the world. We have such good memories of going out to dinner with our (sadly, former) colleague in Shanghai and having a two hour lunch on a terrace overlooking the vineyards of Provence with another.  

There were also theme days on the first of the month for anyone who cared to participate. The number of members has dwindled over the years. The person who started all of this, a Parisian, moved on. Two other members from Connecticut and Queensland carried it forward. But the web hosting company and the people who helped there aren't interested any more and the central portal is gone. There was a chance that September 1 would be the last theme day. We were invited to post a favorite photo with no other conditions. This might be mine. It was certainly the most difficult to get. We were traveling through Tibet with a small group and spent a night at Mt. Everest base camp on that side. The elevation was about 17,000 feet / 5,200 meters. I had bad altitude sickness. A couple of companions dragged me up the last little gravel hill to the overlook and I got this. One of the greatest days of my life.

There are still two CDP Blogger pages, http://dailyphotoportalnews.blogspot.com/ and http://cdpbthemeday.blogspot.com/ . Our friend in Australia would like some relief, too, and I have agreed to become co-administrator and choose the monthly themes. Check the links above for news very soon.

AN EXISTENTIAL THREAT TO THE SUBURBS

 

You may not remember their names by now but you remember the incident. Mark and Patricia McCloskey, St. Louis trial lawyers, standing in front of their Italianate mansion, brandishing a handgun and semi-automatic rifle at peaceful protesters on their private street. (The marchers were actually heading for the mayor's house a bit further down.) They appeared by video last week at The Republican National Convention, loudly defending the right to defend their property with lethal force from people who were not interested in them. They predicted that if Biden were elected, marauding bands of criminals would sweep through the beloved suburbs, destroying everything in sight.

Two problems. One. they don't live in the suburbs. They live in the central city on a street full of mansions built by STL's industrial and financial barons of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Two, when we say trial lawyers, we usually mean plaintiff's personal injury attorneys who get about a third of any recovery. Skilled ones, like the McCloskeys, can become so rich they can afford palazzi and AK-15s. The Republicans hate them because they aggressively suck the money out of corporations and insurance companies. Don't feed the hand that bites you.

The real threat may be illustrated above, found on a back street in the suburb where we live. Imagine a herd of these bounding through your subdivision, lusting for your electronics and Lexus? As the song had it, who needs TV when you have T. Rex?                  

Sunday, August 30, 2020

A COMPANION PIECE


Another one of the monumental statues at the entrance to the Soldier's Memorial downtown. Loyalty is a tricky concept. It is a wonderful thing to have your family and close friends stand beside you - and behind you if necessary. On another level loyalty involves moral choices. Is it right to remain loyal to someone or something that has turned bad? The Nazi party and our current administration come to mind. I want something worth being loyal to.          

Saturday, August 29, 2020

WOMEN'S BURDEN

 

Okay, I found something. Toward the side of downtown there is a building called the Soldiers' Memorial. It was built after World War I and extensively rehabbed in the last few years. The entrance to the museum is flanked by four monumental statues, a strong, solid person holding the bridle of a muscle-bound Pegasus. (They always remind me of the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales.) The first three represent courage, vision and virtue. This one is a woman holding an infant. Who has to make the sacrifices? Combatants are mostly male, the ones being shot at. But who is behind the lines, carrying all the other burdens?      

Friday, August 28, 2020

A NATIONAL TALENT

    

I am so hard up. I got nothing. If I were playing poker I'd fold right now. The town isn't comatose but it seems to have taken a lot of sedatives. So, here is an appropriate subject if I have to go dumpster diving in the archives. This was just down the street from the cottage we rented in Michigan last month. Trash collection is done by private companies in lots of the US.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

THE MOTHER OF INVENTION


Might flow from necessity. Or from Frank Zappa. (My favorite Mothers ditty is at https://youtu.be/wMSQ1vCxZJU. My daughter and I used to sing it together when she was little.) But the phrase is an old English proverb and it is often true. I got nothing to shoot. My brain is empty. I shot this on my drive home from work. Yes, I was driving but it wasn't so bad. Before I got on the highway I set the exposure, turned on autofocus and put the shutter on burst mood. Then, when I was on a straightaway, I propped the lens on top of the steering wheel and, without looking, fired away. And so, the blandness of the American suburban commute.

The sign with the bright numbers is promoting the two main lotteries in my state. It's a con game on so many levels. The two numbers represent the current jackpots in millions of dollars, but that's not what you get if you win. It's the sum of the payments of a 20 year annuity. If you want the money in a lump sum, as all winners do, you get a far smaller amount. Someone said that lotteries are tax on the stupid.              

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

WE THE PEOPLE

The side wall of what is now a microbrewery on Cherokee Street. It's a little hard to see, but the posters of three women, Black, Latina and Muslim, are all captioned We The People. They are the first words of the preamble to the United States Constitution. Our country has always been a blend, a masala if you will, but never more so than now. No turning back.                  

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

THE ONLY PICTURE I GOT FROM THE FRINGE FESTIVAL

 

Like many cities, St. Louis has a Fringe Festival for out-there performing arts. I've been the house photographer for awhile. It's all modeled on the original Edinburgh Fringe.

No live performances this year, of course. Ours decided to go virtual, with all performances on Zoom. (You had to buy a ticket to get an access code.) One, called #txtshow, had a clever premise. A performance artist hosted the meeting. Participants were asked to turn off their microphones and cameras and rename themselves as Anonymous. Everyone could then send chat messages to the user just called txt. The host would read them aloud. Since the messages were all anonymous, the discussion could get wild and raucous.

But you need a bunch of participants to make this work. When I joined on Sunday afternoon there was only me. The second box above is the Fringe's director, the third is the host and the fourth place to send messages. I felt sorry for the guy and hung in to the end, just making inane comments in the chatbox on the right and listening to his responses. Disappointing. It could have been a lot of fun. As it was winding up I took this shot with my phone.            

 

Monday, August 24, 2020

MADELEINE MONDAY

Ellie turned seven last Thursday. Hard to believe. The childhood of my own kids, now sliding into middle age, seems impossibly long ago. She had what's called a strider bike, something new to me. It had pedals but no brakes or gears. Ellie didn't make much progress on it. But, rather than throw a dart on Amazon, my daughter went to a local bicycle shop, got good advice and bought this seven speed, hand brake model. Now the child cannot be stopped, tearing around corners, zooming up and down hills. Money well spent.          

Sunday, August 23, 2020

YESTERDAY DID NOT GO AS PLANNED

I keep saying that I am desperate for material. During the warmer months that involves outdoor events. Of, course, there are next to none. There was to be a rally downtown at the main post office in opposition to our wicked national administration's attempt to cripple the postal service in an effort to discourage voting by mail. So I found a place to park in the shade where I could see the entrance. Nobody there, so I sat in my car with the engine off listening to the weird music I like (anyone into Caroline Shaw?) through my phone. Eight or ten people eventually showed up. I tried to start my car and - nothing. Troubleshooting led to the conclusion that the battery was dead. It took the auto club an hour to get to me to jump start the thing.
 
The technician did tests and told me the battery was about kaput. I called the dealership and their service department could work me in. So, by late afternoon, I got home with a new battery and no photos.
 
Back in the recent archives, then. I found these mean-looking guys and their bikes by the graffiti-permitted section of the flood wall, kept my distance and shot this through the windshield with a telephoto. Downtown streets have been pretty empty lately and there has been a real problem with people racing on souped-up motorcycles, doing dangerous tricks and even gunfire. (Remember, this is America.) The city has blocked off some major streets down to one lane and closed the old bridge over the Mississippi. I wonder if these chaps were on their way to such sport.                 

Saturday, August 22, 2020

THIS AIN'T THE FOREST FLOOR

It's been awfully nice for summer in The Lou over the last few days with sunny skies and mild temperatures.  Before that it rained and rained and rained, so much so that strange things began to grow in the lawns around our little condo development. Never seen it in 30-odd years here. No idea what variety they are or whether that are edible, but some critter may have taken a bite and found out. The larger one was at least 6 in / 25 cm across.     

 

Friday, August 21, 2020

WONDER WALL

 

Back in the recent archives. Another shot from the river tour boat, looking southwest into downtown. The colorful wall in the foreground is the vacant Cotton Belt Railroad warehouse (where I guess they piled up - cotton?). The Artica festival I feature every fall takes place in front of and beside it. The painting was done by my friends Hap Phillips and his late wife, Nita Turnage. It makes the riverfront glow.             

Thursday, August 20, 2020

THURSDAY ARCH SERIES

I'm not working full time any more so I got out of the office late yesterday afternoon to walk around the Arch, get some exercise and shoot whatever was in front of me. This is an old technique and actually a color picture. On a clear day like yesterday, as the sun gets low, its reflection does crazy things on the monument's slightly irregular stainless steel skin. Expose for the highlights and let the rest go dark. This was minimally edited.  

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

FOR ROB

As mentioned, lack of new material requires rummaging around in the recent archives. Our colleague from Strasbourg, Rob, may appreciate this, caffeine addict that he is. Found at a coffee shop on Manchester Road in Maplewood. Maybe I'll have some time to get out on the street this afternoon. Heaven knows there is nothing going on around here but at least the weather is nice.        

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Tears Of The World

 

Just around the corner from the the store where we saw the bitcoin sign a couple of days ago. People from around the world in traditional dress, holding hands, with tears in their eyes. The line of figures goes on further but ends in darkness.

I am totally out of new material and I have a busy day at work today. Time  to explore the archives.     

Monday, August 17, 2020

MADELEINE MONDAY

  

Seven on Thursday of this week. Not only do we have to do usual social keep-away but there are no other school age children in our little housing development. A bit sad and lonely. She gets lots of attention from her mother and grandparents but she needs other kids around.  

Some of our neighbors, particularly the women, dote on her. These "aunties" put on an early birthday party for her in the cul de sac in front of our house. Ellie really turned on the charm - she already knows when she's on stage or on camera. Another party later this week - her mother's birthday is two days after hers.            

Sunday, August 16, 2020

REALLY?

 

Years ago, Mrs. C and I got a Japanese tutor before one of our visits to that country. Sensei  would ask me a question and I'd screw up the answer. She would look at me wide-eyed and slowly say honto? REALLY? while I squirmed in my seat. That's the feeling I got when I saw this message on a boarded-up convenience store downtown. It sold a lot of alcohol and put this up for protection at the height of our local protest marches. The place never reopened.

So is this a joke? Buying bitcoin is complicated so just hope you never get hit by a ransomware attack demanding payment in the cryptocurrency. I doubt you could pick up some with your six pack of Budweiser.      

Saturday, August 15, 2020

LATINA FASHION

Another store on Cherokee Street catering to our Hispanic population. That looks like a ball gown on the right, or maybe a dress for a quinceañera. I'm partial to the tote bag at bottom center with Our Lady of Guadalupe. It might protect you from bad deals when shopping.

Friday, August 14, 2020

CODE

 

I found this a couple of blocks from Panaderia Lillys. No explanation visible on the outside. Realizing that there was a bit of risk, I ran the QR reader on my phone on these. It leads to some way-out-there art organization, I think. The panel on the left brings up a web page with little on it, that I could tell. The second leads to a kinda-sorta video where not much happens. I may look up the URL later if I have nothing better to do. And my phone hasn't locked up so far.                

Thursday, August 13, 2020

PAN MEXICANO


We have a much smaller Hispanic population than most American cities (no idea why) but what we have has its commercial center on Cherokee Street, where we've been hanging out the last couple of days. Panaderia Lillys (no apostrophe s) is a fixture. I've visited and there is a lot more good stuff than bread.

I love the bright tropical colors, perfectly situated for the late afternoon sun. The minor league linguist in me is intrigued by the Spanglish mix - the Spanish word for bakery, the modifying word after the noun as in Spanish but using an English form with a small grammatical error, and then a description of what they sell in English. I couldn't tell you what makes Mexican bread different than any other. Maybe I should go buy some.