Thursday, December 31, 2020

GOOD RIDDANCE TO 2020 FROM ST. LOUIS

The levee on the Illinois side of the Mississippi is a minimal barrier to more bad juju rolling into town in the new year. Note the detail on the train engine. 

May your new year be better. CDP theme day tomorrow.         

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

THOU SHALT NOT PASS

One of the pair of gryphons that guard the east entrance to Tower Grove Park. There is a long list of things I'd like to keep out of 2021. One of them will sneak in at the beginning of the year but will be gone in just under three weeks, barring disaster.                  

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

FRIENDS FOREVER

Yesterday's post mentioned that we took Ellie to the zoo on Saturday, one of those mild winter days we often (but not always!) get. We are fortunate that our middle-sized city has one of the best in the country. Probably only San Diego is in the same class and its concept is very different.

A number of Asian elephants were out for a stroll. (We've ridden Asian elephants, in Asia, twice, one of which was terrifying and the other more terrifying, but that's another story.) I may be anthropomorphizing too much but these two looked like an affectionate couple or best of friends. They stood for a long time with trunks intertwined, coiling and recoiling. Elephants are intelligent and clearly have an emotional life.                    

Monday, December 28, 2020

MADELEINE MONDAY

Walrus face, a traditional pose. Taken Saturday afternoon at the St. Louis Zoo.           

Sunday, December 27, 2020

SLOW WEEKEND

It hardly needs to be said that it's dead around here. Nearly empty streets and shops, quiet parks. My favorite around here, Tower Grove Park, had a few walkers and runners but no other activity. The many open-sided pavilions that groups can rent, https://www.towergrovepark.org/pavilionspicnic1, were empty; the sign here is clearly untrue. The name comes from a society founded in England nearly a century ago that provided places for World War I veterans to chill out. No venue is needed for that in December.                      

Thursday, December 24, 2020

THE BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT OF ALL

Something new on the Paint Louis section of the Mississippi River flood wall.             

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

DEDICATED TO ART AND FREE FROM ALL

Engraved in the stone over the main entrance to our art museum are the words "Dedicated To Art And Free To All." And it is, a wonderful thing, except for special exhibitions. One day last week Mrs. C and I went to the current one, a spectacular survey of German art from the last two centuries. All of the works were from the museum's own collection, one  of the best in the Americas. (We had a lot of German immigrants who did well. Think Anheuser Busch.)

We nearly had the place to ourselves. Here the entrance to the new wing has a few employees on duty and no one else but us.                             

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

I GOT IT, SORT OF

The weather was perfect in St. Louis last night to view the planetary conjunction. The family went out for a look, me carrying a camera and tripod. Now, I know nothing about astronomical photography and may not have proper equipment. At least I got a picture with a little horizon and separation between Jupiter and Saturn.

The second photo is severely cropped. What is that diagonal series of reddish dots? Research by ever-alert Mrs. C confirms that they are moons of Jupiter: Ganymede, Io and Callisto. Lucky catch! See https://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/how-to-see-jupiters-moons



Monday, December 21, 2020

NOT WITH THE PROGRAM

We Americans do the craziest things with out homes at this time of the year. Some people's displays look like they could blow out a generating station. Others are simpler but that does not guarantee good taste. One of my neighbors has an inflatable Grinch, perhaps 7 feet high, on the front lawn. Since the character is opposed to the spirit of the season I can't tell if the owners are trying to make a point or a joke.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

ONE THAT DIDN'T MAKE IT

The diner seen in the last two days' posts, recently known as the White Knight, has been a fixture on the west edge of downtown for ages, now barely hanging on. This one is just south of the center and has been around at least since I showed up here for college in the late 60s. It was mostly a 24 hour operation and was well-patronized by late-night partiers of all kinds.

I got an email bulletin from the local newspaper that it had closed without notice late Friday or early Saturday morning. Now it sits at 7th and Chouteau boarded up. I ran out with my camera to pay my respects.  

            

Saturday, December 19, 2020

THE OBVERSE

The same diner from the other side. I've never eaten there so I don't need to be in rehab.

The sign on building in back puzzled me. Was it in St. Louis or this very building? This town is a chess hotbed (https://saintlouischessclub.org/) . Turns out the first official world chess championship was held in 1886 but the games were spread among New York, St. Louis and New Orleans. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Chess_Championship_1886 We got a piece of the action.            

Friday, December 18, 2020

EVEN THE DINER IS CLOSED

Not out of business but not open for business. I don't know why it is so bright inside. As the saying has it, the lights are on but nobody's home.

If it looks extra perky for a restaurant of this sort, there's a backstory. Some years ago it was used as a movie set and the producers gave it a new look. The movie was based on an engaging novel by a St. Louis author. I was his lawyer at one time and I wrote a post about it 12 years ago. See https://saintlouismodailyphoto.blogspot.com/2008/06/may-angels-in-this-storm-guide.html           

Thursday, December 17, 2020

IT MIGHT BE LONGER

Not exactly the best cuisine but this restaurant has been a fixture in downtown STL for a long time. A couple of windows away there is one of those "for information call" realtor's signs.

As I wander around the city I see a large number of out-of-business restaurants. The local newspaper just ran a story about 40 popular restaurants around the metro area that have gone under in the last year. We really liked some of them. It's hard to imagine a phoenix rising from these ashes.         

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

NEURAL NETWORK


Loose associations again. This made me think of one of those diagrams of neurons and synapses, flickering and vibrating in a process that (may) lead to consciousness. It is the big municipal tree in a plaza downtown. Ordinary if you look from a distance, more interesting if you stick your lens into it.

I've run through the images from Garden Glow at the botanical garden and there are slim pickings around town these days. It's cold and gray but no snow. There are fewer outdoor decorations except for a few residential areas that traditionally go to extremes (there's an idea). The streets, like everywhere, are empty. Upcoming images may reflect that.                        

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

#STLMADE

What might you like for Christmas that is made in St. Louis? We make beer, lots and lots of beer. We sequenced the human genome, if you need some of that. And strange pizza with a thin cracker crust. Two of our universities crank out a river of doctors and lawyers.

To look at this LED suggestion of a sweater, you might think we are the home town of Big Macs but they weren't invented here. We just sell them to all comers.             

Monday, December 14, 2020

REQUISIAT IN PACE

Henry Shaw's tomb in the botanical gardens he founded. It has a certain quiet eloquence, not maudlin, not overblown. Thanks to my better set of eyes, Mrs. C, who spotted this while I was gaping at bright LED lights down the path.           

Sunday, December 13, 2020

TCHAIKOVSKY

I loved music as a child and was fortunate that my mother did as well. In the late 50s or early 60s, our family had a record player in our apartment, a big console that had a turntable for LP vinyl albums. She had some classical music albums that I would play over and over, not the least The Nutcracker. I was transfixed by the mixture of celesta and woodwinds in the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy, https://youtu.be/UYaIQNjAX_8, and swept away by the Waltz of the Flowers, https://youtu.be/LKcZL8q1eBw.These are some of my happiest memories from childhood. 

Now the botanical garden recreates a bit of it with light projections on Henry Shaw's mansion. The son et lumière show is remarkable. It's tricky, though. Note how the Nutcracker's green staff is offset near the top by a cornice of the building.  

Saturday, December 12, 2020

DOESN'T LOOK MERRY TO ME

The botanical garden dresses the same tree in the same way every year. It's hardly festive, at least to my eye. It looks like it is more appropriate for Halloween and that those bony, twisted limbs might reach down and snatch the unsuspecting.                

Friday, December 11, 2020

THE WATCHTOWER

Henry Shaw, who founded what was to become the Missouri Botanical Garden and adjacent Tower Grove Park, built this odd structure near his grand home. It seems to have no function other than as a watchtower - you may just be able to see the spiral staircase inside the center door.  The land isn't very hilly and, of course, there were no high rises, so he and his guests could survey the entire domain.

Surrounding features were developed as the garden grew. There is now a difficult hedgerow maze just to the left.           

Thursday, December 10, 2020

OFF BALANCE

One more structure at Garden Glow that comes back every year. I particularly like it. It is elegant with a minimalist feel, a series of gateways to nowhere in particular.             

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

SNOW GLOBE

Another fixture at Garden Glow, unused this year. Note the hole in the back about big enough for a person to step through. Up to maybe three people could climb inside. Family members took pictures from in front, making an image that looked like an old-fashioned snow globe with real people. Being stuck inside one seems like a terrible fate.                     

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

WORM HOLE

Possibly a wormhole, or at least an annual feature of the botanical garden at this time of year. Maybe if you ran into this at full speed you would pop out the other end on the pitcher's mound of the baseball stadium, or perhaps the hospitality room at the end of the Budweiser brewery tour.               

Monday, December 7, 2020

MORE AT MOBOT

Back at Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden. The things you can do with a RAW file. I'll have to go with this for a while since I didn't shoot anything over the weekend.                

Sunday, December 6, 2020

BACK AT THE GARDEN

The whole family went back to the botanical garden Thursday night for the garden glow show. The weather was much better than when my daughter and I went shortly after it opened, with mild temperatures and dry skies. That allowed me to bring my second camera body, which is not weather sealed, and a wide angle lens. It was worth carrying the extra weight.                  

Saturday, December 5, 2020

ENTROPY

A last post from Alton, Illinois, still in Old Alton Cemetery. I've been in a lot of places like this and never seen so many ruined monuments. What caused this collapse - poor materials or workmanship? A terrible storm or an earthquake? (We have small ones occasionally, with a low but definite risk of a big one.) It's interesting to see how the obelisk cracked in two as it fell.

The posts get much more colorful starting tomorrow.                

Friday, December 4, 2020

ELIJAH LOVEJOY

Something else from Old Alton Cemetery, Elijah Lovejoy's grave and monument. He was a major figure in the early abolitionist movement in this country. Lovejoy was born in Albion, Maine (I think I've been through there), later ending up in St. Louis and Alton as a Presbyterian minister, journalist and newspaper editor. It was in the latter capacity at the Alton Telegraph that his opinion pieces led to his murder at the hands of a pro-slavery mob at the age of 34.

The hazy light wasn't good enough to make the text in the second picture legible. If you would like to learn more about him, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elijah_Parish_Lovejoy.                


 

Thursday, December 3, 2020

O MIO BABBINO CARO (E ANCHE LA MAMMA)

Alton has an Old Cemetery that's worth a visit. It is very hilly (most of the town is) and  some of it is in poor condition. We were looking for the grave and monument of Elijah Lovejoy (more about which later) and came across this. The stones are hardly bigger than my shoe. The scene looked sorrowful and dejected.

It has been said that I have loose associations (something I'm happy about). The loudspeaker in my head immediately began to play one of the great moments in Western music, O Mio Babbino Caro (O My Dear Daddy) from Puccini's Gianni Schicchi (https://youtu.be/uFLVKaFVGag). Mamma doesn't get nearly enough credit.              

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

BIRTH OF THE COOL

Another statue of a native of Alton, Illinois, Miles Davis. One of the giants of jazz came from this bit of a backwater, although he didn't stay long. It's a wonderful statue, showing him with his spine arched backward, so often his posture in intense passages.  

The caption comes from an early album of the same name (an example at https://youtu.be/KcoqwKEtYDs). I became acquainted with Davis when his style turned to jazz-rock fusion in the powerful Jack Johnson of 1971, https://youtu.be/DEBKksupBVA. A glance at the album cover on Youtube will show you where the statue's posture came from.           

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

CITY DAILY PHOTO DECEMBER THEME DAY - COMFORT FOOD

 
Time for the City Daily Photo monthly theme day. Now that I'm the administrator I can pick anything I want, bwahahahah. The choice isn't controversial, though. We could all use some comfort at the end of this awful year. For Americans, semi-junk food like what's on offer here just goes down so good. This place isn't in St. Louis though, but in Chicago. The one place we  had that was comparable went out of business.

THE TALLEST MAN EVER, ANYWHERE

Another gee whiz fact about Alton, Illinois. It was the birthplace of Robert Wadlow, who, according to Wikipedia, was the tallest person in recorded history for whom there is irrefutable evidence. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Wadlow . He grew to 8 feet, 11 inches or 2.72 meters. His height was due to a pituitary disorder which caused an excess of human growth hormone. He lived only 22 years, succumbing to infection from a defect in a leg brace.  

Monday, November 30, 2020

WE WENT TO BRUSSELS ON SATURDAY

Brussels, Illinois, is home to 188 souls according to the sign at the edge of town. There is a finger of southwest Illinois stranded between the Illinois and Missouri rivers with little access to either side except for small ferries. The rich farmland in between is isolated, rolling countryside with a couple of tiny towns. 

The Great River Road runs under the bluffs up the east shore of the two rivers. At a quiet spot we found the Brussels ferry, a flat deck that holds about 15 cars. It is a free service of the State of Illinois, going back and forth on demand 24 hours a day. It took us to this bucolic nowhere.         



Sunday, November 29, 2020

PIASA BIRD

The land from St. Louis to Alton on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River is very flat. It would be flooded often were it not for the large levees. However, from Alton upstream along the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers there are tall limestone bluffs overlooking the waters.

The first one rises abruptly on the western edge of town. There you will find an imaginative painting of the legendary, monstrous Piasa (PIE a saw) bird. There are several versions of the story. Look at http://www.altonweb.com/history/piasabird/ if interested. The photos on the link are old, with much brighter colors.          

Saturday, November 28, 2020

THE SAMURAI OF ALTON


Everybody is more than a little stir crazy. The Crowe family is on a post-Thanksgiving getaway, although not very far from home. The town of Alton, Illinois, is an outer suburb of St. Louis, on the Mississippi straight north of our home. We are spending two nights at the splendid Beall Mansion, https://www.beallmansion.com/. It is a luxurious Victorian confection turned into a grand B&B. They have taken great safety measures for guests and we feel comfortable. Plus, I think we are the only guests here.
 
Out exploring the waterways on Saturday. We are near the confluences of the Mississippi, Missouri and Illinois rivers.            

Thursday, November 26, 2020

THEY SAY THAT CURVED LEADING LINES ARE A GOOD THING

That's something you hear a lot in photography classes. I suppose it's generally true. This curved fencing surrounds one of the gates to the south side of the park on Arsenal Street. It's just decorative. You can walk right around it.   

We wish a happy Thanksgiving, or as happy as you can get, to our American friends. We often go to Kansas at this time of year to see Mrs. C's family. Today it's just the four of us at home. However, we are doing something different over the weekend that involves minor travel. Pix here soon.         

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

THE GROVE IN TOWER GROVE

Tower Grove Park is relatively long and thin. It is 1.6 mile / 2.6 km east-west and less than a quarter of than north-south. Most of the park has a single road on the center of the long axis. It bulges in two places, leaving a landscaped ellipse in the middle. This is one looking east in beautiful late afternoon light. I'm sorry I don't know what kind of trees these are. I'm a city boy. I don't even know when Arbor Day is.         

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

TURKISH PAVILION

I've mentioned that Tower Grove Park is my favorite in the area. It is quieter and more elegant than the big one, Forest Park. One unusual feature is that it has a dozen unique pavilions that people can reserve at no charge. It's common to see big family groups there in the warmer months (except this year).  https://www.towergrovepark.org/pavilionspicnic1 

There was gorgeous late afternoon light on Sunday so I went poking around with my camera. This is the Turkish Pavilion, the largest and most ornate of the group.  You could have quite a party in there.       

Monday, November 23, 2020

I SAW THE LIGHT

The whole family was supposed to go to the Garden Glow at the Missouri Botanical Garden Saturday night. I had several posts about it recently from my first visit. Unfortunately, there was cold rain all evening and we decided to try it another time. Ellie wanted to see something entertaining so we drove around looking for entertainment.

We heard that Kiener Plaza had a special display. Bogus. There were some white lights strung in the trees. We heard that there was a block in St. Louis Hills where every house had over-the-top displays. Nuh uh. Only one or two houses were done. We heard that the huge Anheuser-Busch brewery was festooned with illumination. Sorry. No one had flipped the switch yet.

Our last chance was Union Station. Some web page said there was special stuff under the old train shed, where there are various entertainments. There wasn't much beside the usual stuff, but the usual stuff is okay. There is always the Ferris wheel, open 365 days a year, and it had a a few customers. The lights are state of the art.              

Sunday, November 22, 2020

VISI D'ARTE


Back out on the streets, Nothing going on, Dullsville, so back to the same old haunts. This is part of the facade of our art museum. The full motto is Dedicated to Art And Free To All. And it is, supported by local real estate taxes. It makes me think of Tosca (https://youtu.be/gnqa94oeGfw), but it doesn't end as tragically.                

Saturday, November 21, 2020

WONDER

I really need some new material. The family was all supposed to go to Garden Glow tonight but the forecast is for about 45F / 7C with rain all day and evening. We will probbly go another time. As for now, what does St. Louis look like when it's cold and wet? Maybe I'll go find out.

So, for now, another view of Henry Shaw's house in the botanical garden with a mother and daughter taking in the scene.            

Friday, November 20, 2020

LET'S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN

Um, I'm running low on material and reduced to making Rocky Horror references. This light tunnel, possibly a wormhole, is at all of the botanical garden evening illuminated events. I'm always disappointed when I walk out the other side and feel exactly the same as when I entered.              

Thursday, November 19, 2020

HA. GET IT?

Three French hens, right? Although, if you ask me, they look about as much like fat cranes.

I wish it was safe to go back to Paris. A certain other member of this group would be on a plane tomorrow if it were possible. I'm 70+, the better part of retired and have some savings. Mrs. C and I sometimes daydream about spending a month in the fall in London and a month in Paris in the spring. Maybe it will be possible. You never know. Actually, New York would be okay.               

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

GUMDROPS

Across the long reflecting pool at the botanical garden. At the back is the Climatron, the remarkable multi-ecosystem geodesic dome. 

It would be nice to scare up some new material but the restrictions in our area have gone up a couple of notches. Local hospitals are a week or two from bursting over capacity as the virus surges. Well  spaced outdoor stuff is okay and the whole family is going to Garden Glow on Saturday night.                    

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

THE WAY THROUGH THE DARKNESS

Garden Glow contains hundreds of thousands of tiny colored lights.This section was entirely blue and a bit dull visually despite the dramatic setting. Monochrome seemed the way to go.I think it works.

Daughter Emily finds her way, alone, through a strange landscape. It had been raining through most of the afternoon and evening and few people showed up. The rain stopped just after we arrived.           

Monday, November 16, 2020

THE PATH

Between the old buildings at the botanical garden. Henry Shaw's house is off to the left. A statue of Juno has its back to us while gazing at the 19th Century mansion.