Thursday, April 30, 2020


Found along a walkway in Forest Park next to each other. Some people visiting the park were staying safe while others were careless. The writing below is a bit of scrawl but we think it says "Follow Photography Friend 816 on Insta [gram?]. I don't do Instagram. Maybe a user can check it out and report back.

To my Midwestern eye, the words look like they are being sucked into the top of a tornado. I have seen a tornado once in my life, from the 23rd floor of an office building while it was crossing the Mississippi a safe distance away. It was awesome in the most traditional sense of the word.     

Wednesday, April 29, 2020


More birds in Forest Park since I didn't get out to shoot yesterday. (I actually spent most of the day in the office, since we are allowed to do that in my job.) I like the green of the water and tan of the seed pods against the color of the ducks, especially the circular patterns around the one on the bottom..          

Tuesday, April 28, 2020


I got my first digital camera in late 1999, when the consumer models appeared. They were  what we now call point-and-shoots, Nikon then, until 2005 or 2006 when I made the plunge and got a DSLR, a Canon 5D. Then upgrades and a lot of high end glass. Unfortunately, I was getting older and my spine more crumbly. The weight of two Canon bodies and lenses on the street became too much.

Skipping some intermediate steps, I now shoot with a Fujifilm X-T3, smaller, lighter and cheaper than the Canons. The images are as good or better. I love it. This picture of a red wing blackbird, shot with a 18-55mm lens (1.5 crop factor), was taken in Forest Park yesterday. The crop is at least 90% and it stays sharp. FB does a poor job rendering it. On my computer, there is much more gradation in the blacks.

Monday, April 27, 2020


Given that it's the raison de etre of our city, there have been few pictures of the Mississippi River on this blog for a while. Our area has done a poor job, IMHO, of providing public access to this titan. You can get to the edge under the Arch but it's a fairly long walk from the city streets and parking. The shore is industrial for a long way to the north and south. Nothing remotely like the lake shore park system in Chicago.

Most readers have probably heard the beautiful song Old Man River from the aged Broadway musical Show Boat. The most famous performance is by Paul Robson from the movie version. His voice is incomparable but, for me, this version lacks expression. I long ago lost my interest in popular music but my favorite cover is Rod Steward and Jeff Beck's. Worth a listen.        

Sunday, April 26, 2020


Everything changes, nothing is permanent. This, too, will pass. I only hope that we all come out okay on the other side.            

Saturday, April 25, 2020


We live in a small housing development. Its single street ends in a cul de sac. Our house is at the far end. With mild temperatures late yesterday afternoon, our neighbors set up a spontaneous, well-spaced happy hour in the circle with the beverages of your choice.  My next door neighbor is a lawyer, too, and so has a way with words. I do not know if he was drinking this for the irony or because he likes it.          

Friday, April 24, 2020


There is another good sized hill in Forest Park known as Government Hill. It leads up to what we call the World's Fair Pavilion. It was actually built five years before the 1904 Exposition (think of Meet Me In St. Louis, Louis). Quite striking and worth a look here,  

Anyway, this man was sitting by himself playing his banjo beneath the pavilion. He was near a grove of trees that muffled the sound. As we approached, passed by and walked away, it felt like passing through a soft cloud of music.                

Thursday, April 23, 2020


Ellie and I passed by this young man as we were leaving Art Hill and returning to the car. He had been running wind sprints all the way up the hill, trotting back to the bottom and then doing it again, over and over. It looked exhausting. At some point he had enough and looked like he needed to attend to his feet. The pose had a bit of the feel of a Greco-Roman athlete so I edited the image with that in mind.    

Wednesday, April 22, 2020


We've been going for walks in Forest Park and it's clear that some of the community really has cabin fever. The young women in the top picture were posing for a friend so I just grabbed the opportunity. Nobody minded but it occurred to me that I couldn't do this when I was 20.

The second photo brings back a memory. If any of you are old and weird enough, you might remember the bit of 70's way-out-there comedy from the Firesign Theatre, High School Madness. Porgy and his pal Mudhead are about to graduate from Morse Science High School. Jughead asks about his friend's plans for the future. Porgy exclaims,"I'm gonna cut the soles off my shoes, sit in a tree and learn to play the flute!" Sounds good to me.

Note the lack of distancing, though.              

Tuesday, April 21, 2020


Each flank of Art Hill has a terrace overlooking the sides of the Grand Basin. This year the edges were planted with a riot of crimson tulips. A photographer could find many ways to look at them.  These are just two. It has turned into a glorious springtime week, making it hard to stay inside. I have to go to my office today to work on final details of our stimulus loan application (it's allowed).                

Monday, April 20, 2020


A local writer and historian, Carolyn Mueller, recently published a book called Forest Park: A Walk through History. It describes eight walking tours through our city's gem, substantially bigger than Golden Gate Park in San Francisco or Central Park in New York. Since it is open for exercise, we took Ellie there last week for a stroll on one of the routes. As you can see, it was still quite cool.

She was fascinated by blowing dandelions apart but worried about what would happen if one of the puffs floated into her mouth. We were more concerned about her refusal to stop rolling down Art Hill on her side. It's pretty darn big

Sunday, April 19, 2020


This explosion of color is a little farther west on Cherokee Street. It's a store called STyLe, or, if you prefer, St. Louis Style, . It is the place to go to get local-themed clothing, hats, mugs and almost anything you can think of. And if they don't have it, they will make it for you.It's closed now, of course, but you can order online.     

Saturday, April 18, 2020


Unlike most American cities, we don't have a big Latino population but of course there is some. Its commercial center is Cherokee Street, where the businesses are mixed with an eclectic bunch of restaurants (Hispanic and not), bars, art galleries, night clubs and clothing stores. This is where you come if you want genuine pan Mexicana, a pair of hand tooled botas de vaquero or an old-fashioned dulceria

No one knows how many of these businesses will survive the pandemic. Several restaurants sell take away food at the door but is it enough to get by? I fear that a number of bars, breweries and galleries won't make it. Check back in the fall.             

Friday, April 17, 2020


A billboard along the short stretch where I 44 and 55 run together just south of downtown. Anyone who reads this, with very few exceptions, is not at home. Does it influence anyone or just try to contribute to a public attitude?

I can't help but notice that the colors are those of our hockey team. They are the defending champions and so wildly popular. It may have something to do with the marketing psychology of the sign.           

Thursday, April 16, 2020


A spare image, appropriate to the times. This was taken eleven days ago. The trees have rapidly filled out since then.       

Wednesday, April 15, 2020


Is there a more essential business in St. Louis these days, other than, perhaps the Washington University and St. Louis University Medical Centers? Yes, this is the headquarters of Budweiser, or sort of, since it was sucked up by a Brazilian-Belgian conglomerate. It chases you everywhere in the world (except, I think, the Czech Republic). The brand was on the first advertising sign we saw when our little group got off the plane in Tibet years ago. . I guarantee you this place is still open for business.            

Tuesday, April 14, 2020


Part of Forest Park's system of water channels and lakes. You can rent a little paddleboat  to idle away an afternoon, but not right now. The water and sky, with the just-budding trees, reflect the mood of the day.           

Monday, April 13, 2020


The buildings and the streets and the healthcare workers are still there. (Courageous, dedicated people. Part of the mighty Washington University Medical Center is in the background.) But the only sound is the gentle hiss of the fountain and the wind engaging the blossoms of the red bud trees. By design, no one there for me to talk to.       

Sunday, April 12, 2020


Despite my general aversion to professional sports (especially football), I do love baseball. It reminds me of happy days decades ago in the cheap seats at Yankee Stadium, when a kid could get a general admission ticket on the day of the game for the money in a kid's pocket. No more.

The baseball season should be well underway by now but Busch Stadium, seen through the center field gate, holds nothing but ghosts. No crowds stream past the iconic statue of Stan Musial. There is talk of starting the season in Arizona and Florida before empty stadiums. The umpires would be computerized camera systems so the ump at home plate doesn't take his usual crouch inches above the catcher. When it is safe the regular season would resume. The purists won't like it but the Cardinals will be back on TV. It's the only thing I ever watch.     

Saturday, April 11, 2020


Friday was a glorious spring day in The Lou. I had to spend most of it in my office (lawyers are considered essential here for some reason) but it was so pretty my camera and I had to go for a cruise afterward. Forest Park was pretty busy, although people were keeping adequate distance. As I drove past this street entertainer I had to turn around, stop the car and find out what was going on.

So meet Derrick El-Sumadi, He cobbles together a living doing what he loves, including studio work and live performance fill in, teaching, events, parties and working the streets. He said he'd been around for years, playing outside of sporting events and public festivities. Never run into him before but he's really good.

BTW, the shot was horribly backlit but he said candidly he'd rather the afternoon sun was in my eyes than his. Tough image to work with but TGFP (thank God for Photoshop).       

Friday, April 10, 2020


I didn't see anything about it in the national news but there was a meme going around yesterday of lighting up things in blue in honor of health care providers. Downtown had new street lights installed recently. The stems can be lit in any variety of colors and patterns so they were with the program. The Arch was not. 

It was very quiet downtown. As you can see, my tripod and I were in the middle of a traffic lane. A bit more of this to come.       

Thursday, April 9, 2020


We live in a residential area that has little to look at on a walk but other suburban houses. There is a park quite nearby, though. It's got a baseball field and a playground but the rest of it is made up of rolling lawns and groves of trees. No developed walking paths. If I have to get out of the house (and it's getting to me more and more) it is a pretty, quiet place to go.

I never leave home without a camera these days, collecting whatever crosses my path. This plant was in the park. I don't know if we are looking at leaves or flowers but they are visually striking. The normal ground covering where I grew up was asphalt and concrete. Can anyone help identify this plant?     

Wednesday, April 8, 2020


A sign in Forest Park. The city closed some roads in the parks to car traffic where too many people were congregating too closely. Otherwise, the parks are open for walking, running and biking. St. Louis County, which is a separate political entity, closed its parks altogether. That may be a bit over the top.

The occasional rant: it's so stupid that this country, and it alone, has not adopted the metric system. Why? For starters, we're a bit geographically isolated. We have only two international land borders. Canada has 10% of our population so we often ignore it. Mexico is held in contempt by our national administration (why else the wall?). Too many Americans think of Mexicans as purveyors of burritos and tequila, non-union construction workers and gardeners. It's systemic racism. Everybody else is a good sized plane ride away. So here we are - big, a bit off to ourselves and not giving a damn. We don't have to.            

Tuesday, April 7, 2020


The Midwest is criss crossed by train tracks. It's almost all freight. We can get to Kansas City and Chicago from here by rail but it's so slow that you're better off driving. The freight  tracks run right through our town. 

Even with our not-so-strict rules, I'm tired of sitting at home. Went out for a walk yesterday afternoon and had the luck of finding tons of metal crossing one of our main streets.

The reference in the title is to some music from a long time ago. Listen to , and pay attention to Ginger Baker's drumming.   

Monday, April 6, 2020


Hardly anyone out. Almost alone when I went to the newish north side of the Arch's park, which replaced a parking garage (which was convenient and cheap). I mostly don't like the new design but I think this corner is interesting, with its curved ramp and the many arches of Eads Bridge.         


Not specific to St. Louis but anyway...

Families don't get to spend time together these days. My family is spread across the country anyway. One of my intelligent relations organized a family get-together on Zoom yesterday. Three months ago I had never heard of Zoom. We got people on there from Manhattan to San Francisco. By the time we had finished yakking the meeting had devolved into cocktail hour. Oh, and everyone is well.       

Sunday, April 5, 2020


There's a sort of dopey saying that if life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Life hasn't given me Covid 19 as of this writing but it's not doing any good for mobility. The blog is a hungry beast and I need images to feed it. Look more carefully. This is just my neighborhood, with the sunset making a convenient St. Louis-henge.         

Saturday, April 4, 2020


How much more pleasant than the pair of demons that guard entrances in some cultures. This is a shop on McPherson in the Central West End. It's closed, of course.      

Friday, April 3, 2020


Quiet but not altogether empty on Washington Avenue. I've never seen the giant flag of the City of St. Louis hanging over the streets. It's a pretty good one with sharp graphics, references to the territory's French and Spanish heritage and the meeting of the waters, the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi.

I hear that the city police have blocked off several of the roads in the city parks to auto traffic and St. Louis County has closed its parks altogether due to blatant disregard of the distancing rules. May need to go check this out.         

Thursday, April 2, 2020


I built up some inventory of pictures before everything went to hell and we're not on lockdown anyway. This is a better than average Arch picture. The two people at the bottom give some scale but the photo was taken with a wide angle lens and the monument is even bigger than it looks.

We don't know anyone who is sick but I have a personal worry. Some of you know that I have rheumatoid arthritis. It's been well-controlled on medication for a long time. One of those drugs, hydroxychloriquine, has some very preliminary indication of helping with Covid-19. So, stupid people are hoarding it, inappropriate prescriptions are being written and the national pharmacy chain I use has been out of stock for six days. Don't know when or if they will get any or what will happen to my joints if I run out. I've got some left but not much. Maybe it will show up or my rheumatologist will have a suggestion. Didn't see this one coming.            

Wednesday, April 1, 2020


Ah, alma mater. I got both of my degrees here. There wasn't much of a reason for coming. I went to a Jesuit high school in the Bronx. They steered us to Jesuit colleges. This was the one farthest away from home that let me in. Bingo, I'm a St. Louisan. 

I'm the oldest of four children. When I chose a college a thousand miles away from home my mother thought her children hated her. Two years later, my sister enrolled in the more prestigious school across town, Washington University. Then my mother was sure we hated her. The younger two, however, stayed in the northeast.

The campus is almost unrecognizable from my days there - so much bigger and so many new buildings. But, gee, it's only been forty six years.