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 quinceaƱera. 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.                

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

WARNING

 

A red flag is usually a warning, a serious one. Something is dangerous and demands attention. It is also a symbol of revolution and communism. If someone threw up a sign like this on a building you might think that there were toxic chemicals inside.

Not so in this case unless you are a tea-totaler. This midtown building is being renovated into a taproom and restaurant for one of our smaller breweries, 4 Hands. (As most people know, we have one very, very big brewery here.) The graphic is a color-altered version of the St. Louis city flag, which, by virtue of a highly scientific Twitter poll, is the coolest city flag in America. Why the brewery is interpreting it as a warning is left up to the viewer.               

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

PLEASE BE SEATED

 

This is directly across Cherokee  Street from the Cinderella building. I don't know if the vacant space in the background was a restaurant or if there is is one adjacent. (I guess I could have looked more carefully). So what's with the seats? Brought in in wet weather (which it wasn't)? Stolen?

A lot of old shops in St. Louis had recessed doors with display windows on either side and the name of the place in tile in the pavement. They never change - a bit of local heritage.          

Monday, August 10, 2020

MORE TERRA COTTA

More terra cotta.  Why someone would call a building Cinderella is beyond me. The original owner wouldn't want businesses to start in rags before they achieved riches. (Too much of St. Louis has followed the opposite trajectory.) It apparently started as a skating rink (meet your Prince Charming on wheels) and then, two years later, was converted to a movie theater. One of our town's leading architectural and social historians, Chris Naffziger, wrote a wonderful article six years ago describing its decay and restoration. Maybe this Cinderella held closer to the original story. See https://www.riverfronttimes.com/newsblog/2014/03/12/cherokee-streets-cinderella-building-finds-its-prince-charming?showFullText=true 

It is located on funky and eclectic Cherokee Street on the South Side. The ground floor is occupied. Don't know what if anything is upstairs.         

Sunday, August 9, 2020

CLEAN CITY

When I was younger, perhaps high school age, there was a ubiquitous public service ad in my home town that said "a cleaner New York is up to you." There may have been a time when that was assumed in St. Louis, if perhaps less so now. The J. Arthur Anderson Laundry, in a much different neighborhood than Dinks Parrish, looks more like an expensive mortuary. What's with the slow laundry theme? Careful is good, but perhaps many decades ago Americans were much less impatient.

I was wrong about something. Dinks Parrish were not the names of two families. They are the first and last names of one person. There is an interesting piece about the history of the two companies at https://www.stltoday.com/news/local/columns/joe-holleman/spotlight-two-st-louis-buildings-harken-back-to-s-laundry/article_cbf13e2e-7fda-545f-bfc8-118b8e1641cd.html .

Saturday, August 8, 2020

TIME CONSUMING

Details of the facade of the Dinks Parrish Laundry. I realized as I edited these pictures that I don't know a thing about how terrra cotta is made. I looked up the Wikipedia article, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architectural_terracotta, and don't understand all of it. Complicated! I can't imagine how much time and money it took to produce and install this, or how the economics worked on a humble commercial building.       
 
A friend told me about another unusual laundry. It is not as complex and harder to photograph due to its location but still interesting. We will see it tomorrow.

Friday, August 7, 2020

DINKS PARRISH LAUNDRY




A bit of fancy, a stone wedding cake on Olive Street in midtown. It was a major commercial laundry for many years, the two names referring to the families who owned it. The laundry went out of business some years ago. There may or may not still be some loft apartments upstairs. The ground floor left houses a new microbrewery. The rest of the ground floor is vacant.

This may be the most elaborate surviving terra cotta work in town. One online reference describes it as "either a heavenly flight of fancy or the product of a bricklayer on LSD: Moorish architecture on steroids, replete with spires wrapped in carved grape vines and snowflakes, flower blossoms and clamshells." 

Some detail of the facade tomorrow.   
 
            

Thursday, August 6, 2020

THURSDAY ARCH SERIES


Taken at the end of our ride with Ellie on one of the Mississippi River tour boats. The two that are usually around are called the Tom Sawyer and the Becky Thacher. We were pulling up to the dock. The helicopter the kid and I rode on last month made a perfectly timed appearance.      

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

JOHANNES AND HIS FRIEND SAY WEAR A MASK


And last in this series, Dan Ricketts' spin on Vermeer's Girl With A Pearl Earring. The earring is a bit hard to spot. The first version had white polka dots on the mask, perhaps a reference to the pearl. Rickets changed his mind, as painters do.

I once had the privilege of seeing this painting in person.  It is in a small museum in The Hague. It's surprisingly little but the beauty made my jaw drop. In a way, it is like the Grand Canyon or the Taj Mahal. No photograph can prepare you for the experience of standing before it.

Got a good and rather unusual Thursday Arch Series picture for tomorrow.            

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

GOD AND ADAM SAY WASH YOUR HANDS


But no shaking hands. No touching. And, um, remember not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge.               

Monday, August 3, 2020

VINCENT SAYS WEAR A MASK


More of Dan Ricketts' downtown mural along with the artist at work. It's a good thing that Van Gogh has something to anchor both earloops with. I didn't see it on the street but now, on the bright computer screen, I notice that this mask is translucent. Ricketts painted the mouth and lower half of the nose before overlaying the mask.

Still a bit more of this to come.          


Sunday, August 2, 2020

FRIEDA SAYS WEAR A MASK


St. Louisan Dan Ricketts has a business called St. Louis Sign and Mural (slogan: a business without a sign is a sign of no business). He is painting a triptych of Covid 19 messages on an older building downtown. There was an article about it in the local paper yesterday and I had to go look for myself. Frieda Kahlo's mask is the flag of the City of St. Louis (available here). The other two panels based on famous works of art are in progress. I'll stop back later today.

TODAY'S RANT: after I left Ricketts' installation I drove through Forest Park looking for something to shoot. Came up empty-handed but I did see four wedding parties at the usual photo spots, all clustered together, not a single person wearing a mask. But wait, we can't have masks in our wedding pictures! The virus is roaring out of control in this area. Idjits. Selfish, uncaring, stupid idjits. IDJITS.        

Saturday, August 1, 2020

CITY DAILY PHOTO MONTHLY THEME DAY - CITY PEOPLE


City Daily Photo theme days are planned months in advance by our administrators. Occasionally, one may turn out to be particularly ironic. That's the case today with so many fewer people on the street. I went into the archives and chose this picture of the Crowes with Ellie in production, taken at the St. Louis Style House where all things Louie can be obtained. Part of the city's great seal is behind us, emphasizing the urban connection.             

MOTIVATION


I've had these signs here before. This one, I šŸ–¤ STL and just plain LOVE. They have been around for at least a couple of years. I looked it up once - some person or foundation sponsors them. It's just local. Does it accomplish anything?