Wednesday, April 21, 2021

FREAK OF NATURE

I have other photos to show from Ste. Genevieve but this is worth an interruption. It snowed here most of Tuesday afternoon. Our average latest frost is about two weeks ago. Being in the middle of things we get buffeted by air masses moving east from the Rockies, south from the Canadian plains and north from the Gulf of Mexico. This shot was taken from my front porch yesterday. I wonder what the tulips and dogwood will look like by today.             

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

LIGHT AND DARK

Dogwood tree blooming in the sun and tombstones in the shadows at the town cemetery in Ste. Genevieve.               

Monday, April 19, 2021

OPINION

Found beside a small house in Ste. Genevieve. It was  on a corner, with a charming, quirky garden that had an invitation to take a look. This could be seen as a stereotype of small town Missouri. However, the area has unionized mines and plants that make calcium products out of the abundant limestone. We passed a number  of Biden Harris signs.

The second picture location was off to the right of the top frame. Note the last numeral on the sign in the foreground.


        

Sunday, April 18, 2021

AIN'T IT THE TRUTH

There are signposts at several intersections in Ste. Genevieve marking the way to points of interest. Given the shopping bag symbol, I assume that there is a store off to the left with the name written on the top sign. I didn't see the place and I have no guess what they sell, but I bet the name wasn't ironic when it was opened. It works the same on this side of the Atlantic.                 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

THOUSANDS OF BEES!

We stayed in a B and B in an historic house in Ste. Genevieve. At breakfast Thursday morning the owner noticed this in a blooming red bud tree in the yard. He told us that it was a bee swarm, something I'd never heard of. We learned something. This is part of the reproduction cycle of honey bees. It happens in the spring, when a single colony splits into two or more new colonies. I am quite bee-phobic so I got out the telephoto lens to take this. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swarming_(honey_bee)

This was just inside a fence by the sidewalk and the owner was concerned about neighbors who might be more curious than informed, The local bee person was summoned. He had a box scented with lavender, of all things, which attracts the insects, and used a smoke stick to nudge them off the tree into the target. When we returned in the late afternoon they were gone.

 By the way, we liked the B and B and recommend it. https://www.hertichhouse.com/             

Friday, April 16, 2021

IN THE VINEYARDS

I mentioned yesterday that there are a number of wineries in this part of Missouri. The product is not of a quality that is distributed widely but it may be improving. One of them, Chaumette, https://chaumette.com/, has some homes on the site amidst beautiful rolling countryside. There are facilities for fancy, expensive weddings. (Since Wednesday was our anniversary, we were reminiscing about how utterly cheap our wedding was. We put it on ourselves and couldn't afford a wedding cake so someone put the plastic bride and groom figures in a McDonald's cheeseburger  and  we fed each other a piece of that.) 

Chaumette has an excellent restaurant overlooking the countryside, perfectly beautiful in spring. There is a large dining porch. Since it was a bit chilly and windy, the place had clear plastic sheeting hung on the outside. That's how we met this chap.        

Thursday, April 15, 2021

STL DPB A LITTLE OUT OF TOWN - STE. GENEVIEVE, MISSOURI


So our brief anniversary getaway is to Ste. Genevieve, a little over an hour south of our home. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ste._Genevieve,_Missouri . You can see how it promotes itself and it's true that it was the first permanent white settlement in our state. There are a number of historic homes and museums we will poke around in today (although hours are quite limited by the pandemic). This side of the Mississippi River is an area of rolling hills with several wineries. I don't have a good word to say for any Missouri wine I've ever tasted but we're having lunch at a vineyard with very nice restaurant.           

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

VERY HOT WATER

There is a steam loop under downtown St. Louis. What's a steam loop? The first electric generating station here was built along the Mississippi for the 1904 World’s Fair. As the city's needs grew and more power plants were built, the old one was put to a limited use. It created vast amounts of steam that was circulated through the city center in heavy pipes. These branched off into many buildings to provide heat in the days of radiators and, in some cases, to power electricity generating turbines for a particular location. I can't imagine that it is very widely used these days but it still exists. You don't want to open this manhole cover and have a peek.  

 

Today is Mrs C. and my 47th (gasp!) anniversary and we're off for a little getaway to someplace interesting. Pictures to follow soon.


                   

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

BOARD OF ED

A block or so west of the building in yesterday's post is another that has been preserved. Obviously, it was formerly the headquarters of the St. Louis Board of Education. The terra cotta decoration isn't nearly as elaborate but it is still handsome.       

Monday, April 12, 2021

FADED GLORY

A few days ago I posted a picture of an old downtown building. A poster covered one of the vacant ground floor windows that said "Where Will St. Louis Take You Next?" I said I would come back to the building itself and then got distracted by the opening of the baseball season.

The place is called the Railway Exchange Building. It makes me think of a bunch of rich guys in top hats like in the Monopoly game literally exchanging railroads. It occupies an entire block and is vacant. Our biggest department store, Famous Barr, was there, along with the headquarters of The May Company, a major national retailer. Big downtown stores withered, Macy's sucked up everything and then closed the place. It's been empty for some time.

But the terra cotta facade is a wonder. If there is no use for the building itself the decoration should go in a museum. It is fairly well preserved and I don't want us to lose it.                

Sunday, April 11, 2021

RED MEANS GO


Kiener Plaza is named after Harry Kiener, a St. Louisan who was a U.S. track star at the 1904 Olympics. (Which was held here. We used to be somebody.) Most people don't know that the model was a rabbinical student who was an acquaintance of the Lithuanian-Jewish sculptor. The plaza was completely redone four or five years ago, this statue being the only carry-over. The lights are now LEDs that change colors for occasions like a Cardinals game.               

Saturday, April 10, 2021

THE RED ARMY

The crowd waits to enter the baseball stadium, gathered around the statue of Stan Musial. He has been deified as The Greatest Cardinal of Them All. The statue has been criticized for its misshapen proportions. The fans don't care. It's an object of veneration.         

Friday, April 9, 2021

PLAY BALL

Change of plan. Yesterday was the home opening game for our baseball team, the much-loved Cardinals. I needed some exercise and took a walk from my office to the stadium and back, trolling for images. I was not disappointed.

Although the team only sold tickets for one-quarter of the seats, there was a big crowd in the plaza and entertainment area opposite the stadium (with maybe one in ten  wearing masks). These two old fans were dressed for the occasion. Love the shoes. And by the way, the home town heroes won so all is well. For today.         

Thursday, April 8, 2021

ENOUGH OF PARADISE

That's all for now of the delights of the botanical garden. Back out on the streets. St. Louis elected a new mayor this week, Tishaura Jones, the first black woman to hold the office. She is currently the city treasurer. Jones is known for progressive views but has made some enemies and there have been whiffs of favoritism in the way she has run her current office. Although I work in the city proper I don't live there so I didn't vote in this election and don't know every detail of its politics. We wish her success and good fortune. Heaven knows this place can use it. 

The event made the international edition on the British journal, The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/apr/07/tishaura-jones-st-louis-first-black-female-mayor . Note the statistics about population loss. In 1950 the city itself, which is geographically hemmed in, had about 900,000 people. It's now 330,000 in a metro area of 2.6 million. We have some of the worst suburban sprawl in the country.

There will be something tomorrow about the building in this photo.                  

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

MEMORIES OF KYOTO

Mrs. C and I are unabashed Nipponophiles. We've been there three times but the last visit was a dozen years ago. We are making long-range plans to return about this time next year.

This scene from our local Japanese garden reminds me some of of a famous walkway in Kyoto. It is along a little channelized stream, lined with cherry trees in front of traditional wooden buildings. It's an unforgettable experience.        

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

IT JUST MAKES YOU FEEL THAT WAY

Throw out your arms and breathe deeply. Feel the warmth (if a little too much too early).

I was looking around for poems about spring for this post and found surprisingly little appropriate. The links kept circling back to the words of a dour native St. Louisan who insisted that "April is the cruellest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain." No wonder he spent most of his adult life in dank England. We will revel in our days like this.           

Monday, April 5, 2021

YELLOW MAGNOLIA

We have plenty of magnolia trees in our neighborhood, now starting to pass their peak. I think of them as white or pink, sometimes mixed in lush groves. A few of them in our botanical garden are yellow, something I have not seen elsewhere. The centers of the flowers are fascinating. I haven't needed to tell a pistil from a stamen since 10th grade biology class but something interesting is going in here. Maybe one of our more botanically inclined friends can explain the structure.            

Sunday, April 4, 2021

I DUNNO. MUTANT, MAYBE.

I make no claim to being a nature or floral photographer. My attention runs more toward the urban and ironic. Still, whatever these are in the botanical garden got my attention and a daily photo blog has a hungry mouth to feed. Somehow they don't look real, in the sense that the colors came from the earth rather than Photoshop. But what I saw is what you get.

What may we see in our gardens as genetic editing technology progresses even further? It's worth reading up some on CRISPR-Cas9 techniques if it's new to you. O brave new world
That has such people in't!
Shakespeare,
The Tempest Act 5, scene 1       

Saturday, April 3, 2021

DROOPY

Spring in the botanical garden. I have no idea what this is. Being a kid from the concrete jungle my knowledge of gardening is vanishingly small. This flower looks inside out or upside down, maybe to make it easier for bees to get to the business end of it.                    

Friday, April 2, 2021

SAKURA

Our botanical garden has a large, gorgeous Japanese area. It's cherry blossom time, sakura in Japanese. They were out in their glory this week although most of the other trees were just beginning to bud. It was cloudy on the day we went and I may have to look again in sunshine.

Today's climate change note: Mrs. C  and I are planning a trip to Japan for this time next year, hoping for the same kind of scenery. We've been there before but it's been a long time. Our memory was that the sakura were in full bloom about a week into April. The Japanese have kept records of cherry blossom time for 1,200 years. A news item this week noted that the peak in Kyoto was March 25, the earliest in 12 centuries. We should time our trip accordingly.             

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

PLASTIC FOOD

I could have saved this one for tomorrow's City Daily Photo April Fool theme day. It is in an old building downtown whose street-level retail space is unused (like so many others). Someone went to the trouble of setting up an elaborate display of fake produce. It's all plastic as far as I can tell. Heaven knows why - it's not a high pedestrian traffic area. Maybe it's for Frank Zappa's plastic people.               

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

ROOSTER

 
 
This might be better left as an enigma than explained. What might lie behind such a door in the city center?           

Monday, March 29, 2021

NOTHING LASTS FOREVER

But some things go on for an amazingly long time. I can't think of another business that has been in operation downtown so long except the natural gas utility mentioned recently. Famous old restaurants have closed or moved to the suburbs. The department stores are gone. No hotel has been in operation nearly that long. Even the baseball team only moved downtown in 1966. I bet this place had some hard times but is now doing better with so many old buildings being turned into apartments. It seemed to be going strong when I walked by.                  

Sunday, March 28, 2021

OPTIMIST

Well, sort of, but not alone and with a lot of luck. But why not a woman? Found on a vacant building on Locust Street in downtown St. Louis.               

Saturday, March 27, 2021

IT'S ALL ABOUT THE LIGHT

I am so out of materials and ideas. We have had some pretty spring weather but the same old daisies and magnolias aren't doing much for me. After a couple of hours in my office yesterday I picked up a camera and walked around the secondary streets of downtown trolling for images. Anything.

We have some handsome old architecture, some of it preserved, some not. Many years ago this was the headquarters of the natural gas utility (methane mixed with some other stuff), from the days when it was used to light homes and businesses. In time it became mostly used for heat and industrial applications. Then the business became just the Laclede Gas Company and moved to one of our first steel frame, curtain wall high rises, built in 1966. Several years ago, like some other corporations, it changed its name from something meaningful to something meaningless and is now Spire. The current location is in an odd Philip Johnson-designed building, once occupied by an insurance company that went under in the Great Recession.

So like many others, the old building is now apartments. As you can see, the ground floor retail space is vacant. Still, the structure retains its charm and dignity.

          

Friday, March 26, 2021

FALLING MAN

I suppose our town's best known 20th Century visual artist was Ernest Trova, https://etrova.org/home.html. He was, in a sense, a one-trick pony with endless, if creative, variations on a single theme, Falling Man. They are smooth, armless male figures, truncated cleanly at the shoulder like a mannequin. They often pitch forward but sometimes, like here, stand like Egyptian funerary figures. You can look at the web link if you want a precis on the subject. 

The art on display at Laumeier reminds me of the words of the poet Archibald MacLeish that a poem should not mean, but be. The essence here can be a challenge to the viewer.              

Thursday, March 25, 2021

SIX TONS OF BALLOON SCULPTURE

As I write this series of posts I wonder more about how much help even receptive viewers need with contemporary sculpture. This piece at Laumeier is called Sugabus, a 2004 work by Robert Chambers. It refers to the arrangement of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms in a molecule of sucrose. Well, and also Cerberus, the terrifying three-headed dog guarding the gates of Hades. Are there three heads? Is there a diet version?             

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

STATE SURVEILLANCE

Likely the most popular work at Laumeier Sculpture park is Tony Tasset's Eye, https://www.laumeiersculpturepark.org/tony-tasset-2007. The descriptions and interpretations provided by art venues, as in this link, are mostly written by curators. They may speak to the creators' ideas or to scholarship but I wonder how much they resonate with the average viewer. They don't always resonate much with me. Eye creeps me out. Big Brother might be watching you if it could move around.           

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

SAINT LOUIS DAILY PHOTO TURNS 14

OMG, I almost forgot! Yesterday was Saint Louis Daily Photo's fourteenth anniversary. 5,025 posts to date, mostly from around here but sometimes from around the world during our travels. The days I've missed were generally when we were somewhere so far out in the boonies that there was no Internet or cellular service.  I could not have done it without the support, sharp observations and meticulous proofreading of Mrs. C. I'd be lost without her. Forty seven years together is worth a lot.

This may qualify as clinical obsessive-compulsive disorder. I'm not looking for any medication.      

THE WAY

One of the two best known works at Laumeier Sculpture park is The Way, completed by Alexander Liberman in 1980. It was constructed from 18 salvaged steel oil tanks, is 65 feet / 20 meters tall, 102 feet / 31 meters wide and 100 feet  30.5 meters deep and weighs 55 US tons (50 metric). The work dominates the central lawn. It is hard to get a sense of scale but for the tiny person at the center left edge.          

Monday, March 22, 2021

LAUMEIER

These pages have had many pictures from Citygarden, our two square block downtown art oasis.  They have rarely featured Laumeier Sculpture Park, a 105 acre / 42.5 hectare haven in the suburbs. https://www.laumeiersculpturepark.org/ . There are 70-something major outdoor works and a couple of buildings with rotating shows. Yesterday was such a perfect spring day that Mrs. C and I went over for a walk.

This is Donald Lipsky's Ball? Ball! Wall? Wall!, a 300 foot / 91.5 meter chain of marine buoys that snakes along a path in the woods, finding its way somewhere between minimalism and surrealism.            

Sunday, March 21, 2021

AU PRINTEMPS

Mrs. C and  I went to the botanical garden yesterday to see if anything was popping as winter officially rolled into spring. Just a little bit. There will be more every day.               

Saturday, March 20, 2021

THE SHOW COMES LATER

One of the reasons to visit the City Museum is its little circus troupe, Circus Harmony, https://circusharmony.org/. It is not a circus in terms of clowns and animals. The organization recruits young people from every part of society and teaches them juggling, gymnastics and aerialist skills. They have a performance space in the center of the building, simple step seats on one side (background) and glass walls on the other for passers-by to watch. A group of young women was practicing when we were there. She looks determined even behind the mask.       

Friday, March 19, 2021

YELLOWFISH

Once you clear the entry area of the City Museum and the obligatory gift shop, you enter an area with strange sea creatures and pools. It's full of tunnels and balconies, some too small for me to fit through. It is fanciful. What is the point besides pure whimsy? The Lou is a long way from the ocean.               

Thursday, March 18, 2021

YOU CAN'T GET THERE FROM HERE


Another perspective on the maze that is Monstro City, the outdoor part of the City Museum. You would have to be on an adjoining rooftop with a wide angle lens to get the whole thing.

This is an an area of old light industrial buildings and warehouses just west of downtown. The museum's structure was a shoe factory or warehouse or both, I forget which. Decades ago, this town was the center of shoe manufacturing in the United States. And we used to make more beer than anyplace before Anheuser-Busch was the last player standing. Back in the day when we were important enough to have two Major League baseball teams, it was said that St. Louis was "first in shoes, first in booze and last in the American League."                       

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

COMING IN FOR A LANDING

Yesterday's photo was inside the City Museum. This (obviously) is outdoors and again only a small part of the structure. It's called Monstro City for no obvious reason. There are all sorts of catwalks and tubes and tunnels in no order at all, other than it doesn't fall down. That's the scrapped Learjet I mentioned. You can mess around inside. The tube at the upper left is steel mesh and you can crawl through it. I'll have to shoot this again on a brighter day. 

No St. Patrick's Day celebrations in town and there are usually lots. My father's family is Irish (County Clare) but I'll have to drink my Guinness at home.    

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

CREATIVE CHAOS

 

This picture gives an idea of the wackiness and genius of the City Museum but the scene is a tiny part of the whole. It goes on and on. The vertical cylinders on the staircase all move. They must have been rollers for some industrial process, now wildly painted. That's Ellie in the pink sweatshirt inside the bars at the center left edge.               

Monday, March 15, 2021

MADELEINE MONDAY

City Museum is full of things to slide down, indoors and out, metal and wood, curved and straight. Ellie is careening down one on the outside, I presume made from aluminum. Some are long, steep and scary. Audrey, my five year old granddaughter in Michigan, is already a snowboarder. She could handle any of them.                   

Sunday, March 14, 2021

RECYCLED FOR FUN

On Saturday we took Ellie to The City Museum, STL's funhouse of post-industrial junk. There is nothing like it in the world. It has some actual exhibits but most of it is a mad assortment of old building parts, architectural remnants, machinery and scrap metal. There is even a gutted Lear Jet suspended high over the street. Children love it, with its almost limitless variety of things to climb, crawl through and slide down.

Ellie may or may not have been in there somewhere. Some how this part of it reminds me of Duchamp's Large Glass.                

Saturday, March 13, 2021

EFFLUENT PIPE

Okay, not really, but that's the visual association I got from the scene. You see metal plaques around street drains here that say "Caution. Sewer drains to river," with a picture of a fish. This looked to me like some giant, rough pipe that thrust out of the levee next to the Mississippi.

But of course it isn't. It's in Citygarden, one side of the large sculpture Eros Bendato that's been seen here before (e.g., https://saintlouismodailyphoto.blogspot.com/2013/08/all-you-need-is-love.html). You can crawl right in there, and lots of children do. I just don't want to see that worker washed away by slime.              

Friday, March 12, 2021

A WELL PLACED BARRIER

I often mention Citygarden, downtown STL's two square block sculpture park. For some reason, when it was built the designers left the street open between the blocks but then immediately barricaded it. During the summer they roll in an ice cream truck and it's been a venue for small performances pre-COVID. Maybe that was the intention.                                

Thursday, March 11, 2021

WE ARE THE . . .

I've mentioned Ballpark Village, the real estate development next to the baseball stadium. A couple of years ago they installed a giant replica of the championship trophy in front of the main entrance. Our team has won it quite a number of times. When it was unveiled, many commentators said it looks really tacky, and they are right. In fact, I think it's a bit of an eyesore.

The base is cylindrical. The funny thing is, a bit out of the frame to the left, there is a big dent in it. I'm not showing it today but the shape and distance off the ground makes it obvious that an SUV or pickup truck ran into the thing. There's some poetry in that.                         

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Hanging Out

Masked or unmasked, downtown at 7th and Market. You would never get me on one of those things. Well, with my spine, my knees and my lousy sense of balance it would be plain foolish.

The streets were nearly empty on a weekday afternoon.             

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

WHERE WERE THEY WHEN WE NEEDED THEM?

Actually, the caption is totally unfair. I wrote it just to get your attention. There's no blame on the city health department. It's on our incompetent state administration and governor and all of those fine "it's my free choice whether to wear a mask" folks. 

The state's vaccine distribution system is a disaster. I was lucky to get my first shot through the big doctor-hospital network I use. However, we read in the news about vaccine sent to rural areas going to waste and St. Louisans in the currently eligible group driving long distances to get a shot. I got an email yesterday from the state registry offering vaccination appointments in Kansas City, four hours drive away. Remember, this is the state that gave us Josh Hawley. See https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/07/us/politics/josh-hawley.html .           

Monday, March 8, 2021

HE SHOULD HAVE HAD A CABINET JOB IN THE LAST ADMINISTRATION

I love Jim Dine's statue of Pinocchio in Citygarden. The puppet who wanted to be a real boy had a problem: every time he told a lie his nose grew longer. This image suggests there have been a couple of whoppers. But look at the posture, the gesture, the body language. Whatever he has said, he's proud of it and seeking adulation. What person, recently off the national stage, does this remind us of?                

Sunday, March 7, 2021

PENANCE

We must suffer a little bit longer. Although it's been unseasonably warm (again), little of novel interest is pushing its head through the earth.   

Citygarden's plantings are designed in four tiers, reflecting the seasons and ecological zones of our region. Since I am someone from the streets of New York with a black thumb, I cannot tell you what this area represents, only that the first week of March is too early for Persephone to make her appearance.            

Saturday, March 6, 2021

TAI CHI

Fluid motion in sculpture and landscaping at Citygarden in Tai-Chi Single Whip. Taiwanese sculptor Ju Ming is a student of the art and frequently uses it as a subject. I've posted lots of pictures from our large downtown sculpture garden but never this one (I think). It looks so much better twelve years after the park opened with mature foliage all around.           

Friday, March 5, 2021

ALMOST THAT TIME OF YEAR

It has felt like spring in The Lou lately, and spring brings a long-established activity. I've gone sour on professional sports over time, what with the subject turning mostly to money and marketing. However, I still have a soft spot for baseball. Memories of happy days in the uppermost rows of Yankee Stadium, when a kid could get in for what was in a kid's pocket. (No more!) My home city had deep baseball traditions and my adopted city does, too. No, I rarely go to games - the prices are extortionate. But once in a while I'll put on my red hat . . .

There is a pretty big real estate development across from Busch Stadium (more revenue, naturally), Ballpark Village, that has this little plaza laid out like a diamond. The inscription on these stairs is new this year. Fans stand and sing this song in the middle of the 7th inning game after game. It feels good: let me root, root, root for the Cardinals. If they don't win it's a shame.