Monday, February 28, 2011

59/365: Baby, Look At You Now

2011 Idiotarod 5

This is one of the shopping carts from the Idiotarod. The contestants were bold enough to reveal the upscale grocery the vehicle was, um, borrowed from. The idea is that these things are supposed to be analogous to the dog sleds in the Iditarod with four dogs and a driver. Hence five contestants on a team. This cart had placards with the word mom on the front and sides. No other clues about the theme.

I was thinking about putting the Idiotarod on St. Louis Daily Photo today but I stumbled upon a pan-Arab rally for freedom and democracy yesterday afternoon. It's worthy of our attention and support.

Pan-Arab Democracy Rally 3

Sunday, February 27, 2011

58/365: The Idiotarod


This weekend brought the second annual St. Louis Idiotarod (click the link for an explanation of the name). It is a fund-raiser for Operation Food Search, a wonderful bunch of people who fight hunger in the St. Louis area. Teams of five people dress up for some theme, decorate a shopping cart to match, and race around downtown to designated checkpoints. Some of them require stunts. Some of them have a bar. You get the point.

I got a ton of good pix I'll show here and on St. Louis Daily Photo in the coming days. Pharoh & Friends here were shooting out of the starting area. For better or worse, Tahrir Square was not among the checkpoints.

Keep The Change We're finishing gun weekend today on St. Louis Daily Photo.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

57/365: Chocolate Cafe... Or Is It?

Cafe Cioccolato

This place is a half-block from my office building so I walk by it a lot. Cafe Cioccolato, dedicated to all things chocolate. You can see a counter full of confections on the lower right. I believe you can get a chocolate martini. There is a bunch of odd sculpture scattered around. And there's almost never anyone in there. On rare occasions I see someone sipping a drink in the chairs near the window or buying something at the counter. The place has been open more than a year, so how does it survive? There's something funny going on. Maybe it has a trap door leading to a tunnel and a secret entrance to Willy Wonka's factory. Hmmm, what other possibilities?

781-GUNS It's the first day of gun weekend on St. Louis Daily Photo.

Friday, February 25, 2011

56/365: The Last Bus

Now Hiring

Need a job? Lots of Americans do. Being a school bus driver isn't great but it beats nothing. A few hours in the morning, go home, a few more hours in the afternoon. Doesn't pay very well and rarely any benefits, which, in this country, means no health insurance.

I admit that this is right on the edge of what I defined as downtown when I started this blog. Um, maybe on the wrong side of Chouteau to fit my criteria but what the hell, we need material.

Flautist Beautiful music fills the air today on St. Louis Daily Photo.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

55/365: St. Mary of Victories

Our Lady of Hungary

As well as you know St. Louis, you might never see this statue. St. Mary of Victories Hungarian Catholic Church is almost underneath the Interstate 55 viaduct just south of the Arch grounds, on a narrow street hemmed in by the highway and neighboring industrial buildings. I found it long ago on one on my weekend prowls in odd corners of the city. It remains an active parish - I see people going in and out on Sunday morning - although no one lives nearby. This statue of the Virgin (or the BVM, for Blessed Virgin Mary, as we used to call her in my Catholic elementary school) is on something like an alley on the side of the building. She is almost hidden. It doesn't look like she wants company.

Arch 2011-02-13 4 It's Thursday Arch Series with Brad again on St. Louis Daily Photo.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

54/365: One Of The Bemefits Of Working Downtown

Looking East From Citygarden 2011-02-12 that sometimes you get a late afternoon like this, when the low sun warms the Old Courthouse and neighboring buildings and the sky puts the Arch in grand display.

I like the one-on, one-off streetlamp in the right foreground. Sort of a one-eyed monster.

Chris Burchett's hands 2 An artist's hands today on St. Louis Daily Photo.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

53/365: Gambling On Taste

Lumiere Place

From time to time I consider doing parallel series on good and bad architecture in St. Louis. Then, of course, I never get around to it. If I did, though, this bit would be a leader in the second category.

It's the Lumiere Place casino and Four Seasons Hotel, near the Mississippi and the Laclede's Landing entertainment district. For all the money they spent on this, couldn't they have come up with something more attractive? At least the over-the-top casino hotels in Las Vegas are amusing. This starts with an International Style glass box, puts queasy colored tint on the windows and then shoves a piece of toast through it. Oh, and sits it beside a concrete industrial slab. What were they thinking?

Chris Burchett 1 We talk to a singing cowboy today on St. Louis Daily Photo.

Monday, February 21, 2011

52/365: Okay, Where's Christo?

Mart Building, Wrapped

I was out on my weekend driveabout, looking for material, when my eye was caught by a building wrapped in white sheeting. Oh, wow, has Christo been through town and nobody told me? This is the top of the prosaically name Robert A. Young Federal Building, formerly known as the Mart Building, a big pile of Class C government office space at Tucker and Spruce downtown. I guess the authorities must be doing a rehab job. Better that than knock it down, and better still to do it with an air of mystery.

Winter Opera Accordionist We're playing opera hits on the accordion today at St. Louis Daily Photo.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

51/365: Death Of A Casino

Death Of A Casino 1

There have been a few posts here and on St. Louis Daily Photo about the demise of the casino on The Admiral, once the grand excursion boat of the Mississippi. I happened to drive by the entrance along the river yesterday. It looks sadder and sadder, with only the ghosts of the lettering left. Frequent readers know what I think about casinos, though: social disasters, grifters, predators upon the desperate. I'm not sorry to see at least one of them leave. To paraphrase what John Cleese said in Monty Python And The Holy Grail, they should go away or I shall taunt them a second time.

Larry Fink 1 We meet a master of photography on St. Louis Daily Photo today.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

50/365: Wascally Wabbits


What's up, doc? There is something very disconcerting about Tom Claasen's Untitled (Two Rabbits) in Citygarden. Nice big white fuzzies? Not. They are superficially cute but these things are massive, cast bronze covered with white paint. And, of course, they are faceless and unfeeling. They could crush something on a whim. Run away! Run away!

Labor of Love 8 We've got a portrait of an all around good guy today on St. Louis Daily Photo.

Friday, February 18, 2011

49/365: AT&T


Another shot from about the same location as Wednesday's post, near the corner of 10th and Clark. Both of these buildings belong to AT&T. There is a sharp contrast in architecture and technology. After the old AT&T (Ma Bell) was broken up for anti-trust reasons, these buildings became the headquarters of one of the so-called Baby Bells, Southwestern Bell. That corporation bought the then-moribund AT&T name and began gobbling up most of the other Baby Bells. The old AT&T is now almost entirely reunited. So much for anti-trust laws.

The corporate headquarters is long gone from STL. It's in Dallas now.

Technical note: this picture is an HDR but made with different software, Photoshop's built-in Merge To HDR Pro utility, not Photomatix. It's a little less over the top.

Spheres In Citygarden Today's geometry lesson on St. Louis Daily Photo is about spheres.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

48/365: Haring On Market

Haring On Market Street

The brightest spot in Citygarden, Kieth Haring's Untitled (Ringed Figure). But that means it is titled, doesn't it? Oh, these wacky artists. The figure appears to stand guard over the snow-bordered sidewalk. The snow is all gone now. It got to 70 F / 21 C today and should be at least as warm tomorrow. Freaky.

Old Court House 2011-02-12 1 The Thursday Arch Series is a bit different today on St. Louis Daily Photo.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

47/365: The Back Lot

Downtown View From 10th And Clark 1

We needed some new stuff on the walls at the office so I spent part of Sunday walking around downtown with my camera and tripod, taking artsy HDR pictures of the several courthouses. They were converted to B&W back home on the computer. There is no courthouse in this shot, just office buildings and a garage. The new federal courts building is just out of the frame to the left (see below). When that was built they made this barren little park across the street. I liked the view.

Federal Courts 1 BW The new federal courthouse itself is today's topic on St. Louis Daily Photo.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

46/365: Prisoners On Board

Sheriff's Van

Did you notice the itty bitty sheriff's van in front of the Carnahan Courthouse in today's picture on St. Louis Daily Photo? (You had to. I brought it to your attention.) Here it is up close. What a sheriff does varies by jurisdiction. I once met the law partner of the then-incumbent Sheriff of Nottingham. In our town, the sheriff's department provides courthouse security and transports prisoners back and forth to the slammer. So back off.

If you care to, you can see the whole building with the sheriff-mobile and yesterday's statues on St. Louis Daily photo today

.State Circuit Court 1

Monday, February 14, 2011

45/365: 2-Fer 2

State Circuit Court 3

There's another 2-fer today with St. Louis Daily Photo, a pair of statues flanking the entrance of the Mel Carnahan Courthouse at Market and Tucker. It was for decades the U.S. Court and Customs House in St. Louis, a Depression era federal project. When the feds built the ultra-modern Thomas F. Eagleton Federal Courthouse, the penurious city took this building over for its state circuit court. It is named after our late governor. We'll get to full views of both buildings this week.

I couldn't find anything about the statues online after fifteen minutes of searching, which is about my attention span. This one holds the scales of justice. A fasces, symbol of strength and unity, rests in her lap.

State Circuit Court 2 This is the companion piece on St. Louis Daily Photo.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

44/365: 2-Fer

Serra's Twain and Civil Courts 2011-02-12 1

Downtown St. Louis 365 and
St. Louis Daily Photo have a two for the price of one special today. These are a pair of view of views of the Civil Courts Building, seen here yesterday, through the portals of Ricard Serra's massive steel sculpture, Twain. While the Civil Courts is a jumble of ancient styles,
Twain is at once much more simple and difficult. Certain people howled for its removal after it was installed in 1982. It stayed, thank heavens. The opposite result happened in New York when Serra's 1981 work, Tilted Arc, was removed from Foley Square in Lower Manhattan and carted off for scrap. So we get a one-up on the grand center of art.

Another advantage of a 2-fer is that I can use the same text on both blogs, more or less. Here's the image you can see on St. Louis Daily Photo:

Serra's Twain and Civil Courts 2011-02-12 2

Saturday, February 12, 2011

43/365: Egypto-Babylo-Grecian-St. Louisan

Civil Courts Building 2008-10-26

I've featured the wacky architecture of our Civil Courts Building here and there on St. Louis Daily Photo. The main part of the building is straightforward neoclassic 1920s high rise. The upper part of the building is a replica of the tomb of King Mausolus, built in 352 B.C. at Halicarnassus in Asia Minor. It has 32 Ionic columns around the top, made from real ions. The top has two large sphinxes, facing east and west. There are some fleurs-de-lis, the symbol of King Louis IX of France, thrown around for good measure. You have to wonder whether the designers were smoking something other than Lucky Strikes.

Labor of Love 3 Today St. Louis Daily Photo goes to an art show opening. Someone please buy the photo of the Buddhist monks.

Friday, February 11, 2011

42/365: Treatment For Depression

Depressed Lanes
We call this the depressed lanes, where Interstate 70 runs below street level downtown. The trench separates the city center on the left and the Arch grounds on the right, creating an awful barrier. Discussions of what to do about it have bubbled around for decades. It has often been suggested that we put a lid over it. It looks like changes are about to happen, some of which are wonderful and some of which are insanely awful. A public-private partnership held a design competition to renovate the whole area and a winner has been chosen. You can find out all about it on the City-Arch-River Competition web site.

Many new facilities would be added, the Arch park would be extended westward over a covered I 70 to the Old Court House and beyond and, perhaps, a gondola would be constructed from the south end of the park across the Mississippi to the viewing area in East St. Louis. On the other hand, the plan calls for removing the park's garage and not replacing it, making people use existing garages in the city center. Terrible idea. They are almost all a longer walk, bad for handicapped and elderly people. They are almost all more expensive, in some cases a lot more expensive, and many charge rip-off rates during baseball games. Finding a convenient spot when the Cardinals are playing a day game is nearly impossible. The designers also propose to cut the width of Market and Chestnut Streets in half. That will look nice since they are the main east-west streets leading up to the Arch, but it seems guaranteed to create traffic chaos during rush hour and after sporting events. Part of the proposal calls for removal of the popular and eye-catching waterfall and amphitheater in Kiener Plaza.

Not that I have any input. We will see what happens.

Geese In Forest Park Honk if you like St. Louis Daily Photo.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

41/365: It's Cold. Let's Think Summer.

Dresses For Sale

There may be some relief by the weekend but right now we're stuck in deep winter. Okay, this isn't Minnesota or Manitoba but it got to 8 F / - 13 C last night and that's cold enough for me. I would prefer to think about opposite conditions. These brightly colored dresses were on sale at the Taste of St. Louis food festival late last summer, fabric blossoms on the wind.

Arch And Traffic Signal This being Thursday, it must be time for the Thursday Arch Series on St. Louis Daily Photo.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

40/365: El Supremo

The Supreme Plumber

Faithful STL DPB readers with long memories may remember the Supreme Plumber, a popular post from the first year of this project. Here he is up close, staring across 4th Street at the White Castle, wishing it better karma. This is about my favorite wall painting (or, in this case, garage door painting) around town.

2011-02-06 Orchid Show 11 Have a look at a very abstract orchid today on St. Louis Daily Photo.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

39/365: Lost Downtown? Ask Meriwether Lewis For Directions.

Meriwether Lewis Waives At Traffic Signs

Confusing traffic signs at the foot of Washington Avenue, just at the edge of the levee. Eads Bridge is on the left. The statue of Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark fame, is just down the embankment. Maybe he is suggesting that you keep going straight.

2011-02-06 Orchid Show 1 It's all orchids on St. Louis Daily Photo today.

Monday, February 7, 2011

38/365: It Looks Familiar, Yet...

Arch 2010-09-05 3

On the one hand, you could imagine that this is part of The Terminator's femur, but there is something strangely familiar about it.

Of course, it's a leg of the Arch at night under spotlights. No reason why we can't have a bit of the Arch on this blog - it's downtown St. Louis' most prominent feature.

Brasserie by Niche 3 Roosters go to the Stupid Bowl today on St. Louis Daily Photo.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

37/365: End Of An Era

Along The Mississippi

The Admiral is nearly gone. These two stare wistfully at a great local tradition that is about to disappear (as junior considers a tumble into the Mississippi). It spent decades cruising the river in grand style but its last years were passed while permanently moored, used as a casino. Now it is being torn apart for scrap. Tomorrow's post will be about its last life.

Union Station Great Hall 5 More exploration of the design details of Union Station on St. Louis Daily Photo today.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

36/365: Me Tarzan, You Emily

Ball Pit 1

The indescribably wacky City Museum has been featured on St. Louis Daily Photo a number of times, like here for example. One of its favorite features is the ball pit out front (broader view here). Kids can bury themselves in the spheres, then pop up and hurl projectiles at one another. Here, the heirs to the St. Louis Daily Photo fortune take a turn, with Andy swinging across the ceiling like an ape man and Emily evaluating the situation at the back. Mrs. C watches carefully from below Emily and behind the fence, making sure that no harm comes to her little ones.

Union Station Great Hall 4 - Hotel Front Desk We explore some of the gorgeous architectural details of Union Station today on St. Louis Daily Photo.

Friday, February 4, 2011

35/365: Track 9 3/4

Track Nine And Three-Quarters

I came across something unexpected out in the main area of Union Station, near where the train platforms used to be. That part is a never-really-made-it shopping and restaurant area, with many vacant storefronts. Not desolate, though.

Isn't this track supposed to be in King's Cross Station, London? We don't mind having a branch of the line. If you and your friend Harry need a ride to school head over this way.

Union Station Great Hall 2 - Allegory Window The arts of stained glass and railroading are the subject today on St. Louis Daily Photo.