Monday, August 29, 2016

Count Time

This one was hard. According to The Fringe website, Count Time "tells the story of Patricia Prewitt’s journey through decades of incarceration for a murder she did not commit. Accused and wrongfully convicted of murdering her husband, Patty has served thirty years of a fifty year sentence with no hope of parole until 2036. Ms. Townsend interviewed Patty Prewitt and all the other living people portrayed in this searing and moving testimony to the enduring spirit of human survival. We hope to convince Governor Nixon to commute her sentence and set her free."

The one act play traces the story of Prewitt's life, from hard childhood to tumultuous marriage to horribly unjust conviction to decades in prison, arising from small-town Missouri egos and politics. It was a gut punch but, in the end, I am glad I experienced it. Actress Elizabeth Ann Townsend's performance was extraordinary.           

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Origins of Love

Quotations from Shakespeare about the formation, joys and unraveling of love. Cabaret song, from tender to passionate, about the intensity of the experiences we go through. Chicago-based trio Terrie Carolan, Khnemu Menu-Ra and Antonio Rodriguez expressed these feelings in an hour of gorgeous music.

Carolan's voice kept a perfect balance between sweetness and power. Menu-Ra's tenor carried intensity from pianissimo to forte. Rodriguez had a high, sweet tenor tone that reminded me some of Art Garfunkel. Beautiful singers, beautiful art. One of my favorites from the Fringe Festival.        

Saturday, August 27, 2016


So many pictures, so little time.  One of the productions I shot at the St. Louis Fringe last night was a series of five brief acts, all 20 minutes or less, performed in a tiny space, in rotation throughout the evening. 

The first and third photos are from a play with choreography about a woman who became a dancer, despite much pain in her life. (The first one makes me think of Canio in I Paggliacci.) The second picture is from a play about a very intelligent and morbidly obese woman called The Imaginary Boyfriend. I have no idea what the fourth one is about. This young man was bouncing and tumbling around the small room with The Who's Cobwebs And Strange playing very loudly. The last one is from a dance piece done nearly in the dark, lit only by strips of LEDs and flashlights.

Final shows this afternoon and tonight. Still time  to get over there and see some great work. Closing party at KDHX on Washington at 9 PM.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Lou The Flamingo

The St. Louis Fringe has a new mascot this year, Lou the Flamingo. I'm not going to try to figure out the significance. The bird is not native to our area. Citygarden already uses the flamingo as a sort of a mascot. But, hey, it's cute and funny and gets your attention. And it's not nearly as dorky as Fredbird

Back shooting the last two days of the festival starting tonight. Lots still to see. Locals, check out the schedule and buy tickets here.           

Thursday, August 25, 2016


So one of the variations on the Fringe's Midsummer Night's Dream parody was what you might call a rap-off. Cast members wearing oversized baseball caps, including the traditional New York Yankees' hat (although the one in the third picture says Pickleman's Cafe - just a little extra joke), assume the identity of a character in the play, hurling rhymed insults at one another. Demetrius calls out Lysander's momma. Oberon and Titania diss each other over Pucks tricks. And so on. Pretty clever.

It's been a really bad week at work and I had a couple of thousand pictures from last weekend. Tough doing sorting, editing and getting posts written. I'll plod ahead as I can. More to come this Friday and Saturday.   

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


One of the sections of Or What You Will was a skit called Consent. A way too peppy teacher is talking to what appear to be a high school sex ed class. The students are bored into a stupor. It's all that no means no and yes means yes stuff. Can a man go onto the, um, next step without specific consent from the woman, a spoken yes? No, teacher. And so on.

But eventually the subject of Puck comes up, although not by name. Is it okay for someone to take a juice from a magic flower and sprinkle it on the eyes of a sleeping person, making them love the first person they see when they awake? No, teacher. Has the sleeping person given consent to fall in love with that first person? No, teacher. At which point the actor playing the sprinkler states in a stuttering monotone I am sorry I did the wrong thing. I will go away now. The actress playing the sprinklee says in the same kind of voice I do not wish to marry you. Goodbye. Cut. 

As Puck himself said, what fools these mortals be.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Or What You Will, Part Deux, Part 1

Ok, so I think this is the deal. Start with Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. (You know it, right? Or not.) Apply William S. Burroughs' (a proud son of St. Louis) cut-up technique, using scissors to slice pages of text into chunks and re-arrange them randomly. Turn the drama into a contest, scene versus scene, with the audience voting for their favorites.  Attempt to perform this with a group of young actors on acid and speed. You may end up with Or What You Will, Part Deux.

I don't have time this morning to provide more details but this deserves another post. We're going to the baseball game tonight so I'm not sure when I'll get it uploaded.           

Or What You Will Par Deux 7

Or What You Will Par Deux 5

Or What You Will Par Deux 9

Monday, August 22, 2016

Keith Joszef's Unspeakable Acts

We did four shows at the St. Louis Fringe Festival yesterday. All fascinating, making it hard to pick just one for the blog today. Or What You Will, Part Deux has to make into these pages. It was like Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream on acid and speed. But today's feature is magician Keith Joszef. We've seen other magic acts in the previous four seasons of The Fringe but nothing like this. 

Joszef appears to swallow eleven sewing needles from a wine glass. Then he puts a length of thread in his mouth. A moment later, he pulls them out one by one, the eyes perfectly threaded. These were real needles. There was no question when I zoomed on them during editing. How? How?

Of course, there were unfathomable card tricks. In the bottom photo a dollar bill vanishes from his hand while an audience member grasps his wrist, insuring that nothing went in or out of his sleeve.

Before the performance I asked Joszef if there was any part of the act he might not want me to photograph. Nothing, he said. He can manipulate the camera as well as the eye. I tried to figure some of these out by zooming way in. No way. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016


Five shows to shoot yesterday and I thought four of them were terrific. (Nobody's perfect.) Hard to choose which to feature today. I absolutely must get to the Donald Trump puppet show musical, but this one was a stunner.

Dancer Melanie Harvengt and choreographer Paige Walden-Johnson presented a 40 minute modern dance performance called Finite/Infinite. It was inspired by the works of Søren Kierkegaard, although it wasn't necessary to know his philosophy. The setting was a black box theater. The dancer was surrounded by white, silver and clear balloons. Photos do not convey the whole effect.     

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Why They Call It The Fringe

I shot my first two performances at the St. Louis Fringe Festival last night. There are a total of 16 shows on my schedule for this weekend and next. This show was called With/Within/Without. Four young women knelt or sat on the floor on colored cloths, something to do with earth, air, fire and water. They recited arcane, New Age-y texts. The words were hard to hear over the loud ventilation system but it was something about breathing with your tongue out and trying to feel like a tree.

The audience was given a piece of candy, something that made a sound and something with a lot of texture. Then they were asked to put on blindfolds. After about 20 minutes of recitation all the lights were turned out. The audience was invited into the center of the space to do I don't know what. No light, no photos, so I was on my way. This wasn't really up my alley.

I'll be posting about the festival for days to come.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Wet Oysters

What to shoot when you have absolutely no idea what to shoot - the rain-spattered covered patio of the Broadway Oyster Bar, home of very loud rock bands, a variety of mollusks and bivalves, and all the Budweiser you can swallow. Taken from the parking lot of the White Castle across the street.

The St. Louis Fringe Festival starts this evening. Your humble photographer will be in attendance, recording it all; or, perhaps better put, all I can stay awake for. Hey, they gave me a press pass! We'll be out late tonight so first pix maybe Saturday morning U.S. Central Time.

Oh, but Saturday is also Madeleine's third birthday. Gotta squeeze that in, too.        

Thursday, August 18, 2016


From the top of Art Hill, down the hill towards the woods surrounding Shakespeare Glen. The Chase Park Plaza Hotel and condos, a local institution, are in the backgroud.

Excuses made in advance: I've been pretty bad about leaving comments lately except on weekends. Work has been . . . well, I'll bite my tongue. But, as I mentioned on Facebook recently, the St. Louis Fringe Festival starts tomorrow night. I am the house photographer this year and I'll be shooting 17 performances over five days, this weekend and next. Gonna be a little busy but I hope to have first pix up Saturday.     

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Parasailing Made Easy

Another airborne device on Art Hill. I watched with interest as this man carefully unpacked and spread out his parasail. The wind was favorable, essentially blowing up the hill from the Grand Lagoon. He put on the harness and gave the whole thing a tug. The wind filled the sail and he, well, just kinda walked down the hill with the wing floating above him.

I thought it was terribly disappointing. I expected him to lift up on a thermal, float over the lagoon and then then soar off toward the airport or something. (Which would have resulted in either danger or great amusement. A good story in either event.) Maybe my standards are too high.            

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Octopus' Garden

The title of one of the few songs the Beatles let Ringo sing. At least one of them is still trading off the old fame. Paul McCartney played at our baseball stadium Saturday night. I declined to pay $300 for a ticket. My sister and I did attend the Beatles second concert at Shea Stadium in New York - OMG, 50 years ago next week. It cost $5.75.

But I digress, as is so often the case. I was walking around Art Hill last weekend desperate for some material when I found this remarkable cephalopod. Not entirely self-propelled but visually arresting.             

Monday, August 15, 2016

A.D. 1901

In many other cities, say, in the Northeastern US or in Europe, a building of this age might be rehabbed as needed, well cared-for and in vibrant use. Well, this is the American rust belt. I'm happy to report, though, that people were going back and forth inside with construction materials. This part of the South Side is in flux, part in complete decay and part the beneficiary of urban pioneering.                     

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Black Lives Matter

Look at the sign in the window. To whom? The riders?

On Manchester Avenue in The Grove. Remember, Ferguson is in St. Louis County.            

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Back In The Pack

You see this in bicycle, horse and automobile racing, and sometimes with runners. Someone else is clearly out in front. How do you break out of this without injury to someone or smashing your bike?             

Friday, August 12, 2016


Big time bicycle races in The Grove neighborhood. There is a kind of closed-course street bike race called Criterium. No, not criterion. No idea how the word was made up. But then I'm not much of a cyclist. The last time I got on one I needed a steroid shot in my knee a couple of days later.

I was amazed at the riders speed. Having a tripod helps capture it.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Peinture En Plein Air

Captions in French two days in a row, huh? Must be getting snobby. I'll have to speak in more guttural tones soon. The reasons will be apparent in a month or so. 

This young man was doing his thing just across North 14th Street from the sign in yesterday's post, part of the little street festival in Old North St. Louis. The painting was far from finished so I have no opinion about it. But what's that in the lower right corner? A child's car seat? Tell me if you see something different.            

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Crown Candy Kitchen

A St. Louis institution lies two blocks down from the bath house seen in Sunday's post. Crown Candy Kitchen is 103 years old, makes ice cream and candy in house and serves fabulous lunches that have been condemned by the American Heart Association. Visitors to our town would never stumble across it. The location is not far north of downtown but it's not on a through street and some of the surrounding neighborhoods aren't so great. 

Still packs in the locals, though, with absolutely no marketing. These photos were taken around 4 PM. The people in the right of the top picture are waiting on line to get in.

And you know, I've never set foot inside the place. Sometimes there is a conflict between recording the image and living the experience.