Archive for January, 2015

Winter in the Berkshires

The resonating caused by rocks hitting the ice was one of the most unearthly sounds I’ve ever heard.

Rest Room Signs of North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg, Saxony and Berlin

I forgot to take a picture of the one where I didn’t realize I was in the women’s room because the erratic swoop I thought was peeling paint was, in fact, a “D” for Damen. A woman walked in on me – just washing my hands – and let out a firm but smiling “mm-HM!” which I figured must be quirky Cologne dialect for “Hi!” so naturally I said “Hallo” back, still thinking the bathroom was unisex.

The chicks were at a Japanese restaurant in Berlin.

St. Louis opulence 1880 – 1925

St. Louis was one of the three or so richest US cities around 1880 to 1920 and has perhaps the country’s most extravagant collection of residential architecture in a single neighborhood. Sadly, the houses lie just a few blocks from equally remarkable levels of poverty and desolation of a type unknown in the crowded northeast today.

Especially poignant is the house where Scott Joplin, ragtime composer (“The Entertainer”) and a key grandfather of jazz lived during the height of his career. The house lies preserved in an empty wasteland where the decay was so extreme the neighborhood of once-stately row houses has been wiped clean, leaving only the occasional auto body shop.

St. Louis – The Largest Collection of Original Victorian Pavilions Outside of Kew Gardens

St. Louis’ Tower Grove Park is said to have the largest intact collection of Victorian-era park pavilions – a dozen or so – outside of London’s Kew Gardens. Also, there is  abundant evidence of St. Louis’ once-large German population, long since dispersed and assimilated nearly without a trace. The zinc stag came from Berlin; there are statues of Alexander von Humboldt and Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (sometimes called “father of the American military” for his essential service in the American Revolution and who was trailed by rumors and public accusations of homosexuality), and others by a German sculptor.