Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Architecture and Shape: Arches

St. Louis is filled with a variety of architectural styles and shapes. I never fail to be amazed by the many glimpses of beauty I am treated to throughout downtown alone on a regular basis.

Downtown, of course, is home to the granddaddy of all arches, the symbol that, to many people, the city is synonymous with: the Arch. Well, yes. There is that.
After all, 630 feet of gleaming stainless (in both height and width) is a little hard to miss. But long before THE Arch and even long before its designer, Eero Saarinen, were thought of, St. Louis was awash in arches.

Let me show you what I mean.

First stop: Eads Bridge. Predates the Arch by almost a century. Have to think Saarinen found some inspiration here ...

At the corner of Sixth of Washington, is 555 Washington. This is one of the oldest extant buildings downtown (c.1870-ish). And, it is also full of arches.

Likewise a block away at the Missouri Athletic Club where the marquee and first-floor windows make my point.From there, just look across the street to the Roberts Vista. (The J. Kennard Carpet Co. building.) There's more of those arches!
In fact, the arches cover this building from top to bottom. This building is an early illustration of how the detail of an arch can break up an otherwise towering building of squares and rectangles.

Go a few blocks back down Fourth Street, toward the heart of downtown, and head up Pine until you hit Broadway. There you will find the two-towered Marquette Building.

Built in 1913, it was already a half-century old when they started building the Arch! More proof that the shape has dominated St. Louis architecture for more than a century.

If you have a certain view like some people do (oh, like maybe ME!) you can see that it, too, is topped off with arches.

Go down any block in downtown, any of them.

I defy you to make it all the way down a single street without being able to spot at least one arch. And, I'd even be willing to bet that you could spot a whole lot more than just one.

Even though downtown's modern architecture bent has been more focused on triangles and cubes, I guarantee that you will still find arches neatly tucked away somewhere.

The ultra-modern 600 Washington, which takes up a good chunk of Sixth Street, and is a study in cubist construction can't help but get in on the act.

So the next time you're surrounded by skyscrapers, (especially if you're in St. Louis) look up and look around. See any arches?

I'll bet you do.

Monday, January 23, 2012


“And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” – Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

I am, by both propensity and profession, a writer.

D*mn, it felt good to type that … and for that, I owe thanks to Morgan Freeman. (Yes, the actor.) I thank him for reminding me that bad, good or indifferent, that is what I am. I should neither profane it nor profess it begrudgingly.

Freeman was on Oprah’s “Master Class” last night, one of her new shows on her OWN network. I have always liked Freeman. I remember him from The Electric Company. Rather humble beginnings for such an incredible performer … but there you have it. Unlike so many who hit it big, he remembers it, too.

I knew I would enjoy this interview; I just didn’t know how much. As a writer, I am, by nature, a storyteller. I love hearing other people’s stories and, for much of my life, have relished the opportunities I’ve had to share them with others in my own personalized way.

At one point, I could have sworn that Freeman was speaking directly to me. The introductory subtitles on some of his lessons, struck me that much.
· Nurture your natural gifts.
· Keep your principles.
· Follow your muse.
· Listen to others.

And I’m sure there were one or two others I found just as relevant but that are escaping me in my sleep-deprived state. But those were pretty awe-inspiring for me as they were each paired with some of his personal experiences. One of my favorite anecdotes from the interview was when he lost a job as a clerk/typist and, by virtue of being on unemployment, was obligated to go out and look for new work as a clerk/typist. During one of his meetings with an unemployment counselor, he explained that he just couldn’t justify continuing to seek work as a clerk typist. “I am an actor,” he boldly pronounced to Mrs. Lipton. (He even remembered her name.) She approved his extension with: “You’ve got six months. Go be an actor.”

And he did.

For everything in his life, every decision, opportunity or setback, Freeman attributes it to providence. He referred to a poem, Desiderata, -- Latin for “desired things” -- that I had never heard of, but that I now know I will never forget. (You really should go and read it. Trust me – it will be worth it.)

Something Freeman didn’t mention, and may not even know, though I bet he does, is that Max Ehrmann, the man who wrote that poem, seemed to have a hard time finding his own niche. “At age 40, Ehrmann left the business to write. At age 54, he wrote Desiderata, which achieved fame only after his death.” (Wikipedia)

It took about 45 years between the time the poem was written (1927) before it joined the mainstream. (1971-72). Makes me think all the harder that I need to decide what I want to be when I grow up … and go be it.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

So far, so good

Crazy ... I haven't even blogged yet and this year is two weeks old!

It's been a busy time. Things have gotten off to a good start. In fact, here I am at my scrapbooking weekend. Needing to go and get coffee, but otherwise GREAT! Fun times, great folks and laughing, laughing, laughing. There can never be too much of that.

So, here's to a fabulous weekend. Excuse me while I get back to it ...