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Monday, July 30, 2012

Independence Day

I didn't have my kids this year for the Fourth, so I figured on an epic ride and then some hopefully epic fireworks photography.

 We wandered out through the East Bottoms and into the industrial area along Manchester. Along the way, hydrating aggressively, we accumulated the wherewithal to make margaritas during the fireworks.

Corinna was convinced the place I wanted to shoot from was the Chouteau Bridge, and I wasn't 100% sold on this but it was worth a shot.

They had a bunch of roads blocked off for Riverfest, the fireworks I wanted to shoot, of course. But there are closed roads and then there are closed roads, and when you're on a bicycle you can often just greet the cop at the road block in a friendly way and cruise on through.

This is probably because even cops mistake bicycles for pedestrians instead of vehicles, but why fight it?

Stopped at a house near Knuckleheads in the East Bottoms which has, in its yard, about three episodes of Rare Visions & Roadside Revelations material.

Once we were up Manchester a ways, the heat started to get to us, especially Corinna. She wanted to go get in a fountain and I thought the quickest way to make that happen was to backtrack, and I was probably right.

The way we went ended up taking us up Van Brunt a ways, and while we did get to a fountain and cool off, we also got buzzed by a few cars. I think what it is, Van Brunt is so highway-esque people drive about 55 even though I think it's fastest posted limits are 40 or 45; then on top of that you've got the rarity of bicycles in the lane on this road and the prevalence of drunk driving on a holiday.

Then we stopped at a grocery store to get some grub. No bike rack, so we locked our bikes in the airlock by the shopping carts. Nobody could ride off on them that way, and they'd be a hassle to carry out locked to each other with the cable going through the wheels and all.

When we came out and I didn't see our bikes where we left them, I had a stomach-lurch. Store employees had moved the bikes, locked together, to make way for a set of shopping carts.

The bikes were fine, but I was livid. With the cable running through spokes and around derailleurs and all that, it would be easy to fuck a bike up doing that. And we weren't int he store more than twenty minutes.

I was going back in to fill water bottles and a kid who worked at the store laughed and said, "We had to move your bikes, but it's okay."

I told him it was not okay. He didn't know what he was doing, and why don't I go out and move his car for him?

Shithead kid, has no idea what it would cost to fix the shit he could have broken on our bikes or how difficult it would be for us to get back home if they were disabled by his shenanigans.

And it's the store's fault for not even having a bike rack. This is how you treat a customer?

So anyway, we ended up on the Chouteau Bridge on schedule with glasses, citrus juicer, Nikon, tripod, limes, triple sec, tequila, salt and another photographer camped out a few feet away ready to capture the same. We tried to share a margarita with him but he begged off. Later, I realized he looked young enough, he might not even have been of legal age.

Or maybe he was just on the clock. I think the lad is trying to make a living off it, and power to him. As my friend Julie, who's made her living with a camera the past 25 years or so puts it, there are a lot of clowns in that clown car.

And I'd sure be one of them if I could figure out a way.

Downtown was truly beautiful from the bridge, but the first fireworks we saw, which we took to be the show at Riverfest, were so low and small, it wasn't worth shooting.

Then the Worlds of Fun fireworks (we think) started up behind us and we turned around and tried to shoot those a bit. Then the Riverfest fireworks actually started.

I don't know if a filter would have helped, but I wasn't thrilled with the shots I got. Downtown was beautiful, the fireworks were beautiful, but trying to get them both proved almost impossible.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Em was a Bird Girl in the Gardner Community Theater production of Seussical, a musical I first saw last spring after she asked (begged) to go.

It really is a wonderful show, combining the marvels of Dr. Seuss and the charm of Eric Idle.

I sometimes forget how awesome Dr. Seuss is, but a few days after this musical closed, I found myself reading Yertle the Turtle and Gertrude McFuzz to my sixteen-year-old daughter.

And loving it.

She returned the favor by reading me The Sneetches and The Yax.

I'll never outgrow Dr. Seuss.

For that matter, I remember when old Theodor Geisel died, Jess Jackson read Green Eggs and Ham on Saturday Night Live and it was awesome.

And part of what makes it awesome, I think, is how real Dr. Seuss is. I know, it always seems far fetched, but these stories are about real life.

The star bellied Sneetches paying to have their stars removed by the same huxter who sold stars to starless ones? Gave me a flashback to Eighth Grade.

I had some lawn-mowing and paper route money, and went to a store called Chess King. I vaguely remember that the staff was made up entirely of girls who seemed completely out of my league.

I spent a fortune on a pair of parachute pants, largely because these hotties made it seem like if I would only wear them...

I promptly got teased mercilessly at school for wearing these ridiculous nylon pants. Rightly so, they weren't comfortable, they weren't attractive, and they made a lot of noise when you moved around.

I gave up on them, only to discover a couple of months later that the cool kids, the ones who couldn't believe I was a big enough dork to wear these things, they all showed up in parachute pants, it seemed on the same day.

It must have been a good commission month for the hotties at Chess King. And everyone had amnesia about how I had worn this garment just a few weeks before.

And in this election cycle, I've met, first-hand, a couple of Sour Kangaroos. A person who has never done anything without calculating its political or economic consequences simply can't comprehend that some people would want to grow their own food.

I think what bothered me more than the assumption that a desire for an edible yard might translate into cult membership or being a survivalist, was that some foul-tempered marsupial thought such people needed her personal approbation before they could keep chickens or plant row crops that were visible from the road.

Which is exactly what happens to Horton, he gets put on trial not for conscripting the Sour Kangaroo into caring for the Whos, but for trying to look out for them himself.

Anyway, the show was fantastic.

The hair alone was fantastic, actually.

And yeah, I probably took too many pictures.