Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Roof Car

Okay, it's not like I didn't know it was there because it was one of the first things I heard about when I moved to Indy. I will say that I expected something a little more distinguished; I'd thought a guy put his race car on top of his business, and maintained it's appearance. One is supposed to honor and respect the people, animals and machines that do well for you. Not this.

The car is a roadster, built by Kurtis-Kraft in 1954 and designated model KK500C. It was sold by Frank Kurtis to a pair of  Indianapolis car dealers to compete in the 1954 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. Driven by Bill Homeier, the car started eleventh, but finished last after a pit accident on lap 74. The following year, it was driven by Sam Hanks, started sixth but finished nineteenth after experiencing transmission problems on Lap 134. 

The car had it's best result in the 1956 race, finishing second, again with Sam Hanks as it's driver. After the 1957 race, the car was sold to a group of Indianapolis businessmen who owned the Safety Auto Glass Company on Southeastern Avenue. Despite several attempts over the next few years, the car never again qualified for the "500." During it's last appearance on the track in 1961, the car was backed into the Turn Four wall by driver Bill Randall. 

Since it was probably outdated and had become uncompetitive, the car's owners put the car on the roof of the business, crumpled tail and all, where it has been since. It was blown off the roof during a storm in 1964, but was quickly returned to it's perch.

The car has borne the dreams of men with honor, been driven by two who went on to win the Indy 500, and itself finished as high as second. From distinguished career, to decoration, to derelict it straddles the corner of the building. Traces of its lettering and numbers remain as it decays, like the painting of Dorian Grey, taking on the ravages and disappointments of time. Each year we renew our own Indy hopes and dreams with newer, faster cars and young men and women to drive them.

We age, but the dream remains young.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Looking for Shade

I walked around downtown all day tending to business, but looking for pictures, too. One thing I had in common with all the people I met was that I was looking for shade; whether it was under a tree or along the side of a building, we wanted respite from the sun's glare.

The sun shone it's light on and through the green and yellow stripes of the plantings outside the Chase building on Monument Circle, and lent an air of privacy to the little pocket of shade outside the Firehouse Building on East Washington Street. I may have been looking for shade, but what the sun gave me was contrast.

Whew... shelter from the sun as well as some pretty pictures.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Truck Porn

Well, I won't go so far as to say that Speedway, Indiana is the only town in the United States where this could happen, but it's one of about thirty cities across the country where you could say, "We're gonna have about forty-five shiny big trucks parade through town" and a batch of people would show up to make a party of it.

Front grill of  the truck owned by Roush-Fenway Racing,
which hauls cars driven by Carl Edwards

And, boy, did they show up! Two rows of semi-tractor haulers, parked in two rows, nose to tail for over a half mile along Speedway's Main Street were greeted by people young and old, big and small. They ooohed and awwed, asked questions, took pictures of their kids, had pictures taken of themselves in front of their favorite driver's car hauler.

I wandered for an hour, walking first down one side of the display, taking pictures as I went, where I saw a lot of people doing the same. Then I returned, coming back between the two rows of these beautifully designed and polished behemoths. Brightly painted, they are rolling displays for their corporate sponsors. A circus come to town for a few days' run, then taking the excitement to the next city the following weekend.

While most of the haulers have a contemporary appearance,
that of driver Tony Stewart's has an almost retro feel 

Rear end of the hauler for driver Kyle Busch's cars.
Any guesses as to which products he's promoting?
Sadly, there is something wrong with my mouse - it won't allow me to crop my photos as neatly as I prefer, so I'm only posting a few of the better full frame images. Maybe in a couple days ...

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Summer Color

I just wanted a splash of color today. 
The coneflower and her garden pals provided just the thing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Woo Hoo! I Feel A Breeze!

On my way home from work I stopped at the grocery for a few items, then walked the rest of the way home. For the first time in weeks, the heat wave had broken long enough to bring people out of their homes. Yes, it's still warm but there was a nice breeze to invite people away from the A/C.

Among them were the members of the boys' soccer team from Speedway High School, taking a run around the park before starting a pre-season practice session.Then a bit farther on, a woman sheperded her young son across the street so he could ride his tricycle on the park's jogging path.

And not far behind came Alex, followed by his mom pushing his new baby sister her her stroller. They, too, had a park excursion on their agenda, with maybe a stop at the playground.

Everyone agreed, it was finally nice to be outdoors without the sun bearing down, adding to the grumpiness and irritability of big and little folk alike.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Try the music and all the colors it conveys. 
Maybe you'll find something you like.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Natural A/C

I noticed the man sitting at his open window to smoke a cigarette and read his newspaper. Then I noticed all the rectangles creating the pattern and the tenuous  balance of the window and granite cornerstone. What's not to like, except the sight of an otherwise nice-looking man sucking little bits of fiery embers into his lungs.

Here's another fixer-upper available to a prospective owner wanting a potential income-producing property. Trouble is, for as much work as this building needs, I'm in love with the rubbed turquoise finish on the bay windows.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bassoonist and Mummies

These paintings were done to relieve the usual wooden monotony of boarded over storefront windows. I think they were done by students and have been in place for several years. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra has offices nearby (the concert hall is a restored theatre on the opposite side of this building's back wall) and it looks as though they may have sponsored the project.

I think the paintings are colorful and charming and I hope very much they aren't destroyed when restoration work begins on the building.

And just because everyone else includes videos in their blogs, I wanted to do it, too. So here is "Single Entendre" by Here Come the Mummies.
Tain't the ISO but it sure does party!  

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Qwacked Up

Yesterday I strolled away from my usual path to explore the renovations being done to buildings along Washington Street. When I moved to the city in 1978, the Indianapolis downtown area was, if not exactly dead, comatose, bedraggled and drab. Over the years, huge progress has been made to develop and to restore the downtown area to make it more attractive to shoppers, visitors, investors, et cetera.

A large part of this effort has involved saving the older buildings and restoring them for use. In some cases this was not possible, but the buildings' facades were rescued then incorporated into new construction. Among these buildings are the Circle Centre Mall and the Emmis Communications offices on Monument Circle. The result has been eye-pleasing facades that appear to provide a rhythm and texture to what would otherwise be drab walls.

McQuat Building during its restoration in 2010,
 looking like it's wearing a puffy ski jacket

The McQuat Building interests me because it was, in turn, a McDonald's then a Burger Chef when I first was working downtown. For years, it's been vacant, the black metal exoskeleton that covered it becoming increasingly unsightly as the years passed. Recently, it was purchased and restoration efforts have given it a new and beautiful lease on life. Originally built in 1901 by brothers Andrew and William McQuat to house their furnace and tinware business, the new owners plan for the building to be used for retail on the first two floors, with residential apartments in the remaining space. Look at the old girl now! With it's exoskeleton and "puffy jacket" removed, the beautiful lines of its cast-iron facade are once again revealed.

The restored exterior of the McQuat Building
reveals the lines of its original cast-iron facade
The building's simpler lines provide excellent company and counterbalance to its neighbor at 22 East Washington Street, which houses Red's Classic Barber Shop. All around the neighborhood, facades that have long hidden beautiful buildings with ugly attempts to "update" them, are being stripped away. About the only good thing about these coverings is the notion that they may have saved the original surfaces from some of the ravages of smog and chemical pollution.

When the weather cools a bit, I will make another effort to take additional pictures of some of the other buildings. In the mean time ...

Oh, my! They are pretty!

Detail of the building at 22 East Washington Street,
which houses Red's Classic Barber Shop
Oh, yeah, before I forget, the first photo is of the shattered glass in the door of another restoration in process. Could this be a visual interpretation of having "the scales fall from one's eyes?" Once gone, that door will not be missed.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Too Hot To Trot

The temperature hit 100 degrees F. in Indy for the first time since 1988. Surprisingly, there seemed to be a lot of people out at lunch time, but there wasn't the usual bustle to get somewhere NOW! Like me, they seemed to stick to the shady bits as much as possible. I saw one poor worker climb out of a manhole, then head directly for the cool environs of his truck cab.

One happy crew seemed to be the window cleaners who were taking a people-watching break. They were washing the windows on the south side of the Chase Bank Building on what has turned out to be the hottest day of the year. I don't think it should be any surprise to see that none of the men seems to be over thirty.

The buildings shown below are, from left to right, the Sheraton Hotel, Christ Church Cathedral, the Columbia Club, and the former American Fletcher Bank building which is now Chase (the building behind it is the Chase Tower).

I particularly liked the decorations on the Columbia Club, especially a unique pair of frogs, both of which seem to share an appropriately pissy attitude.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Paving the Way

It's about eight in the morning and, as a breeze still wends its way through the area, crews are busy all around downtown, trying to get as much as possible done before the heat of the day smothers any urge to work. The men in these pictures are working to repair and replace brick pavers that have become loose or broken in the streets and sidewalks around Monument Circle.

The photo above shows an air hammer being used to chip away the underlying cement and base, not only to improve the foundation for new bricks, but to prepare it for new curbing. It's a fairly selective annihilation; even as the workers pull up the existing bricks, they're trying to save as many of the pavers as possible. Not only will this cut down on the expense for replacements, it also helps to maintain a kind of patina from daily use, which the new pavers would not have. The piles of bricks below will be blended together as they are laid in order to avoid too much contrast between old and new.

The man below is taking a few moments to verify his calculations for the number of pavers needed to complete the project. As the project manager, he's hoping he won't need to order very many more of them, if at all. Lying on his foot he has a working drawing of the area and in his hands a little contractors' reference manual used to look up formulas for various calculations. 

He's got a bit of figurin' to do because the bricks are not only being replaced as needed, their numbers are being increased with changes in the layout of the streets and sidewalks. The following photo shows the markings made at the northwest corner of the intersection of Washington and Meridian Streets; it appears Washington Street is being narrowed with the sidewalks to become wider to provide a more friendly, boulevard atmosphere for pedestrians. The white marks indicate the cut lines for the workers who'll remove the pavement, but the writing indicates "Do Not Cut Bricks." Earlier I'd seen an older layer of bricks beneath the existing pavers. Perhaps they plan on using some of the them, as well, if they can be salvaged.

There aren't any letters to give a clue to the meanings of the orange and red hash marks, but that's a question for another day. These markings extend from the pavement on into the sand and gravel base of the new work. The ones shown above lie to my left as as I looked west on Washington Street to take this picture.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Yeah, Riiiight

Actually, I could have made this picture look worse. 
This homeowner is in the process of cutting out old hedges 
and laying brick for a walkway.
I think he put the sign on the pile himself.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Above It All

A visitor grabs a bit of quiet time in the air conditioned Artsgarden, located above the intersection of Washington and Illinois Streets in downtown Indianapolis. He is facing east watching the west-bound traffic on Washington Street. Completed in 1995, the Artsgarden connects the Conrad hotel and Embassy Suites to the Circle Centre Mall and serves as both a performance and exhibition area throughout the year. There is also a kiosk where visitors may obtain information about various local events, as well as purchase tickets.

As seen in the above photo, the Artsgarden is a pleasant place to pass time, meet friends, perhaps have a bite to eat. In warm weather it provides respite from the heat and in winter one can watch the snow fly all around without being in it.

The exterior shown above shows the Artsgarden as seen looking west 
from Washington Street.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Accidentally Just Right

Every once in a while, you see something that does its job, but at the same time is also visually arresting in an unexpected way. So it was with the "privacy screen" on this Speedway porch. The rhythms and contrast set up by the varying numbers and widths of the laths make it "just right" and definitely more interesting than if it were "perfect."

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Loo with a View

I went to work on Friday, a short-term temp assignment. Of course, I took my camera with me and found several opportunities for pictures, including portions of the brick-paved sidewalks and streets near Monument Circle. There is a lot of construction taking place downtown, primarily maintenance and improvement of existing streets. It's time for the bricks to be reset because the base has loosened or worn away, causing the pavers to rattle and rock when walked or driven on.  

The reworking in this area of the brick pavement appears to be an effort to make a bigger arc in curbing at the street corners just south of the Monument. (An arc in a corner? Huh?) The bricks were first laid about thirty years ago in an effort to improve the appearance of the Circle and to attract visitors to the downtown area. During the Christmas shopping season, the Monument is decorated with strands of lights and becomes "The World's Largest Christmas Tree."

I took a number of pictures through the bus window as we rode into town, among them the pictures of the new Wishard Hospital construction site below. The hospital began as City Hospital in 1859, opened first to treat victims of a smallpox epidemic, then served as a military hospital during the Civil War, treating about 13,000 sick and wounded soldiers. The hospital changed and grew with the people of the city; among many other "firsts," being the first of the city's hospitals to treat African-American patients, to admit African-American physicians to practice at the hospital and, in 1943 graduated its first class of African-American nurses from their diploma nursing program. 

Since 1909, Wishard has been affiliated as a teaching hospital with the Indiana University School of Medicine. With that affiliation and growth, the hospital building has become a warren of tunnels, clinics, offices and hallways to the point there was no other place to grow. In 2009, Wishard reached a land lease agreement with IUPUI to allow the new facility to be built. It's expected to be completed in 2014.

I am going out on a limb, but I do believe the concrete column above is an embryonic elevator shaft. At top left of the column's forms there is a green rectangle which has all the proportions and appearances of a portable toilet.
Right now, the penthouse with the best view around is a green plastic outhouse, a loo with a view.


While there have been as many as five cranes on site, this photo shows only three. The area surrounding the main construction site is a small village of contractors' shacks, replete with various types of heavy equipment. Obviously, it's a hole in the ground that needs my attention, but I need to figure out how the SDP camera can get to it. Hmmm.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Daily Routine

I love the morning light. I like the way it brings a golden edge to everything it touches, the way it infuses the day with hope. Anybody who rides the bus must carry a mote of that golden promise with them because it takes faith to believe that the underfunded, under-equipped, and under-scheduled public transportation system will get them to work on time. Most of the time it does, but those days it does not can easily result in awkward explanations to one's supervisor, even job loss.

One day while riding the bus to work, I took a look around and saw people, themselves on their way to work, trying to keep roofs over their heads, food in their kids' bellies and clothes on their backs. They were people who do the "grunt work"  -- customer service representatives, accountants, maids for the many hotels downtown, waitresses and cooks in the restaurants, practical nurses and orderlies for several hospitals, personnel who clean the offices, security guards, baristas, et cetera -- a work force that is generally treated as if they are invisible that would suddenly be missed if they could not get to their jobs.

The "city fathers" tend to treat the system as if it were their proverbial "red-headed stepchild," to be ignored, abused and neglected. Generally, the buses seem to be regarded as the transportation system of the poor, the elderly (poor), the blind (poor) and disabled (poor). Visitors to our city invariably turn to the buses to visit our numerous  attractions and are, again, invariably amused and dismayed at the system's scheduling and routes. 

There have been recent efforts to improve the system, the drivers are usually courteous and considerate in sometimes difficult circumstances and, while cuts have been made in some routes, efforts were made to improve connections between others. Plans are in progress to build a light rail system and to add service to outlying areas. So ... maybe? 

We'll see. With the economy in doldrums and governmental squabbling, the city fathers may suddenly find there's a knot in their pockets and not be able to raise the stepchild's allowance. 

One can only hope.

"And now for something completely different."

The picture above is of another Speedway landmark, the Mug'n'Bun Drive-In on West 10th Street, which has been in business since 1960. The place has a national reputation for its home-made root beer as well as a menu chock full of every standard American drive-in staple one could ever think to order. The store's appearance is unpretentious, but the treats inside keep people coming back for more. Yum.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bees' Knees

I have a secret: I want to have bee hives of my own to tend, watch and harvest, as well as just sit and take pictures. I've been waiting for them to appear in a patch of coneflowers near my home.  Today, I was able to stop to watch them work. They're not honey bees, which are too fast for me to get pictures of, but I like their earnestness and complete concentration 
on their job.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Concrete Images

I went out today looking for one thing, turtles, but they'd hidden somewhere in the creek bed. However, I did find children's chalk drawings on a sidewalk and a brand new hole in the ground that I just had to inspect. The drawings tell me there's a kid in the area with some talent while the hole revealed the textures left behind by the backhoe and the sand dumped in to cover the gas valve that had been replaced.

There were two people making art today: the kid with the chalk, and a man who scribed textures into  the cement with his backhoe.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hard Rockers

Last Saturday, I met a friend for breakfast at a nearby chain restaurant. We'd earlier dismissed others in their turn - "that's crappy," "that sucks" and just plain "yuch." We didn't want "Mickey D's" or the area "MediCare Lounge." 

While the only other choice was itself not a site for cuisine, it was something we could agree on. We both love tchotchkes (not to buy so much as to look at) and the restaurant has an ersatz "old country store" crammed full of little toys, decorative items, clothing and my favorite candies, "King Leo" peppermint sticks. One of my purchases years ago was a stuffed plush opossum with a naked pink tail and little ears. It grossed me out so much I loved it. I took it to the boat where it was put on a shelf, its tail draped artfully over our bed's headboard. 

One of the store's trademark items are the rocking chairs shown in the top picture. They can be had painted in one's school colors, or with a design scheme to honor the various military branches. In the evenings around dinner time, people will sit in the chairs, visiting, waiting to meet friends and family for dinner. As you can see, the rockers are linked together with steel cable to prevent theft. So, if you and your family want to rock, you'd better do it in unison.

All chime in and
Rock on, baby!