Thursday, May 31, 2012

Swirly Slurry

I was headed for the art museum the day I found these slurry
seal drawings on a gas station parking lot. For all the
efforts I make to "keep my head on a swivel," to look and see 
everything around me so I don't miss a thing (or get run down by
a beer truck), I end up with literal street art.
These look like the maintenance men used a big sumi
brush dipped in ink to fill the cracks in the asphalt.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Ayres' Clock

When the L.S. Ayres Department Store opened in 1905, 
it was the first true department store in the city, with a different
department on each of its eight floors. At a time when the shipping 
of merchandise from the coasts was, at best, time consuming,
the store had dressmakers for the ladies and furniture and frame-makers
located on the premises. As the store grew, it expanded its customer
base by having merchandise available for people from a wide
economic spectrum, including a basement store for the more
budget conscious buyer.

The clock was added to the front corner of the building in 1936.
Weighing 10,000 pounds, the clock quickly became a familiar symbol
of the store, viewed each week by an estimated half million people.
In 1946, one of the store's advertising artists suggested that
the Ayres Christmas catalog be decorated with drawings of cherubs;
at the end of World War II consumer manufacturing was still
sparse and the catalog needed something to fill empty pages.

The cherub was so popular that its image returned to the catalog
in 1947, while a bronze recreation was perched on the clock
on Thanksgiving Eve. Created by Indianapolis sculptor,
David Rubins, the 3-foot tall cherub watched over Christmas shoppers
until late Christmas Eve, when it disappeared to allow Santa Claus
to perform his duties. The Cherub performed admirably until 1992,
when it was taken to the May Company executive offices in St. Louis.
Public outcry was such that May Company executives finally relented 
and donated the Cherub to the custody of Downtown Indianapolis
in 1994, returning it to its annual vigil. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Textured Tuesday: Sunlight Off of Water Over Sand

I can hear y'all now, "Yeah, sure."
When I saw this cotton top in the window of a nearby
clothing store, it reminded me of the way
the Coke Field creek looks on a sunny day. 
When I lean over the bridge I see the sun reflecting off the 
ripples in the water, while farther below the sand
shows the ripples made as the water flowed over it.
Then there's my shadow overhanging
the whole shebang.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Tired, Overheated, Resting ...

Yeah, I cut it close ...
The race started at noon (I honestly thought it started 
at 1 p.m. My bad.). I left the house at 11 to walk over to the track,
a trip that takes about 45 minutes. I got to my seat about
15 minutes before the start of the race, where I was joined
by about a quarter million of my closest, race-loving friends.

The temperature reached about 95 degrees F, about 120 degrees F
on the track surface. The racing was hot, with a lot of lead changes and
very few accidents, It took Dario Francitti less than three and
a half hours the drive 500 miles to win his third Indy 500.

Everyone in my area seemed involved in the race,
but it was too hot to be rowdy; there was more water
being consumed than any other beverage. After the checkered flew,
it was the signal for everyone to begin their journeys home.
Most people went to cars parked somewhere in the neighboring 
streets, yards and parking lots of the Town of Speedway.
The scene below is of the first part of the crowd to leave the 
track's gates. Like me, the folks are walking along
22nd Street.

Maybe their cars were parked in one of the yards, 
or at the Speedway Shopping Center about 
a mile further west.

A number of children take the opportunity to sell 
ice cold drinks to tired, overheated race fans.
Many of them making a profit.

After the engines have been quieted and the aroma of tire rubber 
has been wafted away into memories, the scent in the air
is of brats and body odor. Tired people make their way to
the air-conditioned comfort of their cars, RVs, or ... something,
where a little girl's offer of a glass of lemonade is an oasis.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Where I Live ...

I went to the Speedway last Saturday to watch the Pole Day qualifying.
I got there about 8:30 in the morning so was able to watch most of 
the morning practice session. I went to Grandstand E, outside of
Turn One, where I could see up the Front Straight into Turn Four, 
all of Turn One, the South Chute and most of Turn Two.
No wonder I've never been able to get a race day seat there!
Not only was the view great, but I was in the shade and enjoyed
a pleasant breeze for the seven hours I watched the cars.

Detractors will say that the "500" has suffered in popularity 
over the past 20 to 30 years. They base this on the fact that the stands
for qualifying are not nearly as full of spectators as they
were in earlier decades. I prefer to believe the fall-off in spectators 
is because there are so many more outlets and ways for people 
to spend their money; no longer is the Speedway the only game in 
town as we have a high-quality professional football franchise,
a very good basketball team, a nice AAA baseball team, as well as
any number of other entertainment venues that didn't exist 30 to 50
years ago. Add to that the fact that satellites and computers mean we can
watch the Qualifications from our homes on our televisions
and/or our computers. So why sit in stifling heat or drenching rain?

Yet, there is nothing at all that can be as visceral as the sounds of
engines, the smell of tire rubber as thirty-three brightly colored cars rush
at speed into Turn One. Somehow, most of the drivers, most of the time
get it figured out. It's a physical and mental endurance challenge
I have always admired. Many of them are triathletes, which only seems
like a natural outgrowth of the drivers' conditioning regimens.

Many of the homes in Speedway are decorated
for the occasion, some are comparatively understated,
like the home above, others are more involved, like the
home below. Either way, it's like Christmas.

As I've mentioned before, a lot of homeowners open their yards 
to out-of-town spectators, providing parking spaces,
as well as water and toilet facilities. I saw this sign last spring, as well as 
decorations in another yard I hope to post within the next day or two
(I've lost the original image, so need to return to the house to take
more pictures.)

P.S. The Lotus cars su-u-u-u-u-ck, their qualifying averages 
being a full 12 to 16 mph slower than the pole-winning car,
7 to 11 mph slower than the slowest Chevy or Honda.
This is a serious concern as the cars will very quickly be overwhelmed
by the swarm of cars that will overtake them within a few laps.
I feel sorry for Jean Alessi and Simona De Silvestro,
the Team Lotus drivers. Wha' happin'?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Man Ray in Speedway: Floating Buckets

Left to guard half of a newly painted speed bump, 
the painter's buckets seem to float in the air.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Red Dust and Marge Simpson

The brick pavers on the sidewalks of the Monument Circle 
area of downtown Indy add warmth and relieve the otherwise cold
gray appearance of the surrounding buildings. A large expanse
of these pavers was added last summer along Washington Street and
have added to the beauty of the restored storefronts. 

Every once in a while, however, the pavers need 
to have maintenance work done to replace any broken 
bricks and to rebuild any of their base layer that has become 
loosened due to the upheavals caused by weather.
Last Monday, I found a group of the maintenance men working 
at the intersection of Pennsylvania and Ohio Streets, 
some cutting and fitting the pavers, others sweeping and 
brushing brick dust into the seams between 
the bricks. 

One of the men had his hair wrapped in blue cloth to keep 
it from becoming soiled from the brick dust. He reminded me of
someone, whose name I couldn't recall at the time.
Marge Simpson, perhaps?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Gettin' Their Groove Back

For quite some time, the United States Federal Court House 
building has been undergoing restoration. The results are beautiful, 
which I showed in another post earlier this year.

Among the work being done is cleaning and repair 
of four limestone sculptures by John Massey Rhind
Representing Industry, Agriculture, Literature and Justice
and meant to show the foundations of American society,
the sculptures are were placed at the front entrances 
of the building in 1906.

Last winter I noticed that Industry was missing her right hand.
Last week, I saw workmen on a scaffold placing a new hand and 
hammer on the statue. I stopped by yesterday to watch
the men cleaning and sealing small fissures in the statues, as well
as the seams between the massive blocks of limestone
from which they are carved.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Spring Jewels

Yesterday afternoon, I caught a glimpse of ruby red jewels 
dotted among the new leaves of a neighborhood
Japanese Maple tree. Those trees produce beautiful colors
year-round, but in spring they can look like 
 sunlight through stained glass.
The little seeds have red wings and,
when caught by the sun they produce
a bright, shimmering red, a bit like ruby earrings
worn with an emerald gown.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Textured Tuesday: Sun Dappled

Early morning,
the sun breaks through the trees
in dappled patches,
creating a path of gold coins,
like dreams,
to be picked up and followed.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mummies at the Speedway!

I live close enough to the Speedway that I can step 
outside my door to hear the cars' engines as they speed 
around the track. I contemplated staying home 
to watch the Pole Day qualifying on TV and the IMS website. 
The track is almost my favorite place in the world, 
next to the river, but the days when I could and would spend all day 
in the sun have been over for quite a while; I love the warmth, 
I will walk for miles to take pictures, but stand all day 
in one spot to take pictures? Hell, no.

But when I learned that the band Here Come the Mummies 
would be playing after qualifying was over, staying at home 
was suddenly not an option. They are a funky rock band
with sass and brass - damn good musicians, all with Grammy awards - 
percussion, brass, and guitars blended to a happy
mix that wins fans of all ages, young children to grizzled
partyers, wherever they go. 

I got to the Speedway at about 8 AM to watch practice 
and qualifying from the Turn 1 grandstands, then walked 
to the infield where I sang and danced for nearly two hours,
enjoying every chord and beat of the Mummies'
happy vibe.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

During the month of May, many people who have homes 
near the Speedway rent out parking space 
in their yards to race-goers. 
Some people pocket a nice bit of change,
offering extra amenities such as ice and rest-rooms
to their customers, a lot of whom return
year after year.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

IMA Ravine Garden

Known as the Ravine Garden, this one-acre area is a part 
of the Oldfields Estatethe former country home of the Lilly family. 
The house was built in the early 1910s by Hugh McKennan Landon 
as part of a real estate development known as the Town of Woodstock.
Landon, an executive with the Indianapolis Water Company, 
commissioned landscape architect Percival Gallagher of Olmsted 
Brothers to design the original gardens for the estate.

The Lilly family purchased Oldfields from Landon
in 1932, making changes to the home after the purchase
as well as other additions and alterations over the years.
The Lilly family lived at Oldfields until 1966,
when J.K. Lilly Jr. died. His wife Ruth had died
the year before and the house and grounds 
were donated to the Indianapolis Art Association
by the Lilly's children, Ruth Lilly and J.K. Lilly III,
to be used as the site for a new museum,
which opened to the public in 1970

A couple was enjoying a quiet afternoon below the Ravine Garden 
on the grounds of the IMA. They are sitting beside a path
bordering the Central Canal which forms the western boundary
between the Museum Grounds, and the 100 Acre Park.
Is it a coincidence that a water company executive built his home
overlooking his company's canal?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Just Folks

It's about 4:40 PM and all we want is to get home.
This bus is always full.
After work, a lot of my co-workers and I make a dash for the bus home.
It is virtually always packed with people, standing room only.
If we happen to miss the bus, we have to wait about forty minutes
 for the next one going downtown. A lot of us, including myself,
have to make a connection downtown to the bus that
will take us the rest of the way to our homes. 
If we miss that connection, it can be as long as an hour 
before the next bus is scheduled to arrive.

When I ride the bus to work in the morning,
the other passengers are usually all workers for downtown
businesses or students.  We are all alike in that
we are just wanting to get to our jobs so that we can
put food in our kids' bellies, clothes on our backs and
a roof over our heads -- as do the people who
drive to work. I will be the first to admit that a great
many of the people I see at the downtown bus stops are
less than reputable, but that problem would remedy itself,
as would problems with scheduling, if more 
of the office workers left their cars at home.

To say that the city government has no regard or respect
for commuters who use the bus system would
be putting it politely at best. Consequently, the Indygo bus system
is the "red-headed step-child" of the city/county government.
They all seem to have forgotten that the people who clean 
the offices where they work, who serve them in the restaurants
and cook the food, who file the paperwork, who park the cars, 
who make the beds in the hotels that host the city's sports events 
and conventions -- all of them are likely minimum 
wage workers who also take the bus to their jobs.
If they could not get to work, then business would
likely come to a halt. When was the last time
a CEO bused his own table, emptied his own waste basket
or unclogged his own toilet? 

From time to time, plans are floated to the public about
prospective urban rail systems, but so far its only
lip service; somebody, somewhere, is making too much money
from the parking garages, as well as the new meters that have been installed
by an outside vendor, which splits the proceeds with the city/county
government. Obviously, an improved bus system that actually
is well-scheduled, well-run and that works for
the commuter would be a threat to the sweet amount 
of pocket change received in parking fees.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Tulip Tree

The Tulip Tree, or  yellow poplar, was designated 
as the state tree of Indiana in 1931.
Officially named Liriodendrum Tulipifera,
The tulip tree has broad, uniquely shaped leaves
and produces its yellow-green blossoms
each spring.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Crossed Feet

Occasionally, I will be joined at the corner bus stop 
by a young woman on her way to classes 
at one of the nearby hospitals. Unlike many other students,
she always looks tidy. And I envy her her ability to 
stand with her feet crossed at the ankles
without tipping over.
How does she do that without tipping over?
On her, the posture looks cute and feminine,
while I just look like the cow that tripped
over her own feet on the way to 
setting off the great Chicago Fire.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Textured Tuesday: Lichen

I was first attracted to the subtle coloration
of the lichen and moss against the gray bark of the tree.
Then the lichen seemed to have strewn itself
across the black area, looking like its own little galaxy. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Resale Shop: Sequin

Sometimes I feel like 
the last remaining sequin 
on a well-worn party dress, 
hanging by a thread, 
the little bead anchoring me 
holding on for dear life, 
for fear we'll go hurtling 
through space to land, 
lost forever, in that black hole 
that is a crack in the floor, 
the tuft of a carpet.

Bereft of our sparkle, 
our jobs lost in the memories 
of gay, happy girls 
who danced and laughed. 
We sparkled along with them
then were relegated 
to the back of the closet.
Luster faded as, in the dark,
one by one, sequins and beads 
broke away and, like dreams,
fell into the dust on the floor.

Still, one last sequin and its bead,
retain some sparkle, a glint that shines, 
a hope of emerging from the dark 
to dance, one more time
 and to enjoy the smiles 
of a handsome, laughing man.  

Sunday, May 13, 2012

O'Keeffe Iris and Dinosaur Sighting

I love the colors and velvety textures of flowers.
It's no surprise to me that Georgia O'Keeffe
was able to create such sensual, sexual images.
The lore of the birds and the bees we learned as kids
became erotica when the flowers were
enlarged into the adult pleasures of
Ms. O'Keeffe's canvases.

This morning, I walked into the Valley of the Orange Barrels
where I saw a large white dinosaur on its way
to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for opening day festivities.
I think it's about a 1957 Chrysler, but not certain.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bus Stop Gold

I dunno whether people who drive to work see the world 
differently than I do. I drag myself out of bed, 
somehow, for whatever reason, 
looking forward to what I will see at the bus stop.
That's especially true this time of year when 
the sun casts a fresh golden light as it rises 
past the tree line and the rooftops.
And this is what we get - rich, crisp color
that brings out the shapes of the
new spring foliage.

This is an average neighborhood where nearly 
all the houses are at least fifty years old, and the main 
shopping areas are a couple strip malls.
But walking along the streets here 
I find things of beauty, such as the pink flowers
against the yellow-green foliage and
the sun-drenched grass accented by  droplets
from the early morning rain.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Heart's Sentry

I can feel your eyes,

C'mon, baby.

C'mon, baby, c'mon.

Sweet baby.

Kind and quiet man,

with laughing eyes

and a gentle smile.

I'm waiting for you.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Puffy the Sunshine Slayer

The day was sunny, the sky was full of beautiful, 
puffy clouds of the kind you see in paintings.
During my break I went out for a walk, a nice breeze 
pushing the clouds eastward, towards us. I knew
it would be likely to rain before I got home.

The sun did hold until I got downtown,
its rays bending and bouncing around the clouds
that had converged over the evening commuters.
The rain started to fall as I was riding the bus home.
A real gully washer, it only lasted a few
minutes and, by the time I was dropped off
at the corner, I was greeted by the sun.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

They Look Nice Together

A few days ago as the sun was setting, the late afternoon light 
made these little purple guys just glow and, coupled 
with the way the color of the rose was repeated in the base 
of the purple flowers, my eyes fell in love.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Textured Tuesday: L.S. Ayres Building

The L.S. Ayres building, located at the corner of
Washington and Meridian Streets in Indianapolis, is like an
old friend to me. Now an anchor of the Circle Centre Mall, the store
was my first employer when I moved to Indianapolis.
'Though out of business for years, due to being swallowed
up and killed off by big, corporate chains, the
building remains a beloved icon to many people
in the city, myself included.

Sunday morning, I was on my way to another event
inside the mall when I happened to look up at
the building. It was like seeing something for the first time;
yes, I knew all those decorative details were there, but
suddenly, there seemed to be an awful lot
of them in one small area.
And why had I never before seen the way
those bricks are layed at angles, giving the building
surface added dimension and definition?