Sunday, September 5, 2010

Live at the Gaslight*

One of the cool things about living in St. Paul is the history of the place.  It's a very old city and there are historic buildings and neighborhoods aplenty.  I've been reminded of this lately since I've change my route on my way home from work.  The technically shortest (least amount of miles) way for me to get home is to simply stay on the freeway until I get to my street.  A few months ago, tired of sitting at a complete stop for twenty minutes everyday, I tried an alternate route that turned out to be much faster.  Rather than staying on the freeway and dealing with everyone pouring out of downtown St. Paul, I'm getting off at Grand Avenue and sort of veering around downtown on surface streets.  I get off of Grand almost immediately but the area is very old, and gorgeous.  Every day for the past several months I've been driving past the intersection of Dale St. and Summit Ave. and looking at the buildings on all four of the corners thinking "man, I'd like to take a picture of that."

I've found taking pictures while waiting for a light to change is not an easy thing to do.  Especially at that intersection.  I once got honked at for not moving for the green light quickly enough at that intersection.  I thought it was reasonable to wait for the person who ran the yellow light waaaaaaaaaaay too late to finish turning left in front of me, rather than voluntarily getting into an accident.  The luxury sedan that was behind me (and had been forcibly inserting that BMW logo into my exhaust pipe for several blocks) apparently felt differently about the situation.  All I can really say about that is unless that guy really, really had to poop, he's pretty much a d-bag.  Anyhow, the overall point here is that I haven't attempted to take pictures of that intersection from the car.

Yesterday I finally headed down there with the specific intent of walking around and taking some pictures.  Let me tell you, it was a good idea.  I've been feeling kind of burned out lately.  Between getting sick (and convincing myself in a fever state that the mosquito bites on my legs was actually the Chicken Pox - that's a story for another time), work sucking, a killer three-day migraine, work sucking some more, and some old emotional shit that's been reared up again I just haven't really been feeling good about myself or anything I do.  Which of course makes it harder to put up something here and be like "Hey, look at this, isn't it neat?  Except I don't really think so and, Jesus, I'm a fraud, why even bother.  Etc. Etc. Etc."  ... Kay, that just got a lot heavier than originally intended.  The point, anyway, was that I was feeling very inspired yesterday while I was out taking pictures of pretty houses.  I felt calm and happy and even a little creative.  I really only covered about a mile and a half of Summit Avenue, but I took more than a hundred photos on my regular camera and also hauled out my analog 35mm camera and shot up a roll of real live film.

And I discovered I have no fewer than two new obsessions.  Wrought iron and lamps.  Perhaps they're unusual obsessions, maybe not.  Either way, I'm very excited about them and I'm pretty excited to go out again and find more.  And I'm excited by what I came away with yesterday.  I'm most excited by this pair of door lamps (I don't know - are they still sconces if they're outside?  They're those lights that you see on either side of a door on a house, building, etc.) that were actually on the outside of an otherwise not very remarkable (comparatively, anyway) apartment building.

I don't know these are copper or iron that has naturally acquired that patina or if they've just been painted that way, but I'm absolutely in love with that color.  It's just absolutely amazing.  Furthermore I've always loved any kind of swirling pattern/scroll work.  So I just adore the shape and the flow of these.  I'm not normally a fan of yellow (and especially yellow glass) but it fits with the greenish color of the metal so well that I'm kind of in love with that too.

Lets take a closer look, shall we?

(We shall because I say we shall and I'm the one putting up the pictures.  But I like to be polite about it.)

I should mention that I found these right after I totally got nailed by a condo owner.  The building right before this one - I was taking a picture of the door and this lady walked up and said "thinking about buying that unit?"  "Oh no, just taking pictures of architecture."  Yeah, she kept watching me for a good three or four minutes.  I'm pretty sure she was calling the cops by the time I finally got out of sight.  Downside of taking pictures of houses people are living in I guess.  But isn't that scrolling on top of the glass just kind of... peaceful.  For being a seriously busy piece here it's just so elegant.  Guh, just love it.  I think I would marry these lamps if that were possible.  And if I weren't already engaged to a real, live person and such.  

A closer look at the scrolling closer to the wall.  Man I hope that's natural patina because that's just so much cooler.

Finally what I feel is a real cool angle shot.

This one just does it for me.  I can't say for absolutely certain but I'm pretty sure this is a photo that's going to be on my wall very soon.  (That means I like it a lot.  And I'm proud of it.  Not something that actually happens very often.)

I have loads of other pictures to share.  A whole collection of other lamps.  Tons of wrought iron that totally knock my socks off (but I hate socks, so it's definitely a good thing) and just bunches and bunches or really cool architectural details.  I'm pretty excited about a lot of them, I even have a whole bunch of pictures from two different churches (risking lighting strikes and brimstone just for a cool photo) and, of course, a couple flowers and animals from my walk.  Stay tuned! 

I might even stop mentioning Bob Dylan all the time.  I kind of doubt it though.

*This is also not a Bob Dylan lyric.  But it is the name of a Bob Dylan album.

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