Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More brutality . .

Here are a couple of my favorites.

Raymond Nichols Hall at KU in Lawrence.

Spencer Chemistry Building at UMKC.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Brutalism, love it or hate it?

Personally, I love it. If you don't know what Brutalism is, here's a pretty simple definition found on archiseek:
    A short-lived architectural movement of the 1960s that set itself in opposition to the picturesque Scandinavian-influenced mainstream of the period, and instead advocated the brutally frank expression of the nature of modern materials, characterized by unadorned concrete and the blunt detailing of joints and openings.

While the architectural movement may have been "short-lived," for obvious reasons buildings in this style tend to last. There are several Brutalist buildings in Kansas City and surrounding communities. Many are university or government buildings.

While this example is not my favorite, I jumped on the chance to shoot it. For me, this style of architecture is pure sculpture with no apologies. It is crustacean-like in form and feeling.

Honest, too. Brutally.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

New Coffee Bar?

Is this a new coffee house in south Kansas City? Maybe a new Starbucks?

Nope. It's inside a church.

The remodeled Evangel Temple on 103rd Street as a matter of fact. There seems to be a trend toward this kind of thing in churches. In my day (and I'm not THAT old) people went out to a restaurant after church. These days people are looking for easier access to after-church fellowship and the coffee bar seems to be the most popular option.

This beautiful room is part of a major addition built by Harmon Construction, Inc. for whom I do a lot of post-construction documentary work. They alway do a fantastic job!

Monday, August 31, 2009

20 years ago . .

The Renaissance Festival starts again this weekend. If you were going to the Festival during the mid-80's you know who this is. For the rest of you, this is Lord Lionfire, the grand wizard of Ren-Fest. He wowed the crowds with his "magical" substances such as early gunpowder and ground metals tossed into a fire. And his show was historically accurate, too!

For a couple of years his was the most popular of the traveling acts. Then, like the burst of fire in his magic, he was gone. We never heard why or where he might have gone. You can't really look up "Lord Lionfire" in the phone book, so if anybody knows what happened to him, please, do tell.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

c. 1923 High School Building

I traveled out of town last week to photograph this beautiful junior high school building for a National Register of Historic Places nomination. Soon after I took this shot I was met at the front door by the school maintenance supervisor. I commented on how great the building looked and its fantastic condition. He told me he thought the building was old and obsolete and should be torn down and replaced with a new building. I was a bit dumbstruck. Maybe from his perspective it was a lot to handle, but that solution seemed extreme.

Most people don't see the value of old buildings, I guess,

Sunday, July 19, 2009


The first in a continuing WTF series, no doubt. Please note that these shots were taken TODAY, July 19.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Where (in Kansas City) was I?

This should be pretty easy . .

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Tiki culture in KC

No, I'm not talking about the junk that passes for "Tiki" today. I'm talking about the mid-century-modern, polynesian popular movement that was born out of WWII veterans' desire to re-create the ideal of a South Seas paradise here at home. A time when themed restaurants and bars featured exotic and powerful rum concoctions served in beautiful and sometimes frightening drinking vessels, all in an environment filled with wondrous decor from primitive islands. And, if you were lucky, it was brought to you by beautiful Hula Girl waitresses.

Kansas City had more than a few such places, all gone now. Trader Vic's in Crown Center, the Kona Kai on the Plaza and at KCI, Brenton's Bali Hai downtown, and the Kon Tiki in midtown, just to name a few.

One that lasted but a short time was the Castaways at 4334 Main. This 12.5-inch matchbook is all that has yet been found from that interesting place. City Directories indicated that it may have opened in late 1959, and was open for business in 1960. Owned/founded by Frank Dunn and his wife Eve, the place featured "Authentic South Sea Island Enchantment"!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

30 years ago . . BANG!

I almost forgot to post this today!

I learned how to photograph fireworks over thirty years ago. The trick is not in the selection of shutter speed, but in the selection of which f-stop to use. Using a slow shutter speed (one second or more) and varying the f-stop gives you more or less of the flash burst. Photography is about light, after all.

The shot above is of a firecracker just before it bursts!

Happy 4th everybody!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

50 years old, or older . .

That's the criteria for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Most people migrate to the "or older" part of that requirement, but the fact is that as of right now, anything built before July 1st, 1959 is potentially eligible. Before you freak out, consider all the great buildings this could include. Like it or not (and I LOVE it) little houses like this one will soon be listed in the NR. Yea!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

30 years ago . .

Actually, it was much more than 30 years ago when I built my first bike from junk I found in the trash. And I was barely a teenager when I first went to a neighborhood welding shop to have some parts made. No matter how old I get, I still want to do this. Now I'm itching for another project, even though I still have the mini-bike to finish.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

30 years ago . .

Hot summer nights at the Rolling Magic Skateboard Park in Johnson County. Even though I was an avid rider, I don't recall ever skating here. I was always too busy taking pictures!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Two wheels are calling again.

Old school all the way. Brown leather rifle case and a big white general's star and I'm there!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More on the benefits of State Historic Tax Credits

With Kansas all but eliminating their historic tax credit program and Missouri beginning to scale theirs back, it's difficult to say whether buildings in this condition would be saved in the future.

If all goes as planned, this Midtown apartment building will be restored to its former glory. While still far from the worst pre-rehab conditions I've ever seen (The Hotel President retains that honor), this building offered a very unusual mix of extreme decay and interesting artwork. Scary AND fun, like a roller-coaster ride through the Guggenheim!

Friday, June 12, 2009

30 years ago . .

From 1970 to 1980, this is where I lived. Located just off Ward Parkway and built by local developer N. W. Dible in the mid-1920's, I consider this to be the house I grew up in.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


This has been buggin' me for weeks. Finally somebody had the guts to say something about it . . and it was MSNBC of all people!

Here we go now! Keep your eyes at 10:00 . . now 2:00 . . now 10:00 . . now 2:00 . .

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Mini-Bike progress

This really belongs on my bike blog, but nobody reads that (nobody reads this either, so whatever).

Chopped some parts off the frame that I didn't need or want and ground off the crappy welds (to be replaced by my own crappy welds). I still need to weld on a new foot peg mount and then the frame will be ready for paint. I'm making a new seat myself.

I really miss the Harley, but this bike will be cheaper to work on. Besides, the mini bike isn't finished yet, so it still holds my interest.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

30 years ago . .

This could also be titled "The arrogance of youth."

I knew it all. I was the best. I was indestructible, infallible, The greatest photographer ever.

Delusional, yes. But still and all, good times.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fidelity Building Penthouse

This morning I had the pleasure of photographing the finished results of many months of work on 911 Walnut, AKA the Fidelity Building. With permission from the owners, we're going to get a little tour of the Penthouse.

In case you're not familiar with the building, it's the tall one in the background.

And here is the focus of our tour:

The tower section houses the bar and game room.

There are a total of four levels. On the second level, this spiral staircase leads up to the terrace.

From the master bedroom on the second level, you can see the spiral staircase, and all the daylight that washes through from the skylight above.

A portion of the first floor area:

On the north end of the first level is a spacious but cozy home-office.

All very nice, you say. But what about the views??


Thursday, May 28, 2009

30 years ago . .

This girl was more of an acquaintance than a friend, really, but agreed to go with me to Loose Park one afternoon for some pictures. She could have easily gone on to become a famous model, but the rumor soon after High School was that she'd become a Vegas show-girl. Who knows, though.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Where am I?

Yes, Walgreen's. But where am I in this photo?

In case you're wondering why I would take a shot of a Walgreen's pharmacy, it's another project for Harmon Construction, Inc. They built it, I shoot it.

Friday, May 22, 2009

30 years ago . .

I can't remember if the Southwest High School fair/carnival was held at the end of the school year or at the beginning. Doesn't matter, I guess. I took this for the school newspaper c. 1978.