Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mismatched Mishmash

Look closely at this building in downtown Washington. The front mansard looks ok. The back, not so much. And there's a lot more going on- the parking lot wall, the facade of the store, the AC units, the windows on the 3rd floor of the south elevation. And yes, that is a deck off the back wall.

The awning announces a small grocery store, Droege's. You have no idea how hard it was to get a decent picture. I had to drive around the block 3 times to get a picture from all angles. It didn't help that my husband's camera was having focus issues.

Tonight young Audrey has been invited to a rollerskating party at the Skatium down in the Carondelet neighborhood. There are TONS of mansards down there, good and bad. Wish me luck in getting a picture of some of them.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dancing with the Little Flower

My second oldest daughter takes dancing at Little Flower, a Catholic school over in Richmond Heights. Found this bad mansard right behind the parish facing west. I thought there'd be way more bad mansards in that neighborhood (bound by Clayton Road, Big Bend, Laclede Station and Highway 40) but in the 4 years Audrey has been dancing this is the first one I've found.

Miss Marilyn is the dance teacher at Little Flower and imagine my surprise when I realized she was my teacher back at Mark Twain Elementary back in the late 70's/ early 80's. We thought she was so grown up but she was probably only 25. She's around 60 now and looks fantastic, wearing the same leotard, skirt and high heel tap shoes wore back in the day.

I learned a great life lesson from Miss Marilyn. The class was broken into two groups for the recital and my friend Erika and I figured out we were in the less coordinated of the dances, Funky Town (or maybe it was Eye of the Tiger?). Thinking the decision was unfair, Erika and I marched up to Miss Marilyn and demanded an explanation. Without missing a beat, Miss Marilyn explained she knew we were better dancers than the other girls our dance group but could we please stay in those dances? She needed us to be leaders and show the other girls how the dances were properly performed. We replied of course! We danced in Funky Town and knew how grateful Miss Marilyn was that we were leading the others.

Miss Marilyn still rolls out Funky Town and Eye of the Tiger for recitals. Erika and I continued to question authority. In 4th grade we petitioned the principal to discipline teacher Miss Chung because we thought she showed favoritism. 5th and 6th grade found us in different classrooms until I moved to Webster for junior high school.

Erika lives in Madison, WI and continues to be somewhat of an activist. I find myself a little more conservative than her and now our sparring is with each other. That is a good thing and makes life interesting. We can agree that our friendship has been long, vodka is good and Miss Chung was wrong in 1980.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Grove

I think this mansard is so cute. One of you architecture people- help me please. This building isn't perfectly rectangular. It's more like an uneven parallelogram or a trapezium. It's really not a Flatiron building either. What would it be called in your architectural parlance?

Anyway, it attractively sits at the corner of Manchester and Tower Grove catty corner from Sweetie Pie's restaurant.

I'd like to go on record at this point. The Grove is the worst name ever to describe this upcoming (up came?) neighborhood. I lived in Webster Groves for many years and we've always called it "the Grove." Confusing to now have two Groves.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

de la Ville ou rurale?

City or country? This bad mansard looks like it should be out in Jefferson County or Franklin County complete with a septic tank, munitions dump and a pack of stray dogs. I wanted to get just a little closer to check the place out (is that a lawn jockey?). I thought about driving on the parking lot to get a better picture but imagined the crunchy noise my minivan would make. Fearing an armed woman with a cigarette dangling from her mouth may jump out from behind the evergreens, I decided against pulling up to the house.

But this house isn't in the country. It's a stone's throw from Highway 44 near Arsenal on McCune street in St. Louis City. Just a slice of worn wooden mansard heaven in our city's boundaries.

Back in 2009 I mentioned my comparison of wood siding to the girls I knew in college who smoked and tanned. Neither ages very well. I stand by that comparison.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Quelle Horreur! Gravois.

An open letter to Gravois Avenue:

Dear Gravois. What the hell is the matter with you? Or, really, WTF? You are a mess. No matter the weather, time of day or day of week, you are all messed up. Everything. The cars traveling on you, the lights that regulate you, the folks trying to cross you. I know Gravois means "road to the dump" in French, but it's getting ridiculous.

I must stop at every. single. light. And even though there is a light and crosswalk about every 50 feet, there are oblivious jay walkers sauntering across the street. And there are car crashes and broke down cars and cars going 50 MPH next to cars chugging along at 15 MPH.

I beg for Todd Waelterman, director of St. Louis Streets, Traffic Lights, Crosswalks and other stuff, to fix Gravois.

Gravois, you provide the most direct way for me to get where I need to go. But the lights have gotten so ridiculous that I am better off taking 55 to Germania or 44 to Kingshighway or Sidney to Grand. For now, I quit Gravois. When it gets better someone let me know.