Archive for the ‘Postcards’ Category

I’ll continue my run of posts on writer/director Greta Gerwig tomorrow but wanted to share a photo I took yesterday of a nicer than average Florida sunset.

As I driving east toward downtown Orlando I saw a man looking to the west with his camera pointed at the sky. “What’s that dude taking pictures of?” I wondered. When I looked into my review mirror I saw the sunset.

Knowing that sunsets fade quickly and that I needed something in the foreground. I drove about 100 yards and just stopped my car in the middle of the street by the Orlando City Stadium and got this shot with my iPhone.


Scott W. Smith

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Postcard #156 (The Blackhawk Hotel 2.0)

I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass
A Long December/ Counting Crows


When I was 12 years old I remember thinking it odd that I had yet to know someone who died. But that would all soon change. Then back in ’95 I had four family members die over the course of the year. That was a tough year.

I’ve known four people who’ve died just in the past month alone including someone today.

It’s hard for death not to make you melancholy.

Just before Christmas I learned that Dan Tindall had died. He was an architect in Iowa who in 2002 bought The Blackhawk Hawk in Cedar Falls with ambitious plans to renovate it. It really was a key piece in turning around the Cedar Falls Main Street into a quintessential Midwestern Main Street—with a modern twist.

For the last six years I lived in Cedar Falls my office was just a block away from The Blackhawk Hotel and Dan hired me from time to time do do some photography and video work to promote the hotel. (Including the above photo and video frame from a screen grab back in 2010.)

Dan was a conversationalist and fun to talk to as he’d always have a story about a trip to Turks and Caicos, the historic difference between a hotel and a motel, or an observation about human nature. I’ll always be grateful to Dan for comping me a room for talent I used on a short film, but more so for the way he supported the arts in the Cedar Valley and helped transform Main Street.

Earlier this month a portion of downtown Cedar Falls was named to the National Register of Historic Places. Dan and his wife Kathy didn’t need to spend their time and money renovating The Blackhawk Hotel, but I’m sure glad they did. Generations to come will enjoy the fruit they planted 15 years ago.

Related post:
Postcard #59 (The Blackhawk Hotel)

Scott W. Smith

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For the last few days I’ve been working on condensing a massive amount of digital files. And when you do something like that you stumble across a few gems. Here’s a photo I took while photographing Gary Kelley’s artwork for a multimedia project we were working on a few years ago.

Gives you a little glance into Gary’s process. If I recall correctly, he had The Silent Clowns by the late film critic Walter Kerr on hand for the title cards he was designing that captured a WWI silent film era.

Here’s a 2013 promo by the Waterloo Cedar Falls Symphony for that production.

Related posts:
Mr. Silent Movies
Silent Screenwriter Dies
Harold Loyd v. Buster Keaton
Writing the Artist
You Tube Film School (Early Film History)
Artist Gary Kelley Paints the Cloud in Iowa

Scott W. Smith

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“What does love look like? …It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”
Saint Augustine, Confessions

Late Saturday afternoon I drove into St. Augustine, Florida passing over the Bridge of Lions and because the light was fading quickly I had to double park to take this photo with my iPhone. St. Augustine at sunset is a visual feast I never get tired of seeing.


Scott W. Smith

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The past week has been crazier that most which explain the largest gap between posts in maybe a couple of years. Trying to get back in the saddle with a photo I took at  the end of November. It’s at the Vero Beach Museum of Art . They have a current exhibit of Master of American Photography which includes the work of many that have inspired me since I was a teenager; Ansel Adams, Arnold , Margaret Bourke-White,  Edward Weston. But the piece I really wanted to see was was Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, taken in 1936.

It’s one of the most well-known photos in American history. And it’s a photo that’s not far from The Florida Project that I’ve been writing about since that movie came out last month.


Here’s a little history on the photo.

Scott W. Smith

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I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by…
Sea Fever by John Masefield


I have a few more days of posts related to The Florida Project movie, and today’s is semi-related.  The Magic Castle hotel featured in The Florida Project is a real hotel located on Route 192 in Kissimmee, Florida. Head west on 192 and within 10 miles you’ll be at any Disney park. But if you head east on Route 192 and drive 80 miles you’ll drive directly to the boardwalk at Indiatlantic, Florida.

And if you drive two miles to the south on A1A you’ll be at Melbourne Beach where I took the above photo yesterday. I’ve been going to the beaches in this area since I was a child.

One of my fondest childhood memories was a vacation at Sebastian Inlet just south of Melbourne Beach where at 12-years-old my Uncle Jack took me fishing and let me drive a boat for the first time. I’m not sure there’s a more idyllic memory from my childhood.  Sebatian_2824.jpg

Uncle Jack was known to others as Jack Wilson, and he died earlier this month. He was the captain of the 1949 Ohio State football team that won the Big Ten Conference and then beat Cal in the Rose Bowl before 100,963 people packed into the stadium in Pasadena. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1950, but back then a career in professional football wasn’t a lucrative as it is today. He ended up in Melbourne, Florida spending his career with the Harris Corporation. 

Related post:
Postcard #115 (Sebastian Inlet)
Postcard #116 (Space Coast Sunrise)
Postcard #34 (Sea Turtle)

Scott W. Smith

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In a semi-related connection to The Florida Project movie is Busch Gardens in Tampa Florida. Long before tourists started flocking to Orlando for Disney World vacations,  Busch Gardens in Tampa was one of central Florida’s major attractions. (Disney World was called The Florida Project back in the sixties as it was being developed.)

When Busch Gardens opened in 1959 it was more of a zoo than a theme park with an emphasis on animals, gardens, and free beer. With Walt Disney World opening in 1971, the architecture eventually gravitated toward the African continent with touches of Nairobi, Morocco, Egypt, and the Congo and more thrilling rides were introduced as a way to compete with Disney. Busch Gardens captivated me when I first visited as a young teenager because my world then did not really expand beyond Florida.

I went there yesterday for the first time I’m guessing 20 years. Things have changed quite a bit since the Anheuser-Busch sold the park in 2009. There is no longer free beer, but there are more rollercoaster rides than ever. The Serengeti Plain area is still there where giraffes, rhinos, and elephants roam free. There is an old, quaint nod to the early days Busch Gardens (the skyride), but it’s obvious that they’ve also retooled it to compete with family tourism today.

Here are two videos that shows the contrast of the older Busch Gardens and what it’s like today.

Scott W. Smith

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