Wednesday, June 28, 2006

When inspiration hits

I'm usually thunderstruck by the odd places that I find ideas. The car has always been a goldmine for me, something about the fluidity of thought as the landscape waves by-- no rhyme or reason, just my head working without my thoughts being truncated. That's a rare thing, especially these days when I seem to constantly have five voices in my ear (real ones, mind you) needing something, complaining or asking questions. I never quiet the other stuff enough to think.

And in recent weeks, I have been bogged down. First, with the end of the semester, then with getting the bar ready for summer, then with the 48 Hour Film Project. Now, Sarah and I are full swing into our research and grant writing process for our writing program. But there are still some days when all that I do begs the question of creativity and satisfaction and much of it seems like a band-aid. So, I look for surprises. The other night, while closing down the bar, I was talking with Don Beasley, who never fails to impress me with his mild manner and even temperament. He was telling me about the Compound, a place he and his friend Ben run that records music for local bands-- for free. As Don kept talking and telling me about his projects, I kept thinking... wow, I never knew this.

And so a plan was launched, a late-night, sleep-deprived, sober idea of a South Side project, a project to bind different groups and individuals together, a project to gain greater visibility, to help with networking, and a project that seemed so simple in its idea and yet one which seems to have escaped it all. We're still giving birth, and I don't like to talk about things until they are something I am doing. But this one's been in my head all week, and his too.

The point is, sometimes you just don't know where you'll find the answers. I found mine after cleaning the toilets on Saturday night, in the bar where I always work, with someone whom I often talk to. I think when you look for the surprise, there's always a reward waiting. We'll see if we have something to offer.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Myself, as a photograph

Now, imagine my hair the color of corn in September.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Red Bones

For anyone who reads our blog, you know that all the Royale kids are big fans of Red Bones Den, up on the North side (Kossuth and Vandeventer). Bones' joint is like a drinking contradiction of terms. It's lit up like a Christmas tree and from blocks away, it beckons in the night. The lit palm trees glow in the window. There is a huge garden (not open at night) and a nice sized bar. The tables and chairs remind me of an old style soda shop, those red vinyl chairs with the heart-shaped backs. There's a small dancefloor, a nice juke box, and (Abbie's favorite), a disco ball. Above the bar, there's a picture of Bones with Muhammad Ali in the seventies. Above that, are a bunch of antique farming implements.

The place is gorgeous and immaculate, but it reads like someone's personality: inconsistent and fractured in places, boastful and yet shy, raucous and yet refined. Each time I have been there, the waitresses have been crazy friendly. Red Bones always comes over to say hi to us and talk about business. Last night, Diane came over and talked for quite some time-- about them closing for the summer, about their farm, about the Bonettes (yep, you read correctly), and about boat races. We invited the whole gang down after they close in July-- for a patio party at the Royale.

There is something so great about going into a bar where you are not a regular and being treated by family. There is something even better when, in this city, where the color line is so visibly marked and so many people stay on "their sides" the fact that color does not make a difference. Red Bones is just a good joint. And the people are even better. Everyone came over to talk to us, laugh with us. We even met our new friend Tomcat, and I have a feeling he's been called that since way before Hollywood co-opted the name.

My biggest sadness of the week though, Red Bones is closing down at the beginning of July for the summer. "Gone fishin'" as Diane put it. Won't be back open until Sept. So if you have an inkling, and you should hit, hit Red Bones Den before the bears sleep for the summer. In the course of my bar writing the last several months, few places have affected me like Slo Tom's, Red Bones, and Gino's Lounge. It will make you forget about the South side and want to keep migrating North.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Mad Art

All right ya'll... there was some beautiful art to be seen in this city last night (check previous post about the GAS show). Around 11, we swung by Mad Art (2727 s. 12th, just south of Sydney, across from the Brewery). There was a hoppin' after-party.

I love Mad Art. They are good folks, and Ron, Andrea, and Tracy have helped out our causes and our businesses an awful lot over the years. I was thinking last night as I strolled through--the same thing I always think: what a damn cool place Mad Art is. I have been there to see films, art exhibits, for Elvis parties, bands, rallies, and art exhibits. I have seen boxing matches there, filmed there, and held fundrasisers within the walls of that old police station. And it's a beautiful building, by the way.

Last night though, was a bit different. There was a vibe, and perhaps because many of the party-goers were from out of town (wearing nametags and sporting looks that said Not-From-The-Midwest). Inside the main gallery, there were maybe fifteen collections of work by glass artists. My favorite: the gigantic snowglobes. There was also a collection of glass skulls in varying colours and layers (even an American flag one). There was, oddly, several baseball themed pieces of art-- glass baseball caps, a glass bat and glove. Everything you looked at was striking in its vision and its craftsmanship.

And then there was the drinking under the tent outside-- the braintrusts that were going on, the fire dancing (and fire eating) that was happening in the driveway. It was fantastic. I was glad all those out of town kids got to see a piece of STL that we see all the time. Long live Mad Art.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Through the Looking Glass

St. Louis gets left out of the loop a lot, especially in the art world, which confounds me at times. Yep, we're tiny by many respects, but we do good things. And someone somewhere is noticing.

This weekend brings the 36th Annual Glass Art Society Conference, "Meet in the Middle" to St. Louis. This is a huge thing in the art world of Glass. In the past five years, this conference has been in NY twice, Seattle, Australia, and Amsterdam. So to come to St. Louis, surely that's a sign of progress.

Galleries all over the city are having special exhibitions this week to garner traffic from the conference. This is not Chilhully, but a whole cadre of glass blowers with different talents and styles. Apparently, this is also not the St. Louis that everyone on the coasts has been ignoring for years.

My picks for the best shows this weekend:

Art St. Louis' exhibition of local glass artists at the Old Post Office downtown (917 Locust, 3rd floor). Featuring over 41 local artists, this event will perhaps shed some light on the STL glass scene.

Hoffman LaChance Fine Art in Clayton (7533 Forsyth) presents Jason Anton through the end of the month, with a reception Friday, June 16 from 7-10 pm. Referencing the Italian tradition, this artist from Ohio will present several pieces which work in varied textures and layers, using color to create beautiful works of art.

Hoffman LaChance Fine Art, 960-5322

For more shows and information, check out the Glass Art Society website:

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

"A Holiday to Remember"

This is what it looks like to make a 48 Hour Film Project.

No rest for the weary, but a lot of fun, some laughs, and a hole lot of learnin'. Go see the films at the Tivoli Theatre in the Loop on Wednesday and Thursday. The Best of St. Louis 48HFP will be next Thursday, the 22nd at the Tivoli. Check out our film, "A Holiday to Remember", by Superfriends.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Oh, Caesar...

I just spent hours in the park on a beautifully chilly June night. I was drinking Sangria, eating yummy food, and watching a little Shakespeare. I would like to be cultured, and indeed I am in my own roundabout way, but to be honest, Shakespeare doesn't do that much for me-- nor do plays. That being said, i went last year for the first time to see Shakespeare in the Park and I eagerly awaited it this year.

One of my favorite things about St. Louis is that things are free. I appreciate this because I am poor, but mostly I appreciate that there are people and organizations and companies who believe that certain things should be free. It's the old Peale concept of a common culture, and I like it. We do share experiences by experiencing culture, and we each take something different away.

I don't know of too many other cities that have free admission to all their public museums. Or that have parks like Tower Grove and Forest Park-- parks that are huge and beautiful and free, and ones that are used so often by so many for so many diffferent things. We can go to the Science Center, the zoo, the Art Museum, and the History Museum all for free. That's a great city. And then occasionally, you get these little bonuses-- like Shakey.

So the production was good. But to be honest, a night sitting in the park, alternately staring at the sky and at small children playing in their parents laps-- that was better. I love looking at people, thinking about where they come from, who they are to each other, how they got to where I am. And I love that such a revered cultural artist's work can be viewed, in all its splendor and original intention-- for free.

Even though Ceasar dies, I say long live the arts in St. Louis.

Oh, and by the way, they are matching donations dollar for dollar-- also pretty cool.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

48 Hours of Fun

When you're driving all over town this weekend and you keep thinking something strange is going on... It is. The 48 Hour film project hit St. Louis tonight. 48 teams, almost 1000 people will be running about the city and area shooting short films. This is our third year doing it, and it's always the best weekend I have each year. Pictures will follow, but keep your eyes open.

Monday, June 05, 2006

I Think of England

Ahhh... football. And not the big stadium, million dollar comercial variety. I mean Football, like the game we do actually play with our feet. Like the game that’s on the cover of National Geographic this month-- the one they say unites the world. The game that causes riots and is known for drunken fans and hooliganism. The game that made little girls everywhere want to be athletic because of Mia Hamm. Oh football, the game that makes me think of England each time I hear it uttered. Well, it’s here, World Cup Fever, kids. And it’s coming to the Royale (3132 S. Kingshighway).

I’ve never known Royale owner Steven Fitzpatrick Smith to be a football fan, but then again, he’s a man of many surprises. One thing’s for sure, Thomas Crone is about as big a football fan as I have ever known (and he coaches soccer for the munchkins)-- so I’m sure he’ll be about. The Royale will be playing all the World Cup games, even opening at 8am several mornings for the early games.

Just the word football makes me think of the rain. I lived in Norwich, England for two years, a city which might have the worst footy team in all of the UK. (Though they claim the Canaries used to be much better, I’ve never seen it-- although some stars did stand out. ) I just loved what football meant, in the same way I love what baseball means to this town.

Two American friends and I would go most weekends November through April to watch the matches. We’d wake early, usually after a late night of me closing down the pub I worked at, and we’d hit The Bells Pub for a fry-up and read the paper-- never talking. Then we’d walk or hitch a bus down to the city centre and go to the Angler (?-- some fishing-oriented pub name on the river by the train station) where we’d have a pint of Guinness and read a different paper. Then down to the stadium, following the men clad in the team’s colored scarves, the little boys walking so close to their fathers that the fathers would trip over the kids, the vast sea of people in yellow and green, the visiting team’s fans-- all drunken and singing-- and we’d go into the stadium.

The cheap seats were uncovered and behind the goal, but that’s what we liked the most. We’d stay through snow, rain, sleet, once even hail, and freezing temperatures, running inside at the half to neck a pint and get back outside (no more drinking in the stadiums in England). Andy and Doug, my American friends never missed a game, and they knew all the songs and would teach me the lyrics and the chants. It was such a feeling of being present-- if not often cold and wet-- and I loved it. It seemed as close to nationalism as England could suscribe to-- but more like cityism, and that was the part that was cool. It was about being a part of something.

When I think of England, I often think of those Saturdays. I often think of sitting in pubs in the summer, unseasonably warm some years, no AC, sweating, the crowd hushed and then cheering to the World Cup. Something beautiful happens when football is on the telly. Maybe that same beauty will come to St. Louis, and hopefully I’ll be behind the bar watching when it happens.

The Royale Food and Spritis, 3132 S. Kingshighway

Playback: STL

There are days when I wish people would realize how little money I have. And then I open my inbox and see the best news imaginable: someone knows I need money for the fun things.

Playback STL, a great music and arts magazine, has long been a darling of the local scene in St. Louis. Here’s a publication that has gone from small to large in the last couple of years. Jumping on the radar of other cities a few years ago when the crew went down to SXSW, Playback has only increased in size, distribution and quality. This is a magazine with some of the best writing, interviews, and reviews of anything I’ve seen. And the best part: we live in St. Louis, so it’s free. Even better for St. Louis is the fact that this little engine that could has now picked up a distributor, so it will be seen nationally on newstands and in Canada.

But back to the free stuff... Those great folks over at Playback want to spread the love. This month they are offering a number of free tickets to concerts (including Cracker and Bowling for Soup) as well as movies. Check out their website at Then send them an email at and tell them what you want to see.

It’s that simple. No money? Well, someone still wants to give you a chance to have fun.

Thursday, June 01, 2006