Monday, December 29, 2008

Free Resume Writing Clinic

Okay my friends, I am giving a free resume writing clinic at the Royale from Noon-4pm on Monday, December 29. We're in tough times and many of us have been laid off, or are looking to go back to work, or switch industries, or just plain seeking a better deal. We should all have a current and stellar resume on hand. Swing by the Royale (3132 S. Kingshighway) on Monday at noon for a Resume Clinic, free and open to the public. This is in conjunction with the owner, Steve Smith, offering free pints of Missouri microbrews to laid-off AB workers. Additionally, there are specials on Schlafly products and soups-- yummy and affordable for all. So swing on down to the Southside and work on your resume. I have worked on over 200 resumes in the past few years and have a pretty great track record. Bring your current resume, your questions, and a desire to talk about the current beer industry in STL.

Hope to see you there.

Fox 2 News Story on Resume Clinic (You can still come even if not in the brewing industry.)

Royale Food and Spirits
3132 S. Kingshighway
St Louis, MO 63139

Resume Writing Clinic
December 29, Noon-4pm
Beer and Soup Specials
One-on-one appointments, time permitting

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dapper Dan's to close

Tonight (Saturday) is the final night for Dapper Dan's. Got the email from Steve this morning and scurried on home a little early so I could swing by and pay my respects. So many great STL establishments have shuttered their doors for the last time this past year or 18 months. Makes patronizing the great ones that much more important.

I'm sure I'll write more about Dapper Dan's in the coming days, but if you get a chance, swing by tonight. Totally worth the trip. Tucker and Washington, downtown, (on the east side of Tucker).

Bill McClellan's column from the STL Post on Dapper Dan's

Friday, December 19, 2008

Don Beasley Says You Should Listen To This

So, a few weeks back, I trolled my talented and knowledgeable friends for some recommendations on local music. Don Beasley responded from Kansas City with a fantastic list, which I will re-post below just as he sent it. Now, I always feel it's important to get a sense of who's doing the recommending in order to decide whether or not I want to take their advice. So for those of you who don't know, Don is a musician (St. Louis projects included Corbeta Corbata and Nerve Parade). Though he tends to traffic in punk rock, Don's musical taste is wide and varied, as evidenced by all the awesome mix tapes he used to make for me consisting mostly of soul, jazz, and old-school blues and funk. Sure, he threw in the occasional Pixies song, but that was more for my edification. In addition to ripping up the stage, Mr. Beasley is also a crazy talented artist and a really good haiku writer. He's a little obsessed with Elvis. And, my favorite part is he always wears all black (excepting the occasional punk rock shirt) with his pants legs rolled up just enough to reveal white socks. Those eccentricities might not seem to add up, but they've always proven to contribute to someone whose taste I trust, so here's what he thinks you should be listening to (and buying) this holiday season. All of the below CD's, except In Media Res, can be found locally at Vintage Vinyl or Euclid Records. The other's a little more difficult, but you like a challenge.

The List, dispatched from KC

Hello hello!
I have over 700 copies of the first Corbeta Corbata album that anyone anywhere can use as stocking stuffers. I mean with the price of coal nowadays...
The Bert Dax x-mas comps he puts out usually have great songs. As lame as it might sound one of the best local cd's i listened to was the 52nd City Sound Issue they put out. The Eric hall recordings are quite amazing and that's on there! but here's a list of my favorite St. Louis albums:
Chuck Berry - The Great 28 (watch the movie Hail Hail Rock and Roll)
Ike and Tina Turner - The Great Sounds of... (Any greatest hits will do)
Bunnygrunt - Karen Haters Club (now on 10inch record... impress your friends with that.)
Humanoids - Are Born (great catchy songs... makes you move)
Pokey LaFarge - Beat, Move and Shake (in fact check out Big Muddy Records. all St. Louis old tyme kinda roots blues get down and dirty kinda good fun thumpin' and bumpin' dancing on graves with a bottle of bad ideas, broken guitars and that heylordymamamamagetupand go kinda stuff... Praise the lard!)
In Medias Res - s/t (the best band to ever sit on there thumbs)
Nineteen - Tearing Me Apart (Kinda sounds like Rancid but a lot more tough and no ska parts! ANd a plus of getting that cd is you get 95% of everything they ever put out. it's quite an undertaking to get through but anything worth it usually is! Could be one of the best punk bands ever to come outta st. louis... well a punk band i wasn't in anway!)
Another good present would be to take someone to see The Livers. 4 members preformed by two. Want to know how it works... go see them! ANd force Irine Allen... or Green to put out an album and then give that to people! I hope this helps out a little bit. Well for x-mas im making a mixdisc boxed set for people. a 4 cd set to show people what i listen to and from early in life up to now.
Duty now for the future,
Don Beasley

RFT info on Bert Dax Christmas shows

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


For the last few months, I have been declaring that TV is dead... mostly because mine is. I recently was the recipient of my parents' old TV, so my broken down old picture tube (which also weighs about 100 pounds) will no longer act as artwork in my home, taking up room. I threw out a request for places to recycle on Facebook and Twitter and got quite a few leads. After doing some homework on the situation, I am going with DCAL in Webster. It was recommended as a good place to e-cycle, and frankly, it's close and cheap. In case any of you are in a similar boat, here's the info.

DCAL Services (Electronics/Housewares Recycling

Thanks to all those who sent me suggestions.

Metro Area Electronic Recycling Info

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gentleman Auction House This Weekend

For those of you who are in the know, or those that might be looking, (or ones like me who are slow to get there...) Gentleman Auction House, recommended herein as a great local band by Misters Crone and Underwood, is playing at Off Broadway this Friday, December 19. Tickets are $8 at the door, and I am sure they will have CD's for sale if any of you still need to pick up a gift. They're playing an Xmas show with the Hibernauts. Target Market, and Cold Bear Scout.

Off Broadway

Looking just a little bit ahead, and something to mark on your calendars is Bunnygrunt on Dec. 27th at the Tap Room and the Invisibles at Mangia on New Year's Eve, a gig which I committed to seeing last April or May when it was announced. Rumor has it there will be the old puppet show stylings of Jaxon and his partner in crime, a throwback that was slightly before my arrival on the south side, but which I am very much looking forward to ringing in the new year with.

Live Music at Schlafly
Mangia Live Bands

STL Holiday Guide: For the St. Louis Lover

Stunning Photos of STL
I’ll be damned if these photos aren’t the most beautiful things ever. I have long admired Hilary’s photos from afar on flickr, but then the other day I discovered I could have one of my very own. Her Helgaroid photos are my favorite, the colors brilliant and alive, and she has a knack for pulling the life out of a place that we might otherwise just drive by, unnoticed. Prints are available on, ranging around $35-40, plus shipping.

If a book’s more your thing, check out the following titles:

St. Louis Then and Now by Elizabeth McNulty.
This book has gorgeous photos of what St Louis used to be, and what it looks like now. It’s available at most every local bookstore, as well as the chains and online at Amazon.

Portraits Along the River by Thomas Crone, with photographs by Bob Reuter.
In full disclosure, my company published this book, so I am a bit biased. That being said, working on this book introduced me to the talent and genius of Crone and Reuter. The book features interviews with 50 people who work and live in the City of St Louis. There are jobs you might not have known existed, coupled with the subjects’ own words and Reuter’s stunning photos, this book presents a pretty lively illustration of who lives in STL. Available at Left Bank Books, as well as all local chain stores.

The William and Joseph Press

Or, for those of you who like to wear your St Louis, you might dig.

STL Style
I’m a fan of the South City, Old North St. Louis, Grand, and St. Louis Original shirts.

Also, could I please have one of these?
STL Style does KDHX shirts, and while I like them all, I am a really big fan of the light blue one. (Women’s large or XL, please.)

If jewelry’s more your thing, I found some cool STL themed pieces on Etsy.

STL Arch Pendant

Fleur de lis Pendant

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bleeding Deacon Grand Opening

Okay, campers and kids, the Bleeding Deacon is having its "official" Grand Opening Saturday, December 13 at 6pm. There will be tasty snacks (free spread for a while), even tastier beverages, and fun for all. This joint has been open for a few weeks, so the "official" part kind of cracks me up, though I get it. But it does indicate usually that most of the kinks are worked out (not that i've noticed any) and the crowd will start to diversify a bit. That being said, I hope I can attend for the "grand"ness of it all. And, for the fact that Mike and Todd have a lot of tasty beer in their joint, some of which I have not had in a long time. I counted last time I was there, and if memory serves, there were well over 20 bottles-- good stuff, and the kind of beer that not every bar has. Food prices are good, service has been friendly and deft, and there's a big chalkboard that I think is just waiting for my haikus. (Apparently right now it's occupied by Chef Jaxon Noon's art...) Anyway, if you haven't been, it's well worth the trip. And if you go earlier in the day, Simple Pleasures is open next door. So you can shop for adult items and lingerie and then just mosey over for a bite and a beer. Hurrah!

The Bleeding Deacon Public House
4123 Chippewa (just west of Gravois, across from the QT-- parking lot directly to the east of building)

STL Holiday Gifts: Media

For those who like movies and books, STL has some relatively under-the-radar gems.

If you’re really cool, you know about LoFi St Louis. On Bill Streeter's site, a collection of video podcasts, you can find out more about everything St Louis-- and this is the stuff you might not know otherwise (but should). Bill Streeter rocks, as does LoFi. You can sport a LoFi shirt by heading down to the Royale (3132 S. Kingshighway) and plunking down some cash ($15, I think?) and they will give you a red shirt with the LoFi logo.

The Films of Dan Bowers
While at the Royale, you can also pick up a copy of Gus, Daniel Bowers’ homage to individualism in our fair city. This feature documentary takes a look at Gus, owner of Gus’ fashions (formerly down on Tucker and Washington), and a right character he is. I met Dan years ago when he shot our first 48HFP for us, and he’s one of the kindest, most talented people I’ve known. Case in point (in terms of his talent), is his improv film A: Anonymous, which features local improv geniuses Sarah Jones, Ray Brewer, and George Malich, amongst others. A is the story of a bunch of dysfunctional folks with peculiar addictions (tight pants, wearing wrestling masks, passing out at inappropriate times) and how they all come together.

A is well worth a watch (or a few). A sold out in town, but it is available at several places (Amazon) online.
Trailer for Gus (set to one of my favorite Jive Turkey tracks)
Trailer for A: Anonymous

Coming soon: gift ideas for local books, cook t-shirts, and more music (more recommendations from Don Beasley and Brett Underwood).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

STL Holiday Gifts: Music

Part Two: Local Music Recommendations

If jazz is more your thing, local sax player and singer Jessica Butler (of Linn, the Ralph Butler Band, and a lot of previous super-cool projects in jazz and ska) recommends Jesse Gannon’s The Truth. There’s some swingy piano that’s pretty cool. In a slightly different direction, Jessica also recommends the Earthworms, for some funky white boy old school hip-hop (member Matt Fournier was formerly of the band Jive Turkey, which used to make me very happy). Both their CD’s are available at Vintage Vinyl.

The Truth

Last year, quite a few people I know received Jon Hardy and the Public’s CD. Jon’s CD’s are a little harder to find. They are available at shows, or through him if you know him. Otherwise, you gotta hit iTunes and download. Still local, still cool.

Jon Hardy and the Public

Brett Underwood recommends the band Wooden Kites. Their folksy/indie mix makes me want to throw this in the CD player and read books while curled on the couch in the rain. I am particularly fond of the track "Suicide Weather"; despite the morbid name, it's actually quite bouncy, reminiscent of classic country lyrics filled with longing. (Thus, the connection to rain for me.) Their album is called The Orchard and is available at Amazon, or locally at Vintage Vinyl.

Wooden Kites on MySpace

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

STL Holiday Gifts: Music

Part One, in which the reader (you) gets insights into the best music St. Louis has to offer. Made in St. Louis, so try to buy in St. Louis. Today's recommendations are courtesy of Thomas Crone, Brett Underwood, and Don Beasley.

The local music recommendations have been rolling into my inbox, and I am excited. So, if any of you need to find me a gift this holiday season, take note. I was trying to figure out how to organize all these great suggestions, and then it occurred to me that pretty much everyone has varied taste in music, so I am just gonna hit you with what people passed along to me.

Gentleman Auction House
Quite a few folks, including KDHX spinner Thomas Crone and Brett Underwood, formerly of the No Show, are digging Gentleman Auction House, which Crone cites as pleasing pop that’s a pretty good bet for anyone on your holiday list.

Listen to them here. They are releasing a Christmas album on Emergency Umbrella Records. They also have other releases and all are available at Euclid Records

On a tangential note, while looking into some stuff I thought was cool for these posts, I stumbled upon the work of graphic artist and designer John Vogl. Unfortunately, his work is not in stores at the moment, and his new site is under construction. That being said, when his stuff is available, I want this. And you might be wondering why I am bringing John into this discussion of music, well... While looking at his work, I also discovered that he did some album covers for Gentleman Auction House and other local bands. So, he’s doubly cool. Check out his stuff here.

Another local music hero, Eric Hall, is also on a few people’s list, including Don Beasley (formerly of punk band Corbeta Corbata and recent STL ex-pat to be dispatched to KC). Eric Hall has long done some really cool things with sound, dating back to eerie recordings he used to do with friends in Dunaway Books on S. Grand.

For more on Eric and his Echolocation Recordings, have a look here. Underwood forwarded the following info: "Eric Hall and Echolocation Recordings continue to release CDs of various electro-acoustic material.  All are available at Vintage Vinyl and Apop Records."

Part Two: Forthcoming recs from Jessica Butler on jazz, more local rock and punk, as well as other STL media that should be please the folks you love. (Hint: there will be sex in a book title, rock n' roll is implied in design, and some products can be purchased at bars.)

STL Holiday Guide: Music, a Kickoff

I've spent the majority of my adult life chained behind a bar on weekends, which has prevented me from becoming the musical genius that runs in my bloodlines. When I go see shows in St Louis, I always enjoy myself, but I usually only know about them because it's a friend's band, or because I am dating one of the musicians. Luckily, I have friends who run the gamut from jazz bands to funk, punk to rock, and a little americana thrown in for good measure.

This past weekend I stepped out to go hear The Funky Butt Brass Band and Gumbohead at the Gramophone in the Grove. Typically, I fear the Grove, as I am skeptical of any neighborhood that invents a name for itself. But the Gramophone might have changed my opinion. I did have some mild panic upon arrival because I was alone and it was crowded, but as the crowd thinned, I grew into the place.

Basically two old storefronts, there's a beautiful long bar on one side (with laminate countertops on the back bar, which I can forgive because I know it's prudent)... and a huge stage along the other side. The middle ground is all open space. Amen. The Gramophone carried a lot of beer-- easily 20 bottles or so, at decent prices, and five or so on draft. They had wines, and the regular selection of spirits, and service was quick and pretty good. The sound was good, the bands didn't seem squeezed onto the stage, and everyone seemed to have a great time. The best part for me-- and this might have been because of the specific bands playing-- was that the average age was easily 30-something. Thank you. It was a chill crowd having a good time. And I vowed to be more open minded about future dealings in the Grove. And the horns from the Funky Butt Brass Band were pretty hot.

So all this got me thinking about the various things that STL has to offer, and how limited I am in my knowledge of some of it. So I went to people who know way more than me. I plumbed my friends, ex-boyfriends, and former co-workers who are in bands or in-the-know for their suggestions of local music. I figured with the holidays, some of you folks might be looking for cool local gifts. Plus, in these economic times, we might as well keep our hard-earned money in our own fair city. I still have recommendations coming into my inbox, but look for suggestions this week from jazz artist Jessica Butler, Corbeta Corbata's Don Beasley, and KDHX's Silver Tray host Thomas Crone.

And if you have suggestions, add 'em here. That's how we get things done.


Saturday, December 06, 2008


So, thanks to all the people following this blog (even though many of you do it anonymously). I just got a read on the number of my "followers", despite the public three that show up below. I appreciate it. And a big ole thanks to those who have links to my site up on theirs. I've got some fun stuff I'm hoping to post in the next couple of weeks, like local Christmas presents, some great new blogs, and a few musings on bars (new ones, and probably not in South City either... take that!).

In the meantime, why don't you check out my friend Matt's new(ish) blog. Matt's a huge beer guy. He lives and breathes this stuff, and he knows everything... or just about. At least all things St. Louis beer. If you have any questions, put 'em in a comment, and I'm willing to bet he'll answer you. Thank god, no more Prohibition.

Check out Sacred Beer.

And, in an unrelated note, thanks to the St Louis Beacon. You're restoring my faith in STL journalism. What a shame that the only good stuff is online or at the STL American.

St Louis Beacon

Friday, December 05, 2008

Go Forth and Drink

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. So, you could sit at home on a cold night and eat cereal like they did when there was no liquor sold, you can catch a whiff of some gin from the bath tub, or you can hit your local watering hole to celebrate.

Word on the street is that the Sharon Jones show at the Pageant is the hot ticket for tonight. If you're in the Loop, head on down to Riddles for a quick bevvy. I've always enjoyed how completely laid back Riddles is, and they have a nice, big beer and wine selection.

If spirits are more your thing, hit up the Royale for a cocktail from one of STL's 28 wards (I'm a big fan of the Clifton Heights (Makers, sweet vermouth, and fresh pineapple juice-- get it on the rocks) or have a Sazarec).

If you're looking for something a little different, Red Bones and Luckett's in North City are cool. Red Bones is just north of Fairgrounds Park (Vandeventer and Kossuth-- expect stiff, tall drinks with little mixers) or Luckett's on Delmar (just a few blocks east of Euclid, on the south side of the street). The owners of both are awesome.

And, if you're out later and still looking for a tasty beverage, hit up Friendly's on the South Side (intersection of Roger and Potomac, between Tower Grove and the Gravois/Chippewa area). Friendly's does a reverse happy hour, so drinks get cheaper as it gets closer to closing. After 10pm, Schlaflt products drop to $2.50, rail drinks are under two bucks, and other domestic beer prices drop rapidly. Outside, they usually have fires and heaters, and they just opened a huge pool table area next door.

Go forth, drink, and be merry, but get someone sober to drive.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

New 52nd City Blog

Apparently for 52nd City, print is dead. This makes me sad because it was a fine publication, and while I regularly keep saying that television is dead (mostly because mine is), I still love print. I love holding things in my hand, being able to feel the words as they come off the page. While I do watch all my media online, I don't really read online publications; it's just never worked for me. I get the blurbs and the quick info, but I still subscribe to over 15 magazines. Like I said, I like holding things in my hand.

All that being said, the new 52nd City blog is way prettier than the old one, and infinitely more readable in its format. So, check it out here. If you don't know what 52nd City is, then this is a great way to find out. And just for good balance, go buy something in print made or written locally-- a book, a zine, a chapbook of poems, a literary journal.

52nd City Blog

Friday, November 21, 2008

Grace Basement at the Tap Room

So my old pal Kevin Buckley just sent me an invite to a show he's playing at the Tap Room this weekend. And as usual, I'm gonna have to miss something cool. So I thought I'd tell you about it. Buckley is a pretty talent musician who's been involved in all kinds of music. I first met him many years ago when he was playing the fiddle at McGurks (which he still does). Then I grew to love him in Palookaville, and Grace Basement seems the next project which I am set to admire. With some Americana whimsy that seems relevant, Grace Basement is smooth and draws you in. Check out some audio clips from their songs here.

Also playing (and fantastic) is Bad Folk with the lovely Tim Rakel at the helm, and Bridgeton Air Defense. Show starts at 8pm on Saturday, November 22, free and open to the public. And rumour has it they have the Christmas Ale now if you're into that sort of thing.

Tap Room Live Music

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Autumn, on Olive

Certain streets just work their way behind my eyes-- something I see that rests there, making its way into a poem or story that I never write. Instead, I do drive-bys, like continual longing, the story changing as I change. Occasionally the streets themselves change, and part of me is happy when they find a certain new life, cracked and sick old buildings rising up like a phoenix. For many years, I have known every inch of St. Louis Avenue, driving from the school where I taught, west of Union... slowly winding my way past the homes that then turn more grand, but nonetheless forgotten. On a warm day, on some blocks, people sit on porches, cigarettes being smoked, some laughing, some just watching. I like thinking about what once was, what could be again.

Olive has become this for me, and as I drive down to KDHX TV, moving east to west like the pioneers between Grand and Euclid, it's interesting to see what I notice. I have long been roaming the city streets, taking photos of brightly colored peeling paint, of buildings with their sides ripped out, the inside bleeding down in splintered boards and piles of rubbish. I like what remains when everything else is stripped away, that imagining, and the words that meet the image in my head.

Yesterday, I went out to take photos, but missed the light I was hoping for. Still, just as the streets seemed like a missed opportunity, I turned around and the light was burning out of a building, coming up from inside. I thought of a phrase my friend Sarah used to say, "the fire within". My hands were freezing, and the light changed within a few minutes, but it's nice to know that even when only the shell remains, something can still rise up, changing the way everything looks.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Some Like It Wet: A St Louis Weekend

The truth is: while you are out enjoying yourselves this weekend, I will be at home wrapped in layers of sweaters, sitting in my kitchen, writing a business report. Don't feel too badly, weekends are still a bit of a novelty for me after years of working through them. But there's something about a rainy weekend that is like license to curl up by the fire and read, or to bake bread (which I did last weekend), or to sit around with friends and drink beer all afternoon on a grey day. Even though they are predicting snow flurries, I'm not buying it. So, if I wasn't tied to a keyboard this weekend, here's what I'd be doing. And I think it's pretty much the perfect rainy, grey weekend plan.

Saturday Morning: Bundle up and hit Soulard Market. Whenever it is rainy or it turns cold, there are nowhere near as many people there. You can buy a bunch of great produce and spend the weekend making soup or baking veggie lasagna. And, even though it's all In-Bev now, there's always been something about AB in the rain-- that huddling of brick buildings and the red Budwesier sign rising from the fog and clouds. And, they sell Gus' pretzels at the market. Hot damn! (And if for some reason they don't anymore, just drag yourself the few blocks south to Pestalozzi and go get one.)

Lunch: When finished at the market, hop on over to Benton Park and hit Blues City Deli. I am a huge fan of the Benton Park Po'Boy. The owner is awesome and always in his pork pie hat. On Saturday afternoons, they have music from 1-3pm, and even though the space is small, it's totally worth being a little cramped. Plus, people are always cool and shove over to share their tables. If it's not completely crappy outside, it's a pretty walk around the neighborhood, especially down to Senate.

If you're feeling slightly more radical (it is November after all), there's a protest against California's Prop 8, which banned gay marriage (nothing like giving folks a right and then taking it away...). Protest is down at the Old Courthouse downtown, around 1000 people expected, and starts at 11am last I heard. If you missed Barack when he was at the Arch, this might redeem you.

Saturday Night: For some reason, I've been thinking a lot about the Newstead Tower Public House down on Manchester in the Grove. (And for the record, I hate calling it the Grove, but a lot of people don't know where I am talking about if I say Forest Park Southeast.) Anyway, on a cold autumn night, the Newstead has some tasty drinks and pretty great food. I am a big fan of the fish and chips, even though it's slightly deconstructed from the usual version. Last time I was there, I had a craft beer, a salad, and fish and chips and think I paid a little over $20 with a big tip. So go, you'll like it.

Sunday: I love, love, love starting my Sundays with a walk in the park-- which for me means Tower Grove. While heading through the park, ferry your little self on up to the Royale (S. Kingshighway at Arsenal if you don't know). They have a killer brunch, get a Bloody Mary and read the NY Times. I am a huge fan of the Royale on Sundays because it feeds my stomach and my periodical fetish without me having to do too much work. They even have board games.

Sunday afternoon: Rumor has it (and I have this on good authority) that Mangia is starting to show European art house films in their basement bar on Sundays. 1pm I think. I don't know what they're showing, but I think Carson Minnow might have something to do with the whole shebang, so I am guessing it should be pretty good. And pretty chill. It's what you want to do anyway, curl up in a dark room and have art wash over you (or entertain, whatev). And drink a beer while it happens. I'm a huge fan of the Red Seal at Mangia-- like Sierra Nevada but with a red seal on the label.

Go forth and have the fun. especially since I can't.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Bleeding Deacon

Okay, South Side bar fans... the Bleeding Deacon is finally open. Located down on the north side of Chippewa (at Gravois, across from the QT) lies the Bleeding Deacon Public House. The building was once home to Marin's (and next to Simple Pleasures, one of my favorite building sides). It's an inauspicious little place, tucked into the side of the road-- one I've been passing for years with little attention. Inside, it's rather dark, with booths and high bar tables, big chalkboards (just waiting for me to write haikus), and a gorgeous bar with mirror glass that reads with the pub's name.

Just opened Monday night, the Bleeding Deacon serves all kinds of food-- sandwiches and salads now ($7-9) with burgers and entrees forthcoming. The kitchen it headed up by the venerable Jaxon Noon, and the professionalism is evident. Full bar, lots of great bottled beers (including Sierra Nevada for me), a killer staff, and a nice garden just waiting for warm weather. I know partners Todd Pruit and Mike McLaughlin from my days at the Royale (Mike and I were behind the bar together several days a week for a couple of years)-- and the industry experience looks like it has translated well. Opening night hosted a bevy of South Siders and industry workers.

Maybe, in part, it's because I know the crew... but something about walking into the Bleeding Deacon felt awful cozy, like going home. My friend James looked at me at one point and made a comment about how we might have found our new regular spot-- a place once occupied in both of our hearts by the Blackthorn, but now vacant for many years. I love dark bars, and there was something last night about ducking in out of the cold, the traffic moving by on Chippewa, food rolling out of the kitchen, Poison on the jukebox (not necessarily representative of all that was heard)... but I liked it. I'll be back soon.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Rock the Vote

At the moment, I am going on 3 hours of sleep and sitting in the Phoenix airport. At the last minute, I was asked to attend a conference in San Francisco. So I hurried downtown Saturday morning to the Board of Elections building to vote. No line, no fuss, super easy. In a way, it made me sort of sad. I love elections and have been looking forward to this one for a long time (like 8 years). I actually like waiting in line to vote because I love thinking about how seriously people take it. This year I even took off on Tuesday so I could watch the activities all day.

As usual, in the hurried process of voting (and expecting I'd have a few more days), I had to do some last minute research. Below are links I found helpful.

League of Women Voter's General Election Guide(You don't need to be a woman to find this relevant.) Candidate positions, statements, track records, and information on proponents/opposition to legislation.

If you're a City resident and having trouble thinking about the Judge Retention, this is a good site. Missouri Bar Judicial ReviewTake it with a grain of salt, but it;s more info than you had.

And finally, if you live in the County, Prop M is super important. Check out the info here

Go Vote.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Heart Madison County Bike Trails

View from Horseshoe Lake into Downtown STL, the Arch in the distance
Horseshoe Lake is along the Schoolhouse Trail in Madison County, IL

View of the river, from Pere Marquette State Park
Vadalebene Bike Trail, Madison County, IL

Inspired by my drive up the Great River Road last week, I set out on Sunday afternoon for a little bike ride. (The operative word there was little.) For the last couple of weeks, I've had my head in books about the 19th century working on an essay. Once freed from Civil War life, I realized I was woefully in need of some exercise. Sunday was gorgeous and we set off only to be plagued by a bad tire on my bike (which was also in desperate need of a good tune-up and lube). My bike squeaked so loudly for hours that eventually I was told it sounded like crickets or crazy birds. I hadn't ridden in a few weeks, and so our initial thought of 15 or 20 miles sounded great. But as that ride stretched on and on into 35 miles, I was killing myself in the worst way. I have the stamina, but my hip was just angry, and eventually I think people might have been able to walk faster than I rode. There were other debacles along the way, and yet in the end, it was a great ride.

I usually hit trails in Missouri, so it was awesome to go five minutes across the river and have a huge network of trails available. Pretty much everything in Madison County connects. There are maps along the way, restrooms, water, and some gorgeous scenery (as well as some more bland parts that include the backs of houses). We parked at the south end of Horseshoe Lake and rode to the sound of gunshots, which we later connected to men in camouflage getting ready to take their boat out for the day. There were little black snakes, praying Mantis, and huge grasshoppers along the way. We passed the lake and cornfields, rode through some woods, and by parks. We took the Schoolhouse Trail, which is 16 miles one way, and connects to a bunch of other trails in Madison to form a big loop. But there again, everything connects.

Next up, when it's not a weekend, I am hitting the Vadalabene Bike Trail from Alton to Pere Marquette, or the North end of the Riverfront Trail over the Chain of Rocks. But next time, I'll make sure I'm in slightly better shape and my bike is happy.

Check out all the trails at Madison County Trail/Transit
There are links with distances, parking info., and maps with loops.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Baseball and Falling Leaves

I originally posted this in 2006, but I have been thinking of baseball all week in the back of my head, so here it is again. Only now, we're not in the Series, so we have to love the game from afar.

The Glory of the Game

Man, I love baseball. I don't love it in the wearing-red kind of way (which is obvious if you know me). I don't love it in the I-always-go-to-games way. I don't love it in the I-really-know-about-it way. I just love the game, pure and simple.

I love baseball because it reminds me of my mom. Growing up, my mom would sit in front of the TV-- I could see it flicker in the dark from the street when I came in from playing-- and she would watch the Pirates by herself, hooting and hollering at the TV. I love it because my mom used to take the train in Florida when she was a kid with my grandfather, travelling to see Spring Training. I love it because I never saw my first game until I was 22, and I was with my mom 2 weeks after I had moved to St. Louis, on a humid September night in the old Busch. The Arch was there and flags were waving, Mark McGuire still played, and when that anthem was played, it was like everyone in the stadium was suddenly the same-- all in one place, and it was amazing.

I love baseball because it seems American in the best possible way. I remember watching the first game that was played after 9/11, and thinking maybe it would all be okay.

I love baseball because it's egalitarian. You know the rules, and the rules are simple and fair. Generally, calls are straightforward. Everyone gets their chance to score and defend. You take turns. There's no contact, no pushing or shoving or manhandling of one player by another-- not like basketball or football. Baseball is a team sport made up of individuals, each having very specific jobs and territories-- but they need to work together, in rhythm.

I love the tradition of baseball. I love that kids play it all over, in different versions. A stick, a ball, some land. It's still meant for families, and there's none of the glamour or glitz or bling that some other professional sports have adopted.

I love baseball because it makes me wonder if life is really about talent, or if it's just about burying our nerves and having confidence. It's a series of decisions and a guessing game at the same time, almost like rocks-paper-scissors, where you are not so much thinking of what you want to do, but rather what your opponent might think. You have to out-think and then react, but still, you never know.

I love baseball because I am amazed at what can happen in the few short seconds between hitting the ball and running to the base. So much can change in that distance, and yet the runner must simply run, not worrying about where everyone else is. They must follow their own path once they set the field in motion. I love how everything can change in that quick flash as we barrel and careen towards our targets. And part of me loves the idea that you can steal bases, the thrill of having nerve and the fact that if you succeed, you are not punished.

Maybe I just like the metaphor. But if that's the case, I like it because it's a metaphor I know intuitively. It doesn't need to be overthought or even articulated. We all get it. We know it. And we understand. It's like knowing the secrets of death and then forgetting, but it doesn't matter because you are too busy living. Baseball might mean more, but ultimately, all that matters, is it's one hell of a game to watch. And we live in a great city right now to watch it.

I love October. Go Cards!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

U.S. Schools Closing on Election Day

I used to wear flags...

Election Day was like a holiday in my house growing up--something anticipated and treated with reverence. It was not, however, a day off of school. Voting and civic duty was a big part of my parents' lives as I grew up, but they never talked about what they believed or who they would vote for. So my brother and I grew up in this almost apolitical civic-minded household, which, in hindsight, is probably the best thing I could have asked for. Election months were a time charged with thought and research, but never with opinions, so that I grew up discussing politics and asking questions, but never being told what to believe as true or right. In those pre-internet days, we tended to live somewhere far in the distance of others: in the mountains, in cornfields, in towns of 300 people if we were lucky. And my parents would always pull all the newspaper articles for the weeks before the election, reading up on each of the candidates and issues. The night before the election, after dinner, my mom and dad would sit down with the sample ballot from the newspaper and discuss with one another whom they would vote for.

I loved election days at school, all those adults coming and going, looking furrowed and serious, popping into the booths and the swoosh of the curtain as they pulled the lever. In Colorado, even when the snow would come crashing down and school would let out early because of weather (I remember this in junior high, especially), people would still come in, dust the huge flakes off of their shoulders, and vote. It made me want to be an adult, and it made me realize how people come together. Even when they do not believe the same thing, they still come together to participate in the same act. I loved voting and would wear my flag pin on election day. I was a bit of a dork, but so was everyone else. When we studied voter apathy in junior high, no one in my class could understand why people wouldn't vote. This was in the time of Desert Storm and we all thought being heard was vital. Perhaps at 14, you better understand not having a voice, and you don't take the opportunity for granted.

In the last Presidential Election, I was teaching creative writing one day a week at a south side elementary school. It was an awesomely diverse school- a pretty even mixture of Bosnian, Vietnamese, black, and white kids. I came into the classroom at 8am just as the bell rang, the day after the election. Walking into that 5th grade classroom was to understand the depth of impact Bush's second term would have. As the students were looking at a big map filled with red and blue states on the projector, crayons out to color the map, they whispered amongst themselves. And then, there was crying. They, at 11, wanted anything but Bush. One student asked me, "Why doesn't Bush care about poor people?" Those kids took the election seriously. Many were first generation Americans, and they were mad they didn't get a chance to vote or be heard. Others seemed to understand the implication of the election in a more personal way; the results meant their lives would not become easier anytime soon. If you had asked those kids anything about the political process, they knew the answer. They were vested, and the election affected them.

In the NY Times this morning, there was an article about schools closing on election day due to safety concerns. I often work in city schools and am quite used to the several steps of safety precautions, from metal detectors to cameras and several ID checks-- all practices which I understand. The concern is that using schools as polling places puts kids in jeopardy, and so many schools are keeping kids at home this November 4. I have several problems with this.

1. I have been in many schools with good safety practices over the past several years. I have been there on polling days. Typically, voters poll in the gym or an ancillary area that is separate from the main building, leaving no admittance for kids in, or for adults into the rest of the school. These types of polling places are usually very well patrolled and monitored. So if the concern is abduction, or strangers being admitted, this has been addressed for many years.

2. If a district is concerned about polling safety and kids, move the polling location. I vote in a nursing home. In other communities, I have voted in community centers and fire stations. There are other options in location.

3. My real concern is that this is a racially charged issue. Though it's not being stated, I fear that people are not concerned about simple post-9/11 and Columbine safety as they say, but that they are concerned that schools might be targeted because of the racial implications of this election.

It makes me heartsick that so many kids will miss the chance to see adults turn up and vote. That on such an important day in history, many of our nation's kids will be sitting at home like it is a holiday, not paying attention to the events that will affect them. By keeping kids out of school on election day, we are missing one of our best chances to show our nation's youth how civic duty works, to discuss the rights and responsibilities of being an American citizen. Those kids will miss out, but as a nation, we will lose even more.

Here's the article in the NY Times Education- Sunday Section

Other articles: Times-Herald op-ed (GA), Palm Beach parent (FLA), Illinois article, and a slew of other articles on Google

Friday, October 17, 2008

Museum of Beer

Last weekend, after spending my afternoon on the sidewalks of Manchester and McCausland (not hookin' or hustling-- filming), I was hot and tired. James was with me, and he suggested a quick nosh somewhere. Enter Pat's Bar and Grill down on Oakland and Tamm. I was too tired to have a beer, but it was really nice to sit in a neighborhood bar in the middle of a Saturday afternoon and see a few patrons laughing over their beers at the bar and families gathered over chicken in booths. For some reason, it seemed like the perfect thing to do and the perfect place to be. (Monday-Friday from 4-6, they also have half-price appetizers if you're looking for something to do tonight.) Since I enjoyed it so, I now recommend it to those of you who find yourselves out on a fine fall Saturday afternoon. Yummy food, especially the chicken fingers and fries-- not greasy, super-tasty breading.

And before you head there, check out one of the current exhibits at the History Museum. Kettle to Kegis an exhibit chronicling the beer industry in our fair city, specifically from 1809-1909.

Heck, make a day out of it. Some people pick apples in the fall, others are more given to hops. After learning about the past, head on over to the Bottleworks to see about the present. Schlafly gives tours at the Bottleworks in Maplewood on Saturdays from Noon-6pm, every hour on the hour and on Sundays at Noon, 2pm, and 4pm. Have one of their Presidential Beers while you're at it. Schlafly online

Get outside, and then have a drink. That's what Fall's for.

It's Not Chrismakkah Yet

I'll be frank. I think this continual Christmas music thing on the radio in October in BS. It makes me angry for a variety of reasons, but mostly, it's a waste of everyone's time, and I am pretty sure just a big publicity gimmick so they get press. The radio station (which shall remain unnamed since I refuse to give them specific press-- just turn your dial, you'll find it all conspicuous and Christmas-y)-- anyway the station is changing formats after Christmas, so apparently, they're just ditching their audience now and expect us all to believe that there really is a market for All-Christmas-Music-All-The-Time in freaking mid-October. It was 85 degrees and sunny last weekend. I was sweating my ass off while I worked outside.

I'll end my rant here. It's not a station I listened to anyway, I'm just tired of reading about it everywhere (so yep, I'm making you read about it... I realize the irony.) The notion just makes me angry. I don't need any more commercialism in my life. Add to that: ploys, marketing manipulation, or gimmicks. Argggg...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Free Things To Do in the 'Lou

So, I don't know what's going on with me lately, but it's like I am reverting to a teenager again while at the same time feeling really old. I was aghast last night that I heard someone do the Pixies during karaoke (if you're wondering, the song was from Doolittle, which also seemed a bit obvious). I have been taking a class at KDHX in the CWE, and just like the nerd I used to be, I'm excited to do homework. I am writing an essay about a novel for a freelance gig, and I love doing that. I especially love the research, god help me. Last year I was obsessed with Jane Austen, this year might be the American Renaissance again (as it refers to literature, not the cultural period of the same name).

Anyway, apparently, I like learning and I like learning for free. So here are some cool opportunities I dug up.

FREE PRINTMAKING WORKSHOP with Evil Prints, Sat. Nov. 1, from 1-4pm
Having just found out about this, I looked up Evil Prints which has been operating since 1995. The owner, Tom Huck, is a pretty badass printmaker, a talent I totally admire. It's really cool to see a bunch of almost tattoo-inspired themes shine through in such an old-world medium. The shop also runs fee-based DIY Screenprinting classes and other multi-week courses. To register for this free workshop, you need to email to reserve a spot. Check out more info here.
(And by the way, there are tons of Dia de los Muertos things going on around town on Sat., Nov. 1. Printmaking is a great way to connect the dots between different cultures and times on that day.)

The St. Louis Artists' Guild Photo Section will look at your work. Yep, for real. At these meetings, anyone can contact Jim Trotter beforehand ( and they'll show your work at the beginning of the meeting. 10 photos or less. This is a great place to start if you are beginning photography and want some feedback and tips. For more info, click here. The Artists' Guild also has a lot of other free workshops (or some very cheap, just the cost of supplies)-- including a Fantasy Figure Drawing class ($5) where you can draw glorious females dressed like warriors and such, which sounds like a dream for some RPGers.

ST. LOUIS ART MUSEUM MYTH WORKSHOPS, Sunday, Oct. 19 (1-4pm, in the Sculpture Hall)
Got a family? Or just looking for some learning that's slightly more relaxed? The St. Louis Art Museum is presenting a family Understanding Myth series throughout the month of October. On the 26th, the topic will focus on Magic and Myth. Other weeks, themes will vary. Additionally, there is also a free 30 min. family tour of the art museum, which is a great first step if you haven't brought your kids in lately (or if you're babysitting a niece or nephew). There's also hands-on art activities that will center around myths. So if you don't remember the difference between Zeus and Artemis, or the significance of Persephone and Hades, then check it out.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fun Things I Might Miss This Weekend

So, as usual, there are about 8,ooo cool things going on this weekend. Something happens in October and this town just lights up with awesome possibilities. Last weekend, I was out of town and of course there were a lot of great things that I missed (like Bob Reuter and Sunyatta Marshall playing an Obama benefit at the Royale). So, despite my being super tired this weekend, here's a list of things I am contemplating... (You should, too.)

-Paint By the Numbers at Mad Art
Kids, adults, crazy kooks alike-- everyone loves Paint by the Numbers. Anyone can do it, skill or no skill, taste or no taste. You can even be subversive and paint outside the lines, or use crazy colors. I saw the canvases from last year and they were pretty cool. The best thing is, it benefits SCOSAG, which serves children (and adults) from all over St. Louis by providing studio space and art instruction. The event is 7-11pm, costs $10 ($5 for kids), and has a cash bar. 314.865.0060 for info.

-Walk a neighborhood. I have some footage I have to shoot in Franz Park (part of Dogtown if you don't know), where I am currently obsessed with the used car lots. My other location is the North part of the CWE, also a current obsession. I am particularly fond of Olive (between Boyle and Euclid)-- gorgeous buildings that I am planning on photographing this weekend.

-John Waters at Laumeier Sculpture Park, Opening Reception 6-8pm
Arguably amongst the best of cult filmmakers, John Waters is going to be in town. I have seen most of his films (Pink Flamingo is playing the midnight show at the Tivoli this weekend), but he is in town to promote his artwork. Laumeier is hosting an exhibit (on display thru Jan.) of his sculptures and photos. He'll be at the reception though... genius in our midsts, folks. And it's free.

-Rob Levy of KDHX's Juxtaposition (Wed. nights, 8pm on KDHX) spins at the Royale (10pm-close)- no cover
Okay, so I particularly heart Rob because he always plays me Pixies songs galore, and he's just really kind. If you want to hear some great Indie music (his sets feel like college to me, but it depends when you went to college), Rob's your man. The Royale's at 3132 S. Kingshighway and they've currently got the Schlafly HefeBIden and Baracktoberfest beers on draft, which is kind of fun.

This outdoor site-based art project has been absent for a couple of years, I think. It used to be held by the Riverfront trail, down by the river, a great industrial area for provocative and interesting art. This year, the event is rolling down on the Arch Grounds, by the river. Activities abound for kids, and Sunday holds a boat parade (of boats made by people-- Yay!). Free and open to the public.

-Coming Out Stories (Sat at 8pm, Sunday at 3pm- Missouri History Museum)
As part of National Coming Out Day, the Uppity Theatre Company presents "Coming Out Stories". Here's the idea: the audience tells their own "coming out" stories (of all kinds) and improv actors present a show on the spot. One, this seems like an awesome idea and something great for the community. Two, improv is very difficult and the folks who do it are super-good. (George Malich of "A: Anonymous" and other local films will be onstage, as well many other great local improv artists.) And Three, this is part of Newline Theatre's St. Louis Political Theatre Festival, which seems very-needed in terms of dialogue and thought provocation.

Friday, October 03, 2008

KDHX Pledge Drive

It's a beautiful autumn Friday afternoon and I just pledged to KDHX online. Right now, I'm listening to Bob's Scratchy Records, which is waking me up. KDHX is membership supported, and they only ask for money twice a year. Your membership will not only make you feel all warm and fuzzy, but it also keeps great, independentradio programming on the air. KDHX is one of very few true community radio stations left in the US. All volunteers; no commercials. And they need our help to stay alive.

Give 'em a call. Pledge some money. 314.664.3688 or pledge online at

In addition to awesome music (and there's all kind of music), you can also stream media online (2 weeks of each show avail. online), and are eligible to take free basic audio and basic video classes at KDHX. So, there you have it. Where else does $50 keep a great organization alive, contribute to cool people playing cooler music, and get you some great education (taught by exceedingly knowledgeable professionals. Even if you don't live in STL, you still have access to great media, made available by our community, and made possible by your donations.

Go, on. Pledge. You know you want to. Keep community media alive.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

VP Debates Tonight at Wash U

3100 journalists in town. The only Vice Presidential debates during this race. At a time when the VP nominee is arguably more critical than ever (though I'd argue that it's always critical).

Tonight at 8pm, Washington University hosts the VP debates.(Incidentally, Wash U has hosted more presidential debates than any other university in the country.) But, here we are. Palin. Biden. In town. I feel like we should get ready for a rumble. When I was lying in bed thinking about the debates this morning, I began wondering what kind of questions I would want to ask them both, if given the opportunity.

For me, when I think of the current state of our country, and how it is fixed-- it's not just about policy and execution, but it's about delivering the kind of leadership necessary to bring about a change in cultural values that will help guide policy and public support of that policy. For many years, most of my life even, I feel we have been politicking to symptoms. Quick fixes to prove we can do something in office. I'd rather see a strategic plan, something that takes time, but has direction and meaning. I'd like to rally behind my leaders again. I'd like to feel like I am being lead.

I think we've seen the beginning of the tipping point on some of this. The environment is a good example. We are by no means close to solving the issue, but a few years ago it was only on people's radar as an issue, not as a serious concern, or something intimate to their everyday lives. And then, that began to shift. I'm waiting for education to tip and become something that matters. And health care.

So, I guess, from the VP nominees, I'd like to know, not only what they plan on doing, but what cultural shifts they think are necessary for the public to understand what's at stake and support them. I would like to see that they have some understanding that the political system does not just exist in a vacuum.

My guess is they will speak in circular fashion, as we are so fond of these days, and little will be unearthed, and that no true dialogue will exist. But like all other things political, I'll watch, hoping I am proven wrong.

VP Debates, Live Tonight, 8pm CST

Monday, September 29, 2008


Last year for Christmas, I got a Bedazzler. I crafted some lightning blots onto my aprons, but the biggest test came right before Super Tuesday, when I bedazzled the word "VOTE" in rhinestones across my chest. Unfortunately, the bar was so crowded that evening that several rhinestones escaped and I occasionally became tangled in others. But, the point is, we need to do whatever we can to get people to vote and raise awareness.

Last week, I was leaving a class in the Central West End when I met a man named Richard. He had been in the paper that morning, and he proudly showed me his picture and the caption that told about him registering voters. Richard is homeless and we talked for quite some time about why people don't vote. I taught community college for many years and we talked a lot about voter apathy in my classroom. I shared with Richard some of what I had heard back then from non-voters. He told me about some of the folks he'd encountered and why he thought it was so important. Richard said that he was 46 before he was registered to vote. His parents hadn't voted and no one ever told him how easy it could be. We talked about the importance of having a voice, even a dissenting voice that might not want to vote for anything or anyone on the ballot. No matter, cast it blank. But vote.

Missouri residents have one more week to register to vote. Registration will close on Wed., Oct. 8. You can find the form here, print it out and mail it in. I also know that they have been registering folks down at the Obama headquarters in the CWE. Or, drag yourself on down to the Royale for a pint of beer while you register (3132 S. Kingshighway). You can also head to any public library, DMV, or Social Services office to register. Ask everyone you know, and bring someone in to register if it's their first time. In recent elections, we see over and over that every vote does count. Cast your ballot. Make your thoughts matter; make your voice heard. Too many people once weren't able.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dr. Kelvin Adams, Our New Superintendent

On Thursday night, the SAB named Dr. Kelvin Adams of New Orleans the new St Louis Public Schools Superintendent. I have been thinking of this ever since.

Here's what we know:

-He is second in charge of the Recovery School District in New Orleans (12,500 students; STL has 28,000).
-He is a former teacher and principal.
-He worked in STL (SLPS Human Resources) in 2006-07.
-He was slated to be successor of Valles (the NOLA superintendent).
-He was the only candidate of the final 3 to have any STL connection or experience, making one wonder if that was such important criteria why he was the only one in 3-- just sayin'.


-They say he has no experience. That being said, his professional career is almost entirely in education.
-Most people are weary, cynical, and pessimistic. He is #8 in 5 years. The district is unaccredited and run by the state. Not great odds for someone walking in.
-Many in NOLA seem to think he is running to an "easier" job before showing his ineptitude. Though I am not sure STL is easier (see above point).
-He supports charter schools. As does Mayor Slay. And charter schools are a hot topic. They take students out of public schools in big numbers, but the jury is still out on where they fit into the STl "solution". Personally, his affinity for charter schools makes me think this is a big part why he got the job... not so much to clean our schools up, as to possibly funnel kids through a separate system. But, I don't know the other candidates' stances.

Positives (Possibly):

-The STL teachers' union supported him (out of the 3, but still, it's a good start).
-He seems to have a following in NOLA. So, to hear a lot of folks say positive things and consider his departure a loss is positive for us.
-He has worked in a wrecked and ravaged school district. Starting from scratch in many ways and trying to stabilize communities. We are not recovering from a disaster, but our schools do not look much better, and our neighborhoods are suffering in many of the same ways (poverty, drugs, violence, extreme lack of community resources and programs for families).

I don't know where I am weighing in on this. Obviously, SLPS is near and dear to my heart. The school where I taught for many years was closed last year, and I have seen how badly we need strong leadership and change. My concern is that no one has stuck around long enough to give us direction, even though some might have had great ideas. Dr. Adams has a three year contract, and I am hoping he fulfills it, giving these kids a chance to see what education should be, and a new chance for their future. We'll see. We'll see.

To read more, check out this New Orleans site for a hometown view of what they are giving (up) to STL.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Notes on Fun

As a kid, I moved around a lot. Each time we hit a new city, my mom would pack us up for the day and make us go out and explore. We went to museums and neighborhoods, restaurants and shops (and always found the best libraries). On Sundays, we would get loaded into the car alongside picnic supplies and off we went on a day trip in some direction to see some thing somewhere. Point it, it never mattered what we saw, it was that we saw things, period.

There's something to be said for being a tourist in your own town. 9 years ago when I first moved to STL, I had Mondays off-- a sad day to explore when all the museums are closed. So... I hit the streets on foot. This weekend, I had an old friend in town and we set off on Fun.

Now, I have a lot of thoughts about the perfect weekend, and being a fan of the 80's children's book series Choose Your Own Adventure, I made a Flow Chart of Fun. Dependent on the weather, time of day, and the user's mood, I laid out the best STL has to offer. And hopefully in coming weeks, I'll share some of those selections. In the meantime, think of this like the Cliff Notes to Adventure.


The Light Project
Having just popped back into town after a summer chasing horses and avoiding bears out west, this Pulitzer Foundation Art Installation was off my radar. Catching up on local blogs, I caught pictures of the church on Spring and had to go see it. The piece is called Chorus and it's one of the most stunning things I have ever seen. Lights donated from St. Louisans re-create the roofline of a burned church. On Saturday night when I was there, I listened as the onlookers searched for their lights and talked about it with others. The Pulitzer has a Flickr site and pics of the lamp donors with their lamps are up.

Check out the installation in the 600 block of Spring, just north of Washington.
Lamps on Flickr

An 8 Story Slide
I've missed the City Museum. I've been there for events in recent years, but it's been a long time since I played. A few hours this weekend fixed that. The $12 admission was worth it for the slide alone. I know, I know... there are lots of slides. But I am talking about theslide. Spelunk through the dark of the caves (the newer set, not the old ones) and you'll end up in an atrium with a lot of staircases (and old slides for goods coming out of the warehouse). Get your workout by running up ten flights of stairs so you can wait at the top for your turn to twist down the 8 story slide that corkscrews back to the 2nd floor. (And a small tip: lean sideways from the waist, you'll go way faster.)

City Museum Caves

And When Hungry...
As usual, STL food did not disappoint. I ate 8 meals out over four days and it all made me happy. As usual, Crown Candy kept me happy. It was oldies but goodies for me. I hit up the Tap Room to check out their new menu which I'd heard about from some friends who work there. Pretty damn good. The service was good. I loved the lamb sandwich and the bangers. And though I didn't stay because I was tired, The Helium Tapes had their CD release party later that evening... Proving every time I have been to the Tap Room lately there has been a great band.

On my radar for me to try something new: The West End Pub and Grill at Boyle and Lindell. I just heard about this today from a KDHX employee who was asking about Thomas Crone's Gaslight Square book. I checked them out online and the menu looks pretty good. Nice pricing. The pear salad has me wanting at the moment.

Coming soon: The best neighborhoods to explore with guests

and... Why you should make sure county residents vote if you want to keep riding the bus

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Volunteer for KDHX

KDHX has its fall membership pledge drive coming up. You can volunteer to man the phones and help a great organization stay great. Volunteer slots run in two hour periods, and excellent food is donated four times a day from local area restaurants.

The pledge drive runs Oct. 2-12, volunteers needed from 5am-Midnight daily.

Contact Korinne at to volunteer, or call KDHX.

KDHX Online

Take a look at their website for their new show schedule, online video, a calendar of events, streaming audio, and more. Help out an organization that helps us. KDHX Community Media needs its community.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Oh TV, I've come home...

Now that I am back from the heart of the mountains-- land of bike rides that only go uphill, land of no cell phone reception and hundreds of miles without services or people-- I am left thinking about what it all means. The city. The frontier. As I drove south, the colors diluted from those deep Crayola colors, the sky a royal blue, to earthy pastels. The rain came and the humidity made me remember my hair really wants to be curly. There were billboards again, and then people, and then city hum, city noise. The city barking and wailing all through the night. It never quite seems totally dark, and I have to remember to lock my doors again. I have no schedule, but unlike in Montana, the pace here makes me think I must stay busy, and I struggle to assign myself things to think about, things to do.

The truth is, I only want to watch TV.

But somehow in my absence this summer, Highway 40 seems no further along and everything in my house seems to have broken. Stuck in modern times with no modern conveniences is not the way to get reacquainted with the hustle. No TV, no DVD player, no dishwasher, a dripping sink and faucet that continually runs. But, I do have a new computer, and with that, have finally entered the 2000’s.

I can watch TV online. Oh, technology, I do love you. (Secretly.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about popular culture lately, and it seems increasingly obvious to me that popular culture these days is not just entertainment, but rather entertainment technology. MySpace and YouTube are not just a part of the zeitgeist anymore, they are verbs, passtimes, careers, obsessions. It’s about the iPhone’s and iPod’s and Wi’s and other small things that fit in our pockets or make us think that we are more than mere humans.

It’s taken years for me to even want to keep my cell phone turned on. Maybe in a few more, I will actually answer the damn thing. I do enjoy the texting. It feels less intrusive and can happen on my own timeframe. I no longer email for fun-- only to impart information. And for communication, I have turned back to real letters. (Yep, they still deliver mail-- real physical pieces of paper with words meant for you to read.) A funny symptom of no longer working in bars, I actually have evenings free and have begun to want to say yes when people invite me out. Just like in the old days, I started catching up with friends in person, without the limitations of a conversation lasting the length of time it takes me to make their drink.

But all these things aside, and negating the fact that I just started (and we’ll see how it goes) Twitter-ing, I still love technology. I get sad when I don’t have the internet. I am a Look-It-Up-aholic, addicted to Google, researching things that simply catch my fancy. And now... watching TV whenever I want-- even without a TV or cable. It’s like my own personal pop culture servant, my own free Tivo. If only I could watch True Blood online... Damn you, HBO.

So, in my aggressive TV Online Watching, I have discovered a few things about the state of our current popular culture. I thought I’d share.

1. In the past decade we have accepted gays and lesbians on our television. Now, we have moved even farther. Transgender reality stars abound! And I am super excited. Hurrah for the CW’s America’s Next Top Model and VH1’s I Want To Work For Diddy.

The fashion world has long accepted and loved the gays and transgendered, but we are not just living in the world of RuPaul anymore. The transgender lifestyle is not just about showmanship or ostentation. It is not a lark, but a serious decision which many people face. On ANTM, we are not seeing a transgender on the sidelines, but as a contestant in the spotlight, and in the first episode, a contender. This is obviously challenging many of the other wannabe models’ prejudices and attitudes, but it also serves to challenge America’s notions of beauty, of femininity, and of gender constructs in the first place. So many models are employed for their thin androgynous beauty, this seems to push the same envelope and tease out the relationships between sex and gender, appearance and fact, “understood” beauty and beauty articulated.

On I Want to Work For Diddy, we see a show transgressing again-- this time a transgender in the business world. Women suffered for many years to gain footing in the business world, and we know that too often it is not about performance or professionalism, but it is about staying with the safe and staid, reinforcing a status quo. We are judged not for what we can do, but for who others think we might be. In business, if you do not fit the mold, you are immediately suspect and must work twice as hard to even be considered. It’s interesting watching this play out on television, but the fact that two mainstream icons (Tyra Banks and Diddy) and mainstream network TV are taking on the subject means there is progress. I think it’s telling that it happens to be two successful black people who are willing to challenge America’s notions of beauty and success. I’m sure both Banks and Combs dealt with Otherness and marginalization enough to write volumes, and I love that they are giving these new recruits a shot.

2. My mother and I have gotten into MTV’s From G’s to Gents (and I am not ashamed). When dissecting the attitudes of these gentlemen, I was telling my mom I like the show because I see so many people I know within it. I taught community college for years and I saw so many young men who were trying to educate themselves and create better circumstances for themselves and their families. So often, we get bogged down in circumstance, and again, public expectation doesn’t allow us to move forward, regardless of our own capability. In every G, there is a gent. Sometimes it’s just buried. I have always loved the grills and the braids, the badassness and the drive. If there’s one thing a G knows, it’s how to keep going, how to drive forward-- even though sometimes that forward momentum and direction creates more problems. I once knew a man who changed his name legally to Pretty Tony New Millenium. I’ve known former (and probably current) crack dealers, a murderer, felons, men with eight kids by six moms, men who con-- and every one of them, once I knew them long enough and they let their guard down, showed me a wonderful person underneath. Makes you think sometimes we’re all facades... Some people just need to cling to theirs more for survival than others. Anyway, I’m diggin’ the show, and I am totally rooting for Shotta and Creepa, but I think Shotta has it in the bag.

3. And then there’s LC. Not having had cable for the past 12 years, I have been able to avoid the past several years of Lauren Conrad Mania-- to a point. I certainly follow the zeitgeist enough to know who she is, but I filed her with Paris Hilton and other celeb-u-nots whom do not deserve the airtime or idolatry they get. But, a rainy day in Montana and a fall off my bike had me temporarily sidelined and drinking beer during a Laguna Beach Marathon. (Curses, MTV, for these strategically timed marathons on rainy weekends!!) In a particular episode when Lo was left out of a camping trip to Catalina because there would be boys there overnight, I thought, “Wow, these kids actually have parents who parent.” Not what I expected. I mean, there was the usual sex and drinking (though it all seemed a bit implied), but still, they seemed like real kids-- aside from the sun and beach and slightly larger incomes. I was in. Crap.

And so, then came The Hills. And while it is certainly more trumped up, and I still ignore Heidi and Spencer much as I did before (though now I leave the room when they are onscreen), there are still elements of real life. Of love and friendship, of navigating people and fame and rumors, of dealing with betrayal and gossip. I realize my own life has been a little more dramatic than I’d like in recent months, but I felt like what I was seeing was as totally foreign as I had expected. It’s kind of a guilty pleasure, but wowzers, I do love it, so help me.

Due to the writer’s strike last year, there is very little new TV to look forward to, though I am eagerly awaiting Joss Whedon’s new show, Dollhouse. (Meanwhile, I have been loving Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog on for the rec.) And Fox’s Fringe was pretty great the other night, even though I was worried about an X Files redux.

So that’s it, it seems we are living in a world of (sur)reality TV and sci-fi. And it’s interesting, because I don’t know which one is more far-fetched anymore, or what’s farther from real reality. But trying to decipher those boundaries feels a little bit like the distance between myself in the mountains and myself in the city. The truth is out there. Hopefully people will tune in and watch.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Where Have I Been?

Okay, so it's been a long time... So long, in fact, that I am now 2500 miles away. Don't worry; it's just for the summer. And hopefully when I return, I will have all kinds of new insight into what makes the STL so killer. Until then, read about my current (mis)adventures on my new blog Frontier Dispatch.

Here's a preview, in pictures:

Hiking in Arches National Park, Utah

A geyser pool at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Riding my bike on the Route of the Hiawatha from Montana to Idaho (through lots of pitch-black tunnels and over trestles)

The trials and tribulations of a night at the rodeo, Columbia Falls, Montana

Hiking the Danny On Trail, Big Mountain, Montana (view of Whitefish and Whitefish Lake)

Sunday, January 06, 2008

The year of singing wildly

So here’s how it goes… I just got back from running in the park in January on a day when it was in the seventies. Oh, global warming. I’m listening to the new Bruce Springsteen (which is really good, by the way), as the birds chirp and sing out in my backyard. My house is marginally clean, Christmas decorations taken down, trash out, dishes done (and put away). It’s like I am a whole new person. Truth is, I just had a day off, finally. So I bought some new music (also the soundtrack to Once, the new Kanye West and Jay-Z, as well as Amy Winehouse and Bruce—It’s been a bitch having an old computer and not being able to download the newest version of iTunes—I’d curse Apple if I didn’t love Macs so very much). My point in all this is, I’m taking stock. The beginning of the year will do that.

For one, I cannot promise I will write much. I hate it when writing is just one more thing I have to do. It’s dumb, and frankly, counter-productive. If I don’t have anything to communicate, then I shouldn’t have to. And if I don’t have the time to do it properly, my words full of the love or loathing, then what’s the point? So, I am officially announcing the end of my other blog, Down, Out, and Hip in St. Louis. Like all younger siblings, it has the potential to be better than it’s older sister, but I just don’t have the time. So all my valuable (and sometimes not so…) thoughts will now be here. And… as I have been getting back to my roots and writing a shitload about culture lately, you might be in for some small surprises along the way—some not so STL inspired writings.

Oh, and expect some lists. I was just looking over my list of 30 things I wanted to do this past year in STL. I only managed, like, seven. Maybe 5. One of which occurred recently—I finally went iceskating at Forest Park, and it was totally worth it. It felt like winter, and had that continuity that only activities you have known since your youth can have. It had been about 20 years, but I was happy I went. It was a great $8.50 and I am looking forward to popping in on random lunch hours to skate over the winter.

Also, I managed the following:

-a trip to Luckett’s Lounge
-a trip to Peveley to see the stock car races (it’s not summer unless I go, and this year, it took me until almost October to get off of work and get there)
-lunch at the Blue Owl
-a bratzel at Gus’s (eaten while on the hill, watching traffic on the interstate)

That might actually be it, but in fairness, I was out of the country for a few weeks missing some events. And then I only had, like, six days (literally) off between May and October, so not much happened there.

I’m compiling my list for this year, though it’ll be much shorter. I am shooting for one new thing a month. If you want to compile your own list, drop me a comment and we can compare notes.

And for the record, the same weekend I went iceskating, I also managed to eat dinner on Cherokee, hit the Hideaway, drink beers at Riley’s and have a killer sandwich at Blues City Deli—not a bad weekend in all, and each I strongly recommend. Thus far, 2008 is looking pretty good. Maybe it’s because “eight’ rhymes with “great”. We’ll see.