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.