After hitting my polling place (Marian Middle School repreSENT!) this a.m., I was rewarded with a spiffy new version of the old "I Voted" sticker. Don't know who's paying for this one (kinda scared to know, in fact), but it seems that the STL has sprung for customized stickers, with a very patriotic skyline — Arch and waving flag and whatnot — and the taglines "Proud City" and "Proud Voter" surrounding the obligatory "I Voted."
The top two musical genres for the St. Louis network on Facebook are rap and country. I checked the stats for several other cities, and I think that one-two combination is pretty unique. I also think it says a lot about our region.
The city is conducting a research study to gather residents' opinions about issues related to recycling. Take the online survey to give your input about new services that may be implemented by the Refuse Division.
We think the New Art in the Neighborhood program is cool; so cool, in fact, that a story about it ran in the first year of publication of TheCommonspace's online mag. Now we've stumbled across the website for the program, which includes profiles of students, samples of their work, photos from the workshops that nearly every visiting artist at the Contemporary has conducted with the program's young participants, etc. Check it out and feel better about the future.
Tonz o' gunz, everybody's getting strapped
Tonz o' gunz, got to watch the way you act
Tonz o' gunz, real easy to get
Tonz o' gunz, bringing nothing but death
Gang Starr, "Tonz o' Gunz"
This garish billboard advertising "Acres of Guns" popped up last week at Jefferson and Cass on my route to work. It's for the National Rifle Association of America's 136th Annual Meetings & Exhibits, a gun show that's coming to St. Louis April 12-15. Lucky us.
Two blocks away, at Jefferson and Madison there's a makeshift memorial for a murder victim who was killed there on March 19.
On December 7, 2006, a man was fatally shot near the intersection of Bremen and Parnell, 1.1 miles from where the NRA billboard is located. As far as I know, the Post-Dispatch never published the victim's name. Like most articles about north city homicides, the paper's account of the shooting was only a few sentences long, in contrast to the gallons of ink that are spilled when someone is killed in Clayton.
Early Monday morning, Rodney P. Jones was shot to death in the street at the intersection of Newhouse and North 22nd, 1.4 miles from the NRA billboard. Rodney was a regular at the weekly Friedens Neighborhood Foundation community lunch and a member of the organization's job club.
Given the history of shooting deaths in the immediately surrounding area, the NRA's choice of location for their billboard is sickeningly insensitive. Of course, sensitivity is not exactly the NRA's strong suit. The group held one of their gun fetish celebrations in Denver ten days after the Columbine tragedy.
Update: Visitation for Rodney Jones will be held at A.L. Beal Mortuary (4746 W Florissant Ave / 63115) on Tuesday, April 3, from 10 a.m. to noon. His funeral will immediately follow.
Dag, yo. Brain Regiment is playing a few more shows before a final "CD Release/Farewell Show" sometime in late March. The first time I saw Brain Regiment frontman Corey Saathoff play was at a Metropolis Wash in the fall of 1999 in Gaslight Square that was organized by Thomas Crone. Brain Regiment played a couple of shows at The Commonspace, including an especially magical one on February 28, 2003. Their MySpace page quotes noted music critic Amanda Doyle.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that the Friedens Neighborhood Foundation will receive a $400,000 grant to start a new YouthBuild program in the Hyde Park neighborhood of north city.
YouthBuild works to unleash the positive energy of low-income young people to rebuild their communities and their lives. The program emphasizes leadership development, neighborhood service and the creation of a strong community of adults and youth committed to each other's success.
The HUD grant will enable 40 unemployed and undereducated people ages 16-24 to work toward their GEDs while learning construction skills by building affordable housing. Participants will gain hands-on experience by rehabbing the deteriorating Old German School Building at 1908 Newhouse Avenue into two residential units.
North St. Louis YouthBuild will be based in the 63107 zip code, an area in great need of such a program. 34.3% of the families in the 63107 zip code are below the poverty level, 3.7 times the national average. 22.1% of the civilian labor force is unemployed, 5.5 times the national average. The dropout rates at Vashon and Beaumont, the two general attendance public high schools serving the area, are 23.5% and 31.8%, respectively, compared to a national average of 4.4%. 74.3% of the children in the 63107 zip code receive food stamps, compared to 13.3% nationally.
The Friedens Neighborhood Foundation's major partners for the YouthBuild program include the Friedens Church Council, the Friedens Cemetery Board, the St. Louis Public Schools, The Commonspace, Life Crisis Services and Ameriprise Financial. The foundation also runs a community garden, weekly community lunch, food pantry and neighborhood health program.
YouthBuild was founded in East Harlem, NY, in 1978 by Dorothy Stoneman. Last year, there were 226 YouthBuild sites in the U.S.
Hometown hero-curmudgeons Son Volt, and more specifically their song "World Waits for You," will be featured on this Thursday's episode of Grey's Anatomy. Watch for the iTunes downloads to ramp right up after 9 p.m. CST -- that show ain't nothin' but a soundtrack vehicle.
Oh, I love it so!
On June 17, 1946, the first mobile telephone call was placed by a driver in St. Louis. Within a couple of years, wireless phone service was available in almost 100 cities and highway corridors. It wasn't exactly RAZR technology, though; the equipment weighed 80 pounds and only three subscribers could make calls at one time in any city. Sixty years later, I still don't have a cellphone.
An article in the Post-Dispatch about the cooling housing market notes that the largest increase in home values in the St. Louis region from 2000 to 2005 occurred in the city, where the median home price rose 43.5 percent.
In related news, Jason McClelland and Maddie Earnest have made an accepted offer on the house next door to The Commonspace World Headquarters, which in turn is next door to Tower Grove Farmers' Market World Headquarters. Now they just need to sell their super-cute house in desirable Holly Hills. It's priced to move at $184,900, so if you know anyone who's in the market to buy, send 'em their way.
At 1:20 a.m. this morning, the authors of this blog saw a red fox walking down Center Cross Drive in Tower Grove Park. When questioned, the fox said he was looking for his son Lamont.
We tend to talk here mostly about stuff going down in the Lou, but a recent article in the P-D shines the spotlight on folks across the river taking on grinding poverty, poor schools and intergenerational hopelessness. It's an inspiring read.
A sampling of recent research that's come out of Wash U:
It's great to have a world-class research university in town. If only we could keep more of the students here after they graduate ...
Five St. Louis public schools are on the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education's list of the highest-performing schools based on the percentage of students scoring at the "Proficient" and "Advanced" levels on the MAP tests:
Bryan Hill Elementary
Kennard CJA Elementary
McKinley CJA Middle
The only school districts in the state that appear on the list of high-performing schools more times are Rockwood and Lee's Summit.
The following schools placed on DESE's list of the most-improved schools for 2005:
Mark Twain Elementary
Bryan Hill Elementary
Carr Lane VPA
SLPS schools appear on the most-improved list more times than schools in any other district. Hopefully, the new school board and superintendent will be able to keep the momentum going.
STLtoday.com's current poll asks "How far would you be willing to commute one way to your job?" By far, the most common answer of the 1,557 people who have responded is "More than 25 miles," the longest distance offered as an option.
Nothing says welcome to a Podunk town like having to walk across the tarmac after disembarking a plane, as was the case for fellow passengers of American Airlines flight 5518 from Austin yesterday. On the plus side, David Robertson was seen leaving the airport in a jaunty straw hat. The airport is different with David Robertson.
Lambert does a poor job of conveying a sense of St. Louis' personality and civic identity, leaving many people with a rather bland first impression of our city. The Schlafly Tap Room is a nice addition to the B Concourse. It'd be great to have more local restaurants and retailers at Lambert. Live music and information about our world-class architecture would also give travelers a glimpse of St. Louis' unique character.
All of the sessions are on Saturdays from 9:30 - 11:30 a.m. at 2800 N. 14th St. Here's the schedule:
Session #1 - March 4, 2006: The Buildings and the Scope of Work
Session #2 - March 18, 2006: Funding, Financing & Other Money Matters
Session #3 - April 1, 2006: It's Historical! The challenge of restoring Historic Properties & How to take advantage of Historic Tax Credits
Session #4 - April 22, 2006: Managing Your Project
Due to limited space, advance registration is requested. Contact Irvetta Williams-Toler at 314-241-5031 to RSVP.
I'm registered for sessions 2 and 4.
A story from the St. Charles Journal reports on the formation of the St. Charles Young Professional Alliance, aimed at getting the 25- to 40-year-old crowd interested in local issues and integrated into the business community. One of the organizers laments, among other things, the lack of county nightlife for this demographic.
Maybe that wave already crested in the city and is now pushing outward? In relatedish news, an email summary sent yesterday of the minutes of the February 1 Metropolis St. Louis steering committee meeting included the following bullet point:
"C. General Meetings. The general meetings were unanimously voted out and will no longer be held. Rhonda proposed, and it was unanimously agreed, that the Steering Committee meeting should be referred to as the Metropolis meeting from now on."
The Downtown St. Louis Partnership site was hacked earlier today. The front page was replaced with a message that said:
DeFaceD By StacoM
[ Respect Our Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) Or You Will See True Muslims Anger ]
Thanks To All Muslims Hackerz All Over The Planet
CasaHacK TeaM © 2006
Maybe this was the work of the Tenth Street Taliban.
I hereby nominate N. 20th between Bissell and Ferry in the 63107 zip code for the title of Dirtiest Block in St. Louis. It sits just southeast of the Grand Water Tower in the College Hill neighborhood. The amount of trash on the ground in that little stretch is jaw dropping. Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me to capture the moment when I drove by there on Saturday on my way to the twice-a-month bboy session I help organize at Friedens.
Mr. Wiggles will be in town February 18-19 for the Monsters of Hip Hop tour at the Adam's Mark Hotel. It's billed as "the two-day dance convention with the most sought after choreographers in the world." Mr. Wiggles is a member of both the Electric Boogaloos and the Rock Steady Crew. He appeared in Wild Style and Beat Street, as well as videos for Usher, Limp Bizkit and Missy Elliot. Mr. Wiggles is also a graffiti artist; I have a tattoo that he custom designed (yeah, I'm a fan boy). Other instructors scheduled for the St. Louis stop of the tour are Dave Scott, Rhapsody, Brian Friedman and Gil Duldulao.
The city issued an occupancy permit for 3022 Cherokee to the Community Arts and Media Project (CAMP) on December 14. The community center will open this spring, featuring a free computer center, a bike workshop, a library of rare books and 'zines, a homework club, concerts by local musicians and videos by local artists.
Last Monday, the three-person St. Louis Election Board voted to go with Diebold for the city's new electronic voting system. This is what we in the computer industry call a "bad idea."
In September 2004, Diebold claimed their audit log "can't be altered by any human." In response, Black Box Voting, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, trained a chimpanzee to quickly hack Diebold's system and delete the audit log. The Diebold central tabulator saves vote totals in a Microsoft Access database, for crying out loud that's about as unstable and insecure as you can get. In related news, Diebold CEO, Wally O'Dell resigned this month under a cloud of litigation and accusations of fraud. You may remember O'Dell as the guy who promised he would "deliver" Ohio for President Bush.
The culmination of a several-days-long symposium, getting underway tomorrow night at Wash U's Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, is an exhibit that sounds pretty intriguing: from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday a special, one-night-only exhibition, titled "Looking for St. Louis," will be open at the Sam Fox School's Des Lee Gallery, 1627 Washington Ave. The exhibition, which shares its name with the other symposium events, will include images, texts, artifacts and diagrams drawn from the workshops.
It's all about the intersection of contemporary architecture, art, ecology and urban design. Like, we're into those things, right? Check out the entire schedule.
The City Democrats website is down with an error message that says "unable to select database."
The City Republicans site is also down because their domain name has expired.
Meanwhile, the site for the Gateway Green Alliance continues to chug along.
Both Alex (screen name CaptainCannabis) and Erin (screen name Mailbox!) have accounts on the STLPUNK website. In his profile, which crashes my browser, Alex says "my creed is pot is so much more than pot. Its a social activity, and a way to make really good friends." Erin listed "Baileys in pretty much anything" under her likes and "Pubic hair" under dislikes. Her brother, Greg Formhals, died three years ago in a car accident; he was also 16. Erin last logged into the STLPUNK site on 9/29 at 8:33 PM, less than 24 hours before she was killed.
The site is run by Jerome Gaynor, who had this to say in an article he wrote for The Commonspace in June 2002:
American Suburbia moves kids all over the country, drops them into enormous schools where they don't know anyone, prohibits all non-sanctioned contact, PRETENDS that conflict doesn't exist, and then wonders why kids go crazy.
'K, so you all know we are big fans here of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra (peppy young musicians are just one facet of the appeal), and thanks to ubiquitous marketing, we *all* know it's "different with David Robertson," and if you're on the younger end of the SLSO demographic, you now get a chance to experience the difference on the cheap.
This Thursday marks the return of the popular Soundcheck gimmick, wherein folks aged 16-25 get tickets to the performance for a mere ten bucks, plus the opportunity to stick around after the show and hob-nob with musician types. This week, Robertson conducts a program of Bach, Mozart, Vivier and John Adams.
Note to rising Romeos & Juliets: any cultural-type outing = always-impressive date night
On Saturday, October 15, The Commonspace, Digitronical and Detour Production will host "Breaking for Broken Lives," a breakdancing showcase to raise money for the relief effort. Stay tuned for details.
Help us give the gift of music!
For the next 2 weeks, Mississippi Nights will be collecting all of your old CD's and CD Players and donating them to the St. Louis area evacuees of Hurricane Katrina. Until the end of our show on Saturday September 17, stop by our box office and drop them all off. Anyone who brings in 10 CD's in good, working order will receive a coupon good for a free ticket (up to $20) to any of our shows for the rest of 2005. All donations will be distributed to area shelters to be given to the evacuees. Hopefully in this trying time, the gift of music can bring a little bit of happiness to our fellow citizens!!
The staff of Mississippi Nights
What to Bring:
CD Players or Radios
Batteries for players
Mon- Friday 11 am to 5pm, Saturday 3pm- end of show, Sunday- Closed
For more information call (314)421.3853
Clowder House is taking in evacuee kitties. By state law, they are required to keep the cats segregated for ten days, so they need more cages. If you have an extra cage they can borrow that's large enough to hold a litter box, contact them at 3134 Wyoming Street, 314-776-PURR or email@example.com.
State representative Connie "LaJoyce" Johnson (61st district) gave a good rundown of what's being done by the State of Missouri and government-related agencies in her monthly email newsletter.
Apparently, Governor Blunt told local officials that the Welcome Center at Lambert Airport won't be needed as a screening and transitional station for former Gulf Coast residents. The hangar may be repurposed as a drop-in social services center for evacuees.
Hey, the Saint Louis Art Museum got hip and retooled its formerly kinda ugly web site! Check out the new one, cleaner and more visually pleasing (as befits an institution devoted to, you know, art.) It's a full-on overhaul, from a design standpoint at least, not just one of those redo jobs of the front page. Good for you, SLAM.
In a successful bid to make riding the standing-room-only Grand bus line (#70) more uncomfortable, Metro has removed the benches and shelters from the heavily used bus stop above the Grand Metrolink station. Nothing says "we don't care about you" like making people stand in 100-degree heat with no shade while waiting to board an overstuffed bus.
According to an article in the Suburban Journals, the South City Family YMCA (3150 Sublette Ave.) is planning to build an in-ground bowl to complement the ramps and rails at its skatepark, which opened in April. Site Design Group is designing the bowl. Construction is slated to begin in August and wrap up in October.
The park is free to members of the South City Y. Non-members pay $3 per session.
Maybe in ten years there will be a documentary entitled "Southeast of Dogtown and Z-boys."
As great as my love is for Cinema St. Louis (the folks who bring us the St. Louis International Film Festival and this week, the St. Louis Filmmakers' Showcase), I've often thought their web page was, well, sad. Not befitting a great, artistic organization.
UPDATE: Looks like the new site must still be a work in progress — a few pages in, some of the old design lingers...
In an effort to further typecast myself on this blog, I have a couple of hip-hop items to report.
First, The Core DJs Retreat will be in St. Louis August 25-28. Based at the Adams Mark Hotel, the event is expected to attract some of the hottest DJs from around the country for a long weekend of networking, music showcases and parties. Local members of The Core DJs include DJ Sir Thurl, J-Nicks, D-Rocc, The Infamous Que, DJ AJ and Kool Kaos. Props to my derrty Chris Thomas for dropping me the link about the retreat.
Second, the video for "In Ya Face" by local artist Ebony Eyez is out. It features shots of the Eads Bridge, the Arch and (I think) City Museum. Best lyric: "Can't spell 'hustler' without the 'S-T-L'"
How can a hip-hop city like St. Louis have only one hip-hop radio station? It boggles the mind.
Morgan Spurlock (he of "Super Size Me" fame) has a new show on F/X, and tonight's episode (scroll over "Episode Guide" to "Off the Grid") brings two upwardly mobile New Jerseyites to the Show-Me State's own ecovillage, Dancing Rabbit. Will hilarity -- or despair -- ensue? Alas, someone with cable will have to fill me in later.
Here's the Dancing Rabbits' take on the experience.
Like tens of thousands of other people, I was at Fair St. Louis on July 2, enjoying the unseasonably nice weather. It was a fun time, at least until some joker started firing bottle rockets into the crowd as it dispersed at the end of the night. One highlight was sampling the twin delicacies of the fried Twinkie and the fried Snickers bar. Oooooowheeeeee! Ain't that America?
There's a short photo essay after the jump. I would have gotten these up earlier, but, umm, I was waiting to get the pictures developed. Yeah, that's the ticket. (In the age of the Internets and digital cameras, there just aren't any good excuses anymore.)Read more ...
The Maffitt Avenue Friends of The Ville are having a party in Tandy Park on Saturday, June 4, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. There'll be a DJ, plus free hot dogs and hamburgers for the kids. Invite your friends and cousins.
If you don't know about The Ville, you sleeping fo' real. It's St. Louis' Harlem. The tiny neighborhood gave birth to Annie Malone, Chuck Berry, Tina Turner and Arthur Ashe.
In related news, I'm happy to report that Robert and Juanita have continued their streak of being at Zack's Lounge every single time I've been there.
At long last, it appears that the "Grand Vision" project is taking root (pun totally intended), as the planters in the medians from Arsenal to Highway 44 are outfitted with fancy sprinkler hoses and, as of this morning (Earth Day, appropriately), some of them were being planted with trees and smaller green stuff. Let's hope there's a plan for maintenance, too!
Yesterday, 70 Missouri state representatives who previously voted to eliminate Medicaid coverage for more than 100,000 low-income people voted against a proposal to accept a 20% cut in their own taxpayer-funded health benefits. The following legislators think we all need to dig deep to deal with the budget crunch (well, all of us except them):
Allen Icet, Wildwood
Barney Fisher, Richards
Bill Deeken, Jefferson City
Billy Wright, Dexter
Bob Behnen, Kirksville
Bob Dixon, Springfield
Bob May, Rolla
Brad Lager, Maryville
Brad Roark, Springfield
Brian Munzlinger, Williamstown
Brian Nieves, Washington
Brian Yates, Lee's Summit
Bryan Pratt, Blue Springs
Carl Bearden, St. Charles
Charles Denison, Springfield
Charles Portwood, Ballwin
Charles Schlottach, Owensville
Cynthia Davis, O'Fallon
Danie Moore, Fulton
Darrell Pollock, Lebanon
David Day, Dixon
David Pearce, Warrensburg
David Sater, Cassville
Dennis Wood, Kimberling City
Don Wells, Cabool
Ed Robb, Columbia
Gary Dusenberg, Blue Springs
Gayle Kingery, Poplar Bluff
Jack Goodman, Mount Vernon
Jane Cunningham, Chesterfield
Jay Wasson, Nixa
Jim Avery, Crestwood
Jim Guest, King City
Jim Lembke, St. Louis
Jim Viebrock, Republic
Jodi Stefanick, Ballwin
Joe Smith, St. Peters
John Quinn, Chillicothe
Ken Jones, Clarksburg
Marilyn Ruestmann, Joplin
Mark Bruns, Jefferson City
Mark Wright, Springfield
Maynard Wallace, Thornfield
Michael McGhee, Odessa
Michael Parson, Bolivar
Mike Cunningham, Marshfield
Mike Sutherland, Warrenton
Nathan Cooper, Cape Girardeau
Peter Myers, Sikeston
Ray Weter, Nixa
Rob Schaaf, St. Joseph
Robert Johnson, Lee's Summit
Rod Jetton, Marble Hill
Rodney Schad, Versailles
Ronald Richard, Joplin
Scott Lipke, Jackson
Scott Muschany, Frontenac
Scott Rupp, Wentzville
Shannon Cooper, Clinton
Steve Hobbs, Mexico
Steve Hunter, Joplin
Steven Tilley, Perryville
Susan Phillips, Kansas City
Therese Sander, Moberly
Todd Smith, Sedalia
Tom Dempsey, St. Charles
Tom Loehner, Koeltztown
Van Kelly, Norwood
Ward Franz, West Plains
Wayne Cooper, Osage Beach
The first floor of our two-family house has been vacant since August. The gas furnace and water heater for the first floor have been off all winter. I've been dutifully sending in meter reading cards for several months, and Laclede Gas has just as dutifully been ignoring them and continuing to charge us $200+ each month based on the estimated usage of the previous tenant.
I repeatedly tried to call their billing number today (314-621-6960) to get the issue resolved. It rang busy for ten minutes. That's the same number you're supposed to call to report a gas odor or other emergency. When I finally got through, I went through their phone system maze and waited on hold for 12 minutes to talk to a customer service representative. Then their phone system unexpectedly hung up on me. After waiting for 22 minutes, I never even got to talk to anybody.
Anybody else have any utility "service" stories they'd like to share?
Update: I called Laclede Gas again today (4/8) at 1:38 p.m. After navigating through their menu of options and entering my account number, the pleasant female robo-voice said that the waiting time was 20 minutes and asked if I'd like to have them call me back when a customer service representative was available. Since they said I wouldn't lose my place in the queue, I hit "1" for "yes" and hung up. At 2:32 p.m. (almost an hour later), I got an automated callback. When instructed, I hit the button to talk to a customer service representative. I heard a series of beeps, and then their phone system hung up on me. Again. The saga continues ...
So, we were driving south on Grand through Grand Center today, when a truly stunning and hilarious typographical error caught my eye. Amanda had to turn the car around so I could get out and take a photo.
There's a mural on the Woolworth building painted by Loyola Academy students that features head shots of famous black artists from St. Louis. Each image is labeled with that person's line of work (e.g. Miles Davis is labeled "Musician"). The somewhat questionable likeness of Nelly is labeled ... wait for it, wait for it ... "Raper." Yo Nelly, you might want to contact your publicist, derrty.
In other Grand Center news, the space formerly known as The Commonspace is still empty five months after we moved out.
Hmmmm. Seems like we're on the upside of the population swing for the moment in the city, but maybe we should consider radical marketing and a return to homesteading core values, like Crosby, ND, or Atwood, KS?
You know it's gonna be good when a press release arrives via e-mail from "firstname.lastname@example.org". Here 'tis:
THREE ALDERMANIC CANDIDATES OPPOSE TRANSITION TO PATRONAGE SYSTEM FOR NEIGHBORHOOD STABILIZATION OFFICES
For Immediate Release March 1, 2005
Rodney Burchfield: (314) 265-0934 Jeffrey Hardin: (314) 389-6434, Steve Patterson: (314) 479-5023
Aldermanic candidates Jeffrey Hardin (3rd Ward), Rodney Burchfield (17th Ward) and Steve Patterson (25th Ward) will hold an 11AM press conference at City Hall. The purpose of the press conference is to announce their opposition to Alderman Joe Roddy’s plan to convert the 25 Neighborhood Stabilization Offices into political Patronage positions. These are currently civil service jobs, which are protected by law from outside political pressure. If Patronage is used in the NSO, the people who work hard to improve their neighborhoods will have all their legal protections taken away from them. It will politicize the offices, and by doing so it will sabotage a successful program. It’s like reviving Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall, which controlled New York City and was rife with corruption for decades. History has proven that patronage jobs are a recipe for corruption, and Alderman Joe Roddy wants to revive this practice. This is inherently wrong.
The Aldermanic candidates have come together to oppose this plan because it will destroy a successful program that is accomplishing its’ intended mission. Why do we need to change the nature of these offices if there is nothing wrong? Obviously, Joe Roddy thinks that we need to make the NSO an ineffective program that only caters to those whom he owes political favors. This is the wrong direction for this or any other city in the 21st Century, and will breed corruption.
You remember, perhaps, a fantastic story we ran on the site a while back about the a capella craze sweeping the halls of Webster Groves High School? Well, the kids are at it again: we just got word of the Missouri State Championship of a cappella singing happens this Saturday, February 19, at 8 p.m. at WGHS, 100 Selma Ave. Tickets are 10 clams, which gets you up close and personal for the five-school sing-off action. Winner moves on to the National Championship of High School A Capella in Washington, D.C.
For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, the Missouri championship competitors are from Missouri (duh)...and Oklahoma. Hmmm.
Seth Gaines from Rockville, MD has a bunch of nice photos of St. Louis posted on Flickr.
Tuition at local universities continues to climb. SLU is hiking undergrad tuition to $24,760 next fall. Wash U is raising tuition to $31,100; room and board is another $10,754.
Anyone who's actually paying that much needs to have his head examined. As someone who had all of his tuition, room and board covered by merit-based scholarships (thanks Bright Flight, Curators, Citibank, Meryl Bartlett, Ruth Earline Taylor Allen, Alta Mae Harness, Elizabeth Jennison, Charles W. Frees and Robert C. Byrd!), I just can't see spending that much money for an undergrad degree. Starting out post-college life $160,000 in the hole seems like a bad way to go.
Sell your old-economy record label stock now: Marc Chechik (of the luminous Waterloo and Melody Den) tips that the band's next album will never see the light of an analog day. The material will be recorded digitally using ProTools and GarageBand and released digitally via I-Tunes, with some album art and such worked up to accompany it, but no physical CDs will be pressed.
In other election news, it's three hours before the nomination deadline for Metropolis' steering committee elections, and according to the organization's web site, four out of 11 positions are empty. There are no contested races.
Here is the list of candidates:
|Fundraising Chair||Dave Whitman|
|Membership Chair||Kim Mitchell|
|Leadership Chair||Jennifer Estes|
|Living Environment Chair||Kimberly Henricks|
|Policy Chair||Paul Eisenstein|
|Social Events Chair|
In times of political disagreement, the budgetary backlash begins: apparently City Hall has decided Landmarks Association is too squawky for its britches (scroll down to "Wreck This") again, and will put its long-standing contract out for bid. (We last heard this story at the beginning of the Century debacle, and now it appears the chickens are coming home to roost.)
The Urban Blight Players are having a CD release party for their debut album, "Big Small Town," on Sunday, December 5 at the Focal Point (2720 Sutton Blvd.) in Maplewood. The all-ages show starts at 8 PM (doors 7:30). The cover is a mere $2.
Here's how they explain the title of their album (and by extension, St. Louis): "YOU CAN TRY TO STAY INCONSPICUOUS IN THIS TOWN, but sooner or later you're bound to run into someone you know... a high school classmate... the halfback from your sixth grade soccer team... the old guy down the block listening the Cards game in his lawnchair... your ex from the summer after college... Maybe that's what they call it a BIG SMALL TOWN."
The last track on the CD is "Urban Blight." You can listen to a snippet of it at CD Baby. Here are the lyrics:
Everybody's moving out to St. Charles
I guess it's just the St. Louis way
We move farther and farther out each day
Nothing at all
We just want another shopping mall
Hey son don't you curse
We need another Bath and Body Works
Mr. Yuppie and me in his S.U.V.
Four wheeling down 270
From his way you'd better get the hell out
He was the first in his Catholic grade school class
To sell out to...
You don't have to dial 1 before 636
Crossing the Missouri River Styx
Do you know where I can find a Walgreens store?
There's one on every block
But we could sure use more
Prescription ready for Mr. Michael-ski
So I just got back from North County
Where they have 'bout 57 municipalities (really, I counted)
Have you been to Bellfontaine Neighbors...
Bel-Nor, Bel-Ridge, or Bel-Acres?
Macaroni Grill or the P.F. Chang's
Chain restaurants are where the Yuppies hang
For about twenty bucks a platter
But when you're a neurosurgeon from Ladue
Hell it doesn't matter
CUSTOMER: I'll have the Tuscan Tortilla Salad
WAITER: Is that all?
CUSTOMER: Yes, thank you
St. Louis Centre was great
When Vince Coleman was great
Yes, a seven-story Famous-Barr right up the street
It's still there if you want to go shopping
You can spend all day
But it won't be hopping
Now, St. Louis Mills
There's the mall to beat
Out where 270 and 370 meet
Shop til' you drop at stores galore
'Cause St. Louis Centre ain't the shit no more
So let me take ya'll now
There's no urban blight
It's urban renewal around!
Just check out the Washington Avenue sights:
Brand new sidewalks and runway lights
Think of the brand new things to come
Luxury lofts and a new Busch Stadium
But remember folks though it might look pretty
It takes more than bricks and mortar to build a city
That's why I'm talking about the...
WALLY: St. Louey!
St. Louis WizKids, a youth-directed project to improve students' reading proficiency in the fifth ward, is seeking to raise $50,000 a year in cash to keep the program going. If you make a donation, you can download raps written and performed by WizKids.
Bicyclists, rejoice: the heretofore-hideously pockmarked strip of Tower Grove Ave., between Vandeventer and Manchester, has been gloriously repaved for your two-wheeling pleasure. For folks who use this as a major N-S alternative to K'highway or Grand, this is welcome news, indeed. (Beware: our tester says there's still a lot of crap near the edges of the road.)
Architect Steve Wilke-Shapiro has put together a nice site "to promote neighborhood revitalization through the renovation and restoration of St. Louis' unique building stock."
It's all over but the crying, as my mom says: spotted today outside the "Kerry/Claire Country" HQ in Deer Creek Plaza, two big U-Haul trucks being loaded up by somber youth. Fear not, young ones: midterm elections are just two years away.
Michael Allen and Claire Nowak-Boyd have a new blog that "chronicles changes in the built environments of American cities, with special emphasis on St. Louis and Chicago." It's a companion to the Ecology of Absence website, which examines the "biocultural geography of abandonment in Saint Louis and beyond." Sadly, they've had lots to write about lately.
Signs on Kingshighway between 70 and Delmar:
No on Prop. A,B,C,D: 100%
Yes on Prop. A,B,C,D: 0%
The Century Building is in the process of being demolished. The wrecking ball began swinging downtown at 9th and Olive at about 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Simultaneously, there was a hearing for a temporary restraining order to halt the demolition. That restraining order was denied by Judge Fleissig on Thursday.
Some words that come to mind to describe this turn of events: sad, disheartening, frustrating, maddening, stupid, unnecessary, unjustifiable, cronyism, corrupt, travesty, wrong. One word that does not come to mind: progress.
This photo is from KWMU. See the story on their site by Tom Weber for more photos.
Guns N' Roses is the only other act to debut in the top two positions. They did it back in '91 with "Use Your Illusion" I and II, which I eagerly bought the day they came out. I think I still have the "Use Your Illusion" album slicks somewhere in the basement.
First day attendance: 28,804 (79.5%)
Enrollment: 36,230 (projected)
First day attendance: 30,100 (76.4%)
The website for St. Louis hip-hop label Real Nice Records is up and running. Real Nice artists include Skinny Friedman, DJ Trackstar and Teflahn Poetix. To tie together the culture and the civics (that's what we do here at The Commonspace), two out of three of them were at Jeff Smith's party on election night.
So, I'm wrapping up a week and a half of work-related dallying in San Francisco (I highly recommend that you all find a way to spend next July here; 72 degrees every day, sunny, and then cool and foggy and great at night; bliss!)...but I haven't felt too far away because of a great piece of artwork serendipitously placed on the wall about three steps outside my hotel room door.
It's a big, color photograph of The Arch, gleaming in all its stainless glory against a blue summer sky. Credits on the wall say it was shot by one Joseph Sobiesiak, Jr., and that I can purchase it, or rent it for a mere $75 for three months.
Which I might seriously consider doing if I weren't going to be able to look at the real thing tomorrow night.
The madcap mayhem of Ulcer, Inc. returns to Mississippi Nights on Saturday, July 24. The all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. It's $6 to get in.
Here's a promo shot of the band. I'm the one on the floor, bleeding profusely. Confused? Don't be -- none of it makes any sense. This show will feature the amazing SciBot Industries robots (plural!). Other than that, I can't divulge any of the plot line (because we haven't made it up yet).
Also on the bill are NIL8 and Opus. I've never seen NIL8, but I've had one of their tapes in the boombox in my basement for the last five years because I'm too lazy to put in another one on the rare occasions when I work out. Rock, rock, rock!
Amanda spotted this signature on the petition:
st louis city
st roch school
Save the Century--give it to my dad and he will fix it.
Dylan is presumably Amrit and Amy's son.
The petition is up to 2,738 signatures.
Our historic buildings are the city's most important competitive asset and key to economic revitalization.
Both buildings are architecturally and historically significant to the city of St. Louis. The Century Building is coming down for a parking lot and the Virginia Mansion for a new residential facility.
The St. Louis Rehabbers Club will host a Preservation March and Rally on Monday, June 27 at 3 p.m. to protest the planned demolition.
Protesters will meet at 8th and Locust downtown across from the beautiful, but very soon to be demolished, Century Building. We will rally before marching to 1015 Locust, where the city of St. Louis will hold a hearing for the demolition of the Virginia Mansion.
D-Day for the Century Building is slated for June 30. We are hoping that a last-minute well-signed petition could make a difference with one of the key supporters for demolishing the Century, the National Trust for Historic Preservation. (It's hard to believe, but the National Trust for Historic Preservation is chipping in $4.3 million to demolish a building that's on the National Register of Historic Places.) Please read the petition and sign it. Please also foward it to your friends, and consider emailing a note to Richard Moe (President, Richard_Moe@nthp.org) and Peter Brink (Senior VP-Programs, Peter_Brink@nthp.org) at the National Trust.
Preservation Board hearing may decide fate of Virginia Mansion (Post-Dispatch, Patricia Rice)
Saving Old St. Louis (Post-Dispatch, Deb Peterson)
In a 3-2 decision, the Preservation Board voted to deny the application for demolition of the Virginia Mansion.
National Trust backs plan to raze building (Post-Dispatch, Robert Duffy)
Protest Over Planned Century Bldg. Demolition (KWMU, Tom Weber)
Wes Ballew dug up a hypocritical ad that the National Trust for Historic Preservation ran in Parade magazine about a year ago. The tag line is "No one looks back fondly on the time they spent in a parking garage." True dat.
Vote in the STLtoday.com poll: Should the Century Building downtown be razed to make space for a parking garage?
Battle of the Century (Post-Dispatch, Robert Duffy)
Raze a building and get tax credits (Post-Dispatch, Charlene Prost)
At a kickoff event this morning for the much-vaunted Eats Bridge project (part of the overall Celebrate 2004 hootenanny/shindig/throwdown), Mayor Slay and Peter Sortino spoke of the importance of events like Eats Bridge and RiverSplash in attracting that elusive demographic, young people, to our town.
Probably because I'm fast slipping out of the target demographic, it just amuses me to no end to watch middle-aged white guys chase hipsters. Sortino summed up the approach by saying: "Some of the things young people like more than anything else are parties and special events."
According to the Arch City Chronicle blog, Scott Goessling, formerly the membership chair of Metropolis, has been installed as the new president. Funny, I don't recall seeing a call for nominations for the empty position.
In her first "weekly" update since the one that was quoted in the RFT nine months ago, Metropolis St. Louis president Christina Reid announced that she is resigning immediately to move to California. Apparently, the organization that was formed to attract young people to the city of St. Louis can't even retain its own leaders.
During Christina's year-and-a-half snooze at the wheel, Metropolis has continued to go downhill, as detailed in the article by Dave Drebes entitled "Metropolis Flounders: Needs to Revitalize Self" in the June 9th issue of the Arch City Chronicle. Money, members (especially young ones) and communication are all in short supply. Metropolis' calendar reads like it's for a health-conscious walking club.
Four steering committee members besides Christina recently resigned: Keri Ross (secretary), Dennis Gorg (marketing), the perennially MIA Matt Stevens (policy) and Julie Rivinus (social). Three of them have been mysteriously replaced by new board members on Metropolis' website. The change took place without a public call for self-nominations and without a public meeting to interview the candidates the way the organization traditionally handled changes to the steering committee. In fact, the resignations were never even announced.
Look for upcoming articles about Metropolis' fall from glory in the Business Journal and by Sylvester Brown in the Post-Dispatch. Stick a fork in it; it's done.
Update: Sylvester Brown's column ran in the Post today under the headline "Youth is fleeting - and maybe so is Metropolis St. Louis."
As an explanation for Metropolis' inactivity, Christina Reid offered the standard copout that it's a member-driven organization in a lame attempt to absolve herself and the other steering committee members of their utter failure to do their jobs and provide the organizational framework necessary to keep things running. They've stopped sending out weekly email updates, monthly newsletters, meeting agendas, minutes and membership renewals. They don't create treasurer's reports, respond to questions from project leaders, hold project group meetings or announce meetings more than a day in advance. A majority of them don't even show up to steering committee meetings. Back in the day, in addition to doing all of the above, steering committee members also proposed or helped organize most of the group's projects. Some total nut cases even quit their jobs to focus on volunteering for Metropolis. It hurts to see an organization that so many people put so much effort into being driven into the ground by laziness.
Sightem: Dave Drebes was spotted today wearing a Metropolis Lot t-shirt.
well, we're getting back in the game that ended badly when the Forest Park Shuttle Bug was discontinued a while back...Metro (formerly Bi-State) has unveiled its summer people-mover, the Zip2 shuttle, that will truck people (this is, of course, mainly aimed at visitors to town) from MetroLink to the various Forest Park attractions.
Hey, Schoemehl may wish we'd all just get over it, but we gotta milk this 2004/1904/1804 thing for all it's worth!
This is just too pathetic to pass up:
The front page of the Metropolis St. Louis website is sporting an announcement about a new series on VH1 (AKA MTV for old people). Aside from the questionable premise of the show in question (how many more of these stupid reality TV / American Idol shows can they pump out?), the contest is open only to people over the age of 25. Hello? I thought Metropolis was supposed to be the voice of young St. Louisans.
Of course, it stopped fulfilling that role long ago. The average age of a Metropolis member is 36.6 and only 29% are under 30 (compared to 61% five years ago). At least two Metropolis steering committee members are north of 40, and I'm not talking about the highway.
So much for providing leadership opportunities for young people. Once again, a bunch of old people are trying to figure out what these mysterious young folks like and what will attract them to our fair city. Hint: it's not VH1.
"Haven't you forgotten something, Gramps?
In order to feel something you have to be there
You have to be eighteen
You're not eighteen"
-- Words of Advice For Young People by William S. Burroughs
Word in the Biz Journal (Apr. 2-8 edition, not yet online) is that Lambert Airport, despite having a ghost-town feel thanks to the American pullout, will soon be offering loitering travelers wireless access throughout the airport. (Currently, the only on-site wireless is in the American Airlines Ambassadors Club; "Hey, sorry we had to bail out on all those flights...but bring your laptop on into the lounge and see if Expedia can't find you a bird headed outta here!")
Mike Donatt, communications manager for the airport, says an RFP will be out in a few weeks and he hopes the whole schmoo is operational by year's end.
Huzzah! You can now pay city parking tickets online. (Not that anyone associated with The Commonspace has ever had a parking ticket ...)
Other cities using the same payment system include Cambridge, DC, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Raleigh and LA. We're in the big leagues now, baby!
UPDATE, 4/5: Okay, Amanda is reporting in here to say that, based on her most recent parking ticket (uh, again, not that there's ever been more than one, heh heh...), the online payment system doesn't work. She entered her ticket number and is repeatedly told that it does not exist in the system. Sigh.
Come out to the Ulcer Incorporated show on Sat., Jan. 10 at Blueberry Hill's Duck Room. The script for this punk rock opera is the most complicated and ridiculous one yet. A slideshow! Robots! Sex! Picketing! Death! You really can't go wrong with a plot line like that. Clanky's Nub opens at 9 (you may remember them from such concerts as The Urge at The Pageant on Dec. 19). It's a 21+ show. Normally, it's $5 to get in, but for you, dear reader, it's free with this flyer.
Woo hoo! St. Louis has been deemed worthy of having its own chapter of craigslist, an online community that was started by Craig Newmark in San Francisco. The easy-to-use site allows people to post classified ads for free.
The obscene, racist message from Earl P. Holt III that was posted over on the ArchPundit blog gives an unsettling glimpse into the pockets of bigoted hatred that still exist in St. Louis, sometimes not very far under the surface. Holt is a former SLPS board member (1989 to 1993). No matter what you think of the current board members, I think we can all agree that they're a vast improvement over him. Holt graduated from Wash U and John Burroughs. As stated in his letter, he lives in the Shaw neighborhood. He co-hosts a show called "Right at Night" on WGNU. Keep your friends close and ...