Missouri Historical Society, Lee Auditorium
Thursday, May 17
A few dozen St. Louisans gathered in the lovely Lee Auditorium in the History Museum, most intending to hear Myron Orfield, a Minnesota legislator and author of a book called "Metropolitics." It was a good turnout, save for Orfield, held up in Minnesota to deal with redistricting issues. In his stead was a colleague, Thomas Luce, who brought a goodly stack of maps and facts and figures dealing with the St. Louis region.
The resulting conclusion? The City's an odd nut, with a high tax base, lots of publicly-controlled property and a high-percentage of poor folk. Inner-ring suburbs are seeing a slowdown in growth, while some new suburbs are thriving. And that more-prosperous population keeps pushing Northwest. If this stuff wasn't all that radical to local civics watchers, it's always good to know you're not going crazy.
Things got interesting when Richard Baron joined the conversation, after a rather dry address by Luce. The questions came fast-and-furious, as Baron talked about Chouteau's Pond, the new Cardinal stadium and housing for the low-income population. It was a fascinating hour. Baron's someone who should have an hour of air-time of KMOX once a month, allowed to just riff on issues of his choice. He's blunt and direct. Though you may not agree with all of his assessments, he's playing the game in the City. For that we should be plenty thankful. And his public comments are always entertaining and informative.
Bindlestiff Family Cirkus
1624 Delmar (old Other World)
Thursday, May 10
Judging by the troupe sketched out on their website, the troupe that showed up at the steamy old venue in Downtown was a completely different unit than the one that offers performances under the name. This bunch, doing a little of everything from juggling to obscene touches with spinning plates brought in a good house, with well over 100 people drawn to the one-night-only space on word-of-mouth.
The troupe in place was clearly centered around Philomena Bindlestiff, the Amazon-esque ringleader, who did whip and condom tricks, fire-eating, and plate holding. (Really, you had to see it to understand.) Cornmo (the multi-instrumentalist, who did wacky musical interludes between skits) was a fun one, too, with classic rock vocal chops and some amusing tunes.
An underground crew with a need to play off-the-beaten-path venues, the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus put on a show that's ultimately a little too long, but eminently memorable. You'd be well-advised to catch them the next time through town. Just look for the little flyers in the usual places where little flyers are placed.
"miles davis and american culture"
Edited by Gerald Early
Missouri Historical Society Press
Part of the explosion of the books, recordings and events around Miles this year, this book is far from the coffee-table picture it appears to be at first glance. Instead, the book is light on photography, with a series of sharp pictures leading off chapters, but otherwise absent.
Filled with both interviews and essays, the book combines the words of academics, jazz musicians and Davis' contemporaries. Everything from Davis' style to skin-color is dissected, in both literal terms and in deep allusion to other cultural factors of his time. Though only a couple chapters into the work, it seems a good read, and another solid addition to the canon of St. Louis-based literature by this publisher.
"St. Louis Magazine"
With the May issue, St. Louis Magazine discovered the urban core all over again, focusing a good amount of space on the places where things happen namely places within a few miles of the Arch. Minus the sharp new look, this was almost a throwback to the old days.
Nothing more to say than this: bravo, keep up the new emphasis.
FOOD & DRINK
Lemp & Cherokee, 664-4010
Of late, I've become addicted to Gus' Pretzels. This is probably a common condition on the South Side, where a quick jaunt to Gus' begins every day with just the proper amount of salty goodness. Whether you're a stick man or twist girl, pretzels are really food for any time of day, including the morning hours. They're pretty good for lunch, too. A mid-day snack. Dinner's an option.
My particular form of disease calls for two sticks first thing in the morning, along with a packet of honey mustard sauce and a Country Time lemonade. Not a radical purchase, like the workers who come in at lunch for a couple sausage-filled sticks. (Yick.) It's a sound buy, and a relative bargain in this inflated age. After several of the exact-same buys, it dawned on me that the cost was $1.65. And that the next time I ordered the same it would be... $1.65.
I now go in, my order ready in my head and $1.65 rattling in my hand. The pretzels will be half-gone before I turn onto Broadway. If only they were open Mondays, the saddest day of all.