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Mar 2003 / sights and sounds :: email this story to a friend

Frogs, Food and Fun
By Thomas Crone and Amanda E. Doyle


Log Cabin Inn
MonstroCity, City Museum, 15th & Lucas

Located in a small, reconstructed, suitably rustic farmhouse, the Log Cabin Inn is yet another addition to the ever-expanding MonstroCity, on the outer grounds of the City Museum. A tavern, of sorts, the place is outfitted just enough to be a functioning bar, with a simple selection of beers, some spirits and, intriguingly, things like hot chocolate and spiced rum punch. Open on weekend nights, the place offers an incredible charm, especially during the winter hours, when the stove is stoked with firewood and the conversation is low. On a snowy February evening, the air was punctuated with sound, as well, as the ad-hoc bluegrass group Four Sheets to the Wind huddled around a table and made music the old-fashioned way, calling out tunes and playing at a volume that allowed for easy talk even five feet away. On the right night, with the right people, this place could be magic. And on other nights, it's simply one more reason to marvel at the wild Museum parking lot. Cool joint, check it out. (TC)

A. Amitin Book Shop
1207 Washington

Many times — many, many times — we have been warned that the days of A. Amitin Book Shop were well nigh, that the massive space would soon be taken over by ruthless investors, out-of-town concerns... somebody, anybody, everybody! The space, though, was still clicking along at last check, with, if anything, even more chaos on the stock floors. The books — now truly picked over by the last half-dozen fire sales — are scattered to the ceiling and into the basement, where curious people — some newcomers, some regulars — rifle through stack after stack of published product. Amazingly, owner Larry Amitin does seem a little more interested in letting go of the merchandise for less than perceived value: a stack of magazines and a single book were parted with for only $5. Not exactly bargain days at Amitin's, though a little break's always welcome. But if a recent shopping trip proved anything, it's that more isn't always better. What remains at Amitin's is a treasure, of sorts, though one that requires time, patience and a few shekels to uncover. Amazingly, one stack over, another visitor was having the same thought, uttering what has to be the perfect single quote on the venerable space: "So much here and you still can't find what you want." (TC)

Cummel's Café
1627 Washington

After months (years?) of anticipation, the lunch counter at Cummel's Café is back in business, bringing a shot of independent street life to the western end of the Washington Avenue development. During a lunch trip in mid-February, the place was busy, about a week after earning a nice review in the RFT. Behind the counter, four workers (including a brand new cook) were hustling to get a half-dozen diners their meals. It seems that whether or not Janese Henry has an extra six hands to help her, you're still going to get individualized, unhurried service. (Want some iced tea? Help yourself, here're the lemons!) The mix of patrons was impressive, from younger tech-heads to dentistry workers from a couple of blocks around the way. Even Wayne St. Wayne added to the mélange, "catching up on some commissions" along the long line of window seats. The food? Well, the meal was very nice, indeed — a vegetarian spaghetti, with two sides and tea, all for under $7. The mood? Kinda nutty, kinda fun. The space? Open and free of the clutter that was a hallmark of the older two versions of Cummel's. Almost conspiratorially, though, Henry came over during the lunch and mentioned that, soon, a lot of her packed boxes would be unloaded. We can only imagine. (TC)


Hour-and-Under Film Fest: "Cane Toads: An Unnatural History," dir. Mark Lewis, 1987
Frederick's Music Lounge, 4454 Chippewa in scenic South St. Louis

cane toad I did make a special trip out — on a school night, no less! — to catch this fantastic, absurd nature documentary, based on having fuzzy-yet-hearty recommendations of it stored in my increasingly faulty memory banks. It's about cane toads, yes, and the havoc they've wreaked on much of the Australian continent since their introduction there in the '30s to control the cane grub pest problem. Now, I'm sure you can't see this coming...the cane toads got out of control! They're a bigger problem than the problem they were purportedly going to solve! (People, when are we going to learn? Have The Simpsons taught us nothing??) Anyway, the humor that pervades the film is mostly at the expense of utterly serious folk, from the lab-coated scientist who holds up toads to simulate their coitic position (in which one can apparently find them frequently) to the sort of loner senior citizens who extol the virtues of the toads as acquaintances, pets and even (sniff!) friends! True friends! A must-see, at your next opportunity. (AED)


Hapi "Mandarin Orange Float Drink (with its own pulp)"
Wei Chuan "Peach Juice & Puree"

Ah, yes, our fascination with Jay International Foods continues, specifically with the cold beverage racks that line the south wall. Filled with goodness they are, including these fine products, which we'd encourage you to go out and drink soon. Each is the essence of the fruit in question. The Wei Chuan peach nectar is thick and rather pulpy; the Hapi mandarin orange drink meanwhile is somehow even pulpier, with one million pieces of pulp in the mix. Yum. (TC)

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