"Sleeping Under the Arch": Issues of Homelessness in St. Louis film festival
Saint Louis University, Tegler Hall, March 31-April 2
Convened by the good folks at SLU's school of social justice and Whats Up Magazine, this three-day conclave brought together an interesting mix of folks concerned with homelessness and larger issues of social justice in the Lou; I'm sorry to say I managed to squeeze in only one session of the films, but there was still some powerful impact in that two-hour block, which included screenings of "Losing Sleep," a short about kids and young adults living on the streets and the issues that brought them there, and the moving "When the Bough Breaks," filmed with St. Louis families, addressing what happens to the family structure when children's moms are imprisoned. The feature-length "When the Bough Breaks," from director Jill Evans Petzall (who was on the panel afterwards) showed both the vulnerability and heartbreaking absence in kids' lives of their mothers (nonviolent offenders in the Missouri penitentiary system) and at the same time their amazing resilience and wisdom far beyond their years, in some cases. It won an Emmy award, and if you can find it for your own viewing, you'll see why. The only weak link in what seemed like an excellent weekend of programming was that old bugaboo, very small attendance. (AED)
"Under the Arch: St. Louis Stories, Glimpses of Life in the Gateway City by Its Writers"
Ed. by Paul Thiel, Antares Press, 2005, $14.95
It's the kind of volume that makes you smack your forehead and say, "Yes! Yes, we've needed this!" Paul Thiel, known about town for his own poetry and for initiating the popular "Day of the Dead Beats" reading, has assembled a meaty collection of writings about St. Louis from 23 living authors ranging from David Carkeet and famous alum A.E. Hotchner to up-and-comers Colleen McKee and Daniel Stolar. Fancy a glimpse of a young Tennessee Williams or a tale of a man who seeks love in the aisles of the Richmond Heights Schnucks? You'll find all that and everything in between in this engaging book. Send it to your out-of-town friends, too, so they can get the flava of our city. (AED)
Eat Me in St. Louis: Tales From the Dinner Club
Sekisui, 3024 South Grand, 772-0002, www.sekisuiusa.com
There is extra pressure hanging over the telling of this Dinner Club tale because the editors of this fine website accompanied the adventure. So, perhaps I should have laid off the sake while I was taking notes. I did not know that Sekisui was a chain until looking for its website after the Club, and this restaurant at Grand and Arsenal does not have a chain feel. The atmosphere is warm, inviting, and unique (there is a nice fountain as you enter the door), and the staff is very friendly. Our party numbered nine, and so we waited in the bar until a table opened up. Included in the full drink selection are several varieties of the aforementioned sake, all except one of which is served cold. They also have beer in big bottles, something I happen to like.
While we were initially told 35 minutes, the clock soon ticked toward an hour. The manager, TJ, could not have been more friendly in his apology for the wait. When we did finally get to our table, we had complimentary soup and salad waiting. It is difficult to describe the meals since when eating sushi (especially in a large group), you order a lot of things. Everyone in attendance seemed to enjoy what was passed around, be it nigiri (fish served on rice), sashimi, teriyaki, tempura or sushi rolls, and whether involving fish or not. The vegetarians at the table described the restaurant as "veggie-friendly" and you know how hard those folks are to please (just kidding!). The sweet potato tempura stood out as a favorite at my end of the table.
If you are new to Japanese cuisine, you will find the staff friendly and helpful. If you are well acquainted with sushi, sashimi, and the like, you should find plenty of variety to suit your fancy. (JJG)