November 30, 2005
There is a hell of a lot going on this weekend. And when I say weekend, I'm talking about an old-school Seattle weekend, where you start partying on Thursday night, suffer through that last day of work, and then rip right into Friday night and ride it out until midnight on Sunday. Here's a wee sampling, a laundry list that's far more interesting than laundry:
Curtis Lyle and Marcellus Leonard, Readings @ The Tap Room (as mentioned in my previous post);
Dead Man screens at the Webster Film Series.
Bad Folk, Good Griefs and Red Eye Driver at the Way Out.
Christmas Rummage and Bake Sale at St. John's;
The Loop Holiday walk;
Lecture on Post-Ironic Lull at the UMSL Gallery on Washington;
Winter Indian Art sale at Cahokia Mounds Interpretive Center;
The Saturday Monday art sale;
Soulard Holiday Parlor Tour;
and the Bunnygrunt/Tone Rodent Show at CBGBs.
Three Fried Men play along to a Steamers game! They are being encouraged to play half-time and during the game. Yowza!
November 29, 2005
Woods, Woods Everywhere
Is there a hotter artist in St. Louis right now than Eric Woods? Seems that every week, we run across a new flyer, postcard or poster either designed by his Firecracker Press or promoting a new show by Woods, himself. (Mind you, this isn't a trend we're knocking or wish to see pass anytime soon.) So it was yesterday, when we found a postcard for a new show at Philip Slein Gallery, which'll open this Friday, Dec. 2, from 6-9 p.m. at the Downtown space.
In addition to work by Woods, there'll be tattoo art at this exhibit, showcasing a topic-slash-genre that seems to be visited by just about everyone these days. The "Marked Men" portion of the Slein opening will includes "the art of six influential tattoo artists, featuring: Don Ed Hardy, Nick Bubash, Scott Harrison, Thom de Vita, Mike Malone and John Wyatt."
Oh, sure, tattoos are hot. Just watch cable TV. But for us at 52nd City, we'd rather buy shares in Eric Woods, Incorporated. His stock is hot, hot, hot!
November 28, 2005
Shaking Down Thunder in the Electric Church
The first time I saw Curtis Lyle read poetry, it was in the Contemporary, with David AL Jackson accompanying him on percussion. If you think it’s easy to read in a large, cement space like that (a little bit Bulgarian, a little bit cave-like) think again! I have read in that space. The sound bounces everywhere. You really have to wrestle it down, like Jacob with the angel, or you might as well be reciting your poems into the nozzle of a vacuum cleaner attachment in the privacy of your own home. Curtis was a downright mythological presence that night, and I say that without fear of being heavy-handed, because that’s just how it was. He was reading to launch the publication of his book, Electric Church, which is a power-packed little volume. As Will Alexander observes in the introduction: “His poems partake of both the telluric and the stellar—images erupt in the form of an interior code, rhythms are aboriginal, powers partake of ferocious lingual audacity. A philosophical threading blended with subversive humor.”Continue reading "Shaking Down Thunder in the Electric Church"
November 25, 2005
Jordan Oakes: Visual Artist?
We just received a suitably enigmatic note from St. Louis writer and nationally-reknowned power pop expert Jordan Oakes, who apparently has a show of his artwork opening tomorrow. Which'd be Saturday, Nov. 26, at I & I Gallery, an incense parlor located on So. Grand, between Connecticut and Wyoming. Though we don't know the exact nature of the work, there will be wine and cheese, with a 5 p.m. start time announced. Photography? Painting? Sketches? We don't know, either!
That Jordan! Ever the elusive one...
(Update: okay, so I popped in, since it's just up the block. His work is mixed media and collage. There are about 15-20 pieces. And the owner of I & I said there's a 6 p.m. start. Ah! But, yeah, Jordan's a visual artist.)
November 24, 2005
"Reefer Madness": Q/A w/ Donna Northcott
It's the final weekend for the latest Magic Smoking Monkey Theatre production, "Reefer Madness." It'll be playing two shows a night on both Friday and Saturday evenings at the MSMT's now-regular venue at the Regional Arts Commission.
We decided to bug founder/director Donna Northcott on Thanksgiving with five questions about the current show, cast and crew. She was kind enough to put aside the holiday traditions for a bit of impish, cyber-chat.
What was the initial appeal of "Reefer Madness," in regards to a Monkey reworking?
It's classic Monkey: late 1930's, overly intense, a film that takes itself way too seriously. We almost did "Reefer" a couple of years ago, but at that time Scott Miller was planning to do "Reefer Madness: The Musical" with New Line, which would have been running immediately after our production, with both shows at the ArtLoft. =Since we hadn't yet officially announced "RM," I agreed to go with my back-up plan: "The One Hour Star Wars Trilogy." Which worked out well for everyone. So, RM has been on a back burner for awhile, and I was glad to finally give it the Monkey treatment.
Any new actors this time around? Any long-timers taking this one off?
There are a lot of new actors this time around - almost half the cast. I was concerned when several of the regulars (Amy Elz, Julie Layton, Drew Bell, Dave Cooperstein, Donna Weinsting, Oscar Madrid) were not going to be available due to a variety of schedule conflicts. But it worked out very well, and we discovered some excellent new actors: Jessica Jackson, Roger Erb, Jamie Pitt, Kimmie Mason, Leo Barzcewski, Jeremy Thomas, and Kine Brown.
My guess is that a lot of people know of the movie, but haven't actually seen it. Is that true, or are people well-versed with the original?
I think you're right - almost everyone knows the title, but not that many have actually seen the movie. Some are now familiar with it, after having seen the musical version. And some recognize a couple of rather iconic images: Hot Fingers Maloney, the drug-addled piano player, and Ralph Wilkie laughing maniacally while hopped up on reefer.
Any particularly good anecdotes from show nights, to this point? No one's fallen of the stage or lost their wigs or any such thing?
Nothing catastrophic - no walls falling down or anything. But in the final week of rehearsal, there are the odd moments of actors shouting "bang!" before remembering that we now have a sound system, or worrying about Abe Lincoln getting stuck in a doorway. But hey, we have one more weekend left, so we're not out of the woods yet.
Have any of your actors "gone method" and smoked up the mad cheeba to get in the proper frame-of-mind each night?
We have a strict "don't ask, don't tell" policy. What happens in the dressing room, stays in the dressing room. Really. I hear all sorts of frightening, other-worldly noises coming from backstage before the show - some don't even seem human. And the smells... don't ask. My feeling is, the less I know, the better. As long as the show goes on, I don't ask any questions.
November 23, 2005
So Close, So Far Away
Despite advancing age, I like to think that I still enjoy alternative forms of music. And I like to think that independent businesses and services that I can walk to are worth supporting. However, I seldom wind up wandering over to Radio Cherokee, the little music venue on the wacky Cherokee Strip. Why, oh, why? I don't like to think about it.
Perhaps I'll change my ways this week, as the place holds three events over the weekend.
On Wednesday: Gavin Michael McNutt, Horshack, Bad Folk.
On Friday: the Potomac Accord, the Floating City, Stationary Odyssey (Evansville, IN).
On Sunday: Andrew Heffernan, Tom Bradshaw, Parkers Back.
November 22, 2005
Hamiet @ Mad Art and on KDHX
Last night, Amanda Doyle and I were pleased to have world-class baritone sax player and bandleader Hamiet Bluiett on "The Wire," which you can now listen to via online streaming at kdhx.org. We had him on to discuss his participation in this weekend's TriFactor show at the Mad Art Gallery, which will see him team up with violinist Billy Bang and percussionist Kahil El-Zabar.
Having seen Blueitt in conncert three different times over the last year-and-change, it's no secret that every show can be wildly divergent one from the one prior, depending on the group, the venue and the audience. Playing with Ernest Dawkins' group from Chicago at the Mad Art, his set went into some remarkable places, taking the audience on a crazy, two-set ride. Though I thought was prepared for what to come, I felt like I was going to come right outta my shoes and I wasn't the only one to feel a special dose of power coming from stage that night.
There will be two seperate seatings at the Mad Art this Saturday, including an early show at 8 p.m. and a 10:30 closer. Which to see, which to see? After all, the first show might accomodate taking in more events during a packed holiday weekend. The second, meanwhile, might see the three take off on some really hot directions in improv. As anyone who's seen him play will attest, there's a near-guarantee that this is an evening not to miss.
And if you get a chance to stream the show, as well, do so. Talking to someone with this kind of creative mind is not something that rolls around every week. It was a treat to interview him and the only regret was that we didn't have more time to delve into his deep history in St. Louis music and beyond.
November 21, 2005
Break Out the Floor-Polisher and the Jingle Bells
Stan Kann is not only planning to sit in with the Compton Heights Concert Band on December 23, but word on the street is that he is auditioning people to play alongside him on vacuums and floor-polisher (that's in the singular on purpose; only one spot there, so better polish your floor-polishing skills before signing up for the audition). I have no qualms about saying that this may be the only time you will hear Sousa in Powell Hall accompanied by a floor-cleaning appliance section. Where will they put them, I wonder? Next to the kettle drums? It's not really percussion, not completely a wind instrument, despite all the air rushing around in the cannister. Maybe the tubas will have them. We'll have to ask Stan about that.
November 18, 2005
To The Market...
I go to Soulard Market most every Saturday. But not just to shop. I just need to be around all the people and colors and smells and sounds to be happy for the rest of the week. It's a market, though, so I end up buying stuff. Usually, I end up buying too much; I find antique asparagus in the back of my fridge way more often than I'd like. When I had a dead backyard (hyper dogs and all shade; I could've had a rodeo back there and no one would have noticed) I experimented with compost, though once I had to borrow a shovel to dig a four-foot-deep hole to bury some that had gone horribly awry. I keep intending to get a real worm bin, or start a tidy little compost bin where all the wizened asparagus can go to die. But knowing full well that may be months from now, I was really pleased to find this link. Maybe it's a no-duh revelation for everyone else, but I was really happy to find it - I am telling myself that knowing what sorts of apples and herbs will be there come Saturday will help. I can make a list! And bring our nifty wire shopping cart, the kind that grannies use when they take their groceries home on the Bi-State. And not allow asparagus spears to die in vain.
Thurman Goes Under the Knife
The Shaw neighborhood's Thurman Community Cafe will be receiving an early holiday makeover all next week, according to the info on the site www.communitycafes.blogspot.com. The humorously-written piece, penned by resident wit Shannon McGinn, suggests a new look, due for public inspection on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Neo-industrialist? Down-home kitsch? Goth chic? Hmm. We're intrigued by what's next.
And in other South City coffeeshop news, MoKaBe's is opening earlier, with a 7 a.m. weekday door unlock, 8 a.m. on Saturdays and 9 a.m. on Sundays. New breakfast menu items will be introduced, as well, if we're to beleive the promotonal tarp hanging on the outside of the building.
Home Grown Santas
My friend Caroline Huth, a great collage artist, is hosting a holiday sale at her home. I have noticed many of these sort of home grown sales cropping up, so I asked her why she was doing one—at her home—during the holidays. “I did one sort of last minute last year and really ended up selling a lot of work. It’s kind of like throwing a big party at your house only all of your stuff is for sale.” Other participants offering wares at Caroline’s sale include Amy Hoover (fiber works), Jim Ibur (ceramics) and Jennie Goodman (knitter extraordinaire).
The Rock-n-Roll Craft Fair at Junk Junkie last month was particularly fine. I bought three things and saw about a dozen more things that gave me ideas. I encourage everyone to shop at these types of local boutiques and trunk shows. Support your local artists and give a gift that is handmade—even if you aren’t crafty yourself.
Caroline Huth’s Jingle Sale
noon to 8pm
6951 Amherst, University City 63130
314-409-7056 with questions
Wine and snacks while they last.
SKIF’s Annual Holiday Bazaar
Saturday, November 26
10am to 6pm
2008 Marconi, St. Louis, 63110
Plenty of artists, gifts, fun and surprises.
Helene & George’s Feast of Wearable Arts
Saturday & Sunday, November 19th & 20th
10am to 5pm
518 E. Polo Drive, Clayton, 63105
Cash and checks preferred.
A show of artisan jewelry and other fine delectables featuring: George Boniface, Susie Chasnoff, Jeri Changar, Nancy Davis, Earbobs, Veronica Greene, Irie Star, Two Twisted Divas
November 17, 2005
RIP/MIA: Happy Taco
In the past two days, the Riverfront Times and the Post-Dispatch have both highlighted the Lifestyles Cafe, located in that not-quite-Skinker-DeBalivere netherworld between the West End and the Loop. And in the each case, the new vegetarian/soul menu got qualified good marks.
Our question, though, is what became of the Happy Taco business sign? For the better part of the decade, the space sat vacant, but the friendly Happy Taco mascot (best described as a... happy.... mmm, taco) maintained a lit presence on Delmar. Remarkably, no foul child had ever thrown a rock, brick or other smashing device into the whimsical, an amazing enough thing.
But did the good folks at Lifestyles simply scrap the Taco sign? Or did some civic imp make off with it before it fell into the alley's bulk-pickup rotation? If there was a sign anywhere in the City that needed to be freed, this was it.
Here's hoping that's the case. Sometimes theft isn't only called for, it should be actively encouraged. We'll miss you, Happy Taco, unless you're... somewhere.
November 15, 2005
Funkabilly @ the Venice
With a little late-notice, the early-'90s funk/rock band Funkabilly is making an appearance at the Venice Cafe tonight, one of their regular haunts a decade ago. The six-piece will take the "stage" of the Benton Park landmark around 10 o'clock and will take things out until closing time.
Tonight's reunion version will include all six key members, including: Dominic Schaeffer, vocals, sax; Benet Schaeffer, drums; Mark Gray and Angelo Ranzini, guitar; Fo Jammi, keyboards; and Tracy Wynkoop, bass. Combined the group played in (and still play in) dozens of acts around town.
In a quick reminder to fans, Benet Schaeffer (now of the group Gumbohead, among others) is self-deprecating: "We all truly hope you can make it. The frequency of shows is decreases as our age increases, and our faces get creases."
November 14, 2005
Gaynor @ the Royale
Though the weather on Saturday evening was a tad inclement, artist Jerome Gaynor hung around the back yard of the Royale, for a laidback opening of the large piece of public/commercial art that now hangs on the back of the ginmill-slash-eatery. The 8 ft. x 8 ft. work - hung by no less than six strapping fellows, so large is the piece - features a Downtown scene originally penned by frequent RFT contributor Dan Zettwoch, who was also on-hand at the event.
Jerome Gaynor - noted STL comic book creator and founder of the stlpunk.com page - adapted the small sketch, which features a likeness of the Gateway Arch and other Downtown buildings, set off by the words "The Royale" and "STL-Power." The piece is visible for a good block away and makes the back of the two-story structure pop, though it doesn't, at all, mimic the fleur de lis artwork on the building's southern wall, only a few weeks old itself.
Throw in some intriuging yard art by "junk" artist Carl Perkins and the outdoor patio of the Royale is taking on some interesting, blended character, no doubt.
November 10, 2005
Kick Ass Awards: 11/11 @ 7
Tomorrow, 12 St. Louis individuals, organizations and couples (along with one mystery winner) wil receive the second annual STL Kick Ass Awards, a recent tradition begun in Austin, TX. We'd certainly invite you to attend this event, held at the Gallery Urbis Orbis, at 10th and St. Charles.
Light refreshments will be served. Seating is limited, though standing room is ample. And attendance will cost you - literally - change. So please empty out your car's ashtray, check the gaps in your couch and sacrifice that coin-filled piggybank in your bedroom. Monies will go to funding this event and future publishing projects in 2006.
Here's a suitably-esoteric note from founder Spike Gillespie:
A couple of years ago I started the Kickass Awards in Austin because I was inspired by the kindness of Stella, a wonderful employee of the St. Louis Bread Company in Webster Groves. On my annual visits to Webster, Stella always treated me like royalty, clutching my hand, looking in my eyes, passing along something besides bagels whenever we met. I’d been cynical and sarcastic most of my life, but Stella helped open my eyes to all sorts of kindness in the world. And so, to celebrate the good people in my community who aren’t always recognized for their goodness, I started the Kick Ass Awards to offer a little recognition and good cheer. I also think that taking the time to acknowledge the goodness in others prompted me to try to do more good in the world. This year, the whole look-for-good/do-good took on a life of its own for me.
In the springtime, my friend’s sister-in-law died, leaving behind two very little kids. I offered to help take care of the kids while their dad came up with a plan and worked through some of his grief. I only did this because I could, because I’ve had so much help myself over the years. I expected nothing in return— the kids were fun to be with and that was reward enough. Well... as it turns out, the kids’ have an aunt and uncle who are friends with a foot specialist in Chicago. When they learned that I walked with a cane due to crippling arthritis, and that I had no insurance, they put me in touch with the specialist. I just returned from a week in Chicago— to thank me for helping his friends’ family, the foot doctor waived his fee and restructured my foot so I will soon be able to walk again without pain after three years of serious pain. Friends in Austin threw a benefit to raise money to cover my travel expenses and surgical center fees. And Michael McCarthy, a St. Louis citizen (and father to my son, the Amazing Henry) came up to take care of me during my recovery. So you can see that there will be many, many Kick Ass awards to hand out at our next ceremony in Austin that are connected directly to all of this. Really amazing the good we can do each other. I just love how much we all Kick Ass.
I’m so delighted the Kick Ass tradition has spread to St. Louis. Thanks to Stella for starting it all and to Thomas for making it happen up there. Y’all are invited to our awards— January 10, 2006 at BookPeople in Austin.
November 09, 2005
Thursdays with Jarmusch
Recently, I undertook the arduous task of watching the couple of Jim Jarmusch films that had slipped past me, finding along the way that "Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai" would instantly become one of my favorite 15-20 films, like, ever. Also among that number is "Mystery Train," the languidly-paced Jarmusch signature film, which tracks the ghost of Elvis through late-'80s Memphis. The triple storylines, the subtle changes of lighting and music, the simple presence of Screamin' Jay Hawkins... ah, a modern masterpiece.
A Webster University class on Jarmusch is being offered up this semester, taught by R.D. Zurick. Many of the course's films are getting a special, rush-hour screening at the historic Winifred Moore Auditorium, including tomorrow's 5:30 p.m. offering of "Mystery Train," shown, as it should be, on the big-screen at 470 East Lockwood. Following, in coming weeks, will be: the underrated "Night on Earth"; Johnny Depp's oddball turn as "Dead Man"; the aforementioned "Ghost Dog"; and the Jamusch's most-recent, "Broken Flowers," all playing with the early start time.
Those of you with flex schedules (yea!), take advantage.
And did we mention that the Webster University Film Series, as an organization, is being presented with a Kick Ass Award, this Friday night at Gallery Urbis Orbis? We didn't? Well, then. We'll tell you tomorrow.
November 08, 2005
Built for Court?
The old Coral Courts may be demolished, but there's still a bit of goofy controversy left in the deceased landmark's memory. Co-producers of "Built for Speed: The Coral Court Motel," Bill Boll and Shellee Graham recently wound up as contestants on the syndicated TV show "Judge Alex," based on a disagreement over CALOP funds that helped fund the stellar, 70-minute documentary.
Apparently, Boll won a decision from Judge Alex Ferrer, a newcomer to the growing derby of judge/reality programs. Their episode, recorded in April, was broadcast in October; it airs locally on KTVI at 1:30 p.m.. The "Judge Alex" site didn't have a link to an archived version, but we look forward to catching a repeat. As both folks are colorful characters, we can only imagine the amusing asides and witty wisecracks - though, of course, we take no joy in friends and collaborators coming to odds!
(Holy smokes. There was an RFT story on this in the Oct. 12 issue: "Judge Mental," by Ben Westoff. I did not know that. Rrrats.)
November 07, 2005
Bob Reuter's new band, the Dirty South - featuring another pair of veteran players in guitarist Marc Chechik and drummer John Baldus - are recording an album with producer/engineer Jason Rook. The tracks are being cut at Benton Park's Radio Penny studio, where the band's been making time for the past month. Early recordings have sounding promising, with Reuter on electric guitar, rather than acoustic, for the time in 20 years.
That's not to say he's abandoning that option. Recently, the singer-songwriter's been playing the back patio of the Atomic Cowboy, usually on Friday nights. And he's caught in the acoustic form for the next edition of Johnny Fox's KDHX show, "River City Acoustic," which will air an entire hour of his music on Friday, December 2, from 7-8 p.m.
November 06, 2005
Yes, That's an Eye Chart
Aaron Belz has released the first title from his new poetry chapbook imprint, Observable Books. The first unusual thing about Aaron is that he is not afraid to write funny poems; the second unusual thing about him is that he is a poet who understands the importance of beautiful design. Those who have been put off of poetry in the past by looking at weenie covers graced with misty mountains, still lifes or perhaps a poignant black and white shot of the author will know what I am talking about.
Eric Thoelke of TOKY Branding + Design created the Observable logo (Which, delight! Is cleverly laid out as an eye chart, an image very familiar to 20/1000 eyesighted me). Eric Woods of Firecracker Press is designing and printing the covers. The debut title is Plausible Worlds, Aaron's own chapbook. "As vain as it might seem," he writes on the Observable website, "I had this in mind as sort of a test-run to see how the book would come out, and if it sucked, i could bury my own publication a lot easier than someone else's."
Aaron picked up the finished product last Wednesday, and brought it to Day of the Dead Beats. I was shocked at just how damn great it looked; Eric has outdone himself. I guess I never realized that a poetry book could have bell-bottoms and radial flowers on the cover. What a lovely epiphany: No wistful nature photos! No paintings of wispy maidens or floating flowers! Just this zing-pow, colorful, gleeful cover featuring a guy in bell-bottoms and a clock radio.
If you want to eyeball the cover, you can see it on the Observable website. And you can read some of Aaron's poems here. If you would like to acquire a little book for yourself, sez Mr. Belz: "The price is $8 for stapled, $12 for the 'special edition' of 50 hand-sewn and numbered copies. If you send me a check, I’ll put an autographed/inscribed copy in the mail right away!! 3734 Hartford Street, St. Louis, MO 63116."
November 04, 2005
Though there are details to be worked out, looks like Art Chantry - recently featured with a large, retrospective show at Philip Slein Gallery - will be back on an area venue's walls in the near future. Clayton's Hoffman LaChance Fine Art is looking to secure a new Chantry show for January or February, with another selection of works from the iconoclastic rock'n'roll poster/album cover designer.
We'll post details as they become available and hope to even grab a word with the enigmatic design star. We'll see, we'll see.
November 03, 2005
Belas Artes to Open on Saturday
In the McKinley Heights space formerly occupied by Marty's Baking, Belas Artes is planning an opening this Saturday, Nov. 5.
Here's some info from the cafe's site, compliments of proprietor Cileia Miranda-Yuen:
Belas Artes is a trendy café & multicultural center with an art gallery that promotes world and local art. It is a space to relax, meet international folks and learn about global cultures. Belas Artes Coffee Shop has four thematic rooms featuring different cultures: “Afro-Latin," “Middle-Eastern-Indian," “Zen” and “Western Contemporary." Our patio is also another pleasant space with tables among planters making you feel like being in the middle of a park.
The coffeehouse is found at 1854 Russell, at Mississippi. Hours will be 6:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m., weekdays; and 7:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., weekends.
November 02, 2005
Time for a Change
If we're to believe Matt McInerney - and why would anyone in the world not believe Matt McInerney? - the Maplewood vintage shop/coffeehouse Annata is changing names this Friday, with a small celebration and art sale. Here're the undistilled details. All exclamation points compliments the author!:
J.MARIE TEXTILES & LULL* GRAPHIC WEARABLES
Trunk Show This Friday Night at The Time in Maplewood!!
Please join us at the party/sale at the store-formerly-known-as-Annata! - THE TIME!
Located in the heart of Maplewood - at 7298 Manchester Road - The Time will be celebrating it’s re-launch this Friday night with food, drink and fashion galore! Come see new styles and designs from J. Marie Textiles, Lull* Graphic Wearables, Kung Fu Chicken ceramics & more! The fun starts at 7p (el vino will flow!) so come down & rock out! Or just buy some cool stuff...
For more info, call: 314.644.2055
We'd be remiss if not noting that the folks involved are collectively some of our favorite artists in town and are among driving forces behind the past, present and future of the Independent Art Market. Thus, they are also among our favorite collectives.