April 28, 2006
Thee Dirty South @ Tap Room
Thee Dirty South - yo, gotta love the Thee - is playing at the Tap Room tomorrow night, with another local three-piece, The Vultures. If you're not familiar with The, er, Thee Dirty South, the group includes guitarist Bob Reuter on vocals, drummer John Baldus on drums and guitarist on Marc Chechik on why-the-heck-has-he-never-sounded-this-good-before?-lead-guitar. Whatever mojo these three have working together, well, it's working.
And if you're really unfamiliar with the group and don't like laying down your US Green on acts you haven't heard, well:
1. This is a no cover show. As in free.
2. There're songs to check at: http://www.myspace.com/theedirtysouth. Four of them, one better than the next.
Enjoy as you see fit.
April 27, 2006
Sunday: Free Candy
This Sunday evening, April 30, regular co-host Amanda Doyle will be joined by regular fill-in-co-host Tom Weber, as Julia Smillie is still enjoying the cool breezes and intellectual stimulation of Michigan's fairest town, Ann Arbor. There are some details about Sunday's gig at freecandy.net, but we can tell you that: the space is open already on Sundays, so arrive anytime; and that space, in question, is the Hartford Community Cafe.
It's possible that I'm simply overlooking the guest list - and I'm sure I am, so addled is my brain of late - but I'm guessing that it's a "what happened to former guests and associates of the show"-type gig and that we'll see:
Fred Hessel playing the songbook of Cyndi Lauper.
Jermaine Wilson charming a greenbacked Indian cobra with tunes from a tin-whistle.
Caroline Hackmeyer reading from her new work of Fibonacci poetry.
Marijean Jaggers just going off on some poor schmuck's black Levi's.
I cannot wait! To see you there! So I can sell you a magazine!
April 25, 2006
Interview: Crispin H. Glover
So I talked to Crispin Glover. And the tape didn’t fire, the interview completely nixed. (Please: don’t ask, because, yes, I did test my machinery.) So I talked to Crispin Glover again, the next day. It’s impossible to relate some of the fun of the first conversation and even more impossible to give the sense of, well, what’s it’s like to talk to Crispin Glover, ever.
The inflections… yes, he does sound just like you’d think he sounds. The depth of comments… yes, every answer is detailed, nuanced, deep. The crazily nervous questions… yes, even the second time through I was a stammering buffoon. In fact, by the time I finished with the second round, I realized that four questions (nervous, crazy questions) had gleaned about 40-minutes of disarmingly direct, humorously honest chat.
Here’s the general run of our second talk, in anticipation of Crispin Glover’s appearance at Webster University on Thursday, May 4. The bulk of the interview is here, with minimal edits, only a few particularly filmic/technical moments excised.
April 24, 2006
Robert Duvall Does It
Although the tango has always been known as the most passionate of dances, it has recently come into vogue with younger audiences. Tom Cruise is responsible for this.
Tom Cruise marries Nicole Kidman while he is a big star and she’s starting out. After years of walking a pace behind him, she makes a little Baz Luhrman film called Moulin Rouge. During filming, it’s widely reported that she has a torrid affair with her costar and may even be pregnant with their love child. The rumors cause the collapse of the marriage and the gauche and gawking American public flocks to see the film. In an ultra-hot and breathtaking scene, members of the cast dance the tango to a gravelly, guttural cover of the Police’s Roxanne. Suddenly, people are interested in Argentine dance. It all goes back to Maverick.
May 19-21, the Tango Society of St. Louis will present Tango Weekend in St. Louis. Events taking place will include a welcome dance/party and tango workshops for all levels from beginner to advanced. To celebrate the weekend in grand style, the 7th Annual “Celebrities Tango Ball” will be held on Saturday night at the Sheldon ballroom. The elegant ball, candlelight dinner and floorshow will feature Maria and Carlos Rivarola, tango masters from Buenos Aries. *
The Tango Society teases: Imagine…ladies bejeweled and bedecked, attired in satin gloves, fishnet stockings, on the arm of their gent whirling and twirling while tangoing the night away!
Package prices vary and reservations are required. Fishnet stocking, I suspect are not.
Check out www.tangorosa.com for the complete flyer or ticket information.
* If your significant other has ever accused you of being romantically challenged, tickets to this one event are equivalent to a permanent Get Out of Jail Free card.
At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon
I woke up Sunday morning & went tooling around my neighborhood, little
Tower Grove East. And saw that someone had been really busy the night before with the blue spray paint (and I think some stencils and black spray paint). But this wasn't gang graffitti ... it was anarchy symbols painted on the Shoemehl pots at the end of the street, and on the stone foundations of buildings on South Grand. Also, some Bill McClellands stenciled hither & yon.
Now, the McClellands I actually found pretty amusing (though I have yet to get close enough to inspect the text around 'em). But they were stenciled on replaceable clapboard, and don't look quite as awful as bleeding, scattershot spraypaint letters. Really, ask my poor family, I appreciate anarchy as much as the next girl. But guys! Why on the sides of houses? These people are not the bosses you're railing against. They are your neighbors.
This is the thing that makes the average guy grumble and think that liberal and libertine (and dumbass) belong in the same sentence. Take the high road, boys, take the high road. If this was not just a youthful prank--that is, if you don't grow out of your politics after graduating from high school--learn not to desecrate the common spaces of the very people you claim to stand up for.
I can count, on one hand, the amount of times I've been out, seen a jam band, and determined that I'd absolutely go see them again. Everything that people usually hold up against the jam groups - the noodling, the lack of songcraft, the audience - are ideas that I share. Confession over.
Now, this past Friday night, a five-piece group of Indianapolis, IN, the Twin Cats, were playing to a thin crowd at Pop's Blue Moon; maybe a half-dozen people, apart from the group's girlfriends and the off-duty employees. In a lot of ways, the band encapsulated the style, with songs called "Snacks," and long, loooping jams. Alas.
At some point, though, sax player Nick Gerlach took over. Maybe it wasn't a conscious decision, but he simply asserted himself and dragged his workmanlike group in new and unique directions. Though the remainder of the group have pro chops, Gerlach's skills are so evident that you can't help but focus in on him and, sometimes, only him. During a 10-minute workout of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" (I know, I know), Gerlach just dominated the cut, sending one diminutive, male audience member into a puppet-dancing frenzy. It was a moment that you had to see to fully appreciate, but I got the sense they were capable of pulling this off on a regular basis.
Mayb it was just the night, though. Maybe the stars were aligned. It also helped to be as baked as Aunt Bernie's apple strudel. Whatever. The set worked and I have to be brave enough to say so. Confession two, over.
April 23, 2006
New WU Film Calendar Out
Spent nearly five hours last night watching student projects from Webster U. film and video types and, boy!, that's one way to spend a Saturday evening. No complaints, though, because it meant hanging out with some talented students, the P-D's Joe Williams and the ringleader of the WU Film Series, Michael Steinberg. Out in the hallway was the latest bit of his hanidwork, the new WU Film Series calendar for May, June & July (and just a pinch of August).
Among the highlights:
May 4: Crispin Hellion Glover. Yeah, yeah. More on this Tuesday, when I post the interview with CHG. That tape's a keeper.
May 6: The Webster Student Film & Video Festival. Live music plus two-hours-and-change of the best work from WU's current batch of student filmmakers.
June 7: "Dazed and Confused" at the Bottleworks. Best teen movie ever. Ever, ever, ever. Except for "Say Anything."
June 8: "Vinyl." An exploration of record collecting culture. Are you kidding me? Out there for five years, this is the STL premiere.
July 7-9: "Crossing the Bridge." Wonderful German/Turkish director Fatih Akin ("Head-On," "In July") explores the street music of Turkey with Alexander Hacke of Einsturzende Neubauten. Wow. That's spells: Weird Subcultural Audience. Me included. Hey-o!
July 15-30: A Louis Malle retrospective with 10 films shown over three weekends. Now, Netflix has made life cinematic life so easy, with the chance to dip back into all those movies that you meant to see but never did. Still, it's not the same as seeing these classic works on the bigscreen. The films here span the French director's career, with titles from 1958-1990, including one of those pieces I always meant to see, but never did, "My Dinner with Andre."
April 21, 2006
Interview: The Great Crusades
The Great Crusades will be in St. Louis, on Saturday, May 6, with an appearance at Blueberry Hill's Duck Room, along with Dana Anderson and the American Professionals. The band's new album, "Four Thirty," is out now on the German Glitterhouse label. We checked in with Brian Krumm, the band's vocalist and primary songwriter, as well as a former member of regional favorites the Suede Chain.
Our first e-interview!Continue reading "Interview: The Great Crusades"
April 20, 2006
The last installment--part four--of David Attenborough's The Living Earth showed up in my mailbox on Saturday. BBC-style Moog soundtrack aside, it was nice to see one of those unabashedly brainy nature shows, with long edits so you can get a good look at the creature Attenborough is describing (the camera doesn't even turn away from close-ups of kimoto dragon jaws chewing up chunks of dead goat, etc.) Part Four's first episode examined island ecosystems, which tend to be very specialized because the plants and animals floating on them can't escape, so they evolve in a vacuum as it were. There was a parrot who lived like a rabbit, eating grass and hiding out in a hole during the day, and in the deep valleys in Hawaii, hundreds of what used to be finches, which now have beaks that've evolved to crack one specific type of nut or dip into a certain type of flower or burrow under a special kind of tree bark for a beetle that lives only in that part of the world.
My powers of observation are not as powerful as Attenborough's but I do try to do some lazy bird and animal watching in my backyard. We get bags of something called "Critter Crunch" from Schnuck's (once, when we were checking ourselves out, the guy lording over the auto-checkout stations saw that name pop up on his monitor. "Critter Crunch?" he said with some consternation, and ran over to see what exactly we had in the bag). We have a mockingbird who's learned to imitate car alarms and the crow population seems to be slowly recovering from that last bout of West Nile; if I were Jean Keene, maybe I'd have something more earth-shaking to report (Oh well. I can't boast of a career as a rodeo trick-pony rider, either).
But I'm still a bit amazed at the ecosystem here (I grew up with magpies and tiny scorpions, but no possums, and no crows) and am trying to learn more about the Mississippi River Valley. So a week from Saturday I'm going to try to get myself to the Migratory Bird Sanctuary, where they are having the Confluence Birding Festival. I don't really know where to look for birds, or how to interpret their behavior once I do see them, so this is perfect for me, because they drive your ass up to the good birding spots in a shuttle bus and then tell you where to to point your binoculars. I, too, am a bit of urban wildlife, just like the car-alarm mockingbird, so I am as excited about the kettle corn booth and the fact that free screenings of March of the Penguins and Fly Away Home are part of the weekend's attractions.
April 19, 2006
Or Nekkid, If You Prefer
Having entered adulthood in the late 1980’s, I consider myself a recovering consumer. Apparently, I need to work my program a little harder because I still covet expensive makeup and fancy bath products. In true St. Louis tradition, I “know a guy” who makes outstanding soaps.
The guy is actually a genteel lady named Morgan Naas and what began with a library book and a need for holiday gift solutions only 18 months ago has developed into a loyal customer following and upcoming vendor dates at the new Tower Grove Farmer’s Market.
Here are 5 good reasons to try Morgan’s Naked Soaps:
The products are made locally. And by locally, I mean she mixes small batches in the basement of her Shaw home and then cooks and molds the soap loaves upstairs in her kitchen.
Instead of synthetic fragrances, only natural essential oils are used for scent and spices provide any color present.
Each bar is hand cut and you pay by the total weight of the soap- about 1.00-1.10 per ounce for bars that range anywhere from 3 to 8 ounces.
There are 10-12 different varieties to choose from including lavender, patchouli and African oil soaps. Also in the works are bars for baby and one with insect repelling properties.
Naked Soaps are vegan, containing absolutely no animal products and are never tested on animals.
Everybody holla, south side has a soap diva! A web site is in development (www.moenaas.com) or you can drop her an email at email@example.com. For more information call 314.238.6141.
ARRG's Set for Debut
A bout between the Black Angels and the Pink Vixens is on-tap for the Empire Roller Rink in Columbia, MO, on Saturday, April 29, the first public, full-on skating experence of the Arch Rival Rollergirls. The venue's located at 1305 Business Loop East I-70, in the scenic home of the University of Missouri. Owing to a heavy contingent of STLers attending, the doors for the bout won't even open until 9:30 p.m., so there'll certainly be some early-evening, westbound traffic on the I-70 shuffle.
Also, here's a link to the roller team's recent photo. It's suggested that the weak of heart not peek at these snaps:
For full info, check: www.archrivalrollergirls.com.
April 18, 2006
April Art-y Bits
So many fliers, so many eavesdropped conversations, so much to see and do.
1. The Chippewa Chapel Traveling Guitar Circle and Medicine Show, previously highlighted here by Stefene Russell, has added a Myspace page, so that the kids can keep up with the rotating venue hootenany. The next four stops are vertitable tour of new nightspots on the South Side: April 20, Iron Barley, 5510 Virginia; April 27, Colorado Bob's Ship of Fools, 3457 Morgan Ford; May 4, Windy's on the Wedge, Bates and Virginia; May 11, Kicker's Corner, 6201 So. Broadway.
2. Congrats to Emily Bax, winner of "best in show" at the recent BFA annual at Webster University. All the piece will be up in the Hunt Gallery for the next month, or so.
3. Photographer Eric Post - who released the recent book, "Ghost Town: While St. Louis Sleeps," 2005, Reedy Press - is spinning records on Wednesdays at the Atomic Cowboy. Not only might you find his set intriguing, a blend of downtempo, reggae, dub and R&B, but tech nerds will want to stare at his rig. He brings in his own two turntables, a twin CD mixer and a laptop. Caramba! Geek out to his gear, or just listen.
4. Speaking of music geekery, the St. Louis Record & CD Show returns to the American Czech Hall, 4690 Landsdowne at Kingshighway, on Sunday, May 7. Truly, save your pennies, 'cause records here can be had for 100 of them.
5. Andrea mentioned some of the activities of the Tree Huggers in Forest Park - Wiktor Szostalo, Agnieszka Gradzik and Joe Papendick; how about those for a trio of names? - and some photos are going up at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/51252573@N00/sets/72057594110154314/.
6. The remains of the 52nd City book sale live! In fact, for the next week, you can fill a bag ($1) or a box ($2) with books at the Hartford Community Cafe, where the second floor has been taken over by hard- and soft-covers of all sorts. This is no small amount of books, seriously. And I know you wanted to come out Saturday, but it was a busy holiday weekend, and all. No worries.
7. The Cine16 show at the Missouri History Museum this Thursday will feature the silent classic "The General," along with live musical accompaniment. More info over at the Ecology of Absence site.
More to add, but I'm spacing. Hmm...
April 17, 2006
Crispin Hellion Glover
Author, musician and actor Crispin Hellion Glover will be appearing at Webster University's Film Series on Thursday, May 4, at 9 p.m.
Merely typing these words is causing me both cardio and vascular agitation. Once inside the stately Winifred Moore Auditorium, I shall certainly be in a distressed state. At any rate...
Here's the info from WUFS:
Crispin Hellion Glover’s Big Slide Show & What Is It?
May 4 at 9:00 pm
One Night Only!
SPECIAL ADMISSION $10
Iconic actor Crispin Glover presents his weird and wonderful slide show presentation and a screening of his experimental film What Is It?, a controversial labor of love that took nearly nine years to complete.
What Is It? Crispin Glover, 2005, USA, 82 min.
In his directorial debut, Glover offers up a provocative assault on art and culture: a Dadaist deconstruction of the hero’s journey. A film that is by some accounts a masterpiece of experimental cinema (winning the prestigious Best Narrative Film Award at Ann Arbor) and, in Glover’s own words “…about the adventures of a young man whose principal interests are snails, salt, a pipe and how to get home. He's tormented by a hubristic, racist inner psyche…" What Is It? features a cast composed primarily of actors with Down syndrome, Fairuza Balk as the voice of the snail and Glover in a co-starring role. Leaving no taboo untouched in a battering of wild and weird images, as shocking as Bunuel's L'Age D'or or Jodorowsky's Holy Mountain, Glover has created a film that is sure to baffle as often as it provokes.
Q & A with the director will follow the screening. Mr. Glover will also sell and sign books and musical items at the end of the evening.
Due to the provocative nature of the film, no one under 18 will be admitted to the theater.
Advance tickets available now from the box office or the film series office (Webster Hall 223A).
April 14, 2006
After the 52nd City Book Sale at the Royale this Saturday, I urge you to visit The Tree Hugger Project, a large environmental installation work by St. Louis artists, Wiktor Szostalo and Agnieszka Gradzik. The unveiling will be part of the annual Tulip Festival at the Jewel Box in Forest Park. Hours are 10am -3pm. The installation will remain in the park for some time, so you can also see it during Earth Day, the following weekend.
Wiktor spoke to me about his project at the Launch Party on Wednesday night. I’m familiar with his work from his exhibitions at Mad Art. I think he and Agnieszka are two of the most sincere and hard-working artists I’ve come into contact with. They started The Tree Hugger Project last summer at the Sculpture Trail in Hebden Bridge, England; installations in Jefferson City and at the Washington University School followed and they’ve been invited to show at Europos Sculpture Park in Vilnius, Lithuania and a Museum of Contemporary Art in Isfahan, Iran. The installation will travel to several destinations abroad and in the US in 2007 and beyond.
Below, is an excerpt from the Artists’ Mission Statement:
"The Tree Hugger Project is an ongoing work of Environmental Art designed to help us re-discover our relationship with nature at a very personal and intimate level. Made from twigs, branches, sticks, vines and other natural materials, these playful sculptures remind us that we humans are still very much a part of our natural surroundings. They bring us back to childhood memories when climbing trees, and playing with friends outdoors was a part of our daily experience. Has anyone ever climbed a tree without hugging it?"
Visit The Tree Hugger Project for more information. You can also see related drawings, paintings, and sculpture at the Third Floor Gallery at 1214 Washington. Call the gallery at (314) 241-1010 for more information.
April 13, 2006
War at St. Aloysius GonzagaContinue reading "War at St. Aloysius Gonzaga"
April 12, 2006
Brains: Priced to Move @ $5.95
A regular reader, who happens to be a mover-and-shaker in our favorite 'burb of Maplewood, drops a line to let us know of the arrival of Schottzie's along the Manchester business strip:
Yet another opening in Maplewood! Schottzie's, at 7372 Manchester, is having a grand opening on April 21st and 22nd.
The opening will start with a special ribbon cutting with Mayor Langston at 3:45 p.m. and head directly to the happy hour with drink specials. The opening will feature the Bud-Lite Girls from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday; on Saturday night there will be live music. There will be a special price on 10 oz. drafts of domestic beers: 90 cents! Schottzie's has great pizza, appetizers, burgers and steaks and... for $5.95 you can have a brain sandwich!
Having been a vegetarian for nearly two decades, I cannot personally vouch for the quality of the brain sandwiches at this eatery, but the pizzas - at least at the South County location - are just outstanding.
Which leads one to wonder: will brain pizzas make the menu?
April 11, 2006
Hit the Streets
PRINT ISSUE is here...
Where can you find ruminations on hookers, hair stylists, shoes, barges, wrestlers, running moonshine, DJs, opossums, and those who have left all this for the otherworld? In the debut print edition of 52nd City Magazine hitting the streets this week. Please join us at the Launch Party at Atomic Cowboy on Wednesday, April 12th from 7-9pm. You can get your copy, rub elbows with (or razz) the editors, mingle with some of the contributors, and enjoy the fine food and libation offered by our generous friends at Atomic Cowboy.
BOOK SALE is coming...
And speaking of uncovering the esoteric…where can you find a manual with illustrated calisthenic exercises to warm up your fingers before you start hitting the keyboard? At the 52nd City Book Sale, this Saturday, April 15th from 11:30am to 4:00pm at The Royale. We have plenty of non-fiction and civically-oriented texts, along with poetry, coffee table-worthy art books and even some comic stylings from Woody Allen. Subterranean Books in the Loop has even donated some titles. Proceeds help with print/production of our magazine.
So come out and visit with us—or check out the 52ndcity.com website, where we have preview articles from our “Work” themed issue, the list of contributors to our print edition, and more information on how to subscribe, advertise, or contribute.
A big thanks to all of our supporters!
KY: No to Hi-Pointe, Yes to Ireland/Morrissey
Kirsteen Young, colorful St. Louis expat that she is*, checks in with news** that she is forced to pass on this weekend's show at the Hi-Pointe (shared with the suddenly ubiquitous Typewriter Tim***), in order to play three shows as an opening act on Morrissey's tour of Ireland, a smart move in that a trio of support slots for the legendary former singer of The Smiths**** may just bring more luster and magic to anyone's career than a single gig at a venue that offers meals from a "food hole," though this little zing is certainly no knock on the Hi-Pointe, which is a venue we all love, even, assumedly, Kristeen Young, who may return to the STL in June, according to the missive sent and referenced here.*****
* Don't believe me?: then check www.kristeenyoung.com.
** Via electronic mail.
*** Note previous post about Type Tim's art show at the Baseline Gallery.
**** "Girlfriend in a Coma" still brings a tear to my eye.
***** One long sentence; too McSweeney's-esque?
April 09, 2006
The drag of working in the foodservice industry is that impressive food becomes a frustrating and elusive thing. I go to lots of trade shows and brokers and sales representatives are constantly parading new products in front of me. It’s a classic example of knowing too much when I dine out.
So it’s a rare day indeed when I eat something so fantastic, so spectacular, so superior to anything else I’ve tried around town that I feel compelled to endorse it to any willing audience. Ladies and gentlemen, that day has arrived.
There’s a cute little bar/restaurant over on Macklind where I hide out from time to time. Despite being on the Hill, the menu doesn’t play favorites and offers Greek, Italian, bar food and American hybrids. My usual order at Anthonino’s is roasted sweet red peppers with feta cheese and pita but I deviated from the plan on Friday when the chalkboard outside promoted the fish sandwich. I like a good piece of fish as much as the next girl and was thoroughly thrilled at the chance to use the Ladies’ Man voice when ordering.
The sandwich came with some weird vinegar-y slaw and a platter of greasy, limp fries but the headliner was something to behold. What arrived was a grouper fillet about ten inches in length and thicker than my wrist until it finally tapered down to the end. The batter wasn’t oily or salty but fluffy and light. To my surprise and delight, the coating wasn’t mushy on the inside and the fish itself was firm and flaky. Try as I might, I couldn’t make out even a hint of rubber texture as I chewed it-so uncommon in the common man’s sammich. The flavor was mild and almost sweet, while a soft French loaf performed transportation duties to my speechless gob. It was perfect.
I’m afraid to go back. It couldn’t possibly ever be that good again. But for you, here’s the info:
Anthonino’s Taverna on the Hill
April Music Bits
A few li'l things that've caught my eye/ear in the last week:
1. Those crazy youngsters in the Dirty South drummed up a Myspace page, proving that... well, even veteran acts are in on the ol' social networking. See it at: http://www.myspace.com/theedirtysouth.
2. Typewriter Tim Jordan - a fellow who really needs to go by the descriptor of "cat" - has an art show up at Baseline, which opened during this weekend's First Friday art walk. The space, which seems to sell really high-end/vaguely obtuse home furnishings, is located at 1110 Washington. He'll also be appearing this Friday, April 14 at the Hi-Pointe; though we're not exactly sure what form his set will take, DJ Leon Lamont may be invovled. Intriguing.
3. Fans of a certain era of STL rock will be enthused by a new add to the schedule of Blueberry Hill Duck Room. On May 6, the Great Crusades and the American Professionals will be playing; members of the former act were principals in the old Suede Chain, while the American Pros are headed up by longtime Nukes bassist Chuck Lindo.
4. Bummer about Brandt's, eh?
April 07, 2006
The Eric Hall Invasion
Eric Hall, South City's most active catalyst for experimental music, has a few events coming up in coming weeks, including one this weekend. We'll reprint the this weekend's event first, then note a neat event coming up in May.
From Radio Cherokee:
ERIC HALL (beautiful electronic soundscapes) will open for VOLTAGE (chicago). VOLTAGE has been doing vocal-less rock numbers for the past few years. with only drums and guitar, home made electronics fill in the gaps. their most recent recording was released on flameshovel records. www.voltage.camp-gay.org headliners PARKERS BACK bring it with improvised toe tappers. drums, keys, guitar. of the improvised stuff, they're top of the heap!!!!
sat april 8 doors 9pm all ages
radio cherokee is located at
3227 cherokee st. @ virgina
st. louis mo 63118
As some of you already know, I have been curating an annual performance/installation for the last few years at Dunaway Books on S. Grand
Ave. in St. Louis, Mo. This year's edition will be each Thursday in the month of May, from 8-10pm. We are adding another element to the series this year, but in case you are not familiar with the initial idea behind these events, I will give you a quick explanation: the series is called Ancora il Più Estinto, which roughly translates from Italian to "play as softly as possible", which is the only guideline for the performers. For each of the four nights there will be a different collection of musicians, typically about 10-20, scattered throughout the bookstore playing simultaneously and "as softly as possible". The store has a large ground floor with several isolated corners and nooks, as well as a mezzanine and large basement. With the performers all playing at especially low volumes while tucked away into their own spaces, it removes the idea of a singular audience
perspective and lets people roam the space freely to create their own unique
experience, all while looking at books if they choose. The acoustics of the space makes it fascinating to hear the shifts and blends of sounds as you change vantages. The performers are free to play for the entire two hours or only portions of the event so they can move around the store and check it out for
themselves. Some performers have participated in multiple evenings each year, which is great, but I do try to have a loose calendar for the month so we do not wind up with 35 performers one week and 3 the next. So, for those choosing to be involved, be prepared to casually commit to one or more nights. The instrumentation is always quite varied; acoustic and electric guitar
and bass often played using treatments and extended techniques, vocals and
field recordings being processed live, synths, bent electronics, samplers, trombones, toys, turntables, cellos, saxophones, bells, bowls, laptops...
you probably get the idea. In addition to the live performers, many
people have created sound-sculptures (Matt Harnish made an awesome automaton chime from a turntable and suspended metals, I have brought multiple cages of crickets set about to respond to the sounds), interactive environments (Robert Goetz used motion sensors to trigger quiet sounds as people walked past one area, Ben West placed contact mics on the duct work and Joseph Potthoff put them on the stairs, Jeremy Brantlinger performed
electronic sounds that were projected through PVC pipes atop the shelves), and
prepared CDs (Ben Hanna created a CD with sparse small talk which many people in the room actually thought was someone behind the shelves addressing them, Brett Underwood recorded a diatribe on literacy that played from small speakers hidden in one shelf). So long as they are quiet and do not overwhelm the other sounds, that is all very welcome. In fact, I have been contacted already by people with some very creative ideas for this year. Of
course, anyone would have to bare in mind that this is a store and we cannot do any permanent installation or modification to the space, so if you are
thinking of something like this think compact and mobile. The event is free, open to all ages (in fact, many toddlers have come by and been totally engaged by it), and the store will be open to continue selling books and CDs.
April 06, 2006
The Craigslist Shuffle
I love St. Louis Craigslist. Flat out, no questions, done deal love it. I’ve hired ace employees from it and sold my Cabbage Patch doll collection on it. An aside to you freaks around town who post your photos in the adult section- I check that out too, I recognize you and now I know some of your, um, peccadilloes. Gross.
Until last night, I’d never purchased anything from Craigslist but felt what I can only describe as mania when I spotted the exact twin loft bed and desk combination I’ve been eyeing at the local furniture store for months. It was less than half price and the seller listed the flaws as “some crayon marks on the desk top.” I could actually feel a pulse hammering away at the side of my neck and ran to the supply cabinet to make certain there was a full box of Magic Erasers on hand. With flying fingers I typed, I’ll take it! I’ll take it!
I stumbled my way through downtown Lemay, slapped 2 Bens in the seller’s hand and loaded the components with a strength and speed I didn’t know my body possessed. All in the literal and figurative dark.
Only after unloading it at home in the light of the living room did I notice the marker. Crayons on the desktop, yes – but also marker all over the frame of the bed. Efforts with the aforementioned Magic Eraser were futile and a desperate attempt to work in some WD-40 yielded even less a result. It wasn’t a twin. It was full-sized and rendered the mattress to be used obsolete.
Perhaps this is an opportunity. Maybe I should paint it like the Venice Café van or in Tom Dykas truck style. What if I could find an image of Mother Theresa in the scuffmarks left behind by some steel wool and elbow grease and then sell the relic to some poor sucker on Craigslist?
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
The Business of Fancy Dancing ... and Hashkali
This Sunday is the 16th Annual Kathryn M. Buder Pow Wow, held on the Wash U. Campus. Growing up in the Southwest I ended up going to a lot of of powwows, but usually the smaller ones held in community centers with sawdust floors; I'm looking forward to seeing a large-scale multi-tribal event. The same day, right in nearby Forest Park, Gitana Productions is holding their first annual Roma Music Festival. If you went to the Gogol Bordello show this week at the Creepy Crawl, you owe it to yourself to check out Eastern European music, from the source and unplugged. Most of the Roma musicians and dancers are St. Louis residents ... and they could probably use some encouragement in light of all this Republican campaign-stumping-in-disguise that is the "immigration debate."
Cinematic substitution for those who can't go: "Smoke Signals," and "Time of the Gypsies," with Goran Bregovich's amazing soundtrack.
April 04, 2006
Last Poetry Fix of the Season
Okay, roll the snare drums; this Thursday is the last Readings @ reading of the season, and it's the big guns, kids! T'aint every day that there's a Guggenheim Fellow drinking beer in the Schlafly Club room, after all.
The Club Room is inside the Tap Room (2100 Locust) and the reading is at 8pm. And like all poetry readings, it doesn't cost anything.
So here I quote Mr. Belz, fearless leader and founder of Readings @ The Tap Room, in his description of the poets:
Jane Mead and Carl Phillips
"Jane Mead is the author of The Lord and the General Din of the World, (Sarabande Books,1996) and House of Poured-Out Waters (University of Illinois, 2001). She is the recipient of a Whiting Writer's Award, a Completion Grant from the Lannan Foundation, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Carl Phillips is the author of seven books of poems, including The Rest of Love, finalist for the National Book Award, and The Tether, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His new book, Riding Westward, comes out this spring.
For directions and other information, please visit http://belz.net/readings/"
For those who are not poetry geeks like me, take note that Mr. Phillips is one of our own; he teaches at Wash U. & hangs his hat in the Central West End.
I don’t like dogs. Never have. Never will. Period. At least four of my neighbors own Labrador Retrievers. Some so full of love for the breed, they have two. If you live on a farm or have something that needs to be retrieved, owning a Labrador might make sense. But if you go to an office all day and leave your dog outside to bark at every passing leaf that blows or car horn that toots, maybe not. Every time I go outside to garden, get the mail, or take out trash, the Labs become a choral madness of barking that seemingly never ends. It is the single most annoying thing about living in the city. Not being able to enjoy my own yard is extremely depressing. Ultimately, the owners are to blame—but that doesn’t mean I forgive the dogs. Stop barking already.
With that said, Stray Rescue and Mad Art present the second annual Mad Arf event this Friday, April 7, 2006 from 7-11pm. If you enjoy dogs and art, don't miss this benefit for the organization whose sole purpose is to rescue stray animals in need of medical attention, restore them to health, and place them in loving adoptive homes. Over 30 local and national artists (my curmudgeon self included) have donated one-of-a-kind pieces of art using Stray Rescue dogs as their inspiration. The works will be displayed in the gallery for two weeks and will be for sale through silent auction bidding. Admission is free. Last year was packed, which just goes to prove (again) I’m in the minority.
April 03, 2006
Wm. Stage's "Pictures of People"
Longtime RFT contributor Wm. Stage has produced an entertaining book of photos, capturing a cross-section of St. Louisans during the 1980s and '90s, mirroring his time with the Riverfront Times. The book, the simply-named "Pictures of People," focuses on faces that'll immediately register, along with some that'd be anonymous to you without Stage's low-key, relatively low-tech approach to portrait photography.
Many of the shots were taken from impromptu sessions from his (in)famous "Street Talk" feature, a staple in the paper during the Hartmann Years. Others were shot during Stage's regular rambles through City neighborhoods, barrooms and courtrooms.
On KDHX's "The Wire," tonight, Stage will share some of the stories behind the photos, as well as giving info on where the book can be purchased. If you're around a radio, it'll air from 7:30-8:00 p.m. this evening. If not, catch the episode as a podcast or via streaming audio, free for the next four weeks.
April 01, 2006
STL-bound?: "Andy Capp"
Though rumors have been floating around STL filmmaking circles for a few months now, it appears that producers have settled on St. Louis as the primary shooting location for the new, theatrical version of "Andy Capp." The live-action film would chronicle the boozing, North British layabout, who was originally sketched by artist Reg Smythe back in 1953. Since then, the cap-wearing anti-hero has been known to cartoon-page afficianados throughout the British Isles and North America, primarily for his antics in escapting work and the wrath (and rolling pin) of his wife, Flo, all the while taking part in epic benders at the local pub.
Though pre-production work remains somewhat mum, several actors have been linked to the project, for the titular role, including Colin Firth, an interesting choice in that the film would seemingly be "Americanized," what with the St. Louis shooting locales.
Location scouts have quietly turned up throughout several St. Louis neighborhoods recently, attempting to find both appropriate bar settings and streetscapes, as well as warehouses which could be retrofitted to accomodate sets. (Says here that Foley's Bar, in Maplewood, would offer some outstanding "color," as would more obvious picks, like O'Connell's Pub.) Old North St. Louis and the warehouse district of North Broadway have particularly been the target of scouts' eyes, according to film moles. Prop scouts have also been contacting local collectors of antique and period vehicles.
For aspiring local thespians, get those head shots ready and pefect that guttersnipe accent, just in case. Cool.