June 30, 2008

Dishes stay dirty

Punk House.jpg

Author Abby Banks traveled to 25 cities and photographed more than 50 houses in order to compile Punk House: Interiors in Anarchy, a coffee table-sized book featuring pictures of anarchy warehouses, artists' studios, hobo squats, treehouses, communes and basement bike shops as well as their denizens. During her travels, Banks took over 6,000 photos and winnowed her haul down to the 300 images that appear in Punk House. Walls plastered with fliers, posters, graffiti. Cigarette butts crushed into carpeting. Rooms crammed with half-finished art projects, salvaged furniture, stacks of books and magazines, piles of records and tangles of cords and music equipment. Banks captures every squalid detail. I leafed through Punk House at Subterranean, but put it back on the shelf after noticing its un-punk $30 price tag.

Posted by at 06:42 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Poetry & Literature

"Ghetto Palms"

I love actually learning things when online.

Ghetto palms. Classic.

Posted by Thomas Crone at 05:27 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Miscellaneous & Eclectic

June 28, 2008

A ham hock in your cornflakes

In case you're sitting in a cubicle somewhere performing boring, white-collar chores and collecting paper cuts, here's a link to St. Louisan Joe Stumble's mp3 blog Last Days of Man on Earth. Stumble, who sometimes pops up on KDHX's Scene of the Crime, uses Last Days of Man on Earth to share tracks from his favorite out-of-print punk records. Download a Black Randy and the Metrosquad album, and make filing invoices fun again.

Posted by at 08:16 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Digital & New Media

James Weber: Stylin'

Why had no one sent me this?

Posted by Thomas Crone at 07:25 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Miscellaneous & Eclectic

June 27, 2008

Smash your soapbox to splinters

I've always hated college radio; I didn't even want to go to college. My parents and I argued about it constantly. They wanted me to go, and I refused. In the end, they won, and I found myself shopping for extra-long bedsheets at Target. Oh, and the sheets had to be pink, so they'd match the comforter my roommate-to-be had purchased from Pottery Barn Teen. I can only assume Webster shredded the roommate compatibility survey I filled out at registration, because I was paired with a girl who was into musicals and color coordination.

On the first day of orientation, my mom was fitting the cotton candy-colored sheets on my extra-long mattress when one of my suitemates came to the door to introduce herself. She was wearing a Dave Matthews Band t-shirt. After she left, I glared pointedly at my parents. My nonverbal message being, "Could college be even lamer than I originally suspected?" I should say that I'm really not the kind of person who judges others based on their taste in music, and actually became close friends with the suitemate sporting the offending tee.

I was even able to overlook the Coldplay poster that hung on her dorm room wall. Chris Martin (the only member of Coldplay whose name I know) is pictured with the words "Free Trade" written in black marker on his hand, a very Eddie Vedder move! I can't stand it when bands with commercial success try to wax political. "Like, we don't just write benign pop songs. We've got substance." That's what I dislike most about college radio - that and the fact that it's like listening to cardboard.

So, when I was standing in line at 7-11 waiting to buy a 20 oz. Gulp and saw Martin's smarmy mug gracing the cover of this month's Rolling Stone , I was grossed out. It's not that I was disappointed, that I give Rolling Stone any credence. How could I? Last month, they named Kirk Hammett one of the all-time best guitar players. It's just that I figured, in 2008, people were pretty much over Martin and his boring music. Wrong! In the cover story, Rolling Stone writer Brian Hiatt actually compares Martin to Jesus Christ. Jesus multiplied fish and loaves of bread. All Chris Martin has done is clog the airwaves with crap. Not exactly an accurate comparison, if you ask me.

Read Buddyhead's hilarious take on the Chris Martin cover here.

Posted by at 12:44 AM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Music & Recordings

June 25, 2008

A shark bite tattoo'ed on your ankle

As part of its Outdoor Cinema Series, Movies Around Missouri will screen Steven Spielberg's Jaws at the Heman Park Pool (at 7200 Olive Boulevard, University City) at 8:30 p.m. June 28. The event is free and attendees are allowed to bring food and beverages.

Face it, watching the opening sequence of Jaws from the deep end is better than the drive-in anyday.

Posted by at 06:17 PM | Link & Discuss (1 comment) | Festivals & Events

June 24, 2008



Seems like a derogatory term to me but it’s become sort of a badge of honor as well. Since I was 6 years old I was fascinated with the traveling carnival that would come through my small town at the end of every Aug. I’d sneak up town and watch the “Carnys” set up the mechanical rides and game booths where one could win an Ozzy Osbourne “Bark at the Moon” mirror to hang in your bedroom. Occasionally I’d help them out for a couple of bucks or some free rides. I always noticed how the people traveling with the carnival were different, not in a bad way, but just different in how they behaved and were treated by the locals (myself included). I can remember more than one occasion when town locals would give the “Carnys” a hard time and I’ve always felt bad about that. It’s always made me wonder, what do they think of the towns they travel to, what do they think of the people they provide fun to, what kind of life is it on the road traveling with your family (sometimes small babies) living in temporary trailers? It’s gotta be a tough and lonely life yet for some reason they’re still out there doing it.

Artist/Photographer Virginia Lee Hunter has helped Alison Murray make a film (and companion book) that explores the life of “Carnys”. This film will have a showing at Moore Auditorium located at Webster University on Thur Jun 26 at 8pm. Tickets are $6.00 and I highly recommend the film and Virginia’s book on this incredible, invisible society of people who still exist in today’s modern world.

Webster University Film Series
Thursday Night Docs
A story of Carnival Life – The Grit Behind the Grit
Cinematographer and author Virginia Lee Hunter,
Along with one of Carny’s subjects will be on hand for a Q and A
Virginia’s book Carny: American on the midway will also be available for purchase

Thursday Jun 26
Moore Auditorium
Located in
Webster Hall on the campus of Webster University
470 E Lockwood Ave
Tickets - $6
Parking is available on both street and University parking lots

With that I leave you with the first painting I ever did circa 1979. This painting was created by using a machine at one of those traveling carnivals. A small piece of cardboard is placed on a spinning surface and you apply the paint as the cardboard spins. As you can see, the result was pretty cool.

Posted by at 09:53 AM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Film & TV

June 23, 2008

Platters of splatter: Comparing notes with Ian Froeb

In late May (on the 21st to be exact), Riverfront Times food critic Ian Froeb announced, via his Gut Check blog, an end to his "Cheesesteak Quest," having found what he believed to be the most authentic Philidelphia cheesesteak in St. Louis. Froeb decided that, thanks in part to its "perfectly carmelized onions and nuclear-orange shade of Cheez Whiz," 9th Street Deli's "Just Like Philly" sandwich deserved the coveted title of St. Louis' champion cheesesteak. After finishing Froeb's review, I hopped in my car and steered its crooked hood ornament toward Shenandoah Avenue, where 9th Street Deli and its critically-acclaimed, grease-bomb cheesesteaks are located.

While Ian Froeb might have been on a quest, inspired by a reader's letter inquiring which St. Louis restaurant serves the best cheesesteak, my long-time cheesesteak binging is unsolicited. I've been gorging myself on cheesesteaks ever since my senior year of high school when my best friend Lacy and I visited Philidelphia and made a midnight stop at Pat's King of Steaks, the restaurant that invented the cheesesteak. We left converts, covered in Cheez Whiz and whispering that the slop from Pat's King of Steaks was even better than the records we'd scored at Zipperhead.

Like Froeb, I've sampled the Natural Fact's Philly cheesesteak as well as Penn Station's. They're good (my best culinary evaluation), but topped with a thick slab of cream cheese, gravy, pickles and onions, Mom's Deli's Beef and Philly is even better. More than once, I've convinced other customers waiting during the Mom's lunch-hour rush to abandon their orders of Charlie's or Dad's Specials and go for the gravy pleasure that is a Beef and Philly. I've also choked down Subway's Philly, and Froeb's description of Sonic's Philly - "resembled a dessimated turd" - applies here as well. Not exactly manna from Heaven. And the Philly Grill in Rock Hill, a restaurant that could've doubled as a police substation judging from the fleet of cop cars chronically idling in its parking lot, came and went before I ever got a chance to try one of its cheesesteaks. Passing out free sandwiches to law officials is just bad business strategy, I guess.

Anyway, my first attempt to go to 9th Street Deli was a flop. Not realizing the dipshittedly obvious: Shenandoah dead ends at the Missouri Botanical Garden, and 9th Street Deli is actually located on the other side of Shenandoah in Soulard, I drove dazedly up and down side streets before begrudgingly caving and heading to work. On the Friday of Memorial Day weekend, I persuaded my boyfriend that we should go to 9th Street Deli for lunch. But when we got there, a handwritten sign was posted in the window saying the store had closed early because of Memorial Day. Faced with my second aborted attempt to wolf down St. Louis' best Philly cheesesteak, I had what probably qualifies, for a 22-year-old, as a tantrum.

Posted by at 09:04 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Food & Drink

June 22, 2008

The seedy underbelly of the carnival

Yesterday, at a family gathering, my 14-year-old cousin insisted I watch I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, a comedy starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James as unwed Brooklyn firefighters who pretend to be gay in order to receive domestic partner benefits. Now, for me, Adam Sandler ranks right alongside Jimmy Fallon and Seth Rogen in the category of intolerable celebrities, and if possible, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is worse than you could ever imagine.

Major problems
- Sandler lies about being gay to get close to Jessica Biel's character. When she discovers he was lying, she gets mad but ultimately gets over it, and they date. Wouldn't it make your skin crawl if a guy did that to you?!
- Adam Sandler's character is this over-the-top ladies' man that women fall all over ... but he just looks (and acts) like Adam Sandler?
- When the entire gay community (who Sandler and James' characters have duped) finds out the two men were lying about their sexual orientation, they're still supportive.
- Steve Buscemi plays a detective investigating Sandler and James' union for the state of New York. Buscemi is supposed to be the bad guy, but, like, they are lying!
- James' young son in the movie is gay, and the portrayal is so stereotypical. A male who does splits and sings showtunes? Must be gay!
- Rob Schneider plays a ridiculous Japanese caricature that was just like "..."

I need to stop there. I have to admit, though, the courtroom scene was very touching and caused me to tear up and blurt out, "No one will ever love me like Chuck loves Larry!"

P.S. Imagine how excruciating a Rob Schneider movie marathon would be. Remember, his illustrious filmography includes thought-provokers like Big Daddy, The Animal, and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo.

Posted by at 11:26 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Film & TV

June 21, 2008

Oh no, a UFO!

Oh no, a UFO!.jpg

This picture was taken from the window of an Amtrak train, the least reliable mode of mass transit ever ridden. Note the giant, black UFO flying through the Arch! Unlike Amtrak, spacecrafts are probably always punctual.

Posted by at 04:58 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Miscellaneous & Eclectic

June 20, 2008

Stipe in Times

Way back in college - we're talking the 1930's here - someone would always sit at Talayna's and talk about the time that Michael Stipe painted a fingernail on one of the restaurant's many life-size statues. I can't recall that someone, but they always went on about how Stipe grew in Collinsville (Edwardsville? see how the memory goes?) but ate at Talayna's, when he came over into the city for shows.

Why this memory hit me just now? Well, there's a story in the New York Times about R.E.M. and their current setlist, which is dipping deep into the group's history. Good idea.

Enough nostalgia for the afternoon.

Anyway, the article is herre.

Posted by Thomas Crone at 07:15 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Music & Recordings

Jammin' on the one

Forget Baton Bob, Beetle Bob and Ponytail Bob. My favorite St. Louis micro-celebrity is Raynard Nebbitt, the guy who rides a ten-speed bicycle with a model of the Rock Hill overpass mounted on its handlebars. I'm sure you've seen him pedaling furiously down Arsenal or Lansdowne. My friends and I used to compare sightings, wondering if Raynard had a miniature replica of the whole town of St. Louis. At lunch with my friend Breanna, I asked her if she'd ever had a Raynard sighting. Being the kind of girl who knows about everything, Breanna had not only seen Raynard, she informed me there is a grassroots campaign to rename the Rock Hill overpass after him. We then shared the regret that everytime we see Raynard we're either in our cars or on foot. "He's an original. I wish more people could be like that," Breanna observed wistfully.

Posted by at 01:26 AM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Miscellaneous & Eclectic

June 19, 2008

Jazz Improv with Kids

Last year’s appearance of Hamiet Bluiett at Ivory Perry Park’s concert series was a true highlight of the many free outdoor activities St. Louis offers every summer. (Recap) We really are a lucky town.

This Sunday, June 22nd, Hamiet fulfills his dream of creating an Improvising Youth Orchestra. Thirty-five students from twenty schools throughout the metropolitan area started rehearsing Bluiett’s Suite Children on Monday and will play this Sunday. The promotional material I received claim this type of event has not been done before. So I encourage you to enjoy this world premiere. I have no doubts it will be spectacular. Stanley Coleman will conduct the youth orchestra. Time is 6-8pm and more information and directions can be found at the Ivory Perry Park Concert Series website.

Posted by Andrea Avery at 11:18 AM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Festivals & Events

June 18, 2008

National Kudos for the Northside

This week, Old North was bragged up on national environmental website Switchboard. Blogger Kaid Benfield (who is the director of the Smart Growth Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council) titled his entry "Of the community, by the community, and for the community: the rebirth of Old North Saint Louis." I don't know if you could find a better title than that. He's included lots of pics, and begins his entry thus:

"Every now and then I run across a story that is so good, that feels so right, that I thank my lucky stars for the freedom NRDC gave me to evolve my career into working for better, more sustainable communities. This is such a story, and it reveals an historic, diverse, inclusive neighborhood that is reclaiming its identity, restoring its infrastructure, empowering its residents, and securing its future. The community wins, and so does the environment, because the Old North neighborhood in Saint Louis is the very antithesis of sprawl." (Eddie Roth posted on this today, and used the same quote - but what can I say? It's so good!)

Continue reading "National Kudos for the Northside"
Posted by Stefene Russell at 09:00 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Preservation & Architecture

Purveyor of filthy flicks

Pat and I were in the midst of a bickering match in the parking lot of Pantera's Pizza when we first noticed Movies Unlimited. Curious, we called a truce and wandered across the street to see what the video rental had to offer. A quick appraisal of the store's extensive cult and horror sections left me almost lightheaded. Movies Unlimited, indeed! They had everything: Richard Kern's The Right Side of My Brain, Russ Meyer's Bosomania collection, Troma trash and a whole slew of Something Weird videos. Because the owner was trying to purge the store of its VHS titles, all tapes were on sale for $5, and we bought The Gore Gore Girls and Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things.

A couple days later, Pat returned and bought Blood Feast and The Last House on the Left, the runners-up to our first purchases. In tenth grade, I borrowed a bootleg copy of The Last House on the Left from a beyond-weird classmate, whose sole interests were White Zombie and the Leprechaun series. Minus the soundtrack (a hermit plunking a splintery, secondhand banjo somewhere in Appalachia), I remembered enjoying the film and was excited to see it again. But when we slid the tape out of its case, we found a movie labeled Extreme Groping and Grabbing at Spring Break #2. Hoping the tape had been marked incorrectly, we popped it in our VCR, and watched in dismay as creepy dudes, sporting Hawaiian shirts and backwards visors, shuffled around the beach doling out plastic beads to any spring breaker willing to put the beer funnel down long enough to lift her shirt.

I haven't even seen the first Extreme Groping and Grabbing at Spring Break, and I'm not one to watch movies out of order, so the next day we returned it, reasoning that if Extreme Groping and Grabbing was in the case for The Last House on the Left , The Last House on the Left must be in the case for Extreme Groping and Grabbing. We explained the switch to the clerk, a batty, bespectacled guy, and asked if we might try to locate the case for Extreme Groping and Grabbing. He led us through two swinging, spaghetti Western-style doors into a room laden with enough porn to satisfy every man, woman and child's prurient interests. God, you'd need a search party. "It's like looking for a needle in an extremely smutty haystack," he quipped before leaving us to wade through the vault o' porn.

As my eyes scanned the titles and focused on a door in the back leading to yet another room, where, the clerk informed us, the really hardcore porn was kept, it dawned on me that, above all else, Movies Unlimited is the neighborhood smut peddler. In all my exuberance at finding rare horror films, I'd failed to notice the bulk of the videos starred T and A. We never found Extreme Groping and Grabbing/The Last House on the Left, and we left, our eyes burning with vulgarities, and skulked back home to shower.

Posted by at 08:20 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Film & TV

June 17, 2008

Literacy in City Schools

This press release came my way, and the cause is too good not to pass along the information.

UrbanFUTURE is teaming up with Kaldi's Coffee this summer to recruit volunteer mentors and tutors for UrbanFUTURE's expanding literacy and character formation program. The program reaches out to elementary and middle school students in the St. Louis Public Schools.

The following Kaldi's Coffee locations will host a Saturday fundraiser and mentor recruitment where customers can learn about how to get involved with UrbanFUTURE:

  • Downtown Clayton (187 Carondelet Plaza, Clayton, MO) on June 21st; 8 AM - 3 PM
  • Kirkwood (120 S. Kirkwood Rd., Kirkwood, MO) on June 28th; 8 AM - 3 PM

In addition to donating a portion of daily sales to UrbanFUTURE, Kaldi's will offer a free cookie with any donation of a dollar or more, a free cup of coffee for registering to receive more information, and a $50 Kaldi's gift certificate for anyone who becomes an UrbanFUTURE volunteer.

UrbanFUTURE operates out of two St. Louis City Public Schools, Mann Elementary and Fanning Middle School, both located in the South Grand neighborhood. An independent audit has shown that, on average, when students and their parents remain committed to the UrbanFUTURE program for one year, students will show a 2-3 year gain in reading level.

For more information about the event or about becoming a mentor, contact UrbanFUTURE at (314)776-3434 or visit the UrbanFUTURE website.

Posted by Andrea Avery at 09:25 AM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) |

Ghost Riders

Ghost Bike installations, bikes painted white and installed at the locations of bicycle accidents, was the topic of an article in Sunday’s New York Magazine. These installations were started in St. Louis by cycling advocate Patrick Van Der Tuin, a board member of Bike Works. Bike Works received a Kick Ass Award in 2006. There are some really stunning photographs that accompany the article. Check out the slideshow too. Great to see these projects getting mentioned.

Posted by Andrea Avery at 09:18 AM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Miscellaneous & Eclectic

June 16, 2008


While I was in Utah this past week (Yikes! Long weird story, that - and for a later time) Brett Underwood filled in for me on KDHX's Literature for the Halibut, an act that is like a subletter sub-letting, as I am a bit of a once-a-month relief pitcher for Ann Haubrich and Janie Ibur. Because I didn't really have access to a computer while I was away, I wasn't able to stream Brett's show in real time, but I listened to it last night and if I had been wearing socks, it would have knocked them off. Hey played excerpts from a new Freedonia Music release, "Kokopilau," featuring our own Michael Castro (founder of River Styx and for many years the host of KDHX's "Poetry Beat") and trumpeter DJ Parran. Freedonia's online catalog describes it as "A ceremony of the ancient future celebrating a 30 year collaboration between multi-instrumental Horn Master JD Parran & Warrior Poet Michael Castro that began with the St. Louis Black Artist Group & The Human Arts Ensemble in the 1970s. Retelling mythic tales of life death & rebirth with voice, tenor sax, indigenous hand crafted instruments and postmodern techniques. A spontaneous bop kabbalah." And, unlike most marketingspiel, they are telling the truth. You can download Brett's show here. Warning you, though, if you are like me, it will make you want to pick up the CD ... I know you can get it through Freedonia's site, but if Mr. Underwood tips me off to other joints carrying the disc, I will surely post it here.

Now, one more bit of news: this Thursday, Janie and Ann will be conducting an exit interview with our soon-to-be-departed Aaron Belz. He's a quick wit on the radio, so don't take a big pull off your soda while he's quipping, or you'll find yourself with a nasal cavity full of carbonation. Don't say we didn't warn you!

Posted by Stefene Russell at 08:02 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Poetry & Literature

June 15, 2008


Our apologies to folks who've made comments, only to have them bounce back to you. There's been a glitch in our ability to control spam, while still allowing good, clean, old-fashioned comments to go through. We'll sort it out... sometime soon. That's a promise. Of sorts.

But, yeah, sorry 'bout that.

Posted by Thomas Crone at 09:47 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | 52nd City Updates

June 14, 2008


Continue reading "UNA COSA RARA"
Posted by at 07:04 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) |

June 13, 2008

Read your ramblings: David Sedaris book tour

Memoirist David Sedaris' newest collection of essays When You Are Engulfed in Flames came out June 3. (Notable: My copy of Naked, Sedaris' second book, was actually engulfed in flames after I lent it to my friend Joe and his apartment was destroyed in a freak fire.) In past essays, Sedaris honed his self-deprecatory wit, regaling readers with tales of his sister's first menstruation, his hitchhiking experiences, and his stint working as an elf at Macy's SantaLand. When You Are Engulfed in Flames follows Sedaris and his longtime boyfriend Hugh as they journey to Hiroshima in an effort to kick Sedaris' 30-year long smoking habit. Sedaris will appear at Left Bank Books at 7 p.m. June 17 for a reading and book signing.

P.S. R. Kelly acquitted! Apparently, the jury took, like, ten minutes to deliberate before returning the verdict. Can I get a beep beep?!

Posted by at 05:04 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Poetry & Literature

June 12, 2008

Hi-Pointe & GasHole

Cliff Froehlich's written quite a large blog posting about the reopening of the Hi-Pointe with the film "Gashole." Without further adieu, we'll simply pass you along to a link to that piece, which details the showings of this film and some future Hi-Pointe plans.

By the by: has anyone been to Par, the new tavern in the old Hi-Pointe Cafe space? Been curious.

Posted by Thomas Crone at 07:13 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Film & TV

Una Cosa Rara

I am off to Una Cosa Rara. It's an opera that rocked the house in 1798. It's success drove Mozart bonkers and moved opera away from doom and gloom.

It's an epic drama and I hear that it is quite funny.

Opera Theatre does these cool picnics before each production. But seeing as it is 2000 degrees out today I think I'll pass today.
-Rob Levy

Posted by at 05:11 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) |

June 11, 2008

The World of Bill Boll

Walking past South Grand's Urban last night, I was reminded that Bill Boll is hosting a Tuesday night open mic session at the li'l club, which doubles as a songwriting workshop. The reminder was simple: Bill was standing in the window, after huddling over an amp. Ah!

Mere hours later, lo!, an e-mail from the one-and-same Bill Boll, this time about a gig tonight at the Way Out:


Just one nagging final reminder... I'll be at the Way Out tonight. I'm going on at 11, but as usual, I'll be there early, er, uh, "preparing" for the show.

Tonight's motif is: The Big Eighties!

Posted by Thomas Crone at 10:56 AM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Festivals & Events


I am the last person you’d expect to like opera. I like theater but am not partial to musicals. I don’t like heavy drama or lavish sets. Usually.

But as I soon discovered the work done by Opera Theatre of St. Louis is so interesting and of such quality that it was difficult to not be lured in.

Although it may make me a savage in some eyes to admit it, I prefer the opera in English. It’s just easier to follow and it takes a lot of the stuffy, hoity toity air out of the genre.

There are a few things I DO love about OTSL productions.

For starters the repertoire is different and diverse each season. Each seasonal program offers a very bold blend of popular favorites with daring and new pieces. Second, the on stage quality is par excellent. The performance, musical scoring, staging and costuming are fascinating. The end result is that watching it all work in syncopation is marvelous.

Before you read on you should know that OTSL makes every effort to keep their art affordable and snob free to the average Joe or Jane. The company often offers discounts, special presentations and affordable pricing in an effort to get their operas seen by as many different types of people as possible.

This of course leads me to the current (32nd) season of Opera Theatre St. Louis.


Madame Butterfly’s standing as one of the most beloved operas stands as a testament to the resolve and tenacity of Giacomo Puccini

Puccini was a wild man. He loved fast boats, good booze and fast cars. It was his love of speed that did him in but brought him success in a roundabout way. Puccini wrote Madame Butterfly while recuperating from a nasty auto accident in 1902. This accident gave him a permanent nasty limp physically and a confidently edgy swagger artistically.

When it was first performed at La Scala in February of 1904, people hated it. Really hated it. Undaunted he tried his luck again that May for a revamped production in Brescia, Italy. In this version he tightened up the second half, creating a sleeker opera.

Madame Butterfly is based on actual events in Turn of the Century Japan. During this time it was perfectly normal for Western men to enter into temporary marriages that could easily be nullified after a 30-day absence form the male.

Out of this historical background steps a fifteen-year-old Geisha named Cio-cio-san. Cio-cio-sen, a Nagasaki girl who hails from a once wealthy family, enters into an arrangement with Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, a US Naval officer. Pinkerton has everything on his mind but a long marriage. During Act One he cunningly beguiles the young geisha for his own interests.

In an attempt to pacify her new husband Madame Butterfly renounces her religion and is eventually shunned by her family and village.

Act Two opens three years later with Pinkerton nowhere in sight. In fact he has returned to the US and taken on a ‘real’ wife named Kate. Madame Butterfly meanwhile has been left with a child and a stipend form her ‘husband.'

But despite banishment, poverty and abandonment Madame Butterfly remains resolute that her husband will come back for her and take her off to America.

Her fortunes could all change but don’t when she repeatedly refuses the hand of the wealthy Prince Yamadori. Yamadori is a persistant fellow who goes home tme after time disappointed. This sets the stage for Pinkerton’s return to Japan.

Pinkerton returns to Japan but wants nothing to do with Madame Butterfly until the American consul brings him word of her steadfast waiting. Pinkerton finally wakes up and realizes the level of devotion his geisha wife has to him and Goes to see her.

To say that she is waiting for him would be an understatement. Her aching and waiting for Pinkerton borders on the neurotic.

In the second scene of Act Two they meet again, bringing the percolating tension of the opera to a close with potent emotional resonance.

Madame Butterfly tugs on so many emotions because of the riveting turn from soprano Kelly Kaduce. Kaduce debuted in 2004’s Sister Angelica and has knocked over OTSL audiences ever since. Here she takes every small gesture and word and turns it into a powerful and intense performance. Known as a performer who inhabits her roles. With Madame Butterfly she completely cocoons herself in the part and transforms the opera.

David Pomeray is a more than suitable accomplice as Pinkerton. The duo spends most of the first act engaged in a long duet that sets the stage for the tragic events of Act Two. Pomeray helps fill in the gaps by making Pinkerton so enjoyably loathsome that you can’t help but feel affected by his equally intense performance.

Rounding out this fine ensemble are powerhouse performances from Lester Lynch as Sharpless, the American consul, and Jamie Barton as Suzuki, Cio-cio San’s loyal servant.

OTSL’s production of Madame Butterfly never tires or becomes played out because the cast never relinquishes emotional control to the audience. They clearly call the shots and deal the emotions. Thus freeing the audience from a world of night by the end of the production.

Simply put, this version of Madame Butterfly is marvelous stuff indeed.

Upcoming performances of Madame Butterfly at Opera Theatre of St. Louis

June 11, 1pm
June 13, 8pm
June 18, 1pm
June 22, 7pm
June 24, 8pm
June 28, 1pm

All performances are at the Loretto-Hilton Center on the campus of Webster University.

For more information visit www.expereinceopera.org
-Rob Levy

Posted by at 07:30 AM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Festivals & Events

June 10, 2008

MPBM: Saturday

Got nothing witty to add. Here's the release:


WHAT: The NonProphet Theater Company's 300th Episode of the Militant Propaganda Bingo Machine
WHEN: Saturday, June 14 at 8:00pm at Off Broadway
WHO: Special guests include comedians Kevin Hogan & Kevin White; past cast members Rachel Tiemann and Kirsten Wylder; guest performer Brian Hyde; and guest host Lola van Ella
WHERE: Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63118
HOW (MUCH): $10 admission at the door
WHY: Because if you miss this, you'll be kicking yourself for years to come

Posted by Thomas Crone at 10:41 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Theatre & Improv

Belz Rules Poetry

Oh, my goodness.

Possibly the funniest thing I heard in some time. Let's just say it is. The funniest thing I've heard in some time.

Local (for now) poet Aaron Belz has taken over poetry.

Listen here: www.belz.net. Look on the right side of the page. Scroll down. Click the play button. Enjoy the finest bit of self-promotion you'll come across today.

Posted by Thomas Crone at 08:04 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Poetry & Literature

June 09, 2008

How do you tune a taco?

Ugh, I just learned that this year's Rock 'n' Roll Craft Show will not be until Nov. 28. I was really hoping for another summer festival. I mean, what if between now and November, I find myself in desperate need of a guitar pick made out of an old Visa card or a pin cushion shaped like a chicken? At least, with the craft show five months away, I'll have time to give my willpower a workout and save some cash.

Posted by at 02:38 AM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Festivals & Events

June 08, 2008

My landlord says I jam too loud

When I tell people I just moved to Maplewood, their response is always the same: "Maplewood's an up and coming area." I'm not sure what they mean by "up and coming." All I know is that, since trading my South City apartment for what Craig's List described as a "darling domicile," I live closer to Mr. Wizard's than Ted Drewes and can get a citation for neglecting to mow my lawn. Bummer.
Still, these are sacrifices I'm willing to make to enjoy the luxury of living in a house, where I can play music as loud as I want without incurring the wrath of, well, anyone. In fact, I actually like my new residence. The only real downside to ditching my apartment was painting over the giant glow-in-the-dark Crimson Ghost that adorned one of the dining room walls. Last fall, fueled by Steak 'n' Shake milkshakes and an ESG album, my friend Michelle and I spent an entire evening painting the ghost, our home and garden-style tribute to the Misfits. What took us hours to complete took my boyfriend a whopping 15 minutes to paint over. Though it was painful to see the ghost disappear under multiple coats of KILZ primer, the paint job was for the best. My landlord, a man who may well have inspired the saying "If it's too loud, you're too old," would have killed me had he ever laid eyes on the ghost. Miss you, glow-in-the-dark ghoul! You were a good roommate.
glow-in-the-dark ghoul.jpg

Posted by at 12:43 AM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Miscellaneous & Eclectic

June 06, 2008

Tomorrow on Delmar Blvd.

Our main man at Vintage Vinyl, Jim Utz, sends along word of an event on Delmar tomorrow. I would describe this as "fresh," "fly" or "ill," but have no sense of the current hip-hop vocabulary to summarize this. (Help an old person, please.) But we digress...


June 7th
2:00 - 5:00PM

DJ Needles brings the beat back to the street Delmar style with special guest DJ Alejan!

For those that visited us on Record Store Day, chances are you felt the good vibes before you got in our doors as Soulition's DJ Needles rocked a mini-block party in front of Vintage Vinyl outside underneath our marquee. The spin which featured guest breakers and MCing from Lifestyles and Nato Caliph was a breakout success at Record Store Day so we've partnered up with DJ Needles to keep the beat alive on Delmar with a monthly party on the sidewalk outside Vintage Vinyl.

The monthly jam will be the first Saturday of each month, starts at 2:00 p.m. and will feature DJ Needles along with various MCs, breakers and guest DJs dropping in and out of his sets. Launching the series in a BIG way for June's installment DJ Needles has secured a special guest DJ set with St. Louis turntablist legend, DJ Alejan!!! Yes, DJ Alejan is dusting off his gear and will be coming out of retirement to spin with DJ Needles while promoting the recent reissue of his classic mixtape, "Originality Iz A Must."

Beat Street with DJ Needles kicks off on June 7th at 2:00 p.m..

Posted by Thomas Crone at 03:59 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Festivals & Events

Tonight on Cherokee St

There’s lots going on tonight down on Cherokee Street….stop on by – 6pm - ???

TYPO 3159 cherokee
"29th Road" photo series by anna hancock

SNOWFLAKE 3156 cherokee
"now on file" (juried exhibit featuring artist working with the
printmaking process)

DRIVE-BY 3408 compton (west side of snowflake bld.)
"babylon report: the art of war" installation by coby
ellison (large scale installation)

FORT GONDO 3151 chrerokee
"shed shot: visual aids" films and doc. pieces by leper tv.
posters, cd covers, paintings, photos that support
the best dysfunctional pop band in st. louis).
With live performances from SHed SHot, Homewrecker and Jason Wallace Triefenbach

grand opening of the new cherokee street location featuring the band Maid-Rite performing live.

and when it’s all said and done

join us for cherokee street after party and backyard patio fun.
music and chilling out with beers stl summer style.

Posted by at 10:59 AM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Arts & Artists

June 04, 2008

New site: The Vital Voice

Yup. A new site.

Clicky-click for a peek at the VV's new digital digs.

Posted by Thomas Crone at 06:52 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Digital & New Media

Toasted Rav discovers Local Harvest

Local Harvest Grocery continues a strong of local media play, with a video short on the Toastedrav.com site. Co-owner Maddie Earnest plays the role of Corporate Spokesperson in this one, and she gives an enthusiastic pitch for the store and its' products.

Believe that I can embed video now. How exciting. Here 'tis:

Posted by Thomas Crone at 06:49 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Food & Drink

June 03, 2008

rBar: New Menu and Hours

Leigh-Anne Riebold, a principal at the Grove's rBar was kind enough to send along word of some new things happening at the spot. (Spam Sliders, you say?) We're happy to pass along that word here:


The new menu features several of rBar’s most popular flatbread pizzas from its previous menu, in addition to a fun and interesting list of appetizers and side dishes and an extensive offering of ‘sliders.’ The appetizers include such items as mac-n-cheez, crab cakes, cheese and bacon mashed potatoes and pretzel ‘fondue’ with Schlafly cheddar mustard sauce. The slider menu offers the biggest and most unique selection of sliders in St. Louis (or possibly anywhere), including black angus mini-burgers, pulled pork, shredded chicken, brisket, hot dog and even SPAM sliders. The menu is perfectly designed to enjoy an individual meal or to share several dishes among friends.

The new menu can be sampled anytime rBar is open, which is now Wednesday – Saturday from 5pm-3am and Sunday from 9pm-3am. rBar is one of the few bars in St. Louis that offers late-night food, as the full menu is served from open to close. Along with an award-winning martini list, a new summer and Vitamin Water Cocktail list is available to accompany the food menu.

In addition to the new menu and hours, the rBar patio is now open and offering an outdoor bar and live entertainment every Friday and Saturday night.

Posted by Thomas Crone at 07:10 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Food & Drink

Wente Out @ KWMU

So says... KWMU.

Posted by Thomas Crone at 11:36 AM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Miscellaneous & Eclectic

June 02, 2008

Missed Connection

My friend Michelle and I were trolling through Tower Grove Park, scarfing sun-softened Whatchamacallits when you and a car full of your friends sped by. You were at the wheel, dressed in full clown regalia -- a neon orange wig, polka dot suit with ruffle around the neck and painted-on smile. I couldn't see them, but I bet your feet were encased in some oversized rubber tuxedo shoes. Your friends were similarly attired. As you passed us, you leaned out of the window and yipped. You startled Michelle, but I screeched after you, "I'm not impressed, carnival cretin!" I really wasn't.
I wanted to stop you and trade clown stories, tell you about the time my boyfriend and I swallowed tabs of ecstasy, dressed up as the Insane Clown Posse (If memory serves, he was Violent J, and I was Shaggy 2 Dope.) and hit every grocery store in the metropolitan area in search of Faygo, America's favorite off-brand soda. Sure, we later realized that the only stores that carry Faygo are the ones we failed to visit: Family Dollar and the Dollar Tree, but I'm willing to bet our corpse paint-smeared faces and drug-induced thirst for cheap soda were received with more alacrity than any of the balloon animals you've proffered. Jus' sayin'.

Posted by at 05:41 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Miscellaneous & Eclectic

Snowflake/Cherokee: Friday

The fun is happening on Cherokee, this Friday night. Our super-solid supporters, Bevin and David at Snowflake, alerted us to an event at their space this Friday, with several other events taking place up-and-down the block. Here's the info:


Selections from the Snowflake flat files
June 6 – July 12, 2008
Opening Reception: Friday June 6, 7-10pm

Prints from Christine Garvey, Robert Goetz, Jana Harper, Elysia Mann, Dan Rule, Kacie Smith, and Amy Thompson fill the walls for our inaugural group show. In addition, Erica Buss, Karen Lederer, and Rebecca Tidswell helped to stock the flat file drawers. Please stop in Friday and celebrate our new flat file
viewing area.

Snowflake would like to thank the jurors, Gina Alvarez, Jason Urban, and Amanda Verbeck.

3156 Cherokee Street
St. Louis, Missouri 63118

Also on Friday June 6:
Fort Gondo: Lepers TV hosts “Shed Shot/Visual Aids”
All Along Press: Open Studio
Typo: Anna Hancock, “29th Road," a photo series
Drive By: Coby Ellison “The Art of War”
Firecracker Press: “Grand Opening” at new, Cherokee Street location

Posted by Thomas Crone at 04:59 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Arts & Artists

Kentucky Wine

We don't normally post up thoughts on the wines of Kentucky, but today there's a special reason for doing so. Gabe Bullard, a recent grad of Webster University and now a reporter withthe public radio affiliate in Louisville, is in possession of his first national clip with Marketplace. The topic, as no doubt guessed, is in our title line.

You can find it here.

Posted by Thomas Crone at 12:54 PM | Link & Discuss (0 comments) | Digital & New Media