January 30, 2018
Here is an updated list of places where first responders can get freebies in our “Charlie Brennan Show Counter Protest.” It all started when retired St. Louis travel executive Jeff Drew decided to buy all first responders (police, fire, emt, military) a free sandwich and soda at Protzel’s Deli (7608 Wydown). Since he started, about 160 have taken him up on the offer. The deal has been expanded through February.
Here are other deals waiting for our men and women in uniform. Note some of the restrictions.
- Jeff Drew is also offering a free drink at the Starbucks (Hanley and Wydown) in Clayton through February to all police, fire, emt and military.
- Keith Took of Old Town Donuts in Florissant (508 N. Florissant) and Cottleville (3941 Mid Rivers Mall) is offering a free donut and coffee to any first responder through February.
- Dennis at Al’s Cleaners (7620 Wydown) is cleaning the uniform of any first responder at no charge through February.
- Bob at the Washington Avenue Post (1315 Washington Avenue in downtown St. Louis) is giving a free cup of coffee to any police, fire, emt or military in uniform or with ID.
- Ellbee’s General Store in Wentzville (6 West Main) is handing out free coffee to all first responders through February (thanks, Linda!).
- Pet Supplies Plus in Ballwin, Oakville, and Warson Woods is offering a free bag of dog food to any K-9 officer through February.
- John Deardeuff of New Seasons Spa and Salon in South County’s Ronnie’s Plaza is offering one of the following services through February: free haircut, free 30-minute massage with Michelle, or a free eyebrow wax.
- Gene Matlock of Matlock Landscaping in South County will clean the gutters for any first responder through February (314) 598-3306.
- Ricky Johnson (USMC, ret.) will install a free ADT security system (1 motion detector, 3 doors, one camera) and provide 3 free months of monitoring to any first responder through February. Call (314) 398-1500.
- Lucy at Twice Blessed Resale (3302 Meramec in Dutchtown) is offering any police officer in uniform 50% off any furniture, men’s clothing and women’s clothing.
- All area Curves fitness centers are offering a free membership to all first responders and their spouses during February and no initiation fee after that. All must sign a liability waiver. (Curves equipment is designed for women).
- The Kallial Law Firm (231 S. Bemiston Ave., Clayton, MO 63105) is offering a free last will and testament and power of attorney during the month of February for any first-responder or military. email@example.com
- Dominic Consolino of Amighetti’s on the Hill (5141 Wilson Ave.) is offering a free “Amighetti’s Special” to any first responder through February 15, 2018.
- Gallery of Beauty (11874 Gravois in Sunset Hills) is offering a free manicure or pedicure to any first responder through February.
Want in? Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 23, 2018
Last week, St. Louis native Jo Jo White died. He grew up at 2 Rutger Street in South St. Louis and became a 7-time NBA All-Star.
Was he the greatest athlete to come out of St. Louis?
Probably. He was drafted by the Boston Celtics of the NBA, the Dallas Chaparrals of the ABA, the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL and Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball. When was the last time that happened in St. Louis or anywhere else?
He left McKinley High in December 1965 and fielded scholarship offers from 250 schools. Surprisingly, Mizzou was not among them. He chose the University of Kansas.
White scored 1,286 points in four seasons at KU. He was a two-time All-American.
In 1968, White won a gold medal playing for the U.S. basketball team in the Mexico City Olympics.
His most famous feat may have been the 62 minutes he played in the famous June 4, 1976, triple-overtime playoff game against the Phoenix Suns. No players today average more than forty minutes per game.
He was MVP of that year’s NBA finals. He did not miss a game for 5 straight seasons from 1972 to 1977. He played 488 consecutive games.
His #15 jersey hangs in the Allen Fieldhouse rafters in Lawrence, Kansas. His # 10 Boston Celtics jersey is retired .
White was inducted into the Naismath (NBA) Hall of Fame in 2015.
Can any St. Louisan match this?
January 16, 2018
Maybe the most important St. Louisan you have never heard of is T.S. Park, MD. In the past thirty years at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Dr. Park has performed selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery on 3,700 patients from 47 states and 73 countries. This procedure allows children to walk, many for the first time.
It’s true: Park has perfected a surgical procedure to help boys and girls diagnosed with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy (CP). Parents bring their kids from all over the world to St. Louis for the treatment.
If the parents are paying out of pocket, the charge is a flat $40,000, a hefty sum but miniscule for medical surgery. Park charges $100 for an initial consult and nothing for follow-up visits.
According to Outlook Magazine, a publication of the Washington University School of Medicine:
*Of Dr. Park’s 3,700 SDR patients, only 9 required readmission (5 for spinal fluid leaks, 4 for wound infections).
*Dr. Park has performed this surgery on 130 adults, more than any other surgeon in the world.
*One young patient, five months after surgery performed by Dr. Park, ran a 5K and played soccer.
It’s fair to say this neurosurgeon from St. Louis has pioneered and perfected SDR and studied it more than anyone else. According to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Park “single-handedly popularized the surgery and proved its benefits.”
Now if you want to see something heartwarming, go to the Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy-St. Louis Children’s Hospital Facebook page and check out the following comment posted just yesterday:
“We are only 1 month post SDR. 2 weeks post PERC’s. James has never stood unassisted before! Not for even 1 second and today he did it for 10 seconds while clapping 🙌💙 (I only caught 7 seconds on camera).
I’ve always seen all the #SDRCHANGESLIVES Post and thought they were amazing but watching it happen to our little boy and so soon after surgery is unreal!!”
And there you will see a short video of young James standing with a BIG smile.
Make sure you have Kleenex handy.
January 10, 2018
Maybe the most chronicled story of 2017 was the #MeToo movement which outed sexual harassment in Hollywood, broadcasting and elsewhere. Maybe the least chronicled story of 2017 was the October release of the federally mandated “Clery Reports” for our nation’s colleges and universities. Named after Jeanne Clery, a student who was raped and murdered at Lehigh University in 1986, these reports detail crime figures for every school that receives any federal aid, which is most of them.
Again, I know the title of this column is “Incredible St. Louis,’ but that can mean incredibly good or incredibly bad. I am sorry to say some of these numbers look incredibly bad for St. Louis’ Washington University, and not much better for some of our nation’s top schools.
In particular, let’s take a look at the number of rapes on campus for 2016, the last year for which figures are available.
John Jay College of Criminal Justice: 0
Case Western Reserve University: 1
Lindenwood University: 1
University of Missouri St. Louis: 3
Carnegie Mellon University: 8
University of Notre Dame (Indiana): 11
St. Louis University: 12
Northwestern University: 13
University of Chicago: 15
New York University: 16
University of Georgia: 17
University of Alabama: 21
University of Missouri-Columbia: 22
Yale University: 24
Boston College: 28
Harvard University: 28
Stanford University: 33
Washington University in St. Louis: 36
Ohio State University: 61
The Clery Act defines rape as “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” So, the rape definition is not watered down to include slaps on the rear or other less brutal actions. We are talking serious, violent crimes here.
As you can see, these numbers are very high, especially in relation to the amount of coverage and attention we give them. In particular, Wash U has just about the highest number of reported rapes (overshadowed by Ohio State which has four times the enrollment of Wash U). Given the academic calendar, Wash U has one reported rape per week.
I think we can agree this is a problem worthy of public discussion—just like sexual harassment and rape in Hollywood–but I haven’t heard much, except for the allegations involving SLU basketball players.
If you care to comment, reach me at email@example.com.
January 2, 2018
St. Louis is indeed incredible in many ways. In one area, however, it is incredibly bad: homicides. Here are the 2017 numbers for the City of St. Louis and other U.S. cities.
|East St. Louis||34||27,000|
These numbers come from recent media reports and may change slightly. You’ll notice St. Louis has many more murders than much larger cities.
Can we make improvements? Well, New York had 2,245 homicides in 1990 and had 290 last year. There’s no reason we can’t make such gains.
*as of December 16, 2017
December 13, 2017
Danny Meyer has been called “one of the country’s most successful restaurateurs” by The New York Times. He grew up in St. Louis listening to Jack Buck and Dan Kelly on KMOX, attended The John Burroughs School, and opened his first restaurant in New York at age 27. However, he was rejected by Princeton—his father and grandfather’s alma mater—and Brown. In his memoir “Setting the Table,” Meyer says he went to Trinity in Hartford after writing a letter begging for admission. Here’s the lesson—especially for you high school seniors: don’t worry about what school you attend! This week Meyer opened Shake Shack on Euclid in the Central West End. PS In his book, Meyer credits Ted Drewes, Imo’s Pizza and Steak and Shake as early influences.
The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), a professional membership organization of songwriters, composers and music publishers, announced its Top Holiday Songs for 2017. According to an ASCAP analysis of streaming and terrestrial radio data, 1994’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” written by Walter Afanasieff and Mariah Carey, is number one. Two St. Louis-related songs make the top 30: (#15) “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” written for the movie Meet Me in St. Louis and (#20) the Frank Sinatra version of “Jingle Bells,” arranged by the late Gordon Jenkins of Webster Groves.
What is St. Louis’ longest-running commercial? Maybe the Johnny Londoff Chevrolet jingle, written by George Drake in 1958. It was described as a “golden oldie” in a feature in the Wall Street Journal. It explains in two melodic lines the way Londoff has done business at Johnny Londoff Chevrolet for more than 70 years. Originally performed by Marty Bronson, Londoff’s jingle has also been featured in Time Magazine.
Hats off this Hanukkah season to the good people of Temple Israel in Creve Coeur who are buying and wrapping Christmas toys for the boys and girls at the Monroe Elementary School in St. Louis. That’s in addition to the Halloween costumes, tutoring, clothing and homework assistance provided by “T.I.” throughout the rest of the year.
Last week we listed freebies being offered to first responders (police, fire, emt, military). Here is another one: attorney Cynthia Holmes will prepare a will for any first responder at no charge (314) 721-7010.
December 7, 2017
A week ago, retired St. Louis travel executive Jeff Drew joined me on KMOX and offered all first responders (police, fire, emt, military) a free sandwich and soda at Protzel’s Deli (7608 Wydown). The deal runs through January.
Since then, others have called “The Charlie Brennan Show” offering similar freebies to first responders:
- Keith Took of Old Town Donuts in Florissant (508 N. Florissant) and Cottleville (3941 Mid Rivers Mall) is offering a free donut and coffee to any first responder through January.
- Al’s Cleaners (7620 Wydown) is cleaning the uniform of any first responder at no charge until December 31, 2017.
- Ellbee’s General Store in Wentzville (6 West Main) is handing out free coffee to all first responders through January.
- David Vandaveer of DOTec Engineering Solutions (424 Jefferson) in St. Charles will provide engineering services at no charge to any first responder (636) 724-9872.
- John Deardeuff of New Seasons Spa and Salon in South County’s Ronnie’s Plaza is offering one of the following services through January: free haircut, free 30-minute massage with Michelle, or a free eyebrow wax.
- Gene Matlock of Matlock Landscaping in South County will clean the gutters for any first responder through January (314) 598-3306.
- Ricky Johnson (USMC, ret.) will install a free ADT security system (1 motion detector, 3 doors, one camera) and provide 3 free months of monitoring to any first responder through January. Call (314) 398-1500.
We are calling this our “Counter Protest.” (Get it?) Thanks to Jeff Drew and everyone onboard. Want in? Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Invitation: the Donnybrook gang (Bill, Ray, Wendy, Alvin and I) will be ringing bells for the Salvation Army Tree of Lights Campaign outside the Schnucks Richmond Heights from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Friday December 8th. Please join us.
November 29, 2017
Yes, that WAS late night Bravo host (“Watch What Happens Live”) and St. Louis native Andy Cohen at Delmar Hall last Friday night. He popped in to hear Jake’s Leg, the Grateful Dead cover band. You may remember Jake’s Leg provided the music for our live broadcast with Cohen at Companion Bakery in 2016.
Look for the Travel Channel to feature Bonne Terre Mine next week as one of our country’s “top-secret swimming holes.” Technically, it’s not a swimming hole but more of an underground lake for scuba divers. Owner Dennis Goergens opened the former mine—about an hour south of St. Louis—for diving in 1981. Things took off when famed explorer Jacques Cousteau appeared there in 1983. This year, about 15,000 divers and 20,000 boaters/walkers visited.
Police and firefighters can get a free lunch at Protzel’s Deli on Wydown. Jeff Drew, a retired travel executive and Clayton resident, is rewarding first responders with a free sandwich and drink. What’s the catch? Nothing. It’s Drew’s way of honoring those on the front lines. He also underwrites a free coffee for any police officer or firefighter at the Starbucks at Wydown and Hanley.
All inventory copies of my 2013 book, “Amazing St. Louis,” were burned two weeks ago in the warehouse fire on Park Avenue in St. Louis that destroyed 200,000 books published by the Reedy Press. I’ll take a small hit, but not as much as other authors who write for a living and rely on big sales this holiday season. If the spirit moves you, please buy a Reedy book this holiday shopping seasonto make sure this small press gets back on its feet.
The cable channel Investigation Discovery (ID) will examine Dr. Glenn Engleman of St. Louis on DEADLY DENTISTS Friday December 8th at 8 p.m. Who was Engleman? A Wash U-trained dentist who moonlighted as a…hitman! He killed seven people from the late 1950s through the 1980s. (He was the dentist who shot patient with novacaine AND bullets!). He died in 1999.
November 9, 2017
Tom Irwin, Executive Director of Civic Progress, arrived in Vietnam as a Marine from South Boston in 1969. Next May, he returns to Danang to run in an Ironman competition. Participants will be “treated” to a fast and scenic course that begins with a 1.2-mile ocean swim in front of the Hyatt Regency Danang Resort & Spa. From there, athletes will “enjoy” a scenic 56-mile bike course along Danang´s coastline. The final 13.1-mile run passes by many of Danang´s famous beach resorts before returning to the Hyatt for a beachfront finish. Wow! Times have changed in 48 years. In fifty years, maybe it’ll be the Baghdad Ironman. Let’s hope so. Tom’s age? 67.
Last week I mentioned actress and comic Sandra Bernhard returns to St. Louis Saturday November 18 to perform at The Grandel. I noted her girlfriend Sara Switzer is a St. Louisan. Readers pointed out other STL connections: Bernhard is a talk show host the Sirius XM Andy channel, founded by Andy Cohen of Clayton. She appeared from 1991 to 1996 on “Roseanne” with John Goodman of Affton and in “Follow that Bird” directed by Ken Kwapis of Belleville.
Thomas McClary of The Commodores told me on KMOX this week that when the band played “Jesus is Love” in concerts back in the day, Lionel Richie would sing the number at a piano backed up by a choir from St. Louis. McClary, who writes about his life in the new book “Rock and Soul,” thinks the choir was called “The St. Louis Gospel Choir.” That was before my time but if any readers can remember the group, let me know. email@example.com.
If you see a truck with 4,000 Christmas trees on it, it might be Travis Dillon, general manager of Ted Drewes Frozen Custard, who returns from Nova Scotia a couple of days before Thanksgiving. The Drewes family has tree farm in Nova Scotia and Travis make the annual trip this time of year to harvest the Scotch Pines and Fraser Firs. They go on sale November 24.
Good news department: Michael Lawrence, St. Louis Market President of Bank of America, said today his bank is donating $200,000 to the Mathews-Dickey Boys and Girls Club, Club President Wendell Covington was on hand in Studio B when the announcement was made live on The Charlie Brennan Show. In other words, not all news is bad….
November 1, 2017
Jack Lane of Stages St. Louis has announced his Kirkwood-based theater’s 2017 Season (South Pacific, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and South Pacific) had its biggest box office success in 31 years. In fact, this year’s production of South Pacific broke all sales records, making it the most successful Stages musical ever. Yes, good things come to people who advertise on The Charlie Brennan Show!
Mr. Lane is now one of the producers of The Prom, which will open November 18, 2017 on Broadway at a Schubert Theater to be named later. Directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon), The Prom features a book by Tony Award winner Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone) and Tony Award nominee Chad Beguelin (Aladdin), and music by Tony Award nominee Matthew Sklar (The Wedding Singer).
Gary Pinkel has written, The 100-Yard Journey: A Life in Coaching and Battling for the Win, a great read about the former Missouri football coach’s life and career. In the book, Pinkel says the football program was so bad when he got to Missouri at least one high school in St. Louis would not let him in the door when he was recruiting. Pretty bizarre when you consider Mizzou is the only D-1 football program in the state. I asked Pinkel to name the school and he said he wouldn’t tell me even if he could remember the name.
Actress and comic Sandra Bernhard is coming to the Grandel Theater on November 18th. She’ll headline the theater’s “Loud and Lavish” party when she goes on stage at 9 p.m. Small world: her longtime girlfriend is former KMOX intern Sara Switzer, who worked here in the summer of 1991.
Very, very sad to hear of the death of Joe Bonwich, the longtime restaurant critic for various local publications. He and Ray Hartmann used to personally deliver the earliest editions of the Riverfront Times when the paper started forty years ago. I think he was among the smartest writers ever to work in St. Louis. Having said that, about ten years ago, he and I spent one Lenten season rating local fish fries and discussing them on KMOX. I was hoping we would do it again. He and I recently got into an email debate on police salaries; I can verify he did his homework. I know, like many of you, I will miss him very much.
October 26, 2017
This space is reserved for the incredible people and events in St. Louis but since I spent last weekend in Los Angeles, I thought I’d devote this week’s column to the incredible things I found there.
First, it’s worth the splurge to stay at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, where Elvis Presley, Warren Beatty and Steve McQueen used to live. It’s said mail for Elvis still arrives there. For many, the hotel is best known as the setting for movies like “Pretty Woman” and “Clueless.” I remember reading Howard Cosell’s autobiography where he constantly referred to his conversations in the hotel’s bar. Our 11th floor room had a nice view of the “Hollywood” sign in the hills. I was most impressed with the Beverly Wilshire’s many doormen who remembered my name every time they saw me. How do they do that?
We ran into Phyllis Smith of “The Office” at LAX. She was in line for a Southwest Airlines flight back to St. Louis where she and her mom, she said, always watch Donnybrook.
While window shopping on the streets of Beverly Hills, I heard the same 1970s music coming out of speakers placed in trees along the sidewalk. It was like being in a mall. Perhaps the locals are trying to create a certain ambience. Or, they’re playing Gloria Gaynor and Seals and Crofts to keep out young people.
USC has a dorm with a Target and Trader Joe’s on the first floor. The Trader Joe’s prices were as low as St. Louis, if not lower: tuna wraps for $3.99. Bananas were $.19 each. Bottles water cost $1.00. Hey Lambert, are you reading this?
The student cafeterias at USC and UCLA seemed to put kale in every dish. That is not a joke. Also, the salad bars extend for acres. USC is flat and skateboards are everywhere. People can lock them up in specially-designed upright racks.
UCLA now has vending machines selling birth control products, condoms, and pregnancy tests. Plan B costs $20. However, some students complain the machines are not always accessible because they’re located in the Arthur Ashe Health and Wellness Center which closes at 11 p.m. One columnist for the Daily Bruin student newspaper wasn’t pleased; she suggested the vending machines should also include “menstrual products, lube, internal condoms for people with vaginas, dental dams as barriers for oral sex and gloves for manual sex.”
The high cost of living has leaders in LA’s Westwood Village thinking about allowing homeowners to turn their garages into rental housing. Maybe St. Louis should think about this one.
I attended a Men’s Water polo match when #2-ranked UCLA hosted and lost to # 3-ranked UCal-Berkeley. Prior to the game, the PA announcer warned fans not to shout profane or “ageist” language. Ageist language? Is that a problem in NCAA water polo circles? Also: all team players lined up and shook their opponents’ hands BEFORE the competition. Never saw that before.
UCLA has a great football tradition but all home games are at the Rose Bowl, about 45 minutes from campus in good traffic conditions. Students on game day walk across campus in droves to shuttle buses. Oh well—at least the weather is always nice!
October 18, 2017
Condolences to Mugsy Andria, the Kenison family and everyone at Andria’s Restaurant in O’Fallon, Illinois after last Friday’s passing of founder Sam Andria at 88. Sam was a great saxophone player and performed with Herb Drury and Stan Kenton in the Ozarks, East St. Louis, and Gaslight Square. He and his wife, Mary Margaret “Mugsy” Butler opened the Andria Liquor Store on Nameoki Road in Granite City and ran it for 22 years. They served food as well and many of their customers were local steel workers. In 1978, Sam, Mugs, and their daughter, Maureen, opened Andria’s Restaurant and saw everyone from Don Ameche to Noel Picard to Whitey Herzog walk in the door. After 39 years, son-in-law Larry Kenison and grandson, Max Kenison, still operate the restaurant. Hold up a bottle of Andria’s Brush-On Steak Sauce in your toast to the late, great Sam Andria!
Between the Yankees and the Astros, I have to go with the Astros for the American League pennant because their owner, Jim Crane, grew up in Dellwood and attended Lutheran North High School. Crane made a ton of money in the air freight logistics business after he formed a company with a $10,000 loan from his sister in 1984. Before that he was a pitching standout at Central Missouri State where he still holds the record for fanning the most batters in one game (18). His dad died when he was in college and Crane almost quit school but his college baseball coach talked him out of it. Can’t wait to read his autobiography!
Nerinx Hall High School alum Jenna Fischer is best known for playing Pam Beesly on The Office, for which she received an Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actress and two SAG Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble Comedy. However, she struggled for eight years in Hollywood before achieving success. So, she has penned a memoir, The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide, designed to help aspiring actors make it in show business. It comes out in paperback on November 14.
The Wall Street Journal reports that comic Jerry Seinfeld has kept every joke he’s written since 1975 on yellow legal paper and organized alphabetically. Similarly, the career of the late comedienne Phyllis Diller, who lived with her husband and five children at 30 Mason Avenue in Webster Groves in the 1960s, is featured at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. Among the displays, a steel cabinet “gag file” filled with 50,000 Diller jokes on index cards. Her jokes are also organized alphabetically (are comics OCD?) but hers are typewritten while Seinfeld uses a Bic ballpoint pen.
October 11, 2017
Did you know Missouri’s constitution provides a pension to people who are poor and legally blind, but a recipient must be someone who “does not publicly solicit alms?” In other words, if you’re a beggar, you lose your pension. St. Louis University Law Professor John Amman says the law dates back to 1921 when Helen Keller and others were trying to help blind mendicants get off the streets.
Here is the daily meal plan for Darrell Conners, trainer at 20 Minutes to Fitness in Clayton: for breakfast, he eats a quarter cup of oats and 8 oz. of egg whites; for lunch, it’s 7 oz. of tilapia, 6-7 asparagus spears, and a quarter cup of brown rice; for dinner, Darrell pigs out on 5 oz. of turkey cutlets, a cup of sweet potatoes and more asparagus. Why? He will be showing off his six-pack abs Saturday at the St. Charles Convention Center for the 2017 Pink Muscle Fest. The bodybuilding competition will benefit breast cancer awareness and research.
Seems like this would be the time of year to watch John Carpenter’s Halloween, with actor Donald Pleasence, as the brave Dr. Sam Loomis, chasing the psychotic Michael Myers through neighborhood streets. But when he got to St. Louis in the fall 1980 to film John Carpenter’s Escape from New York, Pleasence was not too brave. He stayed at a hotel near the Arch where management warned him our downtown wasn’t safe. According to his co-star Adrienne Barbeau, Pleasence took the warning very seriously: every night he hired a cab to take him to a restaurant directly across the street.
Speaking of Halloween, can you recall a scarier St. Louisan than Dr. Joseph Nash McDowell? Nash came to St. Louis in 1840 to head up Missouri Medical College. People claimed he stole corpses from graves. Tour guides at Mark Twain Cave in Hannibal still insist he tried to preserve his dead daughter’s body in an alcohol-filled brass cylinder inside the cave. McDowell is portrayed as a vampire in the 2010 novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith. FYI: his medical college merged into the Washington University School of Medicine in 1891.
Bellefontaine Cemetery is combining ghosts and beer this weekend during the “6th Annual Historic Beer Barons Tour.” Sample local beer, wine and food while walking around the graves. Actually, the cemetery just might be one of the most beautiful settings in St. Louis and the final resting place for a number of our famous beer barons. Get tickets at bellefontainecemetery.org. Next weekend in the graveyard: “Yoga and the roots of feminism.” Not kidding.
October 5, 2017
While it may seem mass killings are a modern phenomenon, one of our country’s deadliest acts occurred on May 18, 1927 when Ed Kehoe bombed school buildings in Bath Township, Michigan, killing 45 people including 38 schoolchildren and himself. 58 others were injured. Sadly, the murders had a local connection as Kehoe worked as an electrician in St. Louis for several years before moving to Michigan. Why is this horrific event, the worst school massacre in U.S. history, largely forgotten? Kehoe’s infamy was probably diminished when, two days later on May 20, 1927, Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic in “The Spirit of St. Louis.”
Leonard Slatkin, Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra for 27 years, is out with his second book, “Leading Tones: Reflections on Music, Musicians, and the Music Industry.” He recounts how he conducted the soundtrack for “The Exorcist,” how his mother played the haunting cello for John Williams’ “Jaws Theme” and how, believe it or not, the first live production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” was with the SLSO at Powell Hall in 1971. That’s right: we beat Broadway AND London’s West End.
Bob Chapman, CEO of Barry Wehmiller, has funded a new garden with plants, fountains, benches, winding paths, a gazebo and a long, cascading waterfall in Clayton’s Shaw Park. Called “Chapman Plaza,” it’s now open at the southwest corner of Forsyth and Brentwood Boulevards and worth a visit. Chapman has had quite a run: Barry-Wehmiller had revenues of $20 million in 1988 and is expected to have revenues of $2.4 billion this year.
Comedian Bob Newhart joined me on KMOX and we got a nice phone call during the segment from another funny guy, Greg Warren. Warren, who lives in Kirkwood and has been seen on Late Night with Seth Meyers, Last Comic Standing, Comedy Central Presents, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and more, explained how his comedy career was inspired by Newhart, especially after hearing his 1960 album, “Button-Down Mind.” Speaking of Newhart inspirations, I’ve said in the past Chicago’s statue of Bob Newhart inspired me to chair the St. Louis campaign to erect a statue of Chuck Berry in 2011.
“That you are going to America is bad, but I really don’t know what other advice to give you…Outside of New York, the only endurable place is St. Louis.” Friedrich Engels
September 26, 2017
How hot is it? Patty DeForrest, Director of Parks and Rec for the City of Clayton, has just announced her city’s Shaw Park 50-meter pool will remain open for lap swimming through Sunday October 1. Four weeks beyond Labor Day? Unheard of! “With this incredible weather, it just seems to make sense,” she told me.
On October 16, the Lift for Life Academy charter school will officially open the newly renovated Staenberg Arts & Activities Center (formerly Flanagan Paint store). The Center will feature music and art rooms, an exercise and wrestling studio, fashion and culinary workspaces and counseling. Shopping center developer Michael Staenberg, founder of The Staenberg Group who has given away $100 million in the last ten years, tells me he doesn’t believe in making anonymous donations because he wants to set an example for others. For Staenberg, it’s been a long journey since he had a paper route in his native Omaha. Among his customers? Warren Buffett.
Staenberg cites the late builder and philanthropist I.E. Millstone as one of his mentors. Millstone built both the luxury condo tower at 801 S. Skinker Boulevard and the infamous Pruitt-Igoe public housing complex. Millstone once explained to me his Pruitt-Igo and Skinker buildings were exactly the same. Pretty incredible considering one was a symbol of upscale St. Louis and the other the symbol of St. Louis’ decline.
Look for POCO (“Heart of the Night,” “Crazy Love”) to perform in Steelville October 27th and 28th and in Godfrey on December 15th. In fact, founder Rusty Young appears at Vintage Vinyl Records in University City at 6 p.m. on Wednesday September 27. Why the frequent visits? Young now lives in Steelville. He’s releasing a new CD, “Waitin’ For The Sun.”
Are you disabled and facing state cuts to your home assistance? I would like to talk with you. Contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org
September 19, 2017
In this week’s column, how about a few photos and videos from my weekend in St. Louis? Warning: Some of the following videos contain graphic language. This was the scene at Tucker and Clark around 5 p.m. on Friday —black and white and rather young.
Note the cameras. I count five in this photo.
People even showed up in wheelchairs. With cameras.
The mood was light but got darker when the police appeared.
Police on bicycles entered the area. You might not think they would be effective (they’re on bikes!) but they did get people to move away from the building, the old police headquarters.
Police on bicycles told people to, “Move back!”
Not everyone listened. Follow the lady in red.
Protesters got angry with the police (Caution: language).
Protesters who did not “move back” got pepper spray in the face. Like this guy….
And this dude…
To escape this reality, I went to the Korean Culture Festival at the Touhill…
See you next week.
September 14, 2017
Big thanks to Roy Gillespie of the Teamsters who (again) helped KMOX raise about 8 truckloads (and still counting) of cleaning supplies for Hurricane Harvey victims in Houston. Little known fact: Gillespie grew up at 2428 Jackson Street in Gary, Indiana. Who lived at 2300 Jackson? The Jackson Five. In fact, Roy was lab partners with Jermaine Jackson in Science Class at Beckman Junior High. (When it came to lab work, Jermaine told Roy, “Let’s Get Serious!” Not really.)
Thanks also to NFL Hall of Famer and former Ram Aeneas Williams who was on hand as were “Big Easy” Lofton and “Handles” Franklin of the Harlem Globetrotters. Again, it’s a small world: Williams and Lofton both attended the Carter G. Woodson Middle School in New Orleans.
As for Aeneas Williams, did you know he received no college athletic scholarship offers coming out of high school? Dartmouth offered him an academic scholarship. Instead, Williams attended Southern University and studied accounting his first two years. He walked onto Southern’s football team his junior year. The rest is history. By the way, he does have a degree in accounting.
Hats off to City of Clayton Parks and Rec Director Patty DeForrest who is keeping the outdoor Shaw Park municipal pool open for lap swimming through Sunday September 17. She defies conventional wisdom which closes pools after Labor Day. I can’t find another city pool in the Midwest that stays open this late. In St. Louis, the weather always allows for swimming well into September. After all, it is still summer.
Since the Cardinals open at home April 5, 2018 against the Diamondbacks, how will former Cards skipper Tony LaRussa, now with Arizona, ride into Busch Stadium in his red jacket with D-back players watching from the visitors’ dugout?
For the first time in 30 years, Donnybrook will air on a Friday night, not once but twice! To make room for the Ken Burns 18-hour PBS series on the Vietnam war, Donnybrook will air on KETC at 7 p.m. on Fridays September 22 and 29.
September 5, 2017
One of the hottest food guys in Chicago is a St. Louis expat. Michael Ciapciak owns Bang Bang Pie and Biscuit locations (Logan Square and Ravenswood) where he serves pies (of course), biscuits (of course), pot pies, and grits. It’s where people line up and down the street in the heat, rain and cold and buy pies until they run out, which they often do. Ciapciak, who once worked for Zoe Robinson at Il Fratellini in Clayton, attended St. Louis University where he studied…English!
Driving on Manchester in Maplewood, one sees “Route 66” street banners. How can this be? Everyone knows “Route 66” is on Chippewa and Watson with attractions like Ted Drewes, the Donut Drive-In, and Crestwood Bowl. The two streets practically run parallel to each other, so “Route 66’ can’t be on both roads, right? I mean, New York doesn’t have two Broadways, does it? Well, it turns out the Explore St. Louis website has an alternative “Route 66” which also includes Lindell, Skinker and Manchester. Don’t worry, there is no way tourists would be confused by any of this.
Hats off to SIUE Chancellor Randy Pembrook who talked about his great school and played the piano with his wife Mary on my radio show last week. (Seems to be a trend here because UMSL Chancellor Thomas George plays the piano at the Cheshire Inn in his spare time). Pembrook is so unassuming, he lugged his own keyboard, assembled it on a stand and used a screwdriver to break it down after the show. Chancellor Pembrook brought NO posse of roadies to do the heavy lifting. Maybe that’s why SIUE has the lowest tuition of all four-year institutions in Illinois.
Speaking of tuition, St. Louis Magazine reports MICDS high school tuition is $26,500. Fontbonne University tuition is $25,500, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. That means, for some, the cost of education decreases from high school to college.
August 30, 2017
Quick: who has more U.S. locations, Edward Jones or Starbucks? (Answer below)
Well, it’s about time! The St. Louis Public Library Children’s Library downtown will offer its first Drag Queen Storytime on Saturday September 30th at 2 p.m. The Library points out, “Families can listen to stories, dance and make crafts with local performers who are volunteering their time.” (In other words, don’t worry: we are not paying the drag queens with taxpayer dollars).
“Larger than Life” starring Bill Murray, Janeane Garofalo and Matthew McConaughey is playing on STARZ this week. Although it is not very entertaining—except for one hilarious scene with Murray driving a truck—the movie was partly shot in our area in 1995 so St. Louisans may enjoy seeing their town on screen. I appeared as “an industrial worker” seated next to Murray in a bar in Granite City. It took about four hours to fix our lighting and the scene lasted about sixty seconds, if that. Maybe some reader will remember the name of the bar. Was it “Way Home?”
No Charles Brennan film festival would be complete without a screening of “The Big Brass Ring” starring William Hurt, Nigel Hawthorne and Miranda Richardson. This movie, filmed here in 1998, was so bad it skipped the theaters and went straight to Showtime, which was especially disappointing since it was Orson Welles’ last script. The late George Hickenlooper, a Dogtown native, directed. Hurt chewed him out mercilessly on the set underneath the Gateway Arch. The acrimony was awkward and fascinating at the same time. I played the role of a reporter asking Hurt some questions, as did Don Lemon, now of CNN fame. Alas, the Oscars snubbed all of us.
Remember Robert Lee, the sports broadcaster reassigned by ESPN so he would not be seen—heaven forbid–in Charlottesville? Upon hearing that story, I called Robert E. Lee, who works at St. Louis Music on Ferguson Ave. He told me “on a daily basis” he meets people who are amused by his name and it helps him stand out, a good thing in his profession, sales management. Often, he will hand someone his credit card and get asked, “Did you know your name is Robert E. Lee?”
ANSWER: St. Louis-based Edward Jones has 12,000 branch offices and Starbucks has 7,500.
August 22, 2017
Richard H. Weiss profiles Martin Mathews, founder of the Mathews-Dickey Boys and Girls Club, in the new book, “I Trust You With My Life.” Among the many great stories: in the 1970s, Mathews oversaw Mathews-Dickey and, to make ends meet, worked as an overnight doorman in the classy condos at 625 South Skinker Blvd. This is where publishing scion Michael Pulitzer, former CIA Director Sidney Souers, and other high society types lived. In 1975, G, Duncan Bauman, publisher of the Globe-Democrat, gave Mathews his newspaper’s annual Humanitarian Award. Residents of 625 South Skinker picked up their morning newspaper to discover the city’s most prestigious honor had gone to…their doorman!
5-time Grammy nominee Kenny Wayne Shepherd told me on KMOX his career’s most embarrassing moment happened here in St. Louis. He was opening at the Trans World Dome in 1997 for the Rolling Stones during their Bridges to Babylon Tour. Shepherd’s guitar was tethered to the equipment with a 25-foot cord, but in his mind he must have thought he had a wireless gig. “I was on a stage the size of a friggin’ football field. I took off running and the cable came flying out of my guitar in the middle of my solo. I had to scurry around in front of 80,000 people trying to find my guitar cable to plug in.” But all’s well now: his new album “Lay it on Down” is #1 this week on the Neilson/Soundscan Blues Album, Rock Album and Internet Album Charts. For the complete interview, listen Tuesday August 23, 2017 at 10:00 a.m.
Those of us attending this month’s Salvation Army Doing the Most Good Awards Luncheon at the Chase got our money’s worth from former NYFD Battalion Chief Richard Picciotto. As keynote speaker, he delivered the best speech I have ever seen. Seriously. We laughed, cried and then sat in silence listening to his account of responding to the September 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center, which tragically had 99 elevators but only 3 stairwells. (Architect Minoru Yamasaki also designed Lambert Airport). If you ever get a chance to hear Picciotto, take it! Or, you can read his book, “Last Man Down.”
I paid about $110 this year for an unnamed media subscription. Last week, I got a renewal notice in the mail bumping me up to $240. Thinking that was too expensive, I called the unnamed media subscription folks to cancel my subscription. The congenial fellow responded by offering me another year at about $110. Pressing my luck, I declined the offer and asked again to cancel my contract. Wait, I was told, there might be another option. Would I be interested in $25 for five months? Although I’ll have to do this dance again in January, I agreed.