Arts & Culture

Author Eric Jerome Dickey, who will be speaking at the St. Louis County Library Saturday, would probably take exception to this description promoting his appearance that appears on the library's website:

"Described as 'the king of African-American fiction' by Entertainment Weekly, Eric Jerome Dickey discusses his highly anticipated new novel 'Tempted by Trouble' -- a flaming-hot story set in the world of conmen and thieves."

Dickey says he prefers to be known simply as "author" -- no racial or ethnic description necessary.

Last week, Slate published an article, "How Blacks Use Twitter: The latest research on race and microblogging."  Now, I'll admit that I can't tell you why, but my general sense of Slate is that it's intelligent, thoughtful, edgy. So when I clicked through to the article I expected something, well, intelligent, thoughtful and edgy.

There's no money in poetry, but there's no poetry in money, either.

—Robert Graves

This month's poem is by Catherine Rankovic. Brutal honesty and painful humor usually characterize this writer's poetry and essays. "Hide & Sex" is no exception -- although the savage truth here dresses in the clothes of a children's game, wears several layers of irony and flirts with the sonnet.

Recently, Bruce Burton left his post as graphic designer for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis to join a St. Louis design firm. As a parting gesture of sorts, he's curated an exhibition of outstanding contemporary graphic design for the museum's Front Room.

"RBMBKESHKM" showcases work by Roy Brooks, Mikey Burton, Kelly English, Sibylle Hagmann and Kindra Murphy, designers based more or less in the middle of the country, the "flyover zone" where people on the coasts often assume nothing is happening.

I'm a transplant.

It was 1991 and the city was experiencing one of its highest murder rates in years.

I showed up as new college graduate ready to perform a year of volunteer work for a local community service agency. The housing they provided was on the site of a community center in the College Hill neighborhood near O'Fallon Park on the city's north side.

French artist Laurent Grasso's "Les Oiseaux" ("The Birds") (2008) is an extraordinary video piece now showing in the St. Louis Art Museum's New Media Series.

The eight-minute projection has the camera trained on the pink sunset over Rome's skyline and a series of curious dark clouds floating across it. The clouds turn out to be hundreds of starlings flying in groups, their synchronized motions creating unexpected, even thrilling shape-shifting effects that are more beautiful than the built structures in the city below.

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Four years ago my partner, Marty Kaplan, and I took off on a road trip from the banks of the Mississippi to the beaches of California. Vacation and visits with relatives were very much on our minds, but along with such pleasures we packed some serious business into the journey. Today, he and I are in the middle of a similar trans-American journey across the country. This blog comes to you from Palm Springs, and I hope you'll find my very first ever blog not too swollen with a lot of hot air.

Amazon book cover

Wendy, the happy protagonist in local author Angela Ruzicka's first book, loves to go to the beach, splash in the water, dance around and build sandcastles. And she does it all in a wheelchair.

"Wendy on Wheels Goes to the Beach" has "gotten a lot of positive feedback," said Ruzicka. "I've had a lot of people that have bought the book for their children without disabilities like it just as much as the ones with the disabilities."

While Cardinals fans waited to get their first look at Jim Edmonds in a Cincy uniform, second-baseman Brandon Phillips of the Reds couldn’t contain his disgust for Edmonds’ old team.

Phillips, who fouled a ball off his shin Saturday in Chicago, missed Sunday’s game but was apparently feeling well enough to spout off to Hal McCoy of the Dayton Daily News that there was no way he’d miss Monday night’s game.

Grand Center parking 2010
Brent Jones | St. Louis Beacon

Communication requires a sender and a receiver: That's your basic COMM 101 class in college. But there's another important part to the equation -- the message has to be in a format the receiver can understand.

I just opened an email from Rachelle L'Ecuyer, the excellent PR master for Maplewood. Part of this missive directed late night/early morning folks to Tiffany's Original Diner. According to L'Ecuyer, "Here you can indulge in made to order eggs, fries, burgers and great milkshakes. Plus, while your eggs are frying, you can pop a dollar in the jukebox and be serenaded by your favorite Classic Rock tunes."

Dollar?!? Jukebox?

Ellen S. Clark Hope Plaza
Rachel Heidenry | 2010

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune -- without the words,

And never stops at all ...

Emily Dickinson's words stretch around a platform overlooking an infinity pool that sits among buildings at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

To: Her Royal, Majestic Highness

Dear Liz:

Forgive my maladroit salutation, but we here in the colonies are never quite sure how to act around royalty. On the one hand, we think it's pretty cool that you've got crowns, robes, thrones and all that rot. We never tire of tabloid coverage of palace gossip and consider it rather sporting of your taxpayers to pitch in to make sure that you don't have to work for a living.

This Saturday, Aug. 7, at BB's Jazz, Blues & Soups, the St. Louis jazz and blues community will gather together to raise funds for one of its own - Gabriel. A fire in June severely damaged the East St. Louis home of the man who has been a legendary DJ, musician, record producer, club owner and concert promoter in the metro area for more than half a century.

Music runs from 5-10 p.m. at BB's, and there's a $10 minimum donation at the door. The lineup includes Cryin' Shame, Silvercloud, Ron Edwards, David Dee, Uvee Hayes, Marquise Knox, Arthur Williams and special guests.

Co-owner Jeanne Spoto poses with the City Diner cutout.
Elia Powers | St. Louis Beacon | 2010

The one-two punch of audiences spilling out of The Fox Theatre at night and Saint Louis University students spilling out of their dorm rooms at all hours was enough to motivate Jeanne and Peter Spoto to open a second location of their popular diner earlier this summer.

City Diner at the Fox (541 North Grand Blvd.) is on the same street as the original City Diner (3139 South Grand Blvd.). The new eatery, which is about one-third as large as the flagship, is at the busy intersection of Grand and Washington Avenue in the shadow of the Fox.

St. Louis middle and high school students will learn modern day lessons via an age-old tale this school year. A tale told not by an idiot, and one signifying much more than sound and fury.

After St. Louis' longest running radio station, KFUO-FM "Classic99" changed format in early July, classical music lovers bemoaned the loss of their beloved station. But thanks to St. Louis Public Radio (KWMU 90.7 FM), classical radio is still available in St. Louis -- with a twist.

On May 24, the public radio station began broadcasting KWMU-3, a classical music channel available on HD radios. "When we knew that the city would be without a classical music service, we certainly wanted to fill that void as best we could," said Tim Eby, KWMU's general manager.

Midway through today's polling, St. Louis County Democratic elections director Joe Donahue is slightly revising his turnout projects -- downward.

Donahue estimated early this afternoon that the countywide pace appears to be on track for a final turnout of 18-20 percent of the county's 600,000-plus registered voters. That's down from his initial projection of about 25 percent, which was in line with the state's estimate.

"Recession Rejuvenations" at Bruno David Gallery is one of those breezy group shows that one sees in the summertime months: loads of works, all quite easy on the eyes, connected only by their recentness, their relatively small scale and, in some cases, affordable price tags (it is a recession, after all ...)

It's nice to see works by David's impressive roster of artists shown together; the result is eclectic and buoyant.

John Logan, Hudson Harkins and Mike Graham make up Hudson and the Hoo Doo Cats.
Provided by the band

HUDSON HARKINS of Hudson & the Hoodoo Cats

HOME: Born and raised in Austin, Texas. Lived there 39 years until moving to STL in November 1995. We also spend about six weeks a year based out of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.

AGE: The band is 20 years old this year. John Logan has been with me for 16 years and Mike Graham for 11 years.

Waiters whizzing by on skates was exactly what a scene from “Footloose” needed in the Stages St. Louis 2005 production, thought choreographer Dana Lewis.

In rehearsal after rehearsal, the performers rocked and literally rolled all over the stage without a hitch.

But during a technical rehearsal just prior to opening night, a bad fall left actor Zoe Vonder Haar with a broken arm, and put the kibosh on the skating idea. Theater-goers never knew what they’d missed.

"Traces of Time and Presence" features the work of this year's artists-in-residence at Craft Alliance in Grand Center: Erin Vigneau Dimick in fibers, Tom Dykas in clay and Michael Parrett in metals. It's a quiet show, with works in different media that hang well together, forging subtle thematic and formal connections.

The vocally challenging and fun-filled "La Fille du Regiment" by Donizetti will be taking the stage at Union Avenue Opera.  Then, starting Aug. 20, the atmosphere turns much darker with Tchaikovsky’s three-act tragedy “Pikovaya Dama.”

Daughter of the Regiment

Missouri's budget shortfall has been felt everywhere from schools to state agencies to social service programs. Arts groups across St. Louis haven't been spared, either. Many are adjusting to the new reality of decreasing financial support from the state at a time when resources remain tight.

Jose Espinosa steps into the tee box of Meadowbrook Country Club's driving range. Ahead of him lie hundreds of yards of grassy terrain spotted with multicolored flags and golf balls. Espinosa peers out onto the surface, looks down, grabs a ball from a nearby bucket, gently places it in the tee box and launches the ball an incredible distance.

Before the ball even hits the ground, Espinosa turns around and finds Hockey Hall of Fame inductee and former St. Louis Blue Bernie Federko and gives him a high-five.

Susan Cowsill and her band at a house concert.
Terry Perkins | For the St. Louis Beacon

As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, the music business continues to splinter and transmogrify in the face of continuing technical advances and resulting changes in the way consumers obtain music. Digital downloads -- legal and illegal -- have transformed the music industry from a business model ruled by major corporate conglomerates into a free-for-all environment that's increasingly unpredictable, volatile and independently focused.

Summertime and the high-school seniors are posing. Cameras are clicking, and the interest is high.

This is the season when seniors prepare for their senior photo sessions. They're busy deciding which clothes and how many outfits to wear, what photos to get,  which hobbies to incorporate in the photos, how much money to spend -- and which photographer to use. 

Moves in Minotaurus are determined by dice.
Rachel Heidenry | 2010 | St. Louis Beacon

Stop by Soulard Market on Saturday, and you'll see far more than just fruits and vegetables. Legos have come to Soulard.

Lego games. Lego sculptures. Lego trivia.

St. Louis is the fifth stop in a 10-week promotional tour showcasing 10 new board games by the Denmark-based Lego Group. In a small park in front of Soulard Market, Lego staffers set up larger-than-life versions of the board games and waited for fans to arrive on Friday, the first day of the event.

’The Kids Are All Right’

The title of "The Kids are All Right," a very engaging, mostly comedic look at how traditional difficulties can afflict a thoroughly modern family, can be taken at least two ways.

Seven standing ovations later, the St. Louis Beacon got a chance to talk to Jack Lane, the executive producer and co-founder with Michael Hamilton of Stages St. Louis, about Stages' new show, "Promises, Promises." Lane, a native New Yorker and former actor co-founded the nonprofit Stages in 1987. Growing from a budget of $50,000 to a $3.5 million budget now, Stages has blossomed into a mainstay of the local theater scene.

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