Arts & Culture

Parallelogram

Dec 2, 2010

Red-winged blackbirds flock together in Southern Illinois. Photo by Mike Matney on Flickr.

Join the St. Louis Public Radio Flickr group. Each week we select a photo to feature on our Web site and to highlight in the Flickr group. We also select a photo of the year from the winning weekly photos.

(Flickr Creative Commons User destroyphotography)

As reported by the Riverfront Times today, musical festival "LouFest" has announced that it will return next year. 

No headlining acts have been announced yet, but a new website was launched today for the event.

The Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis says a member recently received a threatening call from a man upset over recent shootings in California that authorities say were carried out by a Muslim couple.
Courtesy Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - Imam Samuel Ansari is from St. Louis. Anjum Shariff, born in India, grew up here, too. Melissa Matos, born in New York and raised in Miami, came to St. Louis a few years ago. Imam Muhamed Hasic arrived here from Bosnia 14 years ago. Twenty years ago, Gulten Ilhan, from Turkey, came to St. Louis. And in 1970, Mir Asif, from India, made the Gateway City his home.

One word describes all of them -- Muslims.

Award-winning novelist and former St. Louisan Jonathan Franzen is a hot topic in the media world — again.

Christine Brewer
Christian Steiner

Christine Brewer is a woman of extraordinary talent and artistic gumption, and in recent years has emerged as one of the most highly regarded sopranos in all the world.

At the beginning of the month, a report came out from the Pew Hispanic Center reporting that illegal immigration into the country had declined "sharply since mid-decade."

According to the study, which used U.S. Census Bureau data, the number of undocumented immigrants in the country dropped 8 percent, from 12 million in March 2007 to 11.1 million in March 2009. 

Kelley Johnson's show, "Recent Paintings," at Bruno David Gallery, offers a dizzying looking into spaces, both deep and shallow, punctuated by gnarled abstract structures that teeter on the brink of collapse. Johnson's forceful, confident handling of the paint demands your full attention, and rewards you with a serious case of vertigo.

The 10 canvases in this show come in two sizes, medium and large; but within those dimensional confines Johnson produces an astonishing array of formal effects.

The death of Claude Chabrol this weekend provides further proof that the masters of the Nouvelle Vague, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year (depending on how you determine its origin), are all in their sunset years even as their films, new and old, continue to shine.

Capt. Steve Mossotti of the Mehlville Fire Department
Mary Delach Leonard | 2010 St. Louis Beacon photo

St. Louis veterans joined with area residents Saturday morning to honor and remember the victims and heroes of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks during a reflective walk and patriotic ceremony at Jefferson Barracks Park.

Charlotte Ward among the planters
Provided by the Wards

Charlotte had been a banking and real estate lawyer whose true love was gardens and English style ornaments. Daniel had been a leather maker, director of perennials and horticulture before deciding he was going to concoct a limestone hardy enough to withstand all that nature could deliver.

The “Gorky Park” series gave Martin Cruz Smith the “overnight success” label that's reserved for those who have been toiling in his field for years. “Gorky Park,” which the author sold for $1 million in 1981, was called by Time magazine the “thriller of the ’80s,” and was made into a successful movie two years later.

Smith will discuss and sign his new novel, “Three Stations,” at St. Louis County Library Headquarters on Sept. 13. This is the latest in the heralded series of seven murder mysteries that feature Senior Investigator Arkady Renko of Moscow.

Finally, some encouraging news. While wading through the seemingly endless litany of wars going badly, economies gone south, broken dreams, busted marriages and what Charles Bukowski once called “the routine tales of ordinary madness,” I came across a glimmer of hope, thanks to a report published by Time/CNN. Turns out drinkers — even heavy drinkers — tend to outlive their teetotaling counterparts.

I’ve made it my personal business in the past year or so to introduce some of my students at Washington U. as well as some St. Louis County friends to the terra incognita that stretches east from Skinker Boulevard to the Mississippi River and beyond. Delight in cycling enlivens these adventures, but some pedagogical wheels are spinning too, responding to students’ and acquaintances’ lack of awareness of the deep and wide resources of the city of St. Louis.

Breathless stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg.
Screen shot | Wikipedia

"Breathless," the iconic French New Wave movie from 1960, is being re-released in an impeccable new print, and it opens Friday, Sept. 10, at the Tivoli. In part homage to the low-budget American crime movies that flooded Europe after World War II, in part a brilliant exercise in stylistic innovation, the movie remains a landmark of 20th century cinema.

For time immemorial, theatrical renderings of adolescent angst have revolved around typical themes of boy-meets-girl, or occasionally, boy-meets-boy or girl-meets-girl.

But boy-meets-horse? Though the premise is a rarity, the play’s not exactly new. “Equus,” first produced in 1973 and presented by St. Louis’ HotCity Theatre Sept. 10-25, tells the story of 17-year-old Alan Strang (Drew Pannebecker) and his sexual and religious preoccupation with horses.

A crazy thing happened last week. A friend of mine, chief executive of Nurses for Newborns Foundation, posted a Facebook status noting that their diaper reserves had been reduced to zero. For those who are not familiar with Facebook, the "Status" is a line of text at the top of your profile that some update more than others and people use to convey everything from the weather to how they are feeling to true confessions. When you log in to Facebook, the home page displays status updates and other postings from your circle of friends in chronological order.

Just this past week I finally got to Frontenac Plaza to see “Winter’s Bone.” A friend had urged it on me a month ago. I’m sorry I put it off, but relieved that Frontenac’s policy is to hold over remarkable films so long. If you’ve seen it yourself, or read Harper Barnes’ splendid June review , you know (I trust) what a fine drama it is, and what remarkable performances are in it.

Debbie Lum will visit her native St. Louis later this month on an interesting errand. Originally, she was set to arrive, purely to celebrate her mother’s 70th birthday. That aspect of the trip is still alive, but a few wrinkles have been added onto the itinerary of the San Francisco-based video editor and filmmaker.

Last week I was frustrated trying to bring the news to as many people as possible. In preparing coverage for the upcoming election, I kept running into unexpected problems.

Despite all of our modern conveniences and all of our carefully thought out philosophies and all of our civilized contrivances ... our clothes and cars and technology ... we are, in the end, mammals. It's a fact we seem to forget.

Among the most significant impacts of civilization on our animal existence is that we have become freakishly sedentary. No other animal sits around us much as we do.

(Even the incredibly slow moving sloth is strong enough to hang from tree limbs for an entire lifetime, so don't even go there.)

Half the Fun.

Getting there that is. This implies that being there is the other half. Two halves make one. What about planning and getting ready? That's a lot of fun, too. So the end result is better than 100 percent.

I like that and my right brain looks for that kind of solution. If it were math, maybe it'd qualify to be called "an elegant solution." Well, maybe a little brother of one.

Unlike some major movie stars of today, George Clooney is not reluctant to take on roles that don't always reflect the best in human nature. In "The American," Clooney plays Jack, a high-priced assassin who works in Europe. Jack knows that the rules of his profession don't permit sentimentality or mercy, and, in the taut opening scene of the movie, set in deep snow in the beautiful Swedish wood, he acts accordingly. The scene, with cold and ruthless efficiency, sets up the rest of the movie, both its tone and its tale.

Francesca Williams and sculptor Don Wiegand stand before a shrouded mockup of the proposed statue of Tennessee Williams.
Sheila Rhodes

When Francesca Williams put on scuba gear for her first lesson on Saturday, Aug. 14, she was on the 37th day of an attempt to do 50 new things in 50 days to celebrate her 50th birthday on Aug. 28.

50 by 50

Since she kicked off her 50-things marathon on July 10, Francesca Williams had already tried shooting a hand gun, flying in a glider, getting ordained as a minister, writing 50 haikus in a day, attending a strip club, eating a fried Twinkie and spending the day at a nudist resort.

Pamela Vanegas and Manuel Torres discuss civics in their final study session before the 81-year-old takes his citizenship test.
Kristen Hare | St. Louis Beacon | 2010

They sit across from each other at the table. She asks questions. He answers them.

"OK, please stand up," Pamela Vanegas says, and Manuel Torres does. "What did I ask you to do."

"To stand up."

"OK, please raise your right hand."

He does.

"Do you swear to tell the truth today?"

"Yes," he says with feeling, then sits down.

James Cameron's To-Do List

____ 1. December 2009. Release "Avatar" in theaters. Make quadrozillion dollars.

(Note: Whine loudly when Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" pushes it off screens three months later.Those are my theaters, Tim!)

Almost everyone knows of renowned author Samuel Clemens -- especially here in Missouri, where we're proud to call Hannibal his home.

But the life of the man whose pen name was Mark Twain is far from an open book.

For example, few people realize that a chance meeting in his early 20s with a young girl may have sparked and sustained his writing career and provided the inspiration for the character of Becky Thatcher in his most famous novel, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer."

Liberty Bell of the West on Kaskaskia Island
Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon | file photo

Several floods have scarred the Kaskaskia Island, the most recent being the Great Flood of 1993. After that, Illinois prohibited residents from moving back unless more than 51 percent of their home remained standing. And current building codes virtually prohibit new construction.

Kaskaskia Island was created by flooding. Originally not an island at all and on the east bank of the Mississippi River, the town was settled by French fur traders in 1686 just south of Ste. Genevieve. It was an administrative center for the area and became the first capital of Illinois.

St. Louisan Big George Brock has performed at past Bluesweek festivals.
File Photo | Bluesweek

The history of St. Louis blues festivals -- like the lengthy, proud tradition of St. Louis blues music -- is a story that can be confusing. It's also a story that has plenty of different perspectives and fascinating characters, just like many of the famous blues songs born here on the banks of the Mississippi.

Cecilia Nadal (standing at right in green) talks with Yanith Carranza (left) and Elizabeth Morales in Amherst Park after the unity concert. Morales came from the Festival of Nations in Tower Grove Park.
Robert Joiner | St. Louis Beacon file folder

Karen Cox Miller seldom thought much about the growing presence of foreigners in the Alpha Garden and Alpha Village apartment complexes a couple of blocks west of her home near Hodiamont Avenue and Skinker Boulevard.

On Sunday, however, she decided to get to know some of the new arrivals by attending the neighborhood's first Amherst Park Concert for Unity, which sought to build better relations between African Americans like herself and immigrants.

The three works in Exposure 13 at UMSL's Gallery 210 are decidedly minimal in style and scale, though not in content. This is a good thing, give that they are exhibited in Gallery B, the smaller of the spaces at 210.

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