Arts & Culture

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.

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.

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.

’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.

Val Safron, who shared the stage with the likes of Tallulah Bankhead and whose acting credits included the 1990 Disney Channel movie, "Back to Hannibal: The Return of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn," died of pneumonia on July 13 at Mother of Good Counsel Home. She was 90 and had lived in University City and Richmond Heights for many years.

A memorial Mass for Mrs. Safron will be celebrated on Friday at St. Roch Catholic Church.

Casey McCausland sees his work on the Soldiers Memorial as a way of giving back.
Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon | 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - When Casey McCausland was in second grade, he was told to draw what he wanted to be when he grew up. While most of his classmates turned in pictures of rock stars, doctors and firemen, McCausland submitted a picture of a helicopter hovering over a battlefield. The picture was very vivid. McCausland had drawn bombs exploding and a helicopter struggling to stay in the air. Amid the chaos, a soldier dangled from a rope attached to the helicopter, coming to save the day.

The plants around the World War II statue reflect the colors of the flag. Soldiers memorial
Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon | 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Casey McCausland and the Mission Continues aren't the only ones helping the Soldiers Memorial . With virtually no funding from the city or state, an army of volunteers -- not all military -- maintain and improve the memorial and its garden.

"We've had so many people involved," said master gardener Martha Conzelman.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: On Sept. 29, 1963 -- "Stan Musial Day" in St. Louis -- 27,576 fans rose to their feet as the 42-year-old Cardinals great was driven around the field seated on the back of a convertible. Team owner August "Gussie" Busch Jr. spoke on behalf of the loyal legions at Busch Stadium that Sunday afternoon and for the countless thousands watching the pre-game retirement ceremonies on live TV at home.

"We wish you could go on forever," Busch said.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When two gangs of African-American girls began fighting in the halls of Kirkwood High School this spring, Robyn Jordan, Monica Gibbs and a group of their high-achieving African-American friends got fed up. They organized to combat racial stereotypes and visited middle schools to urge girls to avoid fights when they get to high school.

Jordan and Gibbs found themselves dealing with negative stereotypes among some teachers and other students even as they wrestle with what it takes for an African-American student to achieve in a predominantly white school in a predominantly white town where they feel as though they are expected to fail.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Bernard "Bernie" Lipnick prepared well to become a rabbi, a role he actively served in for four decades at Congregation B'nai Amoona. But being a pulpit rabbi was never his goal.

"I became a rabbi - that was my title - but I didn't want to do rabbinic work," he told the St. Louis Jewish Light in 2008. "What I wanted to do was Jewish education."

A civil-rights bridge with Obama's visit

Mar 10, 2010

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Tonight Sister Antona Ebo will deliver the invocation at the fundraising dinner at which President Barack Obama will be guest of honor. Forty-Five years ago to the day, she was part of a group of St. Louisans who went to Selma, Ala., in reaction to "Bloody Sunday," three days before on March 7, 1965.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Kennedy Center awards have been handed out and the concert celebrating the gifts the award winners have given to America will be shown in a two-hour prime-time special at 8 p.m., Dec. 29 on CBS.

One of Sumner High School's gifts to the world will stand center stage with rock star Bruce Springsteen; actor Robert De Niro; comedian, writer and producer Mel Brooks; and jazz pianist Dave Brubeck.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: During an interview with the Beacon last summer, noted civil rights lawyer Frankie Freeman said she was ready to wind down, take life easy after more than a half century of civil rights work and public and private appointments. But duty has called once again, and she couldn't say no. She seldom can when the issue involves education and city schools.

Elsie Roth shows off a book that describes her father's heroism during World War I, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.
Mary Delach Leonard | 2009 St. Louis Beacon photo

If you visit the National Museum of American Jewish Military History in Washington this Veterans Day, chances are you will not see the Distinguished Service Cross awarded to Army Sgt. William Shemin for heroism in France during World War I.

Shemin was awarded the medal -- the nation's second-highest military decoration -- for leaping from a trench into heavy machine gun and rifle fire to carry three wounded comrades to safety.

Vito Comporato, right, and another worker during the construction of the Gateway Arch.
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Archives

On the morning of Oct. 28, 1965, ironworker Vito Comporato peered down from atop the Gateway Arch and watched what looked like hundreds of ants gathering on the riverfront 630 feet below.

There were Boy Scout ants with American flags and busloads of the city's schoolchildren ants.

The mayor ant was down there, too, probably with the rest of the VIP ants on a dignitary platform the size of a twig.

Bernar Venet, 2 Arcs x 4, 230.5 Degree Arc x 5. The pink sign on the recent photo The safety of children who come to Citygarden is the sole responsibility of their caregivers. Playing in or near or on sculpture is inherently dangerous.
Rachel Heidenry and Donna Korando

Philanthropist M. Peter Fischer didn't mince words at the St. Louis Award ceremony Thursday. Do the Gateway Mall right, he said, and keep the hands of commercial developers and politicians off it.

Fischer, who is the 82nd person to receive the award, is known for elusiveness rather than garrulousness. It was a surprise to many that he was willing not only to accept the St. Louis Award for his philanthropy but also that he was also going to receive it in a public ceremony.

Streetcar "car-card" advertisement
Provided by Tower Grove Park

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Visitors won't be coming on streetcars to see the lily ponds in bloom as they once did -- note the "car card" advertisement above that would have been posted on the interior of a United Railways Co. streetcar. And more than likely, you won't see women in long dresses holding parasols and men in Victorian suits standing on lily pads.

But what you will find these days in the middle of historic Tower Grove Park are the same three lily ponds, newly revived after a $400,000-plus renovation. And they are looking as they did nearly a century ago when people rode streetcars to see them in full bloom, and some did pose for pictures standing on lily pads.

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