Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

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.

Pulitzer Foundation brings Herndon-Consagra on board

Jul 15, 2008
Photo by Kendra Paredes Hayden

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 15, 2008 - The move’s a short one in terms of geography – about three and a quarter miles as the crow flies. But Francesca Herndon-Consagra’s career move from the St. Louis Art Museum is a big one not only for one of the region’s most creative and capable art historians and curators but also for the forward motion of the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.

Stray Rescue is one lucky pup

Jul 15, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 15, 2008 - Randy Grim has long considered himself an underdog. But he and Quentin -- a basenji and pit-bull mix that Grim rescued from a gas chamber -- along with Grim's other rescued pets seem to have pawed their way to the top.

In May, Grim and his animal shelter Stray Rescue beat about 1,000 entries to become the first winners of zootoo.com 's National Shelter Makeover contest, winning $1 million.

Josephine Baker honored with stamp

Jul 15, 2008
postage stamp honoring Josephine Baker. 2008. 300 pixels
Provided by the Postal Service

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 15, 2008 - On July 2 1917, 11-year-old Freda Josephine McDonald witnessed the horrors of the East St. Louis race riots.

As reported in Harper Barnes' book, "Never Been a Time," her brother Richard asked, "Is there a storm coming, Mama?"

"No, not a storm, child, it's the whites." 

Chess club makes bold move into West End quarters

Jul 15, 2008
Tony Rich at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis. 2008. 300 pixels
Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 15, 2008 - One good lesson Tony Rich learned at St. John Vianney School was patience. Although the lives of saints might have been part of his studies at Vianney, it was not the patience of someone such as St. Francis de Sales that taught the boy the value of patience. Both of Tony's parents worked, so between the time the final bell rang and their arrival he had three hours or so to kill. Many days those three hours were spent playing chess.

"Chess filled the void," he said.

mountain300picnic.jpg
Photos by Marc Thayer

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 11, 2008 - It’s 1 a.m. Monday now, and I’m just getting to a computer, finally -- but I'm at Bzhwen's house this time. He and his sister were playing Kurdish musicfor me. They gave me a book of folk songs for violin and piano. They also gave me my first lesson on a Kurdish scale called rast and taught me how to play the quartertones in that particular scale. The music is really beautiful.

The Lens: Conflict irresolution

Jul 11, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 11, 2008 - I've watched "War, Inc." twice and I'm still not sure what to think about it.

Yes, it's funny in spots, and the filmmakers are certainly acting with the best good intentions. Besides being a fine actor, John Cusack - who produced and co-wrote the film - has written many eloquent and thoughtful pieces on the Huffington Post and elsewhere expressing his objection to the war in Iraq. And "Con Air" notwithstanding, there is no reason to doubt his sincerity or his taste in choosing movie projects.

No horsing around

Jul 10, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 10, 2008 - To hear Carlos Brito tell his story, St. Louis has nothing to worry about should InBev buy Anheuser-Busch. Why would InBev want to "lose the local touch?" he said. And, Brito adds, "Why would I change the Clydesdales if the Clydesdales are the thing that most people remember?"

Hostile InBev takeover could play out in the mail

Jul 10, 2008
anheuser busch eagle.  300 pixels. 2008
Tom Nagel | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 10, 2008 - The next big winner in the battle between Anheuser-Busch and InBev could be the Postal Service. Phone companies and express-mail companies could do nicely, too.

It all depends on how long the companies continue to call each other's increasingly expensive bluffs based on Anheuser-Busch's recent rejection of the Belgian brewer's $65-a-share takeover offer, which InBev still touts as friendly.

Bastille Day marked in Soulard, Maplewood

Jul 10, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 10, 2008 - There may be no infamous French prison to storm, but that doesn't mean cities in the St. Louis area won't be marking the 219th Bastille Day.

Celebrations in and near the Soulard neighborhood and in Maplewood are just some of the events honoring the start of the French Revolution nationally and internationally.

The Lens: Life in the cloistered age

Jul 10, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 10, 2008 - The Internet as workplace, library, and moving-image content provider. The DVD paired with the oversized TV screen. Escalating crime on the streets, global warming, and now the outrageous oil price-gouging and the overall inflation that follows. All of these have left us hopelessly cloistered in our ever-more-secure home places. A large and fast-growing percentage of our population essentially has no good reason to venture from their locked and burglar-protected domiciles. As a matter of fact, the more we stay inside, the less we have to worry about an invasion of our chosen place of isolation.

St. Louis tradition: The Muny

Jul 9, 2008
muny300ticketwindows 2008
Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 9, 2008 - Terry Baer remembers the Muny of his childhood as a social hotspot -- where stars came to sing and dance and St. Louisans came to be seen, where headliners frequented lavish cast parties and theatergoers donned their best.

"It was a big occasion to go to the Muny," Baer said. "Even in horrendous heat, people got dressed up. I remember sitting on the most hot, humid nights in a sport coat and slacks."

The Lens: Bruce Conner, 1933-2008

Jul 8, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 8, 2008 - Bruce Conner, whose assemblages of found footage, end-rolls and other cinematic detritus made him one of the central figures of experimental/ underground film in the 1960s, has died at the age of 74.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 8, 2008 - It's something like an announcement of the engagement of two distant cousins, this news of Wachovia Securities' financial support of the St. Louis Symphony.

Both parties enjoy prominent positions in the St. Louis commercial, cultural and social scenes. Their ancestors established deep and consequential roots in the life of the community and have added, in various ways, to the wealth and well-being of the region.

The Lens: Mr. Bond's wonder emporium

Jul 7, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 7, 2008 - I feel like the kid who pointed out that the emperor was naked, but now that the trailer for the next James Bond movie has been released - you can watch it here - there's something that needs to be addressed.

Taggers have found the "welcome mat" St. Louis has put out along Delmar. 300 pixels. 2008
Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 7, 2008 - Graffiti may be preserved in places like Pompeii. But many in St. Louis look at the initials and scrawls that spray painters swirl on public and private property as a nuisance that needs to be cleaned up, and cleaned up quickly.

Others, however have tried to give graffiti a legitimate place in the art world and say it adds to the area's culture and is misunderstood.

Ambassadors of Harmony 2008  300 pixels
St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 7, 2008 - The Ambassadors of Harmony placed second at the Barbershop Harmony Society's international competition in Nashville on July 4. The chorus, with a score of 94.7 out of a possible 100, finished three tenths of a point behind the Masters of Harmony chorus.

kurdish300iraq.jpg
Photos from the author

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 5, 2008 - I'm very happy to be writing to you from the Hotel Shahram in Suleimanya in northeast Iraq, very near the Iranian border.

After repacking 27 boxes of donated music and books in Chicago into 16 larger boxes, I met Carole McCann at O'Hare Airport and delivered the boxes to Austrian Airlines, which sponsored our travel to Erbil. Carol is a theater coach from Houston who will be working with the children's groups. She was here last year as well.

Rainy weather didn't stop the members of the Helfenstein Avenue Lawn Chair Drill Team from practicing on July 3. 300 pixels. 2008
Amanda King | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 5, 2008 - Lawn chairs play a part in almost every summer tradition. After being picked out of a dusty garage and jammed into a car trunk, these chairs make it to all kinds of vacation destinations: campgrounds, fireworks displays and parades. But their primary utility, that of holding up one’s derriere, has led most St. Louisans to overlook the endless possibilities the chair holds within its aluminum frame.

The Lens: Restoring the future

Jul 3, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 3, 2008 - Truly amazing news from Germany's Die Zeit, by way of the invaluable GreenCine Daily :

A museum in Buenos Aires has reportedly discovered one of the most sought-after treasures of film history, an uncut print of Fritz Lang's 1927 masterpiece "Metropolis" in the original 210-minute version, unseen since its premiere.

The Lens: Maundy, Maundy

Jul 2, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 2, 2008 - Never one to think small, Peter Greenaway's latest multimedia project has recruited (some would say hijacked) a big-name collaborator: Leonardo da Vinci.

Taking music from St. Louis to Iraq

Jun 30, 2008
Thayer (in blue shirt) worked with accomplished musicians in Iraq last year and is on his way back. 300 pixels. 2008
Provided by Marc Thayer | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 30, 2008 - Music is the transportation that Marc C. Thayer’s taking to get from St. Louis to northern Iraq.

Most of the time, Thayer is the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s vice president for education and community partnerships  and his usual circuit is around Powell Hall in Grand Center or 10 or 20 miles or so from it. But for two years now, Thayer has worked in the Kurdish Autonomous Region of northern Iraq. On July 1, he takes off on his journey, making stops in Chicago and Vienna before arriving in Erbil on Friday.

With the overlook stage still covered June 27, it's clear that Fair St. Louis had to move from the riverfront. 300 pixels. 2008
Rachel Heidenry | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 30, 2008, New material added, 2 p.m., July 2 -- Even as she watched the muddy Mississippi creep higher and higher up the cobblestone levee, Missy Slay remained convinced that the river was not going to dampen the city's huge Fourth of July bash.

Collecting in the Heartland: Patriotic postcards

Jun 29, 2008
4thcollector300.jpg
Bill Smith | The Beacon

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 29, 2008 - They are some of the most elaborate and beautiful of all the early postcards.

Commentary: Letter from South Africa

Jun 27, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 27, 2008 - Dear Friends in St. Louis and Readers of the St. Louis Beacon:

I have been in South Africa as a Fulbright Senior Specialist consulting with the University of Kwa ZuluNatal (UKZN) law faculty regarding the development of its dispute resolution curriculum. It's actually going to be very helpful to me in my new assignment to build a dispute resolution program for the Law School at Washington University.

Mike Zito comes home

Jun 27, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 27, 2008 - When blues-rock guitarist and bandleader Mike Zito lived in St. Louis, he could be found playing all over town just about every night of the week.

"We played everywhere," says Zito, who in recent years has relocated to Southeast Texas. "Boomers, Pop's, the 1860, both Train Wrecks, on the landing and in Westport. More than anything, I just wanted to play guitar as much as possible. Luckily, St. Louis is one of those places where you can play music and make a living. You can't do that everywhere."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 26, 2008 - It won't be the rain that brings out the rainbows this weekend as the region's 29th PrideFest gets underway.

Organizers and businesses in the South Grand area say this year will be the biggest festival in the event's history despite some money issues. With new entertainment, booths and the longest parade in Pridefest history, they hope to bring out not just gays and lesbians but "everybody."

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