Arts & Culture | St. Louis Public Radio

Arts & Culture

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.

Learning about bonobos by meeting Lucy

Sep 17, 2008
Baby Lucy, a bonobo) is cradled by her mother, as sister Lexi looks on.
Photo by Marian Brickner | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 17, 2008 - Do you know what a bonobo is?

St. Louis photographer Marian Brickner says the 10 years she has invested in chronicling the endangered ape species will be worth it if more people are able to answer yes to that question.

"I simply wanted people to know they exist," said Brickner, a determined woman who has spent countless hours observing bonobos through her camera lens at the Jacksonville Zoo in Florida.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 25, 2008 - As the “The Dark Knight”  broke box office records, Heath Ledger, who played the Joker, is in the spotlight. We are once again reminded of the circumstances of his untimely death.

The Voyage of the ibelungen to Etzel (Der Nibelungen Fahrt zu Etzel), 1980–81; book of 22 double-page spreads of gelatin silver prints with gouache, oil and graphite mounted on cardboard
Provided by the St. Louis Art Museum

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 24, 2008 - One of the most fascinating works in The Immediate Touch is The Voyage of the Nibelungen to Etzel (1980-81), a book by Anselm Kiefer. It illustrates a story of murderous revenge from the medieval Song of the Nibelungen, using contemporary photographs of German landscapes and the interior of Kiefer's own studio.

Josh Peck plays Luke in 'The Wackness' 2008
Photos from Sony Pictures Classics

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 23, 2008 - The other day, I was trying to tell a couple of friends half my age when a certain event occurred and I said, "It wasn't that long ago, maybe in the '80s."

They looked at me oddly, and I realized that they had been children in the '80s and the decade was a long time ago indeed, for them if not for me. To put it in terms of the electronic revolution that so dominates our lives these days, I remember a time when nobody had a television; they could barely remember the days before everyone had a personal computer. My perspective inevitably means I will react differently from someone half my age to movies that focus on the recent past, particularly when the principal protagonist is a teenager.

Some collectors only go for one color or material; others embrace the variety available. The toothpick holders pictured here belong to the photographer's grandmother, Dorothy Korando.
Rachel Heidenry | The Beacon

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 23, 2008 -  They are miniature throwbacks to a bolder time, when the art of publicly poking the gums for a stray morsel of meat was no more indelicate than peppering a baked potato. From about 1880 to 1910, in fact, a pressed-glass or china toothpick holder was as much a fixture on the well-appointed Sunday dinner table as the family silver.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 22, 2008 -  Hey, kids! Let's put on a show. We can use the old barn out back! I've got a tent we can turn into a curtain, and a stack of old ABBA records, and ... I think we can get Meryl Streep!

Before I get ahead of myself ...

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 22, 2008-  In his new book, "Flash Frames," Don Marsh, host of KWMU's St. Louis on the Air, takes readers through his nearly 50 years of broadcast news experience, covering big stories from the hot days of the Cold War to the Midwest flood of '93.

Within four years of when he came on board with the American Forces Network in Germany in 1959, the Soviets constructed the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis put the world on the verge of nuclear warfare and President John F. Kennedy became the fourth U.S. president to die at the hands of an assassin.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 21, 2008 - Imagine that lightning struck your 135-year-old home last year, and it sustained heavy fire damage. Then imagine that you learned that because of unexpected complications, the extensive reconstruction could take up to two years.

How would you feel?

You are not likely to be as patient as the Rev. Matthew S. Bonk, a Redemptorist priest, does about St. Alphonsus Liguori "Rock" Catholic Church.

photo by Marc Thayer

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 21, 2008-  I realized yesterday that I take grass for granted. Everything is so dry and brown here, so dusty and hazy, that the few plants that grow have to be drowned daily. Houses have no grass,  just cement sidewalks and walls. Hotels have some green around them but they seem hardly worth the trouble.  Our hotel, the ChwarChra (Four Lanterns), has a nice green lawn in front where guests sit outside for dinner.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 20, 2008 - In St. Louis, thermometers soar to legendary heights during afternoon hours. But after sunset, breezes blow away sweat and pave the way to outdoor fun. As long as you lave yourself with bug spray, we invite you to enjoy the St. Louis Beacon's guide to cheap outdoor evening fun.

The Lens: Foreign exchange

Jul 18, 2008
Francois Cluzet
Music Box Films | Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 18, 2008 - Many reviews have noted with curiosity that the French film "Tell No One," which opens today at the Plaza Frontenac, is based on an American novel, as if it was some odd cross-cultural aberration: The Europeans are buying up everything!

I haven't read Harlan Coben's novel, but judging from the film, I assume it's the kind of mainstream thriller that people refer to when they use "bestseller" as a generic term, the sort of novel that gets turned into a Lifetime movie of the week or - if the author's extremely lucky - an off-season Ashley Judd vehicle. This kind of generic man-in-peril story, heavy on plot twists and sudden turns of fate, would play the same in any Western setting.

Ice cream gets its day

Jul 17, 2008
Photo by Rachel Heidenry | The Beacon

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 17, 2008-

Chocolaty and lemony;
Vanilla-y and raisin-y,
Marshmallow-y; rum butter-y,
So good, it's almost scary-y.

Cherry-y; peach cobbler-y,
Hot fudge-y and blackberry-y,
I'd love to hold it longingly,
If it wasn't so darn melty-y.

Banana-y and almond-y,
Fudge Ripple-y; strawberry-y,
There's nothing quite so yummerly,
As ice cream in your tummerly.

— Bill Smith

Movie review: The doctor is in

Jul 17, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 17, 2008 - Alex Gibney’s “Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson,” now playing at the Tivoli, provides an insightful biography of Thompson, author of “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72” and other treasures of American journalism. For baby boomers, it offers superb time travel through the tumultuous years of our coming of age. Younger viewers may glean new insights about their elders – and about a unique journalist who changed the course of American history. To all, it is highly recommended.

The Lens: Celebrating Stanley

Jul 17, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: July 17, 2008 - As I've noted, Britain's Channel 4 is offering a nearly complete retrospective of Stanley Kubrick's films.

They're even including two relatively rare oddities, “Flying Padre”  and “Day of the Fight,” (part 1 and part 2 ) though not this one.

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.

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