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Arts & Culture

Tour de 'Hoffmann'

May 25, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Both Sigmund Freud and his renegade apostle Carl Jung were drawn to the work of the Romantic genius E. T. A. Hoffmann, a legal scholar, composer, painter, poet and, well, a drunk. No surprise really these three men would find each other. The interests and concerns of Freud, Jung and Hoffmann, indeed their lives’ work, were parallel. The foundation of the industry of all three giants was built on journeys into the human unconscious and on examinations of fantasy and the ways in which the unconscious and fantasy manifest themselves in human behavior as well as in great human achievements such as art.

Jennifer Johnson mezzo soprano 300 pxls 2008
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre of St. Louis | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The sensation of a young singer stepping in for an established star -- a "Star is Born" moment -- is adding excitement to Opera Theatre of St. Louis' production of Offenbach's "The Tales of Hoffmann."

On Sat. night, May 24, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson, 23, steps into the dazzling role of Nicklausse, Hoffmann's great companion and muse in "The Tales of Hoffmann." In February she won the Metropolitan Opera National Council's annual auditions and for the next six weeks she is subbing for a resting mezzo soprano. The role has some of the opera's most beautiful arias.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Don't blame me, I voted for Sen. Palantine: We already knew he was influenced by "Star Wars" and "Rambo." Now, as reported on The Screengrab, a Columbia University economist writing in the Financial Times has constructed a Rube Goldberg-like string of events in which Ronald Reagan's economic policies of the 1980s were made possible by ... Travis Bickle. Coming soon: How Leslie Nielsen and Lloyd Bridges helped Reagan handle the flight controllers' strike.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: This year' 36th annual Gypsy Caravan marks a kind of homecoming for Belleville antiques dealers Al and Jeannine Meinen, as the giant Memorial Day crafts and antiques market returns to the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus after a seven-year hiatus.

"It's always a lot of fun," said Al Meinen, who with his wife, has sold vintage furniture and other primitives at 20 Gypsy Caravan events. "We certainly sell, but we're always buying too, always looking," he said. "And we love visiting with people from all over the country."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Robert Hunt, who is already firmly established as our most prolific correspondent, has been writing on film for nearly 30 years, appearing in an array of publications, both here and elsewhere. His lengthiest association was with the Riverfront Times, where he served as a film and DVD critic in the 1980s and '90s. Robert was also the manager of the Tivoli Theatre, curated (and self-financed) several excellent film series (I remember him manning the projector for a screening of "Mean Streets" in the late '70s at the First Unitarian Church), and was the first artistic director of the St. Louis Film Festival (before "International" was added to our name).

Left to right: Raphe Makarewicz, Cameron Davis and Andrew Borba, who plays the title character, will star in Shakespeare Festival St. Louis' production of Richard III in Forest Park. 2008 300 pxls
Provided by Shakespeare Festival | St. Louis Beacon archives

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: He's terrible, really. A horror. He's as twisted on the outside as he is on the inside. Born a younger son to an ambitious politician, he hacks his way into power using the joint weapons of deception and fear. He aligns himself with clever but amoral men who do his bidding. He undermines the state. He is a nightmare.

Russell Strom (left) and Scott Lowenbaum were married May 17 at Temple Israel.  300 pxls 2008
Richard Weiss | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A gay wedding in St. Louis is no longer an extraordinary affair. Though there is no official count, ministers and rabbis will tell you that dozens of gay weddings have been celebrated in churches and synagogues here in recent years.One took place on Saturday at Temple Israel when Scott Lowenbaum married Russell Strom.

Meredith, Cece and Justin Harris 300 px;s 2008
Provided by the Harris family | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Harris family has decided to move.

Justin and Meredith Harris and baby Cecilia are leaving New Orleans. They will soon put their dog into a rented truck with all their possessions and move from their traditional home in Uptown to a ranch house in Glendale in St. Louis County.

Photo of David MacRunnel 300 pxls 2008
Photo provided by David MacRunnel

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: It all started, this fascination with vinyl record albums, says David MacRunnel, back when he was 2 years old.

"My mother (Linda) used to force me to listen to records, her music, Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis, 24-7," says MacRunnel of Creve Coeur.

David MacRunnel
Provided by David MacRunnel

It all started, this fascination with vinyl record albums, says David MacRunnel, back when he was 2 years old.

"My mother (Linda) used to force me to listen to records, her music, Andy Williams and Johnny Mathis, 24-7," says MacRunnel of Creve Coeur.

A mere 14 years later, the sophomore at Parkway Central High School in Chesterfield, is two-racks deep in his personal vinyl collection. McRunnel is up to about 1,200 albums, he says, and he'll add more when he's got a little extra change.

Andrew Carroll
Provided by the publisher | 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Author Andrew Carroll believes America's warriors have plenty to say about their experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq -- and that no historian or journalist can tell their stories as well as they can.

Carroll is the editor of "Operation Homecoming" (Random House 2006), the well-received anthology of personal accounts of war gathered by the National Endowment for the Arts. A new paperback version of the book will be released on Memorial Day by the University of Chicago Press.

File photo

As the new superintendent of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, Tom Bradley had to hit the Arch grounds running -- learning the daily operations while tackling the question of whether and how to include the park in downtown St. Louis revitalization efforts.

On May 8, after just a week on the job, Bradley announced that the National Park Service will begin a public discussion on ways to reinvigorate the grounds of the 43-year-old Arch, as encouraged by the Danforth Foundation.

2008 photo of Andrew Carroll 300 pxls
Provided by Mr. Carroll

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Author Andrew Carroll believes America's warriors have plenty to say about their experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq -- and that no historian or journalist can tell their stories as well as they can.

Carroll is the editor of "Operation Homecoming" (Random House 2006), the well-received anthology of personal accounts of war gathered by the National Endowment for the Arts. A new paperback version of the book will be released on Memorial Day by the University of Chicago Press.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: As the new superintendent of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, Tom Bradley had to hit the Arch grounds running -- learning the daily operations while tackling the question of whether and how to include the park in downtown St. Louis revitalization efforts.

Play puts a human face on Darfur

May 15, 2008
Photo of Actress and choreographer Vivian Watt in "Complacency of Silence: Darfur." 2008 300 pxls
Provided bt Gitana Productions

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Cecilia Nadal, the founder of Gitana Productions, asked me to write a play about the genocide in Darfur. Many months later -- more than I care to count -- the play is finished and in rehearsals. What a journey between the asking and the actual production!

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: As Cardinal Edward Egan of New York approaches retirement, the names of two former St. Louis-area bishops are being bandied about as possible replacements. The first is Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, 60, the former bishop of Belleville who left in 2004. If Gregory were named, he would become the first African-American cardinal.

Another beloved former St. Louis region bishop is also being mentioned  -- Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, 58, who left St. Louis in 2002. For years, church leaders have expected this joyful priest to be named to an archdiocese where he would be named a cardinal.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Welcome to Cinema St. Louis' new blog, The Lens.

How a bishop is named

May 14, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Who knows the name of the next New York archbishop? The pope, if he has decided.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: There are good reasons to visit the new "Lee and Grant" exhibition at the Missouri History Museum, beyond the spectacular Civil War objects and artwork that will be on display, said museum president Robert Archibald.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When it was announced about a year ago that Scarlett Johansson was recording an album of Tom Waits songs, many commentators feigned a kind of exasperated surprise, as if the idea of an actress (or actor) taking a chance on a musical project was unknown. It’s not.

The Lens: Good Wood

May 14, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: An odd coupling from a late-’60s Allen TV special:

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Richard Jenkins is superb as the professor, though his "coming out" is slow and methodical. (And, to me at first, it seemed unlikely. Perhaps that is precisely the point.) He's also an appropriate actor for the piece as he had been a regular on "Six Feet Under." This guy's already there. He's robotic, though his default mode seems to be as a martinet. He treats a student's late paper with a cold dismissal. He has been given permission by the college to teach only one course while he works on his next book. It becomes clear, however, that he is not at work on anything.

The Lens: Twin Peeks

May 14, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Two things you will learn from the new documentary "Lynch," which plays May 23-25 at Webster University on a double bill with "Eraserhead":

The Lens: Dental Work

May 14, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Compared to the current flings with torture and Asian-influenced weirdness currently dominating the horror market, Mitchell Lichtenstein's "Teeth," recently released on video, could practically be described as charming and innocent, though its content, the story of a teenage girl who has an extra set of teeth in the wrong place, is anything but that.

Silent movies aren't

May 9, 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon:  Some people hate silent movies even more than subtitled foreign movies. The problem they have in common is the reading requirement. In a foreign movie, you can’t watch the action while you read the bottom of the screen. If they talk much or too fast, you know the translation will be simplistic and probably “cleaned up.”

Melissa (holding Ditto), Derek, David and Steve Squires have Mother's Day together.
Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Beacon | 2008

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - Staff Sgt. Melissa "Missy" Squires can look at her photos from Iraq now:

  • The dramatic pictures of her Missouri National Guard unit, the 203rd Engineer Battalion, Company B, digging through the rubble of the U.N. building after a terrorist attack in August 2003.
  • The dozens and dozens of pictures of life on base, her unit's construction projects and posing with friendly Iraqis.
  • The video clips of her convoy crawling through a congested Baghdad neighborhood searching for an alternate route home after reports that an IED was waiting for them somewhere on the roadside.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The National Park Service will consider improvements to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, including a design competition for the area and a better connection between the Memorial and downtown.

The St. Louis riverfront and Arch grounds could be transformed by the Arch's 50th birthday – Oct. 28, 2015 – by a major new cultural attraction.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The National Park Service will consider improvements to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, including recommendations by Walter Metcalfe, Peter Raven and Robert Archibald.

The Danforth Foundation is pleased that the National Park Service is initiating a public planning process that will consider improvements to the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. We appreciate the Park Service's responsiveness toward our report of last August and its hard work in moving the issue to this stage.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: 

Last summer, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay asked us to offer our counsel about how St. Louis can transform its Riverfront into a world-class destination for the people of our region and visitors.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Before Thursday morning, St. Louis civic leaders who have been actively promoting a revitalization of the St. Louis riverfront sat south of square one in the progress department, in a holding pattern, maintaining hope perhaps, but definitely sitting still. The sticking point was the reluctance of the National Park Service to consider any changes or alterations of the grounds of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the site of the Gateway Arch and the Old Courthouse to its east.

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