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THE LEDE

PHOTO BY THEO WELLING

Eleanor Kurtz: “You gotta look out — if you come into a place like this, you might actually get talked to.” Rev McFarland: “Right! You might actually have to have a conversation!” PHOTOGRAPHED OUTSIDE OF MCFARLAND’S ELEMENTS OF DESIGN STUDIO IN MAPLEWOOD ON MARCH 9 riverfronttimes.com

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Publisher Chris Keating Editor in Chief Sarah Fenske

E D I T O R I A L Arts & Culture Editor Paul Friswold Music Editor Daniel Hill Digital Editor Jaime Lees Staff Writers Doyle Murphy, Danny Wicentowski Restaurant Critic Cheryl Baehr Film Critic Robert Hunt Columnist Ray Hartmann Contributing Writers Mike Appelstein, Allison Babka, Thomas Crone, Jenn DeRose, Mike Fitzgerald, Sara Graham, MaryAnn Johanson, Roy Kasten, Jaime Lees, Joseph Hess, Kevin Korinek, Bob McMahon, Lauren Milford, Nicholas Phillips, Tef Poe, Christian Schaeffer Proofreader Evie Hemphill Editorial Interns Ryan Gines, Chelsea Neuling, Benjamin Simon

COVER No Place Like Home After the eviction of an East St. Louis homeless camp, the ‘houseless’ are looking for a room of their own

A R T Art Director Evan Sult Contributing Photographers Tim Lane, Monica Mileur, Zia Nizami, Andy Paulissen, Nick Schnelle, Mabel Suen, Micah Usher, Theo Welling, Jen West, Corey Woodruff P R O D U C T I O N Production Manager Jack Beil

Cover design by

EVAN SULT

M U L T I M E D I A A D V E R T I S I N G Sales Director Colin Bell Senior Account Executive Cathleen Criswell, Erica Kenney Account Managers Emily Fear, Jennifer Samuel Multimedia Account Executive Michael Gaines, Drew Halliday, Jackie Mundy

Cover photos by

DOYLE MURPHY

C I R C U L A T I O N Circulation Manager Kevin G. Powers

INSIDE The Lede Hartmann

Better Together’s big bureaucracy

News Feature Calendar Film

Captain Marvel | Yardie

Stage

La Cage aux Folles

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E U C L I D M E D I A G R O U P Chief Executive Officer Andrew Zelman Chief Operating Officers Chris Keating, Michael Wagner VP of Digital Services Stacy Volhein Creative Director Tom Carlson www.euclidmediagroup.com

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N A T I O N A L A D V E R T I S I N G VMG Advertising 1-888-278-9866, vmgadvertising.com

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Music & Culture

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Han Lao

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HARTMANN Show Me the Money Forget the rosy projections. Better Together has absolutely zero facts to back up its most important claims BY RAY HARTMANN

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o you believe in the benefits of big bureaucracies This uestion goes to the essence of whether the new metro city proposed by Better Together might live up to the group’s eye-popping claim — unveiled February 19 — that more than $ .9 billion can be cut from government budgets in the city and county over the ne t decade. To me, the reasons to oppose

the Better Together plan if and when it arrives on the ovember 2020 statewide ballot have nothing to do with dollars. t’s oppressive to have our local governance dismantled by state residents who don’t live here. t’s chilling to consider how much damage will be done to the influence of the black community. t’s cruel to emasculate proud cities, large and small, that have in some cases flourished for centuries. Then there’s the hubris in dismissing as unacceptable an earnings ta approved by 72 percent of city voters. Hidden agendas abound. But let’s also accept that the status uo is broken. The city is crime-ridden and financially in peril. The county is plagued with balkanization and, like the city, is stagnant and governmentally challenged. And hey, $ .9 billion isn’t chump change. That’s definitely end-justifies-the-means money. t’s certainly worth a look. spent an hour by phone last

week with Dave Leipholtz, BT’s director of community-based studies, and some members of his team. The BT staff was accessible and professional, with none of the dismissiveness that has characterized some of BT’s public posture. But here’s what found They just don’t have the goods. There are no facts whatsoever to support the notion that forming the proposed metro city will cut government costs at all, much less save billions and billions. BT is basing its projections on assumptions, not facts. Those assumptions are derived from the predictions of city and county budget o cials who, even setting aside biases and even respecting e pertise, have produced nothing more compelling than assigning an arbitrary alleged-savings factor of one percent — that would be an arbitrary three percent, less two percent for inflation — and to present it as financial analysis. BT o cials believe it’s just com-

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mon sense that if you take a city o ce that’s performing a function and combine it with a county o ce that’s performing the same function, it only stands to reason that some overlapping costs will be eliminated, some management will become e pendable and some e ciencies of scale will be realized. As the rural Missourians upon whose votes BT is counting might say, that dog won’t hunt. They might as well replace the $ .7 billion number with $ .7 trillion. Like the earlier claim that a new Metro St. Louis would magically be the size of Dallas, it’s just a string of words with no meaning. sing real numbers, not assumptions, a wide range of academics have studied this very topic. Here’s what niversity of llinois scholar Megan C. uhlenschmidt concluded in 2015 after an e tensive review of real-world consolidation efforts Structural consolidation is

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HARTMANN

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often proposed as a uick fi when in fact it often has weaker outcomes than advertised. The premise that a larger number of local governments is inherently bad and will result in increased ta payer e pense, lack of e ciency, or lack of responsiveness is not supported by available research on the issue.” There’s a lot more data where this came from. et when asked BT’s folks about the numerous scholarly works that directly contradict their assumptions, they didn’t counter with fact-based research of their own. Rather, they argued simply that none of that applies because St. Louis is attempting something so much bigger than anyone else has ever tried. n other words, trust us. don’t. Even if we accept the premise of dispensing with actual facts and work with our guts, here’s what mine says Big bureaucracies are inherently less e cient and accountable than little ones. t is counterintuitive to assume, as BT does, that if you combine governmental agencies, they’ll streamline themselves into more well-oiled machines. That’s just not how they roll. Some of BT’s anticipated savings would come from eliminating the city o ces that e ist as a conse uence of its absurd dual status as a city and a county. That’s something some of us have long advocated eliminating by having the city re-enter the county as one of its municipalities. ou wouldn’t need a megamerger to achieve it. But even here, caution is advisable. Merging agencies doesn’t change the amount of services that must be delivered. ou can combine the city and county medical-e aminer o ces, for e ample, but you’re still e amining the same number of dead bodies. To me, though, the most revealing hole in BT’s savings claim is this They could not, when asked, provide a single, solitary specific financial fact regarding the centerpiece of their overall plan combining all of the area’s police departments into one. They cannot or will not say how many police o cers’ positions, nor even how many precincts, would e ist after the merger. t’s all gray matter, presumably to be decided by the citizenry down the road.

That doesn’t work. hich police department do you think serves its citizens best right now irkwood or the city Clayton or the city Florissant or the city ou’d be hard-pressed to find many folks who would say that the hulking, scandal-ridden St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is the winner. So, do you think a still larger bureaucracy — with no provision for a civilian review board, by the way — is the answer don’t. also believe the ginormous department would almost undoubtedly cost more money, not save it. Either the salary-and-benefit-and-trainingand-e uipment standards of the top departments (say that of St. Louis County Police) would apply to all o cers (the logical choice) or the area’s best-compensatedand-supported police would take a huge collective haircut. ot a great plan. Are there too many small police departments in the county right now es. Should some be eliminated because they’re unable to provide enough resources to pay and train and e uip o cers ade uately es. But those issues can be addressed within the e isting mechanisms of county government, if there’s political will. othing about forming a mega-city will inherently accomplish that. Cooperation and consolidation are two very different things. n policing, area agencies already collaborate with the Major Case S uad, the criminal-justice database RE S and areawide 911. At one point in history, such collaboration didn’t e ist, but functions were merged without major governmental surgery. The notion of completely reinventing policing in St. Louis is just one piece of BT’s puzzle, but for now, it serves as the most compelling proof that the plan is hopelessly flawed. St. Louis can achieve far more progress by having its e isting cities and counties work together better. ot by being slammed together, against the will of the people. Bigger isn’t necessarily better when it comes to government. And facts beat fiction every time. n Ray Hartmann founded the Riverfront Times in 1977 and recently made his triumphant return to these pages as a columnist. Contact him at rhartmann@ sbcglobal.net or follow him on Twitter at @rayhartmann.


NEWS

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A City Divided in Thirds Written by

DANNY WICENTOWSKI

T

wo hours before the final election results on March 5 revealed a sweeping victory for the political status uo in St. Louis, challenger Jamilah asheed was feeling confident. Absentee votes put her down just a handful of points to the threeterm incumbent president of the Board of Aldermen, Lewis Reed. t is just after 7 30, and attendees to asheed’s campaign party are just starting to file into the chandelier-lit Mahler Ballroom. pstairs, the Democratic state senator from St. Louis takes a break from greeting supporters to do some trash talk. don’t think Lewis has anybody that energized to come out and vote for him,” she notes nonchalantly. So think he may come in third.” t’s bold to jab at a politician like Reed, whose place as aldermanic president was never seriously threatened in the twelve years before the night’s election, let alone in a three-way race like this one. asheed, a popular legislator used to winning elections for the eneral Assembly, collected more than $500,000 in campaign contributions to unseat Reed and dubbed him Lyin’ Lewis” while blasting the results of his long tenure in city government. (The feeling was mutual, as Reed had called her Double Agent asheed” while accusing her of working on behalf of Re Sin uefield.) But at her watch party, asheed waves off uestions about their clashes. The election is about the big issues facing the city, she says, and the critical role the board president will have in deciding things like airport privatization and the proposed city-county merger. hat worries asheed, though, is the temperature. A bitter cold has infiltrated March, and the twentydegree weather has resulted in vot-

To the victor goes the aldermanic presidency, with Lewis Reed winning just over one-third of the vote and reelection. | DANNY WICENTOWSKI er turnout in the low teens. t’s something we shouldn’t be proud of,” asheed says of the low turnout, especially at a time when this race will be a very defining moment in the history of St. Louis.” The opportunity to shape St. Louis’ ne t defining moments led to a campaign season that e acerbated deep divisions within the ranks of activists eager to oust Reed. The incumbent president’s positions — including backing public funding for sports stadiums and providing a key vote to consider airport privatization — put him at odds with the burgeoning progressive movement in St. Louis. But after a bitter season dubbed Aldergeddon2019, neither asheed nor fellow challenger Megan reen ended up besting Reed. n the end, every incumbent on last week’s ballot won, and the story was no different in the race for the aldermanic presidency. Most of the aldermen and women were reelected by resounding, double-digit margins. But Reed’s success came with different math — he won just 35 percent of the vote. Fewer than 1,600 votes separated him not only from asheed but also reen. For progressives, the disap-

pointment is compounded by the dead-heat finish, where both asheed and reen earned 31 percent of the vote. The result presents an uncommon picture of a split St. Louis, and a confounding uestion for progressives. ndeed, it’s often said that St. Louis is divided — but what does it mean when it’s divided into thirds

L

ess than three miles south, the tension is starting to seep into the atmosphere of Megan reen’s election watch party at the Ready Room. The news of new info swings the room’s mood up and down with each refresh of the city’s election website. e spiked up, and now we’re back down again,” reen says. So it’s hard to say.” t’s not just weather driving lower turnout. Many potential voters care about the issues the board president will be able to tilt, reen says, but the position is rarely a household name outside of political watchdogs. t’s different than what we saw for the mayor’s race; there isn’t uite the awareness around it,” she says. There’s still a lack of education around what the president of the board even is, why it matters.”

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n the crowd at the Ready Room are activists who have attempted — at times through outlandish costumery — to reach those voters. At the heart of reen’s campaign is her dedication to progressive policies, including her vow to halt efforts at airport privatization. But even at reen’s watch party, the uestion of whether it’s smart to have two progressive-leaning candidates running to replace Reed creeps into conversation like a bad smell. Memories of the fiveway 2017 mayoral race, when progressive darling Tishaura Jones lost to Lyda rewson by less than 900 votes, remain bitter in activist circles. St. Louis is a city where the Democratic machine continues to win at the ballot bo in all but a handful of ward races. f progressives play the spoiler, are they actually standing in the way of progress

A

n hour later, at 10 p.m., the up-and-down spiking of the vote count finally subsides. At Lewis Reed’s watch party, the enclosed patio section of in De Set swelters like a winter sauna under the influence of multiple heat lamps. But it is e citement that boils through the small

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CITY CUT IN THIRDS Continued from pg 9

crowd as Alderwoman Marlene Davis takes the mic. hat have we done ” Davis asks those assembled, leading them in a call-and-response. Did we work hard ho did we work hard for ” The crowd answers, Reed Reed Reed ” hen Reed finally emerges to make his victory speech, he’s all smiles. After twelve years, St. Louis has just ensured he would do the job for another four. Reed’s reelection to a fourth term is unprecedented, and to Reed, it is a message that voters still believe that St. Louis is becoming a better city under his leadership. e have a lot of di cult days ahead,” Reed tells the crowd, uieting the celebration for a moment as he mentions the city-county merger, the airport and the continued development of the ational eospatial- ntelligence Agency site in north St. Louis. That’s going to take all of us working together,” he says. These things that we’re working on, these things will redefine St. Louis.” Reed, of course, will have the op-

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portunity to guide those matters. Meanwhile, reen will remain on the outside looking in, an alderman in a city with 28 of them, and a place where individual lawmakers — especially ones that manage to piss off people like Reed, and get lousy committee assignments — rarely get much done. hile Reed and his supporters celebrate, a familiar, grim ritual plays out at the other election watch parties. The music is cut, the supporters gather and watch their preferred candidate face up to the reality of the loss. Back at the Ready Room, reen addresses the crowd from a bare stage. A self-described policy wonk, reen is generally a measured public speaker — but here, in the waning moments of a campaign that came up just short, she talks more like the socialist radical her bitter critics have made her out to be. ith emotion in her voice, she rattles through issues she championed in the campaign, from stadium funding to ta abatements to airport privatization. one of these things change with us not winning today,” reen tells the crowd of supporters, who still have su cient energy to enthusiastically boo at the mention

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Lewis Reed won just 35 percent of the vote. Fewer than 1,600 votes separated him not only from Nasheed but also Green. of Re Sin uefield. hat does change is we have a whole new group of mobilized people,” she continues. e’re going to show up to City Hall. e’re going to sit in if we have to — and we are going to make the lives of the status uo miserable if we have to.” Across town at the Mahler Ballroom, asheed is also firing up her disappointed supporters — and, yes, firing at reen. f it wasn’t but for her being in this race,” asheed says to a chorus of cheers, we would have won.” asheed continues, referencing the egos that came into play” in the election, and she repeats a favorite claim from earlier appear-

ances that reen’s presence represented everything progressives should hate,” with her core backers vowing to support racial e uity even while trying to reduce black representation” by voting for reen. The result is e actly what progressives feared. Four more years of Reed. Because of the progressives’ egos, we’re still in the same condition,” asheed says, and that is the most unfortunate situation that we’re dealing with today.” At this point, asheed is herself getting fired up. She’s a natural political brawler, and the spotlight of defeat is still, after all, a spotlight. ndividuals got into this race with a big ego, and everything they didn’t want, they just got tonight,” she says, her voice rising, getting on a roll. And that’s Lewis Reed, a man who has forgot about north St. Louis, a man that —” But here asheed trails off, and a long second passes. Then another. The election is over. Reed is the president. t’s his city, and until the ne t election, asheed will have to deal with that. ou know what,” she says uickly, let me call him and congratulate him.” n


Ilsa Guzman-Fajardo (center) beams Tuesday after being released from ICE custody. | DOYLE MURPHY

Lawyer’s Hail Mary Wins St. Louis Mom a Reprieve Written by

DOYLE MURPHY

A

St. Louis mother slated to be deported was freed by immigration agents Tuesday morning following a federal judge’s order. lsa uzman-Fajardo, 8, hugged her husband and other family members in a tearful reunion in the lobby of the Robert A. oung Federal Building. t was one month to the day that she was taken into custody in the same building during what she thought was a routine check-in with mmigration and Customs Enforcement. missed my family,” she later told reporters gathered outside. ’m so happy.” t took an eleventh-hour hail mary from uzman-Fajardo’s attorney, Javad hazaeli of hazaeli and yrsch, to keep her in the country. After more than four years of regular check-ins with CE and monitoring that included weekly home visits and an ankle monitor, CE had decided to en-

force an order of removal signed in California in 2000. hazaeli, who took over the case recently, is fighting to reopen that nearly twenty-yearold case in California. But in the meantime, he filed a writ of habeas corpus in the federal Southern District of llinois, which has jurisdiction over the Pulaski County jail where uzman-Fajardo was being held pending her deportation to Honduras. hazaeli argued her detention was illegal because, among other problems, her original notice to appear in court in 2000 didn’t provide her with the time or date. A federal judge in the southern district agreed to put a hold on the case and set a hearing for the government and hazaeli to make their arguments. nstead, the government agreed to release her — at least for now. hazaeli still has a long road to reopen the case in California, but staving off his client’s immediate deportation was a major victory, he says. ntil the judge issued the stay, uzman-Fajardo’s removal was imminent,” hazaeli says. t could have happened any day.” The St. Louis resident had gone on February 12 with her former attorney and supporters to CE’s field o ce in the federal building. She was soon separated from the others, taken into custody and told she would be deported within seven days. An CE spokesman has said the agency previously took her into custody in 201 but agreed not to deport her because her youngest child, a nited States

citizen, was still a minor. Her son has since turned eighteen, and an immigration judge in December rejected a previous bid to reopen her case in San Diego. After that, the spokesman said, CE had no reason not to deport her. But her attorney says she was never given a fair hearing on her original re uest for protected status because of the missing court dates. Being summoned to court without a time or date used to be common in immigration cases, but the Supreme Court ruled last year it was illegal. Because of that, hazaeli says he is optimistic. He is also negotiating with federal authorities in hopes of securing a settlement that would allow uzman-Fajardo to pursue her green card. n her nearly two decades in the nited States, almost all of it in the St. Louis area, she has worked and stayed out of trouble. She had three cleaning jobs at the time of her arrest. She was also seeking permanent resident status following her marriage in June to a citizen, Steve Miller. That petition is still pending. Miller says CE has treated her like a common criminal, instead of a hardworking mother. t was wrong the way everything went,” Miller says. ’m glad she’s going to be back home.” After CE took her one month ago, Miller routinely made the 150-mile drive to southern llinois to visit. He says he always believed she was coming home. never gave up hope,” he says. n

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obert Gibson and Orlando “Unc” Giles are the last people to leave the homeless camp along the Mississippi River in East St. Louis.

They were slow packing up. Gibson, 59 years old with a long gray beard, had lived there more than three years and considered it home — a place with neighbors, regular routines and a sense of belonging. Giles, 51, arrived less than year ago but shared his friend’s appreciation for the place. Rather than bouncing between shelters, imposing on relatives or sleeping on the streets, they had been able to settle in and control their own lives. But the collection of tents and wooden huts, which had sprawled into two camps, had grown too big and too public in recent months. Both camps were on private land, and when the owner decided it was time for everyone to go, the nearly twodozen residents saw no choice but to clear out. A 30-day order to vacate was followed by a seven-day extension. In four hours, at midnight on February 26, the extension will expire, too. “You see how hectic it is,” Gibson says, juggling phone calls from supporters checking to make sure he’s OK. “We’re trying to get things done.” During the final days, Pastor Tina Crawford drove the men and two other camp residents back and forth across the river, trying to pin down driver’s licenses and arrange appointments with service organizations. The bureaucratic untangling may pay off in benefits, but that is still in the future. The immediate concern is how to

get their things out of their old home and into somewhere else. The way other residents moved out irritates the two men. They lived in the camp closest to the road, on a cracked concrete slab they call simply “the platform.” The back camp, an intricate collection of homemade wooden huts with a communal kitchen at its center, was set out of sight in the woods. Residents supported each other, sharing food and chores. But in the stress of the order to vacate, people scattered in all directions and tempers spiked. Second- and thirdhand accounts of who is getting help from which organizations ran rampant. Rumors of slights spread. “We supposed to be like a family,” Giles says, “but when people get their places to go, they start downgrading us.” He and Gibson decided to stick together. They spent the first part of the day pushing wheelbarrow loads of their stuff to their new place, a windowless cinder-block building that is a five-minute walk from the camps. A friend put down $25 to rent the space for Gibson. “It’s not the Taj Mahal,” Gibson says, leading the way to the new place, “but it’s better than a tent.” The one-room structure is small and dirty, and living there surely violates some sort of building ordinance. Gibson has killed eight brown recluse spiders by his count, smashing them against the walls with his thumb. But there is an honestto-God door with a lock. The walls are not at risk of collapsing in a strong wind, and there is enough head space to stand up and even stretch your arms overhead without hitting tarp. “We’re going to make it, ain’t we,” Gibson says to Giles. Gibson’s twin bed is pushed against a wall, and an Army cot for Giles sits on the other side Continued on pg 14

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From left, Taron Williams, Orlando Giles and Robert Gibson discuss their impending exit from the camp.

of the room. A single light bulb dangles overhead from an extension cord, powered by the generator chained up outside. There are still piles of clothes, tools and furniture to move from the platform, but that will have to wait. The men are worn out. They sit sipping 24-ounce cans of Milwaukee’s Best ce, gingerly fle ing sore knees and shifting in their seats every few moments to realign aching backs. The air is filled with the smoke of Show-brand cigarillos. “We’re chilling,” Gibson says. After five weeks of stress, tonight feels like their first opportunity to relax. “Last night, I went into my tent, I sat down on the bed, and I just cried,” Giles says. The place has potential, but there are already signs of trouble. Relatives of the landlord chastise Gibson for inviting visitors to the space, and he says they seem bothered after spotting Giles moving in. As long as the rent is paid and he is not causing problems, Gibson says, he should be able to do as he likes. “Come on, people, get your

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thumb off us,” he fumes. The mood lightens as the hours pass. The two men soon fall into old tales of life in the camps, which often include wildlife encounters. Giles, a part-time DJ and natural storyteller, recalls the night he was walking back to his tent from the East St. Louis MetroLink station when a massive buck, brandishing a menacing set of antlers, stepped out of the fog and stared him down. Gibson has heard the story, but he still laughs out loud as his friend describes freezing in fear and then racing home when the buck finally sauntered away. “I ran in the tent,” Giles says, his eyes going wide as he recreates the fright. “I put the lock on. I jumped in the bed fully clothed. I was shaking like a leaf.” They have arranged a pair of folding chairs around a propane heater. A battered stereo sits on a small table near the wall. After a while, they pop open new beers and smoke more cigarillos. It is 1 a.m. when they finally turn out the light. “What it all boils down to,” Giles says. “We — Orlando Giles and

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Robert Gibson — we went down with the ship.” The next morning, the landlord orders them to move out.

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he East St. Louis waterfront always seemed like a place to build. Acres of empty lots offer panoramic views of the Arch and St. Louis skyline. Amiel Cueto, a wealthy and crooked lawyer, bought a 32acre rectangle of former railroad property there in the mid-1990s. The Casino Queen riverboat had just opened nearby, and investors envisioned a gleaming entertainment district along the scraggly eastern shores of the Mississippi. By 1998, the New York Times was reporting on the promise of a gambling-fueled economic revival in East St. Louis, highlighting proposals for a hotel, bank, golf course and Casino Queen expansion onto land. A Democratic power broker, Cueto was perfectly positioned for the wheeling and dealing to follow, except for one thing — he was

sentenced in 1997 to more than seven years in prison for obstruction of justice and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. In court records, federal prosecutors revealed his role as a guard dog for Thomas Venezia, a longtime friend, business partner and strip club owner who ran an illegal video-gambling operation supported by bought-off politicians and Cueto’s aggressive tactics. When the two men suspected federal investigators were getting too close, Cueto ferreted out and publicly exposed a state liquorcontrol agent who was working as an FBI informant and then worked with Venezia and former ashington Park Police Chief Bob Romanik (best known these days as a hate-spewing radio shock jock) to discredit the informant and block the investigation. All three men were convicted or pleaded guilty to federal charges. Venezia, who was convicted of racketeering and illegal gambling, emerged after seven years in prison stripped of his power. Battling throat cancer in 2005, he murdered his young girlfriend


The front camp sat atop a long concrete slab residents called “the platform.”

and then killed himself, authorities say. Cueto tried to return to business. The disbarred attorney hoped to cash in on his riverfront property by flipping it to a developer for $8 million. But the deal to build randview Plaza and Towers” cracked apart like so many other proposals along the river. Cueto would later allege in a lawsuit he had been defrauded. The suit was still going on when he died in 2012. Today, the Casino Queen’s fenced-in campus sits like an island between a Cargill grain elevator and Bunge-SCF Grain. The golf course, bank and a separate hotel discussed in the Times never materialized. Instead, there are parking lots for truckers and acres of undeveloped land lying under thick brush and mature trees. Cueto’s property — now in the hands of his widow, Elaine Cueto — is a short walk north of the casino at the northeast corner of

Front Street and West Missouri Avenue. Fire-insurance maps from around the turn of the twentieth century show it was once the site of the old Baltimore and Ohio Southwestern Railroad’s freight

it less likely to flood. Over the years, the occasional homeless person would pitch a tent on the platform for a bit before moving on. Gibson arrived in about 2015 and stayed.

the time, shrouded by weeds and brush along West Missouri, which was a dirt road at the time. But the slab was still too exposed for some, and so even as the front camp was growing, other squatters began constructing a second camp behind it in the woods. The front was mostly tents strung side-by-side, but the back camp was set up more like a village. Residents lived in small wooden huts arranged along a lane that meandered like a stream through the trees. Because this camp was on low ground and prone to flooding, the huts were built atop pallets or wooden platforms. In a sense, the two communities were the reincarnation of a series of river camps that previously dotted the shore on the St. Louis side of the river. Gibson was one of the builders of Hopeville, an encampment that the city forcibly evicted in 2012 after a murder. Neighboring camps, including one called

The ingenuity of the camps clearly demonstrates a talent for survival. Gibson erected a hybrid wood-and-tarp tent that has withstood raging winds, snow and ice for three winters. Generators power electric lights, and the back camp has large clean water tanks. houses. All the structures have since been scraped away, but a long, concrete slab — what Gibson and Giles call “the platform” — runs parallel to West Missouri. It offers a few key advantages to homeless campers in that it is level and sits slightly higher than the surrounding ground, making

At first, it was him and another man, named Walt, who had arrived first. Soon, others began to arrive, sometimes in the dead of night with nothing. Gibson and the other campers would take them in, maybe help them set up their own place. The platform was still partially out of sight at

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Along with two assistants, Phil Berwick (right), the artist behind the Merferd character, moves a resident’s belongings into Berwick’s tree-trimming truck.

Dignity Harbor, were also forced to close. The enigmatic architect of Dignity Harbor, a man who goes by O.G., eventually migrated across the river as well. It was O.G. who guided construction of the huts in the back camp. Residents also built a large communal kitchen and food pantry, the shelves stocked with canned goods. “I’m always going to have a kitchen,” O.G. explains. Standing at the edge of the platform on a cold morning, one week before the final deadline, O.G. talks grandly of millionaire backers, women heroically rescued from the streets and a history of high-powered jobs. The details are impenetrably vague, leaving listeners to take his word — or not. But the ingenuity of the camps clearly demonstrates a talent for survival. Gibson, who says he spent his career as a diesel mechanic before being laid off, has also shown himself to be industrious and clever, erecting a hybrid wood-and-tarp tent that

has withstood raging winds, snow and ice for three winters. Generators power electric lights, and the

the fire pit. The working theory was that transparency did more good than

in relative harmony under dire circumstances. Gibson’s wooden o Place Like Home” sign was fastened above the door to his tent. “I’m not homeless,” he liked to tell visitors. “I’m houseless.” Out front, he posted a mailbox. It was a joke, but it added a homey touch and made the community seem more approachable. On any given day, you might find pastors in blue jeans and work shirts hanging out on the platform or a handful of Saint Louis University students seated around the fire. n 2017, ibson was baptized in a plastic kiddie pool outside his tent and later kept the certificate above his desk. “I was messing with [Gibson],” recalls Pastor Eddie itt, who did the honors. “I told him I was going to hold him down until the last bubble.” The visitors became part of the extended community, but any romantic ideas of a homeless Shangri-La were undercut by the realities of brutal winters and blazing

Standing at the edge of the platform on a cold morning, one week before the final deadline, O.G. talks grandly of millionaire backers, women heroically rescued from the streets and a history of high-powered jobs. back camp has large clean-water tanks, filled from a source that O.G. declines to discuss publicly. Residents of the two camps also managed to navigate the even trickier terrain of being highly visible without getting kicked off private land. Their existence was no secret. Church groups, social workers, cops, homeless advocates, college students, truckers and reporters had visited repeatedly over the years. Inhabitants invited them into their self-made homes, or at least to chat around

harm. Visitors could be a lifeline to crucial supplies — food, fuel for generators, building materials. But that was not the only reason for welcoming them in. Camp leaders also knew they were facing stereotypes that could lead to them being evicted if unchallenged. Left to speculate, the outside world was likely to assume people in the camps were heroin addicts, violent and dangerous. Instead, residents showed outsiders a tidy community that co-existed

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summers. A pregnant young woman lost her baby while living in the front camp, residents say. Witt tells of another couple that he helped move into an apartment, only to see them return to the camp a few months later. “It broke my heart,” he says. For many, the camps were preferable to shelters, which they say are dangerous and chaotic. But they were still living full time in a shanty town with no plumbing. Even Gibson, who considered the camp his home, stops short of saying he was happy. “I was content,” he says after a pause. The last six months had seen the camps slide. The number of residents had ballooned to nearly two dozen, almost double what it had been a year ago. Some of the newcomers had little interest in the orderliness that old timers believe had protected the communities from trespassing complaints. Trash and hoarded belongings began to pile up. It was becoming a mess. When the order to vacate was pinned to Gibson’s mailbox in January, it was unexpected but not a huge surprise.

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here are plans for the East St. Louis waterfront once again. Over the past three years, a partnership between government, casino and nearby granaries has completed a $7 million project to rebuild Front Street along the western edge of the camps and improve B Street, a new section of which now bisects Cueto’s property east of the camps, creating a bypass around the Casino Queen for the nearconstant stream of tractor trailers on their way to Cargill and BungeSCF Grain. West Missouri, which runs the length of the southern edge of the front camp, has been paved to accommodate tra c that sometimes tops 1,000 trucks a day. In a news release, the St. Clair County Transit District boasted that the Front Street project had “opened up several hundred acres of undeveloped, newly accessible ground that is already sparking interest from other agribusiness and distribution companies and will help to attract new jobs along the East St. Louis Riverfront.” It is not hotels and golf courses, but it is something. “It’s progress,” Gibson says with an air of resignation. The curtain of weeds and scrawny trees that once buffered the front camp from the road was cut away during road construction. A

The camp’s mailbox was a joke, but it gave the place a homey touch. blacktop bike lane now runs parallel to Front Street on the western edge. The two parcels of Cueto’s remaining property are listed for $6.75 million. When Gibson left for the cinderblock building, he planned to return to the camp to collect more of his belongings, including his desk and more clothes, from his old tent. Now that he’s been told to move out, he is not sure how to do that. The sudden eviction from the block building has thrown everything into chaos. He and Giles are alternately distraught and furious. The expulsion from the camp, while stressful, was understandable. The men consider Elaine Cueto generous for letting them stay as long as she did, and she gave them more than a month to make new plans. But the eviction from the block building is maddening and leaves them scrambling to find a new place. “I’m about to tear my hair out, and take a knife and cut my throat,” Gibson says. “I’m about to kick somebody’s ass,” Giles says. They have just hours to vacate and no backup plan. Gibson says the landlord told them the person who arranged the rental with Gibson’s friend did so without his permission. When a commercial tenant nearby complained about homeless moving in, the landlord decided to throw out Gibson and Giles, the men say.

A pastor friend arrives shortly after noon with a pickup and trailer to help them move. Out of ideas, they decide to gamble on a risky location. (The RFT has agreed not to disclose identifying details.) They have a nine-person Coleman tent to set up on the new site but will have to work quickly and stealthily if they want to be in before the sun sets. Over the following hours, they race to load and then unload the trailer at the new destination. The pastor has to go, but another of Gibson’s friends, a man named Jim who lived in the back camp for about two years before finding a landscaping job and moving out, pulls up to help. The three men work together to unfold the tent and then assemble the confusing set of poles, cords and stakes. It is 4 p.m. by the time they are able to raise it into a functional, if slightly leaning, shelter. “Watch, we’ll get run off here by nightfall,” Gibson says. But Giles is more optimistic. They are hidden here and away from prying eyes. “Out of sight, out of mind.” They spend another 40 minutes carrying their belongings — furniture, tools, clothes, plastic tubs, bicycle and a gas generator — from a pile twenty yards away into the tent. Gibson suddenly realizes his o Place Like Home” sign is missing. He has accidentally left it in the block building.

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Gloomily, he keeps going. The sun is falling, and the weather is already turning colder. The last thing they move is the generator, 128 pounds even without fuel sloshing around in the gas tank. Gibson and Giles each grab a side and lift, awkwardly shu ing to the edge of the tent. They are both out of breath by the time they finally lower it onto a pallet. Giles bends over and puts his hands on his knees. “Oh, God,” he groans. This is the third time they have moved all of this stuff in three days. They set up Gibson’s twin bed along one wall of the tent, Giles’ Army cot on the other. In between, they place the folding chairs and drag the propane heater in front of them, like a little living room. Finally, they collapse. They make it through the night and the next night, too, without anyone finding them. n their third day, a winter storm rains enough ice to close schools, but the tent holds. It is different being on their own away from the old camp. Gibson, who says he has a bad heart, had hoped to live the rest of his life on the platform. But things change. Maybe this will be a good spot. After they finally get everything moved in, Gibson catches a ride over to the block building and snags his o Place Like Home” sign off the half wall. It is sitting under his bed. He has not quite figured out where to put it. n

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CALENDAR

BY PAUL PAUL FRISWOLD FRISWOLD BY for the Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble, which has established a

turns to the physicality of yoga for solace. To her dismay, the class

The writers and directors of the Aphra Behn Emerging Artists’ Festival. | JOEY RUMPELL

FRIDAY 03/15 Fashion for Life For black Americans, dressing well was not merely a matter of fashion — it was necessary for survival. In the era of sundown towns and the Green Book, when black families took the highways of America they dressed to the nines to show white America that they were people of substance, respectable and decent and not going to start any trouble. As they did with many of the rules enforced upon them, these early Americans took what little was allowed to them and made it their own source of pride. Hats were cocked at rakish angles, colors were vibrant and cuts were cleaner and sharper than what white America wore. In time, black styles were appropriated by the mainstream. Again and again the cycle has repeated itself, moving from black subcultures to the malls and schoolyards of middle America. The art show Fashioning the Black Body explores the ways in which fashion defines and projects the black identity in a variety of media. Mickalene Thomas’ silkscreen I’ve Been Good to Me shows a black woman adorned and surrounded by color and pattern in her home. Mario Moore’s oil painting One Day in the Land of Milk and Honey

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depicts a black figure laying flat on the ground, beneath it a subway platform upon which mills a group of faceless people in identical hoodies. Fashioning the Black Body opens with a free reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, March 15, at Projects allery ( 733 McPherson Avenue; www.projects-gallery.com). The show continues through May .

That’s Love For the second show of its 32nd season, the Gateway Men’s Chorus draws its inspiration, appropriately enough, from the letter B: “B” as in ballads, blues and Broadway. The selected songs in Seasons of Love are about the life cycle of love, from first infatuation through passion to heartbreak and back on to hope. It should be a cathartic evening that celebrates a fundamental human experience. Seasons of Love is performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (March 15 and 16) at nion Avenue Christian Church (733 orth nion Boulevard; www. gmcstl.org). Tickets are $20 to $25.

In Behn’s Name Aphra Behn was a Restorationera playwright, poet and spy who lived solely on the fruits of her own work and intelligence. She’s become something of a guiding light

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Fahamu Pecou, Black Boy Fly (2014). 120 x 60 inches, acrylic and gold leaf on canvas. | COURTESY OF PROJECTS + GALLERY festival in Behn’s name for emerging women writers. This year’s edition features three short plays, each one helmed by a female director. Delaney Piggins’ “Burden of Proof” is about three university students returning home to testify in the sexual-assault case of a former teacher. “Intervals,” by JM Chambers, explores in a series of monologues the nature of homelessness and how it affects people emotionally and psychologically. “V,” by E.K. Doolin, centers on a woman weary of genius who

roster includes several geniuses, each more annoying than the last. The Aphra Behn Emerging Artists’ Festival takes place at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday (March 15 to 17) at the Centene Center for the Arts (35 7 live Street; www. slightlyoff.org). Tickets are $15.

SATURDAY 03/16 The Big Five-O Fifty years ago St. Louis was a city


WEEK OF OF MARCH MARCH 14-20 14-20 WEEK with a population close to a million (although it was melting away rather quickly) and no parade in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Joseph McGlynn Jr. organized the parade for the first time that year, and then continued organizing and overseeing it for the ne t five decades. ow, in 2019, St. Louis enjoys one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in the country, one that also happens to raise the city’s population back to its old glory days, at least for one day: An estimated quarter-million people return to downtown to see it. This year’s momentous Downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade starts at noon Saturday, March 16, at the intersection of 20th and Market streets (www.irishparade. org), and you better believe McGlynn — now St. Louis Irish Consul McGlynn — will be there. More than 120 units of floats, marching bands, inflatables and marchers will take to the streets, and the popular Irish Village entertainment area will again be open for business, with its vendors of food, drinks and merchandise. There will be live music throughout the day, plus a kids’ area with bounce houses and photo opportunities galore. Admission remains free, even after all these years.

Whoops! The Conley Polytechnic Drama Society, one of England’s lesserknown community theater groups, has been bequeathed a large sum of money to produce a new play. The company decides on the 1920s murder-mystery The Murder at Haversack Manor mostly because it has parts enough for all the actors. That’s the fictitious background for The Play That Goes Wrong, which is actually a physically demanding comedy created by the Mischief Theatre Company, a very real performance troupe. As its title implies, the play within the play is a spectacular catastrophe before the curtain goes up. Props break, cues are missed and at least one actor is knocked unconscious, which starts a very public row about which cast member gets to play the part to the finale. As you might imagine, making the play go wrong requires strenuous rehearsal and split-second

Dogtown on Parade The Dogtown St. Patrick’s Day parade will return once again to the streets on March 17 and, for the second year in a row, will feature a morning start time. ne year ago, the Dogtown parade began at 10 a.m. after it fell on the same day as the downtown parade (historically held on the Saturday before the holiday). Since March 17 is a Sunday this year, the two events avoided the fate, yet the Dogtown parade will still make an effort to stay family friendly with an 11 a.m. start time. The reason? Last year’s parade went so smoothly, says organizer Jim Mohan of the Ancient rder of Hibernians. ver the years, Mohan has seen many adults return to the parade after decades of attending as children. rganizers want that same experience to continue and hope that moving the parade up from the traditional 12 30 p.m. beginning will provide a more inclusive (read not quite so alcohol-fueled) space. rganizers don’t want to eliminate the fun of St. Patrick’s Day with an early start time, Mohan stresses. “We’re not trying to be killjoys, but as Hibernians we want to emphasize the Hibernian nature of the parade,” he says. Instead, Mohan hopes that the earlier start time can provide a space for everyone to get something out of the event. “We wanted to bring the neighborhood more into this,” Mohan says. “We wanted them to feel like this was their event too.” Indeed, last year, organizers not only succeeded in making the event more family oriented, but neighborhood oriented as well. For the first time ever, the Hibernians joined forces with the community-based organization Dogtown nited to put on the Dogtown Irish Festival. Following the conclusion of the parade, the streets opened up for the festival, providing a large space for attendees to convene and celebrate. The festival will return in a similar format this year. Things kick off at Clayton and Tamm at 9 a.m. and continue long after the parade ends. The band Rusty Nail

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day downtown Saturday and in Dogtown Sunday. | HARLAN MCCARTHY will play on the festival stage by the gazebo at Clayton and Tamm from 1 to 5 p.m. The festival will feature food, drink, music and a Vendor Village. The parade starts at the intersection of Tamm and akland and ends at the south end of Dogtown. It will feature members of the St. Louis Irish community and more than 100 floats. As for the Dogtown Irish Festival, it is slated to run until 6 p.m., with local businesses closing at 8 p.m. rganizers have also improved the accessibility for those with disabilities, including sign-language interpreters and special-

ized viewing sections in the day’s events. Although Mohan wants people to enjoy themselves, he also wants them to be mindful of the history attached to the event and Dogtown. “Remember you’re in a neighborhood,” Mohan says. “You’re not in the middle of the city, you’re in a neighborhood.” Dogtown’s St. Patrick’s Day parade starts at 11 a.m. Sunday, March 17, at Tamm and akland avenues (www.stlhibernians. com). All outdoor events and beverage sales end at 6 p.m. —Benjamin Simon

St. Patrick’s Day Guide Details on the rest of this year’s fun stuff and cheap beer The Downtown Parade

The 50th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade takes place Saturday, March 16, at noon. More than 120 units of floats, marching bands and clowns and more than 5,000 marchers celebrate St. Louis’ Irish heritage with the wearin’ of the green at one of the nation’s largest parades. The Irish Village in Kiener Plaza opens at 9 a.m. and will offer food, beverages, merchandise and live entertainment. Sat., March 16, www.irishparade.org. Aloe Plaza, 20th and Market streets, St. Louis.

The St. Patrick’s Parade Day Run The 41st annual St. Patrick’s Parade Day Run is a five-mile run (three-kilometer option also available) that regularly attracts more than 8,000 participants. The Michelob ULTRA Runners’ Village at Kiener Plaza is open to all competitors who finish either course, with prizes for the top finishers in various categories. Sat., March 16, 9 a.m., $40-$45, www.stpatsrun.com. Walnut and South Continued on pg 22

Continued on pg 22

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On Sunday, Dogtown offers both a parade and an Irish festival. | KELLY GLUECK

ST. PATRICK’S DAY Continued from pg 21

Broadway, St. Louis.

Syberg’s St. Patrick’s Parade Bash

Doors open at 10 a.m. Saturday for green beer, food and drink specials and a DJ. Sat., March 16, 10 to 1 a.m. Syberg’s on Market, 2211 Market, St. Louis, 314-231-2430.

Rachel Whiteread, English, born 1963; Untitled (Violet), 2012; silver lead, cardboard, celluloid and graphite on paper; overall: 16 9/16 × 11 5/8 inches; Galleria Lorcan O’Neill. Image courtesy the artist/ Gagosian, London/ Luhring Augustine, New York/ Galleria Lorcan O’Neill

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Continued from pg 21

timing from both the cast on stage and the cast back stage, the latter of whom are actors playing techs. Every role is demanding, because a mistake can result in very real injury — but when everybody hits their marks, you see a flawless, outrageously funny actor’s nightmare unfold in real time. The Play that Goes Wrong closes out the Repertory Theatre St. Louis’ current season. Performances take place Tuesday through Sunday (March 15 to April 7) at the Loretto-Hilton Center (130 Edgar Road; www.repstl.org). Tickets are $19 to $92.

TUESDAY 03/19 What’s Inside Counts Rachel Whiteread emerged on the London art scene in the “cool Britannia” era of the late ’80s and early ’90s. The country was doing well financially and culturally,

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and people were ready to buy contemporary art made by contemporary British artists. Whiteread established herself as a leading light with her casts of everyday objects, which solidified the negative space in, under and/or around them in materials such as wax, plaster, concrete and resin. House, Whiteread’s massive, freestanding concrete cast of the interior of an entire three-story Victorian house, earned her the prestigious Turner Prize in 1993, making her the first woman to win. Rachel Whiteread, the new exhibition at the Saint Louis Art Museum, is a retrospective of the artist’s career that showcases 96 objects. They range from the small Untitled (Pink Torso), a voluptuous form of the inside of a hot water bottle cast in pink dental plaster, to the expansive Untitled (Twenty-Five Spaces), translucent resin casts of the underside of various chairs and stools arrayed on a game-board-like grid. The exhibit is on display Tuesday through Sunday (March 17 to June 9) at the Saint Louis Arts Museum (1 Fine Arts Drive; www.slam.org), and tickets are $6 to $12 (but free on Friday). n

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St. Patrick’s Day Bar Crawl

Charm your way through the crawl with luck on Saturday at the St Patrick’s Day Bar Crawl. Drink, dance and chat your day away in green. https://www.facebook. com/events/302670420463955, Check-in location TBA. Sat., March 16, noon to 6 p.m., $35 to $45, info@besocialscene.com, besocialscene.com.

Jason Garms

Enjoy St. Patrick’s eve with the Jason Garms Band. Sat., March 16, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., no cover, 314-231-1860, info@1860saloon.com,1860saloon. com/ events-music/. 1860 Saloon, Game Room & Hardshell Cafe, 1860 S. Ninth St., St. Louis.

St. Patrick’s Day at Bobby’s

Free shuttle to both parades from both locations. Sat., March 16; Sun., March 17. Bobby’s Place-Downtown, 1130 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 314-436-8143.

St. Patrick’s Day at Tigin

Tent opens at 7 a.m. both days for Pints and Pancakes. Plus, EPL and 6 Nations Rugby. $5 cover all day includes pancakes from 7 to 11 a.m. Live music all day in the heated tent, with Jud & Charlie, 2Chixx and Duhart. Sat., March 16, 7 a.m.; Sun., March 17, 7 a.m. Tigin Irish Pub & Restaurant, 333 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 314241-8666.

St. Pat’s at Pat’s Pat Connolly’s opens at 6 a.m. Sunday for breakfast and drinks, with four bars outside that open at 9 a.m. The Dogtown parade starts at 11 a.m., right in front of Pat’s, so you can watch the parade from a big party tent where breakfast and lunch are both served. Live Irish music inside all day starting at 9 a.m. Feel Good Inc. takes the outdoor stage after the parade ends at 1 p.m. for its last show ever. Sun., March 17, www.facebook.com/patconnollytavern/. Pat Connolly Tavern, 6400 Oakland Ave., St. Louis, 314-647-7287.

Eileen Gannon and Eimear Arkins Eileen Gannon and Eimear Arkins have been lighting up the Irish music scene in St. Louis for the past several years. Eimear is an award-winning singer and fiddle player from County Clare with eleven solo Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann titles to her credit. Sun., March 17, 7 to 10 p.m., $12-$15. The Focal Point, 2720 Sutton Blvd., St. Louis, 314-560-2778.

Raised on Songs and Stories: A St. Patrick’s Day Concert A family-friendly afternoon of Irish and Irish-American songs featuring the Kavanaugh Family and the Wee Heavies. Sun., March 17, 3 to 5:30 p.m., $20, 314-312-3225, www.facebook.com/ events/530351057451892/?ti=ia. Saint Louis University High School Performing Arts Center, 4970 Oakland Ave., St. Louis.

St. Patrick’s Day at McGurk’s Live music from Falling Fences and Keeping it Reel (Kevin Buckley & Ian Walsh) starts at 11 a.m. and continues ’til close. Sun., March 17. John D. McGurk’s Irish Pub, 1200 Russell Blvd., St. Louis, 314-776-8309.


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FILM

to ick Fury’s eye ” and How did the Avengers get their name ” For those who take this sort of thing more seriously than it deserves, Captain Marvel is perhaps the most inconse uential film in the Marvel series, but that’s not a bad thing. Running a brisk 124 minutes, it’s also one of the shortest and possibly the lightest and energetically paced. It’s a breezy, silly movie with predictably big vi-

sual effects, a few nods to Top Gun and a small underlay of Feminism Lite, with the sort of mild sentiments you might e pect to find in My First ‘Nevertheless She Persisted’ Coloring Book. As it turns out, women can fly space ships, fight aliens and blow things up every bit as competently as their male counterparts, a point that may seem innocuous at face value, but that has proven startling enough

to set the fanboy brigade into sputters of all-caps outrage. In a way, Captain Marvel is a telling example of the incongruities of the contemporary comic-book movie. Directors Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck, whose previous films have mostly been under-the-radar independent comedies, aren’t required to do much more than maintain a certain level of chemistry among the cast in the rare breaks between laser fire, but they do it well. Larson and Jackson develop a good-natured camaraderie that has been absent from previous Marvel films, while other performers, including Law and Annette Bening, drop in mostly to add familiar faces to otherwise underwritten supporting characters. The narrative twists and leaps in ways that aren’t particularly alarming, the visual effects are as convincing as they need to be and the overall tone is as lightweight as a Saturday-afternoon serial circa 1939. In short, despite its multi-milliondollar budget and occasionally belabored plot points, it’s an unambitious but appealing genre film. Given the levels of excess and pretentiousness that have come to define recent comic-book films, however, the mere simplicity of Captain Marvel is a welcome relief. n

[REVIEW]

been credited with bringing “reggae to the world.” Nearly half a century later, Cliff’s film debut still casts a long shadow, as evidenced by its obvious influence on Yardie, which is based on the Victor Headley novel and marks the directorial debut of actor Idris Elba. Like The Harder They Come, it follows a character pushed unwillingly into a life of crime and violence but also deploys an instinctive feel for music — in this case, reggae-inspired rap clashes between teams of DJs affiliated with gangsters. Yardie begins in 1970s Jamaica, where Dennis, also known as D, watches his older brother get shot down while hosting an impromptu street party calling for peace between rival gangs. A few years later, Dennis (Aml Ameen), now working for gangster/producer King Fox (Sheldon Shepherd) and occasionally visited by the ghost of his brother, called a “duppy,” is sent to England to deliver a bundle of cocaine to unhinged mob boss Rico. Settling in quickly, he reunites with his young wife, plots revenge against his brother’s murderer and develops a plan

to outwit the criminal bosses, while simultaneously rocking the mic with the High Noon sound crew. Familiar yet slightly unhinged, Yardie steps through the generic steps of Headley’s story lightly enough to hold your attention, even though it’s something of a mess. As a director, Elba isn’t particularly ambitious (note to inexperienced filmmakers: Next time you’re walking by a playground while wondering how best to express your character’s loss of innocence, keep walking). He nevertheless develops a strong sense of empathy with his cast and gives them plenty of room to jostle each other. And as Dennis, Ameen is particularly convincing. But while the performances are good, Elba never settles on a convincing tone. He wants Yardie to be a naturalistic depiction of the Jamaican community while also sticking to the crime-movie beats, working in a few action sequences and even tossing in a shot of poetic realism (the duppy) for good measure. Ultimately, Yardie is too unsettled for its own good, so distracted by the twists of the story that it loses its rhythm. n

[REVIEW]

Marvelously Simple Captain Marvel sticks to being entertaining. We’ll take it Written by

ROBERT HUNT Captain Marvel Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck. Written by Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Geneva Robertson-Dworet, Nicole Perlman and Meg LeFauve. Starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson and Jude Law. Now screening.

C

aptain Marvel begins on an intentionally disorienting note, leaping straight into action without even a cursory attempt at establishing who or what we’re watching. This proves to be a convenient way of getting the required Marvel-movie cosmic gobbledygook out of the way. Once the dust settles, you can start to piece together the beginnings of a plot. Haunted by bad dreams and an unknown past, Vers (Brie Larson; the name rhymes with fierce”) is part of an elite military team led by on-Rogg (Jude Law), cavorting through the outer reaches of the galaxy in pursuit of a shapeshifting race known as the Kree. Through one of those convenient wrong-turn-at Albuquerque plot twists, Vers winds up on Earth, crosses paths with SHIELD agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, bathing in a CGI fountain of youth) and begins to uncover the secrets of her own past as plainold-Earthgirl Carol Danvers. While most of the recent Marvel films have been cobbled together to form a continuous and rather tedious storyline, Captain Marvel is free from continuity. It’s set in 1995, for no apparent reason other than to let audiences chuckle over antiquities like Blockbuster Video, Radio Shack, Alta Vista and CD-ROMs. In some ways it seems to have been written solely to clear up a few mostly inessential plot points from earlier Marvel films, such as, hat happened

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Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) is the hero we need — an entertaining one. | © MARVEL STUDIOS

Lost in Music Idris Elba’s crime drama loses the plot Written by

ROBERT HUNT Yardie Directed by Idris Elba. Written by Brock Norman Brock and Martin Stellman, from Victor Headley’s novel. Starring Aml Ameen, Sheldon Shepherd and Shantol Jackson. Opens Friday, March 15, at the Landmark Tivoli Theatre.

I

n 1972, the Jamaican film The Harder They Come linked for international audiences the criminal underworld of Kingston and the raw, energetic sounds of reggae music. In it, Ivan (Jimmy Cliff) is pushed into a life of crime when he just wants a hit record. The movie has

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STAGE

27

[REVIEW]

Fathers Know Best New Line breathes new life into La Cage aux Folles Written by

PAUL FRISWOLD La Cage aux Folles Written by Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman. Directed by Scott Miller and Mike DowdyWindsor. Presented by New Line Theatre through March 23 at the Marcelle Theatre (3310 Samuel Shepard Drive; www.newlinetheatre.com). Tickets are $20 to $30.

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edding bells are ringing in St. Tropez, and no one’s happy. Georges, the father of the groom, is concerned that his only child is jumping into marriage too quickly. His son Jean-Michel is only twenty, after all. Albin, the groom’s mother, is flat-out shocked by his darling boy’s commitment to heterosexuality. “You’re a boy; she’s a girl. What will you talk about?” he demands. Ah, love. It’s long been the goto subject for both popular music and the Broadway musical, but the love that fuels Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman’s La Cage aux Folles is of a more unusual variety. It is the love that dare not speak its name — monogamous, committed homosexual love between two middle-aged men. New Line Theatre’s production of La Cage draws its power from the strength of that relationship. Georges (Robert Doyle) and Albin (Zachary Allen Farmer) argue, irk one another and have their secrets, but there’s no question they’re devoted to their union. Even as Jean-Michel’s nuptials seriously strain that bond, as parents they pull together and as lovers they learn how hot the flames of passion still are. La Cage aux Folles can be presented as simply a frothy, weightless farce, but here, directors Scott Miller and Mike Dowdy-Windsor opt to show how love deepens over time, which gives their La Cage both weight

Albin and Georges (Zachary Allen Farmer and Robert Doyle) have an old love and an ungrateful son. | JILL RITTER LINDBERG and depth. That depth burnishes the laughs and sweetens the froth immeasurably. It doesn’t hurt matters that there’s also a lot of froth. Georges is the impresario of the play’s namesake nightclub, which specializes in drag entertainment. Albin’s alter ego, Zaza, has long been the headlining star of the show, which includes the Cagelles, a song-and-dance team of drag performers of varying ability. The family business is now a problem for Jean-Michel (Kevin Corpuz), who intends to wed Anne (Zora Vredeveld). Anne’s father is head of the “Tradition, Family and Morality Party,” and has pledged to rid St. Tropez of clubs like the one owned by Georges. Jean-Michel’s solution is to demand that Georges play straight when the parents meet, and that Albin make himself scarce. Jean-Michel then puts the burden of telling Albin on Georges. Corpuz brings a genuine petulance to Jean-Michel, who thinks he’s not asking that much of the men who raised him. Robert Doyle’s Georges is slightly subdued in the early going, but comes to life when dealing with Albin. His performance of “Song on the Sand,” which is about the early days of

Georges and Albin’s story, reveals it to be a profoundly underrated love song. Doyle’s rendition of “Look Over There,” meanwhile, is the turning point of the show, and he makes it count. Upbraiding his son for his selfishness, Robert reminds Jean-Michel that Albin might not have been the typical mother, but he did no less than one. Tiélere Cheatem is a particular delight as Albin’s maid, Jacob. Cheatem wheels from one side of the stage to the other firing off insults, demanding a role in Georges’ next production while changing into increasingly flamboyant costumes. Costumer Sarah Porter has outdone herself with Jacob’s wardrobe; it’s a visual candy sampler that Cheatem wears with panache. I’ve seen Zachary Allen Farmer in numerous musicals; he always finds something interesting in his characters and astounds with the sheer power of his singing. His Albin/Zaza sets a new standard. His Zaza is suitably mean-spirited and catty, but it’s his Albin that’s astounding. After being told midshow there’s no place for him in his son’s wedding, Albin mechanically returns to the stage for the finale of the show-within-theshow. “Please, get off,” he asks the

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Cagelles, and the way they scatter reveals how unnatural (and terrifying) that polite request is. Farmer harnesses that magnificent voice as he lurches into “I Am hat Am,” his defiant statement of pride in himself and the way he lives his life, and as his voice breaks and occasionally dips down to its natural register, you realize how profoundly Albin has been hurt. It is an incandescent performance that blurs the line between singing and acting — the greatest moment Farmer has wrought on stage to date. Remarkably, the show continues after that point. There are deceptions, wacky plans and even more outlandish costumes from Jacob, as well as the redemption of Jean-Michel and a restored relationship with Albin. It remains a very entertaining show, even after 36 years. Jean-Michel and Anne will have their wedding, but no one would consider them blessed unless they follow Georges and Albin’s lead. It’s no mistake that the strongest family in the show remains the aging gay couple who get their groove back, even as the man who stands for “family, morality and tradition” gets his comeuppance. n

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SEXAUER'S VINYL HAPPY HOUR 5 PM AT FIRECRACKER

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FEATURED DINING

6 RESTAURANTS YOU NEED TO CHECK OUT...

THE CHOCOLATE PIG

MORRISON’S IRISH PUB

THECHOCOLATEPIG.COM

MORRISONIRISHPUB.COM

314.272.3230 4220 DUNCAN AVE, ST. LOUIS, MO 63110

618-433-8900 200 STATE STREET ALTON, IL 62002

Located inside the Cortex Innovation Hall in midtown St. Louis, The Chocolate Pig’s fun, unique location perfectly complements the interesting fare offered up by this well-regarded new entrant to the local dining scene. Open every day but Sunday, The Chocolate Pig’s primary restaurant space offers salads, sandwiches, burgers, elevated comfort foods such as shrimp and grits and intriguing daily specials inside the attractive dining room and bar. The Market component, meanwhile is a “quick grab kitchen,” allowing those with limited time a chance to order a coffee and sandwich quickly, while offering an elevated set of expectations than the normal “grab & go” concept; it’s open from 7 am-5 pm daily and provides a great option for Cortex workers. Destination diners, though, are going to want to sit and savor the fare from The Chocolate Pig during lunch and dinner service, the restaurant serving moderatelypriced entrees that are heavy on locally-sourced ingredients. Though the menu items featuring proteins (especially pork) are among the most-popular, a variety of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free items complement them. All items are offered up in one of the most-unique, thoughtfully-stimulating restaurant environments in town.

Several, long-beloved Irish pubs have staked a claim to being the most-authentic in town, though a strong case be made for one of the newer entrants. Located in the historic and scenic Alton, IL, Morrison’s Irish Pub brings all the elements of a great Irish pub under one roof - which, in this particular case, dates way back to 1865. Live music’s on-hand, with a strong selection of the area’s finest Irish and Irish-tinged groups and solo performers, heard from Thursday-Saturday nights. The selections of whiskey and beer reflect just the right touches of domestic and imported options, with plenty of favorites on-hand, including a wide-and-deep selection of Irish whiskeys that’d rival any other spirits menu in town. But it’s the menu that really solidifies the deal, with corned beef and cabbage, leek soup, Irish stew and Irish soda bread all available on a daily basis, along with rotating specials. Fare such as burgers, salads and wraps add to the traditional Irish fare, giving families a host of options. Open every day but Monday, Morrison’s offers a legit Irish pub feel without any artificial ingredients.

OAKED

J. SMUGS GASTROPIT

314.305.8647 1031 LYNCH ST, ST. LOUIS, MO 63118

314.499.7488 2130 MACKLIND AVE, ST. LOUIS, MO 63110

Any realtor will tell it all starts with location: the 1800s brick row house across from the A-B brewery sets an elegant speakeasy-feel stage for Chef Stephan Ledbetter’s delicious art. Scallops topped with grapefruit over a bed of risotto, pork gnudi with mushrooms, butternut squash soup with sage and pecans, an asparagus salad with burrata and prosciutto - the seasonally rotating menu promises a culinary delight for a first date or any special occasion. One of the better-curated wine lists in town, a vast selection of whiskeys, and crafted cocktails will start or round out your evening. This quiet upstart to the Soulard dining scene provides ample, well-lit parking. Make plans -don’t wait - to make a reservation before word gets out.

Housed in a retro service station, J. Smugs GastroPit serves up barbecue that can fuel anyone’s fire. Married teams of Joe and Kerri Smugala and John and Linda Smugala have brought charred goodness to the Hill neighborhood, nestled among the traditional Italian restaurants, sandwich shops and bakeries. Part of St. Louis’ ongoing barbecue boom, the J. Smugs’ pit menu is compact but done right. Ribs are the main attraction, made with a spicy dry rub and smoked to perfection. Pulled pork, brisket, turkey and chicken are also in the pit holding up well on their own, but squeeze bottles of six tasty sauces of varying style are nearby for extra punch. Delicious standard sides and salads are available, but plan on ordering an appetizer or two J. Smugs gives this course a twist with street corn and pulled-pork poutine. Several desserts are available, including cannoli – a tasty nod to the neighborhood. Happy hour from 4 to 7pm on weekdays showcases half-dollar BBQ tastes, discount drinks, and $6 craft beer flights to soothe any beer aficionado.

CARNIVORE STL

BLK MKT EATS

314.449.6328 5257 SHAW AVE, ST. LOUIS, MO 63110

314.391.5100 9 S. VANDEVENTER AVE. ST. LOUIS, MO 63108

Carnivore fills a nearly 4,000-square-foot space on The Hill with a dining area, bar lounge, and adjoining outdoor patio gracefully guarded by a bronze steer at the main entrance. Always embracing change, Joe and Kerri Smugala, with business partners Chef Mike and Casie Lutker, launched Carnivore STL this summer. As the Hill’s only steakhouse, Carnivore offers a homestyle menu at budget-friendly prices appealing to the neighborhood’s many families. Steak, of course, takes center stage with juicy filet mignon, top sirloin, strip steak and ribeye leading the menu. Customize any of the succulent meats with sautéed mushrooms, grilled shrimp, or melted housemade butters, such as garlic-and-herb and red wine reduction, on top of the flame-seared steak. Other main dishes include a thick-cut pork steak (smoked at J. Smugs) and the grilled chicken with capers and a white wine-lemonbutter sauce. St. Louis Italian traditions get their due in the Baked Ravioli, smothered in provel cheese and house ragu, and in the Arancini, risotto balls stuffed with provel and swimming in a pool of meat sauce. With an exciting new brunch menu debuting for Saturday and Sunday, Carnivore should be everyone’s new taste of the Hill.

The fast-fresh, made-to-order concept has been applied to everything from pizza to pasta in St. Louis, but the sushi burrito surprisingly had no Gateway City home until BLK MKT Eats opened near Saint Louis University last fall. It was worth the wait, though, because BLK MKT Eats combines bold flavors and convenience into a perfectly wrapped package that’s ideal for those in a rush. Cousins and co-owners Kati Fahrney and Ron Turigliatto offer a casual menu full of high-quality, all-natural ingredients that fit NOT right YOUR AVERAGE SUSHI SPOT everything you love about sushi and burritos in your hand. The Swedish Fish layers Scandinavian cured salmon, yuzu dill slaw, Persian cucumbers and avocado for aTAKEOUT fresh flavor explosion. Another 9 SOUTH VANDEVENTER DINE-IN, OR DELIVERY MON-SAT 11AM-9PM favorite, the OG Fire, features your choice of spicy tuna or salmon alongside tempura crunch, masago, shallots, jalapeño and piquant namesake sauce; Persian cucumbers and avocado soothe your tongue from the sauce’s kick. All burrito rolls come with sticky rice wrapped in nori or can be made into poké bowls, and all items can be modified for vegetarians.

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CAFE

31

[REVIEW]

Lao Sweet It Is Han Lao brings Laotian cuisine to St. Louis, with absolutely stunning results Written by

CHERYL BAEHR Han Lao 1250 Strassner Drive, Brentwood; 314-9321354. Mon.-Thurs. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m. (Closed Sundays.)

G

rowing up in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Thom Chantharasy always looked forward to birthdays. It wasn’t because he wanted presents or cake; he didn’t care if the celebration was in his honor or someone else’s. He just knew that birthdays meant food — specialoccasion Laotian food only served when there was a party. Fortunately for Chantharasy, these celebrations were a regular occurrence. Though he and his family were Laotians living in the middle of Tennessee, they were surrounded by fellow refugees who had fled the war in their homeland. They formed a closeknit community that looked forward to any opportunity to eat communally. At these near-weekly fêtes, bowls of simmering broth and noodles were doled out to all in attendance, and tables of meat, seafood, vegetables and condiments were laid out so that each person could customize soups to their liking. There was almost a quest for bragging rights, as partygoers would tweak their concoctions and show off the intricate flavor combinations they were able to create. When he became a father, Chantharasy understood even more clearly how much those childhood experiences helped him connect with his culture. He wished the same for his own kids. However, now that he lived in St. Louis, away from the bigger community, he found that the opportunities to do so were limited. Out-

Highlights at Han Lao include, clockwise from center, khao poon, Lao sausage, short ribs, sticky rice and blue crab Rangoon. | MABEL SUEN side of his own kitchen, there was no Laotian cuisine in St. Louis — not just for his kids to experience, but for the broader community as well. He knew there was only one way to change this: He had to do it himself. Han Lao, the restaurant born out of Chantharasy’s desire to bring Laotian food to St. Louis, is a concept he’d been toying with for quite some time. Even before he opened Robata, his wildly popular Japanese restaurant in Maplewood, Chantharasy had a vision for an authentic Laotian restaurant. However, he decided that Japanese food would not only be better received but easier to execute. After all, he’d been cooking it for the last twenty years, ever since he’d stumbled into the kitchen roughly two decades ago as a part-time gig during college.

He had even helped run a handful of Japanese eateries (a few concepts in Memphis and Sekisui in St. Louis). It seemed like the right move at the time. The success of Robata, which opened in the fall of 2015, gave Chantharasy both the confidence and financial footing to finally pursue his Laotian restaurant dreams. After searching the city and county for the right spot — and recruiting his seasoned restaurant-veteran sister, Barbara, to help him run the new place — Chantharasy opened Han Lao last November in a brand-new, but tucked-away, strip-mall storefront just off South Hanley Road. The restaurant is not far from Home Depot and the new commercial developments that have sprung up nearby in recent years. However, unlike the chain res-

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taurants that fill the neighboring plazas, Han Lao is imbued with style. Sleek and modern, the lightfilled space is outfitted with white leather booths and tall communal wooden tables with stone tops. A wall of windows makes up one side of the restaurant; the open kitchen and adjacent bar take up the other. In addition to the dining room seating, guests can choose to eat at one of the barstools and watch the cooks in action from a front-row vantage point. To find Han Lao, you’ll have to drive past a Buffalo Wild Wings, trying your best to hold back tears for the spice-seekers who stopped one storefront too soon. Even the hottest wing sauce being doled out at the neighboring wing spot pales in comparison to the Laotian restaurant’s fiery flavors.

MARCH 13-19, 2019

Continued on pg 33

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Wednesday March 13 9:45 pm Urban Chestnut Presents

The Voodoo Players Tribute To Paul Simon

Thursday March 14 9PM

The Wingmen Trio Piano/Guitar Rock Covers

Friday March 15 10PM

Grass Fed Mule Progressive Bluegrass

Saturday March 16 10PM

Brother Francis and the Soultones plus Grooveliner Sunday March 17 8PM

Roland Johnson and Soul Endeavor Saturday March 23 10PM

John Gros Band from NOLA Founder of Papa Grows Funk

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HAN LAO

Continued from pg 31

Thum muk huong, a traditional papaya salad, is bracingly hot, electrified with red chiles and lime. There’s an umami undercurrent of fish sauce and shrimp paste, but the salad is so surfaceof-the-sun hot it’s barely noticeable. A backbeat of citrus and the bright green papaya made it bearable, almost pleasurable. Even as my tongue was on fire, could not refrain from going back for more, bite after painful bite. Han Lao’s other appetizers offer a reprieve from the spice (don’t fret; it returns on the entrees). Starters include light-as-air shrimp chips, imbued with a subtle sea flavor, and blue crab Rangoon, which reimagines the ubiquitous Chinese takeout staple as an elegant finger food. Rich crab (yes, real crab) is enveloped in silken cream cheese, then folded into a wonton wrapper fashioned into the shape of an egg roll. The sweet, shellfish-infused goo becomes a rich liquid after it’s fried, a pleasurable experience that will make you order a second round before the first one is finished. If the crab Rangoon offers the luxurious richness of hot cream cheese, the Lao sausages provide the fatty indulgence of pure pork. Chantharasy gets the texture just right on these beauties; the outside casing is so delicate that, when cooked, it crisps up and glistens like chicken skin fresh out of the fryer. Inside, the meat and fat are coarsely ground, almost falling apart as you bite into them. Crispy ribs also benefit from

Owner Thom Chanthrasy is now serving the food he grew up eating. | MABEL SUEN

such perfection of texture. The meat, kissed with sweet soy and garlic, falls off the bone, revealing an under-layer of fat and a top coating of caramelized pork and glaze, the result of Chantharasy double-cooking the ribs. It’s a transformative touch. ou’ll find e cellent versions of the sort of staples you’d see on menus at Thai restaurants (the countries share a substantial north-south border), including a delightfully funky and peanutheavy pad Thai and a rendition of pad see ew that is decidedly less sweet than others around town. Both are perfectly good choices, but if you want to see Chantharasy’s range with traditional Laotian

cuisine, your best bet is to order the soups and curries. Like the papaya salad and its masochistic pleasures, the red curry is a simmering, sinus-clearing bowl of heat. I requested shrimp in place of the default chicken and was mesmerized by the plump, tender shellfish after they soaked up mouthwatering chile flavor from the curry broth. Yellow curry, served with chicken, is gentler up front, but its spice is cumulative; about four bites into the creamy coconut concoction, every part of your mouth is warm and tingling. Han Lao is not only about spice, however. One of the restaurant’s most delightful dishes is the khao piak sen, a chicken-broth-based

soup brimming with housemade rice noodles the thickness of a fat fettuccini, fresh herbs, pulled chicken and fried garlic. The subtle flavor is like that of a delicate chicken soup, but the rich texture is positively silken. I can’t think of a better antidote to the chilling temperatures of this seemingly endless winter. The chicken soup may remind you of something your mom would have made when you were feeling under the weather, but Chantharasy gets that nostalgic feeling when he eats a different soup: the khao poon. When he thinks back on those celebratory gatherings of his youth, this is the dish that stands out most vividly in his mind. It’s easy to see why. Red curry and coconut milk provide spicy decadence to deeply savory pork broth. Together, the three components create a hearty heat that coats the mouth, especially on the back palate. Pieces of ground pork, assorted vegetables and fresh herbs bob with vermicelli noodles. Unlike at those family gatherings, Chantharasy serves this vibrant soup already dolled up to his specifications. It would probably bring Chantharasy a spark of joy if you asked for additional herbs and condiments to make it your own, but why bother? This, like basically everything about Han Lao, is perfect just the way it is. And you don’t need to wait for your birthday to realize it. Food this good should be celebrated every day.

Han Lao Lao sausages ......................................... $5.95 Crispy ribs .............................................. $8.95 Khao poon .............................................. $8.95

DAILY LUNCH BUFFET : WEEKDAYS - $9.99 WEEKENDS - $10.99

DINNER 7 DAYS A WEEK

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SHORT ORDERS

35

[SIDE DISH]

Frankly, He’s Serving STL’s Best Fish Fry Written by

CHERYL BAEHR

B

ill Cawthon was a sixteenyear-old kid, hanging out around the house and not doing much of anything, to the annoyance of his brother. The situation so irked his sibling that he offered the younger kid a job at the restaurant where he worked. Little did Cawthon know, that part-time job would change his life. “It was dumb luck, really,” Cawthon says. “My brother got me a job washing dishes in a seafood restaurant in west county because I was doing nothing but sitting on the couch. One day, the salad guy called out sick, and it all started there. I’ve never done anything different in my entire life except work in kitchens.” For Cawthon, the owner of Frankly on Cherokee (2744 Cherokee Street, 314-325-3013) and the Frankly Sausages (@FranklySausages) food truck, work in the kitchen was appealing because of the hands-on nature of the learning process. He liked that he could get into cooking by figuring it out on his own, and he brought that ethos with him as he moved from the seafood restaurant to a couple of different restaurants around town. But once he realized that cooking was his life’s calling, Cawthon wanted a more formal education. He enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in New York where he developed the skills that would lead him to the high-end restaurants of Manhattan. He would not stay in New York for long, though, feeling the pull of warmer weather and — more importantly, his future wife, Jamie — in California. When he arrived in Los Angeles, he landed a position as sous chef at the elegant restaurant Culina, learning

Frankly on Cherokee’s Bill Cawthon learned to cook in Los Angeles, but got critical support back home from famed chef Bill Cardwell. | MABEL SUEN all he could about Italian cuisine under acclaimed chef Victor Casanova. When Casanova left Culina to open the well-received Gusto, Cawthon followed, soaking up as much knowledge from his mentor and living his passion for upscale Italian cooking. “I was my happiest working at these fine-dining talian spots in L.A.,” Cawthon explains. “I got to create and loved the cooking, but I also got to learn how to run a kitchen properly.” As much as Cawthon loved his professional life in Los Angeles, he would again feel the pull to make a move across the country for love. Jamie Cawthon had grown increasingly homesick and wanted to start a family. Knowing she wanted to do this all closer to home led the couple to return to St. Louis with the intention of opening a place of their own. Rather than diving head-first into restaurant ownership, however, Bill Cawthon decided to survey the city’s dining scene first.

As he explains it, he wanted to work for “an old-school chef and a new-school chef,” a strategy that led him to “new-school” Gerard Craft’s kitchen at Pastaria. There, Cawthon got to indulge in his passion for Italian cooking and pastamaking and became the restaurant’s chef de cuisine. Eventually, Cawthon left Pastaria to work for the local culinary legend Bill Cardwell at his now-shuttered Plaza Frontenac restaurant. The experience not only pushed his knowledge and skill level, but developed into a mentorship and friendship with the famed chef. “I’ve worked for a lot of people, but I have never had a chef or owner who was 65 years old and busting his ass in the kitchen to make sure everything was done right,” Cawthon says of Cardwell. “He’s straightforward with you and he takes care of his employees. He cares about your family and your kids and wants to know what you’re thinking about new

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concepts and new ideas. There is no down time for him.” The encouragement from Cardwell gave Cawthon both the mental and actual support he’d need to open his own business. Cawthon had come up with the idea for a concept that revolved around artisanal sausages, and he and his wife had been recruited by the owners of Six Mile Bridge Beer to turn that idea into the food service for their brewery. The Cawthons decided that a food truck would be the right move, and they got to work creating Frankly Sausages. Cawthon thought his new business would mean he’d have to leave Cardwell’s. Instead, he found in its eponymous owner not just a willingness to let him stay on, but also the generous offer to use the Cardwell’s kitchen as a commissary. “Frankly was built out of Cardwell’s,” Cawthon says. “Here thought was going to get fired

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when I told him what I was doing, and instead, Bill asks me, ‘How can I help?’” Frankly Sausages quickly developed a name for itself and began to grow out of the capacity provided by Cardwell’s kitchen. Cawthon and his wife realized that they needed their own space, and they also decided the brand was ready for a brick and mortar. That happened in November 2017 when the Cawthons opened Frankly on Cherokee. In the months since, Cawthon has received praise for how well he has brought a fine-dining approach to a fast-casual concept — and an almost religious devotion to his shockingly good French fries. He admits that he still has in him the passion for upscale dining, which he allows to creep into some of the interesting sausage flavors, off-the-menu specials, and his weekly Lenten fish fry, which regulars say is the best in the city. “I’m able to be creative and get the instant gratification that comes from putting so much into a dish, then dropping it in front of

them and having them say, ‘Wow, this is good,’” Cawthon says. “It’s what I love about restaurants. It’s all I’ve ever done and all I will ever do, if I have anything to say about it.” Cawthon took a break from frying up fish for the Lenten event to share his thoughts on the St. Louis food-and-beverage scene, the chefs he has his eye on and why it’s dangerous for him to be located in a neighborhood with such good Mexican food. What is one thing people don’t know about you that you wish they did? We do a lot more than just sausages, but I think that people that come down to the restaurant are starting to find that out. Also, am a lot nicer than I let on. What daily ritual is non-negotiable for you? Coffee, no matter what. I try to get to Mud House or Sump which are in the neighborhood, but often I brew it at home. Also, I take my kids to school. I love getting to spend the morning with them before we start the daily grind. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? I would love the ability to multiply. Being able to be in a few dif-

ferent places at once is what every person in this industry needs. What is the most positive thing in food, wine or cocktails that you’ve noticed in St. Louis over the past year? Savage is really pushing the boundaries of what people have seen in St. Louis. That makes me happy even though I’m too busy to ever actually get to go in for dinner. It’s on my list. What is something missing in the local food, wine or cocktail scene that you’d like to see? The St. Louis food scene has exploded, and it’s a lot of people sharing their own ideas of what food means to them. I’m looking forward to when St. Louis as a dining destination becomes more defined as a whole. hat is St. Louis food beyond the toasted ravs and square pizza? Who is your St. Louis food crush? Bill Cardwell — it’s complicated. Also, Nick Bognar has been killing it in Ballwin, and I can’t wait to see what he brings to the Botanical Heights neighborhood. Who’s the one person to watch right now in the St. Louis dining scene? Evy Swoboda. The Last Hotel is starting to look like a killer project, and I’m excited to see how

[FIRST LOOK]

Bait Is on Fire in the CWE Written by

CHELSEA NEULING

T

he Central West End gained a new seafood eatery last month. Owner Kalen Hodgest opened Bait (4239 Lindell Avenue, 314-405-2797) in the building that previously held Sol Lounge and the Grind. Hodgest bought the building back in 2015 and only intended to use it as office space for home health care and real estate companies, which are still located upstairs. He later realized that it would make a perfect seafood restaurant and hired chef Ceaira Jackson, formerly of Fleur de Lilies and SOHO, to make his dream a reality. Hodgest and his fiancée have traveled near and far, visiting many different seafood restaurants in many different cities. It made Hodgest realize the gap in the seafood scene in St. Louis, although he notes that 801 Fish and Yellowbelly have both since narrowed the gap. (Bait has been in the works for about three years, he says.) Restaurants in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and London influenced Bait — inspirations that have resulted in a stunning

“Flaming Wicked Prawns” is among Bait’s many dishes with tableside presentation. | CHELSEA NEULING space. “It has been rewarding to see people genuinely enjoy Bait and to watch my concept come to life,” he says. Indeed, the decor is modern chic, something you might pin to your Pinterest board. The black marble tables, gold accents, abstract art, smoked mirrors, candles and low-lit dreamy chandeliers give off major romantic vibes, with an il-

luminated wine wall that pulls the whole place together. The restaurant seats 60 in multiple rooms. And it’s not just the design that’s eye-catching: Bait offers tableside drink service with a bar cart. Watch your signature cocktail be made without leaving your seat, including some stunning smoked cocktails that the bartender will

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it turns out. It’s been a long time since we made pasta together. I’m happy to see her come into her own. Which ingredient is most representative of your personality? Salt. Too little of me and you’re missing something. Too much and you’re gonna hate me. If you weren’t working in the restaurant business, what would you be doing? I’d be a farmer. We already own the FranklyFarms URL because my wife is a manifester like that. Name an ingredient never allowed in your restaurant. I won’t blacklist an ingredient, but I will say no to microwaves and pre-made French fries. What is your after-work hangout? If I am not going home you can catch me at Louie eating pasta or Olive + Oak getting after their burger. What’s your food or beverage guilty pleasure? Tacos, all the tacos. We are surrounded on Cherokee Street. Can’t say I feel guilty about it, though. What would be your last meal on earth? The tasting menu from Antico Arco in Rome. It changed my mind about how I cook Italian food. n make right in front of you. Dishes range from $12 to $75. Whether you’re in the mood for an oyster trio or the “Tomahawk Steak,” there is something for everyone’s taste. The most popular dish so far is the Caribbean red snapper, which features a whole fried snapper, Caribbean rice, pickled Napa cabbage slaw, aioli, fresh herb sauce and hot pepper sauce for $32. Or enjoy “Flaming Wicked Prawns,” with jumbo head-on prawns, dark beer, Sherry and fresh herbs for $17. This dish is brought to your table and lit on fire before you devour it. Savory options such as alligator tacos, lobster fries and duck rangoon are also available, along with a list of seafood boils and much more. Hodgest has plans for much more, including special discounts on certain days, but says he’s still getting his feet wet. “I don’t want to do too much too fast,” he says. “For now, I want to focus on being a staple of the community, someplace people can be excited to eat and feel comfortable.” Hodgest says Bait is everything he’d hoped it would be. Business is booming and plans for a patio and brunch are in the works for spring and summer. In three months Hodgest is also opening an event space that seats 250 people in the back of the building. Bait is open Wednesday to Saturday from 4 to 11 p.m. n

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[FOOD NEWS]

Three AWARD Monkeys Is WINNING Ready for Its BRUNCH Big Reveal Written by

SATURDAY & SUNDAY

10AM – 1PM

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SARAH FENSKE

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ike many food industry professionals, Zach Rice and Mary Mangan had long dreamed of opening a place of their own. They even had the beginnings of a plan: First they’d get married, in November 2018. Then, the following month, Mangan would quit her job as general manager of Dressel’s Pub House, giving them time to ease into their life together before focusing on drawing up plans for a new venture. Fate had a much quicker timeline. Two months before their wedding, Rice and Mangan got an offer they couldn’t refuse. The longtime owner of the cheerful Tower Grove South pub and restaurant Three Monkeys (3153 Morganford Road, 314-772-9800) was hoping to sell, and she’d found a buyer for the building. But that buyer wanted someone else to own the restaurant — and was led to Rice, who’d been its general manager for eight years before taking a job at Schlafly Bottleworks. Explains Rice, “They wanted to make sure they had a tenant that would be ready to step in and take control.” And even though the timing wasn’t what they’d planned for, Rice and Mangan couldn’t help but jump in with both feet. “By October,” she says, “we were running the restaurant.” Mangan is now Mary Rice, having taken her husband’s name after their November wedding. And Three Monkeys is now slowly but surely taking shape as the restaurant of their dreams. The Rices are in the midst of shaking things up, with a new menu, an overall upgrade and a sprucing up of the space. They closed for a few days in February to facilitate construction and plan to close again from March 12 to March 14 in order to launch their new branding, which includes an updated logo and a fresher look inside.

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Three Monkeys is keeping pizza on the menu, but elevating it. | ED ALLER/ALLERNOTHING.COM On March 15, they’ll be unveiling Three Monkeys 2.0 — an establishment much like the one south city has come to love, but with a whole bunch of changes for the better. “You’ll still have the beautiful arches, the dark wood, the bar,” Mary Rice promises. “But you’ll realize it’s a different space.” The room with the bar is getting more high-tops for a classic pub feel, in contrast with the more food-oriented dining room. And whiskey-barrel heads stamped with their logo will highlight the bar’s new direction, which will include both flights of whiskey and whiskey-forward cocktails. Drink offerings will also include a new-and-improved wine list, Mary Rice says. Before her time at Dressel’s, she was the bar manager at the late, great Five Bistro. “I’m a big wine drinker,” she says. “Three Monkeys has always been known for its beer selection, but we’ll start to embrace a little more thoughtfulness in wine and cocktails.” Zach Rice is taking the lead on the refresh for the food menu. He says it won’t be so much an overhaul as an upgrade — though, he hastens to note, “We’ll still have that south-city price point.” He and longtime staffer Delana Chambers will be preparing a menu that still includes Three Monkeys’ signature pizza, sandwiches and burgers, but with an

increased emphasis on flavor. “The menu will be constantly evolving,” he says. “But everything will be super flavorful. e’ll be adding things that pack a lot of flavor into those familiar dishes.” That also means catering to the neighborhood’s sensibilities, Mary Rice says, with everything from the meatless “Impossible Burger” to grain bowls or other options for meat-free diners. “We’re not going to be a vegetarian restaurant,” she says, “but we will have plenty of things for vegetarians to select from. We want to include everybody.” After first taking ownership in October, the Rices were simply consumed by the day-to-day. Running a restaurant isn’t easy, and the fact that they were preparing for their wedding, even as Mary Rice honored her commitment to Dressel’s until the year’s end, kept them busy just maintaining. But now that they’re beginning to implement changes, they’re finally starting to see the place as their own. Zach Rice recalls visiting Three Monkeys after his departure for Schlafly Bottleworks. He couldn’t help but think of improvements. “I’d think, ‘If I was in charge, this is what I’d do,’” he says. “It was always in the back of my head. Well, now that day has come — and I’ve got Mary to help me execute it.” It is, they say, a dream come true. n


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[MENU CHANGES]

Lola Jean’s Now Has Daytime Covered Written by

CHELSEA NEULING

L

ola Jean’s Giveback Coffee (5400 Nottingham Avenue), Southampton’s pop-up coffee shop for a cause, is now serving a full breakfast and lunch menu. The cozy cafe is named after the daughter of owner Russell Ping. Ping is also the owner and chef of Russell’s, which has locations in Chesterfield and south city. Located walking distance from Russell’s on Macklind, Lola Jean’s sells Russell’s baked goods and Kaldi’s coffee, with all profits donated to a charity chosen each month. And those two things are pretty much all the shop sold when it opened last July. But earlier this year, Lola Jean’s unveiled a new menu featuring over a dozen new breakfast and lunch items. Taking into consideration that people have different dietary needs, Ping took the time to make vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. For breakfast, you can enjoy dishes such as the vegan apple oat crumble, a frittata, a scrambled-egg sandwich and tomato toast. For lunch, new items include a black-bean baguette, a “Thanksgiving Sandwich” with roasted turkey and “house Miracle Whip” on country white bread, a braised chicken thigh baguette

and a Bibb lettuce and herb salad. The most popular items on the new menu, Ping says, are sourdough blueberry pancakes, served with house seasalt butter and maple syrup, and the breakfast burrito, which comes stuffed with green chiles, braised pork carnitas, chipotle-lime aioli and white cheddar. Customers place orders at the counter before finding a comfy seat in the large dining area. Pops of yellow and green decor bring a summertime feel as the natural light shines in through two walls of windows facing the street. The whole place feels like a vacation from the winter blues. “We hope the new menu is an added incentive for people to come by Lola Jean’s, try out some of our new menu items, and, in turn, support the monthly charities we’re dedicated to giving back to,” Ping explained in a press release. January’s profits went to the St. Louis Area Food Bank; February’s went to the American Heart Asssociation. Previous month’s donations have gone to the Habitat for Humanity, the Children’s Organ Transplant Association and more. Lola Jean’s Giveback Coffee was only supposed to be temporary; Ping had planned on opening a wood-fired pizza place on site called Lola Jean’s Pizza. The original plan was to open it in about a year, and then to reopen the coffee shop in garage space on the property. But for now, there are no firm plans to close the coffee concept. Ping is focusing on the shop as it is for now. Lola Jean’s Giveback Coffee is open Tuesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Food is served Wednesday through Sunday. n

For breakfast, try Lola Jean’s tomato toast. | CHELSEA NEULING

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MUSIC & CULTURE

“Our classmates were in shock. What’s the chance that 50 years later, a band would be there, playing the same music, with all the same guys doing the same songs? It was just unbelievable.”

[HOMESPUN]

Getting the Band Back Together 50 years after taking St. Louis’ teen town scene by storm, Progress can still pack ’em in Written by

THOMAS CRONE

Y

ou’d be hard-pressed to write a storyline as St. Louiscentric as that of the band Progress. The group formed in the ’60s when its members were just teenagers, a bunch of southside Catholic school boys who’d go on a short but extremely popular run lighting up the then-competitive teen town scene. After that, they’d take on a summer stint at the Admiral, where they’d be entrusted with the job of stopping the “graying process” that was taking place on the popular riverfront attraction. Over time, the band not only attracted the attention of a young Steve Schankman of Contemporary Productions as its booker, it even added him as a member. His presence swelled the band from nine members to ten, including three trumpet players, who provided the spine of a five-piece horn section. But if the group was able to make a mighty noise with the presence of so many players, that big membership would eventually cause its pause. Scholastic pressures and geography brought its run to an end. But there’d be a reunion, then another and then even more. All it took, says co-founder and trombone player Jim Mills, was the passage of a long sabbatical of 40 years. “I’d bought a farm and in 2016 I gathered everybody together in my barn. We put some straw bales out and everyone’s wives were there,” Mills says. “Our drummer counted off four and played Chicago’s ‘Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?’ And the

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The members of Progress trace their time with the band back to their high school days in south city. | PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE BAND wives looked at each other like, ‘Oh, gosh.’ They’d never heard us do this. We started getting together every spring and fall, and one thing led to another ...” And another. Schankman, of course, still has the connections to pull off a multi-band booking at the room of his choice, and it was he who booked the new Progress on some shows alongside his own long-running act, the Fabulous Motown Revue (for which he features on trumpet). On February 9, the two bands were in action at the Casa Loma Ballroom, playing

to a packed room. t took fifteen minutes to get a drink,” Mills says. “That’s what stood out in my mind. I enjoyed listening to the Motown Revue, too. It’s hard work sharing a stage with those guys.” Mills and sax player Steve Radick, who co-founded the band while walking home from school one day in 1968, could never have predicted the group would still pack ’em in 50 years later. But here they are. Even before Schankman’s arrival, the band was rocking two trumpets,

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a trombone and sax. The band Chicago provided the exact template for what its members pursued as a group, which also included Gary Ritter, lead vocals; Ron Mantia, lead guitar and vocals; Mike Tiefenbrun, bass; Dave Mouldon, drums; Tom Dostal, keys; Kevin Broccard, trumpet; and the late Frank Goessler, also on trumpet. “It started out with the band playing songs like ‘My Girl,’” Mills explains. “But then the group Chicago Transit Authority came along. As you can imagine, we were very challenged by playing that music. Those guys in Chicago were so excellent.” The formula worked. Within no time, the band had gigs at schools all over St. Louis, particularly in the then-thriving teen town scene. Its sudden burst into that world caught Schankman’s attention. “We were grabbing jobs that he would’ve grabbed for his production company,” Mills says. “So he approached us and said, ‘I’d like to take you on, we can do a better job on bookings. I’d also like to join the group as a player.’ Now we had ten guys and five horns and were doing prom after prom.” The gig that truly cemented Progress’ popularity in town came via the Admiral, where the band was booked to a four-nights-a-week routine in an attempt by Streckfus Steamers to keep the ship relevant in the changing entertainment

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landscape of the late ’60s and early ’70s. That outfit, which operated the Admiral from 1935 until its retirement in 1979 and sale in 1981, placed a smart bet on Progress, which drew a young and enthusiastic audience. But the band struck a chord with the older, established Admiral regulars, too. “With that crowd graying, they needed a transition group,” Mills recalls. “Streckfus wondered, ‘How do we cater to our older crowd, but still bring in some younger people?’ Well, we agreed to learn to read charts and so we were able to do both kinds of music. That summer gave us so much experience, and coming off of that we were booked like crazy.” Instead of working part time around their neighborhoods, the young players of Progress were essentially professional musicians in their mid-teens. But as the members aged into the next stages of their educations, the gig was up. Mills went on to a college career at University of Missouri in Rolla before becoming a builder, a lifestyle that allowed him to eventually purchase a farm in Bourbon, Missouri. Then that barn session of 2016 came around, and something special was rekindled. “It’s been magical,” Mills says. “After all this time, we’ve been able to do this.” The band even got to play the 50year reunion for its grade school, Our Lady of Sorrows. “Our classmates were in shock,” Mills says. “What’s the chance that 50 years later, a band would be there, playing the same music, with all the same guys doing the same songs? It was just unbelievable.” Since that show, however, the number of members has decreased by one, with the passing of trumpeter Goessler. “Practically speaking,” Mills says, “we were able to continue on, the nine of us, but we sure do miss him.” There will likely be another gig, or two, in 2019. And the band will be back together for a session in the barn in May, a tradition that’s now an annual piece of their collective calendar. There was just this terrific bunch of guys,” Mills says of his lifelong musical comrades. “In most bands, there’s usually someone who gets controlling or different players will butt heads. But we never had that. It’s like time has stood still in our friendships.” n

With 180 booths within its 20,000 square feet, Manhattan Antique Marketplace has something for everyone. | CHELSEA NEULING

[ PA S T T I M E S ]

An Antique Marketplace That’s Much, Much More Written by

CHELSEA NEULING

W

e’ve got a suggestion for this weekend: Skip the brunch and drink your mimosas while doing what you really want to do ... shop. Drinking and antiquing is something that we totally didn’t know we needed, but we definitely do. And for that, may we recommend the Manhattan Antique Marketplace (10431 St. Charles Rock Road, St. Ann; 314-7335285)? The huge indoor space is much more than an antique mall. It’s an antique mall that contains an indoor farmers’ market, cafe and event space. A tap room and commissary kitchen will open on site this summer. And did we mention the alcohol? While browsing for treasures, you can enjoy mimosas, wine or beer from the on-site cafe, although seating is also available if you want to pause instead of press on. Snacks like chips and do-

nuts from nearby Sweet Spot Cafe are available for purchase as well. The marketplace — known as MAM and pronounced like “ma’am” — opened its doors in December in the old National and Kroger building. The giant brick building stood vacant for a decade before the Greater Missouri Builders gave it a makeover and brought it back to life. ith its main o ce in St. Charles, the Greater Missouri Builders was originally a residential construction company. After the 2008 recession, its owners decided to focus on commercial properties. Now companies including Aldi and Planet Fitness rent out their buildings from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to Litchfield, llinois. MAM is the company’s first development, and judging by the buzz making its way back to neighborhoods far from its north county home, it’s been a big success. The antique mall covers more than 20,000 square feet of space and is broken down into about 180 booths, cases and kiosks. To be a vendor, you must fill out an application and be selling something old, handmade or collectible. Spaces are rented on a monthly bases. The checkout process is easier than most antique malls because each item has a scannable barcode that connects directly to the seller. That’s not all. Hidden behind large red theater curtains you can find the 7,000-s uare-foot event space. “It will not only cater to social gatherings, but accommodate a

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multitude of smaller niche events, including craft demos and classes, exhibitions of specialized collections, pop-up shops, appraisal and identification days, presentations by local experts, and monthly auctions,” the owners explain in a press release. And then there’s the indoor farmer’s market. Located in the front of MAM for easy access, it sells a large variety of produce and packaged foods including a revolving selection of handmade pickles, pickled vegetables, spices, sauces, salsas, nut butters, jams and jellies. They can’t seem to keep the peach salsa on the shelves, a company rep says. Many people come in, buy the peach salsa, and leave. The “back of house” contains an artist workshop, storage units for vendors, and a commissary kitchen for food trucks that is still in the works. This is also the area of the complex that the taproom and nano brewery will call home. The company rep says they’re looking to announce an in-house brewery shortly. Both indoor and outdoor seating will be available. Yes, it’s a lot to wrap your head around. In the words of its owners, “Manhattan Antique Marketplace really is more than just a mall … it’s a city!” And also a great reason to leave the city and visit the county, if only for a lazy weekend morning. The Manhattan Antique Marketplace is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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[LEGENDS]

Even Better Than You Thought He Was Written by

JAIME LEES

G

arth Brooks is much more than he seems. He’s known to audiences around the world as the king of country music. Judging solely by albums sold, he’s the best-selling solo artist in the U.S., having moved more than 148 million albums in his career. Seven of his albums have achieved diamond status; just last week he set a record for vinyl sales, when his upcoming box set pre-sold 420,000 records in thirteen hours. And still, there’s more. Brooks’ impact on country music (and American music as a whole) cannot be overstated. He’s the original Taylor Swift — country did not cross over to pop until he built the bridge. Country used to be considered almost a fringe genre, but then Brooks came around and got city slickers dreaming of spurs, latigo and that damned old rodeo. And he’s a good guy, too. Brooks spends much of his life off-stage donating time and money to charities. He’s even formed his own charities, including Teammates for ids, which finances renovations at children’s hospitals. He even once literally saved children from a burning building. But as a performer, he’s thoroughly unpredictable in the best possible way. His ability to thrill an entire stadium puts him right up there with the greatest performers of all time — performers like Michael Jackson, Prince or Bruce Springsteen. (Especially Bruce Springsteen.) And here’s the truly crazy part. Garth Brooks is beloved by redstate, gun-toting, Republicanvoting country music fans even though he’s always freely expressed his lefty, liberal values. He’s a gay rights activist, one who supported the LGBTQ community in concrete ways (including releasing the most woke-ass anthem ever, “We Shall Be Free”)

The man formerly known as Chris Gaines, looking woke AF at the Dome at America’s Center Saturday. | JAIME LEES long before it was cool. He was always down to show up for the cause, once doing a legendary duet with George Michael at a concert for gay rights. He also supports gun control, recording a Facebook video directed to Parkland student activist Emma Gonzalez. “Your generation is the generation for the school shootings,” he said. “Let’s make sure the next generation is not.” And he does it all as a flag-waving Christian from Nashville via Oklahoma. All of this and more is part of what made Brooks’ Chris Gaines character so fascinating. In the late ‘90s, Brooks recorded an album of R&B songs under the name Chris Gaines. Brooks was the biggest country star on the planet (ever), so he couldn’t just go make non-country songs without some kind of backlash. The Gaines character gave him a way to make other types of music without having his name attached directly. Brooks made Gaines an Australian with a complicated backstory and an intense wig. (The character was even going to star in a movie, although that never materialized.) Gaines was also the subject of an entire (fake) episode of VH-1’s Behind the Music. The alter-ego was not only an outlet for Brooks’ overflowing talents, he was proof that we all can change, that we’re not actually stuck in the box we’ve been

Here’s the truly crazy part: Garth Brooks is beloved by redstate, gun-toting, Republican-voting country music fans even though he’s always freely expressed his lefty, liberal values. assigned. We don’t have to be narrow-minded country boys because that’s what our neighbors are doing; we can be an Australian pop star who sings songs that sound like Babyface and who dresses like a Eurotrash magician. In short: We can be heroes. And Brooks has a history of looking out for us here in St. Louis, too. Right after the second round of Ferguson protests, after a grand jury failed to indict cer Darren Wilson, Brooks posted an update to Facebook saying he was canceling upcoming scheduled promo-

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tional appearances in New York because it would seem distasteful to him to go on. He ended the note with “Love one another, g.” Many of us St. Louisans were too distracted at the time to notice his display of respect, but Brooks made a point of talking about events here when he played St. Louis a month later. The city was emotionally raw — to say the least. From the stage, Brooks encouraged the audience to love each other before playing “People Loving People,” which includes the line: “People loving people / That’s the enemy of all that’s evil.” Brooks brought up Ferguson again Friday afternoon at a press conference before his big show the next day at the Dome at America’s Center. He said his decision to kick off his five-date tour in St. Louis came down to how much love the audience showed him the last time he played here, just after the protests. He spoke of the healing power of music and how he felt overwhelmed by the warmth he was shown here. After being presented with an honorary name change of the Dome (“The Garth Brooks Dome”) and solemnly speaking on Ferguson, he turned back into a goodtimes entertainer again. He told tales of his family and appeared to choke up a bit about his departed mother. He was funny and lovable and exactly like the guy

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Garth Brooks charmed the media at a press conference Friday. | JAIME LEES

GARTH BROOKS Continued from pg 45

you see on the big stage, except instead of wearing tight Wranglers he was sporting a Carhartt jacket and Nike (is that a statement?) construction boots. I got to do a quick interview with Brooks after he talked to the group, and I used the time to pass on a sincere “thank you” for the care and compassion he showed to St. Louis in the wake of the Ferguson riots… but I also just had to ask him about Chris Gaines. I am deeply (and weirdly?) obsessed with the time he spent as Gaines and I knew I’d never get another opportunity to ask him about it face-to-face. After a long, rambling intro, I asked Brooks if he had any Gaines left in him. He didn’t miss a beat, but he did redirect the question a bit. “When you go to concerts,” Brooks explained, “you know what you like, but more importantly, you know what you don’t like. So why are you putting anything on them that they don’t like? Do all the things that they like and then surprise them with stuff they didn’t even know they liked. They’ll tell you. If you’re watching, if you’re awake, they’ll tell you if they don’t like something and then —” he chuckled “—you get that done quick!” It was an artful dodge; I had been hoping for something a little more personal. But just as I was about to leave, Brooks slid up to me, leaned in close and with a twinkle in his eye said, “Thank you for the ask on Chris Gaines. It’s my wife’s favorite Garth Brooks record.” We talked about it a bit and he

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said his favorite song on the Chris Gaines album is “Drifting Away.” And just like that, he gave me exactly what I was after — not a sound bite, not a quote that was useful to any other journalist, but just a bit of insight that I’d come there, selfishly, to find. Garth Brooks never leaves a fan (or a journalist) unsatisfied. He proved it the next night in concert. There is a certain buzz to any room with 75,000 people in it, but the vibe at the Dome on Saturday was positively electric. It was also slightly frazzled — there was gridlock tra c outside and entrances were overloaded, resulting in the entire show start time being delayed about an hour so the audience could get inside. But once Brooks took the stage it was all big, big love. He appeared to get choked up a couple of times, and some members of the audience were sobbing on the Jumbotron. Since it was the first date of the tour, nobody in the audience knew what songs to expect in the setlist, but he played all of the hits and — true to what he’d told me the day before — surprised them with things that they couldn’t expect, like a performance of fanfavorite “Wolves.” He jogged across the stage and beamed love and togetherness and acceptance into every corner of that room and his fans mirrored it right back. St. Louis is a deeply divided city that seems always on the verge of complete collapse, but strength and love and community holds us together and makes us strong. Garth Brooks knows this. And when you’re at one of his shows, it feels like he’s trying to teach his fans this, too, in his own way. Thanks, Garth. We’d be glad to have you back anytime. n


Rafe Williams is joining 800 Pound Gorilla’s roster, which includes comedy stars Marc Maron, Jim Jefferies and Michelle Wolf. | VIA THE ARTIST

[COMEDY]

Rafe Williams Gets Tapped for an Album Written by

DANIEL HILL

C

omedian Rafe Williams, dubbed one of the funniest people in all of St. Louis by the RFT back in 2017, is about to see his star rise considerably. That’s thanks in part to comedy tastemaker 800 Pound Gorilla Records, which will be recording and releasing an album with Williams. 800 Pound Gorilla has worked with a host of huge names in the comedy world, including Marc Maron, Demetri Martin, Michelle Wolf, Jim Jefferies, George Lopez and on and on. The Nashville-based label will be sending members of its team to the Improv Shop (3960 Chouteau Avenue, 314-652-2200) for Williams’ show on Friday, March 29. Williams will be performing two sets, one at 8 p.m. and one at 10 p.m. Each will be recorded for the album. The opportunity serves as wellearned recognition for the hardworking comedian, who is just as comfortable working in improv

groups as he is doing standup. A tireless performer, Williams worked as a writer and cast member on STL Up Late, a sketch-comedy-focused talk show that aired on KMOV (his Ronnie Jenkins-Trump character, a sleeveless redneck who claims to be the brother of Donald Trump, was a standout). Williams also serves as a regular guest and contributor on CBS Sports Radio’s We Are Live drivetime show in addition to hosting his own podcast, The Other Side of the Tracks. As if all that weren’t enough, Williams works as performer, coach and adjunct faculty at the Improv Shop, where he is part of the groups Burnside and Dadvan. His standup career has seen him open for Dave Attell, Kyle Kinane, Joey ‘Coco’ Diaz and more in addition to headlining his own shows at Helium Comedy Club and Old Rock House. He won the title of “Funniest Person in St. Louis” in a competition at the former in 2016. In short, dude is the real deal. “When people ask me how to get to the next level, I just tell them to crush the level you’re at,” Williams told the RFT for a 2017 feature. “When you crush the level that you’re at, you’re all of a sudden onto the next. It’s like being on an elevator.” It would seem that the man has been taking his own advice. Well crushed, sir, well crushed. Pick up tickets for Williams’ March 29 shows at theimprovshop.com. n

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OUT EVERY NIGHT

THURSDAY 14

ALASH ENSEMBLE: 7:30 p.m., free. Kranzberg Arts Center, 501 N Grand Blvd, St. Louis, 314-533-0367. ANOUSHKA SHANKAR: 8 p.m., $30-$45. The Sheldon, 3648 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, 314-533-9900. BANE (BLACK METAL): 8 p.m., $12. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. BOOMTOWN UNITED: w/ Deals Gone Slack, Brick City 7:30 p.m., $10-$12. The Firebird, 2706 Olive St., St. Louis, 314-535-0353. THE DRIFTAWAYS: w/ Joint Operation, Justus and the Experience 9 p.m., $7. The Heavy Anchor, 5226 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314-352-5226. FUNK YOU: w/ Tree One Four 7 p.m., $10. The Bootleg, 4140 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314-775-0775. GANGSPIL: 7:30 p.m., $15-$20. The Focal Point, 2720 Sutton Blvd, St. Louis, 314-560-2778. JIM HEGARTY QUINTET: 7:30 p.m., free. The Dark Room, 3610 Grandel Square inside Grandel Theatre, St. Louis, 314-776-9550. LUKAS SIMPSON & ROGER NETHERTON: 8:30 p.m., free. The Frisco Barroom, 8110 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, 314-455-1090. MT. JOY: w/ Wilderado 8 p.m., $20-$25. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. PLIES: w/ Stuey Rock 8 p.m., $35-$55. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161.

FRIDAY 15

ALL THAT REMAINS: w/ Attila, Escape The Fate, Sleep Signals 6:30 p.m., $27.50-$30. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-7266161. BIG MAMOU: 8 p.m., free. Rhone Rum Bar, 2107 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis, 314-241-7867. THE CENTAURETTES: 6:30 p.m., $10. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. CHERISH THE LADIES: 8 p.m., $30-$40. The Sheldon, 3648 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, 314-533-9900. DIMESACK: w/ Crush Crusher, Mala Leche, Dentist, Ace of Spit 9 p.m., $7-$10. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. KEY GRIP: w/ Incogweirdo, Tape History 9 p.m., $7. The Heavy Anchor, 5226 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314-352-5226. KINGDOM BROTHERS: 7 p.m., $10. National Blues Museum, 615 Washington Ave., St. Louis. NEIL HAMBURGER: 8 p.m., $20. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Ave, St. Louis, 314-833-3929. NEIL SALSICH: 9:30 p.m., free. The Frisco Barroom, 8110 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, 314-455-1090. OWEN RAGLAND TRIO: 9 p.m., free. The Dark Room, 3610 Grandel Square inside Grandel Theatre, St. Louis, 314-776-9550. SECKOND CHAYNCE: 6 p.m., $25. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. VAN BUREN: w/ Kilverez, Killing Fever, Overnighter 8 p.m., $7-$10. The Firebird, 2706 Olive St., St. Louis, 314-535-0353. VOGTS SISTERS: 8 p.m., $12-$15. The Focal Point, 2720 Sutton Blvd, St. Louis, 314-560-2778. THE WAY DOWN WANDERERS: 8 p.m., $12. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505. YESSONGS: A TRIBUTE TO YES: 7 p.m., $20. Wildey Theatre, 254 N. Main St., Edwardsville, 618-692-7538.

SATURDAY 16

3WEEKOLDROSES: w/ Gumm, Murtaugh, Placeholder 7 p.m., $5. The Sinkhole, 7423 South Broadway, St. Louis, 314-328-2309. ALL ROOSTERED UP: noon, free. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811.

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ANTHONY GOMES: 8 p.m., $15-$18. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505. BENDIGO FLETCHER: w/ Cara Louise, Holy Posers 8 p.m., $10. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. BIG EASY: 9 p.m., free. Nightshift Bar & Grill, 3979 Mexico Road, St. Peters, 636-441-8300. BORN OF OSIRIS: w/ Chelsea Grin, Make Them Suffer 6 p.m., $10-$13. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Ave, St. Louis, 314-833-3929. THE BOTTLESNAKES: 9:30 p.m., free. The Frisco Barroom, 8110 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, 314-455-1090. CHIN UP, KID: w/ Offended By Everything, As We Are, The Cinema Story, Positive Punk with Wes Hoffman 7 p.m., $10-$12. The Firebird, 2706 Olive St., St. Louis, 314-535-0353. DISGUISE THE LIMIT: 6:30 p.m., $5. Pop’s Nightclub, 401 Monsanto Ave., East St. Louis, 618-274-6720. EILEEN GANNON & EIMEAR ARKINS: 8 p.m., $12$15. The Focal Point, 2720 Sutton Blvd, St. Louis, 314-560-2778. HAIL TO THE QUEEN: A TRIBUTE TO ARETHA FRANKLIN: 7 p.m., $20. Voce, 212 S. Tucker Blvd., St. Louis, 314-435-3956. IN RUFF GANG WE TRUST: 8 p.m., $12-$15. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. IT’S A PARTY Y’ALL: 9 p.m., $7-$12. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. JASON GARMS: 9 p.m., free. 1860 Saloon, Game Room & Hardshell Cafe, 1860 S. Ninth St., St. Louis, 314-231-1860. THE KAY BROTHERS: 8 p.m., $10-$13. The Bootleg, 4140 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314-775-0775. MARIAH CAREY: 8 p.m., $64.95-$499.95. Stifel Theatre, 1400 Market St, St. Louis, 314-499-7600. MELLOW D’S: 8 p.m., free. Rhone Rum Bar, 2107 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis, 314-241-7867. SAINT ZOSIMA: w/ St. Villagers 9 p.m., $7. The Heavy Anchor, 5226 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314-352-5226. THE MONKEES: MICHAEL NESMITH & MICKY DOLENZ: 7:30 p.m., $50-$100. Family Arena, 2002 Arena Parkway, St Charles, 636-896-4200. WILLIE & THE POOR BOYS: 8 p.m., $5. Hwy 61 Roadhouse and Kitchen, 34 S Old Orchard Ave, Webster Groves, 314-968-0061. YESSONGS: A TRIBUTE TO YES: 7 p.m., $20. Wildey Theatre, 254 N. Main St., Edwardsville, 618-692-7538.

[CRITIC’S PICK]

Neil Hamburger. | SIMONE TURKINGTON

Neil Hamburger 8 p.m. Friday, March 15. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Ave. $20. 314-833-3929. With his disheveled tux, oversized glasses and slimy comb-over, comedian Neil Hamburger is worth a laugh before he even opens his mouth. Which is good, because depending upon the audience’s disposition on a given night, that could well be the only laugh he gets. That’s by design, of course. The character, a creation of Australian-born comic Gregg Turkington, specializes in stepping on his own outrageously crass jokes, coughing through poorly delivered punchlines and berating the audience while cradling multiple drinks under his arm. It makes sense, then, that Ham-

burger has been frequently compared to Tony Clifton, the wholly obnoxious lounge singer alter-ego of the late comedic genius Andy Kaufman. Hamburger’s brand of humor isn’t for everyone — and to hear Turkington tell it, that’s by design — but for those that are in on the joke there’s no one funnier. The Comedian Is In: Turkington played Hamburger with a straight face, refusing to break character, for more than twenty years before his starring role in 2015’s Entertainment, which premiered at Sundance. While explaining the film to that crowd, Turkington allowed that “he’s a shattered shell of a person.” Maybe that’s what makes him so relatable. —Daniel Hill

SUNDAY 17

BE FOREST: w/ Lightfoils, Seashine 8 p.m., $7. The Sinkhole, 7423 South Broadway, St. Louis, 314-328-2309. BEER CHOIR: 4 p.m., free. Das Bevo Biergarten, 4749 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314-224-5521. BUTCH MOORE: noon, free. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. THE CHARLIE HUSTLE LIFE CELEBRATION: 5 p.m., $10. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. EILEEN GANNON & EIMEAR ARKINS: 7 p.m., $12$15. The Focal Point, 2720 Sutton Blvd, St. Louis, 314-560-2778. ELECTRIC SIX: 8 p.m., $15. Blueberry Hill - The Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314-727-4444. AN EVENING WITH ELLIS PAUL: 8 p.m., $20. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. FADE: w/ Golden Curls, Star Belly 8 p.m., $8-$10. The Firebird, 2706 Olive St., St. Louis, 314-535-0353. LALA LALA: w/ The Funs, Bugg, Pineapple RnR 8 p.m., $10. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. ROLAND JOHNSON: 8 p.m., $7. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. SHINEDOWN: w/ Papa Roach, Asking Alexandria 7 p.m., $43-$78.50. Chaifetz Arena, 1 S. Comp-

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ton Ave., St. Louis, 314-977-5000. ST. PATRICK’S DAY CARIBBEAN STYLE: w/ the Barley Boys 2 p.m., free. Rhone Rum Bar, 2107 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis, 314-241-7867. TOMMY HALLORAN BAND: 11:30 a.m., free. The Dark Room, 3610 Grandel Square inside Grandel Theatre, St. Louis, 314-776-9550.

MONDAY 18

THE DIRTY NIL: 8 p.m., $10.57-$13. Blueberry Hill - The Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314-727-4444. ERIC AND LARRY: 9 p.m., free. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. KEITH BOWMAN QUARTET: 7 p.m., free. The Dark Room, 3610 Grandel Square inside Grandel Theatre, St. Louis, 314-776-9550. RUBBLEBUCKET: w/ Twain 8 p.m., $16-$18. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Ave, St. Louis, 314-833-3929. SOULARD BLUES BAND: 9 p.m., $5. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. STICKY FINGERS: 8 p.m., $22-$25. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505. TIMOTHY MYERS: 7:30 p.m., free. The 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity Ave., University City,

314-421-3600.

TUESDAY 19

ALEX DI LEO: 7 p.m., $10. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. BEN PIRANI: w/ DJ Hal Greens 8 p.m., $10-$13. The Bootleg, 4140 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314-775-0775. GRANDDAD: w/ Termination Dust, Young Animals, Slow Boys 8:30 p.m., $7. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. MEWITHOUTYOU, TIGERS JAW: 8 p.m., $20-$23. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. QUINN XCII: 8 p.m., $28-$32. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. ROLAND JOHNSON: 7 p.m., free. The Dark Room, 3610 Grandel Square inside Grandel Theatre, St. Louis, 314-776-9550. STEVEN WOOLEY: 9 p.m., free. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. THE STOOLS: w/ Big Hog, Banana Clips 8 p.m., $7. The Sinkhole, 7423 South Broadway, St. Louis, 314-328-2309.

WEDNESDAY 20

CHRIS DIFFORD: w/ Steve Smith 8 p.m., $30.


Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. DOOBIE: w/ Krash Minati, DJ Hylyte 8 p.m., $12. Blueberry Hill - The Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314-727-4444. LAVENDER COUNTRY: 8 p.m., $10. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. LEIKELI47: 8 p.m., $20. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. MARCHFOURTH: 8 p.m., $18. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505. NEOROMANTICS: 7:30 p.m., $10-$12. The Firebird, 2706 Olive St., St. Louis, 314-535-0353. PIERCE CRASK: 5:30 p.m., free. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811.

THIS JUST IN ALL ROOSTERED UP: Sat., March 16, noon, free. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. ANA POPOVIC: Thu., June 6, 8 p.m., $20. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505. ANNIE AND THE FUR TRAPPERS: Sun., April 28, noon, $20. Joe’s Cafe, 6014 Kingsbury Ave, St. Louis. BE FOREST: W/ Lightfoils, Seashine, Sun., March 17, 8 p.m., $7. The Sinkhole, 7423 South Broadway, St. Louis, 314-328-2309. BEER CHOIR: Sun., March 17, 4 p.m., free. Das Bevo Biergarten, 4749 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314-224-5521. BETH BOMBARA: Thu., May 9, 7 p.m., $15. Joe’s Cafe, 6014 Kingsbury Ave, St. Louis. BIG MAMOU: Fri., March 15, 8 p.m., free. Rhone Rum Bar, 2107 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis, 314-241-7867. BILL MACKAY: W/ Dark Tea, Jake Leech, Thu., April 11, 8 p.m., $7. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. BROTHERS LAZAROFF: Thu., May 2, 7 p.m., $15. Joe’s Cafe, 6014 Kingsbury Ave, St. Louis. BUILT TO SPILL KEEP IT LIKE A SECRET 20 YEAR ANNIVERSARY TOUR: Mon., July 8, 7 p.m., $30. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Ave, St. Louis, 314-833-3929. BUTCH MOORE: Sun., March 17, noon, free. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. THE CENTAURETTES: Fri., March 15, 6:30 p.m., $10. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. CREE RIDER: Fri., May 31, 7:30 p.m., $5. Sat., Aug. 10, 7:30 p.m., $5. Das Bevo Biergarten, 4749 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314-224-5521. CRIS JACOBS: Thu., May 16, 8 p.m., $10-$12. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505. DADDY LONG LEGS: Tue., July 9, 8 p.m., $12. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. THE DON DIEGO TRIO: Sat., March 30, 7 p.m., $15. Joe’s Cafe, 6014 Kingsbury Ave, St. Louis. DYLAN LEBLANC: Fri., June 28, 8 p.m., $12-$15. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505. ERIC AND LARRY: Mon., March 18, 9 p.m., free. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. FADE: W/ Golden Curls, Star Belly, Sun., March 17, 8 p.m., $8-$10. The Firebird, 2706 Olive St., St. Louis, 314-535-0353. FAT SUN: W/ Mother Meat, Thu., March 21, 8 p.m., $7. The Sinkhole, 7423 South Broadway, St. Louis, 314-328-2309. FORTS LIKE VANA: W/ The Yesterdays, Whispers of October, Are You In?, 9:09, Sat., March 30, 6:30 p.m., $10. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. FRESHMAN CLASS XVI: Fri., April 26, 8 p.m., $5$10. Blank Space, 2847 Cherokee St., St. Louis. GAELIC STORM: Fri., Aug. 30, 8 p.m., $25-$30. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. GOTHS ON WHEELS 2: Sun., March 31, 3:30 p.m., $10. St. Louis Skatium, 120 E Catalan St, St. Louis, 314-631-3922. HARMONY WOODS: W/ Frankie Valet, Camp Counselor, Wed., March 27, 8 p.m., $5. Foam,

3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. HELL CAMINO: W/ Iron Sun, Thu., May 2, 8 p.m., $10. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. HOWARD LEVY AND CHRIS SIEBOLD: Thu., May 23, 7 p.m., $30. Joe’s Cafe, 6014 Kingsbury Ave, St. Louis. HUDSON HARKINS & ELLIOT SOWELL: Thu., April 18, 7 p.m., $15. Joe’s Cafe, 6014 Kingsbury Ave, St. Louis. IMMORTAL BIRD: W/ Nolia, Thu., June 6, 8 p.m., $10. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. INTER ARMA: W/ Path of Might, Van Buren, Sat., May 18, 8 p.m., $12. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. IT’S A PARTY Y’ALL: Sat., March 16, 9 p.m., $7-$12. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. J.S. ONDARA: Mon., June 10, 8 p.m., $10-$12. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314588-0505. JACK GRELLE & RYAN KOENIG: Thu., April 4, 7 p.m., $15. Joe’s Cafe, 6014 Kingsbury Ave, St. Louis. JEEZY: Sat., April 20, 9 p.m., $55. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. JET BLACK ALLEY CAT: W/ Hardcastle, Malibu ‘92, Sat., April 27, 7:30 p.m., $10. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. KANDI BURRUSS: Fri., May 24, 9 p.m., $65-$75. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. KILL VARGAS: W/ Bounce House, Bucko Toby, Sun., March 31, 8 p.m., $7. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. LAREN LOVELESS REVIEW: Fri., May 17, 8 p.m., $10. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. LEDISI WITH THE ST. LOUIS SYMPHONY: Fri., June 7, 7:30 p.m., $55-$60. Powell Hall, 718 N. Grand Blvd, St. Louis, 314-534-1700. LOS GUEYS: W/ Abi Ooze, Big Whoop, Thu., March 21, 9 p.m., $7. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. MARQUISE KNOX: Thu., May 16, 7 p.m., $15. Joe’s Cafe, 6014 Kingsbury Ave, St. Louis. MELLOW D’S: Sat., March 16, 8 p.m., free. Rhone Rum Bar, 2107 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis, 314-241-7867. OLD TIME RELIJUN: Mon., May 13, 9 p.m., $12-$15. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. ORPHAN WELLES: W/ The Cordial Sins,North by North, Fluorescent, Fri., May 31, 8 p.m. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. PIERCE CRASK: Wed., March 20, 5:30 p.m., free. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. RECKLESS KELLY: Sun., June 2, 8 p.m., Reckless Kelly. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. ROCK OUT HUNGER: W/ Dr. Zhivegas, Fri., May 31, 6 p.m., $10. Chesterfield Amphitheater, 631 eterans Place Drive, Chesterfield. ROLAND JOHNSON: Sun., March 17, 8 p.m., $7. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. RYAN KOENIG AND THE GOLDENRODS: Sun., March 24, 1 p.m., free. Sun., April 14, 1 p.m., free. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. SCARLETT O’HARA: W/ Revision, Revised, Sun., May 5, 6 p.m., $13. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. SKIRTS: W/ Camp Counselor, Wished Bone, Sun., April 14, 8 p.m., $7. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. SLAID CLEAVES: Sun., July 21, 8 p.m., $20. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. SLOW MASS: W/ Shady Bug, Spirits Having Fun, Le’Ponds, Sun., May 12, 8 p.m., $8. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. SON OF THE PALE YOUTH: Fri., March 22, 8:30 p.m., $5-$8. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. SONGBIRD CAFE: W/ Karen Choi, Elliot Pearson,

Continued on pg 50

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[CRITIC’S PICK]

Way Down Wanderers. | KEITH COTTON

The Way Down Wanderers 8 p.m. Friday, March 15. The Old Rock House, 1200 South Seventh Street. $12. 314-588-0505. Central Illinois, Peoria to be precise, isn’t exactly ground zero for neobluegrass, but it isn’t Queens either. The heart of the Midwest has become home to an array of college-age Americana bands and burgeoning old-timey festivals, and Peoria’s the Way Down Wanderers have channeled that energy into a loose, vigorous, not-quite-jammy, not-quite-folksy style of acoustic music

OUT EVERY NIGHT Continued from pg 49 The Deep Hollow Trio, Wed., March 27, 7:30 p.m., $20-$25. The Focal Point, 2720 Sutton Blvd, St. Louis, 314-560-2778. SOULARD BLUES BAND: Mon., March 18, 9 p.m., $5. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. ST. PATRICK’S DAY CARIBBEAN STYLE: W/ the Barley Boys, Sun., March 17, 2 p.m., free. Rhone Rum Bar, 2107 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis, 314-241-7867. STEVEN WOOLEY: Tue., March 19, 9 p.m., free. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. THE STOOLS: W/ Big Hog, Banana Clips, Tue., March 19, 8 p.m., $7. The Sinkhole, 7423 South Broadway, St. Louis, 314-328-2309. SWEET LIZZY PROJECT: Sun., April 28, 8 p.m., $10. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505. TATSUYA NAKATANI + ASSIF TSAHAR: W/ Fcuk Lungs, NNN Cook + JoAnn McNeil, Mon., April 8, 8 p.m., $7-$10. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. THE PARLOR MOB: W/ The Cold Seas, Sun., April 14, 6:30 p.m., $10-$12. The Firebird, 2706 Olive St., St. Louis, 314-535-0353. THE PROVING GROUND #5: Sat., April 20, 7 p.m., $8-$10. The Firebird, 2706 Olive St., St. Louis, 314-535-0353. TOM SEGURA: Fri., May 31, 10 p.m., $45-$99. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. TOOL: Mon., May 13, 8 p.m., $75-$125. Enterprise Center, 1401 Clark Ave., St. Louis, 314-241-1888.

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that should appeal to local fans of Old Salt Union and the Mighty Pines, if not Pokey LaFarge. Songwriting and singing duo Austin Krause-Thompson and Collin Krause complement each other’s unapologetic earnestness with an instinctive understanding of what matters in contemporary bluegrass: impeccable harmonies, flowing melodies and sharp instrumental chops. Truckers Welcome: The hard-touring band has turned pit stops into free jamsession concerts it calls “restSTOMPS.” Coming to a rest area near you soon. —Roy Kasten

TWANGFEST 23 NIGHT 1: CRAIG FINN + THE UPTOWN CONTROLLERS: W/ the Delines, Rough Shop, Wed., June 5, 7:45 p.m., $20-$23. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. TWANGFEST 23 NIGHT 2: JAMES MCMURTRY: W/ The Burney Sisters, Cara Louise, Thu., June 6, 8 p.m., $25-$28. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. TWANGFEST 23 NIGHT 3: SARAH SHOOK & THE DISARMERS: W/ Anne Platt & The Honeycutters, Kevin Gordon, Fri., June 7, 8 p.m., $20$23. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. TWANGFEST 23 NIGHT 4: SUPERCHUNK: W/ Wussy, Essential Knots, Sat., June 8, 8 p.m., $30-$33. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. UNIMAGINED: W/ In Vein, Broken Youth, Skylines, Fri., May 3, 7 p.m., $10. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. VALLEY OF THE SUN: W/ Mark Deutrom, Sun., May 5, 8 p.m., $18. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. VINTAGE VIBE: Sat., March 23, 9 p.m., free. Halfway Haus, 7900 Michigan Ave., St. Louis, 314256-0101. Sat., April 27, 7 p.m., free. Failoni’s, 6715 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314-781-5221. W/ Paint the Earth, Sat., May 4, 6 p.m., $5. Sky Music Lounge, 930 Kehrs Mill Road, Ballwin, 636-527-6909. VINYL WILLIAMS: Sat., April 27, 8 p.m., $10-$12. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. VOODOO TALKING HEADS: W/ Sean Canan’s Voodoo Players, Fri., May 3, 9 p.m., $12-$15. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505.


[CRITIC’S PICK]

Lala Lala. | VIA ARTIST BANDCAMP

Lala Lala 8 p.m. Sunday, March 17. Foam, 3359 South Jefferson Avenue. $10. 314-772-2100. Sobriety narratives continue to be a helpful framing device for making sense of an artist’s work; six years after Southeastern, you can’t read a profile of Jason Isbell without seeing a mention of how he quit the bottle. And though she’s only in her mid-twenties and just on her second major release, Lala Lala leader Lillie West has done some metaphorical, spiri-

THE WESTERN SATELLITES: Thu., May 30, 7 p.m., $15. Joe’s Cafe, 6014 Kingsbury Ave, St. Louis. YOUNG DOLPH: Sat., April 13, 8 p.m., Young Dolph. Ambassador, 9800 Halls Ferry Rd, North St. Louis County, 314-869-9090.

UPCOMING

AARON WATSON: Thu., March 21, 8 p.m., $22.50$25. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. AFTER WEDNESDAY: W/ Sigmund Frauds, Tristate, Fri., March 22, 8 p.m., $10. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. BOB WEIR AND WOLF BROS: Thu., March 21, 7 p.m., $65-$100. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. DEMETRI MARTIN: Sun., March 24, 7 p.m., $39.75. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. DILLY DALLY: Tue., March 26, 8 p.m., $18-$20. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. FAT SUN: W/ Mother Meat, Thu., March 21, 8 p.m., $7. The Sinkhole, 7423 South Broadway, St. Louis, 314-328-2309. FLATLAND CAVALRY: Fri., March 22, 8 p.m., $15$18. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. GATEWAY BLUES FESTIVAL: W/ TK Soul, Pokey Bear, Shirley Brown, Sir Charles Jones, Terry Wright, Theodis Ealey, Calvin Richardson, Fri., March 22, 8 p.m., $55-$102. Chaifetz Arena, 1 S. Compton Ave., St. Louis, 314-977-5000. IRIS DEMENT: Sat., March 23, 8 p.m., $30. The Sheldon, 3648 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, 314-533-9900. JESSE LÉGE & JOEL SAVOY: Fri., March 22, 8 p.m., $20. The Sheldon, 3648 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, 314-533-9900. JOHN WAITE: Fri., March 22, 8 p.m., $35-$40. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505. KELLER WILLIAMS’ PETTYGRASS: W/ The HillBenders, Sat., March 23, 9 p.m., $30. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505.

tual and chemical house-cleaning ahead of her latest, The Lamb. Her dream-pop and shoegaze-indebted songs don’t necessarily cop to one clear narrative, instead spending some time taking stock and walking the line between anxiety and self-care. Luckily the delicately wrought lyrics sidle up West’s plaintive vocals and heavily chorused guitar. It’s an Invasion: Bloomington, Indiana’s Bugg opens the show along with beloved locals the Funs and Pineapple RnR. —Christian Schaeffer

Legends of Hip Hop Tour: W/ Juvenile, Scarface, 8Ball and MJG, Too Short, DJ Quik, Bun B, Sat., March 23, 8 p.m., $55-$128. Chaifetz Arena, 1 S. Compton Ave., St. Louis, 314-977-5000. MASON JENNINGS: Sat., March 23, 8 p.m., $20$22.50. Blueberry Hill - The Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314-727-4444. MICHAEL BUBLÉ: Fri., March 22, 8 p.m., $65$135. Enterprise Center, 1401 Clark Ave., St. Louis, 314-241-1888. MILLENNIUM TOUR 2019: W/ Mario, Pretty Ricky, Lloyd, Ying Yang Twins, Chingy, Bobby V, Wed., March 27, 7 p.m., $45.50-$250. Enterprise Center, 1401 Clark Ave., St. Louis, 314-241-1888. NOVO AMOR: Wed., March 27, 8 p.m., $18-$20. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. PENTAGRAM: Sun., March 24, 8 p.m., $18. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. PETTY CASH JUNCTION: Sat., March 23, 8 p.m., $20-$25. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. THE REVIVALISTS: Sat., March 23, 8 p.m., $39.50$45. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. ROBERT ELLIS: W/ Ian O’Neil, Sun., March 24, 8 p.m., $14-$17. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. RONNIE MILSAP: Fri., March 22, 8 p.m., $29.50. River City Casino & Hotel, 777 River City Casino Blvd., St. Louis, 314-388-7777. SON OF THE PALE YOUTH: Fri., March 22, 8:30 p.m., $5-$8. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. ST. PAUL & THE BROKEN BONES: Fri., March 22, 8 p.m., $25-$40. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. TORI KELLY: Tue., March 26, 8 p.m., $35-$37.50. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. TREVOR HALL: Tue., March 26, 7:15 p.m., $20$25. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. WEEZER, PIXIES: Sun., March 24, 7 p.m., $25$125. Enterprise Center, 1401 Clark Ave., St. Louis, 314-241-1888. n

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SAVAGE LOVE THE SINS OF THE GRANDFATHER BY DAN SAVAGE Hey, Dan: My grandfather was a pillar of the community and beloved by his family. He was also sexually abusive. He died when I was a child. I remember only one incident happening to me — during a cuddle session, he encouraged me to put my mouth on his penis, and then told me to let it be our little secret. I heard rumors as an adult that he molested other kids in the neighborhood. He also had a sexual relationship with my mother. She says nothing happened as a child. But as an adult, he started telling her he loved her in a romantic way. He told her he wanted to take nude Polaroids of her, and she let him. And she loved him — she and her sisters all pretty much idolized him. My one aunt knew (she said nothing happened to her), and I asked her how she reconciled that. She said she compartmentalized it — she thought he was a wonderful father and didn’t really think about the other stuff. I did lots of therapy in the late 1980s and early ’90s. I read books, I journaled, I talked to my mom and tried to understand what she experienced. And I moved on as much as anyone could. So now it’s 2019 and I’m almost 50. My mom just moved into a nursing home, and while cleaning out her drawers, I found the Polaroids my grandfather took of her. I know it was him because he is in some of them, taken into a mirror as she goes down on him. They were taken over a period of years. She had led me to believe he never really did anything sexual with her besides taking photos. But he did. And here’s the thing, Dan: In the photos, she looks happy. I know she was probably acting, because that’s what he wanted from her. But it just makes me question my assumptions. Was it terrible abuse or forbidden love? Both? What am I looking at? What would I prefer — that she enjoyed it or that she didn’t? She kept the photos. Were they fond memories? I know she loved him. She kind of fell apart when he died. Was he a fucking manipulator who had a gift for

making his victims feel loved and special as he exploited them for his own selfish needs? I don’t know if I’m going to bring this up with my mom. She’s old and sick, and I dragged her through these types of conversations in my twenties. So I’m writing you. This is so far out of most people’s experience, and I want someone who has heard more sexual secrets than probably anyone else in the world to tell me what he thinks. Whirlwind Of Emotions I think you should sit down and watch all four hours of Leaving Neverland, the new HBO documentary by British filmmaker Dan Reed. It focuses on the experiences of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, two now-adult men who were sexually abused by pop star Michael Jackson when they were boys. Allegedly. It’s an important film to watch, E, but it’s not an easy one to watch, as it includes graphic descriptions of the sexual abuse both men claim to have suffered as boys. The second most disturbing part of the film after the graphic descriptions of child rape — or the third most disturbing part after the credulity/culpability of Robson’s and Safechuck’s parents — may be what the men have to say about Jackson. Both describe their abuser in romantic terms. They both say they loved Jackson. And they both remain deeply conflicted about their feelings for Jackson then and their feelings for him now. It was their affection for Jackson — their desire to protect him and to safeguard what Jackson convinced them was a secret and a bond they shared — that led both men to lie to law-enforcement officials when Jackson was accused of sexually abusing different boys. You should also listen to Reed’s interview on The Gist, Mike Pesca’s terrific daily podcast. Reading your letter the morning after I watched Leaving Neverland reminded me of something Reed said to Pesca hat the film is about is the reckoning. It’s two families coming to terms with what happened to their sons. And a big part of understanding that, you know — so why the silence? Why did the sons keep silent for so long? Why did they keep the secret? And the key really is to be able to explain why Wade gave false witness and

“My mom just moved into a nursing home, and while cleaning out her drawers, I found the Polaroids my grandfather took of her.” perjured himself on the witness stand. And the reason for that, of course, has to do with how survivors of sexual abuse experience that. And how they keep a secret and how they sometimes form deep attachments with the abuser and how that attachment persists into adult life.” Your mother, like Robson and Safechuck, lied to protect her abuser, a man who abused her and abused you and probably many others. She may have held on to those photos for the same reason Robson and Safechuck say they defended Jackson: She loved her father, and she was so damaged by what he did to her — she had been so expertly groomed by her abuser — that she felt “loved” and “special” in the same way that Jackson’s alleged abuse once made Robson and Safechuck feel loved and special. So as horrifying as it is to contemplate, E, your mother may have held on to those photos because they do represent what are, for her, “fond memories.” And while it would be a comfort to think she held on to those photos as proof for family members who doubted her story if she ever decided to tell the truth, her past defenses of her father work against that explanation. Leaving Neverland demonstrates that sexual abuse plants a ticking time bomb inside a person — shit, sorry, no passive language. Leaving Neverland demonstrates that sexual predators like your grandfather and like Jackson — fucking manipulators with a gift for making their victims feel loved and special — plant ticking time bombs in their victims. Even

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if a victim doesn’t initially experience their abuse as a violation and as violence, E, a reckoning almost inevitably comes. One day, the full horror of what was done to them snaps into focus. These reckonings can shatter lives, relationships and souls. It doesn’t sound like your mother ever had her reckoning — that day never came for her — and so she never came to grips with what was done to her and, tragically, what was done to you. And your aunt wasn’t the only member of your family who “didn’t really think about the other stuff.” Just as denial and compartmentalization enabled Jackson and facilitated his crimes (and allowed the world to enjoy Jackson’s music despite what was staring us all in the face), denial and compartmentalization allowed your “pillar of the community” grandfather to rape his daughter, his granddaughter and scores of other children. Like Robson and Safechuck, E, you have a right to be angry with the adults in your family who failed to protect you from a known predator. That some of them were also his victims provides context, but it does not exonerate them. I’m glad your grandfather died when you were young. It’s tempting to wish he’d never been born, E, but then you would never have been born, and I’m glad you’re here. I’m particularly glad you’re there, right now, embedded in your damaged and damaging family. By telling the truth, you’re shattering the silence that allowed an abuser to groom and prey on children across multiple generations of your family. Your grandfather can’t victimize anyone else, E, but by speaking up — by refusing to look the other way — you’ve made it harder for other predators to get away with what your grandfather did. P.S. There’s a moment in the credits for Leaving Neverland that I think you might want to replicate. It involves some things one of Jackson’s alleged victims saved and a fire pit. ou’ll know what mean when you see it. Listen to Dan’s podcast at savagelovecast.com. mail@savagelove.net @fakedansavage on Twitter ITMFA.org

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720 N. 1ST ST, ST. LOUIS, MO 63102

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HAPPY HOUR @ BARCELONA M-F 3:30 – 6:30 •The ONLY place where you can get $12 Pitchers of SANGRIA in Town!!! •The BEST Calamari! •The BEST VIBE!

•The Usual stuff everybody else does!

314.863.9909 BARCELONATAPAS.COM 34N. CENTRAL AVE. ST. LOUIS, MO 63105

THE HAUNT

St Louis’ Original Halloween Bar

Happy Hour Every Day 3-7pm $13 Domestic Buckets • $2.25 Rails

Ladies Night Every Wed 9pm to Close $1.50 Domestic Beer or Rail Drinks

KARAOKE MADNESS

Every Thursday 9pm to close Check us out on FaceBook for upcoming live music and events

HAPPY HOUR WEEKDAYS TIL 7PM $3 WELLS & DOMESTICS

5000 Alaska Ave 314.481.5003

HAPPY HOUR *CRAFT COCKTAILS * H A P P Y H O U R 7PM – 9 PM * O P E N T U E S – F R I A T 4PM ARTISAN DRINKS IN HISTORIC DOWNTOWN TRUSTSTL . COM

| 314.356.2776 | 401 PINE ST.

1730 South 8th Street | Soulard

HAPPY HOUR

MONDAY–THURSDAY 3–6 PM (ALL LOCATIONS) SUNDAY–THURSDAY 10 PM–CLOSE (DELMAR) THE LOOP

314-721-3388 6307 DELMAR BLVD. UNIVERSITY CITY, MO 63130

DES PERES SOUTH COUNTY

314-858-1067 11925 MANCHESTER RD. DES PERES, MO 63131

314-293-3614 40 RONNIE’S PLAZA ST. LOUIS, MO 63126

LAMBERT AIRPORT TERMINAL 2

THREEKINGSPUB.COM

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Riverfront Times March 13, 2019  

Riverfront Times March 13, 2019