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JANUARY 30-FEBRUARY 5, 2019 I VOLUME 43 I NUMBER 4

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

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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 Contributing Writers Mike Appelstein, Allison Babka, Sara Graham, Roy Kasten, Jaime Lees, Joseph Hess, Kevin Korinek, Bob McMahon, Nicholas Phillips, Tef Poe, Christian Schaeffer, Lauren Milford, Thomas Crone, MaryAnn Johanson, Jenn DeRose, Mike Fitzgerald Proofreader Evie Hemphill Editorial Interns Ryan Gines, Benjamin Simon, Chelsea Neuling

COVER Forest to Table Let other chefs source their produce from family farms. Chef Rob Connoley would rather go foraging

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

Cover photograph by

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, Christine Knoll, Jackie Mundy Event Coordinator Grace Richards

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C I R C U L A T I O N Circulation Manager Kevin G. Powers 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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Correction: Last week’s brunch cover story contained out-of-date information about Seed Sprout Spoon. In addition to some menu items changing, the restaurant no longer offers a bloody mary and mimosa bar. We regret the errors.

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NEWS

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As Cops Scrambled, the Feds Watched Written by

DOYLE MURPHY

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n June 5, 2018, a pair of FBI agents hand-delivered a letter to St. Louis Police Officer Dustin Boone, letting him know he was the target of a federal investigation. Boone, a burly 35-year-old, had participated in the brutal arrest of an undercover officer while working protests following the acquittal of former St. Louis cop Jason Stockley on a murder charge. Not realizing that Luther Hall was a colleague instead of a protester, Boone and his fellow officers allegedly beat him with their fists, heavy boots and night sticks. Hall later reported that the cops had “beat the fuck out of him like Rodney King,” leaving him badly injured. And now the feds were looking into it. So-called target letters are part of the process in federal criminal cases, but there was also some gamesmanship at play. Unbeknownst to Boone, the FBI had already collected a cache of his text messages through search warrants served on Verizon Wireless offices in New Jersey and Apple in California, court records show. The messages captured Boone and other cops gleefully chatting about beating protesters. “It’s gonna get IGNORANT tonight!!” Boone wrote on the first night of the protests. “But it’s gonna be a lot of fun beating the hell out of these shitheads once the sun goes down and nobody can tell us apart!!!” Damning as the messages seemed, the investigators were looking for more. Along with the target letter, the FBI had also obtained a signed search warrant, permitting agents to seize Boone’s actual iPhone — but they would wait to do that. First, they planned to see how he reacted. In an affidavit filed under seal

Officers Dustin Boone (left), Randy Hays and Bailey Colletta (top), and Christopher Myers (bottom) are now facing criminal charges. | DOYLE MURPHY the week before, another FBI agent predicted exactly what the veteran cop would do once he saw the letter. “Following the presentation of the target letter,” Special Agent Jennifer Drews wrote, “investigators surmise that Officer Boone will then contact his co-conspirators and others to engage in further communication regarding the events set forth in this affidavit.” Boone did not disappoint. As he dialed, a pen register — a surveillance device that records the length, time and corresponding phone numbers, but not the actual content of calls and texts — began logging his activities. The names of some of the other parties are blacked out in the recently released affidavit, but the FBI notes at least one person he communicated with was someone with whom “Officer Boone repeatedly discussed the aforementioned protest and the assault of [undercover officer] Luther Hall ...” At 10:21 a.m., Officer Christopher Myers sent a text, and Boone immediately responded, the affidavit says. Myers followed up with texts at 10:22 a.m., 1:31 p.m. and 2:09 p.m. Myers called twice in quick succession at 4:39 p.m., reaching Boone on the second call. They talked for 4 minutes 39 seconds. Myers texted two more times

at 8:01 p.m., but Boone didn’t respond, the records showed. The next morning, on June 6, 2018, FBI special agents Darren Boehlje and Robert Polanco confronted Boone again. This time, they showed him the warrant and took his iPhone. Myers called four times between 10:30 a.m. and 10:42 a.m. after they seized the phone, records show. Officer Randy Hays, who was also involved in Hall’s arrest, called three times between 11:28 a.m. and 11:29 a.m. The FBI logged it all. In the following weeks, agents would use the info from Boone’s accounts and seized phone to persuade a judge to sign additional warrants for Myers and Hays. They also filed a warrant for more info from Boone’s Apple account. The three cops were among dozens of officers assigned to the police department’s Civil Disobedience Team, the helmeted and controversial squad better known as the riot police. The undercover officer, Hall, later told investigators uniformed police smashed a camera and a cellphone he had been using to record the protesters and twice slammed him face first into the pavement. Hall described the attack as a “free for all” in which he suffered multiple herniated discs,

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a gashed lip and a jaw injury that made eating so difficult he lost fifteen pounds. The early messages captured from Boone’s cellphone account caught the officers trying to rationalize what they had done while worrying about landing in trouble. In one message, Hays wrote, “Wasn’t just us, I don’t like the beating the hell outta a cop, but the department put him in that spot, he could’ve announced himself at any time. And he wasn’t complying. The camera thing is just ignorant, nothing we all haven’t done and if it was a protester it wouldn’t be a problem at all.” In November 2018, the three were indicted along with Officer Bailey Colletta, who dates Hays and is accused of trying to conceal what happened. All four have pleaded not guilty. The results of the later search warrants have not been publicly disclosed, but agents say in the affidavits they’re searching for a wide range of info, including texts, photos, videos and location data tied to the protests and the beating of Hall. They also planned to check the physical phones against the messages and logs they had already collected to see if the cops were trying to delete their messages to cover their tracks. n

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Prosecutors Fight Back Against Police Union Written by

DANNY WICENTOWSKI

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he city of St. Louis and St. Louis County share a bunch of problems, but their top prosecutors, Kim Gardner and Wesley Bell, share a particularly vexing problem all their own: the St. Louis Police Officers Association, or SLPOA. Presently, the notoriously outspoken police union represents opposition to both prosecutors. In the city, the union has blasted St. Louis Circuit Attorney Gardner for her decision to blacklist 29 city cops whose conduct has compromised their credibility as witnesses. And in the county, weeks before Bell took office, the staff voted to unionize with the SLPOA. “That choice is troubling,” Bell said Thursday night during a panel discussion on the future of public safety. The event, held at the Missouri History Museum, also featured Gardner, St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney Tim Lohmar and U.S. Attorney for Missouri Eastern District Jeff Jensen. Having prosecutors represented by the same body representing officers is more than just bad optics in an age of criminal-justice reform, Bell warned. “Not only does it create conflict,” he added, “but when we’re trying to build trust with the community, law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office, it’s simply unacceptable, and I for one will not tolerate it.” During his remarks, Bell insisted that it wasn’t the choice to unionize that troubled him. He noted several times that he had felt welcomed in the office and that he appreciated the colleagues supporting him in the audience. But, he added, at a time when “prosecutors are fighting the notion that we are too intertwined, too interdependent with law enforcement,” the choice by some of his prosecutors to tie themselves to an organization that’s been a die-hard defender of officer rights, particularly in use-of-force cases, creates the possibility for uncomfortable conflicts.

Prosecutors Wesley Bell, left, and Kim Gardner each have reason to battle with the St. Louis Police Officers Association. | DANNY WICENTOWSKI The comments appear to be Bell’s harshest public reaction to date to the 33-11 vote to unionize with the SLPOA taken by attorneys and investigators in the county prosecutor’s office. That vote came on December 17, just two weeks before Bell took office. At the time, Sam Alton, Bell’s incoming chief of staff, noted to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “The timing is curious. For 28 years the employees have not unionized, and I noticed this happened just after the voters demanded sweeping change.” Sweeping change has indeed followed Bell’s ascent, with major shakeups on policies covering marijuana and the prosecution of child-support cases. The transition hasn’t been without controversy. Bell fired several of the office’s top attorneys, including one who had previously posted on Facebook that county voters would “soon regret” electing Bell. Gardner, meanwhile, is so reviled by the SLPOA that its business manager, Jeff Roorda, turned her into a photoshopped Grinch to accompany a holiday-themed column in the union’s monthly newsletter. The column featured Roorda’s own cringe-worthy Seussian verse, “You’re a disaster a Misses Kim/ Your heart is dark and vile/ You’d rather charge a policeman/ Than all the murders

you could file.” Roorda and the SLPOA’s criticism of Gardner runs the gamut, encompassing the petty as well as the policy-oriented. The union has targeted her own ambitious changes to prosecution of marijuana cases, as well the perception that her office is mismanaged and soft on crime. But recently it has been the circuit attorney’s creation of an “exclusion list” of ethically compromised officers that’s attracted the most intense outrage from the union and its spokespeople. Defending the policy, Gardner told the panel audience last week that excluding bad cops from the witness stand is “part of my job as prosecutor.” The officers on the list, she said, should “understand that they are not allowed to bring cases to the warrant office at this time. Individuals know why they are on this list.” During her remarks, Gardner noted that she could not discuss the exclusion list in detail, as she’s currently under a restraining order sought by the SLPOA in September. (Gardner’s office has previously stated that it never had any intention to publicly release the names on the exclusion list.) The tension between Gardner and the SLPOA goes beyond restraining orders and Christmas

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doggerel. When an unidentified officer on the exclusion list secretly recorded one of Gardner’s attorneys rejecting a drug case, the officer leaked the video to KSDK (Channel 5). The resulting story included the police union’s reaction, which included Roorda accusing Gardner of being dismissive of the opioid crisis. Addressing the KSDK story on Thursday, Gardner warned that officers on the exclusion list who are attempting to “take matters into their own hands” won’t be successful. “We have articulated to supervisors, upper management of the department, the chief, that these officers are on the list,” she said, “and credibility is a non-negotiable factor.” Taking a direct shot at the union, Gardner described it as “one of the most aggressive unions in the country,” and she pointed out that Roorda himself, as a police officer in Arnold, had been fired for making a false report. Using a line she brings out often, Gardner told the audience that any prosecutor should expect their policies to be opposed by some people, and that if a prosecutor is universally liked, “they’re not doing their job.” “I would like to win the popularity contest,” she added. “But I think in this position I will not.” n

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Let other chefs source their produce from family farms. Chef Rob Connoley would rather go foraging

FOR EST

Rob Connoley and Justin Bell see the landscape differently than you do. You, Connoley and Bell all inhabit the same St. Louis. But you live in a city with trees. They live in a forest with buildings. That forest isn’t just scenery. It’s the source of the food Connoley intends to serve at his new restaurant. Other chefs boast about obtaining organic produce from local purveyors. Connelly picks his own produce from the most local purveyor there is: the forest floor. In April Connoley and his sous chef, Bell, both Missouri natives, will open Bulrush, an Ozark-inspired restaurant in Grand Center for which the two chefs intend to forage their own ingredients, then craft ever-changing tasting menus. For many, that sounds certifiably insane, a locavore gimmick taken to its logical extreme. For Connoley and Bell, it’s the only way they can know what they’re serving. They make good partners. Connoley, 50, is the James Beard-nominated former chef of New Mexico’s acclaimed Curious Kumquat, which also relied on locally foraged ingredients. Two years ago he published Acorns & Cattails, a foraging cookbook and guide. His sous chef, 30-year-old Bell, has no James Beard nominations, but Connoley would be lost in the woods without Bell’s St. Clair-bred foraging expertise. A sleeve tattoo covers Bell’s left forearm, featuring bright red sumac berries, garlic mustard, lavender bergamot, sassafras, milkweed, chanterelle mushrooms and an elderberry climbing up his triceps. “I remember eating wood sorrel a lot as a kid, not knowing what it was, just knowing I liked the way it tasted,” he says. In December, Connoley came upon a persimmon tree in a park in south city, naked of leaves and

pregnant with round, orange fruit. It’s a rare find; persimmons ripen in September, but this one had escaped foragers both human and animal. Foraging is a game of speed and opportunism. Connoley raced home and returned with several bags, picking and plopping whatever he could reach from the ground. I need to buy a telescoping pole and a hook, he thought, gazing up the 30-foot trunk. Still, he squeezed 20 gallons from the fruit he reached. A few days later, he’s driving out to the Missouri River, a 24foot telescoping pole and paintrolling hook poking both ends of his hatchback. Bell sits shotgun. In the backseat rides a blue IKEA sack filled with 100 pounds of persimmon mush and an orange rubber raft that Connoley bought to reach islands that might harbor morels. At this time of winter, there might be oyster mushrooms, wood ear mushrooms, chickweed, garlic mustard, spicebush. As they reach the site, it’s 25 degrees and

“That’s the area I like working the most, is that strip,” he says, pointing across the water. “That’s confidential, by the way.” Once, Bell and Connoley found the per-

Connoley is wearing shorts. The area they wanted to forage is flooded, a distribution problem unique to their restaurant. They settle for a 100-foot-wide strip of seemingly barren, frozen riverbank woodland.

Velvet shank, he says. “The wild version of Enoki mushrooms, but you have to be very, very sure, because deadly Galerina looks almost exactly like this. The gills are a little darker and it has a partial

TO

fect chicken-of-the-woods mushrooms off trail somewhere. They carefully covered the fungus with branches, waiting for them to grow even larger. When they returned a week later, the mushrooms were gone, replaced by a laminated card taunting them: “That was a beautiful chicken of the woods we were both watching. I’m going to really enjoy them tonight.” Automatically, Connoley and Bell split off into two parties, seining the woodland for oyster mushrooms. In less than a minute, Bell stops and stoops.

TA BLE Continued on pg 14

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Chef Rob Connoley, left, and his sous chef Justin Bell find many of their ingredients in the wild instead of buying them. riverfronttimes.com

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Cold weather doesn’t keep the pair from the hunt.

FOREST TO TABLE Continued from pg 12

veil, which these don’t have.” “And we’re standing in chickweed,” Connoley adds, looking down. Chickweed is a green that tastes like uncooked peas, Bell says. “It’s kind of nice to give someone a fresh green salad in the winter that didn’t come from a hot house or something.” Bell and Connoley don’t know anything you can’t learn yourself. Urban foraging is on the rise in metro areas across the country. Falling Fruit, for example, is an open-source app with more than a million data points marking plants — mostly trees — with fleshy goods. Open it up to St. Louis and you’ll find 50 plants listed

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in Forest Park and Tower Grove alone, from bur oaks to blackberries, maypops to pawpaws. Connoley bristles, however, at the idea of foraging as a restaurant trend. He thinly acknowledges it as a former fad. “[Chefs] do it for a few years, and then they realize how hard it is and how unreliable it is. That’s when you get to the level of authenticity, where you’re doing it because you think it’s important.” Kara Nielsen, a food trends expert at CCD Innovation, nests foraging — and by extension, Connoley — in the trend of hyper-localism. In 2004, a group of Scandinavian chefs published a manifesto for a new Nordic cuisine, which ignited a global obsession with local ingredients in fine dining. “It was a reaction to continental fine dining and the epitome of the highest-lev-

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el ingredient being a fancy truffle or caviar, ingredients that were traditional to a French or European mindset,” Nielsen says. “Chefs said, ‘Look, we can make amazing, creative, delicious food by looking in our own backyards.’” Bell himself cites the Danish René Redzepi, one of the manifesto’s signees, as a primary influence. Still, Nielsen acknowledges there’s a difference between chefs buying foraged ingredients and a chef with locust thorns ringing his toque blanche. There’s a sort of genuine martyrdom chez Connoley that makes a certain guarantee of authenticity to his customers. When Connoley and Bell go out and handpick the vegetables they serve, there are zero degrees of potential fraud in the distribution chain; they are the distribution chain.

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“I’ve worked with plenty of foragers I would never buy anything from because their ethics are not what I need them to be,” Connoley says. “And I’m sure there are people who look at us and say the same thing.” That foraging has no formalized etiquette leaves each gatherer to impose their own. Connoley, for one, has a strict personal code. “For me the number one rule is, if I can see a road, I don’t serve it,” he says. Before 2008, when he opened the Curious Kumquat in Silver City, New Mexico, Connoley had never worked in a restaurant. Born and raised in north St. Louis County, he earned a doctorate at Purdue in social psychology of sport and exercise, then moved to Colorado for nonprofit work. By 2003 he ended up in south-


Justin Bell grew up searching the woods of rural Missouri for morels and sassafras. Now he’s using the skills he cultivated as a kid to assist one of the city’s top chefs. west New Mexico at the doorstep of the vast Gila Wilderness. Less than a year later, he opened a grocery called the Curious Kumquat. Eventually, that grocery evolved into a soup-and-salad restaurant, then a celebrated tasting-menu restaurant that earned him a James Beard Award nomination for Best Chef — Southwest. In a Silver City sweat lodge, Connoley met Doug Simon, a bushybearded, scraggly-haired mountain man with a burlap shirt and shoes made of tree bark. Simon had been living in a burrow and surviving off the bounty of the forest for two years, so Connoley asked Simon to take him foraging. Simon became a foraging mentor to Connoley, conversing with the plants as they wandered the Gila. Before long Connoley was introducing foraged foods into his tast-

ing dinners. Eventually he became a master of the diverse set of ecosystems in the topographically rich New Mexico backcountry. Connoley even taught his dog to hunt morel mushrooms by overturning five bowls on the ground, one of them hiding the rare mushroom. When the dog sniffed the bowl with morels, Connoley rewarded her, until one day the dog led him to morels in the nearby Black Range. Two years ago, Connoley and his partner decided to move back to St. Louis to return to family. For Connoley, it feels like a test of his mettle. “If you put me, this guy who never worked a day in his life in a restaurant and put me in a big market, what would happen? Could I hold my own, or was it all just fluff and air back in New Mexico?”

The world of Eastern Deciduous foraging Bell has introduced him to is a world of plenty. He can be pickier, no longer relying on his encyclopedic knowledge of where and when desert plants will fruit. “Here it’s actually a matter of ‘Where can we get the best or the most stuff,’ versus just ‘Am I going to find anything today?’” The frozen riverbank they’re combing today isn’t good enough. There’s too much trash on the forest floor. Bell finds some oyster mushrooms. “Next to a can of toxic waste,” Connoley says. (It’s just a rusty barrel.) He tells a story of two foragers who, on assignment for an acclaimed Chicago restaurant, strolled down the block and snipped cuttings from the flower garden at a bank. The chef bought them, no questions asked. That’s why Connoley is personally in the

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woods, even if that means Bulrush will be closed three days a week. “Sometimes people say, ‘Well, you’re serving food that could be tainted.’ I’m like, ‘OK, I’m taking something from the woods with minimal toxins versus a factory farm animal that we know has been sprayed and given antibiotics and all this other stuff.’ I’ll take my chances.” Connoley and Bell have to weigh their impact beyond themselves and their customers. When Connoley posted online about finding the tree full of persimmons, someone pushed back. “This woman was saying, ‘You’re taking the food source for squirrels and other animals.’ I think about that all the time, to the point of ridiculousness. I have to debate, ‘Can I climb the tree, or could that harm

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Continued on pg 16

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Rob Connoley leaps over a stream during a recent foraging trip to Forest Park.

FOREST TO TABLE Continued from pg 15

the tree?’” Connoley’s tone here is defensive, almost preemptive. It might be indicative of the fact that his methodology is culturally and sometimes legally liminal. The subject of whose land he’s foraging on wrinkles his eyes. Generally, he and Bell forage on private land with express permission from owners, or land owned by nonprofits for which they’ve been given exclusive access. As for public land, he stresses that he maintains relationships with government land managers to make sure he doesn’t overstep. “We actually had an incident last year where we had rights to forage on private land,” he says. “I posted some pic-

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tures from that land, and another forager said, ‘Oh yeah, I saw those and I left those there.’ I’m like, ‘What the fuck were you doing on this private land?’ “This is a weird strip of land right here, by the way, as far as ownership,” he adds, sweeping his arm over the thin strip of woodland of unclear proprietorship. Missouri Department of Conservation land abuts the strip, and from it you can take a dump truck full of mushrooms, pawpaws, persimmons or anything else, as long as it’s for you and not a customer, says MDC Protection Regional Supervisor Chris Morrow. On MDC’s website, you can search any conservation area and find its wildplant-gathering policies. Under state laws, Morrow says, a restau-

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rant “wouldn’t be able to take vegetation off of conservation areas.” But a hobbyist can. Connoley finds puffball mushrooms. Bell finds garlic mustard. An untrained eye would find only wood and leaves. Their eyes have become attuned to a specific set of visual stimuli. “It’s like listening to a British movie,” Connoley says. “You don’t understand what they’re saying for the first ten minutes.” For novices, it might be more like listening to a Mandarin movie. Scanning a tall shagbark hickory for oyster mushrooms, Connoley’s attention shifts to its aptly named, peeling bark strips. “There’s a Finnish technique for taking pine-tree bark, the inner bark, and they scrape it dry and turn it into a powder,” he says. “It

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was a wartime food extender, so they would make breads with it. It would cut into their existing rye flour. It’s supposed to be pretty nasty as a pine bark, but I’ve been wondering about the shagbark. There’s a sweetness to it. We’ll try that before the restaurant opens.” Connoley’s head is in a nearconstant state of experimentation. Even though he is staring at tree bark — certifiably not food — he imagines how it can be put into a human mouth and enjoyed. Shagbark can also be tapped like a sugar maple for a uniquely Southern syrup, and he later floats the idea of turning shagbark into a spice. “Why not tap any tree you can and see what that flavor is and what you can do with that?” Bell asks. Still, you can only get so creative. Anyone imagining a restaurant


The woods only looks barren in the winter. Bell and Connoley uncover fungi (not edible, alas), a mushroom and cattails on the edge of a frozen marsh. where all cultivated products have been banished can search on. Connoley estimates that, by volume, around 20 to 30 percent of Bulrush’s food will be foraged. You can’t forage for cheese. And after all, this is a tasting-menu restaurant: The dish comes first. Connoley says the tasting menu will cost $100 flat, with tax and tip included. It’s a lot of zeros for ingredients that nature has been growing for free for millennia. Of course, fine dining is about more than that, and Bell and Connoley are OK with bourgeoisifying found ingredients and local traditions. “That’s every cuisine,” Connoley says. “All cuisines are based in poverty food.” “Good cuisines,” Bell adds. Even as Connoley and Bell

spend three days a week foraging, Connoley claims Bulrush will be cheaper than Vicia and Elaia, two of St. Louis’ top tasting-menu locales. “Because I was raised by a single mother who squeaked by my entire life, I’ve always been sensitive that I don’t want to be one of those restaurants that’s so elite that you can’t get into it.” And while foraged ingredients may be free, the process of finding them, harvesting them and turning them into top-notch cuisine isn’t. This hike is only the first step in a process. Bell and Connoley aren’t simply identifying plants, snipping them and dumping them onto your plate. In addition to culinary and artistic development, there’s an R&D phase. Any time Connoley wants to use a new foraged ingredient, he researches

its health effects and then crossreferences it in a Native American medicinal dictionary, so he can see how indigenous healers used the plant. This is learned behavior from early failures, he says. “The funniest one is, for a while I was serving Mormon tea, which is also known as witch’s broom,” he says. “The Latin root word is Ephedra. But I didn’t know that when I started. I just knew traditionally people served it. So if traditionally people served it, it’s OK for me to serve. I started researching it and realized, ‘Oh, this is ephedra. This is not something I should be serving.’ (Mormon tea, although belonging to the genus Ephedra, does not contain the FDA-banned chemical ephedrine, which is used for weight loss and as a performance-enhancing

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drug. If you’re consuming Mormon tea, carry on. But Connoley takes no chances.) “There’s another plant, it may have been the chuchupate. But it would initiate the woman’s menstrual cycle. So again, this is early-on stuff before I knew how to do this professionally. Nowadays, any plant, I go straight to that book and say, ‘Oh, well the Cherokees used this to clot wounds or whatever.’ It’s just one of many checks that we do.” “If you don’t know 100 percent, don’t eat it,” Bell says in summary. “And if your mushrooms are frozen, maybe stay home until it warms up,” Connoley finishes, the skin on his legs stippling. A brief pause. “But see, I’m like, what if we kept them frozen and grated them? That would be interesting.” n

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CALENDAR BY PAUL FRISWOLD

19

WEEK OF JANUARY 31-FEBRUARY 6

FRIDAY 02/01 Life on the Margin Before Benj Pasek and Justin Paul were writing songs for cult musical Dogfight and the Hollywood smash La La Land, they were college undergraduates unhappy with the musicals they were working on at the University of Michigan. They channeled that dissatisfaction into the song cycle Edges, which speaks to the general feelings of uncertainty and worry that come with being twentysomethings in America. Using the language of youth, the songs in Edges deal with everything from Facebookinduced anxiety to a desire for real love. The show is a favorite of college theater departments for its honesty and its scaled-down staging (a sparse stage with four stools and four vocalists). The Fontbonne University Theatre department presents Edges at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (January 31 to February 3) at Fontbonne University’s Fine Arts Theatre (6800 Wydown Boulevard; www.mustardseedtheatre.com). Tickets are $10.

Finnish Your Beer In the centuries before commercial breweries were established, beer was made from whatever surplus crop or wild plant was plentiful in a particular area. These ancient beers had unique characteristics that varied from region to region. In Finland juniper is plentiful, and so that was used to flavor the local brew, sahti. Sahti is traditionally top fermented and cloudy — and tastes like bananas, which is cut by the juniper’s bitterness. Earthbound Beer (2724 Cherokee Street; www.earthboundbeer.com) presents a selection of three locally brewed sahtis for International Gruit Day from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, February 1. What is a “gruit”? Glad you asked; it’s a hopless beer, and in addition to the Finnish delight, Earthbound will have one or two other versions on tap so you can experience the beers of the medieval era. If you buy an official Earthbound traditional wooden drinking cup, or kuksas, your first fill is free.

Carmen won’t settle down with any man, no matter how much he pleads. | MARTY SOHL

SATURDAY 02/02 Freedom Rings Dred Scott was a slave who’d been taken from Missouri, a slave state, to Illinois, a free one. Yet he remained in bondage. In 1846 Scott sued for freedom from enslavement for himself and his wife Harriet, arguing that his two years of residing in a free state should make him a citizen under the doctrine of “once free, always free.” The case was fought in various courts from 1846 to 1857, with victories and setbacks along the way. After the Scotts’ patron could no longer pay their legal fees, St. Louis attorney Roswell Field took the case pro bono and continued the fight to win the Scotts’ freedom. It was an unpopular cause in Missouri, but the Scotts’ eventual defeat helped further stiffen the spine of the abolitionist cause. Roswell Field’s home is now the Field House Museum, which opens its new exhibition, Foundations of Freedom, in honor of Black History Month. The exhibit tells the story of the Scotts’ long legal struggle, other freedom suits and the national conversation about the legality of slavery in the nineteenth century. Foundations of Freedom

opens Saturday, February 2, at the Field House Museum (634 South Broadway; www.eugenefieldhouse.org). It remains on display through January 31, 2020, and the museum is open Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $5 to $10.

Making Great Neighborhoods Local nonprofit Love the Lou is interested in fostering healthy restoration for the northside of the city. To that end the group has purchased a house at 4141 Enright Avenue and will spend the next six months restoring it to its former glory with volunteer labor. To start the process, the group is hosting an Abandoned Open House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, February 2. Roughly ten artists will be creating work on site inspired by the theme of “Northside restoration,” while volunteers discuss the reality of creating a grassroots, residential-friendly means of repairing neighborhoods one house at a time. The goal is to have a second open house when the work is finished, and the home will be given to a resident on a ten-year leaseto-own agreement. The resident in question hasn’t been identified

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yet, but he or she is already working to restore the neighborhood. Stop by Saturday to see what the group, and its artist friends, are up to.

MONDAY 02/04 Blonde Ambition Delta Nu sorority sister Elle Woods has it all — the dreamy boyfriend, the impending marriage and the implied happy ending — until she suddenly doesn’t. When the dreamy boyfriend, Warner, tells Elle he needs someone “more serious” now that he’s off to Harvard Law School, she eventually follows him to prove she can be serious. What she ends up gaining from law school is a belief in herself and the realization that she’s more than just another pretty blonde. The musical juggernaut Legally Blonde returns to St. Louis for one night only at 7:30 p.m. Monday, February 4, at the Stifel Theatre (1400 Market Street; www.stifeltheatre.com). Tickets are $27.96 to $85.

Reel Good Time The Strange Brew film series may be no more, but “beer and a mov-

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NOW H IR IN G

E X P E R IE

NCED S ERVER

S, APPL Y

IN P E R S ON

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Elle Woods is not just another pretty face. | COURTESY OF STIFEL THEATRE

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CALENDAR

Continued from pg 19

ie” is too good an idea to ever die. The Dwell & Sell realty team has partnered with 4 Hands Brewing to screen films every other Monday at the brewery in La Salle Park. This week’s film is Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, a story-within-a-story-within-astory about a magnificent hotel nestled away in a fictitious European country and its glory days between the world wars. Lobby boy Zero Moustafa and hotel owner M. Gustave (Tony Revolori and Ralph Fiennes) get caught up in a criminal enterprise and risk everything to save their beloved hotel. Many of Anderson’s favorite actors (Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Jason Schwartzman) appear, and lots of yellow subtitles identify characters and era in true Andersonian fashion. Select 4 Hands beers are a dollar off during the screening, and popcorn is provided. Oh, and admission is free. The movie starts at 7 p.m. Monday, February 4, at 4 Hands Brewing (1220 South Eighth Street; www. dwellandsell.com/realtorreels).

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WEDNESDAY 02/06 The Fires of Love Don Jose is a soldier in Seville who has a problem — a problem named Carmen. The gypsy woman lives freely and loves even more freely, refusing to be tied down to anyone or anything. Unable to resist Carmen’s wiles despite the affection of peasant girl Micaëla, Jose ends up in prison for dereliction of duty. Even this is not enough to cool his desire for Carmen, who convinces him to run away with her to the mountains to live and love. Theirs is a relationship based on passion, and that fades soon enough — what will Jose do when Carmen’s eye wanders? Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen is full of wild emotions and fiery flamenco rhythms that engage the audience as surely as the tragic story. The Met Opera production of the story is simulcast to theaters nationwide at 11:55 a.m. Saturday, February 1, and then rebroadcast at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 6, at the AMC Esquire 7 (6706 Clayton Road, Richmond Heights; www.fathomevents.com). Tickets are $19.64 to $26.19. n


FILM

21

[REVIEW]

Super Serious The super-heroics of Glass are undone by its plot holes and ponderousness Written by

MARYANN JOHANSON Glass Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starring James McAvoy, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and Sarah Paulson. Now screening at multiple theaters.

W

hat if superheroes — glances around conspiratorially — were real? Huh? What about it? When M. Night Shyamalan broached this matter almost twenty years ago with Unbreakable, it felt radical: He was taking matters of pulp fiction seriously. He was treating the idea of a superpowered crimefighter not with cartoonish abandon but with dramatic gravitas. And it was mind-blowing. Now, as the director completes his what-if-superheroes-were-real trilogy — part two was 2017’s problematic Split — it’s as if those intervening two decades never happened. Not onscreen: His world feels pretty static even as it’s supposedly mirroring a real world that has morphed almost beyond recognition since the 2000 of Unbreakable. And not off-screen: Shyamalan seems not to have noticed that The Movies have caught up with the whole taking-comic-books-seriously thing, and he’s still solemnly positing a notion that we’ve all long since agreed with and are already several steps ahead of him on. It’s sadly ironic that the earnest humorlessness of Glass throws into sharp relief the emotional and cultural vividness of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which feels pretty real as it manages to grapple with weighty matters both political and personal, from mass surveillance to PTSD, without forgetting verve and wit. While the rest of us have been eagerly devouring stories about eth-

Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) has dozens of personalities, but not one of them can save this film. | JESSICA KOURKOUNIS - © UNIVERSAL PICTURES ics and bigotry, nuances of good and evil, and the tragedy of meta humans and caped vigilantes, Glass is a ponderously zealous, faux-intellectual Comic Book Guy “well, actually”-ing us about shallow superhero tropes and cliches as if those are the most intriguing parts of these stories, instead of the junk to be waded through to get to the good stuff. Glass trots out some of those ridiculous tropes and cliches with glee, as if lazy storytelling conceits used by pulp-fiction writers would also exist in a “real” world in which meta-humans actually existed. I wouldn’t want to spoil them, so I won’t describe them, but you won’t miss them when they happen, because genius comic-book geek Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) — also known as Mr. Glass, thanks to his brittle-bone disease — will clearly enunciate them for anyone listening. (Unbreakable had already established Mr. Glass as a brilliant villain, so we could call this “monologuing.”) Contrived is the last thing a movie that wants to be taken as “realistic” should be, and yet there’s, well, not a bone in Glass that feels natural, authentic or organic. The slim plot of the movie involves getting David

Shyamalan seems not to have noticed that The Movies have caught up with the whole taking-comicbooks-seriously thing. Dunn (Bruce Willis), the strong and invulnerable “good” vigilante of Unbreakable, and Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), the man of dozens of fractured personalities including the “bad” Beast of Split, into the same Philadelphia psychiatric hospital where Glass has been kept for years. This is done under dubious legal strictures (which the film does not broach at all) and even more dubious medical ones by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), who specializes in people who, as she says, suffer under the delusion that they are superheroes. Her

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treatment methods seem suspect, to say the least. There’s not a lot more going on beyond that. The movie has an overlong first act, no middle act, and then a rushed and unconvincing finale, where Shyamalan really starts to pile on the nonsense. Getting things wrapped up requires that security at this hospital be criminally terrible, that Glass’ genius verges on precognition — which is not supposed to be his power, and there’s no suggestion that it is — and that Staple’s expertise is both far deeper than we might expect yet also far more laughably lacking than it could thereby plausibly be. One late scene involves her learning something pretty basic about superhero stories by overhearing two kids talking in a comics store. Glass is meant to be a rational, grounded alternative to “fantastical” comic-book movies. It feels instead like an accidental, unwitting satire of geek culture, and in particular of that very narrow slice of nerdery that takes great pains to over-explain its passions to the point where all the ineffable fun is sucked from it. This is not the kind of seriousness that superheroes need. n

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VISUAL ARTS Asked where their portraits are hanging, each student knows the precise location — and points to it proudly.

[COOL PROJECTS]

Inspired by Wiley, Art Class Strikes a Pose Written by

SARAH FENSKE

B

ritt Tate Beaugard has learned a few things in her three years teaching art in the St. Louis Public Schools. One is that it’s OK to mix things up — preferable, really, which is one reason she has a classroom rabbit named Bunilla Ice. Another? The subject matter has to reach the students where they are. “I’m not teaching Da Vinci,” she says. “That’s not relevant to kids in north St. Louis. They’re tired of learning about the history of old white people. And I’m also really interested in showing them art in the world. If they want to make change in the College Hill neighborhood, they can do it through art.” For Tate Beaugard’s fourth graders at Bryan Hill Elementary School, those ideas found their nexus this winter with an art project inspired by Kehinde Wiley. The New York City-based artist, who famously painted Barack Obama’s presidential portrait, has the city buzzing over an exhibit at the Saint Louis Art Museum that depicts everyday African-American St. Louisans in poses inspired by the museum’s collection. Wiley has a background not unlike the kids at Bryan Hill, which is located in one of the toughest neighborhoods in a famously tough city. (Notes Tate Beaugard of north city’s College Hill area, “We can’t even get food delivered here.”) Growing up in South Central Los Angeles, Wiley notes in his artist bio that he saw “violence, anti-social behavior, streets on fire.” If he could use art to underscore the heroism in today’s St. Louis residents, why couldn’t her fourth graders do the same? And so the class learned about

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Alexandria McCain and Brianna Martin get Wileyed. | COURTESY OF BRITT TATE BEAUGARD Wiley’s life story. They played a matching game, pairing his portraits with the older works that inspired them. Then they chose a painting from an Old Master or the Baroque period to imitate — and struck a pose of their own in front of a “green screen” Tate Beaugard made out of butcher paper. And then, in what many of the students say was the most laborious part of the process, they colored vivid backgrounds, using the pages of adult coloring books to provide the framework. Thanks to exacting work with an iPad Pro and an Apple pencil and the new large-scale printer purchased by the school’s principal, the result is a gorgeous series of photo-based portraits, clearly inspired by Wiley’s work and yet also showing each member of the class in his or her idiosyncratic glory. Two girls stand side by side, staring out from a geometric background. A boy in a Nike sweatshirt

JANUARY 30 - FEBRUARY 5, 2019

faces the camera as he stands amidst a wavy sea, his expression enigmatic. Two other girls crouch and beam in a pose right out of Wiley’s museum show. In each case, they are entirely themselves, but also transformed. Wiley famously paints his subjects in their own clothes; the poses may be formal, but their garb is their own. While Tate Beaugard’s kids had to wear their school uniforms, they found personal expression in the hoodies their teacher permitted them to wear on top. And even in their white, blue or khaki basics, in this construct, both their personalities and a certain pride of self shines through. As you might expect from tenyear-olds, the kids are a bit shy when asked about the various steps in the project. But one jumps in to say how excited he was when, midway through the multi-week project, he spotted Wiley’s work being advertised on a bus stop. “I asked

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Mrs. Hamilton, would it be good to tell Miss Tate about it?” he recalls. “It was,” interjects their homeroom teacher, Bertha Hamilton. And yes, Tate Beaugard agrees, it certainly was. Then Jayshyne Cotton volunteers that, when he took his artwork home at the end of the project, his mother knew just what to do with it. “She put it in a frame,” he says. At that point, the previously quiet class comes to life — at least twothirds of their parents, as it turns out, did the same thing. It’s not just the halls of their own homes where the portraits are now enshrined. After Tate Beaugard laminated them, she hung them in the hallways of the school, turning the kids into minor celebrities. Asked where their portraits are hanging, each student knows the precise location — and points to it proudly. As for their homeroom teacher, she’s been inspired to make one of her own. “I want to do one and give it to my husband on Valentine’s Day,” Hamilton says, and holds up a brightly colored background. “I spent the weekend coloring mine!” On February 5, thanks to a grant from the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation, the kids at Bryan Hill will be taking a trip to the Saint Louis Art Museum, along with Tate Beaugard’s fifth graders from Columbia Elementary, who undertook the same Wiley-inspired project. “This is a very big deal for my kids,” says Tate Beaugard. It’s not just that they’ll finally be seeing people who look like them hanging on the walls of the city’s most prestigious museum. It’s that they’ll also be seeing art that looks a whole lot like theirs. n


STAGE

23

[REVIEW]

Alas, Poor Hamlet Neither astute direction nor good acting can save Hamlet prequel Wittenberg from the weakness of its script Written by

PAUL FRISWOLD Wittenberg Written by David Davalos. Directed by Philip Boehm. Presented by Upstream Theater through February 10 at the Kranzberg Arts Center (501 North Grand Boulevard; www.upstreamtheater.org). Tickets are $25 to $35.

S

hakespeare put the damper on any possible Hamlet sequels by killing off all the main characters before the curtain fell, thereby saving us from the horrors of Hamlet II: Back for Elsi-more, or something worse. But there’s nothing to stop an enterprising playwright from writing a Hamlet prequel. David Davalos is just such a playwright, and his Wittenberg shows us what Hamlet was like back at his happy college days, before his mommy issues kicked in. Being an enterprising sort of playwright, Davalos throws in Johann Faustus and the entirely non-fictional Martin Luther as well. What sort of shenanigans happen when a great Dane, a demonologist and a renowned theologian are thrown together during one wild semester at Wittenberg University? Despite the possibilities in the premise, Davalos’ Wittenberg, currently being produced by Upstream Theater, disappoints. Not even the game cast and the sure hand of director Philip Boehm can overcome the fact that Faust and Hamlet as written are only an endless string of call-backs to their better-known plays, while Martin Luther is similarly confined by his actual historical actions. Even more damaging is that one of the characters is a textbook Mary Sue — a fictional character who can do it all, has no flaws and

The courtesan (Caitlyn Mickey) gives in to the seductive charms of Faustus (Steve Isom). | PROPHOTOSTL.COM renders all other characters pointless with her sheer awesomeness. There are a few original laughs to be found within Wittenberg, but too much of the script is borrowed from other plays and stitched together as framework for Faustus, our Mary Sue, to look great and make things happen. As a result, Wittenberg sits uncomfortably between the episode of Gilligan’s Island where the gang puts on a production of Hamlet and the worst excesses of fan fiction. Hamlet here is an upper-class twit, the star pupil of both his philosophy professor Faustus and his theology professor, Martin Luther. Casey Boland wrings everything he can out of this dithering, indecisive Hamlet, who speaks in sentences overlarded with alliteration and consonance rather than the beautiful iambic pentameter of his post-college life. Currently suffering from terrible dreams and inner turmoil, Hamlet looks to his mentors for help. Steve Isom’s Faustus displays the swaggering confidence common to the hippest professor on campuses worldwide. He has the best drugs, he challenges the status quo with every bon mot he drops

and he even has a regular gig at the tavern playing rock & roll on his lute. Do the tavern wenches throw themselves at him? C’mon, of course they do. Caitlyn Mickey gets to be the wench in question, as well as a courtesan and a vision of Mary, mother of Jesus, thereby completing this game of virginwhore bingo. (This one-dimensional tripartite character list is billed in the program as the “Eternal Feminine,” which is a damnably stunted definition of both words. Mickey, and all actresses, deserve better.) Much of Hamlet and Faustus’ dialogue is a walk down ‘Member Berry Lane, which stops being entertaining the third or fourth time Hamlet asks Dr. Faustus some variation of a “to blank or not to blank” question and Faustus corrects him with a smirking, “To be or not to be.” Then Faustus gives Hamlet a baggie of something good and sends him out into the world with a paraphrase of Timothy Leary’s “turn on, tune in, drop out” advice. Martin Luther (Alan Knoll) is devout in his faith and tells Hamlet the answers he seeks can only be found in the Bible. Of all the characters in the play, Luther

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feels most original. Is that because he’s free from the constraints of a more famous play that defines him, or is it because of Knoll’s performance? Luther is is bedeviled by the Church’s sale of indulgences, which absolve people from their sins and free them from attending services, and Knoll’s Luther reflects that pain in every snappish line and sleepless night. His frenemy Faustus urges him to write down his doubts about indulgences as points in a debate, thereby stealing Luther’s own courage of conviction to be yet one more feather in Faustus’ cap. We get it already: Faustus is the Fonzie of the sixteenth century. There’s nothing new here, only borrowed characters bumping around a university, clearing their throats until their better-known dramas can start. Strip away all the references to other plays and what’s left? Just Faustus being relentlessly rad in everyone’s face. One can only imagine the horrors to be found in Wittenberg II: Faust Rider. Rumor has it Faustus gets a demonically powered motorcycle and jumps a shark to win a bet with the three Weird Sisters from Macbeth. n

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Sunday Brunch / Dinner Buffet

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CAFE

27

[REVIEW]

And They’re Always Glad You Came With first-rate food and thoughtful service, 58hundred is the restaurant you wish your neighborhood had Written by

CHERYL BAEHR 58hundred 5800 Southwest Avenue, 314-279-5799. Mon.-Fri 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5 p.m.-close; Sat. 5 p.m.-close. (Closed Sundays.)

M

y daughter had a crappy day at school — the sort of friend drama you expect in middle school had somehow managed to infest her pre-K classroom. She’d been crying the entire way to dinner. When we finally arrived at 58hundred, the four-month-old restaurant in Southwest Garden, her eyes were red and puffy. Immediately sensing her sullen mood, our server sprang into action. First came the cranberry juice in an ornate, vintage bar coup, followed by a show-andtell on the restaurant’s whimsical, animal-shaped salt and pepper shakers. By the time the intentionally generous order of fries hit the table, my little one was not only beaming — she was asking when we could come back. Looking around at the bevy of regulars packing 58hundred’s bar and dining room that frigid Friday night, it’s clear that the welcoming, personalized service shown to my daughter is not only standard protocol — it’s why Marc Del Pietro and Brian Doherty opened the restaurant in the first place. After closing the Central West End outpost of their popular Webster Groves restaurant the Block, the pair were looking to recalibrate. They wanted to recreate the original Block’s neighborhood feel, only in a new concept.

At 58hundred, delightful menu options include pimento cheese toast (bottom left) and braised beef (bottom right). | MABEL SUEN They searched all over the city and county, and when they found the building at the corner of Southwest and Dalton, they knew they had found their spot. It was smack-dab in the middle of a tight-knit residential neighborhood that was missing a neighborhood restaurant. 58hundred, they figured, would fill that void. Those instincts were confirmed, Del Pietro says, the moment he and Doherty opened the doors this past October. Within days, 58hundred already had regulars — neighbors greeting neighbors as they strolled into the cozy bar, some rolling up to the restaurant in their golf carts, others bringing the kids for a quick dinner and still others dolled up on date night. Bartenders already knew drink orders and servers had made a note of special requests. It was like Cheers, only with better food and a polished atmosphere. But you don’t need to live in the Southwest Garden neighborhood to appreciate the appeal of this inviting, well-executed restaurant. 58hundred is one of those rare gems that hits that perfect tone between being nice enough for heels, but not so nice you’re embarrassed to roll in wearing yoga pants. And the price point certainly finds that sweet spot: Del

Pietro and Doherty made a point of keeping things reasonable, and they have succeeded. The most expensive item on the menu, a petit tender, is $19. Most dishes run in the mid-teens range, with sandwich options $10 or under. The stylish digs, however, make 58hundred appear upscale at first glance. Del Pietro and Doherty did an impressive job converting the former Lou C’s Bar & Grill into a gorgeous, light-filled space. The interior is divided into two rooms: The first houses a new white quartz-topped bar and several high-top cocktail tables. A main dining room lies just beyond that, simply appointed with wooden tables and modern, dark blue chairs. Both rooms have been painted white and are filled with gold accents including modern light fixtures and candle holders. The Block has a butcher theme, but at 58hundred, Del Pietro and Doherty wanted to tone down the meat focus to appeal to a broader audience — namely their wives. Both Amy Del Pietro and Lea Doherty are vegetarians, and they inspired their husbands to create a menu that honored their preferences. Most of the non-meat options present as appetizers, such as “Nashville’s Pimento Cheese

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Toast,” which pairs the piquant cheese spread with thick slices of grilled bread. The char from the grill infuses the rich cheese with bitter depth; the flavor was so impressive I would have liked a thicker slather of it. Alas, I was left with just a tease. Perhaps I was being saved from overeating so I could fully enjoy the appetizer that followed, the Brussels-sprouts tacos. This standout dish pairs charred vegetables with toasted almonds, giving the tacos a satisfying contrast of textures. Pickled red onions and lime crema electrify the deeply savory sprouts, making each bite a symphony of brightness, bitterness, crunch and softness. It’s not simply a quality non-meat option; it’s one of the best things the restaurant offers. The Buffalo-fried-shrimp starter is another example of 58hundred at its best. I expected a simple plate of battered shrimp tossed in hot sauce; instead, I got a masterful rethinking of the bar staple. There was no orange on the plate to speak of; the shrimp is soaked in hot sauce before cooking so it absorbs all of the intense, vinegary heat. The shellfish is then coated in a delicate breading that is heavily flecked

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Bobby’s Place is named after Bobby Plager, a former St. Louis Blues defenseman and cultural icon of the 70’s. Bobby’s Place is located in Valley Park and on Hampton Ave., and both locations offer their respective neighborhoods are a place where our patrons can feel at home. Bobby’s Place is known for their wide variety of flavors of Chicken Wings, their fresh meat Hamburgers and Chicken Sandwiches, and their not too thin Pizzas that come out on a rectangular metal tray. A wide assortment of freshly made appetizers, sandwiches, salads and pastas can be enjoyed while watching any of your favorite sports on the many flat screen TVs throughout the Bar & Grill. Beer you say? Well we have 16 local and regional tap handles of your favorites and countless bottles and cans to wet your whistle. Bobby’s Place is known for a $6.99 daily lunch special and a wide variety of drink specials. There is always something going on at Bobby’s Place, whether that something is Trivia Night, Beer Pong, DJ Music, or live bands. A full bar with signature drinks and shots will compliment a good night out with friends at Bobby’s Place.

As one of the premier vegetarian restaurants in the St. Louis area, Frida’s has earned accolades for serving hearty meals that are as tasty as they are nourishing. Owners Natasha Kwan-Roloff (also the executive chef) and Rick Roloff elevate vegetarian cuisine by marrying high-quality, local ingredients with innovative flavors. All items are made from scratch, have no butter or sugar and use little to no oil – but with the flavors and creativity at Frida’s, you won’t miss anything. The University City restaurant’s newest hit is the Impossible Burger – a massive plant-based patty that has the texture and juiciness of meat and often fools carnivores. Frida’s award-winning signature namesake burger is no slouch, either, with its tahini-chipotle slaw topping and local bun. The menu also boasts decadent favorites like tacos, wraps, pizzas and desserts, and a new Sunday brunch that just launched in April. Beer and wine are available, and many of Frida’s menu items can be modified for vegan or gluten-free diners.

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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 9 SOUTH VANDEVENTER DINE-IN, OR DELIVERY MON-SAT 11AM-9PM cured salmon, yuzu dill slaw, Persian cucumbers and avocado for aTAKEOUT fresh flavor explosion. Another 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.

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.

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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-lemon-butter 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.

There aren’t many businesses named after Adam Sandler movies, but at the Blue Duck, the food is as whimsical as its “Billy Madison” reference. Originally founded in Washington, Mo., owners Chris and Karmen Rayburn opened the Blue Duck’s Maplewood outpost in 2017, bringing with them a seasonal menu full of American comfort-food dishes that are elevated with a dash of panache. Start the meal with the savory fried pork belly, which is rubbed with coffee and served with a sweet bbq sauce and root vegetable slaw. For the main event, the Duck’s signature DLT sandwich substitutes succulent smoked duck breast instead of the traditional bacon, adding fried egg and honey chipotle mayo along with lettuce and tomato on toasted sourdough. Save room for dessert; the Blue Duck’s St. Louberry pie – strawberries and blueberries topped with a gooey buttercake-like surface – is a worthy tribute to the Gateway City.

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with black pepper. Buttermilk ranch and shaved slices of celery garnish the bottom of the dish, offering a cooling contrast to the shrimp’s deceptively fiery punch. The preparation combines the satisfaction you get from Buffalo wings with the sophistication of a white-tablecloth restaurant; in other words, it’s 58hundred in a dish. It would not be a Del Pietroand-Doherty restaurant without a hearty pork appetizer, and the nachos do not disappoint. Crisp tortillas are covered in luscious, jalapeño-infused mornay sauce, then adorned with massive hunks of smoked pork that have just enough sauce to provide flavor, but not so much as to cover up the meat’s flavor. It’s a crowd pleaser of a dish, but one that is perfectly executed. 58hundred’s few misses were minor. Pretzel bites had a mealy texture and lacked flavor, a factor that was mitigated by the delightful accompaniment, a jalapeño white-cheddar dipping sauce. A chopped salad lacked flavor, save for a few sparse pieces of salami, and a side of charred broccoli was so tough it was difficult to chew. However, these minor flaws were forgotten thanks to a parade of wonderful entrées. Flawlessly grilled salmon, encrusted in black pepper and herbs, picks up a wonderful smokiness from the grill. The fish is placed atop quinoa that is so tender, it almost has the texture of risotto. It’s garnished with a simple salad of asparagus, cu-

Co-owner Marc Del Pietro, bar manager Brad Chapman and bartender Bella Zoog. | MABEL SUEN cumber and celery that give a pop of refreshment to the rich fish. Half of an Amish chicken was smoked so it picks up an earthy sweetness, then roasted to crisp in its delicate skin. It shows how wonderful chicken can be when given extra care: The flesh is at once sweet, spicy and bitter; its skin so succulent you’d think it was poached. Though the meat is a masterpiece, its supporting elements are equally dazzling, including a mushroom-and-leek bread pudding and creamy orzo that is enlivened with verdant pesto. It’s hard to think of a more perfect entrée for this cold, dreary winter than 58hundred’s braised beef. Though the flavors are indeed hearty — beef braised in red wine, Parmesan gnocchi, brown butter, carrots and sage — the dish is surprisingly restrained. This is

not a pot-roast gravy bomb; only a touch of the beef’s cooking jus pools at the bottom of the plate, mingling with the brown butter to form a rich, nutty nectar that is perfect for dipping the light-asair pillows of gnocchi. It’s an elegant rendering of a quintessential comfort food. Though 58hundred bills itself as a vegetarian-friendly restaurant, just one off-the-menu entrée was meat-free: a pasta special featuring butternut squash and mushrooms that were tough and woody. Considering that nonmeat eaters are all too often relegated to a veggie pasta of some sort, I found not only the dish disappointing, but the overall lack of vegetarian entrées at dinner decidedly off brand. Other than that special, plantbased eaters can choose from a

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gourmet grilled cheese or make a meal out of sides or appetizers — again, being relegated to this part of the menu tends to be a consistent complaint from vegetarian diners. Fortunately, the side options here are at least thoughtful and well prepared, such as the excellent hash brown, baked with cheddar cheese and a farm egg, or “Smoke and Vinegar Beets.” If these snappy, mouth-puckering beauties do not remind you of the sort of side dish your grandmother would serve at a family gathering, then I am sorry for your childhood. Really, though, 58hundred is at its best on an offering like the “58 Burger,” a juicy smashed burger covered in molten cheese that seeps into every one of the patty’s crevices, making it hard to tell where the cheese ends and the fat begins. The only thing better than the burger is a double version, its two patties nestled into the warm brioche bun and oozing their juices down your wrists as you take a bite. That burger would have put a smile on my face no matter the circumstances, but the fact that it was served by someone who took the time to cheer up my little girl makes 58hundred one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in recent memory. It’s not the food, not the atmosphere, not a cool cocktail list but those sorts of personal touches that make the difference between a fine-enough restaurant and a real neighborhood gathering place. No wonder 58hundred is such a success. It’s the total package.

58hundred Brussels sprout tacos ................................ $7 Double burger .......................................... $13 Braised beef ............................................. $17

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After gaining acclaim in Texas, chef Robert Cantu uprooted his career to help his wife, who is training to become a pediatrician. Now he’s landed at Grand Tavern by David Burke. | JEN WEST

[SIDE DISH]

He Followed His Heart to Grand Tavern Written by

CHERYL BAEHR

L

ooking back, there was little chance that Robert Cantu would make his career anywhere other than the restaurant business. Today the executive chef at the new Grand Tavern

by David Burke (626 North Grand Boulevard, 314-405-3399), Cantu grew up with a father who worked in restaurants until he switched gears to join the military. He instilled in his son a passion for the industry; Cantu’s first job at a Thai restaurant in San Antonio confirmed his knack for cooking. However, it wasn’t until after Cantu left culinary school — and even after he completed his gig at a five-diamond resort in Dallas — that he really found his groove. “I needed to go home to San Antonio to start paying off my loans, and I got a job at Biga on the Banks,” Cantu recalls. “It was a really great concept that allowed me to really hone my creativity because the menu was all created by the cooks. They would give us a

protein and ask us what we wanted to do with it, so every day we would have to think of something innovative and creative and not repeat it. It was a challenge, but I couldn’t have gotten a better opportunity than that to develop my skills.” It’s not just Biga, an acclaimed fine-dining restaurant on San Antonio’s Riverwalk. From Barton Creek Resort in Austin to Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, the young chef cooked at some of Texas’ most elite properties. He was enjoying great success in his career and was poised to rise up the ranks. Then he fell in love. “I met my wife, we got married and she went to med school,” Cantu explains. “For the last eight

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years she has been working to become a pediatrician, so we have gone where she needs to go.” Initially, that took them to Omaha, where Cantu’s wife attended medical school. Cantu admits it was difficult to find his niche in the city at first, and he ended up going to the corporate side of the business, working as executive chef of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Omaha. To his surprise, he found Fleming’s to be receptive to his suggestions on how to improve the menu. Within no time, he was developing recipes for the company that are still in use today. Cantu and his wife left Omaha so that she could do her residency in New Orleans. Though the city’s

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ROBERT CANTU Continued from pg 31

vibrant food scene provided innumerable options, Cantu decided to continue working for a corporate restaurant, joining Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse as a sous chef. However, circumstances at the restaurant put him on the fast track. “I was there for about a month and the chef quit right before the weekend in the middle of the holidays,” Cantu recalls. “I jumped in to cover for him, then eventually threw in my hat for the executivechef job.” Not only did Cantu get the job, but he was quickly promoted to regional chef, which involved overseeing 26 restaurants. He loved the gig and wanted to stay, but his wife’s career took the pair to Kansas City for a year and then to St. Louis for a fellowship with St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Through those transitions, Cantu worked for Harrah’s, then the franchise side of Ruth’s Chris before landing at the Cheshire Hotel. Though he was enjoying his time there, he could not refuse the offer that came calling one day. “I was the chef the Cheshire for a little over a year, and then David

Burke called me,” Cantu says, referring to the renowned celebrity chef. “He asked me to come in and do a tasting with him for Grand Tavern, and the next thing I knew, I had the job.” These days, Cantu is the esteemed chef’s right-hand man, helping to execute his vision for a destination that will be the jewel of Grand Center’s food-and-beverage scene. Though Burke’s touch is certainly evident on the menu, Cantu has been excited by how much the gig has allowed him to use his creativity and put his mark on the restaurant. “Burke is very down to earth, and we are likeminded in the way we think about food,” Cantu explains. “It’s been fun to get back to a place where I have more of a say in what things are cooked and how they are presented. It’s a great opportunity.” Cantu took a break from Grand Tavern’s kitchen to share his thoughts on the St. Louis restaurant scene — it reminds him of New Orleans — his passion for cycling and the one thing he misses most about Texas. What is one thing people don’t know about you that you wish they did? I love cycling, and I actually

compete in races when I have the free time. What daily ritual is non-negotiable for you? I have to start my day with a hot cup of espresso. I’m just not right without it. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? I would love to be able to teleport, as sometimes I feel like I need to be in several places at once. What is the most positive thing in food, wine or cocktails that you’ve noticed in St. Louis over the past year? I love that Meredith Barry, Grand Tavern’s beverage manager, has moved to St. Louis. She has already shown her talent with cocktails she has introduced to the city, and she thinks way outside of the box when it come to drinks. What is something missing in the local food, wine or cocktail scene that you’d like to see? I grew up in Texas, and I really miss eating authentic barbacoa tacos made from cow head. Every time I go back to Texas I have to get them. Who is your St. Louis food crush? Chef Carl McConnell [Stone Soup Cottage] is doing some great things out in Cottleville. I think he

has a winning concept with great focus on food quality and service. Who’s the one person to watch right now in the St. Louis dining scene? I would keep an eye on Rob Connoley with Bulrush. He has got some talent, and I’m excited for its opening. Which ingredient is most representative of your personality? I would have to say sunchokes because they are versatile and also hardworking. If you weren’t working in the restaurant business, what would you be doing? I would probably be cycling competitively. Name an ingredient never allowed in your restaurant. Liquid smoke in cooking is a big no-no for me. What is your after-work hangout? I love going home to my wife, kid, and my Frenchie, Blanche. What’s your food or beverage guilty pleasure? I have been really into whiskey as of late. I’m actually working on an infinity bottle at home. What would be your last meal on earth? A porchetta sandwich from the Wayfare in New Orleans. n

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[FIRST LOOK]

Elmwood Brings Coal Fire to Maplewood Written by

SARAH FENSKE

A

fter years of working at some of St. Louis’ most acclaimed restaurants, last week Chris Kelling and Adam Altnether finally unveiled what they can do when their only boss is themselves. Opening four months after its initial goal of September 2018, Elmwood (2704 Sutton Boulevard, Maplewood; 314-261-4708) was one of the year’s most eagerly anticipated newcomers, with a menu of charcoal-fired offerings and a sophisticated space in Maplewood’s thriving downtown district. But before they could serve their first meal, the two rising stars in the food world got a crash course in a completely different skill set: demolition. The pair had signed a lease for half of the former Live Juke Joint Dueling Piano Bar, which needed a major overhaul. And when they sought bids for demolition work, no one even bothered to get back to them. “The trades were busy this summer,” Kelling says. “And we got to the point where we needed to get started.” Relying on advice from Altnether’s father, a retired union

[HIDDEN GEM]

El Toluco Is West County’s Best Secret Written by

TOM HELLAUER

O

verwhelmed with emotions and memories from his native Mexico, an elderly man began to cry. He had not reacquainted with a long-lost friend or family member, nor had he returned to a meaningful spot in our south-

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Topped with cilantro and peantus, Elmwood’s citrus salad shows the kitchen’s skill with classic dishes. | SARAH FENSKE carpenter, they decided to start the project themselves — and ultimately cleared away 12,000 pounds of rubble. “We thought, if we’re tearing down walls, let’s just do everything we can ourselves,” Kelling recalls. “We were here all summer getting it ready for the tradespeople to come in.” Those efforts (along with, of course, those of the professionals who followed) have resulted in a space that’s elegant without being stuffy, modern without being austere. A thirteen-foot slab of black walnut forms the bar, which runs alongside one wall. A row of booths divides the bar area from the main dining area, with a long communal table and plenty of small tables and chairs providing seating that either faces the huge glassed-in windows along Sutton or an open, glassed-in kitchen in the back.

But if the space is eye-catching, they’re confident the food is even more so. A star chef who opened Taste in the Central West End in partnership with Gerard Craft, Altnether promises Elmwood will be different than anything St. Louis has tasted before. “It’s a lot of newer, bolder flavors,” he promises. “There’s nothing super traditional here. I’m fully prepared for people to say, ‘That’s not for me.’ That’s fine. Not everybody’s going to fall in love with everything.” To that end, he describes mussels with Szechuan flavors and lamb cruda, with raw lamb spiced in the style of Indian street food. Even the appetizers are interesting; instead of baba ganoush, Altnether serves a charred sweetpotato dip, with yams buried in coals until they’re fully cooked,

ern neighbor. Instead, he had just eaten the carne de puerco with beans and rice, covered in pipian sauce, at El Toluco (14234 Manchester Road, Ballwin; 636-6865444). Such reactions are commonplace among customers of the taqueria and grocery in Ballwin, say owners Fausto and Maggie Pizarro. Since opening as a grocery store in the summer of 2016 and a taqueria that following December, El Toluco has become a hot spot and gathering place for a budding Latin community in the county, where other signs of traditional cuisine are sparse. El Toluco’s fare takes inspiration from Fausto’s own family recipes and upbringing. “Everything we sell, that’s what we learned [from home],” Fausto says.

Cooking, he notes, is a family affair: His mother and sister both share his passion for cooking, with his sister owning a restaurant herself back in Mexico. Still, it’s no one-man show. Chefs Cruz and Marcelo Salazar help Fausto in the kitchen. While the Salazars hail from a different city in Mexico than Fausto’s native Toluca, they still have kindred cooking styles, Fausto says. Their hometowns “are so close they don’t change too much,” he notes. Cruz singlehandedly prepares all of El Toluco’s tamales, and Marcelo often whips up his own salsas for tortilla chips or other dishes. “Without the [Salazars], I don’t think we would be as successful as we are. I think all of us together make a Continued on pg PB

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then mashed and served alongside thick, rustic flatbread. Those innovative dishes are thanks to Elmwood’s oven, a custom-made Josper that relies on, yes, charcoal, and is the only one of its kind in the U.S. “Everyone’s doing wood-burning ovens, and that’s great,” Kelling says. “That’s what we like to eat, too. But it’s nice to do something different.” Still, they promise they’ll also keep things accessible for less adventurous diners. Just witness the lovely citrus salad, served on Belgian endive and tossed with peanuts and cilantro, for proof that the kitchen can also handle seasonal classics. The drink menu also innovates, without pushing things into the esoteric. The bar program, run by David Greteman, will feature not just wine and beer but a selection of cocktails separated into high-proof, low-proof and zero-proof (a.k.a. mocktail) categories. At any rate, the two young restaurateurs are convinced the city is ready for what they’re cooking. Since Altnether opened Taste in 2011, “things have evolved immensely,” he says. “People are excited about good food now. When they come in, they’re expecting a great meal.” And unlike demolition, that’s something this pair has long known how to deliver. Elmwood is open Tuesday through Saturday at 5 p.m. The last seating on Tuesday through Thursday is 10 p.m.; on weekends, it will be 11 p.m. And in February, they intend to start opening the bar with a limited snack menu at 4 p.m. n


At El Toluco, tacos are cheap and tasty. | TOM HELLAUER

EL TOLUCO

Continued from pg 34

really good team,” Maggie says. The collective culinary experience translates to fresh ingredients and authentic, home-cooked dishes. Meats are hand-cut, seasoned in house and cooked

to order. Guacamole and various handcrafted sauces, ranging from mild to fiery, are prepared daily. Tacos, burritos, chile rellenos and other customary Mexican dishes are all available at shockingly low prices. Some people stop by just for the drinks. That includes bottled Mexican Coke, beloved for its use of cane sugar in

lieu of high-fructose corn syrup. With the kitchen well staffed, Maggie works the bustling grocery side of El Toluco. Assorted spices, sauces, snacks and other Mexican delicacies line metal shelves near the entrance and across from dining tables. Meats, juices, desserts and produce form bright Technicolor patterns lining a wall of refrigerators.

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Regular customers pay close attention to a modest, clear cupboard display stocked with fresh bread from El Chico Bakery on Cherokee. Despite multiple deliveries each week, the popular items still sell out, much to the dismay of regulars. Traces of Mexico don’t stop with the food. Spanish-speaking radio hosts and Mexican pop music play over the soft, chorused hum of refrigerators. Ceramic, talavera-style artwork hung on the wall is available for purchase, along with small holy statues and other decorations. Many patrons even wire money directly to their families abroad through a service available on site. The immersive atmosphere helps attract a tight-knit community. “Everybody who comes in knows somebody. They’ll stop and talk, have lunch together or sit down and have a beer together,” Maggie says. While El Toluco is well known within the county’s Latin American population, the same cannot be said for other groups of locals. The place is somewhat concealed on the far side of its parking lot, and many passersby on the busy stretch of Manchester may miss it. Some like it that way. “Don’t tell too many people about this place now,” a member of the nearby West County EMS warns as he dines, hoping to preserve his special spot. With such authentic, homemade Mexican cuisine, he may not be able to keep his secret for long. n

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MUSIC & CULTURE

[HOMESPUN]

In the Loop Syna So Pro hopes to bring people together through her Contemporary Art Museum residency Written by

CHRISTIAN SCHAEFFER

W

hen Syrhea Conaway begins her monthly residency at the Contemporary Art Museum on Friday, February 1, she’ll have no small amount of gear with her. Conaway, who performs and records as the one-woman band Syna So Pro, will truck in the usual implements of rock music — guitar, bass, keys — alongside her arsenal of effects pedals and, perhaps most crucially, her looper for recording, layering and manipulating all of her sounds. It’s a format that local music fans have come to expect from Conaway’s live shows, but the space itself and the nature of her performance will present a new challenge for the veteran musician. “I said, ‘You know that I’m not a DJ!’” Conaway recalls telling the venue staff. She notes that she didn’t want to snipe a gig away from another performer and initially was unsure how her style of performance — oftentimes a build-as-you-go affair built around her jacknife looping skills — would blend into the curated space of CAM. “There was a little bit of imposter syndrome,” she says, “but after reading over the literature and understanding there’s an educational aspect to it as well, where I have to teach workshops with some high schoolers, I understand that. Not everyone has experience teaching, which I dove into because I quit my day job a year and a half ago to be a full-time artist and musician.” Taking that plunge — leaving the comfort and security of regular employment to dedicate her time to music — has led Conaway into new venues, CAM included. In the past two years Conaway has taught classes through St.

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In addition to regular performances, Syrhea Conaway will be leading workshops with high school students. | VIA THE ARTIST Louis Public Library and COCA, acted and consulted for local theater companies and continued to play in a handful of diverse local bands. That access to a host of arts and education organizations underlined the city’s seldom-interconnected scenes. It’s something Conaway hopes to change with her monthly CAM shows. “People are coming for the exhibition, and it’s a good way for me to try to interconnect a lot of scenes,” she says. “I don’t know why St. Louis is so siloed — so siloed! You don’t see a lot of the same people in these spaces.” Conaway recounts her own moments of stepping into new spaces — going to watch improv comedy or digging into her acting debut as part of Metro Theater Company’s Wonderland: Alice’s Rock & Roll Adventure — and she says that she recognized at once a vibrant but segmented arts scene. “Why have I never met any of you guys before? Because I’m not going out and getting myself in these spaces — all of these worlds are so disconnected,” Conaway says. “I don’t know if this is a St. Louis thing or a human-nature thing.” Conaway recognizes that her monthly sets will serve as background music for many as they

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“People are coming for the exhibition, and it’s a good way for me to try to interconnect a lot of scenes. I don’t know why St. Louis is so siloed — so siloed!” tour the gallery, though keen-eyed patrons will have the chance to watch her create her art largely from scratch. “It’s not like you’re gonna come here and get a Syna So Pro show,” she says of her sets. “I will be playing my songs, but I don’t really plan on singing very many words. This is an opportunity for me to put out all the instrumental tracks I’ve been writing since even before Vox [her previous record] and just play them, loop

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over them.” She currently doesn’t have any plans to release a new Syna So Pro album this year, but preparing for this residency and challenging herself to create new songs every month should lead to a trove of tracks. “I’m pretty pleased with what I’ve accomplished and where I am, but there’s so much more to do. This challenge with CAM will give me that kick in the butt that I need; I’ve been sitting on so much material it’s not even fucking funny.” Conaway’s transition to fulltime artist, performer and educator has had its challenges, but she speaks with a gleam of evangelism about the experience of working with young students and helping them embrace some of the creativity, theory and do-it-yourself ethos that she has built into the infrastructure of her workflow. “I’m just talking from my own personal experience — I never thought as a child that I could make a career out of this,” Conaway says. “No one was supporting me in that. But if somebody like me came to my school and did this shit …” She trails off, making a brain-exploding noise. “I just want to be that person for this generation. Don’t listen to those naysayers — you got it.” n


[VENUES]

Turning to GoFundMe, Foam Hopes to Stay Alive Written by

BENJAMIN SIMON

I

t is rare that Mic Boshans, the owner of Cherokee Street bar/ coffee shop/music venue Foam (3359 S. Jefferson Avenue, 314772-2100), gets a night off. But on January 11, after Boshans ended his shift as a bartender at the Four Seasons’ Cinder House, he was free for the evening. Snow was already piling up on the ground and double-digit-inch forecasts circulated all across St. Louis. So, naturally, Boshans hopped in his car, turned on the Uber app, and started driving. For a “night off,” Boshans made a good amount of money trudging through the city, picking up people who didn’t want to drive on that snowy Friday night. And for Boshans, the money adds up, as he musters every last piece of energy to keep his beloved Foam afloat. Last Sunday, Boshans used social media to share a GoFundMe campaign he had created. In the 1,300-word description, Boshans explained why Foam could possibly be closing. It needed financial assistance — and soon. After taking out multiple loans, including one to buy the space five years ago, Boshans is still working to pay off his debts. On top of that, the business has been impacted by other closures on the street, he wrote. He saw a 22 percent drop in average September sales, which has been followed by a 70 percent drop in January sales to date. Now Boshans is not only trying to make up for this loss in revenue but simply keep the business running. For a year, the idea of creating a GoFundMe had been in the back of his mind and, with the recent struggles, he decided now was the time to ask the commu-

Foam opened ten years ago, with owner Mic Boshans taking over five years later. Above, Dubb Nubb performs in 2011. | KHOLOOD EID

Boshans holds additional jobs to keep the venue open. | KELLY GLUECK nity for help. “When it felt like do or die, we decided to [use GoFundMe],” Boshans says. “It was the best way to reach a large group of people quickly, because we need funds quickly.” Founded in 2009, the venue has become a staple on Cherokee Street, an area known for its food, nightlife and music scenes, especially within the local and national DIY community. Foam, in particular, has become famous for its inti-

mate crowds and quality music. It has hosted stars like James McCartney and Walk The Moon. But, unlike many music venues, the business doesn’t take “door money,” or a portion of the ticket sales, from concerts. Instead, it relies solely on its bar for revenue, allowing the musicians and sound crews to receive all of their ticket revenues. “This can be a huge gamble,” Boshans writes on the GoFundMe page. “For example, in 2018 we

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hosted at least 3 sold out events, unfortunately, on two of those nights, the bar ring didn’t equate to our daily ‘break even,’ because ticket sales don’t always equate to bar sales.” Still, it is part of what makes Foam special and that, Boshans says, won’t change. Instead, he has turned to the community — and not for the first time. Within the first two months of taking over the business in 2014, Boshans says the bar was broken into twice. The first breakin resulted in a stolen PA system. To make up for the loss, Boshans and Foam hosted a fundraiser at the bar and were lent an additional PA system. After earning the money to buy a new one, the PA system was stolen again, but the bar found ways to continue running, even after installing a security system. Once again, the people of St. Louis are showing their unwavering support for Boshans’ business. Just two days into the GoFundMe posting, he had received 114 donations and $3,570 of the desired $29,500. The number keeps rising. “I’ve been surprised by how many people have been giving and how much people have been giving,” Boshans says. It has all happened fast and with open arms. Comments like “Mic is an utterly stalwart supporter of the arts” and “This place is such a great spot for DIY bands/artists regionally, nationally, and internationally!” fill that section of Boshans’ GoFundMe page. Boshans says he doesn’t have a backup plan if the GoFundMe fails to hit its goal. He says he’ll give the campaign a month, but the donated money has already helped to cover bills. Right now, he’s focused on hosting worthwhile shows for the rest of January and the upcoming months. The Foam website lists events as late as April 22. Even February is packed to the brim with eight events in the first ten days. But in the meantime, Boshans will continue driving for Uber, continue bartending and continue checking GoFundMe every down moment he gets. And, of course, he will continue running Foam and finding ways to pay his six workers. “I’ll sell the contents of the building before I don’t pay my employees,” he says. n

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Two Gango-affiliated ladies recently went viral for shaking it atop a moving car as it rolled down I-64. | COURTESY OF GANGO

[TWERKAHOLICS]

All Twerk and No Play St. Louis’ Gango squad is dead serious about its ‘twerk addiction’ Written by

DANNY WICENTOWSKI

A

pair of St. Louis women became overnight sensations recently when a motorist on I-64 captured them twerking on the roof of an SUV as it traveled down the highway in frigid January weather. The women tell the RFT they’re part of a rap group, and that they were shooting a music video for an original song called “Twerk Sum.” But for these dancers, twerking is more than just a visual backdrop for their beats. Simply put, the girls can’t help it. “I got a twerk addiction,” jokes one of the members of the group known as Gango. Although she declined to give her real name, she identifies herself as the dancer in the black jeans in the video, making her one half of a two-woman automotive twerk machine. First publicized by the RFT, and then picked up by countless news outlets, the Facebook videos of that machine in action have racked up more than 400,000 views. So great was the rump-related impact that even the St. Louis County Police

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Department found it necessary to tweet that such behavior is “frowned upon in the law enforcement community.” According to two Gango members who agreed to speak with RFT on condition of anonymity, the group comprises several friends who have been dancing and making music together for years. Within the group, they say, twerk addiction has proven highly contagious. “It doesn’t matter where we at, we can’t stop twerking,” says a second Gango member, who identifies herself as the woman in pink tights twerking in the video. “We could be outside, and we could just be walking and twerking,” she adds. “It could be in the store, in the grocery store, it doesn’t matter as long as we’re having fun.” Such was the scenario on Monday, January 14. The Gango squad was driving west on I-64 and discussing the production of a new music video; members had decided it should include a scene of SUV-assisted twerking. When traffic slowed, the moment presented itself to the two fearless dancers as an unmissable booty-shaking opportunity. “It was cold, but it was fun,” one says. “I saw people with their phones up, it wasn’t no negativity, because we wasn’t going fast. We saw a lot of thumbs up from people in their cars; no one called the police.” Granted, it was a stunt they’d pulled before. The difference is that this time, a Washington University employee filmed them workin’ it as they passed beneath the St. Louis Science Center’s pedestrian bridge at Kingshighway. The

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“We didn’t try to turn the city up. We was just enjoying ourselves.” Facebook Live videos quickly drew wide attention — and then media coverage. St. Louis Magazine even felt the need to chide the city, “Please don’t twerk and drive.” According to the Gango members interviewed, the scene wasn’t as dangerous as it may have looked in the videos. They note that rush hour had slowed traffic to 10 to 15 mph. Oh, and their SUV included features virtually designed to provide a safe twerk space, the women note. “I wouldn’t do this on any type of car,” one says, noting that she and her twerk partner used the roof’s storage racks to anchor themselves while they shook their respective thangs in the 30-degree weather. Still, they never expected their booty wurk to attain viral status. Nothing of the sort had come from their previous stunts. “We didn’t try to turn the city up,” one noted in an email to the RFT. “We was just enjoying ourselves.” But turn it up they did. And now the group hopes to capitalize on its recent fame. They plan to release a video soon. “Gango’s a family,” says the twerk addict in the black jeans. “We enjoy ourselves. We twerk, we have fun. We don’t let anyone judge nobody’s character.” n


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OUT EVERY NIGHT [CRITIC’S PICK]

Kevin Buckley helms a tribute to Henry Nilsson’s classic album at Off Broadway. | ALBUM ART

Henry Nilsson’s The Point 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, February 2. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. $5 to $15. 314-773-3363.

Weird and gentle, funny and bittersweet, Harry Nilsson’s 1970 album The Point has the distinction of being the only children’s album to attain true psych-folk cult status. Reportedly inspired by an acid trip in which everything the songwriter saw had a point, literally and metaphorically, it’s an odd choice for a tribute. But helmed by local Nilsson aficionado and veteran folk-rocker Kevin Buckley, this

THURSDAY 31

DEAD HORSES: w/ The Brother Brothers 8 p.m., $10-$12. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505. JOE METZKA BAND: 7 p.m., $5. BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups, 700 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-436-5222. KOE WETZEL: 8 p.m., $12. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. LUSCIOUS FILLING: 8 p.m., $10. Thaxton Speakeasy, 1009 Olive St., St. Louis, 314-241-3279. THE MAGPIE SALUTE: 8 p.m., $30-$32.50. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. ODDSOUL: w/ Andrew and the Dolls, Boxcar 9 p.m., free. Schlafly Tap Room, 2100 Locust St., St. Louis, 314-241-2337. PAPERKITE: w/ Fade, Let’s Not, Rafting 9 p.m., $7. The Heavy Anchor, 5226 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314-352-5226. PAUL NIEHAUS IV: 4 p.m., free. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. PIERCE CRASK: 6 p.m., free. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811.

event (featuring actors as well as musicians) will celebrate Nilsson’s strangely beautiful meditation on finding meaning in a world where conformity rules and difference is exiled. In that way, Buckley and friends have composed their own fable of what it means to be artists in the here and now. Kidding Around: A family-friendly matinee has been added this year, with the 1971 animated film inspired by the album (and narrated by Ringo Starr) playing onscreen at both events.

—Roy Kasten TORREY CASEY & THE SOUTHSIDE HUSTLE: 10 p.m., $5. BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups, 700 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-436-5222.

FRIDAY 1

AARON GRIFFIN: 10:30 p.m., $5. BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups, 700 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-436-5222. AMERICAN SPIRITUAL ENSEMBLE: 8 p.m., $19-$42. Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, 4431 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, 314-373-8200. BAYSIDE: w/ Golds 9 p.m., $22-$25. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505. BEPPE GAMBETTA: 8 p.m., $15-$20. The Focal Point, 2720 Sutton Blvd, St. Louis, 314-560-2778. THE CATAPULTS: 9 p.m., free. 1860 Saloon, Game Room & Hardshell Cafe, 1860 S. Ninth St., St. Louis, 314-231-1860. DANIEL ELIXIR: w/ Suzie Cue, Adam Gaffney 8 p.m., $5. Foam Coffee & Beer, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. HALLOW POINT: w/ Glass Houses, Unimagined, This Is Me Breathing, Arkangela 7 p.m., $10-

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OUT EVERY NIGHT Continued from pg 39

$12. The Firebird, 2706 Olive St., St. Louis, 314-535-0353. JAMES HARMAN BAND FEATURING NATHAN JAMES: 7 p.m., $10. BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups, 700 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-436-5222. JEREMIAH JOHNSON: w/ Amanda Fish, Jackson Stokes 8 p.m., $12-$15. The Bootleg, 4140 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314-775-0775. JOHN MCVEY: 7 p.m., $10. National Blues Museum, 615 Washington Ave., St. Louis. KINGDOM BROTHERS: 8 p.m., $3. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. LUCKY DAN & NAKED MIKE: 8 p.m., free. Rhone Rum Bar, 2107 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis, 314-241-7867. THE PUPPET SHOW: 8 p.m., $10. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. QSTREET: w/ Pirate Signal 9 p.m., $7. The Heavy Anchor, 5226 Gravois, St. Louis, 314-352-5226. THE RIVER KITTENS: 9:30 p.m., free. The Frisco Barroom, 8110 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, 314-455-1090. THAMES: w/ Pono AM, Hounds, Sister Wizzard 8 p.m., $10-$13. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Ave, St. Louis, 314-833-3929. VINCE GILL: 7 p.m., TBA. Stifel Theatre, 1400 Market St, St. Louis, 314-499-7600.

SATURDAY 2

3 RING CIRCUS: 9 p.m., free. Nightshift Bar & Grill, 3979 Mexico Road, St. Peters, 636-441-8300. 40 OZ TO FREEDOM: A TRIBUTE TO SUBLIME: 8 p.m., $10-$13. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Ave, St. Louis, 314-833-3929. ALL ROOSTERED UP: noon, free. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. THE BIG WU: 8 p.m., $15-$18. The Bootleg, 4140 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314-775-0775. BONGO JAK: 8 p.m., free. Rhone Rum Bar, 2107 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis, 314-241-7867. BOO DAVIS & THE RHYTHM RENEGADES: 10 p.m., $10. BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups, 700 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-436-5222. THE CONFORMISTS: w/ Healthy Realism, Apathist 9 p.m., $7. Foam Coffee & Beer, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. FEMFEST 5: AN ALL FEMALE SHOWCASE: 5 p.m., $10-$13. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. FRAGILE PORCELAIN MICE: 8 p.m., $15. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. FUNKY BUTT BLUES BAND: 10 p.m., $8. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. HARRY NILSSON’S “THE POINT ” LIVE: 8 p.m., $15. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. HARRY NILSSON’S “THE POINT ” LIVE KID’S MATINEE: 1 p.m., $5-$10. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. ONE WAY TRAFFIC: 9:30 p.m., free. The Frisco Barroom, 8110 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, 314-455-1090. PAUL BONN’S BLUESMEN: 9 p.m., $3. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. PAULA POUNDSTONE: 8 p.m., $41.50-$44.50. The Sheldon, 3648 Washington Blvd., St. Louis, 314-533-9900. ROLAND JOHNSON & SOUL ENDEAVOR: 7 p.m., $10. BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups, 700 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-436-5222. SHORELINE MAFIA: 8 p.m., $25-$99. Pop’s Nightclub, 401 Monsanto Ave., East St. Louis, 618-274-6720. SKEET RODGERS & INNER CITY BLUES: 4 p.m., $10. BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups, 700 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-436-5222. SOUTHERN AVENUE: 8 p.m., $12-$15. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505. STEVE AOKI: 9 p.m., TBA. Ameristar Casino, 1 Ameristar Blvd., St. Charles, 636-949-7777. STEVE REEB & ROSS BELL: 3 p.m., free. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. STORY OF THE YEAR: w/ Memphis May Fire 8 p.m., $22-$25. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. THE FUTURE IS FEMALE: A STAND-UP COMEDY

SHOW: 8 p.m., $7. The Heavy Anchor, 5226 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314-352-5226. THE WIRE PILOTS: 8 p.m., $15-$20. The Focal Point, 2720 Sutton Blvd, St. Louis, 314-5602778.

SUNDAY 3

THE CLASSLESS: w/ An Unfortunate Trend, No Good Hoods, No Concern 6:30 p.m., $8-$10. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. DANIEL SCHENE: 4 p.m., $5-$10. Webster University-Moore Auditorium, 470 E. Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, 314-968-7128. THE KRYSTOFER BATSELL MEMORIAL SHOW: 2:30 p.m., $10. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. LOVE JONES “THE BAND”: 8 p.m., $10. BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups, 700 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-436-5222. MATT DIEKEMPER: 8 p.m., free. Rhone Rum Bar, 2107 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis, 314-241-7867. RADAR STATE: 8 p.m., $12-$14. Blueberry Hill The Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314-727-4444. RANDI & STEVIE’S OPEN MIC: 9 p.m., free. Foam Coffee & Beer, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. USUAL SUSPECTS: 4 p.m., $10. BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups, 700 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-436-5222.

MONDAY 4

DILLON FRANCIS, ALISON WONDERLAND: 8 p.m., $35-$40. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. ERIC AND LARRY: 6 p.m., free. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. NIBOOWIN: w/ Mystic Will, De L’orme 9 p.m., $7. Foam Coffee & Beer, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. THE SECOND AFTER: w/ Frenchie 7 p.m., $10-$12. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. SOULARD BLUES BAND: 9 p.m., $5. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. THIRD SIGHT BAND: 8 p.m., $10. BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups, 700 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-436-5222.

TUESDAY 5

ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO WITH DON ANTONIO: 8 p.m., $25-$35. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. ANTHONY DORIA: 6 p.m., free. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. PANIC! AT THE DISCO: 7 p.m., $30.74-$70.75. Enterprise Center, 1401 Clark Ave., St. Louis, 314-241-1888. SHARON BEAR & DOUG FOEHNER: 10 p.m., $5. BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups, 700 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-436-5222. ST. LOUIS SOCIAL CLUB: 7 p.m., $5. BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups, 700 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-436-5222. STEVE BAUER: 9 p.m., free. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811.

WEDNESDAY 6

BIG RICH MCDONOUGH & RHYTHM RENEGADES: 7 p.m., $5. BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups, 700 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-436-5222. DAMIEN QUINN: w/ Komatose 7 p.m., $10-$13. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. THE DIRTY NIL: 8 p.m., $10.57-$13. Blueberry Hill - The Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314-727-4444. DOROTHY: w/ Spirit Animal 8 p.m., $20-$25. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. JOHN MCVEY BAND: 8 p.m., free. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. MARTY FRIEDMAN: w/ Conquest 8 p.m., $20-$23. Pop’s Nightclub, 401 Monsanto Ave., East St. Louis, 618-274-6720. MOTHERFOLK: w/ Stay Outside 8 p.m., $10. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Ave, St. Louis, 314-833-3929. PIERCE CRASK: 5:30 p.m., free. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. VOODOO PLAYERS: TRIBUTE TO BOB MARLEY: 9:30 p.m., $8. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811.

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[CRITIC’S PICK]

wednesday january 30 & thursday 31

*no live music due to extreme cold friday february 1 10 pm

gene jackson’s powerplay band

saturday february 2 10 pm

funky butt brass band wednesday february 6 9:45 pm Urban Chestnut Presents

the voodoo players tribute to bob marley

thursday february 7 9 pm

Alejandro Escovedo. | NANCY ESCOVEDO

jd hughes & the fuze friday february 8 10 pm Urban Chestnut Presents

one way traffic with special guests brother francis & the soul tones saturday february 9 10 pm

surco’s twiddle after party

Alejandro Escovedo 8 p.m. Tuesday, February 5. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Avenue. $25 and $35. 314-773-3363.

Alejandro Escovedo has always been a one-man cross-cultural crucible, using his Mexican heritage to inform the punk rock of his youth before solidifying into one of Americana’s most clear-eyed, least flinching truth-tellers. Even in his late 60s, he’s continuing to tell universal tales with wideranging locales. His latest, The Crossing, tells a story of two immigrants — one Mexi-

OUT EVERY NIGHT Continued from pg 41

THIS JUST IN 2 KOOL 4 $CHOOL: W/ Gossip Machine, XEM, Negus Paul Mic, Slim Breezy, Quite Franklee, Sat., March 2, 8 p.m., $8-$10. The Firebird, 2706 Olive St., St. Louis, 314-535-0353. AL B. SURE: Thu., Feb. 21, 7 p.m., $30-$50. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. AZIZ ANSARI: Sat., April 27, 10:30 p.m., $35-$65. Stifel Theatre, 1400 Market St, St. Louis, 314-499-7600. BON IVER: Thu., April 4, 8 p.m., $35.50-$95. Stifel Theatre, 1400 Market St, St. Louis, 314-499-7600. THE BOUNCING SOULS: W/ The Bronx, Swingin’ Utters, The Bar Stool Preachers, Fri., Aug. 16, 7 p.m., $25-$30. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. CHVRCHES: W/ Cherry Glazerr, Wed., May 1, 8 p.m., $28.50-$31. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. THE CLASSLESS: W/ An Unfortunate Trend, No Good Hoods, No Concern, Sun., Feb. 3, 6:30 p.m., $8-$10. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. CURT OREN: W/ Matt Sullentrup, Motherbear, Kleb, Mon., Feb. 25, 8 p.m., $5. Foam Coffee & Beer, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. DANIEL SCHENE: Sun., Feb. 3, 4 p.m., $5-$10. Webster University-Moore Auditorium, 470 E. Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, 314-968-7128. DAVID DEE & THE HOT TRACKS: Fri., Feb. 15, 8 p.m., $3. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. THE DOLLYROTS: Thu., March 21, 8 p.m., $12$14. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis,

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can, the other Italian — and shows their stories collide while living and working in Texas. It’s a new wrinkle on a timely story of migration and integration, and to make the record, Escovedo linked up with Italian band Don Antonio. They’ll be backing Escovedo on this tour. On a Streak: Escovedo has scarcely made a bad record, but The Crossing follows 2016’s blistering Burn Something Beautiful, marking a high point in his long career.

—Christian Schaeffer 314-588-0505. DOOBIE: W/ Krash Minati, DJ Hylyte, Wed., March 20, 8 p.m., $12. Blueberry Hill - The Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314-727-4444. DURUFLÉ REQUIEM: Sun., March 3, 7:30 p.m., $10-$42. Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, 4431 Lindell Blvd., St. Louis, 314-373-8200. EMILY KING: Tue., April 30, 8 p.m., $20-$22.50. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. EUGENE & COMPANY: Sat., Feb. 9, 3 p.m., free. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. AN EVENING WITH ELLIS PAUL: Sun., March 17, 8 p.m., $20. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. GRIZ: Thu., May 16, 8 p.m., $39.50-$45. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. THE HOLDUP: Sat., March 9, 8 p.m., $15. The Firebird, 2706 Olive St., St. Louis, 314-535-0353. THE ISLAND DUDES: Thu., Feb. 28, 8 p.m., free. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. JACQUEES: Sat., March 30, 8 p.m., $45-$65. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. JEREMIAH JOHNSON BAND: Thu., Feb. 21, 8 p.m., $5. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. JIM JAMES: W/ Amo Amo, Wed., May 15, 8 p.m., $41-$46. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. JOHN MAYER: Tue., Sept. 3, 7 p.m., $69.50-$150. Enterprise Center, 1401 Clark Ave., St. Louis, 314-241-1888. LAVENDER COUNTRY: Wed., March 20, 8 p.m., $10. Foam Coffee & Beer, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. LES GRUFF & THE BILLY GOAT: W/ Cara Louise Band, Bobby Stevens, Fri., Feb. 15, 8 p.m., $10.


[CRITIC’S PICK]

Bates is both the founder of FemFest and one of this year’s performers. | ATTILIO

FemFest 5 5 p.m. Saturday, February 2. Fubar, 3108 Locust Street. $10 to $13. 314-289-9050.

Now in its fifth year, St. Louis’ FemFest puts the ladies in the spotlight. Originally founded by local rapper Bates as a way to draw attention to the talented women of the city’s hip-hop scene, the festival has since expanded to include artists of the R&B, pop, EDM and spoken-word varieties as well. This year’s event sees organizers teaming up with minds behind the

Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505. LOOPRAT: W/ Tonina, PRYR, Anthony Lucius, Joey Ferber Trio, Fri., Feb. 15, 8 p.m., $10. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. MASON JENNINGS: Sat., March 23, 8 p.m., $20$22.50. Blueberry Hill - The Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314-727-4444. THE MAVERICKS: Thu., April 25, 8 p.m., The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. NATE LOWERY: Thu., Feb. 21, 4 p.m., free. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. NEW FOUND GLORY: W/ Real Friends, The Early November, Doll Skin, Wed., June 19, 7 p.m., $26-$30. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. OVERKILL: W/ Death Angel, Act of Defiance, Sun., May 5, 7 p.m., $25-$28. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. PAUL BONN’S BLUESMEN: Sat., Feb. 2, 9 p.m., $3. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. PEPPERLAND: THE BEATLES REVUE: Fri., Feb. 22, 8 p.m., $10. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505. PETER BRADLEY ADAMS: Thu., April 4, 8 p.m., $15. Blueberry Hill - The Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314-727-4444. RED RAINBOW: W/ Drew Gowran, JoAnn McNeil, Thu., Feb. 21, 10:30 p.m., $7. Foam Coffee & Beer, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. RICH MCDONOUGH & RHYTHM RENEGADES: Sat., Feb. 23, 3 p.m., free. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. ROBERT ELLIS: W/ Ian O’Neil, Sun., March 24, 8 p.m., $14-$17. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. ROSS BELL BAND: Sat., Feb. 16, 3 p.m., free. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565.

city’s monthly Fresh Produce Beat Battle for an all-female producer competition with eight ladies going head to head in a bracket-stye tournament sponsored by Suburban Pro Studios. It’s a fun addition to an affair that will feature more than 50 local artists and zero Y chromosomes. Your Cup Overfloweth: This year’s fest will feature performances by Bates, Davyne Truth, Cedes, Mz. Tigga, G.A. Barz and dozens more.

—Daniel Hill

STEVE BAUER: Tue., Feb. 5, 9 p.m., free. Broadway Oyster Bar, 736 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-621-8811. STEVE REEB & ROSS BELL: Sat., Feb. 2, 3 p.m., free. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. SUPERORGANISM: Tue., April 30, 8 p.m., $15$18. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Ave, St. Louis, 314-833-3929. THE LADY J HUSTON SHOW & TRIBUTE TO ALBERT KING: Sat., May 18, 4 p.m., $10. National Blues Museum, 615 Washington Ave., St. Louis. THIRD EYE BLIND: W/ Jimmy Eat World, Ra Ra Riot, Tue., June 25, 7 p.m., TBA. Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, I-70 & Earth City Expwy., Maryland Heights, 314-298-9944. THIRD SIGHT BAND: Mon., Feb. 4, 8 p.m., $10. BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups, 700 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-436-5222. TIM ALBERT & THE BOOGIEMEN: Sat., Feb. 16, 9 p.m., $3. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. TOM HALL: Wed., Feb. 6, 10 p.m., $5. Thu., Feb. 14, 4 p.m., free. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. TYPESETTER: W/ The Disappeared, Scuzz, Tiger Rider, Fri., March 8, 8:30 p.m., $10. The Firebird, 2706 Olive St., St. Louis, 314-535-0353. USUAL SUSPECTS: Sun., Feb. 3, 4 p.m., $10. BB’s Jazz, Blues & Soups, 700 S. Broadway, St. Louis, 314-436-5222. THE VICTOR WOOTEN BAND AND THE WOOTEN WOODS EXPERIENCE: Tue., April 16, 8 p.m., $32. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505. WHO’S BAD: THE ULTIMATE MICHAEL JACKSON TRIBUTE BAND: Thu., April 18, 8 p.m., $20-$25. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. WILD BELLE: Sat., April 6, 8 p.m., $15. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester, St. Louis, 314-833-3929.

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SAVAGE LOVE OMISSIONS AND EMISSIONS BY DAN SAVAGE Hey, Dan: I’m a 21-year-old woman, and I have an IUD. I’ve had sex with quite a few men, and one thing seems to be almost constant among them: trying to fuck without condoms. Many of the men I’ve been with seem to be perfectly fine and terribly eager to have sex without condoms. This has always angered me. They generally assume or make sure I’m on birth control, which they immediately take to mean condom-free sex is welcome. I don’t want to have sex without condoms without being in a committed relationship. I know people cheat and monogamy doesn’t mean STIs won’t happen, but it’s a risk I’m comfortable with. I’m so annoyed by how often men try to get out of using condoms (it’s often persistent, even with people I’ve been seeing a while) that I want to start lying and say I’m not on birth control. The risk of a baby seems to be the only STI most men are concerned with. Is it all right for me to lie and say I’m not on any birth control and explain why I lied later on if things get serious? I’m Understandably Distressed Let’s get this out of the way first: You’re right, IUD, sexually transmitted infections (STI) do happen to people in monogamous relationships. People cheat, people lie, people contract, people transmit. A 2015 study found that people in consensually nonmonogamous (CNM) relationships were no more likely to contract an STI than people in monogamous relationships. The reason? If a person in a monogamous relationship screws around and doesn’t use a condom, they can’t ask their partner to start using condoms again without drawing attention to their infidelity. If someone in a CNM relationship asks their primary partner to start using condoms again — because a condom broke or fell off or didn’t wind up on a cock for some other reason — they’re drawing attention to their fidelity. Moving on…

Right again, IUD: Babies do seem to be the only STI many men are worried about. Australian researchers conducted a large study about stealthing — the deeply shitty, rape-adjacent practice of surreptitiously removing the condom during intercourse — and they were shocked to discover how common this deeply shitty practice seems to be. “The researchers estimated in advance that approximately 2% of the sample would report having been stealthed,” sex researcher Justin Lehmiller wrote in a blog post looking at the results of the study. “In fact, 32% of the women and 19% of the men surveyed reported having experienced stealthing … A majority of both groups reported discussing the event with their partner afterward, and most also reported feeling emotionally stressed about it. A majority also considered stealthing to be a form of sexual assault. These results suggest that stealthing is not a rare occurrence and we would do well to study it further.” The researchers didn’t ask heterosexual men about being stealthed and, as Lehmiller points out, there are some scattered reports out there about women poking holes in condoms before sex or retrieving them after sex. We don’t need a study to tease out the motives of these women — they want to have a child and don’t care whether their partners do (and that is not okay) — but we could use a study that asked heterosexual men about their motives for stealthing. One question we should put to these assholes: Are they more likely to “go stealth,” i.e., to sexually assault a woman, if they know her to be on some other form of birth control? Or are they just so wrapped up in their own momentary sexual pleasure that they don’t give a shit about babies or any of the other STIs? Moving on to your actual question… Can you lie? Of course you can. Should you lie? In the case of a casual sex partner who might not have your best interests at heart, i.e., some total rando you want to fuck but aren’t sure you can trust, I think you can lie and should lie. This lie doesn’t do him any harm; it’s not like you’re telling him you’re on birth control when

you’re not. And if telling this lie inspires some rando to be more careful about keeping the condom on (sometimes condoms fall off by accident), then it’s a lie that made the sex safer for you and for him. And if you get serious about someone you initially lied to about having an IUD — if some dude makes the transition from hot rando to hot boyfriend — and he reacts badly when you tell him the truth, just say (or text) this to him: “I could have waited to fuck you until I was sure you were a

“I’ve had sex with quite a few men, and one thing seems to be almost constant among them: trying to fuck without condoms.” good guy. But then you would have missed out on all the awesome sex we’ve had up to now. Would that have been better? And by coming clean now, I’m basically saying that I think you’re a good guy that I can trust. I know that now, but I didn’t always know it because I’m not psychic. Now, do you want to raw-dog me or do you want to complain?” Hey, Dan: My girlfriend opposes sex work because she believes it oppresses women. Early in our relationship, she demanded to know if I had ever paid for sex because she couldn’t be with me if I had. And I told her the truth: “No, never.” She didn’t ask if I’d ever been paid for sex. (One guy, he blew me, no women were oppressed because no women were involved, it happened twice.) Do I need to tell her? Two-Time Gay For Pay Nope. Hey, Dan: My partner is too embarrassed to raise this question

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with his doctor: Is it safe for me to drink my partner’s urine? He’s HIV-positive, but his viral load is undetectable. I know that other STIs could potentially be passed on to the watersports receiver through urine. My partner has been tested for everything and has no other STIs. He is worried that his urine could contain enough of his antiretroviral drugs (Tivicay and Descovy) to do me harm. He is particularly worried that I might suffer from the side effects of those drugs. I am not currently on any medications. I believe that his fear stems from when he was on chemo drugs for something else. Nurses treating him then advised me not to use his hospital bathroom so that I would not possibly be exposed to any chemo-drug residue. I know that you’re not a doctor — but could you ask a doctor for us? Ingesting Medicines “This one is easy,” said Dr. Peter Shalit, a physician who has been treating people with HIV/AIDS for 30 years. “Tivicay and Descovy are very benign medicines with very little potential toxicity in standard doses. If one were to drink the urine of someone taking these medicines, there would be essentially no Tivicay, as this medicine is excreted by the liver, not the kidneys. The remnants of the drug are excreted in the feces, so to get significant exposure to secondhand Tivicay, you’d have to eat … well, nevermind.” As for Descovy — that’s actually two medicines in one. First, the bad news: Emtricitabine and tenofovir alafenamide, the meds in Descovy, are excreted in the urine. And the good news: “The amount of Descovy that would be in one liter of urine is much less than a single pill’s worth,” said Dr. Shalit, who is also a member of the American Academy of HIV Medicine. “Since these medicines are intrinsically very safe to begin with, in my opinion the health risk from exposure to the small amounts that may be found in urine is negligible. Don’t worry about it.” Listen to Dan’s podcast at savagelovecast.com. mail@savagelove.net @fakedansavage on Twitter ITMFA.org

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