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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Publisher Chris Keating Editor in Chief Sarah Fenske
COVER Long live the queen The election is Tuesday, March 5. Have you made your pick for the president of the Board of Aldermen? The future of the city, and likely the region, depends on it Cover design by
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, Thomas Crone, Jenn DeRose, Mike Fitzgerald, Sara Graham, MaryAnn Johanson, Roy Kasten, Jaime Lees, Joseph Hess, Kevin Korinek, Bob McMahon, Lauren Milford, Nicholas Phillips, Tef Poe, Christian Schaeffer Proofreader Evie Hemphill Editorial Interns Ryan Gines, Chelsea Neuling, Benjamin Simon, A R T Art Director Evan Sult Contributing Photographers Tim Lane, Monica Mileur, Zia Nizami, Andy Paulissen, Nick Schnelle, Mabel Suen, Micah Usher, Theo Welling, Jen West, Corey Woodruff P R O D U C T I O N Production Manager Jack Beil M U L T I M E D I A A D V E R T I S I N G Sales Director Colin Bell Senior Account Executive Cathleen Criswell, Erica Kenney Account Managers Emily Fear, Jennifer Samuel Multimedia Account Executive Michael Gaines, Drew Halliday, Jackie Mundy
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HARTMANN Unclean Missouri As they work to undo the will of the people, legislators don’t even bother hiding their contempt BY RAY HARTMANN
ust a week in advance of Valentine’s Day, the Missouri House of Representatives sent the following greeting of love to the citizens of the state: “Take your good-government tripe and shove it.” Your public servants in Jefferson City wasted no time in correcting the voters’ presumptuous idea that they could use the ballot box to reform state government. As you might recall, Missourians voted last November in favor of Constitutional Amendment 1, nick-
named Clean Missouri. It wasn’t a close call. The victory margin was 62 to 38 percent. In some circles, that would constitute a mandate. Not in your state capitol, where “mandate” sounds too damn much like something those homosexuals do. And “transparency”? Don’t even go there. No, it turns out that thoughtful legislators needed to explain to the citizens that they didn’t really mean to vote the way they did. So, here’s what the House of Representatives decided to do: First they took the good-government provisions of Amendment 1 and extended them to local officials, school districts and the like throughout the state, a reasonable thing. But then, in an act of astonishing arrogance, they used the cover of that bill to push through amendments that fundamentally destroy the state’s Sunshine Law as it applies to the legislature itself. And by using the amendment route, they were able to pull it off
without so much as a single public hearing on their malfeasance. This is not subtle stuff. Here is the last line in Amendment 1, the one to which 1,469,093 Missourians said “yes”: “The amendment further requires all legislative records and proceedings to be subject to the state open meetings and records law (Missouri Sunshine Law).” Now consider what will be newly exempt from the Sunshine Law, thanks to a modification slipped in by way of amendment to Thursday’s bill by Rep. Nick Schroer (RO’Fallon): “any correspondence, written or electronic, between a member of a public governmental body and a constituent pertaining to a constituent’s request for information.” Schroer’s amendment would also exempt any document or record “received or prepared by or on behalf of a member of a public governmental body consisting of advice, opinions and recommendations in connection with the deliberative decision-
making process of said body.” In other words, pretty much any communication with a state legislator would become none of the public’s business, unless that legislator thinks so. That’s an outrageous notion, even for a state legislature traditionally known to regard ethics as a contagious disease. But to have it come on the heels of a constitutional amendment to the contrary, passed with a victory margin of 569,480 votes, is actually fairly spectacular. It should be noted that this isn’t the first salvo fired back by the legislators at those annoying voters. The new House had barely settled into session when it changed its rules to keep confidential “constituent case files and records relating to Democrats’ or Republicans’ ‘caucus strategy,’” according to the Post-Dispatch. Understand that this is just the beginning of what appears to be a war on “Clean Missouri,” a full package of reforms aimed at
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fixing things in Jeff City. The sentence requiring legislative compliance with the state Sunshine Law wasn’t nearly as controversial as the language compelling a new redistricting process or the new restrictions it put on campaign donations and lobbyist gifts. I have a sneaking feeling that many more “corrections” will be coming from the state legislature to the reforms enacted by the people in November. This isn’t altogether unprecedented. Previous legislatures have acted to overturn the stated will of the people after public initiatives on gun control, puppy mills, minimum wage and the like. But the hubris in this one is unique. The legislators themselves were the specific target of what they’re trying to overturn in this case. When Rep. Jon Carpenter (D-Kansas City), explains his opposition to Schroer’s bill by saying that, under the new provisions, “We’re not going to have to turn over virtually anything,” that should get your attention. The message from Jefferson City’s political class is quite clear: “Yes, we understand you people want good government. But we like bad government. You goody two-shoes types can pass all the ballot items you want. We’re here, we’re voting after you and we get the last word. So, get over it.” The lawmakers’ fig leaf for exempting themselves from the Sunshine Law is that poor, innocent citizens will have their lives ruined by the publication of their social security and cell phone numbers — and, God forbid, their opinions on state issues — by the prying villains of the media, lawyers making Sunshine Law requests and others. What a joke. The Sunshine Law already allows for redaction of private information. Tweaks to reflect the digital age would be one thing, but this feigned concerned about the poor average citizen is too much to bear. In case it hadn’t occurred to you, if you communicate with a public official on that official’s public email account, you really aren’t entitled to what’s known as “a reasonable expectation of privacy.” That’s why they’re called “public” officials, right? Here’s one more radical suggestion: How about giving daylight a chance? If, in the coming year, we find that the voters have un-
leashed horrific unintended consequences upon themselves, we can deal with it then. The state’s Sunshine Law has been around almost half a century. It was a signature achievement of a Republican governor named Kit Bond — working with an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature in 1973 — and as a Watergate-era reform, it was a universally feel-good thing. Admittedly, the world’s changed a lot since then, and it’s true we have a president whose activi-
How has it come to pass that we have a state legislature actively working to reverse a public initiative that cries out for more openness and accountability? ties past and present make look Watergate look like a high school prank in comparison. But how has it come to pass that we have a state legislature actively working to reverse a public initiative that, among other things, cries out for more openness and accountability? There’s some irony that Bond’s pride and joy is being undone by Republicans, but it should be noted that this wasn’t a strict party-line vote. Some Democrats were on board for this nonsense, too, and some Republicans said no. One can make a case that too many matters are decided these days — from the right and the left — by way of the initiative process in states like Missouri. It’s not the ideal way to run a government. But as long as the general assembly is so blatantly unaccountable, it’s not hard to see why people from all parts of the political spectrum see it as an obstacle, not a place to solve problems. It just ain’t clean. n Ray Hartmann founded the Riverfront Times in 1977 and recently made his triumphant return to these pages as a columnist. Contact him at rhartmann@ sbcglobal.net or follow him on Twitter at @rayhartmann.
“Kids don’t have access to the necessary tools and resources that allow them to compete.”
No Internet? You Must Live in North City Written by
he Delmar Divide is also a digital divide. According to an analysis of data recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau, St. Louisans’ access to the internet differs drastically north and south of the boulevard. Released in the last weeks of 2018, the Census Bureau’s 20132017 American Community Survey for the first time includes highly specific information about who has access to the internet and who doesn’t. According to the survey, of the roughly 36,000 St. Louis city households north of Delmar, about 16,000, or 44 percent, have no internet access at all. An additional 3,000 have access only via cellular data. Crunch the same numbers for the 101,000 city households south of Delmar and the percentage of those that are unconnected drops by more than half to 20 percent. The areas of poorest coverage, what are sometimes called digital deserts, include swaths of the O’Fallon, Penrose, Wells Goodfellow, Mark Twain and the Greater Ville neighborhoods. An older population by no means explains this lack of connectivity in these areas. According to the survey, the average age in the city as a whole is a little over 35; in these digital deserts the average age is less than 38. Missouri comes in 41st of all states in terms of connectivity, according to the organization BroadbandNow. Areas in rural Missouri struggle with a lack of high-speed access as well. In April of 2017 then-Governor Eric Greitens pledged $45 million in state funding for rural high-speed access. Justin Idleburg is a resident of the 26th Ward, which straddles Delmar. A board member of Forward Through Ferguson and a Community Catalyst of Equity & In-
The Digital Divide
Percentage of households with no Internet access, color-coded by census tract.
Green: 30 percent or less Yellow: 31 to 40 percent
Orange: 41 to 50 percent Red: 51 percent or more
Data from the Census Bureau’s 2013-2017 American Community Survey. | ILLUSTRATION BY EVAN SULT novation for Nehemiah’s Mission St. Louis, he says the digital divide in St. Louis has long been a concern of his, particularly in the schools. He reads about schools elsewhere in the city giving students internetconnected tablets but has yet to see that happen in his community. “I don’t want to see kids here be part of any divide,” Idleburg says. “We can’t bring business in. We can’t bridge the wealth gap or address anything else in regard to upward mobility if the kids aren’t equipped with what they need to excel. Kids don’t have access to the necessary tools and resources that allow them to compete not
just locally but in global markets we push them to be a part of.” Most households in north city have a choice between AT&T or Charter, though in some spots one of the companies is the sole option. The cost of coverage runs, at minimum, $45 a month, according to BroadbandNow. This is not an insignificant cost considering that in the least connected areas of the city, more than one in three people reported earning an income in the past twelve months that was below the poverty level, according to the Census Bureau survey. The St. Louis Public Library is one organization trying to ame-
liorate the effects of St. Louis’ digital divide. Spokeswoman Jen Hatton says that every year the computers, laptops and WiFi at the library’s sixteen locations are used 2 million times to access the internet. Additionally, the library offers mobile hotspots for patrons to check out and bring home. Last year Sprint donated tablets and wireless service to 1,000 St. Louis public school students. AT&T offers internet at a reduced speed to some low-income households for $10 a month. Still, in some parts of St. Louis nearly two out of three households remain unconnected. “I define literacies, plural, for today’s world,” says Shea Kerkhoff, an assistant professor of secondary education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “The way we communicate and receive information today is digital, so in order to be fully active participants in democracy, in our community, in college and in careers, we need digital literacy.” Kerkhoff says students without internet access at home are severely disadvantaged in this regard, though the effects are not always apparent in the short term. Many teachers adapt to the digital divide in their classrooms by instructing students who have home internet access to complete an assignment one way and telling those who don’t to complete the homework in an alternative way. At the end of the semester students in both camps might get the same grade, but the students without the internet at home don’t get the digital-literacy practice. The disadvantages of living in a disconnected household don’t end at high school graduation, says Kerkhoff. “People need access to the internet to apply for college, to apply for scholarships, to apply for jobs.” n
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‘Vagina Monologues’ Is Too Hot for Facebook Written by
he Vagina Monologues has been performed tens of thousands of times since making its Off Broadway debut in 1996. It’s been mounted internationally, filmed for HBO and remains a perennial college theater favorite — even on Jesuit campuses. Try telling that to Facebook. Last week, the social media juggernaut rejected That Uppity Theatre Company’s attempt to promote its production of the show that kicks off February 16. The reason? Facebook doesn’t allow ads that “promote adult products or services, such as sexual enhancement products.” When the St. Louis theater company appealed the decision, explaining patiently that the world-famous play is, yes, a play, Facebook doubled down. But this time, instead of claiming the producers must be selling Viagra (or maybe the female equivalent?), it argued that the ad was about an issue of “national importance.” Because of that, the theater company would have to go through an elaborate process to verify its backers as legitimate, including photos of their driver’s licenses. Becky Galambos, who sought to place the ad on behalf of the company, attempted to reason with the nameless people forcing her to jump through those hoops. “This is a PLAY,” she wrote February 1. “It is not a political rally, it is not endorsing a candidate or issue. This is a fundraiser for a non-profit. This is absolutely ridiculous that you will not run this ad. Is there a way to lodge an appeal where we can speak to someone by phone?” No dice. “All I got was repeated ‘We cannot make an exception to our ad policies for your ad, and here are our ad policies,’” she says. “No answers to my questions at all.” A spokesman for Facebook initially responded to the RFT’s request for comment last Thursday by seeking more details about the rejected ad. He then failed to provide further information. The producers behind this new version of The Vagina Monologues are proud of what they’re doing. Their show at .ZACK is meant to raise money for NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri; it’s part of the international V-Day movement founded by playwright Eve Ensler. Joan Lipkin, the company’s producing artistic director, explains that the show has “one of the largest, most diverse female casts seen in St. Louis.” That includes transgender performers, “as well as different generations, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations and gender
Performers rehearse for a new production of The Vagina Monologues. | JOAN LIPKIN representations.” They’ve even got an alderwoman in the show. (In case you’re wondering, it’s Annie Rice.) But in a shrunken media landscape, with newspapers relying mostly on freelancers for arts coverage, it’s increasing difficult to get free publicity, no matter how many press releases you send. Facebook feels like one of the only ways to reach prospective theatergoers. When it rejects your ad, what options do you have? Now, Facebook is to some extent a victim of forces beyond its control. With Congress cracking down on sites that allow sexually based advertising under the guise of trying stop sex trafficking, third parties (like, yes, Facebook) can now find themselves liable if someone uses their framework to facilitate prostitution, even if that happens without their knowledge. In response, sites from Craigslist to Tumblr are now banning adult content. (Missouri voters bear particular responsibility for this development; U.S. Rep Ann Wagner was a major advocate of SESTA, the acronym for the 2018 law setting off these reactions.) And because no tech company wants to spend money on humans, they rely on algorithms or overly broad policies to do it. Say “vagina” and you’re presumed to be a sex trafficker. Meanwhile, Facebook has come under fire for allowing Russian-backed interests to promote fake news before the 2016 presidential election. Hence all the hoops it now asks people to jump through before the site will take its money for anything of “national importance.” How it determined a small theater com-
pany’s production of a feminist play falls under that rubric is a mystery, but the name “NARAL” on its proposed ad may have been a factor. In 2019, the personal can’t help but be political to a risk-averse publicly traded company in the congressional line of fire. Still. The Vagina Monologues has been around for more than twenty years now. Surely someone manning Facebook’s control room has heard of it? And even if not, couldn’t they Google it before denying the company’s appeal? Lipkin, for one, isn’t just frustrated by the denial. She’s angry about what Facebook’s actions mean for American democracy. If only the blandest content makes it past Facebook’s censors, aren’t we the poorer for it? And with the site serving as the only newsfeed many people read, if a play is mounted in the forest but Facebook won’t allow mention of it, did it ever really happen? “Given their increasingly monopolistic control of online advertising, Facebook’s response is effectively an attack on freedom of expression and the rights of women and exclusionary toward an organization that endorses reproductive choice,” Lipkin says in a prepared statement. “With Facebook’s conflicting explanations for rejecting this ad, it appears that its arbitrary policies are designed to or have the effect of unfairly denying advertising access to groups promoting important artistic messages in support of women’s rights.” To get tickets to the play Facebook doesn’t want you to see, check out its page on MetroTix via https://bit.ly/2DYYklr. n
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f St. Louis government were a game of chess, the president of the Board of Aldermen would be the queen.
It is a unique position: Empowered in both the city’s legislative and executive branches, the board president can wield power both in offense and defense. It’s equally capable of holding its own in a fight or just holding ground against an advancing opponent. It’s a position Lewis Reed has held for twelve years. In reality, there’s almost no game at St. Louis City Hall that a board president can’t win. Unlike the mayor, he can vote on and sponsor bills. He can also shuffle legislative committees at whim and set the pace of the lawmaking process. In the city’s most powerful executive body, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment — through which all budget and contract decisions are approved — the president holds one of three critical votes. Granted, if St. Louis government were a game of chess, it would be a psychotic’s version; the players would include 28 aldermen as potential allies or opponents, plus the mayor and comptroller, who when allied together can make even the president seem irrelevant. It would also be a terribly difficult game to win. The president isn’t elected by those in a position to judge his effectiveness; instead, he runs in a citywide popularity contest every four years, vying for votes from an electorate with little knowledge of aldermanic machinations. After beating then-board president Jim
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Shrewsbury in 2007, Reed cruised through two more elections without a single challenge to his presidency from inside City Hall. But this year’s Democratic primary is different. He faces two major challengers: Alderwoman Megan Green and state Senator Jamilah Nasheed (D-St. Louis). Both charge that Reed has played the pawn to the forces of privatization and business interests, and that he’s isolated himself from the other branches of city government at a time when cooperation and leadership are in dire need. Both say that if you’re unhappy with the status quo in St. Louis, your best move is to vote against Reed. The election’s timing couldn’t be more impactful. The next board president will preside over efforts to win an MLS soccer team, ongoing steps to privatize St. Louis’ airport (or halt it), an epically contentious proposal for a city-county merger — and on top of all that, oversee the Board of Aldermen’s controversial reduction to fourteen seats by 2023. All of that is in addition to the usual challenges inherent to a city like St. Louis. With the city’s Democratic Party increasingly split into two, if not more, factions, voters are left with three strong candidates providing competing visions for what St. Louis should be, and how it should be governed. “At the Board of Aldermen we run a very wide gamut of what it means to be a Democrat
on an ideological spectrum,” Green points out. “There is often an assumption that all Democrats think and feel the same. I don’t think that’s necessarily true.”
egan Green joined the Board of Aldermen in 2014. All it took to get there was bucking the local Democratic committee, running as an independent and winning a special election as an underdog in a four-way race. In Green’s favor, though, was an endorsement from the board president. A former city public school teacher, Green had volunteered her support on Reed’s unsuccessful mayoral run in 2013, and Reed had in turn backed her against the Democratic nominee. After Green won another election to hold her seat a year later, Reed was among the first to congratulate her, calling her a “hard worker,” and “a great friend” to St. Louis Public Radio. Five years and several feuds later, Green is running to replace him. The Green campaign headquarters is in what used to be a pub in Tower Grove South. Much of the “office space” is occupied by a fullsized pool table converted into a work surface for various notes and laptops. The landlord’s conditions for renting the office, Green explains, included a stipulation that the table had to stay. When Green first took office, she found St. Louis government cluttered by dubious traditions. She was outraged by the presence of lobbyists on the floor of the legislative chamber, as well as “aldermanic courtesy,” which essentially allows members to dole out tax Continued on pg 16
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From left, Jamilah Nasheed, Megan Green and Lewis Reed face the city’s “woke voters” at Harris-Stowe. | DANNY WICENTOWSKI
BOARD OF ALDERMEN Continued from pg 14
abatements inside their wards — just as long as the “courteous” lawmaker defers when colleagues seek to do the same. While she’s soft-spoken and measured in conversation, Green is not a politician of courtesy or half-measures. She’s fond of the term “fundamental change” when describing her vision for St. Louis. In her time as alderwoman, Green has sponsored some of most ambitious legislation the city has seen in years. To the chamber’s Old Guard, she’s perceived as a maverick and a grandstander. Outside City Hall, Green is suing the city for violating protesters’ rights during the Stockley verdict demonstrations in 2017. (She alleges her group was tear-gassed in retaliation for protesting in the street.) Months before those protests, she smuggled journalists (including this reporter) posing as graduate students on a tour of the much-maligned medium-security prison known as the Workhouse.
Those stunts haven’t made Green many friends at City Hall. “Even knowing that these things have political repercussions for me, when the community asked, I came,” Green says. “I think that’s what most folks will say about me, that when I’m asked, I show up. Even when I’m not asked, I show up.” As an alderwoman, Green is the closest thing local politics has to a Bernie Sanders-style Democrat, someone who talks easily about “workers’ rights” and isn’t reticent to identify as a democratic socialist. Her agenda, and her brand of progressivism, has brought her into conflict with Reed. In 2015, the president refused to call a special session on a minimumwage-increase bill that Green supported. The delay threatened to kill the proposal, which needed to pass before a Republican-supported bill in the state legislature could block the city’s efforts. Eventually, Reed did call the special session. (Even so, three months later, the state assembly successfully reversed the wage
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increase.) Green says she came away from the experience frustrated by Reed’s maneuvering. “It started to become very clear to me that this person that I thought was progressive on a lot of issues, perhaps wasn’t,” she says. From that first “falling out,” says Green, her friendship with Reed began to crumble. Over the last four years, the two have clashed repeatedly at Board of Aldermen hearings. The confrontations have reflected not just their contrasting philosophies of city governance but barely restrained mutual dislike. In 2015, with the NFL’s Rams poised to leave the city, the Board of Aldermen prepared to endorse a $150 million payment to help build the team a $1 billion new stadium. On Twitter, Green alleged the deal was rotten. “I’ve had loved ones offered bribes for my support,” she wrote, claiming that fellow Alderman Sam Moore had also reported being approached with gifts in exchange for his stadium vote. She described the process as “legalized bribery.”
Green’s allegations were met with outrage from fellow board members, with Reed telling the St. Louis Post-Dispatch “she clearly has lied about this” and demanding she apologize and face consequences. And indeed, when a police investigation turned up no evidence of a criminal bribery scheme, Green did apologize — but only for her comments about Moore. Asked about the incident now, Green says, “Maybe I didn’t handle it in the best way that I could have,” but she still stands by her claim that the board’s process of funding stadiums is beset with at least the appearance of corruption. Green blames Reed for his role in that dynamic, pointing out his tendency to flip major votes in the wake of campaign donations, as he did in 2017 when his vote to fund Scottrade Center renovations went from yes to no, and then back to yes. In 2016, the public sparring between the two took a turn for the offensive when Reed appeared on the AM radio show hosted by the self-proclaimed “Grim Reaper of St. Louis radio,” Bob Romanik. Romanik, who donated heavily to Reed’s 2013 mayoral campaign, has earned a reputation locally as a racist shock-jock spewing the nword. That day’s show would become a benchmark for Romanik’s brand of vitriol. And Green was the target. On air, Romanik launched into a diatribe against the alderwoman, calling her an “alderbitch” and “a low-life, no-account good-fornothing skanky bitch” who made the shock jock “ashamed to be white.” As Romanik piled insults on Green — including the suggestion that her lies would cause her to be violated by Pinocchio’s growing nose — Reed could be heard awkwardly laughing in the background. Reed later apologized and claimed he’d tried to hush Romanik during the diatribe, but the incident turned the conflicts between Reed and Green into a public scandal wrapped in a jabbering display
of misogyny. Green still hasn’t forgiven Reed. She bristles that Reed’s apology minimized his inaction in the face of Romanik’s ugly tirade. “I got an apology for his friend’s behavior,” she says, “not for his behavior.” The bribery controversy and the Romanik incident crumbled what was left of Reed and Green’s relationship, she says. There wasn’t much to say after Reed shared airtime with a man calling her an alderbitch. “I had pretty much given up on a relationship with the president,” she says. And now she’s trying to take his job. But if observers expected that Green and Reed would use a debate at Harris-Stowe State University to air their hostilities, those expectations would be broken almost immediately. The debate would feature plenty of bickering, name-calling and allegations of corruption and deceit. But this time it wasn’t Green sparring with Reed.
n January 26, a Saturday, an audience of about 200 settles in a HarrisStowe theater. It’s the #WokeVoterSTL debate — a forum for the aldermanic presidential contenders sponsored by a handful of activist groups. In the center of the table on stage sits Green, the youngest candidate with the shortest political résumé. She’s coordinated her look with her last name, opting for a green turtleneck to match the dark green polish on her nails. To Green’s left, the board president is wearing his usual ensemble, a dark suit, white dress shirt and colorful tie, which today is orange. Reed peers at the notes through square glasses, which he will soon remove (along with his suit jacket) after the first salvo of insults is hurled his way. On Green’s right sits Senator Nasheed, a veteran lawmaker whose career in the statehouse started in 2007, the same year Reed was elected board president. As the crowd
quiets, Nasheed waves stage right and pops a thousand-watt smile at some supporters in the seats. Nasheed starts the opening statements. It’s verbal right hook to Reed’s legacy. “For far too long, the Board of Aldermen has been broken under the leadership of Lewis Reed,” she begins. “I am that leader that’s going to bring results.” And with that, the two St. Louis politicians are unloading decadeold political baggage at each other before the intermittently gasping crowd. Nasheed, Reed says, “has been one of the worst people in terms of helping advance our community that we have ever seen,” a line that raises murmurs in the audience. He presses on, changing subjects to mock Nasheed’s support for reelecting incumbent mayor Francis Slay in 2013. “She ran around with Francis Slay stickers on her face!” Reed says, disdain in his voice. “And I told her directly, I said, ‘His wife wouldn’t even do that for him, so please take the stickers off your face.’”
A moderator barely has time to announce Nasheed’s rebuttal before she hits right back at him. “Lewis Reed is laughable,” Nasheed snipes. On it goes. When Reed cites bills where she voted with Republicans in the state assembly, Nasheed uses her rebuttal time to call him a liar. And when she stumbles explaining her past vote against a campaign finance reform, Reed elevates the debate to a playground fight, retorting, “You just heard from Double Agent Nasheed!” There are gasps and titters as he continues, accusing Nasheed of being in the pocket of the billionaire philanthropist funding the city’s exploration of airport privatization. “You just met with Rex Sinquefield two weeks ago and you told him that you would support the airport privatization 100 percent if you become president of the BOA,” Reed charges, raising his voice. “Stop being a double agent!” This time, Nasheed restrains Continued on pg 18
RUNNING THE BOARD
The next president of the Board of Aldermen will play a critical role in the future of St. Louis. Here are the candidates’ public positions on four crucial moves being contemplated by the city
Proponents say leasing operations at Lambert could infuse the city with millions. Critics say the plan is untested and is being pushed by consultants who smell a big payday.
In 2012 voters agreed to reduce the number of wards from 28 to 14 after the 2020 census. However, some aldermen say the reduction would slash black political representation and that voters need a do-over.
CITY COUNTY MERGER
Better Together’s plan to fuse St. Louis city and St. Louis County would combine governments, services and police departments, but not school districts. The merger hinges on a statewide vote in 2020.
After failed attempts to use public funds to build a Major League Soccer stadium in 2017, a new proposal seeks to build a stadium for a yet-to-be-awarded MLS expansion team using private funds, but with city ownership.
Opposes privatization under any circumstance, calling it a “scam” and a “money-grab.” She supports a public vote and has signed STL Not for Sale pledge to oppose any deal.
Initially supported exploring possible deals, but later said appearance of corruption and lack of public vote are deal-breakers. Has signed STL Not for Sale pledge to oppose any deal.
As BOA president, Reed voted to hire a Rex Sinquefield-funded team of privatization consultants. He supports a public vote, but has not signed the STL Not for Sale pledge to oppose any deal.
Supports re-vote only if voters are first presented with formal plans comparing both 14- and 28-ward models. Says third-party group should redraw ward lines with priority on preserving minority representation.
Does not support a re-vote, which she calls a distraction. Suggests new ward boundaries should be a product of citizens, professionals and “thirdparty guidance.”
Does not support a re-vote. States that he would, as president, appoint aldermanic committee to draw “equitable” wards boundaries.
Says both city and county are held back by fragmentation and competition for resources, but is critical of Better Together’s ties to Rex Sinquefield. Says any merger must include path for consolidating school districts.
She tells RFT, “I don’t have a problem with city-county merger, I do have a problem with the state vote.” She supports a gradual process of merging individual departments.
Says he is “not sold” that consolidation is a cure-all for the region’s fragmentation and suggests a merger could weaken the power of black voters. He proposes the city and county explore merging individual departments.
Fiercely opposed to recent stadium deals. Contends that deal would cost city money and require additional public funds for future demolition or improvements.
Although stating she “doesn’t have a problem” with a stadium plan to bring a soccer team to St. Louis, she criticizes the abatement of real estate taxes and lack of community benefit agreement.
As president, Reed supplied key support for a resolution backing the stadium plan, which would designate the city as the stadium owner and exempt the property from real estate taxes.
FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
BOARD OF ALDERMEN Continued from pg 17
herself from talking over the moderator. In a deadpan, she responds, “It’s unfortunate that we have a Lyin’ Lewis who lies all the time,” netting her own share of gasps. Nasheed then denies ever pledging allegiance to Sinquefield or airport privatization. “No, no, no,” she says. “I don’t know where he got that lie from.” After the debate, Nasheed’s spokeswoman reiterates that no such meeting took place, saying Reed simply made it up. And unlike Reed, Nasheed has signed a pledge to oppose any deal to lease St. Louis Lambert International Airport. (Green signed the pledge as well.) Setting aside their public fireworks, it’s worth noting that Nasheed and Reed broadly agree on the challenges facing the city: At the debate, they each opine on the intolerable, bombed-out conditions in parts of north city, the need for economic development outside the central corridor and the demand for strong leadership in the board. The difference is what they’d do about it. Reed tells the audience that his twelve years in office made the city better. He touts his accomplishments, including establishing an affordable housing trust fund, giving the Civilian Oversight Board subpoena powers and attaining full accreditation in the public school system. In Nasheed’s closing statement, she praises city developments like IKEA and Cortex, projects planned and completed under Reed’s tenure. But she argues that desolate stretches of north city hold the potential for success stories as well. Why hasn’t it happened under Reed? “We need someone to look at the city as a whole,” Nasheed tells the audience. “Our image has been tainted, and the only way we can change it is we have to change the status quo. The status quo is Lewis Reed, and he has to go.”
Green arguably comes off best at the debate. While her opponents slug it out, she recites her answers free from the pressure to incorporate a damaging nickname or a Francis Slay-related burn. She speaks at length about her most ambitious policy ideas, including closing the Workhouse and legalizing recreational marijuana. But with Green lagging far behind the other two candidates in fundraising, some observers fear that any success she has in winning votes could result in the very outcome she’s running against: reelecting Reed. Nasheed, for one, would like Green’s base to worry about just that.
wo weeks before the #WokeVotersSTL debate, at a candidate forum hosted by the St. Louis Young Democrats, Jamilah Nasheed seemed to come a hair’s breadth from simply telling Green to give up her campaign for president for the sake of the city’s black political representation. That is, for the sake of Nasheed. The moment followed a somewhat rambling question posed to Nasheed and Green. A committeeman asked them how each, as board president, would shape progressive outreach to parts of the city that may not feel included in the movement’s vision for changing the city through challenging the established Democratic political machine. Green, in her answer, dove into her ward’s policy of participatory budgeting, suggesting that other parts of city governance could benefit from similar strategies. As President Green, she could help residents engage in making policy for their own communities. But Nasheed perceived, perhaps, the other issue lurking in the roots of the question. “We all know that we have a polarized city, and we have a polarized progressive movement here right now,” Nasheed said.
FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
Though she didn’t specify “white progressives” or direct her statement at Green, the white progressive standing just feet away, her conclusion drove at that very point. “If you really care about black representation,” Nasheed said, “you wouldn’t try to dilute it.” Nasheed’s campaign office occupies a storefront just down the street from Crown Candy Kitchen in Old North. The street runs south to a clear view of the Arch. If you squint, the landmark seems to hover above the roof of the Dome at America’s Center. The view could be a metaphor for the north-city experience — with the majority black neighborhoods north of Delmar watching their resources floating to the whiter middle of the city. Asked to elaborate in an interview on her comments about progressivism, Nasheed starts by noting that in Missouri, black people are at “the bottom of the totem pole.” “We have little to no representation when it comes to political power,” she says. “If you truly say that you are tired of inequities that exist for people of color, I don’t think you try to subtract when it comes to black elected officials. If you are a friend, you don’t want to subtract. I think you work to multiply.” Nasheed’s point echoes the sentiment of her biggest endorser, St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones. In 2017, Nasheed dropped out of the St. Louis mayor’s race and endorsed Jones. In the five-way race, which also featured Reed and three sitting aldermen, Jones ultimately lost to Lyda Krewson, the south-side establishment candidate, by fewer than 1,000 votes. The upcoming primary poses another election that could split the anti-establishment vote, with Green and Nasheed competing to unseat Reed. In Jones’ statement endorsing Nasheed, she suggests that, despite her affinity for Green, a Nasheed win would add to the progressive total on the board. (“By my math,” Jones explained, “put-
ting Nasheed on the board with Green would be a vote closer to fifteen” — the majority needed to enact legislation.) For Green, who campaigned hard for Jones, the suggestion she should stay in her current seat was surely a disappointment. Clearly, though, a three-way race presents less than ideal math for either Nasheed or Green. Facing Reed alone, either woman could conceivably put together a coalition that could threaten Reed. But together, with Nasheed and Green splitting the progressive vote, Reed’s support from more conservative voters should give him a real advantage. The math isn’t ideal, but Nasheed isn’t going anywhere. And she doesn’t expect Green to, either. “Megan’s ego will not allow her to,” Nasheed says, adding, however, that she’d prefer Green as an ally on the board. “We have a lot in common. There are a lot of issues we agree on.” Still, Nasheed and Green aren’t simply interchangeable liberals with different skin color. Nasheed’s campaign website may tout similar policy promises as Green’s, such as reforming marijuana policy and requiring developers institute Community Benefit Agreements, but as Reed suggests at the #WokeVotersSTL debate, parts of Nasheed’s voting record would make any self-identifying democratic socialist weep blue. In the city’s Darst-Webbe housing projects, where Nasheed spent her childhood, the only politics that mattered were the tensions between rival teenage gangs. From that upbringing, Nasheed transitioned to a business owner and politician who early on developed a reputation for crossing her own party. In Nasheed’s first years as a state representative, she leveraged Republican support by breaking with her fellow Democrats on several major bills, including on a law restricting abortions after twenty weeks and a critical “yes” vote to repeal limits on campaign contributions. She says she now regrets
some of those early votes, but she doesn’t regret using the tools she had to get things done in a Republican-dominated legislature. “I’m very pragmatic,” Nasheed says now. “I have stood up for the last twelve years fighting for progressive issues, and if you want to get these things done, you have to be able to sit down at the table and figure out what you can give and what you’re not willing to take.” Nasheed insists that she has the tools to “creatively utilize the office.” If she can give residents a better Board of Aldermen presidency, she argues, she can give St. Louisans a better city. Nasheed doesn’t see that salvation in terms of rigid progressive policy goals. She simplifies the issue to a matter of leadership. “You need to have someone there that can be effective, that can move the divisiveness out the way and get things done.” And what would that new and better city look like? “It would look like Jamilah Nasheed,” she says, grinning more with her eyes than with her mouth. “It would look like Madam President.”
ewis Reed declined to be interviewed for this story. Claiming that the RFT’s past coverage lacks “balance,” Reed suggested that he would not participate if the story revisited the details of his appearance on Romanik’s radio show. (He also tried to push for a guarantee we’d reference the fact that Green once used the phrase “calling a spade a spade,” which he has long maintained was a racist reference to Alderman Moore, a charge Green denies.) Reed may have stumbled into the Romanik scandal, but it’s also true that his three terms as board president rank among the longest tenures of any elected figure at City Hall. A fourth presidential term would be unprecedented. Former St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay was elected board president
in 1995 but only served a single year of his second term before leaving the presidency for the mayor’s office. “I loved being president,” Slay says during a recent interview at his law office. “You have a tremendous amount of influence. You get a citywide pulpit for anything you want to talk about. And at the same time, you’re not the mayor.” The board presidency, he says, requires deft management of relationships as well as policies. It also has the luxury of the leverage supplied by wielding one of three votes on the Board of E&A. With just three players on the board, the president is at all times only one alliance away from controlling the approval or denial of all city contracts. But being a good president is not about power, insists Slay. He frames the position in terms of “influence and relationships.” Around Slay’s office are mementos from those relationships: plaques, honoraria, commemorative shovels and bricks from ribbon-cutting ceremonies, signed photos with celebrities and athletes. On a side table sits a chessboard. The spaces bear the signatures of grandmasters who participated in one of Rex Sinquefield’s chess tournaments, including those of Magnus Carlsen and St. Louisan Fabiano Caruana. As opponents in 2018, the two grandmasters played twelve consecutive draws against each other, their counterattacks so perfectly matched that neither grandmaster could break the stalemate without the help of a tiebreaker. At the Board of Aldermen, it is the president’s job to break ties on board bills and resolutions. It’s also his job, argues former president Tom Villa, to ensure that the moves and counter-moves of lawmaking amount to more than a replay of past mistakes. “The president of the Board of Aldermen, you can be as busy as you want to be,” says Villa, who served Continued on pg 21
FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
BOARD OF ALDERMEN Continued from pg 19
as president from 1987 until he was beaten by Slay in 1995. “Your tentacle is into almost everything.” The next president, Villa believes, will need friends in all the right places — now more than ever. A proposed soccer stadium and airport privatization plan have earned recent headlines, but Villa warns that it is the upcoming ward reduction, from 28 wards to 14, that should be keeping presidential candidates up at night. “If you’re the president, you’re going to have to be really, really adept at trying to steer something through that is going to be as politically charged as anything you’ve ever seen in your life,” he says. Pushed by, yes, Rex Sinquefield and approved by voters, the reduction calls for the redrawing of ward boundaries by 2020 to cut in half the city government’s 28-ward structure. The measure remains controversial, and some north city aldermen are backing efforts to reverse (or re-do) the 2012 vote, alleging that the reduction represents “organized gerrymandering” that strips power from black neighborhoods. Whoever wins the March 5 primary, Villa says, will have to deal with a bitter fight over the 2012 vote and the lines of the new wards. Some positions are less fraught. Like Reed, Villa supports plans for a soccer stadium for an as-yet unconfirmed MLS team. Villa considers it the sort of deal a board president should be backing. But Villa considers airport privation as something between a scam and a farce. “If it were a cutting-edge idea, somebody would have cut the edge long before the city of St. Louis got to it,” he says. “The way this thing is structured is ridiculous.” Behind the high-priced consultants touting airport privatization, is, again, Sinquefield, and the potential conflicts inherent in letting a libertarian billionaire shape city policy are made even worse by
what Villa sees as poor judgment by city officials. Slay, for instance, struck a deal with Sinquefield to have the financier underwrite the hiring of airport privatization consultants, saying Sinquefield would be repaid if the deal goes through. That left the consultants with a big incentive to push for privatization, whether or not it’s a good deal for the city. Even worse, soon after Slay left office, he himself was hired by a Spanish firm considering a bid to lease Lambert. Villa says he’s “disappointed [Slay] has opted to be involved in the process.” Similarly, Villa questions why Slay’s successor, Lyda Krewson, didn’t drop the privatization push once she took office. And then there’s Reed, who at the last minute threatened to block an E&A vote authorizing the privatization consultants’ hire — only to drop his opposition when the firms of two campaign donors were added to the contract. “That’s not a stroke of political genius,” Villa remarks. It’s unfortunate, because St. Louis could really use some political genius right now. In the leadup to the 2017 mayoral race, Villa, then recently retired from the board, was quoted remarking the city didn’t need another “caretaker” mayor, but a bomb-thrower. Both challengers to Reed could play that role. Of Green, Villa says, “the status quo isn’t in her thesaurus,” and he notes Nasheed’s advantage in a lengthy career as a lawmaker and political fighter. “She’s not a shrinking violet.” Whether it’s Reed, Green or Nasheed, the board president will have to be ready to use everything in their arsenal, and without much of a grace period to find their footing. They’ll be confronted with rapacious developers and machinating billionaires and the revolving door of City Hall. Villa predicts hard choices ahead. “What a political minefield!” Villa says. For the winner, “It’ll be like saying ‘congratulations’ and handing you a box of hand grenades. And they’re all ticking.” n
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When you check out of the Bates Motel, you really check out. | © 1960 PARAMOUNT
THURSDAY 02/14 Mom Says Hi What better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with a film about the purest love of all, that of a son for his mother? Norman and his mom run a motel with a decidedly unique ambiance. When pretty young Marion Crane stops in for a short stay, Norman’s life gets very interesting indeed. Alfred Hitchcock’s shocking thriller Psycho is known even by those who have never seen it. The Webster Film Series presents the classic back on the big screen where it belongs, with that fantastically evocative Bernard Herrmann score doing its damnedest to make you sweat. Psycho screens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 14, at Webster University’s Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue; www. webster.edu/film-series). Tickets are $5 to $7.
ing. “Rubies,” the middle act, sets Balanchine’s ebullient choreography against Igor Stravinsky’s joyous, bouncy “Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra.” The dancers, clad in rich red tones, represent the dance of light on gemstones, refracting and bouncing across the stage. The Saint Louis Ballet presents its first-ever performance of “Rubies” as a special Valentine’s Day treat. Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (February 15 and 16) at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the
SATURDAY 02/16 Don’t Dream It
FRIDAY 02/15 A Gem of a Show George Balanchine’s Jewels is a three-act ballet that uses music from three different composers, which is unusual in its own right. That the ballet has no plot and that all three acts are independent of each other is even more astonish-
Sergei Prokofiev composed music for every format you can think of. Operas, symphonies, ballets, concertos and solo piano pieces, he did it all. So far-ranging were his interests that he even branched out into film scoring, teaming up with fellow Russian genius Sergei Eisenstein for the latter’s epic film Alexander Nevsky. The movie chronicles the national legend who saved the motherland from a horde of invading Teutonic Knights of the Holy Roman Empire; the highlight is a terrifying battle fought on a frozen lake. Prokofiev’s score is so good that he condensed some of the most thrilling moments into a 40-minute long cantata, which includes the music for the climactic Battle on the Ice. Conductor Stéphane Denève leads the St. Louis Symphony through a program of Prokofiev’s greatest hits, including his Piano Concerto No. 2, the Alexander Nevsky cantata and Denève’s own suite arranged from Prokofiev’s ballet Cinderella. Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday (February 15 and 16) at Powell Hall (718 North Grand Boulevard; www.slso.org), and tickets are $25 to $83.
Saint Louis Ballet gives you “Rubies.” | PRATT KREIDICH, COURTESY OF SAINT LOUIS BALLET
FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a film that needs no introduction, but just in case you’re new to the country … Brad and Janet are a couple of squares who get lost, find a castle and discover the wonders of alternative lifestyles thanks to over-sexed scientist Dr. Frank N. Furter and his gang of hangers-on and party guests. The only things standing in the way of an all-out lovefest are the creepy butler and maid, Riff Raff and Magenta. The cult-classic musical experience is best experienced at a midnight showing with a large crowd of cult members, so get thee to the Moolah Theatre (3821 Lindell Boulevard; www.stlou-
iscinemas.com/moolah) at 11:55 p.m. Friday and Saturday (February 15 to 16) for the majesty that is the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Flustered Mustard will do the honors as the live shadow cast acting out the film in front of the screen, and $3 prop bags that include the essentials (balloon, newspaper, latex glove, toilet paper) will be sold at the door. Tickets are $8.
Scream for More Nothing makes your date hold tighter to you than a good scare, so if you want to get physical, why not get frightened this Valentine’s Day? Legendary haunted house the Darkness (1525 South Eighth Street; www.scarefest.com) is open for business from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, February 16, for a Bloody Valentines special event. Buddy, you’re gonna see some hearts (and other innards) as you make your way through the goriest date night ever, with scares and close calls a-plenty. Your date will leave fingerprints embedded in your arm after this romantic getaway. Tickets are $25 and limited in number, so reserve now.
SUNDAY 02/17 Sweet Sixteen Annie Desmond is turning sixteen, and she and her friends plan to celebrate in a big way — tattoos may be involved. They’re like many black teenagers, dreaming big but surrounded by little that offers hope of something better. Annie’s mother works herself near to death to support them, but when Annie’s friend Margie tells the group she’s pregnant, they hatch a plan that’s shortsighted at best. Kirsten Greenidge’s play Milk Like Sugar has been praised for the poetry and honesty of its dialogue and its unflinching look at the future being created for black youth. The Black Rep presents Milk Like Sugar at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday at Washington University’s Hotchner Studio Theatre inside the Edison Center (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; www.theblackrep.org). Tickets are $15 to $40.
WEEK OF FEBRUARY 14-20
Author Charlie Jane Anders has a new book out. | SARA DERAGON/PORTRAITS TO THE PEOPLE
MONDAY 02/18 Night Life Charlie Jane Anders won the Nebula award for her novel All the Birds in the Sky, and similar buzz surrounds her new novel, The City in the Middle of the Night. Sophie is presumed dead after being exiled onto the beast-haunted ice that covers the side of the planet that knows only freezing darkness. The other hemisphere exists in eternal sunshine, but its cities are equally dangerous. The beasts
around Sophie aren’t mindless, however, and she forms a psychic bond that allows her to communicate with and understand one of them. The City in the Middle of the Night is a book about culture, empathy and other big ideas that has drawn comparisons to the best of Ursula K. LeGuin. The San Francisco-based Anders comes to St. Louis to discuss and sign her novel at 7 p.m. Monday, February 18, at Mad Art Gallery (2727 South Twelfth Street; www.left-bank. com) as the guest of Left Bank Books. Admission is free, and Anders’ books will be sold on site. n
Magenta and Riff Raff have a weird relationship. | ©20TH CENTURY FOX
FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
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FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
Season of the Witch Stray Dog turns up the heat in its magnificent production of The Crucible Written by
PAUL FRISWOLD The Crucible Written by Arthur Miller. Directed by Gary F. Bell. Presented by Stray Dog Theatre through February 23 at the Tower Grove Abbey (2336 Tennessee Avenue; www.straydogtheatre. org). Tickets are $25 to $30.
aranoia stalks the New England countryside, and the people live in fear. Several nights ago a group of girls were caught dancing in the moonlit woods (naked, some whisper), and now the devil is loose in Salem. If you don’t believe that, you’re either a fool or in league with the devil. And in Salem, devil worshipers are hanged. Arthur Miller wrote The Crucible in response to the McCarthy hearings, but he was also writing about the animal instinct to survive and the terrible things it can make us do. Will you cut off your leg to escape a bear trap? Will you climb atop the pile of dead bodies to escape drowning? Will you, an otherwise empathetic and compassionate person, throw a loved one on the funeral pyre to escape the flames yourself? That animal instinct will keep you alive, but there is inside us something more than animal, an ethic that allows us to throttle the will to live and instead die with nobility. Stray Dog Theatre’s production of The Crucible captures everything brilliant in Miller’s writing — the suspicion, the human weakness, the nightmarish reality of a society killing itself to remain pure, the nobility of those who defy the madness — and amplifies it all. Director Gary F. Bell masterminds a deep dive into madness, and never flinches nor allows you to look away. It is a masterpiece, both as a play and a production.
John and Elizabeth Proctor (Graham Emmons and Cynthia Pohlson, right) pray their servant Mary (Chrissie Watkins, seated) doesn’t turn on them in court. | DAN DONOVAN The beginning of the end is already in progress when the play opens. Reverend Parris (Ben Ritchie) has discovered his daughter and some friends dancing in the woods. Now several of the girls are in a coma-like state and can’t be roused, a fact that smacks of witchery. Parris sends for Reverend Hale (Abraham Shaw), an expert on demonic forces, to get to the bottom of everything. The law is clear in the matter. If you confess to dealing with the devil and repent, you’re free to go. If you don’t confess — perhaps you’re innocent, or perhaps you simply wish to remain in league with Satan — you’re hanged. The dancing friends confess and name names, gaining both a power and prestige from their new infamy. Miller requires four acts and three-plus hours to show just how successful Hale’s investigation is, and Bell doesn’t squander a moment of it. As The Crucible sinks its claws into your heart, you see how everyone in Salem is connected, and how all of these con-
Stray Dog Theatre’s production captures everything brilliant in Miller’s writing and amplifies it all. nections — both good and bad — underpin who gets named as the devil’s conspirators. Old scores can be settled quickly with a confession and a few names. The expansive cast is excellent, both with Miller’s stylized language and in performances. There are standouts even in the smaller roles: Gerry Love’s cantankerous Giles Corey, Laura Kyro’s permanently bereaved Ann Putnam and Kelli Wright’s Tituba, a slave from Barbados who is at the center of the conspiracy and just wants to go home. The growing doubts felt
by Shaw’s Reverend Hale about what’s really happening in Salem weigh him down, and he enters rooms as if he’s dragging the hanged behind him. At the center of it all are John Proctor (Graham Emmons) and Abigail Williams (Alison Linderer), who dance a doomed waltz as former secret lovers entangled in the conspiracy. John thinks he can stop it, and Abigail thinks she’s controlling it, but too late they discover they’re both wrong. The end is present in the very beginning. Scenic designer Josh Smith’s set comprises a few screens in neutral colors, with a tangle of pointed wooden beams converging over center stage. As Deputy Governor Danforth (Joe Hanrahan) announces he’ll “hang 10,000” to wipe out all conspirators, a disillusioned and heartsick John Hale looks to heaven. That’s when you and he both recognize those beams are the hungry branches of a forest of gibbets, each one awaiting another rope and another citizen. n
FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
6 RESTAURANTS YOU NEED TO CHECK OUT...
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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.
THE BLUE DUCK
314.449.6328 5257 SHAW AVE, ST. LOUIS, MO 63110
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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.
FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
Northern Exposure Maggie Hourd-Bryant’s delicious cooking makes the River Lillie a north-city destination Written by
CHERYL BAEHR The River Lillie 1435 Salisbury Street, 314-833-4335. Mon.Sat. 9 a.m.-2 p.m.; Sun. 12:30-5 p.m.
aggie Hourd-Bryant is fiercely protective of her recipe for smothered potatoes. It’s not that she won’t spill the tea to customers — she doesn’t even let those helping her out in the kitchen know the details, insisting that she prepare them herself. When you press her on this, all you’ll get is a simple, “They’re my grandmother’s.” Her smile is warm, but she shuts you down with the same quiet firmness of “the look” your mother gives when you’re starting to push it. You don’t even have to take a bite of the smothered potatoes to understand why she is so protective. This is the sort of dish that reveals its greatness on sight, not because of some elegant plating or fancy adornment, but because you just know. The potatoes are probably cut into large rustic cubes, but you can’t really tell because they have been cooked to the point of breaking down, suspended between solid hunks and mashed. Slicked with cooking oil, the potatoes caramelize around the edges, as if they’ve been panfried to the point of becoming golden and then scraped off the bottom of the skillet. Tiny slivers of white onions are softened in the oil so they’re reminiscent of the ones you get on a White Castle slider. Salt and black pepper season what seems like a warm breakfast version of potato salad. It’s such a masterpiece, you’ll immediately understand why Hourd-Bryant guards it as closely as a state secret. The smothered potatoes may
Southern-inflected favorites at the River Lillie include strawberry pancakes, catfish fillets, chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits. | MABEL SUEN come from Hourd-Bryant’s grandmother, but the inspiration for her seven-month-old restaurant, the River Lillie, is her mother, Lillie. Raised three miles from the Arkansas border in Missouri’s bootheel, Hourd-Bryant grew up on her mom’s Southern-inflected cooking and learned her recipes and techniques at an early age. Though she loved cooking, she did not think of it as a career, and instead chose to study social work. Her academic pursuits led her to a PhD program at Washington University in St. Louis, and she comfortably settled in a neighborhood near the campus. Though proximity to school was a plus, HourdBryant grew weary of the high rent and eventually purchased a home in north city’s Fairgrounds neighborhood, where she immediately felt at home. Hourd-Bryant worked as a nonprofit leader, a grants administrator for the city of St. Louis and a community mentor before being tapped to take a teaching position at Vatterott. But not long after the
job offer, she was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy, which left her temporarily unable to talk. Unable to teach, Hourd-Bryant had to recalibrate, seeing what she originally considered a setback as an opportunity. She had always loved cooking, after all. Perhaps this was the chance she had been looking for to combine her passion for food with her mission of serving the community. After several months of eyeing the newly renovated storefront at the corner of Salisbury Street and Blair Avenue in the Hyde Park neighborhood, Hourd-Bryant decided to take the leap. She signed a lease and got to work putting her touches on the space, opening the charming daytime spot last June. Wooden tables and vintagestyle chairs, upholstered in hunter green and burgundy, provide seating throughout the restaurant’s two dining rooms. Soaring ceilings make the space feel lofty, but the restaurant’s earthy color palate gives the River Lillie a cozy feel. Paintings by local artists
hang from the walls, and antiquestyle serving dishes make you feel like you are having lunch in someone’s home — and they’ve gotten out the good china. That homey feeling is also apparent in the River Lillie’s Southern-inflected food, which is the epitome of daytime comfort. For breakfast, Hourd-Bryant sticks to the classics, and she does them exceptionally well. Fluffy biscuits are smothered in peppery, sausage-laden gravy that is rich without being overly thick. Those same biscuits serve as the base for a delightful breakfast sandwich. Scrambled eggs, cooked so that they are still creamy, are piled onto the biscuit with molten American cheese and bacon. At less than $4, including smothered potatoes and a drink, it’s one of the best breakfast deals around. The River Lillie’s pancakes are perfection of the form. Slightly sweet and fluffy, the hotcakes crisp up around the edges like a crepe. I thought they needed
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THE RIVER LILLIE Continued from pg 29
nothing but warm syrup and butter, but then I tried the blueberry version and was utterly dazzled. These are unquestionably some of the best pancakes in town thanks to the innumerable blueberries folded into the batter, giving each bite a juicy pop of warm fruit. They’re breathtaking. At lunch, Hourd-Bryant’s Southern style really comes out on dishes such as fried chicken wings, which are coated in a delicate, well-seasoned breading and fried to a gorgeous golden brown. The crust is flaky, crisp and not at all greasy, a lovely contrast to the succulent, well-cooked meat. For an accompaniment, I chose fried corn, a mouthwatering concoction of off-the-cob kernels caramelized in butter. It’s so creamy, you could spread your bread with it. Shrimp and grits, one of HourdBryant’s specialties, shows off her cooking prowess. The grits are fortified with three different cheeses, giving them a luxurious, velvety texture that is broken up with hunks of red and green bell peppers and onions. Whole pieces of grilled shrimp sit atop the concoction, but Hourd-Bryant also cuts up smaller bites of the shellfish and folds them into the grits, underscoring the dish’s sweet seafood flavor. An accompanying slice of toast appeared to be an afterthought, but its shockingly thick coating of caramelized garlic butter made it transcendent. Next time, I’ll ask for an extra piece. The River Lillie’s burger is a
Maggie Hourd-Bryant named the restaurant for her mother, Lillie. | MABEL SUEN mammoth patty of ground beef, simply seasoned and served on a griddled bun. Usually, I prefer thick burgers like this to be cooked to temperature, but that was not offered. The meat came out around a medium-well, but it was juicy and well-seasoned, evoking the homestyle, pan-fried burgers my mom used to make. Typically, I limit my review to what I experienced in a restaurant during the course of my visits. In this case, though, it’s only fair to mention what I didn’t get to expe-
rience. On a recent Sunday, I tried to eat at the restaurant’s weekly soul-food event, only to be greeted by a distraught Hourd-Bryant. The restaurant had to shut down for the day, she said, because the hood system was broken. I can’t begrudge her for having an equipment malfunction; it’s an unfortunate situation that can happen to any business. But the River Lillie also came up short on a few other visits. In one, the kitchen was out of a few items even though the doors had only recently opened
for the day; in a subsequent trip, it was out of the entire appetizer portion of the menu. Long ticket times also kept the pace a bit too leisurely. Our server was gracious and apologetic, explaining that Hourd-Bryant was a one-woman show in the kitchen because of staffing issues, but a similar problem plagued the restaurant when I previously visited in December. I think Hourd-Bryant is in a tough spot. As a new restaurateur, she’s working tirelessly to achieve her vision in a part of town that has been all but written off by the rest of the metro area. It’s difficult to cultivate a customer base even in a thriving business district; in a distressed neighborhood, that uphill battle is even steeper. And without a steady thrum of customers, everything from staffing to food purchasing becomes infinitely more complicated. Maybe at a lesser restaurant, these problems would give me pause, but I am not going to let them stop me from going back to the River Lillie. In fact, they’re the reason I am going to be one of its most ardent supporters. There is no question Hourd-Bryant has the cooking skills and inclination to hospitality that are the foundations of a good restaurant. Once enough people realize that, I suspect, she’ll be in good shape. In the meantime, what’s the worst that can happen — I might be left with only her pancakes and her grandmother’s potatoes? I’ll be there, and ready to eat.
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FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
Elaia Chef Is New to Town, But Not Cooking Written by
aron Martinez, the new executive chef of Elaia (1634 Tower Grove Avenue, 314932-1088), has worked in restaurants for as long as he can remember, beginning as a way to make money while he was in school. But his experience was in the front of the house until, during a stint in his mid-twenties at a fine-dining restaurant in San Diego, he suddenly saw the merits of kitchen skills. Naturally, a girl was involved. “I wanted to cook for her,” Martinez laughs. “I started asking the chef all sorts of questions — ‘Can I borrow this?’ or ‘How do you do that?’ — and it just went from there. One day, I asked the chef if I should consider doing this for a career. I thought I knew what I wanted to do, but this changed my mind.” Reading Martinez’s résumé, which boasts stints in impressive kitchens throughout the U.S. and Europe as well as his current position at Elaia, you’d assume he was destined to be a chef. Growing up in Orange County, California, however, Martinez planned on becoming a firefighter and was well on his way down that path. He was enrolled at both San Diego State University and an area technical college, where he took firetechnology classes. But once he made the transition from serving to the kitchen, he was hooked on the restaurant business. “I remember I was making an emulsified vinaigrette one day and thought it was so cool how water and oil could do this,” Martinez recalls. “I realized how much I liked cooking and my mind just changed. Looking back, it’s what I should’ve been doing all along,
Aaron Martinez first made his way to the kitchen for a woman. Another led him to St. Louis, and his current gig at Elaia. | JEN WEST but you don’t realize that until someone puts it right in front of you.” Martinez moved to Arizona for culinary school and got a job working for celebrated chef William Bradley at Vu. He loved the work. “Working with him opened my eyes,” Martinez explains. “It was very hard, to say the least, but he taught me how to cook and to run a kitchen. I could hold my own because of his training.” Martinez admits that the difficulties of working in such a highstress environment got to him, and he left Vu to return to San Diego. However, when Bradley came to San Diego to open a new restaurant called Addison, Martinez realized that he wanted back in. More confident in his abilities and more mature, Martinez put his head down and soaked up all he could from Bradley. Martinez worked at Addison for three and a half years, staging in restaurants throughout California and in Spain before moving to Belgium to work at the Michelinstarred In de Wulf. Within two months, he was promoted to sous chef and was being eyed by the executive chef to help him open oth-
er concepts. Martinez was thrilled with the idea of creating a life for himself in Belgium, but his plans were thwarted when his visa application was denied. Heartbroken, he returned to California. Martinez’s sadness was shortlived. He got married, moved to San Francisco and then Chicago, and started a family — a major life change that made him recalibrate his priorities. After briefly moving back to California with his wife and infant daughter, Martinez realized how important it was for them to be closer to his wife’s family. The trio packed up and moved to her hometown of St. Louis, not knowing exactly where Martinez would land. He quickly found his fit at Elaia, taking over the reins of Ben Poremba’s flagship fine-dining concept from executive chef Ben Grupe. There, he has been instrumental in changing the restaurant’s format from a longformonly tasting menu into a choice of options that makes the experience more accessible to a variety of diners. Martinez could not be happier with the role and where his life has taken him.
“Being here and seeing my wife have the support she needs and my daughter happy and running around with her cousins has been great,” Martinez says. “My wife’s dad pops over every Monday to have a beer and just chit chat. We’ve never gotten a chance to do that before. It’s what life is supposed to be.” Martinez took a break from the kitchen to share his thoughts on the St. Louis food-and-beverage scene, the local chef who convinced him to move to town, and why you shouldn’t tell his mom what his last meal on earth would be. What is one thing people don’t know about you that you wish they did? I got started cooking when I was 26. I was trying to impress a girl. What daily ritual is non-negotiable for you? Coffee and kissing my wife and daughter before I leave the house. If you could have any superpower, what would it be? I would love to be able to read people’s minds. What is the most positive thing in food, wine or cocktails that
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Continued on pg 34
AARON MARTINEZ Continued from pg 33
you’ve noticed in St. Louis over the past year? I have only lived here six months, but I see a lot of new restaurants with great chefs and bar programs popping up everywhere. What is something missing in the local food, wine or cocktail scene that you’d like to see? Late-night food options. Who is your St. Louis food crush? I would say chef Michael Gallina of Vicia. I spoke with him before moving here, and he solidified our decision to move here. Who’s the one person to watch right now in the St. Louis dining scene? Loryn and Edo Nalic of Balkan Treat Box. They are the nicest and most humble people I have met in a while. Their food is so good. I can’t wait for them to open!
Which ingredient is most representative of your personality? Garum. It is very intense, but if you use it right it is subtle and pushes savory flavor profiles forward. If you weren’t working in the restaurant business, what would you be doing? A firefighter. Name an ingredient never allowed in your restaurant. I have a few: truffle oil, peeled shallots and peeled garlic. What is your after-work hangout? Home, hoping my little girl is still awake. What’s your food or beverage guilty pleasure? A cheeseburger at the Loyalist in Chicago, and an Old Style. What would be your last meal on earth? I feel I should say my mom’s rice and tacos, but … I would have to say Epicure at the Hotel Bristol in Paris. Chef Éric Fréchon is my idol. n
Chinese Noodle Cafe’s hot-and-sour soup built a devoted following. | FLICKR/STEPHEN BOLEN
Pioneer in Hunan Cuisine Has Closed
fter seventeen years, chef Peggy Hou has closed Chinese Noodle Cafe (6138 Delmar Boulevard). But this isn’t the typical story about business being down or the Loop trolley claiming another victim. Instead, Hou says someone made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. “I was doing pretty good,” she says. “But then two young men say, ‘We want to buy your restaurant.’” The deal went through on December 31, she says, and so she’s officially retired. And Chinese Noodle Cafe, too, is out of the business. Hou says the new own-
FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
ers, who are based in Springfield, Missouri, intend to stay closed until spring so they can remodel the space. They then plan to open a different restaurant on site. (The new owners did not respond to our request for more information.) It’s the end of a long run for Hou, who came to the U.S. from Taiwan in 1978 and is credited as one of the first local restaurateurs to serve the cuisine of China’s Hunan region. Located on the eastern edge of the Loop next to Pi Pizzeria and across the street from the Pageant, Chinese Noodle Cafe thrived even as the area experienced great change. The cozy cafe had numerous fans, winning the RFT readers’ choice for “Best Chinese” eleven years in a row. “People are telling me, ‘Don’t go, you’ve broken my heart,’” Hou reports. —Sarah Fenske
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Pop Goes the New Sparkling Wine Bar Written by
ave Bailey said goodbye to L’Acadiane on January 31 — and, that same night, hello to Pop (1915 Park Avenue, 314-241-8100). The prolific restaurateur (Rooster, Baileys’ Range, Small Batch) unveiled the sparkling wine bar in a dramatic way, inviting the media and friends of the establishment as witnesses for the space’s surprise transformation from a New Orleans-influenced eatery to a bar and restaurant focused on sparkling wines. Throughout the three-hour event, servers steadily replaced Louisiana-style touches with Pop art — and Bailey himself provided a personal narrative as the alcohol flowed and the food kept coming. He said the previous restaurant concept had been chosen in part for a TV pilot. “At the end of the day, L’Acadiane was not what I had my heart set on for this building,” he told the crowd. “But it helped get the transition going.”
As Bailey explained, a little over a year ago, he converted his very first restaurant, Baileys’ Chocolate Bar, into L’Acadiane, moving the chocolate bar upstairs. Doing that meant finally adding a full kitchen, and that jumpstarted the redefinition of the space that led to Pop. Now he intends to serve a full menu that pairs well with Champagne and sparkling wine — and he showed off a host of new dishes with that aim. That means small plates including a classic beef tartare ($12) that combines flap steak with egg, pickled shallot and a crostini, as well as a terrific focaccia topped with capicola, iberico and an arugula pesto ($13). There are also a host of snacks — caviar, popovers, pickles or olives. But for those in the mood for dinner, Pop intends to serve just that. Try the carbonnade, a classic beef-and-onion stew atop noodles. Or what may well be the tastiest thing on the menu, a chilicured duck breast served with carrots and a beet gastrique ($21). For all the drama of the sudden closure/dramatic new opening, all within an evening’s dinner service, Bailey himself was a charming, low-key presence. “Twentyfour years ago I kind of fell into the restaurant business,” he said. Then he explained that he’d met his wife Kara while working at Sasha’s on De Mun and, yes, drinking sparkling wine. Of sparkling wines, he said, “They’re for the everyday, not just for special occasions, not just New Year’s Eve. They’re for Thursday.” Pop is now open beginning at 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. n
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FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
MUSIC & CULTURE
Ever Up and Onward Gary McClure disbands American Wrestlers to launch new strippeddown project Son of the Pale Youth Written by
t the end of August, after a long spell of inactivity from his band American Wrestlers, Gary McClure sent me an email with a new track attached. “Happy Sunday,” the message said. “This song almost ruined my life.” That song, “Devils,” was a step away from the propulsive and grunge-indebted sounds his band had reinvigorated across two albums released on the venerated indie label Fat Possum. McClure’s high tenor voice is cloaked in a cathedral’s worth of reverb; gradually, the acoustic guitar and upright piano get augmented by a moody cello, distant horns and a solemn organ. It’s not until the song’s final act that American Wrestlers’ hallmarks — well-orchestrated noise and a punkish trajectory — are briefly referenced in an avalanche of violent strings and overdriven guitar. The last thing we hear is a raggedy guitar figure and McClure’s wordless cooing coming from some cavernous, remote place. As it stands, that’s the last anyone will ever hear from American Wrestlers. Despite the relative success of 2016’s excellent Goodbye Terrible Youth, McClure’s struggle to move the band to its next stage manifested itself in the trial to perfect “Devils.” He wrestled with it for half a year before scuttling the track to Soundcloud, where it has currently logged around 500 spins. “I couldn’t not finish it, ya know?” McClure says over tea on a recent Sunday afternoon at Sump Coffee. “I knew it was gonna be really good, but I didn’t know how to finish the thing. I thought I knew what I was
The normally self-critical musician calls his new material “the best stuff I’ve ever done, easy.” | VIA THE ARTIST doing with it, so I was repeatedly beating my head against a brick wall trying to make that work. “Almost every night for six months I sang this fucking song,” he continues. “I think it was because I wasn’t supposed to be doing it.” So rather than torment himself to create music in the idiom of American Wrestlers — fuzzy, rangey guitars, distended synths and a full-bodied rhythm section — McClure’s next act finds him simplifying his approach down to the bare essentials. Now recording as Son of the Pale Youth, McClure uses nothing more than an untreated electric guitar, his ceiling-scraping falsetto and loads of reverb to craft delicate songs that employ a strange mix of English folk structures, jazz-inflected chords and bedroom R&B ennui. “I think it’s the best stuff I’ve ever done, easy,” McClure, normally an unforgiving critic of his own work, says of the new songs. “It’s very simple, very pure — I almost didn’t want to put words on it. It felt like I was corrupting it. So it’s just singing and guitar, all one take together. It’s as pure as it can be.” He’s posted a collection of these recordings on Soundcloud under an album called Servant to the Pilgrim, but McClure notes that these
songs exist in a liminal space — they’re complete ideas, recorded in one take, but he would be open to re-recording them should a label come courting. But based on the initial offering, Son of the Pale Youth is stark in every sense of the word, eerily spartan where American Wrestlers engaged in a kind of pawn-shop maximalism. McClure’s voice has always sat in a higher register, giving some sweetness to the crunch of his overdriven guitar; but here, amid porcelain guitar figures, his voice takes on an almost feminine quality. This move toward solo performance is typically atypical for McClure. A native of Scotland, he spent most of his formative years in Manchester, England, forming the collage-heavy rock group Working for a Nuclear Free City as a teenager. That band’s brush with indie-rock buzz led McClure to a quieter, lushly adorned solo record called Wreaths. By the time he moved to St. Louis to be near his wife’s family, he was recording as American Wrestlers and sending out cryptic, detail-averse missives to music blogs and record labels. His gambit scored the Wrestlers a deal with Fat Possum, the label that helped shepherd the Black Keys from basement bars to arenas. And while Goodbye Terrible Youth netted McClure some of the earmarks of indie success — posi-
tive record reviews, a national tour — the urge to simplify was a novel approach for a musician whose earliest impulses led him to embrace and corral the power of well-crafted noise. “I always just felt like I needed to construct something and really think about it, and I don’t,” he says. “I don’t think that anybody needs to do that. The simple way is good.” McClure would have been within his rights to simply release these songs as another American Wrestlers release; after all, that band’s self-titled debut was performed solely by him on cheap instruments and recorded to a fourtrack. But it was important for him to plant a new flag for the project. “I think it can generate its own steam rather than people picking up on what I did before. It’s the first thing I’m actually happy with,” he says. “The other stuff I can’t listen to.” Son of the Pale Youth will have its inaugural show at Foam on Thursday, February 28. McClure, who has entered his second decade as a live performer, shows no sense of nerves. “The recording is me doing it live,” he says, “so I can’t lose!”
Son of the Pale Youth 8 p.m. Thursday, February 28. Foam, 3359 S. Jefferson Avenue. $5 to $10. 314-772-2100.
FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
St. Louis Act Takes Top Honors at ‘World Series of Blues’ Written by
or St. Louis blues singer Hy-C, the magic word is “believe.” “Just believe,” she says. “You can do whatever you set yourself out to do, but you’ve got to believe in yourself.” It’s advice she heard frequently from her grandmother, and in recent weeks it has served the 50-year-old (born Jacinta BranchGriffin) quite well. On January 26, she and her Fresh Start band took home the top honors in the 35th annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis. The win saw her beating out more than 200 fellow competitors from across the world and securing a prize that includes $3,000 in cash, recording time at Showplace Studios in New Jersey and slots at several blues festivals all over the country — even one on a Caribbean cruise. St. Louis’ Board of Aldermen recognized the magnitude of her victory on February 1. “To say that this is a big deal for St. Louis is an understatement,” its resolution reads. “While we are so often overlooked as a player on the international stage, this success puts us squarely on the map.” All told, it’s been a whirlwind for the woman at the center. “When I entered it I really didn’t think it was a big deal,” BranchGriffin laughs. “And then when I won I was like, ‘Well, I guess this really is a big deal!’ It’s sinking in now, it’s sinking in.” Her journey to victory started in the fall. A lifelong St. Louisan who got her start as a child singing in a church choir and later branched out to blues music, Branch-Griffin caught wind of the International Blues Challenge and decided she wanted to enter. She reached out to the St. Louis Blues Society to see what she needed to do. Jeremy Segel-Moss, chairman of the St. Louis society, explains that
Ms. Hy-C accepts her award in Memphis with her Fresh Start band in tow. | LAURA CARBONE the Memphis-based Blues Foundation is something of an umbrella society for blues organizations worldwide. Affiliate organizations like his host local competitions, with the winner going on to Memphis. In October, Hy-C and her crew claimed victory at the Kirkwood Station Brewing Company. But with Memphis in her sights, BranchGriffin was faced with another obstacle: The blues society said she needed more original music in her repertoire. Her only recorded song at the time was a reimagining of a Bobby Bland track she’d titled “My Love Is Not for Sale.” “My girlfriend said, ‘Girl, you better go upstairs and write something real quick,’” Branch-Griffin explains. “I said, ‘What I’m gonna write about?’ She said, ‘I don’t know, but you gonna figure it out.’” She did — and quickly. “What I’m gonna write about? Oh, I am going to Memphis,” she recalls thinking. “OK, Memphis here I come!” The resulting track, “Memphis, Here I Come,” will appear on the St. Louis Blues Society’s upcoming 18 in 18 compilation. With original material secured, when it was time to actually head to Memphis, Branch-Griffin turned to her grandmother’s advice — and again to that magic word — for the courage to push forward. “My grandma — bless her
FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
heart, she just passed in October — she gave me this doll that has a chain around it that says ‘Believe,’” Branch-Griffin explains. “She said, ‘If you put your mind to it, and you claim it, you’ll get it.’ So before I left home and went to Memphis I put my hand on top of the doll. And I said, ‘I’ll be back with that trophy.’” Her victory on January 26 was a first for St. Louis. “We’ve actually had no one ever even go to the finals, and Hy-C just went straight to the front of the bus,” says Segel-Moss. “It’s kind of like winning the World Series of blues.” “I didn’t find out until one in the morning that Saturday,” BranchGriffin says. “We all had a house together, all under one roof in Germantown. And I woke everybody up, I was like, ‘We made it! We made it!’ “All down Beale Street, all I kept hearing was ‘Hy-C! Hy-C!’” she adds. “I mean, they were everywhere. So for one minute I felt like Beyoncé, OK?” Alderwoman Cara Spencer, who introduced the resolution at the Board of Aldermen honoring the band, says the city should take a more active role in celebrating the cultural achievements of its citizens. “We spend a lot of time down there fighting over policies, but this is something obviously that
we can all get behind,” Spencer says. For Segel-Moss, the exposure for the city in general, and Hy-C & Fresh Start in particular, cannot be overstated. “Every blues society that is engaged in this was checking all night that night to see who won,” he says. “So basically every blues community in the world just heard St. Louis.” Branch-Griffin plans to take a beat and let her newfound success sink in, and then she has some tough choices to make. She currently works a day job, but the spate of festival dates her band secured by winning the contest — not to mention the new offers now filling up her inbox — could make it difficult to keep. If she decides to hit the road full time, she reasons, there’s no going back. But grandma prepared her for that long ago. “When I started really getting into singing and I started doing the blues she said, ‘Now you want to be a blues singer?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ I said, ‘Grandma, you think I can do this?’ She said, ‘Do you believe?’ I said, ‘Yes, ma’am.’ “She said, ‘Well, go out and do it.’” Hy-C & Fresh Start will perform at the National Blues Museum (615 Washington Avenue, 314-9250016) from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, February 17. Tickets are $10.
OUT EVERY NIGHT [CRITIC’S PICK] wednesday february 13 9:15 pm Urban Chestnut Presents
the voodoo players
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sean canan’s voodoo players tribute to jerry garcia band & jrad after party wednesday february 20 9:45 pm Urban Chestnut Presents
The Love Language. | MARCI HOHNER
the voodoo players tribute to van morrison thursday february 21 9 pm
The Love Language 8 p.m. Sunday, February 17. Blueberry Hill’s Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Boulevard, University City. $12 to $14. 314-727-2277. The central problem facing indie rock in the age of big data and biblical floods of streaming isn’t just how to get paid. It’s how the fuck to get anyone to listen for more than 30 seconds. Stuart McLamb, leader of the Love Language, may not have a plan, but he does have a sound that grabs you by the brain and heart and, on last year’s frenetic and sprawl-
ACOUSTIK ELEMENT: 6:30 p.m., free. Bellerive Golf Course, 12925 Ladue Road, Creve Coeur, 314-434-4405. GOOSE: 8 p.m., $7-$10. The Bootleg, 4140 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314-775-0775. MOTHER STUTTER: w/ Bounce House 9 p.m., $5. The Monocle, 4510 Manchester Ave, St. Louis, 314-935-7003. A MR. HUNCHO & SEXXY RED: 7 p.m., $20-$28. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. PAUL BONN & THE BLUESMEN: 8 p.m., free. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. PEN15: BOY BAND EXPERIENCE: 8 p.m., $15. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. READ SOUTHALL BAND: 8 p.m., $10. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. THAT ‘90S JAM: 8 p.m., $10-$13. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Ave, St. Louis, 314-833-3929. TIA MCGRAFF: 8 p.m., $20. Jacoby Arts Center, 627 E. Broadway, Alton, 618-462-5222. TOM HALL: 4 p.m., free. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. VALENTINE KARAOKE: 8 p.m., free. Blueberry Hill - The Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314-727-4444.
THE BLUE STONES: 8 p.m., $10.57-$13. Blueberry Hill - The Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314-727-4444.
ing Baby Grand, the body. A wall of guitars and synths and jacked-up reverb surrounds his lyricism, as if the Flaming Lips and Grizzly Bear were the only soundtracks to his lovelorn alienation. But he still believes in dancing, smoother and cooler and less self-conscious than most bands on the Merge label. With ambition and hooks, the music of the Love Language will speak to the most jaded of indie hearts. Fade to Black: St. Louis quartet the Fade kicks off the night with the dark, dreamy rock showcased on last year’s widely celebrated full-length Good Dream Gone. —Roy Kasten
the iceman special from new orleans
friday february 22 10 pm
aj & the jiggawatts with special guests
BOTTOMS UP BLUES GANG: 8 p.m., free. Rhone Rum Bar, 2107 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis, 314-241-7867. BOXCAR: w/ AntiKlownz 9 p.m., $5. CBGB, 3163 S. Grand Blvd., St. Louis. THE CHIMPS: 8 p.m., $12-$15. The Focal Point, 2720 Sutton Blvd, St. Louis, 314-560-2778. CROOKED FAUNA: w/ Rabble Rouser Thing Band 9 p.m., $7. The Heavy Anchor, 5226 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314-352-5226. DAVID DEE & THE HOT TRACKS: 8 p.m., $3. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. DENNIS DEYOUNG: 8 p.m., $45-$65. River City Casino & Hotel, 777 River City Casino Blvd., St. Louis, 314-388-7777. DONNA MISSAL: 8 p.m., $15-$79. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Ave, St. Louis, 314-833-3929. EIGHTH BLACKBIRD: 7:30 p.m., $5-$20. The 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity Ave., University City, 314-421-3600. THE FOOTLIGHT DISTRICT: w/ The Phones, Beau Diamond, the Mindframes 8 p.m., $5. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. HENHOUSE PROWLERS: 8 p.m., $10-$13. The Bootleg, 4140 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314-775-0775. IDGAF POETRY AND OPEN MIC: FRIENDS & LUVERS EDITION: 7 p.m., $5. Legacy Books and Cafe, 5249 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-361-2182. JOE RUSSO’S ALMOST DEAD: 8 p.m., $39.50-$45. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161.
Continued on pg 42
FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
AWARD WINNING BRUNCH SATURDAY & SUNDAY
10AM – 1PM Travis Scott. | DAVID LACHAPELLE
Travis Scott 7:30 p.m Monday, February 18. Enterprise Center, 1401 Clark Avenue. $26.95 to $96.95. 314-241-1888. Fresh off of his performance during the Super Bowl halftime show, in which he effortlessly stole the spotlight from headline act Maroon 5 (not a difficult feat, if we’re being honest), Travis Scott brings his Astroworld tour to St. Louis. The “Sicko Mode” rapper’s May album is a kaleidoscopic head trip of a release, overflowing with psychedelic visuals and hard-hitting beats, all with an amusement-park theme. That theme will carry over to his performance at Enterprise
OUT EVERY NIGHT Continued from pg 39 LES GRUFF & THE BILLY GOAT: w/ Cara Louise Band, Bobby Stevens 8 p.m., $10. Old Rock House, 1200 S. 7th St., St. Louis, 314-588-0505. LOOPRAT: w/ Tonina, PRYR, Anthony Lucius, Joey Ferber Trio 8 p.m., $10. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. MISS JUBILEE: 9:30 p.m., free. The Frisco Barroom, 8110 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, 314-455-1090. ST. LOUIS MUSIC FESTIVAL: w/ Charlie Wilson, Babyface, Joe 7:30 p.m., $52.50-$253. Chaifetz Arena, 1 S. Compton Ave., St. Louis, 314-977-5000. ST. LOUIS STEADY GRINDERS: 9:30 p.m., free. The Frisco Barroom, 8110 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, 314-455-1090. STABBING WESTWARD: w/ Nothing Still 8 p.m., $25. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. THE JEREMIAH JOHNSON BAND: 7 p.m., $10. National Blues Museum, 615 Washington Ave., St. Louis.
AFTER MIDNIGHT: 9 p.m., free. Nightshift Bar & Grill, 3979 Mexico Road, St. Peters, 636-441-8300. AS IT IS: w/ Point North 6 p.m., free. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. THE BROKEN HIPSTERS: 8 p.m., free. Rhone Rum Bar, 2107 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis, 314-241-7867. DENNIS DEYOUNG: 8 p.m., $45. River City Casino & Hotel, 777 River City Casino Blvd., St. Louis, 314-388-7777. DESIRE LINES: w/ Lonesome Heroes, Justin Johnson 9 p.m., free. Schlafly Tap Room, 2100
FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
Center this week, which will include a stage complete with a roller coaster and Ferris wheel. Shout at the Daredevil: During performances on this tour, Scott has made a habit of strapping himself into the aforementioned roller coaster apparatus and continuing to rap as it slowly does loopde-loops. This was enough for occasionally upside-down Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee to protest, taking to social media to call Scott a “fucking idiot” and accuse him of stealing his ideas. Scott’s fans responded on behalf of the rapper by making it clear they have absolutely no clue who Tommy Lee even is. —Daniel Hill
Locust St., St. Louis, 314-241-2337. DOGS OF SOCIETY: THE ULTIMATE ELTON JOHN TRIBUTE: w/ Billy the Kid: The Definitive Billy Joel Tribute 8 p.m., $15-$20. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. THE FIGHTING SIDE: w/ Old Capital Square Dance Club 8 p.m., $10-$12. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. I YA TOYAH: 9 p.m., $10. The Crack Fox, 1114 Olive St., St. Louis, 314-621-6900. J.D. PARRAN: 8 p.m., $10. Saint Louis University-Xavier Hall, 3733 W. Pine Mall, St. Louis, 314-977-3327. JOE RUSSO’S ALMOST DEAD: 8 p.m., $39.50-$45. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. THE LONESOME HEROES: 9 p.m., free. Schlafly Tap Room, 2100 Locust St., St. Louis, 314-241-2337. LONESOME PINES: 9:30 p.m., free. The Frisco Barroom, 8110 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, 314-455-1090. MELVIN TURNAGE: 9 p.m., free. 1860 Saloon, Game Room & Hardshell Cafe, 1860 S. Ninth St., St. Louis, 314-231-1860. MILO: 8 p.m., $17. The Firebird, 2706 Olive St., St. Louis, 314-535-0353. ROSS BELL BAND: 3 p.m., free. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. SLLAW : SAINT LOUIS LADY ARM WRESTLERS BOUT: 8 p.m., $10. The Heavy Anchor, 5226 Gravois Ave., St. Louis, 314-352-5226. STREET LOUIS GALLERY: 9 p.m., free. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. TIM ALBERT & THE BOOGIEMEN: 9 p.m., $3. Hammerstone’s, 2028 S. 9th St., St. Louis, 314-773-5565. TRAVIS GREENE & MOSAIC MSC: 8 p.m., $27.50$75. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Ave,
Continued on pg 42
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Anderson East. | VIA PARADIGM TALENT AGENCY
Anderson East 8 p.m. Tuesday, February 19. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Boulevard. $20. 314-726-6161. St. Louis audiences got an early glimpse of Anderson East’s talents a few years ago when the relatively unknown singer opened for the Lone Bellow at the Sheldon Concert Hall. His mix of Americana vibes and soulful vocals was an immediate hit (and a cover of “Bring It on Home to Me” didn’t hurt), and since then East has served as a bridge between fans
OUT EVERY NIGHT Continued from pg 40 St. Louis, 314-833-3929.
THE BAKER FAMILY: 7 p.m., $15-$20. The Focal Point, 2720 Sutton Blvd, St. Louis, 314-560-2778. BRIAN OWENS DUO: 4 p.m., free. Second Presbyterian Church, 4501 Westminster Place, St. Louis, 314-367-0366. BRYCE VINE: 8 p.m., $20-$25. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Ave, St. Louis, 314-833-3929. THE CURTIS J SOCIAL: w/ Mt Thelonious, LS XPRSS 8 p.m., $10. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. FOAMFEST: w/ Drew Gowran, Sunset Over Houma, Jesus Christ Supercar, Morning Mtn., Dendrons, Fluorescent, Unmanned Ship, Teacup Dragun, Frankie Valet, Sigmund Frauds, Yuppy, Ronnie Rogers, Golden Curls, Kaleb Kirby 1 p.m., $10. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. JOHN PRY: 3 p.m., free. Rhone Rum Bar, 2107 Chouteau Ave, St. Louis, 314-241-7867. LALAH HATHAWAY: w/ Raheem DeVaughn, Lyfe Jennings 7 p.m., $59-$99. Stifel Theatre, 1400 Market St, St. Louis, 314-499-7600. THE LOVE LANGUAGE: 8 p.m., $12-$14. Blueberry Hill - The Duck Room, 6504 Delmar Blvd., University City, 314-727-4444. SILENT BUT SEXY: A SILENT DISCO: 8 p.m., free. The Bootleg, 4140 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314-775-0775. ST. LOUIS CHAMBER CHORUS: 3 p.m., $10-$30. Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church, 9450 Clayton Road, Ladue, 314-993-4771. WIZ KHALIFA, CURREN$Y: 8 p.m., $35-$40. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161.
of Jason Isbell and Leon Bridges. Last year’s Encore lets his supple, just-weathered vocals sit against dusty grooves and the routinely ace production choices of Nashville’s Dave Cobb, as well as some co-writes with Chris Stapleton and Ed Sheeran. But no matter the setting, East’s voice retains its magnetic, mutable presence. Super E.G.O.: British roots singer Lucie Silvas will open the show, playing cuts from last year’s E.G.O. —Christian Schaeffer
BEST BAR FOOD
MOTOWN ON MONDAYS: w/ DJ Mahf, VThom, DJ Uptown, Hal Greens, James Biko 8 p.m., free. The Bootleg, 4140 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314-775-0775. NEEDTOBREATHE: w/ Matt Maeson 7 p.m., $26.50-$76.50. Stifel Theatre, 1400 Market St, St. Louis, 314-499-7600. NOVENA: w/ PeaceLords 9:30 p.m., $5. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. PUSSY FOOT: w/ the Funs, Glued 8 p.m., free. Off Broadway, 3509 Lemp Ave., St. Louis, 314-498-6989. TRAVIS SCOTT: 7:30 p.m., $26.95-$96.95. Enterprise Center, 1401 Clark Ave., St. Louis, 314-241-1888.
BEST HAPPY HOUR
ANDERSON EAST: w/ Lucie Silvas 8 p.m., $20$23. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. KIM MASSIE: 7 p.m., free. The Bootleg, 4140 Manchester Ave., St. Louis, 314-775-0775. MOUTON: w/ Brother Lee and the Leather Jackals, Pono AM, Boreal Hills 9 p.m., $7. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100.
FACE TO FACE – ACOUSTIC: 8 p.m., $25. Fubar, 3108 Locust St, St. Louis, 314-289-9050. JAZZ BAND CONCERT: 8 p.m., free. The 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity Ave., University City, 314-421-3600. THE LACS: 8 p.m., $20-$25. Delmar Hall, 6133 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. ME LIKE BEES: w/ TREY 8 p.m., $7. Foam, 3359 Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, 314-772-2100. WATSKY: 8 p.m., $20-$85. The Ready Room, 4195 Manchester Ave, St. Louis, 314-833-3929. ZHU: 8 p.m., $30-$35. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, 314-726-6161. n
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SAVAGE LOVE THE DOLL BY DAN SAVAGE Hey, Dan: I am a 56-year-old heterosexual man, and I have lived with ALS for the past six years. I am either in a wheelchair or in a hospital bed, and I have very little motor ability in my limbs. Like most or all male ALS patients, I still have full sensory ability, including a fully functioning penis. Are there safe websites or groups I can connect with that deal with helping paralytics like me find people who are interested in hooking up? I’m talking about people who have a fetish for paralytics. I know that some people have a thing for amputees; I imagine there’s a fetish for any number of diseases or afflictions. When I was healthy, I was into light bondage. That seems like a redundancy now, but I can still get into dress-up and role-play. I would be cool if someone was into the whole bathing, grooming, dressing thing, and whatever babydoll fantasy they might have. Hell, I’d be happy if someone just wanted to give me a pity fuck! Realistic About Getting Dominated Or Lustfully Laid “I struggled to find any specific online groups with respect to ALS and sexuality,” said Andrew Gurza, a disability awareness consultant and the host of Disability After Dark, a terrific podcast that explores and celebrates the sexual agency and desirability of people with disabilities. “But what RAGDOLL is looking for might not be directly related to his specific disability. It sounds like he is looking to engage with a community of people called ‘devotees.’ These individuals are attracted to people primarily because of their disabilities, and that might be what he is looking for. I know a couple who used a devotee website to find each other, who dated and eventually married.” If you’re open to playing with a devotee, RAGDOLL, Gurza suggests checking out Paradevo (paradevo.net), a website for “female devotees and gay male devotees” of disabled men. “Many disabled people have also set up profiles on sites like FetLife
to explore not only their fetishistic sides, but also how their disabled identities can complement and play a role in that,” said Gurza. Now, many people, disabled and otherwise, look down on devotees, who are often accused of fetishizing disability and objectifying disabled people. But people who are exclusively attracted to the ablebodied and/or the conventionally attractive are rarely accused of fetishizing the able and ambulatory or objectifying the facially symmetrical. Which is why it has always seemed to me — and Gurza agrees with me on this point — that if being with someone who is turned on by your whatever-the-fuck is good enough for the able-bodied, it’s good enough for people with disabilities. Provided of course that, able or disabled, we’re appreciated for everything we bring to the table or the chair or the bed. Ryan Honick, a disability advocate and public speaker, doesn’t think you should limit your search to websites aimed exclusively at the disability community. “It’s estimated that one in five people have a disability,” said Honick. “And when I think about how challenging dating can be anyway — disability notwithstanding — my immediate thought is that RAGDOLL shouldn’t exclude 80 percent of the population from his search. So I would encourage him to use some of the mainstream apps — like Tinder, OkCupid, Bumble, or Match — and put what he’s after front and center.” Honick would caution other disabled people that putting your disability front and center — even on mainstream dating apps — is likely to attract the attention of devotees. “RAGDOLL doesn’t seem like he would mind being with a devotee,” said Honick. “But those of us who do mind need to be a little more discerning. I’ve inadvertently attracted a fair number of people with a devotee fetish, and it honestly squicked me out.” Zooming out for a second: Safety is always a concern when inviting a stranger over for sex, RAGDOLL, even for the non-disabled. In addition to attracting the attention of a few good and decent people, devotees or not, your relative helplessness could attract the attention of a predator. So before inviting anyone over, get their
If Jeff Bezos refuses to be shamed by his dick pics, you don’t have to be ashamed to show your face on a dating or hookup app. real name and their real phone number. Then share that information with a trusted friend — someone who can check in with you before and after a date — and let your potential new fuck buddy know you’re sharing their info with a trusted friend. Second to last word goes to Honick: “Another option, if it’s available to RAGDOLL and he’s open to it, would be hiring a sex worker.” And the last word goes to Gurza: “RAGDOLL shouldn’t resign himself to the idea that he’s a ‘pity fuck.’ His desires as a disabled man have full value and worth. And I want him to know, as a fellow disabled man, that he can have a fulfilling sex life and that someone out there does find him attractive.” Follow Andrew Gurza on Twitter @AndrewGurza, and follow Ryan Honick on Twitter @RyanLHonick. Hey, Dan: I’m interested in mummification — being covered in layers of plastic wrap and duct tape — but I am not interested in sexual activity. I created an account on what I have been told is the most popular hookup app for kinky gay men. I am not interested in sex with any gender. How can I determine if someone who agrees to mummify me can be trusted not to initiate sexual activity? Wannabe Rare Aspie Perv I assume the app you’re using is Recon, WRAP, as it’s the most popular hookup app for kinky gay and bi men. There are “FRIENDS” listings in the lower right-hand corner of each profile. Contact the friends of anyone you’re interested in playing with and ask for a reference. Is this guy skilled, can he be trusted, does he respect
limits, etc. If the answers are yes, yes, and yes, you can most likely trust him. Hey, Dan: I’m a 44-year-old woman living in the DC area. I divorced my husband last year, and I haven’t had sex in seven years. Despite my premenopausal age and daily antidepressant, I’m horny as fuck. How do you recommend I find someone to do me? I am a BBW and ready to get fucked. But I also want to protect my privacy and I’m reluctant to post pics online. I’m aware I am a fetish for some, and I’ve been something of a “crazy-person magnet” in the past, and that’s a concern. I’m not looking for love. I just want to get done without meeting a psycho. Like A Virgin Again You can’t find someone if you aren’t willing to put yourself out there, LAVA, which these days means putting some pics up on dating apps. There are lots of dating and/ or hookup apps and websites for bigger folks, some more fetishizing than others. (I did a little digging, and WooPlus.com seems to be legit and not overrun with feeders.) And who cares if someone spots your photo on a dating site? If Jeff Bezos refuses to be shamed by his dick pics — or blackmailed with them — you don’t have to be ashamed to show your face on a dating or hookup app. As for avoiding “psychos,” LAVA, there are shitty, toxic people everywhere. Learn to recognize the signs and take those red flags seriously. If you have a terrible track record — if you’ve found yourself with (or married to) a lot of shitty/ toxic people — then you need to make sure you’re not the problem. Because if everyone you’ve ever dated was shitty or toxic, LAVA, there’s a better than even chance you were the shitty or toxic common denominator in a lot of failed relationships. Do the work — risk being introspective and self-critical — and if you’re not the problem and you are incapable of spotting red flags, confide in a friend whose judgment you trust when you’re screening potential FWBs. Listen to Dan’s podcast at savagelovecast.com. email@example.com @fakedansavage on Twitter ITMFA.org
FEBRUARY 13 - 19, 2019
Health & Wellness
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Now celebrating its sixth month anniversary, Four Strings in Soulard continues to expand its alcohol offerings, with local craft beers from 4 Hands and Schlaﬂy on tap and specialty cocktails, but maintains the cheapest happy hour in Soulard with $2 domestic beers and $2 wells, with prices good from 3:30 to 7 pm. In addition to its already excellent weekend brunch, Four Strings now offers food at happy hour and dinner, with the kitchen open until 9 pm on weekdays and 12:30 am on Friday and Saturday nights. The menu offers clever twists on classic bar food,
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