Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Vandeventer Place Gates

St. Louis has had many grand private streets where the homes of the rich were or are located. Some, in neighborhoods that became undesirable (mostly closer to the Mississippi) are gone. Many from the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, mostly west of Kingshighway, survive. One of the most opulent was Vandeventer Place. (Some history here.) Now the area is, well, not so great. The mansions were razed and the development destroyed.

All of these private streets had elaborate entrance gates. For some odd reason, the entrance to Vandeventer Place was preserved and plopped down in an open area of Forest Park in 1950. It's near the Jewel Box and the Korean War Memorial seen a couple of days ago. Now it is an entrance to nowhere.                

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Wire Paladin, San Francisco?  You date yourself if you get the reference.

Seen while stopped at the traffic light at Market and Broadway. You could have a look at the web site. I particularly recommend Prayer War Room under the Care tab.

If the driver is looking at the blizzard of signs on the right, the van may not get anywhere. Information overload.       

Monday, August 14, 2017


Walking around downtown late yesterday afternoon after the baseball game let out. (The Cardinals are doing better lately.) Found this on the eastern side of Gio's Restaurant on 7th Street. I don't know if baseball is more a passion or an obsession in this town.       

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Today's Bit Of Irony

There is a seldom-visited and almost hidden Korean War memorial in a corner of Forest Park. I confess I'd never seen it until yesterday. (For locals, it's just east of the Jewel Box.) Given recent days' headlines, it was a bit of a jolt. 

The monument refers to a particular battle in the far north, using a horrific pun. I think it's disrespectful. Plus more grammar errors: "lifes" and "minus 40 below zero." And recall that, at first, communism's intentions were honorable. If you know anything about the conditions of industrial workers in the first half of the 19th century, you can see why it came about, or perhaps was necessary. However, its implementation was brutal and stupid. As Winston Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government ever invented except for all the others.

I've been on a break. It's likely that readers have had enough of my grandchildren and I had no new material. Things will get very busy soon, with the St. Louis Fringe Festival starting next Saturday and Madeleine's fourth birthday on the following Sunday. Oh, and then there is the total solar eclipse. We'll be right under the center of totality.       

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


Our hotel room in Clare had a hot tub. Read the first and third lines of the directions carefully.

I'm no expert on education but literacy in this country gets worse and worse. Mrs. C and I are deputies of the Language Police and this sort of thing make us crazy. The worst and most common problem is using an apostrophe to form a plural, like "two apple's for a dollar."  You see it everywhere and it's not just the US. It is as common in the UK and Canada.     

Monday, August 7, 2017

You Say It's Your Birthday

Ellie turns four on August 20. Audrey turns two on August 30. We had an early joint party for both of them. The cake was simple but the girls didn't care. Nothing better than kids and birthday cake.  

Home tonight. Our flight out of Lansing, Michigan, isn't until mid afternoon. We hear that there is a small but pleasant zoo in the state's capital city. More little person entertainment.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Water Sports

It was a bit of a surprise but Ellie turned out to be the more contemplative of the girls this weekend, while her younger cousin Audrey was the crazy-happy kid. After a dip in our hotel pool this morning and nap time, we went to Sanford Lake Park near Midland, MI. Son Andy, Audrey's father, brought along his paddle board. The stunt below was deliberate, not accidental.           

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Read This

Found in the Discovery Museum in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. (Find the mountain. Just go and try. Report back.) It's the big town in the region, 16 miles from Clare, 26,000 people plus a peak of 20,000 students at Central Michigan University. This is a book that should be in every home. 

The museum is an educational playground for younger children. We were impressed. Ellie and Audrey were delighted.  Son Andy's feet do stick out.    

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Grandkids

Greetings once again from Clare, Michigan, where my son and his family live. The sign on the highway coming into town says "Clare - Gateway To The North." Since this is Michigan, that's serious business.

We brought daughter Emily and granddaughter Madeleine (Ellie to us) on this trip. Our other granddaughter, Audrey, will be two this month, and Ellie will be four. Son Andy's house just has a walk-in shower so Audrey takes a bath in a washtub. There was just room for Ellie to squeeze in.

Below, Ellie gets a little bit bossy while trying to get Audrey to play hide and seek in the back yard.    

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Rat Race

Some filler until we get to central Michigan late this afternoon. We took Madeleine to the zoo last Saturday. The St. Louis Zoo might be the best in the country, although San Diego has its fans.

So what did we find? A dinky show in the children's area featuring a mouse walking along a meter of rope, through a little box with an inexplicable dollar sign. A depressed macaw (pardon the anthropomorphization). A loitering sea lion. And Ellie herself, emerging from a fake hollow log, clutching her old, tattered lambie. (Thanks again, Auntie Virginia!)        

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

If You Don't Like The Act, The Bar Is Open

I've got more pix from Act Your Pants Off but they are mostly of individual performers on stage. I'll edit them for the STL Fringe's use but they are probably of more interest to them than you. 

The venue was interesting, though, It's called Off-Broadway, on the city's far south side. Appropriate enough since it is just off that street that runs almost the entire length of the city proper from north to south. My office is on Broadway downtown. If any given act was not to your liking the bar was open, well-stocked and ready to serve you.

Need to scramble for material for the next couple of days. We leave on Thursday for a long weekend in central Michigan to see our son and his family. Once we get to Clare I can always post pictures of Cops & Doughnuts or my other granddaughter, Audrey.       

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

City Daily Photo August Theme Day: Young At Heart

I didn't have anything prepared for theme day so I had to hunt through the archives. Found this of my granddaughter, Madeleine, blowing through a kazoo as hard as she could. But backwards.  There are days I'd like to let down my adult guard and do something like this, let the child back out and make rude noises at the world. Most of us probably have those days.     

Monday, July 31, 2017

Zombies Stalk The Stage

More clowning around at AYPO. A show at the upcoming main festival Is called Please Remain Calm (featuring Joe Groebinghoff, above), one of two zombie shows at the festival. (The other is Democrats vs Zombies vs Republicans. How will we tell the difference between the second and third? I mean, just look at Mitch McConnell.)

Love Keaton Treece's shirt in the second picture and Lex Ronan's attitude in the third. And don't miss Alex Carnes' hunkiness at the end. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Indomitable Donna Weinstein

Another personality from Act Your Pants off. The judges declared Donna Weinstein the overall winner. Decades of experience have given her a powerful stage presence. She acts like she owns the place and I think she did. Age has its privileges and the only clothing she removed was a strand or two of those big beads.       

Saturday, July 29, 2017

They Just Keep Doing it

Taking off articles of clothing, that is, and making people laugh at it. There are all kinds of ways to play that combination. It's the premise of Act Your Pants Off.

By the way, the 2017 Fringe main festival season is just around the corner! Be there or be square. Find info on some of the top shows here (the photo on the upper left for the Snow White show is mine) and complete schedule details with ticket ordering here.        

Friday, July 28, 2017

Why They Call It That

The Act Your Pants Off show has a couple of premises. There are a certain number of professional actors and comedians, seven this time around, and two rounds of performance. If I got it straight, in the first half each actor is given a (usually silly) monologue to perform. In the second round they choose their own, which can be serious material. However, co-MC Desere' Declyne calls out directions from the balcony, ostensibly to test a range of acting skills, telling the actors to do, say, a Home Shopping Network pitch as Mickey Mouse or Euripides as a revival preacher. 

The audience buys "Fringe Bucks" for a dollar each and "tips" their preferred performers. This is totaled. In the second round the audience is encouraged to throw real cash at the actors, which they get to keep. When mistakes are made in the second round, the performers are in theory required to remove articles of clothing, hence Act Your Pants Off. Some bogus scoring occurs and an overall winner is declared. I might not have all the details correct but that's the general idea.

Above, Fringe executive director Matt Kerns feigns surprise over all this. Some performers really do have something to show off, like Alex Carnes, and Lola van Ella shows the right way to take off a glove.   

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Act Your Pants Off 2017

Tuesday night brought us the annual fund raiser and warm-up for the St. Louis Fringe's festival season, Act Your Pants Off. It has been featured in these pages before. The festival runs from August 17 to 26 and if you are in the STL area and you don't go you are Not A Friend Of This Blog.

The top photo features the Fringe's executive director, Matthew Kerns, and our mistresses of ceremonies, The Lou's favorite ecdysiast, Lola van Ella, and our premier drag queen, Desire' Declyne. Below, Lola belts out a very hot version of Love For Sale. (Reminds me a bit of Evita Peron singing Don't Cry For Me Argentina. The pose, not the song.) She wasn't wearing this much later in the evening. It was a great time. Plenty more to come.      

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Send This To Washington

A copy of Rodin's The Thinker in front of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. It has become a cliche and isn't my favorite Rodin anyway (give me The Burghers of Calais any day)  but it makes a point. I usually avoid all but mild references to politics in this blog but that narcissistic wanna-be dictator in the White House and his spineless sycophants in Congress enrage me. Would that there were more, shall we say, rational and independent thinkers in our nation's capital. Not holding my breath.        

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Law Of The Jungle

The displays of wild animals at Cabela's had a gruesome twist: simple, violent and completely natural predation, one species taking down another to devour. Still, it was a bit in-your-face for this kind of venue. How do children react to this? It's a lot more intense than Bambi's mother being shot.

Monday, July 24, 2017


After the visit to the Farmstead and a bit of lunch, the family decided to visit Cabela's in Kansas City, Kansas. It's a chain of huge outdoor equipment shops - fishing, camping, hunting, guns for all occasions. I was out of my element. Where I grew up, you wouldn't dare eat anything you caught in the local waterways. Where I grew up, only the cops and really bad guys had guns. City kid that I am, I never imagined that I would visit one of these. (As Gene Wilder said to Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles, the funniest movie of all time, what's a dazzling urbanite like you doing in a rustic setting like this?)

The place is mind-boggling. Not just the store itself but the amazing dioramas, for want of a better word, of wildlife from Africa to the Arctic. You know, things you can shoot. They reminded me of but far surpassed displays like this in the Museum of Natural History in NYC when I was a boy. You can take a virtual tour by clicking the link above.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A Kansas Farm Birthday

My wife's youngest sister, Mary Lee, has cerebral palsy and is severely handicapped. She has not had an easy life. Still, her brothers and sisters watch out for her. She is precious and much loved. She turns 60 this month and it was time to do something special for her.

She lives in a group home in a small Kansas town, quite some distance west of KC. The family brought her to town this weekend for a celebration. The suburban town of Overland Park, Kansas, has a remarkable facility, the Deanna Rose Childrens' Farmstead. It distills the essence of Kansas' farming tradition for kids who now live with air conditioning, cars and video screens. Good venue for the occasion. Above, my wife, Carolyn, is in  turquoise. Clockwise from her, Dorothy Holst, Mary Lee, Mel Kruse and Ron Kruse. 

Each of the pix below has a short note after it. And, by the way, it hit 108 F / 42 C in St. Louis today, breaking a record for the date set in 1901. Time to pay more attention to Al Gore.             

Greetings, urbanites.

Your face here.

My new business.

Lay or bust? Sounds apocalyptic.

I thought that's what scotch is for.