Saturday, January 31, 2009

Show Me State No-Mow

Over the Holidays we did much driving in the great state of Illinois. We did some hiking in the strikingly gorgeous Shawnee National Forest at the Pomona Natural Bridge and Cedar Lake sites. We also did much driving to and from the Bethalto and Fairview Heights areas.

I couldn't help but notice that Illinois is doing a much better job of prairie restoration and no mow areas along I-255. If you compare it to I-55, 44 or 70 in Missouri, there is no comparison.

In these days of state budget cuts and tight spending, it seems logical that Missouri should adopt more of these no-mow areas. It saves on gas, labor, tractors/equipment and of course lowers carbon emissions. I'd rather have the state pay botanists and naturalists to reseed public land with native, low maintenance perennial plant species that do not require mowing.

In fact, why doesn't St. Louis do this? Take for example the land adjacent to River Des Peres Blvd. in South City. This ground next to the river and between the north and south lanes could be managed back to native prairie grasses and not mowed. Couldn't the city team up with the Missouri Botanical Gardens or Wash. U. plant sciences or Gateway Greening to collaborate on this? Or would that be too much leadership to ask from a Slay administration?

Things I'm thankful for today

That I have a job.

That I was able to shorten my daily commute by 18 mi. per day.

That I am able to have Metro as an option to get to work. I start riding the Metrolink next week.

That St. Louis still offers many new things to do and experience after 14 years here. Last night the Stable and the Fountain made for a nice night.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fascinated with TGS/TGE

St. Louis is indeed a city of neighborhoods. For better or worse, I truly agree. Making the change, the move to another neighborhood, is almost like moving to another city. People love their neighborhoods and blocks and streets and homes in this town. I like that. People are protective and proud. They think you're crazy to move. And that is good. There is a strong sense of place in this city.

We are looking for all our needs within a walkable distance...or at least a reasonable scooter ride.

Our little spot in Boulevard Heights or Holly Hills Addition (depending on who's talking) does not meet our needs.

Here are the things we want within walking distance:

cleaners (where did all these wool sweaters come from?)
library (shan and ben are avid readers)
coffee shop (many lattes required)
deli (is there anything better than a sandwich?)
24-hour breakfast joint (eggs at 2:00 a.m., or after church...need both)
park (gotta have somewhere to run, relax, contemplate)
3 bars (gotta be able to walk home from a good bar now and then)
5 independent restaurants (love the carry out and affordable dining)
post office

I think TGS/TGE and TGP have all these things. I think this could be the place for us.

St. Louis is:

an American city

broken and warm

stunningly abandoned

waiting for those who care

The Baptist Generals

I was perusing iTunes looking for some fresh entertainment, when I stumbled upon a band called the Baptist Generals. I trust the Sub Pop label, so I clicked on one of their records. Some guy"ptech" to be exact wrote this hilarious review of the album:

"It's like Doug Martsch from Built to Spill is coming down from a three week mescaline binge with a gun in one hand and a PBR in the other. And he wants to talk about art."

That is THE fucking funniest thing I've read in awhile. Read it a couple times. Hilarious.

I had to buy it.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Are suburbanite realtors enemies of the city?

As we are listing our home and searching for a new one, we've been in many discussions with various people about their personal experiences selling/buying a home. We've heard many perspectives, but one really sticks in my craw.

Several people moving to the region indicated that their realtor discouraged them from looking in the city. Schools and crime were the main reasons (actually they could have added that we're tops in gonorrhea and syphilis as well, but I guess they chose to omit that fact). One guy really insisted that he liked the homes in the city; but, the realtor dissuaded them.

The story pissed me off. I offered to give him & his family a personal tour.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Shameless Self Promotion

The homestead is up for sale! If you are the kind who appreciates sleek, mid-century architecture and design, you must check this beauty out:

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ch Ch Ch Ch Changes

We are on the verge of listing our current home on the market. The sign is in the yard listed as "coming soon". We will miss Boulevard Heights and Holly Hills, as we've lived among those two neighborhoods in 3 separate locations for the last 11 years.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Suburban Identity Crisis Rampant on Craigslist

It drives me insane that people cannot be honest about the city they live in. Businesses, citizens, journalists, the problem plagues them all. Many in the suburbs/exurbs don't know that they are not in St. Louis. This used to be a minor annoyance for me, but it is really driving me nuts the last couple of years, as I've been paying more attention to it.

The latest suburban identity crisis to aggravate me: craigslist. I understand that the surrounding 100 miles or so may choose to list items for sale on the St. Louis page. I get that and it's all good to call the metropolitan region "St. Louis"; after all, it is the largest city in the region. However, when I am browsing through the (sometimes) 100's of listings for a particular item, there are 2 main data points that help me decide whether or not to click. First is the presence of a picture. I always want to see the item, so if there's no pic, I don't click. Secondly, location (listed in parentheses adjacent to the title) is paramount. For instance, I bought both my scooters on craigslist, and many times, I don't want to purchase something far from home, as I have to drive it back to my St. Louis residence. Or, if I'm coming from work, I may choose to shop for items close to my work location in Creve Coeur, MO.

I've called on many ads that listed the item's location as St. Louis, then I call on the seller only to find out they are nowhere near St. Louis. When I question this on the phone, people are usually deviant at worse or dismissive at best. In short, driving to Florissant or Ballwin is a big difference than driving within St. Louis for me. Nobody likes being corrected, especially by a stranger. I get that. However, I believe in the necessity for truth in advertising, and when a business or personal seller fibs about their location, I am automatically questioning their ability to be straight and transparent with me.

What gives? You can't have it both ways. Neglecting to consider what location means to a potential buyer is remiss at best and deceptive at worst.

Monday, January 5, 2009


SoHa retail is kind of booming. The Southampton neighborhood has seen an influx of serviceable businesses along Macklind from about Bonita all the way north to January.

Here are some businesses I patronized on my Christmas break:

Big River Running Company:
To celebrate my 1 year anniversary of cigarette free living, I decided to take up running. I could never be accused of being a health nut. In fact, I've never jogged on purpose. Granted, I've run from things and people over the years, but never thought of running as something I'd like to do as a hobby. That all changed when I walked by Big River located at 5352 Devonshire. What a nice storefront and setup. I walked in to browse and spoke to a salesperson who was extremely energetic and informative about the world of running. I was invigorated by their optimism. I decided to lay down some big $ on a nice pair of running shoes. I've been enjoying my evening and early morning jogs through Carondelet Park and the River Des Peres Greenway. This is the kind of business where the sales reps believe in what they are doing and I don't mind spending money at places like that. They are open until 7:00 on weeknights too!

Nature's Aglow:
My wife is big on burning candles, so we made the turn from Big River north on Devonshire to Nature's Aglow. This is a shop that sells 100% soy candles made in DeSoto, MO. Being a student of agriculture, I am interested in creative uses for renewable crops. These candles are made from 100% soybeans, as opposed to paraffin, which is oil based. Hence, this is renewable, supports farmers as opposed to oil drillers/refiners, it is soot free, burns cooler (not hot to the touch), cleaner and longer. It is easier to clean up if you spill the wax. They even pour the soy wax and set a wick in the lids of the glass jar candles, so it is not wasted. I can get behind all that. We had the Big River bag in hand, and when the store clerk noticed at checkout, he offered us a 10% discount for shopping at the Macklind retails shops. Nice.

Manzo's Importing Company:
Then we stopped in Manzo's to check it out. They too immediately offered the 10% discount for shopping locally. We browsed through the delectable offerings from Italy, Turkey, Greece, Albania, etc. We took a chance on the homemade rosemary & garlic sausage, fontinella cheese and homemade, spreadable feta dip. The clerk was easy and enthusiastic with free samples and suggestions. We now have a new place for all our Mediterranean cooking needs. The sausage was freakin' great. Very little fat, just enough to make it sausage. We've been back and will continue to shop here.

There are other great place within the Macklind retail row. Murdoch Perk for a nice cup of joe, or breakfast anytime. Home Eco at 4611 Macklind is another great place to check out. We get all our corn oil-based composting bags here. The Mackling Ave. Deli has a nice selection of import brews and decent lunch time offerings. Onesto is quality, fresh and tasty.

So take a stroll and check some of these places out if you haven't already. This is the kind of strip that St. Louis needs more of in spades. Enjoy the Southampton neighborhood.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

I can't get behind that...

Here are the names of some bars I've never been to in my city:


Shot Heaven

I'm just saying.

2008 in review

Here are some words that were new to me, or rediscovered, in 2008. For whatever reason, they mean a lot and seem worth repeating and banging out on the keyboard to remember and enjoy again.

Thinking of the humility of trying to explain your simple thoughts and feelings:

"When I cannot sing my heart, I can only speak my mind" from "Julia" by John Lennon on White Album 1968

Then thinking of depression and someone very dear to me who is six right now; and of course undying hope for better days and experiencing youth second hand through those living it right now:

"He knew only that the child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke...Then they set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other's world entire...Slumping along. Filthy, ragged, hopeless. He'd stop and lean on the cart and the boy would go on and then stop and look back and he would raise his weeping eyes and see him standing there in the road looking back at him from some unimaginable future, glowing in that waste like a tabernacle...and when he lay down he knew that he could go no further and that this was the place where he would die...He lay watching the boy at the fire. He wanted to be able to see. Look around you, he said. There is no prophet in the earth's long chronicle who's not honored here today. Whatever form you spoke of you were right. "

from "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy 2006

Then thinking of 'A Farewell To Arms' and a nice night in October of 1997:

"Do you want to dance?
Will you wear my ring?
Will you lay with me until the final bullets sing
Over our heads.
Over our heads.
And a lover's waltz will turn until the end"

from "Lover's Waltz" by A.A. Bondy 2007