Friday, August 21, 2009

Mick Jagger on the suburban tittle tattle lifestyle

I am a huge Rolling Stones fan. They're quite possibly my favorite rock band of all time (remember the Beatles rarely toured and cannot be measured or compared as a live act in their heyday). The Stones earliest goal was to turn the white kids and masses on to American blues music. They advanced the careers and legacies of nearly every American bluesmen that they touted and trumpeted and aped. They met their mentors and heroes along the way and ended up befriending many of them, not simply borrowing from them. They were respectful of America's impact on music in the 1960's. However, these guys were radical too. They incited riots almost everywhere they played, from London to Scotland to U.S. to Paris to Australia. Venues were completely sacked. Due to insane crowd fervor, shows were cancelled minutes after the curtain rose and the opening riff was banged out by Keith Richards. Violent pandemonium. Kids went nuts, lost their minds.

I am once again reading Old Gods Almost Dead by Stephen Davis (thanks to my man G. Brown for the 1st edition printing of this book). I'm on my 3rd reading. This book quotes writer Tom Wolfe who sums up the relationship between the Beatles and Stones: "the Beatles want to hold your hand, but the Stones want to burn your town." It was true. The Beatles were pretty boys that you wanted to take home to meet Mom. They made girls squeal and moan and yell. The Stones were Neanderthals that incited women to violence and primal screams. The Stones got arrested, harassed, hung out & felt most comfortable in So. Chicago upon their first visit to America and general had a f-you modus operandi.

I want to live long enough to see a rock band come along that is sexy, bad ass and original enough to incite riots. Nirvana changed the way the record industry worked, and they helped change the image of American popular music and fashion, and they opened doors for MANY of their peers and other great acts of the time. But, never did they incite riots and violence everywhere they played. Was "slam dancing", later "crowd surfing", later "moshing" considered riotous? Not in my book. Not even close. That upheaval was a largely male-only endeavor, and toward the end of the 90s it evolved away from a music related passion toward a meat headed frat boy excuse to be an asshole in public (see Limp Bizkit).

Anyway, the Rolling Stones were rebels. They rebelled against their past and the status quo of the early 1960s in Europe. Yet, the Stones largely came from the suburbs in England. However, part of their appeal to me was their rebellion against suburban values and tenets. Growing up in Belleville, I had a penchant to rebel against the boring and racist and mundane values of the 1980's suburbs later in my high school/college days. I'm still doing it today in the 12th ward.

From the book:

Stephen Davis: "The Stones, if they were really rebelling against anything, were protesting suburban values and outmoded bourgeois social rituals....Mick (Jagger) would soon begin attacking the underbelly of suburbia's hypocrisy in his songs."

Mick Jagger: "My great thing against suburban life was that is was, first of all petty," he later told an interviewer, "and secondly, boring, based on consumer values, at best unambitious, and full of tittle-tattle and jealousies and things like that. I was trying to look for a music that wasn't a reflection of that society."

Damn, that's pretty harsh. But I like it. Having grown up in a small town, and having no one close to me that grew up in an urban setting, I have no point of reference to gauge whether an urban experience is indeed such a stark contrast to the suburban lifestyle that Jagger references. Is an urban existance somehow socially better than a suburban one? I kind of think so. The chances of me meeting someone I will get along with politically, musically, socially, etc. is probably higher in St. Louis than it would be in Ellisville or Valley Park or Arnold or St. Charles. Will my kids grow up and think city life sucks and want to run for the country/burbs? Is it cyclical rebellion against your parents and their choices? Or, will they strive for an even more vibrant, accepting, diverse, progressive city? Can't wait to see how it pans out.

By my definition of "cool" the Stones were cool. Cities are cool. Mountains are cool. Deep woods are cool. Rivers are cool. Nature is cool. Small towns are cool. Yet, most of St. Louis' suburbs are decidedly uncool, lacking any kind of identity. I'll take a big dense city, or a big dense stand of trees vs. a sprawling, benign, placeless, generic American suburb.

I agree with Mick, it's good to rebel against the burbs.

Schnucks Culinaria

My wife and I joke that we'd like to live in every neighborhood in the City before we die. We've got Dutchtown, Soulard, Kingshighway Hills, Holly Hills and Boulevard Heights in the bag, now just 74 more to go!

Honestly speaking though, some if not many of the 79 neighborhoods are entirely unacceptable or uninhabitable for a typical middle class person.

DT used to be that way in the 1980's. One of our greatest sources of STL pride has been the transformation that DT St. Louis has undergone in the last 10 or 15 years. When searching for a place to call home, we would have liked to consider DT; but one major thing was holding us back: no grocery store. No pharmacy, no grocery. In fact, hardly anything open past close of business.

But take a look now, things are changing and fast. The Schnucks Culinaria is the latest addition, maybe greatest addition to DT since the tax credits and rehabbers came! I absolutely love this place. It's the coolest Schnucks in the region hands down. Strong words, indeed. But true for the following reasons:

  1. No massive surface parking!!!!!!!!!
  2. Access is a breeze by car. The parking lot is a snap to get in and out of. You can "stock up" here with great ease.
  3. The location is central to what I consider DT.
  4. The hours! The hours! The hours! I live in Boulevard Heights, but want to shop here at 9:00 pm just to prove that this is what DT needs more than anything: life after 6:00 pm.
  5. Having nearly everything the average household needs (not just the high-falootin' loft household) on ~1/3 the footprint!
  6. Kaldi's coffee station.
  7. Killer wine/booze section
  8. Great selection of prepared fresh foods that I could see purchasing and sitting on the sidewalk to enjoy.
  9. Lot's of store brand and realistic products/pricing.
  10. Great produce section, at least better than the Loughborough Commons, Gravois/Germania and Hill Schnucks that we shop at.
  11. Great layout/floor plan

So, well done Schnucks! Never thought I'd say that. Never ever, thought I'd see Schnucks do something that I consider to be urban. Well done, indeed! If you haven't checked this place out yet, please do for no other reason than to see how a large grocery store can be made to fit in with it's city environment and not need fields of surface parking. I hope this store is among their most profitable and they consider a grocery like this in Tower Grove or Benton Park or any other burgeoning neighborhood in the city.

Comments on this blog

I don't edit comments on this blog. They are published immediately, untouched. I like the comments, they help me feel like I'm part of a growing insurgence of people who want to read about the City of St. Louis....people who choose St. Louis as the place to live, work and play. A group that wants to elevate the city to new heights not seen since the post war days. A group that wants to be proud to call the city home, or part of a region that no longer looks down on itself and feels inferior. This is great city, you just need to brag about it's assets, experience it and perpetuate it. You need to speak out against the things that make St. Louis less of a destination place and more generic.

Anyhow, I like the comments functionality on And of course, I like writing for an audience. I guess it's an ego thing. For whatever reason, it's easier to think of an audience (no matter how small) as I try to formulate thoughts and present personal opinions or ideas related to St. Louis to an anonymous group of people. It somehow motivates me to keep writing; which is my ultimate goal of blogging. Keep...on...writing. For me, it's an escape from the mundane.

I've gotten some thought provoking comments on here as of late. So, in an attempt to spur more comments and/or interaction, I vow today to thoughtfully respond to each and every comment posted to the blog. I average about 2 comments per post, so this shouldm't be just too overwhelming a task.

So now's your chance to goad me into an argument, call me an ass or simply create a dialog. Alloisious Babblingon III, where you been?

Thanks for reading.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Carondelet Rec Plex Update

Today I picked up a flyer at the Carondelet YMCA regarding the new recreation complex planned to open this fall. Some interesting highlights:

  • The rec plex will be operated by YMCA.
  • Operating hours: Mon-Thu 5 am to 10 pm, Fri 5 am to 9 pm, Sat 7 am to 5 pm, Sun 8 am to 6 pm
  • 76,000 square foot green facility
  • 2 court gym with elevated track, fitness center, aerobics studio, senior and teen rooms, 3 multipurpose rooms, wet room for parties and cycling, classroom, 2 child watch areas, catering kitchen, family locker room
  • memberships are available for city residents and non-residents; plus the membership allows you to use the Sublette YMCA at your convenience.
  • Non-residents have a one time joining fee of $20/student, $40/adult, $80/household
  • Monthly facility fees for city residents are $34.50/student, $46/adult, $69/household; non-residents is a little higher.
  • For members, the annual pool fee is paid once per summer in addition to the monthly fee. Facility members $50/single city resident or non-resident, $125/household city or non-resident; non-facility members can pay $205/single city resident, $225/ single non-city resident, $380 household city resident, $410 household non-city resident
  • You can also get a Metro membership allowing you to access any YMCA in the greater STL area
  • Indoor pool features coed steam rooms & sauna, whirlpool, preschool play structure, zero depth entry, lazy river, 2 story water slide, vortex (circular water current), lap and rec areas
  • Outdoor pool features all indoor amenities plus diving board, preschool pool, splash park and concession area
  • The outdoor pool will open summer of 2010
Sounds pretty swanky.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Bicycle Works

My wife recently fell into her perfect 1960's era bicycle: this Schwinn Traveler automatic 2 speed cruiser.
This boss ride was to replace her 1990's era Taiwanese mountain bike. But what to do with the old bike that just got bumped by the Schwinn Traveler? I didn't want to list it on craigslist because it needed a lot of work. I didn't want to trash it either. What to do?

Well, this city never ceases to impress me with new discoveries. My latest discovery is Bicycle Works at 4102 Shenandoah in the Shaw neighborhood. I got wind of this place from a kind poster on this blog that this place offers tools, expert advice and stands to repair your bike. Bicycle Works also accepts bike donations, from their website:

BicycleWORKS is currently accepting bikes of any style in any condition to support our various programs.

* Kids’ Earn-A-Bike Program
* Bicycles to Developing Nations Project
* Shop Support

Donations can be dropped off at 4102 Shenandoah. Donations are accepted between 10 AM and 1 PM on Saturdays and 7-10 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

You may also drop off your donation at the Alpine Shop in Kirkwood

All donations are tax deductible! And what a great cause. My favorite is the kids earn-a-bike program:

A Shaw Neighborhood resident founded St. Louis BicycleWORKS in 1988 to give area “at-risk” youths a place to develop skills, interact with peers and caring adults, and safely challenge the limits of their abilities. BicycleWORKS’ primary focus is the Earn-A-Bike Program for kids. Children are taught the basics about bicycle safety and maintenance as a means to build community awareness and personal responsibility. This is a free program where kids attend a series of hands-on courses held on Saturday mornings. Youths who complete the course graduate with knowledge about bicycles, skills to work as an individual as well as cohesively with a group, and a better understanding of personal safety. Graduating youths earn their own bike, helmet, light, and lock, and participate in a group safety ride with adults and peers. BicycleWORKS is the first St. Louis program to utilize bicycles as an educational tool to teach responsibility and good work habits. About 50 kids graduate from the class every year. To date, over 10,000 bikes have been provided to inner city kids through this program.

Positive Outcomes:

This experience contributes to the child’s development of self esteem, self motivation, and self discipline. An emphasis is also placed on social skills such as the ability to work as part of a group, and understanding the concept of “giving back” to the community. These youths are more confident, possess a greater sense of respect and respectability, and have a stronger desire to serve and improve their community.

Signing Up:

To enroll a child, please complete our enrollment form (a copy may also be picked up at the shop) and either mail it to the address below or drop it off at the shop (feel free to use the mail slot if we are not open). If you have questions about the program or would like to volunteer, please contact us at

Again, what a great place. What a great city. Cheers to Bicycle Works!