Talk of the Towns

Talk of the Town: 2.9.22

midtown | One of the most impressive things I saw while headed west on Highway 40 from Illinois for the first time was the Gateway Arch, of course. The second was the Budweiser eagle, flapping its glorious neon wings. What a statement for a proud city’s flagship product. It made quite an impression on me then, as I’m sure it has on millions of drivers, whether they’re native St. Louisans or just passing through. But it’s been in disrepair for some time now and as you can see in the photo from Reddit, someone needs to climb up there and replace some bulbs. Maybe that size or wattage hasn’t been in stock at Menards. Reportedly, the brewery said it will be fixed. No timetable. C’mon, you Belgian boys and girls at InBev, parent company of Anheuser-Busch: Get crackin’ so we can get back to flappin’—we expect our famous birds in these parts to soar.

When I started working part-time for Bob Wilds at one of the two Brooks Brothers outlet stores he managed in Chesterfield Valley, little did I know the Premium Outlets store would become the company’s last stand in the StL. Wilds sure wasn’t expecting it, either. He and I both started with Brooks at Lenox Square in Atlanta, me as a part-time suit salesman in 1980, he as a manager in 1996. Wilds transferred here in the early 2010s to manage both outlets, and when I came back in 2013, full-service stores at the Galleria and in West County Center were still up and running with in-house tailoring and wooden hangers for suits and sportcoats. That was the first thing that struck me as odd in the 21st century about a company in continuous operation since 1818 that had dressed presidents—Abe Lincoln wore a Brooks topcoat the night he was assassinated at Ford’s Theater— the hangers are plastic, and if the pants are too long, the sleeves too short or the waistband too tight, you’ll have to find a tailor yourself. The vibe was different when Margy Irwin, my happily remarried first wife, started as a sales associate at Brooks Brothers downtown in the Equitable Building in the late 1980s. A classy space it was, and is—Tony’s moved in. Margy moved with the store to the Galleria in the early 1990s, opened a separate women’s store there after a few years, then opened the store at West County Center. Brooks eventually ran low on cash and filed for bankruptcy. Before that (and not necessarily in chronological order) the two outlet stores opened, the Galleria store closed, one outlet closed, and the West County store closed, then reopened at Plaza Frontenac for a spell. Let’s face it: Professional men and women just don’t wear suits anymore, but according to a 2020 New York Magazine article, Brooks was hurting well before the pandemic. Without Brooks Brothers’ permission, of course, fashion had evolved from casual Friday into casual all week long.

In a case of here we go again, Wentzville’s school board voted 4-3 to disregard a committee recommendation to keep The Bluest Eye by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison on school library shelves in the district. The board banned the book, and one member called it obscene, quite the prelude to Black History Month. There’s a rape in the novel, of a Black girl by her father, which aggrieved parents have characterized as ‘pornography.’ Um, no, it’s not. The heinous crime is reported with mind-numbing frequency in the news media today and has been described on the printed page since time immemorial. It’s in the Bible. So, do we ban the ‘Good Book,’ too, because of some of its more unsavory passages? “Don’t cherry pick a book,” says Julius B. Anthony, president of St. Louis Black Authors of Children’s Literature, a nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all kids are competent, confident readers by the end of grade three. “Most of these stories have a moral value.” Librarians—but most importantly, individual parents—must decide what’s appropriate for children of a certain age. “We have been here before in history,” Anthony says. “These things play themselves out.” Then they come back around. Since its publication in 1947, any number of parents everywhere have wanted Anne Frank’s memoir (The Diary of a Young Girl) banned, not because of the Nazis’ inhumane treatment of Jews, Romani et al., but a passage where Anne is curious about her developing body. Just how is this inappropriate for boys and girls reaching puberty? She was 15 when she was murdered in a concentration camp. But many of the people who complain about the diary or works like Maus downplay the Holocaust? Same with Jim Crow, the horror of lynchings, man’s inhumanity to man through generations of slavery. “It’s the elephant in the room,” says Anthony. “Every person has the right to see themselves in a work.” We all need exposure to the experiences of people like ourselves. People who look different likely live somewhere near us, too.

notable neighbors
The 7th Annual Cycle Showcase STL is a two-day event celebrating the art and history of motorcycling from all over the world with rare and custom bikes. The family-friendly event takes place Saturday, Feb. 12, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 13, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the City Foundry located at 3730 Foundry Way in St. Louis. The cost to attend the showcase is $10 for adults while children ages 15 and under are free. Tickets are sold at the door. The goal of the event is to change the mainstream perception of cycle enthusiasts while weaving together the various cycle subcultures. Everyone from racers and long-distance touring riders to historical restoration buffs and hand-built motorcycle designers will be represented. “Racers, riders, restorers, historians, artists, craftsmen—everyone is represented, and all are welcome at Cycle Showcase STL,” says event founder Randall Noldge. The Cycle Showcase event will feature more than 50 historically significant, hand-crafted works of two-wheeled art. Museums and private collections from across the country (and Canada) will come together to display a wide range of motorcycles, with an emphasis on the beauty in both design and engineering. The showcase also is home to a variety of motorcycle related artwork exhibited right alongside beautiful bikes in an art gallery atmosphere. Cycle Showcase is excited for the opportunity to show the motorcycle community from artists’ perspectives. Up and coming local artists, crafters and vendors are scheduled to appear and be sure to have your pucker ready for the pups! The Smooches for Pooches Doggie Kissing Booth will be set up to raise money for Dirk’s Fund, a nonprofit, large breed dog rescue facility located in Pacific, Missouri. To learn more about Cycle Showcase STL, visit or follow them on Facebook and Instagram @CSSTL or on Twitter @csstl15.


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