Talk of the Towns: 10.18.23

u. city | Unless you’ve got a jones for BBQ and bourbon at Salt + Smoke or a pub experience unlike any other at Blueberry Hill, a certain section of the Delmar Loop isn’t the only spot to dine out in U. City. Of course, there’s a limitless lode of Asian restaurants along Olive on the northside of town. But go west, and just past McKnight as you enter the Costco ‘neighborhood,’ and you’ll find a new chain restaurant seems to open every day. We’ll argue that the chicken fingers served at Raising Cane’s are a religious experience—both crispy and tender, I’m sure they make a darn good sandwich. The efficient, very personable ‘NRO’—new restaurant opening—crew was there from Texas for a few days to handle the grand-opening a couple weeks ago. Be still, my heart (and arteries)! Thank goodness a brand-new Panera just opened next door to Cane’s, so anyone so inclined can add greens to their diet. There’s a Chipotle out there now, and heaven knows what sort of destination eateries are in store at the hotel property or properties under development. (An observation: We’re just about Applebee’s-ed out around here, thanks.) Two of the businesses sacrificed when earth was moved and strip malls demolished were a Vietnamese bistro and a doc-in-the-box, I mean urgent-care clinic. No worries. A few miles to the southeast, a somewhat quaint slice of Tuscany was razed for a new urgent care at Old Bonhomme and Delmar. The one-time Rich & Charlie’s-cum-Pasta House moved into a spot in Ladue Marketplace. But it appears as though anyone waiting for the next brand-new urgent care that took the place of everyone’s nearly favorite Italian place will still have to wait awhile. Total Access Urgent Care is to occupy the new building that has stood there, completed and without signage, for months. A city official acknowledges that ‘it’s been there for a minute,’ but had no information regarding when it would be open for business. Meanwhile, the landscaping looks great.

The new permanent home of the St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF), Nov. 9 through Nov. 19, is just about as close to the city’s border in the county as you can get: Hi-Pointe Theatre, 1005 McCausland Ave. Films also will be shown, and events held, at Washington and Webster universities, Alamo Drafthouse, and even in St. Charles County, which lends just a little international flava to our border-conscious metro. SLIFF’s 32nd annual screenings and discussions, both formal and informal, will begin with a celebration: At the opening night party Nov. 9 at the Hi-Pointe, the fest will tip a glass to “50 Years of Hip-Hop in St. Louis,” as explored through both film and music. The festivities include a tribute to the Hi-Pointe Café’s pivotal role in shaping the genre’s evolution, showcasing the Lou’s significant influence. (IMHO: If you’ve never heard Ebony Eyez, at the very least, you’re missing out.) Attendees will be treated to cocktails and conversation, plus a screening of the 1990 film House Party, directed by Reginald Hudlin of East St. Louis. Hudlin is slated to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at the awards party on Sunday, Nov. 19. Didn’t we say international? Indeed, we did. Cannes award-winner La Passion de Dodin Bouffant (Taste of Things), France’s official submission for Best International Feature at the next Academy Awards in 2024, will screen Nov. 12 at the Hi-Pointe. Did we mention women in film, LGBTQ+ features, documentaries, shorts … and, gosh, anything else? Well, consider this merely a teaser for everything. For the whole nine, visit

downtown west
The latest benefit concert for Gratitude House, the first women’s sober-living home planned in St. Louis County, is slated for 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at Red Flag in Downtown West. Not familiar with the Jason Nelson Band? Well, they deliver a fantastic tribute to Queen, the beloved art-rock band that recorded songs as diverse as “Another One Bites the Dust,” “We Will Rock You / We Are the Champions,” “You’re My Best Friend,” and “Somebody to Love.” Queen, dubbed classic rock by radio stations, is a little more complicated. It can be symphonic, but fans rock out, sing along and dance like there’s no tomorrow… sometimes all three in the same song. The bane of many a wedding D.J. is a group of well-oiled frat boys who insist on commandeering the microphone to shout and act out “Bohemian Rhapsody” in its entirety. This show is all for a good cause, of course. “We continue to be inspired by the generosity of St. Louisans,” says Christine Intagliata, Gratitude House co-founder. “We’re getting even closer to our goal of providing a safe residential setting for women in a supportive environment.” Gratitude House is to be established in 2024 as the response to a dire need for a dignified, comfortable sober-living home for women suffering from the disease of alcoholism, drug abuse and prescription pill abuse. For more info and tickets, visit

  notable neighbors
You may remember Rube Goldberg, the cartoonist who sketched absurd contraptions designed to perform simple, everyday tasks in ridiculously complicated ways. The Self-Operating Napkin (1931) starts with a diner bringing a spoon to mouth, and via a series of convoluted steps, including an alarm clock and small rocket, the napkin wipes the diner’s mouth. No? Maybe you remember Hasbro’s 3D Goldbergian board game Mousetrap, in which players take turns assembling an outlandish device that starts over here on the board, and via a series of humorous actions finally drops a plastic cage over that lil’ mouse right there. “I’m a big Rube Goldberg fan!” exclaims Dan Zettwoch, an Affton cartoonist, illustrator and graphic jack-of-all-trades. “My family could build that stuff. I just draw it.” What brought Goldberg to mind was marveling at the complex physiological steps Zettwoch illustrated for Men’s Health magazine of how adrenaline affects the body during a ‘fight or flight’ reaction. That process, and many other examples of this polymath’s work, populate his fascinating website,, which he designed and wrote himself, natch. At the bottom of the homepage, which looks like a ripped-out piece of corrugated cardboard, is a “How That Works!” section, where you’ll find anything from a cutaway showing the workings of a hot tub, to illustrations for A-B’s draught system installation manual. Now, back to the piece of cardboard: Mouse over ‘Illustration,’ ‘Comics’… etc., and an animated Zettwoch performing those tasks will pop up. He’s illustrated for Nickelodeon magazine; much of his work is designed for teachable moments. Which brings us to Missouri Weird & Wonderful, his recently published volume with Amanda E. Doyle. Right on the cover you can see his thinking process at work. Can you find a Missouri mule? O.K.: That was easy. How about the hellbender? A brain sandwich? A Native American mound such as you’d see right across the river in Cahokia, Illinois? Kids’ stuff, eh? Well, it is written and illustrated for younger audiences. “I’m just a 46-year-old kid,” Zettwoch admits. (Besides, kids like Zettwoch and wife Leslie’s son Arthur, a 4th-grader, is likely an inspiration for many Zettwoch musings. Of course, youngsters love games and puzzles where you have to find stuff, like that Indian mound: This 68-year-old kid can tell you it’s inside the yellowish border.) Zettwoch’s comics, books and zines have been published by companies with names as nutty as Drawn & Quarterly and Uncivilized Books. Want to meet this self-acknowledged goofy guy and Doyle, a metro mom who loves spending hours in a coffee shop whenever she’s not dragging her kids along on some adventure? On Oct. 21, they’ll be available for book signings and conversation from 1 to 3 p.m. at Christopher’s Gifts, 127 E. Argonne in Kirkwood. Then, mark your calendar for a Halloween party at Missouri History Museum on Oct. 26 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Besides signings and author talks, Doyle and Zettwoch’s book has its own game show—“Do You Know MO?” will travel to select schools and institutions like the History Museum to woo young readers with Show-Me State magic—and see which trivia questions challenge them! Add a podium with a buzzer, wacky show hosts and music, and adults will wish they could play, too.

Bill Beggs Jr. has worn many hats at newspapers, magazines and in marketing communications since before the era of the floppy disc. Now he just wears a hat to keep his bald spot from getting sunburnt. You can reach him at

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