bevo | The award-winning documentary A New Home follows up its festival run on Amazon Prime Video as it continues to introduce viewers across the country to the vibrant Bosnian community of the StL. In a follow-up to America’s Last Little Italy: The Hill, this new piece from director and producer Joseph Puleo and executive producer Rio Vitale examines the story of Bosnian War refugees fleeing 30 years ago to St. Louis. As the war in Ukraine continues to rage and thousands of citizens are displaced and seeking new homes, the plight of the Bosnians remains as relevant as ever. When Bosnians fled their homes to escape the war in 1992, many ended up in St. Louis, largely because of its affordable housing and available jobs. The new arrivals began assimilating, starting their own businesses and transforming a once dilapidated South City neighborhood in the shadow of the Bevo Mill into a thriving “Little Bosnia.” Over the ensuing three decades, an estimated 70,000 Bosnians have migrated to St. Louis, making it the most inhabited area for Bosnians outside of the small Balkans nation itself. A New Home tells the story of these refugees’ perseverance and determination to not only start life over but prosper. This is the best taste of Bosnian life anywhere. That is, unless you’ve had a chance to sample Balkan Treat Box.
Sell marijuana for recreational use, they said. We’re already selling marijuana for medical use. So, why not, they said. It’ll raise all sorts of revenue for the state—beaucoup bucks, even, they said. It’s been such a smooth ride for medical marijuana, if you look right over here rather than way over there at the statistics. Plus, it will be really, really fun, they said! Meanwhile thousands of doofuses playing video games in mom’s basement pause for a moment to yell upstairs, “Mom, what was that last thing they just said about ‘really, really fun?’ And where are those salt and vinegar potato chips you promised to get me last time you went to the store?” After graduating from high school in 1972 by the skin of my teeth, I went to college in the Rockies to study forestry. But it required a knack for science, and I wound up majoring in marijuana studies, with a minor in 3.2-beer evaluation. I transferred to four other universities in two other states on my parents’ dime. I got a real journalism job in 1984, and in 1994, I finally got a history degree (journalism minor) at SIU-Edwardsville to prove to my parents that I could, indeed, do it. As far as plants with medicinal properties are concerned, I have no more against marijuana than I do coffee or tea. One of my best friend’s wives uses it to alleviate her chronic pain. That’s important. But I realize now that I was smoking dope only to keep postponing adulthood. That’s just me, of course. And I may think differently about the drug once they develop a traffic test that can actually demonstrate whether someone is driving impaired by THC.
If you are one of those poor souls somehow suffering through a shortage of magic for the holidays, we feel for you. There’s a jolly old elf. No? He has these eight tiny reindeer that pull a flying sleigh. Still not jingling any bells? How about the brightest star you could ever imagine shining over Bethlehem? Well, along those lines, we have some new creative magic … fantasy, really … from an unexpected source: The Advent Calendar. Journey Through the Advent Calendar is a new young-adult novel from Rachel Browdy, who teaches world history (for college credit) at Fort Zumwalt North High School. Like much well-written fiction for young adults, e.g. J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis, it’s suitable fare for older young adults, too. Some of retirement age have gotten the feels from Zachariah, an orphan adopted at 14 by his uncle. His magical world is desperate for a hero, but there’s an ancient evil lurking beneath the surface. Zachariah spends months adapting to his new life, attending therapy sessions, as he watches his old friends move on through social media without him. So he accepts a hermit’s life with his favorite instrument, the drums. But the unexpected gift of an Advent Calendar … Alert! No spoilers here. But you may meet Browdy this Saturday, Dec. 17, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Barnes & Noble in Ladue. Now, for anyone who hasn’t been to Sunday school in a few years: Advent Calendars, a whimsical method of counting down to Christmas Day, date back to the 1850s. A variety of items are behind each tiny door: pictures, candy/food, coffee/tea/cocoa, beer/alcohol, bath/body/beauty, music, toys, cooking/kitchen items, ornaments, socks, candles … whew! But don’t forget man’s best friend! And, as the eyes of recipients of this book as a gift may do, some Advent Calendars even light up. Ba-rum-pa-pum-pum, went the Little Drummer Boy.
Downtowns were all about the trains. Kirkwood’s downtown fans out to the north, south, east and west for a few blocks from its historic train station. Same goes for any number of other communities around here. It’s where you went to work and shop. Then the trains faded to the background. Commuters bought cars, and malls sprung up in the suburbs in the mid-20th century and thrived for decades. Now, early in the 21st, the future of shopping malls and of downtowns has taken a few turns, to say the least. Few people know this better than Tim Lowe of the Staenberg Group; the company’s comprehensive proposal for the former Chesterfield Mall site is, in fact, Downtown Chesterfield. “Everything always evolves—society, of course, and certainly retail,” says Lowe, Staenberg’s senior vice president of leasing and development. Even though it’s the county’s second-largest city by land area, as well as by population, Chesterfield has no downtown. At least, not yet. Since there were no trains to speak of out here, Chesterfield developed in several different spots in its 33.5 square miles in what was only called ‘West County’ back in the day. But Staenberg and another developer, CRG, aim to reconfigure the mall site and environs with several downtown-worthy tall buildings including another hotel, plus office, retail, restaurant and residential space. CRG has already started work on its 1-million-square-foot development west of the now-defunct mall, to include a floating stage, garden and more than 565 housing units. One could call that portion of the project Chesterfield Downtown West. Staenberg’s visibility will be more jaw-dropping, with its portion of Downtown Chesterfield towering just to the south of Interstate 64 and in the vast former mall site along the northwestern part of the Clarkson Road interchange. Developers and the city have cleared the first obstacle in the financing for the project, $3 billion and change: Chesterfield’s TIF body has approved a $353 million dollar package of tax breaks, despite fervent disapproval from the Rockwood and Parkway school districts. It was slated to be presented to the full council at its Dec. 5 meeting for review, with a yay or nay expected as soon as mid-month. “We included $50 million for schools,” says Lowe, who thinks the districts’ estimates of 600-plus additional students is too high for a project that stands to include dozens of empty-nesters as well as some million-dollar condos; he thinks it will be closer to 200 kids. “We believe we did the right things.” This is not Lowe’s first rodeo, as they say. In the last decade, you certainly recall, two outlet malls opened nearly simultaneously a few miles apart in ‘The Valley.’ Each had its very own Brooks Brothers outlet, in fact. Premium Outlets is doing just fine, thank you, while Staenberg has reconfigured Taubman Premium Outlets into an entertainment and dining destination, The District. You can’t miss the metro’s first TopGolf location commanding the sky above its eastern end. There’s the Main Event concert stage. Soon, of course, pickleball will join the leisure mix, now that the last retail outlet in the complex, Polo, moved west to Premium. Just what do these interlopers think they’re doing, anyhow? Well, both developers are based in Overland. Lowe graduated from Affton H.S. and earned his college chops at UMSL. And the so-called ‘mall wars’ of the latter part of the 20th century are over. Who won? Everybody, we think. It’s at least a tie. Visit tsgproperties.com.