Talk of the Towns

Talk of the Towns: 2.24.21

spanish lake | The van driver for a North County funeral home pulled into a QuikTrip in Spanish Lake to, you know, just pop inside a moment. So he threw it into park—and left the motor running. In back, unfortunately, was a woman’s body that he was supposed to be transporting to a crematory from the nursing home where she had passed away. Enter two knuckleheads, a man and woman from Illinois, who hopped in the van and drove off with the deceased still inside. Because of course they did. In a certified case of ‘you just couldn’t make this stuff up,’ a day or so later, someone who’d seen the photo county police released spotted the van outside a Walmart way down yonder in Festus. That was easy. The white van has logos on the sides and back windows and distinctive landau bars on the rear quarter panels used to mark a funeral home vehicle. Cops found the would-be body snatchers inside the store and arrested them without incident. Whereupon the remains of some family’s loved one reached their final destination without any further interruption, as it should be. Upon being approached by the media while his van was still at large, funeral director William C. Harris said he hoped the thieves would have enough respect for the dead not to dispose of the cargo, and that they could keep the van if that would make any difference to them. But it’s hard to get through to knuckleheads in the first place, being that their skulls are somewhat thicker than average. At any rate, Harris proved himself to be a more reasonable man than some employers might have. He pooh-poohed any thought of firing the employee. After all, the driver has a family to look after, and Harris thought a stern talking-to probably would suffice. Meanwhile, the van thieves may qualify for our Perpetual Cluelessness Award for 2021. Don’t worry. There’s plenty of time to apply.

st. louis
Anheuser-Busch InBev—a term that rankles the natives about as much as ‘Rams Stan Kroenke’—is to expand U.S production of Stella Artois here this summer. Well, isn’t that special. InBev is the Belgian beverage conglomerate that caught the Busches with their pants down with its $52 billion hostile takeover of the Lou’s beloved brewer in 2008, and Stella Artois is a Belgian lager. Hey! Isn’t the King of Beers, Budweiser, a lager? Let’s check Google, why don’t we, to hack through any confusion. Well, the first sentence in the entry that comes up when you search ‘InBev Belgium’ is, “Het is onze ambitie ervoor te zorgen dat elke ervaring met bier positief is.” I only recognize ‘beer;’ it’s the third word from the end. Is something rotten in Denmark? Um, no. Look at a map: Denmark is kind of like Europe’s middle finger, just north of Germany, which places Belgium down by the curled-up little finger, southwest of Denmark, that is. And that concludes our ribald geography lesson. Well, let’s step back to look at this like a corporate giant’s PR team would: In the final analysis, everybody has to look good and feel good, at whatever the exorbitant going rate for billable hours is these days. (Stroking your chin while you expensively cogitate is optional.) AB InBev has announced it will ‘invest’—OK, spend—$1 billion over the next two years on this side of the pond “to help drive the country’s economic recovery.” (How generous of them. That’s peanut shells underfoot in a bar compared to the trillions the Feds have spent to keep some of us out of hoc.) You see, the plan includes brewing enough Stella—can’t you just hear Marlon Brando yelling that in A Streetcar Named Desire?—to fill just so many more 11.2-ounce cans. Try dividing so many gallons of beer by millions of dollars—maybe liters and Euros, plus or minus the exchange rate. No matter how you pour it, it’s not much. Of AB InBev’s $1 billion outlay, the fraction for Stella will be $296 million. Over two years. In four facilities, including St. Louis. According to our math, that’s about enough to get two idiots at Pukey’s drunk and bloody in a bar fight that the other guy started. And just imagine the flaps with distributors and the bottler’s union. OK, I’ve gone into the weeds just about as far as AB InBev’s flacks did. Which takes me to the not-German phrase near the top of this piece: Translated from the original Dutch, that tongue-twister reads: “It is our ambition to ensure that every experience with beer is positive.” Isn’t it everybody’s?

The Feds have been keeping fairly busy of late intercepting drug shipments that someone has been trying to sneak into the lovely hamlet of Florissant. Before anyone gets so agitated they need a chill pill, we’re talking about ‘miracle honey’ … miraculous because its active ingredient is Sildenafil, the drug used to treat erectile dysfunction—and high blood pressure. The shipment that originated in Istanbul, Turkey—17,400 Viagra pills in addition to 43 boxes that contained the Sildenafil-laced honey—was labeled as ‘herbal pasta.’ What a bummer if you were just really hungry. The actual cargo was nothing the DEA needed be concerned about, anyhow: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is doing the investigating, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) did the seizing. And to bring down your blood pressure just a little more, the stuff really didn’t get all that close to the metro. It was confiscated a few rivers away, in Cincinnati. The CBP provided no info on who the recipient was. (Probably somebody’s innocently clueless great aunt.) Last year a shipment of illegal vape pens bound for Florissant was intercepted. Oh, my. What is. This world. Coming to?

Ally and Lisa Nichols

notable neighbor
Ally Nichols has three copies of chromosome 21 where there should be only two. That’s how Lisa Nichols, her mom and CEO of Technology Partners in Chesterfield, came up with the name for her popular podcast on the characteristics of leadership: “Something Extra.” Ally’s extra DNA code means she has Down syndrome, but it hasn’t held her back from becoming a champion ballroom dancer, as evidenced by her victory two winters ago in Dancing with the St. Louis Stars, an annual benefit for the Independence Center. Ally and her dance partner’s fundraising goal at the 2019 event was $30,000—they exceeded that by $103,000. This year, the pandemic put the kibosh on a live performance, but Ally took a virtual star turn: A recorded reprise of her 2019 championship performance set a $60,000 fundraising goal, a higher bar that she and her partner topped by nearly four grand! “I’ve got moves!” exclaims Ally, 26, an upbeat, irrepressible woman with a touch of sass. We sat down with Ally and Lisa (via Zoom, of course) to talk about what ‘going above and beyond’ really means in their personal and professional lives. In times when folks don’t have to stay 6 feet apart, Ally volunteers at Progress West Hospital and helps with younger kids at her alma mater, Promise Christian Academy, a school for special needs students from which Ally graduated in 2014. She’s a self-starter, says Lisa, and during lockdown has taken on household chores without anyone having to ask. This sort of focus and drive, of course, is naturally what Lisa also expects from the 360-some employees at the firm she and husband Greg founded in May 1994. Technology Partners started as an IT staffing firm, and about 10 years ago segued into providing IT solutions, as well. Greg is the software guy. Lisa crunches numbers and is so busy encouraging and influencing that she has had to put the book she’s writing “back on the shelf.” But she dedicates hours and energy to “Something Extra,” the weekly leadership podcast she’s hosted since it debuted in October 2018 with Maxine Clark, founder of Build-a-Bear, as her guest. From her conversations with world-class athletes to toppers of Fortune 500 firms, Lisa covers everything from a guest’s family to leadership style to spirituality. So, Lisa does a lot of listening, often to colleagues much younger than me (and many of you, dear readers). “Millennials said, ‘You need to start podcasting!,’” she explains with a laugh. Lisa doesn’t seem like someone who does anything halfway: At this writing, she’s broadcast more than 120 episodes. At the century mark, she corralled future Hall-of-Fame slugger Albert Pujols. Podcasting is becoming more and more of a thing, and count on a cruncher of numbers to have a statistic or two right at hand. Lisa points out that in 2018, there were 550,000 podcasts; last year, there were 1.68 million. Episodes? 2018: 18 million. 2020: 42 million. Want in? Well, get motivated! Visit and click on the ‘Podcast’ tab.


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