Talk of the Towns: 4.21.21
u. city | It remains to be seen what sorts of films will be shown at the Tivoli Theatre in the Delmar Loop, as the venerable building has been sold to One Family Church, which has been holding services in the lower part of the building and also will occupy the first and second floors. Integrity Web Consulting is to take up the upper two floors of the iconic theater, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Apparently, it took an act of God for U. City booster and entrepreneur Joe Edwards to sell the building at 6350 Delmar Blvd., his pride and joy—well, one of them, anyhow. The theater opened in 1924 as a vaudeville venue and single-screen movie house for the era’s silent films. In 1994 (almost exactly 70 years after the building was completed), as it had fallen into disrepair and seemed destined for the wrecking ball, Edwards took ownership. Quite the rescue, we must say, but although we’ve yet to see the U. City hero wearing a cape, Edwards has been pulling the arts and entertainment district back from the brink since opening Blueberry Hill in 1972—the very year I graduated from high school out east in a state far, far away. Anyhow, Landmark leased the theater until the pandemic shut things down last year. The chain is known for screening foreign films, ‘art’ pieces, documentaries and the like. The lead pastor of One Family says movies still will be shown during the week, stipulating in a statement that they will be “exciting and socially relevant.” That, of course, is open to a critic’s interpretation, and let’s just say we’re no Rotten Tomatoes. It does beg the question, however. Will we be seeing great religious epics from the ’50s like The Ten Commandments or Ben-Hur? Cool. Some ‘artsy’ works, to hazard a guess, probably won’t ever appear on the marquee again, much less the screen. To wit: This writer saw Nymphomaniac on the illuminated marquee one evening a few years back. (Just to clarify: He saw the marquee, not the 2014 film.) It got 76 out of 100 on the Rotten Tomatoes website. Ben-Hur, 1959, scored an 86; The Ten Commandments, 1956, a 90. So, on an educational grading scale, the 2014 film gets a ‘C;’ the 1959 film, a solid ‘B;’ and the 1956 blockbuster, a low ‘A.’ Would that mean movies were that much better then and just keep getting worse? Why, to be objective, our research sample is entirely too small to measure somebody’s opinion.
The tagline went something like this: “Eat Rite … Or Don’t Eat at All!” The eatery, not much bigger itself than a takeout box, was the after-hours haunt of many a metro party animal looking to make a bad belly a little better with sliders and coffee before heading home—or elsewhere for further mischief. As a greasy spoon, Eat-Rite has languished off and on amongst the gritty urban spaghetti of roads and bridges and closed again late last year after reopening in 2018. The tiny shack at 622 Chouteau Ave. just south of downtown has seen its share of trauma, from traffic accidents to shenanigans in the parking lot in the wee hours. At least once, in 2014, a car smacked into it (boarded-up aftermath pictured). But soon it will be open under new ownership as Fleur STL at Eat-Rite, the brainchild of local chef Tim Eagan. Keep your eyes open in mid- to late May for the new concept to bloom on the historic corner. Let’s start with new flooring! Eagan was behind the former Park West Grille in Benton Park West, as well as serving a stint as executive chef at Porter’s Steakhouse in the hinterlands, um, I mean across the Big Muddy in Collinsville. Friends and I haunted Eat-Rite once, in daylight, before a Cardinals game. It was not unlike White Castle, if that tickles anyone’s taste buds. Expect much, much more … a chefly, creative spin on such diner staples as burgers and biscuits with sausage gravy. Eagan may serve up dogs and brews for Redbirds fans on their way to Busch. He’s considering a brunch concept as well and, reportedly, has applied for a liquor license in order to serve such brunchy beverages as mimosas and Bloody Marys.
Tick? Tick?? Tick!?? Ick!!! That’s our countdown to something that will certainly happen to many of us this spring, if it hasn’t already: wood ticks. Next time you find one of those nasty, blood-sucking arachnids on your dog, or in your socks after a hike, don’t just dispatch it down the commode with disgust … and satisfaction. Drop it in the mail to the good people at the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). Really. Save those creepy crawlers—alive (ick)—and mail them to researchers at A.T. Still University in Kirksville, where they’ll be identified by species and life stage and tested for bacterial pathogens. MDC and the university have partnered in a research study to conclude in September 2022. Find how to package the ticks at (and it’s a long one for such an itty-bitty, nefarious bug): atsu.edu/missouri-ticks-and-tick-borne-pathogen-surveillance-research. If any ticks get crushed by postal equipment, well, it just serves them right.
The star-spangled banners were still there, but the two American flags trailing on flexible poles above and behind his Yamaha motorcycle were starting to get frayed and tattered in the slipstream. So he tried to sew them back to respectability. By hand. But they still looked pretty ragged, which just wouldn’t do, he thought. So Tracey Mack, a teacher of American history at Steger Sixth Grade Center in Webster Groves, invested in a Singer sewing machine. His flags now looked much, much better. But once that task was complete, he wondered what the heck else he was going to do with the brand-spanking new contraption sitting on his dining room table. Mack is what you might call a manly dude: He now rides a Harley. He played football at Mizzou and coached defense at the high school. “Now what?” he said to himself, looking quizzically at his dining area-turned-workstation. Well, they say necessity is the mother of invention. He’d been wearing bow ties, (“ I used enough cuss words for the rest of my life!” he says of learning to tie them), tried his hand at making them and was sewn up in a whole new avocation faster than you could say ‘straight stitch.’ He found patterns and videos online and became a one-stop bow tie shop, designing and creating them for himself and “for a couple of principals in the district; not to sell.” Then it was on to tote bags and handbags. And once he’d started exploring “the softer side of me,” he says, well—he’s a teacher first. Although history is still his main responsibility, whether his students are in class or on Zoom, Mack segued into teaching his charges and middle-schoolers basic sewing skills. He doesn’t want them to get as frustrated as he was at first, owner’s manual or not. There’s plenty to challenge a novice—bobbins to rethread, for starters. Then, there are kids who bring some skills with them, and may want to make a shirt or skirt when they come to his ‘Sew Easy’ class this summer session. When the pandemic closed things down last spring, he got involved with Masked Mamas, a group that got busy making masks for health care workers. And that will continue to be a focus of the class: making masks, paying it forward. Mack says students will start with tasks like stitching a straight line, no mean feat for a beginner. He’ll teach them how to sew on a zipper. There may be as many as 28 machines available, but also social distancing protocols to consider. Meanwhile, he’s been making two or three handbag styles in what little spare time he has. He can’t consider expanding to Etsy. “I’m about five bags behind right now,” he laments. He’s taken orders for pieces to sell, but doesn’t want to rise at 4 a.m. every day for his side gig. He’s 59, has taught in the district for 19 years, and has retirement in his sights. But he admits there’s been an unexpected downside to the pandemic beyond the virus. For a while there, bow ties weren’t as easy to get around his neck. “A lot of my clothes started to shrink!”