the metro 
When I was a teenager in the early ’70s, marijuana was illegal everywhere, yet anyone who wanted to smoke it usually did so anyhow. The magical plant has mind-altering properties, thanks to a substance known as THC for short. In those days, ‘head shops’ were all over, including shopping malls. It was where you could get blacklight posters, lava lamps, incense (popular favorite: patchouli) and paraphernalia used to smoke pot. You only got in trouble if, upon official inspection, it was determined you actually used it for its designated purpose. Fast forward to right now. Recreational marijuana use is legal in many states, including Oregon, California and Colorado, but not (yet) in our very red Show-Me State. Still, CBD, a pain-relieving chemical also derived from the hemp plant, has become a commodity in advance of the likelihood that ‘real’ pot will be legal, even here, sooner rather than later. Stores are cropping up everywhere, and not just in hip, urban neighborhoods like South Grand or The Delmar Loop. To wit: LEAF & CO., which opened in all caps early this month at Saint Louis Galleria. Within the ‘O’ is a marijuana leaf. Now defunct as such, the head shop—especially in a mall environment—looked off-limits. It sure smelled nice, what with all of that incense burning. And the music was great. I’m sure it’s all that at LEAF & CO., too, except we’re talking about pain ‘releaf’ here, not taking a trip without leaving the barn. LEAF & CO. has many bases covered. Like partnering with other companies for CBD yogurt and cocktails. All I can add here is, What hath we almost wrought?

Touhill Performing Arts Center on the UMSL campus in north St. Louis is one of the finest entertainment venues in the metro. There, I’ve seen performances by the Buddy Rich Big Band, Harry Connick Jr. when he was a whippersnapper, and Eric Idle of the absurd British comedy troupe Monty Python. But I never took in a performance by students of the UMSL Department of Theatre and Cinema Arts. By the time you read this, it almost will have ceased to exist. This weekend is the last time students of theater and cinema at UMSL will put on a performance. After two final shows this Saturday and Sunday of From Jimmy, to America: An Ode to James Baldwin, the department will be no more. Performances at UMSL, from the popular speaker series to music and dance, will continue as scheduled. This is not the first time the university has nixed a program. In the spring of 2016, the dance program was eliminated due to low enrollment. Another rationale, a university spokesman said at the time, was a campus-wide effort to cut costs. As of press time, officials had not returned a message from T&S seeking reasons why the theater department is closing down.

st. louis 
Sports ain’t just for sport, as we in the StL know all too well. But either we just don’t know how to hold onto the ball, or Kroenke. Wait—what was that awful noise? It sounded like a hippo grunt, and started with a ‘k.’ Oh, it’s the odious last name of Rams owner Stan Kroenke. For those with a short memory, the Rams are a football team that formerly played here and even won a Super Bowl. Well, Kroenke thought he could just up and move our kinda, sorta beloved team to L.A. He’s like the husband who really doesn’t want to be married to that stable, dependable woman and leaves her for the flighty, noncommittal type. Well, in this long, drawn-out case—with court filing after court filing, it really is like a messy divorce—a panel of judges has struck down Kroenke’s latest shenanigan. He contends that a 1995 agreement about relocation allows for arbitration; any disagreement over the team’s vamoose to L.A. in 2016 makes everything just fine in Kroenke World. ‘Uh-uh,’ the court said on the first go-round. In the appeal, the response was ‘uh-uh’ again. In denying the request for arbitration, the appeals panel reportedly stated that the applicable rules for arbitration “aren’t a time machine.” In 2017, our town’s visitors and convention authority and the county sued Kroenke and everyone else associated with the Rams, except the team itself, for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraudulent misrepresentation and tortious interference. In this case, tortious also is tortuous. Could this case conceivably last as long as anything in D.C. is right now? I’m hoping still to be a relatively middle-aged man who gets to see Kroenke spanked, to the tune of some multiple of $1 billion.

u. city 
You needn’t have a green thumb to help other volunteers set up for the annual U City in Bloom plant sale this weekend at Heman Community Center. Others blessed with the thumb o’green already braved the elements over the past few weeks to pot donations—and try to keep out unwanted varieties, like most daylilies (which spread like, well, weeds). You also could lend a hand during the Opening Night Party this Friday (April 26). If you are willing and able to pitch in, contact

notable neighbors: ferguson
Once upon a time, the employees of a downtown company were instructed to make a left, never a right, when they drove home, usually somewhere west of I-270. To the right was where a large number of homeless usually congregated; upper management wanted them to remain ‘invisible.’ But one evening, Cathryn Shaw took a right. She saw a homeless couple huddled on the loading dock of a building in the gritty neighborhood. The next day, she brought them a bag of food. That was 11 years ago, and since that moment, she has provided daily relief to the homeless. Once you see them up close and personal, you never can unsee them. But during one trip to take food downtown, Shaw saw no one. A security guard told her nine men were watching. Shaw asked—as she did every homeless man or woman she encountered—what they needed. One wanted colored pencils so he could draw. Shaw ended up selling his pieces for $5 each, and he used the proceeds for bus fare to visit his son in Illinois. She kept going back. Consistency is key. “Over the course of months, we build meaningful relationships with one another,” she says. Many of the men and women with whom she comes into contact suffer from chronic mental illness, which persists for years, even decades. Many are alcoholics and addicts. The women’s problems often stem from trauma. “It trumps both mental illness and addiction,” Shaw emphasizes. Not only have many not felt hope, they don’t know that hope even exists due to the unfathomable violence experienced at the hands of an ex or abusive father. Although she was working full-time when she started her mission, Shaw devoted much of her remaining free time to the homeless. They are everywhere, but many of us feel helpless to do anything beyond an automatic paycheck donation to the United Way or putting money in the collection tray at church. Shaw felt compelled to establish All Among Us, now based in Ferguson and a 501(c)(3) since 2016. That also was the year Shaw took the leap of faith and transformed her calling into her career. All Among Us seeks to break the cycle of generational poverty and help women achieve self-sufficiency. “We don’t want to recreate a wheel,” says Shaw, the agency’s executive director. “This is not ‘a room at the inn.’ We live in a community.” All Among Us teaches women financial literacy and how to stay employed. It’s not a safe house, as it doesn’t have bulletproof windows or full-time security. The building had been abandoned about 10 years when the agency came across it. The basement was filled with mud, and the entire structure, formerly a church building, was riddled with mold. The nonprofit restored it for $620,000, and it opened in November 2018. “This was something I could do something about,” Shaw says. “Historically, I wouldn’t have noticed the homeless. This has helped heal my own story. I love to see a woman stepping out and doing kindness for someone else.” Thus the agency logo, a dandelion set to give up its seeds to the wind.