Talk of the Towns: 4.3.24

the delmar loop | The big, ugly, noisy bugs are coming. And the sun’s going away for a little while. A trillion more cicadas than usual are expected to trill sometime this summer, prognosticators predict, but this is where science is more art than practice. And unless you’ve been under a rock, you know we’ll have a solar eclipse the afternoon of April 8, almost a reprise of the midday darkness we experienced in 2017. Nobody is really quite sure whether the two cicada broods expected to rear their ugly heads throughout the Midwest will emerge to make their obnoxious racket around here, or when. But cosmic calculations are more precise: And we need to trust the astronomers. After all, these are the guys and gals who calculate the paths of comets and planet-killing asteroids. So, this will be, for many of us, a twice-in-a-lifetime event, as the next is not to come until 2044. By then, dear readers, many of us will be crowding out cicada nymphs as we push up dandelions. So, we might want to make the most of the eclipse, which is a sure thing. But, as we mentioned last issue, we won’t experience totality in the StL. Some may want to take a road trip, as we suggested, to Red Bud in Southern Illinois, or the Missouri bootheel. If a tad shy of 100% totality suits you just fine, just go outside with your special glasses around 2 p.m. to watch the moon mostly obscure the sun for a few minutes. Or party at Moonrise—the hotel in the Delmar Loop, that is. There may be no better place in the metro than the space-themed attraction, which happens to be celebrating its 15th anniversary. Join fellow astro boys and girls April 8 on the rooftop from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. for just $10, which includes eclipse glasses. The party will be held in the shadow of the world’s largest revolving man-made moon, the rooftop’s signature feature. Special spacey cocktail concoctions and food will be sold. To rocket into this out-of-this-world experience, get tickets at Then, for anyone creeped out by all those bugs, you can just fry some of ’em up and eat ’em; I mean, billions of people on this planet eat insects, grubs and such. I haven’t, so I couldn’t tell you whether they taste like chicken, roasted peanuts or what-all.


Richard Serra, a shipyard pipefitter’s son who later used heavy steel to create monumental sculptures—including Twain, a controversial landmark on a midtown plaza since 1982—has died at 85. Many, many St. Louisans share a deep disdain for the eight vertical, rectangular COR-TEN steel panels that form a ragged, rusting triangular shape in front of the Civil Courts Building. Serra, internationally renowned for his graceful spirals and other curved shapes, threatened to leave the country if an unpopular sculpture in downtown Manhattan was removed. It was, and he didn’t. He was living in Orient, New York, on the easternmost fork of Long Island’s north shore, when he died of pneumonia March 26. Serra said viewers needed to walk through and around his work to fully experience it, and that’s essential in order to fully appreciate Twain, some art critics say. But sometimes that’s not easy. For one thing, the ground at the openings is well-trodden, and the hard earth is prone to muddy puddles. Vandals frequently deface the panels with graffiti, which is difficult to remove from a rough steel surface that was engineered to rust. So, Serra may be gone, but love it or hate it, Twain probably will be around for a long, long time.

st. louis
Red-light cameras, the nemesis of city drivers who try to beat a yellow light and don’t quite make it, may be coming back online in the Gateway City. On one hand, they’ll likely be able to confirm suspicion of red-light scofflaws, from the parole violator alleged to have run a red light and smashed into a car, crushing a teenage volleyball player’s legs to the police cruiser that allegedly ran a red light and crashed into a South City gay bar. And those are just two recent incidents that made the news. But I’ll argue that most red-light tickets—in a city whose drivers are accustomed to such regular law-stretching traffic practices as tapping the brake pedal and rolling through a stop sign, if they tap the pedal at all—are just plain annoying. To wit: When I was about to revert to bachelorhood in the early 2010s, I found myself without a vehicle. My late father, mensch that he was, drove his van from North Carolina to St. Louis for me to adopt, then rented a car to return home! I hadn’t yet licensed the vehicle here when I lived off Grand in south city, and one morning found myself in a hurry to get downtown and set up for an event at a hotel. I turned right at Grand and hustled down the I-44 entrance ramp—after a stop, as I recall, but the red-light camera disagreed. My dad received the citation in the mail, since North Carolina plates were still on the van, and called. He was not happy. I was flabbergasted, but not nearly as much as he was. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

notable neighbors
creve coeur
We typically ask our Notable Neighbors where they went to high school, expecting them to name-check a school in the metro. Of course, sometimes it’s out of state. For John Wilson, director of cultural arts at the Jewish Community Center, it was off the mainland. There was quite a prestigious alum from Punahou High, from which Wilson graduated in 1986. Wilson was starting junior high when Barack Obama graduated from the K-12 college prep school in Honolulu in 1979. So, it’s not like he played basketball with our 44th president, but when it comes to this regular feature in our magazine, it’s certainly notable. Wilson stayed west of the Lou, but not as far west as the islands, pretty much up until taking the job at The J in January 2023. Having graduated from Arizona State with a BFA, he went on to teach theater for 20 years at University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, near K.C. The politics of academia were messing with his state of mind. “I was heavily involved in the university campus, immersed in all the machinations,” he says. “This was a perfect re-entry position.” Wilson supervises and supports the New Jewish Theatre and its youth counterpart, serving as its violence and intimacy director. Huh? “For the shows where you’re going to fight and kiss, I’m your guy,” he says, with a grin. He rides herd on the well-attended used-book sales. Coming up is the popular annual Jewish Film Festival, which opens this Sunday, April 7, at B&B Theatres in Creve Coeur and runs there through the 18th. Remembering Gene Wilder, a biopic of the beloved comic actor, runs April 9 at 7 p.m. “It’s really one of two marquee events,” he notes. The first starts at 4 p.m. on opening day: Five short films by Israeli students who were working on their final projects at Sapir College in Sderot, Israel, which was evacuated Oct. 7, 2023. Selecting those films wasn’t easy. They were winnowed down from 12 submissions. The longest student film is 38 minutes; the shortest, a 9-minute animated feature. Attendees will have a special opportunity to interact with the student producer of “Elinor,” Yasmin Hoffman, who will speak about her experience with the project and the emergency at Sapir College. The remainder of the festival will be illuminated by comedies and dramas galore, a special Arts & Romance evening on Thursday, April 18—16 unique features in all, one a documentary of the so-called Borscht Belt, a lighthearted examination of the entertainment paradise not too far from NYC, The Catskills, where many world-famous comics cut their teeth. (Can you imagine hearing Henny Youngman’s quip “Take my wife… please!” for the very first time in history?) Wilson points out that theaters are filling up fast, so don’t wait. Tickets are available by calling 314.442.3179 or visiting Why go? The festival brochure lists eight good reasons as opposed to watching movies while lounging on the couch. For one, no commercials or other distractions that are out of your control. Real movie popcorn! And, my personal favorite: A reason to shower and get out of the house.

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