Talk of the Towns

Talk of the Towns: 5.18.22

webster groves | Join Classic 107.3 for a few hours of pure bliss at Community Music School of Webster University, especially if you’re into bourbon and rye. (Something about driving my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry, just popped into my head. Hmm. Probably just random.) In this context, ‘classic’ doesn’t refer to classic rock, as in songs like “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin, “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen, “Dream On” by Aerosmith or anything by AC/DC. Gosh, no. Tune in. It’s a classical music station on the FM dial. Mix in some Classical Cocktails on June 3 from 6 to 8:30 p.m., when you can enjoy crafted concoctions made with Switchgrass Spirits bourbon and rye, plus culinary creations from White Box Catering. Meanwhile, drink in beautiful, accessible music courtesy of the Chamber Music Society of St. Louis. Say you have a friend who “doesn’t like classical music.”This low-key event will be a perfect opportunity to expand their musical horizons. And yours. Plus, cocktails. Need more details? But of course: classic1073.org/classical-cocktails.

south grand
Beep-beep for baklava? No, that’s at the Greekfest over Memorial Day weekend, which we’ll get to a few sentences from here. Café Natasha’s, a favorite restaurant that also served the scrumptious Mediterranean dessert, alas, closed April 30. When I lived nearby, I’d walk from my flat to eat there, stag, at least once a week. It was more than a block away. We all need to exercise, right? When I logged onto match.com, it was great for impressing dates, one of whom is now my wife, Cate! The kebabs were to die for, and the biryani or basmati rice featured a wonderful garnish: half of a roasted tomato. Natasha Bahrami, for whom the eatery was named nearly 40 years ago, has hospitality in her genes. Natasha or her mom, Hamishe—or both—always had a warm greeting, as though inviting us into their home. The Gin Room, Natasha’s concept drinkery, will close for a short time in order to reconfigure space for—tah-dah!—Salve Osteria, her ‘harvest-centric’ restaurant set to open May 27, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. It will feature pan-Mediterranean cuisine, and maybe the weather will be ideal for dining on the charming, shaded patio. Anyhow, ‘salve’ is a somewhat informal way to say hello in Italian, so salve to Natasha and Matt Wynn, local chef extraordinaire, who’ll be in the kitchen of a new place in the same space: 3200 S. Grand. Hamishe, although now officially retired, likely will be holding forth, as well. Oh, my; someone’s koo-koo for kebabs now. Well, the same weekend is the 40th anniversary of the county Greekfest. Online orders begin Monday, May 23, for your May 27-30 reintroduction to Greek delicacies, so go-go for gyros at your pre-appointed time, drive up for dolmades, scoot in for spanakopita … or, yes, beep for baklava. But first, to browse the menu and order, visit stlgreekfest.com. You’ve probably seen the church from I-270: Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, 1755 Des Peres Road. Just GPS it. The ancient Greeks didn’t have the luxury.

the metro
Prices are all over the place these days. I’m not referring so much to record-high gas prices, which the AAA pegged, at this writing, to be two cents north of four bucks. Many of us still aren’t driving all that much these days, so, so what? Milk and eggs, well … gulp. So, why not let’s focus on two things: Twitter and the AT&T tower downtown. The former sold for a ridiculously high price, the latter for a song. Let’s ‘climb down’ the latter. Missouri’s largest, and vacant, office building sold in April for less than 2% of the $205.5 million it went for in 2006—$4 million and change. That may be even less than a respectable estate would go for in one of our more upscale suburbs. We know what you’re thinking: Condos! With a helluva view—at 46 stories, the tower occupies a full city block—why the heck not? There could even be a pool up top. Plus a pool table in your place! Granted, this comes from a man with the real estate savvy of thinking Chesterfield Mall would make a great roller disco. OK; Twitter. Don’t use it, probably never will, so I’ve no clue why the world’s richest man just paid $44 billion for a whole lot of air when he’s so obviously full of hot gas already. The rich are different, I hear. Wouldn’t know. I’m a part-time journalist. I’d be lucky to find 44 cents in this house.

notable neighbors
fenton
His esteemed journalism career began before the would-be newspaperman could even grow facial hair. But he could throw. As a youth in the 1960s, Don Corrigan delivered about 175 copies of the Belleville News-Democrat from his red Schwinn every day. He’d fold them all in a square so they had some velocity when they sailed onto a subscriber’s front porch. “They could’ve dented a screen door,” Corrigan recalls of those days, years before his 1969 graduation from Althoff Catholic High School. Of late, you may have agreed or disagreed with Corrigan’s views upon reading his columns in the weekly Webster-Kirkwood Times, which he joined for its second issue in 1978. Corrigan was teaching journalism at the relatively small Webster College when he bumped into Times staffers at a typewriter store. Fast-forward to today: Typewriters are obsolete, and ‘emeritus’ has been tacked onto both his roles as a professor at multinational Webster University and weekly newspaper editor. Although the paper has been under new ownership for a while, he still enjoys having an office there. Along the way, he’s written several nonfiction books, three with a slant toward environmentalism and the great outdoors, mostly in the Show-Me State. His latest focuses on his stomping grounds for the last four decades. Amazing Webster Groves, published recently by Reedy Press in the StL, focuses mainly on the suburb’s residents who made it big, yet never forgot from whence they came, from comedienne Phyllis Diller (she called her husband ‘Fang’) and ‘Holy Cow’ sportscaster Harry Caray to William Webster, former director both of the FBI and CIA—and no relation to the Webster after whom the town was named. That remains somewhat of a mystery, notes Corrigan: “We’re pretty sure it wasn’t Daniel Webster,” he says, adding, with a smile, “and not the Webster of the dictionary.” The landlocked community was home to Richard Lockwood and John Swon, both notable steamboat captains who had streets in town named after them. American novelist and essayist Jonathan Franzen recalls his primal fears growing up in Webster, including anxiety over “school dances, hardball, puberty, music teachers and the school cafeteria.” Prior to Corrigan’s book on one of the metro’s most desirable suburbs—subtitled “Six Square Miles of the American Dream”—is one whose subject is less palatable: “American Roadkill,” a story of the animal slaughter on our nation’s highways. So, why is this article datelined Fenton? Well, that’s kind of where Corrigan lives now, down a ways from Sunset Hills in an unincorporated area on the bluffs above one of the metro’s major rivers. A state representative from Kirkwood “used to call me the William Randolph Hearst of the Meramec River Valley,” he says. “So I feel an obligation to stay close to the muddy Meramec.” Corrigan has several book signings slated for the remainder of May and into June. Among them: May 20 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Webster Groves Public Library. For more about what Corrigan the environmentalist has up his sleeve, visit environmentalecho.com.

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