Talk of the Towns: 5.19.21
south county | Many one-of-a-kind locomotives and other vintage rolling stock have reached the end of the line in an unincorporated section of South County that’s kind of Des Peres and a little bit Kirkwood, plus a whole lot of neither: The National Museum of Transportation at 2933 Barrett Station Road. This is a place where kids who love trucks and trains can frolic (carefully) and adults can be like Peter Pan and just never grow up. I know that I’ve enjoyed visiting with both my kids when they were wee ones, and still do as an antique adult. Like many attractions, the nonprofit museum has not benefited from the pandemic, but it’s put together any number of unique promotions to lure visitors. Not the least of which is a one-hour morning speakers series; the first on famed aviator Charles Lindbergh is coming up at 9 a.m. June 10. Admission is free, but advance reservations are necessary to allow the museum to obey county COVID-19 restrictions. Non-member reservations begin June 1, but don’t delay; member reservations began April 19. Lectures continue on a monthly basis, each one at 9 a.m. on a Thursday, through November. The series should prove interesting, to say the very least. For one thing, Lindbergh’s leanings toward Nazism were extreme for a beloved American who commanded so much attention between the wars. Thus the title of the presentation by Jason Stratman: Charles Lindbergh: The Man, the Myth, the Legend. The talk July 8 by James Erwin is on steamboat disasters; one that started May 17, 1849, sparked the worst conflagration in St. Louis history. All Maps Are Lies is the title of the Sept. 9 presentation by Kelly Johnston. (Just try breaking that to your GPS. It’s self-conscious because it’s probably not updated for you to negotiate the very best way from Chicago to L.A.—or even get through Joplin, Missouri.) Visit tnmot.org.
Water, water … somewhere. Just not where you expect it, or when. We’re not talking about the local weather forecast, which some people don’t trust on TV—they defer to their ever-trusty bum knees, which act all wonky when rain is on the way. But we’re not dissing meteorology. We have our own ideas. First, let’s go west to Lone Elk Park in West County, where there’s a manmade lake. Well, there used to be. Observers ’round about May 7 alerted county officials that the water level was dropping. And it had, by about 3 feet. About one-third of the water formerly contained in Lone Elk Reservoir drained away through a sinkhole that appeared close to another that popped up in 2016 and had been repaired with concrete slurry. Officials say the water ran into a dry creek bed in Castlewood State Park. Maybe. Well, we also heard that a stream has been running under the surface of Tower Grove Park for more than 100 years and is to be excavated so as to flow in the open air for visitors to enjoy. Our idea? (It’s not a theory because that would involve science, and science doesn’t always fare well in the realm of public opinion. We have unscientific opinions, too.) We think that maybe the water leaking out of the reservoir out west is flowing eastward into the city to join the underground stream. H2Ologists, or whatever, probably would tell you that water from Lone Elk Reservoir flows into the Meramec River. Well, we think the water is actually flowing underneath the riverbed, then on to just below the surface in our glorious Victorian walking park. We can’t prove it, of course. Nor are we overthinking it. We’re just putting two and two together. For anyone who says our argument doesn’t hold water, or that we’re all wet, there’s at least one other possibility: Hooligans fill water balloons in the county, drive them into the city and empty them. Some of you may demand a conclusion determined via the scientific method. OK, fine. Catch some fish in both places, and compare their DNA. It is what it is. Isn’t it? And that’s our final opinion. But then, wasn’t there a water main break downtown last week? Darn.
Whether you’re a baby boomer, Gen Xer, millennial, cheugy … cheugy?! … or anyone in between, there’s sure to be much music to love throughout the Grand Center Arts District come mid-September. And we’re telling you this now why? Because tickets went on sale yesterday (May 18) to see as many shows as you’re able to over three days. We’re talking 60-some artists, from jazz-funk master Roy Ayers and former MGs leader Booker T. Jones of Green Onions fame to a band named Naked Rock Fight (not to be mistaken for the band named Kentucky Knife Fight). Boomers can educate the cheugy contingent, some of whom might be too wet behind the ears to glom onto stars of the 1960s and ’70s. And vice versa. Then there’ll be the likes of blues wizard Marquise Knox (pictured) and hip-hop revisionists iLLPHONiCS. The focus is on local talent and artists with some connection to The Lou, such as Lalah Hathaway, daughter of Donny. Shows will be staged at The Fox, Jazz St. Louis, The Sheldon, The Grandel—just about anywhere to the north, south, east and west of the Grand/Washington intersection. The festival, Music at the Intersection, was slated for last year. It’s clear as mud, alas, what the allowed capacity of venues will be Sept. 10-12, when it’s time to party. (Single-day passes go on sale May 25.) Suffice it to say, since social distancing will be required, there’ll be no stage diving, moshing or crowd surfing. And that’s either a bummer or something to be thankful for, depending on your generation. So, get ready to mask up and get down! If that sounds like a tagline, it is. Visit musicattheintersection.org.
Natives know that much of The Lou is hidden in plain sight. For instance, the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis is an imposing edifice that takes up most of a city block in the CWE. But unless you’ve been inside for Mass, a wedding or performance of sacred music, you might not realize that the world’s largest collection of mosaics is right overhead. Dea Hoover can tell you a whole lot more about the cathedral and most anywhere else in the town she now calls home. Hoover, who lives on The Hill and owns two local tour companies (Discover St. Louis and Are We There Yet? Tours), has parlayed her 15 years of local knowledge and expertise into a unique guide book: STL Scavenger: The Ultimate Search for St. Louis’s Hidden Treasures. Over the last 14-some months (but who’s counting?), she could have languished like a frustrated rock star, playing intimate concerts from the living room for fans to enjoy real-time. Instead, she’s reinvented herself via her one-of-a-kind guidebook that gives natives, transplants and visitors a unique way to explore the metro. If locating a magnifying glass is too analog, use your smartphone to find unique buildings, businesses, statues and architectural details in the spiral-bound book. Inspect the photos and follow cryptic clues to spot the spots among 17 neighborhoods in and around St. Louis. Urban explorers can search and find the history and story behind each one on their quest. Once embarking on this journey, you’ll never see our city the same way. Hoover grew up in Vandalia, Missouri, and knows how satisfying taking a deeper dive can be. “Growing up, my family came to the zoo, Six Flags and a ballgame and used a Rand-McNally truckers map. Now, we have GPS,” she laughs. Her first foray with new technology was a godsend for running Destination St. Louis. “When I first got a Garmin, my drivers loved me!” Hoover encourages readers to plan a day for each section and linger to enjoy shops, restaurants and parks as they blaze a trail of discovery from U. City, Clayton and Webster Groves to Florissant, St. Charles and Edwardsville, and many other destinations on both banks of the Mississippi and Missouri. The book makes a great gift to show the uninitiated a new way around the Gateway City or for hometowners to enjoy a staycation with an added twist of mystery and intrigue. While you wear out shoe leather on your quest, you can meet Hoover on her book tour—virtual events, mostly. The next virtual event is tomorrow (May 20) via St. Louis Public Library; another is coming up June 2 via Kirkwood Public Library. They’re free, but registration is required to receive the meeting link. She’ll soon appear in person—outside—in Webster Groves. Her mantra: Never come back the same way you went! My wife and I can dig that. She weaned me off I-64/Hwy. 40 such that we take Clayton or Ladue roads or Olive Boulevard, and we eschew I-270 for Lindbergh. Manchester, however, is almost never the way to go west, young feller. Anyhow, figuring out what’s where is satisfying, of course, but you can convert your hunt into real treasure by answering clues at stlscavenger.com for a chance to win a variety of local prizes—and a grand prize of $500.