ladue | Two upcoming author events at the county library’s new headquarters branch on Lindbergh Boulevard across from Plaza Frontenac are worthy of note. One could call both books beach reads, so find a beach or maybe just a beach towel and swimming pool. First, bestselling suspense author Meg Gardiner appears for a discussion and signing of Shadowheart, the latest installment in her popular thriller series featuring FBI profiler Caitlin Hendrix. Gardiner’s program at 7 p.m. on June 25 is free and open to the public. Books will be available for purchase at the branch. Her novel poses an agonizing question: What happens when two serial killers begin to compete with each other? Gardiner, The New York Times bestselling author of 16 novels, “is the next suspense superstar,” asserts Stephen King, a somewhat prominent author himself. Gardiner’s thrillers have won the Edgar Award, been summer reading picks by The Today Show and Oprah’s O magazine, and been praised as “Hitchcockian” and “nail biting and moving” by other prominent publications. Then at 7 p.m. on June 27, Gabrielle Zevin, internationally bestselling novelist and author of 2022’s Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, will appear at the branch to discuss and sign her book. Tickets can be purchased through Eventbrite, and include a paperback copy of the book. The plot follows childhood friends Sam Masur and Sadie Green, who as brilliant Harvard classmates develop a wildly successful video game. Not even 25 yet, neither their intelligence, sudden success nor lifelong friendship can protect them from their own creative ambitions or betrayal. Zevin delves into the nature of identity, challenges of disability and failure, the redemptive possibilities in game play, and above all, our need to love and be loved. Zevin won the Goodreads Choice Fiction Award; it also was named Amazon’s Best Book of 2022, as well as a best book of the year by The NYT, Time, The Globe and Mail, among others. Gardiner and Zevin will appear at the Clark Family Branch, 1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd.

union station
Recreational additions to our historic train station—once the nation’s largest and busiest, now a burgeoning entertainment destination across Market Street from the soccer stadium—are set to open Memorial Day weekend in 2025. The additions touch somewhere in between Six Flags and a carnival in the parking lot at your parish. To complement the 200-foot-tall Ferris wheel, which incidentally is now featured in the station logo, three new amusement rides and a carnival midway will be installed adjacent to the St. Louis Wheel, just outside the southern part of Union Station. The rides, midway and concessions stand to enhance the family-friendly complex with a carousel, ropes course and 18-hole miniature golf course already nearby. Construction will begin in January, and the rides include:

  • Mini Spinning Coaster: Themed as a train, the 16-seat coaster will be designed to celebrate Union Station’s rich railway heritage, but with thrilling twists and turns as high as 22 feet above the ground.
  • Pirate Ship: With 42 seats, this classic amusement ride will swing guests more than 48 feet above the park and offer unique views of the city.
  • Wave Swinger: Themed to pay homage to our 1904 World’s Fair, this 64-seat ride will elevate guests to a height of more than 43 feet.
  • Midway games? Think old favorites like Whack-a-Mole and skee ball, with prizes awarded for exceptional skill. To complete the nostalgic, turn-of-the-century feel, guests may satisfy cravings or attempt to settle rumbly tummies with a range of goodies available back in the day. Maybe even ice-cream cones, which reportedly were introduced at the 1904 fair!

That little ol’ band from Texas just keeps chooglin’ along after more than 50 years. Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famers ZZ Top will be in concert Thursday, Nov. 14 at The Factory, in The District in Chesterfield Valley. With iconography almost as distinctive as their sound, ZZ Top means chest-length beards, hotrods, spinning guitars and that magic keychain that many of us witnessed all that back when MTV actually played music videos. Their string of hit singles includes their 1973 breakthrough “La Grange” as well as “Tush,” “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs.” In 2021, the power trio faced a huge loss with the passing of founding bassist Dusty Hill at age 72. Per Hill’s wishes, longtime guitar tech Elwood Francis stepped up—representin’ with his own passel of facial hair. With Billy F. Gibbons, the guitarist and showman with the croaky voice, drummer Frank Beard (usually sans beard, incidentally) and Francis on bass for the past few years, the group continues to deliver hot and sweaty blues-rock music. Their 2022 album, RAW, recorded at historic Gruene Hall, a dance hall in continual operation since 1878 in New Braunfels, Texas, captures the essence of the band’s 2019 Grammy-nominated documentary. Plus, it’s evident that Francis has the chops. Tickets went on sale June 14, so good luck! (Maybe you know a guy, or a guy who knows a guy…) For more, visit

notable neighbors
If ‘power couple’ is a term still in vogue today, Joe Baker and Elizabeth Watt are definitely a power couple. She’s the reason he opened Black Mountain Wine House in the CWE about a year ago. It was serendipity: Watt was auditioning for a part at Gaslight Theater, next-door to the space at 354 N. Boyle Ave., that had a ‘For Lease’ sign in the window. She got the part, but more importantly, she told Baker he should go check it out. A cozy neighborhood wine bar somewhere in the country had been a dream fermenting in his brain since he met Tyler Maganzini at the flagship location of Black Mountain 12 years ago in Brooklyn, New York, and after much fruit of the vine enjoyed together, it came to fruition along the relatively quiet street here that’s also home to the Blue Strawberry. “I wanted something very ‘neighborhoody,’” Baker says—in the city, but with not so much an urban feel. The wine bar is along a walkable stretch where pedestrians can drop in to cool their heels, sip wine, drink beer, enjoy their adult beverages with a salad or full meal—which Baker’s neighbors do, and they return. “We have folks who come in three times a week,” says Baker, with a smile. “They’re paying the bills, actually.” Black Mountain is not far from his wife’s late grandmother’s U. City home, where the couple resides now with her teenagers, 17 and 14, and the 6-year-old they share (they married in 2016). So, it made perfect sense to settle and set up shop here, not other cities Baker considered, including Indianapolis, Nashville and Chattanooga, Tennessee. Of course, Baker’s seen many life changes since he and Maganzini first crossed paths. But Baker’s neither from Back East, nor is he a St. Louisan; he grew up in British Columbia and earned a BFA at Evergreen State in Olympia, Washington, then moved to Boulder, Colorado, completing an MFA at Naropa University. He also met Watt in Boulder. When she left for L.A., he followed not long afterward, he says, “so she’d have at least one friendly face besides her brother and sister-in-law,” who lived there. In between directing and teaching, he worked in the food and beverage industry, and after 30 years has become quite the wine aficionado. But he’s no snooty sommelier. Black Mountain is unpretentious by design, and special nights offer something for everyone: Complimentary wine tastings, samples poured from five bottles carefully selected from around the globe, every Monday night. Handmade pasta dishes on Tuesdays. A family dinner night the last Friday of every month (reservations required, of course). And guests enjoy freshly baked sourdough bread on Sundays—baked by Baker, natch. Black Mountain marked its first year in business by adding a spacious back patio with seven tables, and an outdoor pizza oven is in the works. Open seven days, the wine house also features a bottle shop with wines to-go and an artist’s corner filled with pottery, woodworking and other local treasures for sale. For more info, to peep the menu or to book event space, visit