Talk of the Towns

Talk of the Towns: 7.10.19

st. louis hills
Considering the giant leaps we have accomplished since, it actually was one very small step for mankind on July 20, 1969. Any news from that whole International Space Station thing that’s been going on since 1995 is below the fold of most newspapers nowadays, if not inside. Sad. Chin up, space cadets: Rich Heuermann of the St. Louis Astronomical Society will present ‘A Tourist’s Guide to Mars’ at the Buder Branch of the St. Louis Public Library at 1 p.m. July 20, the 50th anniversary of two men walking on the moon. The president even has talked about going back. (But why? Does he want the flag back?) Mr. President, the best place for your U.S. Space Force to send its first group of interns is Mars! Today, robots are exploring the Red Planet’s surface. Orbiters are scoping out who knows what from above. Perhaps suitable real estate for subdivisions. Scientists would be first to land, of course. But, if the warming of our beloved globe isn’t reversed, maybe settlers will have to go clear out the martians, claim territory, ignore treaties and … OK. The planet is barren, but tourists already want to bring trinkets home. A vacation on Mars? What SPF would you need to use? Heuermann’s presentation—less glib, to be sure—will introduce you to the ‘must-see’ sites: volcanoes bigger than Missouri, canyon systems as wide as the United States, and ancient rivers and lake beds. Heuermann will share some science, show off spectacular NASA photos, and wrap up with a look at possibilities for human bases and settlements. Y’all should come. To the library, where no extra oxygen is needed. There’s plenty for everybody in and outside the building at 4401 Hampton Ave.

webster groves
There will be brains all over the stage in an upcoming production by Nine Network of Public Media. (Note: This is neither gory, nor an assemblage of nerdy Einstein wannabes.) BrainWorks: The Theatre of Neuroscience, a theatrical performance and future public television series, explores the wonders of the human brain by dramatizing real-life neurological cases to reveal the science behind Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, brain tumors and stroke. BrainWorks is a collaboration between Washington U. neurosurgeons Eric Leuthardt, M.D., and Albert Kim, M.D., Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Nine Network. It will run July 19-21 at the Loretto-Hilton Center in Webster Groves. What began in 2011 as an annual TED-style lecture series about advances in medicine became neuroscience theater, selling out multiple performances and introducing new ways for the great unwashed to understand what’s inside their skulls. Channel 9’s BrainWorks production, a one-hour special, won a regional Emmy in 2016. Drs. Leuthardt and Kim are hosts of the “Brain Coffee” podcast.

If it’s about time to celebrate Bastille Day in North America, one need not travel to a French-speaking region of Canada to partie vers le bas (party down). Every year on or about July 14, St. Louisans need only venture to the ’Wood—the streets, sidewalks and stores of Maplewood—for Let Them Eat Art, where even we shouldn’t complain about how hot it is. (Southern France just hit its all-time heat record—114.6 degrees Fahrenheit—on June 28.) Well, if you haven’t already, forget that Marie Antoinette got beheaded and all of that other French Revolution stuff from way back around the 1790s. Celebrate in all-American style from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 12, during this whimsical tribute to the French holiday: Enjoy art demonstrations, live music, and food and drink from local eateries. (Not all activities start at 6, and not all activities run until 11. Most notably, kids’ activities in Sutton Loop Park run from 6 to 9 p.m.) If it’s hot, don’t drop—just shop: Retailers will have extended hours and offer special event-only promotions. What’s next? Soon you’ll be able to catch the monthly live concert at Ryan Hummert Park, 2400 Sutton Blvd.: Wednesday, July 24, the bluesy Melissa Neels Band will play for free from 6 to 8 p.m. Two more bands are slated to round out the series: Leaky Tiki Aug. 28 and Big Mike Aguirre & The Blu City All-Stars Sept. 25.

the metro
If the federal government seems indifferent to the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico, at least circus performers are trying to do what they can. What on earth can trapeze artists and their ilk do, other than tempt your kids to run away and join them? Here’s what: inspire people and bring them joy, maybe even hope. A novel, cooperative program—Peace Through Pyramids: Puerto Rico—is a partnership between our own Circus Harmony and the National Circus School of Puerto Rico. Last year, they built human pyramids and performed other circus standards in the most devastated parts of the Caribbean island, which was well-documented by an embedded St. Louis American reporter and featured in a HuffPost story. This summer, they’ve brought the same spirit of cooperation to the StL! Future Hall-of-Fame Redbirds catcher Yadier Molina’s Foundation 4 provided seed money for phase two of this unique tour, which began earlier this month and continues through the weekend:

July 10: 7 p.m. at The Muny
July 11: 11 a.m. at O’Fallon Park Rec Complex YMCA
July 12: Time TBD at Busch Stadium/Ballpark Village
July 13: 5:30 p.m. at Incredible Pizza St. Louis
July 14: 2 p.m. at Hispanic Leaders Group at Forest Park Community College

notable neighbors

For a soft-spoken, humble man, James Woods has a pretty lofty goal: to become the best fashion designer in St. Louis. For the time being, he’s aiming a little lower. He’d like to move his modest South St. Louis studio to a more spacious loft downtown, closer to the renaissance in our then-and-now garment district. Presently he’s working in financial services at SLU—but he draws constantly, as he has nonstop since age 5. As a kid, drawing came just as naturally as walking. He figured anybody could do it. When he was still in junior high, he won a scholarship to the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, concentrating on ‘life drawing’… everything and anybody from nature, from the texture of leaves and trees to the human form. Woods finished the program before he even finished high school. His was, and is, a prodigious talent. He can illustrate Spiderman and Batman with the best of them; his Incredible Hulk is persuasively hulky, and his images of Native Americans are stirring. But then there are his elegant women. “I keep my mind focused on fashion design,” says Woods, an array of illustrations on the tabletop in front of him. One is of a women’s jacket with faux fur from elbow to wrist, the lapels and collar a different material. Satin? No, leather. He points out the buckle at the back of the neck of the garment, which he envisions to be made from denim. He grins. “I’ve wanted to design a wedding dress out of denim,” he admits. “I think art shouldn’t be bottled up.” He’s no doubt like many designers with ideas to burn, but Woods hasn’t quite been able to thread that needle with the magic that wends its way from concept to creation to manufacturer. (Now, what do you call a male seamstress? A seamster?) That’s not to say he hasn’t worked in the industry. He’s had a couple of close calls throughout his journey, some of them pretty frustrating. He recalls an exciting hour-long get-together with Nordstrom that started with showing them a shirt he’d made and ended with the company ordering 2,000 pieces. And then disappointment. Woods was neither a manufacturer’s rep—nor, alas, a manufacturer. He worked steadily in La-La-Land designing costumes for the E! cable network. He completed projects for Jim Henson, the Muppet man. He sewed for Bob Mackie. He was a presser for French Connection. Like many aspiring actors in L.A., he did plenty of go-fer work, seeing countless famous folks from where he worked at La Brea Avenue and Sunset Boulevard. But he left L.A. after a divorce and came back to Missouri, his birthplace, to start anew betwixt the East and left coasts. “I want to help build St. Louis as a fashion center,” he says, matter-of-factly. If enthusiasm and raw talent equaled success, you’d be dropping his name. Maybe we all could after not too much longer. He’s presently making clothing and working on a new website. For now, you can see some of his sketches on Instagram at @Dragon54595.