"People think they invented this stuff -- I take it personally. I took beatings so you could dye your hair blue. Whatever. The 17-year-old kids have every right to do what I did, but tell them what they're doing is nothing new." Mike Ness (Social Distortion)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


The Spirit of St. Louis

I'd been to St. Louis twice before. The first was with some very good high school friends the summer after graduation as a last hurrah before we all left to various colleges. The excuse was to see Phish at the Riverport Ampitheatre, a band I have never enjoyed and who did little for me live. I didn't get to see much of St. Louis on that trip though, since the Riverport is not really in St. Louis and we were only there for about 30 hours total.

The second time was about a year later with my testing the waters after some wierd stuff family. It was a good trip, but, as most vacations with my parents are, we stayed on the beaten path, seeing the things we were supposed to see and eating the things we were supposed to eat. It was a lot of fun, but it didn't really allow me to see what makes St. Louis be St. Louis.

This time, going with Denise, who has a spirit for the less known and the funky, I got to see much of St. Louis that I hadn't seen before. Sure, we did stuff like the Arch and spent 20 minutes at Union Station and went to their wonderful free Zoo (probably the best I've seen, and at least ten times as nice as the shithole that is the Dallas Zoo).

But this time I got to go to places like the Hill, the traditional old Italian neighborhood of St. Louis with its Green, White, and Red fireplugs and amazing toasted ravioli. I also went to the Loop, the area close to Washington University, where I got to do some shopping at Vintage Vinyl and peruse imported goods shops with Fair Trade Coffee available. I got to bum around left bank books for a bit, sipping on a bottle of Fitz's Root Beer. And we did a lot of off-highway driving, passing mile after mile of old brick townhouses, crammed close together and in various states of condition.

We also ate some amazing food, going to a nice little tapas place, an awesome little Brazilian restaurant that was in a converted home (permitting us to see the inside of one of the brick townhouses too), and ate at Chuck Berry's Restaurant. The Shlafly Tap Room allowed me to have a few of the best microbrews I've ever had with a couple of kindred spirits (and I brought a six-pack home). I even got to go out to a college bar by the SLU campus that had a ten dollar cover for all you could manage to get from the bartender well-drinks for a couple of hours.

It was a much needed vacation and a very fun one. It's the first time I've gotten to explore a new city in over two years, which, combined with the reading of some fictional travel-novels, has completely made me miss my days of leaving the country pretty much once a year and discovering new stuff.

I'm hopefully going to D.C. this Spring (I've now got a place to crash out there) and from there on, who knows. With Denise moving to Houston at the beginning of the year, New Orleans is a short jaunt away. One of the things about St. L that really stuck out is that it's an old city (as far as U.S. standards, and definitely as far as Mid-West standards). That just makes it so much more appealing. I'd love to go back sometime to catch some of the stuff that I missed, but for now I'll enjoy trying to burn my good times into my permanent memory drive and lament being back under flourescent lights in my cubicle cell.

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