Amy Wall is an Omaha, Nebraska native who made St. Louis home a few years ago when she started school at Saint Louis University. She now has a degree in the arts and a four-year stint as part of the booking team for SLU’s on-campus music venue, the Billiken Club, under her belt. Currently she brings home her bacon by helping the OnStL team explore St. Louis and waiting tables at The Fountain on Locust. She believes in the goodness of music, art, and generous tippers.
Hello again from Timisoara, Romania! I've been here for a little over a week now, so I feel like it's time for me debunk some myths and misnomers that were being thrown around the OnStL office before I left.
I am in Timisoara checking in to see how St. Louis stacks up to this city in Romania. I've been asked a lot of questions about what Timisoara has and how it compares to St. Louis. Here are a couple answers.
Thanks to everyone who left comments on Facebook with St. Louis staples for me to compare with their Timisoarean couterparts. I still have lots to answer, but there is one I wanted to address right away: Joy Christensen, of OnStL, All Star Radio, and Fountain on Locust fame, asked,
"St. Louis has The Fountain on Locust!!!! What does Timisoara have that is even one iota as yummy?"
Well, Joy, I would never argue that a comparable establishment to the Fountain exists anywhere. What Timisoara does have, though, are pastry shops. And they are everywhere. There's one just a few steps from the door of my hotel (pretty dangerous for me) that sells all sorts of sweet and savory pastries, from super-sweet Turkish inspired dough to meat-filled Hungarian/Romanian pastries to Greek-like baklava. You can't walk far in Timisoara without passing one of these shops, sort of like the ubiquitous kebab places throughout Europe (those who have travelled around Europe will know what I mean). Certainly these pastries aren't anything like The Fountain on Locust's ice cream, but they are doing a bang-up job of satisftying my sweet tooth while I'm here.
The images on the left are the offerings of the pastry shop across from my hotel, and the photo on the right is me enjoying a layered cherry butter pastry.
St. Louis has the Midtown Taste and Art Fair, Timisoara has the Timisoreana 10 Day Beer Festival. We stumbled across this festival yesterday on the last day of celebrations. Beer was plentiful, as were grilled sausages and booths selling locally made foods like honey and cheese. A "hard rock" band, Cargo, played as drivers intermittently drove Harley Davidsons across the stage.
Find more information about the festival here.
If you’re like me, you’re ready for the first post-Halloween weekend of this year where costumes are no longer mandatory but candy is still plentiful. Even though most of the spooky attractions close today, there is still plenty going on in our lovely city this weekend. Here are just a couple ideas:
I moved to St. Louis in 2008, newly eighteen and ready to be in a city larger than Omaha, Nebraska. Not that Omaha is tiny, but St. Louis always seemed so much larger. I was disappointed to find that no cosmopolitan paradise awaited me here, rather a city that in all respects is past its heyday. For me, the view of St. Louis from Omaha maintained some of its bygone splendor, riding the wave that industrial American culture created for it around the turn of 20th century. When I got here, however, I found that the bustling metropolis mentality had been abandoned as most of the buildings had. In four years I have seen incontrovertible proof, on streets full of architecturally-significant-now-decomposing buildings and inside the bars that once housed some of music’s immortals, that St. Louis did indeed have a period of prosperity. As I began to examine the remnants of a cultural legacy in St. Louis that once loomed large in America, I immediately wanted to know how on earth we came to fall down so far in the ranks- and how the musicians and artists in St. Louis are figuring out how to climb up again.
Let me begin with a disclaimer: I do not always buy in to the nostalgia-soaked view of the twenty-first century in which “all has been done before, there is nothing new under the sun”. I believe in genuine innovation, and moreover I believe the potential for this is alive and well here in St. Louis. In the case of our lovely city, though, I want to look back on the past if only as a harbinger of our future success. After all, if we have done it before, we can certainly do it again.
From Judy Garland’s rendition of 1904’s “Meet me in St. Louis” to Chuck Berry making a name for himself in the 50’s, to Woody Allen, Lenny Bruce, and Miles Davis gaining notoriety in the Central West End’s nearly forgotten Gaslight Square, St. Louis is home to more than its fair share of contributions to American cultural history. I hope that by remembering St. Louis’s days on the vanguard of American culture we may discover the potential of the artists currently working here.
St. Louis hasn’t often been pegged as a hot spot for national music acts, but as this year’s incarnation of the aptly named LouFest- a two-day music festival in Forest Park’s Central Field- showed, that may well change very soon. This was just the third year of the annual event that has previously hosted amphitheater groups like Broken Social Scene and Cat Power, and it is showing every indication of creeping into the national music-festival spotlight.
Out of my Nebraskan roots, and the years I spent dwelling in St. Louis’s midtown, a love for mid-sized midwestern communities has grown. I was born and bred to adore the creative ways a non-coastal city fills the cultural vacuum formed by its land-locked-ness to the brim with homegrown music, art, and fashion. And I have learned to appreciate St. Louis because it is geographically nestled far away from the densely populated urban centers of the artistic avant-garde, and not in spite of it. So with the near forgotten splendor of St. Louis’s cultural peak in mind (see: Meet Me in St. Louis, Aloe Plaza), I aim to explore the vibrant artistic and musical community that is still, often contrary to popular belief, very much alive here.
In addition to my contributions, I encourage any and all suggestions for places to find the music and art that you, fellow St. Louisans, enjoy.