Arch Madness

Saint Louis Gate Keepers

Saint Louis Gate Keepers

The Saint Louis Arch is turning fifty years old this week and in celebration of this event there have been many activities occurring around town. Probably the biggest event is the ongoing renovation of the Arch museum and surrounding grounds. This is a multiyear process, but some of the first fruits of this rehab are just now coming to fruition. How’s that for alliteration? In particular the integrating of the Arch grounds into the rest of downtown Saint Louis. Previously, the Arch had been separated from Saint Louis by I-70, as if by a moat. Now, a greenway covers the highway and pedestrians can easily walk to and fro from downtown to the Arch. Further developments will renovate the riverfront side of the Arch, connect the Arch to Laclede’s Landing and totally redo the Arch’s underground museum. The whole process is expected to continue for a couple more years, but this year marks the 50th anniversary of its construction. There were fireworks, Saturday and further celebrations are planned for Wednesday, its official birthday. As part of the lead up to this week, the Missouri History Museum showed an Arch retrospective. Part of this exhibit was a wall of local logos that use the Arch as part of their design. Most of the logos were of a rather offbeat sort, many of them like the one above for a local roller derby team had an occult flavor. Featuring this one and others of its ilk this week, the week before Halloween seems rather apropos.

Sunday morning, we sported for a family brunch at the Peacock Diner in the Loop: Anne, Dave, Dan, Dan’s friend Tessa and me. We scored the Carousel of Love and like the name implies is a booth-like table that rotates. Unfortunately for us though, the carousel has seen way too much love and now management requests that diners resist the urge to merry-go-round. Tessa and Dan had scored what became the party room at the Moonrise hotel, just down the street, for the after the reception party. Hotel security showed up twice, plus there was also a fight. Now that’s a wedding! The young’uns have all returned to their respective domiciles and Anne and I are again empty nesters, but it was fun while it lasted.

Happy Sestercentennial, Thanks IKEA

The Saint Louis Arch

The Saint Louis Arch

Saint Louis was founded by Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau on February 15, 1764. That will make next year, Saint Louis’s 250th anniversary. The City of Saint Louis will begin celebrating this anniversary on New Year’s Eve and continue with festivities throughout 2014. This is good news, but anyone could have seen this party coming. In a bit of a surprise, city Mayor Slay announced today that IKEA will build a store in town. The store will be located near Vandeventer and Forest Park Avenues, southwest of SLU. Groundbreaking is scheduled for next summer, with the store opening in the fall of 2015. This news will act as a great salve to our hurt feeling, because we all knew here that Kansas City’s IKEA will open next year. Many other metropolitan areas have been enjoying their IKEA for years. I’m just glad that we’ll finally be getting ours, even if it will have taken 251 years to get here.

The placement of this IKEA store in our urban core is a bit of a departure from their usual business model. Normally, IKEA stores are placed in the suburbs. This difference didn’t go without complaint from some of my more white bread colleagues. Some scoffed at Mr. Slay’s assertion that this store marks a turnaround of the flight of jobs and people from the city. Their derision probably prevented them from hearing the mayor’s enumeration of other store chains that will also be setting up shop in town, Whole Foods and Lululemon to name a few. I fled their company, in order to hang out with the cool kids. They were nice to me today, even though I brought ‘tidings of great joy’. Their take on the store’s location was totally different, because they live within five miles of that spot. One of them, a Michigan grad, even offered that they had softened up Ohio State for me. I hope that this is true. Eventually, we all agreed that win or lose, Michigan State is almost certain to go to the Rose Bowl. It’s a BCS thing.

Muddy Waters

We were feeling a bit fatigued this morning, after yesterday’s Paducah quilt adventure. So, it wasn’t until after noon that we got out of the house and drove downtown to the Arch. We wanted take pictures of the flooding and also to walk the Arch grounds. If you scroll backwards a couple of days, you’ll see a photo of the Lewis and Clark statue on the Saint Louis Riverfront. It is partially submerged. I took that picture a couple of years ago. If you look closely at the photograph with this post, the one with the stop sign in it, you’ll see that only the top of the hat is still above the water now. The river crested a couple of days ago and has already receded a few steps, leaving behind mud everywhere. At its height, this year’s flood water likely completely covered the Lewis and Clark statue. Another photograph shows Anne standing on the twelfth step from the top, on the staircase in front of the Arch. I’m standing on the top step. At the height of the 1993 flood the water came up to where Anne is seen standing, some fifty feet above flood stage.


The show frizzflopsqueezepop by Claire Ashley was at the Chicago Cultural Center, when we saw it last month. This show closed last week. The inflatables that she has created are abstract canvases filled with hot air. These brightly colored plastic toys are created in a loud and carefree spray-painting style adapted from that of the street graffiti artist. Produced from large scraps of PVC coated canvas hand-sewn together, painted, and then inflated via an embedded air-blower into the rotund bulbous forms seen here. Recent incorporation of these inflatables into parades and performance art works, often feature the performers embedded within the inflatable itself.

Tuesday was Election Day and Anne worked the polls as an election official. Being an election official is a fifteen hour work day. She gets up at four and leaves the house before five. The polls are open from six AM to seven PM. Anne usually returns home after eight at night. It is a long exhausting day. Yesterday things didn’t go according to plan.

Anne’s duck began quacking at four. The quacking ducks are her favorite iPhone alarm. They didn’t wake her up, but they did me. I then woke her up. She got up, but I had problems falling back to sleep. Eventually though I did fall asleep again, only to be awoken again when Anne announced, “My car won’t start. I’m taking yours.” Before I could react or even wake up she was gone.

I got up, waited for dawn and then bicycled over to her poll in Maplewood. I threw my bike into the back of the Prius and drove it back home. I checked Anne’s car and noticed that one of the doors had been left ajar, since last Thursday. I got ready and then drove to work, where nine out of nine of the guys there agreed that that I had been wronged. After work, after I had voted and after I had gotten her car started, I called Anne. She had already arranged for a ride home, so I didn’t need to complete my morning dance again, in reverse.

There was only one issue of note on our ballot, Proposition P, the so-called Arch tax. It passed, but calling it the Arch tax is somewhat a misnomer. Only 30% of the monies raised with this sales tax will go to the Arch. They plan to reconnect the Arch with the rest of downtown Saint Louis. Currently, I-70 acts as a moat separating the Arch from Saint Louis. 40% of the money will go to maintain Saint Louis city and county parks. The remaining 30% will be given to a non-profit Confluence Greenway for the development of bicycle trails in Saint Louis.

I was miffed by Anne’s cavalier behavior, but I shouldn’t have been. It got me out on the bike in the early AM and I haven’t ridden at that hour for some time. It was a cold, crisp, beautiful, early spring morning. I’ll have to do it again soon, only this time of my own free will.