Peanuts Gallery

The stories of St. Louis resemble the motifs of the late Charles Schulz

With the closing of the St. Marcus Theatre as a result of those aforementioned gay-sex issues, Scott Miller's New Line Theatre went a-wandering, first to the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theatre at Washington University for a celebratory revival of Hair. The company now finds itself sharing the ArtLoft space with the HotHouse Theatre Company. Joan Lipkin and That Uppity Theatre Company are still without a home, and those who made the regular visit to Lipkin's AC/DC Series are without the stories from people at the fringes of culture that the series generally provided.

Some spaces don't appear; others are threatened with destruction. Busch Stadium is probably as due for the wrecking ball as any not-even-40-year-old building can be. As Andrew Young once observed, when 100 businessmen decide something is going to happen, it happens. The blockhead Cardinal owners want to take a historic structure, the first of the truly modern stadiums, and make it into yet another replica of Camden Yards, which is just another replica of various older stadiums. Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum -- the wonderful folks who thrust the federal-courthouse phallus into the skyline, who gave us the Postmodernism 101 addition to the Missouri Historical Society, who propagate a desert of architectural blandness, not just in St. Louis but around the world -- will build a stadium absent of history. Think of how Busch Stadium, if it were renovated and remained standing, would stand counter to the new fancies pillaging the economies of cities everywhere. The very nostalgia Wrigley Field banks on could belong to Busch as well: the stadium that ushered in a new brand of baseball, where with modernity came integration, where people can still point to Willie McCovey's poke or any number of McGwire's. We endanger memory when the edifices where that memory resides are destroyed. Whatever the economic dreams (easily burst with any economic reason) the owners have for a new stadium, they're neglecting the value of the old, especially as it may contrast with the new.

No one should get all moony about how Busch binds a fractured city together -- it didn't in the '60s, and don't expect a new stadium (or a central arts-and-entertainment district) to do so at the start of the new century, either. One sure and yet constantly neglected gathering space for this fractured city is the river -- another one of those truths that everyone knows and everyone talks about and then does nothing to change. Coming in April is a lecture at the Missouri History Museum on "Reclaiming Our Riverfront." When this column began a year-and-a-half ago, the first topic was the neglect of the river and how this neglect stalled the progress, and precipitated the decline, of the city. Go into the Post-Dispatch archives and find editorials making the same obvious conclusion, year after year. Yet St. Louis sits on the banks of the river that defines America, a bag over its head.

Grand Center Inc. sold City Arts the option on the Medinah Temple for $1. Now the arts consortium finds itself with a dilapidated building and wonders whether that dollar was money well spent.
Grand Center Inc. sold City Arts the option on the Medinah Temple for $1. Now the arts consortium finds itself with a dilapidated building and wonders whether that dollar was money well spent.

Good grief. What blockheads. How did you know so much about St. Louis, Charles Schulz?

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