Spring Things

Week of April 17, 2002

Flowering dogwoods? Horny animals? Opening-day bacchanalia? What is your favorite first sign of spring?

"Men in skirts on Main Street ... oh, wait, that was the Scottish parade," quips Sam Handlang, honcho with the Life Skills Foundation, enjoying a pinot noir at the Winery of the Little Hills. April 6 was National Tartan Day, and while Sean Connery bared his knees in the New York festivities, the kilt-clad clans of Bruce, Henderson, Wallace, MacCauley and more -- led to the tune of "Scotland the Brave" by the Invera'an Pipe Band -- paraded in St. Charles.

"I love spring! It's when nature comes alive," says Antique Architectural Décor's Mark Pitliangis. "And my favorite first sign is when the birds, the rabbits and all the little animals start mating -- and that gives me ideas ... sick ideas." Over the last year, Pitliangis has transformed the interior of downtown's Clark Peeper building into a decorative fantasy. Patterned after Biltmoor, Cornelius Vanderbilt's North Carolina mansion, the large main room, with its ceiling frescoes, classical statuary, cut-limestone fireplace, waterfall and fully stocked bar, is not only a showcase of Pitliangis' talents, it is a testament to fulminating decadence.

They jumped ship at KDHX-FM seven months ago and a found a lifeboat with WEW-AM, the oldest radio station in St. Louis. Otis Woodard, half of the weekday morning show with co-host Roy St. John, says that beyond any doubt "It's when the catfish start biting. I'm the person they watch. If I start catching, that actually is like the starting gun of the fishing season in North St. Louis. And I've been out five times already, so spring is here. Sometimes the temperature doesn't show it, but my catfish bucket shows it."

"My favorite sign of spring?" returns Beth Cardinali. "Seeing all those nice-looking buff guys jogging in the park -- woo-hoo!" Cardinali, owner of Pino's Pizza with husband John, works the five-stool bar after the downtown crowd has left for the day. There, over Bud longnecks, regulars "Eskimo Dan" and "Parking Lot Bob" remark on the coincidence that Pino's and Jack Carl's deli, Two Cents Plain, stood side by side in Gaslight Square and now, 40 years later, they are neighbors downtown on Olive Street. What goes around ...

Anthony Beel, lead guitar for rockabilly band Liquid Prairie and appliance repairman ("Just like my pop") says that this year, his fave first sign of spring has been "seeing a guy on the downtown MetroLink with a robin in his mouth."

 
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