We Built This City

Landmarks Association raises the roof

For the George Costanzas of St. Louis -- folks who, deep down, always wanted to call themselves architects -- May should prove a wish-fulfilling kinda month. Nationwide, it's Historic Preservation Month; locally, the Landmarks Association of St. Louis has decided to pull out all the (door)stops and expand their nine-day period of tours and lectures into a month-long one, running through May 31.

The supersized events schedule (which you can have mailed to you by calling 314-421-6474) is fitting, considering that the Arch(itecture) City and the outlying county claim well over 120 sites and structures on the National Register of Historic Places. Also, St. Louisans could stand to wake up and smell the concrete, according to Carolyn Toft, executive director of the Landmarks Association. "When people come here from out of town -- whether it's Philly, Toronto, San Francisco, pretty much wherever -- and I'm called upon to give them tours, they're overwhelmed by our architectural resources," says Toft. "In fact, sometimes I fear that out-of-towners appreciate it more than we do."

Highlights of the almost-entirely-free festival include work-in-progress visits to the Robert G. Campbell House downtown -- its innards exposed because it's in mid-restoration -- and the North Side's De Hodiamont House and nearby Concrete Block Historic District, a neighborhood, says Toft, "I'd bet hardly anybody even knows about." A kid-tailored event the Landmark Association has offered before -- called "What Are Buildings Made Of?" -- will also be offered three times toward the end of the month and should supply the sort of expert-architecture info the George Costanzas of the world crave. -- Rose Martelli

Vagabondage and Domination

FRI 5/9

Fashion-conscious ladies and the men who spoil them are heading to Faust Park's St. Louis Carousel House (15185 Olive Boulevard) for a high-toned fashion show that offers towering, angular professional models and the calorie-rich appetizers they avoid. After the snacks and drinks, guests will cluster around the runway as the gals, sporting duds from Rock Hill/Chicago clothier Vagabonds Boutique and Israeli jewelry from St. Louis importers Mavrik, show off the merch. The $15-$17 admission (call Ambiance event planners at 636-795-1579 for $2 off) includes a goodie bag with samples, freebies and coupons. The Mavrik jewelry is a little different -- it's colorful and funky stuff by eight name designers, and you won't find it anywhere else in St. Louis. (They also sell Ahava Dead Sea skin products). And you can ride the horsies! -- Byron Kerman

Free Books If You Look
BookCrossing serendipity

BookCrossing is a free international library with no walls. Finding the books is the tricky part. Here's how it works: You're riding MetroLink, for instance, when you spy a used copy of Erich Segal's Love Story sitting by its lonesome. You can tell from the BookCrossing sticker on the cover that this book isn't lost, though -- it's meant to be taken. You grab the book, finish it later, wipe away the tears and register your (temporary) possession of the book at www.bookcrossing.com. At the site, you can also see comments from those who read the very same copy and trace its journey across the city, country and planet. Then you "release" the book at, say, a movie theater or during your trip to Dubai. The next lucky finder repeats the process. Check out the modest "Crossing Zone" minilibraries at the ArtLoft Theatre, Meshuggah Coffeehouse and Left Bank Books to start the process. -- Byron Kerman

Their Fame Ain't Fickle
Wizard, Easy and a Doobie are in

SUN 5/11

The cultural mayor of St. Louis, Blueberry Hill and Pageant Theatre owner Joe Edwards, has deemed it time to add five more stars to the St. Louis Walk of Fame, these to be placed on Delmar Boulevard just west of Kingsland Avenue.

The fifteenth annual ceremony welcomes William Greenleaf Eliot, co-founder of Washington University in 1853 and called "the Saint of the West" by Ralph Waldo Emerson; "Easy Ed" Macauley, NBA Hall of Famer; Michael McDonald, former Doobie Brother, Steely Dan studio fixture, five-time Grammy winner and pioneer of the blue-eyed-soul sound of the 1970s and '80s; Kay Thompson, former singer who made memories for millions of little girls with her bestselling Eloisebooks; and some guy named Ozzie Smith. The encomiums fly at 1:30 p.m., near the corner of Westgate Avenue and Delmar Boulevard. Call 314-727-STAR or visit www.stlouiswalkoffame.org for more on the free ritual. -- Matt Heintz

See Wee Trees!

You may think your dad is fanatical about pruning his hedges, but you ain't seen nothin' until you've seen the wee little hedges at the Bonsai Society of Greater St. Louis Show and Sale at the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard, 314-577-9400). The Japanese art of bonsai involves trimming and shaping plants into miniature replicas of full-size trees. Hours of meticulous craftsmanship go into each plant, and a correctly grown bonsai supposedly grants a sense of harmony and serenity to the viewer. Additionally, you feel like a mighty giant striding though an ancient forest that pales beside your own grandiose stature. The Bonsai Show is on display from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 10 and 11, and it's free with regular Garden admission. -- Paul Friswold

 
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