Scottish pop singer Edwyn Collins once lamented that there were "too many protest singers, not enough protest songs." Of course, his song was then used to sell the teen drama Empire Records, so Collins' pithy and accurate assessment of the political climate went almost unnoticed.
Civilian Spirits: Sounds From the Silent Majority, a multimedia group art show at the City Museum (701 North 15th Street, 314-231-2489) curated by Brent Underwood and Gena Brady, seeks to provide a forum for protest singers of all sorts. The show features the works of visual artists, musicians and writers exploring the effects of "globalism, consumerism, foreign policy and trade, and dissent and patriotism" on the human spirit. The group's manifesto (available at www.civilianspirits.com) urges people to produce more and consume less, communicate more and talk less, and accept that it's "OK to be dirty, messy, make mistakes and die." This ethic will be illustrated by the artwork (which is scheduled to hang November 7-28) of Robert Goetz, Nanette Vinson, Greg Chambers and several other artists, and will be fully realized on the evening of November 14 in a multifaceted group performance from 7 p.m. to midnight. Ed Bishop of the St. Louis Journalism Review gets things under way at 7:30 p.m. with a presentation on corporate ownership of the media; Bill Ayers (pictured), co-founder of the Weather Underground and author of Fugitive Days: Then and Now, will speak at 9 p.m. on the current U.S. foreign policy and how it compares with that of the Vietnam era; and starting at 10:30 p.m. RFT favorites Eric Hall and Ben Hanna will create an "experimental audio collage" to round out the evening.
So take a little time to stroll around the building, look at some art, hear some dissenting viewpoints and disagree with your neighbor about what it all means. Disagreement is the theme of the evening, and it's much better to vent your misgivings than suffer in silence. Admission is $7.50. -- Paul Friswold
A Spire Higher
If you think it's miraculous that entire subdivisions can be erected overnight, your sense of proportion needs adjusting. In hopes of gaining a more detailed understanding of what makes true architectural miracles, Columbia University's Stephen Murray has digitally mapped the world's most awe-inspiring medieval structures. The professor lays down some spire-spiel with "Medieval Architecture and the New Media: Representing and Creating Humanistic Content," at 6 p.m. in Washington University's Steinberg Auditorium (located in the Gallery of Art in Steinberg Hall, near the intersection of Skinker and Forsyth boulevards). The lecture is free and open to the public, and a reception will follow. For more information, call 314-935-9347. -- John Goddard
German, Film Now!
Klaus Kinski was the German Marlon Brando, in that working with him could be impossible. Yet he made four fine films with equally crazy director Werner Herzog. What was the secret of their success together? When the actor repeatedly threatened to walk off the set of 1973's Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Herzog finally put a gun to his head and told him not to: Kinski listened. In Aguirre, Kinski plays a conquistador leading his men deep into South America searching for El Dorado, only to find madness (and lots of monkeys). The film screens at 7 p.m. at Forest Park's Saint Louis Art Museum as part of the German Art Now exhibit ($5, 314-721-0072). -- Mark Dischinger
Haydn from the Boss
Another day, another lunch downtown. For many who work in the city, it's the same old restaurants and the same old desperation to make that single hour of blessed freedom in the midst of eight hours of tedium stretch for as long as possible. How can you beat the anomie of your routine? Start with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra chamber group performing at the Equitable Building (10 South Broadway, 314-534-1700) from 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m. Pack a PB&J and bring it to the free concert, and eat while the musicians pour class all over your dining experience. When the good vibes of a Friday meet the majesty of live classical music, you'll feel it. -- Byron Kerman