You know the legend about the 1904 World's Fair giant Ferris wheel -- that the 70-ton axle, too massive to be removed, was buried somewhere in Forest Park. To this day nobody's been able to prove that one, but Diane Rademacher has tracked down dozens of other noteworthy artifacts from the fair, and where they wound up may surprise you.
Memories of the eye-popping fair led some wealthy types and institutions to purchase and move entire buildings from the fairgrounds. The restored Connecticut Pavilion currently sits in Lafayette, Indiana, and the 1737 Cahokia Courthouse actually traveled from Cahokia, Illinois, to Forest Park to Chicago, and finally back to Cahokia, where you can step inside it to this day.
It's all in Rademacher's new book, Still Shining: Discovering Lost Treasures from the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. The author's mad scavenger hunt also yielded the location of Thomas Jefferson's original tombstone, which journeyed from Virginia to St. Louis to, of all places, a mundane patch of earth at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where it now rests. Don't forget the 56-foot iron statue of Roman god Vulcan (pictured), currently looking down on Birmingham, Alabama.
The Power of Conviction
Ideologically, that is
Artists who have done time in jail stand a little taller than their non-convict brethren. Just as the Butthole Surfers became larger than life after being beaten by Mexican police, so too did Thomas Mapfumo become a legendary figure after being sent to prison for his chimurenga (meaning "struggle" in the Shona language) music. The difference between the two is that the Surfers steered clear of Mexico after their unfortunate incarceration, while Mapfumo continues to fly in the teeth of his oppressors with every album. Thirty years into his career, Mapfumo and Blacks Unlimited continue to release vital protest songs influenced by both traditional Zimbabwean music and Mapfumo's love of American soul. (The Butthole Surfers, meanwhile, kinda suck.) Mapfumo performs a free show at 4 p.m. at the Steinberg Gallery of Art on the Washington University campus (Forsyth and Skinker boulevards; 314-935-4523). -- Paul Friswold
If you've ever wondered how Rankin and Bass got Burl Ives into that tiny snowman costume for 1964's Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, or how Karel Zeman trained those dino-saurs for 1955's Journey to the Beginning of Time, then this is for you. In cooperation with the St. Louis International Film Festival, the good folks of ciné16 present Behind the Screens, a collection of six short films exploring various filmmaking techniques. Lighting, stop-motion photography, location, pixelation and non-photographic filmmaking are just a few of the topics among the evening's offerings.
See Behind the Screensat Mad Art (2727 South 12th Street, next door to Anheuser-Busch headquarters). Doors open at 7 p.m. for mingling and pleasantries, and the projectors start rolling at 8 p.m. ciné16's monthly screening of classic short films is always free, and hot dogs, popcorn, candy bars and hard and soft beverages are available. For more information, visit www.cine16.com, or call Mad Art at 314-771-8230. -- John Goddard
For the younger folks, St. Louis' Gaslight Square exists only in photographs; for people like Jay Brandt, who worked as a busboy in his mother's tavern during Gaslight Square's heyday, photographs don't even begin to tell the story. As a precursor to Thursday night's screening of the documentary Gaslight Square: The Forgotten Landmark (at the Tivoli, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, $8), Brandt has invited Gaslight legends Jeanne Trevor, Peanuts Whalum and Prentice Minner to perform at his eponymous restaurant (6525 Delmar Boulevard, 314-727-3663) from 7 to 11 p.m. Admission is free. -- Paul Friswold