Are the days of the multiplex numbered? New outlets for film continue to spring forth in our strange town, with the latest being the Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Boulevard, 314-241-2337). Their new Strange Brew Film Series kicks off at 8 p.m. with a screening of the cult classic Harold and Maude. You know it, you love it, and if you don't, well, there's something wrong with your heart. A love story about a wealthy, young, suicide-bent schmo who finds true love in the spirit and body of a (much) older woman, Harold and Maude is enduring proof that great films are about people, not explosions. OK, there is one explosion in Harold and Maude, but it's a life-affirming act of creation. Admission is $4, but bring extra cash, because the Bottleworks serves beer. Yeah, buddy.
Thursday, May 6
The older, hepper music fan might remember the name Tim Garrigan from the early '90s and a band called Dazzling Killmen. Whatever happened to them? Anyway, Garrigan headed off to Brooklyn (not the east-side one, but the New York one) to continue making music both beautiful and confounding. His album to be & not to be remains a classic of fractured glory. A dreamy, dark-pop hit parade bumping uglies with something strangely hard-edged and resigned, not to be is the urban folk for a generation weaned on equal parts punk rock and outlaw literature. Garrigan visits St. Louis just long enough to perform live on Suffragette City (10 p.m. Tuesday, May 4, on KDHX-88.1FM) and then again at Lemmons (5800 Gravois Avenue, 314-481-4812) on Thursday, May 6. Local cloudscaper Ben Hanna opens the show with his pal Eric Hall.
Friday, May 7
Perhaps you haven't noticed, but there has been much to-do recently about the exploits of Lewis & Clark. While explorer Jon Bowermaster is not a member of the L&C expedition, he has been busy following in their adventurous wake. An author, National Geographic staffer and sea kayaker, Bowermaster spent the past five years kayaking around the world to achieve his goal of visiting all seven continents and Oceania before 2007. Dude, Lewis and Clark stopped when they hit the Pacific Ocean; Bowermaster just kept paddling, visiting the Tuamotus (a French Polynesian atoll chain), kayaking down the coast of Vietnam and crossing the high plains of Bolivia, Chile and Argentina. Bowermaster shows slides from his epic journey at 7 p.m. at the Galleria 6 Cinema (Saint Louis Galleria, Brentwood Boulevard and Highway 40; 314-962-7715) as the guest of the Alpine Shop. Check out www.alpineshop.com for prices and more information.
Saturday, May 8
How much do you know about Taiwan? Really? Is that all? We only knew that it was once called "Formosa," and then we were tapped. Americans have to stop being so ignorant about other cultures. Attending Taiwanese Heritage Day at the Saint Louis Zoo in Forest Park (314-781-0900 or www.stlzoo.org) should help us fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge. Between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., many facets of Taiwanese culture will be on display. Shui-Dang-Dang, a St. Louis-based dance troupe, performs traditional and aboriginal dances of Taiwan, the Palm-puppet Theater presents stories based on ancient legends, and experts in the art of spinning and whirling show off their skills with Taiwanese yo-yos and tops. Kids can learn traditional paper-folding and knot-tying techniques, while the adults can sip tea and ponder the intricacies of the chess demonstrations. All this knowledge is free for the taking, so take some.
Sunday, May 9
Ladislaw Starewicz is not a familiar name for the American moviegoer, but if you've ever been mesmerized by the compelling herky-jerkiness of Ray Harryhausen stop-action animation, admired the sepia-drenched fantasy of the Brothers Quay or marveled at the biomechanical grace of Adam Jones' animations in the Tool videos, you're witnessing the inheritors of Starewicz's artistic legacy. Ninety years before CGI, Starewicz breathed life into shreds of newspaper and broken glass, creating worlds of wonder from mundane objects. The Webster Film Series caps off its "A Short History of Polish Animation" series (Thursday, May 6, and Saturday, May 8) with an 8 p.m. screening of Stop-Motion Masterpieces of Ladislaw Starewicz at the Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue, 314-968-7487). Five of Starewicz's silent shorts will be accompanied by the live improvisations of the New Music Circle. An evening this magical should cost much more than $6 for non-students, but it doesn't. Go, and re-enter the world with renewed senses.
Monday, May 10
The magic year, 2004, has been one of reflection and reminiscence for St. Louis. The anniversaries of the 1904 World's Fair and Lewis & Clark's journey, while being a source of pride for most of St. Louis, have also served to remind people that St. Louis ain't what it used to be. If everybody's so busy looking back, who's looking ahead? Thomas Crone and Bob Reuter may not be gazing dewy-eyed toward a glorious future, but their book Portraits Along the River: Working in the City of St. Louis at least has its heart in the present. An enthralling combination of Crone's interviews with 50 modern St. Louisans and Reuter's photographs of the subjects, Portraits documents the city we call home, as experienced by a broad cross-section of hometowners. In another hundred years, the book will be an invaluable resource for the future's look back at the past. You can enjoy eleven of Reuter's and Crone's collaborations at the Public Policy Research Center (362 Social Sciences & Business Building, on the UMSL campus at 1 University Boulevard; 314-516-5250) weekdays through August 6.
Tuesday, May 11
Cattle Decapitation has been on the road for months now; how tight do you think its live show has become? Once again, Cattle Decapitation is playing at Pop's (1403 Mississippi Avenue, Sauget, Illinois; 618-274-6720) as the opening band on a four-group slate, and once again, it will behoove you to get across the river early enough to catch the act. The virulently anti-meat avengers play ferocious grind with the conviction of a young Carcass, and even if you regularly partake of the sins of flesh (Mr. Night is devouring a gyro even as he types), you can't understand most of their lyrics anyway, as Travis Ryan's vocals are completely obliterated by the endless waves of distortion and blast-beats. But that's why they make lyric sheets, and besides, no one ever bangs his head to the lyrics. Tickets are $15 to $18; the show begins at 7:30 p.m.