Thinning the Canopy

We learn how to woo the "creative class" (and get rid of the undesirables) and offer you a fun name-change quiz; plus, Unreal shares a hotel room with Jerry Lewis!

Appearing to enjoy a boom in bookishness, St. Louis moved up four places, to No. 13, on the annual "Most Literate Cities" list.... Three factors fueled St. Louis' rise, said [study author] Jack Miller.... St. Louis showed well in new categories added this year, such as the number of free Internet connections at the city's libraries. The city also showed a rise in the number of bookstores listed in the phone book (adult or not), from 77 to 79, and registered independent bookstores, from two to eight.... The last factor: population decline. That boosted St. Louis in per capita measures.

--St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 10, 2004

Long viewed as the bane of a dying St. Louis, the city's ongoing population hemorrhage -- 50 years and counting -- should actually be promoted, according to a presentation delivered last week to the mayor and Board of Aldermen by Rollin Stanley, the city's director of planning and urban design.

"By implementing tactics to encourage high school dropouts, welfare queens, smokers, homeless single mothers, crack whores and auto thieves to relocate outside the city limits," Stanley told the city's governing body, "St. Louis can boost its standing in national rankings of all sorts, thus greatly improving our image in the eyes of prospective transplants from the coveted 'creative class,' as defined by urban studies scholar Richard Florida."

Among the remedies Stanley suggests:

Outlaw the sale of Parliament Lights

Anchor a barge on the Mississippi River, just inside the Illinois state line, and fill it with St. Louis' homeless population

Impose a freeze on Hardee's franchises located within the city limits

Should those measures fail, Stanley declared, the city should take a page from the gerrymandering handbook and simply redraw its own municipal boundaries.

Stanley's proposed "re-limiting" plan would create a streamlined, serpentine St. Louis that lops off Dogtown, Carondelet, Bevo Mill and Fox Park, as well as everything north of Delmar Boulevard.

"If Vinita Park can incorporate, so too can Walnut Park," Stanley asserted. "If you want to come out on top in satellite dishes and latte consumption per capita, you've got to eliminate the rabbit-ears-and-Folger's-Crystals set."

Don't Call Me Tasha

What's in a name? For many it's the pursuit of happiness. Take our quiz and match the following reasons to their respective St. Louis Countians who've exercised their Constitutional right in the past year. Answers appear at the bottom of this page.

The King of Comedy

Jerry Lewis was in town last week to shill for Medtronic, maker of a "pain pacemaker" -- a device Lewis says saved his life after 37 years of extreme back pain, the result of more than 2,000 pratfalls. From his suite at the Cupples Station Westin Hotel, surrounded by the remains of a White Castle lunch, the star of stage and screen chatted with Unreal.

Unreal:It's our dream for you to do this interview in the Nutty Professor voice.

Jerry Lewis:[assumes Nutty Professor voice] Actually, you might just, ahhh, pull that off, as they say in the ahhh, vernacular. Ha-ha hee-heee-heee!

Thank you. Feel free to answer all the questions in that voice.

Certainly. Certainly.

Tell a little bit about your pain device.

[returns to regular Jerry Lewis persona and holds up a red device] I have a battery under my skin. Two electrodes come from the battery around to the spinal column, where they cut bone out to accommodate two electrodes that cut the pain from going to the brain. When I feel pain, I hit it [hits it, then lets out a gasp of relief]. Like being reborn every time. And it opens your garage door, too.

Any side effects?

When it's vibrating I have this erection that I've had for nine months.

The pain got you addicted to Percodan, huh?

Oh yeah, thirteen a day. I was really a champ. There's about a six-year period that I'm trying to remember if it's true. Everyone tells me I made two films, I did six telethons, 25 concerts in Paris, London and Rome. And I have no recollection of that period, from 1965 to 1974.

Is it true that you wear a pair of socks only once before you throw them away?

I don't throw them away. They go to the McKinley Boys Home in Las Vegas. They're manufactured by the Wigwam corporation. They're white socks, and they feel fleecy and cozy when they're brand-new. When they're washed, they feel like they've been washed. I'm indulging myself. I'm not sticking it up my nose or going to a race track, so allow me this one indiscretion.

Do you remember your dreams? Any classic Jerry Lewis dreams that you'd like to share?

The classic dream that I have was with Grace Kelly. I had gone to the famous Red Cross benefit in Monaco for Grace, and that night, having had dinner, we had cocktails, after dinner rather than before, and they bombed me with piña coladas or something, and when I went to my suite I fell asleep on the couch, I didn't even make it into bed, and my dream was that Grace was undressing me and she was telling me that she was so sick of the Prince, that he's such a schmuck, and that I would better in her life, and she didn't care that I was married or had children. She said, "Let's go somewhere."

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