December was a sad month. Although Christmas was approaching, some folks had a bleak outlook indeed. And for good reason: It looked as if the Jefferson Barracks museums were going to close soon -- and for good. Then, lo and behold, a tiny miracle happened by way of volunteers and lots of 'em. Now the museums will remain open and continue to host exhibits like Badges of the Brave, a military-insignia display that includes about 20,000 pieces. Badges opens today in the Old Ordnance Room at the park (Kingston Drive and South Broadway; 314-638-2100). Why don't you stop by any time from noon to 4 p.m. and have a look at these detailed mini works of art? Admission costs $1 to $3, and while you're there, you ought to thank those volunteers for watching over things -- and saving a little bit of history.
Thursday, February 3
Heirloom tomatoes, how we love thee! With your beautiful colors and even more beautiful taste, we didn't think you could get any more perfect -- that is, until now. When Yvette Drury Dubinsky makes a detail of you into art, that's what we like to call perfection. See the flawless fruit for yourself at Dubinsky's new exhibit, Alternatives, at Elliot Smith Contemporary Art (4729 McPherson Avenue; 314-361-4800 or www.elliotsmith.com). All manner of produce is included in the show, like the Persimmon (Detail) pictured, and Dubinsky wants you to think about health, both mental and physical, as you view the pieces. After all, you are what you eat. The free show is up until February 12, and the gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today.
Friday, February 4
Holy smokes! Is this ever the weekend of boobs! Working backwards, you've got your Super Bowl (hopefully, Sir Paul won't have the same troubles that Ms. Jackson-if-you're-nasty had last year). Then, on Saturday you've got your Mardi Gras -- enough said. You were probably thinking Friday was going to be just like any other boob-less day. You might be wrong. The new Gauthier Gallery (3150 Locust Street; 314-570-4867 or www.gauthiergallery.com) opens its first exhibit, and guess what: The gallery has a whole slew of nude drawings in its collection, and maybe some of them will be part of the show. You'll only know if you go. The opening runs from 7 to 10 p.m., and 10 percent of the proceeds from this exhibit will help support local art.
Saturday, February 5
Even if you didn't acquire tickets to the big "Arch Rivals" fight downtown, you can still get your party on like a baller. Nelly and "friends" host the Fight Night Party at The Pageant (6161 Delmar Boulevard; 314-726-6161 or www.thepageant.com for more information), and tickets for this throw-down are an affordable $25 to $51. Nelly, you know who that is; the identities of these "friends" remains a mystery. Nelly knows some big names, after all. Could Tim McGraw or Justin Timberlake be on the guest list? There's only one way to find out. You must be 21 or older to get in, and you must dress to impress; if you ain't upscale, you'll be partying on the curb in front of Church's.
Sunday, February 6
So, you had a pretty good time yesterday in Soulard. There's no need to let that ruin your day today, though. Skip all the early Super Bowl crap on TV, and take your kids to the Saint Louis Zoo in Forest Park for the Delta Dental Mardi Gras (free; call 314-781-0900 or visit www.stlzoo.org for more information). No, it's not the bacchanalia you wrecked yourself at yesterday; this is Mardi Gras for the younger party animals. Show up at noon so's your kids can enjoy the face-painting and mask-making, then beam with pride as they parade through the zoo at 2:30 p.m. (rest easy; shirts must be worn at all times). At 12:30 and 2 p.m., the "Tooth Wizard" and his pal P.A.N.D.A. explain the importance of proper dental hygiene in an exciting stage show. And the fun wraps up at 3 p.m., so you have plenty of time to rush home and enjoy four hours of pre-game show while ingesting a little hair of the dog.
Monday, February 7
Battle of the Bands. With the possible exception of Battle of the Planets, is there a more exciting "battle"-related phrase in the English language? No, of course not. Don't be ridiculous. A battle of the bands is blood-churning, fist-pumping excitement. It's like crack for your musical nervous system; you get a little taste of some band ("ooh, that's piquant") and then that band is offstage, and a new one takes its place, and still you want more. At 7 p.m. at the Creepy Crawl (412 North Tucker Boulevard; 314-851-0919), several punk-rock bands duke it out to determine which St. Louis punkers get to open for Nomeansno when that semi-legendary band comes to town in April. Yeah, that's right, "stakes is high and so am I," to paraphrase Ted Nugent; this is gonna be a free-for-all. Tickets are $6 to $8, and while you may be paying for a whole seat, you'll only use the edge!