To the middlebrow literary poseur of postwar America, pulp fiction and film noir were little more than empty pop calories, vulgar garbage to stupefy the working-class herd. But writers like Jim Thompson and Cornell Woolrich walked the shadowed alleyways of the American psyche, bypassing the world of letters straight into the bitter marrow of Cold War mass anxiety. They found an audience that already knew that life was a mug's game, a giant grift that nobody won in the end, and the best a guy could do was point his muzzle at some bastard who deserved it and hope for guts enough to pull the trigger.
"Trash" or not, the noir aesthetic remains a powerful influence on American culture, on the American mind -- on America itself. And what better place to explore that influence than in the converted Art Deco police station now known as Mad Art Gallery (2727 South 12th Street in Soulard)? From 7 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, May 7 (and until May 28), the gallery's Mayhem exhibit -- which features works in various media by Ron Buechele, Christopher Gustave, Tim Garrett and Pat Garrett -- examines the paranoid, claustrophobic anxiety of pulp/noir. Learn more about the show at www.madartgallery.com or call 314-771-8230. Admission is free, and if any crumb gets it in his head to act wise, they got the holding cells right there on the premises, see? -- Jason Toon
Clubs show off their art
Every week, two groups of artists meet downtown for the express purpose of drawing live figure models. These two clubs call themselves the Draw Club and Drink & Draw, and their members are bound to have skills -- they're drawing every week, right? While we don't know how one would go about gaining admission to said clubs, we do know that the work the clubbers produce will be on display at the Third Floor Gallery (1214 Washington Avenue; 314-241-1010). This free show, entitled Go Figure II, opens Friday, May 6, with a reception from 6 to 10 p.m., and remains up through the month of May. And if your art-show curiosity isn't enough to draw you in (ha!), try your hand at drawing some of the nude models who will be on hand for the reception. -- Jess Minnen
Two Meals Combined
Makes for a day of eating
A long time ago, many of us with tinier tummies resigned ourselves to the fact that we would never get our money's worth at any all-you-can-eat affair. For years we've overpaid and under-ate, but this year we began preparing for Mother's Day brunches back when all you runners began training for that marathon, and we plan to show off our skills in front of Mom and everyone -- watch out!
The first leg of our eating extravaganza is the Renaissance Grand (800 Washington Avenue) for the Capri Restaurant's combined fashion show/brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The fashion will be great, but we'll be too focused on our fashionably expanding waistline to notice. Join us for $12 to $38 (314-418-5900).
And after all this eating, we'll want to get a little fresh air -- at another brunch. Mount Pleasant Winery (5634 High Street, Augusta; 800-467-9463) serves as our grand finale with its breakfast-lunch event. Brunch is offered from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. here, and tickets, like the sweatpants we'll be wearing, must be purchased in advance ($11.99 to $25.99). -- Alison Sieloff
The "unofficial kickoff to pride celebration season" is the twentieth annual Gypsy Fair at St. Louis' oldest gay bar, Clementines Bar and Restaurant (2001 Menard Street; 314-664-7869 or www.clementinesbar.com). Apparently, nothing evokes more pride than tarot-card readers, psychics, prizes -- and a guest patio bartender. This fundraiser for Pride St. Louis runs from noon to 5 p.m., but stick around afterward to watch the Kentucky Derby. -- Alison Sieloff