Candace O'Connor's new book, Meet Me in the Lobby: The Story of Harold Koplar and the Chase Park Plaza, makes it more than clear that the Koplars are idea people. From building, losing and then repurchasing the Park Plaza to buying the Chase Hotel, from the start of KPLR-TV (Channel 11) and the purchase of the Continental building to the opening of the Lodge of the Four Seasons at the Lake of the Ozarks, both Harold and his dad, Sam, were visionaries who profoundly affected St. Louis and points beyond.
While the book is filled with photos of the Koplars with famous people (like President Eisenhower, Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra), plenty of regular folks (like the cute couples celebrating New Year's pictured) filled their youth with good times at the Chase and still have fond memories -- and isn't that what makes any structure a memorable landmark? Lucky for us, the Chase Park Plaza still stands today, and parts of the interior remain original, like the cool starry lighting fixtures in the Khorassan Ballroom.
To learn more about this family -- and about St. Louis, really (especially the Central West End) -- join O'Connor at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 7, at Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue; 314-367-6731 or www.left-bank.com), where she gives a reading from and signs copies of Meet Me in the Lobby. Also, another book-signing and party will be held, appropriately, in the Chase lobby (212 North Kingshighway Boulevard) from 1 to 3 p.m. on June 11. Both events are free. -- Alison Sieloff
We Feel Good About It Ambivalent Domain at Mad Art
Ambivalent Domain, the latest exhibit at the always-exciting Mad Art Gallery (2727 South 12th Street), displays the work of photographers Steve Brown and Jay Fram, plus sculptures by Andy Van Der Tuin. Fram's work (that's his Candy at right) explores the "particular inconsistencies of the human relationship to the animal world," specifically through the craft of taxidermy. Through meticulous printing and the use of a medium-format camera, Fram documents the transformation from living animal to artwork. The free opening reception (with cash bar) is from 7 to 11 p.m. on Friday, June 3, and the show remains up through July 1. For more information call 314-771-8230 or visit www.madartgallery.com. -- Guy Gray
Lafayette Square It's square in name only
Let's face it: You could spend another weekend trekking through Crate & Barrel, clutching that crumpled House & Garden living-room spread you've been trying to re-create for months now -- or you could surrender and head to Lafayette Square. This house-happy 'hood lets you dream in living color during its 37th annual home tour from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (June 4 and 5). Never a disappointment, this romp promises peeks into ten abodes (one has a secret room!) and five gardens. The overachieving folks of Lafayette Square do everything to the nth, which translates this year into free carriage rides, outdoor antique shopping and a free concert in the park (Saturday at 6 p.m.). Back by popular demand, a Midwestern vintage baseball festival featuring the St. Louis Perfectos runs both days. Tickets are $12 in advance (call 314-772-5724) or $15 on tour day (at the Park House, 2023 Lafayette Avenue). Children younger than twelve get in free. See www.lafayettesquare.org for more information. -- Kristen Hinman
Everyone knows that the lovely Central West End is the neighborhood with almost everything -- until now. With the Saturday, June 4, opening of the GreenMarket, an open-air farmer's market, the CWE officially has everything. See for yourself from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. this and every Saturday until October 29 when the market offers its wares, including produce (duh!), good eats and rentable wagons-as-carts to haul your stuff around. You can find all this fun at 4814 Washington Boulevard; for more information visit www.greenmarketstl.com or call 314-361-3114. -- Alison Sieloff