Hard Times Ahead

Unreal gets all hot and bothered over some very special plants (and a rather steamy billboard) and finds the key to St. Louis' revival. Plus, a local blogger is driven mad by public breastfeeding.

J.P. Hansel, who founded the institute in 1967: Is it no good? How's that?

Fine. How do you convince kids today that elms are better than, say, Jell-O pudding pops?

You talking about Boy Scouts or something like that? Well, if you want to leave your footprint in the sands of time, you don't do it by selling Cracker Jacks. You want something to be proud of next year, twenty years from now. When you're a grandfather, and you look up there, 100 feet tall -- you did it.

Which factors contribute more to the revival of a city center: a) a combination of local government tax incentives, b) the reversal of white flight, c) an insurgent arts scene or d) elms?

I think having nature as part of the city is an invaluable asset. We have a program where we say, "Take out every fourth parking space and put an elm in it, and you will change downtown forever." It puts a softness to all of man's hard commercial storefronts and buildings.

What does the Lorax think of all this?

This is the reason I had the speakerphone on, because it's difficult for me to hear you. Let me try the other ear. See if it whistles. I've got a hearing aid in this ear. That whistle to you? OK. So, the elm is unique -- they rise up like a fountain, totally statuesque.

How many elms had to die to print these 2,000-word press releases?

I'm not sure I understand you. [Adjusting phone] We lose less than 1 percent American Liberty Elms. The tree shakes off disease. Was that your question?

If Billboards Could Talk

This week Unreal finds ourself pondering the billboard for gay chat line Interactive Male, viewable heading west on Delmar Boulevard toward the Loop. What might this surf-soaked beefcake have on his mind?

A) "What's this 'gay chat line' shit? My agent told me I was auditioning for Baywatch!"

B) "How 'bout some briny, wet balls?"

C) "Forget Key West! Nothing screams sun and and promiscuous gay sex like summertime in St. Louis!"

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