The polls say St. Louis isn't an adventurous city, but we disagree as we smoke a fat one on a bus, vote Republican and take on The Friendliest Stores in Town.

Unreal is not the first to have pondered the notion of cigars as phallic symbols. This we know for a fact, because last Tuesday when we moseyed over to the Macanudo American Passion Tour Bus (which was parked outside Brennan's in the Central West End) and stepped inside the mobile cigar lounge, our button-down stockbroker pal, whom we'll call Dick, remarked: "There's kind of a strip club element to it, isn't there?"

And how.

Think seedy brown leather furniture, satellite TV, mirrors everyfrickinwhere including the ceiling.

Dan Zettwoch

Explains the superperky Regina Paterniti, who spends eight straight months a year riding this beast: "They make it look larger and give it a bigger appearance."

But of course.

Regina and her colleagues Gary Scheer and Greg Beaudoin tear up some serious pavement as they travel the nation inviting the cigar-curious into the pleasure palace for a primer on Macanudos — and a puff that can last from an hour to four. Yeah, some dudes come aboard and want to stay all night, Regina admits.

But the Macanudo gang practically cross their hearts and swear nothing dirty's ever happened.

"Come on," says Unreal's buddy, Dick. "I had a friend who drove the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile for a year after college, and he was picking up girls all the time. You'd think with cigars...."

"Hey, when you've got an eight-foot wiener...." replies Greg.

"He used to say, 'This wiener's a-rockin', don't come a-knockin,'" Dick ripostes.

Gary parries: "Our line is: Whether resting or rolling, this bus is always smoking."

Gary, Greg and Regina are great hosts, but they won't give Unreal a minute alone to peek beneath the seat cushions or try out the size factor in the mirrors. It isn't long before a local newspaper magnate takes a seat across from us in the VIP lounge. He nods with silent approval at the smoking environs.

"You wanna get going?" Dick asks.

"Yeah, let's go look for the Girls Gone Wild."

"They're here too?" the businessman blurts.

If only.

Not Your Father's Republican
The tony enclaves of Frontenac, Creve Coeur, Ladue and Town & Country have long been synonymous with the green party. As in, they've got a lot of it in their wallets. Two years ago retired mailman Charles L. Cuba of Rock Hill captured 2 percent of the vote when he ran for state representative of the 87th District on the Green Party ticket. He's trying again in the August 8 primary, where he faces incumbent T. Scott Muschany — as a Republican. Among the 60-year-old pol's top priorities: the environment, restoring Medicaid benefits and raising the minimum wage. But a total knee replacement has sidelined him from extensive campaigning. "How can I run when I can't even walk?" Cuba lamented when Unreal came calling about his GOP reincarnation.

Unreal: How big an impact has your knee had on your campaigning?

Charles Cuba: Total, because I'm going with almost no money. I'm financing it on my own and I don't want to try to raise money. I don't like money in politics. My whole campaign last time was going door to door. I borrowed a friend of mine's electric car. I was thrown out of Ladue.

Did you ever think you'd end up running as a Republican?

I knew that if I wanted this job, I'd have to run as a Republican. Last time, when it came right down to it, people thought that a Green Party candidate wasn't a viable option. I realized that in my lifetime the Democrats are very inefficient when they're in power. And the Republicans — although I don't agree with their agenda, they do get things done.

Does it feel different?

Oh, yeah. I'm looking forward to it, though. If I can win the primary, there's a big caucus down in Branson that I've been invited to and it'd be interesting to see if I can change any minds down there and get the Republican Party moving in a better direction. It hasn't always been this bad.

Maybe that should be their slogan: "It hasn't always been this bad." Has the party been welcoming to you?

I've gotten some invitations to this club called the Pachyderm Club. But the trouble is, every invitation has come with a need for funds. They are very money-orientated, and I can't afford to go to them.

Have they given you fruit baskets, Champagne, an assortment of guns, anything?

They haven't offered me any money or anything like that, which I'd refuse anyway. But I'd eat the fruit, for sure.

Hey Bert!
Last month Zest Body Wash came out with its ranking of the nation's "50 Most Adventurous Cities." Near the rear (at No. 45) was St. Louis — prompting Unreal to phone up our good buddy Bert Sperling, whose company, Sperling's Best Places, conducted the survey. This past spring Sperling named St. Louis as one of best cities for migraine headaches.

Unreal: Do you think one of the reasons we didn't rank higher is because we're all at home nursing our aching heads?

Bert Sperling: No, I don't think there's any connection there. But just because St. Louis didn't rank in the Top 10 doesn't mean you all aren't as adventurous as other people. It just means you're a little more challenged because of resources such as no ocean or mountains.

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