Spittin' Images

Unreal finally understands how to operate our fleet of Mercedes Benzes. Plus: A fashion update for a local hero and a de-gumming of STL sidewalks.

Ever since Felicia Scott and three pals started St. Louis' "premiere" chewing-gum-removal service, Scott hasn't been able to walk anywhere and take her eyes from the sidewalk. She spots sticky nasties everywhere, from McD's to Blueberry Hill to art-gallery doorsteps. "I'm just always thinking to myself: Blecch, this is so gross," she explains during a visit with Unreal last week.

Now that you mention it..., thinks Unreal, scanning just a few square feet of Delmar Boulevard sidewalk. Is that my Hubba Bubba from yesterday? It's already black! Yick!

Scott's fledgling company, GumBlasters-STL, can't cure foul behavior, but it can steam-vacuum a pavement-stuck wad of gum left in a mere five seconds. The process: "Zzzz, scrape, up!"

Scott says her nifty little contraption contains a super-secret-magic solvent that zaps the spat-gum without polluting the environment, not to mention saving the thousands of gallons of water that might be used in an inferior method like power-washing.

Unreal: Who came up with this bright idea?

Felicia Scott: The concept actually started in Europe, which has a terrible, terrible gum problem from what I understand. The city of New York hired that European company to clean up its streets and sidewalks, and it was featured on Discovery Channel's show Dirty Jobs. That's how we found out about it. We're a franchiser now, and we only started the business seven months ago.

What are your fees?

For 500 square feet it'll be a couple hundred dollars. We have to look at the coverage, but it usually works out to be $85 an hour.

Not bad! Do you have a nickname for these splotches?

Money. Cha-ching.

Ahh —

The vacuum turns them back to their gummy consistency, so you can smell what kind of gum it is. You go, "Oh yeah, that's Wrigley's. Oh yeah, that's Bazooka." It's kind of interesting. It's kind of gross.

Can't we live with a little gum on our streets?

Yeah, sure. But it is a real underfoot problem.

And you say you're a "green" company?

Yep, we leave nothing behind except for maybe a steam spot. There's no nasty odors, no chemicals, nothing that can't be around pets. We did a job for a corporate park recently, and there was a pond with swans in it right nearby, so that tells you it's safe.

Franklin County Chic

Beaufort, Missouri, teenager Mitchell Hults is a hero, and he's been treated like one. In case you've been on a bender the past couple of weeks, you already know that Hults is the teen who tipped off police to a Nissan pickup he saw leaving the scene around the time schoolmate William "Ben" Ownby disappeared, which led to the rescue of Ownby and long-missing Shawn Hornbeck and the arrest of Webster Groves High alum/Imo's Pizza slinger Michael Devlin. For his troubles, the fifteen-year-old Hults was honored with a rally at his high school, a college scholarship and a spankin'-new Dodge truck.

Unreal has read every one of Hults' interviews and seen him photographed from every angle, beaming the whole time. If only his outer beauty matched his inner beauty, we thought to ourselves after seeing Greta Van Susteren have her way with him on FOX. It's not that he's not cute, it's just that his gray T-shirt and camouflage hat (you know, the one with the fish hook glued to the brim) aren't as, uh, media-ready as they could be.

Shawn Hornbeck, after all, got thousands of dollars worth of free duds from Ed Hardy Vintage Tattoo Wear in LA, not to mention an apparent re-coiffing for his appearance on Oprah. It's high time, then, that Hults get his just deserts couture-wise. That's why Unreal is offering Hults a free fashion makeover! St. Louis fashionista Darin "DSly the Style Guy " Slyman is poised and ready to give Hults the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy treatment, complete with haircut, outfit and nose-hair plucking. The whole works. And on Unreal's dime!

"He's a very intuitive kid, and he's total Franklin County," says Sly, "but he's lost in translation aesthetically. If it's our local media, who cares? But if it's national media, there's a stigma about the Midwest, that we're a bunch of podunk hick people who don't know shit from Shinola. It doesn't mean we have to look like that."

Unreal's efforts to reach Hults were unsuccessful, but surely he reads this column, right? Mitchell — you know where to find us!

Live and Learn

You buy a $100,000 car, you get some pretty cool features. (That, anyway, is what Unreal has been told.) Cool, but complicated. So complicated, in fact, that rich people have a hard time figuring out how to use them.

Which is why Mercedes-Benz of Progress Point makes free housecalls.

Potential features include a navigation system, Bluetooth technology and something called an iPod Integration Kit that allows the driver to control his iPod through the steering wheel.

"Some of the older customers don't even know what features they have," says Roy Dreiling, a "product delivery specialist" who spends up to four hours with new Mercedes owners helping them to learn how to operate their cars. "They're forced to read the owner's manual! At this price range, they shouldn't have to do that."

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