People & Places

  • Best St. Louisan of 2000

    Nelly

    As a North Side teenager plotting his future, Cornell Haynes Jr. tested three options in his quest to make millions: He made tentative moves toward a pro-baseball career; he worked on his rhymes and lyrical flow in the hope of becoming a rap star; and he attempted to make it the old-fashioned North Side '90s way, selling drugs. Two of… More >>
  • Best Underground/Under-the-Ground Writer

    William S. Burroughs

    Maybe because it seemed, oddly, that he would never die, few people realize that maverick American writer William Burroughs was laid to rest here, in his hometown. After his funeral in Lawrence, Kan. -- where he resided for the last 16 years of his life -- he was buried in the Burroughs family plot at St. Louis' Bellefontaine Cemetery in… More >>
  • Best Continuing Saga

    Convention-Center Hotel

    Like Knights Templar searching for the Holy Grail, city leaders have been contemplating, proposing and planning a convention-center hotel since sometime in the Dark Ages. (OK, we mean since the Schoemehl administration. Same difference.) From the ashes of many failed attempts, Mayor Clarence Harmon announced the city's choice of a hotel developer in 1997. On paper, the $242 million deal… More >>
  • Best Underground Railroad Site

    Tracks Still Under Construction

    Richard Hudlin, a technical writer and native St. Louisan, grew up hearing about his great-great-grandfather Peter, a free black man who risked his freedom and perhaps his very life helping fugitive slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad. He'd heard about the runaways in crates who arrived at his ancestor's North St. Louis house and were hurried to a basement… More >>
  • Best Scandal

    Bel-Ridge Police

    It's been a good year for scandal. The federal Drug Enforcement Administration makes Andrew Chambers of University City the nation's best-paid snitch, despite a history of arrests and lying in court. Post-Dispatch sports columnist Kathleen Nelson steals quotes from the Associated Press and, perhaps worse, receives nothing more than a don't-do-it-again lecture from her bosses. Laumeier Sculpture Park director Beej… More >>
  • Best Caves

    Lemp Brewery

    It's strange, accessing the Lemp caves. You don't crawl in the expected way, on your tummy, walkie-talkie in hand, wearing a spelunker's helmet, or plot strategies with subterranean maps. You just walk into a building, turn on a few lights and proceed to a cargo elevator that drops you three stories straight down into one part of the cave system.… More >>
  • Best Protest

    I-70 Blockade

    Any protest that gets local Republican, moderate, well-reasoned activist Jim Buford to join ranks with nationwide, left-of-center and anything-but-moderate activist Al Sharpton has something strange and powerful going for it. And then the protest on July 13, 1999, actually blocked Interstate 70 in both directions as promised -- well, that's one hell of a protest. The cause was just, participation… More >>
  • Best Kitsch

    Meramec Caverns

    What's the cheesiest thing in your house? A snow globe of the Manhattan skyline, a spring-loaded hula-girl statuette, maybe a velvet Elvis? What draws you to these cheap, tawdry trinkets, anyway? A lush, nostalgic, rather sad yearning for something outside your daily experience, that's what. The snow globe encapsulates your triumph over the Empire State Building (admit it; you thought about… More >>
  • Best 15 Minutes of Fame

    Howard Mechanic

    In February, Howard Mechanic, an anti-Vietnam War protester, was apprehended by federal authorities in Scottsdale, Ariz., after he revealed his identity to a young reporter. Mechanic, who had taken the alias of Gary Tredway, was wanted for his involvement in the burning of the Air Force ROTC building on the Washington University campus on May 5, 1970. The demonstration leading… More >>
  • Best Adaptive Reuse of Underground St. Louis

    Westin St. Louis Hotel at Cupples Station

    The four buildings that form the new Westin St. Louis hotel, adjacent to Busch Stadium in the former Cupples Warehouse complex, are impressive enough as it is if you simply view them above street level. From ornate brickwork and arches to large loft-style room windows to a promenade echoing the original passage from Clark Street to the back of the… More >>
  • Best Local Boy Made Bad

    Steve Diet Goedde

    The part of bad that feels good is integral to the vocation of erotic/fetish photographer Steve Diet Goedde. The 1983 St. Louis University High graduate first turned his camera on the world of dominatrices, vamps and vixens about 10 years ago and has built a serious reputation for his skills at capturing gutterish glamor, latex-driven lust and other ideas that… More >>
  • Best Scuba Diving

    Bonne Terre Mines

    Like a fiend with his dope and a drunkard his wine/a man will have lust for the lure of the mine -- Merle Travis Like space travel, nuclear fission or dropping acid, scuba diving is an unnatural adventure, something people feel compelled to do despite the violation of nature's strictest laws. Humans were no more meant to pal about with the manta… More >>
  • Best Local Girl Made Bad

    Darva Conger

    The connection here may be somewhat tenuous, but when you think about it, it's no worse than the links to our city of some of the local folks made good who are enshrined on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. For half-a-decade -- 1990-95 -- Darva Conger, of Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire? infamy, resided in our fair city… More >>
  • Best Dig

    American Bottom Archaeology Project

    The Gateway Arch is a unique and compelling monument, but across the river are more mysterious public works. Unlike the Arch, which stretches legibly across the city skyline, the Cahokia Mounds recede into the dirt, and all of their secrets are underground. Making sense of these enigmas has involved many years of digging in the dirt, bringing what is underground into… More >>
  • Best Window Display

    The Birds, Arrangements in the Loop

    On the right side of the front door of Arrangements in the Loop stands a traditionally designed dried-flower bouquet of regal reds and blues that cascades down onto a pristine-white wrought-iron garden table surrounded by handpainted clay pots. Then there's the other side. The left side. The alter-ego side of Joie Dimercurio's imagination -- a blond-wigged mannequin with flailing arms and… More >>
  • Best Buried Treasure

    Lily Bulbs

    "Oh, Tiger Lily, I wish you could talk." "We can talk, when there is anybody worth talking to." -- Lewis Carroll, Alice Through the Looking Glass Some of us judge other people. Diane Engelsdorfer judges lilies. Petals crepey? Color muddied or pollen-stained? Flowers (God forbid) overlapping on the stem? Walking from table to table with five senior judges, she duly notes each flaw.… More >>
  • Best Celebrity Visit

    Tippi Hedren

    There's never been a shadow of a doubt that St. Louisans are simultaneously in awe of and comfortable around movie stars. We're notorious for getting celebrity visits here in St. Louis -- hell, we have stars on the sidewalk -- but Tippi Hedren's appearance, in terms of both physical beauty and the event itself, was dazzling. She may not have… More >>
  • Best Underground Workers

    Metropolitan Sewer District's Crawl Crews

    On a clear day in St. Louis, Chris Cacciatore can be found 18 feet beneath the city -- an oxygen mask strapped to his face, huge rubber boots covering his legs and a headset around his ears that links him to the partners on his team on the streets overhead. He slowly plods through giant 10-foot sewer pipes, checking to… More >>
  • Best Raconteur

    Pops Farrar

    Most RFT readers first encountered the surname "Farrar" by reading about Jay Farrar, a local musician famous for his cryptic songs and infamous for his extreme shyness. So to hear that a Farrar -- James Paul "Pops" Farrar, Jay's father -- is our best local raconteur may come as a shock. But only until you spend some time in the… More >>
  • Best Place to Stock the Basement Dungeon

    Barbdwyr

    Two men stand admiring a piece of leather bondage equipment. One of them, Barbdwyr owner/proprietor Bryan Brandt, is giving the other, a new client (Brandt prefers "clientele" over "customers") a few tips. The client is dressed in plaid shirt and blue jeans, sports a well-trimmed beard and listens to Brandt with keen interest. "I always advise people not to hang… More >>
  • Best Role Model

    Bill Willert

    If more business owners followed the example of Bill Willert of Willert Home Products Inc., oh what a wonderful world it would be. Willert, who runs the business his father started in 1946, has two people employed full-time who do nothing but cut grass and pick up litter on and around his plant at 4044 Park Ave., between Grand and… More >>
  • Best Underground (Figuratively) Restaurant

    Beffa's - CLOSED

    It's a regular tagline in the writings of Jerry Berger: "Overheard at Beffa's." Look in the phone book, though, and there's no Beffa's listed. Even if you're clever enough to divine that the place is located at 2700 Olive St., you won't see any signs from the street, unless you can read the faded lettering on the one facing Beaumont Avenue,… More >>
  • Best Alderman

    Craig Schmid

    Although the city considers the office of alderman a part-time position (and pays accordingly), the good ones spend at least 50 hours a week just taking care of the routine business of the ward: attending countless neighborhood meetings, writing letters to slum landlords, allocating block-grant funds, drafting legislation -- not to mention returning all those irate phone calls about Dumpster… More >>
  • Best Underground (Literally) Restaurant

    Rossino's

    Walking into Rossino's, it becomes apparent that you have arrived at not just a restaurant but a destination. First, you descend the stairs to the grottolike entrance. Then you walk in the place, and if you haven't been here before, you try to find your bearings. That's because it's possibly the most dimly lit restaurant in which you'll ever eat.… More >>
  • Best Politician

    Florissant Mayor James J. Eagan

    Politicians are birds of passage; they test the wind, flap their wings, chirp and crow and often leave an offensive mark. Sometimes they soar; sometimes they don't. But the most successful members of the species manage to stay aloft, just out of target range. And, for sheer endurance, there's none better than James J. Eagan, longtime Florissant mayor. "Seniority has… More >>
  • Best Community-Service Program

    Humane Society of Missouri's Docents

    Last month in St. Louis, a 10-year-old boy used a belt to beat to death his docile Pomeranian-mix dog. A boy in summer camp boasted that his unspayed cat had given birth to more than 20 kittens. A woman brought her tabby to the veterinarian after a dangerous infection developed beneath the cat's constricting collar, which hadn't been replaced since… More >>
  • Best Parade

    Veterans Day

    Often overlooked and woefully underattended, the Veterans Day Parade, held downtown on the closest Saturday before Veterans Day, has lots of color and action, plus free chili, coffee, soda and doughnuts. More than 100 units of active and retired military pass muster at the reviewing stand -- from the spit 'n' polish airmen of Scott AFB; to the "Cho Sin… More >>
  • Best Up-and-Coming Neighborhood

    Benton Park

    A neighborhood is at its best when it's not yet "up" and just barely "coming"; when it's yet to be completely gentrified, there's a willful, renegade atmosphere in its air and the creative, adventuresome types are on full display. Benton Park is at its best right now: It's diverse, safe and still wide open to newcomers. Located in South City… More >>
  • Best Historic Building

    Merchandise Mart

    The Merchandise Mart, at 1000 Washington Ave., is a designated city landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The brick seven-story commercial building takes up the entire block bounded by Washington Avenue and St. Charles, 10th and 11th streets. The building occupies a site within the eastern portion of the Washington Avenue Historic District. Completed in… More >>
  • Best New Building

    Bohemian Hill Project

    Rather than the Big Pink violating the city skyline in the guise of the Thomas F. Eagleton Federal Courthouse or the glass-and-metal addition to the Missouri History Museum -- a postmodern greenhouse grafted onto a romanticist skin -- we favor a more modest contribution to the St. Louis cityscape. Architects Don Royse and Jo Noero set out to design homes… More >>
  • Best Church

    St. Francis de Sales

    On the corner of Gravois and Ohio, amid humble four-families, storefronts and biker bars, looms a monstrous structure of soot-stained buff brick: St. Francis de Sales, one of the most glorious churches in St. Louis. A prime example of Gothic Revival architecture, it's a majestic anomaly in its working-class context, a queen among peasants, a dazzling freak embellished with vast… More >>
  • Best Rabbi

    Abraham Magence

    Best rabbi? Obviously it's a subjective call, like when a man insists that he's "married to the world's greatest woman" or some restaurant has "the world's greatest hamburger" (this article is kosher, so no cheese, thank you). It takes more than a great rabbi to impress someone like me -- happily Jewish in a born-that-way sense but in practice an… More >>
  • Best New-Building Blueprint

    Forum for Contemporary Art

    Most spaces for contemporary art were not designed for that purpose. Contemporary art resides in old industrial zones -- Pittsburgh's Mattress Factory is a good example -- where wide, vast empty spaces in which workers once toiled to produce a boom economy are now the empty lofts that provide shelter to art concepts. Certainly the Forum for Contemporary Art could… More >>
  • Best Vacant Building

    710 N. 15th St.

    Though the Washington Avenue club district seems to be less thriving than its boosters would have us believe, a few weirdo spots in the area, in the land grab and club fiesta currently under way, should be developed, and we're baffled as to why they're not. The best of the lot is 710 N. 15th St., the most beautifully humble… More >>
  • Best Place to Retain Water

    Compton Hill Reservoir

    You barely notice it as you fly by on I-44, and you may hardly care while stuck at the traffic light at Grand and Russell. But nestled within winding, scenic walkways, discreetly tucked into an earthen sheath, is the Compton Hill Reservoir. The original stone-lined reserve, completed in 1870, had an appearance that was more lake than holding tank. Its… More >>
  • Best Neighborhood

    Central West End

    With due respect to Soulard, University City, Lafayette Square, South Grand and other places in which I spent pleasurable time during my year in St. Louis, my selection of the "best" neighborhood in town is unquestionably the Central West End -- first, last and always. There is hardly another urban area in the country with the same concentration of high sophistication… More >>
  • Best Riverfront Attraction

    Two Pecan Tree Pond

    Two Pecan Tree Pond is a 15-acre wildlife area that is part of the Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area in St. Charles County along the Mississippi River. Created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when it constructed the Melvin Price Locks and Dam, the pond hosts a raptor hacking station where peregrine falcons and bald eagles are raised and then… More >>
  • Best Lily Pads

    Tower Grove Park

    If aquarium algae is the last water plant with which you were intimate, the wacky lily pads in Tower Grove Park will be a revelation. Situated in the most absurd, overly civilized corner of the park (nearby points of interest include an antique bandstand surrounded by busts of grumpy classical composers and a manmade pond festooned with phony classical "ruins"),… More >>
  • Best Duck Pond

    Forest Park

    Murphy Lake is sheer bucolic splendor. Accessible yet secluded, it provides an ideal spot for gazing wistfully, walking leisurely or attempting to feed the beautiful wild ducks that sometimes alight but want nothing to do with you or your bread. Fuckers. The best place in town to feed ducks is only minutes away, at a series of unnamed "ponds" between… More >>
  • Best Sunflowers

    Corner of Lewis and O'Fallon, St. Louis Riverfront

    There's no explaining them, save sunlight, soil and abject vacancy. In downest downtown St. Louis, just up the gravel road from the corner of Lewis and O'Fallon, in an abandoned warehouse-and-train-track district, next to the 1964 Dickson Pumping Station and stretching all the way to the Trans Petro oil tanks on the banks of the Mississippi River: sunflowers. Fifty feet… More >>
  • Best Monument

    Mother Jones Memorial

    If Mother Jones were still alive, she would probably curse the magazine that bears her name for not being radical enough. The hell-raising labor organizer is buried in Mount Olive, Ill. In 1936, six years after her death, the Progressive Mine Workers of America built a monument in her honor at the Union Miners Cemetery on the outskirts of this… More >>
  • Best Monument in New Clothing

    Cannons in Lafayette Park

    Just north of the lake in Lafayette Park, the three pitted bronze guns seem steeped in romance. But until recently there was no explanation of their origin and purpose. Now, thanks to the Lafayette Square Restoration Committee, any passerby with the curiosity to stop and read the newly installed stone will know they are in fact spoils of war. Oh,… More >>
  • Best Bi-State Bus Route

    No. 70 Grand

    In the beginning, there was a bus stop, across the street from the neon steer above Don's Meat Market on Broadway, catty-corner from an abandoned Wendy's with a broken sign out front exposing vertical fluorescent bulbs. It's 9:45 in the morning on a Friday, and the Bi-State bus sits empty, its front door open. The bus driver, an African-American man… More >>
  • Best Cemetery

    Confederate Prisoner Cemetery

    In 1862, the first 12,000 Confederate prisoners of war entered the federal military prison in Alton, Ill., and over the next three years, more than 1,500 of them died of smallpox, dysentery and malnourishment. Although some of the prisoners were shipped to Small Pox Island in the Mississippi River, where they died, most perished in the prison itself. The bodies… More >>
  • Best Roof

    Ethical Society of St. Louis

    It would be easy to get into a car accident driving along Clayton Road just west of the Galleria if you weren't prepared for the sight of the Ethical Society and its shocking roof. The top of the building slopes gradually up to a central spire, which then shoots violently heavenward, tapering to a long point that looks as sharp… More >>
  • Best Memory

    South City's Sidewalk Vendors

    Today everybody drives everywhere, and when the Jehovah's Witnesses come, they ring doorbell after doorbell in vain. But 50 years ago, when only a third of the block even owned a finned Chrysler or Ford, there was street life, and nowhere was it livelier than in South City. The Irish cops walked their beats, and old German guys took the… More >>
  • Best Sidewalk

    Downtown Kirkwood

    Just down the street from the feeding frenzy of Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target, that unsightly discount troika where Dodge Rams lock horns over parking spots, there lies tranquility. If you miss the sunlit, unfuddled serenity of a Father Knows Best main street, you'll find it in downtown Kirkwood. Overshoot north and you'll hit Manchester with its cluster of auto dealers,… More >>
  • Best Underground Parking

    Westfield Center

    Mall parking is like an intergalactic war, what with many people battling over one space. They do things like wait for a car to pull out, even if it takes 10 minutes, so they can grab a choice spot. Underground parking has the connotation of being something secret or radical. We think it might be both, because every time we've… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Arrested

    Francis Park

    Francis Park, when it's deserted early in the morning, and the sun's shining golden, and life seems as simple and serene as the long lily-pond promenade -- until helmeted "Officer Kiwi" pedals up on his bicycle and threatens you with a $100 ticket, grim as Sgt. Friday busting a drug dealer. "That pug's off lead," he exclaims, shocked that someone… More >>
  • Best Shortcut

    Forest Park Expressway

    Is it a highway? A glorified road? Nobody seems to know. Maybe it's a video game. From the I-170 exit, you hop on the Forest Park Expressway, and you're zooming along, feeling very interstate-ish, when you come to a -- STOP! -- red light. That's right -- the speed limit varies, but it's never 55, despite the misguided people passing… More >>
  • Best Combination Highway Entrance/Exit

    Highway 40 at Forest Park Expressway and Jefferson Avenue

    Only do this when you're feeling lucky. Try entering Highway 40/I-64 east coming off the Forest Park Expressway and exiting at Jefferson Avenue. You're dumped into 40/64 in the fast lane, and you have just a half-mile to cross three lanes of dense traffic while every bozo is trying to pass on the right. You find yourself slowing down and… More >>
  • Best Place to Make a Left at Rush Hour

    University City Loop

    Home of whimsical eight-hour parking meters and its own quirky rush hours, like late afternoon, when Washington University cuts loose, and just before the live music starts on a Friday night -- the University City Loop is congested, but without the rage. The Riverfront Times staff tests the conventional rush hour daily, skidding to a stop at the bottom of… More >>

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