Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Big Fat Hardcover Book About St. Louis Culture

    Seeking St. Louis: Voices From a River City, 1670-2000

    For those of you who're new to the Lou and need to catch up on the Arch City vibe right quick, the most effective place for the bookworm to turn is this 1,200-page collection of essays and previously published works from a megawatt roster of authors and artists. It reads like the Delmar Loop's Walk of Fame: Miles Davis, Dick… More >>
  • Best Place to Find Dirty French Novels

    Dada/Surrealist/Counterculture Corner, Subterranean Books

    "Pornography" is a funny word. It literally means "one-handed writing," which implies that your other hand is doing ... well, you know. Before photography and Internet porn, it took the degenerate French novelists and their nondescriptly packaged tomes to give hardworking Americans manual release. Genet, Bataille, Nin and Huysmans, they wrote beautiful prose celebrating sexuality, debauchery, perversion and all manner… More >>
  • Best Radio Station for Music

    The one you program yourself

    If you've been a reader for any length of time, you know our predilections and our biases (full disclosure: three full-time RFTers have staked claims on KDHX time slots). The simple truth, though, is that for all its glory, the FM band has its limitations: mainly, those who own the stations, who, until very recently, controlled the airwaves. Because these… More >>
  • Best Display of Impromptu Public Art

    Demo Man

    For decades, Don Bellon, head demo man for Bellon Wrecking and Salvage, had a desktop statue of a man swinging a sledgehammer, called "The Wrecker." His wife had given him the statue when he started his business back in '73. The statue was made of metal toothpicks, nuts and bolts. "I always had it in the back of my mind:… More >>
  • Best Local Artist

    Leslie Laskey

    In the hit-or-miss world of contemporary art, longevity in itself is a virtue. A longtime professor of art and architecture at Washington University, Leslie Laskey has possessed emeritus status for many years. His demeanor in the classroom is still the stuff of legend -- suffice it to say he did not suffer fools gladly. Now in his eighties, Laskey… More >>
  • Best Populist Top-Ten Chart

    Trash cans in front of Vintage Vinyl

    Blame David Letterman if you must, but the supremacy of the Top Ten-style list is now complete. By breaking down every form of entertainment into subcategories and microcategories and allowing every wonk with a word processor and a modem to disseminate his opinions, it is now common knowledge that every movie, book, album and breed of dog will make at… More >>
  • Best Museum Exhibit

    Andy Warhol's "Silver Clouds," Museum of Contemporary Religious Art

    We say heaven is a place on earth. At least it was during the bleak days of winter, when Andy Warhol's "Silver Clouds" was first housed at the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art on the campus of St. Louis University. Even though he produced some giant silkscreen re-creations of "The Last Supper," it's hard to conceive of anything by Warhol… More >>
  • Best Poet

    Mary Jo Bang

    "We're having a party./There's dancing; there's petting/in the bedroom to the right. Inevitable light/in the morning. Who will refuse enthrallment?//To be free, Louise says, is to be undecided." Now, isn't that fun? Mary Jo Bang's first collection, the impeccably titled Apology for Want, was selected as a first-book-award winner in 1996. The poems in that book contain a dark power, sturdily… More >>
  • Best Belly Dancing

    Aalim Dance Academy at the Venice Café

    It's the first Monday of the month, and something strange is happening on the corner of Lemp and Pestalozzi. The bar is packed with models and dancers, all clapping and swiveling to Middle Eastern rhythms. Men and women slip dollar bills into bell-adorned bikinis, but the dancing isn't just a faux come-on. This is folk art performed by some of… More >>
  • Best Drinking Fountain

    Mad Art's Halsey Taylor pedestal fountain

    It kinda goes without saying that the best drinking fountain in the region is a Halsey Taylor; everyone knows the company makes the Cadillacs of fountains, just as everyone knows that HT holds the patent on the heavenly Double Bubbler spigot system, which, in the verbiage of the company literature, "remains one of the industry's most important innovations ever. It… More >>
  • Best Gallery Exhibition

    Terra Incognita: Contemporary Artists' Maps and Other Visual Organizing Systems

    "How can you be two places at once when you're not anywhere at all?" is the old Firesign Theater line that is more profound than most of us are comfortable with. How do we know where we are in an age of space and cyberspace? If maps change as knowledge changes, if maps are remade as demarcations of power shift… More >>
  • Best Shakespeare

    Twelfth Night, St. Louis Shakespeare

    Choosing the play is easy. Twelfth Night, Shakespeare's bright winter comedy, received two productions during the past year; both were satisfying, for quite different reasons. The tricky part comes in choosing which production was best. The student version at Washington University's Edison Theatre gets high marks for a sumptuously simple set, designed by artist-in-residence Christopher Pickart and gorgeously lit by… More >>
  • Best Measured Response to an Irrational Crackdown

    Intimate Warehouse Parties

    The Man can pass laws and can enforce them; he can chase and cite and hassle and intimidate, but he can't keep the kids from dancing, even though for some reason this egregious act scares the bejesus out of him. The recent crackdown on rave culture and that evil electronic dance music -- passing laws designed to target the one-night… More >>
  • Best Gallery

    Des Lee Gallery

    Washington University art professor Pat Schuchard coaxed his institution into renovating one of its vacant downtown buildings for artist housing back in 1999. Besides providing low-income housing to a working class that got pushed out of Washington Avenue after the urban zone they pioneered turned loft-space trendy -- the plight of artists everywhere -- the building at 1627 Washington has… More >>
  • Best Rock Critic

    Paul Friswold

    It may be unseemly to toot your own horn, but Riverfront Times writer Paul Friswold is the best rock journalist in this town. Let's review the reviews. Friswold on Motörhead: "Motörhead fans are a special breed. If you've ever punched a stranger in the face, puked out the door of a moving vehicle, casually swallowed the octagonal black pills handed… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater

    Tivoli Theatre

    Three things make the Tivoli the best movie theater in St. Louis. First, the stunning architecture: Ornate ceilings, a terrazzo floor, recessed domes, beautiful arches, a deep-burgundy curtain and old movie memorabilia set the Tivoli apart from the run-of-the-mill, uninspired mall boxes. Second, the Tivoli offers movies that aren't showing anywhere else in town (except maybe at the Hi-Pointe or… More >>
  • Best Theater Surprise

    God of Vengeance

    Theater magic can strike in the unlikeliest places. Last January, it struck in a synagogue on Kingshighway, at a staged reading of an obscure Yiddish play, jointly sponsored by City Players and the New Jewish Theatre. When Sholem Asch's God of Vengeance was produced on Broadway in 1923, this drama about a brothel operator whose virginal daughter is seduced by… More >>
  • Best Local-Theater Play

    Seven Guitars

    August Wilson's 1996 elegy about dreams deferred is an epic drama, but it's also long and verbose, and anyone who has seen it before could be forgiven for approaching yet another production with foreboding. So the shock here was the amazing pace of last January's St. Louis Black Repertory Company staging. Six of the seven actors had appeared in other… More >>
  • Best Change at KWMU-FM

    Mike Sampson hosts CityScape

    The mic passed from the don of St. Louis critics, Joe Pollack, to the inquisitive Mike Sampson on the cultural program CityScape, which plays live on Friday mornings and is rebroadcast on Sunday mornings. A grateful KWMU audience gives praise. Pollack knows his stuff but never stopped reminding his audience and his guests that he knew his stuff. What were… More >>
  • Best Place to Go for a Spin and Watch a Play

    Carousel House at Faust Park

    Truth be told, St. Louis is not blessed with an abundance of great theater spaces. The Fabulous Fox is more fabulous in décor than in intimacy, and the Edison must have been designed by a contortionist. How else to account for a section of seats that barely even faces the stage? St. Louis used to have a premier venue downtown… More >>
  • Best Television PSAs

    "This is St. Louis" media campaign

    To thrive, civic-marketing wonks argue, a city must attract and retain creative young people -- not just yuppies and dot-commers and advertising jerks but their less affluent boho counterparts, the feckless, glamorous artist-types who tend the cool bars and form the cool bands and otherwise convince their tax-base-bolstering peers that they're in a happening place, one in which they might… More >>
  • Best Place and Time to Get Schatzied

    Saturday mornings, WEW (770 AM)

    There are at least three kinds of Germans: Bad Germans, who are stinkers; good Germans, who also are very, very bad (but can take orders); and St. Louis Germans, who like to trink bier, tanz around in der lederhosen und schtufft der bellies full o' de big fat wursts. Most years, when the weather's not so verdamdten hot, these Deutschers… More >>
  • Best Funky Children's-Theater Group

    DramaRama Theatre Company

    Here is a truism that never goes away: The arts are an acquired taste. If we are not exposed to theater, music and dance as children, there is no reason to expect that we will value theater, music and dance as adults. You can't have too many children's theater groups: Characters & Company, for instance, deserves credit for offering children's… More >>
  • Best Theater Company

    St. Louis Black Repertory Company

    The St. Louis Black Repertory Company attained this accolade the old-fashioned way: They earned it. For its 25th-anniversary season, the Black Rep assembled a solid core acting company -- which in itself is a rarity these days. That versatile company then succeeded in staging four absorbing plays and one jubilant musical. As intriguing as each production was, the season was… More >>
  • Best Down-and-Dirty Crime Rag

    St. Louis Metro Evening Whirl

    We all say we're sick of the media's penchant for broadcasting crime and violence -- murder, homicide, robberies and so on -- on TV, and, of course, we are. In public we scream about it. But -- 'fess up! -- in private a whole bunch of us love reading about it in the newspaper that best covers real-deal crime, the… More >>
  • Best Long-Running Production

    Late Nite Catechism, Grandel Theatre

    For the past ten months, St. Louis has been blessed by the presence of Colleen O'Neill, whose remarkably gentle yet fully-realized performance as Sister in Late Nite Catechism has made the city a more benevolent place. Out on the street, newspaper headlines proclaimed the trying times of the Catholic Church. But inside Sister's classroom at the Grandel, priests were barely… More >>
  • Best Casino


    There's nothing wrong with local casinos that a little competition wouldn't solve. What sets casinos apart is the ambience, given that games everywhere are essentially the same, as are the odds of winning. Is the floor clean? Are you asked whether you'd like a drink more often than once an hour? Does the staff smile? Is the food edible and reasonably… More >>
  • Best Dance Club


    Think back to your most heavenly dancing experience. No doubt the place was packed and you were rubbing up against equally blissful, equally lovable friends, playmates and strangers. That's dancing, and it involves sweat, people, most of which is ain't yours. The goal is intimacy, and to achieve it you need some healthy, harmless (or helpful) rubbing; you gotta be… More >>
  • Best Fanzine


    Painful as it is to admit, the St. Louis metal scene is weak. Metal is undersupported, underloved, underwanted and underappreciated. So it was surprising to discover Tohmet, a digest-sized fanzine dedicated to informing St. Louis metal heads about upcoming releases and tours from underground metal's darkest leading lights. True, most of the info in Tohmet could be found online at… More >>
  • Best Use for a Bookmobile

    Gina and Dan Gibbons' Wedding

    In the '70s suburbs, bookmobiles were the place -- should the librarian be filing in the back -- where you could get your thirteen-year-old mitts on a thick, smutty paperback copy of Judy Blume's Wifey before one of your friends' moms checked it out. The bookmobile evokes tales of singularly brilliant children living in desolate locales, desperate for the world… More >>
  • Best Songwriter Under 30

    Matt Ahearn

    His guitar, when he has one, is a rinky-dink Takamine. No pickup, and the strings haven't been changed since he bought it. He's a solid rhythm guitarist who once fronted the quasi-jam band Jitney Ride and, briefly, the Sharky Farmers, but he drops his pick when he plays and forgets the words to his best songs. He lives in Marlborough,… More >>
  • Best Weekly DJ Spin

    The Science

    There's nothing like a good weekend ritual, a special place to head with the headz, to groove alongside the dude you were eyeing last week, to finally work up the nerve to chat with the girl who always stands in that corner. Weekly DJ spins are taking place all over St. Louis these days: at the Upstairs Lounge on Grand… More >>
  • Best Dance Craze

    "The Monastery"

    We're not about to instigate a shitstorm by citing the source of this dance, which, for all we know, has been around in some incarnation or another for decades. Nor are we going to credit anyone in particular with inventing it, although we've heard countless theories about its origins. All we know is that it's been goddamn ubiquitous in St.… More >>
  • Best Indoor Graffiti

    Hi-Pointe Café Bathrooms

    The moment you hit the top floor of the Hi-Pointe Café, a sight appears that's so loud you have to squint. Inside the bathrooms is a caterwaul of rock & roll, the visual version: graffiti. A gusty deliverance of subcultural scribble jacksonpollocks every surface like a demented office birthday card. Graffiti sprawls in every mental and physical direction like a… More >>
  • Best Arts Administrator

    Brent Benjamin, St. Louis Art Museum

    This is a surprise selection -- even to us. St. Louis Art Museum director Brent Benjamin drives media types crazy. Handsome, charming, eminently knowledgeable -- you walk out of an interview with Benjamin and figure you've got really good stuff. But, back in your office, you read your notes over and realize he didn't reveal a thing. Nobody keeps SLAM… More >>
  • Best Rock & Roll Club

    Lemmons Basement Bar - CLOSED

    A satellite of the popular Black Thorn pizza parlor, Lemmons Basement Bar is often eerily reminiscent of the late, great Cicero's Basement Bar, back when it was on the other side of the street and not so redolent of patchouli. Like its legendary predecessor, Lemmons is thick with smoke and lank-haired hipster-dudes, and all those over six feet tall will… More >>
  • Best Soulard Blues Guitarist

    Steve Pecaro

    As fine a genre as it can be when handled by the right set of fingers and pipes, blues remains a relatively somber musical genre, the stump from which the phrase "crying in your beer" grows. Not so with Steve Pecaro, whose typical house of blues is the 1860's Hard Shell in the 'Lard most Friday and Saturday nights. Blurring… More >>
  • Best In-Store Concerts

    Vintage Vinyl

    Truth be told, Vintage Vinyl doesn't have much competition in this area: Border's has brought in some decent talent, including Neil Halstead and Julia Fordham, but it's primarily a bookstore, with a penchant for NPR-friendly strummers who won't freak out the grandmas. Euclid Records hosts the occasional live performance, but it's too small for balls-out rock bands. Streetside Records offers… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Graffiti

    Mary Miss' Abandoned Pool Installation

    Tucked away in the trees of Laumeier Park is the city's greatest repository of vapid lyrics and painful doggerel. Mary Miss' installation is an empty pool, encircled by a walkway and with a bare-timber structure close by. Thousands of snippets of Hendrix, Grateful Dead, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Clapton lyrics are scratched into the structure's wooden benches and beams,… More >>
  • Best Load-In

    Black Thorn at Lemmons - CLOSED

    In addition to the fame, the chicks and the mountains of coke, one of the best things about being in a rock band is getting to carry heavy musical equipment through glass-strewn alleys and up and down narrow back staircases slick with beer, urine and GG Allin knows what else. Leave it to those clueless folks at the Black Thorn… More >>
  • Best Self-Promotion

    CORE Project

    Say what you will about the CORE Project's melding of hip-hop and hippie jams, but you cannot deny this band's fervor when it comes to promoting themselves. Their graffiti-style fliers are ubiquitous, and their "Hello, My Name Is CORE Project" stickers are found on street signs in Bridgeton, Florissant, Affton, Wildwood and all points in between. There is not a… More >>
  • Best New Building

    Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts

    First, an honorable mention goes to the Schmidt Art Center on the campus of Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville. A small jewel of a space out near the cornfields, the Schmidt is well worth the trip out to the end of the MetroLink line. But let's face it: As much as we like to award recognition to the least-expected, the building… More >>
  • Best Topless Club

    P.T.'s of Centreville

    It's too soon to tell whether Larry Flynt's Hustler Club entry into the local "topless" club scene will boost the revamped Déjà Vu to the top of the line of East Side strip joints. In the buffet of buck-nakedness that is the circuit, titillation is where you find it, not just where you bump-and-grind it. Madonna sang that, or something… More >>
  • Best Music Venue

    Off Broadway

    When Off Broadway changed ownership last year, the rumor mill went into overdrive, and all the speculation was bad. As it turns out, Off Broadway hasn't just kept everything that made the club the best place to hear live music in St. Louis; new owners Connie Garcia and Joe Telle have made the South Side institution even better. The club… More >>
  • Best Twentysomething Drunken Stumble Down Memory Lane

    "Dollar Bin" at Lo

    Sake and nostalgia are a dangerous combination, and even more so when the nostalgic can't handle their sake, a big sound system is involved and DJ Kenny Kingston is kicking the cream cheese: the hair metal, the teeny-funk, the new jack swing, the Prince ("they always ask for the Prince," grumbles Kingston), the punky funky new wave, the '80s/'90s rhythm.… More >>
  • Best Reason Not to Appear in the "Best of St. Louis"

    You might go out of business

    Like the curse of the Best New Artist Grammy ("Milli Vanilli's revenge," if you will), not all awards and recognition work out in the long run for the recipients. Take some of those featured in last year's best-of issue. Days after the paper hit the streets, the folks running the art/theater/punk stronghold the Tin Ceiling learned that its lease would… More >>
  • Best Window Display

    Michael Tomlinson's place

    Michael Tomlinson, fashion designer, lives in Benton Park, on Sidney Street. It's a nice residential neighborhood, and his place sits directly across from the ultraswank, Lexus-lovin' Sidney Street Café. Talk about location. The clever ones turn this fact into an opportunity, and Tomlinson's no dummy: He created a window display in the front window of his house -- boxed it… More >>
  • Best Honky-Tonk Band

    Rockhouse Ramblers

    When it comes to that slippery music genre called alt-country, it's often easy to find the "alt" but all too often difficult to find the "country." Throwing a pedal steel over a morphine-paced slacker whine just doesn't cut it, son. Nor does a pale imitation of the country-rock hybrid best pulled off 30 years ago by folks such as Gram… More >>
  • Best Local Radio DJ/Personality

    Jay Nicks, WFUN (95.5 FM)

    Radio personalities aren't supposed to be good-looking; they're supposed to sound good-looking. After all, if they had the face to match the voice, they'd be on TV, right? Well, we've never actually seen Jay Nicks, the early-evening 95.5 jock who refers to himself as "the youngest in charge," but we'd bet good money that he's cute as a button and… More >>
  • Best Public Art

    "Wild Rose Run" by Linda Horsley and Bob Rocca

    Linda Horsley and Bob Rocca have done their part to replenish the de-natured city. From a chain-link fence that borders Forest Park Parkway, roses have bloomed. Glimpsed, as they are, whipping by at car-window level, "Wild Rose Run" makes for sunny impressions on the commute. Horsley and Rocca remember when wild roses grew along the Parkway, and because they're artists… More >>
  • Best Minimalist Chandelier

    I Fratellini Caffe and Rosticceria

    When you think "chandelier," the first mind-image is probably of a fancy one made of cut crystal. But sometimes, of course, the simpler the better. Check out the lights designed by artists, such as the beauties dangling above tables at SqWires, Lafayette Square's newest hangout, housed in an old wire company. No one, though, beats the chandeliers at I Fratellini,… More >>
  • Best New Radio Show

    Memphis to Manchester

    John Wendland's Memphis to Manchester show, which airs every Friday from 8-10 a.m., epitomizes all the qualities that make KDHX the best radio station in St. Louis and quite possibly the world: wide-ranging but impeccable programming, a minimum of chitchat and a genuine passion for sharing great music that's largely ignored on the corporate-controlled, profit-driven commercial airwaves. Though Wendland's choices… More >>
  • Best Place to See the Sky

    Richard Serra's "Joe," Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts

    From the outside, Richard Serra's Cor-Ten-steel masterpiece "Joe" appears to list a bit to one side, like a stylish woman's hat or the prow of a ship. The sculpture is the vibrant stroke of burnished orange that glows next to the concrete Ando building and the gray-graveled ground. Step inside, and the walls teeter over you and the spiral… More >>
  • Best Comedy Show

    St. Louis University Art Museum

    Forget driving out to the suburban comedy clubs and turn off the damn TV, already. Turns out that the Jesuits have the most amusing show in town: the new St. Louis University Art Museum. The St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission should really think about promoting this as a must-see tourism stop rivaling the Arch. Think of the fun you'll… More >>

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