Best-Kept Secret St. Louis 2003 - St. Louis
St. Louis is a really nice place to live, all things considered -- enter sappy string section -- and, when it comes down to it, its problems -- an insular, insecure disposition and whatnot -- could perhaps be best remedied with one extra-large shrink who can analyze us collectively, give us a bit of reassurance that yes, once we were bigger, and more thriving, and more of a mover-and-shaker in the American cultural consciousness than we are now, but that's okay, and we're still a good thing, and worthy, and we are what we are, a bunch of bright lights and an Arch passing below napping passengers flying to either coast. A dot on a map that, when magnified, reveals a remarkably well-crafted city imagined by optimistic Europeans who saw a big river and a good deal and decided to drop camp here. They then built a context that would outlive them, that you can't see from the window of an airplane, a context constructed with the pounding hearts of the best masons in the world, whose eyes and hands realized thousands of stunning façades and a curlicue brick infrastructure that is ripe for renovation. It's a truth that's bound to leak eventually, and if not, who cares? It can remain our little secret.