Arts & Entertainment

  • Best Hair on a Local TV Personality (Male)

    Art Holliday
    KSDK-TV (Channel 5)

    The choices for best hair on a male TV personality range from balding to bald to helmet. It is tough to find long hair -- much less a ponytail, mullet or mohawk -- in this ultraconservative news-reader crowd. This year's award goes to KSDK Channel 5's Art Holliday, the newscaster with the boy-next-door appeal and receding hairline. Holliday co-hosts Today… More >>
  • Best Local Album of the Past 12 Months

    Gateway to Dignity

    The members of Grand Ulena have garnered notoriety for their pedigree, their simultaneous refusal to play their hometown while declaring themselves "Ambassadors of St. Louis" and the St. Louis Police Department's recent "courtesy call" on their practice space. All this controversy, both imagined and real, has almost overshadowed Grand Ulena's finest achievement: Gateway to Dignity, their début, is the album… More >>
  • Best Hair on a Local TV Personality (Female)

    Vickie Newton
    KMOV-TV (Channel 4)

    Picking a winner in this category is like selecting an entrée at Applebee's: Everything's designed to appeal to the widest possible audience, so it all tastes pretty much the same, nothing too bold or spicy. This year's winner, Vickie Newton, has a hairstyle -- best described as straightened, with a "kick" at the end -- that manages to do all… More >>
  • Best Rapper


    Like there's any question here. This summer you couldn't hide from Chingy's début single, "Right Thurr," even if you wanted to. But why would you want to? What kind of person didn't fall for the song back in the spring, when it was bubbling on local radio before exploding everywhere as the inescapable hit single of the summer, 2003 edition?… More >>
  • Best Movie Theater

    The Hi-Pointe Theatre

    What the St. Louis cinema scene lacks in screen volume, it makes up for with character. The luxury of the Chase, the ornate majesty and scheduling ingenuity of the Tivoli, the stridently highfalutin art-house standards of Plaza Frontenac, the seamless milieu of old and new at the Esquire -- there is considerable virtue to behold and accolades to bestow around… More >>
  • Best Concert of the Past 12 Months

    Flaming Lips at the Pageant

    On June 7, 2003, the Flaming Lips cured cancer. Really. Every person in the audience that night felt it happen; the bitterness and pain and regret and recriminations that gnaw at your insides and leave you with a bellyful of dead black sludge were burned away by the incandescent joy of the Flaming Lips. Wayne Coyne, resplendent in white suit… More >>
  • Best Drive-In Movie Theater

    Skyview Drive-In

    Once a monolith rising from the open fields of the river bottom, the Skyview Drive-In now competes with the strip malls, fast food and the hectic traffic of North Belt West in Belleville. Opened in the summer of 1949, the Skyview was state of the art -- even expanding, like a dinosaur sprouting freakish wings, to Cinemascope dimensions -- until… More >>
  • Best Band Name

    Malade de Souci

    Malade de Souci may or may not exist: Few people have seen them play, fewer still know who they are and no one seems to know anyone who might actually be in the band, assuming the band exists. We're not saying they do: We are simply acknowledging that the two albums of non-Euclidian, noodly sauerkraut-from-space-rock that are attributed to them… More >>
  • Best Art Cinema

    Cinema St. Louis/St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase

    Cinema St. Louis, the organization formerly known as SLIFF, has grown in many directions over the past few years, the best of which showcases the filmmaking talents of homegrown auteurs. The St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase celebrated its third anniversary in 2003, hosting the talents of more than 65 local artists and entertaining some 2,200 viewers over the course of five… More >>
  • Best Band Paraphernalia


    There isn't a lot of money to be made on the local rock scene if you're a musician -- Clear Channel sees to that; hence the merch table that appears at nearly every show. Local bands attempt to financially justify getting the night off from work to play the show by selling logoed and branded shirts, hats, CD-R's, singles, tape… More >>
  • Best Long-Running Movie

    Monument to the Dream

    Want to see a movie with high drama and breathtaking visuals? When's the last time you visited your neighborhood cinema in the bowels of the Gateway Arch? Charles Guggenheim's mesmerizing 28-minute documentary Monument to the Dream is an optical illusion of a film. As you sit watching, you know the Arch is towering 630 feet over your head, the tallest… More >>
  • Best Band to Leave Town in the Past 12 Months

    Hroom Hroom

    Those quick to assume that music fans in St. Louis can't handle anything too challenging will be at least slightly relieved to find out that Hroom Hroom weren't driven out of town on a musical rail; instead the duo relocated to Chicago for the higher purpose of higher education. Made up of drummer Aleta Lanier and guitarist/singer Blueberry McGregor (previously… More >>
  • Best Local Artist

    Daniel Raedeke

    St. Louis' best local artist doesn't work the conventional gallery circuit. Daniel Raedeke made it a practice to inhabit this town's art marginalia, showing his work at Kroma Contemporary Living (a furniture store) and Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts, and making his paintings in the Carondelet studio he's rehabbing with his wife Dionna. But he has also made inroads… More >>
  • Best Band to Die in the Past 12 Months

    The Reactions

    The curse of the RFT music awards strikes again! The teenage striped shirt-wearing trio the Reactions won in the Best Garage category and almost immediately thereafter went their separate ways, citing "creative differences." Unlike most breakups attributed to that hackneyed excuse, however, this one actually seems to involve creative differences. In any case, St. Louis has experienced another band casualty.… More >>
  • Best Museum

    The Saint Louis Art Museum

    It's hard to think of a museum as keyed into its city's history as the Saint Louis Art Museum. Built in 1904 for the World's Fair, the edifice perfectly reflects the Beaux Arts taste that dominated the turn of the century. But what makes the Saint Louis Art Museum our best museum this year? A combination of things: the inauguration… More >>
  • Best Country Band

    Dealer's Choice

    As a band, Dealer's Choice exists but once a month; as individuals, they've made their marks in country music (and we're not just talking locally). For Dealer's Choice, history keeps unfolding every second Saturday, at a smoky, bric-a-bracked dive in St. Peters called Horstmeier's. No frontman, per se, but drummer and singer Edward Foster (everyone calls him Abdul or Dooley)… More >>
  • Best Museum Exhibition

    Sculpture and Drawings by Richard Serra

    OK, the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts isn't technically a museum, but why split hairs? The Richard Serra show is not only the best museum exhibition of the year, it's also the best one we've seen at the Pulitzer since it opened in 2001. It includes two seldom-exhibited "Prop" pieces, as well as the massive "Joplin" (1971) and the quizzical… More >>
  • Best Bluegrass Band

    Cumberland Gap

    For some aficionados, if the band doesn't sound like the Bluegrass Boys or Flatt and Scruggs, it ain't no part of bluegrass. For others, any jam band with a mandolin qualifies. Cumberland Gap doesn't have time for territorial skirmishes: They're too busy keeping their set lists fresh with offbeat covers of Beatles, John Hartford, Gram Parsons and Bob Dylan tunes;… More >>
  • Best Art Gallery

    Washington University Gallery of Art

    After a ten-month closure for renovations to the School of Art, the Washington University Gallery of Art reopened in 2002 with a season that featured some of the best art of the past year. Last fall's H.W. Janson show was a fascinating retrospective of that scholar's formidable curatorial legacy at the gallery during the 1940s. Current curator Sabine Eckmann is… More >>
  • Best Gospel Artist

    Fontella Bass

    Should all the mid-'60s soul singles vanish from the planet, leaving you with only "Rescue Me," Fontella Bass' 1965 masterpiece, you could listen, learn and distill the genre anew. Why? Because the gospel sound, the DNA of soul music, is there. Daughter of gospel titan Martha Bass -- a member of the legendary Clara Ward Singers -- Bass has always… More >>
  • Best Gallery Show

    David Helm
    Automated Dispositions

    Many St. Louisans remember the astonishment to be found inside 2000's Wonderland exhibit at the St. Louis Art Museum. Installation artists transformed the SLAM's special-exhibition spaces into what seemed to be sets from sci-fi films and other bizarre walk-through experiences. Earlier this year, in the same spirit, artist David Helm utterly transformed the University of Missouri-St. Louis' Gallery 210 into… More >>
  • Best Songwriter

    Andy Ploof and John Wendland

    When you write for a group of impeccable players fronted by an overpowering singer, you're lucky anyone notices your songs at all. The now-defunct One Fell Swoop wasn't one of St. Louis' best bands because they could pick and sing. They had songs in spades, the kind that stand with the best of our better-known roots-oriented writers. Together Andy Ploof… More >>
  • Best Curator

    Olivia Lahs-Gonzales

    When Olivia Lahs-Gonzales left the Saint Louis Art Museum in 2001 to become director of the Sheldon Art Galleries, she faced a whopping challenge. Newly fashioned out of a former parking garage, the mazelike linked galleries have all the charm of Holiday Inn reception rooms, and they can't seem to shake the identity crisis born of their literal attachment to… More >>
  • Best Vocalist (Female)

    Kim Vrooman

    Last Halloween Kim Vrooman and her band Earthsol masqueraded as Led Zeppelin. They didn't just wear costumes. Set up in the cramped confines of Obie's (recently reborn as Griffin's) in Soulard, the band raged through two hours-plus of Zep, nailing each and every guitar wail and vocal mania. This night wasn't about covers; it was about a gutsy rock &… More >>
  • Best Zoo Animal


    Tucked away on the eastern edge of the zoo, ensconced between the giraffe enclosure and the wallaby pit, rests the unacknowledged (until now) mistress of the animals, the takin. If the lion is King of the Jungle, then the takin is Queen Mother of Beasts. Her informational placard notes that this "goat-antelope," whose name rhymes with "rockin'," is found in… More >>
  • Best Vocalist (Male)

    Thayne Bradford

    Yes, he's a virtuoso on fiddle, guitar (acoustic and electric) and mandolin, and he has played with such bluegrass legends as Bull Harmon, Benny Martin and Vince Gill. But it's his voice, a tenor of exacting clarity and startling range, that confirms Thayne Bradford's indispensable place on the St. Louis roots scene. While most bluegrass-steeped singers are content to remain… More >>
  • Best FM Radio Personality

    Bob Reuter
    KDHX (FM 88.1)

    Bob Reuter's Bob's Scratchy Records show on KDHX is like the Holy Grail of rock & roll. Between noon and 1 p.m. every Tuesday, Bob (a sometime-contributor to the Riverfront Times) spins lost and not-so-lost classics from the Sonics, AC/DC, the Gun Club, Joy Division, Lee Hazelwood, James Brown, Ike and Tina Turner, maybe even Prince or Run-D.M.C. There's also… More >>
  • Best Folk Artist

    Jim Nelson

    One of the most reticent and recondite musicians in St. Louis is also one of the most knowledgeable, skilled and in-demand. Though he'd blanch at the description, guitarist and singer Jim Nelson is to St. Louis folk music what Bob Costas is to baseball: He knows everything worth knowing -- from bluegrass to country to his deepest passion, old-time music… More >>
  • Best AM Radio Personality

    Chuck Norman
    WGNU (920 AM)

    Chuck Norman is responsible -- if that word can be used -- for WGNU, which bills itself as "Radio Free St. Louis." Without Norman's special approach to radio, listeners wouldn't have Lizz Brown and Richard "Onion" Horton on the black and left, or Earl Holt and Crane Durham on the white and right. That's not to mention the lucid tones… More >>
  • Best Cover Band

    The Skulls

    The intensity of the Skulls is found in the sweaty face of lead singer Devin Baker -- and also on his arm. His face contorts as he screams out the lyrics to "TV Casualty" and other Misfits covers, but on his arm lies the tattoo that explains it all: "WWDD" -- "What Would Danzig Do?" Baker's impression of erstwhile Misfits… More >>
  • Best Radio Station

    KWUR (FM 90.3)

    Although it seems contrary to select a station that can't be heard more than a mile and a half from its transmitter (in Clayton, just off the Washington University campus), KWUR (FM 90.3) is the best radio station in St. Louis precisely because of its contrary nature. A 10,000-milliwatt powerhouse, KWUR broadcasts exactly what you'd expect from a college radio… More >>
  • Best All-Ages Venue

    The Pageant

    Built in 2000, the Pageant has quickly filled a gap in the St. Louis music ecosystem, becoming the venue of choice for national bands not big enough for an arena or shed tour. The White Stripes, the Foo Fighters and others have all played here recently on their stop through the STL. The real beauty of the Pageant, though, is… More >>
  • Best Actress

    Linda Kennedy

    There are some lovely actresses in St. Louis, but too often you see them onstage once and then not again for a year or two, if at all. For too many women, it's too tough to sustain a body of work. If Linda Kennedy is the best actress in town, that's in large measure because her considerable talent has been… More >>
  • Best Turntablist

    Kenny Kingston

    To the headz, the term "turntablist" denotes a very specific craft within the DJ community: one who performs tricks and antics and body spins and choreographed dances and basically showboats his or her talents for a few minutes at a time. But really, as cool as "turntablism" is, it gets boring when you just wanna frickin' dance, because you cannot… More >>
  • Best Actor

    Terry Meddows

    Terry Meddows is like a theatergoer's insurance agent; whenever he walks onstage, you know you're in good hands. Meddows has had quite a year. From his wonderfully wacky small-time thug in the ECHO Theatre Company production of Criminal Genius to the chilling desperation of his George in Vanity Theatre's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, from his beguiling widower in the… More >>
  • Best Rock Band

    Riddle of Steel

    What is the riddle of steel? Many have contemplated this, but only Crom knows the true answer. The answer -- at least for St. Louis -- is that the Riddle of Steel is a juggernaut rock three-piece formed like a phoenix from the ashes of many other regional acts. Featuring the virtuoso guitar of Andrew Elstner, the throbbing low end… More >>
  • Best Stage Production

    A Streetcar Named Desire
    Hothouse Theatre Company

    It's been nearly a year since Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire visited the ArtLoft Theatre. But memories of that raw yet evanescent production continue to haunt. Under Marty Stanberry's sensitive direction and charged by Carolyne Hood's uniquely understated interpretation of Blanche DuBois, the Hothouse Theatre Company transformed a familiar American classic into something unpredictable and dangerous. Forget Brando braying… More >>
  • Best Music Festival

    Washington Avenue Beat Festival

    Beat Festival, the transcendent biannual electronic music festival on Washington Avenue, is the most happening Sunday night in St. Louis ever (and maybe better than the best Saturday night, too). Thousands of wristband-sporting celebrants come out Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends to revel in the balmy weather and the glory of our burgeoning club district. This is the best… More >>
  • Best Musical

    Damn Yankees!
    St. Louis Black Repertory Company

    The Black Rep really knows how to wind up a season. Last year they went out strong with the ebullient Bubbling Brown Sugar. This year they outdid even that with Damn Yankees! In the Black Rep's hands, this timeworn musical about the Devil's attempt to claim a baseball lover's soul was sinfully entertaining. In addition to its high-voltage energy, the… More >>
  • Best New Artist

    In Medias Res

    Sure, the music scene is notoriously cyclical, but who saw this revival coming? Five years ago, if you had mentioned funk to a punk rocker, he would've rolled his eyes and made some joke about Primus. But all of a sudden everybody's claiming Gang of Four as an influence, and New York bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the… More >>
  • Best Farce

    A Flea in Her Ear
    Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

    OK, so there wasn't a lot of competition for this category. But when something is good it deserves recognition, and the St. Louis Rep's rendition of Georges Feydeau's classic A Flea in Her Ear was very good indeed. The frantic French farce about marital mix-up and mistaken identity was directed with stop-on-a-dime-and-give-you-change pacing by John Going and featured wildly creative… More >>
  • Best Local Label

    Ascetic Records

    Hieu Nguyen and Matt Snell launched Ascetic in 2001 because, according to Nguyen, "there have been so many cool labels that have supported so many good bands, we just wanted to do the same." In a relatively short time, the label has put out ten releases from local and regional acts, all in the aggressive/expressive noise-rock genre. What elevates Ascetic… More >>
  • Best Comeback

    City Players of St. Louis

    For six decades, as far back as the 1930s, City Players was an active part of the local community-theater scene. But in recent years the group fell on hard times. So there was a communal sigh of relief three years ago when Ted Gregory stepped up to try to restore the theater's fading reputation. Alas, his season opener in 2001,… More >>
  • Best Jam Band

    Naked Groove

    "Ass" is a difficult concept to grasp. It's not that people don't understand its ramifications; more likely, they're not willing to accept the fact that ass is a common denominator in many of the things in life that are good. They think it's a nasty word that has no place in civilized speech, an uncouth utterance to be reserved for… More >>
  • Best New Performance Space

    Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center

    When it comes to theaters, St. Louis has a leviathan complex. The Muny and the Fox are both too large to sustain a viable performer-audience rapport. If and when it's eventually refurbished, Kiel Opera House will be too large, as well. The Edison isn't too big, but with seats that face away from the stage, it's too weird. In that… More >>
  • Best Noise Band

    Brain Transplant

    Much like guacamole-flavored potato chips, the music of Brain Transplant don't hardly make no sense to regular folk. You can try to stuff the pigeon into the hole, but you're just going to end up with a mess of blood, feathers and splintered bone. According to Chris Smentkowski, half of the nebulous duo's enormity, "We hardly prepare for our shows… More >>
  • Best Theater Company

    HotHouse Theatre Company

    A theater season can be made or broken before the first play is produced. If the season lacks imagination or reach, the quality of the productions can become secondary. During the past twelve months, HotHouse has mounted a thoughtful and cohesive season that speaks directly to its community. From the shattering A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, St. Louis'… More >>
  • Best Blues Artist

    Bennie Smith

    There was a time, long ago, when blues guitar was about simplicity and soul instead of Stevie Ray Vaughan wankery. We might not remember that period, but Bennie Smith does. Smith played with luminaries such as Chuck Berry and Ike and Tina Turner as the '50s transformed the blues into rock & roll, and he hasn't quit playing since. Sitting… More >>
  • Best Children's Theater

    Metro Theater Company

    Metro doesn't call what they do "children's theater"; they call it theater aimed at "young people." However you label it, the Metro Theater Company production of Captain Lindbergh's Ocean Flight was one of last year's local theater highlights. And it's coming back to the Missouri History Museum this season. There's children's theater where the toddlers are up onstage -- which… More >>
  • Best Rock Radio Program

    The Wayback Machine
    KDHX (88.1 FM)

    On his Web site, Jeff "Kopper" Kopp, the DJ of KDHX's Wayback Machine, claims to play a lot of different music on his show: "'60s garage/psych-punk, '70s proto-punk, instrumental surf/hot rod, frantic R&B, mod, freakbeat, beer-soaked frat rock, broken blues, rockabilly/psychobilly" -- just to name some of the styles. But it all boils down to roots rock, rock either from… More >>
  • Best Theater Deal

    University theater productions

    Editor's note: A correction ran concerning this story; see end of article. Not that long ago, college theater was about young kids putting white flour in their hair and pretending to be adults. Those days are gone. Anyone who saw Magan Wiles' delectable performance as Babe in last fall's St. Louis University mounting of Crimes of the Heart, or caught Webster… More >>
  • Best Jazz Artist

    John Norment

    Some jazz musicians stay inside, expertly navigating the changes while inventing fresh new melodies on the spot. Others go outside, discarding the boundaries of harmony and stretching music into pure sound with a restless yearning to grab the whole world and channel it through a horn. One of the things that makes saxophonist-composer John Norment distinctive is his ability to… More >>
  • Best TV Station

    WRBU-TV (UPN 46)

    Local viewers who like their television free need to thank the Roberts Brothers, Michael and Steve, for increasing their options this year. WRBU dropped the home-shopping format and switched to UPN shows, Jerry Springer, plenty of reruns and seldom-run movies. It's not PBS by any stretch -- how many stations run The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air back-to-back every day? That's… More >>
  • Best Lounge Act

    Tony Viviano

    "Hi, folks, how you doing? Good to see you. Come on in, there's a table right over there. And now, I'd like to do one of my very favorite songs. This one goes out to all you couples out there." Defined in our imagination by the artistry of Sinatra, Bennett and Tormé; the kitschy excess of Wayne Newton; and the… More >>
  • Best Local TV Commercial

    Becky's Carpet and Tile Superstore

    Becky's TV spots (most often seen during the late-night hours on second-tier networks) feature her as the Queen of Carpet, floating above the Arch in a fairy-godmother get-up, selling carpet at UNBELIEVABLY LOW PRICES!!! The special effects are strictly 1950s B-movie standard, but the spots are so far beyond silly that they have more than just ironic appeal. Becky's dress-up… More >>
  • Best Jazz Radio Program

    Jazz with Bob Parlocha
    WSIE (88.7 FM)

    Whether you're driving home from work or a gig or a date along a near-deserted highway, propelled by an urgent walking bass and ride cymbal, or sitting in a third-floor walkup lamenting lost love to the moody musings of a tenor sax, the hours after midnight seem like the perfect time for jazz radio. And Bob Parlocha, who holds down… More >>
  • Best Weathercaster

    Joe Petrovich, Ph.D.
    KMOV-TV (Channel 4)

    For some reason, television stations market their weathercasters by citing their certification. They're meteorologists. They have this seal of approval, or that. Why they need all that schooling or certification to read what the wire says it will do tomorrow doesn't make much sense, but hey, it's TV news. They know how important weather is. If they put weather or… More >>
  • Best R&B Artist

    Oliver Sain

    As a saxophonist, keyboard player, composer, arranger, bandleader, producer, engineer and entrepreneur, Oliver Sain has worked with, influenced and mentored literally hundreds of musicians over the years. The Mississippi native who came to St. Louis in the 1950s has written and produced hit records for others, had his own work sampled by the hip-hop generation and recorded genres from gospel… More >>
  • Best TV News Anchor

    Kathryn Jamboretz
    KPLR-TV (Channel 11)

    Kathryn Jamboretz is not made of porcelain. She is not a size-zero princess who chews out cameramen and demands a chilled bottle of Pellegrino and a foot massage before each newscast. The spunky anchor's self-professed philosophy is to "live where you drink." She's anything but a diva, and she can hold forth on politics and an array of in-the-moment topics… More >>
  • Best Reporter (TV/Radio Division)

    Tom Ackerman
    KMOX (AM 1120)

    At roughly 3 p.m., a time when most broadcast personalities are preening, schmoozing or having fully developed stories fed to them by hapless lackeys, KMOX (AM 1120) workhorse Tom Ackerman can most often be found in the bowels of Busch Stadium, trying to coax journalistic gold out of a cliché-happy batch of Cardinals. After the game, Ackerman patiently fields calls… More >>
  • Best Reporter (Newspaper Division)

    Mike Fitzgerald
    Belleville News-Democrat

    Few reporters can say they've written stories that launched a federal investigation of a political figure, spawned an indictment and guilty plea and somewhere along the way prompted a death threat against the reporter and his family. But by July 2003, Mike Fitzgerald could add all the aforementioned to his résumé. Fitzgerald wrote a series about former East St. Louis… More >>
  • Best Newspaper Columnist

    Bill McClellan
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    Most days he looks like he just rolled out of bed after an all-night bender. The bags under his eyes are bigger than the ones Stanley packed on his search for Livingston. After twenty years of columnizing, Bill McClellan looks as tired as his adopted hometown. But make no mistake: McClellan is still St. Louis' best-read and best-liked columnist. McClellan… More >>
  • Best Simple Pleasure in the Post-Dispatch

    "Help Yourself"

    Thursday is the day when the St. Louis Post-Dispatch exposes our town for the folksy Dogpatch it truly is, courtesy of the "Help Yourself" portion of the Everyday section. In "Help Yourself," there's the Questions and the Answers. The Questions are the earnest queries from area residents searching for everything from lactose-free yogurt to ancient typewriter manuals to bamboo toilet-paper… More >>
  • Best Strip Joint

    Crystal Palace

    When you're driving after midnight on the two-lane blacktop of Highway 157 beyond Cahokia, just when you think you've gone too far, you're in Centreville. And perhaps you have gone too far. That was the point. If you wanted safe and convenient spectator sex, you would have stopped in Sauget. Larry Flynt's Hustler Club in Washington Park is the newest… More >>
  • Best Local Web Site

    The Lowlife Guide to St. Louis

    Tourists bound for St. Louis have almost nowhere to turn for guidance. Your Fodor's and your Frommer's devote a page or two to St. Louis in their bigger guides to the whole U.S. of A. but offer little more than outdated, uninspiring tepidities about Laclede's Landing. Lonely Planet's Web site ignores St. Louis in favor of such cultural meccas as… More >>
  • Best Casino

    Ameristar Casino

    Forget the advertising claptrap about loose slots. At base, it's a money-changing business, and your odds of winning are virtually the same no matter where you go. Amenities and ambiance make the difference, and Ameristar boasts above-average -- think Branson or better -- live entertainment and restaurants even non-gamblers would patronize. The bathrooms are clean, service is prompt and dealers… More >>
  • Best Arts Organization

    COCA (Center of Creative Arts)

    Countless kids have cut their teeth on the arts offerings at COCA. Scores of artists have had their works featured in the organization's Anheuser-Busch Gallery. Every year the dance company performs jazz, tap, ballet and modern dance at corporate and civic events throughout the bi-state area. The Family Theater Series ushered in its fifteenth year and Women CenterStage is in… More >>
  • Best Local Writer

    Wayne Fields

    For more than three decades, Wayne Fields has been an academic, a professor of English at Washington University. He does not write academic prose, not even in his most footnoted work. Immune to cant and jargon, Fields writes nimble, lyrical sentences, no less philosophical or provocative for being lucid and musical. Images, drawn from nature but far more than natural,… More >>
  • Best Book by a Local Author

    Made in USA: East St. Louis
    By Andrew J. Theising

    If any story deserves to be told, it's that of East St. Louis, the awe-inspiring, tear-inducing city that, in its prime, held 80,000 people but which has dwindled to 30,000 in 2003. It's the great lost suburb that continues to survive seemingly by sheer force of will -- and, of course, sin money. Published this past summer, Made in USA:… More >>
  • Best Spoken-Word Artist

    Zaire Imani

    Owing to slam poetry's subjective scoring system -- judging panels are most often chosen from the crowd at random and can include folks of all sexes, races, moods and blood-alcohol levels -- it's often said that the best poet rarely wins. Unless that poet is Zaire Imani. Also known by stage name Mama Blue, Imani has held a perfect, undefeated… More >>
  • Best Reading Series

    Left Bank Books

    This one's a gimme. The only reading series in town that consistently brings interesting authors to our burg is the endless round of events at Left Bank Books. Going to Left Bank means communing with apoplectic obsessives such as Michael Light, author of Full Moon, who turned NASA's archive of lunar photographs into a life-changing coffee-table book. It means trading… More >>
  • Best Comedy Show

    The NonProphet Theater Company's Militant Propaganda Bingo Machine

    Considering that Saturday Night Live uses a few dozen professionally seasoned writers to churn out material for a weekly 90-minute program (minus commercials and musical guests) and considering that the last half-hour of that show consistently sucks, what the NonProphets accomplish each Thursday night in the Hi-Pointe Café's upstairs performance space (1001 McCausland Avenue, Richmond Heights; 314-781-4716; smacks of… More >>

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