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People & Places

  • Best Month to Be in St. Louis

    January

    Carping about the "bitter" St. Louis winter is the city's second-favorite weather-related pastime (right after bitching about the brutal St. Louis summer). But you know what? Winter in St. Louis is beautiful, and January is the best time of year to be here. The air is cold enough that you can see your breath, which is usually sufficient to keep… More >>
  • Best Local Girl Made Good

    Sarah Clarke

    You know Sarah Clarke as Nina Myers on 24, and you were devastated when she was killed off in the third season. But you may not know the rest of this 33-year-old Ladue native's résumé, which includes a supporting role in last year's sleeper thirteen and a Screen Actors Guild Emerging Actor Award at last year's St. Louis International Film… More >>
  • Best Local Boy Gone Bad

    Mike Danton

    St. Louis Blues center Mike Danton's fall has all the elements of a Southern -- make that Midwestern -- gothic drama: A devoted volleyball-playing fan/lover, rumors of drug addiction, celebrity, shady hit men and a murderous plot bred of the rising star's intense homoerotic relationship to his controlling agent. Hell, even Danton's childhood -- marked, to hear him tell it,… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet Single Men

    Upper Limits Rock Gym & Pro Shop

    If belaying, shirtless hunks isn't your idea of a good time, by all means stay away from Upper Limits climbing gym downtown. "It's a great place to meet people," a helpful staffer tells us. "We have a lot of people who start dating because they met there." Men are said to be more common on the scene than women, and… More >>
  • Best Place to Meet Single Women

    Yoga class

    Sorry, fella, but you gotta go where the odds are with you. You're unlikely to luck out at a bar, where drunk dudes outnumber sober ladies by about twelve to one, and where even the best pick-up line is so obviously a cry for help. Plus, what does a respectable woman want with a drunk? She's looking for a man… More >>
  • Best Spot for a Nooner

    Hyatt Regency St. Louis

    The beauty of Union Station's Grand Hall -- now the Hyatt Regency's lobby and cocktail lounge, replete with vaulted glass ceiling and handsome club chairs -- conjures up Bogart-Bacall romance: witty banter over stiff drinks with a secret paramour, the titillation of a clandestine rendezvous held in plain view. Enough of that: Now it's time to take it behind closed… More >>
  • Best Bed and Breakfast

    The Park Avenue Mansion

    Unless owners Kathy Marks-Petetit and Michael Petetit hire folks to hang out in the parlor of their bed and breakfast impersonating satisfied customers, their Park Avenue Mansion is the real deal. The Petetits, who moved to Lafayette Square from Clayton a few years ago as empty nesters, rehabbed a stately Victorian to keep themselves busy and bring in some retirement… More >>
  • Best Hotel

    Best Western Inn at the Park

    On a clear day you can't see forever from a room at the Best Western Inn at the Park -- but you can treat yourself to a pretty spectacular view of the Central West End. Which brings us to three of this hotel's best features: location, location, location. It's within walking distance of Forest Park and the shops and restaurants… More >>
  • Best Citizen

    Micheal Ocello

    What is a citizen? Merely a resident? No, a citizen has rights, privileges and responsibilities. Isn't the best citizen, then, the person who's most successful at getting others to exercise their rights, privileges and responsibilities? In one sense, strip-joint mogul Micheal Ocello is an everyperson's perverted older brother, unabashedly shilling for his east-side empire of nudie bars. But this past… More >>
  • Best Gadfly

    Thomas Diehl

    This past December, a group of neighbors opposed to a trash-transfer station in their neck of south county distributed a tough-talking anonymous flier slamming Fred Weber Inc., the company behind the proposed waste dump. The handbill suggested that residents contact county officials, boycott Fred Weber's landfill and make a donation to the cause in order to "stop the trash terrorists."… More >>
  • Best Bureaucrat

    Rollin Stanley

    When Rollin Stanley was appointed executive director of the St. Louis Planning and Urban Design Agency in May 2002, local planners and academics were shocked. How could Stanley, a man with an international reputation as a progressive urbanist, land in the Lou, a place where city planning the past five decades seems to have boiled down to on which side… More >>
  • Best Pipe Dream

    Merging St. Louis city and county

    We all know our city's sad story: From its population zenith of more than 850,000 in 1950, the postwar hemorrhage brought down St. Louis. Most recent census nadir: fewer than 350,000 inhabitants. Blame it on white flight, the drying-up of factory jobs or the highways that severed the city from its lifeblood, the Mississippi. But while the city has suffered,… More >>
  • Best Boondoggle

    The Lambert Airport expansion

    It takes one heckuva boondoggle to bowl us over two years running. Let's see if we can figure this one out: At Lambert St. Louis International Airport this fiscal year, 3.7 million fewer passengers than last year boarded planes. American Airlines has cut its daily flight schedule to 207 from 417 in November 2003 and stripped away St. Louis' hub… More >>
  • Best Lawyer

    James Hacking

    When three area Muslims were called recently by the FBI for an "informal interview," the men arrived accompanied by attorney James Hacking. As head of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, St. Louis Chapter, Hacking lends not only his time but also his legal services to the city's estimated 65,000 Muslim residents. "We do a lot of interfaith stuff," says Hacking,… More >>
  • Best Attorney Nom de Guerre

    Scott "Free" Rosenblum

    Scott "Free" Rosenblum… More >>
  • Best View of Downtown

    Martin Luther King Bridge, headed west

    Preservationists may argue that the best view of downtown is to be beheld from the pedestrian lane of the newly renovated Eads Bridge. Wrong. The best view of St. Louis is afforded one upon entering the Show-Me State on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge, just north of Eads Bridge. For one thing, in addition to stunning views of… More >>
  • Best Mile of St. Louis

    Market Street, between 4th and 20th streets

    With a nod to Cherokee Street and its eclectic hodgepodge of antique stores and Mexican grocers, the finest mile in St. Louis runs along Market Street beginning at 20th Street and ending at 4th. Along the way you pass Union Station and Carl Milles' spectacular Meeting of the Waters fountain across the street in Aloe Plaza. Next up is the… More >>
  • Best Local Landmark

    Giant Amoco sign

    Traveling west out of the city, Highway 40 is pretty basic: There's horizontal concrete to drive on, and there's vertical concrete separating you from the eastbound traffic. Oh yeah, and there're some giant concrete turtles. Pretty straightforward stuff. While the Gateway to the West is definitely an architectural wonder, once you've passed that, what's there to look forward to besides… More >>
  • Best Cheap Thrill

    Horse Hooky Tuesday

    Admission sets you back $1.50. A small beer costs the same. (If you want to bump it up to a sixteen-ouncer, that'll be $2, buddy.) Hot dogs are 75 cents apiece, a Coke goes for two bits less than that and parking is free. Whatever else you might end up donating to the track -- well, that's up to you… More >>
  • Best Kids' Thrill

    The Butterfly House

    When kids venture inside the tropical conservatory at the Butterfly House, their eyes get huge and they look around in awe. (Many of them actually stop talking!) More than 1,200 butterflies of 60 species flutter through the warm air, landing on the leaves of 150 different kinds of tropical plants. Kids can investigate the vibrant colors of these exquisite winged… More >>
  • Best Kids' Thrill (Railroad Division)

    The Wabash Frisco and Pacific Steam Railway

    Oh sure, there's the zoo train, and it's great. But nothing beats riding on a track next to the Meramec River in an open-air wooden car, the sun peeking in through the shady trees, the steam engine filling the air with puffs of smoke. Starting the first Sunday in May and continuing every Sunday through the end of October, the… More >>
  • Best Place to Take Out-of-Town Guests

    Missouri Botanical Garden

    The sheer beauty of the Missouri Botanical Garden makes it a perennial favorite with St. Louisans and visitors alike. During spring and fall, the garden's flowers and verdant green foliage are the main attraction. In the winter it's the massive Buckminster Fuller-inspired Climatron, with its thousands of species of tropical plants. The Japanese Garden is worth a trip on its… More >>
  • Best Festival

    Italian Fest

    Festivals abound in the summer months, and you can count on pretty much the same experience at each one: Parades, live music and funnel cakes are universal joys. Why, then, is Collinsville's mid-September Italian Fest so great? Is it the burg's Mayberry-like Main Street, still lined with locally owned and operated businesses and wide sidewalks? Is it the actual Italian… More >>
  • Best Local Boy Made Good

    Sham Daugherty and Zo Lee Jr.

    Sure, it was Nelly who restored St. Louis to its rightful prominent place on the music map with Country Grammar back in the summer of '00. But four years later it's Alonzo "Zo" Lee Jr. and Shamar "Sham" Daugherty, a.k.a. the Trak Starz, who are keeping us there. The production whizzes behind Chingy's 2003 debut Jackpot saw the album rise… More >>
  • Best Local Girl Gone Bad

    Shandi Finnessey

    Poor Shandi Finnessey. This could have been her year. This should have been her year. Our very own Miss Missouri USA turned into Miss USA and then came within a blond hair's width of being crowned Miss Universe. (Damn you, Miss Australia!) How, then, has she become the Lou's favorite whipping girl? Do we hate her because she's beautiful? Maybe,… More >>
  • Best Worthy Cause

    Saint Louis Crisis Nursery

    Sara Erselius remembers the call to the Saint Louis Crisis Nursery vividly. A baby screamed in the background. The mom, desperate, cried, "I can't handle it anymore. I'm going to hurt him." Within hours the baby was safe in the arms of a crisis-nursery volunteer and the mom was getting a much-needed break. "Research shows that when families are extremely… More >>
  • Best Old Building

    The Century Building

    Let's get this straight: On the one hand we have the Century Building, a Georgia marble-clad, Classical Revival-style office building that dates from 1896 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On the other we have a redevelopment plan for the Old Post Office (vintage 1884) that calls for the demolition of the Century Building to make… More >>
  • Best New Building

    The chapel at the First Unitarian Church of St. Louis

    The members of the congregation of the First Unitarian Church of St. Louis had quite a dilemma when they wanted to expand their little church at the corner of Kingshighway and Waterman Boulevard. On the one hand, the original 1913 building was a gorgeous example of Gothic in limestone. On the other hand, the church elders of the 1960s had… More >>
  • Best Restoration

    Forest Park

    Do you find yourself veering off Lindell, or even Highway 40, for a leisurely drive through Forest Park? Do you look for any excuse to pass by the new fountains in the Grand Basin? Have you eaten at the Boathouse, whose outdoor tables offer the most pastoral view within the city limits? Rented one of the boats? When Forest Park… More >>
  • Best Place to People-Watch

    Tri-City Speedway

    If you're in New Orleans and you want to people-watch, where do you go? Easy: The French Quarter, where everything and everyone is on display. Miami? South Beach, of course! St. Louis? A trickier proposition, but only slightly. If you're looking for prime people-watching turf in St. Louis, let's be honest: You're looking for the place that offers the most… More >>
  • Best Place to Tamper with a Jury

    Subway

    You've got a problem: You've been hired to talk some sense into John Q. Juror but you've forgotten the details. Was the trial going to be held in the civil courthouse, the municipal courts building or the Eagleton federal courthouse? Never fear, beefy friend -- finding your sap is going to be a snap. The three venues are all within… More >>
  • Best Bus Route

    Madison County Transit No. 18

    Madison County Transit's Route 18 offers something for the fun lover in all of us. Care to get your crunk on? The 18, also known as the "Collinsville Metrobus," will shuttle you from downtown St. Louis to the Monastery, East St. Louis' hip-hop mecca. Disco dancing more your style? The 18 will let you off right in front of Faces.… More >>
  • Best Public Works Project

    MetroLink Expansion

    MetroLink expansion has sprouted in many locales simultaneously, so it's easy to assess the progress. Whether it's straddling Interstate 44 near Shrewsbury, disrupting Skinker Boulevard at Forest Park Parkway or slicing Clayton at Forsyth, we can follow its pace based on how it's inconveniencing us in the short term. No longer an abstraction but a fundamental alteration of the area's… More >>
  • Best Alibi

    Stranded in Ghana

    Mornings at WGNU (920 AM) were a little quiet in July. Absent was the voice of Lizz Brown, host of The Wake Up Call. Then again, Brown had a pretty good excuse for her absence: She was stuck in Ghana. Along with 72 companions, Brown had journeyed to West Africa on a trip organized by a Brentwood-based travel agency. But… More >>
  • Best Example of Taking One for the Team

    Larry Washington

    Look, everybody does shit they don't want to do for their boss. Somewhere a rookie is claw-hammering moldy drywall all by his lonesome while wearing a faulty respirator because the senior man wanted to play golf. Right now, some young idealist is fetching coffee for a man who can't properly pronounce "nuclear." Both of these people nodded slowly to themselves… More >>
  • Best Poster Boy for the First Amendment

    Bob Jamerson

    Alas, Bob Jamerson, resident peacock of the Central West End, is hanging up his roller skates and calling it quits. What started out three years ago as a sunny romance with the city turned irrevocably sour earlier this year, when Jamerson was ejected from a Fourth of July parade in Webster Groves. Echoes of last year's ouster from the St.… More >>
  • Best Local Politician

    George R. "Buzz" Westfall (1944-2003)

    Until his death from a staph infection late last year, Buzz Westfall was the defining player in local politics. A graduate of Saint Louis University, Westfall cut his teeth as county prosecutor before being elected to the post of St. Louis County executive in 1990. It was a position he'd hold for the rest of his life. Westfall weathered many… More >>
  • Best Cemetery

    Oak Grove Cemetery

    For sheer spookiness, few local graveyards can rival Oak Grove. The cemetery boasts 65 hilly acres, several of whose tombs are the final resting places of famous forefathers, including Henry Kiel (1871-1942), who served as mayor of St. Louis from 1913-25; and Henry Caulfield (1873-1966), who was governor of Missouri from 1929-33. But the true gems of Oak Grove lie… More >>
  • Best Random Act of Hoosierness

    The Shanti

    Picture, if you will, this early-summer hoosier tableau: Two men, one white, one black, both plastered, playing Ping-Pong. Without a net. One of them bumps the light switch and then, after briefly attempting to remedy the situation, the pair presses on in darkness. For nearly an hour. Perhaps the décor of this Soulard establishment -- haphazardly strung Christmas lights and… More >>
  • Best Public Restroom

    Plaza Frontenac

    Everyone poops, Taro Gomi noted in his seminal book of the same name. But some people poop in more opulent surroundings than other people. The main restroom at Plaza Frontenac, set beneath the stairs in the Center Court area, is not just a lavatory, it's a Palace of Poop. Immediately upon entry, it's clear that one is not fixing to… More >>
  • Best Drinking Fountain

    St. Louis Public Library, central branch

    In the downtown public library basement, in the middle of the hall connecting periodicals on microfilm to Science and Technology, there's a Halsey Taylor pedestal fountain -- the best of the best -- that'll blow your mind. Approach respectfully, press the sturdy top-corner button and, bingo, huge arch, a gusher of agua that hits the center of your tongue, pouring… More >>
  • Best Kept Secret

    The South Coast of St. Louis

    If they aren't going to use it, we may as well. When you're at the foot of the Arch, start walking south along the riverbank. Then keep walking. Just keep going. Walk around fences, along railroad tracks. You'll have to dodge barge companies, sand and gravel dealers. You're probably not supposed to be back here, but so what. Who can… More >>
  • Best 'Ville

    Belleville

    Sorry Edwardsville, Wentzville, Nashville, Collinsville, Caseyville and Centreville. There's just something about Belleville that offers respite from St. Louis like no other metro-area 'Ville. Maybe it's the walking-distance proximity between Belleville's quaint Main Street and its MetroLink station. Maybe it's the jalapeņo popper-and-beer specials at Three-1-Three that make grocery shopping seem expensive and superfluous. More likely it's the feeling one… More >>
  • Best Place for a First Date

    Wrestling at the South Broadway Athletic Club

    If you want to play it safe, pick a restaurant, any restaurant. When it comes to the first date, this is a status quo, bubblegum move. Second date? Sure. But a first date that harbors any aspirations of moving on to that second date requires an eccentric, action-packed selection. And it doesn't get any more eccentric and action packed than… More >>
  • Best Place for a Last Date

    The Loading Zone - CLOSED

    Nothing says "I don't love you" like "Honey, I'm gay!" You could be honest and take her to the Majestic, hunker down over a slice of peach pie and tell her your love is as stale as the 1904 World's Fair, but please -- when it comes to breaking up, honesty is the worst policy. It's a lose-lose: Makes you… More >>
  • Best Month to Leave St. Louis

    February

    Want to know a little secret? (Sure you do.) We never leave St. Louis. That's right. Never. Haven't you noticed that this newspaper, like, comes out every single week? Now, ask yourself: How could those folks put out a weekly paper if they weren't here? But if we could pick a time to leave St. Louis -- and… More >>
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