All Hail Kong

Slain by beauty

Sep 15, 2004 at 4:00 am
MON 9/20

In the introduction to his collection of poems, The Complete Book of Kong, William Trowbridge simultaneously admits the truth and embellishes the story, which is the poet's sworn duty and great privilege. "My Kong poems have always embarrassed me," he states unequivocally, before asking of modern poetry, "Can't we lighten up just a little?" After all, Trowbridge notes, "There's nothing wrong with a touch of the gross now and then."

The Kong who lives in Trowbridge's poems is both serious and gross in the best possible way. Kong, massive and famous and reviled by all of humanity, struggles through the process of reinventing himself for the modern era in the course of Trowbridge's poems. Kong speaks frankly about his relationship with Fay Wray, his loneliness on Skull Island and deals with life after his "death" (it was "acting," Kong explains in one poem). As Trowbridge imagines the fictitious Kong coming to grips with real-life problems, trying to find his way in the world as a member of the Chicago Bears, an adult-film star and finally, a poet, Kong's sadness and serial failure come to mirror the life most of us accept as normal. Even for the mightiest of all apes, it's almost, but not quite, too much to bear. The folly of Kong and humanity is encapsulated beautifully in "Kong Encounters Marlin Perkins": "Believing him to be their champion/come to avenge the little planes,/I tried to humor him. I smelled/no fear, and God knows I needed/the good will. So I flopped down,/rolled my eyes, bellowed panic,/presented my tender parts./But nothing fazed him." Sometimes, nothing does faze any of us, Kong. Accept it, and move forward.

William Trowbridge reads from The Complete Book of Kong (and his other non-Kong works, too) at 7:30 p.m. at Duff's restaurant (392 North Euclid Avenue; 314-533-4541) as the guest of River Styx magazine. Admission is $4 to $5. -- Paul Friswold

Organ Power to the Papal

SUN 9/19

Favazza's Rose of the Hill at 2300 Edwards Street (just a few blocks from Favazza's Restaurant) is only open for special occasions. And what's more special than the official papal organist's visit and concert? James Goettsche kicks off St. Louis Cathedral Concerts' season with his performance at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis (4431 Lindell Boulevard; 314-533-7662 or The concert begins at 2:30 p.m. and is followed by a family-style dinner at Favazza's with apps, salad, main course, tiramisu and wine included in the $45 ticket price ($10 for the concert only). Not only do the organ-inspired get to eat their weight in super-rich food, but they also get to meet Mr. Goettsche at the meal. Righteous! -- Alison Sieloff

Odd Men Out

FRI 9/17

You think you know The Odd Couple? Well, think again. The touring version of Neil Simon's comedy about mismatched roommates that takes the stage at 8 p.m. at the Touhill Performing Arts Center (1 University Boulevard; 314-516-4949) is not just a collision of classic TV comedy stars -- it's also an exercise in role reversal. Oscar Madison is now Olive (played by Rita McKenzie), and Felix Unger is now Florence (played by Barbara Eden, pictured, of I Dream of Jeannie fame). And those Pigeon sisters one floor up? They're now the Costazuela brothers, and one of them (does it matter which one?) is portrayed by Larry Thomas. You know him best as Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi." That's some sitcom pedigree. Tickets are $24 to $48. -- Paul Friswold

Hall & Croats

SAT 9/18

The Croatian word tamburica (occasionally spelled "tamburitza," especially for Western readers) refers to any ensemble composed of string instruments from the tambura family. And though St. Louis has a thriving Croatian population, opportunities to hear real tamburica bands in town aren't widely publicized and often pass unnoticed. However, at 8 p.m. at the St. Louis Abbey (530 South Mason Road), the renowned Croatian Radio and Television Tamburitza Orchestra performs classic folk from the hills of the old country for one and all. Admission is $20 for adults, $10 for those age eighteen or younger, and children younger than five dance for free. For tickets or more info, call 314-487-2265. -- John Goddard