Shoot, Nelly

It sure didn't feel like St. Louis, yo

On Tuesday and Wednesday last week, the Delmar Loop was either a hideous nightmare or a glorious spectacle -- or maybe a little of both. One thing's for sure: It didn't feel like St. Louis, yo. What with LA hotshots strutting down the street, actress/models vogueing for nonexistent cameras, strung-out crew members barking orders and security guards shooing along the curious throngs, the stretch of Delmar between the Tivoli Theatre parking lot and Blueberry Hill was completely transformed. There was so much bluster and bullshit and general goddamn attitude that Radar Station, whose office is right in the heart of the hubbub, occasionally found herself entreating various deities to please make it go away.

Nelly, for those of you who were temporarily comatose, was filming his new video here. "Air Force Ones," the third single from Nellyville, is a Lunatics collabo about the pleasures of shoe shopping. (What's that, you say? A rap song that celebrates rank consumerism? Say it ain't so!) Because Squad One, the sportswear shop in the Loop that Nelly co-owns, was too small for filming purposes, the producers went a few doors down the street and discovered the spacious and über-fashionable Good Luck Shoe, whose owner, Carol Crudden, graciously agreed to sublet the space for a couple of days.

Our boundless love for the multiplatinum cuddlethug is well documented, so we're sure he and his assorted dirties won't take this criticism too hard, but it was a distinct relief when the film crew packed up their gear and skipped town. Hordes of hysterical teenagers are fun for a while, but Radar Station is a delicate flower, and there are only so many times a day we can hear commands such as "Get out of the way," "Move on along" and "Keep on walkin', baby girl" before we start to get nasty. "But I'm a writer," we kept blubbering to anyone who'd listen, but no one, from Nelly's behemoth bodyguard, Big B, to the young, white, Vokál-clad hipster director, David Palmer, appeared to give a shit about our Important Work. Aging groupie, delusional fan or would-be sniperess -- it's hard to tell exactly how the people in charge had us profiled, but we sure as hell didn't get the red-carpet treatment enjoyed by, oh, say, Bonita Cornute.

Fortunately, the exquisite Ms. Crudden was kind enough to let us in the back of the shop, where we watched a couple hours' worth of the action from a live-video feed with several fashionistas and a pair of kids from Springfield, Missouri, who won a contest sponsored by an area radio station. The scene we watched involved various members of the Lunatics standing in front of a huge wall of shoeboxes, lip-synching, gesticulating and holding aloft sundry Nike prototypes. (Interestingly, one of Crudden's employees told us that the company sent only one shoe per design model -- way to say, 'Thanks for the free commercial,' Nike!) Other shots, which we either missed altogether or saw only fleetingly, involved the following scenarios: (1) A soft-jazz busker playing the hook to "Dilemma" on the saxophone (yes, it was precisely as horrible as it sounds -- let's hope he's seen and not heard in the final cut); (2) a bunch of tiny dancers doing the Chicken Head in clingy sports-jersey dresses, matching panties, colorful knee socks and white athletic shoes (male sexuality is so weird!); (3) turntablist extraordinaire Charlie Chan Soprano playing a DJ ("I guess I can handle the part," he deadpanned to Radar Station beforehand).

As thrilling as it was to watch all the beautiful people using up all our beautiful parking spaces, we couldn't help but feel a pang of nostalgia for the legions of hot-but-amateur around-the-way girls who got to shake their magnificent meat in the "Country Grammar" video. Yeah, yeah, that was before our hometown superstar hit the big time, and we can't begrudge him his fame, riches or desire not to be murdered by some crazy stalker, but it was all kind of poignant. Especially when Big B snatched the digital camera that the sweet little Springfieldian contest winners had been using to document their exciting brush with greatness, popped out the disk containing two days' worth of precious memories and broke it in half. So much for their special "behind-the-scenes" Nelly experience. And we also felt kinda sorry for Carol and her gang when the cleanup crew failed to materialize after the shoot finished hours later than scheduled. But it all redounds to St. Louis' greater glory, right? And no matter how annoying or inconvenient or personally mortifying to Radar Station it was, it's incontrovertibly cool that for a sacred two whole days we weren't subjected to the excruciating stylings of the rhythm-challenged drummer guy who busks outside Baton Music.

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