Monday, January 31, 2005

'Lectronic Parkin' Tix in the Loo

So we have at least one advantage. Parking tix are cheap. Ten bucks. That is just a small fee to park. But what good is it if you pay off your tix/parking fee and you still get the boot?

This may have been already publicly discussed or published, but apparently the new ticket system doesn't take into consideration if you have paid your tickets yet. From what I understand- and this might be wrong, but from whom I have talked to this is correct; all you need are 4 tickets and you get the boot. Let us say you rack up for quick tix in a day or two. Street sweeping doubled with yellow zone, and two expired meters. It happens on occasion. So you may have no past due parking tickets, but you can get the boot. That is what I have figured out.

And I know that tickets don't hit online for 48 hours, but I don't know if the tickets show up on the handheld computers. That can really throw someone for a loop. You can try to pay, be unable to, and still get the boot. And if you do pay, does it register in enough time for the person with the handheld computer? Gad!

It is a good thing I got the juice.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Big Time


This week is the big time. My fights are one week away and the big fight card is next Saturday. I got to give props to the Saint Louis American for covering boxing. Cory Spinks is defending his Welterweight Championship of the World next Saturday at the Saavis Center squaring off against Brooklyn's Zab Judah. This is huge. The American had done stories on him from the get go. In fact, I even wrote one in the American four years ago on this up and comer. Several others have written about him in the American, Alvin Reid, Thomas Crone and now the regular boxing columnist for the American and Panda AC coach Glenn "Bad Intentions" McBrady. So props to the American.

Last year when Cory defeated the undisputed champ Ricardo "El Matador" Mayorga we all got together to watch the fight. There was no preview in the Daily. I asked around to see who was going to Atlantic City and apparently they wouldn't pay for anyone to go cover it. I picked up the Sunday five star with excitement to see where we gave props to our hometown hero. I figured they would pick up a wire story on him and put it above the masthead or on the front page, like the sneak peek for a feature on someone's yarn collection in the Everyday. This is the World Series of boxing for Saint Louis. But there was nothing. Surely there would be something on the front of the Sports page. I mean, Cory just captured the three big belts, something that DeLahoya never did. But no, not the cover. Jeez, where was it? Flip to the next page. Something on Kurt Warner's sore pinky. Nope. Next page, something on Kurt Warner's breakfast. Nope. Nope, nope, nope. Finally, page 11. They put the story on page 11. A big factor in boxing is about respect. I wrote a letter to the editor expressing my disappointment, and it did get in the sports section letters. To their credit, they have really done a great job since then covering Cory. While the respect came late, it is now coming heavy and quality.

Of course, now every casual boxing fan, and even non boxing fan is juiced up to go to the fights at the Saavis. All sorts of people are snapping up tickets. This is great. Cory deserves it. I took the kids to the press conference. The brothers. Derron, Demetrius and Bruce. It was a few weeks back. They are some funny kids. This was huge for them. Cory is also from the north side and they always hear stories about him. He gets his car fixed at Kunkle over next to the Bus Depot. He lived up in Hyde Park. He lived over there and went to school over there. Some of the stories are true, some are not, but the kids just dream about it. Cory is a good guy. Coach Doveed and coach Dio joined us there.

At the Press Conference, from center: Coach Dio, me, Bruce, Demetrius "the Navigator", Derron "The Mayor"

The press conference was great. There were probably over 1,000 people there and they were just bursting with excitement that had been long brewing. Don King spoke nearly the whole time and was just going on and on. About thirty minutes too long, and I am fairly certain he was getting all sorts of facts wrong. In fact I know he was. He called Slay the Mayor of the fine state of Saint Louis. He started talking about Lincoln in reference to Missouri. Um. But it was a beautiful delivery even if a bit long. Cory was shy. So was Devon Alexander, the man on the undercard. But then Kevin Cunningham spoke. He is Cory's manager and trainer. He is a great guy. Former cop who gave it all up to give it a shot with Cory. And it worked. He spoke smoothly and with conviction. Demetrius said he sounded like Snoop Dogg. Demetrius is very sharp and observant, that is why we call him the Navigator. He always knows where he is and picks up a lot more than you would expect for a ten year old. He goes to one of the magnets and is teased for being smart. He just smiles.



I took the kids for lunch over at the Tap Room. They loved it. They had never been. I had to drop off some paperwork. The Tap Room has been very very supportive. Very cool place. They gave the kids a nickel tour too. All four of us split a large order of fish and chips and a chicken sandwich. They wanted soda and I told them they could buy that themselves. I don't drink soda, nor do I encourage it. It should be treated like a dessert. I put one of the big slabs of fish on to a plate and told Demetrius and Bruce to split it. Bruce looked at me. Bruce is 11. This tough kid gave me the look like I needed to cut his fish for him. I looked at him and asked "Does the tough boxer need his fish cut?" He kept looking at me. I cut his fish as I smiled and shook my head. Demetrius and Derron smiled and laughed. Bruce then began to laugh too.

I then took the kids to a big time marketing company that handles a huge non STL brew to solicit a donation to get the kids tickets to the big Spinks fight. No luck. They offered to do a bake sale and then said they couldn't do that. No worries. I asked the kids who we should have help get them tickets. Bruce told me the Mayor is rich. We should ask him. I laughed. Bruce said the Mayor gives all this money away and we should get some. In a way he is right, there are some big city giveaways to people with money, but I would prefer to have the city spend their money on other things, besides there is a private company out there somewhere that should be able to make these kids year.

Last week I took nearly the entire core squad over to Loop to take a tour of the RFT. We went upstairs to rough up Chad. The kids were on good behavior, and they usually are. I told them to poke around Chad's desk and they did. Funny. We got the nickel tour there and they were highly amusing and highly amused. We saw Ben, Malcom, Randy, Jen. We went downstairs to talk to Mike Wagner. He is the head guy in advertising. Cool guy. Very cool. The kids were getting into the swing of it and started to just tell everyone they were fighting the next week. They were excited. We went into Wagner's office and he did just about the coolest thing for these kids. He peeled off nine tickets to the Spinks fight at the Saavis. One for each kid. These are very expensive tickets. This was just about the coolest thing that anyone has done for the kids. I got to give my props. A lot of people help out these kids. The owner of Kunkle is building corner posts and a speed bag rack. Another fella named Steve has donated a huge amount of gear. My father built some benches for the club. The landlord is very understanding and supportive. We pay a fair modest rent and doesn't hassle us about having a lot of kids unlike other places. Another guy has helped with our signs. My peeps Caroline and Dave helped with the design. Even City Hall has been supportive. Maybe I will ask the Mayor to build me a boxing arena. The coaches spend a lot of their time, a whole lot of their time working with the kids. We work with the adults too, and quite a bit, but it is working. Not without challenges. I hope these fights work out well next week. We have to make money at it. But we will make it work.

Exclusive Photos by Dilip Vishwanat/dvishphoto.com Props to Dilip the official Panda AC photographer!

I have been warned that I might be shot or stabbed

Someone told me I am likely to get shot or stabbed by someone if I take Adrian to the dog parade. I was a little confused. They were first concerned that a dog might eat the chicken. I thought about that. I have seen some nast dogfights at the parade before, and I don't think Adrian would do to well in a matchup with a hungry dog. I would prefer her not to be a lunch for some dog. So that is why I figure Adrian should be in the cage on my radio flyer wagon. Then the person told me I would surely get stabbed or shot if I did that too. I don't understand. I guess people are really sensitive about chickens. I don't see the difference between dogs and chickens in the parade. I treat that chicken better than most dog owners treat their dogs. I think Adrian would like to be paraded around like a the mother queen hen she is around her old Soulard neighborhood where I bought her. She has become quite sociable over the past couple months. She follows me around. Comes into my office. Walks around my desk to say hello. The person then told me they put sweaters on dogs and it will be too cold. I was told by the chicken guy Adrian can handle cold weather. I guess I need to figure out exactly how cold the weather can be for Adrian to be in, or if I can find a chicken sweater. Maybe I can rig up some sort of warming fire in the wagon.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Dog eats Chicken Parade


I am on a tear. Four posts in one night. I am pent up.

I think I might try to take Adrian to the Mardi Gras Dog Parade on Sunday. I need to figure out how I am going to transport her. First complicated: I have a wagon that I won at the Saint Pius Parish Picnic, that was full of booze when won, and I put that dog that I found on Magnolia about five years ago into that wagon and pulled her along in the parade the first year after I found her. Second saracastic, silly and/or mildly offensive: I put the stray bitch into the old catlick booze wagon a few years back. Again, now pleasant; I put the pup into a wagon and pulled her around the dog parade and the princess kept jumping out and sniffing her adoring fans.

So I figure I am going to put Adrian in that wagon to take around the parade. I might have to tether her down or maybe put the cage on top of the wagon. I don't think I will be able to pull her around on a leash without her becoming an appetizer for some dog. I guess I need the cage to keep dogs from chowing on her in the wagon too. I guess I will try to tie the cage onto the wagon and pull her around the parade.

Adrian has been enjoying her new hamster shavings so much she has been doing dooky all over them to show her appreciation. She has also been laying eggs with regularity. I have been handing these brown beautiful eggs as gifts.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Punditargusinsanemayoralcandidatejackjohnson

I took a troll through the blogs. Nothing appears to be hitting quite yet, but I haven't been able to get past the first couple I hit. Arch Pundit is on a roll. I don't read other blogs that much with regularity, not enough time, but I do cruise them regularly. Jezo. Seems like Antonio at the Argus and some others are on a roll too. His blog literally looks suspiciously like mine. But his topics tend to be more insane. This is the second or third time I have metioned the Argus on my blog. I think the first was when the Argus photographer got tossed out of the SBAC and the second was, no I haven't blogged it. I remember, I heard it used on the Jack Johnson documentary as a historical document commenting on Johnson's character. Looks like a very good month for the Argus. It now has passed the Evening Whirl as my favorite all out weekly, but still has yet to capture the Arch City Chronicle, a bi-weekly, as my favorite all out news/policy pub.

Wow

I just finished watching the Missouri Governor's speech for the State of the State.

Amazing. I never have watched it before really. I heard the one last year, but it didn't really get me going. They tend to get a bit dull, and this one was pretty lively. The governor said a lot of interesting things. I feel very uneasy. Worried. It was a show. Dramatic. I am going to the website to check it out to get more information. I need to reaffirm my brain with what was just said. Jay Nixon just did the response. He is the AG, the top cop in the state. I guess he is taking the position as the top Dem in the state. There was some spec to who that would be.

I went down to Jeff City for the inaugurations. I was invited to one of them. It was cold that day and I had forgotten my jacket. We had a mild few days just prior and I had talked to my chum, the same one who told me not to go to Chicago, and asked him what the weather was and he said it was going to warm up. Now you know why I listen the way I listen. Anyway, I went to Jeff City and froze my nuts off because I heeded the weather report from the word of a friend.

I managed to score an extra good seat to the outdoor ceremony, but I had forgotten my topcoat and the air had turned frigid. I had gotten some tix from my state rep for he wasn't going to be there outside to freeze and see this guy get inagurated. I was going to watch the whole thing, for I like being outside and seeing and hearing it all, even during the grand ceremony. But alas, the temperature had dropped dramatically, and I wouldn't be able to sit down during this. I had to keep moving. Standing and stomping my feet to stay warm. I had scored some coffee from inside the capitol at the rep offices. So I never really got to see anything, in terms of anything other than ceremony from the Governor side.

I did go see Robin Carnahan. I watched her get inagurated and all and then made a bee line back to the Secretary of State fortress a few blocks from the Capitol. That is an amazing building, it has all sorts of beautiful historic records, but that is another story. Anyway, she had a really good speech at her new compound. Very sharp gracious and hopeful. She then had the whole recieving line, the throngs of well wishers. It was an interesting crowd. A particularly interesting crowd, moreso than the Gov deal. That was more of a flatout circus freakshow, complete with the capitol dome acting as a main stage tent. I fit into both a little more than I liked.

The Governors speech was something else. Certainly attention getting. Sheesh. I think I am going to read the transcript.

I have been in a news vacuum lately. I put an addition in my kitchen and I had to flip the power. I have still not reset the clocks and VCR. So I have not been watching the national news or the News Hour. I have been skimming the paper, and it has not been all that pretty of a week.

I almost don't know if I can go through the transcript. I don't know if I have the mental strength. I think I am going to check through some of the policy wonk blogs to see what the take is.

What the hell is going on?

There was just a string of shootings yesterday up and down Nebraska. Some goon shot at some kids coming out of school from Roosevelt High over off Arkansas. I usually don't do crime updates, but seriously, what the hell is going on? I should do crime updates. I used to clip crime reports back when I was in high school and college. That was a terrible time. I would tape them on to my closet door until it was covered.

This ain't cool at all. This whole Columbine bullshit is just really crazy. Kids don't have to be into this kind of shit. Kids are going to get into shit, but they don't have to be getting into that kind of shit. We need to differentiate what is unacceptable trouble and what is just trouble. We need to keep them from getting into that really bad kind of trouble. Whatever it is we need to do, we need to do it.

Christ, I have been running the kids from the Panda all over today and yesterday. I am getting worn out, but it is fun. The kids from Knuckles Gym and West End City Rec Gym came over to the Panda yesterday. I had my kids square off against the kids from these gyms. My kids did good for the most part. Really good. Lorenzo has a good grip on it. He talks some huge game. But he didn't after he got dropped in the first round of sparring. He took it quite well. He is still very composed, and is cracking jokes about it. He went and sparred again today and looked great. Derron "the Mayor", that is his new nickname he gave himself after meeting the Mayor, has done very very well. Today I got them over to Cherokee Rec and we did well again.

I had them hang posters in the West End before we hit Cherokee. They liked the Loop better. But a Wednesday is not Friday, but the Loop is not the West End either. When I asked one of the kids who lives on CD Banks and Vandaventer by the Swish Wash if he lives in the Ville he told me he lived in the Central West End. Hmm, I never considered that the Central West End. I asked him if he had ever been to Euclid in the Central West End, he said no. Odd. Really, really odd. Then again, I doubt many the people who run around in the Central West End have been north of Delmar too, or if they considered the neighborhood off CD Banks and Vandaventer part of the Central West End. That is odd too, but more sad. Two sides of a coin.

The kids gave some flyers over at Brennan's wine bar and the guy that runs it asked about me. Lorenzo came over to tell me to go see him. He told the guy I know everybody. Seems to be true. I went over and saw Mark Brennan. He did this badass video of my fights in the backyard on the boxing website. He opened that place up a couple of years ago. It was great to see Mark. He really has done some great things there. The man knows his wine and he also does cigars. They put in this wicked cool speakeasy basement. I think I should do something like that in my basement. It would look a lot better than what I got now. Then again, I have thrown a few concerts there. Ellie Aid with MU330 was one of the best speakeasy shows I ever had. I need to go back to Mark's place soon.

I am lucky. The kids that I work with are pretty good. We don't have any that are real trouble. Not right now. I hope for it to stay that way.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Panic on the streets

(my words originally posted on another site)
I headed up to Chicago yesterday and everyone was freaked out about the weather in the STL. They told me it was snowning. Wow. Snowing in Chicago? In January? I heard it is raining in Florida too. Big deal. It is like Saint Louis is full of retirees who have nothing else to worry about.

"But Steve, it is going to be a lot of snow! The weatherman is clearly alarmed!"

"Uh, what do you mean?"

"The weatherman said not to go to Chicago. There is snow!"

"Those clowns break into newscasts to tell me it is cold outside. They get all worked up to juice their ratings. ...I will check into it before I leave in the morning. Maybe I should scurry to get some milk and eggs at the store so I can be normal with panic."

I checked the Ill highway website and all highways are passable. They say there is some snow downstate and accumulation up to a foot in Chicago. Good enough for me. If it was really all that bad, we would just turn around, but we cruised easy all the way up clocking 75 in Tim's front wheel drive Eldog. There was snow on the streets of Chicago and they were clearing them. There was about a foot or so of snow on the ground. Just a normal decent snowfall for the city of broad shoulders. I did get to see some woman riding a snowmobile down the street.

In Chicago


Funny real sign at a Mexican run taco joint in Chicago. My guess it is at least second generation Mexican if not third. We will know that Cherokee is done when we see signs like this sarcasticly yet actually adapting to the tastes of the white boy. I hope this never happens in the STL. If it did I am sure it would involve fried balogna.

Seedy Truck Stop


Less than charming grafitti in outstate Illinois in a urinal stall. This was one of the most beautifully scummy truck stops in all of rural Ill. They had a "game" room which was shut off that looked like a gambling room, a seedy hotel, skeezy fur coat wearing young woman who looked like she might hold up the joint. Freaky fellas with long blonde hair who were buying zig zags from a fried looking and jovial cashier, fellas named jorge who cleaned up a dropped bottle, skanky shower rooms, plenty of small bottles of booze and off color jokes.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Pay tribute to MLK today by watching these documentaries

I don't have cable, so I rely on the airwaves to bring me the few meager things that are good TV. Last week was an especially good week. On Monday was an excellent documentary on MLK from American Experience. It is amazing. I taped it and watched half of it so far. The American Experience is amazing. I have the eight hour documentary they did on New York and the other they did on Chicago.

I don't think you can watch the American Experience online, but you can watch the Frontline. I like to watch them while I work. They have done a series of in depth pieces on these wars in the mid east. The Hunt for Bin Laden, Rummy's war, the Case for War etc. You can select the real player to play on top of your screen in the corner.

On Tuesday was another hard piece from the Frontline World series. I have watched nearly all of the Frontline archive and this new one was gut wrenching. They did a piece on war reporting in Iraq. It had an interesting bit on how we are using quite a few Iraqis to do the string reporting. And quite a few of them are dying in the process. The other segment was particularly disturbing. It was Sudan, the Darfur region. I can't go into it too much here. I can't do it justice, but just watch it. And the last piece is a disturbing one on China and how they clamp down on thier people. The production on these pieces have really sharpened. They have always been well written but the prodcution is getting to be very cutting edge.

I need to go see some movies. I think I am going to check out Million Dollar Baby and Hotel Rwanda.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Tie a yellow ribbon around the sniper van


I was driving down Arsenal today in front of the bug jar and I noticed the van in front of me had six different magnetic ribbons on it. I started to wonder if this person supported the troops six times as much as an average ribbon wearer. Or if the prayed for the troops six times as much. Hard to say. I think they might just like the pretty colors and magnetic signs to beautify the back of a drab van.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Karate Chop!!

So I hear through hearsay that my peep that was depicted in the RFT had a response to his portrayal by Tim Lane. Apparently he said "The next time I see that guy I will give him a karate chop to the adams apple. I would like to see him draw that!" That is quite possibly the funniest thing I have heard in a long time.

Friday, January 14, 2005

I am now an unseen character


So my name popped up last week in a new comic strip in the RFT. One of my regular readers might be a bit disturbed and/or flattered by this illustration. I like it. I very much live a life as seen and expressed by Tim Lane. Check out one of his comic books. I keep them in my briefcase.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Instant Update


Uh oh. I think something is going on. I am sitting here in El Bronco on Cherokee running off of someone's wifi around the block. Normally about 90% of the customers are Mexican. Today I was alone and two suits came in for a cordial lunch. They seemed a bit unsure how to order but were excited. Two white guys in their late 40s. Hmmm. Not that big of a deal for I see suits down here on occasion. There are the hospitals close by. Then I have seen something I couldn't have imagined.

Affluent white seniors. An entire pack of them.

Stop what you are doing now, liquidate your T bills and start investing in some property and some businesses on the wrong side of Cherokee. I have been coming down here and the only seniors I have seen have been old ones from the neighborhood. White, black, Mexican whatever. They are not outwardly affluent, and I only see Mexican seniors in the place. The white and black old folks go to Globe Drug, Salvation Army, the old Proper and maybe the hat shop.

These seniors are not familiar with the place. They drove up in nice cars. I have talked to some of the older folks who I know in the hood and they are too scared to walk down Cherokee. That is actually amusing to a certain degree. But they are old school. These seniors, and I have no idea if they are native southsiders, ones that have come back or whatever. I am listening in and they are talking about the neighborhood. I think one of them is from here and is explaining to the others where the Casa Loma is. Very interesting. I took a pic with my phone. They seem pretty cool. A lot of times the old school is suspicious and conservative. I don't get that vibe here. Hmmm. This might be more substantial than a proper white girl eating alone in a taqueria in the "hood". Now they are talking about street cars. These are likely people from the old neighborhood. Pretty cool. Often they are harshly negative when I talk to them about the old hood. I have talked to plenty of the old guys at the SBAC, old folks at neighborhood meetings and general people about the southside. They are just getting that now Soulard is not a ghetto. I could have told you that when I moved here twenty years ago. But Dutchtown, Cherokee, Grand, Shaw whatever is terrible. I have heard such terms as "getting dark" and even more explicit terms. But I don't see that now where I am sitting.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

(T)HUG


This is one funny graffiti artist. I saw this last week on the fun side of Cherokee scrawled on the front of the old temp employment joint. I should track him down and get him over to the gym to give us all nicknames. People probably walk on the other side of the street when they see this (t)hug rollin'. Sheesh. I thought Cherokee was supposed to be tough. Then again it might be very very tough, for anyone who tags is a delinquent from the underbelly of society and should be cast out from all the civilized citizenry. At least he should be caned. About ten or so years ago the esteemed alderman from the near north side, Freeman Bosley Sr. proposed that we introduce caning to any youth caught tagging. I don't know if that would really be a deterrent to a guy named (T)HUG. (T)HUG might just find such a punishment more of a reward.

A lot of people commented to me personally about the white girl syndrome. I am not sure still about such a societal syndrome, but I know something will have changed when I see one of the proper white girls down on Cherokee in one of the real Mexican restaurant unescorted. I have seen white girls, and I mean young women by this term, on Cherokee for about two years on a semi-regular basis, but they tend to be the extra grit, edge strreet tough hipster and/or hippy flavor. But this definition of gritty girl can be stretched to about two thirds of the female population. However, once we see one of the women who is not typecast in this wide swath of the population that will be a big change. If we see a proper white girl unescorted shopping on Cherokee in the Mexican grocery store and eating alone in a taqueria- forget it. It is over. It will be too late to even invest in the property to make a few nickels. But now spot a few on the street. With a pack of other girls, riding a bike, with a fella or whatever. That is a sure sign. There goes the neighborhood. Time to get in. I give it 5-10 years until we see the big change in that hood depending on the speed of lending, city cooperation(this is the biggest holdup in this hood) and economic conditions.

One big thing the guvament man could do to spark change would be to let more people to get driver's licenses in our state. I know my state rep Mike Daus has been pushing to let the non-citizen peoples get licenses. That would be a very smart move on so many levels. A lot of guys keep Illinois plates and licenses for a reason.

I have not been posting as much for it has been an especially crazy week. I got some gem posts that I will try to get up by the end of the week on some crazy observations of union guys at the fights last week at the SBAC, the Don King press conference and why Showtime are really haters of kids and the sport of boxing, the inaugurations in Jeff City, and I still have not written about the Wash Ave produce haters.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Busy

Man, I been busy. I took three of the kids to the Don King Press Conference- amazing. I took them to lunch at the Tap Room. I will write this up. Derron also had his boxing debut on Friday and won. Yup. Very very cool and some interesting back story on that too. The kids are back in the gym. It is packed again now that the Holidays are over. They are also juiced up over Derron's victory. He got shoes and I am able to get some more shoes through some kind donations. They all want to be on my Hoosierweight fight card for the 4th at Soulard Market Gym. I got an invite to Robin Carnahan's inauguration tomorrow so I think I am going to go. I think I will bring my laptop with me for I am way way behind in work. Got some good deals cooking.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Adrian

Adrian is earning her keep. She is feeling very comfortable. She laid three eggs on Tuesday. She hasn't laid any eggs since we saved her from certain death at the market. The chicken guy, Scott, told me she was probably done.

The kids are going nuts. One egg in the cage and two others in this beat up little TV table.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Art Relieves but speech does not

I haven't gotten a hold of Mark Sarich of the Utah Neighborhood Art Center, but I heard word of the censored billboard on the side of his property. I talked to a couple of chums about it and relativley recently, and I was unable to get a guage on the range of the relative time, Mark had painted over the part of the sign that read "social constipation." Apparently he was getting a lot of heat over a series of unrelated issues and he figured to relieve some heat he would paint over part of his mural. The heat may or may not have been deserved, I don't know, but I really find it sad that someone would coerce the owner of a building to censor their own work of such a creative and relatively innocent sign. It is pathetic actually. If there is a problem, the problem should be addressed, not an unrelated expression.

No step forward and three steps back.

White girls and the right color

Simple sights remind me of the city we live in. Of where we are as a society. I wish such a site was remarkably unforgettable. And in a way it was of no consequence, but it was. I was headed by auto northbound driving next to the Clinton Peabody low rise housing projects over off of 15th and Chouteau.

At the light I noticed something that is very normal and nearly didn't think of the significance. There was a young woman jogging. A young white woman, clean cut, blonde, mid 20s, with fancy coordinated jogging gear. I didn't really think about it, but this has not been considered normal until recently. A white woman woman jogging. This was the neighborhood of the projects, and before that it was a rougher neighborhood that was part of the southern side of the Mill Creek Valley. This had long been a ghetto and for most younger people's memories it had been a dense black ghetto.

The old Darste Webbe had been torn down, but there are still significant low rise old gov projects over by Saint Raymond's and Clinton Peabody. Proper white girls just don't jog through the roughest areas of town anytime of the day. Especially in the black ghetto by the projects. That is what the common belief in our society tells us. I wonder how much our society has changed, and how much the neighborhood has changed. I think the neighborhood has changed quite a bit, with the new mixed income low rise units along Tucker and the City Hospital rehab. Lafayette Square and Soulard have gotten super fancy. This is a good thing. There has not been a total teardown of the area. There are still many people from many different backgrounds who live in the neighborhood. The neighborhood is generally stable and very much growing.

The other irony is that the Clinton Peabody used to be the "white" projects before deseg, back in the 50s. Obviously a few things changed in our city since then. The whole thing seems surreal, but the facts of our past are very much real.

So later the same evening I stopped over at Star Liquors to grab a bottle of booze for a good friend who was having a party that night. Star is located on Big Bend near the movie theater on Clayton and Hi-Fi Fo Fum. I had never been to Star, even with my penchant for booze, so I was pretty excited to get a chance to peruse the stocked shelves of this super liquor store. I was driving with my father and it was pretty late and I wasn't sure if the place was open when we pulled up to the parking lot. I told my father to wait in the car and I would check the door. I went up to the door and it was open, but there were no customers. I sauntered over to the brown liquors and scanned the selection of whiskeys for the party. I heard some rustling behind a partition for the office, and out came what appeared to be the manager, ready to check on his sole customer. I asked him a few questions on the different whiskeys and came to a selection.

At this point we made our way up to the check out counter. My father came in to the store and waved over for it was hard to see him. He hollered out to the guy, "Hey, I am just going to run into the bathroom! I just wanted to let you know I am okay." My father was saying this for it was clear that the store was relatively empty and he was making a bee line for the back of the store and he didn't want to alarm the employee. I told the clerk not to worry for the man was my father and he had been waiting in the car. The clerk gave him a wave and said to me "He is the right color."

At the very first wince I was confused for I thought he may have said something else so I had a look on my face like I didn't understand. He repeated himself. "He is the right color. There is no trouble."

I didn't respond to his comment. He then told me he was well protected. I decided to test this claim in a lighthearted fashion by telling him "so I guess you would make a lunge toward those knives if you have trouble?" as I gestured towards a display of knives by the counter. I followed the question with another more innocent and sincere question "Are those Henckels?"

He bagged up my booze and responed "I am protected with a 45."

I didn't respond.

"We had some problems with a couple of black guys a few years back that had shoplifted. We haven't had any problems in years. I figure that all happens up at the Schnucks. They lock up all their liquor in a case."

I nodded, kept a pleasant look on my face, took my change and walked out like everything was normal.

These are the kind of things that white guys tell other white guys in social confidence. I don't like these conversations, but I would prefer to hear it so I know than the person who would hide it. It is better to know about the way one feels than not know. I would really really prefer for people to think a bit more about it all, but that is asking too much in many cases. I have been subjected to far too many of these conversations, but I am not going to write all of these stories of awkward situations. Make a note, smile, and life moves on and remember that you don't have to live in that world. We make much of the world around us in way we choose to live our lives.