Thursday, July 28, 2005

Famous to stay open?

Good news posted on the Slay site about the downton Famous. That is good news. I hope the new owners focus on making the downtown store profitable, and not by downsizing, but by making some bold new moves. I have no doubt that people would go, even in droves, but there would need to be some fundamental changes seperating itself from the other dept stores, even the other Macy's, while retaining of what it really is.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Interesting Poll

The Mayor's office does these online polls. Some are just funny inane, while others are pertinant to the lives of our citizens. I am curious how much they will use these polls to guide their policy decisions. This lastest one is on same sex marriage. I am curious if we as a city can make a very progressive move in this increasingly reddened state. I know it is a state issue, but we might be able to work around that without getting the amendment to screw with things. It is about the courts and smart legislation. Hey, this conceal carry law was rammed through without consent from a lot of people and public vote, but it got rammed through.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Pix from the Royale

Here is our juicer, his name is R2D2.

Here is a pic of Jerome Gaynor drawing.

Here is a pic of Tim O'Connell, our spiritual cocktail bartender/advisor.

Here is a pic of me before we put in the ceiling.

Here is a pic of Patrick Dixon, the man who created the beautiful booths and table tops, just to name of a few of his contributions. He was filling in as a barback. He also has a beautiful KZ1000. Next to him is Allison Trombley, one of the mighty fine managers. She also publishes some interesting books.

Here is a pic from one of the great booths.

Here is a pic of Bob Kriege, the accordian player from Saturday night.

Here is a pic of Leyla Rose Bland, happily pouring a cocktail.

Here is a pic of our electrician/plumber and sometimes dishwasher Brent. Please note the supply of Rap Snacks at the bar.

I will have some more shots of the whole room and exterior. These shots were done by the esteemed Frank DiPiazza.

Trouble around the world

Looks like all hell is breaking loose in Kenya. It doesn't have to be this way.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


So I hired Derron and Montrell to work in the kitchen. Dish doggin'. I did the same thing at their age. I got my first paycheck job in 8th grade at Two Nice Guys in Webster. I loved it. I felt lucky to have the opportunity. I did dishes and bussed tables. I was worked to death and asked for more. I remember being yelled at for sweating. I had to run up and down steps all night long taking dishes up to the kitchen and back down. I had to jump in the dumpster to mash down the trash. Wait a sec, I just did that earlier today in the dumpster out back. And I was washing dishes last night. What did I sign up for? I learned a whole lot about people then. I still hang out with one of the guys, Tim Bishop. I would see him around off and on over the years. I remember seeing him on the old Chippewa bus. I sold him my CB1000 last year when I was pinched on cash. It was funny for I had advertised it, he called me not knowing it was me and then halfway through the conversation we figured out we were talking to each other. Funny.

So Coach Doveed called me up to tell me that Derron and Demetrius whupped up on Cherokee Rec last night. They went over for sparring. Derron put a beatdown on this kid Otis who won the Ringside Tournament last year. Derron lost to Otis at the Diamond Gloves back in February. We are planning on putting a few of the kids in this tournament next month in Kansas City. I am trying to get a beer company to underwrite the cost of some new shoes for Derron. He outgrew the ones we had donated. I figure that I am helping these beer companies make some coin, and they should be happy to buy a hard working kid some shoes. Actually the one beer company I was courting with a full court press scoffed and told me it sounded too expensive to get the kids some gear. That gives me an idea...

Demetrius also put a beatdown on this kid Kelly that edged him out at the Hoosierweight in Dogtown. Things are looking good. The kids are working. It is going to be interesting for these brothers moved down to Indiana and Cherokee. Doveed has been picking them up. I may try to open up a southside location for the Panda, but I have to work quite a few things out first.

So Doveed called me to tell me that he needs some more chicken money. We buy the kids a good meal before each fight. Now that the kids have moved, their nutrition ha gone to crap. Derron told us he hasn't eaten a piece of fruit in two weeks. They are being shuttled between grandparents and family right now. Doveed wants to get the kids some chicken and eggs and feed them every time they train. I want to do this, but we really can't open up the budget for that. I will do it for the short term though. I am going to subsidize the kids diet from our food stocks at the Royale for now, but I am going to talk to Sharonda to see what sort of long term solution there could be. These kids can eat better, and if they expect to compete, they have to. You can't expect to be on top of your game and eat like crap. Doveed is stopping by tomorrow and I am going to get him some fruit, chicken and some eggs.


Gwen Iffil is filling in on the News Hour and is wearing a necklace tonight that resembles a copper bike chain.

Speaking of which, channel 9 said they were going to send me a bill. I haven't seen it yet. I guess I should call them or something. I would look up the number, but I am sure they will do another pledge drive in the next week so I can just call back then.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Rapid movement

It is nice to run a business. I like to troubleshoot.

I have heard quite a few comments from every direction.

So now I tend to the immediate. We have have replaced the pipes coming in to get proper water pressure for the sinks and dishwasher. This was quite a chore. All the pipes had to go. We should have the kitchen rewired by this afternoon so we won't keep blowing circuits and have extension cords running all over the place. We just tore down the wall by the boys room to make space so we won't have such a clustf*ck traffic jam at the server side of the bar. Now I need to jack the cooler case back so we can operate a least with another inch and a half of space behind that bar, and hopefully get the new taps up and onto the bar, a new slim line ice bin and more. We repaired the ice machine, cooler and are putting in four new soda guns. Gotta love Pepsi.

I have addressed some personell issues to ensure cheeriness and professional behavior. I think this will be an ongoing thing, and it typically is, especially in the beginning of an operation. I also picked up a tub so I could run a sattelite bar outside to ease the congestion at the main bar. We didn't need it on Saturday night, but we needed it bad on Friday.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Boom Boom Boom!!

Things are going well. Real well.

Last night was a success.

We had problems, sure. But jeez, it was the first night for a lot of people, we just got the menus in, we were serving food for the first time and we are blowing power circuits in the kitchen like crazy. It is like a submarine in there. I had to buy all slim line specialized gear that would fit through all the doorways down into the basement and back up into the kitchen. The bar is designed for one bartender, but we are sticking two back there with a barback, so it stifles the perceived efficiency, but it also doesn't help that we make funky time consuming drinks and take orders from the servers and are ringing way more than the bar has ever had. We are still adjusting without a computerized POS, but overall it is going great. The food is coming out great, Aaron is doing a kick ass job, but I just got the heating element to warm the food in yesterday in and my electrician didn't show so we couldn't install last night. The electrician still needs to run new power to the kitchen. I think we may need to invest in a three phase to help ease the stress on our power demands.

The new sign is up, thank goodness. This morning. They were jacking away at the side of the building. I didn't even know it was going on. I tend to be a heavy sleeper. My mom conditioned me for it by keeping my window open as a baby with no blinds. And we lived a half block from the El. Seriously. I didn't even know that noise was supposed to upset your sleep. Thanks mom.

We are adding neon to the sign later, cuz I had to get it up and it would have delayed installation. We got the art up inside for the most part, and I love it. Very comfortable. I hope others find it to be the same too.

Now we hit prime time for the weekend opening. This is going to be interesting. I really need to shower now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Grand Opening

We are grand opening this week. Thurs through Sat. We are starting food. For the first time. It is going to be a trip. I think we are going to pull it off. Feel free to stop down anytime after 5.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Hot stuff

Check this out. This is a press briefing by Scott McClellan, the press secretary for the President. I love watching the video on it. I find it hard to believe that this guy is able to hold on to his job. I must say I am happy they keep him in that position.

Nice little break, time to get back to work.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Another win for the PAC

Demetrius won the local Jr Gold Gloves last night at the SBAC. The PAC crew was there to cheer him on, and Roberto brought his southside Kentucky Street posse to the fights. They may, at some point, be allowed to box at the Panda. A cheerful crew was in the house to cheer on the fighters, Doug Morgan, Carrie Fathman, Joel Lewis and more.

Next week is the grand opening of the Royale. It is going to be nutso for me. All are welcome.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Junior Golden Gloves

Demetrius Johnson is scheduled to compete at the Junior Golden Gloves at the South Broadway Athletic Club on Thursday. He is fighting some kid from Tandy. Demetrius called me up five times today to ask me how to mend a sore hand. I am not sure why he called me up so much. I think he wants attention for he had me on the phone for probably a total of thirty minutes as I explained to him and each of his brothers that what epsom salt was and how it helps your hands when they are sore. I explained where to buy it, how to spell it, how to apply it. Repeatedly.

Kenny Lohr, the coach at 12th and Park, probably one of the best coaches in the country told me to hold on to Demetrius. He said "you have a winner on your hands. You got him at the right age. Keep workin' with him." Kenny doesn't say things he doesn't mean. He likes what we do. We have had a lot of his fighters on our cards. Pretty much the best bad ass fighters in town roll out of 12th and Park. Deandre Lattamore, Bull, Ty Chatman and more fight out of 12th and Park. I hope to someday have such a stable, but you have to start up and work with the young kids first. That is what Kenny is telling me.

Demetrius lost his last fight and he needs some redemption. He needs the fight, but he also needs to work some more. He hasn't been at the gym enough for he is moving down to the southside. They are going to be right over by Cherokee Rec. I hope they continue boxing.

We have had a new crew of kids roll into the gym, but they are not making the cut. They have to show up when coach tells them to show up. And they have not. We are not their mothers. The ones that really want to box will come back and come on time.

I am going to run over to the SBAC on Thursday to check out Demetrius' fight. He will likely be the first one on. I am curious how it is going to work at the SBAC for from the last I heard they are honoring the strike and the Jr Gold Gloves is sponsored by AB. Ouch.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

RIP Ben Thomas

Ben Thomas whirls to an end
Founder of crime sheet dies at 94

Ben Thomas, for 57 years the publisher, editor and writer of the Evening Whirl, "a weekly newspaper dedicated to the exposure of crime and civic improvement," died last week in California at the age of 94.

Thomas chronicled his adopted hometown of St. Louis in a way that defied characterization, stirring controversy and attracting loyal, even fanatical, readers of his lyrically rewritten rap sheet. Thomas was called a blues lyricist and an ancestor of hip hop. In his own eyes, he was a crusader against crime.

Thomas was born in 1910 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, the youngest of seven children. His father, a cook on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, was rarely at home, and the children were raised by their paternal grandparents, who were born into slavery.

Thomas' grandfather was a preacher. Although young Ben preferred juke joints to prayer meetings, he recalled vociferous preaching from the pulpit until late in his life, and those memories may have influenced his calling as a writer.

Thomas matriculated at Ohio State University in 1930, though he never completed a degree. He sprinted for the Buckeye track team, a perpetual second-place finisher (as he liked to explain) to Jesse Owens. He studied English literature and became the campus correspondent for the Pittsburgh Courier, an African-American newspaper, writing fiction, poems and news.

Before college, Thomas spent a year in St. Louis with one of his sisters, attending Sumner High School. When he left Ohio, he returned to St. Louis and worked for the Argus, rising from reporter to entertainment editor, columnist and gossip writer.

In an era when Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Lionel Hampton, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong made stops in St. Louis, Thomas said he "got a chance to meet all those big-time guys." A man who reportedly dated Billie Holiday and knew Duke Ellington became known around town as "The Baron."

In 1939, he married a young socialite named Juanita Clardy. In 1965, she succumbed to a heart condition, and Thomas never remarried.

In 1938, when Thomas was 28, he started his own newspaper, the Night Whirl, covering music, entertainment and gossip for the black community. Printed on green six-by-nine inch paper, the Night Whirl was known around town as the "Green Sheet." His wife helped Thomas in almost every facet of the paper’s production, but he also had a shoestring, mostly unpaid staff.

In May 1939, two high school teachers at Sumner escorted a group of boys on a picnic to the country. Pedophilia was alleged. Thomas read the case file at the circuit attorney's office. "That was the biggest thing, like a scandal, that ever happened in St. Louis," Thomas said.

Thomas changed the paper's name to the Evening Whirl to accommodate the story. "I went back to the press for the third time before I could satisfy St. Louis," Thomas said. "It's been a crime sheet ever since." In the 1940s, Thomas made his first contact with the St. Louis Police Department, beginning a relationship that would span the next fifty years.

Thomas solicited advertisements, delivered papers from the back of his station wagon and visited police headquarters daily. He remained hunched over his typewriter deep into the night, police reports and mug shots stacked all around him.

His subjects were lovers' quarrels gone homicidal, preachers who sought trim on the St. Louis stroll, the 1970s heroine dealers who ruled over housing projects and any person who got on the editor's bad side.

Civil-rights editorials sat side-by-side with catchpenny verse and the most graphic prose. He rejoiced in sex scandals and shouted his crazy headlines three inches high.

Perhaps his favorite genre was the prominent citizen busted with a hooker, and this led to libel suits by the dozens, amounting to millions of dollars. He spent his entire career in court.

In the 1950s, the city's street gangs first came on the scene. "Crimes were happening, and reports of them appeared in the dailies in about 3 inches of space, unless a white person was involved," Thomas said. His paper filled
the gap.

Thomas endangered himself by exposing criminals. At the paper's offices, Molotov cocktails exploded in the wee hours on three occasions. Bullets rang through the Evening Whirl's windows.

The apex of drug-world violence in St. Louis, and the apex of the Evening Whirl's popularity, came during the 1970s. To carry the escalating quantity of crime news, in 1972 Thomas enlarged his newspaper to broadsheet from tabloid. Around this time, the circulation of the Evening Whirl reached its peak, estimated at anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000.

Also in the 1970s, Thomas began competing in Senior Olympics track meets, eventually accumulating a dozen gold medals.

In 1970, Thomas ran for Missouri state representative, with crime curtailment and gun control as his platform. He rode around the neighborhoods of his district in his convertible Jaguar, perched up on the backseat, but lost in the Democratic primary by a large margin.

The outrageousness of the Whirl increased over the final decade of his career. In 1983, the Whirl hit the streets with possibly its most famous articles, the Dogman Edwards stories. In April of that year, Thomas broke the news that police had apprehended a man in Forest Park fornicating with a canine. "MAN WHO HAD INTERCOURSE AND ORAL SEX WITH DOG IN PARK PREFERS DOG TO 300-LB. WIFE" read one of many headlines.

Thomas appeared as a guest on the Arsenio Hall Show in 1989, and later was hosted by Peter Jennings on ABC Nightly News. The Wall Street Journal profiled him on its front page in 1990. Eddie Murphy, Robert Townsend, Bob Costas, John Waters and Bill Murray purchased subscriptions. Murray, visiting St. Louis for a film shoot in 1995, stopped by the Evening Whirl to pay his regards.

In local journalism, Thomas had many supporters, including Howard Woods, founder of the St. Louis Sentinel, and Benny Rogers, former editor of the St. Louis American, who occasionally filled in for Thomas when he was on vacation, writing lead stories for the Whirl.

Thomas left the paper in 1995, when symptoms of Alzheimer's began to afflict him. In that year, his sons, Barry and Kevin Thomas, moved their father to the Los Angeles area. Just before he left St. Louis, in July 1995, the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists inducted Thomas into its Hall of Fame.

In one of many defenses of his life work, Thomas wrote, "The Whirl has preached PURITY and condemned CRIME. Those who don't like it can kiss our behind."