Thursday, April 26, 2007

the Mayor

This morning I went with an old friend Mark Rolf invited me to the Hill Business Association annual breakfast. I have known Mark since he was 18 from school. Very cool o.g. southside kid.

We showed up to the Glaizer's Union Hall off of Hampton and lined up at a line for food provided by Chris' Pancake House and Rich LoRusso. We sat down and caught up and ate our food. The crowd was big and all the players in the hood and the city were there.

Then the Mayor comes in. He immediately comes up to our tables and starts shaking hands. He was making the rounds and we were the first ones. We gave quick hellos and shook hands.

"Mister Mayor, I need to ask a favor. I used to have one of the flag pins you gave me, but I lost it. Do you have another?"

A couple of years ago he gave me a pin along with pens for the kids from the gym. I wore that pin quite a bit. A few weeks back I lost that pin.

Slay smiled and pulled the pin off of his lapel.

"Here, take mine. I got plenty more."

I thanked him and he went on to shake about a hundred more hands. What a generous guy that mayor.

Mark Rolf leaned over and said to me "Next time see if he will give you his tie."

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Baseball Part I Who here's a Mountain Man?

So I went to the ballgame this past week. It is my second visit to the new stadium. I first really missed the old stadium during this visit. I don't know. The predictability and access of the old stadium were perfect. At the old stadium you could walk around the entire stadium and never take your eyes off the game. On the second level terrace. The downstairs loge seats you could walk around nearly the entire stadium except for a brief walk behind the bleachers. But you could keep an eye on the game almost the whole time as you walked around the outfield. It was a nice setup.

It was a particularly nice setup for being a portable vendor. Back in 98, during the home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire I worked as a "portable vendor". I am always game for a side job, and besides, the ticket prices were getting out of hand that summer.
I would often go with Darren, Fee and/or Pablo, my bosses at the time. We would usually score tickets from a downtown suit who would come to lunch, but often we hustled tickets from scalps for below face on the streets outside the stadium. But this year we were getting squeezed for the casual scalp tickets.

So I went down and applied for a job. I talked to the main bossman of all the vendors. He was a cop or retired cop or something and this was his side gig. I never actually met him. I talked to him on a speakerphone in an office while he was in another room. It was strange needless to say, but I was hired on the spot. Granted they were hiring pretty much any warm body at this point for nearly every game was selling out. It was an odd way to be hired, for I was given a book of guidelines, training manual and such the size of a small city's phone book and was told to read the book and report for work the next day. The whole process was rushed. No real training for me, just throwing me in. And I had no person I could physically identify as a boss, just a voice like Charlie on Charlie's Angels.

I took a cursory look at the manual considering the circumstances of the hiring process. It was full of HR bs, but there were some amusing highlights. I was not allowed to call women such things as "dames" "toots" or "babe". Highly amusing. And then there was a very specific restriction spelling out that there is absolutely "no gambling or games" allowed in the locker room. Strange. Strange indeed.

The next day I went in through the official employee entrance through the southside entrance where the loading docks were. While being the official employee entrance, I am fairly sure the baseball players went through another entrance. I wound my way through the bowels of the stadium to the locker room. The locker room was brightly lit with fluorescent light and filled with old metal lockers on one side of the room and cages on the other end. Everyone was lined up at the cages and I stood in line with them. The crew was a rowdy lot of young and old. The old timers were a real trip. Real pros. The young cusses were a mixed lot. Some were gamers while others seemed sort of indifferent souls. All made for a colorful experience. I would tend to listen to the older guys. Some of them were flat out nuts, but would make bits of sense. Others were rather saavy and percipient. A generally convivial crew in all.

We all lined up to get our polyester shirts, not unlike the nasty ones I wore as a driver for Domino's. Stretched out, holes, torn, incorrectly listed sizes. But they were durable and had probably been around since the previous World Series appearance. The only part of the uniform I was allowed to keep was a nice red mesh hat that I still wear to this day. This was before vendors were allowed/instructed to wear Cardinal ballcap. This was just fine with me. I liked the red mesh hat. At least I didn't have to wear a Cardinals cap.

So I put my clothes in one of the unlocked lockers. I had neglected to bring a lock, but I wasn't too worried for I didn't have much to put in the locker. All I had was beat up helmet, some jeans, some boots and a small bag with relatively worthless items in it. I chatted with this one guy who was recently divorced and selling beer. I figured beer was the best assignment, so I needed to sell beer. I had always wanted to sell beer. They were the biggest hustlers. I tried to figure out which beer was best to sell. Bud Light was the big seller. That was obvious. Then Bud, then Busch.

But selling Bud Light was almost too easy. So as we all lined up to get our product assignment I managed to get the old man behind the cage to assign me Busch. It was the stadium's namesake. It made particular reason to take pride in the product. It seemed there was only a handful of other Busch beer vendors, besides I was a new kid and it was easier to take the weak seller. I couldn't be picky, but there was no need to be. I was selling the namesake of the family. This was a good strong tradition in this town. Selling beer at a baseball game. Selling Busch beer at Busch Stadium.

So as we waited in the locker room for the go ahead to hit the seats the guys started to crowd around. There was a definite culture and social order to the locker room. There were guys who were in the know, and the ones who were not. So I tended toward the guys who were the most comfortable in the room, the most social. I then chatted with some of the experienced guys trying to get a handle on how the pickups for the beer worked, the whole commisary situation, the general rues. Then I noticed something exciting happening in the corner. It was a game. A small game, maybe three or four guys. Dice. I hadn't seen a dice game this close since I was in Meacham Park when I was younger. I was fascinated by this game, but I didn't get a chance to watch closely for the doors to the stadium opened and we were off to the commissaries to pick up our first load of beer to sell.

Selling beer at Busch was a real hustle. We hawked and ran. We would run up and down the aisles. I had to figure a pitch. I was familiar with the many different pitches while I was a fan.

"Anybody want a sodeee? With a free straw?"

That was always a good one.

"Itsda Bud, itsda Bud, itsda Bud man heyer!"

Another classic.

"Bud, Bud Lieyeet!"

There are some more great ones, but they only do well verbally.

But I needed my own pitch. I thought about what a great beer Busch is, and what sort of person wants an ice cold Busch beer.

"Who here's a mountain man? Raise yo hand! I gotcher icecoldBuschbeer right heyra!"

"Brewed with pride! On the southside! Getcher icecoldBuschbeer right heyra!"

"Official beer of Busch stadium!! Getcher icecoldBuschbeer right heyra!"

I would circle around the upper decks, where the business was the best during sold out games. While sales were weaker downstairs I would also troll the rich seats as well. There were no restraints on where we could go in the seating, but we had to report back to the assigned commissary. It was fun for I could keep an eye on the game, talk to people who I knew at the game, sell beer and make a little scratch. I would crouch down and take some extra time and chat with my friends. Time was money, but it was worth it to take a minute. I could catch a few extra glimpses of some at bats, catch up for a second, pour some beers, chat some more, watch a play and then move on.

The crowds were always fun. Sometimes a little rowdy.

"Hey beer man! You got Bud Light?"

I looked up and saw a crew of college looking kids.

"I gotcha icecoldBuschbeer right heyra!"

"Noooo! We want Bud Light! You got Bud Light?"

"C'mon ladies, who here is a mountain man!? Are you a mountain man?"

They would laugh. But they would rarely order.

Busch was a fun job. I got to see the whole home run race up close. I made some cash. I got to see the underside of the stadium. There are more stories to that job, but those will be for another day. But the next year I made a big move.

Next installment: So I got my free agent waivers and signed with my home team.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Two years ago today we closed on a property that is now the Royale. At the time it was a very different place called the Real Bar. It has been an interesting and wonderful two years. More can be written, but I would like to thank my family, friends and coworkers who have worked hard to make this place happen.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

52nd City Sound Issue Release

We at the Royale are having a special event this Saturday the 14th from 4-7. We are proud sponsors of 52nd City, and independent quarterly literary magazine that releases experimental works with issue wide topics ranging from faith, drink to stuff and more. We sell these mags from behind the bar. So come down this Saturday late afternoon/early eve and come listen and enjoy to the new issue "Sound."

Here is the formal press release:

SOUND Issue Release Party

Date: Saturday, April 14th
Time: 4PM - 7PM
Location: The Royale, 3132 S Kingshighway Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63139 PH (314) 772-3600.
Admission Free / CDs and magazines $8

Come on out and get your copy of the latest issue of 52nd City--a SOUND CD featuring the following:

* JOSH WEINSTEIN | Ornette On Sound
* K. CURTIS LYLE with DAVE STONE | Nut Check
* TOM WEBER | Feeding Yogi
* LEARN, ARTIST | The Heart is a Lonely Hunter
* CLOISTER | Orange Juice
* JULIE DILL | From Calypso
* COLD WAR | A Simple Song
* MAD ART RADIO HOUR | Selection from "I Love Sylvia"
* HEIDI DEAN | Single Again
* JAMES WEBER, JR. | Camping Omens
* MC401(k) | Girls Go To Mars
* AARON BELZ | Andy's Mom's Velveeta Log-shaped Tupperware Container

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easy, cherries, dogs and trash

So things are well. We have had an unexpectedly busy early spring. A third best week on record. Busy, but handling it well. I haven't been bloggging much, but that should change soon. I needed a bit of a break. I am nearing to be out of it soon.

I just jumped off the wagon recently. I had given up sugar for Lent. Actually, I have given it up since the New Year. It has been great. Now today, I had the sweet taste of sugar. Since midnight yesterday I had eaten nearly two boxes of girl scout cookies, several mini chocolate bars, three peanut butter cups, a half a marshmallow bunny, a piece of a chocolate chip pie and I am sure a few other sweets. Pure gluttony. I think I am going to have to jump back on the wagon soon. This is not healthy. I think I am going to resolve to only eat sweets if I am out with Grandma. So it can't be bad as long as I am with Grandma.

So I have been making an extra effort to take it easy lately. It has been hectic around the shop. And I have to take it easy or it gets to me. I typically don't yell at things when I drive. I just let it roll by. Even when there is an accident.

A few years back I was drivng the Eldog north on Kingshighway right around Holly Hills over by OLS. It was a warm sunny afternoon. I had the top down. I decided to take a left to cut over west toward Macklind. I was waiting for the oncoming cars to clear so I could cross the oncoming southbound lanes. I was eating bing cherries I had bought up at the farmer that used to sell produce at Hampton and Southwest. I was popping them into my mouth and spitting the seeds out on to the street. A little Johnny Cherry Seed rolling across the southside.

So I sat in the Cady with my blinker on waiting to take a left and spitting out cherry seeds. Then I hear screeching brakes. Whammo! My car is launched forward about six feet. Uh oh.

I get out. And behind me is a Saturn. A crunched up Saturn. I throw the Eldo into park and run up to the freshly crumpled car to check on the condition of any occupants. The airbag had gone off and there was a young woman, a sixteen year old girl, in the driver's seat. I was worried she was hurt. She wasn't. She was crying. And crying. Sobbing. She was breaking up, but she hadn't seen me until it was too late. She didn't see this 5000 lb white car right in front of her. She was able to stand, and while sobbing she didn't seem injured. Just crying. I got on my phone and called the police. I told her to get back in the car. Then I told her to get out for I was worried someone would smash into her. Then I told her to take it to the side of the street and I pulled up next to her. I then offered her some cherries. She was still sobbing too hard to understand. I wasn't worried at all. No need to freak.

Just a fender bender. No one hurt. She did enough freaking out on her own, and she made up plenty for my lack of freaking out. I ate the rest of the cherries myself and she sobbed as we waited for the police.

So I just remind myself to take it easy sometimes when I go too fast. Take it easy.

Like when I walk through the alleys. The dogs go wild when I walk through the alleys. I love it. Sometimes it seems they want to kill me. The bark, snarl and snap behind the chain link fences. I smile and squat down to look at them. They are so cute. Even when they look so upset. Sometimes the cool ones will even let you pet them. But other ones are just so full of energy they bark and snarl. They are still so cute.

However, sometimes it gets to me. Just today, I found myself getting irritated again. So silly. I was doing another security walk, a walk I do all too often around the streets of the shop. I saw some trash. A lid to a soda cup. I cussed when I saw it. I can't believe a little piece of trash made me so upset I cuss. How stupid. So no more cussing. So from now on when I see trash on my security walk I will laugh. Trash is so silly. It upsets people. How silly. It doesn't upset me anymore. But I still do need to pick it up for it does look like crap. Despite our war on littering, people are not going to stop being litterbugs.

I just need to take it easy, for it is easy.

*I got a good dual post coming up later this week on baseball. I love baseball*