Where do the burbs change to the city?

Traveling east on Conway Road, south on Ballas Road, east on Manchester to St. Louis. It starts to feel vaguely like St. Louis right when you cross Brentwood Boulevard. That's when I start to feel like I'm close to home. The suburban landscape let's up a little right there at the intersection near Frederic Roofing. Maybe it's just familiarity, "for a hole in your roof, or a whole new roof".

Heading east, seeing the Metro train tracks, brick, less mish-mash construction, people walking, it just starts to seem livable right around there.

And for you? North, south, east, west...when does it feel like St. Louis?

Holy shit, I'm white

I was in the mood for some light reading. I heard something on NPR about the newest David Sedaris book, so I went to Left Bank to make the purchase.

They didn't have the book in stock, but another one in comedy caught my eye:

"The Definitive Guide To Stuff White People Like, The Unique Taste of Millions" by Christian Lander.

This is some funny shit. And as it turns out, much of his findings hit very close to home. There is an entry (#25) on Davis Sedaris and another (#44) on public radio. Oh shit, I'm fucked, I'm white! Or wait, I mean, I'm set. Or....never mind, see for yourself.

Anyhow, there are 150 separate entries on, you guessed it, stuff white people like. It is written as a kind of guide for the reader who is trying to understand, and get along with urban white people. That is just part of the hilarity. If you are white, and offended, you are supposed to be. The last 7 pages are devoted to a check list and simple formula to determine just how white you are on a percentage basis.

I can't wait to see where I score. I'll post the numeric value and highlights as soon as I finish.

Since this is a STL blog, here's a pertinent entry from the book:

#73 Gentrification: "In general, white people love situations where they can't lose. While this is already true for most of their lives, perhaps the safest bet a white person can make is to buy a house in an up-and-coming neighborhood.
White people like to live in these neighborhoods because they get credibility and respect from other white people for living in a more "authentic" neighborhood where they are exposed to "true culture" every day. So whenever their friends mention their homes in the suburbs or wealthier urban areas, these people can say, "Oh it's so boring out there, so fake. In our neighborhood, things are just more real." This superiority is important as white people jockey for position in their circle of friends. They are like modern day Lewises and Clarks, except that instead of searching for the ocean, they are searching for old houses to renovate.
In a few years, if more white people start moving in, these initial trailblazers will sell their property for triple what they paid and move into an ultramodern home. Credibility or money; either way, they can't lose!
When one of these white people tells you where they live, you should say, "Whoa, it's pretty rough down there. I don't think I could live there." This will make them feel even better about their credibility and status as neighborhood pioneers."

Hilarious. Probably written with Brooklyn in mind, but applies to STL as well, no?

Exciting Projects in St. Louis

What are your most anticipated developments in St. Louis?

Here are some of mine:

The proposed Drury Inn at Kingshighway and I-64.
*This could extend the CWE, Barnes money and activity south to the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood.

The Bohemian Hill development in Lafayette Square.
*The addition of a some needed services in that part of town could be a main boost for that neighborhood.

The CVS drug store in Boulevard Heights.
*they are new to this market. If they can build an urban drug store (to the street with parking in back), I'll never go to Walgreens again.

The Great Rivers Greenway pedestrian trail
*The Morgan Ford to I-55 extension is nearly completed, the next step is from I-55 south to Loughborough Commons.

*I'm still optimistic it will add activity to this part of Downtown. I'm hoping it doesn't end up a TGIFridays, and a nail salon & instant check cashing strip mall.

Suburbanite Misconceptions

****Negativity Alert****You've been warned!

Working in the exurbs for nearly 14 years has taught me a thing or two about the misconceptions of non-St. Louisians living in the region.

Here are a few to get me started. I realize these are generalizations, but I've tried to compile the ones that come up time and time again.
  1. St. Louis County people refer to St. Louis as "Downtown", meaning the entire city is "downtown"

  2. Very few suburbanites know where to park for free at Cardinal games (maybe this is for the better). There are many, many spots for free within a 15 minute walk of Busch-III.

  3. When many suburbanites read/hear of new businesses, restaurants opening in the city, they will say it won't last. Nothing in the city lasts long.

  4. They think you can't be a pedestrian in the city. They fear muggings. Most of all though, they just aren't familiar with St. Louis streets and neighborhoods, and don't know how to get around.

  5. Few suburbanites will admit that racist tendencies influence their school district and home choices. I realize mentioning race is inflammatory to many; but, I truly believe this to be the case in my personal experience. I actually find it refreshing when the rare person is honest about their demographics needs.

  6. They don't realize that they are NOT living/working in St. Louis.

  7. They don't know where the city starts/ends and where the county starts/ends.

  8. Many exurbanites are completely unaware that there are nearly 10,000 Bosnian/Croatian/Roma living in St. Louis and the inner ring suburbs.

  9. Many exurbanites think you need a big yard to give a kid a "good upbringing".

This of course drives me nuts. Am I missing any?

Alley Power

Where does the alley fall in the urban experience? What does it mean? Is the alley the behind the scenes star? Is the alley to the house like the bass/drums to the band? The screen writers and cinemetographers to the actors and directors? The less visible star of the property and neighborhood? I'm not sure, but one thing recently became quite apparent to me: the alley can be an active, functioning addition to your property and immediate neighborhood.

I recently witnessed what I would characterize as a fully functional alley. There were children playing, it was spic-n-span clean, it was an adult meeting place (mainly male). It was beautiful.

It was akin to the familiar alley scenes in King of the Hill:

Again, there were kids grinding out skateboard techniques and riding bikes, kids peaking over fences to search for potenital playmates. It was a thing of beauty.

The next neighborhood I live in will have an alley. I've not yet experienced this in St. Louis. The roll out cart cannot compare to the dual dumpsters for yard and house waste. I long to have an alley.

The neighborhoods we are looking at for a potential move are Tower Grove South, Tower Grove East and Shaw. The occupied homes in these neighborhoods are generally very presentable from the street. However, a quick trip through the alleys can be a very telling story of the owner's, occupant's and neighbor's lifestyle choices.

We recently fell hard for a home between Compton Heights and TGE. It was priced realistically and had a lot of potential. However, a drive through the alley revealed a rusted out, flat-tired Winnebago, a trashed hooptie Caddy and garbage beyond belief. This was not a positive, active space. There was bad karma here. I can't have that. You can either take the chance with lazy, unclean neighbors and try to clean up the alley to the best your ability. Or, you can choose to not move there. You are either part of the problem or the solution right?

Anyhow, I am reengized with the possibilities of St. Louis City living from my recent alley experience.

St. Louis Rams 2008

The Rams looked woeful today in their season opener. Linehan, Bulger, Jackson...are these supposed to be our leaders? These guys look hapless. Remember how fun Sundays were when the Rams were good? Will we ever have that again? It's good for the city when the Rams are doing well, or at least competing. Bulger has no personality/offensive leadership, Linehan is hapless, Jackson is full of hot air and doesn't lead his team to victories. Who am I supposed to like on this team? Who do you rally behind? Who's going to save the rest of the season?

Continuity and the Neighborhoods

I read several STL blogs regularly. One of them is STL Rising. I find this offering a good mix of personal stuff and city related stuff. And, the author has a positive vibe. Anyhow, the following post has stuck with me:

Breakaway Union (August 11, 2008)

My favorite parts:

"St. Louis is described as a city of neighborhoods, and it is. It's like a bunch of little villages all pushed together. Each has its own flavor and personality. The neighborhood feel of our city is one of it's greatest assets. However, maybe all of the neighborhood distinctions aren't necessary? Maybe it's time to consolidate some neighborhoods? We talk about "addition by subtraction" (a topic for a future post), but maybe we should also consider how combining neighborhoods might make them stronger? Down in South City, a quiet area, the Southampton neighborhood (that's one word with one "h"), is gaining positive attention in the media. Neighbors have branded the area with a hip new name, "SoHa", and it's catching on."

"Soha has good momentum.So much so that maybe it's neighborhood organizations should combine? The distinction is so minimal, many people don't even know it exists. But according to official records, the area is actually made up of two neighborhoods - Southampton and Princeton Heights. The difference between them is misunderstood and the boundaries change depending on who you talk to. The city considers the boundary between the neighborhoods as Eichelberger, but the neighborhood organizations put it a few blocks south at Milentz...or is it Rhodes...Ask a neighbor, and many would have no idea what you're talking about. Some would tell you they live in St. Louis Hills, or give you their parish name. Some of the restauants and businesses in the area don't even think of themselves as part of Southampton or Princeton Heights, but rather, Soha. And why not, that's a buzz they want to be part of. A combined Southampton/Princeton Heights, aptly renamed Soha, would have double the population of each individual neighborhood. The combined organizations would carry double the weight down at City Hall. Major streets would be the boundary: Hampton/Chippewa/Kingshighway/Gravois. Board members of existing neighborhood organizations could form one new consolidated board. Fewer meetings would be necessary, and the area's fundraising base would be significantly increased. The combined groups would have double the membership."

Hell yes. How insightful and articulate was that? Hell yes, that hit the spot. (How inarticulate was that?)

What this town needs is a little continuity. A bridge between the fantastic neighborhoods and the mundane ones. The anchors of each zip code, region, neighborhood, whatever need to be linked, named and marketed to masses.

Everyone knows the Hill is a destination place. Same can be said of South Grand and Washington Blvd., etc. Why not capitalize on that popularity? Why not let the name brand spread. Share the wealth, consolidate the parties, entities, etc.

How hard would this really be? It certainly wouldn't be as hard as combining tiny municipalities like Brentwood and Richmond Heights. There is too much money and political gain at stake there. But, the point of combining neighborhood groups is brilliant. It combines resources and opinions and perspectives. It requires less meetings and hours and undirected/unfocused efforts.

Addition by subtraction. That is the best idea I've heard in a long time. I think that thought is worth continued debate and action. STL Rising, if you can make this happen once, as in the case of the Princeton Heights/Southampton example, it could set precedent. Maybe Boulevard Heights and Holly Hills would be next in line.

Daydream #367

sitting there and his cellphone went off
"Bad To The Bone" ringtone
and wondering how I could have lost respect any quicker
man, I gotta get out of here
12th ward blues are still blue

Daydream #368

The drum set was a good idea, right?
It was only 5 bucks
It has a bass kick, snare, crash and tom
Rhythm is important in the formative years
She shuddered when I mentioned adding cowbell

Holly Hills Community Garden Update

The garden, she grows. This year, I've got red cabbage, green beans, cantaloupe, cucumbers, tomatoes, broccoli and brussel sprouts. Some fellow gardeners also shared some starter potatoes with me. We'll see how they turn out.

Here's the latest addition to the garden at Bates and Arendes:

A special thanks goes out to Andy Cross, local artist/craftsman who hand carved our sign.

If you are interested in starting a community garden in your neighborhood, contact me here or by email.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I don't set aside enough time to read for entertainment. My limited reading time is reserved for STL blogs, music reviews and Newsweek.

In fact, I read novels so rarely these days that I feel I am not qualified to speak objectively about them. I am so happy to be reading a novel and so happy to have finished one that I feel I will unfairly gloat about it simply because I read it and experienced it.

The same can be said for live music. I go out to see bands so rarely now, that when I finally do go, I am overwhelmed by the power and beauty of live musicianship, that I am prone to being awash in praise for bands or shows that just aren't that great to someone who sees tons of shows/bands.

I am trying to make changes in my life to see more live music and read more non-fiction. I saw Built to Spill in March at the Pageant, the Breeders in May at Pops, and Tom Waits at the Fox in June. I also read

the Road by Cormac McCarthy.

I feel compelled to summarize my thoughts on this book, because it's themes and styles have stuck in my head for months after actually finishing the book. Briefly, the book follows a father and young son in a post-apocalypse setting. Here is the beauty of this one:

McCarthey writes of the love between a father and son within the context of the story. He does not use a heavy hand. The relationship is subtle and true.

The writer perfectly captured the


love a father and son can share. Having both sons and daughter, I know the relationships are different when it comes to gender. It's different between sons and daughters, and McCarthey must be a father.

Here are the topics that I've been going over in my mind since reading the book:

  1. how far would you go to survive
  2. what is your definition of hope
  3. good vs. evil
  4. what are your survival instincts
  5. how far would you go to protect your child's innocence and naivety?

If these are topics you enjoy, or ponder, you will love this book.

Other books I've recently enjoyed:

Winter's Bone

(set in the Ozarks)

The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting: An Oral History

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalacian Trail

Mine is not a high horse

I gave up the Parliament Lights on November 13, 2007. Cold turkey. If I didn't have kids I'd still be a blazin'.

So, Illinois went smoke free in restaurants and bars. Will Missouri ever go this route? I doubt it. Missourians love their tobacco. We have the 2nd cheapest state taxes on cigarettes in the U.S. Here's my source.

New York $2.75/pack
New Jersey $2.58/pack
Massachusetts $2.51/pack
Mississippi $0.18/pack
Missouri $0.17/pack
South Carolina $0.07/pack

Damn, North Carolina and Kentucky even have higher taxes than the old Show Me state.

Anyhow, as time goes by I am tempted less and less by the smokes. Recently, I was actually turned off a couple times; yet, I am not one to judge how someone else should or should not spend their evening. I think smoking is a personal right that everyone has, just like drinking.

If you want to smoke or drink or whatever, knock yourself out. Smoking has become a club. So why not keep the club alive, and make it an exclusive one at that. Why not market smoking-friendly environments to smokers and smoke-free environments to nonsmokers?

Let's face it, a smoky bar has it's allure. Smoking is fun. Smoking is dirty, bad and rebellious. Smoking and drinking go hand in hand for many. So why not have Missouri bypass the whole ban on smoking in restaurants and bars, and opt for a smokers only or non-smoking only law?

If a bar choses to be hip and/or badass it could be a smoking establishment with a sticker/sign on the front door announcing this fact. If you are the hard core or casual smoker, enter and have fun. Let freedom burn. I likes me the smell of stale cigarettes at Courtesy. It makes the stale pie and coffee taste better. It makes the jukebox better.

If you are the healthy or high horse type, you can make your moral judgement call and eat/drink only in smoke free environments.

No place shall have a non-smoking section. The rules will be clear. Let's maintain our state's long history and love for tobacco. Let's embrace smokers.

I don't think St. Louis is in a position to be turning potential patrons/residents away. If the suburbs ban smoking, let's be the ones to (selectively) keep it alive.

I'm sure this is not a novel concept, but merely one that been on my mind.

Jury Duty

I spent 1.5 days downtown recently for jury duty. I didn't get selected but I got to the courtroom and was part of the voir dire.

I've never been called for jury duty before so this was a novel, if not interesting experience for me. Anyhow, here are some observations from my 2 days away from work:

1. I really enjoy riding the Metrolink. Scooter from home to Shrewsbury stop, train to Civic Center stop. It takes a lot of time to get there, but the ride is enjoyable. Working in the exurbs for ~14 years has made me a robot. Commuting in the city is way more interesting, flexible, fun and relaxing. My stress level is nill when the iPod is going and I'm reading a book or watching the city pass by. Driving from So. City to Chesterfield is hell. I am getting to the point where I'm considering serious salary cuts just to work closer to my home.

2. Downtown at lunch was hopping. Never, never thought I'd say this. I mean, as much street level activity as any other big city in the U.S. There was a particular area, 9th street I believe, between Olive and Pine that was really alive. What a pleasant surprise. I guess, in many ways, Downtown really has arrived. I hope the momentum continues.

3. It's amazing how many of us, as STL citizens have been touched by crime in our lives. On the official jurors form, you have to check a box if you have been a victim of a crime. I didn't check mine.

However, during the voir dire, nearly all the prospective jurors had to explain why they checked the box. It got kind of personal in many cases. This is a violent country we live in and the city is an honest representation of this fact. Anyhow, after hearing what other people described as crimes, I had to change my mind and bring up the fact that I guess I've had crimes committed against me, even though I didn't check the box.

I would guess that ~20% have had their cars stolen. ~15% had been mugged and assaulted. ~40% had experienced abuse of some kind. Many, many have a distrust for the police. I've always known STL was a violent place, but this kind of hammered it home.

I don't really consider car break ins or garage break ins as crime. In many cases, it's partially the owners fault for being stupid. My car had gotten broken into so many times at one of my prior residences, that I quit locking the doors, so the assholes could rummage through without breaking my locks or windows. I got smart and secured my home entry doors. I got smart and never (ever) keep valuables in my car. I figured that was an urban lesson to be learned.

On a side note, gangstas don't bother with pennies (nickels, dimes and quarters yes). Cassette tapes, forget about it. I did have a friend who's car was stolen and they even took his newly purchased diapers out of the trunk. That's cold. I was reminded of Raising Arizona. This might be one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

Boulevard Heights Progress

I have posted before about the intriguing

Boulevard Heights housing project

in the 12th ward. The site is located between Blow St. and Robert Ave. on the far southside of the City.

Here's a bird's eye view of the site plan:

I like the trees, alleys, closeness of the homes to each other and the street. I really like the townhomes, I believe the site refers to them as "the Nottingham":

I hope this site gets fully developed. It will add a lot of life to this part of Boulevard Heights.

Here are some progress photos:

More thoughts on the underdog

I really love my neighborhood and city. It's got a lot of problems and I think about how better it would be if we didn't have these problems. But then again, if I love her now, why fret over it?

I'm not laying down my arms or retiring my will to fight to make this place better. It's just that I've come to expect and eventually become used to failures and disappointments. Maybe that's healthy. Maybe that's naive, maybe it's defeatist. I can't really tell.

All I know for sure is that I continue to meet great and down to earth people here. I think St. Louis citizens have a common appreciation and respect for their sense of place. I think we are more united in our needs, expectation and desires.

I don't get a feel for this commonality in Creve Couer, Des Peres, Chesterfield, Ellisville, Ballwin and some of the other towns I spend lots of time in due to my job. Maybe it's there and I just don't get it. I just don't relate to the St. Louis County experience. I just don't see what's so great about the burbs. Obviously, it's the popular choice for most in the region. But I find it way to generic at best, unpalatable at worst. Most of these little suburban cities have no identity.

That's not to say some cities in the County are all bad. Maplewood, Clayton and University City are exceptions.

The Perfect Automotive Shit Storm

I am of the auto generation. I was raised on cheap gas. If you didn't have a car in high school, you were nobody. However, now I find myself irate with my addiction to the car.

Cars are a financial disaster. They are very expensive to own, maintain and now operate. Insurance, safety inspections, emissions inspections, tires, brakes, you name it. They are money pits. Every car I've ever owned, I ended up hating. Here's the list of offenders that have jaded me over the years, including the reason for it's demise:

1980 Ford Mustang (orange with maroon interior...a hot look for hot times)
-Hole in the floorboard (convenient and fun way to get rid of cigarette butts), overheating
1985 Dodge Omni GLH Turbo
-Engine was running funny, pulled over, popped the hood, engine block was glowing orange
1991 Chevy Lumina (a hooptie if you will)
-Fuel injection went out
1995 Saturn SL
-The first new car I've owned, eventually (~130,000 miles) overheated with head gasket issues
1992 Dodge Dakota
-Total piece of shit, gas hog, overheating
2001 Toyota Carola
-used qt. of oil every couple weeks
2001 Chevy Venture
-intake manifold gasket, transmission
2000 Saturn LW1
-so far so good @ 120,000 miles. It is starting to run hot though.

The point I'm trying to make is that I feel trapped in the auto web. The Chevy Venture outage made us go with a new Toyota minivan. The Saturn is getting old too. It's only a matter of time. I like Honda Fit, Nissan Versa and Toyota Yaris, but we can't handle 2 car payments at once.

My options are go to one car, work closer to home, or constantly drive a hooptie.

I live 22 miles from work. Something has got to give. We need more biology/biotech jobs in the city.

Anyone out there work at Solae or Sigma? If so, what do you think of it?

Top 3 activities to improve the city

I often think about the most noble efforts that could provide the greatest improvement to the city.

Outside of educating people on good development (something I'm learning from reading urbanreviewstl and ecology of absence blogs), here are my thoughts:

1. Rehabbing a property that is currently out of use to one that will be in use.
2. Opening a business/creating jobs in the city.
3. Sending your kids to the public schools.

I think #1 and 2 go hand in hand. If we had more attractive housing, there would be more people. If we had more jobs, there would be more people/activity/tax base. Rehabbing our fabulous housing stock is in my mind the most important thing you can do for the city. Since the city's population has precipitously declined since her hey day, it is also noble to take 4 families down to 2, or 2 families down to single family homes. Creating a livable, respectful space out of ramshackle dump amazing. We need more of this on every scale.

#3 is also at the front of my mind. So many urban minded people leave this town when their kids get to school age. Many of them don't even try the schools before they leave. They choose to be part of the problem, not the solution. In my mind it is apparent that responsible, active parents are less likely to put up with incompetence and b.s. when it come to the teachers and students currently in the schools. The school system is less in need of more money or newer schools, what they simply need are more kids with parents that give a shit. Parents that will fight to make the places better. Parents that aren't scared to speak up. Parents that teach their kids self respect at home will go to school armed with self confidence and pride. Those kind of families need to fill up the halls and classrooms with their kids....not run to the private schools, parochial schools and the suburbs.

What makes a good street?

My wife and I have lived in St. Louis since 1994. We've rented/owned in Soulard, Dutchtown, Holly Hills, Kingshighway Hills and Boulevard Heights.

We are beginning the search for a new home. Actually, we are looking for the perfect home, street and neighborhood to move into in ~2-3 years.

My 49cc scooter allows me to zip around the city at all times of day/night to investigate the various neighborhoods and streets.

I really like Tower Grove South and East. I like Shaw, Lafayette Square and Compton Heights. Carondelet, Gravois Park, Benton Park, Fox Park are cool too, but we're looking for a little more street life and services/businesses.

I like the Hill, St. Louis Hills, Southtown, North Hampton, Holly Hills; but we're ready for a change.

Here's a list of items that are must haves for us to relocate to:
  1. tree lined streets
  2. coffee shop within walking distance
  3. decent bar within walking distance (not a sports bar or hoosier joint)
  4. at least 3 independent, tasty dining options within walking distance
  5. community garden within walking distance
  6. majority housing stock pre-1940
  7. continuity with it's surroundings (not sided homes on one street, brick on the other)
  8. park within walking distance
  9. off-street parking with alley-garage
What makes the perfect neighborhood or street for you?

Gen X Yuppies?

The first I heard the term yuppie was back in the 1980's. I thought it meant people like Michael Keaton on Family Ties, or on the other side of the spectrum, those people in L.A. Law. I think of the term yuppie tied specifically to baby boomers.

I thought they were aged hippies. I thought they were self absorbed ladder climbers hell bent on making as much money in as little time as possible. I thought they ate pink tofu. I thought they wore trendy designer clothes. I thought they had cheezy hair cuts. I thought I rebelled against them in my SST, Sub Pop days.

Maybe I was wrong. Or, maybe I'm a yuppie. By definition on wikipedia: The term yuppie (short for "young urban professional" or "young upwardly-mobile professional")[1] refers to a market segment whose consumers are characterized as self-reliant, financially secure individualists.[2] Since the late 1980s, the phrase "affluent professionals" has been used as a synonym, stripped of negative associations with the once-homogenous market.[3]

Hold on....young urban professional? That's a good thing right? That's what the City needs more of (in spades). But do people my age and younger still have a negative, baby-boomer, connection with the term?

I was recently having a conversation with a fellow city dweller regarding bowling alleys in the region. We were both lamenting over the loss of Redbird Lanes, Carriage Bowl and other alleys in the City. I asked him if he's been to the Flamingo Bowl downtown. We had a kids birthday party there and I was really impressed. His reaction was not the same. He called it a yuppie bowling alley. He dismissed it as expensive and soul-lessly swanky.

Everyone is due their opinion (that's what these blogs are for, right?). However, I was kind of surprised to have a place I considered cool described as a yuppie spot. Maybe he was right though. I did spot a couple people that I would consider urban professionals; even young upwardly mobile professional would apply as well.

Should I retire or rethink my negative connotation around the term yuppie? Can Gen-Xers be yuppies? Do I have yuppie tastes? Is the city trying to lure yuppies? Is downtown too yuppie?

Recycling In the City

I used to take advantage of curb side pickup. It was very convenient, but I decided to save some money and take my recyclables to one of the City's 26 drop off sites. I wouldn't be able to re-join the city curbside program even if I wanted to. They are maxed out on their participation. The city offers several zip codes discounted prices on curbside pickup, it is a cost shared with the refuse division. The website indicates that the maximum fund was reached.

Anyhow, I am very impressed with the amount and variety of items you can recycle.

In the last 6 months or so, they plastic recycling options have improved. Previously only 1's and 2's were accepted. Now 1's through 5's and 7's are acceptable. This make sorting much easier. Even though the majority of household items are 1's and 2's, 5's are becoming more and more prevalent.

Anyhow, I'm glad that I can recycle almost all of my plastics now. I wonder why the change was made. Is it a result of oil prices increasing, making recycling more economical? Is it a technology improvement? Is it supply/demand?

South Sider Experiences Another Positive Year in SLPS

Newsflash! Good things occur in the SLPS. My 6 year old rides the bus to school. He is the only one on the bus for >95% of the days. As a result, he formed a fairly close relationship with his bus driver Tonesha. They like each other. They talk.

Anyhow, we started talking to him about the school year winding down and things that will change over the next couple weeks. He wondered what would happen to his bus driver. He said he'd miss her. We would too. He drew her a picture (that's like cash money to a Kindergartener) and insisted that we give it to her. Turns out, she missed his last day of school and was replaced by a substitute driver. He came home in tears with his picture in hand. He was crushed that he couldn't give his bus driver his picture and well wishes for the summer.

My wife made a special trip up to school to make sure that Tonesha would get his picture. Apparently the message got to her, because she took the time to stop by our house (bus parked out in front) to say thanks and to return a gift to Ben. She gave him a card saying she loved his picture. She also gave him a gift of 2 little airplanes. He loves them. He is so proud. She is so sweet. We are so happy.

These are the success stories that rarely get to the mainstream populous. These are the good vibes that I feel in STL that don't get on the news or in the paper. These are worth their weight in gold when you're a parent. Fear not the SLPS. Give the system a chance before fear and ignorance send you to the burbs and the private schools.