Papa Fabarre's

Okay, I know I just did a post on the

DT

Macy's, but I had to go back to exchange a couple items and stopped into Papa

Fabarre's

on the second floor for lunch. First of all, this place is what it is. And by that I mean a true throwback. I think it rivals Crown Candy Kitchen and

O'Connels

for original, non-pretentious charm.

Check out the fully operational pulley's and belts that operate the ceiling fans.

My first job was busing tables at a

Belleville

, Illinois restaurant called

Riedels

. The food reminds me of

Riedels

. Good old unhealthy American comfort food. Grilled cheese and chicken on a pretzel bread were our choices. They are famous for their French onion soup which is served in a crock layered with cheese. Soup is a term used loosely here. I would say gravy would be more appropriate. But, people love this stuff. The place was filled to capacity on the Monday we were there. The hostess, waiter and cashier all confirmed that the restaurant will remain open after the reconfiguration of the Macy's down to 3 floors.

They indicated that the future of the St. Louis Room restaurant on the 6

th

floor is still up in the air.

This place is a trip; a great place to take out of

towners

and first timers.

Visitation Park Neighborhood

Visitation Park Neighborhood

I am becoming obsessed with north city neighborhoods. I hope I don't skim over the established south city hoods like Princeton Heights, Lafayette Square, Holly Hills, Southampton, St. Louis Hills, etc. It's just I've been to these places a million times, I have personal memories and connections with the central and south side, that it's harder to objectively portray them and detail them as they are part of my backyard. The north side neighborhoods are still a mystery and it's fun trying to piece together the history of this city and how people choose to live.

Princeton Heights Neighborhood

Princeton Heights Neighborhood

This neighborhood has got to be one of St. Louis' best examples of the "gingerbread house". Street after street, house after house have the charm and craftsmanship that make St. Louis so great. Many of the houses may look the same while passing through in the car; but a nice long walk through the streets will prove that almost every home has it's unique charm or touches that set it apart from it's immediate neighbors.

Downtown Macy's Escalator Tribute

I am a big fan of the downtown Macy's. It's in a fabulous building, close to a

Metrolink

stop and is staffed by kind people. It's got a cool restaurant (

Papa

Fabarre's

), it isn't part of an annoyingly jarring indoor mall and is never overrun with people; no lines (good for customer, bad for retailer).

Obviously, I am happy that Macy's is going to keep this location open. Yet, I'm sad that they are downsizing it. Not because of the loss of goods and retail square footage, but because of the escalators. Man I'm a dork, I know it, but

damn it

, I will desperately miss the varied styles of

escalators

in this department store. From the old school wood to the brushed stainless steel art deco ones to the more modern glass ones like you see today. I fear these will go the way of the typewriter during the remodeling. I hope not, but I fear the worst. Here's my photo tribute to a department store and escalators that have soul:

My kids love getting Swedish fish at the candy counter:

I will miss the marble floors too.

Carondelet Park Rec Plex-Grand Opening

The city just became a better place to live and raise a family. This place is amazing. I trust the YMCA will take care and run this facility with professionalism and fairness. I can't say I would trust the city to staff/run a clean, safe, professionally organized facility. We walked in today to many familiar faces, neighbors, friends and Loughborough YMCA acquaintances. Everyone was stoked about this place. Check it out:

There are bike racks in two separate areas:

There are 3 kids areas. One is for infants and toddlers, up to 4 years old; there are cribs, padded floors, etc. The second is for 5-7 year olds. There are legos, blocks, slides, computers and a wii with guitar hero. The 3rd is for kids 8 and up with foosball, rock climbing wall, dance dance revolution, computers, etc:

The cardio and weight area is huge with lots of natural light:

Indoor track, 11 laps = 1 mile:

Double gym for volleyball, basketball, etc.:

Indoor pool area has 2.5 story waterslide, lazy river, zero entry kids splash area, steam room, sauna, lap lanes, hot tub, whirlpool, family shower/locker rooms:

Outdoor pool has kids area, swim lanes, diving area, concession stand and a waterslide:

Ballet/yoga/pilates/etc:

Senior area with fireplace:

Meeting rooms:

Check it out for yourself, comment with your opinions.

Daydream # 382

You have a 12% chance of meeting a true St. Louisian in this metropolitan area.

St. Louisians account for 354,361 of the total 2,871,421 citizens of the metropolitan area.

For what it's worth, I feel a general bond with my fellow St. Louisans. In very general terms, I feel like we're all on the same team, aware of the same pluses and minuses that the city has to offer. It doesn't matter which of the 79 neighborhoods of the city you live in, you are a St. Louisian and I can get behind that.

Proposition N and a St. Louis City Talk Flip-Flop

One of the things I hope I'm transparent about as the writer on this blog is that I change my opinions and stances quite often. Please don't fault me. To me this is part of learning, aging and striving to be an objective viewer of life. Remember when the Republicans skewered John Kerry in an act of solidarity during the 2004 presidential election? "Flip" "Flop" over and over, all in unison. I think that really hurt Kerry in the minds of the average viewer. They made it seem shameful to change your mind....and in politics that can be deadly. However, in real life it's okay to flip flop on issues even if you have the power to leverage action on one side or the other.

With all that said, I'd like to announce a flip flop on anti-smoking. Back in August, 2008 I laid down a smoke em if you got em Libertarian rant.

At the time, I was fresh off the heals of being smoke free for nearly 9 months. My wife and I vowed that once we quit, we wouldn't be among those holier than thou anti-smoking judgemental types. Hopefully we've been true to that commitment. Yet, being smoke free has been great. As a non-smoker, going to a see live music in Illinois is better than Missouri.

I recently went to a week night show at Off Broadway (Camera Obscura) and it was smoke free, and much more enjoyable. The older I get the worse the hangover becomes from second hand smoke. That's just a fact. Anyhow, I hope St. Louis someday goes smoke free. It's just better and healthier for all of us.

McKinley Heights Neighborhood

McKinley Heights Neighborhood

This neighborhood is one of my favorites. The tree lined streets are on a rectilinear grid. If the housing market comes around and we can sell our home, this will be one of the places on our list to move. MH is just about the perfect mix of small, medium and large dwellings (nearly all brick) with many of the architectural styles that makes St. Louis the great city it is...

High and lonesome

I recently learned of a 2008 documentary about American beat poet/writer Jack Kerouac entitled "One Fast Move or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur." This story has St. Louis ties as local musician Jay Farrar (Uncle Tupelo/Son Volt) and Ben Gibbard (Death Cab For Cutie) recently collaborated to set Kerouac's writing to music and it's featured in the movie. The music is sparse and beautiful, truly an American sound...as American as jazz or blues or dixieland or traditional country in my opinion. Gibbard's voice is channeling a bit of Gary Louris from the Jayhawks, yet still original and true as always. And Farrar's voice and playing is spot-on as usual. If popular country music had half of this soul and emotion tied to the traditional American sound, I'd listen to it. But I don't think anyone could make the claim that contemporary popular country music has much authenticity or respect for tradition and culture.


Son Volt performs live at the Pagent on November 6th with support from one of my all time favorite (and most underrated) British musicians: Peter Bruntnell.

More on this project here.

And you can listen here.

2010 Census Data-a potential sea change for St. Louis

I cannot wait to see the 2010 U.S. census data for St. Louis. I hope to see a 10 year gain from 2000-2010. This would be the first decade gain for St. Louis since the 1940-1950 post war increase of 5% when we peaked at 856,796 residents. The estimated population of St. Louis in 2000 is 348,189. That's the lowest since the late 1870's...pretty depressing, eh?

As I research St. Louis' 79 neighborhoods, I am using 2000 census data as my source for tracking resident changes over a 10-year span (1990-2000). In all 7 neighborhoods I've looked at so far there were drops in residential populations. This is evident in the nice and not so nice neighborhoods alike. So the question arose in my mind, did any neighborhoods see an increase in population from 1990-2000?

Here's a look at the 11 neighborhoods from 1990-2000 that gained residents (the remaining neighborhoods all lost residents) and the 13 worst for losing residents based on percentage:

Congratulations to Bevo Mill and Dutchtown who added quite a few people and topped the list. Having lived in Dutchtown as my first neighborhood in 1994 and now living just south of Bevo, I know that Bosnian immigration is the main factor behind the increases. Congrats to the other neighborhoods as well for attracting people and keeping things stable. Not sure why Near Northside and North Riverfront gained, I'll have to visit those neighborhoods sooner than later.

However, that's where the good news ends. Take a look at the massive declines in population across north St. Louis. What the heck is going on in Jeff Vander Lou? 3509 people moved out in 10 years. That's simply staggering no matter how you cut it.

I'll quote a line from Debravka Ugresic's book "Nobody's Home":

"The beauty of the city is in the eye of the beholder. The more beholders, the
more visions of beauty."

True, we need every beholder we can get.

More than lowering crime, improving the schools, increasing the investment $$, I think we need more PEOPLE calling St. Louis home.

If more people chose this place as their home, the other things will follow. If conscientious, caring, outspoken people fill the halls with their kids, the public schools will be forced to address the issues they have. The more people that are watching the streets, the less crime we'll have. The more courageous people who take the time and effort to report crime the better the police will become. The more people here, the more money spent here.

I look forward to the 2010 census numbers. If the numbers hold true, based on the 2008 estimate. We could have our first increase in 10 year population since 1950! No matter how smalll the percentage increase, this could be a sea change for St. Louis. I hope it would be a pshycological boost, if nothing else. Or on the other side of the coin, it could simply mean we hit rock bottom in the 1990's and there nowhere left but slight ups and downs around 350,000.

So move to St. Louis and help be part of history and positive change that is occuring all over the city.

My wife and I are doing our part, we've added 3 new city residents to the population in the last 7 years through the art of breeding. Every little bit counts :)

Wave that flag hoss!

St. Louis has a cool flag.

"The design submitted by Professor Emeritus Theodore Sizer,

Pursuivant

of Arms at Yale university, and now on file in the office of the City register is approved, adopted and designated as the official flag of the City. The flag with a solid red background has two broad heraldic wavy bars, colored blue and white, extending from the left top and bottom corners toward left center where they join and continue as one to the center right edge. This symbolizes the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. Over the point of confluence a round golden disk upon which is the

fleur

-

de

-

lis

of France (blue) calling attention to the French background of the early city and more particularly to St. Louis of France for whom the City is named. The golden disk represents the City and/or the Louisiana Purchase. (

Heraldically

, the disk is a "

bezant

" or Byzantine coin signifying, money or simply purchase.)

The flag's colors recall those of Spain (red and yellow or gold), Bourbon France (white and gold), Napoleonic and Republican France (blue, white and red), and the United States of America (red, white, and blue)."

Here's my source

.

But my favorite might be the mighty flag of

Belleville

, Illinois; a place my parents raised me for 19 years.

Belleville

is a fascinating city, one that I hope to profile soon in a post I'm working on. But until then, I've just got to appreciate that sweet looking flag:

This adopted design was the winning entry in a contest to create such a flag, which was sponsored by

Belleville

Carling Brewery Company in cooperation with the

Belleville

Chamber of Commerce as part of the Sesquicentennial Year Program.The design for the flag, submitted by Fredrick L.

Lange

of

Belleville

, features a large field of black, symbolic of the area's rich soil basin. Next to the black field is a bar of yellow, representing our mineral wealth. There is next a bar of green, standing for agricultural abundance; and finally, a bar of white, representing our culture and plenty. The white post horn, used in early European postal systems, notably in Germany, is symbolic of the heritage of our area's pioneers, and also of the

Belleville

Philharmonic Orchestra, the nation's second oldest. Here's m

y source

.

Carondelet Rec Plex Update

As members of the Carondelet Family YMCA, we received a letter on October 1st from YMCA branch executive Dan Schulze.

The highlights are:
  • the facility is scheduled to open in the afternoon on November 19, 2009
  • the current facility will no longer be open after November 15, 2009
  • our rates will increase $8/month, which will help the YMCA bring new and exciting offerings to our community through this state-of-the-art facility.
  • we now have access to the South City YMCA on Sublette Ave.
  • you can check out these new offerings at Sneak Peek Week: Nov. 7-8 and 14-15 from 10 am to 4 pm and Nov. 9-13 from 9 am - 7 pm
  • there is a parade on Nov. 19 at 3 pm which will go from Loughborough and Vermont to Holly Hills then across the I-55 bridge to Carondelet Park Rec Plex. A ribbon cutting will follow.

Hamilton Heights Neighborhood

Hamilton Heights Neighborhood

The scant neighborhood website claims: "Although two-to four-family units are prevalent, a large number of larger single family homes are also present. The vast majority of the housing stock consists of brick architecture built between the years 1890 and 1920. The area offers good opportunities for housing and land redevelopment."


Sounds pretty intriguing to me, since this is my favorite time frame for housing stock in St. Louis. So what does this neighborhood look like today?

Holly Hills Volunteer Opportunity

Ever drive around the beautiful neighborhood of Holly Hills and notice all the plantings blooming throughout the year? Just check out the islands of Holly Hills Boulevard by

Carondelet

Park, or the huge planter pots along Grand and Bates and Morgan Ford. That is all due to a lot of hard work and dedication of one man (thanks Tim!) and the faithful support from the Holly Hills Improvement Association, Gateway Greening and Operation

Brightside

. Want to meet some great people and get your hands dirty:

It’s time for Fall Planting for Spring Blooms in

Holly Hills

When…Saturday,10/17, 9 am to 12ish

Where….Leona and Holly Hills

What….3700 bulbs,330 perennials,30 Shrubs

Students Today Leaders: Volunteers with Operation Brightside will be joining us to help plant the Holly Hills Neighborhood.

Come on out and join us, many hands make light work. Bring a shovel, bring a friend, or make new friends.

Thanks to all,

Tim Bolt…. Holly Hills Improvement Association

Daydream #380

Wouldn't it be great if the new Metro president could revolutionize the way Metro is structured for funding and to whom Metro is tasked with providing services to? A whole new philosophy for providing light rail and bus service to the metropolitan region.

By that I mean, a new strategy where Metro focuses on St. Louis and St. Clair County (the 2 regions that appear to value light rail and bus service). Remove St. Louis county from the overall funding and voting equation. The county voters have consistently voted down Metrolink light rail expansion and funding for Metro. Why not let the counties go to a fee for service where STL, St. Charles, Franklin, Jefferson counties would only get limited service from Metro and they would pay for it directly. All federal and state general funds would go directly to Metro who would in turn focus strictly on St. Louis City/Metro East light rail expansion and limited/focused/phased down bus service. Doesn't that make sense?

I think the county has made it clear that they do not value public transportation, so let's allow Metro to focus on those that do.

I'd like to see a comprehensive plan in my lifetime to immediately focus on connecting all parts of the city with light rail and scale back bus services. This only seems possible if we have a change in leadership and philosophies on the role of public transport in the metropolitan region. This only seems possible if we focus on St. Louis and the metro east. Let the sprawling regions pay for the services their people truly want. If St. Charles doesn't want buses and light rail, fine. If St. Louis county doesn't want it fine. Let them pick and choose who/where gets limited services. Maybe just a rush hour rapid bus service to the main employment pods would make more sense for those regions. Let the city operate 24/7 with the most expansive and comprehensive service. This would allow St. Louis to leverage itself as THE best public transit option and connected city in the region. This might draw those that value public transport to the city from the surrounding regions.

Metrolink is great at getting people to major entertainment attractions and institutions, we need to focus now on getting people to and from work and school via light rail and short walks.

Hey, I can dream can't I?