After watching the horrors of Hurricane Katrina unfold last week, most of us felt sick and helpless. Couldn't give money yet, since no dollar amount could save those losing their lives. Couldn't offer help yet, because many too many people were trapped. But now, some of these immediate problems are over, and help and money are desperately needed. But so is fellowship: After witnessing a horrible tragedy, many people need to talk about what they've seen; they need to let out all their grief and sorrow -- they need to give thanks that many people are OK and safe now. And what better way to do so than among friends over a good meal?
Fortunately, this Thursday and Friday, September 8 and 9, more than 100 area establishments have signed on to donate a portion of their sales (percentages and levels of participation vary; for example, Cyrano's, pictured, is offering a 25 percent donation both nights, which is one of the most generous contribution levels) to the Salvation Army and the Marshall Faulk Foundation Katrina Relief Fund. Faulk is a New Orleans native and wants to specifically help those who lived in his old home, the Desire Housing Projects in the devastated Ninth Ward.
For a list of participating restaurants, visit www.stlkatrinarelief.com. And when you call for your recommended reservations, be sure to mention "Sauce Katrina Relief Effort." -- Alison Sieloff
Beans or No Beans?
That is the question
Bringing forth the best in humanity, chili cook-offs have spawned aprons emblazoned with "inspiring" messages like "May the Forks Be with You" (groan), a cornucopia of fart jokes (hooray!) and a sense of superiority that comes with deftly adding just one more clove of garlic to your culinary masterpiece. See (and hear) it all from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., when 75 of the Midwest's chili-lovin' chefs vie to win the 30th annual Chili Cook-Off & Salsa Competition at Westport Plaza (I-270 and Page Avenue, Maryland Heights; www.westportstl.com). After a $7 entry fee, you pay just 50 cents per chili-or-salsa sample. Plus, there'll be live music, dancing and crafts -- and the event benefits the National Kidney Foundation, which makes it all the more flatulent. Er, fabulous. Fabulous. Call the foundation at 314-961-2828 for more information. -- Kristie McClanahan
Look back in wonder
James Kenyon and Sagar Mitchell were a clever pair of filmmakers working in England in the early days of the twentieth century. Setting their cameras in the street and at carnivals, the men would film crowds passing by, trying to capture as many faces as possible in the space of two minutes. Their reasoning was simple: The more people in frame, the greater the potential audience, as people would come to watch the film just to see if they could spot themselves on the screen. What was a novelty (and moneymaker) in Edwardian England is now a priceless document of a bygone era, as the recently rediscovered films of Mitchell and Kenyon show everyday life from more than a century past. Street scenes and sporting events, parades of dignitaries and masses of factory workers heading home, tram rides through streets and shots of rooftops reveal the breadth of everyday life in Industrial Britain. Electric Edwardians: The Films of Mitchell & Kenyon screens at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park (314-655-5299 or www.slam.org), and unlike in the old days, admission is free. -- Paul Friswold
You already know that this weekend (September 9 through 11) -- specifically, Friday (from 5 to 10 p.m.), Saturday (from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.) and Sunday (from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) -- is the free Saint Louis Art Fair in Clayton (314-863-0278 or www.saintlouisartfair.com). And you also know that the huge fair offers tons of art and music, good eats along Brentwood Boulevard, a Creative Castle just for kids and even a Poetry Garden. But people probably don't know that on Saturday evening the fair sets up an adults-only Art Studio, where non-kids can explore knitting, on-the-wheel pottery, glass-bead making and more. Finally, adults get to have some fun, too! -- Alison Sieloff