Could there possibly be an accessory as distinguishing as a pipe? It doesn't just say you're suave; it says you're discriminating. You don't take RJ Reynolds' word on your tobacco; you handpick a blend to match your favorite pipe, be it a hand-carved Italian number or a more modern German nine-millimeter with replaceable filters. You don't take quick, dirty drags off of a cigarette; you puff smoke rings as you ponder life (or the new Stereolab album).
If this sounds like you, then the St. Louis Pipe Club's sixteenth annual Gateway Area Pipe Show and Swap is your bag. Regardless of whether you're a first-time smoker or a collector with a mantel full of antique pipes, you'll find something there to fit your personality. Then once you've broken in your new pipe, don't just stay home -- how are you supposed to look like the coolest professor on campus (you know, the one who all the coeds want to be their "mentor") if no one can see you? Your best bet is to frequent Dressel's (419 North Euclid Avenue, 314-361-1060), the Central West End pub beloved by poetry grad students and serious smokers. The cozy upstairs loft (a.k.a. the Pub Above) allows pipes anytime (the main bar allows them after 10 p.m.), so you can puff away while listening to the Whole Sick Crew play or while discussing the latest foreign film with a fellow intellectual.
The Pipe Show and Swap is on Saturday, February 21, at the St. Louis Airport Hilton (10330 Natural Bridge Road) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call 636-946-8555. -- Niles Baranowski
Walkin' Like a Panther
Where are all the revolutionaries these days? Is the mainstream press just not covering them, or is no one keeping the fire burning? Whatever the situation may be, we need more people fighting the good fight now. If you're looking for a catalyst to spur you into action, go hear Bobby Seale speak at 6:30 p.m. in the Meridian Ballroom on the campus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (I-270 and Route 157; 618-797-1475). Seale, along with Huey Newton, founded the Black Panther party in 1966 to provide social services for black neighborhoods and defend them against police brutality, and his lecture will clarify historical inaccuracies about the mission of the Panthers. The lecture is free, but seating is limited. -- Guy Gray
See Dick Scheme
The hero might be victorious, but the bad guys are always more fun. This is the lure of Shakespeare's Richard III, the tale of the eponymous Duke of Gloucester who connived and murdered his way onto the British throne. A bitter, deformed man (he's described as an "abortive, rooting hog") who is able to be at once deceitful and charming, Richard III remains Shakespeare's consummate villain, all the more chilling for having actually lived.
Share the evil when the Acting Company performs Richard III at 7:30 p.m. in the Touhill Performing Arts Center on the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus (8001 Natural Bridge Road, 314-516-4949). Tickets are $16 to $32. -- Niles Baranowski
It's All Made Up
Your cure for common boredom, the Lemp Neighborhood Arts Center (3301 Lemp Avenue, 314-771-1096), offers an evening of intelligent, socially responsible music to fight those February doldrums. The New Music and Improvisation Workshop ($5 cover) features students from the School for Designing a Society, who will present their new ideas about life and how best to live it through plays, electro-acoustic music and spoken-word performances. LNAC main man Mark Sarich will also be performing his solo cello piece, "skin," which he describes as being performed "at the threshold of audibility." This means ear plugs will not be required, and an open mind will aid all listeners. Prepare to be surprised at 8 p.m. -- Paul Friswold