LIFE'S RICH PAGEANT: Joe Edwards, owner of Blueberry Hill and the Tivoli Theatre, is in the process of making a foray into St. Louis city with the announcement that he and Pat Hagin of Pagan Music will build and open a nightclub, the Pageant, on the space once occupied by the Wabash Triangle Cafe. Located east of Skinker on Delmar between the Delmar MetroLink station and the University City Loop, the site is seen as a bridge that will connect the station with the Loop.
Named after a theater that was once located in the area (though a bit farther east), the structure will contain the club, two ground-floor retail spaces and two floors of office space. The nightclub will have a flexible capacity of 750-1,500 people, depending on the type of show. "It's going to be a first-class venue built from the ground up," says Edwards. "It will be as good or better than anything in the Midwest, or anyplace -- at least that's the goal."
The announcement promises to change the St. Louis nightlife atmosphere on a number of fronts. Until a few weeks ago, Hagin's expertise in booking music in the St. Louis area had been divided between Blueberry Hill's Duck Room and, for the past 19 years, Mississippi Nights. Hagin recently quit Mississippi Nights to devote his full attention to the Pageant and the Duck Room. And Mississippi Nights would seem to be the club most affected by this announcement: The Pageant will have a similar capacity, will be located in an area seen as more desirable to the concertgoing public, and is being booked by an ex-employee of the Nights. Mississippi Nights owner Rich Frame says the Pageant is entering a difficult club marketplace and is perhaps making an assumption based on rumors surrounding the future of his club: "I wish them well. I wouldn't count on Mississippi Nights' not being around, though, because who knows? If I thought we weren't going to be around, I wouldn't be making the investment of putting in a new PA. Joe's a good guy. I hope he knows what he's doing; I don't envy him."
Perhaps more important for the big picture, though, is the extension of the Loop eastward into St. Louis proper. Since MetroLink opened, it has always been viewed as simply a matter of time before the Loop extended to connect the station with the hipster shops in the U. City Loop, and the construction of the Pageant will expedite this expansion. "I think it really will attract a lot of retail stores and restaurants," says Edwards. "It's pretty natural. The Loop is almost 100 percent (capacity), and if it happens the way I think it will, it'll be great. I think it will be a nationally recognized area as far as people, when they come to St. Louis, taking the MetroLink out from the Adam's Mark or other hotels. And when they extend it into Belleville, it'll be great for people in Illinois to come over."
Edwards' "eternally optimistic" goal is for the Pageant to be finished and open before the end of the year. (RR)
CHANNEL 77, WHERE ARE YOU? Radio ain't what it used to be, or is it? For anyone awake, semialert and anxious to hear "two hangmen, hanging from a tree" just one more time, tune in 77 on the dial -- that's AM, not FM. Mark Klose is back on the airwaves after leaving KSD (93.7 FM) a few weeks back. This time, Klose, who started on KSHE (94.7) in 1972, is back in total control, mostly. He and Steve Mosier, former mogul at Majic when it was 108, have "bought" the 6-10 a.m. drivetime at the second-oldest radio station in the nation, WEW. (When the station was launched in 1921, the Jesuits, who owned it, said the call letters stood for "We Enlighten the World.") In this incarnation, the show, dubbed Channel 77, will be the product of the "two-man band" of Klose and Mosier. "We'll program it, play it, and go out and sell it," says Klose. "We don't need no stinking format." Klose promises "St. Louis classics" in rock, country-rock, blues, Motown, jazz -- tunes out of the normal FM fare. An example? "I'm going to take Crosby, Stills and Nash, but instead of playing 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,' I'll go deep and play, like, '49 Bye-Byes' or 'Guinevere.'" Guess "deep" is a relative term. Could be worse -- at least it isn't "Almost Cut My Hair." In the good ol' days at KSHE, Klose recalls, if you were on during a rainy morning, you could play two hours of rain music. (Gee, this is something that is best put behind us -- hearing the dreary "Riders on the Storm" by the Doors or, worst of all, "Ridin' the Storm Out" by the insidious REO Speedwagon.) Oh, well. At least Klose will be doing what he wants, and if you don't like it, call him or stop by to complain at the converted two-family flat at Hampton and Southwest avenues from which WEW broadcasts. "They took out the kitchen sink and put in a control board," says Klose. And the best thing about his show? There's still no J.C. Yesss.
CREDIT WHERE IT'S NOT DUE: Per usual, city-school officials brought the state's accreditation team to Metro High School first, as if it were "Exhibit A" of the district's performance instead of an anomaly. Whatever the city school district did last week, and there'll be more on this later, it seems for now to have dodged the accreditation bullet, pardon the unfortunate metaphor. Word has it a "provisional accreditation" is in store, because the resources seem OK; it's just those troublesome abysmal test scores. But let's consider Metro, where the incoming class consists of only "good" students in the traditional sense of the word. If you've had a D in the previous two years, don't apply. If you've had any attendance or discipline problems, don't apply. If you don't score well on standardized tests, don't apply. So, let's get this straight: Metro takes in exemplary students with few or no problems as freshmen and turns out exemplary students with few or no problems as seniors. Where's the trick in that? It would be worthy of note if somehow they screwed them up in four years. All Metro proves is that if you have a group of students who score well on tests, get good grades and don't cause much trouble, then isolate them, they'll stay the same. Big deal. If only the district had something that approached success in the real world of public education, where the classroom can't be that insulated from reality -- that would be worth showing off.
WHAT'S IN A HEAD? NOT MUCH: Who was the knucklehead who wrote the headline on Tom Wheatley's mundane musings on the DeSmet-Vashon game? The headline, at best, was misleading: "Class and civility won in DeSmet, Vashon game." DeSmet won 70-64, so at first glance the Marxists among us thought the head meant that the well-behaved-Gap-wearing-ofay-ruling-class types from the pastoral suburbs had defeated the criminally inclined central-city types who happened to have darker pigmentation. But no, no, no, the Sunday P-D isn't that obviously crass. The headline topped off yet another dull and routine Wheatley piece, which concluded that because no fights broke out during the game, uh, class -- as in showing some class -- and civility -- as in being polite -- "won" out over having no class and displaying incivility. But who reads the article before the headline to discover that? No one, save the headline writer. If Wheatley was looking to cite the class chasm between the two schools, suffice it to say this: DeSmet won the state championship in lacrosse this year; Vashon -- well, let's just say the Wolverines don't have a contingent playing lacrosse. Good thing for DeSmet they don't.
SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL, PART 2: Susan Turk is both a dream and a nightmare to the city's public schools. She is an involved parent, an entity the city schools need and want desperately. Yet when she speaks, she has a blistering and relentless way of attacking the district's shortcomings and highlighting aspects it would just as soon downplay. Turk, whose son has attended magnet and nonmagnet schools, spoke in court last week opposing the settlement that was accepted by U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh. Her main gripe is that the settlement guarantees that even if the overall funding for city schools declines, the funding for magnet schools will not be cut for the next 10 years. That means that any cut in funding will result in deeper cuts in the nonmagnet schools because the magnet schools will be spared. These are excerpts of Turk's statement, given before the judge: "The settlement agreement is not fair, adequate or reasonable because it preserves the long-standing policy of unequal funding for different classes of schools.... The amount of funding a school gets directly affects the quality of education received by the students attending that school. Schools funded at different levels cannot dispense an equal quality of education.... If the magnet schools are not included, cuts will have to be deeper. What would have been a 2 percent across the board cut will become disproportionately greater for the non-magnet schools. Since the majority of the children attend the non-magnet schools, this is not fair."
Also, Turk thinks there is not enough money in the settlement to provide reasonable salaries for teachers or to hire more staff to lower the pupil-to-teacher ratio: "My son's magnet school lost eight teachers last year, that's one third of the teaching staff. Those teachers received raises from $5,000 to $12,000 a year at their new jobs. Two more have left since September. One class has had five teachers this year, two permanents and three subs until they found a new permanent." Turk also tore into the "enforcement provisions," which she called "toothless." Although she points out that there is no budget for the oversight committee, word outside the hearing was that the Danforth Foundation might come to the rescue again. Stay tuned.
In closing, Turk said: "This agreement does not remedy the problems in the St. Louis Public Schools, it enshrines them. Given that the children will determine the future quality of life in the city, if their education is shortchanged, the city and the entire metropolitan area will suffer when thousands of students who graduate from St. Louis public schools or who fail to graduate are unable to contribute to the area's economy.... This settlement is a retreat from, and a phasing out of yet-to-be-completed remedies agreed upon in 1983. It is not just that it is not a perfect solution, it is an abandonment of the commitment to repair the damage done by 150 years of deliberate denial of equal educational opportunity. This is a return to separate and unequal. The funding is allocated unfairly, the funding is not adequate, the enforcement provisions are toothless, therefore it is most certainly not reasonable."
Even those signing off on the agreement weren't trying to make the settlement out to be more than it was. William Taylor, the long-suffering lawyer for the NAACP out of Washington, D.C., told Judge Limbaugh that the agreement was "anything but a sweetheart deal" for any of the parties involved. Asked by the judge to describe how the negotiations went and how it was settled, Taylor resorted to quoting the inimitable Samuel Johnson by saying, "When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." In other words, with all the parties facing the gallows, they came up with a settlement. We'll see who's left hanging.
EYES WIDE OPEN: One of the best programs on KETC (Channel 9) comes at 10:30 p.m. It's called World News for Public Television, and it's produced in London by ITN, the Independent Television Network. Aired by PBS stations throughout the United States, it started on Channel 9 on Jan. 4. If anyone wants an international perspective on what's going on, well, internationally, tune in. A brief bonus occurred last week when the show ran a bit about the new Stanley Kubrick flick, Eyes Wide Shut. It's all the more urgent and timely because Kubrick just died. As the newsreader droned on, lo and behold, on the screen behind him, any Channel 9 viewer could view, simultaneously, the bare front (from the waist up) and the bare backside (from mid-thigh up) of Nicole Kidman. Kubrick, bless him, pulled this off by directing a naked Kidman to stand in front of a dresser-top mirror. As the shot progresses, hubby and co-star Tom Cruise enters from stage right. He's seemingly sans clothing also. They embrace, kiss. End of shot. This is the scene Kubrick selected as the trailer for what will be his last movie. Imagine Channel 4's Larry Conners doing a lead-in to this news clip with the image of Nicole behind him, in the buff. Other stations that showed the clip, including CNN, scrambled the video in crucial areas (derriere and breasts) so that the bare shoulders of Tom and Nicole were suggestive of the other things on display. Who says there's no role for public television?
Written by Randall Robert and D.J. Wilson. E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.