The beauty of shopping in NYC lies not just in gawking at the wonder that is the Prada "museum" but also in getting some super bargains shopping at the street vendors' "stores." Ahh, Kate Spade purse, you have never been so cheap. But unfortunately, knockoff stuff is bad, bad, bad, especially when it has to do with furniture. In other words: When you pay top dollar for an Eames sofa, you'd better not be getting an Eemes. And that's the point that Herman Miller wants to illustrate for you with its traveling Get Real exhibit showing now at Centro Modern Furnishings (4727 McPherson Avenue; 314-454-0111 or www.centro-inc.com). Come by today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or any day before Wednesday, September 15, to learn how to distinguish real, good design from a copy of real good design. And not only that, but you also get to see a bunch of Eames, Nelson, Noguchi and Aalto stuff all at the same time. Too bad you can't afford fancy furniture.
Thursday, September 9
America likes to tout itself as the Melting Pot, but we're not the only country made up of immigrants. Israel also sports a culture of many backgrounds and ethnicities, a fact celebrated in the new show at the Craft Alliance (6640 Delmar Boulevard; 314-725-1177), Material Culture: Craft of Israel. Works in ceramic, jewelry, glass, fiber and other crafty materials created by Mexican-Israeli, Russian-Israeli, Palestinian-Israeli and other hyphen-Israeli artisans showcase the diversity of backgrounds and visions represented by the current Israeli artistic community. Many of these artists are making their American debut, which adds to the novelty of this exhibit. The show opens with a free reception from 5 to 9 p.m., and the work remains on display through October 24.
Friday, September 10
20 Contemplations on the Infant Jesus: An Homage to Olivier Messiaen is a heavy-duty name for an art show. Jesus is a big-time subject, Messiaen is a titan of musical composition and when you factor in the name of the show, baroque religious overload comes to mind. Artist Daniel P. Ramirez is a minimalist, however, so the gravitas of his subjects will be portrayed through a set of twenty abstract etchings done on a small scale, on display at the Museum of Contemporary Religious Art (3700 John Connelly Plaza; 314-977-7170) through December 5. As this is the 60th anniversary of Messiaen's inspirational composition, Vingt Regards sur l'Enfant Jesus, headsets will allow guests to the show to hear Messiaen's music while viewing Ramirez's art. The show opens with a free public reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and Ramirez will be in attendance. As always, Jesus is everywhere.
Saturday, September 11
On this week's Sports/Outdoors page, you will find information about a competitive cooking event, a hot-wing contest specifically. And right here you will find information about one more: the 29th Annual Missouri Chili Cook-off & Salsa Competition. This benefit for the National Kidney Foundation runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Westport Plaza (I-270 and Page Avenue). Watch and taste as 75 local chefs compete in this "grilling" contest (ha ha). With an inflatable obstacle course for the kids (not the chefs) and adult beverages, well, for the adults, everyone should leave with a smile and a full belly. But don't leave before hearing Dr. Zhivegas, the Ralph Butler Band and Gumbohead; listening and voting are free but admission costs $5, and chili and salsa samples cost two quarters apiece (there's other food there for the sellin' too). Call 314-961-2828 or visit www.nkfstl.com for more info.
Sunday, September 12
The St. Louis football season officially begins at noon, with a special gift from the NFL: The Rams defend their turf against the team whose turf this used to be. The dismal Arizona Cardinals, traitors to St. Louis, betrayers of our civic love, quitters of the first order, come to the Edward Jones Dome (Broadway and Washington Avenue) to get their lunch eaten by the St. Louis Rams (who no doubt face similar charges in their once-native LA). This is a bittersweet match-up, even after more than a decade of separation. Forgive and forget? That's not the football way. This is personal, deep-seated hatred. St. Louisans shall lustily boo their inept exes, and not just because they're the visiting team. Single-game tickets are $42 and $51, and they're available by calling 314-241-1888.
Monday, September 13
Raise your hand if you have approximately 100 billion little tiny flying ladybugs in your house. All right, put your hands down now. At first you probably thought these wee ones were cute -- until they kept multiplying. And multiplying. And multiplying some more. Maybe you can learn about how to control these brownish Asian ladybugs at Crestwood's Wildlife Blues nuisance wildlife program, where Mark Casaleggi of ABC Animal and Insect Innovations discusses how to boss both bothersome wildlife and insects. The free program is held at Crestwood's Community Center in Whitecliff Park (9245 Whitecliff Park Lane) at 7:30 p.m. Because seating is limited (the ladybugs are taking up too much space there too, probably), register before tonight at 314-729-4860. Reclaim your home for winter! And save money on pain medicine -- your pain-in-the-ass medicine, that is.
Tuesday, September 14
When one thinks of ecological conservation, verdant forests and tropical jungles are often the first ecosystems that come to mind. But what about the deserts? These harsh environments may lack the showy grandeur of the greener zones, but they also need protection. Biologist John Newby has devoted himself to the study and preservation of the Sahara-Sahel region of the world, and he opens the 2004-2005 Zoo Friends Speaker Series with a 7:30 p.m. lecture entitled "Life on the Edge: Sahara Desert Conservation" at the Living World center in the Saint Louis Zoo. The lecture provides an excellent opportunity for the curious to learn more about the zoo's new global conservation initiative, WildCare Institute, and to meet with zoo curators. Reservations for the evening are recommended and can be made by calling 314-768-5450; admission is $3 to $8.