Michael Miles' willingness to trespass is our gain. The young Maplewood photographer snapped photos of the embryonic Page Avenue Extension and the diminishing natural environment surrounding it on Sundays, when construction workers were away from the site. The result, a photo essay called The Price of Progress: The Page Avenue Extension, is a brilliant example of how a good photographer, working with black-and-white film, can find beauty in the most gritty setting. Miles' photos of cranes towering above trees, half-finished bridges and overpasses have a ghostly resonance, and they may make you think about the trade-off between the construction of thoroughfares and the destruction of nature, too. Attend a reception at the UM-St. Louis Public Policy Research Center (Room 362, Social Sciences Building, 8001 Natural Bridge Road) from noon-1 p.m. today, or check out the art from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Center's gallery, through Nov. 18 (314-516-5273, pprc.umsl.edu).
Thursday, September 18
It takes a very, shall we say, peculiar individual to look at an apple and think, "yes, it looks tempting -- but it would be even more so if it were much smaller and less juicy." All would-be Dr. Shrinkees are invited to Whole Foods Market (1601 South Brentwood Boulevard, call 314-968-7744 to register) tonight for How 'Bout THEM Apples?, a $10 class explaining the intricacies of cooking with apples, including dehydration. There will be samples of different types of apples, recipes for apple dishes and nutritional information, but that's just the decorative frill on the apple pie, so to speak. Once you have mastered the esoteric art of dehydration, you shall have the world in your palm! A tiny, dehydrated world, suitable for packing in a brown bag lunch with its teensy brethren, or for snacking on while in the car.
Friday, September 19
Is there a nerd in this country who can't quote ad nauseam from Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Is there anyone out there who didn't just yelp "Ni!" when they read that last line? Ah, Pythons, you wrecked the finest minds of several generations with your eternal classic. It's about quests, rabbits, foul-mouthed French caricatures and, yes, "Knights Who Say 'Ni.'" You either get it, or you're dead inside. The St. Louis Art Museum (Forest Park, 314-721-0072, www.slam.org) screens the greatest historical (low-budget) epic of all time tonight at 7 p.m., tickets are $5, and the best part is, this is somehow associated with the Museum's Ford Free Friday Night series on "Court and Chivalry." OOO-Kay...
Saturday, September 20
More than 5,000 people clogged the area around Gore and Lockwood avenues at last year's Old Webster Jazz & Blues Festival to see our local bluesmen and jazzwomen break it down, and the fest returns today to what will surely be another big-ass crowd. At one of the stages you'll find Jazz Legacy, the Tim Garcia Trio featuring scat vocalist Valerie Tichacek, the Webster University Faculty Jazz Band, Soulard Blues Band and 8 p.m. closing act Johnnie Johnson and friends, featuring Fontella "Rescue Me" Bass. The other stage features the jazz-playing kids of Webster Groves High School, the Knights of Swing Big Band, Buddy West & the Paradise Orchestra and the Genesis Jazz Project. Don't forget the kids' activities and sales of food and drink, from 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Bring a lawn chair; admission is free (314-962-4142, www.oldwebsterjazzfestival.com).
Sunday, September 21
If they gave out some sort of award for best family attraction in the metro area, The River City Rascals and their home, T.R. Hughes Stadium, would be hard to beat. With cheap hot dogs, a playground, dunk tank, easily obtained player autographs and great views of the action from every seat, the Rascals games pack 'em in at the O'Fallon, Mo., ballpark. The summer may be history, but the park continues to host family events, like this weekend's Music and Movies with the Rascals. Show up Saturday or today for live music at 5 p.m., followed by showing of flicks on a giant screen at 7 p.m. Bring your plastic extendo-light saber for Saturday's movie, Star Wars, and your bullwhip for tonight's film, Raiders of the Lost Ark. Admission is free, you can sit in the stands or on the field (bring lawn chairs or blankets) and food and drink will be on sale (Ozzie Smith Drive at Tom Ginnever Avenue, 636-240-BATS, www.rivercityrascals.com).
Monday, September 22
The measure of a jazz musician, arguably, is how many groups call him up and ask him to jam with their collective. The musicians of the Paul DeMarinis Quartet must be good, because they're in demand. Saxophonist DeMarinis has played with Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Tony Bennett, the Temptations, the Four Tops and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Bassist Dan Eubanks has jammed with Dangerous Kitchen, Ptah Williams and the dozen or so combos comprised of fellow Webster University jazz instructors. Trumpeter Mike Parkinson and drummer Kyle Honeycutt get around, too (we hear). Hear the quartet perform new originals by DeMarinis at 7 p.m. at Webster University's Moore Auditorium (470 East Lockwood Avenue, $3, 314-968-7128).
Tuesday, September 23
You know something has gone terribly wrong with the lunatic fringe in this country when a book entitled The New Joy of Gay Sex can only make it to number 28 on the top 100 list of Most Frequently Challenged Books, but the Harry Potter series can place in the top ten. Compounding the puzzlement is the fact that former Poet Laureate of the United States Maya Angelou's renowned I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ranks third on that same list. But then you shake your head and remember that banning books, or even attempting to ban books, is never going to make sense: this is America, and the First Amendment protects all of us from would-be thought police and mother hens. But that doesn't stop 'em from trying, and so you have to flex your rights every now and then. Banned Books Week is this week, and tonight, you can participate by attending the free readings from frequently challenged books with a lesbian/gay/bi/ transgendered focus at Left Bank Books (399 North Euclid Avenue, 314-367-6731) at 7:30 p.m. Guest readers include Pam Schneider of the Vital Voice and Anthony Galloway of St. Louis Black Pride, and the emcee is the scrumptious Dieta Pepsi. Someday, your kids will thank you for going.