Left Bank Books keeps the new stuff upstairs, the used stuff downstairs and the art exhibits downstairs in the corner. The current exhibit, the strangely named Charles and Chalot Douglas-Book: An Autobiography, is a fascinating interactive journey. Loose-leaf binders mounted to the wall invite visitors to page through them. Artist Bill Russell has created the fictionalized lives of a pair of twins; within each binder, guests will find pictures and text that chronicle the youthful adventures of each child -- sexual initiations, witnessing arguments between their parents, the racism of their suburban neighborhood, etc. These diaries seem so authentic and yet, their fakeness is exposed when you notice, for instance, that what's described as an uncle's house is actually a photo of the garden courtyard at University City's Center of Contemporary Arts. Take a few minutes to immerse yourself in this free, imaginative world at Left Bank, 399 North Euclid Avenue, through July 6.
Thursday, June 26
It's not often that a children's event can be described as postmodern, but there is no other word to describe the University City Library's Barbie and Friends Fashion Show. Children of all ages are invited to bring their favorite dolls (or collectible action figures, for the boys) and said doll's "best or most unusual attire," and then strut the doll down a makeshift runway in true high-fashion style. Disproportionate, underweight mannequins made entirely of plastic, traipsing down a fashion catwalk, and they're not supermodels? That's postmodern. Barbie and her enormous wardrobe are certain to be well represented in the show, but hopefully some subversive kid will show up with a classic GI Joe wearing a ball gown, or better yet, an old Mr. T dressed as himself. What's more haute couture than a mohawk and rodeo-clown shorts? FABULOUS! The library is located at 6701 Delmar Boulevard (314-727-3150), and the show begins at 6:30 p.m. There is no charge to watch or participate.
Friday, June 27
Richard Linklater's 1993 opus Dazed and Confused, for many of us, replayed the emotions that defined high school. Girls dig the older guys, and vice-versa; little dudes are quite literally chased down and beaten by bullies; minority kids allow their race to be insulted so they can "fit in" with their "friends"; a couple hundred kids wind up at a huge, outdoor beer bash with a bonfire, where dramas, minor but memorable, play out; drugs are as common as Kool-Aid at a nursery school; and once in a blue moon, there's a brief shining moment when no one can dispute your sudden coolness. Dazed happens during a single day, the last day of high school, when insanity reigns, in the summer of 1976. The feathered hair, bell bottoms, Camaros and the occasional Foghat song reek of the '70s. Take the low road at midnight at the Tivoli Theatre, 6350 Delmar Boulevard, tonight or tomorrow, and at the same times next weekend; admission is $6. See this one sober the first time, to appreciate all its charms. On subsequent viewings, however, you may wish to become as stupid as Slater, the dedicated stoner who gets so ripped that he's barely able to stuff a huge bag of dope under his shirt before somebody's mom enters the room.
Saturday, June 28
Celebrating the anniversary of someone's death brings forth a tangled thicket of conflicting emotions: Should you be happy in celebration of their life, or sad in remembrance of their death? Well, with the 10 Year Anniversary of GG Allin's fortunate demise, there's no need for conflicting emotions. The King of Scumrock wanted to die, and he wanted to off himself on stage, so how bad can you feel about his death? True, he failed miserably with his exit, cashing out by way of the hackneyed rock and roll drug overdose, but at least he got the death part right, so we can forgive him on the location. The Hi-Pointe (1001 McCausland Avenue) remembers the man at the center of the feces hurricane with a musical performance by GG Allin tribute band the Stench. Tickets cost $5, and in honor of the "graphic nature" (meaning poo-poo and pee-pee, not sexiness) of GG's life, this is a 21 and older show. Call 314-781-4716 for show time and more info.
Sunday, June 29
Is there anything on earth more social than a dog? The little furry bounders treat every other dog they meet like a friend that's been stranded on a desert island for the past twenty years. But that's, like, 140 in their years, so maybe their enthusiasm for social intercourse (oh, behave) is understandable. Three Dog Bakery is turning the canine's love of a good get-together into a force for social change with their Ice Cream Social this Sunday, June 29. Dogs and their people are invited to come down to their Ladue location (8861 Ladue Road) from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. to purchase tickets for one dollar apiece and then exchange those tickets for things such as readings by an animal psychic, a canine cake walk, a caricaturist, and of course, dog-friendly ice cream. All the money goes to Randy Grim's Stray Rescue foundation, so buy a lot of tickets; help the dogs help each other. Call 314-726-1674 for more info.
Monday, June 30
You can count on coverage from the local news programs at the Book Chain stretching from Eden Theological Seminary's Luhr Library (475 East Lockwood Avenue) to Webster University's new Emerson Library (One Edgar Road) today. It's just too interesting a visual to pass up -- 600 people passing books from person to person across the Webster campus. The new library means a rearranging of the school's book collection, and the first 600 to sign up for the book chain each receive a "Books Move People, People Move Books" T-shirt, boxed lunch and Ted Drewes frozen custard. To volunteer, pre-register at 314-968-6959 or by e-mailing email@example.com. Meet at 10:30 a.m. at Eden, and bring a whole group.
Tuesday, July 1
Photorealistic paintings neatly split a gallery audience in two: One group finds the paintings, nearly perfect replicas of some earthly scene, to be the apex of illustration; the other bemoans the lack of abstraction, likening it to the lack of emotion. See why both sides have a point at an exhibit of prints by painter Richard Estes and new paintings by Ronald Christ at Elliot Smith Contemporary Art (4729 McPherson Avenue, 314-361-4800, free). Estes, the dean of the photorealistic painters, loves to re-create mirrored and other glass surfaces -- the reflections add to the illusion and work like a trompe l'oeil painting. He's been fooling people into thinking that they're looking at photographs for decades. Christ's work, depicting the piazzas and beige-colored slabs of traditional Italian city squares, is a bit more stylized -- a few of the paintings actually look like they could be stills from the video game MYST. ESCA recently moved one door to the west, and the gallery's new, smaller space, with its worn-look concrete floors and soft lighting, is a tidy refuge for the compelling exhibits that Smith often showcases. The current show is on view through July 19.