Last weekend a Facebook fan page sprang up for Mississippi Nights, which St. Louisans recall as the much-beloved Laclede's Landing venue that closed in January 2007. Hinting that the venue will reopen in 2010, the page advertised $2,500 "VIP packages" that would net a buyer free tickets, premium parking and other perks, and it linked to a website called mississippinightslive.com, which is focused on "The History of Mississippi Nights."
Don't consider the return of Mississippi Nights a done deal, though.
"In this environment, I hate to put a timeline out there, to be very honest with you," says Jay Simon, a partner in the embryonic endeavor.
Simon's company, Metropolitan Design & Building Co., co-owns the Laclede Power Building, the proposed site of the new nightspot. The large, red-brick structure, located at the far north end of the Landing, was built in 1901 to supply electricity to the 1904 World's Fair. It is co-owned by Trailnet, a local nonprofit that promotes the merits of physical activity in everyday life.
Simon is partnering with Trailnet to redevelop the Laclede Power Center into what the latter's website describes as "an ideal location for bicyclists, in-line skaters, joggers, hikers, fishermen, history enthusiasts, and nature watchers to enjoy one of the planet's largest river systems." The nonprofit's offices are to be located in the building; Mississippi Nights would also be a tenant.
"We're close to putting things in motion," Simon says of the Mississippi Nights component. "But it's always one step forward, two steps back. We've been keeping a very low profile on time, just because I want to have I's dotted and T's crossed before I really give a timeline.
"Let's put it this way: We've already been close to the closing table, and it got pushed, and I don't want to ride that roller coaster publicly," he adds, laughing.
Similar disclaimers are uttered by the man behind the Facebook page, Jim Callahan. An alum of the '80s local act Big Fun and owner of Jupiter Studios in midtown, Callahan is slated to be director of operations of the new Nights. He says a fall 2010 opening would be a best-case scenario.
Callahan envisions the new venture as "reminiscent of the House of Blues" and hopes to include a restaurant, a live recording booth in the basement and a VIP area. Other proposed amenities: a beer garden, a balcony and a deck overlooking the Mississippi River. Capacity will be 1,000 to 1,200.
"When we lost Mississippi Nights, there was a giant hole that was left right in the music scene of St. Louis," Callahan says. "Being in Jupiter Studios, it's a natural next progression to go from having a full recording schedule into creating a live-music venue.
"Me personally, I'm looking for new challenges that are in the music industry, and it just sounds like a lot of fun — to get out of the recording part and start getting into the live end," he adds.
Gwendolyn Moore, Trailnet's project manager for the Laclede Power Building, has not responded to an e-mail request for comment.
Despite the name, the proposed club is not affiliated with the former Mississippi Nights. That nightclub, located at 914 North First Street, was razed to make room for the Lumière Place casino and hotel complex.
"People should just know that this is a new venue, this has nothing to do with Mississippi Nights, the old place," emphasizes original Mississippi Nights co-owner Rich Frame. "Nobody's involved with it from our end."
There's also the question of whether the venue can open under the name "Mississippi Nights." Simon says it "absolutely" can, noting that he trademarked the name "within the last year."
Tim Weber, booker for the original Mississippi Nights, sees things differently.
"They have absolutely no right to use the name," asserts Weber. "And they certainly have no right to use the logo. There's a reason they didn't go out and buy mississippinights.com — it's because we still own it. All you can really do with trademarks is register them, and registering them gives you no more protection than simply using the name. We have 27 years of using the name.
"I don't know Jim Callahan, I've met him a few times," Weber goes on. "But he's never had any association with Mississippi Nights — none. Not even a little bit. I hope he does well in everything, I just hope he doesn't try and call it 'Mississippi Nights.'"
We'll keep you updated.
Places White People Like to Live
Money magazine recently came out with its listing of the top 100 Best Places to Live. The magazine ranks towns with populations of 8,500 to 50,000 on education, crime scores, housing prices and employment.
Coming in at No. 9 this year is Lake St. Louis. The poll's authors note that the community in St. Charles County boasts two man-made lakes, along with five parks, three golf courses and a 650-horse equestrian center. But it also has a couple flaws: Residents must pony up $450 per family to enjoy the perks of the community association, and the city is located near a soon-to-be-shuttered General Motors plant.
Other nearby cities to make the list: Ellisville (No. 25), Jackson, Missouri (No. 59), and Glen Carbon, Illinois (No. 91).
I know the magazine places zero emphasis on diversity, architecture and culture when conducting its poll, but c'mon. Are any of the places listed above anywhere that you'd choose to live? (An exception might be made for No. 8 Peachtree City, Georgia, where children can drive golf carts to school along the city's 90 miles of wooded golf-cart paths.)
That said, isn't it time Money magazine comes up with a more attention-grabbing — and realistic — name for its annual poll? Perhaps something like, "Great Places Where Black People Don't Live," or maybe "100 Modern Mayberrys."
Is MySpace Dead Yet?
Even with fewer and fewer people using it, MySpace is still a behemoth. The social-media company has over 125 million users and is still clocking about 70 million page views a month. Its revenue averages $250 million a year.
But none of this really means anything without some context, and the announcement last month that the News Corp.-owned site would lay off 30 percent of its work force might have given a clue as to which direction things are headed. That's because even at $250 million in annual revenue —five times that of its closest rival, Facebook — MySpace is still losing money.
And anyone who uses the Internet on a regular basis can tell you that most people just don't use MySpace that much anymore. Those 125 million MySpace users are pretty much the same ones it had six months ago, and Facebook is kicking its butt with a user base of 250 million.
Yep, it's becoming clearer every day that Rupert Murdoch bought a dog when it picked up MySpace for $580 million in 2005.
Now Murdoch didn't become a billionaire by buying media that loses money. So he must have a plan for turning the "Place for Friends" around, right? Of course he does. The 78-year-old media mogul dropped some hints at an annual meeting of media and technology executives in Sun Valley, Idaho. The Wall Street Journal (also owned by Murdoch) reported that Murdoch (in his best 1990s Internet speak) believes people need an online "entertainment portal" to find entertainment and related information.
Umm, thanks, Rupert. There isn't any place like that now on the Internet! Obviously, Murdoch has almost no clue what is going on with MySpace, other than that it's losing money.
A Philly Fanatic's Rant
Poor Marty Prather, he of the immaculate signs at Busch Stadium. During All-Star Week, one of Prather's placards with a wrong word choice got picked up by the Philadelphia sports blog, the Fightins.
In composing his sign that read, "Welcome to the Baseball Capitol of the World," Prather should have used the word "capital," as in a city that serves as the official seat of government, and not "capitol," which means the building that houses a government's legislature.
Now Phillies fans are letting Prather and his questionable word usage have it. Here's what one nitpicking fan (Will H.) writes on www.thefightins.com:
st. louis and their love afair (sic) with themselves is irritating. no one thinks so highly of themselves more than cardinals fans. who the hell labels themself (sic) the baseball capital/capitol of the world? next time the game comes to philly, im going to make an expensive, awkward sign too. "welcome to philly, fuck you all"
Umm, Mr. H., "afair" and "themself." Look who's talking.