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today ::
posted :: 26-June-2001

"Key to the Highway"
— John Lee Hooker

"Carmina Burana"
—Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra & Chorus.
Venice Café.

:: the journal :: < last :: next >
* The Great Arch...
[06.21.01 ST. LOUIS]
L to R: Doug, Jim, Denny, Michelle, Lor (our host), Cathrine. Seated: Hope, Troy, Shawn. [BIGGER]

[SAINT LOUIS, MISSOURI] :: Saint Louis is a city divided. It sits astride two states. A railroad, a highway and a river, runs through it. Within the larger city, small, incorportated townships post signs proclaiming ownership of narrow sections of public roadway. These are further subdivided into neighborhoods defined along ethnic, cultural and economic boundaries. "What (high) school are you from?" is a common opening line and sports is a major preoccupation. OUR team is number ONE! It is the affinity group territorial imperative in action.

There is a giant Arch here. It is 630 feet high and 630 feet wide… a community symbol of unity not attained. Not far away is a sizable earth mound, constructed by early American Indians. Just across the highway is another mound… a land-fill for the refuse of Saint Louis, which will eventually exceed the height of the Indian mound.

Saint Louis is also a city with a lot of old buildings. Once boasting a population of over 800,000, it is now less than half of that. The Silver Seed followed old Route 66 into Saint Louis. Route 66 was the first transcontinental roadway… it's the mother highway of them all. After docking safely in a semi-abandoned section of town, I called the Burning Man regional contact and established a meeting place at a nearby café, which would have suitable character for a small gathering.

[06.21.01 ST. LOUIS]
In the Venice Cafe rest room with Danger Ranger. [BIGGER]

The Venice Café is a work of art. The original building was constructed in 1892 and the interior and adjoining patio bar are a continuing work of art in progress. Mozaics of inlaid tile, collections of old hardware and found items are intermixed with wall paintings, stone works, fountains, wooden crafts and mixed media. In the basement you can find a monkey cage with Chewbacca and Barbie cavorting au-natural in a miniature jungle.

The evening's discussions ranged from the usual Burning Man stories to such subjects as using webcams in the Amazon forest to protect endangered resources and how the hidden message of consumerism is embedded in The Matrix.

[06.21.01 ST. LOUIS]
Grafitti wall. [BIGGER]

Just before sunset, we piled into several vehicles and made a group excursion to the rivers edge where we drove along a one-mile long wall covered with graffiti. Panel after panel of some of the most elaborate and well-done graffiti.

[06.21.01 ST. LOUIS]
Art camper [BIGGER]
[06.21.01 ST. LOUIS]
Art truck [BIGGER]

Our tour of the city streets turned up a few art cars and some examples of guerrilla art on the sidewalk. There is a growing community of burning culture in Saint Louis… in spite of itself.

The only sports I watch are the games that I play. The only labels I wear are the ones I create.

-Danger Ranger




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