As a lifelong St. Louisan, Chris is very proud of his place in the St. Louis arts scene. He graduated from St. Louis University High School in 1979 and with honors from Webster University in 1985. Drawing upon his background in film studies, mass media, and public-event coordination, he has been an intergral part of many important changes to the growth and artistic directions of the St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF) and the growing number of annual film-related events produced by CSL, including the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase and an LGBT film festival called QFest. This is a dream job for Chris and he plans to keep it indefinitely by living forever. So far, so good. In June of 2011 however he was diagnosed with Stage 1E Mantle Cell Lymphoma in his throat and has been fighting the good fight against cancer ever since. While not completely done with chemotherapy treatments until July of 2013, his current good health is attributed to fierce determination, a relatively healthy lifestyle, swimming almost every day, and flinging himself headlong into the local stand up comedy scene, which had been a dream since childhood. Comedy is the best medicine after all. Chris regularly performs his scathing comedy routines several nights a week at a number of venues around the St. Louis area. He and his partner of eight years, Adrain, plus two spoiled and feisty dogs, Saki and Dahlia, live happily in Maplewood, MO. They will be married in October, 2013.
At first I was amused a year or so (maybe more?) ago when the blue accent lights first started appearing in Grand Center on Locust. That part of the hood was still far less populated with businesses open at night and/or well it. It perked things up on the lonely blocks between The Moto Museum and Triumph to Plush, then Fubar and Fountain on Locust. It fit that funky, eccentric part of Grand Center. Have you seen them? Long, bright blue neon strips along the tops of buildings. I thought at first that it was whimsical and fun.
But NOW they adorn a LOT more buildings and streetlights in all directions. It has become a hideous display of cheap lighting that mocks the grand architecture in the area. I'm all about school colors and SLU blue is near and dear to me being a Junior Billiken from SLU But wow, it looks so cheesy now that it's everywhere. It's like driving up to some crappy, highly electrified casino somewhere. Really striking is the fact that the streetlights on the west side of Compton U (SLU-ville) have them, but not the east side, which is the boundary of Harris Stowe's Campus. It looks lopsided and a bit tacky, in my humble opinion.
I'm all for safety and better lighting down there because things are really and truly jumping down there. Awesome place to go any day of the week for a huge variety of entertainment. Now decorated like a gay strip mall for your ocular enjoyment. Brought to you by St. Louis University and the Smurfs.
Well, it's not here just yet but soon will be completed. All hail one of the greatest radio stations in all the land - KDHX, 88.1 on your FM dial. After several decades on Magnolia Avenue in Tower Grove and one false start to rehab the Sun Theater at a prohibitively expensive cost, their merry band of DJ's and staff will be moving to Washington Avenue in Grand Center. Praise Jambi!
If you are not familiar with KDHX or have never listened to any of their programming, then you are a ridiculous person and should be ashamed. This is an amazing resource for St. Louis and is truly one of the last independent radio stations in the U.S. with a worldwide listenership due to that world wide interweb thingy. I used to help out from time to time on pledge drives and they would regularly get pledges from places like Iceland and England and all over the planet. Who knew the STL could be so cool? I did and so do they. That innocuous looking gray building may not look like much now, but soon it will be four full floors of awesome.
Growing up my father would often pile us into the trusty, wood-paneled family station wagon and take the family on long, lazy Sunday drives in a variety of directions and destinations. Ice cream and/or A&W Root Beer were often part of the deal. I am still not sure why we all endured the lengthy waits for one of the river ferries in Illinois like the Golden Eagle. The waits were often oppressively long for a relatively short boat ride to the other side. Hey, we were simply passengers. Despite being trapped with 5 other humans in the same vehicle for hours on end and sibling tauntings like "I'm not touching you," we did enjoy the time together.
The dogs did not seem to care about Daylight Savings Time and got me up per usual early this morning for outing #1. I myself got up and went back to bed several times. The boyfriend often sleeps in on the weekends, and was conked out until I finished my book and insisted he get up for a Sunday adventure. He was leery but humored me nonetheless. Armed with some 7-11 coffee beverages and some Google maps, off we went.
Boys and girls of every age
Wouldn't you like to see something strange?
Come with us and you will see
This, our town of Halloween
[PUMPKIN PATCH CHORUS]
This is Halloween, this is Halloween
Pumpkins scream in the dead of night
This is Halloween, everybody make a scene
Trick or treat till the neighbors gonna die of fright
It's our town, everybody scream
In this town of Halloween
I'm not really done processing, but this was a hard day. I had my "final" visit with the oncologist in this stage of my bumpy road to wellness. Everything looked good and strong and clear. I weigh over 20 pounds less than I did when I first started seeing him in July of 2011. I feel good. Then the reality of what I went through sunk in - the treatments, the mood swings, the massive debt I am in, and the promise of annual for the next few years and expensive even with insurance tests and scans. I tried to keep up with bills but lost some serious ground at the end of it all. Oh well. Always a sliver lining though. I need all new pants. And I'm alive. And I have people and dogs in my life who truly depend on me. If I had to choose all over again, even though I didn't the first time, I would take this path almost every time to get me where I am today. It seemed silly to promise every time. Tomorrow is a new episode of American Horror Story, Thursday is Halloween, and the rest of my year is looking golden. Status: content.
Now that I am at long last done with treatments and have the big C squarely in the rearview mirror, it remains to be the gift that keeps on giving. I got a very nice and thoughtful wake up call on life. In the process I found something in myself that I thought I had lost long ago. At the end of the day I am, and have always been, a lucky bastard. With the good I must accept my fair share of stress, misfortune and tragedy. I fight and work really hard for everything I have. Not really sure how to go any slower. There was no way I wanted to se saddled with medical debt, so I made the hard decision to raid one of my IRA's to pay off my deductibles and related expenses along the way. My plan was to come out on the other end at zero. Alas, life had other plans for me. Imagine my surprise to get a letter from the IRS this past spring informing me that they were of the opinion that I owed them nearly $10,000 in back taxes. My heart sank. For just a moment I felt that white noise creeping up into my eyes and ears along with the very real possibility that I could stress myself into passing out. Then I just stopped and took a breath and tossed the letter aside for a week. Apparently the man in the Turbo Tax box and I had not properly reported withdrawal of funds from my Roth IRA, which should not have been taxable income. However, I had not filled out my tax return reflecting even that. I now understand that is a no-no and now I am peering at a mountain of fees and fines. I'm still kinda hoping we can clear this whole thing up. Months later involving a registered letter, a CPA, amended tax documents, and a lot of waiting, this letter arrives. Submitted on September 10th, they got around to a reply on October 28th. Fine with me, just in case. They can take all the time they need. I will now hear back sometime in the next 60 days. I approve of this timeline. They did end with that polite apology though, which made me feel so much better. "We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused you, and thank you for your cooperation." What nice people! I'm going to see my oncologist for my exit visit. He's pretty nice too. Expensive, and the cause of all of this mess, but nice. Great view of the CWE too. Always a silver lining in my world, or I make my own.
Last night was the annual CWE Halloween street party and costume contest. I got the call last week to be a judge, and boy wast that fun. Hats, and costumes, off to multi-business owner Dennis George for putting it all together. John Carney and comedienne Trish Busch were emcees and had their funny, naughty patter down to a science. I know the Cards game was on, but for a few hours it was all about the costumes. Some were lame-o, but a large number were truly inspired. I recycled a jester costume from the basement archives for myself and brought what little game I had to the judging area. Here is a baker's dozen sampling of the crazy and amazing things that I saw.
Ah, what a precocious youth I was. In the summertime I would always hang out with the older kids on the swim team. Most of the Indian Hills kids were South County Catholics, which meant Notre Dame High, Cor Jesu, Vianney and SLUH, but of the local public highs most went to Bayless or Affton. We had fun. Swim meets were a blast and often followed by some multi-family gathering for burgers, pizza or ice cream. For a few summers almost weekly a revolving cast of characters got a caravan of cars, coolers of cheapo beer, and a few assorted teens stuffed in car trunks or under blankets, so we all didn't have to pay. Then we would claim our area towards the middle in the center and all come spilling out of the doors and trunks like a traveling teen circus. And it was. Drinking, laughing, crying, puking, popcorn, secret kisses, and some scars on my thigh from the night we saw "The Exorcist" for the first time that summer. This all started when I was 14.
I don't have much to say today, except that I am mega-excited to be an official judge for the annual CWE Halloween costume contest this weekend on Saturday night. Top o' the world, Ma! My decisions cannot be influenced, but may be altered somewhat due to whatever I drink or consume before I go on stage. It is going to be chilly, so coffee drinks may be in order. Hope to see you there!
When I was a teenager, underage drinking was illegal and a serious issue as it is today. It never stopped me though. I obtained the most hilariously bad fake ID at the tender young age of 17 until it was taken away sometime before I literally turned 21. I don't even remember where it came from, except that it did not look all that much like me. Blonde, tall, blue-eyed male was as close as it got. Apparently it was just good enough however. We even threw it a birthday party at the Old Spaghetti Factory on Laclede's Landing. I had beer while my friends had soda. It didn't work everywhere, every time, but it sure did the job most of the time in a whole lot of places. Lucky for me I was tall and seemed older than I was. Not necessarily smarter, just taller and wilder than many of them.