It held the bouquet of Paris, a Bavarian beer garden on the Mississippi. Maybe the artistic renown of Vienna. . . . . or maybe not.
Behold: the crack of a skateboard as a teenager flips a trick– flying against the terribly-blue sky and rolling away over the crunchy autumn leaves.
The sound travels flat and muted across the leveled bricks and gray slate of these square blocks, a neighborhood made distinctive for its tall, narrow houses like a local historical curiosity.
A remnant of the French empire signed-away with the Louisiana purchase, brokered by Thomas Jefferson’s debonair co-hort of marquee’s and enlightenment figures.
It all had a Continental air, a twinge of “Lost Generation” Paris.
And here it was—CIVILIZATION.
Pioneering rehab efforts and stylish revitalization of former urban blight, the finer goods and exceptional tastes for good wine and good food in this little sublet of old St. Louis city.
Now, the children of stockbrokers turned this into a playground of modern privilege– where the pot was sweeter, where wise noble savages held court over “think for yourself” maxims with a skateboard under one arm and a painter’s watercolor set in the other hand like Pablo Picasso, himself.
Halfway between upscale and crumbling—the crud of artistic integrity.
Like an action photograph or poster art that embraces movement inside the decay of late-stage modern capitalism. Now it was MTV and bonkers stoner-culture on the edge of urban redevelopment.
Movement and energy– rich and poor mingling as a true alternative.
Like the unnatural lump of packaged evil, the vague bar and club scene. You had a tattooed, long-haired oddball with John Lennon sunglasses and a short Hitler mustache who stood with his arms crossed in oppositional defiance. Underground movements and mad, eccentric Gothic genius as the angels wept, cherubs sweeping their arms up in the trickling fountains of the local park.
Poetry—beauty is on the street. Life had its bargain-priced compensations.
Black and white comics and underground zines. Every scrap and slip of paper. . . . . junk food packaging. A caricature of a skater in a bandanna smiling in a spurt of munched-down intensity, sugar and artificial flavoring inside this golden wrapper. Or gonzo, bonkers foam-rubber heavy metal gladiators inside a video-art project installation. A spray of pixelated hyper modern-culture, alien warriors in a foreign video-game. Ninjas and the art of stealth up and down these streets.
And here it was– civilization brought to the plains and lush river valley as the air carried the fragrance of Mississippi river mud.
The veins of Lydia Deetz run through this area.
Advertising “to die for”, that vague “IT” factor. Read this article about savvy product-placement.