Visitor’s Guide to Driving in St. Louis

(stolen from stlbloggers.com)

  1. There are 75 “official neighborhoods” in the City of St. Louis. St. Louisans commonly give directions (especially for restaurants) to strangers based on these neighborhoods which aren’t marked on any maps that are handed out by the tourist board, the AAA or Mapquest.
  2. There are 54 school districts — on the Missouri side alone — each of which has their own school bus system and scheduled times to block traffic.
  3. There are 91 official municipalities in St. Louis County. Each Municipality has its own rules, regulations, and often their own police departments.
  4. More importantly, most have their own snow removal contracts, so it’s not uncommon to drive down a road in winter and have one block plowed, the next salted, the next piled with snow and the last partially cleared by residents wanting to get out of their driveways.
  5. Snow plowing is never a problem in the City of St. Louis. They plow nothing, and if the forecast calls for snow, they close everything. Except on “The Hill” (refer to #1 above) where each homeowner goes out to the street and shovels out one car-sized rectangle and then stands watch over it.
  6. Any car parked longer than 4 hours in the city is considered a parts store.
  7. The City of Ballwin actually proposed that drivers use connecting strip mall parking lots to get from place to place rather than drive on Manchester Road to cut the traffic on Manchester.
  8. Laclede Station Road mysteriously changes names as you cross intersections. As do McCausland, Lindbergh, Watson, Reavis Barracks, Fee Fee, McKnight, Airport Road, Midland, Olive and Clarkson. Gravois Road can only be pronounced by a native. Ditto for Spoede and Chouteau.
  9. A St. Louisan from South County has never been to North County and vice versa. West County has everything delivered.
  10. No native St. Louisan knows that Lindbergh runs from South County to North County! And, if you tell them, they will not believe you.
  11. Lindbergh belongs to every neighborhood except Kirkwood, who had the nerve to creatively change the name to “Kirkwood Road”.
  12. There are 2 interchanges to exit from Highway 40 onto Clayton Road and 2 for Big Bend. Stay alert, people!
  13. If you need directions to O’Fallon, make sure to specify Illinois or Missouri. This is also true for Troy, Maryville, St. Charles, Springfield Columbia….
  14. The Page Avenue extension and Airport expansion projects took over 20 years to get approved and St. Louisans lost track of how many political figures claimed them as their own ideas.
  15. St. Louisans were aghast when the federal government required them to redo the highway signs to indicate that the federal highways went to cities in other states instead of local municipalities.
  16. Drivers are starting to cut their OWN plates rather than go through the Missouri Department of Motor Vehicles to get new tags. You can also purchase tags from dealers behind QuiK Shops in the city. They are cheaper, the clerks are nicer, and the service is faster.
  17. Lambert Field and St. Louis International Airport really are the same place. The East Terminal, however, is a different place.
  18. Highway 270 is our daily version of the NASCAR circuit. (Same goes for Highway 70.) You can go all four directions on Highway 270: North and South in West County, East and West in South County, and East and West in North County. Confused? So are the St. Louis drivers.
  19. The outer belt is Highway 270 which turns into Highway 255 in South County. The inner belt is Highway 170. Highway 370 is an outer-outer belt. Highway 40 is the same as Interstate 64 (but only through the middle part of St. Louis).
  20. The morning rush hour is from 6:00 to 10:00 AM. The evening rush hour is from 3:00 to 7:00 PM. Friday’s rush hour starts Thursday morning. Never ever try to cross a bridge in St. Louis during rush hour unless you have a sack lunch and a port-a-potty in the car.
  21. YIELD signs are for decoration only. No native St. Louisan will ever grasp the concept.
  22. If someone actually has their turn signal on, it is probably a factory defect, or has been on for the last 17 miles.
  23. Construction on Highways 40, 64, 70, 255, 270, 44, 55 and 170 is a way of life, and a permanent form of entertainment.
  24. All old ladies with blue hair in Cadillac’s (driving on Olive west of 270) have the right of way.
  25. If it snows or rains? Stay home!!

Music that doesn’t suck

Here’s a small and not very representative list (basically what I had on hand when I wrote this) of some of the music I listen to.

Bozzio Levin Stevens:
- Black Light Syndrome



Kate Bush:
- The Whole Story
- The Red Shoes



The Corrs:
- VH1 Presents the Corrs Live in Dublin
- Talk On Corners [Special Edition]



The Cranberries:
- Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?



The Doors:
- The Doors



Dream Theater:
- Awake
- Falling Into Infinity
- Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence



Fountains of Wayne:
- Utopia Parkway



Philip Glass:
- Itaipu; The Canyon



Pretty & Twisted:
- Pretty & Twisted



R.E.M.:
- Monster



Spinal Tap:
- Spinal Tap



Stan Ridgway:
- Black Diamond



Howard Shore:
- The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
- The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King



Wall of Voodoo:
- Call of the West



Yes:
- 90125
- Symphonic Music of Yes
- Time & A Word



Frank Zappa:
- Apostrophe
- Baby Snakes
- You Are What You Is
- Broadway the Hard Way
- Joe’s Garage Acts 1-3
- Zoot Allures



Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention:
- Grand Wazoo



Various:
- Gangs of New York

Giuliani Blames the Troops

The president was cautious the president was prudent the president did what a commander in chief should do. No matter how you try to blame it on the president the actual responsibility for it really would be for the troops that were there. Did they search carefully enough? Didn’t they search carefully enough?
— Rudolph Giuliani (October 28, 2004)

Amazing. Right wing pundits are criticizing Kerry for blaming the troops (when, in fact he’s blaming the Bush administration). But it’s OK for Giuliani to actually blame the troops for the Bush administration’s failures.

Here’s Wesley Clark’s response:

For President Bush to send Rudolph Giuliani out on television to say that the “actual responsibility” for the failure to secure explosives lies with the troops is insulting and cowardly.

The President approved the mission and the priorities. Civilian leaders tell military leaders what to do. The military follows those orders and gets the job done. This was a failure of civilian leadership, first in not telling the troops to secure explosives and other dangerous materials, and second for not providing sufficient troops and sufficient equipment for troops to do the job.

President Bush sent our troops to war without sufficient body armor, without a sound plan and without sufficient forces to accomplish the mission. Our troops are performing a difficult mission with skill, bravery and determination. They deserve a commander in chief who supports them and understands that the buck stops in the Oval Office, not one who gets weak knees and shifts blame for his mistakes.
— Wesley Clark (October 28, 2004)

Surprised?

Bush Wanted To Invade Iraq If Elected in 2000:

Houston: Two years before the September 11 attacks, presidential candidate George W. Bush was already talking privately about the political benefits of attacking Iraq, according to his former ghost writer, who held many conversations with then-Texas Governor Bush in preparation for a planned autobiography.

“He was thinking about invading Iraq in 1999,” said author and journalist Mickey Herskowitz. “It was on his mind. He said to me: ‘One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief.’ And he said, ‘My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it.’ He said, ‘If I have a chance to invade….if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency.”

Herskowitz said that Bush expressed frustration at a lifetime as an underachiever in the shadow of an accomplished father. In aggressive military action, he saw the opportunity to emerge from his father’s shadow. The moment, Herskowitz said, came in the wake of the September 11 attacks. “Suddenly, he’s at 91 percent in the polls, and he’d barely crawled out of the bunker.”

That President Bush and his advisers had Iraq on their minds long before weapons inspectors had finished their work — and long before alleged Iraqi ties with terrorists became a central rationale for war — has been raised elsewhere, including in a book based on recollections of former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill. However, Herskowitz was in a unique position to hear Bush’s unguarded and unfiltered views on Iraq, war and other matters — well before he became president.

In 1999, Herskowitz struck a deal with the campaign of George W. Bush about a ghost-written autobiography, which was ultimately titled A Charge to Keep : My Journey to the White House, and he and Bush signed a contract in which the two would split the proceeds. The publisher was William Morrow. Herskowitz was given unimpeded access to Bush, and the two met approximately 20 times so Bush could share his thoughts. Herskowitz began working on the book in May, 1999, and says that within two months he had completed and submitted some 10 chapters, with a remaining 4-6 chapters still on his computer. Herskowitz was replaced as Bush’s ghostwriter after Bush’s handlers concluded that the candidate’s views and life experiences were not being cast in a sufficiently positive light.

According to Herskowitz, who has authored more than 30 books, many of them jointly written autobiographies of famous Americans in politics, sports and media (including that of Reagan adviser Michael Deaver), Bush and his advisers were sold on the idea that it was difficult for a president to accomplish an electoral agenda without the record-high approval numbers that accompany successful if modest wars.

The revelations on Bush’s attitude toward Iraq emerged recently during two taped interviews of Herskowitz, which included a discussion of a variety of matters, including his continued closeness with the Bush family, indicated by his subsequent selection to pen an authorized biography of Bush’s grandfather, written and published last year with the assistance and blessing of the Bush family.

Herskowitz also revealed the following:

-In 2003, Bush’s father indicated to him that he disagreed with his son’s invasion of Iraq.

-Bush admitted that he failed to fulfill his Vietnam-era domestic National Guard service obligation, but claimed that he had been “excused.”

-Bush revealed that after he left his Texas National Guard unit in 1972 under murky circumstances, he never piloted a plane again. That casts doubt on the carefully-choreographed moment of Bush emerging in pilot’s garb from a jet on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 to celebrate “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq. The image, instantly telegraphed around the globe, and subsequent hazy White House statements about his capacity in the cockpit, created the impression that a heroic Bush had played a role in landing the craft.

-Bush described his own business ventures as “floundering” before campaign officials insisted on recasting them in a positive light.

Throughout the interviews for this article and in subsequent conversations, Herskowitz indicated he was conflicted over revealing information provided by a family with which he has longtime connections, and by how his candor could comport with the undefined operating principles of the as-told-to genre. Well after the interviews–in which he expressed consternation that Bush’s true views, experience and basic essence had eluded the American people –Herskowitz communicated growing concern about the consequences for himself of the publication of his remarks, and said that he had been under the impression he would not be quoted by name. However, when conversations began, it was made clear to him that the material was intended for publication and attribution. A tape recorder was present and visible at all times.

According to Herskowitz, George W. Bush’s beliefs on Iraq were based in part on a notion dating back to the Reagan White House — ascribed in part to now-vice president Dick Cheney, Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee under Reagan. “Start a small war. Pick a country where there is justification you can jump on, go ahead and invade.”

Bush’s circle of pre-election advisers had a fixation on the political capital that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher collected from the Falklands War. Said Herskowitz: “They were just absolutely blown away, just enthralled by the scenes of the troops coming back, of the boats, people throwing flowers at [Thatcher] and her getting these standing ovations in Parliament and making these magnificent speeches.”

Long-Lost Ed Wood Porn Film Unearthed

Long-Lost Final Film by Ed Wood Rediscovered:

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Considered the worst film maker of all time, Ed Wood won a cult following after his death and now fans can see his long-lost last film “Necromania,” a work some say shows he was so bad that he was brilliant.

But it’s not for the faint-hearted. The 1971 movie is a porn film documenting the sexual enlightenment of a young couple at the hands of a coven of witches.

The much maligned creator of enduring cult classics such as “Bride of the Monster,” Wood was himself the subject of Tim Burton’s 1994 biopic, the lead role played by Johnny Depp.

That film shows the making of Wood’s most famous film — “Plan 9 From Outer Space” from 1956 — in which actors screw up their lines and “special effects” include pie tins for flying saucers.

“Necromania” — the last film Wood directed — was filmed over two or three days with a budget of no more than $7,000 and the only copies went missing soon after it was made. The movie tells the story of Danny and Shirley, a young couple who visit the mysterious Madame Heles for help with their flagging sex life. The lessons they are taught involve skulls, spells and sex in a coffin.

Rudolph Grey, author of a biography of the director, and a fellow Ed Wood enthusiast, movie distributor Alexander Kogan, unearthed “Necromania” in a warehouse in Los Angeles after more than 15 years of detective work.

Considered the worst film maker of all time – that’s a bit harsh. Ed Wood is no worse than Michael Bay. Despite his incompetence, Wood had a goofy earnestness that made his films at least watchable.