Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mid-week update

I never understood why people were so obsessed with hump day until I started working. Or happy hours, or TV dinners, or maids. . . wait, I get the maid thing, but seriously, the whole perspective shifts as you move from the magical world of college into the 'real' world. It is my personal mission to stem the flow of this transition as much as possible by trying to make something out of every night.

Ok, so I had received a hot tip from G, souteneur of good music, to check out the Funky Butt Brass band at the Broadway Oyster bar. Now the Oyster bar is one of my favorite places to go during the summer because the music is funky, the place reminds me of New Orleans, and people dance. The food I can't eat so much, but who needs to eat when you've got dope music?

We Rosh and I headed down to check it out with Wizzo and met up with a friend of hers down there. I didn't even have to walk into the bar to know that we had made the right decision. As navigated from the parking lot in the rear, up to the entrance, I could hear the sousaphone bumping out bass lines. I'll admit it, I started second lining in the middle of the street. Funky Butt is clearly a band I'm going to see at every opportunity. Check the Oyster bar's calender and get your funky butt down there.

Last night was going to be a chill one, cuz even I need to sleep every once in a while. I was going to grab a drink with Em at 33, this fantastic wine tasting bar which doubles as a retail spot down in Lafayette square on Park. Its pretty well hidden, right next to the Chocolate Bar and doesn't have any kind of sign noting the name. In fact, if not for the small open sign on the door, you wouldn't know it was a place of business at all.

Long story short, Em gets sick, Rosh and lady S decide they are in, we have Aim join us, and while we are siting there, enjoying a Moscato D'asti and a triple stout, we catch the menacing outline of T&R walking by. I do my best Jesse Owens to catch up with them and then convince them to join us.

This was not an early night, but at least it didn't end with a half hour discussion on the pros and cons of Walmart. . . which may make its way into the blog as a point counterpoint/battle royal between Rosh aka The Man and Y? aka the Romanticized Revolutionary.

Whatever...Karl Marx was a Heeb too after all. Read More......

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Sanctuary

So Y? already teased this in talking about the weekend, but Friday's Shabbat dinner and "after-party" deserve more than just a passing mention. Luckily, I am here to pick up the pieces for you all who missed out. So Y?'s parents were in town, which meant Shabbat dinner at the sanctuary. Granted, I had to bring my own chair, beer, and candles, but I scored an invite. (Sidenote: Schnucks's in the CWE only sells Shabbat candles in packs of 72, so the candles are on me for the next 35 Shabbats!) Anyway, dinner had all the amazing interactions you would expect when two parents (one of whom is a rabbi deeply learned in Torah) enter the world of the young professional on a Friday night. Save for the candles, challah and wine, nothing and no one was sacred as the chicken marsala and potato chips flowed like honey from the kitchen.

So, around 11:30 (four hours after the dinner began) we decided that it's probably time to conquer the world beyond the sanctuary. As we are determined to find new things to do in the city, we headed out to check out some SLU bars, figuring that its a major urban university (albeit Jesuit) there's gotta be something good going on. And was there ever...

So we get down to SLU and park by a place called Magnolia's. Everyone's pumped up and ready to go, fat and happy from dinner, when the bouncer tells us it's a $3 dollar cover plus a one drink minimum. A ONE DRINK MINIMUM? Sounds kiiiinda like an East Side joint you're thinking? Us too. So we move on, only to be greeted at the window of the next bar by stereotypical white shirtless dude. So now we're stuck. I mean, this is St. Louis so of course there are only those two bars within walking distance. So, being the resourceful smart Jewish folk that we are, we ask some passerbys what exactly is Magnolia's? "A gay club dude."..."No, really, man, what is it?"... "It's a GAY CLUB."

So we start looking around, really paying attention to our surroundings, and the tight pants give it away, that Magnolia's really is a gay club! Not that there is anything wrong with that, and it certainly was the most popular place around SLU that night, but not quite what we were looking for when we set out for some Shabbat night exploring.

I guess the lesson here is that when you commit to finding new things in St. Louis, you gotta be ready for anything. So when you come out with us, consider yourself warned, you never quite know where you might end up. But in a place like St. Louis, where so much is too often the same, isn't that a good thing? Read More......

Monday, May 26, 2008

Intro to me

So its time for this shindig to truly begin. The best way to start is usually to give a little background. I am a St. Louis transplant. When I was born and lived my life, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I was going to live in Missouri. Previous to living here, I lived in Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Texas, California and Georgia. Now that its virtually on paper I can just refer everyone here to figure it out rather than me telling the story. Unlike Y? I am just trying to make my way as the new kid in school might. Meet a ton people, try to tell a joke or two to show that hey, you can dig it, and then find my own path among the others. That's why when I blog, I will be more focused on the here and now from a new mind.

In my mind, I don't bring too much to the table. Rather than an unbiased opinion, I think and act like most young jews do and went to overwhelming jewish college where I did not hang out with too many jews. I can definitely say that I was less religious prior to going to college. I learned my Torah portion and my Haftorah, had my bar-mitzvah and then kind of went on with my life. Religion always seemed like a task just because everyone I was around considered it to be that. Because of that, I have never really hung out exclusively with a Jewish community, I pledged a Jewish fraternity in college that was about 40% jewish so my experience in a full fledged jewish community is lacking. I try to make up for all that is lacking with humor, but it falls short very often, just ask anyone who I hang out with. Life in general currently is not too bad, in fact at certain very specific times its damn near enjoyable.

Now back to the actual blog, I believe my purpose in this whole shebang is to give an honest opinion of how an outsider looking in sees this whole community. Right about now, I would say the barriers of entry are slightly higher than I expected, to be truly part of the community, you need to be a generally interesting person that brings more than just a sweet personality, you need to make several connections with different people at different stages of life (college, post-college, new job, sturdy job, single and looking, taken and looking, taken and liking it, engaged, married, kids and babysitters are frequented, kids and you better believe the world is ending before I hire a babysitter).

Overall would I like to see the community expanded to cater to more people like myself, most definitely (just in the fact that is has been my dream to be in a mob, and we have not as of yet reached mob capacity). To do that, I don't know exactly what needs to be done, I have my ideas but those can be saved for later posts to keep you coming back. Overall I would say the thing I have been the most impressed about is once you are in everyone wants to be your friend which is not something I am completely used to. And to truly end with a bang, I will leave everyone with a suitable haiku because that's how I roll:

Y? plays his music loud.
Looking for good sex music?
I think that's the case.

Apologies for the 's to get the syllables right, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Read More......

Due Diligence

Big weekend. Momentous even. The folks, or for all your Ash-kosh-kenazis, Mishpochah, came in and stayed at the sanctuary (our apartnemt).

This is big. First, they came in to see the Opera. Right, from the 513 to the 314, they drove, or braved, rather (due to the rising cost of crude), the several hundred mile distance to see the Opera. I was an afterthought. It makes a little more sense when coupled with the fact that Tales of Hoffman is different every time you see it because Offenbach, its writer/composer died before it was finished. They know this guy Michael Kaye (mentioned in the wiki) who did a bunch of research and put together what is considered the truest version, so he got them comps and they came in. Lets examine that tale for Jewish themes, shall we? 1. Opera 2. Networking 3. Free stuff.

Ok, now that you know why they came in, let's talk about why its a big deal. I hosted my parents. Let that sink in. That's roll reversal. They stayed at my apartment, we (Rosh) cooked them Shabbat dinner, showed them around the town, and took care of them.

Several interesting things occurred. First, the sanctuary almost didn't survive. Literally. Rosh was frying some french fried potato chips and they weren't getting crispy so my mom advises him to turn the heat up (if you can't stand the heat. . .). I turn around a minute later and my parents and Rosh transfixed by three foot flames leaping from the pan. The fire alarms start going off, which is good because I didn't know we had fire alarms, and they work. This is bad because they are painfully loud. While they are all staring at the flames and backing away, my dumb ass rushes towards them to try to smother it with something. Unfortunately all I can find is aluminum foil, and so my first attempt is unsuccessful. Then I grab the pan, with the intention of placing it upside down in the sink so that I can run cold water over the bottom (thereby not spreading the grease fire). The fire is so big that it singes by arm hair, and burns while I figure out that this isn't going to work and throw the pan back on the oven. Finally, I get exasperated, take my best Shofar blowing breath and blow on the flames. And it works?! The fire is out, and we spend the next 15 minutes getting the smoke out of the apartment.

The rest of the weekend is pretty mild compared to that. Showed my parents the Scholarship (you need to get down with this, second hand name brand clothes and the money goes to scholarships for lower income students towards college education).
We check out the Soulard Farmer's Market, where I prove my Israeli bargaining skills aren't wasted in this country.

Dinner was at 1111 Mississippi, and was fantastic. Tried a pineapple wine, which wasn't nearly as bad as I had convinced myself it would be.

Checked in with Shel at Casa del Kamen in the CWE and helped her get rid of some rum, then checked in with the core Yid crew for Mindy's celebration of the anniversary of her birth (or Birthday if you wanna be a jackass about it). Spent some money at Bar Italia, then shuffled over to Brennan's and tried a few interesting beers including a wheat based dopplebock, which was good but had quite a bite.

Sunday was a grad party which pitted our stomach against vienna all beefs. We ended up getting games of beer pong going with some ZBT vs AEPi action as I face my roommate in a battle to the last cup.
He won. My effort was less than valiant.

Caught a memorial day BBQ at Todd's with the (in)core(porated)group and had some fantastic shishlik/shipudim/kebabs. Got to do a lil swimming on the side as I tried to get to know the people that are going to shape the community.

The core kids basically those that have already committed themselves to the community here, they hold leadership positions, and most of them grew up here and have known each other forever. Its a welcoming group, but despite their incredible hospitality, its not impossible to feel like an outsider due to the close nature of the group.

So I guess the question is how do we expand this community, right? Do people just start meeting us out and about?

The week is already shaping up, which Funky Butt Brass Band playing at the Oyster Bar tomorrow, a possible stop at 33 on Wednesday, and my trip to Chi-town on Friday. Read More......

Thursday, May 22, 2008


So I did some cursory Facebook searches and found that there are actually a couple hundred youngish Jewish kids around, either through Jgrads, YPD, or GesherCity.

I recognize the difficulty of coordinating between groups, resources agendas... etc. maybe there needs to be a 'career fair' model for all the groups trying to court us so that we could determine which groups really align with the type of involvement we want to have, from purely social to more religious or social justice focuses.

As I see it, the people would be the only reason to keep us here. STL doesn't have the population or activity diversity or density of NYC, DC, Chi-town, or LA. It doesn't have the beaches of the West Coast or the weather of the South.

The city's culture is a little incongruent with the majority of young Jews (if you don't vote Democrat when you are young, you have no soul, if you don't vote Republican when you are old, you have no savings) so really you have a few strikes against you.

Perhaps most challenging about St. Louis is simply the layout. There are little pockets or neighborhoods spread out over a fairly vast area considering the relatively small population. We are spread out across regions from downtown and the actual city of St. Louis (Vassup!) out to the depths of West County (Ish don't sink so). Nothing against West County, tax base depletion aside, but people move out there to start families, not communities.

Anyways, the point is just that we need an urban JCC. Wait. . .is that the point?
Perhaps its a point. We need a rallying point somewhere that is fairly central, where people want to be, where they are comfortable being. A place where they can drop through after work, have a beer (that isn't yellow fizzy water) or a water. . . whatever.

Let me try that again. We need a place, physical or digital, where people exchange ideas and connect, because contact is key for a community. Read More......

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Opening Arguements

As a recent college grad, and a transplant no less, I have mixed feelings about St. Louis.

On one hand, its just another post-industrial, conservative-minded, Midwestern layover. On the other hand, the city has been taking some steps in the right direction, there are a few cool bars here and there, some farmers markets, and the nascent skeleton of a public transportation system.
On the other hand, the St. Louis Jewish community is pretty focused on the whole family thing, everyone over the age of 26 is married, has been married, or is trying hard to get married. Its like they take all of the Jews between the ages of 21 and 26 and hide them in some incubator until they are ready to marry off and settle down.

On the other hand, and perhaps the most important hand, the city has potential. Serious potential. On the Yid side, the established community is having a coronary trying to reach out to us, they just have no idea how (more on that later). In this 'small-town-big-city', all it takes is a few connections, and every door in the city is open to you. On the secular side, my contact at the Regional Business Council tells me the number one issue is how to keep us (the graduating and recently graduated)in St. Louis.

Now I'm always down for being sought after (especially by attractive Jewish Princesses, but I digress), but really, its on us to make something happen. . . Really.

I'm not saying we need to celebrate every holiday with a young professionals' service, but we need to network, get out and meet each other. Is anyone else even out there? JDate wasn't so encouraging, but I gotta believe that there is talent in this city and that it can be put to work. Read More......