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The Top 100 Reasons to Come to DRSWCVI!

Suggested by Dave Braun  ♦  When we sat down to come up with reasons for coming to St. Louis, a number of ideas had to be eliminated, but one may end up actually experiencing them. Among them - Eagles that normally soar high over the Mississippi have been known to swoop down a lot closer to runners (do we really look like easy prey?); Ethnic Diversity; Exchange rate for US dollars; Kev's Envirolube (although you might still be able to get some if you show up); the Rams football team won't be playing (which is a good thing); the St. Louis Carousel (located in Faust Park); Times Beach (similar to Love Canal... a contaminated tract of land that has been cleaned up); the weather; Uncle Bill's pancake house (a popular breakfast bar); The St. Louis Bread Company (good most any time of day... you might want to check it out at convenient locations); White Castle (another restaurant, but only if drunk and after midnight - White Castles or sliders are 5 holed, steam-cooked, allegedly beef, burgers that are like Crystal's without mustard); rusty nails strewn on the esplanade; Sonic hamburgers (hear what you eat); the StillDeads inhale; Mark Twain National Forest; Shoji (!!); lots of floatable rivers; the Old Courthouse; Tom Eagleton Federal Building (your pork barrel tax dollars at work!); Kiel Center (home of the St. Louis Blues hockey and St. Louis Ambush soccer teams, plus a venue for indoor musical concerts); the Arena (the abandoned home of the previous reason that the city can't decide what to do with); Trans World Dome (home of the St. Louis Rams alleged pro football team, part time convention center and full time tax boon doggle of St. Louisans); Washington University; St. Louis University; Ucity Lions and Ucity City Hall; the Gypsy Caravan (held over Memorial Day weekend on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, it is the midwest's largest flea market, that is swap meet for left-coasters); Dogtown (a section of St. Louis just across from Forest Park, where the movie White Palace was filmed); Senior Olympics is held during this time period (in fact the race on Monday is the recognized race for this event); Mormon Church; Mississippi Mud; BodyBagBill and his Buddies; Riverport Aphitheatre (18,000 seats, well, space for 18,000 as most of the seats are butts sitting on blankets underneath the stars listening to about 40 touring musical acts ranging from the likes of Clint Black and LeeAnn Rimes to Metallica and Pearl Jam each summer); nudie bars just across the river; The Trainwreck (another popular Wednesday night hangout, especially in the wintertime); Chatillon-Demenil House (a mid 1800's Greek Revival style home that is open for lunches and will be hosting an ice-cream social on May 23); the Samuel Cupples House on SLU's campus (a 42 room Romanesque Revival style that would cost $15 million to build today); New Madrid Fault (Missouri's own San Andreas, except more violent and more active, with more than 200 tremors a year, and due for a 6-6.5 on the Richter scale soon; the 1811-1812 quake lasted 3 months with 3 near 8's, 5 7.7's, 10 5.3's and 89 4.3's that destroyed 150,000 acres of trees, changed the course of the Mississippi - it flowed backwards - and rang bells in Boston); cockfighting; Fairmont Race track where the ponies run; Jefferson Barracks park (including the local final resting place for soldiers, numerous trails and a 2.6m circular asphalt path from which you can sometimes see herds of deer, fifty at a time, roaming free); Bissell Mansion; El Nino; St. Louis Casa Loma Ballroom (the city's largest dance floor featuring swing dancing, rock'n'roll, mexican); InCaHoots (another dance floor, but with a different brand of music... country); Bigfoot (no, not the legendary monster, but home of the original monster truck); 7th annual street entertainers competition in West Port Plaza on May 23; Flaco Taco (have a fish taco or burrito); free music on Laclede's Landing and at Union Station over the MemDay weekend.

Suggested by Pam Thurston  ♦  In 1972, Laumeier Park opened on the arboretum like grounds near the former home of Matilda and Henry Laumeier; Henry was a real estate investor son of a shoe and banking millionaire. Laumeier, whose tudor limestone home was built in 1916, loved nature, and probably planted most of the mature trees and shrubs surrounding the home. When Matilda died in 1968 St. Louis inherited the property. In its early days, the new county park was a place to take walks, picnic or cross-country ski. Then in 1975, St. Louis sculptor Ernest Trova sought to donate some 40 of his larger sculptures to create a park of an internationally acclaimed collection. After a tour of county parks, Trova picked Laumeier as the perfect site, it had sloping grassy, dense woods and a varying topography. The Trova decision gave birth to the Laumeier Sculpture Park and location for the Dead Picnic. As you discover Laumeier, you will quickly discover why it's called "an idyllic place where modern art really works with nature." There is truly a sense of discovery, besides finding beautiful trees and wildflower in the woods, you find art. Among some of the most notable pieces include "The Way", the parks monumental red signature piece. Sculptor Alexander Liberman took six years to construct it from oil drums welded end to end. He says his piece resembles a classical ruin but looks like a giant lincoln log puzzle to me. Or how about Donald Lipski's "Ball? Ball! Wall? Wall!", a wavy 300 foot long line of 55 hooked together salvaged marine buoys, that looks like a string of pearls. The park also is known for "site-specific art" or art commissioned for this specific site. Laumeier Sculpture Park boasts more than fifty sculptures and has a small gallery of changing exhibits and in the outdoor amphitheater for concerts, located in Sunset Hills, Missouri with hiking distance 2 1/3 miles. Admission to the park, museum, and summer concerts are free. The park is open 8 am to half an hour past sunset.

Suggested by MarkO  ♦  So have you ever wondered, "Is there anybody famous from that little burg called St. Louis?" And of course the answer is, "More than you can shake a stick at". That's why taking a walk along the St. Louis Walk of Fame is a must, so that you can see what famous people came from St. Louis (or at least lived a significant portion of their life here). Currently there are over 80 members of the St. Louis Walk of Fame and more are added every year (traditionally on the third Sunday of May, there is a dixieland concert, followed by a key note address, followed by the induction of the honourees... for those honourees who are deceased or elsewise unable to attend, there usually is some family representative to say something). Each of the honourees gets a bronze star in the sidewalk as well as a bronze plaque with a brief biography. People can be often be seen taken rubbings of the names and bios. I could start naming folks who are on the Walk of Fame (everybody from Katherine Dunham to Jed Clampett to Maya Angelou), but why ruin the fun of finding out for yourself who is there? Many of the names you may not recognize, but that doesn't mean that they didn't contribute something significant that has made the world a better place; it means that you need to expand your horizon by taking a walk along that Walk of Fame and reading the bios and learning something new.

Suggested by Tracey G.  ♦  The city of St. Louis was founded in 1764 as a fur trading post by Pierre Laclede, who was happily oblivious to how un-PC the fur industry would be in "his" city by the late 20th century. Laclede was the recipient of a land grant by the French government, and out of respect named his town after King Louis IX. However, the settlement was known as "Laclede's Village" by its inhabitants. It wasn't much to start with... the fur company's post house, cabins for the villagers, and a storage shed. At the time, the French flag that flew over St. Louis was a field of blue, with three gold fleur-de-lis designs. "Fleur-de-lis" is (roughly) French for "flower of the lily". In the 12th century, either King Louis VI or King Louis VII (sources disagree) became the first French monarch to use the fleur-de-lis on his shield. In the 14th century, the fleur-de-lis was often incorporated into the family insignia that was sewn on a knight's surcoat, which was worn over his coat of mail... thus the term, "coat of arms." English kings later used the symbol on their coats of arms to emphasize their claims on the throne of France. Up until 1376, the French national standard was thickly decorated with these stylized lily flowers, until Charles V decided it was all way too busy, and reduced the number to three, in honor of the trinity, which has been closely linked to the design of the fleur-de-lis. Some say that it represents "perfection, light and life." There is a legend that the fleur-de-lis represents a golden lily presented to Clovis, the Merovingian king of the Franks, as a symbol of his purification upon his conversion to Christianity. (Others claim that Clovis adopted the symbol when water lilies showed him how to safely cross a river and thus succeed in battle.) Joan of Arc carried a white banner that showed God blessing the French royal emblem, the fleur-de-lis, when she led French troops to victory over the English in support of the Dauphin, Charles VII, in his quest for the French throne. Military units, including divisions of the United States Army, have used the symbol's resemblance to a spearhead to identify martial power and strength. Some say that the symbol is not a flower at all, but a stylized bee... which is linked to an ancient Greek legend that the nine muses occasionally took the form of bees. A powerful symbol, that. The flag of the city of St. Louis has a fleur-de-lis in its center, at the convergence of two "rivers." The official flag of the 1904 World's Fair showed a fleur-de-lis surrounded by 14 stars on a field of blue, with three stripes (red, white and yellow). The symbol of the fleur-de-lis is inextricably linked to this city, both past and present. What does this have to do with the conference, you might ask? You'll have to come to find out... ;-)

Suggested by Dave Braun  ♦  It is sometimes interesting to note the differences around the country about food preferences. Oh, I understand that people of the world eat certain foods (out of necessity). But, by and large, one can obtain most any food in any part of the U.S. So, it comes down to preference. Another interesting aspect is the devotion/dedication or whatever to that food to the point of near-fighting ;-) "Uh, this ain't pizza. You ain't had pizza till you taste [fill in your geographical area] style pizza". Not counting MarkO's brain sandwiches, St. Louis has three distinguishing foods. The first is pork steaks. Now, I'm sure you can find them elsewhere and perhaps they go by another name, but this seems to be the pork steak capital of the world. And they are the prime meat for the best BBQ in the country... now, there's a sure fire flame-starter ;-). Oh, Texas flaunts its beef ribs and Kentucky claims to have the best BBQ'ed pork ribs and there is something called tri-tip in California. And, it seems that southern style is pulled [fill in "chicken", "pork", or "beef"]. But, here in St. Louis, the cheapest cut of pork makes the best tasting, grilled meat this side of [fill in your hometown]. And another thing, St. Louis has a tendency to baste the meat with BBQ sauce while cooking rather than serve it on the side. Pizza? Again, probably not unique, but St. Louis pizza is thin-crusted. Deep dish?!? I think that refers to some type of casserole dish. You usually have to specify if you want a thicker crust around here. Some crusts are almost paper thin... don't know how it can hold all the ingredients without sagging when you pick it up. No, it's not cardboard. Lastly, and J. Mahon mentioned this awhile back on what he always goes for when returning for a visit... toasted ravioli. Ravioli is a type of pasta. Imagine bite size, for the hungry man, or two forkfuls for the demurer types, pillows of pasta stuffed with various ingredients. These ingredients are usually meat (ground beef or italian sausage) or cheese (almost any type and within recent memory, a jalapeno cheese has become a favorite). Ravioli can be like any other pasta - noodled texture and boiled like a pirogee. But, toasted ravioli is a ravioli that has been breaded and is best when deep-fried. Served as a meal, but usually as an appetizer, one can dip it in marinara sauce, sprinkle on some parmesan cheese and, and... makes the mouth water, don't it?

Suggested by Jeff Polish  ♦  For the past 95 reasons, the StillDeads have been smokescreening the rest of the free Dead world with an array of incentives that would entice you to come to St. Louis for World Conference. Reasons ranging from Kevin's massive barbecue grill to the St. Louis Art Museum have all been pulled out for such efforts. And as I read through each reason day after day, I maintained one thing which I still hold true today: there are not and never will be 100 reasons to come to St. Louis for DRSWC 6 or any other such events. This town is a wasteland of despair - nothing more, nothing less. Let it be known here. Deads outside of St. Louis have no idea what has been going on here during the past couple of months. Brainstorming sessions where fictional landmarks are concocted to chronicle in this list were held at least once a week. I went to one simply because of a promise of homebrew on tap, which sucked anyway, and had to leave in disgust as MarkO talked about a restaurant that he dreamed up that serves brains to their customers. Brains! So I appeal to your sense of self respect now: do not come to St. Louis for DRSWC 6. Now I know that some of you have already sent in their registration forms and checks, which Braun has probably consumed already in the form of buffets and cheap Falstaff. In addition, some have purchased non-refundable plane tickets. For those people, I sympathize. But for the others: it is not too late. I recommend that you send an email to and write "unsubscribe" somewhere in the body of the text; after which, try and forget you ever heard the ridiculous latin phrase "Carpe Viam". It's all propaganda anyway. There is one reason, however, to come to St. Louis for DRSWC 6; and it has absolutely nothing to do with St. Louis. For this reason alone, I am still associated with the local StillDead group. That is: there is no other place in the world where one can find a more degenerate, uncivilized group of low-lifes such as the StillDeads. As a student of the world, I feel obligated to explore all walks of life, regardless of how unpleasant it may be. So once a week, at 6 pm on Wednesdays, I arrive at the StillDead's designated meeting site in Forest Park, for a little education. At the time of my arrival, a small gathering has congregated, resembling the backstage area at a circus sideshow. Typically, I am greeted by my running companions; but I try to stay aloof. Rarely do I engage my subjects - they are perfectly capable of finding enough deviant topics to discuss on our 6-mile run. When running, I try to stay within earshot, yet at a safe enough distance so as not to be seen with them by passerbys. Over the past two and a half years, I have learned alot about the StillDeads, and I will take a moment to share:

Makes for an interesting Wednesday run, but apart from that, I avoid these people as much as I can. I recommend the rest of you do the same.

Suggested by Mike Biondo  ♦  Yes folks, as many members of the Dead Runners Society can attest, when in St. Louis, one of the best Dead runner hangouts is Dave Braun's Kitchen. In fact, it is almost a StillDead requirement that, before becoming a fully assimilated St. Louis Dead, that one must join in the festivities of one of the many encounters that regularly take place in "The Kitchen". Only then will one know what it's like to be truly a St. Louis Dead!!! :-) Dave and Toni Braun have hosted encounters ranging from the St. Louis Marathon to toga parties. However one thing that remains constant is that, summer or winter, the grill is always fired up; there will always be plenty to eat; there will always be plenty of your beverage of choice! And best of all, if you are going to be sticking around St. Louis after the conference, the evening of Monday, May 25th, you are all invited to "The Kitchen" for dinner and yet one more farewell party, as the guests of Dave & Toni Braun, and the St. Louis Deads. So start working on getting those departure times delayed. This will be the perfect topper to an incredible conference weekend!

Reason 1 and reason 2 are missing... ;-)

Reasons 100-90 | 89-80 | 79-70 | 69-60 | 59-50 | 49-40 | 39-30 | 29-20 | 19-10 | 9-1