Skip to: Site menu | Main content

The Top 100 Reasons to Come to DRSWCVI!

REASON 49 - THE ST. LOUIS ACCENT
Suggested by Joan Cook  ♦  Well, I grew up in Baltimore, hon, where we have "intrusive L" ("Hal nal braln cal?"), but that's not so strange, is it? ;-) Old-time Baltimoreans also say "zink" for sink and "warsh" for wash, and St. Louisans do that, too, so that sounds pretty normal to me. But St. Louisans call Highway 40 "Highway Farty," and I think that sounds really odd. However, there's a phonological rule that makes this phenomenon seem almost normal (or, as they say in St. Louis, "narmal"). In some dialects of American English, the syllable "or" always sounds like, uh, "or." Conrad's from Portland, Oregon, where they do this. So when Conrad says "Florida," the first syllable sounds like the word "floor." When he says "forest" or "forty," the first syllable sounds like the word "four." In other dialects (mine, for example), "or" sounds like "or" except in a stressed syllable followed by a vowel, where it sounds like "ar." So I say "forty," but I also say "farest" and "Flarida." I used to say "Portland, Aregon" until Conrad objected; now, in the interest of marital harmony, I say "Portland, Oregon." :-) In St. Louis, they take that "ar" rule one step further: "or" sounds like "ar" on all stressed syllables. So St. Louisans say "Flarida" and "farest" and "Partland, Aregon," and they also call two of the east-west highways "Highway Farty" and "Highway Farty-Far." The rule also applies to single-syllable words that receive stress in the sentence. A St. Louisan will ask "Would you like some more ice cream?" But when you're working on your third helping they'll say, "You pig! Are you eating mar ice cream?!" Come to St. Louis and check it out! Mike Biondo, Dave Braun, Adrienne Forsythe, and Kevin Kepley all have really excellent St. Louis accents.

REASON 48 - CENTRAL WEST END
Suggested by Joan Cook  ♦  St. Louis falls into several geographic sections: the north side and the south side are separated by a central east-west corridor. The easternmost portion of the central corridor is Downtown, the middle is Midtown, and the western part is the Central West End. The Central West End is an eclectic and progressive neighborhood, combining tradition and avant garde. No doubt the students and professional academics at Washington University to our immediate west and Saint Louis University to our immediate east (in Midtown) are a big influence. Hans Vonk (Dutch-born conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra) and his wife Jessie Vonk live in this neighborhood because it reminds them of Europe. Most of the southern part of the neighborhood is taken up with the Washington University Medical School and the Washington University hospitals (employers of several StillDeads), and the northern part has a lot of mansions on private streets, as well as many old-fashioned highrise apartment buildings. Euclid Avenue, Maryland Avenue, and McPherson Avenue have lots of coffee bars, shops, and restaurants. Conrad and I live in one of the highrises, the President, which was built in 1929 and lovingly restored in the 1970s. Around the corner from our building are three coffee bars, several dozen restaurants (many with sidewalk cafes), a health food store, a bagel shop with really good bagels, several art galleries and antiques shops, one of the last independent bookstores in St. Louis, a body-piercing parlor, a branch of the Goethe Institut, a men's lingerie shop that specializes in boxer shorts, two vintage-clothing shops, and a chocolate shop. Forest Park, where we often run on the asphalt path, is two blocks to our west. The St. Louis Cathedral, which MarkO wrote about recently, is two blocks east of our building. Sometimes we like to walk around the neighborhood in the evening and look at the mansions. One, at the corner of Hortense Place and Kingshighway Boulevard, is built in the Vienna Secession style. Others are good examples of Victorian architecture. The mansions are on private streets, which have gates at each end to keep the riffraff out, but the sidewalks are usually accessible. In contrast to the old buildings that have been here for a century is a sudden burst of renovation and construction. Even as I write, the "round building" a block south of the President is being torn down. It's a white highrise that's full of asbestos and was abandoned several years ago. The building has finally been bought by a developer, and a wrecking company is dismantling it very carefully, starting at the top; I can see this going on from my living room windows. They'll probably still be working on it in May. Once it's down, townhouses will be built in that space. Another abandoned apartment building just west of us is being renovated in grand style and will include luxury apartments, restaurants, shops, and office space, plus a movie theater and an outdoor pool.

REASON 47 - THE LEWIS AND CLARK TRAIL
Suggested by Conrad Halling  ♦  I grew up in Oregon and learned about the Lewis and Clark expedition in the 4th grade. The highways on both sides of the Columbia River are marked with signs reading "The Lewis and Clark Trail". Now Joan and I live in St. Louis, at the other end of the trail, and the same signs can be found along the highways north and south of the Missouri river. The Lewis and Clark expedition was ordered by America's third president, Thomas Jefferson, who in 1803 had purchased the Louisiana Territory from France for a few million dollars. (Napoleon needed money for his wars.) The territory was a vast stretch of land approximately the size of Western Europe. St. Louis was known on one end and the mouth of the Columbia River on the other end, but to Americans all was mystery in between. The expedition provisioned itself during the winter of 1803-1804 in St. Louis, a town of about a thousand residents that had been founded 40 years earlier. St. Louis was the center of the fur trade for the Missouri river and its tributaries. This was before the days of steamboats, when most goods traveled overland. During this winter, the expedition camped at Wood River on the Illinois side of the Mississippi river. The site is now marked with a rather neglected monument. In March, 1804, the Louisiana Territory was officially transferred to the United States. Curiously, the first transfer was made from Spain, the original claimant, to France. Although St. Louis was a French city, the French flag flew over the city for the first time and for only one day on March 9, 1804. The next day, the territory was transferred from France to the United States. The expedition departed Wood River on May 14, 1804, and traveled four miles up the Missouri river. On May 16, the expedition reached St. Charles. At the time, Lewis found the town "small and but illy constructed" and the residents "miserably pour [sic], illiterate and when at home excessively lazy." St. Charles is now a rapidly growing suburb of St. Louis, separated from St. Louis county by the Missouri river. The expedition departed this sorry outpost of civilization on May 21. In brief, the expedition reached the Mandan Villages in November, 1804, and wintered there. In the spring it continued up the Missouri to its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains, then traveled by horse over Lemhi Pass (crossing from present-day Montana into Idaho). Lewis and Clark had hoped that they would stand at the crest of the pass and gaze down the westward slopes of the Rockies to the Columbia River and maybe even see the Pacific Ocean. To their chagrin, all they actually saw were 60 daunting miles of rugged mountains. After a long, desperate hike, during which the party nearly starved to death, they finally reached the headwaters of the Snake River. They paddled down the Snake and Columbia rivers to the Pacific Ocean, arriving at the mouth of the Columbia in November, 1805. After a miserable and wet winter at Fort Clatsop (now a national monument in Oregon with a replica of the expedition's fort), the expedition traveled up river, over the Rockies, and sped down the Missouri to arrive triumphantly in St. Louis on September 22, 1806. Although the Lewis and Clark expedition was hailed as a triumph, in many aspects it was a failure. Jefferson had hoped that Lewis and Clark would find the Northwest Passage, a water route with at most a short portage over the Rockies, by which people and goods could travel from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean. This proved not to be true, and even today the crossing of the Rocky Mountains can be hazardous and difficult. Lewis and Clark, although recognized as great explorers, found people living everywhere they traveled. The inhabitants were often courteous and giving, sometimes suspicious and dangerous. (Perhaps they didn't want to be "discovered".) Lewis and Clark's pathetic attempts at diplomacy amounted to gifts of bronze medals and a few trinkets, and they often stirred up trouble among the tribes. By this time, of course, Native American culture had already changed greatly because of the introduction of the horse to the continent by the Spanish conquistadores. It would not be long before settlers of European extraction would bring weapons and disease to sweep the original inhabitants from the land. If you want to learn more while you're here, visit the museum under the Arch on the riverfront. If you travel to Missouri's wine country, you'll drive along State Highway 94 along the north shore of the Missouri river, and you'll see Lewis and Clark Trail signs along this road. I highly recommend two books. The first is a biography of Meriwether Lewis called Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose. For the point of view of the Native Americans, read Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Dee Alexander Brown.

REASON 46 - UNIVERSITY CITY MEMORIAL DAY RUNS
Suggested by MarkO  ♦  These races have gone through many incarnations starting over twenty years ago as two races - a seven miler and a three miler. I still remember those gold and black T-shirt (probably gold and black since those were the U City High's school colours) with the lion on the front (one of U City's trade marks is a lion and can be seen on many things referencing U City due to the fact that there are two large pillars on each side of Delmar with a male lion adorning the top of one, a female atop the other). Back in those days, the race started and ended in Heman Park and the pool there was open for swimming after the runs. During those first few years, we went through many sponsors (local dry cleaners, local cable company, etc.), and in the leaner years, instead of T-shirts, we got those old tank tops that had 1970's written all over them - and yes, I do still have one or two of them stashed away somewhere. For over a decade now, though, the race has been to benefit the local library, and all monies raised have gone to buy new books for the U City Library. The races are now a 10K and 5K and two fun runs for the kids and they start and finish at the library. The 5K and 10K take you through residential U City, and there's always a lot of crowd support as well as local residents volunteering along the course. Having grown up (and still living) in University City, there are many familiar smiling faces along the course. The fun runs run through historic University Heights (a private subdivision of U City), one of the first neighborhoods in U City (where the founder of U City - E. G. Lewis lived), filled with stately old homes. The runs are not only great for the kids, but after having run a 10K and a 5K, watching someone else run (especially cute little kids) is a nice break. Last year, I used the 5K as a cool down for the 10K (it starts 90 minutes after the start of the 5K). I started running the 5K with Sid (who was in for Midwest Conference II), but once I broke into song ("Girl from Ipanema" if I remember correctly), he ditched me. All was not lost, though, as I came upon another old and very dear friend (we used to race Big Wheels in her driveway when I was 4 and she was 2), and I ran backwards in front of her most of the race singing to her and shouting encouragement. Note - the race application has a place to mark whether one is competitive or not. This has nothing to do with how fast you run. What it really should say is "Do you want your time recorded and posted with your name?" - and if the answer to this is "Yes", then mark competitive. Second note - At WCII, Maurits won both the 5K and 10K races. I was there, but wasn't yet Dead, and was quite puzzled by all these folks I saw wearing DRS shirts.

REASON 45 - METROLINK
Suggested by Mike Biondo  ♦  In 1993, St. Louis launched its 18-mile regional light rail system, aptly named MetroLink. As with any major undertaking, there were those critics who said the train would never leave the station. But MetroLink has become a tremendous success. Original ridership was predicted to be 4.8 million in its first year of operation but nearly doubled that number with more than 7 million users in the first year. In 1995 ridership soared to 65% or nearly 12 million commuters and continues to grow with each passing year. Several expansion of routes, have already be approved. MetroLink's 31-vehicle fleet operates at capacity nearly every day and transports as many as 100,000 people to and from the City for major events such as St. Louis Rams football games at the new Trans World Dome or St. Louis Blues Hockey games at the fabulous 20,000-seat Kiel Center. MetroLink has also become the preferred method of transportation for fans attending St. Louis Cardinal baseball games at Busch Stadium. All of these major centers are along the 18-stop MetroLink route. Other key stops include historic Laclede's Landing, Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, the Gateway Arch, Forest Park including the art museum and the Zoo, and major shopping centers. MetroLink has also become a popular transportation option for students attending Washington University Medical Center and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. One of the currently approved expansion routes will be into Clayton, which played host to DRSWC2 and is again playing host to DRSWC6. Currently there is a MetroLink shuttle that does run from Clayton to a nearby MetroLink station, making transport to/from the airport and many St. Louis attractions a very economical proposition. Not quite as affordable as the free hotel shuttle though... :-) An interesting aside - Back when they were first building the MetroLink (which literally travels through tunnels directly under the Medical Center where Dave Braun and I work) Dave and I would do runs along the right-of-way while they were laying track. I have never seen anything like it... they would unload track down near the St. Louis riverfront. But this was no ordinary track. Each piece of track was 1/4 mile long!!! They would then use a tractor and literally drag 1/4 mile long pieces of track along the entire length of the line. Now one would not think a piece of railroad track is all that flexible, but at a 1/4 mile long, that stuff would bend around curves like a wet noodle!!! Amazing!!! I mentiond that the right-of-way travels through tunnels under the Medical Center... another really cool run - running through tunnels. Tunnels long enough to make it pretty darn dark in there. Spooky! That big baby, Dave Braun was complaining the whole time we were in there... :-)

REASON 44 - MUSIC
Suggested by Tracey G.  ♦  St. Louis is home to many aspiring rock bands like The Urge, New World Spirits, Radio Iodine, Stir, Gravity Kills, Pave the Rocket, Ultrafink, and Soul Kiss. Many, many other bands may not have hit it big with regards to radio time, but are talented and worth a listen, and you won't have to spend big bucks to do it. Just a couple of dollars will get you in the door of most local venues. (We just saw Marcy Playground a couple of weeks ago for $6!) So, you come to St. Louis for the conference, it's midnight, you're just rarin' to go thinking all these other guys and gals are wusses for trying to get some sleep before the big track meet when you're just getting started... not to worry; there will be plenty of musical distractions. One of us helpful locals will hand you an RFT (Riverfront Times), a map and some cab fare, and point you in the right direction. ;-)

REASON 43 - UNVERSITY CITY LOOP
Suggested by MarkO  ♦  Imagine just for a second that you have come to a place filled with people of all colours and creeds. Sidewalk cafes line both sides of the streets. You want Italian food, it's available. You want Persian food (with the best osh that I've ever had), it's available. You want Thai food, there's two places to choose from. And there's Lebanese and Chinese and Ethiopian and a sushi bar and nouveau gormet and American pop, and so much more more food than I can even mention. And when you have satiated that appetite and thirst imagine that there's so much to see that you go for a walk. And you walk the streets and see the Walk of Fame (a future Reason), peak into Blueberry Hill (an earlier Reason), and maybe throw some darts or play some pinball. All along the street there are art galleries and stores that sell esoteric items from all over the world. A must stop is Ploughsharing Crafts (a self-help organization), run all by volunteers, all proceeds go back to the nations that the inventory comes from. All sorts of wood carvings and clothing and jewelry and boxes and musical instruments available at low prices, and by shopping there, you are helping tiny villages in other countries. There is an old style movie theater which carries artsy films as well as the better of the pop ones. There is a used record store (not specializing in CD's, but it still sells vinyl), as well as a new one. There's a florist for buying flowers for one so dear. There are new style coffee shops that are smoke free and you can have your frappe, and a 60's style one where you can get your coffee with rice milk while playing chess in a smoke filled room while some beat poet reads what he calls poetry. There's a wine bar with a great selection of wines for all seasons (and wonderful food to complement it), and next store a used book store whose smell of old books makes one think he is in Heaven. And though I don't recommend it, body piercing and tattoos are also available. To make it easier (I guess), laughing gas is available in little whippets (yes, they can sell that stuff over the counter) at the Grateful Dead store next door. And just in case you might want to leave this Mecca, the MetroLink (earlier Reason) is a two block walk away. So anyway, stop imagining and come see my little piece of Heaven right here in my home town...

REASON 42 - THE BIONDO BREWING COMPANY
Suggested by Dave Braun  ♦  Anheuser-Busch may control 50% of the U.S. beer market, but BBC supplies over half of the beer consumed annually at StillDead gatherings. Perhaps not the first DRS brewer, but for sure he popularized it (by self-promotion, testimonials, folklore, legend, side-shows, whatever). Spawning offsprings in Huntsville (St. Rich Brewing Co.), Austin (Sid Brewing Co.) and another St. Louis location (Mathineer Brewing Co.), Mike has furthered the brewer's art. The first DRSWC brew was called "Pink TuTu Ale". A brand that was only brewed one other time - for the WC2 reunion. It will never be brewed again... the recipe (on a notebook page) having been lost in a tragic mishappenstance when Mike ran out of toilet paper. Transporting this precious liquid over State lines to other encounters, tasting Bob Haas and Andy Edmondson brews at WC3, and the coming-out-of-the-woodwork of other brewers on the list were responsible for the decision to have a beer tasting contest last year at MWC2, an event to be repeated at WC6. If the quest to find the Holy Grill was not enuff reason to come here, surely the StillDead-brewed conference beer and around-the-world brews at the beer tasting competition will.

REASON 41 - "WHERE'D YOU GO TO SCHOOL?"
Suggested by Dave Braun  ♦  Although this phenomena may happen elsewhere (but I doubt that it does more than here), you can probably bet that a person is a native St. Louisan or went to high school here by asking one simple question: "What school did you attend?" Note - Local protocol; one does not specify high school or college... it is understood that school means high school (and, no, it's not because that's about the highest level of education attained around here ;-). More often than not, it will come up in a conversation between people meeting for the first time, usually in the first ten minutes, or right after you find out if he/she ever ran a marathon (if you know he/she is a runner). Now, an out-of-towner would probably answer with their college, a dead giveaway that they ain't from here. And, if they look at you funny, don't pursue it any further. Even someone with as many degrees as a Chuck McCaffrey, will name his high school (if he/she is from St. Louis). This local custom has its roots in the parish communities (elementary schools). I believe St. Louis has the second largest per capita Catholic population in the U.S. While it may have started there, it now is the high school. Why is it asked in the first place? I mean, isn't it a meaningless conversation piece along the lines of, "Great weather we're having, huh?" One reason is that, although there are over two million people in the metro area, St. Louis is close knit - six degrees of separation applies here - everyone knows someone from some school. So, you establish a common link with the person you are talking to - "Oh, do you know so and so?". However, I think the best reason was to find out where that person lived, and thus gain an inference of this person without delving too deeply into their background. For example, if the answer is "Vianney", you can probably infer that this person is/was Catholic and from South County. Your next question might be, "Oh, do you play soccer?". Or, "Ladue", probably rich. "Ucity", Jewish. "Oakville", upper middle class and "Did you wrestle?". "Affton", working class. "Maplewood", lower middle class and probably involved in more fights after games than any other school. Just hope that the person asking the question doesn't hold a grudge if he is from the likes of Kirkwood, Brentwood, Webster Groves, CBC...

REASON 40 - "SUPER BRIDGE"
Suggested by Dean Mueller  ♦  If you're interested in checking out the Great River Road (previous Reason) or the Alton Belle Casino (upcoming Reason) or want to set foot in Illinois "just because", then take Highway 367 out of St. Louis and you'll cross the famous Clark Bridge as you cross the Mighty Mississippi. The New Clark Bridge was completed in 1994 and was constructed during the 500 year flood along the Mississippi where it replaced its 65 year old predecessor. At first glance, it might appear to be a suspension bridge (like the Golden Gate) but it is actually a "Cable-Stay" bridge. A design technique that is gaining popularity due to its reduced use of structural steel and its lower cost. The fundamental design principal is that the weight of the bridge is supported by two pillars. Unlike other bridges of this type which use a single plane of cables, the Clark bridge has a dual set of cables on either side of the great pillars, further reducing the amount of steel required and cutting even more costs. The design is so unique in fact, that its construction was documented and aired by Nova in November 1997 (a great show by the way, watch for it if it ever comes back around :-). The two pillars stand 250 feet above the river surface. 8100 tons of steel and 44,000 cubic pounds of concrete were used in its construction. The cables, which support the weight of the bridge, are 160 miles long (end to end) and four acres of yellow, plastic wrapping were used to cover the cables. The net result being a truly impressive sight as you approach and pass under the mighty pillars. At night, the bridge is glowing spectacle with bright lights positioned along the taught, yellow bands. If you're heading to Illinois, this is the way to go! :-)


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