On our way out of town we stopped at an antique mall that had a great selection of remarkable items and really excellent prices too, which is an unusual combination in my experience. We left with an assortment of treasures, but I still felt compelled to pull the car over when I saw a sign on the side of the interstate indicating a souvenir shop called Nostalgiaville just ahead, with a going out of business sale in progress no less!
It was of course really kitschy, but Mark and I had fun looking around and managed to find a few items we couldn't resist. I did succeed in passing up the giant rhinestone encrusted Elvis bag with three dimensional/removable clock, though.
The real reason I insisted on stopping at Nostalgiaville, (besides the simple irony inherent in the failure of a place called Nostalgiaville) was to take photos of the exterior - the visual appeal of which was readily apparent when we drove up. I really liked the pink "Enter" sign pointing straight into the dirt. It looked even lovelier with the beautiful fall leaves as a backdrop.
I also liked the billboard that warned travelers on the highway that they should exit now->exit now->exit now. What is unclear about that, I ask you?
It turns out the longtime owners are retiring and don't want to fool with running a store anymore and I can't say I blame them one bit. I do wonder this, however: what motif(s) did they use to decorate their home? I hope, for example, that the bathroom is done in Elvis, the kitchen in I Love Lucy and the boudoir Marilyn Monroe. It's probably Bauhaus or Shaker or something intensely minimalist like that, though. That seems to be how things work in the universe.
We continued on our eastern trek toward St. Louis, through intermittent rain showers, heavy mist and even a big pile up on the interstate that had traffic creeping along for a few miles. We made it to St. Louis by late afternoon and immediately made a visit to the Soulard Farmer's Market. This market has been in continuous operation since 1841 and must be staggering when it's operating at full tilt. There were only a handful of vendors when Mark and I went, but we managed to scare up a fragrant cantaloupe for a dollar and some cherry wood smoked bacon.
|Outside Soulard Farmer's Market on a stormy fall day.|
I was hunting for provisions because the place we were staying had a kitchen with which we could prepare tomorrow's breakfast. Remember, toasted biscuits were already on the menu and now we had bacon!
After returning to our lodgings (which were fantastic, by the way), Mark deftly applied a bit of Halloween make-up for me and we were soon off again for some Halloween dinner at the nearby Lemp Mansion in downtown St. Louis. The Lemp mansion was home to the family that created the Falstaff brewing empire and was the site of several Lemp family member suicides in the early part of the 20th century. It is reputed to be haunted and made the perfect setting for a little pre-concert dinner.
We didn't manage to see any ghosts - just funlovers eating fancy entrees. The food was pretty straightforward old-school restaurant fare (I chose Beef Wellington), but the setting was oh-so-perfect for a freewheeling Halloween night on the town.
We headed back to our lodging so we could rest just a few short minutes before walking a couple blocks to the Old Rockhouse, a venerable St. Louis rock club with a view of the Arch out the windows. The ostensible purpose for this entire trip was for me to be able to see a band I really love and have been following over the years. You might remember their hit "Dizz Knee Land" which has the memorable quote, "I just flipped off President George, now I'm going to Dizz Knee Land". I've loved this band since I heard their first album in 1992 and this is probably the fourth or fifth time I've seen them perform. They're all three phenomenally good musicians and put on an incredible show usually lasting a couple of hours or more. I'm a huge fan of a well played electric guitar and Dada has two guitar greats, my favorite being Michael Gurley (at right with the cowboy hat). Soon after the show began I was able to slip into a small pace at the stage's perimeter, about five feet from the feet of Michael Gurley. The best part of where I stood was my proximity to Michael's monitor, so I could hear every lick loud and clear, as it was happening. Mark stood in the back and snapped a few photos for me since I was busy worshiping at the altar of power pop. I had a blast.
On the walk back to our rooms through the chilly, rain washed streets I was glowing with the power of listening to music you love, cranked up to 11, played exclusively for you. It was worth every penny and minute I had spent getting here.