I got off the light-rail at the stop on the bridge across the Mississippi River. As well as providing nice views of the St Louis skyline this also enables the novelty of being able to walk between two states, Illinois and Missouri. Looking back at East St Louis I thought that there must have been some sort of leak as there was water shooting up in the air in the distance. Later I found out that this is in fact the Gateway Geyser, East St Louis’ version of the Gateway Arch across the river. Effectively it is a cannon that shoots up water from a fountain for ten minutes, three times a day.
Walking across the bridge is possibly the best way of entering St Louis. By the way, it’s definitely pronounced Saint Lewis and not Louee. According to the locals the only people who say St Louee and aren’t joking are tourists, Paul McCartney and the cast of the Meet Me in St. Louis. It tends to be written with a full-stop after the St abbreviation but presumably that’s American-English. When you cross the Mississippi River into St Louis most of the main touristy stuff is apparent; the iconic river boats, the Old Courthouse in which the Dred Scott case took place and effectively ended slavery, and the Gateway Arch. This is the eye-catching symbol of St Louis and is quite impressive in person, despite the park around it currently be redeveloped meaning that the arch is effectively in the middle of a building site. The Gateway Arch is supposed to be a monument for westward expansion in the US. St Louis is a bit of a funny place, regionally speaking. It’s kind of in between the West, Mid-West and South, both in geographical and social terms.
When categories regarding past Olympic Games are used on the television show Pointless, St Louis always scores well, on account that many people either don’t know or forget that the Olympics were held there in 1904. It’s clear that St Louis’ heyday was during the early twentieth century and lots of beautiful building from that era still remain today.
I’m staying in an Airbnb house in St Louis with someone called Zen who has a nice place in the leafy Forest Park district. Also staying there at the moment are two Indian medical students, Zen’s roommate and someone else I never actually met. Zen’s an affable sort of fellow. We don’t have a huge amount in common though; he likes spiritual stuff, musicals and Pokemon Go. However I’m just after somewhere clean, safe and convenient to stay and it ticks all of those boxes. He also cooks his guests an excellent breakfast.
Tonight’s entertainment was provided by Wilco at the fabulous Fox Theatre. I think that the theatre has often referred to itself by using the fabulous adjective and it to be honest it would be difficult to disagree. It has an enormous ornate lobby and amazingly detailed features throughout to give it a grandiose feel. They certainly don’t build theatres this extravagant any more. One of the corridors contained posters listing acts who’ve played there each year that the theatre has been open. I love looking at things like this. My favourite year was 1987 when amongst others, Paul Simon, REM, Roger Waters, the Beach Boys and Kenny Rogers all performed. I’d always thought of Wilco as a Chicago band but while in Belleville last night I found that Jeff Tweedy, the singer, is actually from there. Jeff mentioned that his Dad was here tonight and it kind of felt like a hometown show with plenty of talking between songs about local references. Wilco were on good form with a good selection of songs from across their albums and musically it was excellent. On the way back to the light-rail station I met a lady who was a bit of a Wilco-nerd. She’d been travelling around watching them and having been to the last four shows she said that this was probably the best.