City-County divide helps kick MLS out of St. Louis

It was an artist's rendering and that's as far as it will get.

It was an artist’s rendering and that’s as far as it will get.

Today’s lead story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch blamed the failure of the MLS stadium proposal on a large voter turnout in the City of St. Louis. That may be the case. But what really doomed the proposal is the same thing that continues to work against the St. Louis region as a whole – the separation of St. Louis City and St. Louis County.

We’ll never know for sure what would have happened had the two entities been one on this particular matter. So this is purely speculation on my part. Yet I’m convinced that had  St. Louis County been a part of this vote and had it been a single voting block of St. Louis County and St. Louis City instead of two separate entities, we’d be looking at a new stadium going up just west of Union Station.

As it was, passing two props was too much to ask of St. Louis City voters. With all that the City needs, putting the additional funding strictly on their shoulders was going to be a very tough sell. Helping to fund yet another stadium with a league that has been on shaky ground was a big enough leap of faith as it was.

Had the County been involved in the vote, even then, I’m not sure it would have passed and despite what St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said about looking for ways to collaborate, something tells me that the city location of the stadium would have been its downfall with a County vote added to the mix.

Only when the City and County join forces will we truly see regional cooperation. Alas, I don’t think that’s going to happen in my lifetime. The divide is too deep. There are way too many kingdoms in the County that will continue to look out strictly for themselves at the expense of the rest of the region.

I know it’s not that simple.

I was bummed when the Rams left but we sealed our own fate when somebody created that lovely little opt-out in the lease. Now I’m bummed that there won’t be an MLS team to root for during the spring, summer and fall. MLS soccer would have been a fun alternative and addition to the Cardinals and with the soccer-rich tradition of St. Louis, I think the team would have caught on very quickly.

The plan would have gotten my vote.

I hope that someday, another plan will.

 

 

 

A fond farewell to MU’s Kim Anderson

Tonight will probably be Kim Anderson's last game on the sidelines for the Tigers. Photo: Columbia Daily Tribune

Tonight will probably be Kim Anderson’s last game on the sidelines for the Tigers.
Photo: Columbia Daily Tribune

In what was one of the biggest surprises in early March Madness, the Missouri Tigers somehow managed to beat Auburn University last night in first round action of the SEC Tournament.

I thought for sure that last night would have been Kim Anderson’s final game on the sidelines as the University of Missouri head basketball coach – but some ineptitude on Auburn’s part in dribbling the ball down the court and some improbable 3-point shots that actually went in for a change allowed the Tigers to prolong this train-wreck of a season for another night.

I wasn’t thrilled when Kim was hired to replace Frank Haith. It just didn’t seem like a smart move to me even though he was a much-loved former Mizzou hoopster and had a strong alumni contingent pulling for him to get the coaching opportunity.

Three seasons came and went and basketball at Mizzou has gone from bad to worse.

Kim might have been an okay coach. He might even be a good coach. But as for recruiting, not so much. There are some pretty strong basketball players here in the state of Missouri. Most of them end up going somewhere other than Mizzou. And who can blame them?

The program has been on its heels probably dating back to when they brought in Quinn Snyder. His teams managed to make the tournament quite often but there were multiple off-the-court incidents that led to his departure. Mike Anderson was a tough coach and his teams did well. But there were still underlying problems that led to potential NCAA violations so when his alma mater called, he was gone, leaving a few more potential investigations behind in his wake.

Frank Haith didn’t do the program any favors, either, and he left the program in even greater disrepair.

So Kim had a mess on his hands before a whistle was ever blown. Personally, I think his gruff demeanor and total by-the-rules coaching style didn’t jive too well with the players he inherited – so many of them left. And he couldn’t bring in the caliber of players needed to get the program back on its feet again.

So tonight, (barring another March act of madness) will be Kim’s last hurrah. It was cool seeing him give Terrence Phillips what I thought was a final hug for both of them after Phillips had fouled out.

It’s hard to judge the intangibles of what Kim does behind the scenes. Ultimately, in college sports, it’s all about wins and losses. And for that, Kim now owns the worst three losing seasons in Missouri college history.

The only way the program can go, in theory at least, is up. I’m hoping this next coaching hire is the start.

 

Blogging takes a back seat

Maybe this was inevitable. My blogging rate has been on a steady decline the past two years. Though I have vowed to blog more in earlier posts, I’ve done the exact opposite.

I don’t want to talk about politics. There’s more than enough negativity out there as it is and I’m not interested in stirring things up.

I don’t have that much to say about sports right now. The Cardinals are already on a ledge with the loss of Reyes. The Blues are doing their usual thing of stirring up hope when in reality, they probably won’t get past the first round of the playoffs. Stan Kroenke and his endless greed is old news. April 4th will determine if we get an MLS team or not and I’d probably lean not though I wish it would go the other way.

I’d like to talk about the great progress St. Louis has been making recently. At least we’re staying out of the national spotlight and I know there are great things going on in this metro area but it seems like it’s always one step forward and two steps back or maybe a little side shuffle instead.

I could talk about the work I’ve been doing – lots of video production, some new broadcast campaigns I’m working on in sync with an agency and a few new business pitches here and there – but I haven’t really created anything earth-shattering.

Then there’s my art which I continue to pursue and I’m gearing up for my first solo show since 1994. Opening night is set for Friday, March 3rd at 1900 Park – Creative Space and Gallery. It’s now less than two weeks away and there’s still lots to do.

Every day that goes by without posting something makes it that much harder to do the next. It’s so easy to just say no.

This blog post was like a Seinfeld episode. If you read it all the way through, you realize you’ve just read something about nothing.

I’ll try and do better on the next one but if you made it this far, thanks for coming along for the ride.

 

Drunk on America

When I first heard that A-B InBev was renaming its flagship brand, Budweiser to America for the summer and right on through to the election in November, I thought it was a joke.

I honestly can’t believe that here I am blogging again about Budweiser. Just a few posts ago, I was writing about how angry their ads had gotten, taking an in-your-face attitude to new extremes.

Now, this Belgian-owned company is doing the ultimate act of American commercialism, jumping on the patriotic bandwagon in their effort to sell more beer.

America beer.

Talk about a brand that has lost its way.

You can’t say that the folks at A-B-InBev are doing this to get us all to rally ’round the flag. Putting the Star Spangled banner on a can isn’t exactly a fitting tribute to Francis Scott Key. Sadly, in this day and age, I’ll bet the majority of Americans don’t even know what “E Pluribus Unum” even means or where it originated. Perhaps a few bar conversations might elicit the answer but I’m betting it doesn’t begin a new age of enlightenment about American history.

It’s all about selling beer and Budweiser, or, starting May 23rd, America, is fighting a losing battle. According to Market Watch, “In 1988, Budweiser sold 50 million barrels on its own, making up 25% of all beer sold in the U.S. It has lost more than 70% of its sales since that time and, back in 2011, was knocked into third place among beer brands by Coors Light. It now accounts for just 7% of the U.S. market.”

Donald Trump says he wants to make America great again – but this brand of America is on the decline, getting kicked around by the same craft beers that Budweiser has bashed in recent commercials.

I don’t think the in-your-face attitude is going to fly in their efforts to sell America. Instead, I’m expecting some syrupy, idyllic slice-of-life showing the great times had by all consuming America at backyard bar-b-ques, 4th of July celebrations and sporting events from baseball games to the Olympics. All in an effort to sell more beer.

Maybe they’re hoping that everyone will buy a six pack of America just so we can sit it on the shelf as a collector’s item and shake our heads at the audacity that Carlos Brito is now allowing to be launched from sea to shining sea.

First he does a hostile takeover of Anheuser-Busch. Then he comes in, cuts costs, jobs and puts pressure on suppliers – from rice grain to beechwood to the printing and packaging industry, forcing companies to accept 90-day and in some cases 120-day payments for services rendered. Ah, that’s the American way.

No, it’s not.

I know a lot of people who still work for the brewery. I know a lot of other people who have lost a lot of business ever since the Belgian takeover took place.

Maybe America will be a marketing success.

I’m sure it’s been focus group tested and when quizzed, people still respond that they love America.

I just find it wrong for a company that is now foreign-owned to try and sell beer by putting our country’s name, founding thoughts, and heritage onto a label.

When Chevrolet did it with their, “America loves baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet” it was kind of cute and iconic. When other brands salute the Olympics and play on Americana, it’s to be expected – particularly since many of those companies are helping through sponsorships. But no company (especially a foreign-owned one) has ever done anything quite as blatant as this.

America. I’m not buying it.

 

 

 

 

 

The Cubs, The Blues and Hell freezing over

It’s been a very strange sports year so far for St. Louis.

It started with the Rams moving (though that actually started years ago).

The St. Louis Blues had what has become somewhat of a normal regular season for them, once again, amassing more than 100 points which is truly outstanding considering the injury-plagued season they endured. But points only get you to the playoffs and though finishing second in a brutal division could be considered an accomplishment, the only thing that helped ensure was home ice against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks.

When the Blues somehow managed to take the lead in the pivotal seventh game, I imagine that any St. Louisan tuned to the game was fully expecting a fluke tying goal to send it to overtime.

But it didn’t happen. The Blues beat the nemesis Blackhawks and moved on to the next round where last night they actually got to enjoy somewhat of a respite from playoff insanity by drubbing the Dallas Stars, taking a 2-1 lead in the process.

Could this be the year?

Granted, there’s a long, long way to go, even in this series. Right now, that Stanley Cup is about as near as …

the Cubs winning the World Series.

Yes, the Cubs are for real. They have hitting. They have great pitching. They have an improved defense. They have a fun, funky manager who has been to the World Series as a manager (though didn’t win).

Currently, they are steamrolling other teams, looking like they’re well on their way to a 100+ victory season.

Baseball pundits across the board picked the Cubs to go all the way. They’re playing loose, having fun and even all those day games at Wrigley may not slow them down. It’s enough to make any loyal Cardinals fan downright envious.

If the Blues do go on to win the Stanley Cup, there will be a seismic shift in the Universe. That just might unlock the key to the Cubs winning it all.

And if the Cubs do win it all, we all better start brushing up on the Book of Revelations.

The end is surely near.

No need to repent quite yet.

In the meantime, Let’s Go Blues!

 

 

 

Flush the Rams and prepare for some Super Bowl commercials

The St. Louis media has hyped the loss of the Rams about as much as they can. Sure, we’re down an NFL team and about $16 million in fees on top of the yearly bill to pay for the soon to be nameless dome that will be home to more tractor pulls and monster truck races in the near future.

We loathe Stan. We will continue to loathe him for as long as he is around to be loathed.

But it’s also time to move on. Time to forget that there is no longer any conceivable way for St. Louis to end up in the Super Bowl. Those days are over. The way the Rams were run, they may never get back there again, anyway. So it’s time for the national hype to pick up on Peyton vs. Cam.

It’s going to be a good game – I think. It should also be a good year for a whole new crop of commercials coming from a whole new crop of agencies.

Yes, the big boys will be there – Pepsi and AB (I don’t like to acknowledge the InBev part) and I assume Coke as well. Wieden + Kennedy will be unveiling their first work for Bud Light introducing ‘The Bud Light Party’. Doritos is back with their Crash the Super Bowl commercials and the one they have out as a tease called “Ultrasound” is lots of fun.

New movies will be touted. The automakers will step up with a variety of approaches that are meant to be memorable and hopefully will have some semblance of day after recall.

But get ready for some new entries as well.

Have you ever heard of Bai? Sorry, but I hadn’t. And have you ever heard of Barton F. Graf? That’s the agency that produced Bai’s new Super Bowl commercial. I checked out their previous “None of this makes sense” campaign and it’s pretty darn good and has a really nice overall positioning. I don’t know what their spot is going to be about but I look forward to it.

SquareSpace will be using the comedic talents of Keegan-Michael Kelly and Jordan Peele. I’d say I’m looking forward to that but in reality, I never heard of either one of them before I typed their names – showing how hopelessly out of touch with who’s hot and who’s not.

Sorry.

So, am I going to actually share anything? Yes.

Pokemon, of all things, is celebrating their 20th anniversary and they’re still going strong. Some agency named Omelet out of Los Angeles (maybe they’ll get the Rams account) produced this awesome, fun to watch, and highly unexpected commercial.

Brilliantly shot. Great editing. Great music.

Enjoy.

That’s all I’ve got for now.

MySLArt.org’s Best In Show Showcase

This past March, I put a few of my recent paintings on display at an event called the MySLArt.org 33 Show. Each month, artists from throughout the metropolitan St. Louis area can submit 3 works of art into the show. If you’re chosen, you become one of 30 artists featured in a monthly showing at the Old Orchard Gallery in Webster Groves.

I chose two of my recent works and one of my older favorites and was pleasantly surprised when I was informed that I made the cut. (Whether or not everyone makes the cut, I have no idea.) I was even more pleasantly surprised when I discovered that someone at MySLArt chose one of my three entries as the key visual used to promote the show.

I invited a number of friends and family to the opening and a good time was had by all. At the end of the evening, yet another surprise came my way – not only did I sell one of the entered pieces, I also received the dual honor of my work being judged as the People’s Choice award and I also won the Juror’s Choice award – making me one of only two artists to receive that honor.

So now, MySLArt (MySLArt.org) is having their first ever Best in Show Showcase, featuring 5 works of art by each one of the 12 monthly winners of 2015. Opening night is on Friday, January 8th at The Chapel, which is across the street from Forest Park off of Skinker Blvd. (http://chapelvenue.weebly.com – 6238 Alexander Dr.) It’s all part of a fundraiser for MySLArt.org – so even though admission is free and open to the public, they do ask for a small donation at the door. There will be food and drink and live music by The Riverside Wanderers.

I had a tough time deciding what I should enter.

Since I resumed painting in July of 2014, I’m now on my 13th canvas – so I could have gone with all recent works – but I decided instead to be slightly thematic with these paintings that now span a period of more than 25 years as all five entries feature a little man in either a black suit or a long black coat, wearing a black bowler hat. There will be two recent paintings and three from my painting days in the late ’80s into the ’90s.

The man is basically my tribute to my all-time favorite artist, Rene Magritte who also created a number of paintings featuring a man in a bowler hat, almost always with his back turned as if he also were looking into the painting. Looking at photos of Magritte, I can see that his version was somewhat of a self-portrait. I don’t quite see my versions that way but I do love putting this little guy into extremely odd circumstances. Magritte was a surrealist, fascinated with painting what seemingly existed but could never quite be. I’m not quite sure what I am other than a hack who enjoys putting paint on a canvas.

I’m also donating a painting for a live auction that they’ll have at some point during the evening. It will be interesting to see if it sells and yes, it, too, is another homage to Magritte.

Some might say that I am ripping him off, using some of the same thoughts and concepts in my paintings as he had in his works. To that I say, “yes”. Still, Magritte passed away in 1967. If he were around today to see some of my work, he might laugh at its amateurish quality – he was a master. I’m still in kindergarten. But I also think Rene would encourage me to keep painting to see where it leads me.

I invite you to visit The Chapel next Friday night – not just to see what I’ve done but to also enjoy the works of 11 other extremely talented artists. If you can’t make it on the 8th, the show will be up through February 6th.

I also invite you to explore more of my work on my Pinterest page (https://www.pinterest.com/bloodlines/paintings/) There you’ll find a wide range of paintings and a wide range of styles, too.

I love to paint.

Sorry, but recently, it’s been getting in the way of my writing endeavors.

I hereby resolve to do more of both in 2016.

Hope you can make it to the show!

Let’s go, Mets!

Ugh!I’m not bitter about the Cardinals loss to the Cubs. They were the better team in virtually every category. And the better team deserves to win.

But they’ve already gone far enough.

Okay, let them win one or two games in the upcoming NLDS. But please, no further than that.

Even though Marty McFly saw the hologram about the Cubs winning the 2015 World Series, I just can’t envision a future where the Cubs are World Champions.

It’s not supposed to happen in my lifetime – or anyone’s lifetime, for that matter. The Northsiders have such a long-standing tradition of losing that winning might just turn the whole world upside down. If the Cubs can win a World Series, pigs can fly, former Presidents can become First Gentlemen, the Mississippi can switch directions and who knows what other kinds of mayhem might ensue.

They’re going to have their Ace Arieta ready for Game 1 which means he’ll get a minimum of two starts. The planets are aligning. Jupiter and Mars are wondering what in the world is going on and all I can hope is that somehow the Mets find their mojo, beat the Dodgers in LA and then send the Cubs back where they belong in October – home to their families where they can regroup and say, “There’s always next year.”

That is my hope.

The Cubs are a fun team to like – and to dislike. Pedro Strop wears his hat to the side. That’s irritating. Trevor Cahill was washed up with the Braves until he landed with the Cubs. I didn’t even know Fernando Rodney had made his way to the Cubs and he comes in and shuts down the Birds’ bats. (Well, kind of.) I like Bryant and Rizzo and Castro. And Kyle Schwarber? He reminds me of Matt Adams back when Matt Adams could hit.

So like a car slowing down to see what the wreck is all about on the side of the highway, I will stop to watch the upcoming series, whether it’s against the Dodgers or the Mets.

The Dodgers have great pitching but they’re another team that I just flat out don’t like.

So let it be the Mets that sends the Cubs packing.

And if they somehow get to the World Series, start wearing a hat – you don’t want to get hit by pig splatter.

Rams fans opting out before season begins

Don't worry, be happy.

Don’t worry, be happy.

Well, Stan, I guess your wish is coming true.

Your high-powered St. Louis Rams football team is now 0-3 on the pre-season and the big St. Louis debut of Nick Foles and company packed in a whopping 37,000 fans into the Ed who apparently had nothing else to do on a Saturday night in St. Louis since the Redbirds were on the coast.

We’re season ticket holders but we opted out, choosing instead to go out to dinner with friends and when I checked the score right around dessert time, I knew we had made the right decision.

I’m sure Jeff Fisher will say there’s nothing to worry about. And from Jeff’s point-of-view, he’s probably right – Stan’s going to pay him anyway whether they go 2-14 or somehow manage to shock the world and finish maybe 9-7, posting the Rams first winning record since 2003.

“Well, we’ve got a few penalties to clean up and need to stick to our routes a little better,” or something along those lines will be stated by Jeff. “We can fix that.” Then they’ll get ready for the big Governor’s Cup Showdown this Thursday night against the Chiefs. And drop the ball … again.

Nick Foles did manage to go 10 of 11 which is excellent but it amounted to a whopping 123 yards and led to one touchdown. Go crazy, folks, go crazy.

I’m sure this Thursday evening, downtown St. Louis will be buzzing with excitement, tailgaters everywhere, spilling over into Laclede’s Landing and lining the streets of Washington Avenue with Rams and Chiefs fans both before and after the game.

Uh, no.

And since the Cardinals have an off day on Thursday night, the echoes you hear as you scream out loud, “Stan, what have you done?” will bounce off the walls of an empty downtown.

It’s going to be a very long season.

I’m not quite ready to go the route of wearing a sack over my head – that’s too much effort. But I am expecting a partially-filled Edward Jones Dome that will only grow worse as the season rolls on as the Rams stumble and bumble and fumble their way to L.A.

And as attendance dwindles and the season fizzles, the NFL will come out and say that the fans of St. Louis just don’t know how to support a professional football team.

If only we had one.

 

First Bill and now, Bernie?

The decline of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is accelerating at a rapid pace.

First, we hear that Bill McClellan is ‘retiring’, as he, five reporters, two editors and a paginator all voluntarily resigned from the paper a few weeks ago and will collect severance pay based on their years of service. And in this morning’s paper on page two of the Sports page was a little article stating that Bernie Miklasz is also leaving his post at the Post.

This is not good news.

Yes, the days of the daily newspaper are dwindling. People simply have too many other options to obtain their news these days and there is so much content out there that people don’t have the time for in-depth analysis or commentary. It’s news delivered via sound bite or tweet.

Across the country, newspapers are struggling and closing their doors. The majority have gone to delivering content both in printed form and online, including the Post-Dispatch and numbers show that the printed pages are destined for oblivion.

For many years, the Post-Dispatch has been the only newspaper in town. I remember when the St. Louis Globe Democrat used to arrive in the morning and I’d get my sports update and read the comics in the Globe and then later in the day my dad would get home from work and hand me the afternoon edition of the Post-Dispatch – where I’d once again devour the sports page and read the comics (the P-D’s comics were always better than the Globe’s).

As a kid, it didn’t really matter to me about the left leaning idealogy of the Post and the conservative approach of the Globe. But as I got older I began to notice and when the Globe folded and St. Louis became a one-paper town, the Post-Dispatch was all we had – love it or leave it.

People began to leave it.

Their left leanings never really bothered me. I regularly read their news and analysis and often disagree with their point-of-view. That’s okay. At least they had a point-of-view. Now when you read the bylines of the articles and even the columnists – most are picked up from other sources.

Now, they’re going to have to pick up even more. Bill McClellan has been reduced to one Sunday column a week. I have no idea how Bill will decide what to write. But whatever it is, I’ll read it because I love Bill’s point-of-view, his wit, his wisdom and his unique way of capturing the absurdity of life.

Bernie will be greatly missed as well. He’s another gifted writer who not only sees the big picture of the sports world, he’s also extremely gifted at revealing insights that go way beyond the box score.

When Bryan Burwell died, he wasn’t replaced. Even though this morning’s paper says they’re going to search for another sports columnist, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if that didn’t happen. Perhaps Bernie saw the writing on the wall and thought it best to get out before the flames completely engulfed him.

All I know is that when I walk out to my driveway in the morning and I pick up the morning paper, (which hopefully hasn’t been sitting in a puddle where the water somehow manages to permeate the cheap plastic wrapper) that not only will it continue to be a little thinner due to fewer companies choosing to advertise in a paper that has been dwindled and lessened in content with news that is picked up from other sources (how’s this for a run-on?) and throughout you’ll find typos and errors of omission – but now, my two favorite columnists that I’ve been reading for a long, long time – are gone.

I’ve written quite a bit about the steady decline of St. Louis. Yet I hold out hope that this city can experience a renaissance. I don’t really have those hopes for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

At least, not in its current form that shows up on my driveway each morning.

Before we know it, St. Louis may not even be a one-paper town anymore.

And we’ll have to go elsewhere to find out what Bill or Bernie have to say about that.