Monday, June 28, 2010

Learning to Love St. Louis

After living for almost a year in the St. Louis area, I'm still trying to find ways to learn about it and like it. To be completely honest, it's not an easy place to love. I can't really explain why my rapprochement with St. Louis is proving to be so difficult. Probably, it's the semi-Midwestern semi-Southern culture of the city that I'm still not getting.

So yesterday I decided to mix different kinds of experiences in St. Louis: an authentic (or what I think is authentic, which could be completely misguided) eating experience in the Broadway Oyster Bar and listening to the opera Evgeny Onegin at the Loretto-Hilton Center.
As you can see from the pictures, the restaurant is very quaint and cute. Of course, the Cajun food it serves doesn't have much to do with St. Louis but the ambiance and the people made the experience feel very much like a genuine St. Louis way to spend time.

The opera was pretty good, and it was especially nice to see that there were almost no unoccupied seats. Of course, I am yet to get used to the very American practice of adding captions to an opera, which is extremely distracting and completely unnecessary.

If anybody has any advice on what one could do to learn to understand this city better, I would be grateful. I know I'll get it eventually but for now it's taking time.


Amanda said...

Have you been to the City Museum? It is quite possibly one of my favorite places in the world.

Melissa said...

Actually, the supertitles aren't just an American practice. They're fairly common in large parts of Western Europe, as well. (Especially in the larger houses). Of course, it's less distracting there because everyone has an individual monitor and can choose whether or not to use it (plus, of course, multiple languages are available).

I love the new layout, by the way!

Clarissa said...

Thank you for the advice, Amanda! I haven't been yet, but now I will definitely go.

Thank you, Melissa! I'm glad you like the layout. I have never heard about the individual monitors. How cool is that?

Anonymous said...

"Of course, I am yet to get used to the very American practice of adding captions to an opera,"

well it is america....

Pagan Topologist said...

The Metropolitan Opera in New York also has individual monitors which you can turn off if you wish.

Clarissa said...

When I lived near New York, I was too poor to go to the Met. :-) I was a permanently indigent grad student. But I went to the Lincoln Center. There, at least, they had only one big captions device. Here, they had 4 or 5.

Antoní said...

Words cannot adequately express my disdain for the lack of culture and open minds one encounters in much of the midwest, St. Louis obviously included. There are however, as I know you are acutely aware, many lovely communities and people there, just as there are in any corner of the U.S. Unfortunately however, many of them rely on a television screen for any development of a semblance of cultural awareness or appreciation. I wish you the best of luck in coming to terms with your life there. And please do keep us updated on your progress.

When I’m there, I usually spend time on South Grand or on Cherokee Street. South Grand offers the greatest concentration and widest variety of ethnic restaurants of anywhere in the city that I’ve found, and Cherokee Street (near the corner of California and Cherokee) is host to primarily Hispanic businesses, restaurants, etc. It’s music to my ears to walk down the street there and to hear almost no English (on the good days). Unfortunately, it’s a very short walk.

If, as you’ve already been in St. Louis for a year, you are already aware of the locations I’ve mentioned, just ignore my ranting and continue churning out your thought-provoking and intelligent blogs.


Clarissa said...

I really know what you mean. I live in a tiny town in Southern Illinois, and seeing all those exclusively white faces gets very daunting. I saw two Chinese men on my street last week and felt that maybe not all hope is lost for this area.

I'm glad you like the blog. :-)