Shower to the People: New Nonprofit Takes Hygiene to the Homeless -- By Truck

Categories: Community

Courtesy of Shower to the People
The truck that Shower to the People will use as a portable shower truck to provide showers to the homeless in St. Louis.

Maybe you've given a homeless person spare change. Or even a sandwich.

But what about a shower?

"We can give people food all they want, but if they don't have proper hygiene then they won't get a job," explains Jon Hiltz. "People get in a rut of feeling worthless and if they feel dirty, then they don't even want to be around people and do something for themselves."

That's the animating philosophy behind Shower to the People, a nonprofit launched by Hiltz and his co-founder Jake Austin. Their aim is to provide showers and other basic hygiene necessities to St. Louis' homeless population through a portable shower truck.

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Hodak's, Neighbors Squabble Over Shared Parking Lot

Categories: Community

Courtesy of Doug Firley
This car was towed from the Hodak's lot at 11 a.m., Doug Firley says -- even though the lot around it is totally empty.

It was the interns' cars that sent Chris Benson over the edge.

Two new interns had just started working out of the office of Benson's Lamplight Films, a film production company based in south St. Louis, when their cars were towed. They'd parked in the lot next to Lamplight's office on Gravois, just east of Jefferson -- and missed the signs on the office door, warning them they could only park in particular spots.

Never mind that the lot was practically empty. It would cost $150 to get each car out of hock -- money that Benson personally paid.

"They're not making any money," he says. "They didn't know."

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Cherokee Geyser Draws City Attention, Concern

Image courtesy of Thomas Eversmann
Another view of the Cherokee geyser
In the past week, the Metropolitan Sewer District has welded down sewer grates and is actively trying to fix the so-called "Cherokee Geyser," according to developer Jason Deem. "They've been very helpful and responsive in investigating the problem," says Deem, who owns property at all four corners of the intersection at Cherokee Street and Texas Avenue, where the geyser blew its top last week.

The Metropolitan Sewer District told Riverfront Times on Monday that the geyser appears to be caused by an unusually high Mississippi River on one side and a rush of rain water on the other, creating pressure that drives the water in underground pipes upward -- and erupting onto Cherokee Street.

Sewer district spokesman Sean Hadley did not know whether the eruption happens by design to relieve pressure, or whether it's a design flaw that can be repaired; the district is "investigating the matter."

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The Cherokee Geyser Is Real -- We Have The Videos to Prove It!

Categories: Community

Image courtesy of Ben Gathard of Brevity
A nighttime shot of the "Cherokee Geyser" at Cherokee Street and Texas Avenue
Ever heard rumors of the "Cherokee Geyser," that 30-foot tower of water that erupts from the sewer at Cherokee Street and Texas Avenue after a hard rain?

It ain't no urban legend. The geyser is real. We have video proof.

And frankly, it looks unsafe.

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Bummed About the City Razing Old Buildings? Now You Can Track It Online

Image via
This North St. Louis house, built in 1899, was slated for demolition
Until recently, it wasn't easy to know how many old buildings in the city were slated for the wrecking ball, much less what kind of shape they were in.

Now there's a one-stop shop for it: The "Demolition Docket."

Since April, the independent Preservation Research Office (PRO) has been running the new blog, utilizing government data that's always been available, only not in such a user-friendly format.

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When It's 4 a.m., Go to Eat-Rite Diner for a Slinger -- or a Reason to Love St. Louis Again

Photo Courtesy of Flickr/Phil Roussin
The Eat-Rite Diner at 622 Chouteau

In the right rear corner of the Eat-Rite Diner, up by the security camera, there's a cluster of holes in the porcelain tile. A robber blasted those into the wall with a shotgun in the 1980s. He came in one night trying to hold up the place, but the cooks were too busy to notice — at first. So he fired off a round. That got everyone's attention.

What happened next — how much he stole, whether he truly pistol-whipped someone, whether he got caught — depends on which staffer you ask. Eat-Rite lore is like that. Details get added or elided over time. But it's a decent yarn, and a decent yarn can pull you through the night shift.

Last week, Riverfront Times sat through three consecutive night shifts at the Eat-Rite Diner at Chouteau Avenue and Seventh Street. It's fair to wonder why. The menu hasn't changed much in 45 years. The building is just a 516-square-foot dive a few blocks south of Busch Stadium. Only thirteen customers can eat at the counter at a time. It grosses maybe a few hundred bucks on an average night.

Yet Eat-Rite is unique in our city's nocturnal ecosystem. It's the sole kitchen within a three-mile radius of the Arch that stays open all night and lets you dine in — making it a sort of bottleneck, a place through which the peckish must pass to get their after-hours pancakes or omelets.

- See also: St. Louis' Most Hangover-Friendly Diners

It attracts St. Louisans of all moods: the drunks and demons, clowns and curmudgeons, philosophers and philanthropists. At Eat-Rite, you chow down next to folks who didn't attend your high school and don't care about your career. Black, white, 99 percent or 1 percent — sometimes the only trait you share is a craving for the slinger, that hot wreckage of breakfast foods that the owners, the Powers family, claim they developed three decades ago.

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St. Louis Swap Meet Gets City Green Light -- For Now

Categories: Bidness, Community

Photo by Abby Gillardi
A scene from the St. Louis Swap Meet last weekend.

The city's Board of Adjustment has upheld the occupancy permit for the five-week-old St. Louis Swap Meet -- a flea market held every Sunday off Cherokee Street's Antique Row.

As we chronicled last week, some veteran Antique Row merchants had feared the weekly event would harm their shops. They appealed the permit, urging the city to make sure the vendors obtained business licenses and paid sales tax.

The board's decision essentially allows the Swap Meet to carry on as before, meaning that founder Martin Casas will not be responsible for making sure his vendors follow the rules. Flea markets in Belleville, Illinois; St. Peters and the city's Tower Grove neighborhood operate with similar freedom; it's up to each participant to comply with applicable laws, not the organizers.

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Row on Cherokee's Antique Row: Merchants Take on St. Louis Swap Meet

Categories: Bidness, Community

Photo by Nicholas Phillips
Resale merch at the St. Louis Swap Meet
From the outside, the first St. Louis Swap Meet looked like a score. Some 5,000 souls swarmed the placid Marine Villa neighborhood on Sunday, May 17. Trekking to the eastern end of Cherokee Street, they found 91 vendors who had set up booths in the old Lemp Brewery's gravel parking. There they milled among new and used goods, and even some produce.

The metro area's newest flea market couldn't contain the bustle. Shoppers spooled onto adjacent Antique Row, where more than a dozen red-brick shops sell vintage merchandise in the shade of zelkova and oak trees. Most dealers are closed on Sundays, but some opened their doors that afternoon and saw a bump in traffic. The Mud House, a cafe/restaurant five blocks west, was open too. Its line grew out to the sidewalk. Co-owner Jeremy Miller later said it as one of the highest-grossing Sundays in his cafe's six-year history.

"The St. Louis Swap Meet was a great success," Miller's wife and co-owner, Casey, wrote a few days later on the Cherokee Antique Row Facebook page. But then she clarified: "Please know that the majority of the businesses on the street are not opposing the market."

"Haters gonna hate," she continued. "The rest of us will continue to do business in harmony with everybody else."

"My thoughts exactly," Jovanka Hammond, co-owner of Hammond's Antiques & Books, replied on Miller's post. She lamented unnamed "mischief-makers" with a "negative" agenda who "misinformed" people.

"We all have a lot to lose if we don't wake up," Hammond wrote. "In a more perfect world, my choice would be to keep this private rather than public, but the line has to be drawn somewhere."

Haters? Mischief makers? Over a flea market?

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Ferguson Municipal Public Library Is 2015 "Library of the Year"

Photo by Mitch Ryals
Shaila and Janeatha Evans were among the many Ferguson residents who came to the library after unrest closed the schools. Here they show off their art projects to RFT journalist Mitch Ryals.

The Ferguson Municipal Public Library is the 2015 Library of the Year.

The $10,000 prize, officially titled the 2015 Library Journal/Gale Cengage Learning Library of the Year, was announced yesterday. The award is given to the library that "most profoundly demonstrates service to the community, creativity and innovation in developing specific community programs or a dramatic increase in library usage; and leadership in creating programs that can be emulated by other libraries."

Naturally, the library's role in serving the community during the unrest that gripped Ferguson last summer was what caught the judges' eye.

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St. Louis Is the Most Affordable Rental Market for New Grads

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Tim Hamilton
St. Louis is No. 1 for grads seeking affordable rent, according to a new Trulia study.

If you're a new graduate looking for a city where you can actually afford an apartment without bunking up three to a bedroom, look no further.

St. Louis is where you ought to move.

That's according to a new study from real estate site Trulia, which compared salary data for new graduates with the cost of rental housing. St. Louis' combination of relatively generous starting salaries, coupled with extremely affordable housing, earned it the study's No. 1 spot as the most affordable rental market for new grads in the U.S.

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