St. Louis, Hanson Beer, Post Animal

DAY 60 -- This was going to be an amazing Thursday from the start. Not that I don't love spending time with my family, but Amy had signed up for a one-day conference in St. Louis and my sister-in-law had offered to have our kids hang out with her for the day. She had to be in St. Louis herself for a camp one of her own daughters was enrolled in so this put four-fifths of my family over the river into the city. Not to be outdone, I made it a full five-of-five now that I had the day to myself to explore all of the stops that otherwise would be accompanied by a bored wife and/or kids.

They all left my dad's house for St. Louis around 6:30 in the morning in order to get to where they needed to be. A few hours later, I was out the door, as well.

. . .

I'd always heard great things about Saver's -- a chain thrift store that we don't have anywhere close to home. With one on my way to St. Louis, I found myself walking through their doors just after they'd opened as I dreamed of endless grab bags and rows upon rows of videos and books.

They had plenty of both...and I left with nothing.

The stop wasn't a total loss as I heard The Pet Shop Boys West End Girls on the radio while I was browsing the overpriced books.

. . .

Next up was the St. Clair Antique Mall -- packed with a variety of booths ranging from old furniture to baseball cards.

Some of the highlights included a Voltron toothbrush and an artist's model that someone had positioned into a full-on dab.


Although I saw plenty, I bought nothing. This can be explained very easily with this Little People Western Town that I was super interested in...

...until I saw the asking price of $75.

This day wasn't off to a good start. Time to head across the river to St. Louis.

. . .

I've you've been reading here for a while, you know that for a few years now I've been on the lookout for some mmmHops pale ale -- from the brewery of the Hanson brothers. Of course, the Hansons are known best for what I consider to be one of the greatest pop songs ever written -- mmmBop.

With their brewery based out of Oklahoma, there are only a few locations outside that area where mmmHops is available (according to their website) -- one of those being the Friar Tuck store in St. Louis. No doubt this was my next stop and there it was in all its glory.


My spirits were up.

Laugh all you want. I love this song.

. . .

As it turns out, the Friar Tuck in St. Louis is only a few minutes away from the next place I wanted to stop -- Record Exchange. I'd been to Record Exchange a few times before but not in several years. I recalled it being a record store packed with just about anything you'd want from any genre of music you were in the mood for on that particular day.

My brother warned me ahead of time that this place had gone downhill a bit since I'd last been there -- yet I pressed on with high hopes.

High hopes that were quickly dashed as soon as I walked into this un-air-conditioned rat trap.

Boxes stacked on boxes stacked on boxes stacked on records. Rows of CDs blocked by piles of records stacked on bins of inaccessible records. The frustration of this experience was quickly compounded with the 100 degree heat outside which led to the 120 degree heat inside.

After less than ten minutes in Record Exchange, I was out.

I no doubt would have found plenty in this store to purchase but there was no way I was going to fight my way through the unmaneuverable stacks of clutter to browse the inventory. Especially not in that heat.

I'm thinking I've likely made my last visit to Record Exchange.

. . .

Off to Vintage Vinyl...

...where I bought nothing -- not due to their inventory but rather the fact that I didn't want any vinyl sitting in a hot car all day.

I've heard that you should never leave your records in the sun. Or they'll warp and they won't be good for anyone.

. . .

It was early afternoon by this point and I was hungry. After calling my brother for a few suggestions on where I should eat while I was there, my choices were down between Fitz's and Salt + Smoke.

I chose Salt + Smoke.

Amazing barbecue.

Part of me thinks my brother suggested this place just so I had to read a menu with multiple references to bologna. And we all know my feelings on lunch meats.

. . .

Now here's where the day gets a little bit weird. I decided to check out some of the other shops around Salt + Smoke and Vintage Vinyl and stepped into a candy shop and then a game store. Just as I was starting to feel out of place in a store mostly filled with role-playing game pieces, I got a phone call from my sister-in-law.
"We were just calling to tell you we just saw you!" 
"We just finished eating at Fitz's and were driving down Delmar and Charlotte said, 'Hey, there's Dad!'"
So apparently in the entire city of St. Louis, I ate lunch in a restaurant separated from my children by exactly one Chuck Berry statue.

This seemed familiar.

. . .

By this point, the sweat dripping down my back let me know that it was time to get out of the sun and go pick up Amy from her conference. I grabbed a cup of coffee at the shop in the bottom of the building where her conference was held and spent the next half-hour daydreaming and people watching.

With the conference over, we had about four hours to kill before the real reason we were in St. Louis -- which I'll get to in a minute. We had two choices -- fight rush hour traffic or go across the street and mess around at the Galleria shopping mall.

We chose the mall.

. . .

Now let me tell you about the Galleria. It's not the kind of shopping mall where you go grab a cheap pair of jeans and a Orange Julius. This is one of those malls for shoppers looking for expensive make-up and fair trade body washes made from fruits and vegetables.

In my Knicks t-shirt and flip-flops, I was out of my element as soon as we left the parking garage. Here was my go-to script:
Amy: "Oooo. Let's go in there." 
Me: "Take as much time as you'd like. I'll be sitting on that bench right over there."
I was reminded of a time when Amy and I were first dating. We were at a different mall and she was doing some shopping in some store where there was nothing for me and I parked myself on a bench outside. As I daydreamed, two men in their 60s or 70s walked by me and one patted me on the shoulder and smiled.
"I've been there, young man. I've been there."
I'll never forget that.

But I digress.

While we wandered the mall, Amy convinced me to visit a store that specialized in men's shaving products. After the employee went through her entire sales routine and I listened with as much interest as I could pretend to have, she started her questions.
"Would you like to try some of these oils?" 
"No. Thank you though." 
"We do have top of the line shaving equipment." 
"I'm okay with what I've got." 
"Are you thinking about growing your beard out?" 
"Our barber is available if you'd be interested in a touch up." 
"No. Thank you though."
I'm not sure who was most disappointed between the employee who had cards stacked against her from the start, my wife who hates my beard, or me for wasting ten minutes of my life in a store listening to this lady tell me how to use this stuff that smelled like toilet cleaner.

. . .

Dinner. Schlafly Tap Room.

I love this place but I was still stuffed from my late lunch at Salt + Smoke. Amy ate much earlier and was super hungry.

She ordered a beer and a burger with a fried egg. And potato salad. And cucumber soup.

I ordered a beer and a house salad.

We had a good laugh when the runner brought our food and unconsciously attempted to put the burger (et al) in front of me and the salad in front of Amy.

Stereotypes, son!

. . .

Alright. Now the real reason we were in St. Louis. Forget conferences and junk stores. We were here to see Post Animal -- a band with Amy's brother Matt on guitar. The band was scheduled to headline a four-band show at Foam -- a small corner spot that can get you some good coffee or some good beer.

Or both.

A place that Amy and I were in love with from the start.

Despite the cool venue, I was clearly one of the oldest people in the building. I've talked before about being the "old guy at the show" and I'm totally fine with that. Still, a shout out goes to this guy for guaranteeing I was at least the second oldest there.

Also, a nod to the guy with the Larry David patch on his vest.

I can't tell you how great it was to see Matt in his element -- playing music and living life. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't living vicariously through him to a certain degree. The kid who used to beat up on me at NCAA Football on the PS2 is now touring the country with his band and having a blast in the process.

While we waited for Post Animal to play, Matt told me that a guy in the band they're touring with is the son of a guy who played in a pretty popular band in the 90's.
"Oh, yeah? Cool," I said as I assumed it was some random faux-grunge band trying to ride the coattails of the Seattle scene. 
"You may have heard of them. They were" 
"If you say Material Issue I'm gonna piss myself." 
"Yeah! That's it! Do you know them?" 
"Only one of my favorite bands ever!"
Full disclosure, Material Issue falls into the same category as many of the other things I've come to love throughout my life -- things I've come to love thanks to the great taste of my brother. He turned me on to Material Issue late in high school and I was an instant fan.

Anyway, this friend of Matt's from the band they're touring with is the son of Ted Ansani from Material Issue.


. . .

Okay. Let's get to Post Animal and I'll say this. I know good music when I hear it and these guys are amazing. This has nothing to do with the fact that my brother-in-law plays guitar with them because, as I've said many times, I'd be a fan of these guys either way. Some parts psychedelic rock, other parts garage band, and others just good honest rock n roll, I hope to see great things from Post Animal in the future.

Forget the fact that my wife's brother is in the band. If you get the chance to check these guys out live or through a download on their bandcamp page -- do it. I've heard their new album that's coming soon and it is phenomenal!

Travel safe, Matt. Travel safe, Post Animal. This old man's following along from his basement.

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