Friday, February 25, 2011

Columbia SC

What's Columbia got to do with Egypt?

I know - what kind of dumb question is that, right?. I hear you , but there I was , strolling along a meandering country road on the outskirts of Columbia South Carolina, taking in the afternoon sun, and hearing the sounds of the far off State Fair wafting across the September breeze, when I follow the road around the tree-lined bend only to be met with a 20 foot fresco of the ancient Pharaoh Rameses, or someone who looks just like him, peering down from his throne, and surrounded by heiroglyphs of due respect, his face weatherd away by the elements. I was left with only one thought - "What the....?"
Maybe I had some preconceived notions about what traveling in the Carolinas might be like, and maybe it's my own fault for not being open minded, but Pharaohs?
The image is painted on a concrete slab which is clearly the remaining wall of some considerably less ancient structure than a pyramid or catacomb, but has a few seating benches and tables set at its base for the casual wanderer to sit and enjoy their diet coke and fritos, safe in the knowledge that the ancient gods of Egypt are watching out for them.
The jarring visual stimuli didn't stop there.Carrying on my stroll and slowly recovering from my impromptu date with a Pharaoh, I was soon met with a white two story building that boasted the painted image of the Incredible Hulk (sure, why not?) punching his way through the wall and snarling at me. Over his left shoulder near the corner of the building , was the word 'GROW' in grey letters and groovy script.

At the green super hero's feet, a small table soaked up the sun, with an arrangement of blackened and burned engine parts resting on top, and beneath, between it's legs and in the shade, a burned out bird cage. You heard me. Wondering if maybe I had wandered into a Terry Gilliam movie, I dedided to head back to base, and quiz my host - a Columbia native - about these odd sightings.
My host, Davey, at the Redbird School of Irish Music, assured me that I wasn't losing it just yet, and that the white two story building was an artist's collective, once known as the Grow Cafe - a coffeehouse and venue/artist space, now just a studio , although still it would seem very much inhabited by the ghosts of it's former glory.
As for the Pharaoh, Davey could shed no light.......hmmmm...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Mississippi Mud House

The above picture is just to get your attention and has nothing to do with the following post - just something spotted in O'Fallon MO.
Speaking of MO....

The Mississippi Mud House St Louis MO, on Cherokee and Illinois, is one of the coolest coffeehouses in the mid west : great menu (check out the Portabello Rueben) , great coffee (duh) and a very hip ambience. The salad greens are grown out back, for the most part, and the emphasis is on local produce.

A back wall houses books for sale while surrounding brownstone walls are adorned with local art and retro advertising, and it's WAY easy just to sit back, put it all off 'til tomorrow, and just while away the hours with a hot coffee or three, watching the local Cherokee Street traffic as they stop in for lunch, meet a few buddies, chat with staff, or just sit back and watch you watch the local.....well you get what I mean.

Oh yeah, the French Toast is also top notch.

I first wandered in there with my buddy Kevin after a hard morning recording. Two coffees and a lunch hour later, we found ourselves wandering back to the studio saying, " wow, cool place". We dont say that too often. When I was back in town about a year later, I headed down for breakfast, and ordered the aforementioned  French toast. Hot syrup. Bananas. Hot coffee. Mmm. 
Me and Kevin headed in for lunch  after a morning gig , and man, they did it again . I reacquainted myself with the Portabello Rueben ( we're an item now) while Kevin inhaled the Club Sandwich with emphatic nods of approval.
I'm telling you. You should go. Really cool place.