Amoeblog

Happy Missouri Day, Frankie & Johnny!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 20, 2010 10:47pm | Post a Comment
Frankie Baker
In recognition of Missouri Day, here's a brief breakdown on Missouri's second most famous couple (after the fictional Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher), a real-life couple usually referred to as Frankie and Johnny. After Frankie caught her man in flagrante delicto with another woman, Alice Pryor, and shot him dead, it was commemorated in numerous songs and films.

Frankie Baker was a 22-year-old St. Louisan dancer who was dating 17-year-old Allen "Al" Britt. Britt had another girlfriend on the side. Britt's friend Richard J. Clay warned Britt about dating two women at the same time but Britt carried on. Then, on October 15th, 1899, around 3:30 in the morning, Baker headed home to her apartment at 212 Targee Street in Chestnut Valley and caught Britt in bed with Pryor. An argument ensued with Baker's roommate, Pansy Marvin, testifying that Britt threw a lamp at Baker and cut her with a knife. In return, Frankie shot him once with her Harrington & Richardson .38. Britt died of his wounds two days later. Baker claimed in her trial that she'd acted in self-defense. She was acquitted but didn't escape notoriety.

Britt Allen's Grave
Al Britt's grave

Happy Missouri Day, Stagger Lee!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 20, 2010 05:35pm | Post a Comment
Stagger Lee

Stagger Lee
is one of Missouri's most celebrated characters in song. Loads of people have sung about the seemingly amoral anti-hero, but here are the facts, ma'am.

Chestnut Valley, St. Louis

Lee "Stag" Shelton
was born on March 16, 1865. As a young man he drove a carriage cab and pimped. He also operated a "sporting club," the Modern Horseshoe Club in St. Louis's "Bloody Third" Ward, in an area known as Chestnut Valley. Chestnut Valley and the sporting clubs located there were instrumental in the development of ragtime. Shelton was part of a pimp clique called The Macks. His trademarks included a high roller stetson, rings, an ebony cane, spats and St. Louis flats -- mirrored shoes with pointy, upturned toes. Oh yeah, and a .44 Smith & Wesson.


On St. Stephens Day, 1895, Shelton and Billy Lyons were at a the Bill Curtis Saloon (described by the paper as "the envy of all its competitors and the terror of the police") together, in the "Deep Morgan" neighborhood. Initially they were cordial, but after more drinks, began smacking each others' hats after the conversation turned to politics. First, Shelton grabbed Lyons' derby. Lyons then removed Shelton's stetson. According to witnesses, Shelton demanded either the hat be returned or Lyons pay with his life. Lyons pulled out a knife he'd borrowed in advance from his friend and companion at the bar, Henry Crump. Shelton then shot Billy Lyons.

Continue reading...

Show me the Mo Movies!!! - Missouri in Film and TV

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 30, 2010 10:00pm | Post a Comment
Some folk that know me know I have to see dang near err movie that's filmed in, set in or tied to Missouri (whurr I grew up). With the Bourne Trilogy, those ties were somewhat tenuous... Badass Jason Bourne is merely informed that his real name is David Webb and he's from Nixa. No wonder he joined the military. Needless to say, people are sick of hearing me talk about my home state, but most of yins are strangers so it will hopefully be only a fraction as annoying as what they put up wither pritnear err time I sip on somethin'.
Jesse James 1927

I just sawl Winter's Bone the other day. What can I say? The boyz (and gulz) in the woodz is always hard! Wisely, they actually filmed in the Ozarks rather than in Canada or some other pale stand-in. Not much in the way of distracting celebrities either. Perfect music by Tindersticks' Dickon Hinchliffe. Real recognize real, ya heard? Anywho, hurr's my pretty complete timeline of Mo Films.

MO MOVIES IN THE SILENT ERA

Silent Movies were ideal for the people who made "Show Me" thurr motto. With outlaws from Missouri including Tom Horn, and badass cowgirls Belle Star and Calamity Jane, it's kind of surprising how many Missouri-set Westerns overwhelmingly favor popular Missourian Jesse James. Apparently, the most Missouri silent movie would have Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer joining the James Gang. Just consider the following silent films set in the state:

The James Boys in Missouri (1908), Coals of Fire (1911), In Mizzoura (1914), Tom Sawyer (1917), In Mizzoura (1919), Huckleberry Finn (1920), Jesse James as the Outlaw (1921) and Jesse James (1927).

MO MOVIES IN THE EARLY SOUND ERA

COMETBUS ISSUE #52 THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS, ANOTHER GREAT READ

Posted by Billyjam, September 16, 2009 11:36am | Post a Comment
cometbus
I recently picked up Cometbus #52 (The Spirit of St. Louis) at the Berkeley Amoeba Music store -- one of several fine independent retailers that carry the legendary, decades old, punk-literary series. As with all the previous installments of this Aaron "Cometbus" Elliot- penned slim book, such as last year's Cometbus #51 The Loneliness of the Electric Menorah, ever since I started reading it I can't put it down...which is a problem, in a good way, because I know in no time I will have read the entire engrossing 66 pages of this latest Cometbus. So  I find myself rationing my reading, allowing myself just nine pages, which is three Cometbus chapters, a day.

Cometbus #51 was a sort of history of the subculture of Telegraph Avenue, focusing on its bookstores and record stores. It incorporates into its story Cody's, Moe's, Universal, Rasputin, and (of course) Amoeba Music, as well as such age old Telegraph Avenue characters as Ace Backwards and Julia Vinograd (aka The Bubble Lady), whose poetry was included in that last issue.

For the The Spirit of St. Louis Cometbus, as its title implies, Aaron writes about St. Louis and the close-knit cast of colorful characters (including Brett, Pete Feet, Spike, Wayne Two, Penguin, Jody Lee, & Katie from Haiti) in the local punk scene that he interacted with in a previous time -- he never says exactly when, but, based on the music references, it seems like it is circa early/mid nineties. 

St. Louis Union

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 10, 2008 09:24pm | Post a Comment
St. Louis Union were a Manchester six piece fronted by impeccably-coifed singer, Tony Cassidy. Shortly after forming they won a Melody Maker beat contest in 1965 which scored them a deal with Decca. They were billed as "THE Group on the Northern Soul Scene." Their sound was centered around Alex Kirby's tenor saxophone and Keith Millar's electric guitar backed by some serious organ by Dave Tomlinson, John Nichols on bass and Dave Webb on the skins.

Their live set was built around "Turn On Your Lovelight," "Woke Up This Morning," "Every Day I Have the Blues" and "Get On the Right Track Baby."

Their name seems to be a reference to the St. Louis Union Station, a train station famous, like many things in St. Louis, as having been the biggest and busiest thing in its field way back when. Its archways are designed so that one can whisper into them and someone else can hear you clearly on the other end, a design feature with no apparent practical applications, save simple amusements in a simpler time. It was largely built of limestone taken from Indiana, probably just to remind the Hoosiers who's boss, as the state of Missouri is entirely made of limestone and they're the nation's leader in lime production.


Truman having a laugh at St. Louis Union Station

In the 1970s, the station was bought by Amtrak. They ended operations soon afterward and relocated their operations to a building the unhealthily train-obsessed refer to as Amshack. Now it's a mall where tourists watch the guys at the Fudge Factory put on a show and the Footlocker has a basketball hoop with the backboard autographed by the D.O.C.