An Open Letter to LA Weekly: St. Louis Is Awesome (And We Like Being Underdogs)

Unless you've been out of the country, in space or without Facebook, you're well aware of the many anti-STL articles hitting the web. The first few were warranted and offered unique perspective - at least on some level. And then came the wave of pageview-hungry mediocre "journalists" who have trouble generating hits without hopping on a bandwagon.

And that was fine. But this story from LA Weekly is just sad. I can deal with satire (I love satire!), even when it's about the city I love so dearly. But this is just mean. And completely inaccurate. So I wanted to share an open letter to LA Weekly and the authors of this crappy piece of pseudo-journalism. View the original comment here.

Before you read, I have just a couple notes. 

I could not possibly fit all of the wonderful things about St. Louis into this swiftly written letter. I also promise this won't be as well written as St. Louis Doesn't Suck or the other great pro-STL articles out there. 

I have zero hatefulness toward Los Angeles or any other city, or toward the authors of this article. I might resent them slightly - but only because I know how much passion is behind STL and personally know so many individuals who sacrifice their blood, sweat and tears (quite literally) to make our city a better place. This isn't the first time I've written about St. Louis. See Local is the New Black here.


Bloggers Julia and Katherine overlooking Forest Park.

Dear LA Weekly,
This is sad. I would offer my regrets that a former RFT employee has such an unfortunate memory of St. Louis, but a poorly written list that includes toasted ravioli and the zoo as highlights of our city makes me realize this unrefined ex-St. Louisan just doesn't know any better. And while I give her props for being the 1,000th to try to leverage the baseball buzz and viral shit-talking in an effort to generate pageviews, her version of satire might be one of the reasons she no longer works for RFT (and possibly why she fled far, far away to LA where no one knows who she is, or ever will).
Since she never had the capacity to experience St. Louis as a local (I can only assume she grew up in a St. Louis suburb and made more than one appearance at Laclede's Landing), I'm offering a few suggestions for her next trip home to recover from the mindlessness of LA's majority (see: pompous, entitled transplants).
Sarah Fenske, 
This is for you.
10. Unless you're completely unaware of your surroundings, you shouldn't have a problem staying safe in St. Louis. As with any city, you should try to avoid the rough edges. But if you're more of a problem solver than a bitcher (You're not.), maybe you should swing by Old North to take a peek at the progress being made by men and women who genuinely care about making the less fortunate parts of the city better places to live for their current residents and new ones. I encourage you to spend a day in one of the many community gardens, coffee shops or parks where loving St. Louisans are working together for no reason other than an organic willingness to make the world a better place.


st. louis is awesome
Fashion bloggers from across the US stop by the Arch on a recent tour of St. Louis with Muzio, ALIVE Magazine, Saint Louis Fashion Week and The Convention and Visitors Commission. . Photo by Amber for ALIVE Magazine.
9. Though thousands of people remain employed by AB in St. Louis, when you make your trip back to STL to settle down (because we all know it will happen - just like it always does), you should think about applying at one of the 50+ creative firms, internationally renowned talent agencies, 15+ corporate retailers, 10+ local publications, or I don't know... Wells Fargo. Well, maybe not the publications. But when you go back to school to work toward your career change, WASHU, SLU and our other universities also have great job opportunities.


st louis is awesome - stl fashion jobs
Bloggers at Brown Shoe in St. Louis.
8. You're not going to run into any celebrities while you're in St. Louis. You're welcome.


st. louis fashion central west end
Reshma Chattaram Chamberlin of BC Designers and Muzio with blogger Keiko and her mother (left) visiting the Central West End.
7. During your next visit, be sure to pick up a Sauce Magazine, Feast Magazine, ALIVE Magazine and St. Louis Magazine. These local publications will help you find restaurants other than dingy pizza places employed by high school students (Yes, they really do exist! I know this might come as a surprise to you - probably even in LA.). I encourage you to check out Sydney Street Cafe, Herbie's, Libertine, Pastaria, I Fratellini, Element, Tripel, Eleven Eleven Mississippi, Vin De Set, Bridge Tap House, Winslow's Home, Bailey's Range, OR Juice & Smoothie, Rooster, Strange Donuts, Tree House, Osage Cafe, Central Table, Home Wine Kitchen, Farmhaus, Elaia and Olio, Niche, Taste by Niche, Blood & Sand, Table and so many more. I suggest asking what new CVap creations they have on special, or visiting on a menu-less day and pushing your taste buds to new limits.
Or if you're stopping in to watch the Dodgers play (read: lose), you should know that beer and baseball go hand-in-hand and that might be why we have so many talented brewers flocking to St. Louis. I would skip the AB tour and check out Urban Chestnut, Four Hands, Civil Life, Perennial, Schlafly, Six Row or any of the tap houses that specialize in local beer.
If wine is more your thing, Sasha's, Bailey's Chocolate Bar, Robust or Eleven Eleven Mississippi are stops to make. And if you're looking for spirits, Taste by Niche, Pi Pizzeria in the Central West End, Blood & Sand and Sanctuaria are just a few of the many bars offering an artisanal experience.
Bloggers from LA to NYC enjoy dinner at Winslow's Home in University City (a great suburb of St. louis). Photo by me for ALIVE Magazine.
6. Pollution is a sad, sad thing and we're lucky to have so many passionate St. Louisans working to make STL a more sustainable city and to improve our air quality. For a breath of fresh air, visit Forest Park, Missouri Botanical Gardens, Demun Neighborhood, Lafayette Park, Tower Grove Park or any of the countless reserves, parks and outdoor attractions in and surrounding St. Louis.
5. Autumn is a beautiful season in St. Louis that gives way to winter - a wholesome season that annually influences locals to spend more time with family, more time reflecting and more time traveling (something that everyone in any city should do). As Spring approaches, STL becomes refreshed and recharged. Summer brings on days spent poolside, vacation, visits to Art Hill and an infinite quantity of fond memories.
Katherine Tabinowski at Cathedral Basilica . Photo by Amber for ALIVE Magazine.
4. Cigarettes are gross. Luckily, we've been working to ban them in bars and as of now, you can only smoke in very select establishments who don't see a heavy percentage of revenue coming from food. Most bars who do not have a culinary component have opted to be non-smoking anyway.

Also, we just decriminalized marijuana. In a red state. If you worked on a campaign to legalize the substance, you should send tips and experience to one of the many groups working to do the same here. Although, I'm wondering if you even had time to vote since you've been so busy blindly judging the masses.
3. The city is a great place to live. For those who appreciate both culture and suburban living, Kirkwood, Webster, Clayton (especially Demun), Maplewood and University City are wonderful places for singles and families alike. If you're looking to expand your family or have an interest in a massive home, West County is a popular destination. And while Belleville isn't on my list of places to end up, it is a hub for fine arts in Illinois (although I don't see a vast number of St. Louisans flocking there).
2. If you're going to be in St. Louis for a week or more, trips to the Symphony, The Zoo or The St. Louis Art Museum will not disappoint. However, if you want to appreciate STL arts and culture like a local, I suggest considering the Contemporary Art Museum, White Flag Projects, City Garden, City Museum, The Fabulous Fox Theatre, The Pulitzer Foundation for The Arts, The Regional Arts Commission, The Luminary Center For The Arts or COCA. Or maybe, stop by the tech and fashion incubators located at T-Rex to see what talent is making waves. Visit The Collective at The MX Downtown to hit up multiple local shops, designers and purveyors of unique goods in one trip. The Central Library, Cathedral Basilica, Missouri History Museum and of course, Busch Stadium are also favorites of locals and educated tourists (as well as St. Louisans who genuinely thought Blueberry Hill was the coolest place in town).
Tieka of Selective Potential at The Saint Louis Art Museum. Photo by Amber for ALIVE Magazine.

And by the way, Chicago is a great city. We're lucky to be so close that we can visit often. A STL-Chicago road trip is a popular pastime for STL citizens, Chicagoans and those living in the surrounding regions. Memphis, Nashville and Kansas City are also undervalued cities in the Midwest. You should visit sometime.
1. While you're here, you should visit The Gateway Arch. It's true that the arch marked the gateway to the West - even LA. But the beauty isn't in the final destination. The path is the goal. How lucky are we to have great cities like St. Louis and LA, and so many in between. Westward expansion was the message - not westward travels. (I can see how this would be difficult to understand when most of your history lessons came from The Oregon Trail.)
Sarah, LA isn't the underdog. Even with a budget so much smaller than yours, we're still going to win this game. And you - being an underdog - should have more respect for the little guys.
See you at the World Series! (Oh, wait...)

I encourage you STL lovers to sound off both here and at LA Weekly. But, keep it classy St. Louis.

*Watch for edits and updates here.