Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Open (Thank You) Letter To Tom Schlafly

This is a copy of a thank you letter I've sent to Tom Schlafly, owner of the ol' local microbrewery and brewpub.

Dear Mr. Schlafly,

I just wanted to sit down and write you an official thank you letter for your work here in St. Louis. I’m sure you get a lot of praise for your work, but add this one to the pile as well. Oh yes, and a belated 60th birthday.

I live in Maplewood Missouri, about a half mile from the Bottleworks and this summer marked the birth of my first child. I can’t tell you how incredibly great it has been to be in stroller-walking distance to a baby-friendly restaurant with smoke-free outdoor seating, good food and great beer. I’m originally from St. Louis and moved back about two years ago after a nine-year stint of living in New York. I’m a huge proponent of Greenpoint and Willaimsburg Brooklyn, but I gotta say you’ve got Brooklyn Brewery beat by a mile!

Thank you also for staying a St. Louis/American brewery. I’m sure you’re approached several times a week by men with Flemish and Wallonian accents making multi-billion dollar offers on your business. Thank you for politely turning them down. That said, a Schlafly-made Belgian style tripel would be a very welcome addition to your roster.

Lastly, thanks for your commitment to the environment, local farmers and green building.

Keep Up The Good Work,


Frank Robbins

Warum Kenst Du Deutsch?

Just confirmed that everything that I need to get in to school is in to school, and now I just have to wait. In the end the last thing was my transcript from Middlebury college where I took a summer intensive German program. In the course of doing that I realized that it's been ten years since I went there.

Unlike my BFA, which I can tangentally point to (speaking, reading and conveying emotion, being able to walk on my hands), my flash-fry immersian in the German language is even harder to put my finger on. With the exception of some very surprised German tourists looking for directions, I haven't used it a whole bunch.

I guess I learned how to learn a language and how to be completely comfortable listening to people talk when I catch only 1 out of ten words that they say. Most Americans get edgy after about a minute of this. The other thing I learned was that you need only know a certain number of words in any language to shock the hell out of people and get some love.

Knowing a few words a phrases in Spanish got me through my days in the food industry, and got me a lot of free food. Knowing the smallest bit of Arabic got a huge laugh out of my old local deli owners and I was able to hop the line a few times and the bit of Polish I sat down and learned kept me in good stead my five years of living in America's second largest Polish community.

When I lived in Chinatown, I bought a tape and diligently tried to get a few phrases, numbers etc. down. Blank stares every time, but hey, my pronunciation probably sucked.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Herding Cats To Go To School

As many might know, I've been going through the process of applying to school. When I graduated in 2001 I was relieved because there was NO WAY I would ever be going to grad school. Then again, grad school would have been for theatre. As the proud owner of a BFA in theatre, the change to green building and construction management neccessitates a little bit of extra schooling.

I've taken some comfort looking at other peopel who have made drastic career changes:

Kandinsky: Started painting at 42

Peter Falk: Started acting at 28 (with one eye at that!)

Sonny Bono: Elected to congress age 59 (who the hell saw that one coming?)

To say nothing of two friends of mine who have gone from acting to law school, another who is an off-brand software developer with an obvious obsession with the qaddafi regime and many many more.

Now what's left to do:

Get accepted
Finding a summer internship
Fun with financial aide
Finding a construction related job to do during school

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Week On The Road

Back now from a six day whistle-stop tour around New York and DC for a friend's wedding and to show off Freddy to friends and relatives. The lil' man was extremely good on the plane (except for descent) and loved the NYC subway

Our friends Laura and Alex had a beautiful wedding in lower Manhattan. The ceremony had a beautiful bit of intergenerational multi-lingual poetry reading. Alex's grandmother read a poem in Hungarian and his sister translated and likewise with Laura only in Italian. Moving and classy, I dug it.

We had our friends Shannon and Tim who hava a baby girl of their own watch Freddy. While this left us free to frolic at the wedding, I was up the next morning at 6:00 with the bottle. I went for a three mile run with John through Brooklyn at 8:30 and even though the first half mile was awful, I felt like a new man by the end.

With basically just two full days in NYC, we weren't able to fit in all of our friends to see Freddy, which was a bummer, but it's just more reason to come back again soon.

What I might look like with twins. Good grief.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Back In New York

Back in New York for my friend Laura and Alex's wedding. Our flight was cancelled, delayed then delayed again, which meant Laura, Freddy and I spending about seven hours waiting around the airport.

The city looks like regular fall, when I was back last it was six days of unseasonal sunshine. After a morning breakfast forage, Brooklyn still looks damned good in shades of gray.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Happy Democracy Day

It was my plan to bring Freddy with me and have him in the booth with me (mostly to help me pick some of the folks running for judgeships). After about a half hour waiting in line, he got a little poky and Laura ended up picking him up.

After two hours and fifteen minutes in line, the poll worker tried to get me to to fill out a provisional ballot. My driver's license address doesn't match up with my new home address, but I politely told her that I only needed proof of identity then kept looking into her eyes and didn't blink. Staring straight into her soul seemed to do the trick and I filled out a ballot with no further problems.

I won't go into how I voted except for this jobbie right here. There was a constitutional amendment that was up that would establish English as the official government language of Missouri. The more I looked at it the more the hair at the back of my neck started to stick up. One woman waiting in line said that it made sense since you have to know English to get your American citizenship (someone else fielded that one so I didn't have to get loud). Another woman told a story about how her great-great grandmother came over as a mail order bride from Lithuania and had to petition a judge in pantomime to let her stay because the man who sent for her had given her a false picture to lure her overseas. To me it felt distinctly unAmerican and after the fourth grammatical error made by the people in line who were supporting it, I decided to vote against.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

29th Annual Clayton Half Marathon

After missing the online registration date, I decided to do the Clayton Half Marathon bandit style (sorry St. Louis track club, I promise I will become a member). My goal this time was to beat my last two half marathon times (1:49 this August, 1:49 last August).

I did all the right things except eat right and at mile nine the bottom fell out. The person I had been pacing slowly floated away and then I hit the ol' wall. The last two and a half miles were mostly uphill on Forsyth from Forest Park into downtown Clayton and it was not pretty in the least. I almost tossed my cookies, but didn't and beat my old time by over five minutes. Glory be.