OTSTL header_logoTickets start at just $25.

An evening at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis is one of the most enjoyable events you will attend in any given year. It’s a chance to slow down, dress up, and see world-class musical arts. I see people from all walks of life at OTSL; lots of artists, writers, and such, but also just plain folk. If you think you don’t like opera, I bet you will change your mind after a night at OTSL. Hey, I’m not stuffy. I like opera AND Nine Inch Nails!

The company’s >Web site< says, “With three company premieres and one of the world’s greatest love stories, OTSL’s 2009 season is an enticing blend of repertoire. Join us for the unique pleasures of Opera Theatre: spring picnics, free opera previews and performances by some of the best singers in America!”

Christine Brewer

Indeed, some of the best singers in America. Our own >Christine Brewer< got her musical start there and made a return performance as Queen Elizabeth the First in Benjamin Britten’s Gloriana for OTSL’s 25th Anniversary Season in 2005. This American soprano was voted by the the BBC Music Magazine Critics as one of the >20 Greatest Sopranos of all time<, and only one of three currently performing.

Picnic before the performance!

This season’s OTSL performances:

Puccini’s La Boheme
Strauss’s Salome
Mozart’s Il Re Pastore
John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles

Again, from the OTSL Web site,

“Opera Theatre’s Pavilion is among the great St. Louis summer pleasures.  Lawns, trees, and abundant flowers make a cool and colorful setting for picnics before performances.   Savor not only the performance but the whole evening; come early, enjoy cocktails, dinner, and a FREE “opera preview” by a member of the music staff.  And celebrate afterward!  The fact that everyone in the audience can meet the artists informally after the opera is one of the hallmarks of Opera Theatre.”

Meet the artists after the performance.


509-Sky-cov-May_107The May issue of Delta Airlines in-flight magazine >deltaskymag.com< lists  City Museum in St. Louis, Missouri, at #6 among “30 Must-See Museums.”

It’s included in the cover story called “Museum Mania!”

The author’s slate of Top 30 Spots Around the World also includes museums in London, New York City, Paris, Chicago, Boston, Amsterdam and Florence. Other museum picks?

Chicago’s Field Museum (#7),
The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia (#10) and
the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain (#11).

Monstro City at City Museum, St. Louis

The author describes our City Museum as an “eccentric work of whimsy that will awaken the 10-year-old in anyone who crosses its threshold.”

I’ve saved the best for last. If you have not been to City Museum in St. Louis, here is a > link < to its Web site. Be sure to take the photo tour and check out the Attractions section.

You really have to see the place in person to believe it, so schedule a trip to St. Louis. I can see the Museum a few blocks away from the window in my office.  There’s a huge, metal praying mantis that sits on top of the warehouse that the Museum inhabits.


GMAC Insurance has released the results of its National Drivers Test for 2009. The test, which measures basic knowledge of driving laws, was given to more than 5,000 drivers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

unicycleThe worst drivers, according to this measure, are in New York.

Missouri came in at #15 out of 51, tied for that spot with Colorado (note that several states tied each other for spots throughout the rankings.)

Check out the > entire list <, and when in Missouri, “Drive Friendly!”

Unicycle image by > Cary Conover < via the Web

St. Louis Skyline from Busch Stadium

St. Louis Skyline from Busch Stadium

St. Louis came in at #20, nationally.

Compiled by WomenCo

Their criteria:

We looked at cities’ growth rates, average salaries and costs of living.

We factored in average commute time — which, according to experts, has a colossal impact on your overall happiness.

We looked not only at unemployment figures, but also at the rate that unemployment has actually increased since February 2008.

Thinking of relocating for better job prospects? Need to compare two top contenders? Just curious to see where your city ranks? We’ve got you covered. Read on!

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard

Ted Drewes Frozen Custard

What they wrote about St. Louis:

#20. St. Louis, Missouri (USA)

Population: 354,361 (City of St. Louis; Metro area population is 2.7 million in 16 surrounding counties.)

Average Salary: $40,630

Cost of Living Rank (in a 1-100 list): 23

Average Commute Time: 21.5 minutes

Job Growth Rank (in a list of 372 Highest Growth Cities): 179

Unemployment Rate: 9.2 Known as the city that marks the divide between the Eastern and Western United States, St. Louis is often called the “Gateway City.” It’s home to some of our nation’s largest public and privately held corporations —Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Scottrade, Energizer and Anheuser-Busch Breweries are just a few of its best known local companies. And it didn’t just make our own short list of great cities — this charming city ranks among the whole world’s top 100 cities in terms of quality of life.

Bonus fun fact:  The ice cream cone was invented in St. Louis.

# # #

Kiener Plaza

Kiener Plaza

Editor’s note:  So hang in there, St. Louisans. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence—or the country. Enjoy all the free things there are to do in St. Louis this summer, while we wait out the economic slump. We still have so much for which to be grateful.

emptypockets_getty_400Not that this information puts me back to work full time at full salary, but St. Louis is in pretty good shape on the Economic Stress Index measures compared to many, many other places in the USA.

> AP Economic Stress Index, Interactive Map < lets you see county by county measures from March, 2009, for unemployment + foreclosures + bankruptcies = economic stress index.

Check out the link, and if you’re thinking about moving because it’s “bad” where you are, you might think again after you see this. “Bad” is a relative term.

Image of empty pocket from Getty Images via the Web

Yahoo!® Financehas a story online entitled “It’s Now A Renter’s Market” by reporter Prashant Gopal and provided by Business Week on Friday, April 10, 2009.

home-sweet-home-plaque_etsy1Our fair city, St. Louis, Missouri, came in at #9 in the Top Ten across the USA. Here’s the information provided on St. Louis, and for the whole story, click on the story title, above.

9. St. Louis

Share of income used for rent: 17.8%
Average rent: $729
Median household income: $49,034
Population: 2.84 million

The St. Louis area, located at the confluence of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Illinois rivers, is home to the Cardinals baseball team, a well-respected art museum, and such large corporations as Enterprise Rent-A-Car and UniGroup. The metro area’s asking rents for apartments increased 1.7% in the fourth quarter, compared to a year earlier.

Image of Home Sweet Home plaque by artist raedunn and available for purchase on etsy.com

forbes-best-places-map_2009Forbes.com posted a Special Report called “Best Places For Business and Careers” on March 25, 2009.

photo by Timothy K. Hamilton

photo by Timothy K. Hamilton

Everybody wants to be #1, but in this tough economy, I think it’s respectable for an older city in the Heartland (St. Louis) to come in at #86.

St. Louis beat out some seemingly more desirable cities like Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts; New York, New York; Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada; San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, San Jose and Sacramento, Calfornia.

Chicago came in at #71, and I love to visit Chicago every year or so to get my fill of the hustle and bustle of the USA’s third largest city; however, the comparative numbers between Chicago & St. Louis in this report are not troubling for me. As the saying goes, there are “Lies, damn lies, and statistics.”

Businesswoman reads documentHere’s what I know: St. Louis has a much lower cost of doing business than Chicago, according to the report, and the lower job growth projected for St. Louis in the same report indicates a wide open opportunity for astute business persons looking to expand into the center of the US. So, I say, “Come on to St. Louis!”

New college graduates across Illinois and Indiana have for decades checked out Chicago for jobs, seen the over-abundance of competition for the same positions there, and brought their talent to St. Louis, instead.

They get better jobs sooner in St. Louis than in Chicago, and they decide to stay in St. Louis for the combination of opportunity, affordability and quality of life.

I know a lot of people who were born and raised and educated in Chicago. I would never want to put down their wonderful home town. I know them because they chose to live in St. Louis, though. Chose. To. Live. In. St. Louis.


The following photos by Timothy K. Hamilton, Creativity+, show some of the quality of life features in St. Louis, and more of Timothy’s spectacular work can be seen at his photostream on flickr.com > LINK <.

According to CityData.com,

in the 2000 census, Chicago’s working age population (i.e., between the ages of 25 & 64 years old) was counted at 1,513,663.
in the 2000 census, St. Louis’s working age population (i.e., between the ages of 25 & 64 years old) was counted at 173,877.

The Forbes rankings were based on a complicated mix of things, described this way on Forbes.com’s Web site,

(Rank)1 calculation: Index based on cost of labor, energy, taxes and office space.
(Rank)2 calculation: 3-year annualized figures.
(Rank)3 calculation: Share of Population over age 25 with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Sources: Moody’s Economy.com; Sperling’s BestPlaces.

Here are number for the first and last ranked, for Chicago and for St. Louis.

Rank = #1
Metro Area = Raleigh, North Carolina
Cost Of Doing Business (Rank)1 = 16
Job Growth Projected (Rank)2 = 15
Educational Attainment (Rank)3 = 11
Metro Area Population (in thousands) = 1,086

Rank = #71
Metro Area = Chicago, Illinois
Cost Of Doing Business (Rank)1 = 154
Job Growth Projected (Rank)2 = 50
Educational Attainment (Rank)3 = 42
Metro Area Population (in thousands) = 7,992

Rank = #86
Metro Area = St. Louis, Missouri
Cost Of Doing Business (Rank)1 = 76
Job Growth Projected (Rank)2 = 140
Educational Attainment (Rank)3 = 98
Metro Area Population (in thousands) = 2,839

Rank = #200
Metro Area = Modesto, California
Cost Of Doing Business (Rank)1 = 135
Job Growth Projected (Rank)2 = 190
Educational Attainment (Rank)3 = 192
Metro Area Population (in thousands) = 513

Here’s a > LINK < to a cool interactive US map with the cities and their rankings called out.

Image of St. Louis arch + fireworks and courthouse dome by Creativity+ Timothy K. Hamilton