St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri on November 30, 1997 · Page 41
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St. Louis Post-Dispatch from St. Louis, Missouri · Page 41

St. Louis, Missouri
Issue Date:
Sunday, November 30, 1997
Page 41
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David Barry fyt Tl Impressions of an age "Renoir's Portraits" are hanging argues that voters should get a cut 3 v (if ramnaiorn nraft Paoo f!9 f "AV"" y inside the Art Institute of Chicago until Jan. 4. Art critic Jeff Daniel had a look and reports on what he saw. Page D3 Sunday, November 30, 1997 ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH Section D A " j 1 J y u if I 4 ifi y '1 nn i net c a ffrea A. aGede Towi Former residents cherish the experiment in ethnic togetherness l. :-. in .s wrs-- - i j i n i P4ro ft a I I" X i l";,.r c 1 . . 0$t 1V LEFT: A view of LaClede Town In 1968, when the development in midtown St. Louis was seen as a " model for integrated housing. BELOW: The general store was part of LaClede Town's commercial district. The residents also used a laundromat, a coffeehouse, a cleaners ' and a pub. Post-Dispatch File Photos BY ELLEN SWEETS The Dallas Morning News s a rule, family reunions unite sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, cousins, uncles, aunts. So the family reunion held in St. 1 Louis recently might have left some folks puzzled unless they knew about LaClede Town, the late, great housing experiment created more than 30 years ago. About ISO former residents are gathered to reminisce about our own little United Nations, where we could rightfully have sung "We Are the World." It's simultaneously jarring and touching that all of these people have gathered just a few blocks north of where, from 1964 to 1995, their little piece of Camelot stood. At its height, it sat on 65 acres of midtown property and consisted of some 1,400 apartments and town houses i with more than 4,000 residents. But tonight they are gathered to remember the good 'CI SI 9. i f ! I i i it i u: 01. ABOVE: Buildings near Compton and Laclede avenues, boarded up in February 1995 and scheduled for demolition. Razing of the development was completed In 1996. old days. Like the reminiscences, the music is from the '60s and 70s. There are hugs and shrieks of recognition. One-time down-to-there hair is mostly shaped and shorn now, and almost everyone is grayer. But they are representative of the original, multiracial, multi-ethnic population. LaClede Town was cool, hip, cheap and populated by people committed to making integration work. It grew out of an urban redevelopment plan for the Mill Creek Valley, an area that had been historically black but had fallen on hard times. The redevelopment plan was controversial because so many families were displaced, and some people felt some of that wonderful old hous- 1 V r:.. - rri ft f " i mtm. ing stock could have been saved. It was crucial that whatever took the place of the demolished homes worked. The complex was made up of two components. Laclede Park was privately funded and rented apartments at market rates. Diagonally across the intersection of Laclede and Compton avenues was LaClede Town, a community of federally subsidized town houses. Rent was determined by a formula based on family size and income. What grew out of this was a national model for integrated housing populated by a group of people who felt closer to one another than some blood relatives do. It brought together a community of people black, white, brown, Jews, Christians, Muslims, atheists, lawyers, architects, sanitation workers, actors, athletes, draft dodgers, hookers, social workers, welfare recipients, musicians, reporters, waiters, politicians, doctors. Together, those of us who lived there changed the way people thought and felt about integration and public housing. LaClede Town was the nation's first public housing complex with a swimming pool. It had a general store, a laundromat, a coffeehouse, a cleaners, a pub. Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger once visited just to hang out. People took pride in pretending not to notice. Folks still remember when radical lawyer William Kunstler came to town to defend a group of black mili- LaClede Town site We ... "W-aff'S oicfa. m,t: : ' T 7 SSSl iiieWMilUrf)MCM? Harris-Stowe tants and ended up playing softball with the LaClede Town Losers, a team as noted for its antics as for its athletic prowess. Joe Pollack, who went from being the St. Louis football Cardinals' public relations director to the Post-Dispatch's food and film critic, helped found the Mill Creek Valley Intelligencer, the community newspaper. He was also serious about softball. The pub was the neighborhood watering hole, and See LaClede, Page D8 Post-Dispatch Graphic iitwj Perlman lends credibility to age-old music By Philip Kennicott Post-Dispatch Classical Music Critic his is an old tour, an experienced tour," said Itzhak Perlman. "We know what we're doing." The klezmer revival isn't news anymore. Now into its third decade, what began as curiosity about the old-world music of Eastern European Jews is a vibrant musical industry. Various bands tour the world performing klezmer, neo-klezmer and various kinds of fusion klezmer. Even mainstream classical performers, and the large record labels that market them, have embraced the music. When Perlman performs Thursday with four different klezmer bands at Powell Hall, it comes as no surprise that this is nothing new to him. Or rather, like klezmer itself, it is both old and new. "The music was part of growing up in Israel," Perlman said. "It was something that I didn't even think about. It was just there. It never occurred to me that I would be involved playing it and performing it. That just happened fairly recently." When Perlman became involved in performing klezmer, when he "dirtied up" one of the most lovely violin tones in the world and embraced the freewheeling, improvisational music, it was really just a tiny, final step in the long march toward concert hall assimilation of the form. Its current popularity is so widespread that it is easy, today, to overlook klezmer's decidedly marginal status. Klezmer arrived in this country with the immigration of Eastern European Jews; by the 1930s it was part of a vibrant, if ghettoized, urban Yiddish culture. But the Diaspora has always been a fractious place, and early klezmer was anything but a common language to the various Jewish peoples of this country. "The German Jews never went to (New York's) See Perlman, Page D6 Itzhak Perlman 'hthcFiddkrY House' When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday Where: Powell Hall, 718 North Grand Boulevard How much: $50 to $1,000 Information: 534-1700 The benefit concert is a joint project of the St. Louis Symphony and the Jewish Federation of St . Louis 1.... . . Hzhak Perlman Klezmer arrived in this country with the immigration of Eastern Euro- " pean Jews; by the 1930s it was part of a vibrant, if ghettoked, urban Yiddish culture. Ota ' 4-

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