Five for Friday 1: August 7

A wise man recently told me to “increase (my) online audience.” I take these words seriously. So, a new, li’l attempt at a mini-feature, Five for Friday.

1. You have never gardened before. You have a space that’s in need of some natural beautification. Your efforts become so lauded that that the New York Times writes a feature about you (and your gardens) on the cover of its Home section. And you share the learning curve with the world via a blog. You are Kristin Tobiasson. It’s all at: 66squarefeet.

2. Jim Jarmusch has been a hero for some time and “Mystery Train,” though seen only once, would crack my top 10 list any day, as would “Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai,” again a single-view revealation. So it was a joy to finally pick up the man’s first feature, “Permanent Vacation,” since repackaged as part of the “Strangers in Paradise” DVD treatment from Criterion; as well as a solo release. Not exactly a must-see for non-fans, the film does linger in the margins of NYC street culture in the late ’70s, capturing well the grit and grime seen in similar films, such as “Downtown 81“; the teen lead’s beat musings also have a few great moments, though tedious ones are more common. A fun time capsule, if ultimately unsatisfying.

3. JJ’s Sport’s Tap is a bar in Lemay, with shabby signage and an unopen vibe even on a night when the subterranean club is very much in operation. (If “very much” means four people, inc. the bartender, playing a combination of pool and darts.) But you wouldn’t guess there’s a functioning bar from the street, unless you drove into the parking lot and looked down a window well, where a unexpectedly large tavern and game room exists in the operational part of a multi-story house on Bayless. Odd joint: only eight glasses for drinks on the backbar (seriously, eight!); UFC on the TV; the radio tuned to the Arch; and a uber-tan bartender that just. Can’t. Stop. Talking. All in all, a funky little diversion. Not a place to hang every weekend, but a spot to take friends jaded by every other, already-corrupted-by-hipsters corner tavern on the grid. Remember, just head around the back, and down the steps. Don’t forget to ask about the ghosts.

4. Three steps within the doorway of the University City Goodwill store: “Good morning, welcome to Goodwill!” Another step: “Welcome to Goodwill!” And then a few more: “Thanks for shopping at Goodwill!” My goodness, the store’s name doesn’t disappoint. And neither does the price tag of four shirts for $10.35. “Thanks, Goodwill!”

5. Wasn’t around for Kennedy assassinations and I also missed the streetcars getting rocked in Gaslight Square, after the 1964 World Series. I’m old, but not that old. But I do remember walking home from school in eighth grade on the day that Ronald Reagan was shot, hearing the news near the intersection of McKean and Arkansas; and I can specifically recall being in a bar called Frank’s, on MLK Boulevard, the first time I heard Nelly’s “Country Grammar.” Feels like yesterday, but it wasn’t. In fact, whole generations of Metropolis folk have come and gone since The Walk hit Frank’s oh-so-long-ago, on a night when “Country Grammar” lodged in my head for the rest of that summer. But on Thursday, August 20, the MLK Walk is coming back and there’s some hope that Zack’s Lounge lives up to its legendary billing, and that some Metropolis old heads can find sitters for the evening. Wouldn’t miss this one. Nope. No way.