Just over a month ago, a couple friends and I went into the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in North St. Louis. The trip inside was a first for each of us, despite this place being on the local urban exploration “map” for a long time. Only a few weeks before that, while sitting on a portfolio review committee at Webster, a former of student of mine presented photos taken in the same space, artful shots of fashion in this long-abandoned space. All the proverbial signs were in place to finally make the trip to Hyde Park.

The exterior of this North Side church was impressive enough, a big, strong, brick building visible for blocks around. Walking around the building’s interior, though, was really quite amazing. The church had taken a considerable beating from the elements over the years, though the once-evident beauty still (at times successfully) fought to shine through. A recent snowfall had left ice liberally scattered throughout the building, including some stairwells that lead up to the steeple. Gaping holes were visible in the roof. Post-congregant human beings had made appearances and left marks, too, in the form of graffiti writings of varying degrees of sympathy towards the building’s plight. The big stained glass windows existed, still pretty much intact. And what a gorgeous collection they were!

Unfortunately, this is being written in the past tense. Over the past weekend, the building suffered a wall collapse and demolition is now a certainty, instead of a foregone conclusion. The best hope, at this point, is that some of the details could be saved, though that’s even doubtful, considering the wreckage that’s visible in photos this Monday morning.

On our trip, we all chatted about the fact that none of us had ever really been hurt on one of these day trips. We’d never had a shoe punctured by a nail. We’d never suffered cuts on a rusted window panes. While friends and fellow travelers had fallen through floorboards, even that likelihood had been something we’d never experienced first-hand. For some reason, we were really talkative about this subject on that afternoon; it’s something that we’d talked about before, but it seemed to dominate our conversation this time out. Maybe the old building was speaking to us on that Sunday afternoon, telling us that we had this trip only and that we’d better enjoy it. And that we better enjoy our health on these journeys.

The North Side’s lost a real landmark, a victim of changing demographics, of weather, of civic neglect and of the simple fact that a building this big, this open, this centered in a still-disinvested community will always be a challenging fixer-upper. It was a good to see it one first/last time. With respect: RIP, Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

Pics from our visit here.

April 1, 2014 x 2


Considerable news to share today, so forgive the extra words; brevity in written expression’s not my strong point, as is. I’m hopeful that comments here, if not supportive, are at least understanding of my situation.

After a full dozen years of the freelance/adjunct lifestyle, I’ve decided to accept a late-arriving, but quickly-moving job offer as social media director/online media buyer for SSM St. Joseph West in Lake St. Louis. This is a three-part decision, which will kick-in around five weeks from now, with considerable planning in-between.

One. Though I’ve publicly not been a fan of deep-suburban living, I’ll have to become at least tacitly okay with it; that much is understood. My truck’s a beater and I’m not hip to 50-minute commutes, so I’ll be looking for a place to lay my head in the greater Lake St. Louis area. If someone knows of an affordable condo/apartment for rent in the Westplex, please let me know.

Two. I woke up today open to the idea of selling my spot on Connecticut. So there’s another real estate concern. It’s a nice pad: big, open floor plan unlike other houses on my street; an extremely short walk to South Grand and a very reasonable walk/ride/drive to Cherokee; big garden space and a chicken yard; exterior murals. “Very nice hippie family house”; I can almost imagine the one-sheet flyer saying that.

Three. With tuition remission accrued from my time at Webster, I plan to take advantage of what free classes I can use, with my plan being the start of an MBA, doing the night/weekends thing at the WU WingHaven campus. This will allow me greater flexibility in future job hunts, with my media skills augmented by some business coursework. For sure, the classes will be even more challenging than the socially-tinged, but very real, life turnover of the above items.

If you’re this far into the post, thanks for taking an interest. Please understand that I tried to make the city/bohemian thing work, but that might have been a job best left to the younger me. The peaks/valleys of self-employment have been a bit severe lately and this seems like the choice to make, clear and probably a bit overdue. Cheers to you (and a big, deep breath for me), TC.

(Culled at 165 Facebook Likes, 67 Comments  and 1 Share.)


Was just reminded of this: exactly two years ago, I was in my backyard, tending to my own business, when a large bird of prey flew into the chicken yard and startled the flock. When I turned to see about the commotion, the attacker came right at me, flying to within a foot of my ample skull. It bent away at the last second, sat on a neighbor’s roofline and mean-mugged me for a cool minute, until some rocks were sent in that direction.

In posting about the incident, I got a few different clusters of response. The first one was that I was pulling off a prank post, that the event never actually happened, that I’d made it up. Then, I learned that every 15th FB friend is a bird expert; within minutes, I was getting Googled photos of undersized animals the size of starlings and chippies, whereas this bird had a yard-wide wingspan, for sure. So it goes.

Post thoughts, stories, anecdotes or dreams publicly and you never know what you’ll get back. Especially on a day like today. I want to thank everyone who Liked or commented on a post I offered up earlier today. Those responses were quite intriguing, really. And all over the map, wow! At times, I even thought, “Thomas, you don’t deserve all this good-natured love.” (Chris King’s comment notwithstanding.) But I do. I really do.

I deserve everything I got comin’ to me.

(Culled at 27 Likes and 11 Comments.)