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In Defense of Clouds

The entire planet is coming to your backyard this month. If you believe the hype, our highways will be jammed, restaurants overflowing. Latecomers to Columbia’s total eclipse will find no room in the inn. Better stock up on snacks. Sun…

Lawrence Burning

Missourians can’t help it. They keep tearing Lawrence down. Apologies to the good people of Lawrence, Kansas — both of them — but there’s bad blood between them and us. You know most of the story: The Civil War really began along the border…

Farewell Chuck Berry

“Poetry is my life’s blood,” Chuck Berry said, on meeting Columbia Public Schools’ Linda Harlan, circa 1991. The best way to end this tribute is to begin at the end: Chuck Berry’s appearance in Columbia in 2009, an outdoor performance on…

Farewell Chuck Berry

“While no individual can be said to have invented rock and roll, Chuck Berry comes the closest of any single figure to being the one who put all the essential pieces together. It was his particular genius to graft country and western guitar…

CoMo’s Monument to Pets

Queenie was pissed. She’d just overheard that the American Dog Museum is leaving Missouri, moving from St. Louis back to Manhattan. It was a blow to Queenie’s psyche. That’s what I believe she thinks. But who knows? We’d just given her a…

Farewell Chuck Berry

Part One: Chuck Berry was, in so many ways, the iconic Missourian. He told tall tales and reveled in language, especially the poetry of vernacular. His seeming close-mouthed cussedness in later years was an attitude that kept many a…

Columbia’s Best Man

Columbia loves a winner. Our pride soars when we watch our hometown heroes. NASCAR backflippers. Hollywood Hamms. Gridiron greats. This town has cranked out bold thinkers and bestsellers, cool actors, business titans, and science wizards.…

Big Muddy Folk Festival

The world is so noisy ... music has been wounded by Steve Jobs’ technology ... the main role of the artist is to serve the song, as opposed to him or herself.” — Musician and actor Wil Oldham There is something sincere, in this ironic age,…

Delta Thrash

Photo courtesy of mollygenemusic.com. March is Women’s Month here in the United States. This is funny because it is just one month out of 12 when not only does this noble gender outnumber their male counterparts, they also, judging by…

Body & Soul

Oscar Micheaux was an African-American filmmaker and entrepreneur, who produced and directed more than 40 films from 1919 to 1948. Micheaux's movies were known as "race" films — made by black filmmakers, with an all-black cast for black…

‘Tis the Silly Season

She’s an absolute knockout, the goddess perched atop the Missouri State Capitol dome. She’s been there for a hundred years. Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, has watched over us through droughts and pestilence, fires and floods. But…

It Reads Like a Script

photo courtesy of Andree Martis Think “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” But this story is real. “We were planning our first real vacation in several years,” Gina Overshiner recounts. Her family considered a cruise or Disney World. Her husband,…

“Middle Grounds”

When I first arrived at MU in 1975, Columbia didn’t even have cable TV. But, the History Department offered “Epic America,” a pair of courses on Native American culture in a kind of primitive virtual classroom — just a black and white…

Of Poppies & Pantries

Driving toward Columbia, I passed a unique food truck: Kraft Foods Mobile Pantry, the truck’s logo said, operated by the Food Bank for Central & Northeast Missouri. I gave a thumbs up to the driver — my show of support for an…

Contra Dancing

November puts us smack in the middle of the fall contra dance season, as good a time as any to familiarize yourself with this timeless and invigorating communal activity. Contra dances are so called not, as I once thought, because of some…

Ukulele Ike

Next time you sit down with the kids to watch Disney’s “Pinocchio,” listen to the cricket. He was born in your backyard. When that loveable bug sings, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” the voice of Jiminy Cricket is that of a Missourian named…

Right Under Your Nose

"I’ve never been to that museum on campus.” “Which one?” “That one with the famous paintings.” I knew the one my daughter meant, and I offered an excuse: “The man who lives at the base of the mountain is the last to climb it.” It’s an old…

Les Burgers d’Antan

There's been a lot of Burger Talk around the Inside Columbia offices these past few weeks. It's set me to thinking, "How many burgers have I eaten in my life?" and "Ubi sunt les burgers d'antan?"  People point to the Booches Burger as the…

Kevin’s World Wrestling

The year was 2006 — and one signature event stands out: the Women’s Arm Wrestling Championship and Hot Dog Eating Contest on the Kevin’s World patio. But first, let me roll back the tape a few years. I’d spent 25 years helping to build a…

Back In The Day

Back in the day, the area around Wabash Station was an essential warehousing district for goods brought into this market by rail. The bulky supplies were stored in and beneath nearby buildings before being picked up and disseminated. Many…