On a June 16, 2019 Fathers Day visit to Cape Albeon Senior Living , Walt Jaschek asked his 92-year-old Dad, Walter Jaschek Senior, to “SAY Happy Fathers Day” to the camera. When Walter Senior began to SING “Happy Fathers Day” instead, Walt and his wife Randy just went with it and started singing, too. Happy Fathers Day, everyone!
Happy Earth Day from Forest Park in St. Louis. Today the park is a jewel – Randy and I walked 8 miles of it Saturday – and it delighted in every way: flowers exploding, clear water flowing, not a single piece of litter in sight.
It’s hard to remember it wasn’t always that way.
When I was a young man of 25, the park was sadly neglected and terribly trashed. So much so, I wrote a letter to the editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch dripping in youthful dismay over its disarray. The letter was published on September 12, 1980, under the headline “Man’s Idiot Marks,” which was me quoting singer/songwriter Loudon Wainwright. Here’s the letter.
While making the magnificent trek around the basin at the foot of Art Hill the other weekend, I was reminded of a line from Loudon Wainwright: “Nothing is safe from the idiot marks of man’s passing.” How painfully obvious it was there in the shade of the City Art Museum, where my walk was interrupted by trash, dross – litter.
By now, of course, the litter issue has been scattered to the wind. We’ve had clean-up messages thrust upon us by advertising campaigns, educators, environmental groups. While there has been measurable improvement, to many the subject is passe, old news, trie. A letter about litter might seem destined for the garbage heap, of which there are plenty.
But the message is too vital to let atrophy. I paused in my walk at the northern edge of the Grand Basin, repositories for less-than-grand collections of shoes, boxes, paper, food and other unrecognizable items, simmering on the surface of the stagnant water. It is a haven for only the frogs that leap from the surface of McDonald’s bags upon one’s approach.
Certainly the workers at Forest Park wage an unceasing battle on the remains of our recreation. My ire isn’t directed at them. I just want our anti-litter actions to remain potent. To be complacent now about environmental clean-up would be as tragic as the original crimes we all created.
Walter S. Jaschek
I moved from St. Louis for a few years, and when I returned in the mid-80s, I learned that a nonprofit conservancy called Forest Park Forever had been formed to restore the park to its glory.
Looking back today at their incredible, transformative work, it’s safe to say they have. Much kudos to them now and, well… forever.
A crazy, creative, collaborative crew. I am blessed to have incredibly talented artists as co-creators and friends here in St. Louis. Tonight wife Randy and I joined some of them for brainstorming, project development, catching up, and eating. Of course, eating! It was a Bread Company, after all.
Going around the table, counter-clockwise:
Kimberly Austin Daly, artist of the charming and delicate and delightful, and wife of Paul Daly (we’ll get to him.)
Sam Maronie, long-time pop culture journalist and author of Tripping Through Pop-Culture!: (Mis) Adventures of an Entertainment Writer. Sam is leaving St. Louis for life in Columbus, Ohio! We miss you already, Sam.
Don Secrease, co-creator (with me) of Mel Cool: Mall Cop®: Comics, the Herobots Coloring & Games Book and newly-launched Terranauts 2020; artist on our Brett Hull comicbook series; and owner of the eBay store Pop’s Culture.
Paul Daly, artist of Julie Walker is The Phantom; pencil artist of the splash page of Terranauts 2020; artist of Recycled Man (both written by me); and fan-favorite artist on his own amazing properties, which you’ll experience soon.
P.S. Some of the comics and books mentioned above are on Amazon. Like these:
See you all again soon, artist friends! Typing… scripts… fast… as I… can…