The way this old handyman looks at it, you’re actually watching TWO games every time the Blues play.
The first game, which takes place when the clock is running, never seems all that American to me. It features Blues players like Vladimir Tarasenko, Carl Gunnarsson, and MacKenzie MacEachern, who have similar names to Winter Olympics athletes who stand at attention on that 3-level podium while someone else’s national anthem is played. For recently winning the Western Division, the Blues were presented with the “Campbell Bowl,” which sounds like, and looks like, a gaudy, oversized soup tureen. Maybe the one used at Harry and Meghan’s wedding reception. And don’t get me started on the serving-ware they’re competing for next, named after LORD Stanley of Preston – a graduate of Eton, a prep school for over-privileged British boys, who possibly once held a hockey stick, but certainly never a toilet plunger or any other tool requiring manual labor.
No, the American part of the hockey game begins when the buzzer goes off signaling the end of the 1st period. Immediately rolling onto the rink is the ice-smoothing Zamboni machine, invented by and named after the son of struggling Italian-American immigrants. He used his newly-found freedoms to achieve the American dream by making something that makes ice hockey possible. Then, there are those ice rink walls and plexiglass, which have just endured a 20-minute period of being crushed, smashed, pounded, and scraped, while the audience cheered and laughed, humiliation that no building materials should ever be asked to endure. To handle that, folks pop-out with name badges sewn onto their uniforms that read “Chuck”, “Pete”, and “Zeke.” These hard-working Americans patch, paint, brace, and in all other ways make things new again. All done without hearing their names roared over the sound system, or accompanied by flashing lights, lasers, smoke, and foghorns. Now, that’s what I call America.
We at Fix St Louis like to think of ourselves as residential counterparts to that hockey game clean-up crew, except we ply our trade in similarly-damaged TEENAGE BOYS BEDROOMS. Someday, you just may need us for these:
Fix St Louis is great at removing holes, dents, and dings from bedroom walls. Sometimes they’re just nondescript nicks, but other times the punched-out drywall is EXACTLY in the shape of baseballs, pucks, doorknobs, and fists, which can be pretty amusing to us, presumably less so to the parents. If your walls have some kind of sand texture, we can restore it in the patched area. And if you once tried to patch it yourself, and it still stands out because you couldn’t figure out how to smooth it or add that texture back, we can fix it.
Teenage boys can be pretty rough on doors, but we can remove all signs of abuse. Fix St Louis can put those sliding closet doors back on their tracks. We can repair the aforementioned doorknob-shaped holes in the adjacent wall. If the door “slab” (the part on hinges that swings) has been kicked and cracked, we can replace just the slab without swapping-out the entire frame. And, if the door “jamb” (frame around the door) has been split or cracked through forced entry, whether by an angry older brother, desperate parents, or the County SWAT team, we can handle that, too.
The key to painting a teenage boy’s room is doing the right prep work before the first drop of paint is applied. While the repairs above are a big part of it, they are not the only part. What about those posters on the wall that were mounted with tape, or rubbery white goop, or whatever sticky substance was immediately available when your teenager had the impulse to hang it? You may not like the way the walls look now, with a preening-for-the-cameras Yadier Molina, Ariana Grande, Metallica, or even Patrick Maroon. But you may like it a lot less after you see what’s behind them. Fix St Louis will make those walls paint-ready. And if your teenager went Goth, or through some creepy dark period you prayed he’d grow out of, so that everything is now painted black, we can prep the walls so they can be painted any color.
So, next time you’re watching a Blues hockey game, at the end of each period – sure, go ahead and take that bathroom break – but be sure to return for the All-American between-time show of the Blues’ rink-repair heroes. For all those Chucks, Petes, and Zekes out there, this Bud’s for you! Oh, and almost forgot. Let’s Go Blues!
Seems like that “Better Together” plan to merge St Louis City and St Louis County has gone bust. Which comes as no surprise to your humble correspondent.
You know, I think I missed my calling. This aging handyman should have gotten into the polling business, and sold politicians the results of the daily “Dr Steve Subdivision Chit-Chat Serial Focus Group” that captures what dozens of random homeowners tell me each week. I could have told them that those believing this plan was “better” consisted almost entirely of the folks who came up with the idea, plus one County Executive who just resigned after being charged with bribery. And that the much larger group of together-believers was not “together” in any way they would find helpful.
So coming out of the ashes, let me see if Fix St Louis can do its part in finding an issue that unites our community on things that everyone can agree ARE better together. And, we’ll start on the ground floor. Literally.
Fix St Louis customers’ favorite flooring for dining rooms seems to be hardwood flooring. This is a room for more formal get-togethers, holiday celebrations, and guests, so it should be beautiful and warm. It’s also a room where you don’t want a floor that absorbs spilled drinks and hides fallen crumbs. Easy decision, hardwood floors.
This flooring option is just catching on, so let’s say this is Fix St Louis‘ pick. I know, I know – vinyl has a reputation for looking cheap. But, if you haven’t seen vinyl flooring lately, you haven’t seen vinyl flooring. You see, there’s this new thing out there called “technology” that’s been applied to vinyl flooring. So now, its appearance can be surprisingly similar to wood or stone. And, it’s now got padding built into its layers that absorbs shock, and makes it comfortable to walk on and easy of the legs if you spend a lot of time standing-up in your kitchen. If you drop a glass or cookware on it, there’s a better chance that it won’t shatter. It can withstand anything your kids spill, drop, or scrape all over it. And it’s very easy to clean, with no cracks that trap dirt, or grout that turns icky.
When you visit the store, you may hear these products referred to by awkward words that only a floor salesman, not a normal person, would use. Terms like “Luxury Vinyl Tile” and “Engineered Vinyl Planks” were developed by not-particularly-good marketing types at flooring manufacturers trying to overcome the stigma of the historically cheap and lousy peel ‘n stick, linoleum, and sheet vinyl products. Just ignore these terms – you’ll know these products when you see them, and if you ask for “vinyl plank” the sales clerks will know what you’re talking about.
I know that many of you watch those home improvement shows and dream of putting a beautiful hardwood floor in your kitchen. As someone who sees what happens to these floors everyday, I say “don’t.” Sooner or later, there will be a “water event” in your kitchen – a leaking drain, a leaking faucet, a leaking garbage disposal, a leaking water shut-off valve, a leaking dishwasher, or a leaking ice maker water supply line. These can harm a hardwood floor in a way that makes it impossible to make the damage invisible at a reasonable cost. Fix St Louis advises you to avoid this heartbreak by avoiding hardwood.
While vinyl plank is also a great choice for bathrooms because of its water-resistance, if you like the look of ceramic tile here’s the best place to put it. It’s also the cheapest place to put it because bathrooms have the smallest floors in your house. A lot of folks like to have matching or complementary ceramic tile on their bathroom walls and tub/shower surrounds, too.
Carpeting gives bedrooms a warm and cozy feel. And while you wouldn’t believe what we’ve seen some kids have done to their bedroom carpeting, you’re probably less likely to have spilled drinks and dropped food here.
Who knows? Maybe if we can all learn to agree on flooring choices, someday we can all agree on how to draw lines on a map so that all voters get exactly what they want. Come to think of it, wasn’t that mentioned in John Lennon’s song “Imagine”?
Is it just me or does it seem like, all of a sudden, America is now eliminating more music than it’s producing? In the past few weeks, Michael Jackson has been pulled from playlists, a professional hockey team BOTH banned Kate Smith’s “God Bless America” AND hauled her statue away, and the popular song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” took a great deal of heat.
Thankfully for now, Fix St Louis has managed to stay under the radar. Our cult hit “Baby, There’s Mold Outside” has yet to be targeted for being offensive to Fungi-Americans. So while I’ve got the chance, let me tell you what you can learn from this educational little number.
Go outside and look at the siding on your house. Do you see areas where’s it’s covered with a grayish, maybe even greenish coating of dirt and/or slime? No? Then figure out which way is north, and go to THAT side of your house. See it now? It’s probably some kind of mold, or another member of the fungus family.
Fix St Louis can powerwash that dirt and slime away, a process that blasts your siding with 3,000-4,000 pounds per square inch of pressure, 2-3 gallons of water per minute, and vegetation-safe cleanser. The difference in how clean and bright their houses look is always a lot more dramatic than homeowners expect.
Have you ever thought maybe someday you’d buy a pressure washer yourself, so it would always be available? Well, all we can tell you is what we at Fix St Louis see among homeowners who have had that dream. Generally, the units they bought are less than half as powerful as our equipment, since they are never serviced they often don’t operate at all, they aren’t used with ladders and wands to handle the upstairs siding on the house, and they just add to the clutter in the garage.
Oh, and did I mention that they were only used once, then never again? If MC Hammer were a handyman instead of a rock star, he’d taunt them by pointing at their houses singing “Can’t Wash This.”
So, call us at Fix St Louis to powerwash your house until it’s bright and shiny. To paraphrase another group that chose to be rock stars instead of handymen, all in all it’s just some ick on your walls.
Yes, it’s true. Fix St Louis will be throwing the first pitch at the season opener, even though the Cardinal’s season opened last Thursday. But, who gave BASEBALL the right to name the seasons, anyway? THAT will come as news to those who celebrate the Harvest Season, the Lenten Season, and the Monsoon Season.
We at Fix St Louis have our own seasons, too. As a reader, you know we recently ended the “FiXmas Season,” that year-end time when homeowners get their homes repaired for holiday guests.
But looking at the Fix St Louis calendar, we see that we are quickly approaching the “Thermal Equinox,” after which the TEMPERATURE and SMELL of the fresh air OUTSIDE your home are better than anything your air conditioner or furnace can produce inside. (Unless, of course, you live in Sauget, Illinois.)
So, here’s the first pitch of the season: If you have a working “Whole House Fan,” use it. If it’s not working, let Fix St Louis repair or replace it. And, if you don’t have a fan, let us install one. Your house will be more comfortable and you’ll see big savings in your air conditioning bills.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about listen-up, and go to your hallway and look-up. There’s a good chance you’ll see something on the ceiling that looks like the thing below. Now look at your hallway walls. See a switch or rotary dial you never knew was for? That’s how you turn it on. If your Whole House Fan is working, you will hear a big “whoosh” sound, followed by the louvers slowly opening. Fresh air will be sucked inside through your open windows and doors, flow all through your house, enter these louvers, then be shoved outside through vents and openings in the attic above.
BTW, these Whole House Fans are often MISTAKENLY called “Attic Fans.” Attic fans are a thing, too, but they are not installed in hallway ceilings, and you cannot see them from inside the house. They are only installed in attics, either behind gable vents or beneath roof vents. Their purpose is simply to remove hot air from the attic so that the ceilings below don’t become so hot that they warm-up your house or make your air conditioner work harder.
So as you can see, we here at Fix St Louis have our own seasons, we have our own fans, and we throw our own pitches. Could Dr Steve bobble-head night be far behind?
So now we learn that actresses Felicity Huffman of “Desperate Housewives” and Lori Loughlin of “Full House” used bribes to get their daughters into elite colleges. Of all the recent news stories, this one REALLY bothered me. As someone who hates seeing customers waste their money on things they don’t need, it irks me that they could have gotten SO much more value for their bribe money.
Now, as an old handyman who spends his days knee-deep in broken toilets and rotted wood, no one is likely to mistake yours truly for a member of the elite. But that doesn’t mean I don’t pick-up wisdom along the way from the often “desperate housewives” who I come across every day.
What I do know is that Fix St Louis is “desperate,” too – desperate to find skilled, responsible, and personable employees to fix our customers’ houses so that we can grow. Yet, here we have all this wasted bribe money churning out even MORE majors in 17th Century Belgian Gender Pronoun Studies, who can’t tell you which end of a toilet plunger is up.
If these actresses’ daughters are so interested in being worshipped and sought after, they should enroll in St Louis’ own Ranken Technical College, then attend a Job Fair, where hundreds of companies the size of ours and larger will slobber over them like paparazzi. Then, after Fix St Louis has hired them, we’ll send them to our customer’s houses where everyone from desperate housewives to the highest paid professionals will show great respect and gratitude for work that is extremely important to them, but they have no idea how to do.
And, if these actresses are concerned that their designer-name-conscious friends won’t think that the name “Ranken Technical College” has the same panache as Yale, USC, or Georgetown, they should be shopping for new friends rather than colleges. Ranken is a hidden gem, albeit increasingly unhidden. It is a 100+ year old, private, non-profit college that under its charter recognizes and promotes the “dignity of labor,” thinks of the trades as professions, and functions as a ‘boot camp’ to instill good work values. Think what you would have if TV’s Mike Rowe were a college, that’s what Ranken is. Automotive, carpentry, electrical, heating & air conditioning, machining, welding, you-name-it. Among other things, it’s where all auto dealers of all auto manufacturers send their auto mechanics to get trained and certified from several surrounding states. And, while Ranken doesn’t take bribes as far as I know, they do take donations from an impressive roster of companies.
But enough about these Hollywood elites, whom we spend too much time thinking about anyway. And enough about colleges. If you know someone who already has the skills we need at Fix St Louis, or know a young person who would like to learn them, please have them send us a resume. We may not be as desperate as these actresses, but we sure could use a few more technical professionals right now.
So far, it’s been a rough and controversial awards season, including an Academy Awards show that absolutely no one wanted to host. You wouldn’t think its purpose was to celebrate people whose main job is to entertain us and make us happy. Well, who cares about them and their lives, anyway? Despite their wealth and fame, they seem absolutely miserable. So, it’s time to announce this year’s Suburbies Award winners brought to you by Fix St Louis, recognizing outstanding performances by apparently MUCH happier non-celebrities living in everyday subdivisions in the St Louis flyover area.
Never gotten over the Beatles? Let me take you down, cause I’m going to Strawberry Fields, where Beatlemania is real. It’s located in the Penny Lane subdivision in St Peters, where other local streets include Long & Winding Road, Blackbird Lane, Sergeant Pepper Drive, Revolution Drive, and Kaleidoscope Lane. Parking is free, so you won’t have to worry about running into Lovely Rita Meter Maid.
This Cottleville home builder probably could not believe his great fortune upon discovering this statue of a head more than 7,500 miles from its brother and sister statues on Easter Island in the South Pacific. Nice touch that he built a front lawn around it so that it wouldn’t end up in the middle of a compost pile. Could a National Geographic Special airing at 3 a.m. be far behind?
Last year was a big year for Hollywood revivals, including the 5th for “A Star is Born.” But, revivals in residential housing are MUCH less common, which is why we were so pleased to stumble upon the Stonehenge subdivision in High Ridge, roughly 5,000 years after the original Stonehenge was built. The folks who live there don’t seem to mind being associated with prehistoric homo sapiens and, if anything, proud they could build structures still standing after several millennia. Can your builder do that?
In some parts of the country, coastal elites pay architects lots of money to create buildings deliberately designed to look like they are falling apart, while local art critics dutifully gush over them with words like “the optical motif of the line-space matrix undermines the substructure of critical thinking.” But that kinda talk sounds like a foreign language to us plain, toasted ravioli-eating folks here in St Louis. We’d simply tell this homeowner to find a good mud jacker and an even better lawyer. Nevertheless, we bestow this award to recognize this Oakland homeowner’s courage, and to extend our empathy to someone longing to live someplace else.
It’s one thing to have a beer on your porch, but quite another to have on your Florissant front lawn a beer wagon equipped with driver, 8 Clydesdales, and a dalmatian. Only a true St Louis patriot would install this lawn display. It’s almost enough to bring a tear to this old handyman’s eyes.
Congratulations to all the Fix St Louis Suburbie winners who prove that you don’t have to move into a Beverly Hills mansion or Gone With the Wind’s Tara to live in a great home. Come to think of it, isn’t there a subdivision called “Tara” on Wild Horse Creek Road? Do you suppose its residents would rather their subdivision be named after Stonehenge than a slave plantation?