The EC Summer Spectacular

or, Ronnie Goes To The City For Pizza

In my long, undistinguished career in journalism I only met two people who made it big. The first was Major Garrett, currently White House correspondent for CBS News. We were in “Intro to Broadcast News” together and while I’m sure he doesn’t remember me, we worked together on a piece about a juggler.

Major went on to have, well, major success in broadcasting. I dropped out after that one class because (a) I was too ugly for broadcasting (b) my voice is too odd for broadcasting (c) the equipment was too bulky and heavy to carry around so I wasn’t going to work behind the camera, and (d) I figured the future of journalism was in newspapers.

Well, I was right on three out of four.

The other person was Ryan Fagan, National Major League Baseball and college hoops writer for Sporting News. We met at the Journal, where we became friends despite his working in sports. I know he’s famous now because he travels the country covering important sports stuff and he does a lot of sports talk radio (and clearly you have to be somebody to get on sports talk radio). Oh, and most important, he’s Twitter Verified. I don’t know what that means, but those who know Twitter say it’s very impressive.

Anyway, unlike most FJEs, Fagan has always been good to let us know when he’s in town so that we can hook up for drinks and a meal. He recently announced that he would be in St. Louis for most of August, so I lit up the Executive Committee signal and told Yellow and Trent to plan a get-together by the time I got back from Seattle.

They didn’t.

We agreed to meet Friday night. Fagan and Trent wanted to meet downtown at some pizza joint they referred to as “The Thorn.”

I did not want to go downtown. I am an old, white, suburbanite who grew up in the country and fears the big city. Especially at night. And it’s not just fear. I hate the lack of parking lots. I hate to parallel park on streets. I hate one-way streets that are always going the wrong way. I hate crime. Now before you call me paranoid, a lousy driver and a coward (all of which I will easily cop to anyway), let me tell you a little story about last weekend.

The Wife and two of her friends met up Saturday night at a lovely little Italian restaurant downtown for dinner. The Wife met her friend in Clayton and the friend drove the rest of the way. They had a lovely time until they went to pay the bill and were told that someone had gone down the street busting out car windows and rooting through people’s cars. Guess who didn’t get home until 1 a.m. because they had to wait around for the police and fill out forms?

So yeah, I wasn’t too keen on going downtown. Sure, I drive a falling-apart, 10-year-old Saturn but why put it under any more stress than necessary? But then Yellow said she’d drive me, so I agreed.

I left my car in the well-lit parking lot of a Pizza Hut and off we went. We made our way to The Black Thorn Pizza and Pub without incident and were even able to park across the street from the door without having to parallel park. Once inside I discovered I didn’t have my phone and must have left it in my car. No problem, it will be safe in the well-lit parking lot of a Pizza Hut in St. Charles.

100_1973We went inside and made our way to the back corner where Fagan and Trent had found us a booth. The Black Thorn is, to put it politely, a dive. The walls are covered in graffiti, some of it carved and some written in chalk. There is even chalk left out throughout the establishment for people to use. The booth we were sitting in had a split down the middle of our seat, exposing the soft, brown foam within.

Fagan thought this situation would disgust me but it actually brought back fond memories of college. You see, The Thorn is pretty much The Shack, only larger and more spacious and with pizza.

Fagan assured me that The Thorn made the best pizza in St. Louis. Given that many St. Louisans think great pizza is wafer-thin crust and Provel cheese, it wasn’t a high bar to climb. While I can’t say for certain it is the best pizza in St. Louis — I haven’t been to every pizza joint in St. Lou — I will say it is the best I’ve had so far. Still not as good as Shakespeare’s, but close.

We had a nice visit in between everyone posting Facebook status updates on their phones. Young people, I just don’t know… The beer was good, the food was good and I didn’t have to worry about a DWI because Yellow was driving.

100_1978A few hours later we walked outside and Yellow’s vehicle was still there. And still in one piece. More amazing, when we got inside we discovered I had left my phone in the cup holder, in plain view.

I guess the city’s not so bad after all. But I’m still not going down there unless someone else is driving.



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