Online Edition 01.2007

Galen's Stuff | Jess Dewes
Photo Essay

Streetside Pick Up | Elie Gardner
Photo Elie Gardner

The Gift and Burden of Possession | Ari Holz

Franklin Visits eBay! | Franklin Jennings

The Book| Luby Kelley
Illustration Matt Kindt

Killed By Their Own ARt | Byron Kerman

Liberation | Julie Newberry

Bless This Mess | Claire Nowak-Boyd
Photos Michael R. Allen

Best of Mississippi Nights | Jim Utz

Print Edition   


Andrea Avery, Diana Benanti, Thomas Crone, M. Davis, Heidi Dean,  Amanda E. Doyle, Joe Esser,  Chris King, François Luong, L.A. Ramsey, Stefene Russell, Steven Schreiner, and Erik Smetana.


Andrea Avery, Thomas Crone, Bill Cable, Jess Dewes, Katy Fischer, Jane Godfrey, Dave Gray.

Bless This Mess | by Claire Nowak-Boyd

Photos Michael R. Allen

Dedicated to Mike Snider, the best trash removal guy ever

A partial inventory of items found in our house on the day we were supposed to move in:

Over 300 broken computers
1 tacked-up list, w/heading “How To Tell If You Are A High-Tech Redneck”
10 or so dead TVs
A couple dozen dead plants
Thousands of live roaches
Innumerable dead roaches
At least a dozen live mice
At least a dozen dead mice, some waterlogged, one nailed underneath a windowsill
3-4 rat traps
4-5 containers of herbicides and pesticides
3-4 containers of boric acid
1 and a half stories worth of flea-infested carpeting
1 bathroom with linoleum so dirty we initially mistook it for carpeting
Several thousand Marlboro points
Several thousand Marlboro butts
1 pile of grimy pennies
100 or so long glass tubes, purpose unknown
4-5 shopping carts
6 appliance dollies
1 baggie containing about 60 photo IDs from a janitor company
1 police outfit
1 charred Hustler
2 moldy prosthetic legs, standing at attention
1 morgue cart for the transportation of cadavers
About half a dozen hospital sheets, some used as curtains

1 dentist’s chair
1 audio recording device, circa 1940s
About 18 wooden window sashes from the house next door
1 closet wrapped completely in aluminum foil
2 inoperable toilets (1 operable toilet)
1 bed pan
Numerous bottles of human urine
1 corner full of human feces
At least half a dozen buckets of cat feces (no litter, just feces)
Hundreds of individual cat turds not in buckets
1 toy gooey mouse, adhered semi-permanently to a plaster wall, w/large grease stain
12+ full sheets of newspaper pages on macabre topics, adhered semi-permanently to a plaster wall
1 spilled bag of beans, fused to the shelf on which they sat
1 bucket of ancient pickle juice, ultimately spilled on the trash guy’s boots
3-4 old White Castle cups, growing crust on a mantel
1 two year old pot of grease, smoke stained on top, still sitting on a stove from the day the house burned in 2003
1 gasoline-smelling threshold in a smoke-stained room
So many melted and/or charred and/or broken appliances we lost count

About 8 tanks of flammable gas (sitting on the roof)
1 bucket of motor oil (sitting open in the yard)
Half a dozen full buckets of rain water, indoors (leaky roof)
About a dozen old tires
4-5 rusty cages
4-5 “final notice” unpaid bills
2-3 classified sections, w/ ads about avoiding foreclosure circled
1 iron on for making a t-shirt listing “SEX EXCUSES”
1 iron on for making a patriotic t-shirt with an eagle
1 realistic toy gun
3-4 sets of deer antlers
1 cast iron wood-burning Woodsman stove, from 1899, with deer motif
1 1950s kitchen sink top which mysteriously matched our 1950s sink base
1 giant claw foot tub, full of broken televisions and dirty blankets
1 broken fridge full of rotten food
1 heavily stained hospital bed mattress
1 horrible, horrible stench


Claire Nowak-Boyd and Michael R. Allen got all the trash out of their big Old North St. Louis house, and it almost never smells weird there anymore. When not rehabbing their house or tending to their three loud-mouthed orange cats, they like to study their beloved hometown. Check out their website on the built environment of St. Louis at