Years ago I bought a dress at a benefit sale that I was told once belonged to Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks. I never knew if this was true, but every time I wore the dress I felt like a rock star and found myself inexplicably humming “Rhiannon.”

I mention this because on Thursday, Aug. 27, from 10 a.m. to noon, the “Best Dressed Sidewalk Sale” will take place at Valerie Mills Boutique, 131 Carondelet Plaza, in Clayton. All proceeds from the sale — as well as 10 percent of purchases that day of Valerie Mills merchandise — will benefit the Legal Advocates of Abused Women. LAAW is a local organization that provides crisis intervention and support, legal information and advocacy, safety planning, and legal and social service referrals for victims of abuse.


The designer merchandise to be featured at the sale comes from some of St. Louis’ most stylish as well as renowned international designers, at unbelievable prices. Afterwards, at 12:30 p.m., shoppers can enjoy lunch at Araka (located a few doors away from Valerie Mills) and bid on a fashionable trip to New York, including three-night accommodations at the Carlyle Hotel, tickets to Nora Ephron’s Broadway play Love, Loss and What I Wore, dinner at a Danny Meyer restaurant, lunch with style guru Carson Kressly and an insider’s look at the world of couture design with designer Michael Boris in his showroom. Tickets for the luncheon are $50 and seating is limited. For more information, go to or call 314.535.0684.

Max Brenner isn’t a real person, exactly. He’s actually the brainchild of two Israeli businessmen, Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner, who began a chain of chocolate-inspired restaurants in Ra’anana in 1996, which were eventually gobbled up by Strauss Group, an Israeli food corporation. Today, there are Max Brenner restaurants throughout Israel as well as in Singapore, the Philippines, Australia and, recently, the United States (in New York City and Philadelphia).

Oded Brenner remains the company’s figurehead, or more precisely, it’s his bald head that figures prominently in the restaurant’s official moniker, Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man. And they don’t mean chocolate for the faint-hearted; the restaurant would make Willy Wonka sheepish about his factory, with its vats of flowing chocolate and confections galore, not to mention a menu of every imaginable (and unimaginable) chocolate delight, from fondues to crepes to pizzas to martinis.

I stumbled onto Max Brenner and into a chocolate-induced coma during a recent visit to the one in New York’s Union Square. Even my omelet came with a side of melted milk chocolate, so I could spread that onto my biscuit instead of, say, jelly.

Should you find yourself in New York or Philadelphia, by all means check out Max Brenner ( for more information). A recent Business Week article said the company plans to open many more branches in the United States in the coming year, but a company spokeswoman said those plans have been slowed. She added that Boston would probably happen next and that “Chicago is on the wish list.”

What about St. Louis, I asked? That would be sweet, she said, but not likely to happen anytime soon.

John Michael McGuire was one of the best feature writers at any newspaper, ever. More important though, he was a tremendous human being — warm, kind, gentle-hearted, self-effacing and genuine.

Every woman, young and old, at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch had a benign crush on John. We just couldn’t help it. With his boyish charm and raffish manner, he had this endearing way that made you want to sit and listen to him tell stories. And boy oh boy, could McGuire tell a story.

Many of you probably read some of them in the pages of the Post, where John worked for 38 years, before he retired in 2005. Whether it was an author interview or crime caper or a profile of a famous, or not so famous character, John had a way of drawing information out of his subjects and then putting words together like few writers could.

On Aug. 11, John Michael McGuire died at the age of 71. He and his wife, Lynn, were visiting one of their three sons and his family in Springfield, Mo. when John went to sleep and never woke up. In addition to his wife and children, he had seven grandchildren whom he adored.

To say that John will be missed is like saying his writing was memorable — that doesn’t begin to do him justice. All I know is that for five years I had the pleasure and privilege to be John’s editor in the Everyday section of the Post, and I am a better journalist as a result. One of John Michael McGuire’s many gifts was that he had a way of bringing out the best in everyone.