From the week of October 25, 2000

 People Who Love People

Planning hard to be whimsical: Despite Eddie Silva's cranky attempt to spoil a good time for the People Project ["People Persons," RFT, Oct. 4], folks all over the region are excited about next year's exhibition that will put hundreds of unique sculptures on display in public areas across Missouri and Illinois. These imaginative people figures will exemplify creativity, showcasing some of the area's finest artistic talent.

This is the first time an event of this scope and size has come to the St. Louis region, and we're proud to be organizing it. Sure, we've set up some limited guidelines and modest oversight to ensure that everyone in the community can enjoy this project, but that won't get in the way of creativity, expression and, yes, just plain fun.

We've received enthusiastic support from sponsors, artists and elected officials who want to help bring this whimsical display to our region. Artists like the flexibility this medium offers, and elected officials are eager to support a regional project.

There is strong community support for the People Project. We hope the Riverfront Times will lighten up and join the rest of our region in enjoying this program.

Porter Arneill
Director, People Project

Seems like New Times

Nostalgic at a tender age: I could easily begin this letter by deriding the new look of the Riverfront Times. However, there are bigger changes at hand (though I've suspected as much for a while now).

It is to my complete amazement that in neither issue 41 nor 42, the issues surrounding the presidential debate at Washington University, did the RFT carry a single news article, column or calendar listing related to the debates themselves or their associated rallies. The closest things to it were the O17 ad and the Tom Tomorrow comic -- one of which was (I assume) a paid advertisement and the other of which is nationally syndicated and merely picked up by the RFT.

There was also a listing for the Al Franken lecture in both issues, I guess because we all need to laugh it off and perhaps because this is what passes as a political event these days.

It honestly pains me to think that at the young age of 28 I will start invoking the "in the good old days" mantra with regard to the RFT, but it seems all too appropriate.

Even I can remember a time when the RFT was a bastion of the alternative press, ready to wear its heart on its sleeve and to do battle for the underrepresented and underreported. In the current state of things, there seems no more deserving story than the plight of Ralph Nader and the Green Party in the context of politics as usual.

While I realize that deadlines and publication schedules prevented the RFT from joining the postdebate hoopla (though not preventing Ray Hartmann's eulogy for Gov. Mel Carnahan), increased involvement and awareness during these events could have easily been facilitated by some predebate coverage. At the very least, some of these events could have been listed in the "Night & Day" and "Calendar" sections, or both. Instead, on Tuesday, Oct. 17, we are encouraged to attend the "Storybook Safari" -- undoubtedly more exciting but hardly less important than the debates and rallies that occurred on that day.

Perhaps it has been a long time coming, and I am being silly to expect the "new" RFT to give a damn. After all, in a paper that now devotes 85 to 90 percent of its content to reviews, advertising and movie and restaurant listings (of the last issue's 119 pages, only pages 11-26 contain real "news" stories, if we can even call them that), it seems entirely unreasonable to expect some real journalism to occur. Given these startling facts, it is about time the paper changed its look. I will add that while the design of the inside is mostly respectable, the cover is absolutely awful. What this design accomplishes is the impossibility of ever again identifying the Riverfront Times with the fine paper that it once was.

Douglis Beck
St. Louis

The end is near: Put Hartmann back on page 2! Please put Hartmann back on page 2 -- please, please, please.

This is a sure sign of the apocalypse.

Justin Domke
University City

Sh*t Disturber

Quick, call the RCGA -- Nelly's an economic-development tool: In response to Ray Hartmann's commentary, I would like to proclaim that the St. Louis Film Office loves Nelly ["Oh, Fecal Matter! Nelly is Naughty," RFT, Oct. 11]. In the highly competitive arena of trying to attract productions, it is always nice to have someone in your corner. St. Louis was very fortunate to get the music-video production of "Country Grammar." There is only one reason we got this production: Nelly. He fought with his record company to make his video in St. Louis and won. This was back in March, when he was just another MC trying to break into the rap game and not a superstar.

This music video, with a $250,000-plus budget, employed about 30 local production technicians, rented thousands of dollars in equipment from local vendors and spent about 100 room nights in local hotels. These are just the major expenditures made in St. Louis. Smaller expenditures are too numerous to mention. During the last three years, St. Louis has been fairly successful in landing film productions, but every production, large and small, is critical to our efforts to build this industry.

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