From the week of October 25, 2000

We look forward to working with Nelly on his music videos in the future. We hope that he will be successful in crossing over into acting and will bring feature-film productions to St. Louis. And most of all we look forward to the success of all the other St. Louis hip-hop acts that will follow in Nelly's wake and create even more production work.

Thank you, Nelly, for representing St. Louis to the fullest. This is just the beginning. Oh, by the way, your album is hot sh*t.

James Leonis
Executive Director
St. Louis Film Office

The RFT makes me glad Clarence is mayor: Ray Hartmann believes that "there's plenty of room for debate on the subject" of rap lyrics. A patronizing and cynical Hartmann apparently is untroubled by any part of "Country Grammar (Hot Sh*t)." But before he writes any more columns proving that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, Hartmann is well advised to listen to another Nelly song, "For My Niggarz." This tune -- if it even may be called that -- leaves no room whatsoever for disagreement or debate among decent-minded people of any political persuasion.

Hartmann is not generally known as a doctrinaire libertarian, at least not in economic matters. How odd, then, that he should enshrine the free market not only as the measure of financial success but as the ultimate arbiter of all other values as well. After all, can the purchasers of 3 million "units" of Nelly's "sh*t" be wrong? And is our sense of cultural inferiority really so great that we need to desperately seek celebrity and national media attention (from Rolling Stone and USA Today, no less) wherever we can find them, no matter what the cost to our self-respect and our public morality?

Maybe Hartmann actually enjoys being assaulted by Nelly's "sh*t" on street corners, at red lights and in filling stations. Or perhaps, in the value-neutral and amoral world of the "hipoisie," it has become trendy and politically correct to identify the inexorable spread of the worst features of ghetto culture with fashionable "multiculturalism" and progress.

With voices like that of the RFT, I am more thankful than ever that we have Clarence Harmon in the mayor's office!

Harold Karabell
St. Louis

Kids listen to this sh*t, too: I agree wholeheartedly with you, except the children who are listening to this music are exposed to words and phrases that are not acceptable in the workaday world that most of them need to fit into. Our educators are trying their best to prepare them on the one hand, and the rap lyrics only harm them. I don't know the solution; I only know that to say this talk is acceptable is wrong.

Donna McGehee
via the Internet

Piping Hot

No one else would have done that story: I'm responding to the article "Pipe Schemes" by Peter Downs [RFT, Oct. 11]. I praise Downs not only for the accuracy of his article but also for his prolific detailing of the events with all parties involved. I feel that the RFT displayed intestinal fortitude by printing the article, and I can't think of another newspaper in town that would have done the same.

Patrick J. Dodd
via the Internet

People won't be steamrolled by the 'Fitters: Congrats to Peter Downs and his recent article on the Pipefitters. Finally somebody got the nads to tell the truth on that bunch. They think people will just let them do what the hell they want. Wrong.

James Shea
St. Charles

Taste Testy

Readers, judge for yourselves: I am upset with the recent review regarding the Park Avenue Bistro [Melissa Martin, "Walk in the Park," RFT, Oct. 11]. The fact that I and many others do not agree with your reporter's opinion comes secondary to the mean-spirited approach taken. There was no mention of the long hard hours of work invested in taking a distressed piece of real estate and turning it into a lovely place to meet, eat and drink. Perhaps a little understanding by your reporter of what it takes to establish a good restaurant today, especially in the city of St. Louis, is in order. I hope you print this letter. I hope someone reads it, goes to the Park Avenue Bistro and judges for himself the fine dining experience I and many others have had.

I consider it more than ironic that the other article header at the bottom of the same page should be what your readers do with your reporter's opinion. It should be taken with a grain of salt.

Andy Irvine
St. Louis

Can't swallow muddy metaphors: Your recent restaurant review was one of the most poorly written pieces I've every read in the RFT. After trudging through its muddy metaphors and swampy critique, I have no idea why someone wouldn't want to visit the Park Avenue Bistro. I have eaten there and found its atmosphere charming and its food sophisticated and delicious.

Randy Grim
St. Louis

“Street” Balk

Exactly who made those bunnies and cicadas? I've never responded to a newspaper editorial column, but as a believer in God, I had to voice a response to Lexie Korba, a college student who responded to the question "How do you envision God?" [Wm. Stage, "Street Talk," RFT, Oct. 11].

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