Week of August 22, 2001

Monumental Ego
See bullshit for what it is: As a former St. Louisan who made the move to San Francisco, I was interested in the mention of the Forest Park gates debate [Ray Hartmann, "Paradise Found?" RFT, Aug. 15]. Be assured that few people think poorly of a place that rejects ugly public art. Cities all over the world host such conflict.

For example, in San Francisco, Richard Serra tried to install a sculpture featuring large pieces of rusted metal on public land overlooking the Golden Gate, one of the most beautiful places in the city. Thankfully, the public outcry against the idea was deafening.

Of course, local art critics called San Franciscans "provincial" and claimed that we were no longer a city that supported public art. (Many in the arts community also thought a statue of a giant foot would have been a great addition to the shore of San Francisco Bay and that a large peace sign in Golden Gate Park was necessary to remind people of San Francisco in the '60s.)

One of the nice things about San Francisco is that fighting stupid monuments to an artist's ego is understood as an exercise of your responsibilities as a citizen. All of these projects were stopped because enough San Franciscans are more interested in the livability of their city rather than the opinions of an artistic elite. When cities try to become "world class" (whatever that means), they become places without a soul, alienating residents and boring visitors. See bullshit for what it is.

Sorry about the landscape architect [Lawrence Halprin] being from San Francisco.
Jeff Wilkins
San Francisco

A gate that reflects St. Louis: We enjoyed Eddie Silva's article about the proposed Forest Park gates ["Gates of Eden," RFT, Aug. 1]. The gates are beautiful and remind us of Gaudi's architecture in Barcelona. Perhaps St. Louisans would prefer two pedestals, one topped with a toasted ravioli and the other with Mark McGwire.
Joan and Robert DiAntonio

Free Rider
Spud should pay for his hots and cot: I find it quite interesting that Lavell Webb's "royalty checks are fattening his bank account, but he can't touch it and can't spend it on anything anyway" [Randall Roberts, "Bad Rap," RFT, Aug. 8]. May I suggest he pay for the three hots and a cot he is getting? I do like the music, but I don't like the free rides!
Sharon Stratton
St. Louis

Worried Minds
Whose kids count the most? How do the Michaels take care of their own children if they are so busy worrying about everyone else's [Jeannette Batz, "Casualties of War," RFT, Aug. 15]?
Meghan Schrumpf
St Louis

Concrete Example
What's with the hit on Percy? Freeman Bosley Jr., a passive investor in United Materials, is a good man. Tim Person, president of United Materials, is a good man. Jim Lohse may be a good man -- at least in Bosley and Person's case, he keeps good company! But he is a white concrete contractor with a company trying for minority certification, a position he's been in before [Safir Ahmed, "A Black Eye Affair," RFT, Aug. 1].

United Materials is some combination of minority and majority in its makeup. The city's certification process is designed to assure contracts for legitimate minority enterprises -- those owned, managed and operated by minorities. The city needs one such process with appropriate checks for fairness. Percy Green is qualified, has integrity and community standing and has developed a stringent process in an arena where such stringency is exactly what's required, and he needs the support of the mayor, aldermen, and citizens to do his job.

We respect the RFT's history of reporting from the margins and know enough of Safir Ahmed's commitments to value him as a colleague for justice. So what's with the hit on Percy Green's effort to assure legitimate minority participation? As Person said: "We don't give a damn if they count us toward the minority goal or not," with the implication that they're doing just fine, thank you. But add up the elements, and you have to admit to some ambiguity: mostly passive minority investors who own 51 percent while Mr. Lohse owns 49 percent, a rented building and leased mixing device, transport by a company owned by Mrs. Lohse, all the experience and expertise coming from Mr. Lohse, part-time management by Tim Person and the full-time employees are white.

We commend the mayor for suspending United Materials' minority certification while the issue is investigated. United Materials can and should contract with the city as a racially mixed enterprise (with white folks playing dominant roles) and compete for the 75 percent of contracts available to such an enterprise unless Green's office determines otherwise.
The Rev. Martin Rafanan
The Rev. Ted Schroeder
The Rev. Michael Vosler
The Rev. Bill Stickney
The Rev. Ed Heininger

The Rev. Ben Martin
St. Louis

Rave Review
Covering the other side: I congratulate René Spencer Saller for her honesty concerning the events that transpired at the recent outdoor dance concert in Potosi ["Radar Station," RFT, July 25]. Unfortunately, none of the media in my community was courageous enough to print something similar when rave-style events were busted in my area. Hopefully law enforcement will become more educated about what transpires at raves and how to handle drug use not only at raves but at concert events in general.
John Keymer
Plymouth, Minn.

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