Letters

Week of Sept. 5, 2001

Suburban Brawl
He paved paradise for parking lots:WingHaven is anything but. I recall the many times I drove Highway 40 in St. Charles County since the '60s and had the pleasure of seeing Canada geese land in the late afternoons in cornfields that are now under the concrete of WingHaven. I wondered sometimes as I drove by how many coveys of quail were feeding along field edges and on the sloping, wooded hillsides there. No more, it seems. Perhaps a more accurate and truthful name for the development is "WingtipHaven," because that is all that is left there now. The article "The Gospel According to Paul" by Peter Downs [RFT, Aug. 22], in my opinion, did not address the core issue of such developments: Why do we accept such wasteful misuse of land? At what point do we say, 'Enough with urban sprawl'? Whether WingHaven is truly a new form of urban development or not isn't the issue. Anyone who looks at the project can see what it is. It is a multitude of condos, houses and commercial buildings indistinguishable from some of the worst "unplanned" developments in North, West and South County. Those who want to live there are actually fleeing the very things Paul McKee wants for them -- namely, an integrated, eclectic work and social community. After all, what sold first and fastest at WingHaven? The homes along the golf course! I know Paul McKee. He is a caring and decent man. It's too bad he is the engine behind this development. For when men of his caliber turn acre after acre of brush and crop field, pasture and riparian habitat into sidewalks, par-4's, parking lots, offices for snobbish multinational conglomerates that want the "right address" and cookie-cutter condos, our environment will undoubtedly get a lot worse before it gets better.
Barry Dunnegan
St. Louis

St. Louis is blessed with older New Urbanist designs:New Urban St. Louis is an organization of local architects, planners and citizens promoting New Urbanism in the region. While we applaud Paul McKee's efforts to break the current mold of suburban development in the St. Louis region, several points are worth mentioning.

New Urbanists identify with one of two camps: developments in suburban "greenfields" or revitalizing existing neighborhoods in the urban core and inner suburbs. New Urbanists believe strengthening the urban core is vital to sustaining long-term regional growth while acknowledging that greenfield development will continue. New development, whether in the urban core or in greenfields, benefits by incorporating New Urbanist principles. New Urbanism does not imply a strict return to nostalgic remembrances of the past. Instead, it is based on design and planning principles nurtured and refined over centuries of town-building that have been largely forgotten over the last 50 years. Problems such as affordable housing, lack of connectiveness and inadequate public transportation plague many suburban areas. Solutions include pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use and transit-oriented development which offers real alternatives to auto-oriented sprawl.

The St. Louis region is blessed with fine older examples of traditional neighborhoods exhibiting many aspects of New Urbanist designs. However, the region is lacking the breakthrough projects seen in Memphis, Dallas and Minneapolis. We encourage developers, bankers and local government officials to explore the rich variety of New Urbanist developments in the U.S. already completed or in the planning process. More information can be found at www.cnu.org, the Web site for the Congress for the New Urbanism.
Todd Antoine
John Hoag
Steve Patterson
New Urban St. Louis

Pink Stinks
Excuse me if I don't kiss Jeff's ass:I'm writing in response to the Aug. 29 letter written by David Runde, who, I think, missed the entire point of the article [René Spencer Saller, "Radar Station" RFT, Aug. 22]. I don't think René and Spitzie Q. West were criticizing the local music scene in particular. They were just voicing concerns about a particular promoter that is exploiting female musicians. I agree that the St. Louis music scene is alive and well. The problem that exists is with people like Jeff Harlan that play into the stereotypes of female musicians and exploit them to make a buck. Have you really looked at a lineup for "Women in Rock?" Obviously not, because if you did, you would realize that none of these women categorically "rock." Jeff Harlan is lumping all female musicians into the girl ghetto. In effect, he is perpetuating the idea that all female musicians sound -- and are -- the same and cannot stand alone. I would hardly doubt that anyone would say Celia and the Star Death is the same type of music, though when Jeff Harlan uses the phrase "Women in Rock," he is essentially equating the two. The only merit that they have is that they are female and therefore that in itself is supposed to be reason enough to see the show. He's not saying that these people are good musicians or provide good entertainment.

As long as women are being singled out as a group by men like Jeff Harlan, they will never be able to gain equality within the industry. They will forever just be "women in rock." I don't need Jeff Harlan to validate my existence as a musician, nor will I ever. I will allow my musical ability to stand on its own, not my gender. I hope you understand that I have no issues with the St. Louis music scene, or with Off Broadway, for that matter. I think what Off Broadway has done to expand their calendar is great. My problem exists with people such as Jeff Harlan that do not realize that an event like "Women in Rock," regardless of his intentions, is incredibly derogatory and limiting. Oh, right, I forgot that his putting up fliers with Powerpuff Girls and pink flowery guitars is definitely helping me as a female musician. I can tell you, as a woman who likes to think that she rocks, I've never once owned a pink guitar (or a pink anything, for that matter). Furthermore, representing my music with a cartoon character created for 10-year-old children isn't exactly what I would call propelling women into a category in which they are to be respected as musicians. So forgive me for not kissing Jeff Harlan's ass and passing along my eternal thank-yous.
Tobi
St. Louis

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