Week of October 24, 2001

Pick on Osama instead: Hartmann, take off your rose-colored glasses. You appear to have a problem knowing the difference between good behavior and bad. If a person chooses to abuse drugs that are considered illegal in this country, they must also be willing to pay the consequences. Have you had to pay consequences for a bad decision that you made? Apparently people like you are not willing to pay any consequences. It is "goody" people like you that allow crime to go unpunished.

Police officers are not perfect. Most of them are just trying to protect and uphold the laws. If you want to pick on someone, try Osama and his followers. Or do you think we should drop daisies instead of bombs?
Carol McKenna
St. Louis

Starting to look like prewar Germany: It is very important that we stop being held hostage by a group, any group, of terrorists [Ray Hartmann, "The Anthrax Is Not in the Mail," Oct. 17]. We must move on with our lives. Yes, we need to take more precautions when we fly, go in tall buildings or even open our mail. We cannot blame Muslims because the terrorists are Muslims.

McCarthyism was wrong in 1954, and it is wrong now. If we continue to point the finger at Muslims, we start to look like prewar Germany!
Robert Morgan
St. Louis

Absentee Landlord
To me, Wash. U. means deferred maintenance and higher rents: As a Washington University graduate student who lives north of Delmar in University City, I am concerned about the recent property purchases by Wash. U. [Elizabeth Vega, "Buy and Swell," Oct. 17], less for tax reasons than for maintenance and rent reasons. The outside maintenance of buildings and property has improved with time since the purchase (though our backyard was not raked last fall), but the inside maintenance has gone to pot. In June, a leak in the apartment above ours caused a hole to form in our bathroom ceiling. We immediately called Parkview Properties (the Wash. U. company that manages the property).

After three weeks, plumbers showed up to fix the leak. A week later, the hole was fixed. The plaster has still not been painted. While the apartments north of Delmar are large, amenities are scarce -- no dishwasher, lead paint, old windows that sap the heat out of our apartment, a closet door made of a set of French doors with particle board nailed to one side and broken glass on the other. Amenities are what makes a place worth more money -- not just ownership by Wash. U. The condition of our apartment has not improved in the last year-and-a-half.

Wash. U. has increased the rent on buildings east of U. City that it purchased in 1998 by 300 to 400 percent, with little to no improvements on the quality of the inside of the apartments. An apartment that some friends lived in that once cost $350 per month is now $1,280. Our rent has not yet gone up. But if maintenance continues to be so poor and our rent does increase drastically over the next year to two years, we'll be moving.
Desiree Floyd
University City

Out for Blood
It was a cold and rainy night: I don't usually do these kinds of things, but your review of The Vampires has compelled me [Dennis Brown, "Bloodsucker," Oct. 17]. Thank you, Mr. Brown, for awakening my own bloodsucking impulses and shaking me out of the marasmus I have sunken into lately in regards to theatrical criticism in this town.

It is no surprise to me, having worked in St. Louis theater for several years, that this script would receive negative reactions from critics -- I did my production research on the play as well. I realized, as Harry Kondoleon so astutely puts it in the play when commenting on if the work will make any money or be a commercial or critical success, that "It is just not that kind of thing."

Unfortunately, it seems to me that Brown had already made up his mind about the play prior to experiencing the production. He very well may have fallen into the trap Kondoleon was setting for "critics" of the theater -- predetermined stoicism. Also, Brown's comparison of our audience turnout with the Gregory Peck film was sophomoric at best. This seems to me to be yet another trap laid by Kondoleon that Mr. Brown so easily stepped into -- drama critics' making obscure comparisons to even more obscure pop-culture references. In The Vampires, it so happens to be The Donna Reed Show that gets skewered.

The fact of the matter is that it was opening night and there were 10-12 people in the audience. However, Brown conveniently forgets to mention that it was a cold, rainy Thursday and that opening nights, especially for small theater companies trying to establish themselves, are generally not well attended. But to mention that would weaken his tenuous and vituperative argument that people were staying away because they had a premonition that they wouldn't understand or enjoy the play. Not to mention audience attendance has been down for a lot of St. Louis theaters lately.

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