Ragged Blade Cuts Back

Week of April 30, 2003

The computer conspiracy: I'm disappointed in your new abbreviated version of the Calendar section. It used to be a great resource for having everything you wanted to know about what was going on in St. Louis at your fingertips. It was portable. You could take it with you from event to event. You could pick it up and refer to it wherever you were in the city. A complete listing was available to everyone, not just people with computers. With this change, the RFT has become less relevant to my cultural/social life. Why fix what ain't broken?
Sue Kaiser
University City

Oh, the humanity! It had already gotten to the point where the only reason to pick up the RFT anymore was to scan the Calendar, and now you have destroyed even that. We need a real alternative newspaper, as the RFT almost used to be, with investigative journalism on subjects that matter. If we can't have that (and apparently we can't), at least we need a comprehensive events calendar in print. Not everyone has unlimited free Internet access.
Russell Willis
St. Louis

No Butts
Paying the price: So do I have to pay for cigarettes now? I would like to thank Randall Roberts for giving me the news on the death of the Camel Club ["No Spiffs, Bands or Butts," April 16]. As a longtime Camel smoker, I would go out nights just for the chance at a free pack of smokes. With the author's insights, I can begin looking for my second job. I am going to need more money if I want to continue supporting R.J. Reynolds.
Erin Berger
St. Louis

Out with the good: I never was a smoker. Not a big clubgoer. But I am sorry to see this marketing avenue close. I did attend a college primarily funded by R.J. Reynolds money: Wake Forest, class of 1980.

It is unfortunate that RJR has felt it necessary to pull its support of what is actually a valid expression of art in its formative stages. The tobacco industry has borne the blame of so much, and personally I do not see anyone holding a gun to any smoker's head. My drug/vice of choice has always been alcohol, and I appreciate the marketing efforts of Budweiser, Bushmills, Absolut, etc. They tend to find the not-quite-mainstream artists. I also understand the difficulties of the aspiring club owner. I hate to see the funding go in a time when we so need interesting stress-release options.
Pam Gladney
St. Louis

The bleeding begins again: If the vibrancy and profitability of the St. Louis music scene depends so heavily on the life support of promotional money from huge corporations to keep it from flat-lining, then we are all doomed. The corporate Band-Aid for the financial woes of club owners and artists has been removed, and the profuse and prolonged bleeding that was temporarily abated has begun again in earnest. Perhaps merely treating the symptoms of our ailing music scene wasn't the cure after all. Perhaps we should now begin to look more closely at the causes of our plight, which are inexorably tied to the current difficulties which plague many American cities: population decline caused by continued flight to the suburbs, the continued entropic process which has fostered the rise of technologically based entertainment mediums which can be enjoyed in the comfort of one's home and a cultural shift in priority which questions the intrinsic value of a live performance experience -- these have created a climate of detachment which makes it difficult for musicians to assemble an audience in a public place.

These problems are the unfortunate side effects of growing corporate dominance of American life in general and the music business in particular. The insurgency of financial support was designed to increase the market share of Camel cigarettes, not as an altruistic act of goodwill to prop up the local music and entertainment industry. The effect was to create a dependence on their continued support among club owners and musicians, much in the same way their products create dependence among consumers. In the quest for corporate profit, our scene allowed itself to be used and tossed aside, and no one should be in the least bit surprised by the outcome.
Ken Kase
St. Louis

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