Swirl, Smack and Spit

We're curious about Bill Roberti's intentions, Brent Feeney's exodus and Joe Edwards' alibi; plus, Missouri will taste damn good in a waffle cone

Sure. But let's stick to the facts.

Edwards insists his yet-to-open Pinup Bowl on Delmar Boulevard won't profit from Arcade's demise, but he does admit that he's intrigued by the vintage bowling-pin sign that hung outside the doomed alley and survived intact, in part because it was mounted, coincidentally or not, on the opposite side of the building from where the fire started. He has gone so far as to ask for a photograph of the sign as well as its dimensions from a person -- an accomplice, perhaps? -- whose name he conveniently could not recall.

"If it's possible, that would be great," he says. "I'm definitely open to the thought. I would love to do it if I could."

Case closed.

School's In

What with the biblical proportions of Rochell Moore's curse on the mayor and the weekly weeping and gnashing of teeth at meetings of the St. Louis Board of Education, it's tough to find critical news coverage or insightful analysis of the ongoing passion play in the city schools. Still, that information can be found in some surprising places, including mainstream morning talk on KMOX radio, the newsletter for the Landmarks Association and through e-mail updates from Peter Downs via his fledgling publication, "St. Louis Schools Watch."

Downs, who ran for the school board in April and lost, has been consistently ahead of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in his coverage and has been virtually alone in his questioning of the voodoo economics practiced by Alvarez & Marsal, the corporate turnaround firm hired to rejuvenate city schools. On the morning after the August 4 meeting, Downs sent out a dispatch that detailed the cutback in health benefits to teachers and noted how interim superintendent Bill Roberti had failed to explain these cutbacks in a meeting with teachers earlier in the day. No comparable description was available in the Post. If you want in on Downs' update, write [email protected].

On KMOX, school board president Darnetta Clinkscale admitted to talk show host Charles Brennan that she had never visited any of the sixteen schools scheduled for closure.

The Landmarks newsletter (http://stlouis.missouri.org/501c/landmarks), meanwhile, calls attention to the architecturally significant buildings among the sixteen doomed schools. Eleven of the schools were built by noted architects; several date from the turn of the last century. Some benefited from the recent capital-improvement program, including the Ralph Waldo Emerson Elementary School at 5415 Page Boulevard. Emerson was built in 1901, when, in the newsletter's words, "St. Louis schools became the national model of economy and operational efficiency."

That was 102 years ago.

Correction published 8/20/03:
In the original version of "Exit Interview," we inadvertently took a year off soon-to-be-expat Brent Feeney's life. Feeney turns 43 on September 11, not 44. The above version reflects the corrected text.

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