Week of December 24, 2003

Down on Stolo Street
The depth of the tragedy: I looked at the title of this article and avoided it because I was afraid of what it might say [Geri L. Dreiling, "Stolo Street," December 17]. My intuition was on target. I first got teary, then I broke down and sobbed. I asked myself who I was crying for? Ketrease, Annalyn, Dominick, the parents, the "block," the black community? The answer came back: All of the above! She's not the first and sadly, she won't be the last, unless we all change!
Delia Ingram
University City

It only gets worse: Ms. Dreiling states that if Dominick were certified as an adult and convicted, "he'd serve his sentence until age seventeen in a detention center run by the Division of Youth Services. Then he'd be brought back before the judge, who could suspend the rest of his sentence or send him to an adult institution." The provision Ms. Dreiling speaks of, called Dual Jurisdiction, is only a sentencing option for the judge. The child must be accepted into the program and convince the judge to impose it. There is no guarantee that a particular certified child will get this as a sentence. In the present case, murder in the second degree, the sentence is up to 30 years in prison. It is misleading for the public to think that children are treated with less severity once transferred to the adult system. In most cases, they are not.
Teresa Coyle, assistant public defender
Youth Advocacy Unit
St. Louis

Fur Away
Heart pelt: I've reached that age when I find myself asking, "What's wrong with today's youth?"

While reading the partial transcript of the conversation with Miss Missouri USA, 25-year-old Shandi Finnessey, it became clear: Their spoken "beliefs" don't match their "actions" [Unreal, "Shandi in Furs," December 10].

Since when is it more offensive to turn down a gift of dead animals than it is to stand up for your love of animals and refuse to accept the raccoon fur coat from the Missouri Trappers Association? Would Finnessey also have accepted a nice pair of camouflage pants from the Rwandan Armed Forces, who went house-to-house, killing thousands, as camouflage pants are coming back in style?

Indeed, if Finnessey really believed that beauty is more than skin deep, she would know that animals need their skin more than she needs a fur coat -- no matter if she thinks fur is "in" or "out" of style.
Sharie Lesniak, program coordinator, Animal Protection Institute
Sacramento, California

Present Arms
The spirit of fair (gun) play: I must say that I am impressed that a St. Louis newspaper has run such a fair interview with one of the most articulate members of Missouri's pro-gun community [Ben Westhoff, "Love the Gun You're With," December 10].
Tom Zenthoefer

The Brown Chronicles
One good ad hominem attack deserves another: This is a response letter to Christopher Jackson's response letter [December 10] to Scott Miller's letter [November 26] regarding...who cares?

Mr. Jackson, as someone who has had the great misfortune of seeing several of your shows, let me first state that you above all in St. Louis have no business giving an opinion on what qualifies as good theater, good music or a good critique. Scott Miller may not be the next Harold Prince, but he at least makes a very valid attempt at moving the St. Louis theatrical scene forward.

Now I'm not saying I agree with everything that Scott Miller stated in his letter to the RFT, but if you and he were telling me different opinions, I would no doubt listen to him before even entertaining the thought of listening to you.

Your constant need for self-importance through your banal music, your incredibly sophomoric lyrics and your disgusting amateurish column in that rag you're employed by make you nothing but a joke in St. Louis. If you truly knew your reputation in this town, you'd either move or be unable to get out of bed in the morning.

I, for one, am sick of your whiny letters every time someone has an opinion that differs from yours.

I am the first in a line of many people who would like to see CJ Productions permanently shut down. You give theater in St. Louis, music in St. Louis and most of all, gay rights in St. Louis, a very bad image.

Mr. Miller, keep up your good work. If there is a joke to be had in St. Louis theater, its initials certainly aren't S.M.
David Strom
St. Louis

Not wordy, literate: Dennis Brown says Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians is too wordy ["Another One Bites the Dust," December 10]. No, it's literate. I didn't find the script word-laden when I played the male lead in the show at Roosevelt High School in 1970. To the contrary, Mrs. Christie took seriously her charge to flesh out ten characters before killing most one by one. Like many of the great movies on TCM (bless that channel) and the plays of yesteryear, Mrs. Christie's play is dialogue-driven.

The pace of many (not all) of today's movies is dizzying, as if speed -- and volume -- are required to draw fans. That contrast doubled my pleasure at the Rep.

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