Week of April 14, 2004

In Tune
I've got the music in me: I really enjoyed Ben Westhoff's piece on the Trak Starz ["Making Traks," April 7]. I was very pleased to see other St. Louisans having successes in the writing and production of music. I found some similarities between myself and Sham Daugherty and Alonzo Lee Jr. Now I feel I can keep pressing on toward the goals I have set for myself.

I am a writer at heart, but I also would like to produce. I used to DJ, and I come from a very musical background, and I also have a lot of close relatives who DJ in the St. Louis area. I always wanted to take my vision into the mainstream. Now I feel properly motivated to take action. I just wanted to say thank you.
Vanessa R. Russell (DJ Vanna Spice)
St. Charles

Trolley Mania
Train of thought: The trolley follies are all quite amusing, but I have one question: Why is anyone in this burg considering any expensive measures to augment 1) an urban bus system nobody seems to use and 2) a MetroLink nobody seems to use [Mike Seely, "Trolley Follies," April 7]. The St. Louis area is very similar to Los Angeles in its car culture. We don't buy into mass transit unless we're forced to do it.

We already have the fake double-decker tour buses that roll through Soulard and Lafayette Square; do we need another "vanity"" transit system? And the fact that parts of downtown look like Iraq after the shelling doesn't make for appealing scenery when slowly rolling from one point to another. Tourists might take the trolley in one direction, but after cruising past abandoned office buildings, tacky old residential highrises, homeless people sleeping in the park on Market Street and ducking what they think is gunfire, they'll be cabbing it back to the hotel.

Joe Edwards' idea of the University City trolley has merit. It's a pain to park there. Laying track in the street wouldn't necessarily disturb traffic, as anyone who has taken a ride on a San Francisco cable car can attest. Combine a terminal for this system to proximity to a MetroLink station and it could be a winning combination.

If we want to emulate the success of other cities, those emulations have to follow some sort of logical order. Ordering a transit system to show off progress we haven't made is a waste of time and cash.
Anne C. Young
St. Louis

Blame it on the strip joints: I find the tone of "Trolley Follies" very disturbing. Mike Seely is employing a tactic that pits personalities against one another, and that is a classic case of irresponsible journalism. I say this because he is not discussing the real issue: Mass transit in St. Louis.

We have a substandard mass-transit system, and it is a hindrance to the present and future growth of the area. Because of these low standards, the population that mass transit serves has a harder time doing the things people who own vehicles take for granted every day, and it promotes and reinforces poverty within our community. We also have a consistent history of generating more pollution from automobile exhaust than many other metro areas of comparative size; a first-rate, well-planned mass-transit system could aid in significantly decreasing air pollution in St. Louis.

When you define an article such as this without including the larger context, it becomes counterproductive to the needs of the citizens and your readers. In short, you're creating more problems when we need solutions.

I agree that community leaders like U.S. Representative William "Lacy" Clay Jr. and Joe Edwards should be working together on such solutions, and I think both their plans have merits. A responsible newspaper would have included the overall mass-transit problems of St. Louis -- traffic congestion, air pollution, Metro's decreasing bus services, the effects of MetroLink. I'm assuming you needed the space for topless club ads.
Joe Bruemmer
St. Louis

Wild Pitch
Hit batsman: The "Bush Strikes Out" piece about the smirking, chimplike president throwing out the first major-league baseball in St. Louis reminds me of a scene in Field of Dreams [Unreal, March 31]. The scene shows Shoeless Joe Jackson giving a fresh rookie some batting advice concerning the pitcher, who had just brushed back the kid on a fastball to his head. Shoeless Joe says to the rookie, "Look for low and away, but watch out for one in your ear."

It's a good thing no batters stand at the plate when American presidents throw out the first pitch. This president would hit the batter intentionally, then smirk about it.
Paul Cameron
Ste. Genevieve

The Roberts Barons
Rethink the cover-age: I really liked Shelley Smithson's cover story on the Roberts brothers and their revitalization efforts to raise the bar and quality of life in north St. Louis ["The Kings of Kingshighway," March 17]. Other prominent entrepreneurs -- the Stan Kroenkes, Bill DeWitts, Jeff Lauries and more -- could learn a big lesson by watching these two men. There's more to it than standing next to a minister or administrator of a charity and presenting them with a check for $100,000 and getting your picture in the paper for doing it.

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