The Man Behind the Mask

WWE's Rey Mysterio has game to spare, Harold Ramis helps clear up a misconception, and Bill Haas shows his sensitive side; plus, Unreal lends support to a fellow muckraker injured in the line of duty

Carol Deas, who works in Wellston, called Unreal a few weeks back to tell us about a water main that had been leaking for several months near Ameren UE's north-county power plant.

Luis Clarke, environmental officer for the City of Wellston, confirmed Deas' tale and estimated that the leak was sending "at least a gallon a minute" down dead-end Derby Avenue from the porch steps of a vacant brick house at 6437 Derby. According to Clarke, the dilapidated structure is owned by St. Louis County, which has plans for an industrial plaza in the area.

Both Clarke and Deas said they'd alerted Missouri-American Water Company to the leak, to no avail. Calls to the water company from the occupants of two homes at the bottom of the hill on Derby were likewise fruitless.

"If I were them, I'd start planting rice," Deas said of the hapless neighbors. "I'm astonished that this company that preaches water conservation would allow tens of thousands of gallons to leak. All summer they're like, 'Don't water the lawn, we're gonna be short on water.' And then they're letting all this water go to waste. And let's talk health issues: The water system is supposed to be a sealed system."

Unreal got on the blower to Eldright White, director of Wellston's Department of Public Works. "There's water that's running down there," he said. "It's pourin' out, man. It's runnin'."

And what was White doing about it?

"I don't shut no water off," he said. "That's what we pay the water company for."

Not necessarily, countered Missouri-American spokesman Tony Paraino when we rang his bell. "Typically, if a break is on a service line, it'd be the responsibility of the customer or whoever owns that property. Just because water's coming out of the ground doesn't mean it's coming from a main."

Still, Unreal's persistence appears to have prompted Missouri-American to dispatch a crew to the scene.

Just like that, the leak's fixed -- and Unreal wishes Washington a similarly speedy recovery.

Excuse Us, Homes

"Some people identify East St. Louis as the hometown of Miles Davis, but many more associate the city as the cinematic hellhole from National Lampoon's Vacation, where Chevy Chase's Griswold family gets its wayward station wagon stripped by a gang of shamelessly stereotyped black thugs."

That mellifluous sentence, which led in Mike Seely's May 5 news story "A River Runs Through It," is only partially true. People do indeed associate East St. Louis with the classic 1983 comedy. But the Griswold family truckster never traversed the east side, according to director and recent St. Louis Walk of Fame inductee Harold Ramis.

"They go over the [Poplar Street] bridge before it happens, so technically it would be in St. Louis," Ramis says of the scene in which Chase gets lost and prefaces his request for directions from the locals with an incomparably delivered "Excuse me, homes."

Many a moviegoer has misattributed the scene to East St. Louis, including writers at the New York Times and the Hollywood Reporter. Not so St. Louis' own Steve Kratky, who called attention to the gaffe in a letter to the editor (see page 6).

"Nine out of ten people [in St. Louis] project their own image of East St. Louis onto the screen," says Ramis, a Washington University grad. "When I was in college, we used to go there to listen to music. It was always considered an edgy thing to do."

Ramis, who shot the "Excuse me, homes" bit on a Warner Bros. back lot in Hollywood, says he regrets having filmed it in the first place.

"I apologize for the whole scene," says Ramis. "I wouldn't think of doing a thing like that now. It was supposed to be about prejudice, when in fact it was prejudiced."

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