Week of September 8, 2004

Finally, you really stepped over the line insinuating Weir was on the gravy train and using the language "defecating on Jerry's headstone." Not only was that in poor taste, it is totally misguided. Weir was not the spearhead behind the Dead's decision to use the name and start touring again, although I was happy they did. He was fairly ambivalent about that decision (one that has created some very good music -- again, I'll drop you a disc) but decided to go along for the ride. Bob Weir and Jerry Garcia were musical partners for 30 years. There is no one on the planet who respects Garcia's importance and contribution to the history of music more then Bob Weir, and there is no one doing a better job of bringing Jerry's music and spirit to life in a more thoughtful manner. While you are entitled to your opinion, I think you are dead (no pun intended) wrong.
Matt Parker
St. Louis

Bar Banned
Setting the record straight, Part 1: Shelley Smithson's usage of my quotations in "Shrill Thrills in Soulard" [August 25] did not accurately characterize my opinion about Carlos Weeden's proposed café and banquet hall. It is not the café and banquet hall I found shady, but the petitions themselves.

When the previous owners needed a license to sell alcohol, the employees went door to door to get signatures. Going door to door seems like a much more effective measure, since it is more difficult for people to say no to your face. These new petitions were simply issued by a law firm. I also remember the earlier petition being for a license which only allowed the sale of beer. I do not see a benefit to a café selling hard liquor, and since nobody had come to me explaining the need for liquor at a café, I decided to go with the path of least resistance, which was to not sign.

As for the second petition, the one for the banquet hall, it read: "Mr. Weeden would also like to use the currently vacant space located nearby at 706 Lafayette, St. Louis, Missouri for banquets, receptions, and other events that will generally be booked in advance."

To me that leaves vast amounts of room to do basically whatever he pleases with the liquor license, which means it could easily be used to convert the library into a dance hall.

I don't think Shelley's usage of my words helped his cause, or provided insight into my perspective on the situation.
Martin McGreal
St. Louis

Setting the record straight, Part 2: Shelley Smithson's article states that the Soulard Restoration Group's support is "essential to getting and keeping a liquor license in Soulard." This is not correct. Ordinance requires that a majority of property owners as well as a majority of the combination of registered voters and businesses within 350 feet sign a petition in favor of the proposed premises. It is certainly good practice to build as much consensus, support and goodwill as possible within the general neighborhood in proximity to a liquor license. However, no individual or group has veto power over the mandated majorities within the 350-foot area.

Practically speaking, neighborhood associations can and often do assert the influence in the liquor-licensing process. This influence comes from the association's ability to mobilize, organize and lobby for support or opposition (within the designated area) to a proposed or existing liquor license. In essence, community standards can be set by the community.

Also, I was disappointed that the article did not mention that a previous liquor license at the Carnegie Library building was a black-owned business. This young couple sought and received the necessary petitions of consent and was issued a liquor license. This is a clear indication that Soulard does not discriminate because of race. I stressed this fact several times during my interview with Ms. Smithson but it was not even mentioned.

Perhaps race-baiting is more interesting reading than reporting the facts.
Bob Kraiberg, liquor commissioner
St. Louis

Criticism 101
Critical miss: I am writing to respond to Deanna Jent's review of the First Run Theatre's production of Ain't Got Time to Die ["Playwriting 101," August 25]. I commend Ms. Jent for her attendance, but I'm not sure what show she saw.

Ms. Jent states that "the authentic gospel songs performed by the Community Church of God provides welcome relief from the difficult script." Racism, bigotry, lynching, misguided liberalism and racial profiling are difficult issues. The music was "designed" for that very reason. Don Weiss' direction and Sarah Thorowgood's set design respectively conveyed the claustrophobic existence of the Trueblood family excellently.

Ms. Jent offers narrow-minded, unimaginative and myopic criticism of the play. If she has resources and time she would like to donate to First Run and can provide them with professional actors, please contact them.

At the show's conclusion, there was a discussion for feedback. If Ms. Jent had stayed for this session, her comments would have been welcomed. The play is a work-in-progress and by no means a finished product.

Ms. Jent, please pay attention next time to issues like plot structure, themes and characters. These are the elements of concise, critical analysis of theater.
Gregory S. Carr, author
Ain't Got Time to Die
St. Louis

Owing to a layout glitch, half of a headline was omitted from half of last week's press run. Mike Seely's story about the basketball-playing Hansbrough brothers was entitled "Tallboys."

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