Week of January 5, 2005

New Year's Evolution
Contrary to popular belief, the holiday season around the office of the Riverfront Times wasn't all mistletoe and tequila shots. Between bouts of debauchery, we managed to put the finishing touches on some new weekly features.

On page 10 you'll find the debut installment of Timothy Lane's new illustrated column, "You Are Here," in which the author/artist shines a fine and focused light on St. Louis and its inhabitants.

In Film, staff writer and cinephile Mike Seely weighs in with "Blind Phyllis," in which he celebrates (or skewers) films you can "rent" for free at the St. Louis Public Library. And in the Cafe section, we say farewell to Michael Renner and (starting next week) welcome Rose Martelli aboard as the RFT's week in, week out restaurant critic.

One last note before we tend to our hangover: Careful readers of our Music section may have noticed a few subtle changes over the past several months, as clubs editor Jess Minnen tweaked the database to include more listings covering a broader range of nightlife categories -- including karaoke, comedy clubs and poker nights. This week brings a more obvious improvement: club capsules. Beginning this issue, listings for many local nightspots come complete with a helpful description of amenities and ambiance. Look for new capsules to be added on a regular basis.

Party Pooper
Up in smoke: Unbelievable! After suffering days of pep-talk on KMOX about First Night, I made my way to one of the fine establishments that stocks your paper, hoping to find some sophisticated coverage of New Year's Eve. What do I find instead? The first article about New Year's Eve in Night & Day [December 29] doesn't give us a guide to the delicacies of the Central West End or Grand South Grand. Rather, it glories in the least-lame aspects of First Night. Come on, now! We're talking about an event featuring "A Wish Called Wanda," in which people write their hopes for a new year on paper and watch as they go up in smoke before the stroke of midnight -- and it's not meant ironically! I expect this from KMOX. After all, if they made anything whiter, they'd have to work for Wonder Bread -- but not you. You're supposed to be the "alternative news source."
Peter A. List
St. Louis

Date with Death
See ya at the execution! I'd like to address this to Mark Lehde in response to his rude, crude and socially unattractive remarks about capital punishment [Letters, December 29]. It's a shame you didn't live in the time when you could've attended the events in which Christians were mauled and devoured by lions. It's clear that you would have enjoyed it. You have a sick, inhumane and disgusting attitude. You must be great company. Thank God I live on the opposite side of the river, and I hope never to be so unfortunate as to run into you. I would, however, like to invite you to join us (the Eastern Missouri Coalition Against the Death Penalty) on the St. Louis courthouse steps the night of the next scheduled Missouri execution! Looking forward to seeing you there!
ReDella Good

Return of the Blog
A noble calling: It's disconcerting to learn from Ben Westhoff's "Attack of the Blog" [December 22] that a writer for the Post-Dispatch who covers material aimed at young people is apparently so immature and uneducated. While I oppose censoring anyone, especially a reporter, on the basis of his personal biases rather than on the basis of what he writes, it is hard to imagine that Daniel P. Finney could be bringing enlightenment to our youth if what you wrote in this article is the whole truth.

I do wonder where this Finney went to journalism school. I would hope those schools are still teaching that a reporter's job is a noble calling. As the mother of three teenagers, I try to encourage my sons to read the newspaper beyond the sports and comics. Unless we can develop the newspaper-reading habit in our teenagers and young adults, these generations will be dependent on FOX News and the other right-wing "news sources."

Finney had a great opportunity to make a difference, and he wasted it. He shouldn't be allowed near a position of public influence again -- unless he reforms and shows that he's become educated as well as grown up.
Mary Ann Zaggy
University City

Private thoughts on the World Wide Web: Honestly, what did you people think was going to happen? I can't say I'm fully surprised that Finney was fired; from what I saw, there were some postings that surely would've rubbed his bosses the wrong way.

On the other hand, as you say in the December 15 Unreal, his blog profile had only been viewed 32 times since September, so it seems fairly apparent to me that the journal was probably intended only for a few out-of-town friends to read, and he probably wanted to keep it that way. The blog likely would've had little chance of being personally/professionally damaging had its address and an excerpt not been published in a comedy/entertainment section of the (unless I'm mistaken) second-most widely distributed publication in St. Louis behind the Post.

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