Week of June 15, 2005

Down on Cherokee
Ha! Thank you so much for investigating the Mexican bus drama [Ben Westhoff, "Not on Our Street," June 8]. I hope Riverfront Times will continue to probe stories that involve local government. Apparently St. Louis' other media sources, especially TV stations, are too busy selling ads with murder stories and not spending enough time holding local governments in check.

I live right up California Street from Cherokee. Hispanics have been the best thing to happen to that dead, crack whore-laden place. Who cares if there's a bus there? Because believe me, it's not hurting anyone. If the business district really wanted to spruce up the Cherokee district, they would start recruiting gays to live down there and fix it up -- just like we have always done with all the other crappy places left behind by the straight folks and non-Hispanics. Ha.
Rodney Cook
St. Louis

The Farrar Faithful
Don't jack with Jay: In making fun of the titles of Jay Farrar's albums, it's ironic that your so-called music "writer" allowed a typo to slip by in his own surname [Ben Westhoff, "What's in a Name?", June 1]. Now, I know it's truly impossible for the RFT to correct and apologize for all of his character flaws. But maybe you can fix the typo in next week's Erratum and spell Ben's last name the way it should be spelled: J-A-C-K-O-F-F. Myself, and the legions of Farrar faithful who mistakenly read his Binkerish excrement, expect nothing less.
Dave Collett
St. Louis

Good one! Now I get it. For some time the RFT has been trolling for a new music editor. It occurs to me that Ben Westhoff's pointless and suffocatingly fatuous Son Volt hatchet piece is management's "nuclear option" to illustrate the depths of their desperation and the grotesque lengths to which they are willing to go just to call attention to this quest. Good one!
Steve Carosello
St. Louis

Cross Purposes
Leaving was the best decision I've ever made: I wanted to congratulate everyone involved in Malcolm Gay's "Kids & Drugs & Rock & Roll" [May 11]. I was in the Crossroads Program for almost two years. Leaving was the best decision I've ever made. I was able to get my life together on my terms. I didn't nor do I have a substance-abuse problem; I was just a fucked-up kid who was mad at everything and couldn't express it. The article is accurate and Frank Szachta is a liar.

Thanks for the good read.
Steve Fischer

Take it from a mom: Thanks to Malcolm Gay for taking the time to write a balanced, interesting report on the Crossroads Program, where two of my children became sober four years ago.

A few things I learned during our time there: One takes precautions during the early period of sobriety (which lasts a few years, I believe) that probably won't be necessary for a lifetime but are critical early on, when sobriety is fragile and tenuous. For example, don't put yourself in situations that are going to prove tempting to you. Don't hang out with people you used to get high with. Don't date until you have enough time and maturation under your belt to be comfortable in your own skin and able to handle both success and failure in a relationship. Crossroads is an early sobriety program, and its guidelines are appropriate for early sobriety.

Clients are treated differently from one another, depending on their needs. Our son and his best friend joined the program six months apart. One was advised to leave his high school and attend an alternative one; the other was fine where he was and continued until he graduated, sober, a year and a half later. The difference, as I understood it, was that to the first boy, school had become his "pharmacy" and he felt he couldn't face the temptations there every day -- not so early in his sobriety. He did graduate high school and he is attending college.

New kids get a lot of attention because they need it. Look at what is being asked of them: give up your lifestyle, let go of the friends you shared it with, and open yourself to a whole new way of thinking (twelve steps). School and work get more emphasis with more time sober. While parents may be asked to give a child much slack during an initial period so that he can focus exclusively on developing his sobriety, the child is then expected to get on with school and find work. The responsibility to do these things rests on the client and his family. The staff's main focus is sobriety. By graduation, a client who is working the program should be well-prepared to move on and will find many of his friends who graduated ahead of him are there to help with the transition.
Mimi Menousek

Take it from a pro: I have worked closely with the Crossroads Program for twenty years as a community-based private practitioner. I believe the entertainment quality in Malcolm Gay's journalistic style minimizes important aspects of a very big and complicated picture, aspects that concerned parents and other community members can't afford to overlook.

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