Come Back, My Little Chickadee

Readers adore their birds, books and Emmylou Harris.

feature, july 26, 2007

More on the birds and the bees: With regard to Malcolm Gay's "Buzzkill," the birds in our yard totally disappeared when the intense, widespread spraying of pesticides began in 1999, which came after the first case of West Nile virus was discovered in New York. About three years after this particularly intense period of pesticide-spraying, I started to see an occasional bird in our yard. This summer, after eight long years, I am now finally seeing a more normal number of birds around our home.

Prior to 1999, we had so many blue jays that I was beginning to consider them a nuisance. We had black-capped chickadees in our evergreens, nests of robins and cardinals, as well as bees and butterflies, but they all disappeared — our yard felt absolutely sterile.

The June 15, 2007, edition of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported: "Audubon Society calls for quick action after finding stunning declines in 16 once-common species over the past 40 years." Our birds have been disappearing for a long time. Yes, loss of habitat is a problem, but I believe our use of pesticides is an even bigger problem. According to Wikipedia, pesticide use has increased 50-fold since 1950. The slow decline in our bird population parallels our increased use of pesticides.

Gay recently reported that honeybees are disappearing, which is a direct threat to our food supply. I believe our prolific use of pesticides and other chemicals we pour on our lawns and golf courses is the major cause of our disappearing wildlife. The more we use poisons in our environment, the more wildlife disappears. The black-capped chickadee has not returned to our yard yet, but I have hope that it will return again someday.
Mary Anderson, St. Paul, Minnesota

film, july 19, 2007

A plea for sunnier reviews: Scott Foundas' review, "Hairspray, Get Back to Your Roots!" was so totally off that it only reinforced why I gave up on the RFT a long time ago. Must you continually berate anything that carries a positive and upbeat message? Not everyone lives an underground, angst-ridden existence. Some of us prefer to look on the bright side of life and love to laugh uninhibitedly just for the pure fun of it. A message for Foundas: I hope you can crack a smile or maybe even chuckle someday soon!

Gayle Leonard, St. Charles

feature, june 12, 2007

Sheldon knows the score: Kathleen McLaughlin's "Steal Das Book" was remarkably accurate. I learned things that I had not known before — that the brothers made their discovery while helping their aunt clean out their uncle's remaining possessions, for example.

McLaughlin wrote that I had purchased "about a dozen" books. The number was closer to ten. Michael and Eugene each bought a book— one for $1,500 and one for $1,550. I do not remember who bought which. McLaughlin wrote that it contained 53 prints and 43 drawings, but I counted 98 illustrations, not 96.

She wrote: "Shane took the book home for a night." He did not take the book from me. I encourage people to make notes and return to check out the books, but I never let anyone take a book home. Rod phoned me at my apartment. The person bidding against Rod was not a collector friend, but has become one. It was the first time that person was invited to an auction of mine. The person was invited for the books, and I was very surprised that the person was interested in that book. I found it interesting that one of the four books, which was older (and that I had set aside) had no stamp. The book which Jeanne had was not one of the four older books that I had put aside and was not bought from me.
Sheldon Margulis, St. Louis

critics' picks, july 5, 2007

She's no Gubernator!: In regard to Roy Kasten's brief comments about Emmylou Harris: if I were Emmylou, I'd be quite pleased — especially with his last line: "The soprano pitched somewhere between the music of the spheres and the last sigh of loneliness at the end of the world." Now that was good writing. As for "The Ballad of Sally Rose," I love it. I am not a musician, so I don't know the intricacies of music. But I love that album's liveliness and tongue-in-cheekness.

I think the NPR person could certainly have used a better comparison than the Gubernator. If I were Emmylou — and I was in any way compared to Arnold Schwarzenegger — I'd make that NPR person eat Brussels sprouts at every meal, every day for a week. Thanks for your comments about a woman who has touched me far more deeply than any other singer.

Susan Harrison, Tampa, Florida

Riverfront Times seeks freelance contributors to render riveting written reflections of St. Louis' visual arts landscape.

Applicants should possess a strong background in arts and feature writing, familiarity with the local art scene and the ability to submit in-depth, thought-provoking copy while adhering to unforgiving deadlines. Treatises steeped in impenetrable academic jargon will be transported to Art Hill in Forest Park and set ablaze. Please e-mail résumé and writing samples to ellis.conklin@riverfronttimes .com or send to:

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