Music, August 24, 2006
Is It Rolling, Bob?
Tangled up in criticism: "All Dylan critics are bad, some are worse than others." I wrote that after I read "Get Busy Livin'," Rob Harvilla's very odd review of Bob Dylan's new record, Modern Times.
It seems Mr. Harvilla's Dylan experience goes all the way back to 1997 and is an inch deep and a mile wide. He seems to enjoy his own words; this is great stuff he writes: "This ribald vivacity frankly bothers me. I prefer my rock icons of a certain age to be quavering, terrified twilighters with barely enough strength left to even knock on Heaven's door."
It seems this guy only catches on when an artist is dying, which is really weird. Then he goes on to tell us that Dylan should write like Tom Waits. That's like telling Monet to paint like Andy Warhol. Whatever. Dylan critics come and go, Dylanolgists seem to wonder if her hair was still red.
Stan Hoffman, St. Louis
Letters, August 17, 2006
...And balls: I read the crap from Susan Boland and Kurt R. Kostecki about not having the balls to stand up for what is right. I spent a year in Vietnam and got spit on when I came home. My son spent six months in Saudi Arabia and six months in Iraq. We both "harvested" enemy troops, me in 1966 and him in 1991. The only reason we are in Iraq now is for Bush to cover his daddy's ass.
It's easy to defend your reasons to stir up crap when you kept the Guard from being overrun in Georgia and Alabama. My hero! Think I'm a pussy? Kostecki couldn't hold my "chicken-shit" balls with Cheney's hands, so shove it. Call me, pussy.
I have seven kids, twenty-one grandkids and three great-grandkids. Does it sound like I'm into anal copulation?
Larry Erker, St. Louis
Feature, August 10, 2006
The Beatle goes on... (and on): Randall Roberts must have been so desperate to appease his fellow RFT scribe Annie Zaleski's mission to show that St. Louis can truly musically compete with other cities as to proclaim 7Fourteen Productions as our version of the mighty Brill Building ["The Next Big Thing"]. While I admire and agree with what Annie has said about St. Louis having a great deal to musically offer that remains hidden, 7Fourteen falls way short of the Brill Building's lofty standards. A million dollars and a big dream are useless unless you have the creative vision and talent to match. The Brill Building had a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame array of songwriting teams, and the producers who flocked there to secure hits for the artists on their rosters reads like an A-list of hitmakers.
What separates Berry Gordy from Alan Melina is that when the Motown founder set up shop in 1959, Detroit's inner city was in the throes of institutionalized racism, generational mistrust and societal divides yet Gordy never succumbed to letting his artists take the cheap and easy way out by turning on each other. No violence or degradation of women. Motown artists were taught to think, act, walk and talk like royalty. They represented a yearning for a new generation and signposts for a movement that would, for a time, promise to redefine the meaning and possibilities of America.
How can 7Fourteen's in-house producer, Steve T., with all of his computerized blips and bleeps, even come close to equaling the towering-inferno sounds of Motown's gloried Funk Brothers the in-house band? And where in name of l-o-v-e can the Butterfields and Melina come up with a roster of acts to match Gordy's roster? Do they really think their seven-year-old rapper Lil Roge can top the charismatic star power of a preteen Michael Jackson?
One bit of advice for the paranoid, bodyguarded Todd Butterfield: Just plant a few guns on yourself and you can at least be, in some ways, St. Louis' version of Phil Spector.
Beatle Bob, St. Louis
Don'cha just love that Microsoft Word "AutoSummarize" tool? After reading the lyrics from the three people Randall Roberts profiled in "The Next Big Thing," I am forced to sum up the whole sad 7Fourteen situation thusly: "Rich white nerds from Illinois move to St. Louis, exploit no-talent black youths and the popularity of the 'hood, use beauty-pageant connections to make underlings famous, spread urban retardation and negative stereotypes in order to pollute minds of all black children with mindless, ghetto bullshit...continue world destruction!"
Oops, I meant "world domination!"
Lesley H. Mabrey, St. Louis
Feature, July 27, 2006
Still looking for answers: Regarding "What If..." For Ben Westhoff to call me a "jet-setting conspiracy theorist" without knowing all I went through, how I lost 200 friends on 9/11 and how I found myself homeless and living under a bridge after the incident, is just plain irresponsible.
I agree with Westhoff's assertions that there are many "conspiracy theorists." I honestly do not like many of them because of the speculation without facts. My case and please understand were I am coming from is the experience of an eyewitness, the last to leave the building during the collapse. My testimony, like many of the survivors', is valid and usable in court, different from a "theorist" who is obviously speculating. I have said, publicly, that I am not an expert on explosives or demolitions. I have told my experience to the top government officials here and other places around the world, at great expense, not only monetary but in terms of security as well. I never asked to be the poster child of the 9/11 movement, an underground powerhouse that's full of infiltrators, agents, marketees, etc. but is also full of great, concerned citizens asking for answers that the government has not come forward with.
I am the president of the Hispanic Victims Group, and I have other concerns like the health issues of Ground Zero Syndrome and the memorial construction process. That is why I do not like to be placed in the same "conspiracy class," since it attacks the very mission of what we, the families, victims and affected of 9/11 are looking for: answers.
By the way, I feel more respect from the Spanish press than from anybody else. I am on the cover (plus the second and third pages) of El Diario, New York's biggest Latino newspaper, and the profile was filled with the respect of all I am doing, and have done for the victims since that day.
William Rodriguez, president, Hispanic Victims Group,
president, Victims Support Group
member, board of directors, 9/11 United Services Group
family advisory counsel, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation
Jersey City, New Jersey
News Real, July 27, 2006
Bless you, Father: Thank you for Ben Westhoff's article about Carl Kabat ["The Clown Priest"]. Our parish has had a long relationship with Karen House, where I first met Carl. And I'm grateful that others in the city have gotten a glimpse of him (and his work) through your writing.
Sean Collins, St. Louis
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