Pimp your local war-lover: The best thing the Riverfront Times is doing for St. Louis right now is running the comic This Modern World. As a comic strip, it is one of the best analyses of what is going on in United States foreign and domestic policy, and it's funny as hell. I'm always tempted to clip them and send them to all my conservative war-loving friends ... if I had any. Keep running This Modern World so I can keep thinking subversive thoughts!
Which way is up? Has René Spencer Saller won a dream date with Nelly yet? In her promo blurb for his Savvis show, it's difficult to tell whether she's mocking him even as she celebrates him, or vice versa ["Critic's Pick," October 30]. She casts aspersions on those who would criticize him, then says those criticisms are valid; she finally defends him by pointing out that he's "got facets." So, totally and irrefutably sucking is now a "facet" of a "complicated" artist? She compares him with Eminem, regarding how they are critically perceived. I am not a fan of either, but I can respect that Eminem has real skills as an MC. He's an idiot, but he's a mic-rockin' idiot. On the other hand, it didn't take René's "R&B flava" to prevent Nelly from making "real hip-hop." As a genuine has-been of the St Louis hip-hop scene, I feel like I can speak with some authority: If any one of dozens of emcees I've seen in this town had thought of throwing a double-Dutch rhyme over a jumpy Bone Thugs-N-Harmony throw-away beat first, we might be devoting this space to a much stronger lyricist. But I wouldn't wish Nelly's fame on any of them. It must be difficult not to lose your integrity, pouting for the cameras. Luckily our "beloved clown from U-town" didn't have a lot going in.
Why did Jesse ride? Regarding the Jesse James biography by T.J. Stiles, few today would defend slavery as it existed in America, except as a historical fact of the times, and few defended it then as it became less economical and politically out of favor with the rest of the civilized world [Eddie Silva, "Rebel With a Cause," October 30]. Thirteen other Western Hemisphere nations, territories and colonies managed to abolish slavery without war, and there is little reason to believe that the United States would not have done likewise. As for Jesse James' gang's acts of barbarism, at least they were performed on corpses, which is more than can be said for John Brown and his massacres, which [included] slicing off [the] body parts of still-breathing victims, all in the name of abolition. We waste too much time judging events of the past in terms of today's morals instead of within the context of the times in which they took place.
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