Diary of an ex-beer man: I enjoyed your recent article "Drinkin' Dirt" immensely. I retired from the beer business almost two years ago. For most of the 25 years that I was in the business, I was the South City [sales representative] ... for the Pabst and Miller brands. I have worked the streets with Marc Reutter, and I'm happy to read that he's still on the job. Some of the bars that you wrote about, at one time or another, were my accounts. I put Stag draft in Frederick's [Music Lounge], but it was an easy sell because, as you pointed out, Freddy [bar owner Fred Friction] is a Stag man. When I started in the beer business in 1975, if you owned a bar that catered to the young-adult clientele, you had to have PBR on tap. Places like O'Connell's and the old Friday's, on the corner of Spring and Laclede, used to pump out as much as 90 half-barrels a month. I'll admit that PBR was my choice of brews. Nice to hear it's showing signs of life again.
War trumps beer: Just curious, but who came up with the idea for this week's cover story? To put it bluntly, I find it impossible to believe that if Ray Hartmann were still running the RFT he would have put a story like "Drinkin' Dirt" on the cover -- not now, not at this moment in time. I'm sure Hartmann would have taken prolonged issue with the fact that our pro-business, anti-environment, Big Oil-lovin' president -- who was elected by a minority of voters, no less -- is about to plunge the U.S. into a war that the vast majority of the world vehemently opposes. But "Drinkin' Dirt"? A 4,000-word essay on the joys of drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon? Huh? Now, more than ever, is when the alternative press can best serve the public.
Another nostalgia brew: I liked your article on "Drinkin' Dirt." One of the old names you mentioned, Griesedieck Brothers, is back, owned by three family members of the third generation -- [myself], Buddy Griesedieck and Raymond Griesedieck. We now have fifteen accounts and are planning a brewery in St. Louis. Like Pabst, we are subcontracting our beer [a German golden pilsner].
Stephen E. Butler
New Melle, Missouri
Movies and a beer: Whatever you're paying this Randall Roberts character, it ain't enough. His excellent writing in "Drink of the Week" has become the premier reason to grab an RFT now that "Street Talk" has become so uneven. His other booze- and club-related articles haven't been too shabby, either. The quality of his work is further underscored by the insipid writing found in the "Drinkin' Dirt" article. At the very least, Mr. Roberts would not have left out the most important "dirt beer" moment in cinema. It happens in Blue Velvet, when Dennis Hopper's psychotic Frank Booth chastises Kyle MacLachlan's Jeffrey Beaumont for his lame choice of beer: "Heineken? Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!"
The decline of parochial schools: What's happening inside the city limits? In the last few years, we have heard talk of closing neighborhood Catholic grade schools. Now reality hits [with] news of St. Pius V closing its doors on the last day of school in May, never to open again [D.J. Wilson, "Parochial Concerns," January 15]. About ten years ago, I was told that only the elite would be able to afford a Catholic education. I am now beginning to see, and financially feel, the truth of this statement. Small Catholic schools in low-income neighborhoods cannot exist on faith alone. It saddens [me] to see what was once the pillar of the South Grand community crumbling in front of its community's eyes.... This parish, more so than other neighboring parishes, offers so much to [a] community that is in [transition]. With a growing ethnic population on South Grand, it is now more important that a church not be racially or religiously biased in order to set examples of what true Christianity is all about. The benefits that have allowed children to be a part of a Catholic education are slowly being taken away. The sacrifices that our parents made are not [within the grasp] of parents today. The cost of a Catholic education can no longer be afforded by the lower and middle [classes].
Teresa E. Harvey
On the wrong track: Judging by the picture of our woeful railroad station and stories I have heard from those who have tried to find it, I suggest better signs until rebuilding can be done [Mike Seely, "White-Trash Junction," February 5]. In addition to clear signs pointing toward the station, perhaps a message in large letters could be painted on the side of the station, something like "Believe it or not, this really is the Amtrak station!" One of my friends actually gave up on finding the downtown station and took his passenger to the Kirkwood station instead.
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