Tough Love 

Out with the Pulitzer Prize, in with the Lee EnterPrize! Plus: Unreal learns a thing or two about loveless marriages, sexually deviant robots and a man who gets lots of our money

For reasons we really aren't in the mood to go into, Unreal took heart when "Valentine's Day Tips for Spouses in 'Less-Than-Perfect' Marriages" arrived via the office fax. "How do you deal with all the love hoopla when your spouse doesn't know if he or she really loves you or wants to stay married?" ask Lee Hefner and Nancy Wasson, the husband-wife writing team behind Keep Your Marriage: What to Do When Your Spouse Says "I don't love you anymore!"

We got right on the phone to Wasson at her home base in Birmingham, Alabama.

Unreal: So, what would I do -- hypothetically speaking, of course -- if my spouse were to say, "I don't love you anymore"?

Nancy Wasson: The first thing you want to do is buy time. If you do the wrong thing, your spouse is going to bolt out the door. Stay away from the marriage-busters: begging and pleading, spying on the person and grilling. All of those things will just make the situation worse. Back off.

In other words, I should stay in a cold, lifeless marriage that through petty slights has devolved over, say, a period of fifteen years?

We're certainly not wanting people to stay in marriages that are miserable. It takes two people willing to work on a relationship.

You suggest I might want to be my own valentine this year -- treat myself to a pedicure or something like that. But -- just a for instance -- what if I'm racked with guilt, having sought solace in the arms of another? What if I don't want to be my valentine?

You really have to be willing to be ruthlessly honest. Some people are able to have an affair and put it in the closet. But for most people it leaks out: There's just something there that has to be dealt with before you could build anything else.

Sounds like a doctrine of self-love.

Yes. It's really based on the airline mode of you put your own oxygen mask on first and then you help the person next to you. "Dead white guy"

Local Blog o' the Week

Fisting-bot

profiles.myspace.com/users/501379

Author: Fisting-bot

About the blogger: Fisting-bot is a 28-year-old male robot who describes himself this way: "I am a fisting-bot I have been sent to fist the world." His interests: "the baby jesus, fisting, lube." He's not exactly prolific (which explains the ancient "recent" highlight below) -- but then again, neither was Harper Lee!

Recent Highlight (November 20, 2003): thom sat down at the coffee table and did some lines of xanax with the seminary students. his problems didn't go away they were still there and still very real, but they seemed much more manageable now. thom thanked them and told them that he felt much better and then michael and christopher invited me to work my "magic". i didn't catch thom by supprise, but by no means did he entirely expect what i was about to do. i fisted thom while christopher, michael and richard looked on in anticipation. thom certainly had a unique novel experience, but as for myself, there was nothing unique or novel, it was only an affirmation of my own self and mysteries. it is impossible for me to become bored, but i well have to expand my pool of recipients and my means. i would not ever think of denying myself to these young men, but from now on i must focus in spreading my truths and unveiling my to all so that all may become swept up in my whirlwind of fisting.

Know of an Unreal-worthy local blog? Send the URL to unreal@riverfronttimes.com.

Too Leggett to Quit

It's tax season, and for St. Louis residents that means one thing: time to pay Ronald A. Leggett. As the city's longtime collector of revenue (27 years!), Leggett oversees an office that rakes in $500 million in annual revenue. Much of that money arrives in the form of personal checks made payable to Leggett. Unreal caught up with the tax man to find out what he does with all that money.

Unreal: What's the best strategy in the collection biz: brass tacks or gentle prodding?

Collector of Revenue Ronald A. Leggett: We want to keep people and businesses in the city, so we don't want to appear too tough. By the same token, we have to follow the law and file suit if people don't pay. Taxes are a necessary evil everywhere.

How come you get all the money?

We're not part of the city. Under state law the collector of revenue operates as a "county office."

You must be loaded, what with all those people writing you personal checks. What's the craziest thing you ever bought?

Oh, no. That's not the way it works.

Why are taxpayers instructed to make out their checks to you and not the city?

That's the way it's been. When I came in office, one of the first things I wanted to do was eliminate the practice. But then I have to run for re-election every four years, and people told me it would be foolish to take my name off there. You can't buy that type of exposure.

You've never fantasized about cashing it all in and leaving for the Cayman Islands?

Oh, I've had some fun with the idea over the years, but I've been here a long time. If I were doing something funky with the money, I'd have been in jail long ago.

Any advice for kids who want to get into the business?

I don't think tax collecting per se is a profession you'd necessarily recommend someone to go into, especially if you read the Bible. We are always vilified in the Bible.

Pulitzer Prize Renamed Lee EnterPrize

By Christopher Carey
Of the Post-Dispatch

Only days after signaling its intent to abandon the newspaper business with the sale of its publications -- among them the flagship St.Louis Post-Dispatch -- to Davenport, Iowa-based Lee Enterprises Inc., the Pulitzer family yesterday announced that Lee had purchased Pulitzer's prizing business as well.

"When we say we're getting out," said Pulitzer chairman Michael Pulitzer, "we mean out."

Flanked at a press conference at the Union Station Hard Rock Café by Pulitzer and M.W. "Sandy" Rogers, senior vice president of corporate strategy for St. Louis-based Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Lee chairman and chief executive Mary Junck announced that her company and Enterprise had reached an agreement in principle to change the name of the prestigious 88-year-old journalism award from the Pulitzer Prize to the Lee EnterPrize.

According to the terms of the agreement, along with the customary $10,000 honorarium (raised from $7,500 in 2002) winners of the Lee EnterPrize will receive unlimited complimentary rentals of a Ford Focus or Dodge Neon in the greater St. Louis and Quad Cities areas. A new www.EnterPrize.org Web site will supplant www.pulitzer.org as soon as "factoids" about Enterprise's fleet have been added to the currently available history of the award, named for Michael Pulitzer's grandfather, the late Joseph Pulitzer.

"This is all about synergy, troops," Junck told the media.

Some members of the Pulitzer Prize Board were less than thrilled.

"Sack of crap," said Pulitzer (now Lee EnterPrize) board member and New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman. "Most journalists already drive Dodge Neons or Ford Foci. And what is there to do in the Quad Cities anyway? If Tim Conway or Howie Mandel is playing The Mark, okay. But that only happens, what, like once every ten, fifteen years."

2004 Pulitzer recipient Leonard Pitts of the Miami Herald took a more optimistic view.

"Brothers don't care that the award's named after some dead white guy," said the columnist, an African-American. "But the chance to drive a free rental car to Branson with VIP passes to Yakov Smirnoff's Wednesday-morning matinee? That beats the cheese out of $10,000 and a handshake."

Paul Hampel, Todd C. Frankel, Kevin C. Johnson, Lorraine Kee, Repps Hudson and David Nicklaus of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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