Bad Business

Week of July 16, 2003

Bad Business
Hold Your Vitriol: Those who are continually spewing vitriolic opposition over the new school board's attempt to rectify a bad business situation need to give the process time before they categorically dismiss it [D.J. Wilson, "Demolition Man," July 9].

The St. Louis Public Schools are in the business of providing education to St. Louis students. Unfortunately, the business aspect of that operation is in shambles. Improving the business of education will not in and of itself raise students' test scores, but I can guarantee that if the school system lapses into insolvency that will be a far greater catastrophe. One can question the approach of the new school board in hiring an outside consultant and not having a "community meeting" to discuss the decision, but I'll take a head-on approach any day over sitting around and discussing how bad things are with no impactful solution in place, or in sight.
Greg Gibson

Closing Time
Brian to Tom: Keep the beer cold and shut up: Velvet owner Tom Gray's comments may be some of the most inane I have ever read [Bruce Rushton, "Larry's Club," July 9]. In a mere three quotes, Gray manages to lament the fact that the homeless can register to vote (a constitutional scholar he isn't) and opine that the homeless at the New Life Evangelistic Center are committing all of the crime downtown (yeah, Tom, those battered women at 1411 Locust are a real menace). The absurdity of those statements is obvious, as is a tavern owner criticizing Larry Rice, who has spent the last 30 years in this city helping the poor meet their most basic needs.

And even though this guy comes across as a Grade-A douchebag, I believe that if Gray couldn't afford to buy medicine or was living in a home with no air conditioner, he may have a different opinion of "that place" he wishes wasn't around. You see, "that place" is where many of the marginalized in this town go to for assistance when they have problems like these. Ultimately, it's people like Tom Gray who give club owners everywhere a bad name. Tom, from here on, please stick to making sure the beer is cold and the CDs don't skip. Leave that "infuriating" stuff like feeding the hungry up to folks who actually understand what benevolence is. You obviously don't.
Brian Ireland, case manager
New Life Evangelistic Center
St. Louis

Shirked Duty
One more angry man: Does Tom Carr forget that jury duty is a privilege as well as a civic duty [Bruce Rushton, "One Angry Man," July 2]? His antics are no more than a cry for attention, as well as a poor attempt to get out of something he doesn't want to do. His so-called beliefs for objecting to jury duty are a weak argument at best. He should be so lucky as to have a jury of his peers when he is on trial. Or would he prefer the crooked lawyers and system to decide his fate? Thank you for giving this slacker a forum to whine about the consequences of his childish behavior!
Tom Thompson
St. Louis

'Cued In
A vegetarian picnic! Hot diggety dog! Thanks for Guy Gray's July 2 item suggesting a vegan Fourth of July ["Barbecue This!"]. As a member of the St. Louis Vegetarian Society, I enjoy attending monthly potlucks, and although I personally am not 100 percent vegetarian or vegan, I find myself opting for more vegetarian meals all the time (and even enjoy a completely raw meal on occasion)!

The St. Louis Vegetarian Society's goals are to promote food choices that are healthy for people and for the planet. The society educates and empowers people to shift toward a plant-based diet and take compassionate action toward all life. The creativity used in preparing the wide variety of food offered at the society's potluck events rivals some of our city's best restaurants. In light of the epidemic of obesity in our nation, it is a pleasure to share time with such enjoyable and health-conscious people of all ages.

This month is the St. Louis Vegetarian Society's annual barbecue and picnic potluck, which will be held at Blackburn Park, at the corner of Edgar and Jackson just south of I-44 in Webster Groves. The Vegetarian Society will supply veggie burgers and raw tossed salad for all. Join us on Thursday, July 17, at 6:30 p.m. and enjoy live music, great veggie food and interesting people! Vegetarian Society members bringing a generous dish attend for free, without a potluck dish $4. Nonmembers with a dish $3, without a dish $6. Nonvegetarians and children are always welcome. (For more info call 314-995-2699.)

For future reference, the Vegetarian Society typically meets on the third Thursday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the beautiful, rustic Dining Commons at Eden Seminary in Webster Groves, on Lockwood and Bompart, across the street from Webster University. Meetings begin with a potluck dinner followed by a guest speaker. We hope to see you there!
Karen Klaus
St. Louis

The Real Crime
We of little faith: I'm writing in response to Randall Roberts' excellent article, "Meet the Anarchists" [June 25]. I hope I won't be thrown in jail for expressing myself, but at what point in our illustrious city's history did it become a crime to love, respect and care about our planet? At what point did caring about what companies genetically alter or inject into the food we eat also become a crime? And when does engaging in a peaceful protest involving the future of mankind become anarchy?

Critical thinking involves examination, research and the questioning of difficult issues rather than being mind-controlled drones manipulated by corporate disingenuousness. The recent World Agricultural Forum was a classic case of corporate big interests married to the city's interest in becoming the biotech capital of America. If questioning an issue brings down the wrath of Mayor Slay and Chief Mokwa, then I believe we are now living in a police state. German citizens didn't realize what was happening in Germany under Hitler either. Can we honestly say we are proud to live in a city that is so narrow-minded about addressing differences and that shows so little faith in people? The serious issues involved were totally obfuscated through the ridiculous overreaction of this city's administration. What's scary is that we try to rear schoolchildren to respect the police -- they're supposed to be the "good guys." Well, folks, these are our children, grown up and expressing the critical-thinking skills they were encouraged to develop in school.

I think the police need to return the property they confiscated ASAP and the mayor and the police department need to issue an apology to those who care enough to question issues that will critically affect our future. And how about having an in-service for the police about environmental issues, along with friendly, open discussions between the administration and its citizens? Fascism is not appropriate, Chief Mokwa; it is bred from fear and ignorance about the issues.
J. L. Blinne
St. Louis

Kritics' Korner
News flash! Reader disagrees with reviewer: There are times when I wonder if a movie reviewer wandered into the wrong movie by mistake and wrote a review of one entirely different from the one I saw and said it was the one I saw. Gregory Weinkauf must have done just that, or he must have forgotten to remove the earplugs and blindfold that help him sleep at night, or he must have been on one of the new designer prescriptions that numbs his brain so much he can't see or hear ["Mighty Mediocre," May 7]. Because he had to have seen a different movie than the one I and a packed theater laughed constantly to: A Mighty Wind.

Of course, he probably didn't get the joke. Most of his generation seem to have the sense of humor of a rotten kumquat anyway. I haven't found them to laugh to anything other than the dumbest, grossest things. If it has the word f*** -- you know -- in it, or motherf***er, or something like that, it's an immediate laugh. You know -- just say the word and an entire crowd guffaws its guts out until they lie in the aisles exhausted. Or if it has an obvious and stale sexual innuendo that lost its humorous side when the Romans lost their empire.

A Mighty Wind was a total satire. Not just funny lines -- it was funny situations that maybe you would have to had to experience in order to connect with its humor. But our suburbanite kids who haven't experienced much of anything traumatic beyond not getting the CD they want for Christmas haven't gone through much that connects them to the world that A Mighty Wind tells us about.

Could be your superficial rag could have gotten someone to review A Mighty Wind who lived at the time these "folkies" were in their heyday. Then maybe someone could have gotten the joke.
Dale M. Cannon
St. Louis

While we're at it, let's bash Webster: Which of you insists on paying Gregory Weinkauf for his smarmy, incoherent, quasi-intellectual blathering? When years ago I first read his film reviews in your paper, I chuckled at what was passing for composition these days among the undergraduates of the Webster University Media/Communications Department. But as it turns out, Weinkauf is nationally syndicated. Big deal. So is Judge Judy. Large circulation does not change the fact that Weinkauf is not insightful, not intelligent and not funny.

Why would a paper as dedicated to the promotion of local culture as the RFT pay a pretentious West Coast hack to perform such an elementary and sought-after job as film critic? Your staff is jammed with pretentious local hacks, and every one of them is a better writer than Weinkauf. Surely one of you likes movies and can make it to the end of a declarative sentence without opening parentheses for a nauseating, would-be cheeky wisecrack. Or hey, take your chances with the undergraduates at Webster. Really and truly, you can't get worse than this. Only cheaper.
Jason Bollinger
St. Louis

The Grass Is Greener
One year after: I am writing to comment on your comment regarding the Cardinals' revised Field of Dreams myth: Build it, and try to get someone to volunteer. D.J. Wilson's article "Fallow Fields" [April 24, 2002] has brought nothing less than success to Jim Edmonds Field in the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood. We appreciate the opportunity that Mr. Hanser and Cardinals Care have provided for our youth. At our baseball home opener this past May 31, we were blessed to have over 100 people in attendance, including Cardinals Care Youth Baseball Commissioner Keith Brooks and Fredbird. And, of course, thirteen of the most important components: the volunteer coaches.
Brad King, sports and recreation/
youth employment manager

Adams Park Community Center
St. Louis

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