Better hurry: After a long period of reading depressing news -- Middle East hostilities, mailbox bombings, anthrax scares, St. Louis firefighter fatalities, a stock market that needs a kickstart, Afghanistan casualties -- I happened to read that Ray Hartmann will depart from the Riverfront Times on May 22. Life is getting better. Goodbye, Ray. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Richard H. Gerding
Hey, Ray -- please stay: I'm a St. Louis native currently living in Los Angeles. I think that the Riverfront Times got consolidated with many weekly papers around the country, as I see the same stories covered in both the LA New Times and the Riverfront Times. Still, I've made a weekly habit of stopping in to the online version of the Riverfront Times, wanting to read the latest Ray Hartmann editorial. Once he leaves, there's really no reason for me to continue that. I'm sorry to see him go.
Don't call us -- we're taking a walk: I am writing after reading the recent article that Melissa Martin wrote on Bella Città and the references to the Hill ["So Over the Hill," May 1]. I must tell you her opinion is being taken very hard by the most established restaurants on the Hill. I was called by weekly RFT advertisers who are canceling their advertising for the rest of the year and want the publication out of their buildings. Does anybody proofread her reviews? Who would refer to Pine-Sol when speaking of food flavors? This is not the first time comments have been made to me about the contents of her reviews, and they were very agitated by her references. "We worry that he'll menu these Italian-American warhorses for fear of losing the après-bocce-ball business." I must tell you that you will see a decrease in advertising from the Hill, and I hope it lasts. I just spent $1,000 on an ad in the restaurant-poll issue. I wonder what kind of business the Hill represents to the RFT. Good luck getting it back.
Hill Business Association
Do your homework: This letter is in response to the "So Over the Hill" article written by Melissa Martin in the May 1 edition of your paper. We Italian restaurateurs do not appreciate being told we are "predictable" and that we are a "familiar garlic-bread-and-red-sauce joint." Obviously Ms. Martin has not sampled the cuisine at the other restaurants on the Hill; otherwise she would not have automatically compared us to the Olive Garden. Secondly, Ms. Martin states that "most Hill menus seem as permanently etched as tombstones." Again, had Ms. Martin properly researched the other restaurants in the neighborhood, she would have found that menus do change periodically, but the main reason most items stay on a menu is due to familiarity. Our customers have specific items they order that have become our signature, so they expect these entrées to be on the menu when they arrive -- every time. Finally Ms. Martin states, "We worry that he'll menu these Italian-American warhorses for fear of losing the après-bocce-ball business." Again, a little research into the marketing of the region from the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Bureau would have shown Ms. Martin that the bulk of our business comes from tourism and from people not of the Hill. From all of the management and employees at Zia's, we would like to wish Bella Città Mediterranean the best of luck and a warm welcome to the neighborhood. Unfortunately, the only way Ms. Martin could think to give him a good review was to give the rest of the fine establishments on the Hill a bad one.
Zia's "On the Hill"
They kill for the thrill: Jeannette Batz did a fair and admirable job examining the gun issue ["Firepower," May 1]. Guns are "fascinating little machines," and their fetishistic allure cannot be denied. Certainly our society accepts more bizarre and eccentric hobbies without judging the aficionados. However when they imbue an inanimate object with a charisma that borders on obsession, those collectors should not be exempt from the ridicule that fans of Star Trek or comics endure. Unfortunately, telling a gun activist to "get a life" has troubling connotations. The only part of Batz's article in which I felt the devotee's view was unsupportable was the section on the hunter's paradise Upland Wings. Of course, that is more of a personal bias on my part than any defect in her writing. The rationalization for killing wild animals (although disoriented pheasants barely qualify as "wild") seemed to fairly drip from the newsprint. Comments like "Ain't nothin' like a steaming gut pile" and "Hunting's about getting close to nature" seemed designed to elicit an argument. Well, I'll take that bait. What is different from the gun collectors, the Olympic marksman, the self-defense class at the Bull's Eye or even Li'l Speedy, who considers having a gun to be a rite of passage, is that at Upland Wings something has to die. I eat meat, and I do not suffer from "evolutionary guilt," but I do believe that the attempt to classify hunting as "an honest interaction with the environment" is a pathetic rationalization for needing to feel powerful when day-to-day life is less than satisfying. The fact is, hunters kill for pleasure. It may not be wrong, but it's not admirable, and no amount of back-to-nature rhetoric could convince me otherwise.