"I was so excited that I shot a message off to Gehry's real e-mail address, which I have in my Rolodex."

Week of November 2, 2006

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Feature, October 19, 2006

Takes a Village

In RFT we...trust? Add me to the list of bumpkins who fell for Randall Roberts' "parody" on the Ballpark Village article. I suspect everyone in the editorial office is just rolling with laughter at the naive, innocent and trusting dupes who can't detect "sophisticated" satire. The image that comes to my mind is akin to the laughter in Karl Rove's office at all those nutcase religious wing-nuts who actually thought the president cared about their agenda. To some people (me included), laughter at the expense of others' naiveté is cruel.

You said your objective was to provoke discussion. Well, I've certainly entered into discussions with my friends — a discussion of the bewilderment I have that a publication I have enjoyed, admired and even defended for decades would find enjoyment in my lack of journalistic sophistication.

Best of luck in your future. Regrettably, I will never be able to read and enjoy any future articles, because I won't be able to trust what I'm reading. Trust and admiration are fragile qualities. It is sad when they are destroyed.
Jerry Garrett, St. Louis

You must be joking: I read through Roberts' ballpark piece last night, and I was really excited. I'm a big architecture fan, and a Gehry-designed anything would look great next to Eero Saarinen's Gateway Arch. I was so excited that I shot a message off to Gehry's real e-mail address, which I have in my Rolodex.

Once I read it a second time, I realized that it was some kind of scam piece. But I didn't get the point. It's not funny unless everyone is in on the joke, Randall. I don't know if you can call it satire unless the reader is aware of the misrepresentation. I don't know Mike Shannon personally, so maybe he really does act like that. I don't know Emily Pulitzer personally, so maybe she is that generous. I can't say that I know Frank Gehry personally, though I do know his reputation.

I hope that you had a great laugh, because I only feel insulted and betrayed. I'm sorry to say that I no longer expect high journalistic standards from New Times publications. I'd love to know why Finkel and Conklin let this through the filter.
Johnny Brookheart, St. Louis

Journalism 101: I think it was irresponsible on the part of the Riverfront Times to print a cover story on the "new Ballpark Village" that was a hoax. I featured the Gehry Ballpark Village on my personal blog, www.tedwight.com, and misled my readers. I learned an important journalistic lesson — check your sources first.
Ted Wight, University City

Dream a little dream: Your recent hoax article was an insult to our town and to all those who are working for its revitalization. In Chicago, where I lived for ten years, it would not be farfetched for a rich benefactor to hire Frank Gehry to build a civic jewel, or even move a landmark building a half-mile. In fact, that happened a few years ago when Gehry was commissioned to build Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. A few years earlier, the facade of the historic McGraw-Hill building on Michigan Avenue was removed, restored hundreds of miles away, then affixed to a brand-new building that was built on its former location. It had never been done before anywhere, but no matter: Those kinds of big dreams are just business-as-usual in Chicago.

But here? Heck, everyone knows no major benefactor would step up to the plate and develop a prime piece of real estate. And Frank Gehry would never consent to work on a project in this backwater burg. So everyone should know the article was just a prank, right?

Well, I didn't. And a lot of other people who believe in the current renaissance of downtown probably didn't get the humor either. You see, we're just naive enough to think a project like that is possible. The RFT obviously can't dare to dream that big. You might actually have to start reporting real news as opposed to spending days devising elaborate, condescending hoaxes.
Keith Klamer, Chesterfield

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