Week of January 12, 2005

Street Talk Blues
Street Talk reader for twelve years: I have read William Stage's Street Talk column since I first picked up a Riverfront Times in 1992. It's been a great reason to pick up the paper through its many changes in staff, quality and regular columns. Street Talk has always been there and keeps me reading the RFT. It's frank and timely, and Stage always picks amusing and bright ordinary folks and asks them great questions. I also recall his old column, which was also very, very good.

Please reinstate the column and keep William Stage on the RFT staff. There's a lot of space for a new column. Street Talk doesn't have to be killed for something new! Cut some ads or one of the boring syndicated film writers, but don't cut William Stage, a local writer with wit and a rooted concern for this city and its people. He's the last remaining part of an older and better RFT. Keep him and you'll have a shot at making the RFT better. Drop him and a lot of us may give up on your paper.
Michael Allen
St. Louis

Street Talk reader for twenty years: Are you guys crazy? I can't believe you are considering leaving Street Talk out of the RFT! I have been reading for close to twenty years now, and one of the things that compels me to pick it up every week is the strong possibility that someone I know will get put on the spot and pictured answering a thought-provoking question.

St. Louis has a small-town feel. We who live here love and cherish that. Once or twice each year, Street Talk has a friend or acquaintance in the spotlight. It is fun seeing someone you know personally in print -- and, sooner or later, any one of us might get quizzed. Street Talk is about regular people.

A little suggestion for the out-of-town owners: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Joe Neaf
St. Louis

Street Talk reader for a lifetime! What? You're gonna get rid of Street Talk for some newer column? William Stage rocks.

Are you sure you're actually trying to put in a "newer column" or just making more space for porno ads? Stage has been writing Street Talk for 22 years; that's exactly as long as I've been alive, and I've lived in St. Louis for all of that time. Please consider finding some way to keep his column in your publication.
Jonas Goldsand
University City

The other side of the Street Talk: I am furious! In the November 24, 2004, installment of Street Talk, I was seriously misquoted. I meant to express my outrage sooner, but there was a tragedy in the family and my mind was taken off of it. However, when I read Bradley Veltre's response to my misquoted comment [Letters, December 15], I was reminded of my rage.

I was quoted as basically saying that construction workers were filthy and just stood around. What I really said was that I felt it was filthy when construction workers stand around yelling sexual obscenities at women, which I have experienced. I also said that when people do yard work, they should not come outside with hardly any clothes, especially with children around. The RFT made me sound not only like an idiot but also like a heartless bitch. I would like to apologize to anyone offended by my misquoted comment, and I want people to know that I am a good person and have a huge heart. My soul, I feel, is not ugly.

I also have dealt with my weight my whole life, so I would be the last person to judge someone on their appearance. Words hurt and I know that, so I am so sorry to anyone hurt by my misquoted words. I will never read another issue of the RFT, and I will have nothing to do with William Stage and his Street Talk ever again.
Meagan V. Martorelli

Shot Down
Get the picture? The gent who was interviewed for You Are Here [Timothy Lane, January 5] was not an expert on either semiautomatic or fully automatic weapons. His descriptions and theatrics are masturbatory fantasy, at the least. The fact that the interviewer is so ill-educated on the subject that he was unable to separate fact from fiction merits commentary. An alleged piece of journalism requires at least a modicum of reality-based research about the subject.

Our fledgling reporter apparently forgot that part of Journalism 101. It would appear, though, that he must have read his Herr Goebbels and been fascinated with Leni Riefenstahl when twentieth-century propaganda was studied. Instead of interviewing some wannabe, whose closest acquaintance with the mechanics and use of tactical firearms is a video game, might I suggest that the enterprising reporter contact any one of a number of reputable national-level academies who specialize in training private citizens, law enforcement and armed forces members?

Of course, there is nothing to prevent such reporting as his being represented as fact. He's free to disseminate whatever version of reality he desires to promulgate.

Just so the gentle readers realize a basic fact of the firearms debate: Any competent person with steel, a drill press and hand tools can build a functioning, fully automatic bullet-hose. The total absence and removal of all firearms will only provide a ready market for a thriving underground black market.
John Meeker
Maumee, Ohio

In our inaugural installment of Blind Phyllis [Film, January 5], we mistakenly identified Robert Mitchum as the "animal-rights activist in drag" in The List of Adrian Messenger. The actor was Burt Lancaster.

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