Week of April 7, 2004

Apr 7, 2004 at 4:00 am
Play Ball!
And the Jayson Blair Award goes to...: Brilliant. I'm not even a sports fan -- I just read it for the joy. I'm still not entirely convinced that really was an April Fool's article George Plimpton penned for Sports Illustrated back in my high-school days. I put Mike Seely's writing about "Tony La Russa's Manhattan Project" [March 31] on par with that great ruse.

I hope there's some award out there specifically for this type of journalism. If they don't, maybe they should -- to be really tongue-in-cheek, they could call it the Jayson Blair Award.

Ben Jones
St. Louis

Rip-off artists: Nice try, but those of us who are old enough to remember quickly recognized "Tony La Russa's Manhattan Project" as a cheap and direct rip-off of the April 1 Sports Illustrated gag article by George Plimpton sometime back in the '80s. I know you know what I'm talking about. The fictional character in that article was New York Mets pitching phenom Sidd Finch, who was supposedly tossing 160-plus-mph fastballs in spring training. Hell, you even ripped off your reference to the yoga guy from that article.

If you're going to try something clever like that, I'd recommend being a bit more original. I know some dolts will fall for this, but then I'd imagine your writing speaks to the lowest common denominator out there. Keep trying.
Mike Stuesse
St. Louis

A Dream Deferred
Dream on: I found "Keep the Dream Alive!" [March 24] and its hypothetical scenario of drafting Al Sharpton for mayor of the city of St. Louis rather amusing. But perhaps what the city really needs is someone like New York mayor Michael Bloomberg -- an unabashed CEO/capitalist type. While cute, the story also seemed a little on the parochial side -- inconsistent with the otherwise ace journalism of the Riverfront Times.

More important, I think our current mayor, Francis Slay, is doing a fine job. And I certainly hope he's in for re-election.
John H. Grizzell
St. Louis

Berger Defended
Maybe we'll hire Jerry Berger instead: Regarding Unreal's "Berger Bites" and your request for Berger stories [March 10], I may know a couple of titillating Jerry stories, but I'm not telling. Jerry Berger, love him or hate him, performs an important service to the restaurant and hospitality industry. He reports on and promotes restaurant businesses and special events, as well as on the movers and shakers who wield influence in this city. To show him disrespect is unprofessional and illogical.

Brandie Kettmann's job was to serve restaurant guests, not to make friends with Jerry, not to tell jokes and not to network for a job at the Post-Dispatch. By her own description of the scenario, she seems absolutely dreadful and unprofessional. She could have been interrupting an important business lunch or a sensitive personal moment. I would have fired her as well.

I wish Ms. Kettmann luck in her pursuit of a career at the Post-Dispatch, but I have my doubts. I do not think the Post-Dispatch would suffer fools any easier than the 9th Street Abbey. Ms. Kettmann seems to have impressed you favorably; perhaps you could add her to your staff.
Mickey Kitterman
St. Louis

Thanks for the Memories
Take me back: Dennis Brown has written the definitive piece on the early years of the Crystal Palace -- beautifully researched, delightfully expressed ["Beat Regeneration," March 3]. And I should know.

I was a Post-Dispatch staffer back then. I lived in the top-floor flat of Jay and Fran Landesman's home for a year or so, knew Gaslight Bar founder Dick Mutrux and others Brown had no room to mention, plus enough beats to fill a Damon Runyon novel. I even played the Crystal Palace for a couple of weeks with singer/guitarist Will Holt, playing bongos and singing downright dirty Jamaican calypsos I learned in Kingston on a vacation with Tom Dempsey (a P-D reporter and my then-roommate).

I never saw The Nervous Set in St. Louis, but I was present for its opening night in New York and happy to see so many of my old set from St. Louis. Tommy Wolf was a good friend, and I think of him (and the Landesmans) whenever I hear "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most."

I left St. Louis in 1957 to join Life magazine, but Brown's wonderfully crafted story took me back 52 years to the formative days that shaped my career. Thanks to Brown for recapturing so perfectly the spirit of those times and the nature of the cast. His reporting was of a caliber I seldom see these days.
Ken Gouldthorpe

You hadda be there: As a recent college grad with a theater/drama degree, I haunted the Olive/Boyle area in the late 1950s and early '60s, and I knew or knew of most of the people and events mentioned in Dennis Brown's piece. I saw the original Nervous Set production. Either Dennis saw it, or he has an uncanny ability to absorb the time and the scene. His story has the period and the event pretty well right.

Scott Miller's subsequent complaint of Brown's review of the New Line Theatre production of The Nervous Set highlights a theater critic's problem with reviewing revivals [Letters, March 17]. The times are different. Gaslight Square and the Crystal Palace, et al., was a unique event. The Nervous Set can't be reproduced by today's theater folks. Ted Flicker, Fran Landesman, Tommy Wolf and the others were committed to minimalism. Less is more was the essence of that era's cool. Theater and entertainment folk today are not into cool. Over the top is the key to full houses now. The Nervous Set? You hadda be there.
Don Merz
Las Vegas, Nevada