Week of November 26, 2003

For the Love of PETA
Will strip for animals: As the woman in panties and pasties demonstrating against the abuse of animals in the Ringling Bros. circus, I appreciate the Riverfront Times and Jacinta coming out to see watch my protest, which was a lighthearted way of getting a grave subject on the news and into people's minds [Unreal, "Pet-A-Stripper," November 19].

Most people have no idea that Ringling Bros. has violated animal-protection laws many times. In January 1998 a baby Asian elephant named Kenny died after he was forced to perform three shows in one day, even though he was obviously ill. The U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed that Ringling was negligent and Ringling paid $20,000 to settle the charges. The same month, trainer Richard Chipperfield violated both animal-protection laws and Ringling's own policy when he shot Arnie, a caged tiger, to death. The animal became upset during a publicity photo session and attacked the trainer's brother, but he was caged and in view of the other tigers when he was killed. In July 1999 Benjamin, another young Asian elephant, drowned during a stopover between Houston and Dallas.

Instead of giving money to businesses that profit at the expense of animals, I hope people will consider what they can do to make this world less cruel for those who cannot speak for themselves. Readers who wish to learn more are encouraged to visit Circuses.com.
Brandi Valladolid
People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals (PETA)

Norfolk, Virginia

Stage Rage
Thanksgiving greetings from Scott Miller: What would we do without Dennis Brown to make fun of? Or maybe I should be asking: What is Dennis Brown doing reviewing theater? In his November 12 review of the bland Starlight Express, Brown writes, "Starlight Express broke new ground. Its brash sights and sounds were as innovative as the reverberating clang of a barbed-wire fence in West Side Story." Boy, that'll sure be news to a lot of musical theater fans. Then, in discussing Webster Conservatory's Rodgers and Hart revue, Brown writes about lyricist Larry Hart, "But Hart was aware. He knew he was unattractive to women, so he poured his yearnings into his lyrics. Night after night, year after year, he made love to countless women in countless theaters -- they just never knew it." I think Brown is the only man working in the theater who doesn't know Hart was gay. The topper comes in Brown's review of Follies. Talking about musical theater, he says, "In a form where the book usually has the depth of a comic strip...." That may have been true in the 1950s, but it hasn't been true in a very long time.

Either he needs to take come courses on musical theater or stop reviewing it. If he has so little respect for musical theater as an art form, what is he doing reviewing it?
Scott Miller, artistic director
New Line Theatre
St. Louis

White and enlightened: As a white girl from the suburbs, I did not have much interest at first in the cover story in the November 5 issue of the Riverfront Times. But I decided that I should take advantage of the opportunity to learn about as many different aspects of my city as possible, so I started to read.

Far from being bored, I used every free moment to read Randall Roberts' "Dawg Eat Dawg." A wonderfully written story, it vividly captures the personalities of J-Nicks and DJ Kaos and the intense spirit of competition between Q-95.5 and 100.3. How many St. Louisans know that this city, which some people (okay, maybe a lot of people) consider a backwards hick town, is the home of a "blossoming hip-hop scene"? And kudos to J-Nicks for using his radio power for good, to paraphrase Craig Blac. I was proud of my city when I learned that "three different St. Louis artists...hold spots in the Top 40 of Billboard magazine's national singles chart." And I did not hear about this on the radio or television, but in the Riverfront Times. We as a city do not give enough credit to these artists for their successes.

Thank you, Mr. Roberts, for bringing to the forefront of the public consciousness such an important time for St. Louis hip-hop artists, DJs and radio stations. And thank you for contributing to the ongoing enlightenment of this white girl. With more positive publicity like this, hopefully we can all appreciate the talent and diversity that fills this city.
Sarah Weinman
St. Louis

Welcome to St. Louis
Now get your racist ass on outta here: I must comment on Claude Kurtz's September 17 letter concerning Rajeev Prasad's August 13 letter: If you are not happy with the diversity of our fair city and the freedom of free speech and the exchange of ideas that this country was founded upon, take your racist ass back to the deep South where you can spew your narrow-minded ignorance on other descendants of slave-raping, inbred, traitorous morons like yourself!
Peter Peterson

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