Week of December 10, 2003

Thumbs Down to Rose
Cute, cutting and way off base: St. Louis is fortunate indeed to have a Rose Martelli, an expert on food, art, the exact ingredients of a mochatini and, to top it off, a world-class wit.

The opening of her review of Felix's ["How Green Was My Refrigerator," December 3], making fun of people waiting to go to the bathroom, belonged on the Broadway stage. It was that funny! And the line, "There's a pool in the pie!" We are not worthy. Please, get Letterman on the horn. No, make it Woody Allen. She was able to tell us in a single sentence that she "knew" art. And in her dismissal of Felix's decision to use the word rémoulade on its menu, she was able to show both her biting humor and that she indeed knows its ingredients.

Sarcasm aside, Ms. Martelli of course got it all wrong about Felix's. I have been there several times. The food is innovative, fresh and reasonably priced. The waiters and managers are caring people. The atmosphere is alive. Felix's is thriving and will thrive, despite the review by Ms. Martelli, who is a writer in the same sense that a woodpecker is a carpenter.

So don't be concerned about Felix's. Any concern should be directed to the soul of Ms. Martelli, who is so consumed with being cute and cutting for herself and her friends that she cannot recognize the admirable qualities in a group of people who are putting a lot of effort, money and heart into a new Dogtown enterprise.
Paul M. Shasta
St. Louis

Mean-spirited, snide and inaccurate: I am writing to complain about Rose Martelli's mean-spirited, snide and inaccurate review of the new Felix's in Dogtown.

Perhaps after she and her party ordered "another round and another round and another," her review was not written in a sober state of mind. Teasing other patrons in a self-admittedly mean way and using a roll of toilet paper for a table centerpiece would both tend to indicate this. I think this is terribly unfair to a restaurateur who has staked his effort and resources to open a place that is already a major asset to Dogtown.

Martelli criticizes the "one and only menu." How many menus are there supposed to be? She throws around loaded words like "sore thumb" and "cheesy," then tries to take them back. She complains that the flatbread pizzas and the focaccia used for the sandwiches are dry. I have had both and have not found that to be the case. When focaccia was brought to my table in a bread basket, it was accompanied by a tasty bean spread.

To say that "rémoulade is basically a fancy French way of saying 'mayonnaise mixed with mustard and relish'" indicates someone who doesn't know what they are talking about or just isn't thinking. Horseradish, onion, Worcestershire, capers, cornichons and herbs are all common rémoulade ingredients.

I have enjoyed all but one of the dozen items on the Felix's menu that I have tried. I'm not sure where Felix's promised the "retro" qualities for which Ms. Martelli seems to find it lacking. This review is immensely unfair to a fun new eating-and-drinking place in Dogtown and not up to Ms. Martelli's usual fine standard of journalism. I think she owes Pepe Kehm an apology.
Joel Slotnikoff
St. Louis

On Holt
An affront to the alcohol: And we wonder where we went wrong in education. It's frightening to know that somebody plopped Earl Holt's ass out of Washington University with a degree [Mike Seely, "Happy Kwanzaa, Earl!" November 26]. Curiously enough, it doesn't appear as though any amount of character or dignity showed up along with his whopping 130 IQ. Blaming his stupidity on alcohol is an affront to the alcohol. His self-inflicted id-level idiocy should preclude him from making an appearance on any list of stupid white men, not only on this planet but any other. He's just too much of an idiot to even make the grade.
Eileen Carroll
St. Louis

The mess is bigger than we think: Thank you for printing the story about Earl Holt III. I would hope more stories like this will surface and St. Louis residents will see that the schools are shot to hell because of their leadership, not because of the students. As well, the city was sunk many years ago by these same traits in its leaders, not by its residents. Perhaps once the folks of Earl's era pass on, our kids can hope for a more diverse and friendly go at life.
Jason Wade
St. Louis

"Dawg" Bite
Caucasian derision: Regarding Sarah Weinman's November 26 letter to the editor, is this a joke? "As a white girl from the suburbs" she doesn't have an interest in rap? But she takes the opportunity to learn about African-American culture via the RFT? She's shocked to learn this town has a "blossoming hip-hop scene"? And she grows proud of the STL when learning that three different local artists are in the Top 40?

Hmmm. I don't get it. Suburban white girls are practically modern hip-hop's target audience. And Nelly is so played out. Hopefully Ms. Weinman is a very talented satirist. Cuz the alternative is too much to bear. We need to kiss Nelly's ass even more so the suburban white girls get it? Shoot me now.

Unfortunately Caucasian,
Dylan Hassinger
University City

Stage Whispers
Miller misses: I feel compelled to respond to Scott Miller's latest rant against theater critic Dennis Brown [Letters, November 26]. As usual, Scott feels that anyone who disagrees with him is wrong and in need of an education. Not so. I saw Starlight Express in London shortly after it opened and was totally enchanted, as millions have been ever since. It did break new ground. As for Miller's assessment of Lorenz Hart, Mr. Hart was a confused, complex, sexually ambivalent talent who longed for the affection of women and men. To write "Larry" off as anything less would be to misunderstand him. And regarding the books of current musicals, if you had sat through Sondheim's latest, Bounce, as I did, you'd have found any issue of the X-Men more challenging.

I don't think Dennis Brown needs to take any musical theater courses, but if you choose to do so, Mr. Brown, might I suggest steering clear of any ones Mr. Miller might be teaching? You'd get a better, unbiased education through Diplomas by Mail.

Miller begins his diatribe begging the question, "What would we do without Dennis Brown to make fun of?" The answer is clear: We'll always have Scott Miller.
Christopher Jackson, theater columnist
EXP magazine

Pining for the old Jewish theater: Dennis Brown wonders why the New Jewish Theatre doesn't revert to being the Old Jewish Theatre in selection of its programs, lamenting so few presentations of established works and playwrights [Something Old, Something New," November 26].

Just for the record, through the 1990s groups prior to the NJT at the Jewish Community Center presented such old-guard Jewish authors as Arthur Miller (The Price, Broken Glass), Lillian Hellman (The Little Foxes, The Children's Hour), Paddy Chayefsky (Middle of the Night), Woody Allen (Don't Drink the Water), Kaufmann and Hart (George Washington Slept Here), Neil Simon (The Odd Couple, Rumors, Biloxi Blues, God's Favorite and the musical Little Me), plus such other musical standards as Fiddler on the Roof and Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, to name a few. As Brown suggests, these productions did indeed "give the actors -- and the audiences -- something worthy of their time."
Robert Beck
St. Louis

Heartthrob for President
Ooooooooh, Blake! If Blake Ashby were only a vegetarian, I think I would be in love [Unreal, "The Many Moods of Blake Ashby," November 26]. I hope he doesn't get elected, because that would just mean he'd move out of town like all the other cool guys.
Nicole Young
St. Louis

Minstrel Context
From blackface to hip-hop: For the amount of fuss that historical re-creations of minstrel shows can raise, it seems mildly ironic that the negative black stereotypes as violent, drug-slingin', horny men are moving the most units today [Darren Keast, "Play That Funky Music?" November 19]. Label execs know that violent portrayals of black men sell rap records, and major-label rap artists are pressured accordingly.

Ask Nas about this; Columbia wouldn't let him release his pick of tracks for 1999's Nastradamus for fear that they wouldn't sell. So in place of a number of introspective and intelligent songs, Columbia dropped an album of jiggy pap like "You Owe Me." (Luckily, last year Nas put out Lost Tapes, which, thanks to many of the songs that Columbia cut, is one of his best.)

Regardless, I have no qualms with a DJ playing some ignorant stereotypical shit; more often than not, a hip-hop crowd is a multiracial group of people who can and do see beyond what pop music says. Similarly, one would hope that a historical re-creation of an extremely important time in America's history would be taken as that, not a step backwards for race relations.
Andrew Friedman
St. Louis

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