Week of August 8, 2001

Aug 8, 2001 at 4:00 am
Onion Sliced
My respect was misplaced: I am an African-American conservative who rarely, if ever, agrees with the positions advocated by the Riverfront Times. But I will give credit to this publication when, in my opinion, it is deserved. The piece on Onion Horton enlightened me to the workings of the minds of people with similar views as Mr. Horton [Bruce Rushton, "Peeling the Onion," RFT, Aug. 1]. Besides exposing Mr. Horton's duplicity in race matters, questionable business dealings and outright theft of his former employers' funds, it also provided me a unique perspective into how aberrant thinking, coupled with resentment and anger, can and will corrupt personal ethics. All too common in America, a sense of victim entitlement is used to justify illegal behavior. I suspect if absolute candor could be guaranteed, this cancerous mindset played a significant, if not exclusive, role in his transgressions.

Although Mr. Horton's views are diametrically opposed to my own, I listened to his radio shows, enjoyed the dialogue and even shouted at my radio, but I always respected his views and more importantly the man. Now I realize my respect was misplaced. Mr. Horton claims he has no use for religion, but he should have taken heed of the Biblical verse that states, "What has been hidden in the darkness will eventually be exposed in the sunlight."
Christopher R. Arps

Knowing Nothing
My trouble with Bosnians: Does D.J. Wilson live in south St. Louis? Does he live anywhere near the Bevo area or Dutchtown? It's evident from his column, "Vocal Yokels," [RFT, Aug. 1] that he does not. By portraying the residents of St. Louis Hills as a group of uptight elitists who will stop at nothing to ethnically cleanse Willmore Park, he has made an error which obviously comes from his own ignorance of the situation.

I am a 19-year-old who has lived in the Bevo area of south St. Louis for more than 10 years now, and I have witnessed the wave of Bosnian and Albanian immigrants. There are currently several Bosnian families living on my block, as well as a new crop of Bosnian-owned businesses in the area. My problem is not that the Bosnians live here, but the problems they cause for long-time residents. Car-racing is one problem. I can't count the times I've driven down Gravois and been cut off suddenly by Bosnians racing their tricked-out sports cars. They have no regard for other people or their property, especially when they're driving.

My sister and a friend were recently involved in an accident when a Bosnian girl cut across two lanes of traffic on south Kingshighway to sideswipe them. When the police arrived, the officer recognized the girl as the culprit of not one, not two, but three other accidents in the past two weeks! She was driving with no insurance and a suspended license. Just the other day I was at my neighborhood QuikTrip when a middle-aged Bosnian man next to his 1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse held up his credit card in the middle of the parking lot and yelled, "No English, no English!" If he speaks no English at all, then how did he get his driver's license? How about that credit card? And why is he driving if he can't read English road signs?

Another problem is the disrespect some Bosnians have for this country. If D.J. Wilson lived in south city, he might be more aware of the number of insults aimed at Americans. I have neither said nor done anything to offend groups of Bosnian males who use sexually-explicit profanities to insult me as I walk or drive by. More often than not, the adjective "American" is attached to these insults.

For Wilson to imply that the Bosnians in Willmore Park have done nothing to merit police suspicion is pure ignorance. Before I sound like a hate-monger (which I'm sure will be the picture you paint of me), understand that my statement does not include all Bosnians. It primarily concerns the ones in Willmore Park and defends Americans who have problems with them.
Erin Frank
St. Louis

I've seen the light: Xenophobia is an ugly word. I didn't realize just how ugly until I went and looked it up after reading the article on Bosnians in St. Louis. And as I added it to my vocab list, I felt guilty and ashamed of myself because I have practiced this type of hatred also. I have given into the stereotypes that Eastern Europeans are dirty and misognynistic and just different. Your article made me realize that I was behaving in a way that I generally criticize others for. I was being close-minded and unjust. Hatred is a monster that sneaks up on you and before you realize it, it has taken over. We, as a nation based on differences, need to constantly check ourselves in the mirror or we might find that we are that monster that we fear so much in others.
Stephanie L. Fitzpatrick
St. Louis

Elevating the Gate Debate
Recognizing the park is a jewel: I would like to commend Eddie Silva for his column, "Gates of Eden" [RFT, Aug. 1]. Lawrence Halprin has deduced through analysis and experience that Forest Park is a St. Louis metropolitan jewel, a destination, and that the city has not celebrated this asset. His answer to the problem is a concept for an entry gate experience. Key words -- concept and experience. The experience is an identity, a relationship, a connection between Forest Park and the St. Louis metropolitan area. The concept is a general notion, an idea for creating this experience, an experience of reaching Forest Park and living the wonders within to the fullest.

Forest Park is its own culture, a place to be within a ho-hum city. Instead of designing a St. Louis typical gate, such as the gates at any park with walls, columns and a sign or an entry plaza, Halprin has proposed a break from the ordinary for Forest Park. For Forest Park is not an ordinary park; it is an urban treasure.

What we need to know is the context for these entries. What was Halprin hired to do exactly? What is Halprin's explanation for the design? Are these locations the best? Were the locations for the entries picked by Forest Park trustees or Halprin's design group and why? Does there need to be that many gates? Is there need for 14 entries to the park? What is the context for the sites surrounding these gates? These are a few questions of many the Forest Park users and metropolitan area should have answered.

Great people have pushed the general consensus throughout history. And great cities have reveled from it. St. Louis should seize the opportunity.
Aaron James Defenbaugh
St. Louis

Thanks for explaining the artist's intent: I applaud Eddie Silva's approach to the public debate regarding Lawrence Halprin's gates to Forest Park, thus far presenting in my opinion the most significant argument for their construction. In "Gates of Eden" he finally revealed what I'd been wondering all along, what exactly was the artist attempting in his design.

I studied art and architecture in college, and after graduation worked for 15 months with a landscape architect/city planner (not in St. Louis) who took the path of least resistance. This was very disillusioning because none of our projects could answer the questions we pose now concerning the gates to Forest Park.

Landscape architecture at its best will incite a reaction and at its worst will be methodical madness that makes every new landscape seem no different than any other. As people and as a city, whether we find ourselves situated dead in the middle of America or on one of its haughty coasts or anywhere in the world, we've got to ask ourselves do we strive for anonymity or identity?

Likewise we must understand aesthetics as limitless and variant according to perspective, not bound to but respectful of utility and history. It's called evolution and it is a natural process, organic (i.e. the visual qualities of Lawrence Halprin's design) not systematic (i.e. the visual qualities resulting from planting the same species of tree every 20 feet along new residential streets according to zoning codes).
Gwen Allen
St. Louis

Mind Matters
Not the only psychotherapy alternative in town: I am angry and dismayed at [your] distorted picture of the state of psychotherapy in St. Louis in which the mental-health-treatment world is oversimplified as a dichotomy between the pill-pushers at Wash. U. and the small coterie of psychoanalysts at the Psychoanalytic Institute. The unfortunate implication is that excellent "talk therapy" is being provided only by doctors who are also the analysts in the institute just down the street from the medical school.

In fact, about 75 percent of mental-health services in our area are provided by clinical social workers with advanced degrees and postgraduate training, many of whom maintain private practices of the highest quality. Quality psychotherapy is also provided by competent, well-trained psychologists, counselors and family therapists. All of my colleagues in these fields are licensed to practice in Missouri. The majority of these professionals are committed to the importance of long-term, in-depth, ongoing psychotherapy, whether or not the patient is medicated. Many of us refuse to accept patients from greedy HMOs because of the terrible policies affecting treatment and so will accept clients on a sliding scale.

Although many of us have been trained in the institute's two-year postgraduate training in psychotherapy, nowhere is any credit given by Dr. Moritz to the social workers, psychologists, counselors and family therapists who were her students! (She was a marvelous teacher.) The institute is happy to take our tuition and to solicit donations from alumni yearly, but no acknowledgement is given of the non-M.D. students who were trained and supervised at the institute! The low-cost clinic at the institute is staffed by clinical social workers, and no credit is given to them!

Many fine therapists of a variety of disciplines are available, and they are not all ensconced in the Psychoanalytic Institute.
Jane E. Burton
Past President
Missouri Society for Clinical Social Work

Wash. U. wrecked the Child Guidance Clinic: Thanks to Jeannette Batz for her excellent article ["Mind Over Matter," RFT, July 25]. I was a member of the Department of Psychiatry and worked for Dr. E.J. Anthony for 10 years, and I thought your readers might find the following story of interest.

In the article, Dr. K. Lynne Moritz recalls her analysis with Anthony, who headed the Division of Child Psychiatry. At its address on North Taylor, the division housed its own research program and operated its Child Guidance Clinic. The clinic treated children from poor families who suffered from behavioral and emotional problems. The clinic also operated accredited training programs in which fellows in child psychiatry, doctoral-level interns in psychology and social-work practicum students worked and learned together. From its founding, the division was not part of Wash. U.'s Department of Psychiatry, allowing Anthony, a child analyst, to lead a senior staff of analytically trained professionals who in turn permitted the clinic's staff and students to deliver an eclectic assortment of therapies. The clinic was a poor stepchild of the medical school, and it operated on a shoestring.

Dr. Sam Guze "regularized" the relationship of Anthony's division to the psychiatry department. He eliminated all the clinic's social-work positions so he could pay the salaries of his psychiatric residents, he ended his support for the psychology training program, and finally he moved the clinic into St. Louis Children's Hospital, where the clinic lost its mission, its name and its promise.

The mental-health professionals whom the clinic trained now serve as mature professionals throughout the region; Dr. Anthony moved to Washington, D.C.; the site at 369 N. Taylor where the clinic stood now boasts eight luxury townhouses; and we all lost St. Louis' only interdisciplinary child-mental-health training facility.
Julien Worland
Editor, Psychotherapy Saint Louis

Parties Out of Control
Breath of fresh air: It's not often that raves are shown in any form of positive light by the media. Raves are attacked for being drug-infested hangouts for misguided youths who enjoy destroying their ears with pounding bass. Reading René Spencer Saller's column ["Radar Station," RFT, July 25] was a sigh of relief, however.

Portraying the law-enforcement officers as the "bad guys" in the rave scene was a breath of fresh air to ravers who are normally subjected to media stereotyping and backlash. It is about time that the media take note of the officers' harsh attitude toward ravers and to the constitutional rights that those officers infringe on.

Every week, law-enforcement officers across the nation use bundles of taxpayer dollars to do mass drug searches and raids while ignoring constitutional rights in the vain hope of winning the war on drugs. For example, earlier this spring, officers set up road blockades at the entrance to a rave venue south of St. Louis in order to search every person and car that passed. Not only did this mass search infringe on the rights of those attending the rave but it also caused the event's organizers to lose a fair amount of money, because many who would have attended were deterred by the dozen-or-so police cars at the entrance.

These searches are never as fruitful as the officers hope, either. Finding small amounts of drugs on a few people will not help the government win the war on drugs, an utterly unbeatable battle. The only thing that comes of these mass searches is a lackluster trust in the American government and increasing resentment toward law-enforcement officers.

Contrary to popular media stereotypes and trends, Saller chose the path less traveled for her article; she chose the right path. It felt as though a weight -- albeit a very small weight -- was lifted off the shoulders of the rave community when somebody outside the community defended ravers' rights.
Allison Barrett
St. Louis

Litmus Tests
If you're a Democrat, act like a Democrat: I want you to know I applaud your viewpoints [Ray Hartmann, "Really Strange Bedfellows," RFT, July 25]! It is high time to cleanse the Democratic Party of its Bluedogs, the ones who wear the "D" but are willing soldiers of the "R" and "W" (Dubya).

I don't know if signing a "basic ethics declaration" would be the answer, but we need to let candidates for re-election and potential candidates know that if they call themselves Democrats, there are certain ideals that they support and certain others that they oppose.
Ken Bailey
Ironton, Ohio

New Whine
You didn't notice our new Hair style: I'm so happy to hear that you've decided not to review New Line Theatre's production of Hair. Why you ask?

We know how hard it must be to be reviewer for such an esteemed publication as the Riverfront Times. I'm sure that most of your time must be spent preparing yourself for such an important task as to not review shows that, because they are of the same name of a production done by the same troupe last year, must just be a rehash of that same said production, right? I'm sure that the time spent before a mirror would be time better spent, right? Or better yet, spent calling the 1-800-GIRLSFORFUN numbers at the back of your esteemed catalog for sensual pleasures.

Never mind that the two lead characters have completely changed, there has been an addition of five new members, new musical numbers that have been added, the venue has changed, the lighting and set both have changed. Never mind those small changes from last year's production. Never mind that the show will sell out, with or without your review.

Please, never mind the hard work that was gone through to put this production on by both cast and crew. That shouldn't really matter to you anyway. It's only a rehash of last year's production, right? There wasn't much work to be done anyway, right?

Perhaps I may suggest a further expanding of this policy. When a national theater production comes to town, one that has been here before, don't review it. Don't even attend. What would your colleagues from the other publications in town think? Why should you? The production is staged in the same venue, same actors/actresses, same production. How boring!

Perhaps when a musical act or a band shows up at our city's doorstep, the same group that played here last year or the year before, don't review it. Don't even attend. Why should you? You've reviewed them last year or the year before. Don't even play that band's CD. Why, when you've heard it all before?

Perhaps you should consider not even reviewing art. Why? All the subjects of life have been covered, right? There's nothing that can be learned by looking at someone expressing themselves through their chosen medium, right? No chance that you may learn more about yourself. What good would that do? You have a mirror, right?

One thought, if you do succumb to actually reviewing New Line Theatre's production of Hair (we hope that you don't sink as far as that!), would you review with open eyes? Perhaps, just perhaps, you'd compare the production against the production of last year. That would only be expected, right?

Perhaps you could spend more time in front of a mirror or on the phone. To quote a line from Hair: "What a piece of work is Man, How noble in reason, How infinite in Faculties."
Paul Summers
via the Internet