Week of June 27, 2001

Black and Brown
Brown spouts blatant racism: So Lizz Brown doesn't hesitate to state, "Why else would whites be in Kinloch, except to buy drugs?" That's as racist a statement as saying the only African-Americans in Chesterfield are the ones robbing people, but of course it's OK when people like Lizz Brown say things like that [D.J. Wilson, "Yin and Yang," RFT, June 13].

Instead of spouting such blatant racism, Lizz should focus on a real story, say, one that all major media take a pass on -- such as why African-Americans as a group commit crimes far out of proportion to their percentage of the general population.
Scott Muskopf
St. Louis

She Said So
Any more questions? As much as I hate to say we told you so, in this case, I can't resist.

During the desegregation-settlement tax-support hoopla, St. Louis Teachers and School Related Personnel Union Local 420 was the only group voicing opposition to the sales tax. Our reasoning has proven prophetic -- we had not seen the agreement or the language in the ballot measure. We tried to tell the community they were buying a pig in a poke, and, instead of anyone saying we might be right, we were labeled spoilers. Now we see developers are getting part of the money that was sold to the public as its financial obligation to our schools and will scream bloody murder if the loophole is closed [D.J. Wilson, "Stiffed by TIF," RFT, June 20].

The same scenario is playing itself out with the bond issue for air-conditioning our schools. The district promised voters the $80 million would be used to air-condition schools, but they didn't say how many or when or how much it would cost. Now we know it will be only 32 schools plus the 12 or so already climate-controlled, leaving over 65 schools still baking! Ask the voters in the South Side wards that voted overwhelmingly to support the bond issue and are now being kicked out of the Gardenville School. Do you think they will support St. Louis Public Schools the next time we truly need them?

What about the new Vashon High School? A $30 million bond issue was passed to build the school, but because of "fuzzy math," the state-of-the-art facility will be built without an auditorium. Now private donations are being collected to build the auditorium. Any more questions about the union's ability to predict the future?
Sheryl Davenport
St. Louis Teachers and School Related Personnel Union Local 420

Who You Callin' "Whore"?
Art doesn't have to come from the same place your crap does, Matthew: This is in regard to the self-righteous letter that Matthew Strauss wrote regarding the People Project ["Letters," RFT, June 20]. His letter not only insulted the companies who sponsored the work, the artists, St. Louis and the Regional Arts Commission, he is insulting himself by bringing his closed mind to everyone's attention.

Does he not realize the artists didn't know what the outcome of the People Project would be at the time they sent in their proposals? He almost sounds as if he is afraid to try anything new and uses his pompous definition of what art is to cover up his insecurities. I sent in a proposal and must admit I was a little reluctant. My piece got a sponsorship. I accepted it. Not only was it fun, it was a challenge, and I met many helpful, appreciative, talented people during the process. It seems as if many of the people who have written negative letters about the People Project don't realize a few things:

No one ever said this was supposed to be a highbrow art project.

Everyone has a different opinion on what art is. Remember, it's subjective. Isn't that something we all learned at a very early age? It doesn't have to mean or come from the same place your crap does, Matthew.

Keep in mind that when you are insulting one of the people figures, you might be insulting some little high-school kid's piece. Amateurs as well as professionals were allowed to submit proposals.

There was a bit of disorganization. Artists didn't have a lot of time to work on their pieces.

It's easy for rich kids who make art with Mom and Dad's money to call someone who did the project for the money a whore. I can guarantee you most of the artists didn't make a dime off this if you count time, supplies, gas, etc.

How can anyone insult every artist when it would be almost impossible to see every piece that was made?

I do know what art is and where it comes from. I do take art and the endeavor of making it seriously. I took a break and made something fun to brighten up someone's day (not everyone's, but surely someone's). Loosen up, Mathew -- be glad you didn't submit to such a "soulless proposition." Maybe you should take a break from your own art and search your own soul (it might make your artwork better); you could use it, because you sound just like another boring, self-centered, bitter, whiny spoiled brat -- very typical in the art world. Ho-hum.
Sandra Marchewa
St. Louis

Fitness for Fat Cats
I don't have several hundred extra dollars: Fitness for all! In Ray Hartmann's June 20 editorial ["The Health (Club) Menace"], he railed against St. Louis area municipalities that have spent taxpayer money to create public fitness facilities. Because these facilities are not subject to the same market and tax forces that require private facilities to charge $500 or more for an annual membership, Mr. Hartmann reasons that they constitute unfair competition for the "small-business genre." Perhaps. Or maybe these publicly funded facilities are providing an opportunity to those of us who could not possibly afford the exorbitant rates of private health clubs to gain access to fitness facilities.

I choose to go to the University City rec center to use the few pieces of fitness equipment available there. I could travel just a few blocks down the street and patronize an extravagantly furnished private health club, where I could partake of a huge array of exercise equipment, as well as a sauna, tanning beds and many other amenities -- or, at least, I could go there if I had several hundred extra dollars weighing down my billfold. Since I carry the significantly lighter wallet of a public-school teacher, I'm grateful that the rec center charges a mere $60 per year. If Mr. Hartmann's remedy for the inequity among public and private health centers were to be instituted -- namely, that public health facilities "keep standard membership fees comparable to those in the marketplace" -- I would be left with no option; I would have to stop using a health facility.

Mr. Hartmann may think that we cheapskates who take advantage of the menacingly free-market-undercutting, publicly funded health facilities would simply cough up the bigger bucks if we were forced to do so. Instead, we would just be doing jumping jacks in the laundry rooms of our apartment complexes.
Timothy Thomas
University City

Zakk Attack
Repetitive profanity is boring: On a recent visit to my hometown, I was hoping to catch up with the local music scene in the RFT. Instead, I got "Wylde at Heart," the so-called interview with Zakk Wylde by Paul Friswold [RFT, June 13].

The uninspiring article, which consisted primarily of Wylde spouting the F-word in every sentence, reminded me of why I enjoy bubblegum classics like the Ohio Express and the 1910 Fruitgum Co.

Zakk Wylde is clearly no Oscar Wilde, as his use of the English language is boring in its repetitive profanity. Even the writer ceases to find an unusual or varied slang word (in describing Wylde's music)!

Teenage rebels unite -- show originality and intelligence rather than submit to more chains, skulls and leather (yawn).
Jessica Barnett Decuir
San Antonio, Texas

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