Week of March 14, 2001

Mar 14, 2001 at 4:00 am
Grim, Shady
I guess pretty city girls don't rate as much: Oh, good: another "mean streets of the city" story to remind us all how terrible the city really is and how unblemished the suburbs are [Elizabeth Vega, "Girl, Interrupted," RFT, Feb. 28].

With the Marine Villa flap apparently faded into your collective memory (despite the continued column-inches of letters protesting the uninformed portrayal of a city neighborhood), readers are now treated to "Girl, Interrupted," where a hapless suburban teen is once again mistreated when she ventures into the big, bad city of St. Louis.

What exactly about Dan Marlowe indicates that he "looked like a clean-cut guy from the suburbs?" Is it his whiteness that distinguishes him from what you'd consider a clean-cut guy from the city? And if he could "hold his own in the shadiest neighborhoods in the city," I'd imagine he could do so in the shadiest neighborhoods of St. Louis County, too. Or maybe the county's shady neighborhoods are even shadier than the shadiest of the city, and so he was too scared to go there.

I think it should be enough to say that a young, pretty girl found dead anywhere, anytime, is "no ordinary incident" and is a tragic loss to boot. It mystifies me why that tragedy would be compounded by that young, pretty girl being "from the suburbs found dead in the city." Guess our young, pretty city girls just don't rate quite as high.

Please think carefully before assigning or accepting the next story idea portraying the city as the center of depravity that lures young, fresh-faced suburbanites to their untimely deaths. It seems that as the major daily paper in town has taken a decidedly pro-city stand in much of its coverage, our "alternative" weekly has had to assume the position: namely, that if the establishment thinks the city is OK, then it must not be. As I hope you're beginning to find, there are enough folks living here who have decided not to stand for that crap anymore.
Amanda Doyle
St. Louis

Your true colors are showing: My father used to tell me that he would much prefer to meet a hooded Klansman on a dark country road than a smiling liberal on a well-lit main street. His reason for telling me that was because he believed that at least the racist is honest in his hatred and my dad would be prepared to fight to his (or, preferably, the Klansman's) death rather than have the liberal deceive him with his phony concern, only to slay him once his guard was down.

Based on Elizabeth Vega's article "Girl, Interrupted," I would have to agree with dear old Dad. For quite some time I have read your paper with the thought that here was a fresh, sane, intelligent approach in a town choked on its own ignorance, despair and loser's attitude. A cultural wasteland landlocked by small- mindedness is a vicious combination.

"Girl, Interrupted" is the second -- "Death Trip" [RFT, Jan. 31] being the first -- in seemingly a series of articles devoted to warning suburban boys and girls of the "newly discovered" dangerous inner city. Apparently you and your authors have failed to notice that the ghetto has long been a primary cause of death and destruction for many of its young.

Have you all been so blinded by your verdant surroundings as to not notice that, for decades, denizens of St. Louis have fallen prey by the hundreds annually to the evils of controlled substances, gang warfare and sheer hopelessness? Be aware that there will be hundreds of people murdered in St. Louis this year, and though certainly sad, these are but two out of all those potential stories. While we all feel sorrow and give our condolences to the bereaved families, others are hurting as well, and your ignorance of their grief is disturbing.

Don't tell me that you too have become just another member of the ruling elite that only feels "localized pain"? What would it hurt to broaden your coverage to include members of the community who don't look like "us"?

In an optimistic haze, I had envisioned the RFT to be a beacon in this prejudiced little town, a publication that dared speak out for the disenfranchised, the disillusioned, the spirit-broken "unwashed" who live daily with just the sort of tragedy Ms. Vega reported on.

During your noble days, I thought your paper fought the good fight, even though in my mind I knew it was not real. There can be no connective thought between one from your community with one from a virtual war zone like North St. Louis. In the past you would emphasize the unpopular side of a story because that's what brought you readership (like me), the lifeblood of a newspaper. But, as always, once those numbers have been established, your true colors show through. In contrast, the Post-Dispatch has always been a one-sided diatribe against the poor, uneducated "others" who inhabit our inner cities, often virulent in its one-sided coverage of key aspects of certain cases.

But now it seems as if you too have joined in the chase, and the vigor with which you pursue your prey truly makes you "a credit to your race." Ah, so soon my hopes fade.

Perhaps my old man was right; I, too, would prefer to be matched against that Klansman on the dark road. At least there, without the protections his suburban status affords him elsewhere, he will take off his hood before we fight to the death.
Ira H. Webster Jr.

Mean Streets
Hell must be the only bad neighborhood: I can't believe the responses you got to the article "Death Trip" ["Letters," Feb. 14-March 7]. These people that claim that it really is a good neighborhood make me sick. There are drug houses, drug dealers and prostitutes. This is not my idea of a nice community. Granted, Jason should not have been there and doing what he was doing, but that is beside the point. Just because a person smokes pot does not mean they should be shot in the street. I have been to Marine Villa, and, me being a white guy that dresses semipreppy and drives a new car, I was scared to death, and that doesn't happen very often. In short, if this neighborhood is nice and not like the author described, then I guess hell is the only bad neighborhood in the world.
Keith Reeder
Smithton, Ill.

Ray of Delight
A huge departure from your usual liberal rant: I applaud Ray Hartmann for writing an editorial that did not piss me off ["They've Got the Wrong Martyr," RFT, Feb. 28]! I kept waiting for the tone of his article to change so that Antonio Richardson would be the victim, and it never did. Clearly this is not the Ray Hartmann that I have grown to despise over the past 10 years living in St. Louis. Maybe this is the new and improved Ray.

I finally found his angle in the bottom of the article where he rips into that other "paper" and one of the seedier columnists. All in all, Mr. Hartmann, it was a huge departure from your usual liberal rant. Thanks.
Jeff Bennett
St. Louis

Sick and tired: I'm getting quite weary of bleeding-heart sentiments such as the two letters in the RFT on March 7 that criticized society for maintaining the death penalty. The argument that it was a borderline-mentality juvenile that raped two girls and then threw them naked off the Chain of Rocks Bridge turns my stomach. Indeed, in this case, the accused speaks more eloquently than his defenders write. His contention of mental retardation appears to be just one of his many defenses to escape his day of reckoning.

When will we start thinking of victims' rights over the rights of the convicted? That sort of thinking would have resulted in a long prison sentence for Adolf Hitler had he not taken his own life. Let's face it -- some people have forfeited their right to life and deserve to pay the supreme price.
Richard H. Gerding
Concord Village

You like me, you really like me: This has really been my month, thanks to the RFT! First, your fabulous cover story about my nemesis -- that man of the cloth whose only suitable cloth would be an orange jumpsuit -- and now the news that your theater critic/hatchet gal, Sally Cragin, is packing up her trailer and headin' back to New England [Cragin, "Dropping the Curtain," RFT, March 7]!

Sal never failed to let her personal bias enter into her reviewing, and her nadir during her tenure at the RFT was a particularly nasty hatchet job of a touring production of Julie Taymor's King Stag that originated in Boston (where the beans come from).

I miss Bob Wilcox and Harry Weber, but I will be content for the time being. I still don't know what I did to deserve all this happy news. It was my birthday a few weeks back. I don't know what could make me any happier.

St. Louis is certainly better off after these cleansings. Now, if only we could get rid of half-a-million stop signs and teach the locals how to drive ...

Thanks, RFT! Keep up the good work! You've made my year!
Christopher Jackson
St. Louis

Open for Business
Off Broadway has not closed! Quite to the contrary, the new owners say the club will now be open five nights each week instead of the two or three nights the beloved previous owners were able to drag their tired asses out of bed [Randall Roberts, "Radar Station," RFT, March 7]. Randall Roberts needs to get his facts straight, and quick. The March 7 article was not the first time the new owners have been dissed in the RFT.

You guys keep whining about lack of support for local musicians. While I was at the All Along the Road (a fine local group) show last Friday night, I again had the chance to talk to one of the new owners. She said the club is open on Tuesday nights for jam sessions, and a Friday happy-hour jam is also in the works. Wednesday and Thursday nights, the bar is open mic, and [the owners] also plan shows by less notable local talent.

Get it straight, Mr. Roberts! Off Broadway is the place for local talent and national acts, now and into the foreseeable future. See you at the next jam. Bring your kazoo.
Lara O'Neil
St. Charles

Force for Change
Don't just piss people off: Your reporting at the RFT is fabulous. However, when I'm totally pissed off at an event that is happening (for example, the proposed cement plant in Ste. Genevieve County), the RFT never gives me anyone to voice my opinions to. I suggest you include e-mail addresses, phone numbers or snail-mail address of officials in charge that all your readers could voice their concerns.

If RFT readers as a public force are going to get anywhere in revolutionizing our society, we need to present our voices in an organized manner. Let the RFT become a mobilizing force rather than a free newspaper that only pisses people off! Please really consider what I'm proposing -- mobilize the masses.
Lawrence Herzog
St. Louis

Special Quest
Top 10 flick can't be located: A few months ago, when the RFT bravely stepped up to the plate and allowed several critics to list The Specials as one of their favorite films of 2000, my eyebrow nearly leaped off my forehead ["Imperfect Tens," RFT, Dec. 27]. Whoa! I must have missed something! Had it come to Tivoli while I was sleeping? Had I not been paying proper attention?

I investigated this and came to the conclusion that either the RFT had received a screener from Regent Entertainment or growing local legend James "Minute Man" Gunn had tossed them a copy. I came to this conclusion because when I called all the area theaters and local video stores, they had no idea what I was talking about.

"Never fear!" I told myself. "Don't worry, it will come out on video March 6, and I can just skip on down to my local video store and scoop it up!" Wrong! Today, I called six area Blockbusters, Hollywood Video, Borders and couple of "Ma and Pa" stores -- with each store having no idea what I was talking about. Sure, they had several copies of Battlefield Earth and that latest Richard Grieco flick, but not one copy of this RFT top 10 favorite. Which quickly brings me to this question: What's the point of the RFT raving about a local guy's exciting little flick if nobody seems to give a shit?
Adam Hackbarth
Via the Internet

Taste Testy
Review overlooked Fatima's positive aspects: I believe the article about Fatima's food, location, seating and toilet arrangements was disgusting [Melissa Martin, "Market Research," RFT, Jan. 3]. The article was misleading and biased. It perhaps left the impression in the minds of its readers that Fatima's Café is not a good place to dine. It did not correctly identify Fatima's Café as an occupant/renter. Fatima and other businesses rent space in the Loop and have no control over the location of the toilets or exit doors.

I am a frequent customer of Fatima's and believe I should inform you of several positive aspects of Fatima's that you somehow overlooked: Fatima welcomes her customers with a smile. She is always courteous and polite. The food is prepared with fresh ingredients, and it is delicious. The prices are competitive. During my visits, she seemed to have more customers than other eateries at this location. Although her area is small, it is well organized and neat. She has a variety of ethnic and vegetarian foods. She fills orders promptly. Her food appeals to all ethnic groups.
Eunice Hardeman
East St. Louis

Show and Tell
Hartmann should disclose his finances, too: I find it interesting that in your recent article about the St. Louis Cardinals, [you say the] ownership group must disclose their personal finances to you [Ray Hartmann, "Switch Hitters," RFT, Feb. 14]. I would like to know where anyone else but the Cardinal ownership group has title to this ballclub. I don't want to hear it is the public interest, because I would then expect, since you cover the St. Louis sports teams as well as other businesses, you, too, might want to disclose all those complimentary tickets, lunches, parking fees, etc., I am sure you accept.

Where is it stated that any person, public or private, should disclose their financial portfolio to you or anyone else? If you are so hellbent on seeing others' financial picture, please submit your own status in the RFT for all of us to review. As for political contributions, please also include your contributions to your political party and any other special-interest groups you may support.

My take on your interest in the 17 members that gave to George W. is only due to your liberal views and your objection to his presidency. Keep it to yourself. Some of us want to help the Cardinals stay in St. Louis. Don't get me wrong -- I am not talking about blindly opening the checkbook -- but be realistic. The Cardinals will receive community dollars to build a new ballpark. It will either be our community's or someone else's. In addition, I really don't care how much wealth the group of 17 have. I have many good friends that are employed by several of the firms these people also own. Ray, see the big picture. Please give the readers plenty of notice about the edition where you will be disclosing all your personal information.
Gene Moore
St. Peters