Kudos to Melinda Roth and The Riverfront Times for publishing the inspiring article about Jeanette Mott Oxford ("A Twist of Faith," RFT, July 19). I don't think I've ever read an article about a candidate that is as refreshing and hopeful as this.
The city, region and state of Missouri are in dire need of honest, fair, diligent, courageous, caring and committed people who understand how we can all live and work together. Jeanette understands how important it is to ensure that all people are treated fairly and equitably. She is committed to positive action and willing to grapple with difficult questions and disagreements that all people have from time to time. She is someone who knows that all people need to be represented and have opportunities to have their voices, grievances and dreams heard. She understands how people on the lowest rung of the ladder can blossom into productive, capable citizens when others join hands with them in common endeavors to benefit the community.
One of the reasons the city and the St. Louis region have remained mired in serious decline and social ills is that there have not been enough committed leaders who believe in reaching out to all people. They are too often actively trying to get rid of low- and moderate-income people, people of color, etc., or ignoring and neglecting them, hoping they will leave.
One of the important messages carved above the state Capitol in Jefferson City is "The Welfare of the People Shall be the Supreme Law." Jeanette understands and lives the meaning of that message.
Thank you, thank you for your article on Jeanette Mott Oxford. Her journey has been wonderful, painful and illuminating for many of us in ministry with her. The same area of Southern Illinois gave birth to us both, but we did not come to know each other until we attended seminary together. She brought the best of those little-known but culturally rich hills and valleys with her. I am always in awe of her intellectual gifts, compassion and talents. She will be an awesome legislator, committed to her constituents and to the needs and rights of Missourians as a whole. Melinda Roth did a great job in weaving Jeanette's past with her current passions. Thank you again.
Janice Edwards Barnes
OUT OF THE LOOP
Regarding the letter from Peg Keller ("Letters," RFT, July 12) and the "selling out" of A Collector's Book Shop and the St. Louis Bread Company: With all due respect, she doesn't seem to get it. I don't know how old she is or why it has taken her "all of her adult life" to finally move to the Loop area, but why didn't she realize that you don't have to live in the Loop to shop in the Loop? I have watched with dismay as places I frequent as a regular customer one by one shut down or sold out, not only in the Loop area, but all over St. Louis -- Library Ltd., Bijou, Paul's Books, Clayton Hardware, Smith Hardware, A Collector's Book Shop, just to name a few. Thank God for Left Bank Books! Where are those other regular customers going now that so many of our favorite places are gone? Unfortunately, it seems that our only choices, at least for movie rentals, are the chains or the grocery stores. Yuck! For years I avoided Blockbuster and Hollywood Video; now it seems I have no choice, unless I want to drive an inordinate amount of time to rent/return a movie. A Collector's Book Shop is only the latest in a wave of businesses folding or selling out to a chain. By the way, the St. Louis Bread Company is a chain, always has been a chain, always will be a chain; they just have different names in different parts of the country! It hardly counts as a worthy business "selling out" to the big guy, because it already is "the big guy." I seriously doubt that we'll ever have to worry about Blueberry Hill franchises, but the Tivoli is now being run by Landmark, so it, too, has joined the ranks of the chains. So much for individuality and creativity in the Loop.
Although I have a tremendous amount of respect for Roy Kasten's coverage of St. Louis music, he completely misses the mark on Steve Earle's new record Transcendental Blues ("Rotations," RFT, July 26). I believe this album is a masterpiece, and repeated listening only reinforces my opinion. Not every great record should have "precise lyrical narratives" (see James Brown, Nirvana), although many of the songs on this record clearly do. His comment about genre nibbling is ridiculous. One of the reasons this record is so good is because of its varied styles and influences. Why does Kasten feel that a bluegrass number ("Until the Day I Die") is out of place on this record? Apparently, Kasten is not comfortable with "trippy garage rock" and bluegrass on the same record, which is unfortunate. Contrary to Kasten's contention, Earle risks and reveals much because he is such an original artist. Finally, Kasten does not even mention "When I Fall," which is a soaring duet with his sister Stacy Earle and for my money the best song on the record.
IFS, ANDS AND BUTS
I can understand why John McGuire was baffled when Cole Campbell told him to write with cultural authority ("Lost at Sea," RFT, June 7), but I think I know what Campbell meant. And I think I agree.
The Post-Dispatch -- and, to be fair about it, many other periodicals, including, from time to time, even The Riverfront Times -- have a tendency to cultural and literary illiteracy.
I remember, for example, a mention in a feature in the P-D of the film if ..., a dark comedy about an English public school that was released in the late 1960s. The article said the movie was produced and directed by Rudyard Kipling. None of the editors caught it. Similar whoppers occur almost daily.
Campbell was right, of course, in trying to avert this sort of solecism, if that was in fact what he was trying to do. His fault seemed to be that he was so self-enchanted that he thought he could add weight to his pronouncements by being oracular and obscure, like the Delphic Sibyl. I think he considered himself a mystic.
I wish the P-D all the best in its search for Campbell's replacement. I know my former colleagues harbor the fond belief that there's nowhere to go but up. But we've heard that before, haven't we?
A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME
Sally Cragin may be surprised to learn that I understand one or two things about Shakespeare ("Say Uncle," RFT, July 19). One of them is that he didn't always pronounce words the same way that we do. My musty old Oxford English Dictionary includes this note on the pronunciation of "antipodes": "Formerly, very regularly, three syllables." Since Richard II has more regular iambic pentameter than any Shakespeare play I've read, I chose the older pronunciation: "Whilst we were wand'ring with the antipodes." She can do the math herself. I'll leave it to our audiences to discern whether I understand anything else.
Bravo to Jane Robert and the hardworking committee organized to bring Prince Louis de Bourbon to St. Louis the end of August ("The Man Who Would Be King," RFT, July 12). During the past four years, civic leaders and St. Louis 2004 staff and volunteers have sought events and activities that would focus national and world spotlights on St. Louis, engage our citizens in thinking about the future, and, as we celebrate the anniversaries of the Louisiana Purchase and the World's Fair, look at our collective history. What an ideal time to bring the dashing young prince to our city and region.
Alliance Française president Jane Robert should be congratulated, not only for her hard work on behalf of the Alliance and St. Louis, but for her vision. The prince's visit is an excellent link between the city's early history and culture and the 21st century and should be recognized as a cornerstone event for the St. Louis 2004 efforts. Certainly the arrival of the first direct descendant of Louis IX (St. Louis) to ever visit our city is cause to celebrate -- St. Louis style, of course.