News Real

Feb 10, 1999 at 4:00 am
BOTTOMS UP: The Bi-State Development Agency, which operates the Gateway Arch tram, is attempting to drum up business by alluding to the fouled waters of the Mississippi River. It's all part of a promotional campaign geared to attract more tourists to the world's tallest roadside attraction. The agency recently sent out a promotional package to members of the press that includes a jar of "Portable Muddy Mississippi," otherwise referred to as "Gen-Yew-Wine River Swill, 100 percent Disgusting, Loads-O-Floaters." The EPA doesn't seem to have analyzed the sample of the water, but, according to Bi-State, the "yuck-to-the-last drop concoction" may include, "dead fish, dead fish bait, dead guy with cement shoes ... casino tokens ... and/or organic apple juice." (CDS)

NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCE: Amid all the condemnation of Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan's cancellation of Darrell Mease's death sentence at the request of Pope John Paul II last month is another case for death-penalty supporters to consider -- that of Roosevelt Pollard. Two years ago Pollard was scheduled for execution at Missouri's Potosi Correctional Center for his role in the murders of two people. His St. Louis attorneys, Cheryl Rafert and Richard Sindel, argued that under Missouri law, Pollard was unfit to be executed, because his symptoms of schizophrenia and his low IQ of 70 made him unable to understand either what he did or what his punishment was ("Dying Shame," RFT, Feb. 26, 1997). Carnahan stayed the execution in 1997 until a psychiatrist could examine Pollard. Last month, the courts ruled that Pollard was indeed unfit to be executed and sentenced him to life in prison instead. Moral of this saga? Pollard's mental state should have been noted much earlier in the process and, were it not for Rafert's and Sindel's efforts, he would have been executed "illegally." There are, it seems, large fissures in the system. (MR)

DUELING LAUGHTONS: The impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton became a forum for movie buffs last week with an emphasis on the films of the late venerable English actor Charles Laughton. It was House Manager Ed Bryant who began the retrospective with Witness for the Prosecution, comparing himself and the other managers to the role of the persistent barrister played by Laughton in the 1957 Billy Wilder film. He stretched the analogy to include Monica Lewinsky in the Marlene Dietrich role and Bill Clinton as Tyrone Power. (We can maybe see Monica as Marlene in the German version of The Blue Angel when Dietrich was still a chubby fraulein, but Tyrone Power?) Nicole Seligman, of Clinton's defense team, countered by comparing Laughton's portrayal of the obsessed gendarme Javert in the 1935 version of Les Miserables to the actions of the overzealous Ken Starr. It's doubtful that Hutchinson considered another analogy between Laughton and the Lewinsky affair: Laughton maintained a public life as actor and husband to Elsa Lanchester and a private life as a homosexual -- a distinction between public and private now endangered by the brutal disregard of Starr and company. (ES)

DOG DAY AFTERNOON: It was perhaps the slowest and most loosely organized parade in history: just a gang of people walking their dogs through the streets of Soulard while another gang of folks stood by and watched. It could've been a yawner, except that in this procession, the Mystic Krewe of Barkus Parade, the dogs and their human companions dressed in Mardi Gras costumery. Let's see, there was a Dennis Rodman standard poodle with initials shaved into its back, a neon-green poof on its pate. There were Three Musketeer greyhounds with little plumed hats, capes and swords. Dogs in taffeta, dogs in leather, dogs in sombreros, dogs with beads, bangles and bonnets. Snippy dogs, horny dogs, crossed-dressed dogs, incontinent dogs. Note: Dog doo is nasty, and it reeks. Unscooped poop on the parade route gets tramped on and smooshed all over the pavement. Next year, someone should provide those attachable poop-catching satchels for the dogs like the ones the horses wear in the big parades. (WS)

THE HATCHET IS BURIED, REAL DEEP: As Ald. Gregory Carter (D-27th) moved for adoption of resolutions 284-293 at last Friday's aldermanic board meeting, Ald. Sharon Tyus (D-20th) rose to object. Each resolution was a congratulatory proclamation related to African-American History Month, mentioning a specific person's "many contributions to the community" and so on. Tyus singled out Resolution 286, which had to do with congratulating Freeman Bosley Jr. "for his many contributions to the community." Such resolutions are normally passed on a voice vote, often unanimously. But Tyus, an early Bosley supporter but later an archfoe, wanted a roll-call vote. She could not vote for him, Tyus said, because "I could not agree that he was a great politician." That brought a rejoinder from the alderman sitting next to her, Freeman Bosley Sr. (D-3rd), the former mayor's father. Dad said he took "this kind of personal," then launched into a meandering spiel that included a mention of the Dred Scott decision and the fact that his son's great-grandfather was a slave and ended with a joke about three ladies going to heaven. The punch line -- "Wouldn't that great white throne look a little better over to the left?" -- had something to do with the idea that some people are never satisfied. Resolutions for the other nine honorees were approved unanimously. Best line of the day was from Ida G. Woolfolk, on accepting her proclamation: "People have stepped on our shoes, but they couldn't mess up our shine." (DJW)

Contributors: Melinda Roth, Eddie Silva, Wm. Stage, C.D. Stelzer, D.J. Wilson