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CHEERS AND JEERS: In the hour preceding the Arena's implosion last Saturday, the spot featuring the most giddiness may have been the VIP area set up around the Y98 detonator table. With KYKY-FM motormouth Guy Phillips supplying play-by-play, the area was overrun by a variety of interests: TV types, for sure, all jockeying for the best camera angle; the neighborhood people displaced by the blast; and a large flock of folks associated with the executioner, Spirtas Wrecking Co. In fact, at moments, the sense of fun and whimsy was sorta nauseating. The Spirtas clan compared notes on how cute the family's kids looked in their plastic helmets. They breathlessly scoped for owners Arnold and Eric Spirtas and shrieked with delight every time they got some TV face time. Moments before the propagandistic fireworks signaled the onset of destruction, one yelled, "Go, Arnold, bang it!" In the Spirtas death cult, it wasn't enough for the company to make a fat profit at the expense of a St. Louis original. They truly enjoyed the scene. Steve Pecher, who once played with the St. Louis Steamers, was interviewed on KMOX-AM the next day and spoke of the utter silence of his viewing area at the moment of truth. That kind of muted reaction, rather than the glee of the VIPs, seems a more appropriate response to such a somber moment. (TC)

ON YOUR MARK: Though Post-Dispatch scribe Bernie Miklasz writes some provocative columns (those end-of-Rams-season pieces were spot-on), Sunday's Q&A with Mark Mc-Gwire may be an omen for what awaits the rest of us -- the media machine kicking into high gear in their coverage of the Cards slugger, with the "personal side" now being the emphasis rather than the homers. Mike Bush featured those same angles during a Sunday night sit-down on KSDK (Channel 5). The Post highlights McGwire stretching in cover photos. His appearance on Mad About You gets national play. Even his lawsuits against vitamin companies make the business pages. It's only March. Imagine the cries of horror the first time he suffers a tweaked back muscle, a heel spur or a crick in the neck. It's gonna get ugly -- sooner, not later. (TC)

THE SHORTEST BOOK EVER WRITTEN: "Naura Hayden is a fabulous expert," says the press release that came by fax the other day. Now there are experts on Middle East foreign policy, experts on Y2K, experts on waste management, experts on just about anything that might develop an expertise, but rarely is any expert deemed "fabulous." Hayden, however, is the author of the "eagerly anticipated" (by whom?) How to Satisfy a Man Every Time and Have Him Beg For More, a "prolific look into the depths of manhood." Prolific? Although the general response to Hayden's enterprise -- at least around the RFT -- can be summarized as "How could you write a whole book about that?" Hayden has spent years researching "what makes men tick" (and apparently what makes them tock as well) and is now ready to share this with the masses. Quoting from the press release, How to Satisfy a Man "will once again improve the monotonous and uneventful sex lives that men often complain about" -- especially those men who are spending most of those sex lives alone. Hayden also wrote -- some 16 years ago -- How to Satisfy a Woman Every Time and Have Her Beg for More, a book that "shattered the conventional and matronly facade of women." We thought people such as Susan B. Anthony and Margaret Sanger did that years ago, but hey, Hayden's the expert. She's planning to be in St. Louis March 23. "She's insightful, funny and will get your audience ignited with energy," says the press release, especially when it gets to the "have him beg" part. (ES)

HEY, ARE THOSE CANDLES SAFE? With its usual abundance of "wherefores," the Missouri Senate celebrated the 65th birthday of Ralph Nader last week at a private luncheon hosted by St. Louis attorney Richard Schwartz. Nader was in town to raise money for his proposed American Museum of Tort Law, which will highlight such things as product defects, harmful business practices and civil punishment of wrongdoers. Despite Nader's history of consumer advocacy and the museum's decidedly progressive agenda, the Senate's proclamation was approved unanimously. It was presented to Nader by Senate veteran William "Lacy" Clay and a newcomer to the Senate, Sarah Steelman. Nader then questioned whether either lawmaker would ever be allowed back into the Senate chamber after presenting such a proclamation. Clay, a St. Louis Democrat, laughed and shrugged it off. Steelman, a Rolla Republican who last November beat the longtime Democratic chair of the senate Appropriations Committee, Mike Lybyer, also laughed, but with noticeably less shrug in her voice. (MR)

Contributors: Thomas Crone, Melinda Roth, Eddie Silva

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