Ragged Blade Cuts Back

Week of April 30, 2003

Ragged Blade Cuts Back
Ouch! How interesting that Christopher Jackson agrees with Deanna Jent's review of Seeking Asylum, considering he never saw the play [Letters, April 23]. As far his accusation of being banned from plays, that is not quite true. He was told he would not be allowed in free to shows to further his own agenda. (Chris liked to use reviews to attack any other theater company in town that wasn't his own.)

Christopher, before you call something you never saw a "piece of shit" or a "turd," remember: Your theater company folded because of bad taste and lack of talent. Keep your sour grapes to yourself. And please continue to bless the St. Louis arts community by not having your shows performed in St. Louis.
Skip Hardesty, managing director
Ragged Blade Productions

The Right to Protest
A mature, logical individual writes: Bruce Rushton's "Hell No, They Won't Go" [April 23] read like the usual litany of complaints whiny liberals have been spouting since their misspent youth of the 1960s. What these protesters don't realize (and mature, logical individuals do) is that although it is their right to sit in the street and defy the police, there are consequences to that action. If you defy the authority of the police, you get arrested. How hard is that to understand? If you yell, "Fire!" in a crowded theater, there are consequences.

These peace-pansy liberals have no sense of self-responsibility, which feeds their paranoia and dependence upon government programs. I applaud the Berkeley police and officers across the country for doing their job. As for the idea of using the ACLU to sue in this case, I wish you luck getting any money for "mental trauma" just because these morons can't follow a simple direction.
Jessica Martin
Belleville, Illinois

Out With the Old
One satisfied customer: I want to be the first to congratulate the RFT on a double whammy of improvement in this week's issue [April 23]. Not only have you given us a great gift in expanding your Night & Day section to include feature stories on the region's most exciting activities, but you have finally increased your coverage of the local theater scene in the Stage section of the paper.

St. Louis offers an incredible diversity of performing-arts programming for audiences to experience. I have often been disappointed in the last couple of years by the limited space provided for preview pieces and critics' reviews, which always seemed disproportionate to the amount of work presented in the community.

I hope that the RFT's readership, especially those active in the arts community, shares its appreciation with the editorial staff so that these invaluable resources can remain a regular part of the publication and maybe (being greedy) even expand further in the future. Bravo and thank you!
Robert Neblett
Founding artistic director

(Mostly) Harmless Theatre

Weekend planning shot to hell: The downward spiral of the Riverfraud Times continues. The so-called expanded calendar is little more than an ad for your Web site. By slicing the guide to the bare bones, you have created yet another reason to stop reading the RFT altogether. I used to enjoy planning my weekend over Friday lunch while flipping through your magazine. But when you force readers to go to your Web page and scroll through a laundry list of events, you leave very little reason to pick up the magazine at all. I wonder what the advertisers that support the RFT think about that.

Furthermore, the new categories are ridiculously unhelpful. Let's see: There is a beer/bike rally this weekend -- is that under Urban Experience, Kid Stuff (which happens to be next to a full-page Michelob ad), Sports/Outdoors, or See/Be Seen? Ah, none of the above. Jesus.

Many other local Web sites offer the same services as yours in a more organized fashion. Maybe one of them will create a magazine that picks up where the RFT left off long ago.
Travis DeRousse
St. Louis

Bring back the Calendar! I appreciate the new, in-depth look at arts, sporting and community events in this week's issue. I could not find, though, the weekly calendar of events -- usually the first section I read. Bring back the Calendar! I have no idea what's going on!
P. Germann
University City

Loss of calendar = tear in social fabric: Dropping the Calendar section is a disservice to the community. It may not have been glamorous, but it was a fairly comprehensive means to publicize events, particularly for nonprofit organizations. For example, Randall Roberts' article (much appreciated) on Zeena Parkins and Kaffe Matthews failed to include the concert's time and ticket information; these would have been at readers' fingertips had the Calendar been in place.

The concomitant expansion of Night & Day blurbs may provide an outlet for your crew to flaunt their writing talents and cultural tastes, but it will do nothing for organizations and events which fail to make your list of "each week's top offerings." You have deleted a major reason for looking at the RFT. Are movie listings next? If the intent is to drive readers in search of information from your paper (full of revenue-producing ads) to your (or another) Web site, it is mystifying. Please reconsider what you have done.
Gary Gronau, president
New Music Circle

The computer conspiracy: I'm disappointed in your new abbreviated version of the Calendar section. It used to be a great resource for having everything you wanted to know about what was going on in St. Louis at your fingertips. It was portable. You could take it with you from event to event. You could pick it up and refer to it wherever you were in the city. A complete listing was available to everyone, not just people with computers. With this change, the RFT has become less relevant to my cultural/social life. Why fix what ain't broken?
Sue Kaiser
University City

Oh, the humanity! It had already gotten to the point where the only reason to pick up the RFT anymore was to scan the Calendar, and now you have destroyed even that. We need a real alternative newspaper, as the RFT almost used to be, with investigative journalism on subjects that matter. If we can't have that (and apparently we can't), at least we need a comprehensive events calendar in print. Not everyone has unlimited free Internet access.
Russell Willis
St. Louis

No Butts
Paying the price: So do I have to pay for cigarettes now? I would like to thank Randall Roberts for giving me the news on the death of the Camel Club ["No Spiffs, Bands or Butts," April 16]. As a longtime Camel smoker, I would go out nights just for the chance at a free pack of smokes. With the author's insights, I can begin looking for my second job. I am going to need more money if I want to continue supporting R.J. Reynolds.
Erin Berger
St. Louis

Out with the good: I never was a smoker. Not a big clubgoer. But I am sorry to see this marketing avenue close. I did attend a college primarily funded by R.J. Reynolds money: Wake Forest, class of 1980.

It is unfortunate that RJR has felt it necessary to pull its support of what is actually a valid expression of art in its formative stages. The tobacco industry has borne the blame of so much, and personally I do not see anyone holding a gun to any smoker's head. My drug/vice of choice has always been alcohol, and I appreciate the marketing efforts of Budweiser, Bushmills, Absolut, etc. They tend to find the not-quite-mainstream artists. I also understand the difficulties of the aspiring club owner. I hate to see the funding go in a time when we so need interesting stress-release options.
Pam Gladney
St. Louis

The bleeding begins again: If the vibrancy and profitability of the St. Louis music scene depends so heavily on the life support of promotional money from huge corporations to keep it from flat-lining, then we are all doomed. The corporate Band-Aid for the financial woes of club owners and artists has been removed, and the profuse and prolonged bleeding that was temporarily abated has begun again in earnest. Perhaps merely treating the symptoms of our ailing music scene wasn't the cure after all. Perhaps we should now begin to look more closely at the causes of our plight, which are inexorably tied to the current difficulties which plague many American cities: population decline caused by continued flight to the suburbs, the continued entropic process which has fostered the rise of technologically based entertainment mediums which can be enjoyed in the comfort of one's home and a cultural shift in priority which questions the intrinsic value of a live performance experience -- these have created a climate of detachment which makes it difficult for musicians to assemble an audience in a public place.

These problems are the unfortunate side effects of growing corporate dominance of American life in general and the music business in particular. The insurgency of financial support was designed to increase the market share of Camel cigarettes, not as an altruistic act of goodwill to prop up the local music and entertainment industry. The effect was to create a dependence on their continued support among club owners and musicians, much in the same way their products create dependence among consumers. In the quest for corporate profit, our scene allowed itself to be used and tossed aside, and no one should be in the least bit surprised by the outcome.
Ken Kase
St. Louis

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