Rights Knocked

Week of January 1, 2003

Rights Knocked
Watch your back: In regard to the article about the firing of Charles Jaco [D.J. Wilson, "Back Fire," November 27], I'd like to comment on a change in attitudes since G.W. [President Bush] and the Gang have arrived in D.C. There seems to be an ultraconservative mindset being implanted these days that's teetering on the edge of dehumanizing our human rights, especially those set forth by our founding fathers of this nation. The first few months of a Republican administration takeover in D.C. always seems to nip at this country's constitutional rights. By "nip," I mean some isolated incidents throughout the country that send a message to the rest of us that we should not be using a particular constitutional right. Mr. Jaco used his [right to] "freedom of speech" in responding to someone's critical e-mail message. I think this is just another incident that sends the rest of us a message from G.W. and the gang that nips at our constitutional rights to freedom of speech. Mr. Jaco has been selected to be a scapegoat this time. I'm waiting for the Secret Service to start knocking on our doors next.
Paul Cameron
Ste. Genevieve

Smooth Move
Stick a fork in it: To be brief, the mall on Manchester known as St. Louis Marketplace has been in the dumps ever since Kmart opened its doors in the area [D.J. Wilson, "Wal-Mart World," November 20]. There are no bright spots to that insignificant strip mall. Living in the Dogtown area for five years, I never liked shopping there for any reason. That mall is rundown and run-over. Once the home-improvement store closed down, that mall completely lost value. A new Sam's [Club] in a different location? Good for them. I could safely bet that the city of St. Louis was raping them with taxes. Why shouldn't they seek to move to a better location, in a new building, with a lowered rate of taxation?
Dan Robitaille

Apple Bite
Were you there? Could you possibly drop any more names [Dean C. Minderman, "Masters of Their Domains," December 18]? St. Louis seems to be in a time warp with the blues, most of which is played in divey bars by white-guy wannabes. The only authentic blues act I've ever heard out of this city is Little Milton -- the real thing, as it were. Chuck Berry is basically a white country rock & roll singer -- though I am sure he can sing the blues. After that, what? And though this doesn't directly relate to your article, what is with this St. Louis Film Festival? Did anyone show up for it?
I. Carson
New York

Forgotten German
Look it up: Great article [Jordan Harper, "Guilty Pleasures," December 18]! When you mentioned Freud, I recalled someone telling me there's a German word for the phenomenon of having a song stuck in your head. Wish I knew what that word is.
Susan Hubbard
via the Internet

Mass Market
Don't dumb it down: I was appalled to read "Mag Hags" [Rob Harvilla, December 4] and find what now passes as alternative press. The entire article attacks what it sees as the overly mainstream music and magazine industry without bothering to examine what is defined as successful and why. It stands to reason that conglomerates that own a magazine and a record label will not stymie their commercial success by having one side denounce the other in the name of journalistic integrity. It also stands to reason that if we are forced to accept sales and commercial success as the only means of validating music and art, the whole world is [screwed]. True to the lost and outdated journalist, Harvilla says things were better back when -- even mentioning Hunter S. Thompson. A hard argument to make, considering Thompson was openly critical of journalism way back when, pointing out the homogeneity of the press when he used to write the same drivel for three different daily papers under three different pen names. The problem was the same then as it is now -- an economic principle that the more watered down you are, the more likely you are to attract a larger audience. Why should we expect mass media to be trailblazers when strumpets sell so much better? Harvilla points to "Bound, Gagged and Loving It," an article I can assume to be little more than a watered-down attempt to replicate Bret Easton Ellis's American Psycho at a level that will be less offensive (although still edgy) and thus more commercially viable. Anyone who has read American Psycho can certainly appreciate that the book is not for everyone and that all of it can't be understood. Yet it qualifies as art on a level that perhaps can only be appreciated by a few. I'm sick of this "dumb it down for the masses so everyone gets it" American attitude. We as a society need to realize that commercial success does not equal quality. Not everything in the world must be understood, appreciated and enjoyed by everyone.
Louis Lystad
via the Internet

Duck Walk
Have a wing: Great to see your paper opening up to other [subjects]. Hats off to Bruce Rushton on a fine article ["Odd Ducks," November 27].
Kevin Gahr
via the Internet

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