Week of February 25, 2004

The Great Grocery Debate
Where are all the Dierbergs? Before David Horst goes too far bashing the Schnuck family for not planning a grocery store in the renovated Old Post Office building, he may want to note that not one single Dierbergs location exists inside the city limits of St. Louis [Letters, February 11]. For that reason, I will not set foot inside a Dierbergs store, no matter where I am.

As so many other cities have done with their one-of-a-kind architectural gems, why not maintain the façade of the Century Building and construct the parking garage inside it? Then leave space at ground level for retail (perhaps for Bob Dierberg's first city location?), so that pedestrians will have more than concrete barriers and tollbooths to ogle as they pass by. We've lost the reason to look up as we walk through downtown, with all the character-free garages we already have.
Chris Dunaway
St. Louis

Pirate Chat
Unsolved mysteries: I've got to admit, I'm an Internet pirate -- a lousy one -- and a former graduate of the film and media studies department at Washington University. In light of Ben Westhoff's recent speculation, apparently my peers and I in the film department are responsible for distributing everything film-related over the networks ["Peer-to-Peer Pressure," February 11]. Contrary to belief, film students do not receive advance copies of movies or TV shows. It might be logical to pin the proliferation of unlicensed video files on the film students, but it's as ignorant as saying that the music students are the only ones putting music on the network.

A little sidebar: What do you think a 90 percent decrease in file-sharing complaints means? That Wash. U. is pulling the plug on this? Hardly. It means pirates have a way around their constraints. The strains they put on file-sharing software only works on a few of the programs. The rest work like a charm.
Andy Benfer
St. Louis

Quit playing with God: You scandalous heathens need to quit playing with God, attempting to compare Tupac to Jesus [Charles Gray, "The Gospel According to Tupac," January 28]. Tupac did nothing of such significance that he should enjoy posthumous beatification by virtue of even the weakest pseudo-religious standards set by you heretics writing dogma for these human idols.

Let's examine the evidence. Tupac was a brilliant, eloquent, prolific storyteller who lost sight of his better judgment to pursue thug life and a foolish involvement in the lunacy of the east coast-west coast rivalry. His final judgment became the consequence of his poor decision-making skills, the end being his tragic loss of life. Now, show me where it's written that this kind of savage ignorance translates into salvation of any kind.
Penny Frank
East St. Louis

The Softer Side of Metal
The check is in the mail: On behalf of Harkonin, I would like to extend many thanks to the RFT, and especially Paul Friswold for his piece about us in the December 24 issue [Performance, "Hell-o!"]. In this day and age, when unsigned bands (especially in the genre of extreme metal) have to fight and scrape for just a crumb of recognition and positive press, Mr. Friswold's article came as a complete surprise. Not only was it quite positive, considering the highly underground genre that we are a part of (black metal), but it showed someone is paying attention. And for all those things, we say thank you.
Lael Clark, guitarist for Harkonin
St. Louis

Pride Aside
No hard feelings: I am writing in reference to "But No Cigar," Jess Minnen's December 17 music story about Mama's Pride. Had Ms. Minnen contacted me, she may have learned the true story of the career of this band. I have never stolen any money from any entertainer. This last year I was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame for the outstanding work I have done in the past. I do not think they give this award to "crooks".

I invested tons of funds into Mama's Pride and still have a huge balance that I've never even tried to collect. They never had enough record sales to come close to breaking even, let alone get paid any royalties. The manager is always the first one to receive the blame for everything that ever goes wrong. There's never been a movie made about a good personal manager -- he's always the one who's out to kill the artist or get their royalties. None of that is true in my case.

I did a great job for Mama's Pride, including securing an outstanding major-label contract for them with Atlantic Records. I hadn't talked to Pat Liston since I granted the band a release from their contract, and obviously over that time period there was a misunderstanding about where his royalties had gone. I have since spoken to Mr. Liston, and I'm happy to say that I believe we are renewing our friendship.

I have always believed Mama's Pride to be very talented writers and musicians and I never truly understood why it did not happen for them in a major way. I wish them well.
Alan Walden
Bolingbroke, Georgia