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Week of July 6, 2005

Faux Etching Not Fetching
Artiness with a mullet: The faux etching of the week -- please kill it [Timothy Lane, You Are Here, June 29]. White people who want grittiness in their lives listen to Eminem. They don't make 1930s WPA pastiches. I'll bet anything your populist artist has an income over $50,000 a year and has probably never even set foot inside a Wal-Mart (although his relentless crosshatching is very workmanlike). Riffraff sketched from the safety of a Soulard balcony is just artiness with a mullet. Draw me a hoosierweight single mother trying to figure out how to use one of those checkout-clerk replacement robots so she can buy a box of Huggies. That's real life, not these corny alt-country illustrations of men hopping freight trains or arguing about guns.

By the way, when irate fat women write in to bitch about your insensitivity, please have the decency to touch up their English if it's full of errors. First you do a feature on these ladies' weight problem, then you showcase their illiteracy. Very nice. Next time you want to report on the socially unacceptable, send your artist. If he can romanticize rednecks, surely he has a sincere sympathy for all outcasts, including the morbidly obese.
Alan Mueller
St. Louis

The Fat and the Furious
Lard have mercy already! I'm glad I don't live in your area and I'm not subjected to the trash you write in your newspaper like "Lard Have Mercy" [Unreal, June 15]. The article disgusted me. This writer obviously has no class or respect for people, nor must you for allowing it to be printed. It's not enough that BBWs have to live with discrimination, mockery and stereotypes; your paper has to degrade us even more?

I am proud of who I am, regardless if I weigh 100 or 300 pounds. My family loves me and my friends love me, and that is all that matters to me. But there are many overweight people whose self-esteem is so low as to have suicidal tendencies, and reading such an awful article surely was another blow to their self-esteem. Are you happy living with that on your shoulders? If not, I pity you. Was the article worth it? You'll find out when you stand before God on Judgment Day.
Deanna Kennedy
Anderson, South Carolina

Editor's note: To accommodate the volume of letters responding to our June 15 Unreal item about the Midwest Chub Club, we've created a special online edition of Letters to the Editor. Additionally, look for an Unreal follow-up in next week's issue.

To any aggrieved fat person who's still contemplating putting pen to paper: Don't bother; the debate is hereby closed.

Oh, and our use of "volume" in the first sentence of this note was not intended as a malicious pun.

Mad Hot Critique
Pick your battles: So there I was, reading Melissa Levine's excellent review of Mad Hot Ballroom, having loved the movie, appreciating her observations on the content, character and purpose of the film, even agreeing with a couple of the weaknesses she pointed out, when I run smack into a cultural road bump: "...nobody ever mentions switching roles or having same-sex pairs" ["All the Right Moves," June 8].

It's almost too obvious to mention, but this isn't the purpose of the film. And Ms. Levine knows it, since she says in the preceding paragraph, "Where Ballroom could be stronger is in its focus on individual students." No, there's just not enough time to do it all, and commentary on "antiquated conventions of ballroom dancing" rightfully belongs on the cutting-room floor (or digitally deleted). The film does a superb job of showing kids learning and competing, in dance and in life. If the reviewer wants to advance the cause of same-sex pairs, she should do it in the op-ed section of some newspaper -- or better yet, produce a documentary on the subject.
Gerry Mandel

The Ghost of Pruitt-Igoe
High-rise hell: Randall Roberts' article about the failure of Pruitt-Igoe was interesting to me as a volunteer in public housing developments such as Peabody, Darst-Webbe and Vaughn ["'It Was Just Like Beverly Hills,'" June 1]. I have seen deliberate neglect by employees of the St. Louis Housing Authority. When they were told of leaking pipes in several apartments and could have gone in to fix them to save the apartments from ruin, they did nothing. Instead of one unit being damaged, the water continued to flood and damaged four units. We testified to these problems at housing authority board meetings. This was about ten or fifteen years ago.

We also observed SLHA maintenance workers sitting on the back porches of apartments drinking beer when they should have been working. If management had done the proper oversight and if the board cared, much of the problem could have been taken care of.
Joan Botwinick
University City

In last week's Drink of the Week column, we misidentified the raspberry sex on the beach served during Homo Bingo at Freddie's. The jumbo size is called the Big Girl, not the Big Lady. Incidentally, we have since learned that "Big Girl" was the White House staff's nickname for Hillary Clinton.

Additionally, we jumped the gun a bit in Annie Zaleski's B-Sides item about Alanis Morissette: The singer's engaged, not married. Finally, Roy Kasten's Critics' Pick about Bettie Serveert mistakenly credited that band with having portrayed the Velvet Underground in I Shot Andy Warhol. In reality, Yo La Tengo did the honors.

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