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Week of July 4, 2001

Those Damn Dirty Apes
Humans first: Jason Coats was completely justified in the shooting of that monkey [Wm. Stage, "Going Ape," RFT, June 27]. I believe he did fear for his, his friends' and his dog's safety. The animals were on his property and were acting aggressively. It is time somebody stood up to these animal-rights terrorists. They put your name, your address and your face on their vigilante hit list, and then the attacks begin. If someone wants to keep 20-some animals, they should make damn sure that they are not endangering the well-being of the community that they live in. Humans come first, period. If a human can be killed in St. Louis city by a few dogs, what could happen if attacked by three adult primates? I would have killed them all. Hang in there, Jason. There are people on your side.
Name withheld by request
St. Louis

You don't want to mess with an ape: Two years ago, I was at Semengoh sanctuary in Sarawak on the island of Borneo. They return orangutans to the wild there. "Orangutan" is Indonesian for "forest man." Orangutans are a different species from chimps but considered as smart or smarter.

After the tourist crowd had left, I wandered around in the jungle. I noticed a figure approaching me and turned to see an adolescent male orangutan walking up to me; he lifted his arms as if asking to be held. I knew how strong they are, so I stood still. He first dug his index finger into my navel, picking out some lint and sniffing it carefully. Then he climbed up into my arms; I thought, "Awww, how cute," until he started humping me in the navel. I wasn't going to put up a fight, since I figured he could rip my arms right out of their sockets, plus his penis was about the size of the last two joints on my pinky finger. But it was clear he would not be deterred -- whether as an act of interspecies dominance display or just to get his rocks off, he didn't say. I told my kids, "Take lots of pictures, you won't see this again!" After a few minutes, he appeared satisfied and quit, climbed down and lumbered off.

I have a few photos of this that I don't show around much. It was a weird and unique experience (I'm male and have never been in the penitentiary) and afterward I felt repulsed, violated, sick to my stomach. I guess my point is that I wasn't about to take it to a fight, which I would have done if it were a human attempting the same thing.

So maybe Jason is trigger-happy; I had about as little judgment when I was his age. But a great ape is not something you want to mess with. I feel bad for Suzy, but the real tragedy is how and why she ended up in Jefferson County and not back eating termites in Uganda.
Wes Fordyce
St. Louis

Jeffco's no place for chimps: Jason Coats' quip about the Jefferson County chimps being "98 percent slavery" contains more insight than he intends.

If the Caseys wanted to avoid such incidents as the killing of Suzy, they would have not brought her to the gun-toting lands of Jefferson County in the first place. They would not have kept her in cages and risked her escape in a potentially harmful environment. They would not have sought to contain her and 22 other primates for their own purposes.

I admire efforts to save members of endangered species. Yet I insist such efforts save them for a life of quality where their rights are respected. Placing them behind chain-link in Missouri amid unappreciative rural families and tranquilizing them after escapes doesn't seem to provide such a life.

These and other primates shouldn't have to escape from anything, even friendly captivity; they should be free and protected.
Michael Allen
St. Louis

Call in the expert: In her recent book, Jane Goodall details the violent side of chimps. This kid's lawyer should ask her to be an expert witness. Chimps can and will kill you -- Goodall knows about it. They have a violent side that the media doesn't cover.
Shari Hodges
St. Peters

Brought to Tears
The Hessels are angels sent from God: In this superficial and materialistic world that we live in today, the frailness and preciousness of life can easily be forgotten. I just happened to pick up the Riverfront Times for the first time today at the apartment complex that I work at, and read your cover story, "What Lies Beneath" [Geri L. Dreiling, RFT, June 20]. The story of Tom and Mary Hessel, two newlyweds burned in a gas explosion, deeply touched me. I just can't possibly imagine how much strength it took to endure the pain of your own flesh melting off and having to blow out your own fingernails that were still on fire, then the courage to go on living, knowing the long road ahead. I think back to times when I've burned myself with a curling iron, how painful that little blister is.

This story reminds me how strong the human spirit really is and what incredible people Tom and Mary are. I was brought to tears when I read Mary's thoughts on having a child: "Do you think a baby could love someone who looks like me?" Their beautiful baby, Jennifer, is proof that love conquers all. The Hessels are angels sent from God to remind us of the beauty of life. The majority of us are only spoiled with health and happiness.
Samantha Pieper
St. Charles

Just Leave 'Em Pissed, Hey!
I've seen people pry more words out of Marcel Marceau: In the Toya interview [René Spencer Saller, "Radar Station," RFT, June 13], you proudly boasted about your Nelly interview by saying, "We'll find out for ourselves next week, when the multiplatinum pinup finally grants Radar Station the interview we've been begging for."

So I wait a week. What does the RFT pry out of our local hero in this much-anticipated interview [Saller, "Radar Station," RFT, June 20]? A one-line comment. Sure, it was a nice piece on how Nelly is a huge idol and all of that stuff. Yeah, yeah. Selling millions of albums can be known to occasionally hint of this. But for the most part, the article dealt with the writer sticking her neck over the shoulders of other journalists and listening in. When the RFT finally gets Nelly's attention, what are we treated to? A paraphrase. Not until the very end does Nelly address the RFT directly. It wasn't so much of an interview as it was a voyeuristic piece. I can shove my ear to the seat of Dave Murray's pants and listen all day. But it doesn't make me a weatherman.

I am not saying René's piece was bad or anything. Actually, I enjoyed hearing about his diehard fans. But I think us readers were a bit misled, that's all. Come on -- I've seen people pry more words out of Marcel Marceau. Maybe next time you'll beg a little more.
Adam Hackbarth
Maryland Heights

Postindustrial Rage
Why the vitriol? One would think that the Riverfront Times, which fights for credibility itself alongside the local daily of ill repute, would manage to write articles encouraging St. Louis musicianship and related efforts. René Spencer Saller's recent article dancing on the death of a music-related paper ["Radar Station," RFT, June 27] shows the kind of egocentric, hateful, and downright destructive attitude that would have killed the RFT itself had people bought into it years ago.

Suggesting that "the only thing I feel fit to cover is the only thing that's cool; if not, then die," is beyond childish; it's just plain silly. Whether or not The Industry was a decent periodical, the efforts of those that worked hard to try to enhance local musicianship should not be so arrogantly and narrow-mindedly ignored and detested. While she hints at places that she may actually be going somewhere with her gleeful eulogy, she never manages to make a clear enough point as to why this periodical was, in fact, so evil. Perhaps if your writers spent more time informing us about the story instead of dancing around giving a dead competitor the metaphorical finger, I'd be more inclined to understand from where all the vitriol comes.
Charles Horn
St Louis

We followed our dream: I found your comments on our readers, St. Louis musicians, our magazine and our staff extremely jaded. I can't help but wonder if you've ever seen all the issues of The Industry. You think it's a "pay-to-play" publication? We've covered several artists who've never run ads in the magazine. Why? Because it's not a stipulation. If you knew your stuff, you'd know that. And what's wrong with a group paying for its own publicity? Does the word "advertising" ring a bell? Anyone who knows publishing will tell you that editorial space is flex space. Advertising space is mandatory. It seems you must have "missed that day in J-school."

There is an entire aspect of the music scene that [the Riverfront Times] cannot cover. One reason is that you are handicapped by a lack of knowledge of real music and of the real players on the real music scene. Another is that you are handicapped by your fear of the unknown, the corporate structure within which you must function and the reputation of the rag you write for. What's news to you is old news to everyone else. There must be a glitch at your "Radar Station."

With The Industry being such a scab on the music scene, how do you explain the fact that both its publishers quit their day jobs, financed the publication, closed shop one year later and went back into the job market to accept positions which guaranteed even larger salaries than they had before leaving? There must be a lesson in there somewhere, ya think? My partner and I did what most people will never do in their entire lifetime: We followed a dream. You can knock it if you like, that's your thing. But The Industry was ours. We weren't floating high on somebody else's shit, thinking we've got it made.
Kevin Hopkins

Co-Publisher, The Industry

So much for a local voice: René Spencer Saller has epitomized why the RFT should just shut up already, with her foul-mouthed, self-aggrandizing assessment of The Industry's demise. Just because this fledgling magazine couldn't support itself on 99 percent advertising and 1 percent editorial (like the RFT does) doesn't reflect on the quality or the reason they went under.

Choosing a slick four-color presentation as opposed to that inky newspaper crap that gets all over your fingers (like the RFT does) doesn't predestine a publication to fail. Anyone with a remote understanding of business knows that the publishing industry is the toughest; even national magazines with multimillion-dollar startup capital go under within a year. But in a two-horse town like St. Louis (the RFT and the Post-Dispatch), it's even tougher, and I commend the publishers of The Industry for at least trying.

Wallowing in another publication's failure is terribly unbecoming for a rag mag that demonstrates its command of colorful and ingenious language with "absolute shit" and "suckitude." Saller, your "J-school" professor (if you really ever had one) must be proud.
Katie J. Francis

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