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Week of April 4, 2001

Ornery Cuss
I agree, the answer wasn't jail: I read with great interest your story about Donald Thweatt [Bruce Rushton, "Hard Luck, Hard Times," RFT, March 28]. I worked as a corrections officer at the jail for seven years leaving in October. I was assigned the eighth floor, maximum security and the infirmary for most of my employment. I am very familiar with Mr. Thweatt. We never knew what the day would bring with him. Black officers were referred to as "nigger," "porch monkey," "spook," etc. Females were called "nigger bitch" and "black bitch." White officers were treated no better. "Fuck you, bastard," was how the staff was addressed. He would lie in his cell and piss on himself, refusing to get up and go to the bathroom. He ruined numerous mattresses, which, of course, are paid for by the taxpayers. He had that whole area smelling like a barn.

I don't dispute Mr. Thweatt's brain injury, but he also knew what he was doing and could be very ornery. When on duty in the infirmary, I went to his room and told him to prepare for the nurse, who is a lady in her 60s. When we arrived at his room, he had his pants down with his buttocks spread, exposing his anus. We were subject to this kind of nonsense on a daily basis.

Once I and another officer attempted to count his write-ups. We stopped somewhere around 60. I estimate he has been the most trouble of anyone in the history of the St. Louis County Jail. Many times I listened to him cry, and at times I actually felt sorry for him and bent over backward to help him.

I was very surprised that Mr. Thweatt was acquitted on the charges pertaining to the assault on Officer [Michael] Sullens. I did not witness the assault, but I was in the unit control area when he came out, and he appeared injured to me. Were any of the witnesses to the attack called to testify? There would have been reports from all of the officers involved, including supervisors. Were these reports submitted? What about the medical reports? How was he acquitted?

Mr. Thweatt's claims of staff abuse are false. If anyone was abused, it was us. The administration of St. Louis County is strict as to how the jail is run. That kind of behavior is not allowed. We actually have to address inmates as "Mr." or "Miss."

I think his story is sad, and it was amazing to see pictures of him when he was well. It is like he is a completely different person. I don't know what the answer is, but I agree that it is not jail.
Michelle McMurray
St. Louis

Reading is fundamental: It seems that the people who are handling Don Thweatt's case, especially in jail, understand that the problem is in his brain, but they don't understand that his brain is also the solution. They have a highly intelligent man on their hands who wants desperately to learn -- it's pretty obvious from reading your article that every time Thweatt gets out of jail or the hospital, he signs up for a class.

While his behavior problems are not of the kind to ever completely go away, and he does need nursing care, it seems that part of the answer might be encouraging him to spend as much free time as possible reading whatever he can get his hands on -- at least when he's reading the Bible, he's not hurting himself or anyone else, and if people encouraged him to learn, they might find he appreciates the respect. I hope that he is not routed to more jail time, though his hospitalization or institutionalization sounds like a necessity.
Name withheld by request
St. Louis

Vision and Guts
RCGA needs to get on the ball: I am in agreement that the RCGA in St. Louis has unique methods of calculating numbers, as well as operating their "business" [Safir Ahmed, "Fuzzy Math," RFT, March 21]. The RCGA has been after all of my businesses with one of the strongest sales departments in St. Louis, trying to raise membership dues, which it utilizes to pay for parties and hobnobbing with politicians. They have very little concern for St. Louis businesses that are driving revenue into our city and county unless it serves them politically.

They need to lower the amount of board members they have, as no real business could operate with as many members as they have without being deadlocked or stalemated by indecision. They also need to lobby companies such as Anheuser-Busch and Ralston, as well as the government, to put capital into emerging companies in St. Louis. If we want our city to be a life-science hub with no technology industry, the RCGA is doing a fine job. Otherwise, fire Dick Fleming and put someone with some vision and guts into the job.
Peter Roberts
President, Telibrick Networks

Taking advantage of the peasants: In reference to the article "Fuzzy Math," correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that the way the government has always done math? If this article was supposed to shock us, we are way past that! Every day we hear atrocities of how those who are entrusted with our hard-earned tax dollars manipulate them to serve the chosen, to benefit the rich and to line their own pockets. The problem doesn't really lie in the political crooks, it lies in the taxpayers who refuse to see what is going on!

Just as the RCGA tossed out ludicrous numbers like the $350,000 loss to the city coffers, they know that the majority of the peasants won't bother to do the math or question their means. Why? Because they don't want to know how corrupt the government and all of its branches really are. The checks and balances are out of balance!
Nancy Haunser
Defiance, Mo.

Token of Appreciation
In its niche, few are better: Stunned was I by the savaging by Ms. Martin in her review of Tokens, one of the hidden jewels of culinary delight in the city [Melissa Martin, "Wait Training," RFT, March 28]. As an avid and frequent diner of the St. Louis restaurant scene, I came upon Tokens a few years ago.

By the time of my third visit, my significant other and I were personally greeted by owner/chef Kasim on subsequent outings. Excepting Mr. B. at Tony's, I am unable to think of anyone off the top who even tries to acknowledge guests beyond the standard plastic greetings.

In spring, the outside of Tokens is awash in plantings and flowers, but we do not go there to admire the foliage, we go to enjoy the food. In its niche, there are few better. Ms. Martin chose to feature all the high-end offerings in her review and, true, the stuffed fillet is consistently outstanding. Try the chicken Wellington, priced around $17.99. I am not sure it is even offered anywhere else in town. Chef Ali's presentation of escargot also is unique, out of the shell en croute, with a pastry-shell capsule worthy of Lutèce.

A word about service: flawless. Frank and Art (who else am I leaving out?) take care of us with unobtrusive efficiency. The water glasses are always full, the bread tray restocked. We have never been served an incorrect dish or an incorrect wine from a selection that is small and smart and quite fairly priced. Have I ever topped off my own glass? Maybe, but not more than twice in the last three years that I can remember. Our reservations have always been honored and on time. No shunting off to the bar for a 45-minute penance here. We came back the second time because the food was good and we were made to feel at home.

I urge your readers to try Tokens for themselves and render their own opinions. They are in for a pleasant surprise.
Gerald R. Harris
St. Louis

St. Joe
Try booking a gun show at America's Center: So, Ray Hartmann objects to the government imposing any standards on performances in a public arena [Hartmann, "Saintly in St. Chuck," RFT, March 21]. Of course, the government already censors performances, both on public and private property. If you don't believe this, try opening a striptease bar in St. Louis County. Or, for that matter, try booking a gun show at America's Center: Does Mr. Hartmann object to that moralistic censorship?

Of course, there is a simple solution to the problem of censorship in public arenas: The government should stop building and funding arenas, convention centers and other performance venues. If conservatives like Ortwerth were consistent, they would realize the impropriety of creating publicly funded venues which compete with private enterprises such as Riverport, the Pageant and Mississippi Nights. If I object to a concert at Riverport, it's none of my business. But we are all financial partners in publicly funded arenas, and so long as such ill-conceived ventures continue, we are all entitled to a voice in how they are used.
Nick Kasoff
St. Louis

I don't care about the minor-leaguers in St. Charles: It figures that on the rare occasion that I agree with Ray Hartmann, it'd be completely pointless. While it certainly is a real bummer that Joe Ortwerth has been given the authority to cancel acts at the Family Arena at will, my question to Mr. Hartmann is 'Who cares?' So a bunch of folks who sold out the city of St. Louis for traffic jams and racial purity now have to deal with one man's opinion of what might constitute a "circus of sleaze"? Not my problem -- it's nice to see those folks squirm. I realize that St. Charles does indeed have a "river" in "front" of it, but I hope that in the future, Hartmann goes back to writing columns that deal with issues that affect actual St. Louisans, not those minor-leaguers (in more than one sense of the term) in St. Charles County.
D. Mike Bauer
St. Louis

Artistic License
I just wanted to do myself right in front of them: It's been a long time since the Arousal festival titillated our minds and bodies, but since the RFT published commentary on the subject, which was dear to my heart, I had to respond. I am the model that created so much disgust and wanton hatred for those things passionate [Eddie Silva, "State of Arousal," RFT, Jan. 17]. That I will not even defend.

However, I did want to say that there were many bright spots in the festival, especially with respect to the acts of onanism! If you don't recall, at the end, me and a female model masturbated each other till we came. You don't know how often I've modeled for art classes, with a bunch of sweet young coeds staring at my cock, that I've wanted to just do myself right in front of them. This was a great opportunity. Even though I crossed the boundaries of proper behavior, I want to thank the men and women who enjoyed watching me masturbate. I know there were more than a few, because I looked into their gazes for fuel for my passion. Also, at the end of the show, after I had a wonderful climax, everyone clapped.

It was so gratifying, it reminded me of the need for circle jerks like we've heard of in San Francisco. I want to thank all involved, especially the Arousal people, who paid me almost what I was worth for once in my life. In closing, to me it's fine to judge the modeling/art forms, but the only disgusting thing about the art scene in St. Louis is what the local college art departments pay the models. Also, I love my job, and I love all the artists in St. Louis who try to do their best to make art.
James Ribble

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