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Letters to the Editor

From the week of October 18


Comic Disbelief

Spiderman needs to kick some ass: I was appalled by the disgust leveled at superhero comics and the openly hostile depiction of the Fantasy Shop in your "Best of" issue [RFT, Sept. 27]. Comics readers were likewise skewered, though I don't believe fans deserve condemnation any more than the comics, which offer us simple, visceral enjoyment. Well-crafted storytelling is not entirely absent from the superhero genre.Has the reviewer read postmodern superhero epics like Warren Ellis' Stormwatch or Grant Morrison's JLA? Has he or she seen how reconstructionist comics like Kurt Busiek's Astro City and Alan Moore's Top Ten are putting the wonder back into hero archetypes? Superhero comics in America are a unique, dynamic medium which merits more study and respect than granted in this review.

Star Clipper has long advocated the virtues of small-press comics in addition to our love of classic heroes, and I earnestly submit that comics as an art form deserve more serious consideration. While Star Clipper is very grateful to be recognized again this year by the community, I fear the RFT does the industry a disservice by perpetuating the idea that comics are juvenile, contemptible or too anemic to bear critical attention. I look forward to the RFT reviewing comics in the future without prejudice or apology.

A.J. Trujillo
St. Louis

Ripping the Union Label

What Dad said seems to fit: As a resident of North County for the last 10 years, none of this surprises me [Peter Downs, "Pipe Schemes," RFT, Oct. 1]. Our current state representative for the district that covers Bellefontaine Neighbors and Spanish Lake (where the Pipefitters hall is located) is a pipefitter. Would they have it any other way?My father was a union man (different union), and I grew up hearing stories of organized-crime involvement, ballot-box stuffing and racketeering. None of this surprises me. Union strong-arming is alive and well. How do you think they keep their representatives in office? You want to see Goodfellas? Look no further than that little hall, north of I-270 on Riverview.

Name withheld upon request
St. Louis

Warp Screed
Beam me up, Scotty:
Except for the cutesy title and the unfortunate use of the term "sci-fi" (a term almost universally scorned by professional SF writers, except for the octogenarian who coined it), the article "The Starship Hits the Fan" [Byron Kerman, RFT, Sept. 27] was fairly decent. However, there was one historical misstatement which needs correction.Mr. Kerman quotes Larry Niven as saying that he once arrived at an Archon to be guest of honor only to find that the convention had been canceled without anyone telling him. Whether Mr. Kerman misquoted Mr. Niven or whether Mr. Niven simply misremembered and made an incorrect association -- that is, "St. Louis science-fiction convention equals Archon," I don't know -- but the incident in question had nothing to do with Archon. Mr. Niven was going to be guest of honor in June 1972 at Ozarkon 7, sponsored by the Ozark Science Fiction Association. Unfortunately, the OSFA membership/Ozarkon committee, all unpaid volunteers, were still suffering from the stresses and expenses placed upon them by running the much larger 1969 World Science Fiction Convention, St. Louiscon. The group simply burned out, and Mr. and Mrs. Niven were unfortunately, albeit unintentionally, also burned in the process.

Archon is an outgrowth of the St. Louis Science Fiction Society, formed in September 1972 by some young Star Trek fans who had no idea the other group had even existed. The first Archon was held in July 1977, and there's been one every year since then -- with no cancellations, even when then-Mayor Vince Schoemehl arm-twisted the Chase-Park Plaza out from under the convention on short notice for (ironically enough) the Miss Universe Pageant.

David K.M. Klaus
St. Louis

A Talent for Abuse

Lighten up, Ray: In his "Commentary" "The Reinvention of Jim Talent" [RFT, Oct. 4], Ray Hartmann revels in one of his fondest obsessions, bashing Republicans. The target of his poison pen this time is U.S. Rep. Jim Talent, who is running for Missouri governor. Hartmann calls Talent an "extreme right-wing hardliner comparable to Newt Gingrich, Henry Hyde, John Ashcroft," a group of men he extends about the same courtesy and respect as he does a floormat. After lambasting Talent's voting record as epitomizing "the infamous Contract with America," Hartmann downshifts and obligatorily states Talent is, nevertheless, a very decent man, but certainly not decent enough to warrant winning the governorship of Missouri.Hey Ray, methinks you've been in the political-commentary game too long. Chill out and get a life. The one you're now living has drifted so far left you are in danger of falling off the edge into the very abyss you so adamantly profess to abhor -- extreme prejudices.

Charles E. Lessig Jr.

Luck of the Draw

He'd Staake his life on it: Good choice! Bob Staake is one of the best contemporary illustrators ["Best of St. Louis 2000," RFT, Sept. 27]. His talent deserves recognition!Vlad Kolarov

CEO, CardsUp Greetings
Via the Internet

Bum Rap

Civic image isn't helped by crotch-grabbing Nelly: In sticking up for Nelly, Ray Hartmann obeys one of the cardinal rules of mindless political correctness: Rap can never be wrong [Ray Hartmann, "Oh, Fecal Matter! Nelly Is Naughty," RFT, Oct. 11]. Ray's still in a lather over Bill Clinton's criticism of Sister Souljah eight years ago. All she did was advocate killing people for racial reasons. What business does a president have speaking out against something like that?OK, Ray, you can slam Clarence Harmon for not doing his homework on Nelly before turning down his request for a proclamation, but the mayor got it right by accident. If he'd done a little research, the first thing he would have learned is that Nelly is an admitted former drug dealer who lucked into a more lucrative occupation.

And if Harmon had looked a little further, he surely would have seen Nelly's ubiquitous video on TV, featuring Ray's favorite civic booster clutching his crotch, strutting like a buffoon and fixing the camera with his creepy, glassy-eyed glare. Yeah, that's an image St. Louis should want to project to the rest of the country.

But Ray's most absurd defense of Nelly is that, get this, he's sold more records in 14 weeks than Miles Davis did in 41 years. As if that means anything! That may be the most ridiculous thing I've ever read in the Riverfront Times, and that's saying something.

John Gamache
St. Ann

Choke on It

Boy, do I miss Jill: I have been reading the restaurant reviews of Joe "Never met a restaurant I didn't like" Bonwich for some time. It's rare when his reviews don't include a glaring error that demonstrates his lack of culinary knowledge and apparent inability to research what he doesn't know. Some past jewels included calling the risotto alla Milanese accompanying osso buco unique or unusual because it included saffron. Joe, risotto alla Milanese always has saffron in it!The latest transgression occurred in the review of the Gulf Coast Café [Joe Bonwich, "Pick Your Poisson," RFT, Oct. 4]. Being of partial Portuguese descent and having been to Portugal several times, I must ask what exactly is this Portuguese dish you are calling "algarve?" I've never heard of, or seen, such a dish.

As for the latest reviewer, Melissa Martin, it seems you are making a valiant effort. However, it's a bit of an insult -- probably based on the assumption that most St. Louisans are hayseeds -- that terms such as chiffonade and beurre blanc need to be defined. But if you must, please get it right. The last time I checked, beurre blanc didn't include cream.

Lest you misinform your readers, I think you owe them a greater level of accuracy, and in the case of Mr. Bonwich, competency and objectivity. I sure do miss Jill Posey-Smith.

M. Messier
St. Louis


Bound and gagged: It is unfortunate that the subject of Eddie Silva's wonderful article has to hide her identity ["Anatomy of Desire," RFT, Oct. 4]. Unfortunate, but understandable.Finger-pointing and stereotyping are expected pitfalls for the BDSM community. The type of intelligent, thoughtful and witty consideration Silva gives the subject, however, is refreshing.

David "Wraith" Dandridge
St. Louis

Design of the Times

Pick your jaw up off the floor and listen up -- yes, this is still the Riverfront Times, and yes, it's still a free paper, and no, we haven't been invaded by the corporate design Mafia. Actually, the woman who led the redesign of the paper is a friendly, affable and oh-so-easy-to-work-with woman named Sonda Andersson Pappan (official title: design director for New Times Inc.). She brought in the acclaimed design firm of Alexander Isley Inc. (Sonda and Alexander worked together in a previous life at Spy magazine.) Assisting them in redesigning the RFT was our very own, very capable art director, Tom Carlson.

We hope you find the pages more inviting, visually pleasing and, well, more conducive to the magazine-style writing that has characterized the RFT in recent years.

We took the occasion of the redesign as an opportunity to kick off a few more changes to the paper. If you're wondering what happened to the guy you loved to read (or loved to hate) on page 2, Ray Hartmann, turn to page 11, and you'll get that old familiar feeling. And if you're looking for Eddie Silva's "State of the Arts" column, it's still here, only renamed "Muse" (page 49). Speaking of columns, "Short Cuts" is still here, and we're adding a new one called "Off Beat" (page 15), written by yours truly, that will appear about once a month or so.

Bad news for the junk-food junkies among you: "News of the Weird" is no more (and please spare yourselves and us the agony by accepting that reality). Also gone are two cartoons: Mike Peters' editorial cartoon and Matt Groening's "Life in Hell."

Of course, we'll be happy to hear about what you think of the new look -- and the new stories. So write us and rant or rave.

Safir Ahmed

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