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Week of June 8, 2005

Put a Fork in It
Bordering on the creepy: In "Hype Goggles," his June 1 survey of rampant critical shortcomings, Jordan Harper takes a swipe at ("Bitchfork"), comparing the online music zine's "snotty, cliquey...and hopelessly melodramatic" writers to thirteen-year-old girls. It hardly seems necessary to resort to a sexist cliché when, right there on the facing page, is a B-Side by the almost-30-year-old Ben Westhoff, whose nasty, moronic and hopelessly unfunny attack on Jay Farrar ["What's in a Name?"] can't be excused on the grounds of age or gender. Was Westhoff's masturbatory drivel meant to gratify his New Times-issued overseers (whose relentless pandering to the Maxim demographic borders on the creepy), to insult Farrar (whose talent requires no defense) or to demonstrate the author's analytic skills (pitiable as they may be)? Who knows, and who cares?

Given that he's not even talented enough to write for "Bitchfork," Westhoff should start his own music Web site (how about "Prickfork"?) and stop embarrassing the few decent writers who remain at the RFT.
René Spencer Saller, former music editor
Riverfront Times
St. Louis

Editor's note: When I was a young boy, my family had a dog, a beagle named Binker. This was in the days before dog owners were required to clean up after their pets on neighborhood walks. One day, Mr. Klevens from down the block rang our doorbell and re-gifted my mother, the poet Constance Urdang, with a brown paper bag containing what was ostensibly Binker's output from earlier that day.

My mother's response, which came to be paraphrased in that figurative brown paper bag of family lore: "If you have resolved to spend your retirement years ferrying dog turds down the street, far be it from me to interfere."

City Livin'
Hillbillies welcome! Rob Dunnett opined about the loft district in his May 25 letter, stating that the "real problem" is the new downtown residents, whom he refers to as "hillbillies in Kenneth Cole shoes."

I don't know Mr. Dunnett, but he seems pretty judgmental. The fact is, it takes large numbers of people to establish a bulwark in a place like the loft district. Whether one likes the newcomers' shoes or not, the neighborhood would have dried up without a large influx from places far and wide. As for the speculators, you can't argue with their guts. Even five years ago, the district looked like a very risky place to invest. And whether it's good for the city or not, one can buy a building, ask three times what one paid for it and wait it out, if one desires. However, a century ago, our city was the quintessential thriving metropolis. One force at work then was the community of the wealthy. Most of the rich people knew each other, played together, and the record shows that they often convinced each other to forgo the last drop of profit to do things for the public good. In terms of these downtown speculators, it's pretty clear that there's no circle of influence at work.
David Weiss

Hong Kong here we come: Rob Dunnett certainly had an interesting vision of our future St. Louis "county-city," but I have a far different one. Thanks to Mayor Slay's cohorts, a vision already exists to tear down the "old" city and rebuild it with high-rise architecture and rearranged streets. The loft renovators are just the start of what I see coming, wherein the poor will be run out of downtown by way of excessive burdens placed on them by building codes and taxes which will increasingly be beyond their means.

What we have seen with eminent-domain thefts by developers, such as in Sunset Hills and in southwestern Illinois, is just the beginning. Symbiotically threatening our area with their conquest will be huge multinational international corporations who are already noticing the reversal of population loss, as well as this nation's delinquent recognition that the weather is so ideal here because it splits here: During winter it is usually warmer here and during summer it is usually cooler here than all around.

Of course, we can reverse that, and encourage a St. Louis renaissance that would turn our city into the Paris of the United States! Sadly, what I see is the future demolition and rebuilding of our city into another Chicago or -- worse -- another Hong Kong.
Ronald Kinum
St. Louis

No Class
Westhoff wasn't Mr. Popularity: I always thought that the Riverfront Times wouldn't stoop to the same low level as many other media outlets by publishing articles that do nothing more than embarrass individuals or organizations. If the inciting act was malicious or potentially damaging to the public interest, publish it. But Ben Westhoff's "Highly Rank" [April 13] served no purpose. As a graduate of Washington University, I know that it is by no means perfect, nor is any institution. But humiliating overexuberant nineteen- or twenty-year-old kids over an unintentional clerical error is pathetic.

I knew Westhoff at Wash. U., and he was a prick back then as well. Let him or any of your staff find some actual news, scandalous or not, and publish that. Have some class.
Joel Feinstein
Mobile, Alabama

Clubs Editor
The Riverfront Times is looking for a part-time (25 to 30 hours a week) clubs editor to contribute to our music section. Must be knowledgeable about -- and fascinated by -- the local nightclub scene and possess a desire to put that knowledge to work in building the RFT's clubs coverage. Please send résumé and writing samples to:

Tom Finkel, editor
Riverfront Times
6358 Delmar Blvd., Ste. 200
St. Louis, MO 63130

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