It was all about Bill: I can't say enough good things about Shelley Smithson's article on the St. Louis Public Schools ["Knockin' 'Em Dead," November 26]. It was like a Monet painting or a Giorgio Moroder dance tune: nice melody, detail and specifics in a strong romantic impressionist context of color, tone and atmosphere. It's a very tough, complex dynamic to get right, and she did.
A couple specific points if I can (you expect less from me?):
1. Regarding Smithson's comment that my role as peacemaker is "a hat that seems ill-fitting on his head": I forgive her perhaps natural impression, being relatively newish to the subject, but I like to think that those who have watched me on the board over the years agree that in between my righteous rants and raves I do try to give credit even to those I don't normally agree with, keep it business not personal (I sometimes fail), back off when I think I've gone too far and carve out common ground between diverse opinions in order to build consensus so that all feel fairly heard and treated. Good leaders do that, and I like to consider myself one. Of course if I'm almost the only board member doing that, it doesn't work very well.
2. I have recently apologized to Bill Roberti for the e-mail and that I copied others on it. Whether the apology meant I regret sending it, or that I regret feeling it necessary, or that there might have been a better way to make the points, I'm not sure. But the apology was sincere, and I know Bill knows it. I have a lot of respect for him, he's awfully smart, it's a difficult, almost thankless job, he's doing pretty much what those in control of the board expect him to. I like him and have come to consider him a friend. I like to think he feels the same way.
3. Finally, the only thing I really object to about the article is that it wasn't all about me and that I wasn't on the cover. After all, it's really all about me, isn't it, and anyone who doesn't agree with me can, uh, you know, that kiss thing. Kissing is a good thing. Kissing is your friend. Anywhere, anytime, and, uh, anywhere, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.
Bill Haas, board member
St. Louis Public Schools
Heart pelt: I've reached that age when I find myself asking, "What's wrong with today's youth?"
While reading the transcript of the conversation with Miss Missouri USA, 25-year-old Shandi Finnessey, it became clear: Their spoken "beliefs" don't match their "actions" [Unreal, "Shandi in Furs," December 10].
Since when is it more offensive to turn down a gift of dead animals than it is to stand up for your love of animals and refuse to accept the raccoon fur coat from the Missouri Trappers Association? Would Finnessey also have accepted a nice pair of camouflage pants from the Rwandan Armed Forces, who went house-to-house, killing thousands, as camouflage pants are coming back in style?
Indeed, if Finnessey really believed that beauty is more than skin deep, she would know that animals need their skin more than she needs a fur coat.
Sharie Lesniak, program coordinator
Animal Protection Institute
Enough about Bob: I have been a faithful reader of the Riverfront Times for many years, but never was I more appalled than when I saw the cover for the December 31 edition. Baton Bob? I am sick of the glorification the media has given this clown.
I work in the Central West End and have seen Bob more times than one person should ever have to in their lifetime. He has every right to walk where he wants to and dress the way he wants to. And the color of his skin and what he does behind closed doors make no difference to me.
I have seen Baton Bob giving people the finger. Just last year he hit someone with his baton. I have been at a stoplight with clients when he has been next to the car slapping his ever-growing butt. I have been sitting at a restaurant when he has stopped in front of the window and gyrated his pelvis almost on the window glass. I have driven through intersections where he is in the street dancing and almost got hit.
Yet all the smaller press loves him. And is quick to jump behind him when he manipulates them. Anyone that doesn't like him is "anti-black" or "anti-gay." I am neither but I do know that I am sick of him and I know that there are others like me that wish I would never see or hear about him again.
Douchebag of the Week
Jimmy D. Fuller -- Canadian through and through: I ran across the April 28 Unreal item about Shandi Finnessey and was struck with a brilliant idea: The Riverfront Times should start doing a Douchebag of the Week spotlight. My nomination for the first featured douchebag would be Rodney M. Norman.
Perhaps the fact that Shandi claimed to be from Florissant has nothing to do with why Mr. Norman's friends are laughing at him. After reading some of his quotes, I would imagine Rodney usually does a pretty good job of embarrassing himself without anybody's help. If the city's economy is really so bad that he is going to throw fits over something as trivial as this, then maybe he should move to a different city.
Someday when I am famous, I am claiming to be a Canadian.
Jimmy D. Fuller
Wood River, Illinois
What Would Harry Do?
When in doubt, punch him out: When our traveling pilgrim from Kansas was informed that he was carrying an illegal weapon into the Arch, he should have replied, "No, I don't have an illegal weapon -- it's a pocketknife and Christmas gift" [Malcolm Gay, "Arch Nemesis", May 19]. Then he should have grabbed the security guard by the shirt and decked him. While the licensed thief was lying on the ground, our pilgrim should have added, "Go ahead, punk -- make my day."
Dirty Harry was the answer to this type of McCarthyism-like activity that now is being conducted throughout our land. Big Government has its bulldogs out in force these days, and the new J. Edgar Hoover is having a heyday with our civil rights and privacy.
A bureaucratic solution to the pocketknife incident would be Concealed Pocketknife Registration, just like other privately owned hand weapons. Of course, some witch-hunting legislator would have to write up an amendment to the concealed-carry law in order for this to be a voting issue put to the general public.
What would Dirty Harry do if he were around today? I fear for common justice's future with all of this "terrorism" paranoia since 9/11, and the full rein given to the security personnel violating our privacy. Like our pilgrim, "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore."
Enter the MeatGina
Parental guidance suggested: Your cover photograph on the June 9 issue is outrageous and insulting. Unless of course you have now become Our Own Oddities for the Sexually Immature. Really, Tom Finkel, I know your dad and this makes me want to ask him what the hell your problem is. Don, are you listening?
Now tell us how you really feel: William Stage, you are such an asshole. "Is Saddam guilty?" [Street Talk, July 21] Ask the millions of people he butchered who are lying in some fuckin' sand-covered hole. What kind of fuckin' moronic question is that to be asking these empty fuckin' heads? You are guilty of being a fuckface, William.
Porn to Lose
Cool, Earl! We were shooting for dotterel! My comments about last week's horrible front page ["Ron Jeremy in Rug Burn," August 4]: Brainless, dazed, deficient, dense, dim, dodo, doltish, dopy, dotterel, dull, dumb, dummy, foolish, futile, gullible, half-baked, half-witted, idiotic, ill-advised, imbecilic, inane, indiscreet, insensate, irrelevant, irresponsible, laughable, loser, ludicrous, meaningless, mindless, moronic, naive, nonsensical, obtuse, pointless, puerile, rash, senseless, short-sighted, simple, simple-minded, slow, sluggish, stolid, stupefied, thick, thickheaded, trivial, unintelligent, unthinking, witless, waste of time, pathetic, ugly, stupid, sickening, not worth using as toilet paper, trash, skin crawl, cringe.
Most Hated Men
Buttmunch writer, pedophile editor: Hey, Shit for Brains, I notice you didn't list any Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd or Who members [Mike Seely, "The Ten Most Hated Men in Rock," September 1]. That's about the only thing you got right.
You've obviously got issues. What the fuck happened to you, boy? Were you dropped? Did your older brothers flog your ass with LP versions of Back to the Egg when you were a child? You're obviously a commie-pinko, and anybody who went commercial is now a sellout in your eyes? Get a grip, buttmunch. Stick to critiquing your genre -- whatever the fuck that might be. It obviously isn't rock & roll. Friggin' Pet Shop Boy lover. You suck! And your editor is a pedophile too, for letting you publish such tripe. Die, loser!