Was it something Ben said? Instead of Ben Westhoff berating the owners of the Commonspace, he should have been celebrating their heroic effort ["Nothing in Commonspace," October 6]. They created a unique meeting place for us -- all at the expense of their own time and money. St. Louis should be so lucky to have more people willing to devote two years of their life whose purpose is not to simply make them money.
I was probably People's Coffee's best customer. If People's had a problem, it could more likely be attributed to a lack of a regular customer base who lived in the area. I appreciate what Scott and Lynn Josse tried to accomplish, but the lack of consistency in their product and odd menu choices probably hurt them also. I was quite content with having a crunchy Birkenstock-friendly coffee shop, but others expect a level of service more appropriate to a Starbucks, or at least Kaldi's. Many of my coworkers stopped going there for these reasons. It was Brian Marston and Amanda Doyle's venture from the start, so why shouldn't they have expectations on when it should be open?
Every time I left an event in the Grand Center area, Brian and Amanda were still there. On weeknights after 11 p.m. they would be shutting down and dealing with the occasional crackhead looking for free food or five bucks. They always tried to help anyone who came in and I never heard a complaint about it. The fact that your article taints the legacy of the Commonspace is a shame. But Brian and Amanda are forward-thinking and I'm sure they're already working on the next project. St. Louis can be thankful for that.
Potty pooper: Perhaps Deanna Jent is inexperienced in the theater world, but one would think a reviewer would have a basic knowledge of the production that one espouses an expert opinion about ["Mind Your Pee and Queue," October 6]. Man of La Mancha is a one-act play. Indeed, if a theater presents it in anything other than one act, they are in violation of their licensing agreement with Tams Witmark Music Library.
As for running times, I hope Jent doesn't review movies, or we'll be treated to more bathroom humor in the headlines for films with two-hour running times. At least she's found a place willing to print her humorous reviews while she gains experience.
It's hard to delve further into the factual errors. If the reviewer makes such a point of showing ignorance of the basics of the show format, further criticism is redundant. I'll keep this short so that if she reads it she won't have to take a potty break prior to finishing.
John (no pun intended) Miller
Nothing Could Be Finer
Me and Buzz: I would like to commend you for posthumously naming Buzz Westfall Best Local Politician in your "Best of St. Louis" 2004 edition [September 29]. Buzz and I entered county government together: He was elected county executive the same year I was first elected to the county council. I had the sincere pleasure of working with Buzz for years and have an enormous amount of respect for him, both personally and professionally. His death was a tremendous loss for the people of St. Louis County, but his legacy of public service will undoubtedly live on.
Charlie A. Dooley
St. Louis County Executive
Initial here: I believe I know what WGNU stands for [Best Radio Station]. About 1960 I was a freshman at Normandy High School. My Spanish teacher, Mr. Alex Gramaticoff, explained to our class that a new radio station, WGNU, was soon coming on the air. He told us it stood for Gramaticoff-Norman-United. Like Chuck Norman, he has also passed away, but he talked of Chuck as one of his dearest friends.
The James gang: I was pleased to see James Hacking selected as Best Lawyer. Thankfully, I have not needed his services. But in the current climate of "With us or against us," it is comforting to know there are still people who will give back so much to the community.
Spear the Rod: As a promising celebrity, I was very excited to find my name in one of your Best Letters of 2004. If you took the time out to make Mr. Wood River's comments against me as a douchebag stand out, then I know why this paper is so damn popular.
Keep up the great work, and let my name ring on. It will definitely help my book sales.
Rodney M. Norman
The results of the National Association of Black Journalists' 2004 Salute to Excellence competition were announced Saturday in Washington, D.C., and RFT writers came away with four awards.
The RFT swept the Business category for papers with circulations up to 150,000: Staff writer Mike Seely took top honors for "Black Velvet Rope," about black nightclubs in St. Louis that enforce 25-and-over age policies; colleague Randall Roberts was awarded second place for "Dawg Eat Dawg," a profile of local hip-hop stations Q-95.5 FM and 100.3 FM ("The Beat"). In Daily News, Seely's "Happy Kwanzaa, Earl!" a story about a racist screed penned by former St. Louis school board member and current WGNU talk-show host Earl Holt III, took second place. In Sports, former staff writer Matthew Everett got a second-place award for "Offside!" an investigation into how desegregation has turned suburban high schools into football powerhouses while decimating their inner-city counterparts.
The winning RFT stories are accessible through our online archive at www.riverfronttimes.com.