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Week of February 28, 2001

Revved Up
I always wondered how he could swing his ritzy Clayton apartment: When I read Eddie Silva's perfect, perfect cover story about the Rev. Dickson Beall ["Minister to his Needs," RFT, Feb. 21], I almost did a gleeful backflip over the cappuccino counter at Borders. It was everything a cover story should be: provocative, wickedly funny, revelatory, wild and, I'm sure, totally accurate. I also loved the Magoo-like cartoons, but they were perhaps a bit flattering. My favorite was the cover, depicting the reverend with a fistful of bucks in his claw and a Bible riding his ass. Flawless.

Not that Dickson's current Bar Harbor address is too shabby -- I've been there; it ain't Wellston -- but I always wondered how he could swing his ritzy apartment in a Clayton high-rise on a St. Marcus minister's salary. Now we know. Now we know. I should add, perhaps, that Dickson offered me the use of said apartment for a party when I was in his good graces. Never took him up on it, and then he stabbed me in the back over the St. Marcus Theatre and the offer was rescinded. Oh well. All good things come to those who wait. And, boy, did I hit the mother lode of waiting with your cover story.

For a supposed man of God, Dickson Beall apparently learned very little from the story of Judas. I guess when that's who's staring you in the mirror when you get up each morning, you tend not to notice him. So, congratulations on your RFT cover story, Rev. Beall. It couldn't happen to a more deserving soul.
Christopher Jackson
Former manager, St. Marcus Theatre

Dysfunction Junction
Candidates may be clueless, but Wilson is unbalanced: The "Short Cuts" column in the Feb. 14 issue, while it did make some reasonable points about the mayoral candidates' lack of knowledge about public education, was rather unbalanced with regard to the situation in the city schools themselves. If the assertion of D.J. Wilson that "the school system is a dysfunctional mess and needs to be taken over" really is true, then how can it be possible that Metro High School outranks schools like John Burroughs and MICDS? Are all the families with whom the magnet program is so popular nuts? Why is it that families in St. Louis County consider trying to register their children in the magnet-school system under false addresses? Are they considering engaging in [what I hope is] an illegal activity to put their kids in "a dysfunctional mess"? Why did the Kansas City Star recently publish an article praising the St. Louis Public Schools?

Last spring, before St. Louis Public Schools teacher salaries were raised for many positions, St. Louis County districts offered $10,000 a year more than comparable positions in the city district. Given the shortage of teachers, is it surprising that a number of teachers moved on to greener paychecks?

Certainly no human institution is perfect, and many things in city schools need improvement. Doesn't D.J. Wilson think that, by producing such unbalanced writings about the district, he is contributing to the difficulty of attracting and keeping teachers? Is he trying to be hurtful to the students and parents? Such emotional writing that doesn't let facts get in the way of the author's prejudices has been common on the Post-Dispatch editorial page. It is disappointing to see it in the Riverfront Times.
Carol Prombo
St. Louis

See Your Shrink
I'm one of the idiots: I guess it's really very hard for a dickhead like D.J. Wilson to understand why some of us like St. Louis -- and we actually find interesting and fulfilling things to do with our life [Wilson, "Short Cuts," RFT, Feb. 14].

I hope his shrink reads his column and can help him with his terrific frustration about living and working here. I can well understand how he could be so frustrated and suicidal working at the RFT. When it started out, it held such promise for becoming great, but look at what it's become. I'm not going to go into the sadness and disappointment and down-the-toilet quality of the paper now, but that must be a hard thing for you to have to swallow -- that you're still working there and that, day by day by day, it gets worse and worse.

Except for Jeannette Batz, the emperor has absolutely no fucking clothes.

I'm sure if Wilson discusses this with his shrink, he/she will help him get his values straight and quit the paper and find some work that will make his feel good about himself. Maybe he'll even find something worthwhile about St. Louis (try some volunteer work with kids) instead of putting all his energy into figuring out what the "best" restaurant and "best" place to go for Bloody Marys is.
John Deez
St. Louis
P.S. I'm one of the "idiots" who wrote Greg Freeman about my love of going to the Muny.

Just Being Neighborly
We feel safe, so what's with the propaganda? We occasionally visit a local music club in the Marine Villa neighborhood, by Shepard School. Although we usually go there in the evenings and stay until late at night, we have never experienced the problems cited in the recent article [Wm. Stage, "Death Trip," RFT, Jan. 31]. We feel safe walking to and from the club, and even when we park a block or two away, our car has never been vandalized. As city residents, we believe Mr. Stage's article performs a disservice to neighborhood efforts. The city has enough challenges without this kind of negative propaganda.
Christian and René Saller
St. Louis

I was disgusted: As one of the founders of the Marine Villa neighborhood over 30 years ago, I was disgusted by Wm. Stage's recent article. Like every neighborhood, we battle problems. But Mr. Stage's mischaracterization of my neighborhood is offensive.
Louis Hankin
St. Louis

This article could affect people's perceptions: During my election campaign this past fall for state representative of the 59th District, I went door to door in the Marine Villa neighborhood. I did not find the experience remotely to be as described by Wm. Stage in his recent article. Instead, I found the neighborhood to be relatively quiet. The registered voters with whom I spoke seemed to be, on the whole, great people. Some expressed concerns about problems they would like to see addressed, but none of them seemed as widespread and chronic as described in the article.

I am concerned about the article. Just as we could talk ourselves into a recession by constantly lamenting a downturn in the economy that changes people's perceptions about a robust future, this article could negatively impact people's perceptions about Marine Villa. Marine Villa is a neighborhood with great potential.
Russ Carnahan
Missouri House of Representatives

Do some research before passing judgment: Ald. Craig Schmid's response to the article "Death Trip" was a grim reminder of the popular opinion regarding drug use ["Letters," RFT, Feb. 14]. Specifically, Schmid describes the teen as a "LSD-toting figure ... trying to hook our youngsters on acid."

The alderman is apparently unaware that LSD is not addictive and that the image of a money-hungry dealer hooking kids is an urban legend. Furthermore, it is disturbing that the alderman would make the latter statement about the victim without any proof whatsoever.

The popular stereotypes about drug users are damaging to the public simply because they undermine the credibility of those trying to educate our youth about drugs. How can a child be expected to believe the very real consequences of drug use when every mention is prefaced with opinions they know, from their own lives, are false? The alderman, and politicians as a whole, would do well to do actual research before passing judgments or policies.
Michael Davis
Troy, Ill.

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