The Big BM
Darkness on the edge of town: I enjoyed your bit on "Born to Run" ["The Worm," October 2]. I was bit by Bruce Springsteen in the '70s at the Ambassador Theater. It was disappointing, though, that you forgot the line in "Thunder Road": "The door's open, but the ride, it ain't free." It has stuck with me for many years.
All the Best
Mayor Roberts will carry a big stick: The dude who wrote the introduction to the "Best of St. Louis" issue [Randall Roberts, September 25] should do the speechwriting for our civic boosters, including Mayor Francis Slay. Better yet, he should replace Slay. He nails this town's naysayers and pumps the believers with a rare swagger that still manages to reflect St. Louis' self-effacing character.
We don't need no hatas: "The Things I Loathe about St. Louis" would have been a better title for your "Best Of" issue. I'm endlessly amused by your publication's ability to reveal its nasty self at every turn. The issue spent pages upon pages telling everyone in St. Louis just how much the staff really hates the city and railing against the Post-Dispatch, toasted ravioli, Provel cheese and, get this, meat. How many "best of" veggie categories do we really need? Personally, I love that I can get a Provel-laden pizza, an order of toasted ravioli or a steak down at a local bar while watching the Cardinals beat the living hell out of whoever they are playing. Of course, I rate superlatives by the level of enjoyment I get from something, not by dredging my hatreds around.
Treasure Your Pirates
Their stealing will make musicians rich: The Recording Industry Association of America has no desire to expose unnamed and unsigned artists to the public unless they themselves can profit off of the artists [Robert Wilonsky, "Do the Math," September 4]. Peer-to-peer file sharing allows this to happen. It allows fans, who may have never heard a song from a particular group, to download their songs, go out and buy the CD and then buy concert tickets when that artist comes to their area of the country.
If anyone were to ask me who my favorite musician was right now, I'd definitely say John Mayer. He is the classic example of word-of-mouth popularity. Unlike his pop-culture competitors, Mayer has rarely been on MTV's Total Request Live or on the cover of Rolling Stone, yet, his popularity has spread like wildfire over the country over the past few months. I heard about him from some of my friends. I downloaded (illegally!) a bunch of his songs and then hopped in the car and purchased his CD, Room for Squares. When he came to perform in Kansas City in the spring, about 600 people went to see him. When he played again in August, there were over 10,000 people at the show. People could sing along to some of his unreleased songs just because they had downloaded them off the Internet before then. MP3 file-sharing makes concerts more fun, broadens the artists' fanbase faster than any magazine or TV show could and increases demand for music.
The record industry as we know it today refuses to realize the true purpose of music, which is to connect with and entertain the masses. The future of music is in front of us and has been for several years now, even if some may call it piracy at the moment.
Perpetuating a stereotype: I am writing this letter on behalf of the members of the Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists, a chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists, concerning the cover story "Fail Safe" [Jeannette Batz, October 2]. Since the issue came out, members of the GSLABJ have expressed reactions ranging from dismay to outrage over the misleading nature of the cover illustration in the issue. The illustration is particularly disappointing given the Riverfront Times' history of covering the disenfranchised and its being honored many times in the past by the GSLABJ for its coverage of issue of important to the African-American community in St. Louis. As you know, the cover illustration depicts a figure lurking behind a young woman who appears to be blindfolded and lying on the floor. Intentionally or not, the depiction of the person who assaulted the woman was drawn as a dark, shadowy figure, perhaps an African-American. In reading the story, readers learn that the person who assaulted the young woman was, in fact, a white male. As one of our members asked, "Why was it necessary to illustrate the vicious (man who committed the sodomy) as a black figure, especially since such obvious care was taken to be accurate in showing the race and appearance of the victim?" The concern is that these images perpetuate stereotypes that are not only misleading but also damaging. We hope that your publication will be more sensitive in the future.
President, Greater St. Louis Association
of Black Journalists
Correction: Big Sexy Kool DJ Kaos is a DJ for 100.3 The Beat. His radio station was incorrectly identified in the "Best of St. Louis" issue.