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"When you think about it, is it really the schools responsibility to prepare students for the outside world?"

Week of June 28, 2006


Give us Five

Earlier this month in Little Rock, the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies announced the winners of its eleventh annual awards competition. In the division for papers with circulations over 50,000, Riverfront Times was honored with five awards for work published in 2005.

In the Format Buster category, the RFT staff took first place for Unreal Presents Soulard Mardi Gras Bingo.

For Arts Feature, Malcolm Gay took second place for Unfinished Symphony.

For Cover Design, art director Tom Carlson took second place.

For News Story (Short Form), Kristen Hinman took second place for an entry consisting of The Case of the Stained Glass Bandit, Current Event and Irons in the Fire.

And for Media Reporting/Criticism, Chad Garrison and Malcolm Gay took third place for their two-part PostMortem series, Pulitzers Pain and Pulitzers Gain.

To view any or all of the winning entries, visit For a list of all AAN winners, see

Feature, June 8, 2006

Thanks for Nothing

Roberts mows down indie record stores: Randall Roberts came up to me and said he wanted to call me for his story ["Last Year's Model"]. He never did, and then he writes this crap? I am disappointed in him and in Lew Prince for allowing an unfairly biased journalist to sit in on that meeting.

First off, I do not have a vacation home in Martha's Vineyard. I live in a two-bedroom apartment with my wife and young son and work very hard to afford even that. Second, Mason Jennings is indeed a career artist and I cannot wait until years from now when he is still making great records. Randall, you're so wrong about him; I will not even waste my time trying to convince you because you clearly have no taste. And shame on you for thinking I do not care about my customers. You ask Eric Levin how many things we have been working on since that meeting to make things better for the indies. Or you ask Lew how much financial support I threw his way after the meeting to help him in areas he was concerned about with his business.

Really Randall, I am completely committed and devoted to the independent retail world, and for you to accuse me of not caring is not only untrue but it hurts deeply.

You, my friend, have done nothing to help their cause. In fact, you have probably single-handedly added to the problems they are facing at indie retail with your attack on those who are trying to help the most.
Drew Kantor, Sony BMG, New York

Ask a Negro Leaguer, May 25, 2006

Black on Black

It comes down to the labels: Why should I be put in the African-American category? Because I am here in America? There are many levels of discrimination, and this, I believe, is one. Because people like me have contributed so much to your history, nullifying us doesn't make any sense. We work hard to be here, we chose to be here and we love being here. My two "American-born" children are African-Americans.

It is hard not to offend people when you talk about race. Even though at times I have been discriminated against, I do not dwell on it (which was my original point). But many African Americans are often on the lookout for how they have been discriminated against. That's all I'm saying. It all comes back to entitlement: "How can I get ahead by using my race?" Why not say, "How can I get ahead despite my social circumstances"?

In the end it's better for people like me to keep their mouths shut, because some people aren't ready to accept the responsibility towards themselves.
Francoise Sajous-Stoddard, Chesterfield

Rotations, May 25, 2006

Keep the Faith

Staying with the Church: I enjoyed Annie Zaleski's review of the Church's Uninvited Like the Clouds. I am one of the disenchanted Church fans you reference and hope this album proves better. I thought they went a bit too Pink-Floydy with Priest=Aura but have stayed through the ups and downs. Your review was well written; I'll keep an eye out.
Brian Beckmann, St. Louis

A to Z, May 25, 2006

Heil Storm

For the love of Bob: Great column on Bob Heil. He has been an exhibitor and speaker at the Charlotte, North Carolina, Hamfest. He can really pack them in to hear about microphone developments in radio communications for amateur radio. Wonderful guy — it's been a pleasure to meet him.
Bill Turner, Weddington, North Carolina

News Real, May 25, 2006

With Respect to Vashon

The valedictorian weighs in: As Vashon's 2005 valedictorian, I was appalled to return home after my first year at college only to read Kristen Hinman's "An Incomplete Education," which referred to my three years of hard work to attain my high school diploma as effortless. On behalf of the students who diligently worked or are currently working to meet the required graduation criteria, I oppose the suggested rumors and state that it took me and my fellow students a lot of effort to earn our high school diplomas. And with the same educators from previous years upholding their effective teaching skills and student demands, it will continue to take continuous effort for current and prospective students to earn their diplomas.

Due to the confidentiality of the memo, I can cannot offer my comments regarding the attendance policy and the Grade Inconsistencies Report that sparked the publication of Hinman's article.

While attending Vashon I noticed that a majority of the students respect their instructors, with the exception of a few students who have not learned to respect others as well as themselves. I also noticed that students respect educators more when the educator makes it an equal responsibility to respect the students and treat them as human beings and not as untamed animals.

I agree with Bill Carson's comments that Vashon is full of smart and ambitious students. However, I disagree with his comment regarding the failure of the school to prepare the students for life in the outside world. When you think about it, is it really the school's responsibility to prepare students for the outside world? And if so, then what is left to the responsibility of parents?

Maybe we as a community place too much pressure on the educators to raise our children and not enough emphasis to teach our children, which is the educator's primary duty. And if we can all agree that educators are to educate and not train or rather carry out expected parental duties and responsibilities, then my instructors at Vashon did an outstanding job. Thanks to Vashon's faculty support and academic preparation, I had a successful year at Columbia College Chicago, where I maintained a 4.0 grade-point average. However, I am only one of the many success stories.

Vashon may never overcome its reputation as an "academic abyss" due to the outpour of the media's negative [publicity] into the homes of thousands of viewers and readers. Vashon is not the only high school that is facing academic or gang-related problems, yet it's the only school that gives media outlets ammunition to write articles degrading our high school. Therefore, if Vashon never overcomes its negative reputation, it's not because we don't try. It's because the media won't allow us to. Receiving a high school diploma from Vashon High School wouldn't seem effortless if the media would highlight students' positive efforts that led and will continue to lead to great outcomes.
Jamella Brown, St. Louis

Unreal, May 24, 2006

Oh, Lordy

How about bumping fists? I'm writing in reference to the St. Louis Review's "Dear Father" column, in which Pastor Matthew Mitas of Union answered the question, "When meeting Archbishop Raymond Burke in person, should a parishioner shake hands or kiss the bishop's ring?"

In contrast, note then-Archdiocese of St. Louis Vicar General (and now retired) Bishop Edward O'Donnell's Priestly People: A Practical Guide to Lay Ministry, which says, "[B]oth Jesus and the early church made it clear that the establishment of varying roles in the Church was not intended to create a caste system. In the minds of Jesus and the early Church, 'different' did not mean 'better' or 'worse.' The varying ministries were given not to honor the individual who possessed them but for the services of all the members of the Church.... Jesus [said], 'You know how among the Gentiles those who seem to exercise authority and lord it over them, their great ones make their importance felt. It cannot be that way with you. Anyone among you who aspires to greatness must serve the rest; whoever wants to rank first among you must serve the needs of all.' [Mark 10:42-44]."
Joseph Kuciejczyk, St. Louis