ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Bill McClellan at the Post

I am a fan of Bill McClellan at the Post (don't have to agree with someone to like him), but sometimes he just says the darndest things. In an article on changes in St. Louis he diverges to take a shot at Rush Limbaugh. Why? Well, cause he believes what he believes I guess.

Anyway, after reading his column I took a little time to respond.

Below is his column and my response:

Change is in air at Strassenfest, on air at KMOX By Of the
Post-Dispatch Sunday, Aug. 07 2005

A FELLOW DRESSED in Bavarian garb was standing near the Miller Brewing Main
Stage at the St. Louis Strassenfest Friday afternoon, and I thought, "He's in a
time warp." You see, there was a time when the Strassenfest was really a German
festival. Oompah music was all you heard. The cognoscenti could sing along. The
rest of us tapped our feet and sipped our Budweiser. No more. Now you're likely
to hear rock, jazz or even Dixieland music. But wait a minute. Forget about
music. Let's go back a couple of sentences. What was the name of the stage the
man in Bavarian garb was standing near? Miller beer is now a sponsor of
Strassenfest. When I got here in 1980, that would have been unthinkable. Gussie
Busch was royalty, but a strange sort of royalty. He was a peasant king. Rough
hewn, almost vulgar, but beloved. I remember him riding around Busch Stadium in
a convertible, waving to the adoring crowd. His brewery owned the baseball team.
Now, of course, the team is owned by a conglomerate of businessmen, with the big
money coming from out of town. The big news on that front is all about change,
too. The new owners have filed for divorce from KMOX. They've bought a chunk of
upstart KTRS, and that station will now broadcast the games. The change won't
mean much for the baseball fans of St. Louis. It will be the same team, the same
announcers. Who cares if your radio is tuned to 550 or 1120? The real story is
the decline of KMOX. It's still a good station. I've got friends over there. But
the old gray mare ain't what she used to be. Not by a long shot. In 1980, it was
a local station. Think what you will of Rush Limbaugh - I'm no fan of hate radio
- but style aside, he would not have been on KMOX in the old days. Not unless he
was willing to live here. Bob Hyland ran the station then, and he believed in
local programming. Hyland was a man of immense energy, and he poured it almost
entirely into his radio station. Kevin Killeen, a reporter and commentator on
the station, did a remarkable piece recently about Hyland's daughter. She had a
cat while she was growing up, and her father never knew. I asked Killeen if he
thought Hyland just pretended not to know there was a cat living in his house. I
don't think he was pretending, Killeen said. Now the station is run by
out-of-towners. There is a local general manager, but he would know if there
were a cat living in his house. There was another institution locally owned in
those days - this newspaper. In 1980, Joseph Pulitzer Jr. was the editor and
publisher of the Post-Dispatch. He was the mirror opposite of Gussie Busch.
Pulitzer was elegant, distant, almost foppish, and hardly beloved by the
populace. But at one time, his newspaper was considered one of the best in the
world. It has not been so considered for many years. Earlier this year, it was
sold to a company headquartered in Iowa. Of course, all things change. Last
week, I spoke with a woman who remembered the St. Louis of 50 years ago. She
worked for the International Shoe Co. on Washington Avenue. It was the biggest
shoe company in the world. Right down the street was the second biggest shoe
company, Brown Shoe. "Things were so busy it was worth your life just to cross
Washington Avenue," she told me. Perhaps things are on the move again. Jack
Danforth, the patriarch of the greatest family of the last century, is talking
about reconnecting the river to downtown. Steve and Michael Roberts, two members
of what might be the greatest family of this coming century, are investing
heavily in the downtown area. Meanwhile, other developers talk about Chouteau's
Pond. Imagine a lake and a beach in St. Louis and a canal system connecting the
lake to the river. So all is not doom and gloom, but still, as I looked at the
man in Bavarian garb standing next to the Miller Brewing Main Stage in downtown
St. Louis, I thought he looked like a fellow from another time, and I wondered,
too, what such a time-traveler would think of the here and now.

E-mail: Phone: 314-340-8143

H ey Bill, enjoyed the column today, but for one part which I will get to later.

What is going on in St. Louis is mirrored by what has gone on in San Francisco, without the death part. San Francisco remains vibrant, but it bears no resemblance to the city I knew as a kid. Back then the Italians ran the city. The military was a huge presence in the Bay Area. There were no skyscrapers out of respect for earth quakes. Bank of America, the bank launched by Italian immigrants when the WASPS would not lend them money, was a fixture.What now?

Let's just say the Italians do NOT run the city any more. The military is gone, and I mean gone. Skyscrapers sprout up all over the financial district. And Bank of America? It's owned by folks in North Carolina, the same folks that bought Boatmens in St. Louis. North Carolina? Nothing is the way it was thirty years ago.

What's different in San Francisco from St. Louis that allows the former to remain great while the latter seems to be going the other way?I am not sure I know. I think that entrepreneurial spirit in California has alot to do with it.

It's a joke, with a ring of truth, that no one has a job in California. They are all busy "making deals" or running small businesses, sometimes turning them into huge businesses a la Google and Intel. They just do not sit still while the old pillars are being ripped out. The build new ones, vast numbers of new ones, and the great city goes on. San Francisco is a city with a great history, but it does not spend a lot of time looking back.

Now, for the part I disagreed with... Rush Limbaugh is "hate radio?" Did you say that just to rile the dittoheads? Was your e-mail inbox running low on irate missives?If Rush is hate radio, Air Americascam (see the recent stories on money stolen from a Boys and Girls club in the Bronx) is positively jihad radio.Anyway, aside from your gratuitous inaccuracy, I enjoyed the column as always.

Your faithful correspondent from the Left Coast late of St. Louis.

John Wilson
Salinas, CA

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: MontereyJohn