So I was a guest on Frank Vanbree's radio show the other day. He was filling in for Dr. Gina Loudon, a fairly conservative radio talk show personality on Truthtalk 630 AM. I checked the station out over the weekend, Holy Tea Party! I sure am glad that I didn't launch in to anything over the top. I am not sure I have ever done that before, taken part in such a thing. I was prepared a bit with the statement: "I am to the right of middle!", just to be safe.
My angle was to talk about Blues Music and how The Wolf has gotten into the fabric of our community in Ballwin by doling out a special kind of cultural customer experience in our programing. And it has had its interesting results. For you outsiders, West St. Louis County has been considered by some to be a nest of conservative demographic placeholders.
Disclaimer: even though I refuse to recognize politics as a backdrop to anything I do in my community, one can't help but notice the good moral values centered in our community, along with its focus on family. Honest? I like it that way. Of course I do. That is why I live here. For the record, I lived in the city when I first moved to St. Louis. And no, I did not attend High School here. That is why I am successful as an entrepreneur. Play by the blue blood gamebook and get owned, I say. This is a whole other post. Bottom line, I have good Christian values, but get repulsed by one-way communication streams
Let me pose this question. Does conservatism equal less culture? Boy, my experience in upper middle class America sure smells of it. But what is culture? Doesn't culture require a little diversity? Or are we supposed to do what my community does, travel to the city and "rent" culture for the day, then return to our safety in the County unscathed, shedding our experience of the day to the safety of white picket fences?
Diversity in ethnicity, art, music, custom and expression. I NEED a diverse canvass to fill in daily, a non-homogeneous outlook, so that I can continue to learn and provide information to those needing perspective. Do you know how many people really want perspective? We can't learn much from a non diverse way of thinking, we need influence from time to time. Influence outside of the box, contrast, so that we can understand who we are and, if things go right, adjust our journey along the way.
When we opened The Wolf back in 09, I knew that I would take a couple risks here and there. It was evident that the community, specifically the surrounding neighborhoods, would be concerned over the "type" of people that would be coming and going out of my coffeehouse turned Pub.
At first it was the likes of Lewis Greenberg, many people asked me how I can let him in the door. We have had other "groups" who have been less than embraced by the community. Once we had a conflict over the expression of conservative values in a meeting while another group met planning a charity event, two groups patronizing the place at the same time, distinctly different ideology. Sparks didn't fly, but there was a moose in the room, to say the least.
An employee of mine took a phone call on Saturday night. The caller was a woman who was very upset over the fact that we were having Blues music in West County. She was really ripping the employee taking the call. She used profanity, an out of control blabber over me, Ralph Pfremmer booking Blues music in the County. Strange, because while on the radio show, we also got a call from someone who said they thought that Truthtalk 630 AM was a Christian station and that Blues music was not Christian music, "how could they allow me to do this?". They were upset that we played an entry song when Frank and I started the segment. It was the Blues that the caller was upset about.
Then it occurred to me. Could our community be dotted with over the top right wing fanatics? Could this really be a problem? Could the Wolf be the center of controversy relating to the types of artists that I choose to highlight as part of our cultural outlay, our customer experience? Was the caller speaking specifically of some of my blues artists being of African American heritage? Let me tell you something, the caller unloaded on one of the most beautiful and sweet young African American teenagers I have ever met...and that pretty well sums it up...fear.
I am not sure where I am going with this yet. I am, however, intrigued. Do we have the opportunity to begin a journey on diversity and community right here in Ballwin? I think I helped humanize Lewis Greenberg by expressing to the community that he is indeed my friend and a very good one at that. By expressing this to the community through this blog I suppose I launched a missile over the bow of anyone carrying a torch. The result was a happier Lewis with more friends than foes.
So folks, there are human beings in our midst who possess the same moral character as everyone else, without all of the narrow minded baggage, without all the prejudice. Culture is good for our community and provides us with contrast--what is necessary to learn and grow and be fulfilled. My community continues to move in the right direction.