kase says

screw the pooch: in missouri, it’s one puppy mill down, and how many more to go?

Posted in journalism, riverfront times by kase on January 5, 2011

The road to what the Humane Society of the U.S. calls the largest puppy mill in Missouri. Photo by Kase Wickman.

The tents are up and the bleachers ready as hundreds of people mill in the cold morning sunshine. They chat with old friends while keeping an indulgent eye on their children, who chase each other over and under plastic tables and up spindly trees, squealing and tossing gravel. Despite the early hour, the air crackles with excitement.

With blue skies above, a homemade concession stand and boisterous children all around, the atmosphere in rural Mexico, Missouri, this morning feels like a harvest festival.

It’s a rare harvest festival, however, that features security like this: Just off the county road, vehicles streaming onto the property are stopped at a checkpoint. There, driver’s licenses are photocopied, plates are photographed, and a document is proffered for signing: It bans photography, audio or video recording and anything that could be construed as ill will toward the property owners. The threatened penalty for violations? $250,000.

And even beyond the security, there’s the noise. Beneath the children’s shouts is a cacophony of barking, yapping, howling and whimpering.

It’s the sound of more than 800 dogs — and it echoes unceasingly.

This late October gathering on the rural Missouri property of Bonnie and Herman Schindler isn’t a festival, and it isn’t a fair. It’s the end of what the Humane Society of the United States calls Missouri’s largest — and, arguably, its most notorious — puppy mill.


Read the rest of “Screw the Pooch” behind the cut, or at the Riverfront Times, where it appears as the cover story for January 5. (more…)

st. louis smoking ban still a work in progress four weeks to implementation

Posted in journalism, riverfront times by kase on December 2, 2010

​The clock is ticking, and there’s less than a month to go until the city and county-wide smoking bans go into effect. For any sticklers keeping track at home, that’s 29 days left for the joint boards of health and hospitals to clarify who, exactly, will be exempt from the ban.

For those same sticklers, yes, this is the same debate they were having in January 2010. Now, nearly a year later, who wants to place bets on how close to the wire the boards will go in defining the ordinance?

Read more behind the cut, or at Daily RFT, where this piece was originally published. (more…)

two politicians walk into an airport…

Posted in riverfront times by kase on November 29, 2010

​No, it’s not the start of a lame joke. Or, well, maybe it is. We’ll just have to wait almost two years to find out the punch line.

Sen. Claire McCaskill tweeted this morning that she ran into Jim Talent, the Republican whose one-time Senate seat she currently occupies. (McCaskill defeated Talent in the 2006 election.) The two politicos were both at Lambert International Airport this morning, according to McCaskill, and had a chance meeting.

Read more behind the cut, or at Daily RFT, where this post was originally published. (more…)

could anti-prop b campaign be sneaky influential?

Posted in journalism, riverfront times by kase on November 12, 2010

​​It seems that Prop B is the issue that just won’t die. Voted in by a 60,000-vote margin a week and a half ago, there’s already talk of state legislature gutting the new regulations come January.

Here at Daily RFT we did a little electoral math of our own. Like, actual math. (Don’t worry, we used a calculator.) We were curious to see how the money broke down for both campaigns on a per-vote basis.

Check out our findings behind the cut, or at Daily RFT, where this piece originally appeared. (more…)

movie review: most valuable players

Posted in riverfront times by kase on November 11, 2010

In Most Valuable Players, Matthew Kallis’ directorial debut, a handful of high school musical-theater superstars are given their moment in the indie documentary spotlight. Kallis’ camera follows the cast members of three high school musicals in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley in the weeks leading up to the Freddy Awards, the so-called high school Tony Awards. In this era of obsession over TV’s Glee and the High School Musical franchise, this film is sure to reach a wide audience. And it’s even better than its fictional counterparts: These are real kids, with acne and anxiety. There’s tension (two of the schools, just five miles down the road from one another, choose to perform Les Miserables on the very same weekend), drama (a beloved Freddy Awards producer is diagnosed with cancer) and divas galore (two of the high school actresses kvetch about their director, then turn to look at each other. “Are we bitches?” one asks. “You are,” the other responds). There’s even a conspiracy theory: Should one high school be allowed to compete in the “Best Costumes” category if they rented their costumes instead of creating them? The film jumps around and can be confusing at times, but ultimately, the charisma and heart of the performers will draw you in and leave you fascinated until curtain call.

This review was originally published in The Riverfront Times, when the film was shown at the St. Louis International Film Festival.

movie review: breaking and entering

Posted in riverfront times by kase on November 11, 2010

These are the rules of “joggling”: You must juggle every step. If a ball is dropped, juggling must resume behind the drop point. Any three objects may be used, as long as they are juggled in a cyclical pattern. Oh yeah, and you have to do all this while running a marathon. Breaking and Entering, a documentary directed by Benjamin Fingerhut, follows the stories of more than a dozen people — including, yes, two jogglers — in pursuit of the glory of holding a Guinness World Record. Fingerhut wisely takes a pass on turning his subjects’ goals into a farce, instead highlighting the dedication and level of human achievement they all possess and making this a surprisingly affecting film. Whether the record holder is Boo McAfee, the man who felt hopeless after a divorce and did “the most impossible thing I could think of” (the world’s longest drumming marathon), or Ashrita Furman, who holds the world record for holding the most world records (fastest mile traveled on a kangaroo ball, most apples cut in mid-air in a 60-second period with a Samurai sword, fastest mile while rolling an orange with the nose and 98 astonishingly strange others), Breaking and Entering shows not what humans should do, but what we can do, if we put our minds to it. Bring tissues, for moments of both laughter and (seriously) tears.

This review originally appeared in The Riverfront Times when the film was shown at the St. Louis International Film Festival.

cars aren’t for kids, but sometimes they steal them anyway

Posted in riverfront times by kase on November 9, 2010

Kids do the darnedest things! The AP reports that a 12-year-old boy in Hannibal, Missouri stole his parents’ car Sunday and took a lil spin around town (he isn’t being identified by name in the press since he’s, you know, 12).

Police stopped him when they noticed the car driving around with the front all smashed up, and, hopefully, when they noticed that a prepubescent boy was behind the wheel. The boy admitted to having run into a tractor-trailer earlier, but decided to keep driving.

He’s been taken into custody on charges of tampering with a vehicle, leaving the scene of an accident, violating curfew and “several traffic infractions.” Oh, and for being the 12-year-old who stole his parents’ car. That too.

This post originally appeared at Daily RFT.

turkey hunting: apparently way harder than it sounds

Posted in riverfront times by kase on November 8, 2010

Either turkeys have gotten extra-sneaky, or Missouri hunters are extra-sucky this year.

Though the Missouri Department of Conservation estimates the state’s wild turkey population to be around 500,000, only 5,928 turkeys were killed this fall hunting season, the second-worst in 33 years, reports the AP. At the state’s turkey-hunting peak in 1987, more than 28,000 turkeys were taken down.

Really makes you yearn for the good ‘ole days, when Pa shot the very bird in the center of your Thanksgiving spread, huh?

Judging by MODoC’s turkey hunting guidelines, however, turkey hunting seems like something of an extreme sport.

Click behind the jump to see what we mean, or head to Daily RFT, where this piece originally appeared. (more…)

claire mccaskill: champion of flight attendants

Posted in riverfront times by kase on October 6, 2010

​American Airlines announced today that it would rehire 545 furloughed TWA flight attendants, and Sen. Claire McCaskill is pumped.

TWA and American Airlines merged in 2001, and 2,500 flight attendants, many of them employees for the former TWA, were laid off with the right to reclaim their jobs in order of seniority for any job openings at American Airlines for the next several years. St. Louis and Kansas City were former TWA hubs, so the areas took the brunt of the firings.

Continue reading behind the jump, or head over to the news blog of the Riverfront Times, Daily RFT, where this piece was originally published. (more…)

joe brazil: stay off the roads, biker dummies

Posted in riverfront times by kase on September 28, 2010

St. Charles County Council struck down a proposal Monday night that would have banned bicyclists from the narrow semi-rural roads in the county, reports the Post-Dispatch.

The County Council voted unanimously, 6-0, against the ban. (One council member was absent from the meeting.) Even Councilman Joe Brazil, who has been a fervent advocate for the bill (though supporting his arguments with questionable statistics and logic) and indeed sponsored the bill, voted against it last night.


Read on behind the cut, or head to Daily RFT, where this post was originally published. (more…)


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