Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Everything is Okay after Soulard Murder

Well, its back to business as usual here on Happy Island, after the murder of James M. Clavin was put in perspective and to bed, thanks to a Neighborhood Forum on Monday, January 30, sponsored and held at the Social House of Soulard, 1551 S. 7th St.

Inquiring readers may remember that Mr. Clavin ("beloved husband of Lisa Clavin (nee Bentrup), loving father of Henry and Nathan Clavin, dear son of Randy Clavin and Deborah Lietz, dear son-in-law of Robert and JoAnne Bentrup," etc., etc., as per the Kutis Funeral Home) was shot to death around 2:40 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012 in the 1500 block of S. 8th Street, in back of the Social House, which has a closing time of 3 a.m..

There were some calls for reining in the Social House after the murder. It seems that Gary Patch, 40, had been killed in September by a speeding vehicle driven by suspect Emmanuel Sanchez, 27, the result of some parking lot argument, possibly involving Social Club patrons. In addition, the police blotter reveals that there have been dozens of police complaints, responses, etc., stemming from patrons, nearby residents and others at this late closing nightclub. Also, there was extensive reporting of similar troubles at another nightclub, previously known as Lure and now appropriately named Amnesia, apparently owned by the same people but located in downtown St. Louis.

Not to worry, though. In lieu of displaying any leadership or showing any official resolve from City leaders, Soulard was granted this forum, a fulfilling event which settled all the dust.

The forum, scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., opened with a very fine presentation by a fat faced lawyer representing the club. His basic message was: "shithappens." He went on the explain that the Social House benefits Soulard (and the City of St. Louis and its leadership) and that the objective of the owners was to make an evening at the Social House a pleasant experience. We certainly thank him for that, and we thank the owners for spending their money on a high-priced mouthpiece to present this message. Very impressive. The lawyer’s words were in no way condescending or self-serving. It should be noted that the owners, Aprille Trupiano and Josh Sample (according to the Post-Dispatch), showed their respect for neighborhood residents by not showing up at the forum.

The attorney explained that the Social House had nothing to do with the entire tragedy, taking a load off our minds. Some wag thought: with the record of Social House and Lure, why should we believe anything that comes out of your mouth, but that thought was quickly shelved. We were listening to people who display St. Louis integrity.

Next was a presentation from a friend of the deceased. This friend apparently had been out "partying" with Mr. Clavin that night. He actually got up on the Social House stage and detailed the evening from his perspective. He related that Mr. Clavin was on the street talking with a couple of ladies who had missed their ride home when some other gentlemen wearing masks or what-have-you came around a corner, had a brief conversation with Mr. Clavin, shot him and then scurried off into the night. Thus, the Social House was absolved of any involvement, was the message.

We cherish his words with all our heart, testimony from a close friend who was with Mr. Clavin at the end. If I lost a friend in these circumstances, I wouldn’t be returning to the scene to testify that, well, "except for that, we had a good time" and implying that "sure, I would come back to the Social House with some of my other friends." Thus, we offer our congratulations to this friend, and, as they say, "who needs enemies when you have friends like this?" I think that the Soulard Restoration Group and the City of St. Louis should name this individual an "honorary citizen of Soulard" and give him a bronzed, symbolic key to the neighborhood.

Then there was the testimony of a U.S. Army man, who had medical training. A Social House customer, he said that when he arrived at the side of Mr. Clavin, he recognized that there was nothing he could do. It was told to all that the U.S. Army man had served a couple of tours in Iraq. I think the intended message was that everything was done to help the dying and in a patriotic way, too. Missing was somebody waving the American flag on behalf of the Social House and a rousing rendition of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" to support the Constitutional right of the Social House to run a raucous establishment, and the community be damned.

So we left, secure in the knowledge that the Social House was up and coming and that the City of St. Louis blessed this fine charade instead of doing anything substantive.

Post Script: It should be recorded that placid-faced Bob Kraiberg, City of St. Louis Liquor License Commissioner, was there, as was cherubic Brian Wahby, head of the City Democratic Committee, who worked the crowd and passed out cards advertising himself and his run for Treasurer of the City of St. Louis. Alderperson Phyllis Young was out of town, conveniently. End of adventure. Problem solved.