Salvage City: St. Louis Deserves Better

Categories: Media

It's that sort of cavalier attitude toward the law and landmarks he supposedly loves that have inspired a backlash from locals. Social-media chatter left Coffey defending the show to media outlets like KSDK-TV (Channel 5) and the Riverfront Times before it even aired, with many questioning his methods and portrayal of St. Louis. Indeed, Salvage City plays into the worst stereotypes of this region, ones familiar to a national audience for whom St. Louis elicits little more than the Arch pictures and Rust Belt scorn.

mia.jpg
Discovery
Coffey, a native St. Louisan, seems surprised by the tepid response, but critics' complaints are dead-on. What he and the show's producers have done -- exploit the city in exchange for personal gain -- is the definition of selling out. Not the artistic selling out that is inevitable when a band or artist enjoys mainstream success, but the kind that constitutes betrayal. Coffey co-owns the Fortune Teller Bar, located on Cherokee Street, one of the city's blossoming business districts. His creative and business partner on the show, Mia Brown, runs Eve's Apple Vintage, a consignment shop located on downtown's Washington Avenue, another local success story. These people are in a better position than most to celebrate the city's emergence from a post-industrial economy. And yet here they are on national television, selling the city as an "urban wasteland...ripe for plunder."

Ultimately, Salvage City disappoints because St. Louis deserves better. The best city television shows are love letters, as Treme is for New Orleans, or requiems, as The Wire is for Baltimore. Other shows focus on Chicago's toughness, Los Angeles' glamour and New York's culture. Even most reality shows celebrate a place, or way of life. St. Louis is none of those things in the American psyche, but surely a homegrown production can do better than play into national stereotypes.

Salvage City is a manufactured-reality cash grab, a tall tale starring a conceited wannabe pirate who is, in his own words, "not the hero St. Louis wants, but all they've got." This citizen begs to differ.

Chris Haxel is a St. Louis freelance writer.


My Voice Nation Help
78 comments
oocpfidell
oocpfidell

Love this show! turning scrap into functional art. I would love to see more episodes. AS far as portrayal of the city goes, I think it's good to have maybe the not so glamorous side to your city shown, it shows the rest of the population the hardships that the city is going through and attracts attention. This is a positive thing for the city. Please make more episodes.

glenng
glenng

Don't know how stupid you have to be that you think a three episode show gives "your" city a bad name.  I travel to StL several times (2-5) every year, have since 1998.  What gives your city a bad name is the thousands of abandoned uncared for properties that can be seen from EVERY highway.  You can see countless of these just crossing the I-70 bridge, or from 55 or 44, without even getting off the interstate.  You can see all the spray painted graffiti likely placed there from all these people that truely love their city.  (eye roll)  I love StL, and I love MO even more, thats why I travel there so much.  But seriously, if you really love your city then maybe you should help it look like something other that a western Detriot toilet.

Kevin-K
Kevin-K

A fake reality show starring a douchechoad?  Impossible!

stlbecky
stlbecky

All the pro Salvage City posts here are disturbing .....you all want your city portrayed this way....stealing, high crime, full of drug addicts.....I couldn't agree more with Chris Haxel.....for all of you saying "who the hell is he"....I say someone who actually cares about the city.....I was looking forward to the show....I love Salvage Dawgs....but this show is bullshit!

JamieJ1
JamieJ1

Chris Haxel probably doesn't even live in the city he writes about.  I could be wrong and it could be a losing bet, but I'll bet he doesn't.  He apparently doesn't have anything better to write about than hating his own city and existence.  RFT has been steering themselves in this direction for a few years now it seems.  Too bad some people can't seem to get over their self esteem issues and finally offer a little support to where we live.  Little Haxel guy, I've seen Sam build a lot of what he has on a shoestring budget (or no budget), so don't talk too much about positions to start from.  Sometimes we're forced to find creative solutions and recycle to get done what we need to.  Mr. Haxel, did your mommy and daddy pay for everything you have, your education, and move you into some fancy place in Chesterfield so you could write idiotic rants about how shitty the place you call home is?  ...makes me want to further ignore the RFT.

DaniRadoshevich
DaniRadoshevich

Perhaps the most problematic things I saw in the trailer were the siren sounds smattered over the whole thing, and the clip of two innocuous men shaking hands in front of Foam on Jefferson and Cherokee at (:30). If you’re going to blatantly objectify two anonymous men greeting each other on the street to emphasize the phrase, “Just Before the Cops Get In!” over a little hip hop scratchy beat, you’re trying a bit too hard to make your hipsterland street look “super edgy and dangerous”. This show doesn’t deserve any respect if it’s going to play with Reagan era racist tropes about the inner city it supposedly “loves”. Learn to respect your neighbors, even those who don’t own an art gallery or gluten free cupcake shop. This makes the Cherokee gentrifiers look [extra] ugly. People that sell racist images of their neighbors should not be allowed to move to St. Louis city. 

AlanTaylor
AlanTaylor

Who the fuck is Chris Haxel? Really, who the fuck? He's not a journalist because he writes like an English major with low self-esteem. He's not a TV critic because he'd otherwise not compare a three-episode Discovery reality show to the fucking Wire, which is like burdening an ant farm with the complexities of Shanghai. He's also not a historian because he wouldn't have invented a stereotype like "rustbelt scorn" (?) to justify an equally fictional phrase like "American psyche." Who he is is someone somehow surprised by "ruin porn" (porn being Haxel's lip-trembling projection) in a show called SALVAGE CITY. It could have been set in plenty of midwestern cities that have precipitously emerged "into" post-industrial economies. How any of this amounts to betrayal, though, makes me think Haxel wasn't potty trained. 


If people are credulous or astoundingly dumb enough, like Haxel, to judge St. Louis by this show, they shouldn't be allowed to move there anyway.

kristinmd
kristinmd

And, dear god people, do you not know about reality television yet? Is it really blowing everyone's mind this much that there's a man behind the curtain?

kristinmd
kristinmd

Reality television: no masterwork of cinema as these shows are not intended to be.

Reclaimed items: that chandelier from Cave Ballroom would be buried under the rubble of the roof and West wall that collapsed a few weeks ago. Is that better?

St. Louis: unfortunately (wrongly) suffers from a major inferiority complex and has for a long time. Reality shows don't "give us a bad rep", the decay and real track record of letting these buildings go to shit does.

The internet: allows people to say any number absurd things they would never dare to say in person but... like it or not... Haters still talk about it, which is pure gold for a show that's meant to be controversial. This is the conversation it was meant to spark, so realize your hate is being used for good, or evil whatever you want to call it.

Benjamin Simms
Benjamin Simms

Talk to me when you have renovated over 60 derelict properties, lost your ass on the cheap rents and disproportionate wages and the crash of '08, and still pressed on preserving historic buildings. I am proud to be Sam's friend, and nothing in this show is "selling out" "your" city. It's preserving "appendages" that are non-code compliant or serve no use to a renovation, and putting them to alternative use. But I will let him know Mark Reynolds says he is a Chump when I see him.

Mark Reynolds
Mark Reynolds

Tell your friend not to sell out my city Chump

Matt Thomas
Matt Thomas

He owns a bar on Cherokee. I forgot the name of it

Don Bittle
Don Bittle

There's no excuse for Discovery condoning or encouraging or dismissing this illegal behavior.

MiMi Brown
MiMi Brown

"Haters don't go on vacation or take holidays off. Haters just hate" -Trotter

MiMi Brown
MiMi Brown

Salvage City Cast LIVE on KPLR Ch 11 right now!

Benjamin Simms
Benjamin Simms

Ton of Haters on here...this City IS a mini-Detroit. It is full of abandoned buildings, derelict property owners including the City itself. Why let Southern Metal make all the $$ when the crackheads rob the copper, let these pieces be preserved. And any idiot that thinks the items taken could be preserved in a renovation is clearly an "arm-chair" rehabber. This kind of reaction cones from a City that can't recruit growth, asks what high school you went to, and only comes into the City for Cards/Blues games. Put your f'g money where your mouth is and renovate these eyesores, if you can get a local bank to lend a nickel inside the City Lines.

Greg Kiger
Greg Kiger

To Erins point; we St. Louisans can not watch all we want but if it has a national audience it a) stays on the air and b) unfairly portrays our fine City as something it's not, much to our real economic detriment.

Laura Dee
Laura Dee

If he's not really stealing, he IS lying and I don't care for that, either.

Laura Dee
Laura Dee

Dude's a thief. Plain and simple. And I hate that he is representing my city.

Heather Silver
Heather Silver

I liked the history of StL that the show offers, but not sure how I feel about them profiting off stolen items. I can't celebrate that when there is already enough crime in this city.

Mark Reynolds
Mark Reynolds

Guy sounds like a complete douchebag. What piece of shit bar does hr own?

Alex Peck
Alex Peck

Sounds pretty accurate to me.Im a native st.louisan&am realistic about how bad my hometown is run by crooks&self-absorbed locals.I am a proud resident of springfield,mo.now..

Erin Shetler
Erin Shetler

If you don't like it, don't watch. BS reality shows exist because we have an appetite for them. If no one watches, it will go away. If they do, he'll get his 15 minutes and be gone. St. Louis needs to stop worrying so much about looking better from the outside and start fixing things from the inside -- like all the abandoned buildings. If you really don't like how StL looks, turn the TV off and do something about it.

kangoids
kangoids

My favorite part was the time lapse "sunrise" in the Crystal City episode.

"Something's not right" said my wife...sure enough, it was a sunset played backwards!

"Reality TV". What a bunch of fakers.

ozzdog
ozzdog

St Louis is the bomb! It has all sorts of great stuff like the Cardinals, Ted Drewe's. And at Christmas it's awesome. Cancel this crappy show and get a show about the real St Louis.

Stacy Pants
Stacy Pants

Nooooo theyre gonna show off all our secret buildings and they're all gonna get boarded up. :C hell no

JP Doyle
JP Doyle

Ok. Everyone should know that he is not breaking into buildings and stealing shit. He had permission to do everything he did from the city. I didn't much care for the show myself, but boycotts of their businesses are NOT in order. It's all fake and scripted. Just relax everyone.

Rob Sewell
Rob Sewell

He wants to preserve St. Louis history yet he steals from buildings that are not being torn down and selling what he salvages to out of town buyers.

Jerry Tovo
Jerry Tovo

I'm embarrassed for him and the city. What's next, stealing Duck Calls

Cindy Bilchik
Cindy Bilchik

The problem with this show is what he does is illegal. Companies, pay to have access to these houses/buildings to salvage stuff. He comes in before hand and steals.Due to regulations it takes them a little bit longer to get in there because they have make sure that they clean it up. When he pulls stuff down and whatnot he could be exposing the air to lead and abestos At least he is providing evidence that he does do this if these companies want to take him to court.

Rob Johns
Rob Johns

Sell out. And the show if fake as hell. Its completely staged when he "breaks into" places. Wont ever watch that crap again

Scott Dougherty
Scott Dougherty

How can he just take things out of these buildings without getting arrested?

Eric O'Brien
Eric O'Brien

Another idiot looking to cash in on the urbex subculture, when he's basically going to destroy it by shining a spotlight on it and giving it a bad name by stealing. Take only pictures, leave only footprints, asshole.

Steve Dixon
Steve Dixon

He wasn't arrested because he has permission to enter every building. There is nothing REAL about the show.

stlbecky
stlbecky

Couldn't agree with you more

glenng
glenng

I hope your not so ignorant that you actually believe they are breaking and entering?  They are obviously getting permission since Discovery can't would never place themselves in a place to be held liable for a crime they actually put on the air.

coles_mariah
coles_mariah

It's not illegal behavior - obviously Discovery would be held liable if Sam or his crew were to be arrested. They have to protect themselves too. It's filmed under the pretense of being illegal. Reality tv isn't really reality. Duh. I mean, it's 2013. How do people not know this yet?

coles_mariah
coles_mariah

Suddenly it's "your" city? I'm pretty sure the main guy was born and raised in St. Louis. Sounds like it's just as much his as it is yours.

glenng
glenng

did you think "reality" tv is actually reality?   Hope you arent that slow?

bill.streeter
bill.streeter

He's not actually stealing anything. It's "Reality TV" which means it's rigged. Permissions granted and releases signed and then they pretend to break in and steal stuff for the cameras. In case you didn't know this is how all reality TV works, everything is faked for the camera because if they actually presented reality it would be so boring nobody would watch. 

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...