Peter E. Parisi was called a lot of things during his time in St. Louis, but I never heard him described as a "genius."
Guess what, folks Pete Parisi was truly a genius.
Parisi, sadly, is no longer with us; he died Jan. 19 at a Broward County, Fla., hospital of complications of diabetes. P.E.P., as he sometimes called himself, was taken there in December after falling into a diabetic coma in mid-November.
Without a doubt, the St. Louis media hell, the entire St. Louis area is poorer for his loss.
Parisi was probably best known for his long-running, public-access cable television show called "World Wide Magazine." Shown mostly on Friday and Saturday nights in St. Louis and its environs, the program focused on ordinary people (sometimes) making fun of the powers-that-be in St. Louis, whether they were corporate, civic or political.
Other times, Parisi would invade some sort of festival or show and proceed to satirize the entire event before he, his crew and his rotating cast of characters would be ejected oftentimes by some smarmy, PR-type or someone who would be clearly offended or uncomfortable with Parisi's often politically incorrect line of questioning.
I have to admit my brother Colin and I once took part in Parisi's tomfoolery and by golly, are we proud of it!
I first heard of "World Wide Magazine" quite by accident. I had moved back to Granite City in the summer of 1996 after several years in the Carolinas. I was flipping through the cable channels in the apartment I was sharing with my brother at time and came across the show.
I asked Colin what this show was and he told me about some of the wacky adventures Pete and his cast went on over the years. Truth be told, I was hooked immediately.
I mean, here was a program willing to take on and poke fun at just about everything there was under the sun in the St. Louis area from the Ku Klux Klan to Civic Progress to every hoosier (and, these days, that seems to be at least three-quarters of the population, in my opinion) in Granite City.
When Pete and the gang went to the now-infamous 1996 Miss Club Fetish Pageant at the Galaxy on Washington Avenue, Colin and I decided we had to go. We went up to Pete and talked to him briefly to see if there was anything we could do to be on the show.
A few months later, Pete took Colin and I, along with another Granite City resident named Jack Calve, for a tour of what's now basically a shell downtown Granite City for a segment entitled "Jack Calve's Secret Granite City."
For some reason, Granite City was a favorite target of Parisi. "It reminds me of my hometown in New Jersey," he once told me, and with the stench coming from Granite City Steel and other stuff, he probably wasn't too far from the truth maybe too close to the truth, in fact, for some in Granite City to handle.
While we were taping a gag in front of one of the many storefront missions that sprang up in once-thriving department stores and specialty shops, some couple interrupted us, claimed to own the building and guess what threw us out!
An argument ensued, all caught on tape. The two hoosier types claimed to never have seen the show, but said to Pete, "all you have is those sex flicks on channel 3." (That was the public-access channel the show aired on when Charter-Illinois ran the show).
The two continued to rip into us, then threatened to "sues youse" (that's right they actually said that) if any of the footage aired. "If you didn't like the show so much," I yelled at them, "then why the hell do you keep watching it?" I don't think they had much of an answer.
When the female half of the duo repeated her "sex flicks" charge, Pete retorted her as only Pete could: "That's right we have the Feeney Brothers engaged in TORRID, TORRID SEX!!!"
I guess a good relationship between P.E.P. and the two of us ensued from that point on.
Sadly, we didn't do too much taping for the show after that. But every time I watch a "World Wide Magazine" show or tape I have, I'm still reminded of the genius that was Peter Elias Parisi, his unorthodox view of St. Louis and the fact that even after all this time, his stuff still holds up pretty well.
God Bless Pete Parisi. As far as I'm concerned, his legacy will live on for future generations of St. Louisans.
Oh, by the way, that couple who threatened to sue us?
It's been five years now we're still waiting!
Brent Feeney is a resident of the Carondelet neighborhood in South St. Louis, along with his twin brother Colin.