It's really not surprising to me to see Jim Mullin grapple with the far-out notion of patriotismo and decisions based on moral concerns ("The Cubanization of Xavier Suarez," March 18).

My first impression after I grudgingly finished the article was one of insult. Not my being insulted, mind you, but insulting to Mayor Suarez and Jorge Mas Canosa. It's incredible to me that Mullin cannot come to grips with the idea of Mayor Suarez making an individual decision based on what he feels is the right thing to do.

The problem some people are having is in trying to understand how a politician in Miami, accepted by the Miami Herald as mainstream, has the audacity to actually scrutinize the Herald.

It really takes a cynical mind to have to find an ulterior motive for the decision Mayor Suarez made. The easiest action for Mayor Suarez to have taken is to pander to the Herald the way every politician panders when they have something to hide and are afraid to get attacked. Since he has nothing to hide, he was able to look at the situation objectively, and he decided to take the courageous, moral road.

It will truly be a sad world when community leaders cannot make decisions without considering what the Herald's retribution may be. The Herald has become South Florida's dictator, not heroic men that have given up most of their lives for a cause like Jorge Mas Canosa.

Mullin works for a paycheck by smearing people like Mayor Suarez and Mas Canosa. I don't think that is what the founders of this country had in mind when they fought for freedom of speech.

New Times must go beyond one-sided, distorted, and insulting articles. I challenge New Times to interview all parties involved, not just those with a political axe to grind.

Jorge A. Alvarez

Rafael Navarro, in his review of the film My Cousin Vinny ("Meatball Hero Up the Wazoo," March 18), writes: "And, of course, there's good ol' Alabama racism."

There is no love lost between Alabama racism and me, but who does Navarro think he is? Mr. Spic-and-span? He complains about racism but calls me a "meatball." He's all wet. Back in Alabama they also make fun of Yankee racism.

Don't fall for it if he claims that some of his best friends are "Eye-talians."

Mario TreCoglioni

Tsk, tsk. All you people picking on Rafael Navarro. He's okay, even if he does believe there are caribou in Vietnam, not to mention in Apocalypse Now.

Maidel Barrett

I am an acting apprentice for the Education Department at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. I must admit that I read with relish the very insightful expose by Sean Rowe and Steven Almond of the evildoings of the Playhouse ("Backstage Drama," March 11). I should let you know, however, that the struggling theater community in this city has known for a long time what was revealed to your readership.

We theater people are supposed to seek truth constantly in our profession, but hastily turn our cheek when questions of our own artistic integrity come up. Therefore, "justice" in the arts is very rare. Those who can change things for the better don't want to make waves, and everybody else doesn't give a damn. For example, after gulping through the article that for weeks they knew was going to come out, the actors around me looked up from their papers and chanted methodically, "Well, at least there will be changes." But will there?

The late and great theater practitioner Peter Brook coined a word for theaters like the Coconut Grove Playhouse. That word is "deadly." However, "Backstage Drama" summarized only half of the definition of a deadly theater. Not only is the Playhouse an artistically defunct "road show" house where the talent is imported and the shows are trivial and tired, but the audience (which, by Brooks's definition, accounts for one-half of a theater's existence) is also the kind of audience that comes to see the theater for all the wrong reasons: people come out of a cultural obligation to see live theater.

The thing they don't realize is that the true essence of why we go to see theater has been long lost. Senior citizens (who, by the way, account for the majority of the box office at the Playhouse) come out to see nostalgia. Yuppie husbands come because their wives nagged them to. They don't come any more for the real reasons - that a theatrical experience should be like no other and that it should present truth; and they can't anyway, because this theater fails to give it to them. So here is our truly deadly scenario: Actors on-stage performing lies to people in the house who are there because of lies.

However, in the light of this morose portrait that I paint, there is a small but powerful fact of the Playhouse that ironically escaped your observations. In the womb of this deadly theater there is a small but strong voice for hope, and it is in the educational programs. The article, although understandably on the offensive about evildoings in the administration and the lack of artistic clout in the productions, failed to mention the activities of the only aspect of the Playhouse that has been consistently profitable since Judith Delgado took it over.

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