Letters

Right now, and until the beginning of May, I and six other Playhouse education employees get up in the wee hours every weekday morning and visit one of the 60 high schools or middle schools we will be touring in Dade County. We present a play written by our assistant director, Patricia Dolan Gross, that addresses two very important issues in our schools today: drug use and racial tensions. After the show, we go into classrooms and rap with the kids about the issues presented in the play.

Cost to the taxpayer: $0. We are funded mostly by the Miami Police Department - $100,000 in confiscated drug money. Earlier in the season, we toured a show for elementary school kids that taught them through song and dance how to eat right, exercise, and brush their teeth. Imagine that. Theater that addresses a very topical and specific need, and it travels to the place where it is needed. Theater that Peter Brook himself might have looked at and said, "This is alive!"

My salary is seven percent of Arnold Mittelman's. Less than minimum wage when the time is figured in. I know no one on your staff would waste their time to write about how our department tries to make a cultural difference in this community, but it's just as well. Our real audience, the kids, knows what's true, and so do I. There is justice in the arts, it just doesn't make the front page.

Matthew Isadore Geller
Miami

DIVING FOR CULPRITS: MURPHY'S FLAW
Kirk Semple's article "Deep Trouble" (February 26) reads like something out of Murphy's Law. "If it can go wrong, it will."

I expect that when you do anything in this life that's subject to the scrutiny of your peers, as Lawrence Allen opined, "You don't want to look like a fool." That's true enough if the cost of being a fool is less than appearing like one. Unfortunately, the price was infinitely higher in the case featured in the article.

The whole purpose of "buddy diving" is hopefully that the lame will not end up leading the blind, or vice versa. From the text, regardless of water conditions, neither neophyte, Allen nor his girlfriend Tania Figuerola, should have been in the water without a keeper. Moreover, they were of an age that should have dictated to each of them that neither was experienced enough to attempt anything more than a totally supervised submersion. Ms. Figuerola had experienced three dives in six years! She was clutching that "C" card as if it were an ultimate life saver. It wasn't. It never was so intended.

Sport diving is a safe recreation. The hundreds of thousands of active participants attest to that. The fatalities or injuries of a serious nature probably reckon scuba with skiing, and participation is likewise on a geometric progression. There are perils inherent in both, although nothing compares with running out of air at 60 feet. It would seem people willing to assume the risk must bring to the activity more than a warm and willing body. While it might be possible to standardize the responsibility of the instructor or divemaster, no one can dictate to the vagaries of the sea. Under less than perfect conditions, the weight of the sea overhead becomes a burden some will never be psychologically attuned to assimilate.

I speak with approximately 1000 hours under three of the world's oceans over a period extending back more than twenty years. In the same twenty-odd years, no one in my company has suffered more than a broken wrist, and that from a pitchin' deck and bitchin' sea.

I am sorry for Mr. Allen's loss and the loss of Ms. Figuerola's life. Maybe it could not have been averted. I think it incumbent on the instructor, more so in scuba training than anything else I can think of, to emphasize there is no substitute for experience, absolutely none at all. I also think it goes too far to lay the obligation on the divemaster or the instructor for what - on the part of the participant - is a free choice.

Bill Stern
Fort Lauderdale

DIVING FOR CULPRITS: SEMPLE LOGIC
I found it unfortunate that Kirk Semple appeared to have taken sides with the person most responsible for Tania Figuerola's death by drowning - her boyfriend and diving buddy, Lawrence Allen.

As scuba divers (NASDS certified) my wife and I have found ourselves in similar situations more than once, when we were first certified. Many times did I find myself low on air and had to do a surface swim back to the boat. Not once did I allow my wife to be behind me. She would always be beside me or in front, and we would constantly ask each other how we were doing. That has nothing to do with any certification course that anyone may take. It is just plain, good, old-fashioned common sense.

Did Mr. Allen and Ms. Figuerola monitor their air supply throughout their dive? Or did they first check their air so late into their dive that they were so low?

My wife and I have dived Davis's Ledge various times. It is our most frequent dive. We use this dive as one of the first ones in the season, since it's considered such an easy dive, one that is very hard to get lost on. Because of this, it is an excellent dive for a novice. Furthermore, we have made this dive with the Lady Cyana dive operators. My wife has always liked them for their safety-oriented operation and helpful attitude.

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