Letters

She Made Cuba Sing Again
I am Julia and Ramon Sabat's oldest daughter. It is absolutely incredible how Judy Cantor captured not only my father's personality and dreams, but the pulse of a nation and its people during the Forties and Fifties ("When Cuba Sang," December 26).

Also, without ever having met me, she was able to grasp many of my feelings and views -- that without envisioning what was ahead, my father made it a point to record the full gamut of Cuban music (much more extensive than that of other countries), which has now become history and a part of the nation's patrimony, as many of the original composers and musicians have passed on. More important, I understand musicians now living in Cuba have discarded any musical history in attempting to create a "new" Cuban sound (as in the "new man" theory so promoted in socialist states).

I truly believe the present rage for Cuban music is caused by the availability of these records. Our present, world-renowned Cuban-American artists have listened to them since childhood, and thus established their musical base. I always mourned the fact that so much vision and such a contribution was totally ignored, as Ms. Cantor very pointedly indicated in her article.

I received several comments I thought you would enjoy: "I am keeping the article to read from time to time, as it transports me back to that era" (from a friend more than 80 years old). Another: "Her style of writing is clear, concise, and effective in telling a story, contrary to the majority of young writers." And this from a very close Jewish friend: "She has to be a descendant of Cuban Sephardic Jews" -- first because Kantor in Cuban became Cantor, and second because my friend could not believe she could capture the "Cuban essence" so well without being Cuban!

I will forever be grateful for her publicly acknowledging my father's contributions to his country and his legacy to Cuban generations present and future, whether in Cuba or in exile.

Julie S. Alvarez
Key Biscayne

From Stockholm, Bebo Checks In
Thank you for the story about the Sabat family and Panart Records. The story Judy Cantor told about Ramon, Julia, and Galo Sabat is beautiful, sad, and touching. There were moments reading the story when I had to hold back tears.

Julia and Ramon Sabat gave all musicians a chance to realize their ideas, and I believe that Panart will never die -- the music is eternal. Seeing the photos of Ramon, always with his cigar, I felt as though he were still alive. And I recognized Julia instantly; she looked the same as she did in the Fifties. My regards to Julia and the Sabat family.

Bebo Valdes
Stockholm, Sweden

Not a Happy Time for All
The article "When Cuba Sang," about Panart Records by Judy Cantor, was quite interesting. I agree that Ramon Sabat was truly an adventurer and a man full of ideas. His colorful career surely shows it. Early on he even recorded Leonard Bernstein, who was perhaps not as widely known at that time.

Ramon Sabat's bouts with RCA Victor were discouraging, but still he kept on. Panart meant everything to his career, and when Castro ruined that for him, his interest in what he had been doing totally lagged. So much for Castro.

Sabat and Panart was a happy time for Cuba, but we must not forget the peasants under Batista -- the jails were full of political prisoners who were treated brutally (no different than today, under Castro). So while it was a happy time for many, including Americans making a trip there, it was an ugly time for many innocent people.

I hope Ramon Sabat's house on Calle San Miguel in Havana is still preserved.
Gabriel Powell
Miami Beach

See Him, Feel Him, Hug Him!
I am writing in response to Jim Murphy's thought-provoking story "First Contact" (December 26). I think something is definitely wrong in contemporary American society. Anthropologists refer to the USA as a "nontactile society."

Prevalent in the workplace today is the "sexual harassment" situation, where thousands of office workers are engaged in lawsuits against their employers for unnecessary caressing and fondling, or for forcing sex. These victims of promiscuous, inappropriate behavior have inadvertently caused so much public awareness of their predicament that we are becoming a society of cold, indifferent, calculating people.

Researchers like Tiffany Field, director of the University of Miami's Touch Research Institute, are trying their best to remove the newfound taboo against touching children. Field addresses such issues as part of a minority, because most professionals in the medical establishment are holding on to outdated, obsolete notions that being tactilely responsive does more harm than good. They are misguided but still represent the majority. Americans have been taught to keep a distance from each other because closeness leads to problems.

Groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous encourage newcomers to hug each other, one-on-one, to emphasize good-natured feelings and social acceptance. A direct result of these much-needed hugs is that people involved in AA and NA are less frightened, less aggressive, more friendly, and more sharing, which improves the camaraderie in the meetings. The motto is "Hugs, not drugs."

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