By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
So You Don't Like Our Programming? Start Your Own Damn Radio Station
Perhaps one of the reasons the listenership of WLRN-FM has gone flat, as Kirk Nielsen reported, is the arrogance of program director Joe Cooper ("Static," May 7). Consider the following: A few years ago the station announced that it was canceling a Sunday-evening program of Fifties and Sixties popular music called Rock and Roll Revisited. I was regular listener. When I called the station Cooper called me back and said the show was being canceled because they were always playing the same numbers over and over again. In fact, they were not.
A little more than a year ago the Sunday-afternoon broadcast of the St. Louis Symphony -- which made up two of the meager twelve hours per week of classical music on the station -- was abruptly replaced by a rebroadcast of the previous evening's A Prairie Home Companion. I used the station's new Website to send a message that I thought the decision "sucked." (PHC is an acquired taste. It can be entertaining, but Garrison Keillor's melodramatic whispering, mediocre singing, and endlessly repeated musical motifs can sometimes be a pain in the butt. And there is no need to run each show twice. Fans can leave their hate calls on my voice mail.)
Cooper fired back an e-mail that began by noting that he was responding only because I had been such a long-time and loyal station member and volunteer (true). Then he informed me that -- and I quote -- "no one listens to the St. Louis Symphony," and added that I must be listening to too much Neil Rogers to use such language. (I don't listen to Neil Rogers, and that term hasn't been considered vulgar since the late Sixties.)
Cooper concluded with a rhetorical question: "Why not run programs that people listen to?" Somehow I took the exception to being considered no one.
I just renewed my membership after a one-year hiatus, but as far as I'm concerned, WLRN-FM is on probation. Listener respect must be earned. You do that by placing listeners first.
La Brasse Sur le Dos, Monsieur
The only good idea in Jen Karetnick's review of La Dorada restaurant ("Broken English," May 7), was the last sentence: "If they ... continue to assume that all their customers speak Spanish, then some customers might make the equally faulty assumption that they've dialed the wrong number and hang up." In other words, let free enterprise take care of the problem.
I'm still waiting for the first review of a French restaurant where the critic complains about the waiter speaking French.
Think. New Times is better than this.
Lesnik: Haunted by a Guilty Conscience
Mike Clary's article about Max Lesnik ("Miami's Man in Havana," April 30) reminded me of my life in Cuba. Back then I was a member of the Ortodoxo party, the most powerful Cuban youth association at that time, which was presided over by Max. Reading the article, I realized why Max talks about Castro the way he does now. I believe he has a guilty conscience. At a time when confrontation with the Batista regime was required, Max was doing nothing but politicking.
He did not lead the party into action. He also allowed the almost unknown Castro to take leadership of the young Ortodoxos from him. Castro then led them to the attack on the Moncada barracks. The rest is history.
Castro got the credit, the publicity, and the power in Cuba, while all Max can do today is provide his interpretation of events -- in Miami.
Lesnik: In Serious Denial
Max Lesnik is a true representative of that misguided revolutionary trend in Cuban politics that even today refuses to admit its monumental share of responsibility for Cuba's present chaotic conditions.
Lesnik: Knows What the Heck He's Talking About
It was refreshing and inspiring to read the article about Max Lesnik. I feel exactly the way Mr. Lesnik does about our country, Cuba, and I'm glad to see I'm not alone.
Being a friend of Castro and others in the governing elite, and traveling to the island often, Mr. Lesnik is far more qualified to talk about the state of the country than those recalcitrant enemies of the revolution and their unquestioning heirs who have failed to keep up with events in Cuba. Then again, they never were very au courant, even when they lived there. After all, the revolution did not happen in a vacuum.
I support Max Lesnik's brave efforts and hope there are many others like him around!
Lesnik: Lucky to Live in the Land of Liberty
Since when has the fact that someone is personable allowed that person to get away with the murder of tens of thousands of human beings? Max Lesnik's adoration of a tyrant with blood on his hands is reprehensible. Maybe he should talk to Magda Montiel Davis about starting a fan club.
Granted, the embargo is not the solution to getting rid of Castro, but to blame the embargo for Cuba's economic woes borders on dementia. Someone should remind Mr. Lesnik that it was his idol who took property and businesses from his most productive citizens. Someone should also remind Mr. Lesnik that those who have differed with his friend have found themselves either facing a firing squad or surrounded by the accommodations of one of the island's notorious prisons.
Mr. Lesnik has a right to his opinion. Fortunately for him, he lives in Miami, the supposed mecca of intolerance. I sincerely would hate to see what would happen to Mr. Lesnik in the land he calls paradise if he opposed Fidel's point of view.
Lesnik: While Max Plays, Cubans Pay
In my capacity as a journalist for many years in Havana, I knew Max Lesnik. He was a handsome young student, leader of the Ortodoxo youth, fighting against the corruption of the Prio government and the dictatorship of Batista. What Lesnick does not mention in his memories of his university days with Castro is the fact that the Cuban dictator memorized all the speeches of Benito Mussolini and rehearsed them in front of a mirror. He also constantly carried under his arm a copy of Mein Kampf.
Lesnik also did not mention how many of his friends had been executed by the tyrant. Has he visited Cuban prisons or talked to the Cuban dissidents who languish as prisoners in their own homes? While Lesnik is frolicking with the dictator, Cubans' human rights are violated and the freedom of press he enjoys in Miami is denied to the land where he was born.
Lesnik: No Castro, No Problem, No Lie
Please be advised that there exists a serious lie in Mr. Clary's article. On page 31 appears this statement: "... conservative Miami lawyer Leonardo Viota, author of the ubiquitous bumper sticker 'No Castro, No Problem'." This is simply not true. Mr. Viota is not the creator of the bumper sticker. As Mr. Viota knows, the creator wishes to remain anonymous. The "No Castro, No Problem" author has let the authorship of said bumper sticker slogan belong to the people.
Mike Clary replies: Mr. Viota has never claimed to be the sole author of the "No Castro, No Problem" bumper sticker. Rather, says Mr. Viota, the slogan grew out of discussions held by several founding members of the group Agenda: Cuba, an exile organization dedicated to democratic reforms in Cuba. The group was founded in August 1994, and the first bumper stickers were produced that fall. Mr. Viota adds: "Mr. Garrote was nowhere around when that slogan was created."
Speaking of Castro ...
I applaud the changes in U.S. policy toward Cuba and hope this heralds the first step toward normalization of relations. For far too long U.S. policy toward Cuba has been dictated by reactionary immigrants rather than common sense and tested international policies.
The demands of Cuban exiles have created a decades-old siege mentality in Cuba and ensured Castro's position long after he would have lost power had relations had been normalized in the Seventies, as they should have been.
If the United States sincerely wants to help the Cuban people who have bravely remained on their island for nearly 40 years, and wants to ensure an orderly transition of power post-Castro, aggressive steps must be taken to fully restore a friendly relationship with our neighbor as soon as possible.
Speaking of Knee-Jerk Anti-Castro Troglodyte Exiles ...
Thank you for having the courage and tenacity to deal with the issue of freedom of dissent in South Florida. For years I have felt shame about the actions of my government in siding with oppression all over the world while mouthing expressions of supporting freedom, democracy, and self-determination.
Engagement with Cuba's evolving socialism would be the desired method for capitalist co-optation if the United States were really in favor of reciprocal economic and cultural activity as per "free" enterprise.
It seems our government is more interested in obtaining votes from knee-jerk anti-Castroites, whose agenda I have always suspected has more to do with getting a handout from Uncle Sam than actually doing in Fidel. With all the resources and mercenaries available to them in Florida for more than a quarter-century, no band of counterrevolutionaries ever seriously moved to "liberate" the Cuban masses. Like comic-opera generals, they've sat in Miami or Hialeah downing buchitos and beating their chests about the great tyrant. While others try to seriously fraternize with real Cubans, these troglodytes go about intimidating singers and artists and other easy targets. Don't get me started!
HCN: Victim of Relentless Negativity
While we commend Kathy Glasgow for her weeks of extensive interviews to learn about Health Crisis Network (HCN), we would be remiss in our commitment to the community if we did not clarify certain issues raised in her article ("Fall from Grace," April 30).
In response to "Where does the money go?" it is indeed true that salaries account for a substantial portion, as we could not provide services without trained, salaried individuals. Skilled people are needed to staff the bilingual hotline and to provide counseling, case management, a free HIV mobile testing van, treatment education, children's programs, and a minority-based women's program. HCN's client load has doubled in the past two years, with the agency currently providing services to 900 clients per month. While fewer people are dying of AIDS, increased longevity means an increase in the need for services, especially long-term support.
Ms. Glasgow indicates that there have been "frustrating" attempts to inspect financial reports. We are puzzled by this allegation, as HCN provides regular reports to funding sources and appropriate authorities about use of funds. In compliance with our 501(c)(3) status, information on HCN's financials and tax returns is always available to the public upon request.
Ms. Glasgow also refers to HCN's challenges as spurring "an outpouring of concern and a raft of rumors." In her relentless focus on the negative, she gives credibility to unsubstantiated rumors by repeating them throughout the article. She cites comments from disgruntled ex-employees and openly hostile "community activists" who have used little discretion and less-than-factual information to spout their angry words through the years.
Indeed there has been an overwhelming outpouring of concern from the community over the past several months, but not in the manner implied in the article. In January we faced the difficult decision to downsize the staff and temporarily furlough employees without pay for two weeks in order to survive. An extraordinary event transpired. Dozens of dedicated employees came to work -- without pay -- out of a true concern for the needs of their clients. While the phones may have rung a little longer and some appointments may have had to be rescheduled, the agency's clients were certainly not "thrown into turmoil" as the article indicates.
As a further affirmation of HCN's community support, a record number of people -- more than 20,000 -- turned out for AIDS Walk Miami. Their presence represented an enormous "outpouring of concern" for community good will. However, only one out of three participants actually brought money to the Walk, which reflects the tragic misperception that the crisis is over. To the contrary, Miami currently has the third-highest incidence of HIV/AIDS in the nation.
HCN is here because we are needed, and we will continue to strive for improvement as we face the AIDS crisis as best we can. We welcome any input from the community, including justified criticism. The virus and its destructive path keep changing, and so has HCN. We are extremely excited about the pending merger of HCN and Community Research Initiative. This merger represents an extraordinary opportunity to pioneer a new standard of comprehensive care. We are poised for the future in order to address the real crisis: the increasing number of people living with and dying from AIDS who truly need us all.
Betty L. Alvarez, president
Board of Directors
Health Crisis Network
HCN: Victim of Baseless Rumors
As a member of the gay community, a participant in the AIDS Walk, and a past volunteer and small contributor to Health Crisis Network, I feel compelled to say that Kathy Glasgow's article was filled with rumors that have very little basis in fact.
I applaud HCN for not commenting on matters such as the departure of director Mark Lichtman, yet I question Mr. Lichtman's remarks. If he was so disgusted by the White Party as a drug-and-sex fest, then why would he take his teenage daughter and her friend to the party?
Name Withheld by Request
HCN: Victim of Sloppy Journalism
As an HIV-positive community educator/ advocate and the author of HIV Law, I write to express my severe disappointment with Kathy Glasgow's article. We live in dangerous times, as HIV infection rates continue to increase even as a damaging public perception that the AIDS crisis is over takes hold. The disease continues to spread like a slow-burning fire, affecting people of both genders and all ages and races, its flames kindled by the racism, sexism, and homophobia still defining our society. An accurate understanding of the disease, and our community's response to it, could therefore not be more challenging or important. Unfortunately the article as written brings more smoke than light to the issues presented. Simply put, the journalistic integrity of the work (or lack thereof) falls far below that called for by the urgency and importance of the subject matter,
Let's start here: Health Crisis Network is not perfect. It is simply a group of highly committed people, many of them volunteers, struggling to do their best as they confront a constantly expanding series of challenges with a limited budget. AIDS work is not easy, and despite the creativity and dedication of the agency's staff and volunteers, room always exists for improvement. All of the (too few) people who give a damn about the epidemic are being put to the test by its challenges. HCN is no exception. Nevertheless the agency's clients have the right to expect a timely response, competent assistance, and respect. I'm certain the agency will continue to work toward that goal.
That said, it must be pointed out that Glasgow's article, replete with inaccuracies, half-truths, and appalling stereotypes (such as her reference to the sinister influence of "the gay power structure," a thinly veiled charge of elitism that can serve only to divide), sadly misleads the reader about the truth of HCN's strengths and weaknesses. Where is the factual basis for her loaded allegation that the agency shows a "continued disregard for minorities?" In keeping pace with the changing face of the epidemic, the agency has not only reached out in innovative ways to help meet the needs of the female, black, and Hispanic people now being slammed hardest, but has taken the lead in doing so.
Completely neglecting the fundamental journalistic principal of objectivity in reporting, Glasgow instead sought out any and all sources ready and eager to trash HCN's reputation. She dealt in shadows, often quoting unattributed sources to reach her desired level of sensationalism. The technique makes for an interesting story but leaves behind both accuracy and fairness as casualties.
Glasgow's story will run only once, yet I fear that damage as yet measured has been done to the entire arena of AIDS work. The true issue confronting our community, after all, is much bigger that the name or pride of any one agency. Even as people continue to suffer and die, private donations are down, governmental funding is not picking up the slack, and public attention has largely moved on. How can the sloppy journalism in question serve any purpose other than to make a problematic situation worse? And who will ultimately pay the cost?
Your readership deserved better.
Paul Hampton Crockett
Kathy Glasgow replies: Mr. Crockett has mischaracterized the context of the allegation about HCN's "continued disregard for minorities." I did not make the allegation. That sentiment was expressed by knowledgeable critics of the organization.
For a Jerk, Robin Isn't So Bad After All
I have to say, I rather liked Robin Dougherty's review of my play Antisemitropolis, and I usually think critics are jerks ("Rocky Road," April 30). Thanks, Robin.
Some mistakes: The name of the character is Rose Landsburg, not Rose Lansbury. Rose is not a sixtysomething widow, she is in her eighties.
Okay, Miami, go down to Area Stage and check out the play. Fun for all ages!
Oh How We Love Our Scoundrels
Regarding Tristram Korten's story about Rickey Brownlee ("Our Hero the Drug Dealer," April 23), the understanding, affection, and gratitude the residents of Opa-locka's "Triangle" have for Brownlee is not morally different from the understanding, affection, and gratitude the Cubans of Miami's District 3 have for political corruption and Humberto Hernandez, which was normal in Cuba before 1959.
Antonio M. Camilo
Mel Gets Bopped on the Noggin
I really enjoyed Arthur Jay Harris's article about sanctimonious Mel Richard ("He Did a Job on the Mob," April 23). He ran against me for a seat on the county commission in 1958. I guess he chose not to remember that particular election. He lost and so did I.
He also has a bit of a hazy memory about the incident at the Shelborne Hotel with Reubin Clein. I was there as a candidate and so was Mel. Reubin, after being castigated and excoriated by Mel, did not wait to go to the basement to confront Mel -- he went up on the stage and hit Mel over the head with the microphone. I was there. I guess he may have hit Mel a bit too hard and that was what clouded Mel's memory.
I well remember all the bookie boards set up in the hotels, in particular at the Seagull Hotel down the street from Wolfie's restaurant. Lest we forget, back in the old days, with all the so-called mob people being here, we never heard of a murder being committed in Miami Beach. It was unheard of. Having lived here for 53 years, I remember all of it.
Mel also had some tough times with the Bass family as their lawyer for the museum in Miami Beach. As was later learned, some of the art there was not what it was represented to be. I remember one particular painting titled Lot and His Family as They Leave Sodom. I wrote a feature story about it for the Miami Beach Reporter (now the SunPost) in which I pointed out that this painting by Peter Paul Rubens could also be found in Sarasota's Ringling Museum of Art; another one was in a museum in London and another was floating around in the United States. Seems that no one ever said the one at the Bass Museum was the original.
Yes, the good old days of Miami Beach were far more interesting and safer that the pretentious days of today's crowd on Ocean Drive.
Ronald C. Rickey
Flood Us and the Little Birdie Buys It
This letter is in response to Jacob Bernstein's article "Really for the Birds" (April 23). The article stated that the Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) are unable to keep dry the area in which the Cape Sable seaside sparrow nests (from March through June) because there are people living illegally in a region known as the 81/2 Square Mile Area west of Krome Avenue. The article makes it seem that if only those people weren't there, the poor little bird would have a chance.
In 1989 Congress passed the Everglades National Park Expansion and Protection Act (Public Law 101-229). In section 104, paragraph 2(c), it states that Congress "authorized and directed" the Army Corps of Engineers "to construct a flood protection system" for our area. It mentions us by name, "the eight and one-half square mile residential area." There is nothing ambiguous about this. It does not say flood mitigation, nor does it mention acquisition of the area.
Both the Corps and the SFWMD make it appear that they would like to put more water into the northeast Shark River slough but they can't because it would flood us. They fail to mention that if we were flooded, the sparrow habitat just south of us would also be flooded.
The Corps states that they are unable to provide us with flood protection because their sponsoring agency, the SFWMD, will not approve the project and they can only do what their sponsor will allow them to do. The Corps also states that money for the project is held by Everglades National Park and the park will not release it. The Corps tells me they would have provided us with some form of flood protection years ago if not for these hindrances.
The agencies involved in the restoration effort are to blame for this mess. In the meantime a species may become extinct while government agencies bicker over who is supposed to do what. The sparrows have people to stand up for their rights. We have no one to speak for us, and no one will listen to our side of the story.
That Darn Herald -- You Tell 'Em, Hugh
Having read Peter Eisner's article "Uncertain Justice" (March 26) about Manuel Noriega, I believe Eisner was engaged in an attempt to drum up sales for his revisionist-history text America's Prisoner. I found his article to be as dubious as the 1993 documentary The Panama Deception.
It is interesting that Eisner made no mention of Luis E. Murillo's book The Noriega Mess: The Drugs, the Canal, and Why America Invaded. For readers who are serious about learning the sad history of the Panamanian dictatorship, Murillo's work is a must-read.
Furthermore, it is obvious that the Mossad agent Eisner quotes is the infamous Mike Harari. To present Harari's statement that Noriega was never involved in drug-running is nothing short of intellectual prostitution. This would be comparable to presenting Hermann Goering as a character witness for Hitler.
It angers me to think that ignorant people will read Eisner's article and accept his arguments as facts. In the future, I hope the Miami Herald will print less supermarket-tabloid material.
Noriega, Our Dreyfus
Your paper is like an Emile Zola in a sea of Citizen Hearsts, yellow journalism, and trendy headlines with faux-caustic ironies. Manuel Noriega was already tried and convicted by the media before he could get a fair trial (New Times is the exception to the rule).
Noriega is more like a political prisoner than a criminal. His only crime? Deconstructing the plush capital base built up by Torrijos, Barletta, and Delvalle, who, with a little help from the United States, built up their monopolistic empires. No longer useful to our country, the obstinate Noriega (poor bastard) was vilified and dragged out of office under the guise of being a drug trafficker. Imagine somebody else coming here and removing our president's behind from the Oval Office.
The Pandora's box opened by Peter Eisner revealed refutable testimony, phantom documents, and very questionable plea-bargain arrangements. Does anybody else smell a Machiavellian rat? It's about time we told Monroe and Manifest Destiny to hit the road and let some of these countries work out their own problems. Somebody needs to let that man out of jail!
Cuba Is Colorblind (and Other Myths)
This is in response to Kathy Glasgow's article "La Vida Dura" (March 12): Oftentimes when black Americans speak of the social injustices they endure because of their race, Cubans are the first to point out that there is no racism in their homeland.
More than once a white Cuban would say there are no race distinctions in Cuba, there never have been, and that all the people are just Cuban, not black and not white. But then it is those same Cubans who called that black musician a "nigger" when he refused to take a political stand. It is those same Cubans who fling around the word negra when I walk into a room filled with Cubans.
This is not to say that all Cubans are racists or that they are more prone to racism than anyone else. As a matter of fact, when I was a student at Miami Beach Senior High School, a Cuban, Rey Delgado, got me interested in pursuing a career in journalism.
The point I am making is this: Racism exists. And for Cubans to cry racism when they are linked with scandal, then cry paranoia when a black man or woman cries racism is plain hypocrisy. It's ridiculous.
For the first time in a long time, I read an article that brought me a realistic view of life in Cuba. For the first time in a long time, someone wrote about Cuba and focused on a group of people who are often ignored when we speak of Cuba. For the first time in a long time, I read a story about Cuba that I could relate to. Thank you, Kathy Glasgow and New Times.
Beware the Really Big One
Nowhere in Ted B. Kissell and Hortense Leon's article about Miami Beach's towering Frankensteins ("Builder Beware," March 12) does anyone -- not city officials, not the Design Review Board, not the mayor -- mention how devastating Hurricane Andrew was to Homestead. Imagine a hurricane that might have ten times the strength of Andrew landing right on Miami Beach. All that would be left standing would be the golden memories.
Pierre's Neighborly Greeting
I am an immediate neighbor of the street barricade I read about in Kathy Glasgow's "The Great Barrier Beef" (March 12). Let me bring up a few items that were not in the article.
The Little River Club had access from 79th Street, which they have decided to terminate by putting up an eight-foot gate, thus making access possible only from 80th Street.
When the barricade was moved to the north side of 80th Street, it excluded us on 80th Street from being part of our own neighborhood and brought in the riffraff from 79th Street and Biscayne Boulevard.
When Club Madonna opened, it brought more trash into the neighborhood -- johns and ladies of pleasure. What a perfect setting on a quiet, dark street, in front of your house!
And what about the INS building and the demonstrations that bring trucks and traffic in? They realize too late it's impossible to go west, so they back up fast and carelessly, not watching for children, dogs, and landscaping.
What about the Little River Club itself and what it brings into the neighborhood? People begging for money, for a job, looking for something to steal and resell -- anything for a buck! And what about their cars that zoom by, all that extra traffic and drivers going 50 miles per hour? How about the noise that disturbs all the neighbors when they have their loud parties until the wee hours of the morning? And what about cleaning the carpet at night with steam cleaner trucks disturbing my sleep for three to four hours?
The only thing they are succeeding in is disturbing and imposing themselves and basically not caring at all for Shorecrest, especially the people living on 80th Street.
Pierre Gaston Labelle
The Sagacious Mr. Sanchez Has Spoken
I have made several observations. Readers of New Times need to be informed about the Miami Herald. The Miami Herald runs the same articles that New Times has reported but doesn't mention New Times as the source. The Miami Herald makes it sound like they came up with the story. But New Times readers know they are lying because New Times investigations are more thorough than those of the Miami Herald. The scandal at the seaport was first reported by New Times. So was Bruce Kaplan's mortgage problems. These same stories were later reported by the Miami Herald as if they were their ideas.
I would like to make a modest proposal to the Miami Herald: If you are going to run the same stories as those in New Times, you should give royalties to New Times reporters. You should also list these articles under a new section called "Stories We Stole from New Times."