Letters

Herein lies a crisis. Our development pattern of sprawl and urban renewal by dissection is based on a presumption that cars and empty streets are good. This auto-nation mentality has bizarre consequences. Isolated inner-city black communities crowded with drug dealers who rule the street corners need beat cops and robust pedestrian activity. Instead, police and youth activists insist on first stashing away the good guys in jobs, then leaving the bad guys (the drug dealers) all alone on their street corners. Clearing the streets to provide a sterile void is not the same thing as building a community.

Years ago the good life in Overtown was the nightlife in Overtown. Have you ever heard an older white Miamian wax nostalgic about sneaking into the jazz clubs of the segregation-era Overtown of his youth? Have you heard the bitterness at the loss well up in the telling, just as it does in the voice of a black Overtown grandmother decrying the degradation of her community?

Young people freely congregating in public, displaying their dress, and bearing their success and sense of self-worth, is the best deterrent to delinquency. But promoting a vibrant Overtown club scene is a stretch when the Nation of Islam emerges as the most vocal activist group for the neighborhood's rebirth.

Overtown desperately needs a connection to the rest of the city. The basic infrastructure is there: Plenty of vacant office, club, and retail space is available. And the market is there: South Beach's Washington Avenue is overrun on weekends (creating a different kind of police problem). At the heart of the matter is the need for an awakening, an understanding that public spaces and public transportation are the future, and that Overtown is Miami's future.

The City of Miami should take responsibility for permitting and regulating a privatized short-loop shuttle system tied to the Omni, Bayside, and Metrorail, and fund lighted, tree-lined streets to promote usability. These relatively inexpensive first steps, coupled with commitments from the art community and other funded Eastward Ho! components are key.

If we really want to jump-start Overtown, all we really need is one slogan: "Freaknik South in Overtown next spring. Pass the word!"

Paul Berry
Miami

Congressman Ducks Israelis, Smears Humble Cubans, Lives Happily Ever After
According to Jim DeFede, Colorado Rep. David Skaggs appears to enjoy criticizing the Cuban community's political clout and the government money it spends ("A Legacy of Reason," November 12). So why doesn't he also attack other groups whose ethnically motivated spending has wasted many taxpayer dollars? Representative Skaggs referred to Cuban exiles as an "untoward influence [that] a relatively small segment of the population ... brings to bear." What would have happened if he spoke of the Zionist lobby in the same way?

During his search for wasteful spending, did Representative Skaggs condemn the countless millions directed each year toward our Israeli allies? No, not really. You see, the Hebrew lobby in America is incredibly powerful. Skaggs, afraid of this power, dares not cross the line with them, for they would declare him a Nazi and destroy his entire career and name.

Skaggs attacks the Cubans because he probably considers them to be mere immigrants, miserable and worthless, possibly even unable to speak English. I am particularly proud that my community taught this politician a lesson and showed him that just because we are a minority and exiles, the majority cannot tread on us. For this to happen would be a travesty in light of the political and social conditions of our recent history, some of which indicate that Washington played a pivotal role in Fidel Castro's ascension to power.

It is clear the United States owes the Cuban people much more than the measly $100 million spent on TV Marti, for U.S. political interference in 1959 caused the destruction of our country, the deaths of countless hundreds of thousands, the disruption of lives and families, and the oppression of our people.

Miguel Rodriguez
Miami

And You Can't Beat the Price, Right, Vic?
I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your informative newspaper. New Times is much better reading than the Miami Herald, and tells it like it is. Thank you.

Vic Lundstrom
Miami

Final Wrap
Excellent article by Gilbert Garcia on Dylan's recent archive release ("Forever Young," November 12). This is an essential listen for anyone interested in a historic moment when folk fused with rock and gave birth to a new genre of music.

This recorded document reflects a cornerstone of American music that gave rise to many of current artists and their repertoires, but also affected music on a worldwide basis. Congratulations for bringing attention to this cherished and finally released document, which many Dylan fans have had in their possession as bootlegs for so many years.

Mark Gaines
Austin, Texas

Errata
The November 26 New Times gift guide "Wrappin'" did not include creative acknowledgements. The guide was written by Barbara Drake and edited by Ben Greenman.

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