Letters to the Editor

From the issue of July 27, 2000

All About the Benjamins
Cuba's musicians are anxious to cash in on the overseas market. But in the process they could sell out their sound.
By Celeste Fraser Delgado

Wanted Dead or Alive for Musical Murder
Brainless American mass culture and the Cubans who worship it:
Of course Cuban music is not what it used to be (“All About the Benjamins,” July 20). Today it is what Fidel calls musiquita when he has to dash off to the toilet halfway through one of his endless sermons. He tells the TV crews to put on some musiquita as intermission -- some “little bitty” music, or as Celeste Fraser Delgado wrote, “salsa lite.”

What happened? For one thing American culture has influenced popular music around the globe. The poetic, the romantic, the fervent rhythms, the congenial melodies -- are all being subsumed by American blandness, mindless pounding and whining, simian blabbering, and the rage of the untalented masses.

But Cubans themselves killed their popular music. On the “revolutionary” side you can blame “socialist realism” of Pablo Milanes's nueva trova -- which ideological functionaries believe is edifying. On the reactionary side by the petite bourgeoisie “gloriaestefanism” -- an embarrassing parody of Batista-era country club insiders.

Juan Flores

Editor's note: Owing to an editing error, “All About the Benjamins” incorrectly stated the estimated income of an ordinary Cuban citizen. The correct figure is $1540 per year. (This error has been corrected online.)

A Sign of Victory
New Times' jihad to scrub the skyline rolls onward
By Kirk Nielsen

The End of Visual Blight
It begins close to home, dear friends:
As Kirk Nielsen requested in his article “A Sign of Victory” (July 20), I did my small part to conserve and protect scenic beauty in Florida by calling four of the five billboard advertisers listed in his story and requesting that they find another, less offensive way to advertise.

Then I went outside and picked up some of the thousands of pages from discarded free newspapers that litter Miami Beach's sands, sidewalks, and streets. What can Kirk -- or any New Times writer -- do to reduce this other pollution problem?

Jeff Greenberg
Miami Beach

Your honor, I object on behalf of all officers of the court:
I sent out e-mails to all the billboard advertisers listed in “A Sign of Victory.” I'm glad New Times is pointing out yet another area of corruption in our county. But I also was wondering if anyone was amused by the attorney billboard advertising 1-800-CRIMINAL.

As an attorney I find it appalling that the Florida Bar approved ad copy such as: “If you need an attorney, call 1-800-CRIMINAL.” Hello? Is this some kind of admission by the Florida Bar? How about 1-800-SCUMBAG? Or 1-800-SHYSTER?

Kirk Nielsen should contact the Florida Bar and asked them about their “tough” advertising standards.

Alberto Batista
via the Internet

Covert Motive Drives Anti-billboard Crusade
Semi-communist free weekly seeks to advance hidden capitalist agenda, destroy competitors:
At first I thought “A Sign of Victory” was written by Ralph Nader or some other semi-communist twit. I am amazed by the balls of an alternative-in-name-only rag attacking the private property rights that built this country and the rest of the civilized world.

I shall try to define the reasoning behind Kirk Nielsen's venomous attack on the owners and lessees of billboards: It's ugly so let's ban it. The supposed reason for the outlawing of “excessive” public advertising is the “sullying of one of the Magic City's most valuable tourist attractions,” which turns out to be its view. Funny, I figured it was the substance of the city itself that brought people here. A view is nothing. It is not tangible and cannot be owned or protected or otherwise legislated upon without abrogating the rights of others who own and use the surrounding land that comprises the view.

Now, I know the established lefties who control the major media outlets in this nation have never been a fan of private-property rights (unless it involves their own), but this really is a ridiculous vendetta. From the first sentence, Nielsen bows down to the all-knowing, benevolent government, rejoicing in its protection of “your peepers.” I'm so glad that the purpose of government has been reconfigured to include keeping stuff pretty. Beauty enforced at gunpoint.

A question comes to mind: Why would you people at New Times wage such a “jihad” (your term) on billboard advertising? You wouldn't have any interest in restricting the choices of companies trying to get attention for their product, would you? Of course you would. It's a time-honored tradition in this country to use the government, for the alleged utopian common good, to get more loot for oneself. New Times is a huge advertising medium in this town. You might as well get more of the pie if you can, and not actually have to compete for it.

There is only one morally correct way to rid your view of unsightly billboard advertising. You can call the companies that appear on the billboards and let them know you will not patronize them unless they remove their ads and stop paying for the owner of the sign to block your view. Companies listen to consumer complaints. This was proposed by Nielsen and is the only part of his article with which I agree.

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