Letters to the Editor

From the issue of September 21, 2000

 Not the Times and not Vanity Fair, Perhaps
But not bad for a throwaway rag:
Wow! All I can say is thank you to Celeste Fraser Delgado for her incredible article about Manolín (“The Salsa Doctor Is Out,” September 14). It was fantastically researched and written, very much of the caliber I'd expect from the New York Times or Vanity Fair. I am completely blown away by the depth of her knowledge.

I went to Cuba with a guided group for music study in 1998, never having heard of timba. On my first night there, I heard Manolín's band at La Cecilia, and to this day I have not recovered. I have spent every free moment since then deeply obsessed with the music of the various timba bands.

I live in San Francisco but I flew to Miami in December 1999 to hear Manolín at Starfish. I also met and studied with some of his musicians. I also heard him here in San Francisco, as well as hearing his band without him, with his brother Lazaro singing lead earlier this year. On subsequent study trips to Cuba I've seen him many time sitting in with different groups. I actually have been able to procure a bootleg tape of the very performance Celeste wrote about, the one with Paulito's musicians.

So as you can imagine, I read the story in absolute rapture, reliving certain parts and eagerly filling in the gaps in my knowledge during others. Again, my endless thanks to Celeste and New Times.

Kevin Moore
San Francisco

Editor's note: Owing to a copy-editing error, the date of Manolín's first music job was misstated. He began singing at the Cabaret Capri in 1992.

Earth to Nehanda
Me, me, me vs. we, we, we:
Brett Sokol's cover story about Nehanda Abiodun (“Exiled in Havana,” September 7), a self-styled revolutionary and fugitive from American justice, raises an interesting question: To what extent should political idealism (and the acts associated with it) vitiate criminal intent?

Abiodun's attempt to separate economics from the socialist process is futile and insincere. Futile because economics is inextricably linked to the well-being of a society and hence to the “socialist process,” and insincere because money is the means by which that socialist process is funded.

Though possibly well intentioned, Abiodun lives in a fantasy world. The truth is that few people are willing to invest in a venture that offers something for all, yet too little for one. People don't want to be treated equally; they want to be treated better. People gamble not to win back what they put in (if that were the case, why even make the effort to put in?) but to win the jackpot. The grand illusion is that the “I” somehow deserves more than the rest. But it works! (I'm not saying this is right or wrong, just that it is reality.)

Polarity, the scientific force behind economic prosperity, cannot exist if there is too much of something. In Abiodun's case that something is not equality but the thinking that she (or others like her) can render or dispense it.

Manny Losada

One Slip of the Tongue
And it's so long, Nehanda:
Nehanda Abiodun brought to mind the saying “Don't confuse me with the facts, my mind is already made up!” This “revolutionary” could not concede anything wrong with the Cuban system under which she is living. Of course if she were to say anything contrary, she would find herself in downtown Miami's federal detention center in a heartbeat, with the Cuban government counting the reward money and laughing all the way to the (capitalist) bank.

It was also interesting to read Brett Sokol's “Kulchur” column in the same issue (“Out with the Geezers,” September 7) and learn that the Cuba-nostalgia movement in the United States is being belittled by the official Cuban media. I would tend to agree with them that Ry Cooder and others like Paul Simon are just recycling their own fading careers by picking up some “international” musicians and playing along with them. It also plays well into the multicultural thing that is so “in” today. The moral of the story is that we live in a market society, so we all have to do something to keep the money rolling in.

Here's a thought: The nostalgia movement really is part of the diabolical and sinister conspiracy to soften up U.S. resistance to the trade embargo, like having Arkansas rice and pork producers visiting Cuba to see how they might expand their markets.

Randy Koper

Ted's Lesson Plan
Slander and sensationalism each and every day:
I read Ted B. Kissell's recent article about the Liberty City Charter School (“Schoolhouse Knocks,” August 24). Mr. Kissell used the school as a springboard for political posturing and putting forth an anti-charter-school agenda. In an effort to politically denigrate one of the school's primary founders, Gov. Jeb Bush, and the charter-school movement generally, Kissell sensationalized aspects of school management over the past four years by focusing on isolated, one-time incidents. He did this by highlighting the comments of one disgruntled ex-employee and quoting anonymous critics of the school.

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