Letters to the Editor

From the issue of June 21, 2001

Humble Reader Offers Manager, Mayor Thoughtful Advice
Respond and repent, you two punks: I am writing in response to Jim DeFede's article "Shadow Dwellers" (June 14). One question: Who the hell do county Manager Steve Shiver and Mayor Alex Penelas think they are? First of all, Mr. Shiver, Katy Sorenson as a private citizen has every right to see documents pertaining to your activities regarding Homestead Air Force Base. Florida has public-record laws on the books. (You should read them sometime.) It's true that some information may be kept from the public, but those exemptions are very narrow -- things like pending litigation or information on an employee's health, for instance.

But Katy Sorenson as a county commissioner has the right to see everything. In fact she has more right than you do, Mr. Shiver. Her neck is on the chopping block along with the rest of the commissioners. Mr. Shiver, if I were you, and if I had left Homestead with its finances in the toilet, I would not be doing anything that might shine a spotlight on me.

Now to the mayor: Mr. Penelas, your memory is quite short, isn't it? You recently won re-election -- barely. You came out of it with your skin, not a mandate. Quit pandering to a powerful few and start legislating for the people, who do not want an airport between two national parks. Last time you escaped; you didn't "win." Maybe next time we'll have a county mayor for the people, by the people, and of the people -- not the powerful.

Andrew H. Williams
Miami

How Is Michael Jackson Like a Cancer Cell?
It's called dedifferentiation, and it's sort of like Howard Hughes: I enjoyed Brett Sokol's "Kulchur" column about Michael Jackson and his new, [locally recorded], album ("Wanna Be Restartin' Somethin'," June 14). I think this quote from the article explains why sales plunged between Thriller and Blood on the Dance Floor: "A source privy to the meeting explains the tension essentially revolves around the impossibility of controlling someone of Jackson's stature: “How do you say no to Michael Jackson? Hello? There are tribes in Africa that worship him as god! Do the words biggest pop sensation ever mean anything to you?'"

That also explains the evolution of his creativity from eccentricity to just plain creepy weirdness. When a person gets to the point of having so many dependent underlings around him that no one provides real feedback without fearing for his job, that person is in danger of turning into something completely unintelligible. (Does the name Howard Hughes mean anything to you?)

I work in molecular biology. Even in that field there's a similar phenomenon. When cells lose their connections with surrounding cells or the extracellular matrix, they become dedifferentiated and can turn cancerous.

Greg Jefford
via Internet

Europeans Absolutely Adore the Gloved One
Here in Italy he very much tops Mrs. Madonna: I was quite surprised by Brett Sokol's article on Mr. Jackson. First of all, there were some mistakes about the number of copies sold of Mr. Jackson's last two albums. The first album, HIStory (not HIStory Lesson, which is a remix), sold approximately 15 million copies worldwide (and being a double album, it should be counted as 30 million copies worldwide). The second one, Blood on the Dance Floor, sold approximately four millions copies worldwide (and we should also say it had no promotion at all). As of today Thriller has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide. These data are quite different from those written by Mr. Sokol.

Second, why the surprise at Mr. Jackson cleaning the recording-studio floor? It is a matter of good manners. It's being polite and knowing that if your own son does something he shouldn't, it's your duty to repair what he did and to teach him.

Third, Mr. Jackson's son Prince is four years old, not five, having been born in February 1997.

Fourth, I guess the family-reunion concert at Madison Square Garden in September is in fact long-waited by his fans; another concert date was added for September 10. There has been a great demand for tickets all over the world -- from Italy, where I come from, from Spain, England, U.S.A., Japan, France, Germany, and so on. All over Europe trips have been organized by national fan clubs to attend this concert.

Another thing just came to mind. Right now Mrs. Madonna is in Italy for her three-day tour in Milan. For the three dates she sold more or less 33,900 tickets. Two shows sold out and one did not, despite a big publicity campaign. When Mr. Jackson came to perform in Milan, back in 1997, no great publicity was done, but with just one concert 45,000 tickets were sold. What about that? When Mr. Jackson went to London, back in March 2001, he was greeted by fans coming from all over Europe and from the U.S.A. (I personally met several American fans), and here again trips were organized by national fan clubs to see him.

One last thing: Mr. Jackson's new album is now completed. The title is known as well as the fifteen songs. There's a big difference between an artist whose albums come out every three or four months, with just one or two hits per album, and an artist whose albums come out every four to five years and all the tracks are potential hits.

Thank you for your attention. I hope next time you write a more accurate article about Mr. Jackson, telling the true news and not just false rumors in order to attract more readers.

Ughetta Palmieri
Rome, Italy

Europeans Absolutely Worship the Gloved One
Here in Austria we believe him to be quite normal: I find it awful that Brett Sokol could come to such stupid conclusions about Michael Jackson. Producer Rodney Jerkins is not the most important person who will make the upcoming album a megaseller. It is Michael Jackson himself, because he not only performs the songs but composes them himself, sometimes with Rodney Jerkins. So Jerkins is no doubt an important person, but Michael Jackson does most of the work!

Last but not least is the statement about Michael Jackson's son Prince. Is it really so stupid and so bad when a father tidies up the mess behind the child? I am only eighteen, but if I had a child I would also do that. I think this is normal. Just imagine what your house would look like if nobody would tidy up the room when your child made a lot of mess? I think this is not eccentric or however you call it.

Helene Clara Gamper
Kufstein, Austria

Wendy Absolutely Loathes "Kulchur" Columnist
He doesn't know it, but his brain has turned to Jell-O (no offense to Jell-O): After making the introduction between Brett Sokol and Cheb Nasro, I was excited to hand to Brett all the contextual information on Nasro's native country of Algeria, their civil war, history, Nasro's music, videos, and information on his blossoming relationship with Miles Copeland (Sting's manager of 23 years), and I imagined their two-hour lunch interview would have yielded more than a discussion of Jermaine Jackson in an article about Michael Jackson.

I am sorry to see that either Brett is too shortsighted and small-minded to see the value in Nasro's story and life or that the editors of his article have so little respect for their readers they think they would not appreciate a story that would dare to step outside the realm of South Beach. Maybe if Nasro said his hero was Yngwie Malmsteen or Digweed, you guys would have shown him a little more respect.

I am sorry, as always, to have put any confidence in this newspaper or its staff's ability to report on anything that doesn't remotely relate to Cuba, corruption, or sex. I'm glad we were able to get Brett the "exclusive" he insisted on to do this very important "Kulchur" reporting. Maybe the reason no one in this country knows the locations of Algeria or Katmandu is because to our journalists they don't exist or matter. Brett may think he can sit on his throne overlooking the sea and comment on the shallowness and lack of culture in Miami, but guess what: When he wasn't looking, his environment sneaked up and turned him into one of us. Those who live in glass houses should cast no stones.

Wendy Feliz
Miami

Writers Can Be Winners Too
Editor's note: Several Miami New Times staff writers recently received recognition for work they produced in 2000. The South Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, which sponsors the statewide Sunshine State Awards, honored the paper's editorial staff with a first prize in the deadline-news category for coverage of the federal raid on the Miami home of Elian Gonzalez. Kirk Nielsen, Tristram Korten, and former staff writer Ted B. Kissell took first place in nondeadline business reporting for their special report on Carnival Cruise Lines. Kathy Glasgow, Brett Sokol, and Celeste Fraser Delgado tied for first place in foreign reporting for their individual stories from Cuba. Robert Andrew Powell won two awards, a first place for nondeadline reporting and a second for nondeadline sports reporting. Tristram Korten took third place for feature reporting.

The Atlanta chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists sponsors a regional contest encompassing eleven states in the Southeast. Known as the Green Eyeshade Excellence in Journalism Awards, the sponsors recently honored the staff once again for coverage of the Elian raid. Jacob Bernstein won first place in nondeadline reporting. Robert Andrew Powell took two first-place awards for investigative and sports reporting. Former staffer Ted B. Kissell won second place in sports reporting. Jim DeFede and Mia Leonin were awarded second-place awards for serious commentary and criticism, respectively. A complete list and links to the stories can be found on our "Awards" page.

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