Letters to the Editor

From the issue of September 6, 2001

Those Crazy Artists
Phenomenological multimedia blitz flummoxes critic: Alfredo Triff's piece about art events "The House at MoCA" and "The Sears Building" ("In the House,"August 30) was at once supportive, instructional, and full of hope. He used his position as a critic to inform the community about aspects of the Miami art scene and its diverse interconnections. Triff's insight and general enthusiasm for young artists in this town is commendable.

An exhibition like "The Sears Building" was characterized by a kind of chaotic pleasure, a Fluxus happening, one might say, where the beginning of one experience and the end another was not always concretely defined. In that light one can understand how Mr. Triff could have mistakenly attributed the works of one group of artists to another when he wrote, "Projection-installations by Adler Guerrier accompanied the crossbred sounds of DJ Le Spam, Rene Barge, and Rat Bastard on the roof of the adjacent building that produced Mahler's Fifth, funk, free jazz, and twittering musique concrete."

In fact the projection was the work of Kevin Arrow, accompanied by a sound piece recorded by DJ Le Spam. Rene Barge and Rat Bastard's exciting performance was a distinct phenomenological object unto itself.

Adler Guerrier
Miami

Shark-Bite Solution
The dive-boat operators become the chum: Growing up in Sydney, Australia, surrounded by magnificent beaches, I quickly learned to swim in netted and guarded areas because the South Pacific Ocean is infested with sharks, the natural habitat and breeding ground for 165 of the world's 270 species, including the enormous great white.

Although as a child I was fearful of these "monsters" owing to several terrifying and highly publicized attacks -- sharks chomping through a surfboard and devouring a man's belly, cutting a woman in half and swallowing her lower torso, violently killing a teenage girl in three feet of water while her boyfriend desperately tried to punch it away -- I gained some insight into their seemingly unpredictable behavior through the enlightened research of Ron and Valerie Taylor.

Working mostly from inside cages or wearing body armor, the Taylors showed us that these beautiful beasts are an important part of our environment. So one gradually gained respect and understanding while also knowing that the awesome strength and agility of these primordial predators is impressive and should not be underestimated. In other words love 'em and leave 'em alone.

But not content with continually corrupting the Earth's natural oceanic evolution, as man has (including killing up to 200 million sharks annually worldwide), a few enterprising and money-hungry hustlers with no marine- or wildlife-research training have decided to wreck yet another ecosystem by bringing "food" to these creatures, destroying their natural predilection to hunt and conditioning them to associate humans with dinner. When the tides and currents wash these bloody, oily chum slicks onto Miami beaches, it will create a shark-feeding highway that will be an obvious scenario for disaster, not to mention a frightening prospect to any regular ocean swimmer or scuba diver, myself included.

No, the real sharks in Juan Carlos Rodriguez's story "Swimming with the Sharks"(August 16) are the greedy dive-boat operators who endanger the lives of naive and unsuspecting nonprofessional recreational swimmers in favor of reeling in the glorious greenbacks, the main motivation behind much of this planet's eco-desolation.

Nicodemus Hammil
South Beach Just the Facts, Ma'am -- All of Them
Into every life a little excessive force must fall: Ashley Fantz's story about Miami-Dade Police Ofcr. Ralph Wilson ("Serpico Negro," August 16) was so lopsided. She was quick to point out that Ofcr. Brian Mustacci's internal-affairs profile revealed he was cited for "discourtesy" and for using excessive force seven times. She also noted that Ofcr. Alfredo Palacio had six similar citations.

"Citations" for excessive force do not exist in the Miami-Dade Police Department. The correct term is "Supervisory Report of Use of Force to Control" (not as eye-popping as "excessive force citation"). Anytime a subject resists arrest, is injured, or claims injury, a "Use of Force Report" is written. Excessive use of force is a crime. It's called battery.

I'm curious about something. Ms. Fantz mentioned that Officer Wilson had numerous commendations, but she failed to mention if he had any "excessive force" citations. That must have been an oversight on her part. Did any of the other officers involved have any commendations in their personnel files, or was that an oversight also?

I guess if she had told the story accurately, it wouldn't have made Officer Wilson look like such a victim.

Name Withheld by Request
Miami

Ashley Fantz replies: According to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, "excessive use of force" is an informal term and not the legal equivalent of "battery," which is a crime defined by Florida statutes. Ralph Wilson's personnel file contains seven complaints for "excessive use of force." The Miami-Dade Police Department determined that none of them warranted discipline. Both Brian Mustacci and Alfredo Palacio have received commendations in the course of their employment with Miami-Dade County, but the excessive-force complaints filed against them were relevant to my story.

Prescription for the Commonweal
A civic enema, though unpleasant, will get the job done: My cousin, a writer and sheep farmer who lives with his wife and their son in the far northeast corner of Vermont, told me recently of a problem he had with this past spring's crop of lambs. After several years of good health, his herd showed unmistakable signs of a fresh outbreak of ass maggots. He'd already lost one lamb and was afraid others would soon succumb. This sounded bad to me, though I admit I am no farmer. Combining the word ass with the word maggots conjures up a whole host of unpleasant images, some of them actively nauseating.

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