The Oracle Dude

We called him the Fat One, and we listened closely to his words: Let me tell you something about Abel Folgar that maybe every other letter-writer has already said. The guy was the Blue Table Philosopher, the Kamel Red-Toking Oracle, the Space Cowboy, if you will, of Florida International University. I and many others had the privilege of listening to the Fat One parry and thrust intellectually about life, love, and loss. Actually he was just some cool dude that many Beacon newspaper writers like myself hung out with during lunch.

Did he ever take a class at FIU? Who cares? Give him a paycheck. His article on Miami prep life was a great piece ("High As the Sky with Noelle and Drunk As a Punk with Nayib," October 9). Kudos to New Times for bringing this guy onboard.

Victor Thompson

Melbourne

Got Jazz?

Sorry, Miami, but you'll have to head north for quality and consistency: In addition to his high school recollections of Noelle Bush and Nayib Estefan, Abel Folgar has addressed South Florida's lame jazz scene, but without mentioning anything about jazz concerts ("Where's the Jazz?" September 18).

South Florida Friends of Jazz presents high-profile artists monthly at the Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale, in addition to producing the Hollywood Jazz Festival celebrating its 21st year this November 21-22 (tickets: 877-877-7677). In the past year we've presented artists such as Kevin Mahogany, Cedar Walton, Tom Harrell, Mark Murphy, and Japanese piano sensation Hiromi Uehara, all in concert in our "Jazz Impressions" series. The 2003 Hollywood Jazz Festival will feature Danilo Perez, Larry Coryell, René Marie, and the legendary Stanley Clarke.

There might not be much of a club scene, but quality jazz is available, alive and not ready for condolences, in Broward County.

Ronald Weber, president and artistic director

South Florida Friends of Jazz

Plantation

Art Seen: It's Not

About Schmoozing

But try telling that to the myopic media: As a local artist I wish to thank Dustin Orlando and Tara Ferrell of OBJEX artspace for speaking up about the local art "scene" (Letters, October 9). I agree that local media only rave about the same twenty or so artists, when in fact there's an entire community of creative professionals in Miami-Dade. Orlando and Ferrell are not the only ones who have noticed this; Franklin Einspruch has written about the myopic way the arts are covered locally. Many artists to whom I have spoken say the same thing.

Moreover I can say that the local art community feels that exhibition opportunities are biased toward this group of twenty, so much so that there's an atmosphere of apathy. Why organize exhibitions when they're going to be ignored? In addition, most artists I've talked to have the opinion that the type of art being presented and fawned over locally isn't based on quality but on the ability of the artist to network, kiss ass, or sell a used car.

To be fair, I think this problem may not be just a local thing. The other day I was communicating with an artist in Los Angeles, someone who by all definitions seems to be successful: museum and gallery shows across the nation. She too was complaining about the networkers, bullshitters, and mediocre artists who were getting all the attention because they managed to be schmoozing with the right people. Selling may be an art form, but selling yourself shouldn't be the main definition by which an exhibition is orchestrated.

Andres Vidal

Miami Beach

Gordon, Diaz-Balart,

and the Constitution

The first two seem to be very confused about the third: So Seth Gordon thinks that anyone who believes in the right to travel freely doesn't "otherwise" care about the First Amendment (Letters, September 25). He also thinks that anyone who wants to travel to Cuba is interested only in the "cheap company of really cute slave prostitutes," and he agrees with Woody Allen that demonstrators with whom we strongly disagree should be attacked with baseball bats.

Why am I not surprised? After all, Gordon is a long-time business partner of Mario Diaz-Balart, one of four members of Congress who have, incredibly, been allowed to dictate not just U.S. policy as regards Cuba but also U.S. policy on the right of American citizens to travel freely. I find it ironic that so-called conservative Republican anti-big-government legislators such as the Diaz-Balart brothers oppose a constitutional right. From what I've read and heard, most Americans who travel to Cuba legally do so to visit family or to take in the culture, music, and people, and to satisfy a very natural curiosity, while it's middle-age European men who go there to pursue the jinateras, those poor girls and women who are trying to scrape together a few dollars to buy food and hoping for an "angel" to carry them out of the country.

Travel restrictions are not the same as the embargo. They are an affront to the rights of every American citizen, and they go far beyond the category of being "terribly annoying," as Gordon put it. I won't even try to list all the noxious and deadly dictatorships, current and of the recent past, to which Americans have been allowed to travel without restriction. And by the way, haven't travel restrictions historically been practiced most assiduously by communist regimes?

As for Gordon's analogy, yes, as a Jew I would indeed "fidget" at the prospect of a neo-Nazi rock band performing in Miami. And as a First Amendment loyalist and a proud, card-carrying ACLU member, I would defend with all my strength the right of that band to perform here, and the right of an agent to book the group, and the right of people to attend without being beaten with baseball bats -- even if, at the same time, I was protesting the booking and demonstrating against them. The First Amendment isn't just there to protect the expression of views with which we disagree. It's also there to protect the expression of views we find sickening.

Seth Gordon and his politician buddy could both use a course in constitutional law.

Richard Rosichan

Miami Beach

Gloria, My Passion

Her flaw is her strength and my obsession: What gorgeous writing about Gloria Estefan by Celeste Fraser Delgado ("Rewrapping Gloria," September 25). I have been a passionate fan of Gloria's for twelve years (I mean like every-hour-of-every-day passionate), and I have secretly known what the author expressed publicly -- Gloria's voice is sometimes thin. (Jeez, I can barely allow myself to write that.) Yet it's still a voice that captivates many millions of people. Celeste was right about why that might be. It's her we are responding to -- her example, her inspiration -- and somehow it wouldn't be as effective if she were perfect.

Great article. I am going to seek out Celeste's writing from now on.

Jay Williams

Spokane, Washington

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