In the Beginning Was the Word

And the word was "awesome": I just finished reading Rebecca Wakefield's cover story "The Sociology of Suds" (January 8) and had to write to say that it was awesome. I wish there were more journalism being done like this.

I thought it was brilliant to use Mr. Lee's laundromat to explore a whole host of issues -- and people. That kind of reporting represents a new trend in journalism: finding stories where you might not have otherwise looked. Hopefully, the rest of the profession is catching on that it is the people who make journalism, not presidents and decision-makers.

Chris Coomey

Naples, Florida

Surging Seas Submerge Seattle

Scientists baffled: Miami spared by rising waters: I was amused to read the letter from Michael Sabo of Washington state, in which he blames "anti-democratic" Florida for putting George W. Bush in the White House ("Letters," January 1). Most people from Seattle wail about the U.S. Supreme Court selecting Bush. But Mr. Sabo seems to be suggesting that Bush was actually elected to office -- clearly anti-democratic. What's also clearly anti-democratic is the uncontested election that kept Jeb Bush as governor. Apparently Mr. Sabo defines democracy so as to exclude the choices of the electorate.

As for his snide comment about the rising ocean eliminating Florida, last time I checked, Seattle wasn't too far above sea level. My advice to Mr. Sabo: Be careful what you wish for. I doubt he will heed that advice, however, since his boycott of all things from Florida no doubt includes the New Times letters column.

Jared Blikre

Miami

Felony Dumb

Humiliation -- a punishment that fits the crime: Along with letter-writer Emiliano Antunez ("Letters," January 1), I too read Steven Dudley's "A Shot in the Dark" (December 18). Like Mr. Antunez, I too believe Mario Barcia should not be prosecuted for shooting the Miami-Dade Police officer on his darkened patio. And I am sure Mr. Antunez wishes the officer a speedy recovery, as I do. Barcia should thank God he didn't badly injure or kill the man. That officer and all others are the only things that stand between us and the scum who would do us harm.

Mr. Barcia, however, does need to be prosecuted for stupidity. Where in the hell did he get the idea that a homeowner has a right to shoot someone on his property? I recommend that Mr. Barcia beg forgiveness for his stupidity, be made to take a class dealing with armed-citizen defense, and do a book report on In the Gravest Extreme Role of the Firearm by Massad Ayoob.

From Mr. Antunez's comment regarding the Second Amendment, I have a feeling he believes that people would be well served by keeping sidearms for protection. Well, maybe. Throughout the United States there are instances of victims turning the tables on attackers. Unfortunately there are also instances in which people are injured or killed by scum who might have taken only property. Those of us who choose to keep a weapon at home need to become educated in its use through study and/or the armed-citizen courses given throughout the country.

Alan Rigerman

Palm Springs North

Home Sweet Havana

Fidel welcomes one and all to his island paradise: Despite what he says in Kirk Nielsen's article "Exile on Main Street" (January 1), Eloy Gutierrez-Menoyo is residing in Havana at the invitation of Fidel Castro's cronies. Is anybody so naive as to think the Marxist government of Cuba would allow the open opposition Menoyo is calling for?

Most of the civil rights we have in this country (freedom of speech and the press, the right of assembly, the right to make money, to have access to the Internet) are not available to the Cuban people. The Cuban revolution, like Marxist socialism, looks good on paper to the ignorant, but in practice it's a dismal failure. No wonder the only way the Cuban government can remain in power is by use of oppression and by outlawing all opposing political parties. Last year's arrest, trial, and execution of three individuals within a week's time tells you something about Cuba's socialist government. Only in Cuba can you get a life sentence for speaking against communism or for having access to the Internet without government permission.

Max Benitez

Westchester

Editor's note: Owing to a reporting error, "Exile on Main Street" misstated one of the four Cuban cities in which surveys were conducted about Cambio Cubano president Eloy Gutierrez-Menoyo's move to Cuba. The cities were Havana, Pinar del Rio, Las Villas, and Matanzas (not Matamoros).

Belly Up

At last an article that does us justice: I was part of the belly-dancing article by Rebecca Wakefield ("In the Belly of the Best," December 4) and I want to say I really appreciated that she went deep into our world, the belly-dance scene. Past articles have been light, superficial, and lacking depth. It's refreshing to read a story that gives us credit and lets the public understand that professional belly dancers are artists who train and work hard and have to deal with -- well, yes, we have our politics as well.

Thanks for a great article.

Beatriz Arencibia ("Bozenka")

Aventura

Bellyache

Why publish an article that tears us down? Having been a theater technician, a writer, and most recently a belly-dance student, I was appalled at Rebecca Wakefield's "In the Belly of the Best." It is absolutely discouraging to see what could have been a potential upswing for the community instead come crashing down owing to biased and degrading writing.

First things first: Shame on New Times for publishing an article that contained slander. It was also incompletely researched and seemed to be a promotional tool for Tamalyn Dallal and her dance school. If that was the intention, the article should have been featured in "Kulchur" or the arts section of the paper.

Shame also on Rebecca Wakefield for writing an article better suited to angst-ridden teenagers than to readers seeking education. "In the Belly of the Best" was focused on mudslinging and controversy. I heard from some of those interviewed that Ms. Wakefield fed them negative comments to demean other dancers. True ladies refrain from this and talk about others' differences -- not others' faults.

And shame on Tamalyn Dallal for choosing to scathe the reputations of other dancers in South Florida. Readers were not informed that some of the teachers being bashed were in fact previously her students. This is not professional. The entertainment industry does not look kindly on those who gossip and devalue. Community is about lifting each other up. Creating rifts for the sake of press gets old.

One educates by example, so students beware if this is the example you want!

Barbara Lang

Miami

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