Letters from the Issue of February 5, 2004

Volunteers, hookers, belly dancers, and our man back in Havana

Ms. Lang made her anger (and blatant envy) over the amount of space devoted to Tamalyn Dallal and the Mid Eastern Dance Exchange quite obvious, so it seems necessary to remind her that the article was about belly dance in South Florida. Thousands of dancers have received their training at the Mid Eastern Dance Exchange, and Tamalyn Dallal is known around the world as an incredible teacher with a knack for producing superb dancers. She has transformed the dance landscape of Miami. Nearly all the top dancers in town have studied with her, so it's no surprise Ms. Wakefield focused a good amount of attention on her.

But for Ms. Lang to insinuate that the article was a promotional tool was ludicrous. Many other local teachers were mentioned. (Incidentally the highly respected reputations of the teaching staff of the Mid Eastern Dance Exchange render promotional tools useless.) As a well-traveled belly-dance student, I have studied with countless teachers in several countries and I have yet to meet a teacher more dedicated to her students and to preserving this precious art form than Tamalyn Dallal. I won't even waste print space responding to Ms. Lang's accusations of Tamalyn "scathing the reputations of other dancers." Anyone who has studied with her knows how preposterous this is. She is always embracing and embodying the sisterhood of belly dancing, and continuously encouraging her students to study with a plethora of teachers.

This letter is not intended to be a defense of Tamalyn. Clearly a woman who is known around the world for her mastery of teaching needs no defense. Instead it is meant to deplore Barbara Lang for her inaccurate and nonsensical personal attack. Nowhere in the original article did Tamalyn "mudsling" or badmouth another dancer. Acting as a true lady (which Ms. Lang obviously knows little about), Tamalyn benevolently gives credit to all students who share her passion for this beloved dance.

Jackie Lalita

Miami

It All Came Out in the Wash

And Overtown never looked better: Congratulations to Rebecca Wakefield on her article about Overtown as seen from the vantage point of Mr. Lee's laundromat ("The Sociology of Suds," January 8). It was a pleasure to read -- historical, intriguing, descriptive, nonjudgmental, and poetic. A real beauty. Keep up the good work!

Edgardo Guerrero

Miami Beach

Greetings from Havana

No, Castro is not happy that I'm here: Thanks to Kirk Nielsen for his story "Exile on Main Street" (January 1). Understandably it took awhile for the paper to get into my hands here in Havana, but thankfully I was able to catch up, and with other editions of New Times as well. I read a letter by Mr. Max Benitez (January 15), who complained that my move here and my presence in Havana had been planned with the Cuban government. Max, this characterization is totally off the mark. As a citizen in limbo, someone without the proper documents to exist on this island, I can assure you I represent a headache for the authorities here.

This, however, will not stop me from seeking change and reform through nonviolent means. Hopefully, their headache will go away and they will see that I am an independent revolutionary who works for a transparent, freedom-seeking agenda that is galactic miles away from U.S. foreign policy or anyone's payroll.

I ask that you allow me to briefly expand on one aspect of Kirk Nielsen's interview with me. Just as I feel a need to unleash the creativity of Cubans here, and believe in the necessity of allowing them to share in the free-enterprise privileges that so far are only (or mostly) granted to foreigners, I also believe in responsible capitalism. I am a Social Democrat in the European vein and as such I am against neoliberal recipes -- the pillaging of our planet and the predatory economic forces that capitalize on destruction and reap the doubtful benefits of hopelessness. Additionally I am fully aware that interdependence is essential for any nation to develop and prosper in today's world. Interdependence, however, should not be reduced to the coldness of financial terminology. In the face of the world's countless problems, interdependence should be synonymous with human solidarity.

Eloy Gutiérrez-Menoyo, president

Cambio Cubano

Havana, Cuba

Tacoma, Armpit of the Pacific Northwest

Only joking! It's actually more like a sewer: Michael Sabo, in his letter from Tacoma, Washington ("Mother Nature's Way," January 1), says he thinks Miami -- and all of Florida -- sucks. He can't wait for rising ocean levels to submerge and eliminate us from the U.S. I find his comments quite amusing in light of the fact that Tacoma (to put it mildly) is an absolute dump.

I had the misfortune of visiting there for a concert while staying in Seattle. Being in Tacoma is the equivalent of being stuck in a sewer. I'm sure Mr. Sabo is at home right now, enjoying the foul smells of the waterfront, the rain, the fog.

Al Brown

Miami

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