Letters from the Issue of March 4, 2004

From nightclubs to culture wars to defending the defenders

Kendall: Nightlife Hotspot

No velvet ropes, no overpriced cocktails, and lots of free parking: After reading Rebecca Wakefield's article "Rope Tricks" (February 26), I now know why these South Beach nightspots come and go so rapidly: They refuse entry to almost everyone! Do you think Burdines should tell fat people not to shop at its stores?

Those nightclubs are so dark and cavernous, who can see what anyone looks like anyway? If I owned a club that charged twenty dollars for admission and ten dollars for a drink, I would admit anyone, everyone. An owner's goal is to make money, isn't it?

I'll be happy to remain in Kendall, go to restaurants and clubs that covet my business, and enjoy the free parking.

Alan Bloom


Editor's note: Owing to a reporting error in "Rope Tricks," real estate developer Peter Ehrlich was misidentified as a partner in the restaurant Tantra. Ehrlich is a partner in the same Miami-based real estate company as Tantra owner Tim Hogle, but he has no ownership interest in the restaurant. New Times regrets the error.

Miami Beach's

Complex Creativity

Cultures don't have to clash, and free weeklies shouldn't throw bombs: Regarding Brett Sokol's "Kulchur" column about the Miami Beach Cultural Arts Council ("Culture Snob Alert," February 26), what matters to Miami Beach's residents and visitors is that the city commission and the CAC find common ground to ensure the vitality of the arts. As a five-year CAC member and recent chairwoman, I know there's much to build on. The CAC has funded more than 80 groups of all descriptions through a process that values both artistic excellence and community impact. We've worked to improve facilities and have created programs imitated by neighboring communities that have been quick to learn the arts are an economic catalyst.

The ever-shifting complexity of Miami Beach provides fertile soil for creativity. But complexity can spark anxiety and misunderstanding. "Going to war" is one response -- a provincial one, as the Miami Light Project's Beth Boone suggests. Such a response gets in the way of meeting real challenges and, alas, invites New Times to jump into the fray with provocative labels that exacerbate the rifts.

Miami Beach artists need and deserve support, and lots of us who live here are eager to help. We will draw from the arts the imagination and energy to agree on things we want to accomplish, and we'll strive for those goals the way we always have -- by arguing with passion, then evolving to consensus.

Nancy Wolcott

Miami Beach

I Was a Victim of the Beach's Culture Wars

And I have a question: Is it American-Latino or Latino-American? I read with great interest Brett Sokol's article about the duplicity and dastardly actions of Miami Beach Commissioner Matti Bower in sabotaging the appointment process to the Cultural Arts Council. I was one of the eighteen "victims" -- approved enthusiastically by the council, promised the support of Matti Bower herself, and then completely abandoned by her as she entered her personal last-minute nominees.

I am a current member of the Fine Arts Board and would have resigned from that position for an appointment to the CAC. In fact I submit that no one now serving on the council has qualifications exceeding mine. (My application and résumé are on file at city hall.)

Mr. Sokol might also look into the attitude and agenda of Commissioner José Smith, who has never responded to my efforts to communicate with him -- six letters, four e-mails, and five telephone calls.

We in the world of the arts are serious about our intentions to enhance the cultural atmosphere here in Miami Beach. But people like me become angry and frustrated when rejected in such a manner. Are Miami and Miami Beach trying to become cultural American cities with a Latino flavor? Or are we becoming Latino cities with a slight American flavor?

Gordon M. Saks

Miami Beach

The Defenders:

Compelled to Action

I'll gladly sacrifice my editorial virginity for Bennett Brummer: The subheadline of Rebecca Wakefield's article "Sustained Objections (February 19) reads: "A group of young attorneys are in open revolt against their boss -- Public Defender Bennett Brummer." It seems to me it would more aptly read: "A group of young attorneys and at least one New Times journalist...."

Lest you think this letter is from one as notably partisan and agenda-laden as the sources for Ms. Wakefield's article, quite the opposite is true. I write this as a Republican with no partisan stake here, and as an attorney completely removed from the Miami political scene.

This constitutes my very first letter to the editor of any publication. At age 41 I evidently but unwittingly have been harboring this virginal status for something that would so incense me I'd be compelled to act. Ms. Wakefield should be congratulated on that score.

I am honored to have served for the past several years on the board of Baypoint Schools, an institution that continually distinguishes itself for its approach to changing the lives of young male juvenile offenders. It was in this capacity that I first met Miami-Dade County Public Defender Bennett Brummer. It was a hot, muggy summer night at a Baypoint dinner. It was not an election year and it was not about politics. It was about defending the defenseless -- in this case, young male juveniles with little hope in their lives.

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