Letters from the Issue of May 6, 2004

Tallahassee, tips, unsung musicians, and daughterly advice

Through a Shot Glass, Hazily

Free weekly opens bureau in Tallahassee saloon: Giddy would be the word to describe Rebecca Wakefield's "Welcome to Fabulous Tallahassee" (April 22). While she was soaking up the atmosphere like a schoolgirl at her first prom, she missed the story: The Miami-Dade delegation is losing influence.

The thirteen-member Cuban-American delegation from Miami may know how to party more than the other Republicans, but they are at best a swing vote during close splits. The detrimental change in the District Cost Differential [which determines the flow of state money to school districts] was a poignant reminder of where the power really lies in this state.

While certain members of the state Republican Party are going out of their way not to appear racist and unwelcoming, the story remains this: There are more of them than there are of us. "Them" are all the residents and their representatives in central, north, and west Florida. The "us" is the good citizens of Miami-Dade who are represented by Cuban-American Republicans, whose party is now in power. With nine Democrats weighing you down, there is only so much you can do for your districts.

In an increasingly diverse Miami-Dade there is little future for the Cuban-American elected officials who continue to harp on the issue of Cuba in order to maintain a narrow support base. If your base is less than a quarter of your district, then no one expects you to be around forever. Pols in such precarious circumstances who show their asses to lobbyists from BellSouth and the gaming industry can speed up that process.

While in the barrooms of Tallahassee, Ms. Wakefield might have foreseen the District Cost Differential reformulation being passed, but apparently she was too smitten to see through the haze.

John Santiago Stella

Miami

A Tip About Tips

With parking valets, it should be curiosity before generosity: Oh yes, the "Valet Sharking" article is true ("The Bitch," April 22). I used to regularly park my car at Morton's Steakhouse on Brickell Avenue because I had clients in the building where the restaurant is located.

On top of the valet parkers' improvised desk there was always a plastic cup in which to place tips. That made me curious. When you give a tip, it normally goes directly into the valet's pocket. One day while waiting for my car, I asked why they put their tips in that cup, and they told me they had to turn them over to the company. I followed with a comment that "they must split the tips evenly," but to my surprise the answer was No.

It hurt me just to think how much of my hard-earned money had helped the owners get even richer, so I decided always to ask before my well-intended tip ended up in the wrong pocket.

Name Withheld by Request

New York City

Ninety Films, Three Reviews

Is this any way to cover a festival? I was very surprised that John Anderson devoted half his article on the sixth annual Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival to rehashing a very dated story ("Out and About," April 22). He seemed obsessed with the festival's history, yet as he failed to provide any new facts or angles, I hardly think it counted as news.

I have been a fan of the festival since the beginning, and like most of the early members I gratefully acknowledge the huge debt of thanks we owe to Robert Rosenberg, the founder and original director. I regretted his sudden departure, and in particular the poor way the festival board handled the scenario.

Like many, I approached last year's festival skeptically, but was delighted to discover that it not only lived up to Rosenberg's legacy, in many aspects it actually surpassed it. I was therefore more than happy to look to the future of the festival and join the throngs of people upgrading their membership levels. I also doubled the size of my financial commitment for the next year.

It is now day four of this year's festival, and thanks to the gifted Carol Coombes and the wondrous Jaie Laplainte, under the stewardship of a new board of directors, I am one of several thousand moviegoers who have been having a blast. We have been treated to a wealth of superb movies we would not normally have a chance to see, and they have deserved the enthusiastic reception received from the audience. We have been excited, entertained, educated, exhausted, saddened, frustrated, and even annoyed -- but never ever bored. With some 90-plus movies (let alone the nine parties), this is the biggest festival ever, and unquestionably one of the most important annual events in our gay and lesbian community.

I add the last points because the article centered on a mere three movies, which I found odd in a publication I had, until now, considered to be the Beach's leading listings paper. Despite such scant mention, I'm pleased to report that practically every movie has been sold out, with long lines waiting for last-minute tickets.

Roger Walker-Dack

Miami Beach

Let Me Present the Best Unknown Musician in Town

And while we're at it, let me plug my show: Thanks to Lee Zimmerman for the article on Rod MacDonald ("Southern Comfort," April 22). I believe he is one of the best folk musicians in South Florida, and since he moved here, I think the quality of all folk musicians here has improved. It's refreshing, too, that he doesn't mind being called a "folk" musician, a term many marketers avoid.

Rod deserves to be heard, and I'm convinced his popularity would increase with more exposure. Mr. Zimmerman might have mentioned (assuming he knew) that the only exposure Rod receives on South Florida's airwaves is on my radio show, Folk and Acoustic Music, heard every Sunday from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on WLRN-FM (91.3).

Rod has an open invitation to come on my show whenever he wants.

Michael Stock

Miami

Daddy Not So Dearest

My father should reconsider his decision to trade with Cuba: John Parke Wright is my father, and I am writing in response to Kirk Nielsen's article about his endeavors in Cuba ("Cows to Cuba," April 8). I noticed the article failed to mention that he was once married to a Cuban American, my mother, Carolina Garcia-Aguilera. Interestingly my father references the Cuban-American community with distance, despite his intimate connection with one of its prominent members. My mother is a resident of Miami, author of eight books, and a board member of Amnesty International, and within Amnesty, one of the leaders in the crusade to help the dissidents who've been unjustly imprisoned by the Cuban government. I also have been actively involved in the fight for human rights on the island and am disappointed that my father dismissed the issue.

It is wrong to legitimize the Castro regime through direct trade. Any government that executes by firing squad its fellow citizens for allegedly committing nonviolent crimes should not be trusted. I strongly question whether the cattle making it to the island are trickling down to the Cuban people, or whether they are only for the enjoyment of foreign tourists and government officials. Sadly it is the Cuban people who are being used as pawns to justify trade with the Castro government.

To my father and the other American businessmen who are champing at the bit to profit from trade with Cuba, I have a message: The next time you're enjoying a Cohiba in your deluxe suite at the Hotel Nacional, or partaking of a wonderful meal with the Castros and other members of the regime, please do the following: Think about the poor Cuban people who are suffering as a result of the government you are engaging. Feel free to ask Cuban officials to show you the filthy holes where they are currently incarcerating the 75 dissidents. Press these officials to reveal who will be receiving your goods.

Please do not turn a blind eye toward these grim realities. You say you want to bring food to Cuba in order to help the starving people. So make sure it gets to them.

Sarah Almeria Wright

New York, New York

Erin Was Twitchy

And the offended motherhad to be Cuban: Wow! According to "Ass Good As It Gets," some woman with children took offense at the beautiful sight of Erin, a bare ass that made some parts of my body twitch ("The Bitch," April 8). Well, I'd guess the insulted lady must be a dork, frustrated at her mate's indifference to her, and she's likely Cuban (my own countryfolk, so no offense, but that explains it). I predict that her children will wind up on the wrong side of their gender, or certainly in need of a psychiatrist very early on.

Please do not disclose the woman's name, but could you just confirm she was from Cuba, as I suspect? That way we will all understand.

Michael Hidalgo

Miami

Ticked-off Tradesmen

Exactly what do lap dances have to do with quality construction?I would like to express my disappointment in New Times regarding Nina Korman's article titled "Construction Funkshion" (April 8). As a project manager for a subcontractor on the Performing Arts Center project, I would like to know what sources she used in obtaining her information. I question her ability to report the PAC construction story with any accuracy or true knowledge of what has transpired through all phases of the project.

I take offense at her comment about "shoddy workmanship." Through many years of hard work and quality work, we have earned an admirable reputation in the construction industry. Her article may have damaged our reputation and the reputation of many other quality contractors on the project. The article was also offensive in its stereotyping of construction workers as morons who would build a better building if only they were given a monthly strip show with lap dances.

If it was Ms. Korman's intention to stir controversy, consider her effort a success.

Eric A. Smith

Miami

Drag Queens in Denial

Hey you guys, it'sover -- nightlife is dead, time to get a life: Seems like the ghosts and ghouls of Beach nightlife at last have something to howl about: Thanks to Humberto Guida's "BuzzIn" column, they are finally getting their names in print ("Dark Obsession," April 8).

Beach nightlife is dead, so it's only fitting that these sad, pasty, unhealthy crawlers get nailed in their coffin by the freakiest freak of them all, the white-on-white boy, the oh-so-scary Nicodemus. This is the most press any of them has gotten in years, and they relish the whole can of worms.

These are sad people in a sad and fading industry no one cares about anymore. Washed-up, over-the-hill drag queens; tired old performance artists; and full-of-themselves club managers. People, the Nineties are over. Time to get a real job!

Steven Grossmann

Miami Beach

Desperately Seeking Readers

Free weekly stoops to using unsavory tactics: I enjoy reading New Times, but I think the paper has hit a record low in trying to attract readers by printing "The Bitch" prominently on the cover. Using cheap tactics such as this one, which relies on an immature method of drawing attention, is not very becoming of an interesting paper.

Jeff Kamp

Miami Beach

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