Letters from the Issue of June 10, 2004

Steel guitars, the Sambo Syndrome, scofflaw politicians, and Scully’s Tavern

A Family in Perfect Harmony
It's the Lord's work, and the Lord loves pedal steel guitars: I am the eldest daughter of the Lee family (the one next door to Mom) and am writing to say how much I enjoyed reading John Anderson's story about steel guitars and the music at the House of God churches ("Steel's the Show," June 3). Jonathan Postal's photography was excellent and vividly captured the essence of the story. John Anderson's words were truly elegant and gracefully described a culture and lifestyle that has meant so much to me for the past 46 years. I'm sorry I didn't get the opportunity to meet them when they visited my mother's home. I'm usually the one who stays busy behind the scenes. When they were at the church, I was busy in the office there. So when they came to visit Momma, I was probably at work somewhere as well.

Thanks to New Times for selecting the Lee family and highlighting the Lee boys and the history of our family's musical background. Before my brother Glenn passed away, I remember him introducing me to a beautiful young lady (sorry I can't recall her name) who was a New Times staff writer interested in doing a story on his ministry. I am grateful that New Timesfollowed through on this project.

I am so proud that Alvin, Keith, Derrick, Earl (my son), Lil Alvin, and Roosevelt found the strength and courage to get organized and share our music with the world. My dad and Glenn would be so happy with this work they're doing.

My youngest son Jonathan will hopefully soon join the group as a vocalist. He is just completing his associate's degree in drama at Miami Dade College. I am indeed a proud mom, sister, and aunt who is bubbling with delight and joy. On behalf of my mom and the entire Lee family, thank you from our hearts.

Robin V. Lee
Richmond Heights


Gold Teeth and the Sambo Syndrome
Free weekly updates its catalogue of racially offensive images: It seems like every two years or so you people at New Times do something brazenly ridiculous when it comes to portraying images of blacks. A few years back you ran a front-page caricature of Sean "Puffy" Combs, complete with a gaping Sambo smile, which brought to mind the racist pre-Civil Rights-era drawings of watermelon-eating blacks. The May 27 issue didn't stray too far from the stereotype. Though it did pull from 21st-century stereotypes, the cover photo was a mocking representation at best. A gape-mouthed Lil' Jon, flossing his jewel-encrusted gold teeth, is a remix of the old standard.

I could only assume the editors were attempting to capture the exuberance of Memorial Day weekend in Miami Beach, which draws thousands of mostly black hip-hop aficionados. But the crowds that visit the Beach for the three-day weekend aren't all gold-toothed, grinning, rapping stereotypes. We're a diverse and eclectic group. And clearly, we're a group that has considerable buying power. We're a group of mostly young, black, professional music lovers who can afford to fly down to Miami, spend an insane amount of money to stay on the Beach, go to clubs, and enjoy ourselves. Most of us are college grads or current college students. We're not the stereotypes the front-page image would suggest.

While I am highly disgusted by the choice of images on the front page, I do commend New Times' coverage of Overtown and Liberty City and the problems we face there. I just find it amazing that a paper that can tell the rich story of Overtown with such reverence could also turn around and slap a stereotype of blacks on the front cover -- twice. The problem, I am convinced, is the lack of diversity at New Times. For a publication of its size, it's shameful that the paper doesn't have one black reporter on staff. Perhaps if New Times took the time to make its staff look more like the community, these inconsistencies would not occur.

Terrance Smith
Goulds


Another Bad Rap for Miami Just what this town needs -- a rapper as dorky, cheesy, and sucky as Pitbull: In "Dirt Hustlin'" by Mosi Reeves (May 27), he writes about rapper Pitbull: "His primary appeal is pure lyrical talent...." Are you freaking kidding me? Jacki-O raps better than this east Hialeah boy. And I'm serious about that. I remember one of his many cheesy lyrics: "Y'all look at these skies and think paradise. I look at these skies and think 'what a disguise.'" Lyrical talent?

As for Lil' Jon being sincere about him and not just riding the Latin bandwagon, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, but judging by Lil' Jon's earlier collaborations, you wouldn't exactly want him to be the talent scout on your record label.

This much is clear, Pitbull really sucks. It's a shame he's found fame with those lyrics and that corny accent. And what drives me crazy is that stupid laugh in the background when he raps some rhyme and thinks we all should be laughing along with him. Yeah, call me a hater, but you can't tell me he has some "lyrical talent." His delivery is all right, but his voice is so weak you have to double it. Plus he's just real dorky. "Hustle and grind?" What's he been hustling? Granizados and churros? Give me a break.

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