Letters from the Issue of October 21-27, 2002

Porn merchants, freedom fighters, park advocates, and your waitress Tiffany

Porn Defined

You are holding it in your hands right now: The American Heritage dictionary describes "pornography" as "lurid or sensational material." Under that definition, Kris Conesa's one-sided hatchet job on Bangbus.com certainly qualifies as pornography ("The Ride to Perdition," October 14).

Please don't misconstrue my comments. I'm no fan of the Website, nor am I a supporter of the business practices of the Miami company that operates it, Ox Ideas. But the profile of "Lori" is the story of a woman in a bad position who made it worse by making bad decisions and allowing herself to be manipulated by a man who clearly never had her interests at heart. This is hardly Ox Ideas's fault.

Not that I'm attempting to blame the victim per se. Certainly we live in a society where a young woman in her position is left with no option but to resort to the sex trade. But neither of these notions was presented in Conesa's piece. Instead he used a sympathetic profile to vilify a private business.

If New Times disagrees with Ox Ideas's content, write an editorial decrying it. If New Times is curious about how the porn industry in Miami stacks up against the porn industry in Pasadena, any number of knowledgeable authorities are available for interviews on the subject.

But don't grind your own axes and call it journalism. That practice is no more honest -- and no more moral -- than the carefully orchestrated fictions of Bangbus.com.

Rich Pizor

Sherman Oaks, California

Porn Promoted

Thank you for all that good information on local porn sites and Bangbus.com. It's too bad so many young ladies in need of money don't realize that for a "model fee" of perhaps $500 to $1000, it just is not worth it.

You don't suppose some of these "models" learned of Bangbus.com through advertisements in this newspaper?

Alan Rigerman

Northwest Miami-Dade

Museums in Bicentennial Park? Bad Idea

You want architectural behemoths? Build them yourself somewhere else:On November 2 I will vote against bond issue number 8, the cultural-facilities component of the massive $2.9 billion plan Miami-Dade government has slapped together.

According to your columnist The Bitch ("Museums to the Max," September 30), Nancy Liebman of the Urban Environment League objects to the amount of land the Miami Art Museum and the Museum of Science would demand in Bicentennial Park should the bond issue be approved. It is true that 16 acres out of the total of 29 is excessive.

I don't wish to entertain talk of the museums by Lake Michigan in Chicago, or the Sidney opera house in Australia. These are set in public coastlines 30 miles long, while in Miami we can barely count on 300 yards of such an amenity, with a shopping center and bridge to a seaport bisecting them. Besides, not even counting their bulk, why would anyone want to place inward-looking facilities in an area next to the wide-open bay? Isn't the American Airlines Arena enough? (Developer Marty Margulies also makes an excellent point: The art museum has no collection, so why does it need such a large building?)

That the siting of the museums is faulty cannot be denied, but not only for the reasons Ms. Liebman points out. Out yonder, beyond Biscayne Boulevard, no facility located in Bicentennial Park can possibly foster any kind of civic life. Sitting there in splendid isolation, the museums will create dark and foreboding leftover spaces for the homeless to inhabit as soon as they close for the day (not that I'm anti-homeless). On the other hand, if a major sculpture park were to be installed there, it would be so transparent as to negate this problem, and would actually be an added asset to the park.

The focus should be on a policy or program rather than grandiose architecture funded by hundreds of millions in public money. But if the boards of these museums suffer from an edifice complex, let them construct their own buildings on their own land.

George Childs

South Miami

But Enough About Me...

...Let's talk about my incompetent accusers: There were a few errors in Forrest Norman's article about the panther that killed livestock owned by brothers David and Jack Shealy ("Wild and Crazy," October 7).

First, the Everglades Institute was not something I "envisioned." From 1980 until Hurricane Andrew in 1992 the Everglades Institute facility housed 30 participants for overnight and longer programs, including summer science camp. Day field trips of 120 students were also accommodated. After Andrew, a 99-percent open-space rule was imposed to block rebuilding.

I developed and taught for a number of years my socio-ecology program in Miami-Dade County Public Schools -- middle- and high-school levels only, not elementary. Other courses I developed and taught were undergraduate and/or graduate level.

I have been qualified as an expert witness on Everglades ecology and have testified as an expert witness on Everglades ecology in federal court. My papers have been presented before national and state scientific conferences, and I have advised members of congressional committees regarding Everglades matters. Describing me as an "amateur" scientist is inaccurate, to say the least.

I have wrongly been accused of animal cruelty by state and federal agencies for videotaping a Florida panther attacking a tethered goat -- a panther collared and tracked by those agencies. I'm being accused because I forced the agencies to do their job -- protect small children, the community, penned and helpless animals, and their own panther.

The animal cruelty was on the part of agency persons who knowingly allowed their panther to continue its killing of penned and defenseless animals. They also knowingly left their injured panther in the woods when it badly needed veterinary treatment. Accusing me of animal cruelty is an obvious attempt to distract public awareness from the failures of their programs.

Jan Jacobson, director

Everglades Institute

Ochopee, Florida Editor's note: Criminal charges have been filed against Jack Shealy in the tethered-goat incident. See The Bitch, page 13.

If Tiffany Is Your Waitress, Don't Listen to Her

Miami Spice is a boon, not a boondoggle: The anonymous waitress who wrote a letter to the editor ("I'm Tiffany and I'll Be Your Waitress Tonight," October 7) does not speak for every manager, wait staff, or chef of the restaurants participating in Miami Spice. I am the general manager of Tuscan Steak on South Beach, which is the restaurant that put the Miami Spice program together, along with the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau and American Express.

We are proud not only of the growth of the program but also the way the restaurant and dining community has come to embrace Miami Spice. Three years ago Tuscan Steak did approximately 750 covers on the Spice program. This year we have done more than 3600 Miami Spice covers. Our staff has supported the program because they are making the same amount of tips they make in season.

There are several reasons why this program was put together. The first was for higher-end restaurants to unite and help generate business and excitement about Miami and its culinary scene. Second, to attract patrons to a restaurant they previously felt was too expensive and allow them to enjoy the food, service, and atmosphere. Third, to attract new customers who (hopefully) will enjoy their experience so much they'll return even when the program is not offered. Fourth, it is a great way to keep your restaurant busy and allow your staff to make money during a period when everyone complains there is no business. Even my chef, Barbara Scott, has embraced the program. The slight rise in food cost is offset by increased revenue for the bottom line. The back of the house staff is happy because their hours, usually cut during slower summer months, are not cut because of the increase in business.

My advice to "Tiffany" is to champion the program and use it to her advantage. I guarantee that not only will her restaurant be busier than usual, but she'll make money during the slow summer months.

Steven H. Haas

South Beach

ERRATUM

In last week's "Night & Day," a photograph was misidentified. Part of the exhibit "Giving Torture a Face," on display at 139 NE 39th St. in the Design District, the photograph was taken by Evelyn Posada and is titled Savannah.

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