Letters from the Issue of November 25-December 1

Intelligent voters, outspoken readers, and a downtown dining oasis

If I were a member of the Cuban community, or any other group for that matter, I'd be more offended by the fact that the editors of my hometown newspaper would even consider watering down the truth because they worried someone in my group might not like what they read.

If you cleanse a newspaper of controversial material, then all you're doing is producing the journalistic equivalent of pablum. (Not that the Herald would ever do anything like that!) It's always been my belief that a newspaper's first duty is to print the truth -- and to never apologize for doing so. Why can't Herald editors figure that out?

My own moment of clarity with the paper came five years earlier than Hiaasen's. On a Saturday afternoon in 1983, while working as a freelance photographer, I was able to shoot a series of photographs of Al Pacino blowing away people in the middle of a sleepy Ocean Drive during the filming of Scarface.

The producers had originally planned to shoot most of the film in Miami, but that changed after local political leaders, spearheaded by Miami Commissioner Demetrio Perez, objected that the filmmakers had updated the classic Scarface script to make the title character a Cuban gangster who'd arrived in Miami during the Mariel boatlift.

I was able to shoot photos of Pacino that other photographers had tried and failed to get. When I contacted the Herald's photo editors to tell them what I had, they asked me to bring in my film. After they looked at my pictures, they said they'd probably run one or two in the paper the next day.

I searched the next day's paper, but the only thing I could find was a story on the filming. I called the photo editor to ask why my photos hadn't run. I was told the top editors had killed the photos. Seems they didn't want to piss off the Cuban community. That Sunday happened to be the third anniversary of the Mariel boatlift.

Bill Cooke

Miami Beach

Where Is Organized Labor When We Need It?

Before answering that, allow me to plug my Website: Thanks to Forrest Norman for his informative story "Screwed If by Sea" (November 11), about the plight of cruise-ship workers. I wonder if organized labor is doing anything about this. This would be a great project for a global labor movement. I knew that these workers got a bad deal, but this article provided some excellent, although disgusting, details. Thank goodness for a few good lawyers.

I am associate editor of Monthly Review magazine out of New York City and am living in Miami Beach for a few months after a road trip of 150 days. I have a kind of socioeconomic travelogue up on the magazine's Website (www.monthlyreview.org) and am working on an article based on the travelogue. I think I'll end it with a reference to the cruise-ship workers. We watch the ships come in nearly every day from the pier along Government Cut.

Again, thanks for a fine piece of investigative journalism.

Michael Yates

Miami Beach

Desolate Downtown Dining

Yes, it's bad, but there is hope, and her name is Lila: While I enjoyed Lee Klein's restaurant review of La Loggia ("In the Heart of the City," October 14), and while I commend New Times for shedding some light on -- gasp! -- a downtown dining establishment, I took umbrage (on behalf of my own favorite little downtown eatery) at his comment that "there really isn't much downtown competition..., hardly any lunch spots at all besides low-end Latin eateries, chintzy chains, Granny Feelgood's."

If I may be so bold as to plug Lila's Bistro, it's only because Lila's does offer a wonderfully tasty alternative in downtown Miami, a culinary landscape devoid of much variety and savory treats. Oops, now I've done it!

Nonetheless, New Times has done the working Joes, Janes, Josés, and Juanas of downtown a service by shining some badly needed light on the area's dining scene. I just wish it didn't cast a shadow over some others where the grass is indeed growing green in an area characterized by restaurant failings. In addition, La Loggia hardly needs any more exposure. So how about a special on those decent but hard-to-find downtown eateries?

Lila's Bistro is located in an odd nook-and-cranny walk-through that would spell doom for any other downtown restaurant. But Lila's, I'm happy to note, is going strong after almost two years in business. The authentic Peruvian ceviche is the best around.

David Cox

Coral Gables

Editor's note: Lila's Bistro is reviewed in this issue.

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