Letters from the Issue of April 28, 2005

Caricatures, magic tricks, criminal investigations, and film festivals

Picture Worth Several Choice Words

Let's start with shamefully stigmatizing: Thank you so much for the cover photo for Rebecca Wakefield's article "Social Promotion" (April 21). It has been awhile since any member of my family got to wear their yellow stars on their shirts to identify them as part of the hated race of Jews. Perhaps with such superior journalistic approaches as your paper has chosen to pursue, I can rest assured that my offspring will also be reminded to think: "Never Again."

Perhaps we should ask New Times editor Jim Mullin about the editorial decision to stigmatize my faith by the obvious intent of the cover shot -- or does he actually believe every caricature of the Jew to be an accurate recitation of reality?

The story did not hurt. It was only proof that there are fools of every description and background. However, the photo reminded me that I was born in a displaced-persons' camp to two concentration-camp survivors, and frankly, I did not need reminding. It also reminded some (I am hoping very few) who still feel that Jews looked "right" wearing those symbols which would permit the decent folk to immediately be able to identify and shun them.

Shame! Will the hatred never end? Shame!

Abe Laeser Miami

Editor's note: Abe Laeser, a veteran prosecutor, serves as the senior trial counselor at the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office.

Spoiler of Secrets

Revealing a man's magic tricks is a form of strong-arm robbery: I have never in my life responded to an article in any type of media, but when I read "Social Promotion," I felt I had no choice. I haven't even finished the article yet, in part owing to Ms. Wakefield's inability to keep a reader's attention, but primarily because I was so disappointed with the article's introduction. The first couple of paragraphs are dedicated to Magic "the bum," who I know and of whom I am quite fond. I work on South Beach, and all my co-workers and I enjoy and respect Magic.

It's sad that you cannot walk more than ten feet in this city without someone bothering you for a handout, which is why it's so refreshing to have someone like Magic, who, rather than beg, contributes to the South Beach experience by performing magic tricks, offering a service in exchange for a spare dollar or two from tourists. On a couple of occasions, I have stopped Magic and asked him to perform for friends of mine visiting from out of town, even though I see his routine over and over while at work. People love him. He is witty and entertaining and earns the tips he receives.

Which brings me to my point: Who the hell is Rebecca Wakefield to reveal Magic's secrets? He has been on the Beach for years perfecting his craft, and in an aside Ms. Wakefield feels she has the right or responsibility to disclose his well-kept trade secrets? For what? What purpose did that serve in an article about nightclub promotions? Absolutely none. Some secrets are better left secret, and Magic's was one of them.

Thanks for taking away the one thing Magic "the bum" has of value -- his magic secret.

Jay Little Miami

Caught on Tape: The Odor of Rats

Foul, yes, but will Kathy Rundle smell it? The citizens of Miami-Dade County are most fortunate in having "hit the dirt" investigators likes Francisco Alvarado and Rebecca Wakefield keeping tabs on what appear to be the suspect antics of such high-profile names as attorney Stanley Price, developer Masoud Shojaee of Shoma Development Corp., and state Rep. Ralph Arza ("Caught on Tape," April 14).

In Alvarado's follow-up story ("Caught on Tape, Part 2," April 21), readers are informed that the State Attorney has wisely opened a criminal investigation into the taped conversation that legally landed in the hands of New Times. The newspaper should continue aggressively monitoring this and similar matters where it appears an elected official has teamed with a respected Miami land-use lawyer and a multimillion-dollar developer in an attempt to circumvent the law regarding zoning that is in place for the public good.

I hope this episode will not result in State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle's office closing its investigation with the proverbial whitewashing, because right now we should be smelling not one but three rats.

Bill E. Shears Coral Gables

Caught on Tape: Throw Money at 'Em

If only we could pay Ralph Arza a living wage: I know attorney Stanley Price. He is a good guy and very good at what he does -- namely, helping developers replace ugly open space with wonderful homes, shopping centers, concrete, asphalt, and more vehicles than we have room for on our roads. He is part of the process. Sometimes I too am part of the process, and when I go up against Price's projects as a civic activist, I usually lose. People like me actually help keep Price in business by making it necessary for developers to hire him.

I also know state Rep. Ralph Arza. We have disagreed on issues in the past but recently have found some common ground. He too is a good guy, and I am not willing to trash him based on "Caught on Tape," at least not yet. Maybe, just maybe, it's not as it seems.

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