She's our problem now: Regarding the story "Blight Flight" (September 14) by Rob Jordan: I have worked on urban revitalization for more than twenty years. Having worked with Lisa Mazique for more than seven years, I was surprised to learn Miami had hired her as the new economic development director. She was a disaster in New Orleans. We in the preservation community here are glad to see her gone! She created more blight through her own efforts than she removed. All I have to say is poor Miami!
And he's too rich to run: Thank you for Francisco Alvarado's article "Redeveloping History" (September 7), about Pedro Martin's alleged affiliations and/or abstract associations with the Norte Valle Cartel. The piece might or might not be inflammatory and cause Mr. Martin to lose business. The image of Mr. Martin as a knowing lackey/money launderer for a cabal of cocaine-manufacturing/narcotic-trafficking/drug-dealing scum is alive and well. It always will be, no matter how hard he tries to deny it.
There is only one person directly responsible for the entire content of that article and reality of Mr. Martin's situation Pedro Martin. No amount of philanthropic deeds, tenure in the business community, and/or spin control can ever be considered anything but sheer transparency when he has collected ill-gotten drug money based on the misery of others. Regarding the seven-page letter from our illustrious friends at Greenberg Traurig, Confucius sums it up nicely: "He who denies all, confesses all."
Maybe the Iwo Jima of food service: I read Bill Citara's review of Alta Mar, "Great Bait" (September 7), and based on his descriptions of the food and atmosphere, I certainly want to eat there when I'm in town.
However, the cheap shot at Sysco is just annoying. We are the largest purveyor of seafood in North America. That includes, as Bill's offhand comment indicates, fish sticks for elementary schools. Guilty as charged; our reliable deliveries and vast selection are a boon to many cafeterias.
But we have fresh seafood programs unmatched by any other food-service company, from our main competitor, US Foods, to the knowledgeable local fishmonger. Try fresh, large, number one ahi or opakapaka pulled from Hawaiian waters and shipped directly to our customers overnight.
Everyone loves an underdog, and it pains me, as a Red Sox fan, to make the comparison, but we are the Yankees of food service. The best logistics, facilities, products, and, most important, the best people in food service make the difference to our customers, whether they are the school lunch worker or a certified master chef.
Terry Mahoney, marketing associate
Sysco Food Services of Baltimore
New Windsor, Maryland
Roll out the reviewer: Pamela Robin Brandt's review of the Daily, "Baking News" (August 31), turned out to be the kind of "insignificant flyspeck" that occurs when one wastes words trying too hard to be witty. She overlooked that the Daily offers a wide variety of fresh-baked breads, muffins, and sweets; that breakfast is fast, cheap, and great. (For three dollars, a huge egg bagel will swear you off McDonald's for life.) The large sandwiches and salads are varied and tasty, and the place is clean and friendly. It's often packed for a reason. But if you're having a really bad day, and a bean sprout doesn't seem as fresh as you think it should be, reviewer or not, say something, because the owner, who is always there, will do everything he can to improve your day.
Saline is no solution: That Dr. Boobs article wow! Regarding Josh Schonwald's "These Could Be Yours" (August 31): What an advertisement! Unfortunately the news is far from all good regarding breast implants. I head an international support group for women with often dire health-related problems because of breast implant complications. I was disappointed that no mention was made of the downside, unsexy as it might be.
Ilena Rosenthal, director
San Diego, California
And you'll get an explosion: I couldn't believe my eyes when I began to read Carlos Suarez De Jesus's article "Shopping for Schlock" (August 31), about Art Fusion Galleries. I couldn't disagree more with the way he portrayed one of Miami's great finds.
First, nothing in the airy 4000-square-foot showroom speaks gaudy to me. I have never had the feeling that the showroom is crowded, and I have never even come close to thinking any of the art is bad.
The great thing about this gallery is there are so many different artists, all with different styles and ways of expressing their thoughts and dreams. I'm okay with Jordan Robert's paintings often depicting cartoon women via "flat fields of dots and squiggles." That's his deal, and I respect that. And Jacklyn LaFlamme's art is one of my favorites in the gallery because she does things like wrapping the edges of her paintings with pink fringe. When you see it, it makes you smile.
As for Sasha Sadovnik's dreary canvases, they are a true depiction of who the artist is. She's a South Beach girl who is in and out of failed relationships. Disturbing, perhaps, but it's honest and it's true. And finally, your depiction of Alexandra Spyrato's zebra paintings was so uninformative I think I fell asleep while reading it. I have seen the paintings and think they are amazing.
It's unfortunate that articles like this one get printed, because they do a disservice to Miami. Our city is still lacking in culture. After all of Suarez's criticism, all of the overdetailed jokes about bad art, I still couldn't make out what he thought is good art. Not too colorful or whimsical, too wacky or too disturbing. So let me ask you, Mr. Suarez De Jesus: What is it you like? Because from the sound of it, Art Fusion has more than enough choices to appease even the toughest client, visitor, and critic. So perhaps the only one selling schlock was you!
Or two: In reference to the article "Shopping for Schlock":
First, hello, Carlos, the writer extraordinaire. I don't know you, but let me introduce myself: I am Alexandra Spyratos, the artist with the fluorescent zebras whose images adorned your article. I must say that if I was a stranger reading that article with those beautiful images beside it, I would have wondered what on Earth you were talking about. Schlock? What schlock? I am a professional and prolific artist, dedicated to my work, and I do what I love for a living. I have lived and raised a family solely off of my art for twenty years. Coming from Kenya, I feel my passion for Africa and the wildlife is depicted in my art. And I paint the animals in an unusual, unique, and beautiful way. If you cannot understand my form of art or connect with it (or pretend not to), that is your story, not mine. My buyers include many celebrities. I have had 22 solo exhibitions worldwide and continue to do so, with future exhibitions coming up in Australia, Kenya, Hong Kong, and, closer to your shores, Coral Gables in April.
I find your article to be a "bunch of schlock" and generalized, without individual understanding of the artist.
Byron Bay, Australia
Then a kind word: Thanks so much for choosing the Museum of Bad Art as the gallery against which others are measured in your article "Shopping for Schlock" (August 31). We are honored.
If Art Fusion wishes to offer works to us, we will give them full consideration. Of course we must work within our acquisitions budget, which includes a limit of $6.50 for a work. Most works are donated, and some donors even pay us to take the pieces.
Yours in bad art,
Louise Sacco, permanent acting interim executive director
Museum of Bad Art
In the subtropics: I just finished reading "Metal Magic" (August 17) by Josh Schonwald. How can I nominate this thing for a Pulitzer? I was in tears reading it. Never have I seen someone so eloquently capture the pathos of the magic business like Mr. Schonwald did.
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I've been in magic all of my life. I actually make a profession of it. Seeing the fine line some of us walk between success and failure like Mr. Trixx motivated me considerably to pursue my art in a practical manner.
Contrary to what one of the interview subjects said, there are quite a number of very successful magicians working in the South Florida area. From birthday party performers who can afford brand-new Mercedes, to cruise ship and trade show performers who make six-figure incomes, magic can be a lucrative business if you have the right focus.
Thank you for that article.