Lolita: A Whale Who Spins a Web
Lissette Corsa's recent article on Lolita ("Livin' la Vida Orca," July 8) was great! I am working for Lolita's freedom along with Howard Garrett, though I do it differently. You mentioned schoolchildren from Washington and their letters and petitions to Wometco CEO Arthur Hertz.

I helped assemble that group, which calls itself Lolita's Legion. It has grown from 50 children to over 40 chapters worldwide. I hope you will visit our Website, which is also available in Spanish and French, at www.geocities.com/Rainforest/Canopy/8126. There you will find our accomplishments, our aims, and a list of schools and kids' groups that are actively seeking Lolita's release.

Carl Dortch
Grand Forks, British Columbia

Don Your Fins, Damned Sloth, and Start Swimming!
The article on Howard Garrett and freeing the Orca was wonderful. It reached me all the way here in Vancouver, Washington. I am extremely impressed that your publication would go all out for this type of information.

We've been learning for years now that fast food is bad for our health and that animal abuse breeds violence among children. Yet we carry on every day supporting the very things that destroy our well-being. We are acting like a bunch of ignorant fools! No wonder human beings think life is hard. We are too darn lazy and self-concerned to improve!

I say free that beast and stop making these greedy fools (aquarium owners) rich by dragging kids to inhumane acts!

Christy Bolster
Vancouver, Washington

Engineering Lolita's Freedom Through Meditation
What a great article! Lolita not only changed Howie's life, she changed mine. After hearing about Lolita back in 1996, I left a job as an industrial engineer in Pennsylvania and moved to the San Juan Islands to be near Lolita's family.

Sea creatures affect me like they affect Howie. I've written a book called When a Dolphin Walks on Land: Healing Body, Mind, and Emotions that is dedicated to Lolita. I also lead a global marine meditation each fall equinox.

Takara Hicks
Whitby, Ontario

This Whalehead Has a New Nit to Pick
"Livin' La Vida Orca" (great title) was a good read and brought out all sides and most of the history of the Lolita controversy. There has been an important recent development, however. A check of Miami-Dade County building records turned up 1969 architects' drawings that show part of the Seaquarium whale pool is only ten feet deep. This area must be at least twelve-feet deep.

Howard Garrett
Miami Beach

Rippin' Riptide
On July 1 "Riptide" stated that "Miami New Times made national news this past week." Were you really bragging about publishing a classified ad for an underage prostitute? (You made news when a cop who ran the call girl's brothel was busted.) Is this a feather in your cap or are you baiting your readers? If it's the former, your idea of notoriety is skewed. Let me write this in my log: "New Times's claim to fame for the first week in July, 1999: It did not break a story. It did run a sleazy ad."

How about some clear writing? You also said, "Although such advertising is protected by the First Amendment...." Based on your preceding recitation, this could have been interpreted that advertisers have a right to advertise. That is not true. A better statement would have been that the First Amendment protects the content of ads in the same way it protects the content of books, magazines, and the editorial content of newspapers: by preventing government censorship. No one can sue Miami New Times under the First Amendment if the newspaper censors ads, nor can they legally force your newspaper to accept an ad. You do not have to run any ad you don't want to run. You are permitted to censor.

In the last paragraph you admit that you run "sleazy" ads but attempt to offset this by ticking off some recent journalistic honors. This reminds me of the serial killer who asks us to temper our condemnation because he bakes cookies for children after each girl-scout kill.

"Riptide," methinks you're being pulled under.
Stephen Karlan

Bringing Valet Parking to the Needy
I read with interest Jen Karetnick's review of Soyka ("Image Isn't Everything," June 24). I have only been there twice, both times for a quick bite, and I wasn't overly impressed. I have no quarrel with her characterization.

I would, however, like to call attention to one area of her article that portrays a total lack of understanding of the neighborhood. I find this misunderstanding slightly ironic because New Times's office is only a few blocks from where I reside, the Charter Club at NE 36th Street and Biscayne Boulevard.

Please understand that it's not particularly relevant that there is much parking available nearby, and Ms. Karetnick is wrong when she calls valet parking "pretentious." Neither my friends nor many who live in my building would enter this restaurant if the valet option were unavailable.

I am surprised Ms. Karetnick would refer to "turning around the area's decaying urban sprawl," then miss the fact that valet parking was likely one of Mark Soyka's best decisions. Please give credit where credit is due. Or at least don't put Mr. Soyka down for having insight into his market. That was undeserved and very unfair.

Jody Soffer

Take This Mister: Jen Is as Svelte as a Parisian Model
It's a shame that decent writers are in such short supply here in Miami. You must be able to do more than string together a bunch of words to make a convincing argument, and I'm afraid Jen Karetnick has failed at this simple task.

Jen would like us to believe that she actually ate at Soyka. But unless she weighs 400 pounds, I can't see how she could have eaten as much as she claims. (Okay, maybe she is 400 pounds!) Anyway I've eaten there, although not quite as much as she has, and have had wonderful dining experiences. Perhaps she should try eating a little less so she can actually enjoy something. (I understand that compulsive eaters don't actually enjoy what they are eating. They just eat!)

This whole pathetic "review" underscores the well-known fact that if most critics knew something about the subject, they wouldn't be critics. They'd be artists!

Don Wilner
Fort Lauderdale

Editor's Note: Wilner is the in-house bassist and music coordinator at the Van Dyke Cafe, a Soyka-owned property.

Come to South Beach and See the Flickering Light
After reading Brett Sokol's June 17 article "Big Screens, Small Minds," I felt it necessary to address some of the remarks about the South Beach Film Festival.

I quote from the article: "The bulk of the independent films being shot seem less the product of edgy auteurs, and more like calling cards for Hollywood-bound resume holders. A look at Miami's own South Beach Film Festival bears this out locally, with most of the works differing little from upcoming network TV pilots."

The South Beach Film Festival screens a very diverse variety of films and videos by showing features, shorts, animation, documentaries, and experimental films in 16-millimeter, 35-millimeter, and video formats. This year, for example, Danny Pelvic and the Thrusters was low-budget filmmaking at its best. It was not only edgy but produced with a high degree of professionalism by a first-time feature director and unknown actors. The audience agreed. Macbeth in Manhattan, which utilizes the talents of a TV series regular, Gloria Reuben from ER, is another powerful, low-budget, independent feature.

Local productions are highlighted. This year two screenings were dedicated to South Florida filmmakers and the world premiere was held of Landfall, a feature film from Miami's Echo Bridge Productions starring Tony Award-winner Frances Sternhagen.

In the past some films screened here have gone on to win major awards and wide distribution. Among them: The documentary FiddleFest won an Academy Award; the director of Rhythm Thief, Matthew Harrison, won best director at Sundance; I Love You, Don't Touch Me! from Miami native Julie Davis was released commercially; and Last Call starring Ben Affleck can be found at Blockbuster.

The South Beach Film Festival extends an invitation to the New Times film critic to attend all of next year's screenings. Maybe, just maybe, there is a place for audiences to see edgy independent films. I know we will work our hardest to bring them here.

Andy Schefter, director
South Beach Film Festival
Miami Beach

Come to South Beach and Relax While You See the Flickering Light
I generally agree with Edward G. Guedes ("Letters," July 1) regarding the poor design of the Regal South Beach Cinema. It has poor access, small restrooms, et cetera. I also agree that the seats are less comfortable than those at AMC's Aventura theater.

On the other hand the South Beach Regal leaves good space between the seats and the wall, unlike AMC Aventura, reducing side distortion and a cramped feeling. Regal South Beach also has more leg room, it seems, than AMC Aventura, and less vertical rise of the rows. Having flat screens in the smaller South Beach auditorium lessens the perceived distortion.

By the way, AMC Aventura tickets are $7.50, 25 cents more than Regal South Beach.

There seems to be one "luxury" that used to be standard but that none of today's theaters provide -- namely, real butter for popcorn rather than the hydrogenated oil fraudulently referred to as butter. I'd pay 25 cents extra for it.

Stephen Weiss
Miami Beach

Earth to Nielsen: Deep Throat Is Preparing to Rat on the Miccosukee
I am writing in response to Kirk Nielsen's "River of Cash" (June 24). He failed to ask tribal chairman Billy Cypress the one and only important question: "When does the Las Vegas-style gaming license arrive?"

Does anyone really believe that this $50 million complex was constructed to accommodate little-old-lady bingo players? Come on, what's happened behind the scenes? Surely "the fix" is in for wide-open gambling!

Kirk, my man, look into the Ileana Ros-Lehtinen connection! Hasn't hubby Dexter been seen in D.C "swing dancing" with the politicos at the Department of the Interior? Any tribal cash passing hands?

Have we lost our nose for real news? Say it ain't so! Where are Woodward and Bernstein when we need them. There's a story here, Kirk. Can't you smell it?

Robert Flinn


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