His Four-Year-Old Must Have Some John Hancock
Regarding Tristram Korten's "damn good question" of why the authorities are "going after Miami's finest street artists?" in "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Suspect" (March 25), I have a better query: How is scribbling your name on signs, overpasses, and palm trees along MacArthur Causeway considered art?
It's too bad Korten is too biased to show the real reason the authorities have singled out graffitists Crook and Crome. It's not because of the murals pictured in the article. It is because of the childish effort to put their names on display in as many public places as possible. This does not take artistic talent. It takes the mentality of a low-class idiot.
My four-year-old nephew can scrawl his name, too. I guess he should be considered one of Miami's finest street artists.
Advertisers Know Art's Good for Them
As a person with above-average knowledge and aptitude about all graffiti issues, I wonder how many New Times advertisers care to have their walls anonymously and illegally decorated by a noncommissioned, urban artist.
I thought so.
Mighty White of You, Pardner
Regarding Jacob Bernstein's article "Home on the Glades" (March 18), so when are the Cuban cowboys and their political allies ever going to realize that their myth of macho individualism and patriotic freedom in the Everglades will always come into conflict with whatever the state (be it the United States or Cuba) decides to be in the "best interests" of society as a whole?
In fact I'd like to hear how, on an ethical level, the Cuban-American right explains the difference between land confiscation in this instance and the kind that followed on the heels of the revolution's agrarian reform of the Sixties. The fact is that it can't, except by making the usual mystifying appeals to exile virtue and revolutionary evil.
What's more I can barely keep from laughing my head off when I read how the guajiros are crying racism over the attention they're getting from the environmental lobby. Last I checked the Cubans in the photos were all white, unless some of them (perhaps the friendly, ubiquitous El Negro) are passing. But this isn't surprising. We know that the exile can't deal with race unless it comes packaged Celia Cruz-style: familiar and unthreatening.
When we consider that for many the first thing that comes to mind about eastern Cuba is its Afro-Cuban heritage, the greatest achievement of the west Miami-Dade guajiros might well turn out to be the extent to which their fantasy Oriente is an exclusively white phenomenon, something that is in line, of course, with the rest of Cuban Miami.
Highland Park, New Jersey
I Say, Old Chap, Could You Spot Me a C-note Till Next Tuesday?
Regarding Larry Boytano's article about Peter Zage ("Taken for a Ride," March 18), I had the pleasure of being a guest of Miami's downtown correctional facility this past August owing to my having been caught driving with a suspended license. (Long story. I'm really a law-abiding citizen.)
While there I bumped into Mr. Zage. I grew up in New Jersey and have been in the automotive field for more than fifteen years, so when I heard his name called my ears perked up. When I inquired he assured me he was the Rolls-Royce dealer whose advertisements I had read in the New York Times when I was young.
The man I spoke with had a definite New York City accent. Not Brooklyn or the Bronx, but uptown Manhattan for sure. I've spent a bit of time in England, and the man I spoke to did not have a British accent.
Most likely he never did own the Rolls dealership (though someone with the same name did), did not have a wife, brother, child, or knight status. What seems to be certain is that he is a chameleon, or as the British refer to such people, a confidence trickster. Sorry about Boytano losing his $565.
Name Withheld by Request
More Than a Hole in the Ground, a Hole in the Head
Jim DeFede's column "Circle Jerks" and Jacob Bernstein's article "The Hoagland Files" (March 11) were disappointing. Reading that week's issue, I came away with the impression that supporters of saving the Miami Circle were a group of suspicious radicals from the political fringe (e.g., Richard Hoagland) and that the site was not worthy of public acquisition. However accurate or inaccurate those stories were regarding certain people and their motivations, it is too simplistic to dismiss the entire Miami Circle issue in this way.
First, there is surprisingly broad support for saving the circle. Scores of people have gone to look at the site. Virtually every time I drive by during the day or night, there are a few people peering at it over the railing of the Brickell Avenue bridge. Not only were there planned rallies at the site prior to the decision to acquire it, but there were spontaneous ones as well. (How often does that happen in Miami?) Hundreds of people sent faxes and e-mails and telephoned local officials.
Many people went to county commission hearings on short notice. At the one I attended, the crowd was made up of people from most of the racial and ethnic groups in the county, and from across the political spectrum. I can understand why Mayor Alex Penelas and the county commission decided to acquire the site: They heard from real live constituents -- lots of them -- not just lobbyists and representatives of special interests.
That all of this happened over the course of a month is simply remarkable.
Second, Jim DeFede's views regarding the worth of the Miami Circle were rather shallow. The site isn't just some holes in the ground. It is a bona fide piece of local history (worth more than a penny) that already has provided some symbolic glue to this fractured community.
More important, if preserved and made into a public park, it would create an outstanding opportunity for a linked public waterfront along the Miami River and the bayfront. Although he may have been wrong to put the new Heat arena next to the bay, Mayor Penelas is right in noting that many cities around the world have built tourism, quality-of-life for residents, and economic development around public waterfronts. With all of the underused, vacant property along the bayfront (e.g., Bicentennial Park) and the Miami River (e.g., the empty lots east of I-95 and Lummus Park west of I-95), the city has the potential for an outstanding urban design that would attract development and residents. The Miami Circle, with its history and location, could be a centerpiece of that design. That's not worthless. That's a smart public investment in our future.
It seems like Mr. DeFede's venom toward the Miami Herald and local government blinded him on this issue. I hope New Times will be more thoughtful in the future.
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Lili to Victoria: Cut the Macaroni and Cheese, Please
Even though Victoria Pesce Elliott's review of Christine's Roti Shop ("West Indies Meets East," March 11) was marginally less self-congratulatory than her last article, it's not necessary to state in every review that she is a restaurant reviewer. That should be obvious to the public as it is, after all, a restaurant review. Of course with her high school sophomore-level of writing, I can see why she'd be insecure.
To New Times: Please don't publish any more reviews by people who recommend KFC's macaroni and cheese. I appreciate recent efforts to review small ethnic eateries, but try to find professional writers. I know Miami is not a cultural mecca, but you do have Jen Karetnick.