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Judy Cantor hears the music but does not get the rhythm ("The Politics of Music," September 17). Despite the protests that so bothered her (in Ms. Cantor's perfect world, the First Amendment applies to everyone except Cuban exiles), Cuban musicians from the island have been performing in Miami for some time. I must admit I have heard some of this so-called great music and I sincerely ask myself if it is really any better than some of our local talent. Or is it just the fact it's considered forbidden fruit that makes it so attractive?
Let's face it: The music is not the real issue. As Ms. Cantor's article shows, with some minor inconveniences, this music can be played and heard even in "fascist Miami." Why doesn't Ms. Cantor ask these musicians real questions, such as where do their earnings go and how much do they actually keep? How free are they to perform where they please? Are they allowed to take their family members to foreign venues if they so desire? Musicians from the island can come to the States to perform, so when will Gloria Estefan, Willy Chirino, Celia Cruz, and others be allowed to jam in Havana?
All this brings up one final question: Ms. Cantor, did you earn your journalism degree at University of Havana, D.C. (during Castro), or did you have it designed and printed at Kinko's?
South Beach Whiners to the Rescue
If South Beach's nightclub owners are such bad whiners, as John Lantigua reported ("Fueling the Feud," September 17), then why do they pay so much for the support of the police department in taxes, off-duty assignments, and general assistance?
If South Beach has too many whiners, as consultant Rob Teir contends, then why do the citizens of the world flock here for the attractions, the nightlife, and yes, the whining club owners who provide for those seeking satisfaction?
If the homeless people are so bad, then why don't we just pack them up and ship them to Mr. Teir and have him eliminate the problem, possibly by giving them jobs at his consulting firm?
In any case, we need to look at the situation as a whole. The citizenry, those who can vote, should be drawn into the simple act of exercising their constitutional rights, much in the way David Dermer did with a small yet vocal group of activists. Think carefully about those you call whiners today, for you may be calling them "commissioner" tomorrow.
South Beach Whiners to the Gutter
John Lantigua's articles about clubland continue to prove there is a serious problem on South Beach generally and on Washington Avenue in particular. Something needs to be done right now about the delinquency on weekend nights. In the last couple of years, this area has been been going steadily downhill in terms of safety, cleanliness, and desirability.
Ten years ago, while the South Beach area was still developing, there were plenty of nightclubs to be found between 1st and 23rd streets. These clubs were full all the time, even on weekday nights. Yet the Beach did not have the problems it faces today.
For the past decade I have watched as clubland has gone to the gutter. What has changed is the quality of the nightclubs. I cannot imagine any other area of South Florida (or elsewhere for that matter) that would allow so many hole-in-the-wall operations to open up in such close proximity to one another.
Also look at the music being played and the types of crowds being attracted to most clubs. The clubs need to be cleaned up. The owners and promoters are to blame. They need to refocus on what they are trying to do. Who are they trying to attract and why?
I think the Miami Beach Police Department has done all it can and has done it well. What more? Should they close off Washington Avenue to vehicular traffic? Should they check IDs for everyone walking up and down the street? Hey, maybe we could get the National Guard to come on down and patrol the streets from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
I believe the time has come to hold nightclub owners and promoters responsible for the areas surrounding the clubs. If people loiter, it is the responsibility of the club. Heavy fines and other penalties should apply to those who can't control their crowds. If the problems persist, then the clubs should be closed. (The teenage curfew must also continue to be enforced. In the late Seventies and early Eighties, Coconut Grove had a similar, serious problem with teenagers. The problem was fixed and is now history.)
I've made my living as a nightclub DJ, club promoter, and nightclub owner for more than fifteen years in South Florida, Europe, and South America. I can say from experience that South Beach and Washington Avenue need help quickly, before the problems get worse. I can only hope that the two sides involved can come to an agreement and resolve this issue once and for all so the decent people, the ones who love to go out and spend money, will feel safe and welcomed enough to return once again to South Beach.
Please Be Advised That in Publishing This Letter, We Admit No Wrongdoing
In connection with Tristram Korten's recent article concerning Richard B. Bronson ("Bull in the Market," September 10), please be advised that the following statement is incorrect: "Biltmore [Securities] settled because fighting the SEC suit would have been too costly, Nortman says. `Neither Biltmore nor Mr. Bronson nor Mr. Loewenstern admitted doing anything wrong.'"
Please be advised that the quotation attributed to me is incomplete. During my conversation with Mr. Korten, I advised him that Mr. Loewenstern and Mr. Bronson admitted no wrongdoing, and consistent with SEC policy agreed to an administrative sanction "without admitting or denying" the substantive allegations. This is standard langugage required in all SEC settlements. In the article, Mr. Korten incorrectly made it appear that Biltmore, Mr. Bronson, and Mr. Loewenstern have taken a contrary position. This is not correct and Mr. Korten was so advised. I did advise him that in other settlements, there was no admission of any wrongdoing.
William Nortman, general counsel
Biltmore Securities, Inc.
Delectable Oaxaca, Dyspepsic Mexico City
I giggled over Jen Karetnick's introduction to her review of Miss Saigon Bistro ("Going Global in the Gables," September 10). In response to her complaint about Oaxaca, Mexico, being honored by Food & Wine magazine, my question is this: Jen, have you ever been to Oaxaca? If you haven't, please do so.
We had the opportunity to go there in 1997 and were exposed to some of the finest dining experiences to be had. Each restaurant was better than the last. It's absurd to think that Jen would question Oaxaca over Mexico City. In addition to the appetizing cuisine, we could walk all over the city far into the night with never an ounce of fear of being molested. Our worst experience was being "accosted" on the street late at night by a local banker who was dying to practice his English and who kept us in a conversation for more than an hour.
The Oaxacans themselves are exceedingly friendly and accommodating, and we are looking forward to a return trip. By the way, we never did come across any chips and salsa while there, although I must say the tequila was quite tasty.
Judith M. Briggs
Hinckley Hits the Target
Robin Dougherty is the one who missed the mark in her review of I Love You Forever, the one-man, one-act play about John Hinckley currently showing at Tobacco Road ("There's Something About Jodie," September 10). My friends and I recently attended a performance and found it very entertaining. Erik Fabregat's portrayal of Hinckley was excellent and engaging, and I was not at all disappointed with the set, the script, or anything else listed by Dougherty as a shortcoming.
Maybe she failed to see the play for what it is: a brief (50-minute) glimpse into the mind of an insane person just before he sets out to execute his murderous plan. The schizophrenic Hinckley makes up his realities as he goes along, often speaking of fictitious future occurrences in the present tense and blending hard reality with his own imagination.
Most of the questions Dougherty raised in her review are easily answered by the performance of the play itself. For example, the "unanswered" question of why Hinckely has no friends is obviously answered by his obsessive and delusional monologues, pendulous mood swings, and odd mannerisms.
In my opinion, Stuart Meltzer has written an intriguing script and Fabregat gives a riveting performance of it. It's a piece of art that is definitely worth seeing. I strongly recommend checking it out.
Buena Vista Memories
This is in response to Robert Andrew Powell's article "Code Enforcement? What Code Enforcement?" (August 6) and the letters that followed. My husband and I moved to the Buena Vista East neighborhood in 1993 and left frustrated in 1996. But in 1994 and 1995, many residents and city officials worked very, very hard to make the community a better place, as did our predecessors.
Kenny Merker was one of those people. He participated in almost all activities and reached out to everyone in the community. To suggest that he is responsible for any of the neighborhood's problems is ludicrous. He has earned the respect of many people.
In the past, the problem was not the city issuing citations for code violations. The problem was enforcement and compliance. It should not take ten to fifteen years for properties to come into compliance. Interim Neighborhood Enhancement Team office administrator Fred Fernandez is doing a great job. I hope he'll be allowed to finish what he has started.
Buena Vista Maladies
I am a black American who has been living in Buena Vista East for more than three years, during which time I have seen this neighborhood transformed from gangs and random shootings to casual conversations on street corners. I have also seen how Kenny Merker has led us through these changes as the neighborhood association president.
We have instituted crime-watch programs, neighborhood tours, garage sales, community picnics, and planted close to 300 trees. I also went to countless meetings with [former NET administrator] Fedy Vieux-Brierre in which he and his inspectors filled us with hollow promises to eliminate illegal rooming houses. Such places contribute to crime and the neglect of the area. Many times absentee landlords charge high prices for a mattress on a floor, and pack twenty people into a three-bedroom house. These properties are not providing a sense of community; they are tearing it apart.
I and other neighbors will continue to support Mr. Merker, just as I will continue to ask myself why is it that only Buena Vista East is improving in the Little Haiti district if Fedy Vieux-Brierre oversaw all of little Haiti?
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