With regard to Jacob Bernstein's article on travel to Cuba ("Passport to Paradox," August 6), I am writing to clarify that the promise of money to begin a Website [devoted to scholars' travel concerns] at the American Association for the Advancement of Science came from the John D. and Katherine T. MacArthur Foundation, not the Ford Foundation.
If the error was due to my misinformation, I apologize.
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Science and Human Rights Program
Baba's Simian Assault
In response to Jim DeFede's article about Foutanga Dit Babani Sissoko ("Baba's Big Bucks," July 30), why didn't U.S. District Court Judge K. Michael Moore look into what Sissoko owed the little people before letting him leave the United States? There are quite a few of us out here who got stiffed by Mr. Big Bucks.
I went from Miami to Banjul, Gambia, in May 1997 on Baba's Boeing 747 to work as a mechanic. When we got there, it was a total monkey fuck. All the aircraft mechanics and pilots left after eleven days, some sooner. The thing that hurts is reading about all the millions of dollars Sissoko spent here and there, while we poor people haven't seen a copper penny in well over a year. To date his company still owes me more than $1000.
Miami, We Love You Just the Way You Are: Noisy, Rude, Violent, and Dirty
I don't understand why they are closing the party boat La Rumba. As far as I understand from reading Kirk Nielsen's article "At Bayside, Ship Happens" (July 30), the meat of this case is that the city, or whoever is big and important, wants to close down La Rumba because it's loud and attracts a rowdy crowd. These big, important people want to make Bayside classy and rich, inaccessible to the Joe Schmos who are the majority of Miami's population.
The truth is, La Rumba exemplifies Miami: Noisy, rude, violent, dirty -- call it whatever you want. By closing down La Rumba and inviting all the stogy-puffing fat cats with full wallets, the city is printing a new tourist brochure. We don't need any more image brochures.
I'm tired of brochures. I'm tired of hearing that smoking is bad for your health. I'm tired of hearing that loud music is not welcome. La Rumba is fun precisely because it isn't a tourist brochure. It's real. It may not be what the fat cats want (fun things hardly ever are), but I'll be damned if I'll let them turn Bayside into yet another rich, private club. It's the only place we have left, and I won't let them take that away from me.
DeFede Croaks, Finds Daryl Jones Manning Pearly Gates!
These comments concern Jim DeFede's most recent article about Daryl Jones ("Only Himself to Blame," July 30). Mr. DeFede wrote that Miami Herald political editor Tom Fiedler "appeared ready to nominate Jones for sainthood." The reality is quite different. Mr. Fiedler wrote, "And he seemed sincere, a man at peace." One does not need to be perfect, a saint, in order to be sincere and at peace, does one? Is Mr. DeFede sincere? Is he therefore a saint?
Mr. Fiedler was simply expressing his impression of Mr. Jones. Unlike Mr. DeFede, Mr. Fiedler doesn't condemn the whole person because one is not perfect. Mr. Jones would have had to have been a saint to be accepted by the Senate Armed Services Committee. The question is, would a saint make a good Secretary of the Air Force?
Mr. DeFede said the question that should have been asked of Mr. Jones was this: "Prior to resigning from your last job, were you told you were about to be fired?" But that question was not asked. Why should the answer have been what Mr. DeFede wanted when the question wasn't? Different question, different answer.
Mr. DeFede was not witness to any conversation between Col. Thomas Dyches and Mr. Jones, so how would he know what the question, or the answer, should have been? Mr. DeFede doesn't seem to understand that in the military one cannot be "fired" the way one can be in the civilian world.
If one does want to translate this business into civilian terms, the point is Mr. Jones was given the choice of resigning [from flying jet fighters] or being fired. He chose to resign. What's the problem? Committee members could have simply asked, "Why did you resign?" But they didn't. Such is life. But that's not good enough for Jim DeFede. Maybe he should consider dying and going to heaven (where everyone is perfect) -- and staying there.
Mr. DeFede also makes a big deal of the fact that Mr. Jones received a $90,000 fee for lobbying the Dade County Commission. Why shouldn't Mr. Jones take what he can get? Is it now a disgrace to make a profit? A sin? Aside from what Jesus said, is it not the American way? But it seems that some people are considered more American than others, like white people. Does not Mr. DeFede try to get the best price he can for his journalism? Why shouldn't Mr. Jones do the same?
Mr. DeFede considers Mr. Jones to be arrogant and egotistical. Can't someone be imperfect without being arrogant or egotistical? Can't a mistake be attributed to something other than arrogance and egotism? It is perfectly plausible that Mr. Jones's mistakes could be due to simple imperfection. "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." The members of the Senate Armed Services Committee should be aware that they should "judge not lest they be judged."
When you consider that in the United States one is innocent until proven guilty within the criminal justice system, and that this idea is a good thing to keep in mind generally, then how could it be proper for Mr. DeFede to presume arrogance and egotism on Mr. Jones's part? Has Mr. DeFede ever made any statement that was not absolutely true -- for reasons other than arrogance or egotism? Then why cannot Mr. Jones have done so?
Finally, Mr. DeFede asks the question "What should we do with a politician like Daryl Jones?" I don't know who "we" is, but I'd venture to say that Mr. DeFede should refrain from applying a double standard and presuming guilt, and instead do with and to Daryl Jones (and everyone else) that which he would have them do unto him. Amen.
Not-Nice Nina and Her Filthy Thoughts
In her article "Ravaged by the Rave" (July 16), Nina Korman wrote about people vomiting at the Circa '98 rave, and the "plastic garbage cans that were scattered about for just such purpose." Was she on drugs?
At the Youth Fair, after Mom and Dad have fed their children elephant ears and other fried-dough products and little Johnny turns his stomach inside out, are these same plastic garbage cans used solely for that purpose? What a fool!
The music is what brings the people out to have fun. This music has no message, which must be what Ms. Korman's pea-size frontal lobe cannot handle.
People like her who see only the negatives in a story should not be allowed to spread their filthy thoughts to the rest of the nice people out there who wish to enjoy a night of something different. The choices people make at these shows are their own. The last thing anybody needs is a stuck-up person like Ms. Korman telling people what to think and do.
I used to read New Times for its forward thinking, but now that a simple-minded individual has decided to peddle a few horror stories, I think I will have to take my readership elsewhere. Goodbye.
Open Season on Trout
We have read the letter to the editor by Kenny Trout referring to Alan Diaz's story, "A Real Fender Bender" (July 9). One can only assume this individual is a disgruntled customer who found out that the customer is not always right. He has little knowledge of guitars or how a business is run.
Mr. Trout, when referring to Ed's Guitars, said the store "is filled with more no-name brands than anything else." As of July 24, 1998, we have more than 250 Fenders and Gibsons. We also have hundreds of Guild, Rickenbacker, Music Man, Martin, Gretsch, Ovation, B.C. Rich, old American Epiphone, Vilette Citron, Hamer, Kramer, Augustino Lo Prinzi, and other distinctive brands. Also we should not fail to mention the hundreds of imports such as Yamaha, Washburn, ESP, Charvel/Jackson, Jackson, Ibanez, Ramirez, Takamine, Aria Pro II, and Epiphone. We also have sought-after collectibles like Supro, Dobro, Magnatone, Kapa, Kalamazoo, Hagstrom, Mosrite, Harmony, and others. And let's not forget the Fender, Marshall, and Kustom vintage amps, or the vintage lap steels, ukes, banjos, mandolins, and other assorted instruments. Most of the no-name brands we carry fall into the small-size category so parents have a place to get an instrument for children.
We agree with one thing Mr. Trout said. Ron Hoeben (not Hogan) is an expert repairman who learned many of his skills during the years he worked for Ed's, before opening his own business -- Not Just Guitars. His client base came from Ed's Guitars, years before Guitar Center opened and his own store went out of business. Ron worked at Guitar Center (not for Guitar Center) for a few months before selling all his guitar parts to Ed's. He now lives in North Carolina and is in the furniture business.
Mr. Trout doesn't know much about Kendall's Guitar Center, either. We have a very good relationship with them and work closely with the people there. We even send each other customers.
As for the law banning the buying of instruments off the street, there is no such law. There is a zoning law that says a business must be zoned BU-3 to buy anything used. It was created for pawnshops, consignment shops, and secondhand stores. We are none of the above.
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If Mr. Trout is insinuating that we do not report all our sales and income to the government, he is out of bounds and those remarks are defamatory. How could New Times print a statement that is probably libelous and defamatory, made by someone who isn't even listed in the phone book and has no credibility?
Can Mr. Trout tell us of another place in the county where the public can get the services we provide? Andy's Entertainment Factory in Perrine and Music Magic in Hialeah are the only places we know of in Miami-Dade County that have any selection of used guitars. And Andy's is an upscale vintage shop, with most guitars priced at more than $1000.
In closing, we would like to invite Mr. Trout and anyone else to come to our shop and see our inventory of guitars and parts, repairs, customer service, and knowledge for themselves. We have spent twenty years building our reputation locally by serving the community, as well as nationally and internationally by serving on the board of advisers for the Orion Blue Book, which is distributed throughout the world to dealers in the musical instrument industry. We, as well as the many knowledgeable people in the business community whom we have asked, have never heard of Kenny Trout and will probably never hear of him again.