Ted Gives His Pulitzer the Boot
This is in response to Ted B. Kissell's article "Parking and Politics" (September 3). Does Mr. Kissell think the public to whom he's addressing his article is a bunch of juveniles who cannot see clearly through the manner in which it was constructed?
He purposely omitted important facts. He received copies of information from the legal division of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs pertaining to individuals from more than one booting company now trying to conduct business in Miami Beach.
The biggest booting-company violator in New York City had more than $110,000 in fines and its license revoked. That company's director of operations is a current employee of Florida Parking Enforcement, [which is now booting in Miami Beach].
Mr. Kissell downplayed other negatives about the company. He used politics as a masquerade to gain the public's sympathy and to seem more sensitive in favor of booting.
This is about booting, not towing. Judging from his clear bias, it appears that Mr. Kissell might aspire to become a freelance publicist. Well, at least we know he won't be getting the Pulitzer any time soon. What an insult to the community.
Miami: Looking Out for Number One
I want to thank New Times, and especially Jacob Bernstein, for bringing to our attention the plight of Honduran immigrant Ernesto Mejia ("American Nightmare," September 3), who, thanks to the antics of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, is facing an apparently groundless deportation.
Mejia's case is emblematic of the prevailing attitude against many hard-working immigrants in this country. This English-only bias is the same beast masked under a different name: "reform" or "responsibility." The same beast that's trying to do away with affirmative action. Vituperative attitudes expressed by those who stand to gain politically or professionally against those who are easy prey have become the norm in this country. And it all rolls downhill, eventually trampling the little guy.
You would think the little people would protect each other, but no. I hate it when I hear Miami described as multicultural. Miami is not multicultural. Miami is unicultural -- meaning each culture only looks out for its own. And yet there is merit in looking out for someone who lives across the tracks.
Ernesto Mejia's rights are going to be waved off, first because he is not an American and second because he is not Cuban. This is a man whose only transgressions were, as Mr. Bernstein pointed out, being in the wrong place at the wrong time and naively trusting those who were supposed to be protecting his legal interests.
For people who like to preach, I say save your breath. You ain't going to Heaven unless you're willing to drink out of the same cup. My prayers are with Ernesto Mejia.
Alpha 66 Was Then, Exile Idiots Are Now
Kirk Nielsen's incisive cover story "Alpha Males" (August 27) mentions quite fairly my participation as creator of the original Alpha 66 and touches upon my involvement in its leadership from 1961 to 1964. Mr. Nielsen is objective in his overview of the commando raids that received worldwide attention (including in Moscow) and our final landing on Cuban soil in 1964; a scant but just account of our one-month guerrilla combat on the island, up until the day of our capture.
I would, however, like to add another dimension to Mr. Nielsen's story. Allow me to point out the following:
*Our war effort was not of a reactionary or terrorist nature and it was explainable within the context of the early Sixties.
*For various reasons that would require further discussion, the Cuban government, in the midst of the Cold War, had aligned itself with the Soviet Union. This fact made our waging an active campaign of irregular war against Fidel Castro's government a justified effort in light of Cuba's questioned independence at the time.
*While there were forces in exile whose links to and subjugation by Washington and the CIA were evident, some of us remained staunchly independent, sustained by our deeply rooted belief in Cuba's right to be sovereign.
*In contrast to today's Alpha 66, the revolutionary effort I led in the Sixties took place within the inspiring ideological discourse of the times. The exile community of that convulsive decade prided itself in the defense of an attractive populist agenda of progressive social values. Before the dark forces of the extreme right took over the voice -- if not the heart -- of the exile community, early exile organizations had positive, constructive links to the academic world, labor groups, professionals, intellectuals, and artists all over the globe.
Finally, let me point out that those who have pushed the political pendulum to the extreme and who have misrepresented the Cuban exile opposition as an arrogant elite of reactionary idiots are substantially responsible for many of the negative perceptions of Miami's Cuban community held abroad. Blinded by fear and hatred, they have worked in favor of our adversaries on the island.
One Large Pepperoni with Extra Coke and Plenty of Straws
Regarding Jim DeFede's column "Right Out of a Movie" (August 27), my question is, What happened to the 75 tons of cocaine smuggled in by good ol' Willy Falcon and Sal Magluta? That's 2.4 million ounces, or 68 million grams. If this same amount of cocaine had been taxed at a nickel a gram, the revenue produced would be about $3.4 million.
How many people enjoyed the unregulated use of that 75 tons of cocaine? How many more tons were used during this same period? And why are tax dollars being used to limit our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?
How many lives have been wasted in prison? How many lawyers, law enforcement officers, and snitches would lose their source of income if cocaine were available as a food product by delivery only from your local certified distributor? Cocaine pizzas by Domino's, delivery in minutes, must be eighteen or older.
Teenage Thugs Clean Out Lincoln Road!
In response to Ted B. Kissell's article "The Fuss Over the Bus" (August 13), I don't understand the reasoning behind the Miami Beach City Commission's interest in charging riders to use the ElectroWave shuttle. Transportation director Judy Evans and the city, along with the police department, should be more concerned about how to clean up the bad element that is terrorizing Washington Avenue at night and vandalizing these buses.
I recently went to Washington Avenue on a Saturday night with some tourist friends from Denmark. We used the ElectroWave shuttle. My friends were horrified. So was I. In the 32 years I have lived in South Florida, I have never ever seen Washington Avenue get this bad! At about 2:00 a.m. I saw boys and girls no older than fifteen hanging out on street corners, smoking cigarettes and shouting obscenities at passing cars. My friends and I were bumped a few times by guys looking to start a fight. Another group that boarded the bus asked us if we wanted to buy drugs. Do the parents of these kids know they are out at this time of night? What happened to the curfew?
None of these kids was going to a nightclub or eating at a restaurant. In other words, they were not contributing anything to the economy of the Beach, yet hundreds were aimlessly wandering along Washington Avenue. I will not set foot on Washington again until it is rid of juvenile delinquency. This area has become an embarrassment to the city.
One of my Danish friends makes documentary films. He plans to return to Washington Avenue in two weeks to produce a film about juvenile delinquency in the United States to show in Europe. He has traveled extensively throughout the world and America and feels that this is an excellent example of a city out of control. What kind of image are we showing our tourists? Why has this been allowed to happen? Why don't the police do anything?
Don't charge for the excellent service the ElectroWave provides. But do rid the Washington Avenue area of criminal youth before it is too late. How long will it be before these kids move over to Lincoln Road and scare everyone away? Perhaps Washington Avenue should be closed to traffic on weekends, as they've done along Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Good Snitches Make Bad Neighbors
I write in response to Robert Andrew Powell's article "Code Enforcement? What Code Enforcement?" (August 6). Code enforcement is important and should be used as a tool to improve neighborhoods and help eliminate criminal activity. But when 80 percent of the households in a neighborhood are placed on a hit list of code violators, it creates tension and hostility and destroys the fiber of the community.
A significant number of people in the Buena Vista East historical district are working very hard to improve our neighborhood. We believe the best way to achieve this is through helping our neighbors and building a strong sense of community.
We believe that projects like the recent tree planting, in which more than 140 royal poincianas were planted by the neighborhood association throughout the neighborhood, as well as the chain-gang clean-up crew that periodically picks up trash, are ways to better our neighborhood. By improving our homes we encourage pride and set off a chain reaction that grows exponentially.
But turning in your fellow neighbors [for code violations] borders on vigilantism. It is counterproductive and potentially dangerous to those of us who live here. Further, because of the area's economic history, the great majority of code violators are black. Turning them in is interpreted as racially motivated.
Buena Vista East's unique blend of cultural, ethnic, and economic diversity, coupled with its unique architectural heritage, will propel our neighborhood to prosperity beyond our wildest dreams. Let's nurture our community, not destroy it.
Luis Penelas, co-chair
Buena Vista East Neighborhood Association
It's a Neighborhood, Pal, Not a Nightmare
As a Buena Vista East homeowner, I am alarmed by Mr. Powell's depiction of our neighborhood as an overpopulated zoning nightmare. Four months ago I purchased my home because it is surrounded by block after block of 1920s-era houses built on spacious lots along tree-lined streets. The Buena Vista East district is a scenic mix of Miami's past and present.
Although there are a few properties where code enforcement could be helpful, to think there are 1290 cases worthy of city attention is absurd. I believe most of the complaints lodged at the Neighborhood Enhancement Team office could be handled more quickly and effectively by neighborhood association groups instead of overloading city resources with unnecessary paperwork and litigation.
Certainly there will always be a small number of owners with a chronic disregard for the condition of their properties, and these few cases warrant intervention by city code enforcement officials.
It is difficult for me to accept that the previous NET administrator, Fedy Vieux-Brierre, was as indifferent to the plight of our neighborhood as resident Kenny Merker would have us believe. I realize that criticizing previous city officials is an efficient way to generate favorable press and to court voters, but pictures showing how great Buena Vista looks today compared to years past are the most relevant evidence I've seen in assessing Mr. Vieux-Brierre's legacy.
A Mellow Place to Scramble Your Brain
To Alfred Rieger, who wrote a letter slamming Nina Korman's eye-opening, accurately reported story on the lurid world of rave culture ("Ravaged by the Rave," July 16), I say wake up and smell the Vicks VapoRub!
The music may very well be a lure that "brings the people out to have fun," but what truly attracts prepubescent children to these events is the fact that, yes, raves are a safe environment -- in which to dabble in mind-altering drugs. Where else can these Stepfordized, Ecstatic children walk around wearing surgical masks but at a rave?
I was at the same rave as Ms. Korman, and while the plastic garbage cans may not have been available exclusively for purposes of regurgitation, many of them were in fact being hovered over by a bunch of strung-out, overdosed participants.
Mr. Rieger, if you consider this appalling scene to be merely "something different," then I've got news for you: You'd be lucky if your frontal lobe were half the size of the pea to which you compare Ms. Korman's. It's amazing you were able to read her story in the first place.
Samantha L. Stone
The Food Corner: Victoria the Vapid
Quick, somebody call Sally Struthers! Some of your readers are starving, and, if you continue to allow windbag Victoria Pesce Elliott to write restaurant reviews, this famine may hit epidemic proportions.
Ms. Elliott's reviews are about as substantial as a bag of Olean-laced potato chips: devoid of any nutritional value, sporting a frightening propensity toward unpleasant cramping, and, most significantly, having the ability to pass right through your system and leave behind nothing but empty calories.
There is no reason why I should have to endure six paragraphs of back-patting rantings on the writer's do-goody reasons for taking on a little sister before getting to the point ("Fast, Cheap, and Out of This World," September 3). Ms. Elliott should pipe down, read between the lines the next time her savvy little sister says "Yuck" to her suggestions, and consider taking on a big sister of her own -- a real food critic!
The Food Corner: If She Knew Sushi Like I Know Sushi
Unbelievable! Has New Times started to buckle to financial pressures like the Herald? That review by Pamela Robin Brandt, "Raw Deals" (August 13), was more an advertisement than a critique. If only any of it were true.
I've been looking for a top-rate sushi restaurant in Miami Beach since moving here more than a year ago. Anyone who has ever visited Japan or has even the most rudimentary knowledge of sushi would have gasped at such giddy descriptions offered by this novice.
"And in a four-block stretch of Washington Avenue there is a quartet of indisputably topnotch sushi joints. We think of them as being connected by one long strand of seaweed.... [At Toni's Sushi] try the succulent yet suave salmon carpaccio, wafer-thin slices of translucent raw fish that arrive in two sauces: underneath, a light sweet-sour Japanese vinaigrette; on top, creamy-rich mayo-based white dressing.... Sauces are supreme here.... The delightfully named Miami Heat elevates raw tuna sashimi chunks to new culinary heights with its perfectly balanced, subtly sizzling coating of hot sesame oil."
What a bunch of drivel. The whole piece is a farce. You may want to check with the four establishments listed to be sure they do not have Ms. Brandt on their payroll before you continue to employ her.
Steven E. Barringer
The Food Corner: Jen Battles Weird News
You almost lost a large portion of your readership. Many of us read specific sections in New Times, and I think an overwhelming favorite, besides "News of the Weird," is the restaurant criticism of Jen Karetnick. Her creative journalism, personal anecdotes, and food knowledge are unmatched in this city and can hold their own against top national critics. This is why I thought it was a tragedy that we seemed to lose her after five years or so of insightful and thought-provoking reviews.
How many food critics can write eloquently about a hamburger in a diner, as well as foie gras in a five-star restaurant? She is fair but tough when she needs to be, and she's almost always on the mark in her assessments. She truly makes reading about food enjoyable and entertaining.
I saw the New Times advertisements for food writers and the subsequent reviews by those chosen. I hope you realize what you've got in Jen Karetnick, because we the reading public do.
I am glad I can now continue to read New Times for something other than "News of the Weird." And if Jen ever needs a dining companion ...
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Raits Waits for Reason to Rankle
I'm brand-new to Miami and am delighted with the quality of writing and muckraking in New Times. The first issue I came across I read from cover to cover. It reminds me of the sophisticated Los Angeles Free Press back in my antiwar days. Keep it up.
I would love to rankle your writers and editors, but I have no reason yet. So consider this an "unrankle."