Inner City, Outer Beauty
I'd like to thank New Times for Judy Cantor and Steve Satterwhite's extraordinary article, "The People's Gallery (July 16), about our inner-city wall paintings. I have lived in Liberty City for 30 years and have never read anything as uplifting as this article.
Not one newspaper in Miami has dedicated a front page to the beauty of Liberty City; they only concern themselves with the violence. Now everyone can clearly see that there is beauty, true beauty, in our inner city. Thank you very much.
Editor's note: An expanded selection of Steve Satterwhite's photographs from "The People's Gallery" (sixteen total, all in color) can be viewed at our Website, where the article is permanently archived. The address: www.miaminewtimes.com
He's Got a Feeling About the Facts About Daryl Jones
After reading Jim DeFede's article "Dog Fight" (July 16), I watched the grilling of Daryl Jones by the Senate Armed Services Committee on television and I didn't like what I saw. DeFede presented a strong technical argument against Jones's nomination, but this is one that's going to come back and bite us.
First of all, there were no African Americans on the panel of pilots brought to testify against Jones. All were white as rice and hostile toward Jones. They weren't hostile because of substandard evaluations (the two officers under whom Jones had served -- including Col. Thomas Dyches -- had given him high marks), but because, as one pilot admitted, "We didn't know who Daryl Jones was."
This was obviously a tight-knit, good-old-boy group with predisposed and very subdued (perhaps unspoken) reservations about black pilots. What kind of message is that sending to black children across America who might want to become fighter pilots? I'll tell you: "Blacks aren't cut out to be fighter pilots. Stick to basketball."
Second, I found Colonel Dyches to be very egotistical. He reminded me of a guy who shows up at your house about 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning with a ten-pound Bible. I am not a fact hound like DeFede, but I can tell you that what happened between Dyches and Jones was more a personality clash than anything else. Yes, Dyches technically grounded Jones, but it was Jones who made the decision not to put in the requisite hours. Ergo Jones grounded himself. Why do we have to be so technical?
And finally, something tells me the air force knew it was putting Jones in a hostile environment and that he'd be forced to retaliate in some fashion, whether through somewhat dishonest measures or through what some would interpret as arrogance. Think of Jones as following in the footsteps of Jackie Robinson, but instead of baseball it's the good-old-boy network of lily-white, top-gun pilots. Who wouldn't lie just a little? Who wouldn't fight back? I know I sure as hell would. Of course, Dyches wouldn't. He's too busy waving that air force regulation book in our faces.
The saddest part about my theory is that it is subjective; it can't be proven. But hate is also subjective, yet hate is a very real thing. I guess America is willing to watch Will Smith playing the hero pilot role and flying across our movie screens but is unwilling to allow Daryl Jones to lead the air force into the 21st Century.
Yes, Jim DeFede, the facts are on your side, but the whole thing pisses me off. And feeling never takes a back seat to fact in my book.
The Well-Lubricated DeFede
It has been quite some time since I have experienced such truth in journalism. Jim DeFede grabs the reader in the first two sentences of every article. He has a true depth of understanding, plus his work reads so fluidly.
I happened to see your Website purely by accident and was blown away by the talent on staff. I am now an avid reader.
It's 3:00 a.m. -- Do You Know Where Your Raving Daughter Is?
This letter is in response to Nina Korman's article "Ravaged by the Rave" (July 16). Quite frankly, she doesn't have enough experience with the rave scene to write an article about it.
I believe that her argument against raves was drugs. In every paragraph she mentioned drugs, their effects, et cetera. That is not what raves are about, Ms. Korman. I've been promoting raves for three years now, and let me tell you, I have never "rolled" on Ecstasy in my life. Everyone has a choice whether to do drugs, and I can tell you that the majority of people at my parties do not do drugs. They are out there to dance their asses off and have a good time.
On another point, when have police ever been able to control drugs? Never. And unfortunately they never will. Now, say you're a parent and you've done your best to teach your kid about drugs. Face it, you cannot control that kid when he or she is out on the street. Would you rather your kid be out roaming the streets high, or in one location, off of the street, with friends? A place where fighting, gangs, guns, drunk drivers, killers, and rapists are not present? We provide a place where teens can be with friends, listen to the music they enjoy, and dance all night -- free of crime. If they do drugs, it's their choice. Let them experiment. They'll soon learn that drugs will lead them nowhere. I smoked pot for years as a teen, but you don't see me in rehab for life. No, I make a very good living for my age (29). But if you keep drugs away from kids entirely, their curiosity will grow. Then comes trouble.
My raves are not meat markets; they're places where teenage girls can get a massage from a friend and not lose their virginity. This is not a pick-up joint. Can the same be said of South Beach nightclubs? Alcohol, as Ms. Korman says, is not the raver's choice; water is. Would you rather your teen come home drunk out of her mind after having been in a place where anyone could have taken advantage of her intoxication, or with water bottles sticking out of her baggy jeans?
A rave is a place where no one cares what you look like, how you dress, or whether you work at Burger King or Merrill Lynch. When was the last time you could go to a South Beach club wearing sweats and no one looked at you like you were a hoodlum? When was the last time you bumped into someone at a South Beach club and were able to apologize without getting a dirty look first? It doesn't happen. At a rave you get the chance to express yourself, be free of the burden of how society looks at you, and be yourself.
The next time Ms. Korman decides to write an article about something she doesn't know much about, she should research the subject and get other opinions. Ask the promoters, the DJs, the vendors, even the police -- they'll say raves are not like nightclubs. The police are present at raves mainly because of the number of people who attend, not because we cause trouble. If you were a local, you'd understand.
I always thought New Times was supposed to promote Miami, not bury it.
Gelber: Retirement Suits Him Just Fine
Ted B. Kissell's interview with former Miami Beach Mayor Seymour Gelber ("Gelber Unbound," July 9) prompts me to ask this: Do we really have to choose between him and Charlton Heston? Gelber, a classic example of someone who should have stayed retired but didn't, accomplished only one thing as mayor: He resolved the dispute about the city's refusal to officially recognize Nelson Mandela during his 1990 visit.
I am not surprised that Gelber took the opportunity to smear commissioners Martin Shapiro and David Dermer, the only true reformers on the commission in many years. Gelber presided over declining services, neighborhood deterioration, the $60 million Loews hotel giveaway, the seizure of peoples' homes for private development, and endless compromises with high-rise developers.
As for Gelber bringing decorum to commission meetings, I'm reminded of his cranky and cantankerous demeanor whenever Shapiro made one of his lonely attempts to put the brakes on overdevelopment. Nor am I surprised by his praise for his former protege and current Mayor Neisen Kasdin, the phony "stop overdevelopment" candidate who has supported almost every developer-backed measure while preaching downzoning.
Seymour, you had your final fling -- at our expense. Now would you please just go quietly into that good night?
Richard H. Rosichan
Gelber: A Less Than Brutal Self-Critique
Unquestionably the image of Miami Beach was enhanced during Mayor Gelber's term of office. In the interest of accuracy, however, the mayor's self-criticism needs a tiny adjustment. He was quoted as saying: "I never worked especially hard at developing programs for children in Miami Beach. I also just about ignored the homeless." He should have said: "I never helped or developed any programs for low-income children, and I completely ignored the homeless."
Considering Gelber's background, not to consider this as a personal negative is astonishing.
Howard G. Kaufman
Association for Better Child Care Develop-
ment and Education
Gelber: One Man's Fun, Another Man's Fulmination
Why doesn't Seymour Gelber take some of his own advice: Just don't talk!
His administration was one of the worst Miami Beach has had. He calls Thomas Kramer an ogre, but why did he stand by and let Kramer do what he did? Gelber cooperated with the Kramer interests trying to defeat the Save Miami Beach charter amendment -- which, incidentally, seems like a farce now; it is not being adhered to and developers are easily getting around it. So much for the wishes and votes of the public.
Gelber describes his time as mayor as a "fun adventure." That's the problem: He cared less and less about the interests and condition of Miami Beach and just let things slide.
Gelber: Here's Looking at You, Mom
Ted B. Kissell got most of it right. Honest by instinct, cranky by choice. But your survey of Seymour Gelber's mayoral career left out a significant piece of the mosaic. If Gelber can seem both down-to-earth and above the fray, it's because his feet are planted firmly -- on the shoulders of his wife.
While Seymour may be Kissell's "consensus-builder," Edith is the family's communicator -- in nearly any language -- and designated listener. And as a public servant, she has no equal. A school teacher for 35 years, she was usually grading papers well after the good mayor-judge-prosecutor's bedtime. For Edith there are no headlines, no pithy quotes, and certainly no cover stories. Just some very grateful children.
Guitar Story Way Out of Tune
Alan Diaz's story about Ed Oleck and his store, Ed's Guitars ("A Real Fender Bender," July 9), was so far off base one must wonder if he did any research at all. Maybe he just had Ed write the article.
There are many, many vintage-instrument dealers in Florida and all are up against the big boys. If someone needs a special piece of equipment, I assure you Ed's is only one of hundreds of places to buy it. The big stores brought to Miami what the rest of the world has -- a huge selection at competitive prices. Please do not for a minute lead us to believe that New Times wants us to pay inflated prices for instruments that sit on Ed's shelf for years. He has created a niche for himself by selling cheap, garage-sale type guitars to kids who don't want to spend money. His store is filled with more no-name brands than anything else.
The law banning the purchase of instruments off the street was made by Ed's peers and has served Miami well. Why would New Times fight against it? Is it all right for someone to buy a vintage instrument off the street for $100 and sell it for $1000? Who gets the money? It's cash in the store owner's pocket. Would someone report a $900 cash profit to the government? This law is a way of stopping people from taking money out of the city's pocket. Buying instruments off the street is not the only way to get secondhand instruments. There are many ways, including buying from other dealers and at shows. But that is not as profitable as buying from people off the street.
About the Guitar Center employee getting an adjustment at Ed's: The repair business has nothing to do with the store. A good repairman can easily build a large clientele, as Ron Hogan did at Guitar Center. Thousands of musicians seek Ron out for his expert repairs, not because he works at Guitar Center.
Please do not think all readers are going to believe all you publish. It is stories like this one that shake the trust we have in our New Times.
Barry Diller's Big Pickle
Regarding Robert Andrew Powell's cover story "Birth of a Station" (June 25): Seeing that Miami is about the cheesiest city on the face of the Earth, I am completely unsurprised by WAMI-TV's lack of promise. I predict the station will bite the big Diller pickle. Why? Well, the first clue I picked up from the article was that Big Boy Diller created the Fox network, which has given the nation only four quality programs in twelve years: The Simpsons, King of the Hill, The X-Files, and Get a Life.
Clue number two: Al Galvez helped develop a show for WAMI called Barcode. Galvez's apparent lack of talent aside, the show will just be stupid and embarrassing to watch. The fact that they need to audition people for their silly late-night show is also a joke. If they want to capture Miami in its natural state, they should let anybody go on and do their thing. It would be funny, and sometimes poignant. Despite its supreme pan-pizza cheesiness, Miami is full of rich and wonderful characters who rarely get a chance to be seen or heard.
These WAMI "professionals" are trying to have a professional local station without any insight into the community or any research into what kind of people live here. I hope they do well, but they need to get a clue.
Ari S. Holub
No Artist an Island
I am writing this letter to correct some misstated facts that appeared in Nina Korman's "Islanders and Imagery" ("Night & Day," June 25). The article was erroneous regarding the role played by Rosie Gordon-Wallace in the creation of the group Emerging Caribbean Artists (ECA). I created ECA by assembling the artists involved. Rosie did help in providing us with a place to meet, but her role was minor.
My goal was to bring together a group of artists from similar backgrounds whose works would shed light on misconceptions and stereotypical images of Caribbean artists, as well as to provide an opportunity for us to express ourselves. My thinking was, I live here, so why not do something instead of sitting back and complaining?
The ECA has not been disbanded, as erroneously reported in Ms. Korman's article. We are simply not associated with Rosie any more. We still meet to discuss plans for another show and to see how everyone's art is developing.
Out of fairness, I think the members of ECA would appreciate an opportunity to clarify this.
G. Tall Rickards
Nina Korman replies: In response to Mr. Rickards's comments regarding the formation of Emerging Caribbean Artists, Rosie Gordon-Wallace stands by her statement to me that she founded the group. Mr. Rickards, however, correctly notes that ECA has not disbanded. New Times regrets the error.
An Insult to Snakes and Lizards Everywhere!
Emiliano Antunez, in his letter responding to Jim DeFede's article "Prestige Politics" (May 28), is absolutely right about all the clowns and puppets in our halls of government. But folks, they were, for the most part, voted in! We get the government we deserve, and if the voting public wants a reptile exhibit at city hall, we get Humbertico. If the man voted "least effective" is the one we want, then Bruno is in. If we want a temp, let's call Xavier. You need somebody who's been fired? Twice? Joe's your man. If you need a conference scheduled for just about anything, then Alex (or until recently Brian) can set it up. You need to file for bankruptcy? Call Cesar. And if you are ever feeling lonely on your birthday, you can always count on Demetrio to send a card (in two languages, too).
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When we get over this fascination with Third World election tactics and Third World styles of government, Miami can move to another level. I mean, how many times do we have to be voted "least something or other" before someone finally takes the hint? When you're at the bottom, there is only one direction to move.
I am one of the fortunate ones who worked and played with Emilio Vandenedes on several occasions. His knowledge and passion for Cuban music was outstanding and contagious. As a Cuban musicologist, Emilio was a tremendous resource to the community and was always unconditionally available to those who shared his passion. Thanks to Judy Cantor for her eulogy (March 26). Emilio will be missed by many, both here and on the island.