The Music Will Blow You Away
I would like to comment on Judy Cantor's cover story "Isla de la Musica" (May 28). I really enjoyed reading it and thought it accurately depicted the way the music business operates in Cuba. I also read her previous article "Bring on the Cubans!" (June 19, 1997). I am pleased with the way she portrays Cuban musicians; she does not put down our music in any way, as some other journalists have.
I was born in Cuba and left while very young, but since 1994 I have traveled to the island many times. I fell in love with the music the first time I heard it and have had the luck to meet many of the musicians in Cuba and see them perform. And I've been reunited with them here in the United States -- Manolin, David Calzado, Issac Delgado, and his sister Daria and nephew Alexander, who sing in the band and are friends of mine from Cuba.
Many people in Miami don't understand much about Cuban music, but I think that is changing. When Issac played at the Onyx in Miami Beach on April 21, there was such a great feeling. The music brought everyone together and it was a great experience.
Anyone who has seen Cuban bands perform knows they bring so much energy to their performances that people don't get bored for one minute. This city has yet to discover the full magic of Cuban music, but when that day comes, it will be blown away.
Its ironic that 90 miles away from Cuba, where most Cubans exiles reside, there is such limited exposure to the music, while in other parts of the country such as San Francisco and New York, there is so much more. La Charanga Habanera has played at a salsa festival in Boston, and Los Van Van tours around the whole country every year, but because of the old way of thinking by some of the most powerful people in Miami, we have been cut off from this music. They have to realize that politics is one thing and music is another. Why mix it up?
Once again, I would like to thank Judy for writing such good and accurate articles.
I Am Not a Homophobe! Got That, You Sissy?
Jim DeFede's column "Prestige Politics" (May 28), about the special election for the Dade County Commission, demonstrates the typical liberal pro-gay-rights bias in the media. Mr. DeFede referred to me as a homophobe. That is how liberal pro-gay-rights advocates describe anyone who doesn't support the gay rights agenda.
Mr. DeFede, who is a professional writer, should know the meaning of the words he uses. Homophobia is defined as an irrational fear of homosexuality or homosexuals. I simply do not believe that the role of government is to legitimize the homosexual lifestyle. What consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms is none of my business and shouldn't be any of government's business. Setting public policy should be the business of government, and issues affecting public policy are my business as an interested citizen.
Mr. DeFede also referred to me as someone who perennially enters Miami Beach elections. Perennial is defined as continuing without interruption. I was on the ballot as a candidate for mayor of Miami Beach in 1991 and 1997. That is far from perennial.
It is unfortunate that Mr. DeFede, who writes very good stories most of the time, is not capable of being objective when it comes to the gay-rights issue. The really unfortunate thing is that he ignored my candidacy because of the above reason, despite the fact that, of the three candidates, I am the only one capable of representing all the voters and taxpayers of District 5 (gay and nongay) with integrity and independence, two of the most important qualities needed in public officials.
Editor's note: This past Tuesday Mr. Skidell lost his bid to replace Bruce Kaplan on the county commission.
Put 'Em on a Leash and Yank It
In reference to John Lantigua's article "Conflict in Clubland" (May 21), unfortunately discipline, moderation, and civilized behavior have eluded many of these children (15 to 25 years of age) who cruise South Beach, dysfunctional products of the Nineties.
Potential and actual troublemakers must be kept on a very tight leash, as one would a large, aggressive dog. May the Multi-Agency Gang Task Force multiply and prosper. Let it do whatever has to be done to preserve the sanity on South Beach, and to hell with the likes of Mr. David Kelsey and the poor little club owners who admit to yearly incomes of millions and millions of dollars.
In the Wee Small Hours
"Conflict in Clubland" is the most realistic article I have ever read about nightclubs. As a long-time promoter for many of the nightclubs and lounges in the article, I can say that John Lantigua exposed the naked truth of what goes on along the strip. The clubs are exactly the way he portrayed them.
For my own protection, I cannot go into further detail about what really goes on in those clubs when the curtains close at 5:00 a.m. Let your imagination flow and you might get close to it.
I agree that the City of Miami Beach must do its best to clean up those clubs and make them work professionally. The only problem I see is that some club owners are completely unprofessional and think they can muscle politics with money. Maybe they're right. Only time will tell.
In the meantime, I will continue to do what I do best: promote the clubs and have fun. Enjoy the night, live the day.
South Beach: Growth, Greed, and Bad Seed
John Lantigua failed to address the root causes of South Beach's problems, which are numerous. The 1980 Mariel boatlift from Cuba brought an influx of a marginal element that dramatically changed the social fabric of Dade County. Subsequently they produced marginal offspring.
Having lived here and in France since 1974, I recall a quieter, more civilized Miami Beach. For many years the Beach sat idle, until investors such as Tony Goldman saw the potential for a renaissance and were able to work with an eager local government. In the years that followed, growth meant greed. As the Beach continued to redevelop (landmark historic buildings razed and replaced with concrete monoliths), politicos capitulated to myopic vision and allowed sustained growth without proper management.
How can the city expect to attract the "right" crowd when all its efforts have been crisis-management directed? Its inability to exercise prudence and fortitude or to initiate proactive measures have led to the present malaise.
The Pop Pushers
I appreciated Ted B. Kissell's article "Pop Quiz" (May 21). The fact that Dade County allows soft drink vendors to push pop in public schools is disturbing. The county's school system prides itself in offering its students some of the most nutritious cafeteria food in the nation. Dade County actually placed in the top five nationwide in a survey of healthful school food last fall. How does this jibe with the Coke machines and soft drink promotions pouring into our schools? Are our leaders unaware that sodas are loaded with caffeine and sugar?
America's children are already guzzling more than 64 gallons of soda each per year. Do they need more? Most brands pack a wallop of caffeine. High doses of the stuff make kids speedier and more anxious and nervous than they already are. Sugar is no better. It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a school administrator to know it can also have an adverse effect on a child's health.
So why does Dade County sell soda in its schools? Do we need the money that much? Why do we keep Joe Camel out while we let King Coke in?
Schools are supposed to promote good health. Their leaders should be setting good examples. They can do both by telling the soda vendors to get lost. There should be no place for them in our schools.
Trojan, Sheik in Stiff Competition for Killian Rights
Putting the Coca-Cola logo on the front of Killian High School is a bit much for those who think Coke contains too much sugar and caffeine to do anyone good. Perhaps local dentists are enjoying the benefits.
Next I can see a great ad for condoms hanging over the Killian entrance -- a phallic symbol with a big X through it so the children get the message. In a state that requires a parent's approval for a child to have a tattoo but not to have an abortion, why should anything be surprising?
Ronald C. Rickey
To Homeboys It's Biz as Usual, To Outsiders It's Fraud
Regarding Robert Andrew Powell's story "Stung Again" (May 21), does Miami Senior High School principal Victor Lopez really believe that an investigation will not reveal the outright fraudulent activities of his school's athletic department and staff, himself included? Just because criminal activity and incompetence are usually overlooked and even encouraged in Dade County governmental operations doesn't mean you can get away with it. At least not when the people conducting the investigation are from outside South Florida.
Of course, when they play the race/ethnicity card and use it to cry foul, the rules of the Greater Miami Athletic Conference and the Florida High School Activities Association will probably be reinterpreted. To say his school was singled is another lie. There may be other schools bending the rules, but I would bet that no other programs have violated as many rules as the Miami High Stingarees. Following his logic, will he jump off a bridge if everyone else does? I think we would all be better off.
Thomas H. Taber
Padron, the Untold Story
Ted B. Kissell's article on Miami-Dade Community College president Eduardo Padrón was nothing but a pure hatchet job ("Schoolyard Bully," May 7). The characterization of Dr. Padron as a "schoolyard bully" is not only unfair but downright inaccurate. A schoolyard bully is one who terrorizes and beats up smaller students. Dr. Padron has never done that, even in a figurative sense. If anything, Dr. Padrón has made it his life's mission to increase opportunities and make higher education accessible to more people, especially those who need a little more help because they come from poor backgrounds, have language difficulties, or are "at risk."
As a former Wolfson Campus student and editor of the school's newspaper, Metropolis, I got to know Dr. Padron very well. We disagreed as often as we agreed, but Dr. Padron was always willing to listen and make changes. His door was always open. A few times he called me for input. Because of a weak student government, the paper was the backbone of student advocacy on campus.
What I most remember about Dr. Padron was one time when I called him regarding a student who complained to me that he was going to have to quit school because he couldn't find a way to pay his tuition. He had some very serious problems at home. I urged him to stay and called Dr. Padron to see if he could help. He said not to worry about it, that he would not let this student drop out. A few semesters later the student graduated with me and went on to another college. That's just the kind of man Dr. Padron is. Some bully!