Gentle Words of Wisdom from the Safe and Racially Harmonious Big Apple
I've lived in Coconut Grove off and on for about twelve years, and after reading Kirk Nielsen's story ("The Wall," February 5), I have only one thing to say: Ask David White and his friends if they've ever been mugged at gunpoint by whites, or if he's had friends of his beaten senseless because they were black.
The fence [between the black Grove and white neighborhoods] may be a nuisance to him, but so would stitches, a broken arm, and empty pockets!
New York, New York
Socks Up and Hats Off
Regarding Robert Andrew Powell's article about Brickell Village ("Taking a Name for Herself," February 5), socks up to Antonia Gerstaker for her unorthodox and creative methods of dealing with the City of Miami bureaucracy. Ms. Gerstaker and others will find that dueling with the city from abstract angles will open windows of opportunity.
Look! Up in the Sky! It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's X Man!
It wasn't until reading Robert Andrew Powell's article "X Mayor" (January 29) that I finally had a full grasp of this latest imbroglio in Miami politics. For this knowledge I thank you, but now I am filled with a sense of doom that we have sunk to an all-time low as a city, and Suarez is at the helm.
Just recently, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Miami Heat's new arena, Mayor Suarez was in attendance and was accompanied by someone in a parrot suit toting an "I Support the Mayor" sign. It was shameless. Someone must stop this man. With any luck, he'll just fly away.
Yet More Airborne Evidence!
So Mayor Suarez can break into tears or fly into a rage. This is not weirdly erratic behavior; it shows only that he is a human being. So he does not have the bland sort of personality that most people find acceptable -- no joys, no sorrows, submissive, obedient, emotionless, dull. Well, at least he is sufficiently alive and interested enough in life to run the City of Miami.
Quintana Plan? What Quintana Plan?
Paula Park's article "The Quintana Plan" (January 22) contains some omissions, and some inaccuracies I would like to correct. My father, Eugenio Batista, was a professor at Santo Tomas de Villanueva University, not the University of Havana, where Nicolas Quintana studied. Therefore Quintana was not a student of Eugenio Batista.
The exhibition "Patios, Portales y Persianas" was named after an article written by Eugenio Batista. Originally published in Cuba in Artes Plasticas (vol. 2, 1960), it was translated into English and published in the Cuban National Heritage's Herencia (vol. 3, no. 1, 1997). My father never "encouraged his students to add traditional Cuban motifs to the austere geometric façades that characterized modern architecture." He thought these elements were architectural solutions to the Cuban climate, not decorative additions.
Despite its title (which must have come as a surprise to the others on the Cuban National Heritage architectural committee), the article gives no clear explanation of what the "Quintana Plan" actually is.
The Herald's Secret Source
A sign of the times: The Miami Herald credits New Times for investigative reporting twice in different articles on the same page (January 4), then quotes a New Times report three weeks later in a front-page story (January 31). The Herald is giving credit where credit is overdue. Here's hoping they continue the gesture whenever appropriate in the exciting days ahead.
Truth be told, New Times has rendered this community a service in recent years by focusing a perspicacious eye on the masquerading sludge that passes for various elected, appointed, and self-anointed power brokers intent on quick cash, cozy contracts, and sweet retirement deals behind the public's back.
Your reporting has awakened the attention of not only the Herald but also federal prosecutors and even, just possibly, State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. (Credit to your reporter Jim DeFede for supplying her with directions!)
Amid a tawdry local scene devoid of ethics, your investigative staff is to be commended for their efforts. Keep up the good work, and the Miami Herald and others will continue to mine your pages for ideas.
East of Overblown
Regarding Ted B. Kissell's article "There's a Riot Going On" (January 15), I read with interest about the peripatetic struggles of a group of local Miami filmmakers to produce a film dealing with Miami's historic racial tensions, alternatively called East of Overtown or Liberty City. Unfortunately, the principals involved all sound like a bunch of alley cats fighting over refuse.
It's very hard to get a movie made about difficult subject matter such as the Overtown and Liberty City riots. I should know. I shopped my own project about the riots, called Overtown, ten years before Leo Casino, Bob Ingria, et al. Written by me and Parnes Cartwright, the film was a dramatic retelling of the events leading up to the riots. Similar in tone and style to Mississippi Burning or JFK, the script (copyright 1985, well before Casino/Ingria) was based on our own scrupulous research, including interviews we conducted with many of the actual participants.
There are so many intangible factors that determine which films get made. And although we often hear about the millions of dollars casually slung around with reckless abandon by the major Hollywood studios, there are always deserving projects that languish on the shelves. Few are the writers and producers who pull down "one million, two million," as Mr. Casino blusters. A lot of filmmakers are battling just to see a good subject brought to fruition, never mind the chump change.
I am not familiar with the script for the film Mr. Casino has written, so I don't know if it is a serious treatment about this important subject or if it is rather (as a plot summary would seem to suggest) a cartoony treatment that uses the riots only as a backdrop for a run-of-the-mill action movie. In either case, everybody involved ought to consider themselves very lucky indeed should the film ever see the light of day. For who knows if any of them have, as Ingria snarls, the talent or the experience to do what they are trying to do.
By the way, after two years, Mr. Cartwright and I shelved our Overtown project. He is now an actor in New York and I am producing, directing, and writing other films. But then, no project ever truly dies.
KSI Film Productions
New York, New York
Chomsky and DeFede -- a Match Made in Heaven
Congratulations on your excellent newspaper. You provide an indispensable service to South Florida, especially because of the highly documented, comprehensive, and courageous articles about government and political affairs by Jim DeFede. I only regret that they are not published in Spanish so that many more people could become aware of the disturbing political environment in this region.
When one notices -- mainly through your feature articles -- the political corruption, pervasive fraud, intolerance, and the highly uneven distribution of power among different groups in Miami-Dade County, it is tempting to fall into pessimism about the future of this otherwise attractive region. There are, however, decent and enterprising people here, such as Colombians, Nicaraguans, Dominicans, Venezuelans, Brazilians, Haitians, African Americans, progressive Cuban Americans, Anglos, and others who want to see this area turned into a beautiful metropolis where freedom of expression is respected by all, different nationalities and ethnic groups participate equally in government and in public and private enterprises, excellent education is provided to those who want it, political corruption is uprooted, and crime is eliminated -- a place where all residents respect and appreciate each other and where tourists from all over the world feel welcome and safe.
To stimulate us in bringing about this condition, we should recall the words of Noam Chomsky, a brilliant MIT professor: "Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, it's unlikely you will step up and take responsibility for making it so. If you assume that there's no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, there are opportunities to change things; there's a chance you may contribute to making a better world. The choice is yours."
So to the decent people of this county I say: The choice is yours.
Alonso E. Rhenals
Two Thumbs Down for Lili
I am responding to the letter to the editor from Lili Chambers of Miami. I could not disagree with Ms. Chambers more about film critic Peter Rainer. Finally, a critic who dares to use his own clear vision to blast open the dopey conventions we have been saddled with by the present-day (particularly American) film industry.
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Ms. Chambers is oblivious to the fact that Rainer loves movies. He just can't stomach what's become of them.
Our Loss, Bob Guccione's Gain
Will you please add more half-naked female photo advertisements to your newspaper? I counted only nineteen in your last issue and I might have to start buying Penthouse again.