Burke, Gersten, and the Power of Political Connections
In Jim DeFede's article "The Waiting Game" (December 4), Commissioner James Burke wonders, "I know that Joe Gersten was investigated, but I never heard of any attempt at a sting operation involving him. I don't think the level of scrutiny is the same."
Mr. Burke, the reason the effort is not the same is this: It all depends on who your lawyer is and what the political connections are.
You Call This a Music Section?
While I normally applaud any feature article on South Florida's all-ages punk-rock scene, the New Times's treatment of this subject in recent weeks has been so woefully shortsighted, ignorant, and filled with inaccuracies that I am compelled to respond.
To begin with, Larry Boytano's depiction in "The Young and the Rockless" (October 16) of Kal Robles and Carl Hensley as primary promoters of all-ages shows in South Florida is ludicrous. The primary independent promoters of South Florida's all-ages shows are Jim Hayward, Bob Slade, Stephanie Chaos, Andrea Robbins, and myself. Among us five promoters, hundreds of all-ages concerts have been promoted in the past half-decade. Kal and Carl between them have promoted fewer than a dozen national concerts. Carl, in fact, just did his first two in the fall of 1997: the Mr. T Experience and Snuff, both at the now-defunct House of Rock in Pompano Beach.
Boytano's assertion that Rose's is the only all-ages club in Dade County, let alone the rest of South Florida, is even sillier. The Backstage in North Miami, Happy Days in West Palm Beach, and Squeeze in Fort Lauderdale regularly hold all-ages shows, not to mention several other small clubs that periodically pop up. Furthermore, all ska, punk, and hardcore events at both the Chili Pepper and the Theater in Fort Lauderdale are all-ages. Boytano even fails to mention that it is Bob Slade, not Kal or Carl, who has promoted the majority of all-ages shows at Rose's.
Indeed, if Mr. Boytano had done his homework and read back issues of this very newspaper, he would have found three articles on all-ages shows I promoted: Antiseen ("Attack of the 50-Foot Band," April 18, 1996), the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black ("Rocky Horror Stage Show," July 11, 1996), and the New Bomb Turks ("Talking Columbus Blues," February 27, 1997). Reading back issues of New Times would also have helped George Pelletier, author of your recent Jack Off Jill story ("Paying the Rant," November 27), discover that Jack Off Jill's "Ho Ho Spade" is actually Jeff Tucci, Load guitarist and one of South Florida's most prominent and respected musicians of the last decade. How can a writer for the hometown paper overlook that?
For all the aforementioned authors' inaccuracies and bumblings, perhaps the most pathetically laughable thing I have ever read is Rene Barge's self-aggrandizing commentary in the recent story about his band Cavity ("Loud and Proud," December 4). Barge knows damn well that the "Cavity sound" is not some uncharted "deconstruction" and "recontextualizing of all themes." Rather it is a well-crafted blending of doom rock (Black Sabbath, St. Vitus) and mid-Eighties hardcore punk (Black Flag) that was blazed by Cavity's direct influences: Buzzov-en, Eyehategod, and the Melvins. As Barge admits, Cavity is "not that far out there."
In fact, contrary to what Barge would have New Times readers believe, Cavity does have a following in Miami. The band is not too cool for South Florida, and certainly not for the Slammie Awards, which Barge dismissed as a "joke." Sorry, Rene, but the audience at the Slammies did not "run away" from you. You were well received. No one left, and the crowd even -- God forbid -- moshed!
I see you forgot to mention in your interview that you and the bulk of the band were two hours late to the show, arriving ten minutes into your scheduled showtime. I see you forgot that Slammie promoters had to borrow an amp from another band so you could play because your guitarist didn't bring his. I see you didn't notice that you still played ten minutes longer than any other band that night, thus causing me -- someone you have known for years -- to give you the throat-cutting motion, a motion I'd give any band that was playing too long on a six-band bill. It had nothing to do with "chaos" or Cavity being too much for the show. Considering there was an on-stage brawl during the next set, Cavity wasn't even close to being the most chaotic band of the night.
The crowd at the Slammie show was the biggest and most responsive that Cavity has ever had locally. Rene, the only joke is that you acted like a rock star by showing up two hours late, superficially thanking everyone involved after your set, then blasting the show in print three months later. The punch line is the knife you wedged in the back of Slammie Awards organizers Jim Hayward, Lindell Trocard, Stephanie Chaos, and me for putting you on the bill in the first place.
New Times has long been the sole press lifeline for South Florida's music scene. At the heart of that lifeline has been a core of responsible journalism and unpretentiousness. Unfortunately I find that most of your new crop of music writers are relying on the word of their sources without the slightest bit of journalistic research into the genre they are writing about, or their sources' backgrounds. It comes off as expert testimony to the uninformed and as unforgivable heresy to those in the know. All the fans, musicians, and workers in the scene depend on New Times as a source of accurate, responsible information. Please restore our faith.
Clash of the Eternal Verities
Michael Roberts ("Songs You Hate to Love," November 20) refers to "Black Is Black" as "bubble gum." I call it profound. Perhaps we are both correct. I know I am.
Hmmm. "Profound bubble gum." What a concept!
Take That Sea Bass, Wrap It in a Herald, and Heap the Praise on Jen
Jen Karetnick certainly gets a lot of heat for her reviews, so I really must come to her defense. I think her reviews are extremely truthful, and I have had similar experiences at the places she has described.
Too often the Miami Herald gives glowing reviews for places that, in my estimation, certainly don't deserve it. A case in point is its recent review of Balans on Lincoln Road, which the Herald lists as "exceptional," with a specific rave for the sea bass. I tried the sea bass and found it extremely plain and certainly not worthy of a "must try." Jen's review of Balans was more even, and more accurate.
I also appreciate her description of portion size compared with price, something the Herald seems to overlook. Case in point: the tiny, insulting portions served at Pacific Time and the former Pacific Heights duo. Only Jen noted this in her reviews; the Herald simply raved about how good the food was.
My strategy for eating out is usually to wait until Jen reviews a place and go from there. If both the Herald and New Times review a restaurant, my decision whether to go always defaults to New Times. No reviewer is more accurate and on the mark.
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In his cover story "Coming of Age on the 50-Yard Line" (November 27), staff writer Robert Andrew Powell erroneously stated that Anthony Dawkins had transferred money from one account to another while he was running the football program at Gwen Cherry Park. New Times regrets the error.
In addition, while Powell wrote that Metro-Dade police investigated Dawkins for embezzlement but filed no charges, he neglected to mention that a subsequent audit by the county found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing on Dawkins's part. In his August 1994 report, auditor Roger Lewis wrote: "The investigation by Metro police found no wrongdoing on the part of the Inner City Youth corporate officers, simply poor recordkeeping and a lack of proper expense documentation.... [County auditors] have met with [Dawkins] and outlined our expectation of documentation and accounting for grant funds.