How About "Humanitarian Criminal?
Over the past few weeks, I have been carefully reading Jim DeFede's continuing saga of Foutanga Dit Babani Sissoko ("The Baba Chronicles," September 25; "The Baba Chronicles, Part 2," November 6; and "Bye-Bye, Baba," November 27). Even with all of Mr. DeFede's in-depth scrutiny of the man, it is hard to make a decision about him.
On one hand, you want to totally despise him because of his criminal activities. You want to set him before a jury of the people he's walked on, disrespected, cheated, and lied to and let them sentence him for his crimes. You want to see him open that famous checkbook and pay his past employees. You want to hear him explain why he feels that his money gives him the power of a god.
On the other hand, you want to embrace him and thank him for his charitable heart, for he does donate without direction from a judge. You want to place a medal on his chest for the help he has given not only to charities but also to private citizens. You want to honor him for his humanitarian efforts.
But where do you draw the line between good and evil? At what point do you stop excusing the bad and justifying the good? How do you find a word that describes a man like Sissoko? Criminal? Humanitarian? Scam artist? Benefactor?
If someone out there in New Times land can answer my questions, please let us all know.
Bring "em Back!
After Baba Sissoko's altruistic and magnanimous philanthropic gesture for the benefit of Camillus House, I certainly hope that Brother Paul Johnson and others ministering to those in need will show their character and integrity by reinstating the seventeen individuals who provide "direct services" to the homeless.
These individuals who were unfortunately pushed into the ranks of the unemployed obviously could now be back on the payroll with such a munificent display of goodwill. Certainly no one wants any of them relegated to purgatory.
Ronald C. Rickey
Julius and the Genie
Is Jen Karetnick really naive, or does she have better sense than to state the obvious about why she was treated so badly at Malaga restaurant ("The Spanish Imposition," November 27)? The treatment she received didn't even come close to being subtle.
She is a gringa; she wasn't welcome, and they certainly let her know it. I wonder what they did to the food behind her back (we probably wouldn't want to know). Want to bet she gets letters stating that she's a Cuban-basher and wouldn't know good Cuban food if she picked it up off the floor and ate it?
She's uncorked the old picking-on-the-minority genie and I doubt she'll ever get it back in the bottle. I could go on and on, but what's the use? Bottom line: If you get treated like shit, walk out. There are plenty of places that like the color of your money regardless of your race, creed, or ethnicity. I know Jen had to stay so she could write the article, but thanks for pointing out the obvious!
Sensibility -- What a Surprise
Congratulations to Judy Cantor for her article "Calypso Carnival" (November 6). For the first time, calypso in Miami has been written about well. Thanks to Judy for her surprising sensibility and understanding of our calypso music and its culture. A fine job.
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The Powers of Ganja
While I agree with the main point of Jim DeRogatis's "Dub and Dumber" article (September 18) -- that the current drooling reviews of Arkology are mostly a result of uninformed critics who are ignoring the overall history of dub and basically just reading the press releases -- I have to disagree with his own uninformed, negative assessment of the Arkology set in particular and Lee Perry in general.
DeRogatis, it seems, misses the point of dub entirely. What he calls merely an attempt to re-create a ganja high and take advantage of a bad economic situation can actually be seen as a true and lasting strength of dub. He should have noted that dubbers like Perry, King Tubby, and many others were working with equipment that was terribly primitive by today's standards. It's actually incredible that those people did what they did with what they had -- students of African-based cultures call this "making something from nothing."
Also, as to the box set, I agree that there are some "duds" (like "John Public"), but the overall impact shows just how much a producer can do with creativity, wit, great musicians, and yes, a lot of ganja. DeRogatis should have given greater consideration to the actual music and its history rather than using his theme of hype to mar the review of the box set. After all, the music existed a long time before the reviews.