E. Howard Hunt Finds the Spirit
I was thrilled and delighted by Lynda Edwards's study of black male choirs in South Florida ("Gospel Truth," August 6). A terrific piece, and long overdue for understanding by the white community.
As a boy back in the mid-Twenties I was driven every Saturday evening to the "white side" of the railroad tracks, where we parked and listened to the gospel music coming from a black church (or Negro, as it was called) on the other side. It was a wonderful experience and made it very easy for me to play jazz trumpet with black musicians around New England on Saturday nights, then sing tenor in two Providence church choirs on Sunday mornings.
I ought to add that my parents loved music; my mother was a conservatory graduate in organ and piano, and my father had a great baritone voice and played in the Cornell mandolin club before World War I.
Until reading Ms. Edwards's article, I'd never thought of choirs as socially useful organizations, but I now realize that they have a special utility in this region. So I applaud the dedicated choir organizers and directors -- and Ms. Edwards in particular for bringing it all to light.
The article is a change from your exemplary examination of local crooks and corruption, which I hope you will continue to emphasize.
E. Howard Hunt
The Bell Tolls Again
Sean Rowe's piece on Harcourt Neville Brown ("The Bell Tolls for Him," July 31) was truly wonderful! What a touching, concise, and beautifully written story -- a remembrance of a real gentleman of the first order.
Since the early Thirties, three generations of my family have had the pleasure of working with Captain Brown and his family. During most of World War II, he was the only means of transport across the Gulf Stream. He became a positive fixture at Merrill-Stevens and on the Miami River. Through his son Spence Brown and the Alma B., his spiritual presence is still very much with us.
I know I'll be reading Mr. Rowe's wonderfully drawn profile again. I have it tucked safely in my copy of Islands in the Stream -- a most fitting home for it. Thank you again for really great reporting and writing.
James C. Merrill, chairman
Merrill-Stevens Dry Dock Co.
I enjoyed Steven Almond's article on Paul McCartney ("Live and Let Creativity Die," July 24). As a Beatles fan, I do not usually consider the songwriting of the Lennon/ McCartney duo as a competition, although it certainly was a competition between those two.
Yet I was unhappy to agree that Paul's music since the breakup has been undistinguished in terms of substance. His last several albums have him singing weakly to tunes that are not solid music but more like little ditties one sings in the car to oneself. The only exception on Flaming Pie is "Beautiful Night," which is not a great song but seems to have some of the old Beatles mood to it (thank you, Ringo).
When I compare the post-Beatles music of John and Paul, I firmly conclude that the winner is John. The Double Fantasy album -- minus Yoko's alleged singing -- is a very special work ("Woman," "Beautiful Boy"). I miss his maturing sound. Too bad Paul in going in the opposite direction.
Steven Almond was too quick to disregard George Harrison. This Harrison fan can look to Abbey Road's two biggest hits, "Something" and "Here Comes the Sun." Harrison went into his solo career with hits such as "My Sweet Lord," "Bangladesh," "If Not for You," and "Give Me Love." Thus from 1969 until 1974, when McCartney's Band on the Run album came out, George was probably the most influential of the Beatles.
Perhaps Almond needs to listen carefully to Harrison's "Love You To" (from Revolver) to fully understand the man's philosophy.
For Hire: Immature Jerks
Steven Almond's review of Paul McCartney's Flaming Pie is an embarrassment to your paper. It's obvious he thinks it's hip to knock Paul's new work. Everyone I know in the States and Europe truly loves that album. It gives you such a good feeling listening to it. It expresses love and togetherness, feelings we all need.
You would do your readers a service by having a man review music rather than an immature jerk like Almond.
Miami's Loss, Haiti's Gain
Thank you for Elise Ackerman's story about Marcus Garcia and Elsie Etheart ("Cause For Return," July 10) and the monumental work they have done and are still doing in the Haitian community. I worked with Marcus at the former Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, helping Haitian and Cuban entrants of the early Eighties adjust to their new life in the United States.
Like many professional Haitians, I have always admired Marcus's verve and his professionalism in returning some dignity to the Haitian community. The Chita Tande radio program will be missed, but I agree with them that while the work is far from being completed in Miami, their presence is much needed in Haiti, where their combined efforts, added to that of some "survivors," will without a doubt start the process of repairing the shredded country of Haiti.
Magda B. Theodate
Bruce Kaplan: The Horror, the Horror
I was absolutely horrified by Jim DeFede's mean-spirited article about the proposed gay-rights ordinance and Commissioner Bruce Kaplan ("Sitting Petty," July 3), who really did something good for people. Mr. DeFede turned it around and made it something nasty. It makes me feel that I don't want to pick up New Times next week.
Sunny Isles Beach
Consistency to the Point of Persecution
Thank you for publishing my letter about Mr. DeFede's article "Sitting Petty." To clarify your headline above my letter ("When God Demands Intolerance, We Listen"), God does not demand intolerance, he just demands consistency. And above all he demands abidance by his rules and commandments.
Thank you once again.
Ricardo's Wrath Strikes Again
I read Ricardo Ferreira's letter of July 31 with interest. I found his response to Jim DeFede's article somewhat inaccurate, however. First of all, he calls homosexuality a sin against God. Just which God is he talking about? The Christian God? For his information, there are several religious bodies in America and throughout the world that do not support this notion, among them Reformed Judaism, the United Church of Christ, the Society of Friends (Quakers), and the Unitarian Universalist Church, as well as growing factions of mainstream churches such as Methodist, Lutheran, and Presbyterian.
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A sin against humanity? No more than heterosexuality is a sin. Just ask millions of poor and disenfranchised children in our country and throughout the world brought into misery by irresponsible, unplanned parenthood.
Christians, of course, have a right to fight for their beliefs. But this does not entitle them to impose those beliefs on others, much less to promote hatred and prejudice in the name of God.
As far as Mr. Ferreira's comment about the lesbian bar advertisement in New Times barring "straights and swingers," it is no more discriminatory than other dinosaurs that cater to a selected clientele. Remember the Rotary Club? Such private clubs may or may not follow governmental rules regarding inclusion, but governmental bodies such as the Dade County Commission should.