Yet More SoBe Snobbery
I want to respond to Kirk Semple's article "South Beach Goes Palm Beach" (April 3). The Ocean Drive business people who started this campaign against Carnival Miami South Beach are guilty of plain old snobbiness, if not outright racism. Perhaps they couldn't deal with the fact that for one day the Beach was populated not by wealthy tourists but by local people, the majority of whom happened to be young and Latin.
These business people should realize that they cannot control demographics and that not all special-event performers on South Beach can be on their A list. A word of advice to South Beach businesses: Adapt!
Hispanics Behaving Badly
Kirk Semple failed to identify the two-page, March 6, 1997, letter from the Latin Chamber of Commerce of Miami Beach to the city manager. This letter was consistent with other criticisms of Carnival Miami South Beach that were leveled by residents, business operators, and visitors to Ocean Drive.
The Latin Chamber of Commerce letter states, "[W]e witnessed a series of incidents that left us with a feeling of disappointment and dislike.... The place looked like a zoo, to put it mildly.... Is this the image the Hispanic community in Miami Beach wants to portray to the rest of the world?"
By not referencing the letter (although quoting from it), Mr. Semple implies that the Hispanic community condones that type of behavior. Wrong! On the Beach, none of us -- regardless of ethnic background, religion, or political persuasion -- supports such an event. You do not need to be from Palm Beach to know what is right.
Al Hartkorn, president
1390 Ocean Drive Condominium Association
Music Worth Boycotting For
Regarding editor Jim Mullin's column "Music to Die For" (March 27): As a Cuban who grew up listening to Elvis, I always hated my own music. But with La Nueva Trova I found out that excellent songs were written by Silvio Rodriguez and Pablo Milanes. After my exile I realized too that salsa is nothing but a bad copy of our son. So with some surprise I started enjoying my roots.
I applaud WRTO's Gino "Latino" Reyes. Everybody must know by now how ignorant and intolerant and powerful the Cuban community is. But if the rest of the Hispanic community (especially Puerto Ricans and Colombians) would boycott WRTO-FM (98.3), WAQI-AM (710), and WQBA-AM (1140), they would be off the air soon.
Awaken! Cubans cannot dictate what you hear. If you want to hear good music, let's play Los Van Van, Silvio, and Pablo. Long live Cuban music! Long live freedom!
Fine, We Disagree and Now You Die
I read with nausea Emiliano Antunez's attack on Jim Mullin for criticizing yet another act of terrorism in this community ("Letters," April 3). I don't know what standard Mr. Antunez is using when he compares the Jews' treatment of Nazis or African Americans' treatment of apartheid with the acts of terrorism committed by Cubans against Cubans in this community.
Mr. Antunez, on what planet do you reside? There have been more than 38 documented cases of terrorism in the last several years alone committed against Cuban Americans in this community simply because they have a differing point of view from the most extreme elements in the Cuban community. The radio stations you defend not only support and encourage that kind of attitude, but in one case they were actually cited by the City of Miami police for their involvement in incitement to riot.
You can play the victim all you want, Mr. Antunez, but no one really believes it. No one has said that Cubans with differing points of view should not be allowed to express those views through demonstrations or any other peaceful means. It is intolerance backed by violence or the threat of violence that has characterized the fanaticism of the people you defend.
The problem is precisely that people like you do not understand that there is a difference between disagreeing with someone and threatening to kill that person. Threatening to kill someone or to blow up a building is a crime. It is against the law. It is un-American. It is morally indefensible. When the fanaticism reaches the point of trying to stop music from being played on a radio station by a combination of physical and economic violence, then you deserve the moniker "batty lunatic." You are ridiculed because you should be.
Semple Muddies the Waters
Kirk Semple's article on the dredging of the Miami River ("Goo Grief," March 20) demonstrates a conspicuous lack of the due diligence that is necessary to adequately understand such a complex subject. No surprise that the end product does such a disservice to New Times readers.
Mr. Semple's conclusion -- that only the two biggest shipping companies on the river would benefit from its cleanup -- is not well-founded, nor is it supported by the complement of organizations, agencies, and individuals that is working toward the river cleanup. In a cultural milieu where consensus is very difficult to achieve, all involved with the Miami River have agreed that it needs to be dredged for both commercial and environmental reasons.
Nowhere did Mr. Semple review the analytical documents made available to him by myself or others. Had he examined only one document among them -- the Army Corps' 1993 report, for example -- he would have grasped the bigger picture of the river's need, as opposed to his own need to create a culprit for the sake of his story.
According to the Corps' conclusion and that of its independent consultant, Gulf Engineers, all vessels currently operating on the river "require special handling in navigating the river because the deposited sediments have reduced the effective channel dimensions, which limit the vessel maneuvering area." The report also notes that "the removal of river sediments would allow small ships to more effectively use the Miami River and would impede harmful sediments from being reintroduced into the river and possibly transported to Biscayne Bay." These statements are jarringly inconsistent with Mr. Semple's conclusions.
I was also surprised by Mr. Semple's skepticism about the number of terminals on the river, as I personally spent a morning escorting him waterside past terminal after terminal west of 27th Avenue. If the evidence of his eyes was to be doubted, he might simply have requested a list of facility addresses so he could count the number on his own.
I could detail other problems with the dredging story -- errors, inconsistencies, a smug overconfidence of innuendo -- but unfortunately the harm is already done. And what is the harm if one writer gets a little carried away with his own agenda? In this case the harm is simply that New Times has become an agent impeding progress and eroding public support for a much-needed project -- getting the river cleaned. For a newspaper that likes to paint itself as the conscience of our community, I say shame on you!
Fran Bohnsack, executive director
Miami River Marine Group
Kirk Semple replies: First things first: Fran Bohnsack works for the Miami River shipping interests. Her job is to publicly represent the industry. My article directly questioned the communal worth of the shipping business on the Miami River and, therefore, indirectly challenged Bohnsack's livelihood. This fact may explain -- but not excuse -- why she has written a letter chock full of malarkey. Point by flawed point:
*Nowhere did I conclude, as Bohnsack asserts, "that only the two biggest shipping companies on the river would benefit" from the river's cleanup. What I did say is that the two largest shipping companies, which account for about 75 percent of the river's business (Bohnsack's estimate), would clearly benefit from dredging. Benefits beyond those, I wrote, are "more questionable."
*Bohnsack claims that "all involved with the Miami River have agreed that it needs to be dredged for both commercial and environmental reasons." Perhaps she wishes this were true, but there is nothing resembling a consensus on this matter. In fact, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -- the federal agency with the sole responsibility to dredge the river -- has concluded that there is navigational justification for dredging but no environmental justification.
*Bohnsack cites a 1993 Army Corps report that assessed the need and possible methods for dredging the river. She accurately quotes the study, which says that the "current vessel fleet" operating on the river requires special handling owing to sediment buildup. But Bohnsack is being disingenuous in citing this information: She knows that dozens of small commercial vessels -- such as the ubiquitous Haitian scows -- and hundreds of recreational vessels use the river and don't require "special handling," if special handling means the use of tugboats and very restricted hours of entry and exit because of sediment shoaling (the Army Corps' report doesn't define the phrase). The hulls of those smaller boats don't normally scrape bottom or run aground in the sediment. Neither, for that matter, do some larger vessels.
Regardless of the actual number of boats requiring the channel's full navigational depth of fifteen feet -- from my research I calculated about two dozen, all large cargo vessels -- the lion's share of the river's business still belongs to two companies, Antillean Marine and Bernuth Lines, which operate the biggest ships and would be the obvious beneficiaries of a dredged river.
Jen: Get Her Liquored Up
Why would being directed to the bar while her table was being readied come as a surprise to Jen Karetnick at South Beach Brasserie ("A Touch of Brass," March 20)? Empty tables or not, the name of the game is get them to the bar first. In many dining spots that is where the profits are. Two rounds of top-shelf alcohol will more than pay for all the food you eat.
As for the attitude of the hostesses, it's part of the foolish acceptance of too many people in the restaurant field. You spend millions on a dining spot and hire incompetent workers -- who do you blame?
Ronald C. Rickey
Jen: Watch Her Butcher Snotty Hostess
Someone should tell Jen Karetnick to behave. After literally and premeditatedly butchering the South Beach Brasserie and its five-dollar-per-hour hostess (who must have been fired by now), who would think of having Ms. Karetnick in his or her restaurant again unless she'd be willing to eat cockroach soup and live to write about it?
It's not really a big deal to see Michael Caine hanging out in his expensive restaurant. Who the hell cares if he's there or not? I'm sure Mr. Caine couldn't care less. Nor could Jen Karetnick. After all, she is probably the hottest restaurant critic in town.
So one day on a whim she goes to his famous restaurant without telling the hostess who she is. The snotty hostess didn't have a clue that the woman in front of her was the voracious Jen Karetnick, ready to snap her up if she committed even one small mistake. And she did. A big one. For that, Ms. Karetnick must have thought, the brassy hostess had to suffer and be butchered in her column. And she was.
Jen: Tell Her It's the Food, Stupid
Regarding Jen Karetnick's review of Capital Grille ("Putting the Sir in Sirloin," March 6), her diatribe about being a woman -- a guy rushing to the door to open it, a waiter trying to serve her first -- how terrible! She's lucky someone would want to open the door for her or serve her in a gentlemanly way. If she has a problem about being served first, she should say something. Instead she complains about it later in print.
Doesn't Ms. Karetnick try to look her best when going to dinner at places like the Capital Grille? Why bother, if the attention she then attracts upsets her so badly? What a hypocrite.
It's the food, stupid! She should stick to the review. Her commentary is a bore. And she should try reviewing some places we can all afford.
Jen: Her Reviews Are Food for Thought
The recent run of anti-Jen letters prompted me to write. Though I don't frequent the restaurants she reviews, she is my favorite columnist. I enjoy the vivid, detailed descriptions of the meal and the creative way she weaves stories of her life into the review. It's a wonderfully vicarious experience -- a cozy dinner with an entertaining companion, without the expense or calories.
Perhaps people rely too much on her recommendations. I would not give a friend a hard time if I did not like a restaurant he or she recommended. Food, after all, is a matter of taste. Jen simply states her experiences and opinions sincerely.
Jen: Does Her Universe Stop at Kendall Drive?
I am an avid reader of New Times and enjoy your reviews, especially those of local restaurants. Because I live in Homestead, however, these places tend to be quite a drive from my home. It seems you have fallen into the same trap as everyone else who lives north of Bird Road -- thinking that life as we know it ends after Kendall Drive.
We have some of the best restaurants down south, and the prices are usually half the ridiculous amount South Beach restaurants charge. One place I can recommend wholeheartedly is Rosita's, on SW 344th Street (Palm Drive).
Homestead has fully recovered from Hurricane Andrew and is growing into a delightful place. Please send Jen Karetnick down here. I am sure she will be pleasantly surprised to see what a wonderful place it is, not just for food but for cultural events as well.
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Of River Rats and Men
Kathy Glasgow's article "Urban Shipwreck" (March 6) was a sad commentary on the state of government control of ocean shipping on the Miami River. Her subtitle, "This funky freighter is making people crazy," says much about stupid, lazy, and sloppy marine enforcement by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Florida Marine Patrol, and the Dade Department of Environmental Resources Management.
Michael Zapetis is not and never could be "King of the Miami River Rats" because he's a moral pygmy compared to Capt. Fred Irving, who was the real king. I made a fortune with Captain Irving buying old World War II wooden Navy minesweepers for $15,000 each and selling them to Central American navies. He had an envious reputation on the Miami River, unlike some of the present sleazy waterfront scum who can barely operate stolen-bicycle freighters to Haiti without cheating somebody. I look forward to more stories about the Miami River.
Russell F. Nansen