No Rabbis, No Exiles, No Way
It's encouraging to read positive ideas to make this town more livable, especially the thought of a competing daily newspaper ("New Year's Revolution," January 2). But Kirk Semple did not include suggestions from Jewish clergy or Cuban activists. With the calls for forums, community awareness, informed and participating citizens recognizing and appreciating our cultural diversity, it may be appropriate to include at least token representatives of some major minorities here: Jews and Cubans.
David P. Hochman
Music to Her Eyes
I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciated the wonderful article Judy Cantor wrote about Panart Records and my husband, Ramon S. Sabat ("When Cuba Sang," December 26). It was a thoroughly professional piece, well written, accurate, expertly researched, and well balanced.
Perhaps owing in part to my own fault and lack of expertise in public relations, my husband's great contribution to Cuban music during the 1940s and 1950s has not received the credit it deserves. I am deeply grateful to Ms. Cantor for having seen the possibilities in the story and for having so ably presented it. It was a wonderful Christmas present for me and my family.
Julia R. Sabat
One Man's Life on the Edge
I'm sorry to hear from Elise Ackerman about ART-ACT's eviction and hope ART-ACT, like the legendary phoenix, will rise again from its ashes ("Acting Out," December 19).
ART-ACT's landlord, Craig Robins, has been unfairly maligned. EDGE/Theatre has been his tenant for more than two years, and I've been a tenant in his Espanola Way Art Center for almost seven years. He has been very understanding with me and others when rent was late. He's the only landlord in Miami Beach who didn't raise the rent after Hurricane Andrew.
ART-ACT was not the only alternative space in town. In less than two years, EDGE/Theatre has produced original, in-your-face works by Mark Holt and Matt Glass, and by three playwright/actors in a new talent festival. David Sadka did his one-man show twice, space donated.
I've produced new plays by Chuck McMahon, Michael Lengel, Adam Littman, Roberto Prestigiacomo, and myself. Susan Murray used EDGE for a late-night satire and Imazari Productions was here for two plays. Zaragoza/Seplin Productions co-produced two plays, both hits.
The comedy troupe Punch 59 performs at EDGE every Friday at 11:00 p.m. I've donated the space to the ACME and Bridge Theatre groups for play readings. The poetry group Imagery by the Sea met here for several months, as did Writers in the Sand, space donated.
We're doing it right. Why not do an article on a small theatre that has consistently brought talented artists together for the benefit of theatergoers and the performers themselves.
Jim Tommaney, artistic director
How Does the City Love It's Live-aboard Citizens? Let Us Count the Ways...
The City of Miami's publicly stated reasons for its ongoing harassment of the residents of the Dinner Key Anchorage are so ridiculous I'm surprised Sean Rowe and New Times let them off so easily ("Anchors Away," December 12). The city is $68 million in debt and is viewed worldwide as a sort of cheerfully corrupt, crime-ridden Disneyland. It needs revenue bad. So who better to ask than a tiny, largely unemployed but self-sufficient handful of artists, mechanics, shrimpers, writers, and "crackhead hookers" (?!?) who live without electricity, phones, or most modern conveniences offshore of one of the wealthiest parts of the actual city? Brilliant! This is about as logical as seizing ten percent of all panhandlers' profits to pay for the renovation of the Venetian Causeway.
Even more cynically, the city then goes on to try to use a newfound concern for the environment to make any future evictions look better. I live in the Anchorage, ride a bike all over town, never use a car, row in and out to my boat every day, and use no electricity. The vast majority of my neighbors live the same way. I can hardly see how I could pollute the environment any less. Maybe Miami, "cruise capital of the world," should look for some other causes of ocean pollution, like, oh, maybe Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, which the feds charged with deliberately dumping waste oil at sea. Our small community would have a long way to go to catch up to that.
Besides saving the planet, city officials have a couple of less noble reasons for asking Anchorage residents to cough up rents they can't afford. One is they want a waterfront that features fewer actual functioning boatyards and more restaurants, shops, and/or motion picture production studios. Many of the features of the current Grove waterfront have been a thorn in the city's side for years. For instance, there's the water itself. It's still free to look at. What a drag. And what about the parks? You can't charge people to walk in them, and they fill up with bums. How could anyone be expected to balance a city budget under circumstances like these?
Second, the city seems to see the Anchorage as a giant homeless-encampment-at-sea. We are not wanted as people. Not being able to use a toilet anywhere is sort of a subtle reminder of this. Constant police harassment is a little more pointed. I am continuously stopped by police officers and questioned and/or threatened as I approach the docks at night to row home, even when the same officer has stopped me before, even though it's a public place, even though it's common knowledge that people live there. One time when, in response to an officer's demand to know where I was going, I growled "I'm going home!" he yelled "Well, get the hell out there, then!" The message that we don't belong couldn't be more clear.
The city must think the Grove would be better off without its actual inhabitants. The very presence of us grizzly sea monsters on land seems to be enough, they fear, to ruin the Grove Shopping Experience for the perfumed yuppies, camcorder-toting tourists, and cruising wannabe gangstas from the burbs who swarm into our neighborhood nightly. I wonder, though, if the city has given any thought to where all the boaters who can't afford new rents will end up. This has been the subject of much worry and speculation at the Anchorage, but we are excitedly looking forward to the opening of the new Just for Feet: The World's Largest Shoe Store on McFarlane. Such a large shoe store will certainly have plenty of room for everyone in the bushes around its perimeter.
I live aboard a tiny sailboat that I salvaged, that sits in the water because of a mooring I made. Why can't people who work hard and mind their own business be left alone? Does the city really need another Bayside a couple of miles from downtown? Does Miami have to race to try to look like every other city? Does the Grove have to become Kendall by the Sea?
As the funky old wooden houses and the huge trees around the Grove are bulldozed to make way for cookie-cutter, ugly, gated apartments, "Coconut Grove" becomes less the name of a neighborhood and more just a name that real estate developers throw around to raise property values. In a Grove without trees, what would be so weird about a boatyard without boats? If left to the brilliant strategists who brought Miami a Metrorail that goes nowhere and to the now-obsolete Miami Arena, I can envision that in a couple years the Grove waterfront will be an unrecognizable Fisherman's Wharf-style tourist-mall nightmare, complete with a marine motif, seafood restaurants, shops, and, of course, security goons to keep out anyone who is not there to spend money. Maybe they'll put up a little historical plaque mentioning that people once actually lived and worked there.
It's sad to think that the only defense I feel we have from the city is that it might remain too bankrupt, mismanaged, scandal-ridden, and thoroughly inept to come after us. And the only satisfaction I get when thinking about the future of the Anchorage and the new Grove is that the same hurricane that may someday destroy my boat can tear down their whole greedy, arrogant, yuppie fantasy just as fast.
Erick "Iggy Scam" Lyle
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