MIAMI BEACH, 1972: THE EVE OF SELF-DESTRUCTION
Regarding Steven Almond's "Where Were You in '72?" (August 19): I was at Flamingo Park for the Democratic and Republican conventions in 1972. While true that the death of political idealism was born in Miami Beach that year, it was suicide. Even as an idealistic young man right out of high school, I found myself coming to the same conclusions about the "movement" as people like Ellis Rubin.
I was involved with the Student Mobilization Committee, and somewhat affiliated with SDS and the YIP, but I found to my dismay that the majority of the people in these and other organizations represented at the park were there to have a good time.
Generally, no one had a comprehensive platform or plan of action. The women's movement was into proving they had nipples. The gays were into proving how blatant they could be. And the rest of the people were into seeing how high they could get before they bummed out. The only group with a purpose was the vets, and though true that they threw out the Nazis and kept the "bad" drugs out of the park, whenever we needed some "stash," my girlfriend would wander into their camp and come out with fistfuls of reefer and Quaaludes (we gave the ludes to the gays).
We were gassed and maced, and I witnessed one guy who later turned out to be an FBI man get the shit knocked out of him, but the cops were mostly congenial, as if they recognized the event for the joke it really was. The only things I accomplished were to get thoroughly disgusted with the movement and my name on the fed's "bad boy" list. In 1973 when I was editor of a community college's "radical" newspaper, I was contacted by an FBI agent who wanted me to supply him with information in exchange for "financial aid." My heartfelt response was to tell him I thought the movement was even more "full of it" than the people he represented.
The "revolution" will not be televised. It is something that takes place in each individual and (hopefully) spreads by example. I recently stopped by a local "hip" establishment where I once worked, prominently displayed was a sign stating their support for Desert Storm. When I asked the proprietor if this was a joke, he explained that things were different now, and as a Jew he was concerned for the safety of Israel. I said, "Guess it's okay to kill Persians for oil," and he almost hit me over the head with a bong. I went home, rolled an "organic" cigarette, put Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth" on the stereo, and got down on my knees and prayed for peace. Later, not wanting to believe we're on "The Eve of Destruction" I went and pulled the weeds from my garden.
Luis Lucien Touzet
THE TRAFFIC PROBLEM SURE HASN'T GOTTEN ANY BETTER
Steve Almond's collection of pieces about the 1972 convention ruckus in Miami Beach -- the "Freaks' Last Supper" -- brought back some indelible memories. While I was not a direct participant, some images, mental snapshots if you will, come to mind.
Walking through Flamingo Park one morning with my wife and two oldest daughters -- then ages two and four: The park was full of trailers, campers, tents. One young man emerged at the top step of a trailer, nonchalantly took off every stitch of clothing -- and just as casually changed into a different outfit.
Entering the park in midafternoon at the Meridian Avenue entrance, I saw two boys run up to an elderly man and start taunting him. Within seconds, several of the "hippies" appeared from nowhere, scolded the boys, and shooed them away.
Trying to leave Miami Beach, the last afternoon of the convention: The police had stupidly sealed off the MacArthur and Venetian causeways. I ended up crawling in Collins Avenue traffic, trying to get to the Julia Tuttle. Ahead of me was a middle-age man in a big Cadillac -- with paint slopped all over the hood. As I sat stalled in traffic, one of the "hippies" crouched in front of my car, preparing to let the air out of my tires. I revved the engine and lurched forward. He fled like lightning.
The Flamingo Park Gazette: How I wished I'd saved my copies -- does anyone have any now? It was run off and handed out each day by the park's varied inhabitants. I remember articles about how the VVAW (Vietnam Veterans Against the War) was protecting women campers from being raped by men of other groups in the park, and how one contingent from the park righteously broke windows at the Gayety Burlesque Theater, wich "demeaned women."
The marijuana tree: It was under one huge tree that everyone congregated to smoke pot -- knowing that there was no risk of arrest. As I walked by, a fetching young woman asked me for a contribution to buy more pot. Joints were occasionally handed out free. (No one, however, offered me any!)
One image is especially enduring. In the middle of Meridian Avenue, just opposite the park's main entry, one of the "hippies" was directing both auto and pedestrian traffic. He was doing an excellent job. Wrapped around his head was a red, white, and blue bandana. I sometimes wonder what he's doing today -- hopefully not working for a brokerage firm, like Jerry Rubin!
Richard H. Rosichan
A CONTENTED SIMONE SAYS THUMBS UP TO YETTA & SOPHIE
My friends and I, not being Jewish, gay, or Cuban, thoroughly enjoyed Yetta & Sophie in Miami Beach ("Stage Notes," August 19). I doubt that Roberta Morgan could have written that review of hers if she were a happy, contented woman.
There may have been one or two slack bits, but as a whole it was well written and acted. The sets were well done and the staging was good. What she expected I don't know, but perhaps in a better frame of mind, she might go back and see it again. I know that most of us are, and have highly recommended it to others. Those who have seen it were also pleased. We just found out that the show will be extended.
In times like this, we all need something to laugh about. And for a good and harmless laugh, I highly recommend this show to everyone.
THE VOICE AGAINST CHOICE -- IS IT MALE OR FEMALE?
In reference to Todd Anthony's "A Pregnant Cause" (August 19): Please at least bother to get the technicalities correct. Referring to your statement, "It's about females being denied control over their own bodies by a hypocritical, male-dominated society": When women have an abortion, they are choosing death for another living being, which happens to live inside their own bodies. They should have taken control beforehand. Birth control. Passing the buck to an innocent child should not be the answer.
Whether Mr. Anthony or the majority of Americns face up to the fact or not, many people of today are selfish and lazy about birth control and find it easier to sleep at night making believe there is not something morally wrong about not taking responsibility for one's actions.
Yes, sometimes there are terrible incidents which occur in life that no one can control, such as rape or incest. Even then, it is not about having control over your own body any more. It is two bodies you are speaking of, like it or not. Perhaps you feel it is better to explain to your thirteen- or fifteen-year-old daughter who was raped and finds herself pregnant that a nice quick easy slaughter of an innocent lfie is acceptable because the life is much smaller than your daughter, thus giving her the upper hand. Yes, it is horrible to think of a little girl having a baby, but our society is teaching little girls, boys, and adults alike that if we go to a doctor, in an office with a nice appearance, the innocent life -- or nonliving fetus as you would like to call it, I am sure -- is all gone, bye-bye.
ALL HAIL THE COSMOPOLITAN STUD MUFFIN!
Although I am not usually a writer of letters to the editor, I feel compelled to do so by the latest volley of vituperation leveled at Rafael Navarro by your humorless readers.
What is it about this man that stirs such ire? Whether or not he approves of one's favorite feeding trough should not occasion such an outpouring of personal attacks. Restaurateur Fabio Rolandi is not likely to suffer in the long, successful run he has had with his Casa, and just might benefit from the advice given by Navarro. Rolandi's food is good -- not great, but good -- but his prices, along with those of most of this town's "in" eating places, are much too high.
Tell the folks to lighten up, read the reviews for their entertainment value, and pick up a culinary education along the way. I, for one, was delighted when Navarro returned to the critic's corner; the bland pap dished out by New Times in his absence was sleep inducing, to say the least, and totally uninformative, to boot. I got very tired of hearing your erstwhile reviewer blab about stuffing herself into bizarre shapes in her inability to refuse any dish, and total ennui was engendered by Dining Companion's distaste for green beans or peas or some other hapless legume.
When Navarro writes, his wide knowledge of food makes his very cosmopolitan upbringing obvious, and his way with the English language is beyond reproach. He could, perhaps, exercise a little self-control when he goes for the gratuitous yuk and remember that he may be hurting someone who really doesn't deserve it. (Case in point: Bunny, at Christine Lee's.)
I want also to mention the rampant homophobia exhibited in so many of your readers' letters. It seems such narrow-minded people know of no greater insult than to hurl accusations of homosexuality. What does a reviewer's sexual orientation have to do with his ability to exercise his critical faculties? And anyway, where do they get the idea Navarro is gay? Queen indeed. I have it on very good authority that he is happily heterosexual and, in fact, quite the stud muffin.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.