And speaking of miserable, self-indulgent cretins, how about those with deeply disturbing fetishes for thesauruses? You know the type: those who feel too threatened to use terms like "narcissistic," "self-aggrandizing," or "I could really use a good therapist."

They're the same ones who also feel threatened by movies that address honest self-examination, such as those of Woody Allen ("Just Say Nose," September 16). God knows I'm not defending Woody. But it seems to me Rafael Navarro could have saved a lot of ink by simply saying, "Woody Allen movies scare me because I'm afraid to look at myself."

J. Casagrande
Miami Beach

Congratulations to you and especially to Kirk Semple for the excellent story, "The Shih Dynasty" (September 9), which comprehensively traced the long love affair between this potential developer and Miami city commissioners.

The transcript of the commission meeting was especially revealing, displaying a callous, rude indifference to citizens (in this case Louise Yarbrough representing the Dade Heritage Trust) who are genuinely concerned about the future and heritage of Miami.

What is most interesting is what was not said in the article. What is the track record of Mr. Shih as a developer? What has he done that would merit all these concessions and overly adamant support? Why this obsession by the commissioners for a project in in a mostly residential neighborhood, the area where the Omni has failed? It is essentially the wrong kind of project in the wrong place, as architects Jaime Correa and Raul Lastra pointed out. In fact, it has already eliminated positive private initiatives in the neighborhood, e.g., the Zum Alten Fritz restaurant, and the yearly Oktoberfest festival it sponsored.

Such a project, were it completed, would be doomed to failure. This is fairly obvious from orthodox planning principles, which must be applied to this lovely area which has so much potential as a residential haven next to downtown. (Just look at the example of Miami Beach across the bay.) Development at any cost, by anyone who comes forward, is not the answer.

The article suggests an even greater concern for me, and that is the stewardship of center city Miami's future in terms of intelligent planning, revitalization, and conservation of what precious little is left of its architectural heritage. It has become obvious that the commissioners are politicizing every quasi-public agency that has a role in the city's future. The Chinatown project exhibits the dangers of their attitudes and central involvement. As a major metropolis, Miami needs much help in its center city area, and much, much more than this approach to development.

Aristides J. Millas
University of Miami
School of Architecture

Thanks to Kirk Semple for his article, "The Shih Dynasty." The article was surely pathetic testimony about why Biscayne Boulevard is a streetscape in decay. The Miami City Commission should be ashamed of the conditions they have encouraged along this grand boulevard and its adjacent historic neighborhoods. The priorities seem to be benign neglect, fast-food chains, outrageous signage, ballooned rooftops, grandiose development schemes, and gaping, empty, dirt-strewn lots where wonderful architecture once stood.

Biscayne Boulevard would be Dade County's crown jewel, had the city commission respected its importance. The commission courted grandiose development schemes instead of demanding dignity in zoning and stringent property maintenance, poor land planning decisions that have institutionalized neighborhood neglect and Mr. Shih's headaches.

Will the lessons of the failing "Shih Dynasty" cause a hard look at the festering conditions surrounding the Chinatown project? Will this be the impetus for Miami's elected officials to rethink their lackluster plans for the boulevard? Perhaps we can instill a renewed sense of community pride in Miami officials on the "We Will Rebuild" posthurricane committee.

There is still a chance to build upon the boulevard's heritage rather than obliterate it. For starters, why not insist that Mr. Isaac Shih board up his neglected Priscilla and Algonquin historic apartments?

Nancy Liebman
Miami Beach

Todd Pruzan's article regarding Dade's Indigent Burial Program ("Headstone Not Included," August 26) began with an unflattering and unfair comment about Vista Memorial Gardens. Vista is more than one of the most beautiful and dignified cemeteries and funeral homes in South Florida. It is a tribute to life and the continuity of love.

Through the 30 years of Vista's existence on the edge of Miami Lakes, it has evolved based upon the expressed desires of people. People wanted handsome mausoleums and a funeral home on the premises. As a consequence, Vista was the first in Dade County to erect such a funeral home, and Vista continues to construct handsome, innovative, and unique mausoleums. The people have responded with great appreciation.

Vista is a place of physical, as well as spiritual, beauty. It appears as a gorgeous, tranquil park, lined with regal black olives and oak trees. Its grounds are tended daily. It evokes a deep sense of love everlasting, a proud tribute to the memory of each person who rests there.

Maurice Revitz, president
Vista Memorial Gardens


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