LOS ANGELES: OPERATION LOST CAUSE
I am writing in regard to Richard Gaines's story "Awake At Last" (May 6). First it was Nicaragua, next Panama, and then it was Iraq. But this time the invasion was not foreign, it was domestic. That's right. The U.S. government invaded its own country. Manuel Noriega must have been sitting in jail laughing over the irony of this whole mess. I do not condone the senseless killings that occurred during these riots, but I fully understand the anger and outrage of blacks, as well as whites, residing in Los Angeles and all over the world - although I do not believe that I would have been more horrified if the residents of L.A. had just sat idly by after the outcome of this verdict.
LOS ANGELES: CRIMINALS ON PARADE
The conclusions of this fellow Richard Gaines are atrocious. It is this kind of mentality that is responsible for the outrage in Los Angeles. The real reason for the rioting and burning is that these criminals know they can get away with it without punishment. It's happened so many times in the past. Gaines's notion of wealth and poverty is ludicrous. There is no sinful maldistribution of wealth. The great majority of wealth is due more to perspiration and brains. This fellow Gaines agrees with the politics of envy and condescension.
BULLETS N' LIES
During the past week there has been much cause for anger, outrage, and disgust, but Rafael Navarro's shameless attack on those law-abiding citizens who choose to avail themselves of their basic human (and constitutional) right of self-defense took the cake ("Bullets N' Things," April 29). Perhaps never was such a misguided barrage of slanderous journalism more fortuitously well-timed to show the error of his arrogant presumptions. Not a day after he insinuated that gun owners are frightening, radical, criminal bigots and racists, my home town vividly exposed his lies.
Before you write me off as another "radical ethnocentric conservative" you should know that I am a former Los Angeles County deputy public defender. I had several clients who were subjected to the brutality of your benign police state (wherein the authorities have guns and batons, but we don't) and I have represented the victims of racism and discrimination. Frankly, Navarro's racist ramblings disgusted me.
Perhaps in his rush to "play God and gamble with lives" (to paraphrase the article), he would have us all turn in our guns and rely on the good graces of a more "civilized" police state. Plainly, his dream world doesn't work. Those who relied on the police were left holding a bag of broken dreams. As our homes, businesses, and lives were burned and looted, his benign "civilized" police did nothing. My friend in East L.A. was dumbfounded that while mobs were openly gutting her block, the police only three blocks away refused to leave the fortress of their station house.
I had several friends, the lone Asian or Caucasian in their neighborhoods, whose only solace was their loaded shotgun. Many fine Korean merchants would be surprised to learn that they are supposedly (if we are to believe Navarro) frightening, uncivilized bigots. If it were not for their courage and guns, many more homes and businesses would have been destroyed. It was well-armed private citizens who saved us, not Navarro's benign police state.
It's nice to wish that in some Never-Never Land we could all be free of the responsibility to protect ourselves; that we could rely on some benevolent government to save us from misery and anguish. The truth is that when the world plummeted into chaos, Navarro's paternalistic vision of civilization threw us to the fires of rage and destruction. Lesson: The only person upon whom you can rely is yourself, and you had better be prepared (and armed) when the firestorm comes. It can happen anywhere.
Raphael Ortolano, Jr.
BULLETS N' AL
I just read the article "Bullets N' Things" by Rafael Navarro, and it was brilliant, literary, and insightful. Though I am a member of both the NRA and the ACLU, the balancing of the right to bear arms with the harmful consequences of some harassed citizens who should not have guns is an issue that should not be put under the table. In any case, I salute the writer for a fine piece of journalism.
New York City
BULLETS N' BABY BUGGIES
Rafael Navarro's "Bullets N' Things" was interesting. Being an avid target shooter, I have attended many of these gun and knife shows over the years and was looking forward to a colorful story accurately portraying these events. This was not it. The Truman Capote leadoff was a definite hint as to where Mr. Navarro was coming from.
I find his description of the show attendees (called "Joe Sixpacks") as "grossly...obese" and covered with "multitudinous tattoos" colorful. He continues to stereotype by describing their attitudes and behaviors as "racist," "bizarre," "emphatically objectionable" and "propaganda."
However, my extensive experiences at these shows has been considerably different. I have found them to be attended, for the most part, by well-mannered, well-dressed professional people and their families (there are more baby buggies than at the Home Show!). These people are either active target shooters looking for a bargain, interested in home protection information, or are just interested in spending a pleasant weekend afternoon. Hardly an environment full of the fat-tattooed biker/derelicts that Mr. Navarro seems to have located. I have seen more objectionable people attending the annual Fairchild Tropical Garden ramble!
Mr. Navarro described his experience at the show as "frightening," "chilling," and "alienating" due to inadequate security. It was a gun show. What did he expect? Mabye he should have gone a few weeks earlier and covered the orchid show. Or would that be too offensive?
MICCOSUKEE BINGO: GET IT RIGHT B-4 YOU WRITE
I am writing on behalf of Tamiami Partners, Ltd., to ask New Times to correct certain factual errors in Sean Rowe's recent article about Miccosukee Indian Bingo ("All Bets Are Off," April 29).
Rowe wrote that there are allegations that I and Mr. Mandel or Tamiami Partners "have stonewalled the tribe in its efforts to audit gambling receipts." Since Mr. Rowe did not speak to the tribe or its attorneys, he must have learned about this from papers filed in federal court or the Miccosukee tribal court. Those papers cannot be fairly or reasonably read to say we "stonewalled" the tribe or its auditors on anything. No mention is made in the article to our response, which documents the falsity of the tribe's allegations. That response also notes the refusal of the tribe and its auditor to substantiate any claims of "impeded" access. I guess he is unaware that Miccosukee Indian Bingo was audited previously by Deloitte Touche and given a clean bill of health. We have always provided detailed daily financial reports to the tribe showing all revenues, weekly financial reports, monthly financial reports, and annual reports, plus the Deloitte Touche audit, none of which has been challenged as inaccurate by the tribe or its auditor.
You also printed the false charge that Tamiami Partners failed to keep its promise to hire tribe members, or at least offer them jobs, and that Tamiami Partners "acknowledged" that failure. This is a lie. Our counsel's letter to the tribe states, "Every time a vacancy occurs at the enterprise, Betty Osceola, the tribe's representative in this regard, is given written notice, which procedure was established with the tribe and with the tribe's approval.... No member of the tribe has applied for any of the jobs, except Curtis Osceola." Since Rowe included a reference to Curtis Osceola, he had to have read the rest of that sentence, yet he chose to ignore it.
We have never seen the Jasper Nelson letter to which Rowe refers, which claims that Tamiami Partners hired "several key employees [with] significant felony conviction records...." Although it has been more than two months since Mr. Nelson wrote that, neither he nor the tribe has identified any such employees to Tamiami Partners. If this is such a "serious claim," as Rowe puts it, why has the tribe done nothing about it? Rowe then recharacterizes the letter, saying it is really an allegation that "the bingo hall operators are packing the staff with felons." No one has ever claimed that. Moreover, no one has ever claimed that anyone at Tamiami Partners knowingly hired anyone with a criminal record, much less a felon.
The tribe approved all bus transportation expenditures. It was Mr. Billy Cypress who asked that the bus transportation expenses be deleted as a line item from the annual budget.
Mr. Rowe's efforts to sensationalize by exaggeration, distortion, and fabrication should not be condoned, We ask that you correct the record and that Mr. Rowe apologize.
John Sisto, general partner
Tamiami Partners, Ltd.
Sean Rowe replies: My article did not assert that Tamiami Partners "stonewalled" the tribe regarding financial data. Rather it said the tribe accused Tamiami Partners of stonewalling. The tribe did not use that phrase. I used it as an accurate characterization of their allegation.
I wrote that the tribe contends Tamiami Partners failed to live up to a promise to promulgate a plan for hiring Indians, which is true. I also noted that Tamiami Partners claimed it had tried to hire Indians but none had been interested. This in itself is an acknowledgement of a failure to hire Miccosukees, regardless of the reason.
The Jasper Nelson letter to which I referred is the "statement of claim" filed by Nelson in tribal court. I accurately quoted from it.
Tamiami Partners' attorney seemed chagrined that I didn't accept at face value his "proofs" that the Indians are the villains in this dispute. Mr. Sisto's letter seems to be another version of that expression. I made several attempts to speak with Mr. Sisto and Mr. Mandel, as well as with tribal leaders. All parties refused to cooperate.
FRANK THE FIGHTER
Bravo for Francisco Harris ("He Was Robbed!" April 29)! It is refreshing to see that someone who does not necessarily have a popular name or does not belong to the so-called hip crowd succeeded by his own talent. Although Harris didn't "officially" win the match, everyone knows who the real fighter is.
It seems that having the gym reserved for "Marielito" Rourke didn't work. As the Spanish saying goes, "The problem is not the arrow, it is the Indian."
MICKEY THE MOUSE
I was at "Marielito's" fight - and saying that Francisco Harris was robbed is a horrible understatement. To steal from Mickey's entrance song: We spectators were all "crazy" for dishing out twenty dollars to see his lame-ass fight!
DEAR ROBERTA: DROP DEAD
I do not, as a rule, read New Times. Simply not my style. I consider it pretentious hogwash. Why else splash a has-been fighter's face on the cover to pomote a consensus rip-off boxing match with Mickey Rourke, consensus rip-off actor? Obviously, a slow news day.
So my encounter with Roberta Morgan's review of Lost Electra ("Stall in the Family," April 22) was unfortunately accidental. It took place at an audition in Miami. Cautiously I scanned the column for my name. Old habits die hard. Trash me if you must, but spell my name right. Found it. Spelled correctly. Then the bad news. One note? Oh well, can't please everybody. Christine Dolen of the Miami Herald has left me for dead. And you wouldn't believe what a critic in Milwaukee said about me. However, I'm still working without a net, meaning: no day job. Skin gets thicker. Heart gets bigger. Critics mean less and less. Yesterday's news tomorrow. It still stings a little. It is my work, and it is my name in the paper, and a few people will read it. I'm just guessing at your circulation. But, one note? Mild by comparison.
Let's get one thing clear. I am not writing because Morgan didn't like my performance. However, when what has been presented is so utterly misunderstood, when distortions of what actually took place are presented as fact to potential ticket buyers, you cross that "line in the sand."
A few points:
* Bruce E. Rodgers does not ignore the significance of language. On the contrary, only if you are deaf can you fail to hear the lyrical beauty in his words. What was Morgan listening to? Candy wrappers?
* Portraying a "real" family breakfast does not obviate drama. Its purpose was to introduce characters, define relationships, and establish standards of behavior. I guess she missed the seminar on dramatic structure.
* The play does not, as Morgan stated, theorize that Earhart intentionally crashed on Saipan to spy for Uncle Sam. He has merely recounted what has already been said.
* Smaller point, yet still significant. Mike was not stranded on Saipan. He ditched his plane in the Pacific while looking for Earhart. He floated in the ocean for four days and nights until rescued. Not escaped.
* The lights. Well, yes they were on the blink the night Morgan was there. How special for her to mention it. In case she wondered, they're working just fine now.
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DEAR ROBERTA: DEAD RIGHT
As a Miami-Dade Community College film student and a professional actress, I would like to thank your paper for a great gift to this community - Roberta Morgan. I speak on behalf of many other students and younger people when I say that for the first time we have a theater critic who can actually write, who knows what she's talking about, and who knows what the educated want to see and are not seeing.
People in Miami have to realize that there is entertainment and then there is theater. Sometimes they are the same. But here everyone just wants something empty or old, or overdone, as Roberta says. If we are ever going to have a repertory theater and some national credentials, it will be because of great writers like Roberta Morgan who won't settle for fifth best. Those who can't stand the heat should get out of the kitchen. What's the use of a national reputation when mediocre theater is still considered good enough?