As evidence of that effect, please see a comment in the article where Labbee says, "At least Pardillo's credibility doesn't bear the taint of any smutty allegations." Here the author declares that smutty allegations, even without proof, taint the objects of the allegations. The best way to stop such unfounded rumors is not to print them. If your journalistic investigation shows that they are not rumors, but have foundation in fact, then, of course, you are dealing with a news item and it is fair game. What you have done is poor journalism, even for New Times.
Walter C. Ward
TULLUS HOSTILIUS FOR PRESIDENT
Regarding the gun show story ("Bullets N' Things," April 29): Rafael Navarro's using Truman Capote as an authority on sexual ambivalence is, well, like using Truman Capote as an authority on sexual ambivalence.
Mr. Navarro, and even the usually sensible George Will, still don't get it. The Second Amendment was not fashioned to ensure that the states have a right to form militias; the amendment plainly states that in order to have a well-regulated (controlled) militia, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. Thus, the amendment provides that an armed citizenry is the bulwark against a militia ordered to act against them. History is full of such episodes; for example, Aristotle describes the manner in which Peisistratus seized power by disarming the Athenians; and Tullus Hostilius, the third (legendary) king of the early Romans, used deception to disarm the Albans. And the American people are supposed to trust Howard Metzenbaum and Ted Kennedy, who are trying their best to disarm them?
Of the 116,000 concealed-weapon permits issued in Florida, I've read about only three permit holders being involved in firearm activity; as far as I know, those are the only documented instances. Of those three, only one acted in a criminal manner - and he was mentally deranged. The other two used their firearms to prevent extremely dangerous crimes. If Navarro is "dazed" by picking up a .38 revolver, then he doesn't have the training or experience to be around guns. I suggest that he take one of the many gun-owner courses offered by the National Rifle Association.
Chekhov believed that a gun around will be used; well, he was a Russian and a writer, and not an American and a real person. In truth, of the estimated 200 million civilian-owned firearms in the U.S., only one-half of one percent of them are used illegally in any given year. Maybe Mr. Navarro and Rep. Ron Silver can get together and come up with some way to get that one-half of one percent out of the wrong hands. I would applaud their successful efforts. In the meantime, I believe that Mr. Silver would just as soon take the firearms away from the law-abiding citizens who, as has been reported by Prof. Gary Kleck of Florida State University, use firearms more than 640,000 times per year to defend themselves.
North Miami Beach
MORELLO: DEATH OF A CLASSMATE
I am writing in reference to Jim DeFede's stories about Andrew Morello ("Justice Undone," April 15 and 22). While reading the letters people wrote, I couldn't believe how cruel and heartless our society has become. I'm seventeen and attend North Miami Senior High School. I knew Andrew, and I know the three young men involved, and for people to say that Andrew deserved to die is wrong. Nobody deserves to die.
The people writing these letters didn't know Andrew, and they don't know the three others involved. Andrew was a person, not an animal, and he doesn't deserve to be treated like one. They make him seem like a delinquent who was always in trouble. Wrong. Andrew and the other three had their faults and made their mistakes, but they're still people with hearts, minds, and most of all, feelings. Andrew's death will always be a part of those three friends, and even though it wasn't their fault, they will always blame themselves. How can the judicial system blame them? Don't people understand that watching a friend die is punishment enough?
Then there are those who commend Laura Russell for killing Andrew. She's not God, she didn't give him life, and she had no right to take his life. So I'd like for those who applaud her in killing Andrew to just for a minute put themselves in the Morellos' place and try to imagine their lives without a son or daughter.
MORELLO: SOCIAL DISEASE
Regarding the Andrew Morello case: After analyzing some of the comments and suggestions offered by angry citizens, I'm disappointed and frightened to actually realize how cruel and blind our society is.
"Exterminate the hoods," "Thanks for offering one," "Make my day, kill the other three dirt bags." What is this? Unfortunately, I see a retributive society that only sees an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth as the quickest and most effective way to deal with crime. I'm disappointed with society and its impatience in not realizing that education and rehabilitation is the best policy to deal with this part of life. My suggestion may be difficult to understand, particularly with those who want quick results to a violent society, but it frightens me. Society can either understand its problems or fight fire with fire and burn unforgivingly.
Furthermore, I would like to applaud New Times for its unbiased reporting of the facts not presented during the inquest. The fact that relevant and essential evidence was discriminately omitted. The fact that if the State Attorney's Office had presented the entire case, the outcome might have been different. New Times, you did your job, and your presentation of the facts can only persuade the truth of "Justice Undone."
I read with a chuckle Steve Almond's article, "Heard the One About Perry Mason Trying to Scalp Heat Tickets?" (April 15) but unforunately did not read it before approaching the Miami Arena for a recent Heat game, my first.
For the first time in fifteen years, I had gone to a game without a ticket. As I approached the arena, numerous people were hawking tickets at prices ranging from $40 to $75, most of them misrepresenting where the seats were. Unwilling to pay scalpish prices, I walked up to the arena, where a policeman told me, just like in your article, that it was unlawful to sell tickets, even at face value.
I walked down the street and loudly proclaimed that I was willing to buy a ticket for the game tonight but refused to pay scalpish prices. Believe it or not, God was kind on me, and a gentleman came up and offered an extra ticket for $29. We sat three rows behind Dan Marino, the Miami Dolphins quarterback.
Stanley K. Shapiro
A LEAN, MEAN STRETCH OF GREEN
As a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) with a strong background in environmental science, I find it necessary to comment on Kirk Semple's article about the MacArthur Causeway reconstruction, "Asphalt Bungle" (April 8).
It is interesting to note that several architects and town planners were quoted alongside the LAs, all of them addressing the aesthetic ideals they envisioned with no acknowledgment to the environmental issues raised by the inclusion of a horticulturally biased vs. a native landscape. Not even from the landscape architects themselves. True that the causeway is dredge-and-fill and has, as such, forever altered the ecosystem of the bay, but that is no reason to encourage planting species (including sod) that require fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, and irrigation. The chemicals and runoff water will add to the pollution of the waterway, encourage growth of harmful micro-organisms, and kill marine life.
Agreed, views along the causeway should be enhanced where applicable and blocked where objectionable. The interesting part will be to observe the conflicts between the desires of the island residents, who want a green-belt barrier for visual and aural reasons, and the LAs, who want to open up and/or maintain the view. Here, the island resident is the client and should be heard.
As for cost, establishing a native, xeriscape landscape is initially costly, but the cost/benefit ratio improves within a few years, because after the plants are established, little in the way of maintenance is needed. Perhaps the low budget is a blessing in disguise, because it will hold back the eager LAs from planting an expensive-to-maintain landscape.
I find it hard to believe that a fussy landscape treatment is necessary to set the mood for the urban Art Deco district. Since when does a natural setting, more than a few miles from a district, need to be planted with "even stands" of mathematically precise groupings in order to invoke the architecture of an urban setting? More appropriately, it could be argued that the approach needs a design treatment, and is the right place for royal palms and Deco-evocative plants.
And what sort of ecologically correct views should the island residents and road travelers enjoy? Looking at the pros and cons of what has been accomplished on the Julia Tuttle roadway, and recognizing that mangroves colonize when and where they want, it can be concluded that the best way to go is with nature, not against her.
The "regional identity," it should be noted, goes both ways. By that I mean: why wasn't the fabulous modern skyline of Miami mentioned in the article? Why were the designers only looking east, with no concern about one of the most beatiful skylines in the world?
I hope residents realize that the best answer to the very real problem looming in the hurry to finish the causeway "improvements" is the formation of a multidisciplinary group, much like the Brickell Avenue Bridge Gateway Committee. The project is too big, too important, to be left in the hands of bureaucrats and project-oriented staff with little urban design and regional planning experience.
Anne E. M. McCoy, adjunct professor
Department of Urban and Regional Planning
Florida Atlantic University
While I enjoyed Rafael Navarro's review of Raise the Red Lantern ("Days of Lives and Roses," May 13), I differ with him on a small but very significant event that shapes the entire story.
He says the protagonist, Songlian, "decides to drop out of college" after studying for six months. This is not correct. When Songlian's benefactor-father passed away and left the young girl and her stepmother bereft of any support, Songlian had to leave college. The film makes this clear from the beginning. Leaving school was not a voluntary act on Songlian's part, but rather, it was caused by economic improverishment resulting from her father's recent death. Her "choice" to become a concubine (read "prostitute") was a direct result of, and was informed by, her absolute financial dependence on her father, a circumstance that mirrored the plight of all women in such a patriarchal culture. The film stresses the complete and utter dependence on the male for basic survival, highlighting the lack of any real choice for women in that culture.
This slight but nevetheless important detail of Songlian's powerlessness to control her destiny shapes the remainder of the girl's tragic life and leads to her sense of hopelessness and eventual insanity.
MY LIFE AND WELCOME TO IT
As the author of the letter about Basic Instinct that Rafael Navarro quotes in "Crimes of Fashion" (April 1), I must answer some of the misconceptions and misreading of that letter and of the issue of queers in Hollywood movies.
Mr. Navarro did not cite my discussion of how GUARD (Gays United to Attack Repression and Discrimination) finds any attempts at censorship to be the worst cure possible for the problems of negative portrayals of gays in cinema. Instead, he spends much of the article writing about how gays should not attempt to censor movies nor impose their views on what he calls the creative process. In that we agree, but he doesn't believe so.
The problem lies in the fact that positive portrayals of gays and lesbians do not occur on the big screen. They are simply censored out. Lesbian women can be man-hating murderers, gay men can be limp-wristed hairdressers. When they do exist in original screenplays, they are inevitably edited or written out of the story, as in The Color Purple and Fried Green Tomatoes. Neither of those movies could have been made in its original state. Current projects of The Frontrunner, which has been on the shelf for more than a decade now, and The Life and Times of Harvey Milk (a former Oliver Stone project), are currently in trouble because of their gay-positive content. I do not see that it is gay and lesbian activists who are attempting censorship of movies, but instead Hollywood censoring my life from any movies which are made.
Mr. Navarro's statement that gay and lesbian activists are "ignorant of the fact that a large portion of the film community is gay" can only draw laughter due to its ignorance. If that's true, I challenge him to name all the openly gay producers, directors, actors, and actresses in Hollywood that he can think of. It's quite a short list, if a list at all.
Until a non-Hollywood movie which accurately shows my life is made, and makes a lot of money, we can never expect Hollywood to start making such movies. What recent protests have done is to increase awareness of these issues among nongay leaders in Hollywood, so that they are more likely to create movies with real lesbian and gay characters, when closeted gays can't do so.
Sim David Aberson
Please alert Rafael Navarro that, in the course of bashing directors Paul Verhoeven and Woody Allen for pseudo-intellectualism ("Crimes of Fashion," April 1), he remarks that "it's useful to remember that film and television may be powerful, but they're commercial mediums."
It's also useful to remember that the plural of `medium' is `media'.
This is in response to Greg Baker's "Program Notes" of April 29. I am a fan of the Jody Grind and have been for several years. I was very shocked to hear of the two members' unfortunate deaths a few weeks ago. Although I appreciate New Times's efforts to report the news as it occurred, the paper's and Baker's insensitivity is not appreciated. The two members of the band were not cartoon characters, and the "R.I.P." cover tease should be relegated to comics and "B" westerns.
Even though New Times handled it horribly, I was pleased to see some tribute, any tribute, to one of the Southeast's great bands. That is, until I reached the sentence: "I think I'm just gonna sit here with this old Jody Grind `sneak preview' promo tape, the one that says `Happy New Year!' and `Welcome to the 90's' on it, and listen to singer Kelly Hogan jerk tears out of `Mood Indigo.'"
I'm not sure what Baker's deal is, but these witty quips just aren't appropriate at the end of a piece which for some of your readers is quite serious. I think Rob, Robert, and the Jody Grind deserve better. If the article was intended as sincere, I apologize. But since it started out on page 1 as a comic strip and began on page 68 as "stupid-ass," how could anyone take Baker seriously from that point on?
WHO SAID ELVIS WAS DEAD?
In his April 22 article, "Please Mr. Postman," Todd Anthony beautifully demonstrates the willful disregard for the facts and reality that makes me eagerly await each new issue of New Times (though, I must confess, my pleasure has lessened with Ben Greenman's departure).
Anthony speaks of "the original Star Trek vs. the Second Generation." The title of the show I believe he is referring to is Star Trek: The Next Generation. If I am not mistaken, Second Generation is a novel by Howard Fast. Fan resentment of ST:TNG is largely a dead issue and has been for years; and I am unaware that there was ever a conflict between Trekkers and Fast readers.
But I digress (as does Anthony) from Anthony's main point, which is the debate over the forthcoming Elvis stamp. His musical history is more or less accurate, but his knowledge of law is abysmal. He asks, "Where is the Chuck Berry stamp?", as if the lack of same were some kind of racist plot by the postal service. In truth, Berry, however deserving of the honor he might be, could not be put on a stamp if Benjamin Hooks were elected president tomorrow, since he lacks a primary qualification that Presley possesses: he is alive. Willie Dixon hasn't been dead long enough, and Robert Johnson is not too black, but too obscure, at least in the upper echelons of a government where Lee Greenwood albums are considered art.
It is amusing that New Times reserves "the right to edit letters for...accuracy," when it is unable to edit its own content for the same quality.
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