The "Bon Voyage!
" article by Kirk Semple in the December 18 issue of New Times is so true as to actually apply to myself. However, I am a U.S. Merchant Marine officer. I was recently injured on a U.S. flagship, and as a result, I became incapacitated and seriously ill.

My situation comes under the Jones Act, with which I am certainly quite familiar. Some years ago I sailed aboard the old S.S. Florida out of Miami as chief officer and master. After we went under a foreign flag, we used all crews from the islands. I remember those conditions very well that Mr. Semple speaks of regarding these poor seamen.

American shipping companies are just as lax and conniving as the shipping lines mentioned in your article. I consider myself very fortunate to have a very fine admiralty law firm looking after my interests. If it had not been for them, I would be in extremis. We do have good, forthright maritime attorneys in the Miami area.

My thanks to Mr. Semple and your paper for a well-written, most timely article. We seamen can certainly use friends to speak out for us.

Jackie E. Sayer

Michael Roberts should light up a stress reliever and listen to Achtung Baby again ("Lumps of Coal," December 18)! U2's lyrics always touched the root of my soul. Tears even ran down my face after hearing "Acrobat." Roberts should get down on his knees. May Bono yell and feel through his conviction forever. But alas, I shall not let Roberts grind me down. My Christmas will be brighter as Achtung hints of gospel in the background. Any band that brings Jesus to the mainstream is already legendary, because sensitivity and passion for goodness is what we all desperately want, unknowingly or not.

Ben Jimenez
West New York, New Jersey

We wanted to make this statement to the audience of the South Florida Rock Awards ("On the Booze," "On the Schmooze," December 18), but our set was cut drastically short. The statement reads as follows:

Years ago we started playing music on the South Florida scene. Along with many other bands, we secured our own shows, promoted ourselves, and made our own fans - not with self-glorifying false hype, but with our music. The early bands had only their friends, their fans, and themselves to thank for their achievements. The scene was pure, and the music really made the difference.

Now there are third parties involved. In the past year all kinds of middlemen have attempted to get in between the bands and the scene, and they have succeeded in making one big political mess. It is getting to the point where bands are no longer recognized for their music; their success depends on who they know and who is hyping them to the "right people." That may be the way other music scenes work, but the Miami music scene was working fine on its own.

We understand that there is always a bit of politics in any group of people sharing common interests, but we feel it's getting completely out of hand. In fact, we would be willing to argue that most Miami bands have the unfair disadvantage of going up against a monopoly on the local circuit.

For these views, our band has been labled "hard to deal with." Lately, however, we've seen some indications that we're not alone in our thoughts and feelings. This statement is a message to everyone on the local scene: "Wake up! Don't let the politics run the music down here! Without the bands, the fans, and the music, there is no music scene! You are the most important people, and don't let the politicians forget it!"

Incidentally, all in attendance at the Rock Awards could see the lack of enthusiasm the crowd displayed for the awards ceremony. Talking to the people in the club confirmed everyone's suspicions that the rock awards completely lost its credibility with South Florida audiences. Maybe the South Florida Crock Awards is a more appropriate title. Oh well, maybe next year.

The members of Vandal

I would like to take this opportunity to commend New Times for having the vision to engage the services of professional journalists possessing great talent and very high standards of ethics and integrity. I especially enjoy the works of Steven Almond, Greg Baker, William Labbee, and of course, Sean Rowe.

In reference to the article "Life after Death" (December 4) by Sean Rowe, since I have a great personal interest, I would like to correct a couple of minor errors.

First, the count did not "die drunk." He was diagnosed as having melanoma cancer (skin cancer) in August of 1987. He put up an heroic battle against this disease while I scoured the medical community in the United States and even Mexico to ease his pain and even prolong his life. The count was a very heavy drinker of vodka, gin, and mixes. We never "shared carefully constructed hangovers" (I've never had a hangover in my life).

The count was married twice. The Countess Helene Balej Szechenyi was his second wife. She received her title "countess" in the union. She was not of European nobility.

The count was eccentric, yes, but isn't everyone? He was a demanding man, ever conscious of his heritage and military bearing. However, the private side of him, known only to his closest frineds, was that of a very compassionate man, considerate of all humankind, which included people of all creeds and races, and of course, animals. He had a tremendous sense of humor, a keen mind, and a burning desire to see the end of communism and suffering of all kinds, of all people. In my opinion, he was one of the greatest men I've ever had the honor and privilege of knowing.

Thank you and keep up the good work at New Times.
J.D. Mike Phelps



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