Open That Laptop!

Letters from the Issue of , 2002

Nobody boards the plane till we've scrolled through every last file: After reading the delightful "Your Safety, Their Punch Line" by Adam Baum (December 16), allow me to add a few comments: As an aviation consultant, I travel thousands of miles every year to international destinations, hired by foreign agencies and airlines requesting my services and expertise. I used to teach ground security, but after the 9/11 attacks, all that has been funneled, as we all know, into the hands of our beloved Transportation Security Administration.

Quite frankly, the TSA's management problems at Miami International Airport, as portrayed in the article, are not a passenger's main concern, but how effectively the agency performs certainly is. And unfortunately this primary area still has a long way to go before it can be called "effective."

When I check in at MIA's ticket counters, I am disgusted to see how ridiculous the entire security process is: bags being opened in the main concourses, underwear scattered all over, employees yelling out passengers' names, no this, no that...

The countless times they ask to see your ticket, the endless lines at the sterile-area screening checkpoint. And then we have the striptease show every passenger is forced to perform: "Please take off your shoes. Now take off your belt. Oh, and your watch too. And if you have a laptop computer, dig it from the bottom of your carefully packed carry-on and open it up, just to make sure it is in fact a laptop and not some new version of the Enigma machine. Wait, sir, is this a bottle of wine? Sorry, but for security reasons no glass containers are allowed onboard. So sir, this bottle of wine stays here. However, sir, during the in-flight dinner service, small bottles of wine are offered as a courtesy, so you can break one and threaten the poor flight attendant with it and then demand an explanation from the captain as to how stupid, ineffective, and ridiculous a security task force we are."

And by the way, the TSA hates to admit this, but all catering trucks come from kitchens outside the airport perimeter and drive through the checkpoints without their trolleys and carts being checked. "Yes, sir, your six-foot frame could easily fit inside one of these meal trolleys, and in fact they can be packed with more weaponry than fits in a SWAT team truck.

"That's right, sir, we call this our front-window disguise. You see, we at TSA want to make you believe we are actually doing our job. So with this in mind, sir, have a safe flight."

Enough said.

Eddie Miceli

Miami Lakes

Welcome to Our Nightmare

TSA at MIA is DOA: I just wanted to congratulate Adam Baum on his amazing article "Your Safety, Their Punchline." I'm with him 110 percent on everything he wrote!

I had the pleasure of talking to staff writer Tristram Korten last month concerning several issues at TSA/MIA. His column on the subject ("Rules Are for Fools," December 16) was also very good.

Here's wishing good luck to all of us who work at the hellhole that is the TSA at MIA.

Name Withheld by Request


Meet the Neighbors

They would be downtown's free-range crackheads, hookers, and bums: Regarding Forrest Norman's "You Ho Who You Are" (December 16), I experience the Ho Ho Ho zone everyday, and I ain't talking about a winter wonderland, thanks to the lovely, well-paid slackers in the housing department at downtown's International University of Art and Design (a.k.a. International Fine Arts College) and the lackluster Miami Police Department, whose officers manage to pull over my classmates for outrageously minor traffic violations yet somehow can't seem to get a grip on the overabundance of crackheads, hookers, and the demons who hopped over our ten-foot-tall gate into our very illuminated parking lot and broke into my roomie's car!

I come across so many bums I feel like I'm running from zombies in a movie, but at least the living dead wanted something useful. I mean, really, what can you do with a dime these days?

To make matters worse, the school charges us as if we're living in a brand-new condo with an ocean view! Move out, you say? We'd be breaking the lease and have to pay the housing costs for the full quarter! Shame on the Miami police; your good work ain't good enough! I'd also like to wish eternal shame on greedy private colleges!

Jaron Wallace


Can Death Be Convenient?

Apparently so, if you're associated with Pat Tornillo: I read Rebecca Wakefield's "METRO" story about the United Teachers of Dade elections ("Hot for Teachers," December 9), and I wanted to comment that I did not find it "convenient" that my dad died.

David Sisselman


Editor's note: Rebecca Wakefield's article did not state or imply that David Sisselman found his father's death to be convenient. The article, which did not mention David Sisselman, described a lawsuit that alleged former UTD chief financial officer James Angleton, Jr., "gave the Miami Herald a compelling story about how sickly Murray Sisselman had confessed [ex-UTD president Pat] Tornillo's crimes, picturesquely, over a meal at the Rascal House. Conveniently, Sisselman was dead and couldn't confirm this version of events." If Murray Sisselman's death was "convenient" for anyone, it was Angleton.

Make Art, Not Terror

I am KMAN and I am real -- and really mad! Let's get real. Art Kendallman (KMAN) is the "real" name of a "real" artist-persona-character who's been performing "real" art on the "real" mean streets of Miami for more than twenty years. KMAN has suffered many "real" abuses and civil rights violations by the "real" ignoramuses who still don't understand that performance art is a "real" and valid form. And of course there are many who actively conspire to suppress anything that is "real" or out of the norm.

In the article "When Art Attacks" by Kris Conesa (December 2), the sensationalist labels of art "terrorist" and "kooky" (read: crazy) once again tend to criminalize, disqualify, alienate, and reduce the artist to mere insignificance and isolation. Anyway, who's the "real" terrorist, KMAN with his pathetic histrionics and a few harmless art props, or the brutal Leviathan of the modern state, or the ruthless industrial-military-art complex, or our murderous roadways (one million die yearly worldwide), or the slavish labor system, or the endless development that progressively destroys the natural world and threatens to endanger life on earth? These are "real" terrors which we all, unwittingly perhaps, abet by our conformity, vested interests, and silence.

By the way, it seems that "terrorists" come in two flavors: AK-47 and M-16. Who manufactures and supplies this "art of war" material if not the top superpowers that run the world?

KMAN will continue "railing" and being critical (at the risk of being labeled negative or worse) of this "world gone really mad" and resisting the status quo and fighting for a sustainable planet with nonviolent art actions. Manmade reality really sucks! War sucks!

Art Kendallman


New Rules for a New Year

Be bold! Be honest! Be as raunchy as possible! In the spirit of Real Time with Bill Maher, I'd like to propose the following "new rules" for New Times:

New rule: Hey, stop foisting off every outbreak of crackpot behavior as the work of "activists." Whenever some nitwit makes a stink because he or she thinks "they" are out to get them or that someone somewhere might be making money (horrors!), New Times attributes their rantings to "activists." You're giving civic activism a bad name. Instead of using noble-sounding but meaningless labels, describe the whiners accurately -- "chronically grumpy malcontents" or "self-righteous clods who don't care about the rights of others" or "people jealous because they didn't get in on the deal." That would be writing that both deserves and needs First Amendment protection!

New rule: We get it. The Bitch is really a bitch! Everything makes her unhappy. Just put her out of her misery and move on.

New rule: If you want your political coverage to ring true with people who know about such things, you have to get down and dirty with actual politicians. If that means taking county commissioner Javier Souto to lunch, so be it. You'll survive. And you might learn something useful, like how the world looks from Pluto. Sniffing around the edges of the process and gossiping with peripheral hangers-on does not give you insight. It just arms you with enough insider jargon to make you irritating.

New rule: Stop acting as though you invented adolescent snarkiness. Countless others have chronicled life from the perspective of overachieving, maladjusted eighth-graders. Just think MAD Magazine.

New rule: Cut the moral superiority crap! Don't you get it? People like New Times precisely because you have no moral compass. People read you to learn about the next freakish fad food, buy a cheap futon, remove annoying body hair, or hire a hot escort. Don't screw up a good thing by getting all high and mighty about other people's behavior. Maintaining your own conduct at a high state of raunchiness will only deepen the bonds with your readers and keep those cash registers ringing.

A corollary to that rule is another new rule: Stop trying to be the buddy of the average guy. The average guy in Miami views you as the anti-Christ, and no matter how many pieces you print on the plight of the economically or politically oppressed, you will always come across as prep-school scum slumming in the hood, working on a class project before going off to the Hamptons on holiday.

Seth Gordon

Coconut Grove


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