Letters from the Issue of April 22, 2004
And I can tell you something about Aristide: Tristram Korten's story about Haiti was well written -- and also accurate ("Guns and Haiti," April 15). I am a U.S. citizen who spent 35 years, off and on, living in Haiti. My family moved there in 1958 to take over a resort hotel about the time of Papa Doc Duvalier's inauguration. Subsequently my family bought a large parcel of beach property, which became a tourist destination and a place for locals to chill out, as they say.
I was there until mid-1962 when diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Haiti broke down, thanks to Papa Doc. I returned during the less violent years of Baby Doc. I also was there when the coup d'état removed Jean-Bertrand Aristide on September 30, 1991, and stayed throughout the embargo up to January 1994. My book Hot Times in Haiti was published by a French company and released for a short time during that period. It will be rereleased by a Canadian publisher within the next several months as Hotel Haiti. In the book I describe a different Haiti, one that was beautiful, fun, and filled with warm, loving people and an extremely rich folklore.
As former Brazilian consul Paulo Carvalo said to me prior to his untimely death at age 36: "The Big Uncle has three hands: One goes one way, one goes in the opposite direction, and one reaches out and grabs you by the balls." He was referring to the Pentagon, the White House, and the CIA. Prior to Haiti, Paulo had been assigned to the Soviet Union, Austria, and Jamaica. Haiti during the embargo was his latest stop, and he perished there.
Although the Duvalier regime was brutal and most devastating to many innocent people, there never were the horrors that materialized under Aristide's democratically elected dictatorship. When Clinton brought back Aristide in 1994, the international community never insisted he build a proper infrastructure as a condition of his return. Instead he chose to make the drug cartels his partners in crime and profited greatly from his associations with them.
As a point of interest, Gen. Raoul Cedras was not directly responsible for the coup d'état that toppled Aristide; the chief of police at that time, Michel François, was responsible. Cedras was at home entertaining friends the night of the coup.
Chronicles of the
Note to self: Never turn your back on a "friend" with a knife: Unlike me, Nicodemus seems to think Rudolf Piper's letter (April 15) in response to "Dark Obsession" (April 8) was pretty funny. Oh, I too love Rudolf's entertaining diatribes, but when they turn into lies at my expense, I get pissed off.
Neither I nor Nicodemus ever told him our "lame grievances" "over and over again." I do remember a night in early October when Nicodemus, over the phone, asked Rudolf most sincerely and from his heart to talk to the owners of crobar, to try to help work things out. Although he promised to do so, he never did. Rudolf never asked us to "drop this nonsense" because if he had, I would have told him to fuck off, darling, it's only the bread off our table that's being taken away. "The obsession, the harassment" is from Carmel Ophir; he's been doing it since 1999. Does Rudolf really know anything about this? Obviously not. I would have respected him more had he taken the time to find out before engaging in, what is for me, a way too clever but uninformed commentary.
I am so disappointed in Rudolf. I thought he was a better person, but as is his style, he only wants to get publicity by riding on our backs, talking like a big shot. That's the easy way out and much less effort than doing something substantial in a situation that he might possibly, in some small way, by words or by actions, have helped heal.
All I can say is: Et tu, Brute? Go stab some other "friend" in the back and send the bill to crobar -- as usual.
And obliterating her was censorship: Regarding the "Ass Good As It Gets" article in "The Bitch" column (April 8), my seventeen-year-old son and I loved to drive by and see Daniel Fila's Erin. It was a wonderful work of art, and we were so disappointed to see her whitewashed.
Though no one has the balls to admit to it, that act shows the depth of censorship being imposed on society. This mother who complained to building owner Chad Oppenheim because she drove by Erin with her children must be a closet sadomasochist. She continued to drive by and torture (or titillate) herself when maybe she could have taken Second Avenue instead of Biscayne Boulevard. Or just ignore Erin. No, she probably bitched at her husband for so long that the poor guy couldn't handle it and, like a thief in the night, killed an awesome piece of work.
And the whole family misses her: I can't tell you how happy I was to find Erin, or Super Booty (that's what my family called her), on the cover of New Times. Every time my wife, seven-year-old son, and I drove by, one of us would ask: "Who you gonna call?" and we would all respond, "Super Booty!" We had many a good laugh.
The day we saw the artwork covered up, our son was practically in tears. "Aw, poor Super Booty."
And I witnessed her righteous power: I write in defense of the Biscayne Boulevard beauty Erin, and in praise of the power of her prodigious posterior, her titanic tuchus, her bountiful booty. I never had the privilege of seeing her buttocks beckon to the weary traveler and the traffic-bound, but as a visitor during Holy Week, I can testify to her resurrection on Ocean Drive. For it was there that I witnessed an epiphany, as the sight of Erin on the New Times cover becalmed a small child who was intent on violence.
The boy, perhaps three or four years old, was wielding a palm frond, one that was dry enough to thrust and parry, yet not so brittle as to break. Despite the imploring of his mother, the child swung his weapon back and forth, poking his sister and menacing all those pilgrims who were drawn to the light from the neon-lit Art Deco temples. But all at once he dropped his sword, stopped in his tracks, and was stricken still by the vision of Erin glowing from a New Times newsrack. With a beatific smile, he pointed and said, "Ooooooohhhh!" Perhaps he was unconsciously mimicking the "Uhhhhhhhhhh!" of his elders, but I prefer to think he was speaking in tongues.
I pray that Erin's tormentors soon see the error of their ways. She should be honored as a sainted symbol for Miami and the beaches, much like the French venerate Marianne, the bare-breasted embodiment of their republic. For Erin and her nether regions represent all that is good and true and pure in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Liberty! Fertility! Derrier!
Silver Spring, Maryland
It's Not Just for Kids
What's next -- "mature fans" and "Britney Spears" in the same sentence? I really disagree with Juan Carlos Rodriguez's article about Britney Spears ("Porn for Kids," April 8). I honestly don't believe Britney did her show in a very sexual way for little kids to watch. She shouldn't have to stay a squeaky-clean performer just because people want her to be a role model for their children. I also believe parents should have known what her live show was going to be like; prior to the concert tour, there was a special on MTV and other channels about its content.
Britney should not be blamed or belittled. She is doing what she thinks her older and more mature fans -- like me -- would enjoy. So leave her alone.
At least not these days, and for good reason: By the time I finished reading the third paragraph of Carlos Suarez de Jesus's article on "Miami's Hidden Past" (April 1), I knew I had to contact the author to commend him on a very skillful piece of writing. His inspired effort is all the more commendable for bringing to light a very important part of Miami's history: its very beginnings as a modern-era settlement and the circumstances in which it was established, not to mention the dedicated efforts of artist Willie Keddell and his Troy Community Academy students.
Regarding the language by which we seek to understand that chapter of our history known as slavery, a process of reexamination has been under way for at least two decades, gradually spreading beyond academic and activist circles, but not yet having reached our schools, news media, and popular culture. The bottom line is this: The word "slaves" is no longer cool, because by using it we buy into the paradigm that says these were nonpersons who could in fact be "owned" and to whom nothing could be owed.
By referring to these individuals instead as enslaved Africans, enslaved laborers, or African captives, we recognize their humanity and implicitly acknowledge that their enslavement was an arbitrary or temporary (in historical terms) circumstance. This fine point is not trivial in its impact or consequences: If we buy into the old language paradigm, we justify and perpetuate it. In that process, we become (often unwittingly) complicit in the present-day prejudicial view that defines the living descendants of those individuals as the descendants of nonpersons, who had no more claim and made no more contribution to this nation than livestock. We maintain the rationale for second-class African-American citizenship, even if we do not personally believe it.
In times before our own, closer to and less removed from the reality the word "slaves" represented, it could pass because many of the more subtle understandings were still in place. Not so in the 21st Century, with our new sensibilities, understandings, and expectations embodied in the language we now share, and as a new generation comes of age.
Dinizulu Gene Tinnie