Doing time: More power to conceptual artist Bert Rodriguez ("The Art of Bert's Reality," Carlos Suarez De Jesus, December 2). I love a modern-day success story of an artist who has done what it takes to get noticed. I also love the fact that he did not give up or get discouraged along the way. And bless his relatives who showed up to support him back when he needed it. It must be nice to no longer have to resort to desperate measures to get attention when the Art Basel circus rolls into town. As an artist, I would love to be in such a position. As it is, while I'm not reading books out loud about five Chinese siblings, I am painting cartoon chickens on top of elegant horses to poke fun at the art world, my own art, and, of course, myself.
Letters to the editor
Old and tired: It is a strange state of affairs when an artist can be heralded for recycling tired, formulaic conventions for a new generation. I almost feel ashamed to be an artist living in Miami. I can't compete. All we are doing is following an art trend that has been dead for a long time. If Bert Rodriquez really wanted to get out of his "comfort zone," he would make something worth looking at.
Fresh faces: Bert Rodriguez graduated from New World almost 15 years ago. Lots of other interesting artists have graduated since, and all you can come up with is the same rerun of how successful Bert is? Find something new to talk about! It is great to see Miami becoming such a hotbed for new talent.
Expand ban: I think they should make panhandling illegal in all of Miami, not just downtown ("Beg Off," Gus Garcia-Roberts, December 2). For some reason, there is this mentality that it's OK to stand at stoplights and ask for money. You see cheerleaders and little-league teams — even firefighters get in on the action. C'mon, folks! It is not OK to go out in the street and harass citizens for spare coins. There are legitimate channels that all of us can use to find the help we're looking for.
Limit beggars: I am tired of seeing panhandlers throughout Miami. At every intersection, there is someone with an I'm homeless and hungry sign; someone trying to sell a newspaper for the homeless; someone trying to sell water bottles; someone trying to sell old, wilted flowers; or someone trying to collect money for a religious group. It's sad that you can count more than five beggars every time. There should be a limit to how many beggars can be at one intersection!
Dope and beer: Every time I read an article like this, I shake my head and wonder if the author is dumb and really does not know what goes on downtown. I have known many of these homeless guys for four or five years, and there is not a single one who uses the money for anything other than drugs or beer.
Held back: I think much of the problem will be solved when they shut down Camillus House and move it to Allapattah. The number of homeless this building attracts is really killing the downtown and Upper Eastside communities. You have these beautiful condos and nothing but bums walking around who contribute to numerous petty crimes in the area. Downtown and the Upper Eastside can become great neighborhoods, but this issue is holding us back.
Step up: Though I fully sympathize with the plight of the homeless, the streets surrounding the American Airlines Arena frighten visitors. The homeless are ubiquitous, the area isn't well lit, and it comes across as a Third World country. I support the extended no-panhandling zone, but I think the city and Miami Heat need to make some concessions too. We have a homeless population that continually gets ignored. The Heat and the city need to stop ignoring this problem and create more sustainable programs to help the homeless get back on their feet. Maybe the Heat could even agree to employ some of these folks, even if it's just in janitorial positions. Let's brainstorm, create a sustainable and reasonable plan, and fix the problem.
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Game Plan: It's time for Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to go ("Luke's Gospel," Luther Campell, December 2). Pat Riley's plan is working — let the media, players, and fans beat up on Spoelstra, and he will come to Riley crying like a baby. Pat will advise him to resign, and won't be seen as the bad guy, but the hero who saves the day and the season. Spoelstra will then go into exile. Spoelstra is like a deer caught in headlights — a nice guy, and an assistant at best. When Riley steps in, we will be saying "Spoelstra who?"