Letters from the Issue of July 11, 2002
Why limit it to mere images? I give a wholehearted two fists up to the idea of the porn industry relocating to South Beach, which Brett Sokol announces is a real possibility ("The XXXstasy Biz," June 27). Instead of the shallowness currently on display in this sexually charged community, where its denizens parade around silently screaming "Look at me, I'm hot!" in an orgy of egocentric vanity (labia minora reduction -- please!), we could get real and at the same time enhance the bottom line of the morally corrupt sharks already in residence. It would be manifest destiny that Miami Beach could become the "pearl" at the tip of that phallic geographical extension that is the State of Florida.
The economic possibilities are limitless. The empty storefronts on Lincoln Road could be occupied by Amsterdam-style brothels, solving the vacancy dilemma and providing a promenade for the libertine suburbanites that would allow for consummation -- instead of the current titillation -- and with the added benefit of substantial tax revenues.
Instead of worrying about an invasion of threatening hip-hoppers, the hotels could be overflowing with benign child molesters whose only crime would be having the bad taste to wear a raincoat.
We could invite Howard Stern to take up residence in the Jackie Gleason Theatre and put those two horrendously cheap-looking flamingo sculptures at the west end of Lincoln Road together in an act of copulation -- a beacon to all of our raison d'être.
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Your tawdry cover shouldn't even be free! A young writer myself and a fan of freedom of speech, I am not one to write complaint letters to publications. But I do reserve the right to voice my strong opinion of true disgust at the front cover of June 27 depicting an enlarged photo of a porn star's pained expression while on all fours. You may argue that although she is clearly having intercourse, it is inferred and not explicitly shown. Regardless, it is crude and unnecessary. A nine-year-old child at the dry cleaners was curiously looking at the cover while waiting for her father this morning. "She doesn't look too happy," she said to me, trying to make out just what this photo was about. When I looked closer at the open-mouthed porn star clutching something (whited out) for a better grip, I was truly sad for our new generation of children. Your cover is a tasteless and disturbing commentary on our society. Sex is everywhere and sex may sell, but to show such a graphic photo on the cover of a free publication that finds its way into apartment buildings and businesses is despicable. My respect for your publication is gone.
We're part of the porn industry, too: Sorry, my friends, but Brett Sokol missed the boat in his cover story. It's not about Larry Flynt or Hustler or DJ Groupie 2:TechnoSluts -- it's about the people that work and live and breathe it every day here in South Florida. I run a Website that provides content to Webmasters all over the Internet. I am one of the many small Miami companies that are doing this. There are also the larger companies producing porn for their magazines and Websites, like Score Group and Ox Ideas. Is it Internet video production, not for commercial distribution? Yes. But it is the engine that drives the bigger machine. Internet production supports the business, and Sokol didn't even begin to get close to the story that's been unfolding here for the last two years. And boy, what a story; the business is booming! It's unfortunate that his piece couldn't be more focused on locals. That's what the New Times is all about. This story reads like another mainstream piece for Anycity, U.S.A. But it's nice to know people are talking about it seriously.
He'll even say a few prayers during your trial: In response to Gaspar González's story, I'd like to say Bill Hardemon is the kind of friend everyone should have, but rarely comes along ("Native Son," June 20). Although I had known Billy generally through politics, I came to understand just what a decent man he is when I was lead trial counsel for a client in the Port of Miami corruption trial. Billy often came to court to follow the case, and in part to assess the government lawyers, the same top-quality lawyers who would prosecute his own case. Never did a day pass that Billy didn't have a kind word and a gesture of support, and even offered prayers that the judge and jury would see the truth of that case. (Judge Middlebrooks did just that, rightfully acquitting all three business/community leaders on trial in the case.) He was a real friend, not just the fair-weather type too often seen disappearing in times of strife.
Not only that, but Billy had kind words and a friendly attitude toward the federal prosecutors, even as he knew they would soon meet as adversaries in a different courtroom. He saw people as people, committed to doing their duty in the best possible way, and expecting that all were committed to doing the right thing.
As Billy so eloquently toasted our court victory: "There are true friends and there are sham friends. May your true friends drink champagne, and your sham friends know real pain." Billy knows the value of true friendship. I wish him the best in his effort to bring vitality to an important component of our fine city.
Benedict P. Kuehne
We couldn't all be that bad: I would like to know why New Times pinpoints negative information about African-American men in the South Florida community and prints it. I noticed the articles about Luther Campbell, Billy Hardemon, Leroy Jones, and former commissioner Derrick Miller. We as a collective body of human beings would highly appreciate some positive news on African-American men in Miami and the surrounding area. I am one and I get frustrated by all of the contrary coverage. We have some brothers that are doing the right thing. Although I understand that hype and garbage sells, do, please, give them some justice. I read the paper weekly because there are some interesting issues to learn about, but the time is due to show that some of the brothers are purely legit, and made it out from the hood. How about the principal at Drew Elementary School -- surely there are many more stories out there. I am looking forward to seeing a more positive and balanced coverage.
And stop tearing down the house: I hope the article "A Tree, a House, a Sign" by Jeff Stratton on July 4 reminds the local citizenry that the efforts of Colleen Martin and others to protect homes, buildings, and trees are indeed what has made Miami Beach a magical place to call home, and a home for an influx of new residents often unaware of what many people have endured to preserve this special place. Three cheers for Martin and her efforts. Thanks to New Times for showing long-time residents, as well as newcomers, that Miami Beach is still a community where people stand up for what is right.
John F. Garren
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