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Letters from the Issue of May 2, 2002

Celebrities Are Different from You and Me

Yes, they can skip the velvet rope: Regarding Brett Sokol's "Kulchur" column last week ("Oops, She Did It Again!" April 25), what's the big deal if underage Britney Spears goes to a nightclub? As if Brett didn't know that everywhere in the world you're treated according to your social status. Can he honestly say that when he goes to crobar or Level he receives the same treatment I do?

Also as a European I am aware that in many places around the world people can go out at age eighteen. It's strange and quite hypocritical that here in the States you can drive and vote but not drink.

Franck Dossa

Miami Beach

My Young Life in Baseball

Thanks to Vicente Lopez for the memories: Thanks to Gaspar González for his story about Vicente Lopez and Los Cubanos Libres baseball academy ("El Lanzador," April 18). It brought back good memories. I was one of those children lucky enough to be in Los Cubanos Libres in the early Seventies. I remember playing for Matanzas and wearing an orange jersey with black lettering. I also played for the Oakland team, coached by Julio "Jiquí" Moreno, who would drive as many as five kids in his green sedan to the games on Saturday mornings.

Vicente was, and apparently continues to be, a humble, beautiful person with tremendous energy. My father couldn't take me to weekday practices because he worked nights, so Vicente would pick me up, along with other kids who couldn't get to practice. He didn't have to. Vicente as well as Julio pitched batting practice, making sure every player got to hit. Vicente and Julio cared about every one of us -- at least that's how they made me feel.

I am very grateful to Vicente Lopez and Julio Moreno for giving kids like me the chance to play organized baseball, and to my father who enrolled me in the league, took me to games, and watched me play on Saturdays at Edison Park.

José M. Blanco

Miami

My Memories of a Baseball Life

They differ somewhat from Vicente Lopez's: How sad to learn that Vicente Lopez failed to remember the man who laid the groundwork for him to start his own baseball academy. Lopez knows this all too well; our families knew each other; his daughter Isabel and I attended Shenandoah Elementary School together. In 1961 Emilio Cabrera created Los Cubanitos, the first baseball organization established in Miami, where thousands of kids reaped the benefits of learning and loving the sport of baseball. (I have pictures to prove it.)

Cabrera's goal was to keep newly arrived Cuban youngsters on the baseball field and off the streets. Ask the thousands of young men who were part of Los Cubanitos and thanked him for teaching them discipline and a work ethic. He went on to become a sports broadcaster and created the International Baseball World Series, in which teams from Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Colombia would play the U.S.A. team at the former Miami Stadium to standing-room-only crowds.

What is even sadder is that Lopez failed to credit Cabrera and Los Cubanitos in light of Cabrera's recent passing. Every dog has his day, and if it strokes Vicente Lopez's ego to think he was the first one to start a baseball academy, then God be with him. He'll need it.

Cabrera was a humble man who didn't believe in tooting his own horn, so I'll toot it for him. I lived it all. Emilio Cabrera was my father.

Barbra Cabrera-Zygner

Miami

Dean of the Dock Says It's a Crock

But what do you expect from a sleazy tabloid? Let me begin with an old saying: "I don't care what they say about me, just mention my name." When I was interviewed by Mike Clary I was pleased that yet another article would be written about the business to which I have given my life ("Hooked on Death," April 11). Past publicity has always been positive. I must say, Mr. Clary did get one thing right: After 35 years I think I deserve his "dean of the dock" comment. Also right was the quote from the concierge at the Fontainebleau Hilton: I do take good care of the guests he sends me! But I take great exception to the rest of the article.

Before this article was published I had heard about New Times. I think I'd even read it a couple of times. But with "Hooked on Death" I found it to be nothing more than a tabloid that twists the facts and builds readership on stories that alarm and frighten. Some decade-old facts were woven through with fiction. New Times even enhanced the color of the dock to appear blood red under the fish when normally it would photograph as plain black asphalt. But Mr. Clary and New Times didn't stop at attempting to give a black eye to the charter-fishing industry. They also took on tourism, sportfishing in general, and the large and small businesses that thrive on its existence. Didn't this area and American business take a big-enough hit after September 11?

Even though the writer misrepresented his reason for interviewing me and others, for the most part many of us spoke of our concern and responsible practices of only bringing a fish to the dock at the request of the paying customer. The true facts, hidden amid all the derogatory remarks, are that since our shores were made off-limits to commercial fleets, falling fish populations reversed themselves and continue to rise. Charter-boat fishing is not responsible for the drop in game fish. It represents a minnow-size portion of all fish caught along the entire East Coast.

Why would a local publication and a writer who obviously resides in South Florida attack an industry so lucrative for our area? I don't know. Maybe Mr. Clary has never, as he put it, "been locked in the battle of a lifetime with a magnificent leaping sailfish." But I guess we need to ride out this storm together, as we have in the past. We need to continue to support each other and our community and fight for the right to earn a fair and honest living in a land that gives us the right to do so!

Capt. Stan Saffan

Therapy charter fishing yacht

Haulover Park Marina

What's Greed Got to Do with It?

Oh, just about everything: Thank you for Mike Clary's article about the unnecessary and shameless slaughter of sailfish and sharks by our local charter boats. I know many of the captains mentioned, and they deserve all the bad press they get. It is tough making a living on the ocean, but they need to respect it more than they do. Most of them are not bad people (Mark "the Shark" Quartiano being the exception), but they allow greed to get in the way.

I have been telling them for years that they should educate their anglers that a fish does not need to be killed to mount. But as everyone knows, putting a fish in the boat is an insurance policy back at the dock in case the customer decides to back out. Uneducated tourists are partly to blame, but so are the National Marine Fisheries Service (for years I've been writing them about this issue) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Frank L. Marmin

Miami


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