Letters from the Issue of May 23, 2002
Memorial Day will be a disaster: In response to Rebecca Wakefield's story "Anatomy of a Party" (May 9), I see disaster coming on Memorial Day weekend, a disaster in which everyone loses and no one wins. Are the Miami Beach town fathers so greedy they have to invite back a proven group of hooligans for more chaos on the streets?
I am a long-time visitor and resident of South Beach, and I was here last Memorial Day weekend trying to walk down the street to a local bar for a drink with a friend. What I saw happening I never want to see again. I had falsely hoped the leadership of the community would take action against any group that encouraged disobedience -- regardless of race, creed, or color -- but I was wrong. I guess I'll have to vote with my feet and my money next time.
Memorial Day is for thugs: Sorry, but I don't quite understand why the City of Miami Beach must go to great lengths to train police officers in "cultural sensitivity" when essentially all it translates to is approval for a bunch of punks to riot and then sue for discrimination if not allowed to wreak havoc on Beach citizens and their property. Being black and drunk and stupidly violent does not absolve you of the obligation to follow the law.
You want to accuse me of racism? Go right ahead. I believe that anyone who engages in the kind of mindless violence and destructive behavior witnessed last year -- whether they're Cubans, blacks, or whatever -- forfeits the right to yell "racism" or "discrimination" when cops bust their heads and throw them in the hoosegow. That's exactly what thugs and lowlifes deserve. If the good Bishop Victor Curry disagrees, so be it. I doubt that anyone associated with the NAACP would approve of such behavior.
The potential for a disaster is real, and no amount of "cultural sensitivity" or hand-wringing about racism or hip-hop discrimination will protect the citizens who will cower in their homes while the shitheads and loudmouth scumbags descend on that fair city. The comparison with Fort Lauderdale and its former spring-break problem is apt. Nobody cried discrimination when a bunch of drunken, loutish white college students were banned by law from their stupid, excessive behavior in Fort Lauderdale during spring break. Last time I looked, the city was still there and doing well.
Memorial Day isn't about blacks or whites, it's about plain old people: People need to stop tiptoeing around in hopes of avoiding racial criticism regarding Memorial Day on South Beach. If you feel the need to use racial terms to articulate certain frustrations, well, by golly that smells like racism to me. If Miami Beach wants to avoid being labeled as a city that discriminates, then it shouldn't discriminate. If people are creating disturbances or breaking laws, they should be dealt with accordingly. That's not discrimination; that's simply preserving the integrity of the city and upholding its laws.
I fail to see how skin color was relevant to the behavior of some of last year's Memorial Day visitors. What was so upsetting about last year? Was it the rowdiness, the loud noise, the trash, the drinking? Or was it the skin color of the individuals involved? If it had been a predominantly white crowd on the Beach engaging in the exact same activities, would business owners have been scratching their heads and lamenting, "Damn white kids!"?
It's not that blacks get upset over simple accusations. Blacks get upset by the fact that whenever a problem is caused by a black person or group of black people, the community and the media (including Rebecca Wakefield in "Anatomy of a Party") make a point of highlighting the fact that the skin color of the alleged perpetrators is black, thereby incriminating black skin. Race is never mentioned if the perpetrators involved are white. For example, during the violence and bloodshed that occurred at Woodstock 1994, nobody uttered these words: "Those unruly white kids." There was no mention of race in association with the violence.
If people open their hearts and eyes wide enough to see actions, events, and human beings for what they truly are, race becomes insignificant. Then one won't have to tread on eggshells wondering if the black community feels unfairly treated or judged. Code words won't have to be used to describe the physical characteristics of people.
But if acting upon this principle is just too daunting a task, then treat and judge black people the same as white people and everyone will be all right!
Why else would Eladio devote so much energy to a cause so wrong? After reading Kirk Nielsen's story about Take Back Miami-Dade spokesman Eladio José Armesto ("A Man in Full Fight," May 9), I felt the need to address him.
Mr. Armesto, I believe in including sexual orientation among the list of human characteristics protected from discrimination, especially after reading the arguments you use to fight against this county law. When you mention the fact that our founding fathers did not address homosexuality in the Constitution, you overlook the fact they also did not mention that women should have the right to vote or that children should not have to work for a living. Viewing life through the lens our predecessors used is not evolution. Or should we burn "witches" at the stake, stone adulterers to death, and legalize polygamy? You also ask: How does someone prove his or her homosexuality? Well, in case you haven't noticed, it's harder to prove heterosexuality! And how does someone prove discrimination? Probably the same way someone proves sexual harassment.
Among your arguments, you state that you want to prevent pedophiles and sexual offenders from seeking the same protection against discrimination in order to justify their behavior. Don't you know the difference between the right to sexual contact among consenting adults and the commitment of sexual acts with or in front of someone who says No, either a child or an adult? Those definitions are so different that I suggest you erase them from your list.
Mr. Armesto, doesn't an employee have the right to protest if his or her good work is jeopardized because of an employer's feelings about the gender of his or her partner? Professional life and private life have nothing to do with each other.
You know, I can't really blame you. Most likely all this nonsense is a direct result of society's shame toward sex. If that's so, let me assure you that God in his almighty intelligence made sex feel good in order for us to procreate and also to intimately bond with others, either as heterosexuals or as homosexuals. If human sex was exclusively for procreation, we would have intercourse only when "in heat."
But not all is lost. The list of causes worth fighting for, where your strength and persistence could prove very valuable, is long. Joining those fights would do wonders for your public image, which I sense is very important to you. Let me see, may I suggest fighting against the tobacco industry, responsible for so many deaths each year? Or gathering funds, food, and clothing for the needy? Supporting art and musical education in our schools? Rallying against children's constant exposure to violence in television programs and movies? Or better yet, fighting for -- oops! I'm overdoing it, Mr. Armesto. Maybe I'm expecting too much from you. Please accept my apologies.
In Miami it's about cojones and nothing but cojones: I don't agree with everything Eladio José Armesto says, but he is totally right when he states that Miami Mayor Manny Diaz didn't have the balls to tell the Cuban-American voters who elected him that he opposed their right to vote in a referendum to repeal the divisive "sexual orientation" amendment. Manny also didn't have the balls to tell Cuban-American voters that he's been a good friend of Janet Reno for years and even raised campaign cash for her while he was a registered Democrat.
Which reminds me, Manny also didn't have the balls to run as a Democrat, abandoning the party he supposedly loved in exchange for political power. Nor did Manny have the balls to register Republican. To be honest with you, in my book Manny Diaz is simply a spineless opportunist who took advantage of his ethnic origin in his race for Miami mayor and who doesn't even have the balls to stand up for what he supposedly believes in.
Unlike Manny, at least Eladio José Armesto has the balls to have run as a Democrat in a staunchly pro-Republican Cuban-American community and, wrong or right, he's got the balls to stand up for what he sincerely believes in. Too bad we can't say the same for sleazy-weazy Manny Diaz. It's Armesto we should have as mayor.
We made some errors, he made some errors, so let's try again: I want to thank Lee Klein for his review of Cambalache restaurant ("Moo Over Miami," May 2). I liked his writing and found his review valid in many respects. Yet there are a few points I would like to mention.
I'm sorry his replacement piece of poultry was uninspiring, but his next comment about the parrillada is a result of misinformation. Only steaks come served in the refractory plate, which does the actual final cooking. Another piece of misinformation is the reference to "vacio" (not "baceo" as spelled in the article), which is not a juicy square of skirt steak, since that cut of meat is from a totally different part of the animal.
By the way, our cannelloni, which are not made of pasta but with crêpes (for lightness), are filled with creamed spinach and spiced liver pâtè, not with ham.
We hope Mr. Klein will give us another chance to redeem ourselves.
Trust us, it's all in the bubbles: I enjoyed Lee Klein's review of Christy's ("Club Christy's Space," April 25). His explanation of baked Alaska, however, was somewhat incomplete. He mentioned the resistance of egg whites to heat. My understanding is that the air inside the meringue makes the whole thing possible.
Air is a great insulator, which is why you can put your hand two inches from a hot iron and not be burned. Egg whites when whipped hold an immense amount of air. As a result meringue acts as a natural form of Styrofoam; it holds millions of tiny air bubbles in place. As such it insulates the ice cream from the heat of the oven as the meringue browns.
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