Letters from the Issue of November 25-December 1
Voters knew perfectly well that $275 million would go to two museums in a waterfront park: It is ludicrous to suggest, as Kirk Nielsen did in "Vote for Culture" (November 18), that Miami-Dade County voters were "lured" into passing bond issue #8. Give us voters a little more credit. The reason it passed, thus allowing two museums to be erected in a waterfront park, is obvious: The people voted for it. Plain and simple. Anyone who cared enough looked carefully at the issue and voted in favor of it.
As one of those who attended weekly meetings to get out the "yes" vote for #8, I can only say that all involved, especially Miami Art Museum director Suzanne Delehanty, worked diligently for hundreds of hours and should be congratulated, not accused of underhanded misrepresentations, as New Times has done.
What is so wrong with taking an unused piece of waterfront land and placing two beautiful museums on it? Perhaps you would rather see another massive structure like the American Airlines Arena on it.
Twenty-one acres will be open green space. The sculpture park will be open space. People will now have a reason to go to the park and enjoy the water view, visit the museums, and take advantage of what is now a wasteland for the homeless.
My suggestion to Kirk Nielsen and New Times: Stop being a sore loser and start working together to make sure these projects are completed with input from all of us.
The Miami Herald has been in decline since the day its competition died: As a lifelong Miamian who moved to Washington, D.C. three years ago, I found Carl Hiaasen's comments to Brett Sokol about the Miami Herald ("Story Line," November 11) to be right on target. Over the past twenty years, the quality of the Miami Herald has steadily declined in just about every section of the paper, with the exception of Jim Morin's cartoon.
In my view, the depth given to important stories has diminished since the demise of the Miami News [on December 31, 1988]. Since I moved to D.C., I reconfirmed this theory: Competition makes daily papers better. Miami Herald readers are clearly losing out on the serious, in-depth coverage of news provided by papers like the Washington Post.
While I still read the Herald online, I do so only to keep up with local issues, politics, and sports in South Florida neighborhoods -- plus Jim Morin's cartoon.
Carl, muchas gracias for saying out loud what many have been saying quietly for years.
William A. Ramos
When I saw the word "bitch" spelled "b - - - - ," I finally dropped my subscription: Thanks for Brett Sokol's article "Story Line," and thanks to Carl Hiaasen for being candid about the stodgy old Miami Herald, for which he writes. It's a good thing he's arrived at a place of prominence from which he can be honest and do battle with the editors and publisher of Miami's only daily.
I have taken the Herald to task on numerous occasions for its politically correct editorial policy, which makes the paper insipid, especially considering the major metropolitan area it's supposed to serve. As Hiaasen points out, the Herald is so afraid of pissing off one faction or another in this mixed salad of cultures that it has become pablum. It is because the Herald is so afraid of reporting what is actually happening in South Florida that New Times is always scooping it on local stories.
My particular gripe concerns the paper's politically correct word usage. I come from the George Carlin school of speech, where there are no bad words. It is ridiculous and journalistically dishonest to play games such as replacing commonly heard words with euphemisms. When a Herald columnist recently referenced a John Lennon song lyric and changed it to "Woman is the [N-word] of the world," I informed him that even the AP Stylebook lets you print objectionable slang if it is in a quotation.
Then there was the article this past October by Herald music writer Evelyn McDonnell (this should amuse New Times's The Bitch). The article, about David Byrne, opened with this line: "Change is good, but it can also be a b- - - -." Unbelievable! They even say bitch on television, where virtually anything controversial is censored.
Shortly after that I decided not to renew my subscription. So thanks Carl (and New Times) for telling it like it is.
Offend the Cubans? The Anglos? The African Americans? The Haitians? The Colombians and Venezuelans and Nicaraguans and Jamaicans and Canadians? Heaven forbid! I enjoyed Brett Sokol's profile of Carl Hiaasen, and was particularly intrigued by Hiaasen's "moment of clarity" at the Herald, which came when he was writing about former county manager Sergio Pereira. The paper's managing editor asked Hiaasen if there might be another way to say "Fire the guy," which is what Hiaasen had written. The editor feared the column might offend Cuban readers.
If I were a member of the Cuban community, or any other group for that matter, I'd be more offended by the fact that the editors of my hometown newspaper would even consider watering down the truth because they worried someone in my group might not like what they read.
If you cleanse a newspaper of controversial material, then all you're doing is producing the journalistic equivalent of pablum. (Not that the Herald would ever do anything like that!) It's always been my belief that a newspaper's first duty is to print the truth -- and to never apologize for doing so. Why can't Herald editors figure that out?
My own moment of clarity with the paper came five years earlier than Hiaasen's. On a Saturday afternoon in 1983, while working as a freelance photographer, I was able to shoot a series of photographs of Al Pacino blowing away people in the middle of a sleepy Ocean Drive during the filming of Scarface.
The producers had originally planned to shoot most of the film in Miami, but that changed after local political leaders, spearheaded by Miami Commissioner Demetrio Perez, objected that the filmmakers had updated the classic Scarface script to make the title character a Cuban gangster who'd arrived in Miami during the Mariel boatlift.
I was able to shoot photos of Pacino that other photographers had tried and failed to get. When I contacted the Herald's photo editors to tell them what I had, they asked me to bring in my film. After they looked at my pictures, they said they'd probably run one or two in the paper the next day.
I searched the next day's paper, but the only thing I could find was a story on the filming. I called the photo editor to ask why my photos hadn't run. I was told the top editors had killed the photos. Seems they didn't want to piss off the Cuban community. That Sunday happened to be the third anniversary of the Mariel boatlift.
Before answering that, allow me to plug my Website: Thanks to Forrest Norman for his informative story "Screwed If by Sea" (November 11), about the plight of cruise-ship workers. I wonder if organized labor is doing anything about this. This would be a great project for a global labor movement. I knew that these workers got a bad deal, but this article provided some excellent, although disgusting, details. Thank goodness for a few good lawyers.
I am associate editor of Monthly Review magazine out of New York City and am living in Miami Beach for a few months after a road trip of 150 days. I have a kind of socioeconomic travelogue up on the magazine's Website (www.monthlyreview.org) and am working on an article based on the travelogue. I think I'll end it with a reference to the cruise-ship workers. We watch the ships come in nearly every day from the pier along Government Cut.
Again, thanks for a fine piece of investigative journalism.
Yes, it's bad, but there is hope, and her name is Lila: While I enjoyed Lee Klein's restaurant review of La Loggia ("In the Heart of the City," October 14), and while I commend New Times for shedding some light on -- gasp! -- a downtown dining establishment, I took umbrage (on behalf of my own favorite little downtown eatery) at his comment that "there really isn't much downtown competition..., hardly any lunch spots at all besides low-end Latin eateries, chintzy chains, Granny Feelgood's."
If I may be so bold as to plug Lila's Bistro, it's only because Lila's does offer a wonderfully tasty alternative in downtown Miami, a culinary landscape devoid of much variety and savory treats. Oops, now I've done it!
Nonetheless, New Times has done the working Joes, Janes, Josés, and Juanas of downtown a service by shining some badly needed light on the area's dining scene. I just wish it didn't cast a shadow over some others where the grass is indeed growing green in an area characterized by restaurant failings. In addition, La Loggia hardly needs any more exposure. So how about a special on those decent but hard-to-find downtown eateries?
Lila's Bistro is located in an odd nook-and-cranny walk-through that would spell doom for any other downtown restaurant. But Lila's, I'm happy to note, is going strong after almost two years in business. The authentic Peruvian ceviche is the best around.
Editor's note: Lila's Bistro is reviewed in this issue.
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