Letters from the Issue of October 20, 2005
Free weekly is a sell-out: Looking at your music reviews and large advertisers in your music section led me to this question: When did DJs become musicians?
I firmly believe that if you have talent as a performer, whether God-given or learned, you must earn the title of musician. With very few exceptions, DJs have no clue about reading music, writing lyrics, or composition. The art of having synthesizers self-assemble a song phrase by pressing one key is not an art. Most teenagers with a synth and a turntable produce the same effect. Everything else is just the drama of lights and atmosphere. Add a bit of alcohol to the mix and you have a thump, thump, thump beat that even the worst of dancers can pull off like Fred Astaire.
So ... maybe we can call them cheap entertainers, never musicians. Maybe your newspaper can do a story about how the local musicians feel about DJs and how DJs feel about musicians. Also find out why most clubs don't have live musicians. Could it be that they pay a DJ a minimal wage, while they would have to pay musicians the worth of their talent? Ummm!
Would the New Times bite its nose to spite its face? No, never! It's all about keeping advertisers happy.
Forget about race, you racist: In response to Ernesto Sandoval's letter about Philbert Armenteros, "Send Him Away" (October 13). Understandably, another immigrant coming to this country and committing crime frustrates you. However, you should be aware that there are different degrees and classifications of crimes. It is also fact that in the USA, certain people of certain classes are punished more according to I might as well say it race. Comparing a petty thief to Ted Bundy insults the intelligence of people who might otherwise sympathize with you.
We don't make fun of other people's religion in this nation. La Regla de Ocha is a legitimate and growing faith in this country. It has devotees from all walks of life, including myself. I am an educated professional who also happens to be a priest in La Regla de Ocha.
Stereotyping immigrant groups because of the crimes of a few is socially unacceptable to Americans. You should relish the fact that you can voice your frustrations, but please spare us your ignorant racism and thinly veiled ethnocentricity.
...but remember your roots, amigos: Regarding "Exit Philbert" (September 29): Is there a politics of race? I pose this question to the exile community at large, the community that was willing to hold a child hostage in the name of freedom despite a father's wishes, the community of Cuban politicians who publicly denounce Santería as the religion of the people yet are willing to offer a sacrifice or two to the orishas for a bit of heavenly aid behind closed doors. Where are they now? The defenders of justice, protestors of the Castro regime, the Cuban exile community at large, where are you?
Or has Philbert's complexion complicated your sense of fairness?
Yves "Kronos" Verela
And pen more, girl: I recently ran across the article titled "Don't Stop the Carnival" (October 6) by Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik. I really want to commend Mrs. Yursik. As an Xtatik follower for the past twelve years, I have tried to keep up with all of their happenings. This article, unlike many others, concisely touched on the weariness associated with obtaining and carrying the title of "international soca ambassador." It highlights (for me) exactly how hard Michal Montano works to bring soca music to some of the largest arenas outside of Trinidad & Tobago.
Brooklyn, New York
What it means, we don't know: I read José Davila's "OG Black and Master Joe" (October 6). Aight! Thanks for cover'n da scene, yo.
With nada adentro: It's a shame on your cover is a big front-page photo of Ana Mendieta's work from a major museum exhibit, and inside is a gossipy thread, "Unsettling Sights" by Carlos Suarez De Jesus (September 29). It really shows how much your paper is committed to "substance."
Repeat a grade, Bozo: Regarding K. Lee Sohn's, "The City That Inspired Creation" (September 29). Back to school! Please.
Forget about those other shallow turds: It was with enormous interest that I read Brett Sokol's piece "Lotus-Eaters and Literati" (September 29). I would like to answer many of the questions Kulchur has put forth regarding why a big novel about South Beach has yet to emerge and to also inform you that it is in fact coming in the Spring of 2006 by me (God willing).
For several years now, I have been writing and rewriting a novel that is now simply South Beach: A Novel and takes place in the late Nineties, ending on New Year's Eve 1999, which many believe was the end of an era of the South Beach social fabric. Although I arrived in Miami in 1995, my view as an outsider and observer chronicles the denizens of a place where everyone is beautiful or thinks they are, and where "Everybody Knows Madonna" (one of the chapters) and is on the verge of being famous (or believes they already are).
Although I do not profess to be Tolstoy, and my book is more Valley of the Dolls than War and Peace, it nonetheless captures the essence of a celebrity-obsessed town run by what I call "the pseudo-celebrity club."
Ironically, one of your article's subjects, Gwen Cooper, lives up to her membership card in this club, by not only lifting the title of her book from my 2002 WET magazine novella, Gabrielle, Diary of a South Beach "It" Girl, but by creating some made-up scandal and baseless press hype about a book that hasn't even been purchased by a publisher, and quite possibly won't be. This is South Beach at its finest: using celebrity names such as Naomi Campbell as if they were personal friends in order to draw attention to yourself, someone who is anything but a celebrity insider. I found it almost offensive that her name was even mentioned in your fine story along with honored names like Brian Antoni and Brett Easton Ellis. But it's the South Beach way, I guess hype and illusion before substance and reality.
Despite my book's merits, publication has been delayed many times owing to an ongoing dispute with various editors. They were not interested in realism or anything that resembled accuracy. I was instructed to go back "and rewrite the book so that it can be sold as a vehicle for someone like Cameron Diaz." No one, it appears, is very interested in reading about the true fabric of a very noteworthy time in South Beach history. This is evidenced by shows like Nip/Tuck and CSI: Miami, which bear no resemblance to reality. Movies like The Fast and the Furious and the upcoming Miami Vice would have audiences believing that helicopter and boat chases are an everyday occurrence here.
So in the eyes of the industry, if a book about South Beach is to be released and be big, it must be a generic, tried-and-true, cliché-ridden action story literary merit be damned. And ridiculous shows like Nip/Tuck and the new Jennifer Lopez-produced hack show South Beach on UPN in January will continue to paint a very silly view of our city.
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