Letters from the Issue of October 23, 2003
Here's how I would fix Miami: In response to Rebecca Wakefield's October 16 report on Miami's poverty rating ("We're Still Number One!"): An all-inclusive national healthcare policy, plus work programs similar to FDR's New Deal, would get the homeless off our streets.
And real documentation and/or removal of all illegal immigrants and the prosecution of businesses that hire them for slashed wages under the table would bring back working citizens interested in building viable communities.
In addition, city governments made up of holistic community planners, preservationists, and law enforcers -- as opposed to pandering fat cats and Smiling Jack real estate developers who are erecting glass high-rises in an environmentally fragile hurricane zone while selling off our homes -- would turn us into a model community for the whole nation.
Beach Nightlife Convulsed by Radical Change
Intrepid columnist chronicles transformation: Okay, so I've been reading "BuzzIn," the new nightlife column, in hopes of gaining new insight to the "scene" with the "fresh new approach" being delivered by Humberto Guida. After reading his "Fresh Mynt" column (October 16), I realize that one of the ten things below must have occurred since I left Miami a short time ago:
Ocean Drive magazine bought New Times, smothered it with schmooze and ooze, and rendered it useless with regard to nightlife coverage.
Miami New Times is now most certainly full of club advertisements and is now dedicated to pandering to its advertisers in the same way it has accused Street of pandering. (I read the paper online so I have no choice but to assume this.)
Humberto is single and is seeing women in clubs for the very first time in his life.
Humberto is newly released from prison. I picture him wandering through clubland sniffing women's fake breasts much like Anthony Hopkins would.
Humberto is truly "buzzin" from all the free drinks he must be getting from Michael Capponi for writing this stuff.
The "scene" has really changed and Our Lord Savior Jesus Christ is on the Night Owl right now on his way to South Beach. There actually being a "scene" in Miami worth writing about once again is being heralded as a sign of His return.
The Trend Tracker is out of a job and Humberto is showing off his sucking-up skills to be first in line to fill her shoes.
The nightlife column is now serving as a directory listing so readers only need to browse through the names in bold. It makes it easier for people when they're looking for nightlife services to find out who does what (or nothing at all) in the industry. (The fact that Humberto has so many "good friends" and "buddies" is a riot. I'm tickled by that.)
Humberto is simply (and sadly) in awe of it all. (Can this be true?)
The nightlife column is a poor substitute for nightlife reality.
Ironically this fine piece of work by Humberto, which served as my proverbial last straw, ran with the "We're Still Number One!" issue. Arghhhh! Humberto needs to balance the column a bit and recognize the divide between truth and perception (alcohol).
New York City
Editor's note: Lee Williams formerly wrote the New Times nightlife column "Clubbed."
Maybe I Should've
Stayed in the Coast Guard
Especially now that you can get $100,000 to live in Cocoplum: David Villano's exposé of Coast Guard Rear Admiral Harvey Johnson ("The High Cost of Homeland Defense," October 9), who appears to have (as the song goes) "gotten a hit on the radio, made his first million, and moved to Cocoplum...," was quite telling on several fronts.
First, hats off to the present Coast Guard district staff for finally realizing that Coast Guard housing at Richmond Heights (by Metrozoo) is ridiculously far from all the Coast Guard facilities in the downtown area, and for doing something about it by closing it down.
Second, how many Cocoplum residents are doctors who signed the Hippocratic oath to serve humanity?
Third, if the admiral needs $100,000 per year just for housing expenses, maybe it's time to admit the American middle class is dead.
I was a Coast Guard Officer, got out, and took a job in the private sector. Now, twenty years later, I make more than the national average salary. But my wife doesn't work, we've got two kids, and I must support two cars to maintain "normal" transportation for myself and my family. Consequently we can't afford health insurance.
Name withheld by request
Out with Ingrate Immigrants
And out with the political correctness that muzzles critics: I read Steven Dudley's story "Free as a Jailbird in Havana" (October 9) concerning poor Mario Mora Medina, a refugee who was jailed here, then shipped back to Cuba. Just imagine little Mario, arriving here with his mommy at the tender age of two. By the time his brothers got here on the Mariel boatlift, he was old enough to start selling drugs with his siblings, eventually moving up to cocaine and heroin.
I'm sure the food stamps were inadequate and Miami High just wasn't up to par with Cuba's educational system. Being an industrious refugee (à la Carnegie, Pulitzer, and yes, Schwarzenegger), Mario made the most of this democracy, building up a rap sheet for burglary, sexual assault, escape, and more. The prison uprising in Louisiana? Hey, he wasn't violent. And he even released his hostages. Whadda ya want? Just a poor exile from Castro's tyranny.
Mr. Mora wonders how America could adopt him as a son, then kick him out. "Not right," he says. "Not American." Well, that's where I draw the line in the sand. It's this absurd and degenerate comment of Mr. Mora's that compels me to write, because it's the same myopic self-righteousness and hypocrisy I've seen before in South Florida and which goes unchallenged (by Americans) in deference to political correctness. It's because I'm an immigrant that I say screw political correctness! When are we going to act American, think American, and be American?
This country needs to start giving residency and citizenship the value they deserve. Free-for-all immigration is allowing fascists and ingrates to displace hard-working immigrants who can contribute to this nation in exchange for America's hospitality and nurturing. Many of us didn't arrive on these shores with our mommies. I was seven years old and wound up in a Montana orphanage for three years. Eventually I resettled in Miami, where I also attended Miami High just like Mr. Mora. Later I bagged at a Winn-Dixie and unloaded trucks at the old Saunders Hardware on Coral Way, unwilling to soil my hands for an easy buck pushing drugs. In those days, I don't recall food stamps or subsidized housing for refugees. City of Miami police had no gang unit. And the streets were still named for great American men and women who scraped their knuckles bare building this town. (Yes, there was a city called Miami already here before 1960.)
What went wrong with Mr. Mora? For one thing, his entry into America was too easy. What we acquire too cheaply, we esteem too lightly, as they say. And that's the case with a disturbing number of immigrants in the last few decades. They enter with an attitude that America owes them and that their Third World cultures are just shy of pre-Etruscan, so why assimilate? Beyond that, every hardship, every challenge is blamed on America, because America owes them. If things don't go well or they succumb to criminal activity, it's America's fault. Always America's fault.
In the end maybe guys like Mr. Mora are right -- America and Americans are to blame. Guilty of opening our doors too wide, gratis. Guilty of tolerating cultural arrogance and violations of the law. Guilty of allowing streets, parks, and buildings to be shanghaied and our history to be supplanted.
I've only sworn allegiance once in my life. In gratitude and with respect I swore it to the United States of America. It was at Dade County Auditorium, along with tens of thousands of others who've done so over the years. That oath was a two-way street. Lady Liberty adopted me, but I also swore, as a man of dignity and principle, to be true to her.
Outed at Talula
If they don't know you, how can they recognize you? In her review of Talula, Pamela Robin Brandt wrote, "[Andrea] Curto, who concentrates on supervising kitchen operations while [husband Frank] Randazzo works the front of the house, spotted and recognized me." How could chef/owner Andrea Curto recognize Ms. Brandt if she'd never seen her before? She can't be a critic if she lets herself be seen at restaurant openings or functions.
Food Corner: Our Pies Please
Lee certainly knows his stuff: After many calls from friends, we've finally picked up New Times and Lee Klein's wonderful article about our business, the Blond Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory ("Key Lime Sublime," August 21). Lee knows a lot about key lime pies and key lime products, and his suggestion about a key lime ice cream sandwich was greatly appreciated. It's our intention to have this product for the upcoming high season in the Keys.
Tania and Roberto Madeira
Food Corner: My Pies Prevail
Lee obviously has no clue: Regarding making a good key lime pie, Lee Klein misjudges the amount of time and loving effort required. I squeeze my key limes (very intense in labor), drain the seeds, crush the graham crackers, bake the crust as a separate step, and definitely bake the pie. I have never made my pie with meringue or used whipped cream. It stands alone.
My friends and I went to the Blond Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory and had a slice. It did not taste like mine. In my opinion -- and my opinion is no less or more valid than his -- my pie is far superior. The pie at the Blond Giraffe tastes like anything you can buy (but not want to eat) at Winn-Dixie. And that's my opinion.
The Arepa Conundrum
Without knowing the country, how can you know the food? I found Pamela Robin Brandt's review of Mapalé restaurant very offensive to Colombian people ("Starch on the Grill," August 7). Who is this American woman to judge Colombian cuisine?
She does not even know how to spell Cartagena (it's not Cartageña). She has no knowledge about when an arepa is good or bad because she has never tasted it. She needs to study her geography and world culture.
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