Level saved him: I read New Times because the articles are so real and engaging. And I have to say "On the Level" (Francisco Alvarado, September 3) is no exception. It offers no apologies, makes no excuses, and is very gritty and realistic. It does not attempt to romanticize gang life or Rene Martinez's past and present.
I write this because I know him very well, and the portrayal is right on the money! When we were younger, we used to eat out of garbage cans and cause all sorts of mayhem as "Syndicate Soldiers." Together we stood our ground as gangsters and young teens yearning to be accepted as men in a very harsh reality we made for ourselves when many people turned their backs on us — including our families.
Thank goodness he found an outlet for all of his anger and pain, but it was too late for me. I was incarcerated for nearly a decade, and during those dark times, it was Rene who always wrote and accepted my collect calls. He's a true friend, and I am pleased to watch him from afar become his own man. Best wishes to him and anyone else who finds a better way to find peace within himself and make things better for others. Once again, my compliments for a real story about a real person. Just call me Hammer.
Juan C. Vazquez
No Work, Big Promotion
It's the Miami way: "Big Money, Little Work" (Tim Elfrink, September 3) shows it's just business as usual. I'm surprised the City of Miami let Christine Morales resign and didn't insist she stay and give her another promotion.
Bay Harbor Islands
Adopt one and suffer: Hate to rain on Tim Elfrink's parade ("Glades Invaders," September 3), but the Nile monitor lizards are already here in North Lauderdale, and no, they are not iguanas. My neighbor and I have seen two in our canal. I spotted one when I heard my 15-pound rat terrier make a cry I never before heard him make. Under my boat, I saw what I thought was a water monitor, about five feet long and 55 pounds, stalking the dog. It really was a beautiful lizard, but scary big.
I know lizards; I have had quite a few. I almost bought a Nile monitor from a pet store in Naples about 15 years ago. But when the guy selling it had to put on welding gloves to pick it up and had trouble handling it even then, I wisely said no thanks. And that was only about a 15-pounder.
Bank on It
Talula is the place: I was disappointed that "Brunch Bonanza" (Jackie Sayet, August 27) didn't mention my favorite Sunday brunch spot: Talula on South Beach. They offer food that's not only great but also affordable. It doesn't get much cheaper than $29 per person. For only $16, you can get unlimited mimosas, screwdrivers, and bloody marys. Yum!
Can You Say Hypocrisy?
Incredible hypocrisy, that is: Something isn't right in "The God of Skeptics" (Michael J. Mooney, August 27). James Randi's followers are almost obsessive, treating Randi like a great figure whose words are the absolute truth, moving people to tears. Hey, where have I heard this before? Oh yeah, in religion. Seems awfully hypocritical, wouldn't you say?
Buck Henry and me: Conspicuous by its absence from this fascinating article about the Amazing Randi is any mention of his featured role in the R-rated 1971 classic cult movie, Is There Sex After Death? with Buck Henry. I produced the film, and it is available on Netflix. It's not erotic, but rather a comedy. If anyone gets aroused, they would need therapy immediately. Check it out at abelraisescain.com.
Not the IA Way
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Steal from PAL, you're not a pal: I agree there should be an investigation into the events described in "Bad Homework" (Natalie O'Neill, August 27). But I don't understand why it would be an internal investigation. Is this Bernie Winer a police officer? I thought he was just on the board. When did internal affairs start investigating private citizens?
Via web commentary