Can be enormous, you cuckoo: Just a note to thank you for including my recent winter vacation plans in your column "The Bitch" (December 22). The visit was, sadly, short-lived, but still just the thing I needed to lift my spirits. Ever heard of Seasonal Affected Disorder, commonly referred to as SAD? Well, I've got it bad. And Miami, with its sunshine and "looker" types, is just the pick-me-up this old bird needed. Believe me, munching on carrion, although it sounds glamorous, is not all it's cracked up to be. Anyway, I don't mean to prattle on. I just wanted to express my gratitude.
Phineas J. Talon
c/o Wendy Doscher-Smith
Via the Web
Don't Ignorah Him
He knows an injewstice when he sees it: I could not believe Mariah Blake's story regarding religious displays in Bay Harbor Islands, "Bah, Humbug" (December 8). I am not a conservative Christian, but I am a lawyer. Any attorney with more than three brain cells knows that to display a menorah on public property, while refusing to display a Nativity scene, would be government endorsement of Judaism. Displaying neither is acceptable, displaying both is acceptable. Displaying one, but not the other, is not.
Change the Culture
And the recipes will follow: I am a chef in the area, and I have a few comments regarding the article published in the November 24 issue, "What's the Matter with Miami?" by Lee Klein. In short, I agree completely. There are definite deficiencies in the food scene in Miami, as well as some wonderful places to eat a good meal. In regards to the many points Klein makes: They are all valid, and it is refreshing that someone is willing to step out on that limb and take a chance by separating himself from the masses.
While I agree with what you have to say, I believe it is not only in my best interest but also my responsibility to do whatever is in my power to reverse the current trend in Miami dining. I am not willing to give up just yet. We have the resources.
We are a long way from being San Francisco, Chicago, or New York when it comes to common knowledge about food and dining. But there is a firm base here, that I believe can, if pushed, begin to influence others by spreading the gospel about food. It is not about comparisons to other cities, but more about wanting to live and raise a family in an environment where people are somewhat educated about and even demanding of food. We need to bring about the much-needed bakeries, butchers, cheese shops, produce markets, et cetera. It is up to the people of South Florida to seek out and support the few places that offer such services.
It is important to me for people to realize there is a future in Miami dining. It is up to all of us as residents, chefs, restaurateurs, critics, writers, et cetera, of South Florida to challenge the national perception about dining in Miami, as well as our responsibility to prove them wrong.
Take out Allen's rib and create a barbecue joint: As a true barbecue aficionado, I took the advice of one of your readers and made the jaunt from South Beach to The Smokehouse restaurant in North Beach, hoping to get my fix for some good barbecue ribs. I hadn't had really good barbecue since SoBe Bar-B-Q closed years ago.
When I asked the server what kind of ribs they used, she said pork. I asked if they were baby-backs, and the reply was, "No, they're big ones." I answered, "No, I mean are they baby, St. Louis, back, or spare ribs?" Her reply was, "I think we are out of ribs." After checking with the chef, she returned with the news that they were actually out of ribs! A barbecue joint without ribs is like a bar without booze. So you guys were right Miami needs to get its act together when it comes to food and service.
Gotta go north: Great article. Yes, there are no "joints" with good, reasonably priced food nothing on water (Scotty's and Monty's are way overpriced for below-average food). I'm from the Jersey shore, with lots of places for dinner under $25 that are off the charts and many where you can bring your own wine or beer. And many all-night diners too.
Airboats a Tradition?
Yeah, right: The story "Still Angry" by Rob Jordan (November 17) was quite interesting and pleasingly balanced. Besides three businesses being very possibly doomed by the National Park Service's interpretation of Congress's 1989 decision, privately owned airboats plus many other activities might also perish from the slow, methodical, and cancerous onslaught and occupation of Florida's landscape by NPS, empowered by ill-informed elected officials in Washington, D.C.
Airboat activities that South Florida outdoors-people enjoy are more than a mere sport or recreation they are a tradition and a culture. The problem for us Americans is that even though NPS and all federal agencies are mandated by law to protect America's heritage and cultures, they can overlook it if we allow them. So far things look bad for our swamp tourism and traditional airboating cultures.
My view of the past twenty years is that a subtle but vicious bureaucratic war is being waged to culturally cleanse the South Florida swamps of the very citizens who have sought to protect the land from the real problems of bulldozers and draglines. The cumulative destructive impact on the culture has been devastating over the years.
The remnants of our South Florida culture must be protected at all costs. Americans deserve better from their government and bureaucracy.
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Miami New Times assistant calendar editor Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik took one of two honorable mentions in the Trinidad Theatre Workshop's Derek Walcott Competition for Writers. Her short story, "Cookie," was chosen as second best in a field of 39 entries. The honor was presented at a ceremony December 19 in Port of Spain. Walcott, who presided, won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992.