Letters to the Editor

Just Because You're Paranoid Doesn't Mean...
Being black in the Deep South will do that to you: I want to commend New Times for articles that are always insightful. I read Susan Eastman's story "Our Lady of the Projects" (July 5) and would especially like to commend her for such a fine piece of journalism.

Although I do not live in the projects, I don't quite understand how officials at the Miami-Dade Housing Agency can claim they are making life better for these people when they are exchanging 850 housing units for 80. And if they are trying to improve the quality of life, how will they choose who is worthy of that improvement?

As I see it, they are moving some of these people from one project to another. Something seems to be amiss. And why should housing agency executive director Rene Rodriguez dictate where and how these black folks will be relocated? I can almost see that area of town being taken over by Cubans.

I don't say this to be mean, but it seems that we always return to the same place in history. The experience of being black in the Deep South makes one paranoid when abrupt changes come about without discussion. If government officials really were concerned about the people in the projects, they would have had a discussion with them.

Just because a person lives in the projects or hasn't finished high school or has a low income doesn't always mean he or she is lazy or an idiot. Everybody needs to be understood regardless of where they live. Income doesn't define the worth of the person; it is the heart. Some of the people who live in the projects are brighter than some who live in mansions.

I truly appreciate New Times because it helps me to see the reality of our local communities.

Ella Lemon

Let's Keep the Fight in Freedom Fighters
As far as I'm concerned we should meet terror with terror: In response to Kirk Nielsen's article "Spies in Miami, Commandos in Cuba" (July 5), I have lived in this country since 1980 because a dictator named Fidel Castro rules my beautiful country with the most terrible regime in the world. No freedom, no human rights, just prisons for those who make expressions against the regime.

This is a dictatorship that has been killing people at sea, in prisons, and has been sending guerrillas to kill civilians and engage in terrorism in Colombia, El Salvador, Peru, Bolivia, and Angola. It also has been sending spies to bring terrorism here.

Those Cuban spies who were convicted recently are not angels; they had a plan to do terrible things here, and yet Mr. Nielsen condemns those men who seek freedom for their country. If Mr. Nielsen is making an effort to "facilitate clarity," as he writes, why doesn't he describe the reality of Castro's regime? Don't try to justify a dictatorship or confuse the exile community.

Mr. Nielsen has the right to question people like José Basulto, Joe Garcia, and Ramon Saul Sanchez about exiles who use violent means to overthrow Castro. And I have the right to ask why he didn't put questions to Francisco Aruca, from Marazul Charters and Radio Progreso, who says wonderful things about Castro and against the honor of the Cuban exile. Aruca and many others like him are Castro's agents, doing their work here in our country.

I agree with all those who fight against the Castro regime, and I support those brothers who are jailed in Panama, patriots who fight for freedom for Cuba.

José Barja

Cranky Old Grovite Remembers When
Rambling recollections, some mumbled bluster, a little drool: Giveaway weekly gets dire warning and seasoned counsel. First the advice: Stop making your correspondents write those goofy headlines on their letters. It discourages readers from writing to the paper. And remember that gratis letters are a splendid way of filling a gratis newspaper.

You also should impose a fee -- say $50 a pop -- on readers who want to take a stand, pro or con, about doggie parks in Coconut Grove. The freebie monthly organ the Coconut Grover had such a policy and never had to publish a single whine about doggie parks.

The Grover is no longer with us. No one quite knows why it succumbed at the end of 1998. Finances didn't seem to be an issue. Legendary publisher-editor Jack King never discussed money with his printer. My hunch is that his paper is defunct because he became the Mother Hubbard of publishers, promoting so many good causes he didn't know what to do. And herein lies a cautionary tale for New Times. Bear in mind that the gutter press can only do so much and go so far because its field of vision is limited by the curb height.

But when one of the Grover's campaigns succeeded, what a boon to the community! Thanks to our much-missed crusader we no longer have to navigate around a twice-life-size statue of the wartime leader Mussolini on a traffic island at the intersection of Main, Grand, and McFarlane. And thanks to the men and women Jack King trained or inspired, we do not today have a fourteen-story-high Sony Jumbotron looming over these busy village crossroads.

He had his abject failures, of course. Nothing came of his efforts to introduce nude shopping and dining in Coconut Grove on Thursday evenings -- cook's night off. Nor was he able to get the influential and much-feared Village Council to back him in his efforts to have the influential and much-feared city commissioners establish, fund, and grant subpoena power to a blue-ribbon panel to investigate one of the great mysteries of life in Miami and elsewhere: why dogs don't have to use toilet paper. The Grover's research established that if this canine facility could be applied to humans it would spare per annum 1.7 million acres of forest in Florida and Georgia alone! King also went down to defeat in his paper's lobbying for a new municipal law requiring all Canadians who buy or rent in the Grove to paint a three-foot-high letter C on their front doors.

Such setbacks eventually clouded King's customary sunny disposition. I recall one gratuitous personal attack on me in which he published a rumor that I was wearing Herbert Hoover's dentures. As usual he had got his facts badly mangled. The publisher had admired a new dental prosthesis I was wearing, and I mentioned in passing that the elderly technician who made it also had crafted Hoover's last set of false teeth. Alas our ruddy 31st president died before the final fitting. I imagine the dentures reside today in some vitrine at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum.

Ian M. Ball
Coconut Grove


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