Letters to the Editor

Take Me Out to the ... Parking Lot?
Open spaces: check. Sewer runoff: check. Locked gate: check. Yep, this is indeed a Miami park!
By Jacob Bernstein

Going Once, Going Twice, Sold!
Ginger Raspiller
via the Internet
Jacob Bernstein's article about Miami's parks and open spaces was unbelievable ("Take Me Out to the ... Parking Lot?" January 27). What's going on is criminal! It is time for the people of this community to say enough and to take back our public parks, including Virginia Key and Bicentennial Park, before the City of Miami sells them to the highest bidder.

Come on, people. Wake up! Stand up! We deserve beautiful, clean, safe parks!

People Are Just Dying to Get into This Park
Robert Fournier
Anyone who thinks the Miami City Cemetery couldn't be a park needs to visit Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. This cemetery, which dates from 1838, covers 478 acres and is the last resting place for many world-famous people. New York's park department provides regularly scheduled tours. Its most outstanding feature, however, is the fact that it is a marvel of landscaping. A springtime visit, when flowering bushes and trees by the thousands are in full bloom, will prove the point.

The City of Miami and its citizenry are missing the boat on a most valuable asset. The city needs to invite grassroots volunteer groups and garden clubs to landscape our city cemetery and make it a jewel for residents and tourists to enjoy.

Beyond Havana
Life is a matter of quiet persistence in Santa Clara, the town made famous by Che Guevara
By Kathy Glasgow

Cuba Is for Cubans in Cuba
Miguel Cordero
via the Internet

Bravo! I knew I liked your publication for a reason. Kathy Glasgow's "Beyond Havana" (January 27) brings full circle the image of Cuba. My father has relatives there and they never expressed any desire to leave their homeland, not for fear of persecution but because you just don't abandon your home when times are bad. You stay and change them.

After hearing the stories from Cuban Americans here, I finally get a perspective from the other side, one which proves that even though a culture is oppressed, it manages to survive. The Santa Clara residents who appeared in Ms. Glasgow's article maintained their way of life, their families, their desired studies -- and they did it with dignity. Their perseverance is on a par with Jews, blacks, and Native Americans, even if their hardships are not the same. They are truly the rightful heirs of that lovely island.

The more vocal Cubans living here should learn a lesson. Their cries and tantrums are laughable. For all their education and wealth they fail to demonstrate the sophistication of those people in "Outside Havana."

In the Good Old Days, Cuba Was ...
Adolfo Costa

Kathy Glasgow's "Beyond Havana" was a well-written look at life outside the capital city. Any intelligent reader could see in the article a veiled criticism of the communist regime. As Ms. Glasgow indicated, almost any type of effort to obtain goods is considered illegal by a totalitarian government afraid of independent activity. I disagree with her, though, when she asserts that prior to the revolution, black people could not go to the public square for a romantic stroll.

When I was a teenager in the Forties, I remember black people walking around the public park in my hometown of some 40,000. White and black were without animosity. Our family's doctor was mulatto, the town's heart specialist was blacker than ink, and both were very much loved by everyone. Yes, we had discrimination against black people. There were private clubs that would exclude them, but black people had their own clubs no white person could enter.

I suggest Ms. Glasgow get to know some of the Miami exiles who lived in Santa Clara before they left Cuba. She would learn a lot about another Cuba, quite different from the one portrayed by the state-controlled media of Fidel Castro.

Cute? Yes. Clever? Yes. Appropriately Respectful?
Tamalyn Dallal, director, Mideastern Dance Exchange
Miami Beach

I want to thank Nina Korman for including our dance event, "Orientalia," in "Night & Day" (January 13). Many people read that section and plan their outings based on her recommendations. Because it is so influential, I would like to clear up some misconceptions that made "Orientalia" sound much different from the actual event.

Ms. Korman wrote, "Belly-dancing babes will be gyrating [to] funky music by Harmonic Motion." There are many places where such an evening might take place, but anyone heading out to battle Art Deco Weekend traffic in hopes of seeing gyrating babes would ask for their parking money back and head straight to another type of venue.

The Mideastern Dance Exchange is a nonprofit arts organization that, with help from the City of Miami Beach, created this festival to showcase Middle Eastern dance and music as cultural art. The participating dancers were indeed beautiful, but it took them years of dedicated study to achieve such controlled movements and learn the complex nuances of Middle Eastern music. They were all class acts, not gyrating babes.

I realize that Ms. Korman may not have experienced the beauty and complexity of Middle Eastern dance, music, and culture. I also realize there is an obligation to make the calendar sound cute, clever, and funny. But when it comes to informing the public, she should take care not to degrade an important thread in the multicultural fabric of Miami-Dade County. As one spectator commented, "The festival brought such light to Lincoln Road."

All About the Green
A much ballyhooed petition supporting a commercial airport in Homestead appears to be a sham
By Jacob Bernstein

South Dade's Economic Conundrum
Joseph P. Grimes
Coconut Grove

I read Jacob Bernstein's article "All About the Green" (December 23) with great interest. During the past six years I have been involved in efforts to resolve the economic problems frustrating South Miami-Dade residents and public officials. Redevelopment of Homestead Air Force Base is a major piece in the complex economic mosaic that describes this part of our county.

It is fair to state that no comprehensive economic-development plan has been proposed for the area. In spite of persistent efforts to find an acceptable and workable plan, broad endorsement has been missing. And given the current state of mind of those who most likely could offer a workable plan, there won't be a change in this status quo.

The interested parties need to find a way to get together. Then they need to figure out how to respect each other. Furthermore they need to trust each other. Finally they need to rally around a plan that is comprehensive and deals effectively with all the issues.

Words of Warning: Don't Antagonize Nil Lara, Embrace Him
Aseret Rofaral
Coconut Grove

Some time has passed since Brett Sokol's article on Nil Lara ("Kulchur," December 23), but I speak for a large group of loyal fans who were very disturbed by his abrasive tone, as well as his poor research and fact-gathering skills. I understand that slanderous articles raise eyebrows and sell advertising space, but journalists are supposed to conduct research on their subject matter prior to sending their work to press. Accordingly let me try to clarify Mr. Sokol's obtuse article.

Nil Lara still writes songs, many great songs, very often. Nil Lara has a wonderful professional and personal relationship with his record label. Nil Lara is not medicated. Nil Lara does not rely on drugs or alcohol for a good time and never has. Nil Lara likes to relax -- a lot. Nil Lara likes Miami. Nil Lara loves the Florida Keys. Nil Lara loves hanging with his family. Nil Lara's creative juices are flowing stronger now than ever. Nil Lara has an active fan base all over the world to which he sends concert information, tour dates, and holiday and thank-you cards.

Whatever Happened to Nil Lara? Mr. Sokol's article failed to mention that in his 1999, monthlong summer tour covering more than four states, Nil Lara's performances consisted almost entirely of new and diverse sounds and songs.

Whatever Happened to Nil Lara? Nil Lara performed with the Blues Travelers' John Popper. It was standing-room only at Fort Lauderdale' s Chili Pepper in June of 1999. In February of that year Nil Lara performed a Beatles tune on Andy Garcia's Just the Ticket movie soundtrack.

Whatever Happened to Nil Lara? Nil Lara spends a lot of time in Europe's major and not-so-major cities. He plays at well-known and not-so-well-known bars with various artists and friends. As South Florida's main source for art and entertainment information your publication bears a heavy responsibility. Your New Year's resolution list should have included raising the quality of your research and providing full coverage to your starving and easily misguided reading audience.

Miami's Cuban-American musical gem is a far cry from our Sound Machine mongers. Remember that. Embrace that fact. And let us not antagonize one of this nation's true talents.

The Whole World Is Watching (Incredulously)
Paul Hiltemann
Zoetermeer, the Netherlands

In response to your coverage of Elian Gonzalez, I would like to say that we in the rest of the world watch in amazement as Elian is used as a pawn in a war between the exponents of unbridled capitalism and dictatorial communism, a war that has nothing to do with democracy.

How dare Elian's Miami relatives keep him from being reunited with his father, brother, and grandparents in Cuba. How cruel to attempt to manipulate him for the sake of the sickening, knee-jerk, anti-Castroism that has done more than anything else to keep this man in power all these years.

Castro came to power in reaction to social injustice in Cuba. He should have had the decency to quit once his immediate goals were achieved. That he is still around is as much due to American embargoes and anti-Castro campaigns driven by a hysterical minority of Cuban exiles as it is due to Castro's own egomania. It almost makes you think these people are actually in a league with Castro.

Now a poor little boy becomes the victim of this war. Can you imagine how people would react if Canada or Mexico would refuse to return a black American boy to the United States because he came from a ghetto in Detroit or Miami? After all, growing up in an American ghetto means a high probability of being doomed to a life of discrimination, poverty, drugs, misery, gun fights, and early death.

Obviously some Cuban exiles, such as the Miami relatives of Elian, who have virtually kidnapped him, have no more inkling of democracy than does Fidel Castro.

Editor's note: Last week's letters section elicited an avalanche of correspondence regarding Elian Gonzalez. We've posted it all on our Website: www.miaminewtimes.com.


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