Persecution and Profits

Letters from the Issue of April 15, 2004

Why let a little torture stand in the way of cold cash? Great article by Kirk Nielsen on selling cattle to Cuba ("Cows to Cuba," April 8). It appears that Mr. John Parke Wright IV, like many other capitalists, does not mind profiteering from the Western Hemisphere's oldest tinhorn dictatorship. I guess the fact that many of its citizens have had close encounters with a cattle prod in those numerous Cuban jails is of little importance to him, especially when the price is right.

I wonder if Wright would have considered selling cattle to South Africa when apartheid was still in effect.

Frank Resillez

Key Largo

Change Your

Perspective: Visit Cuba

Enough of the old agenda, let's try something new: Bravo to Kirk Nielsen for exposing the other side of the Cuba trade issue. If each of us swallowed our Cuban pride a bit and took a trip back to Cuba at least once or twice a year, as John Parke Wright suggested, there might be some improvement and a personal change of perspective.

Castro has shown time and time again that he will not change. So where does that leave those masses of people indoctrinated by his regime, people who have seen nothing else? As a young American woman born of a Cuban family, I thank Mr. Wright for not falling into the agenda of an older Cuban generation that is so full of ego and pain they've ceased to pay attention to human rights and instead view the denial of basic needs as a legitimate means of combating the Castro regime. Instead of getting on a political soapbox, we need to help the people of Cuba person-to-person.

Alma Martinez-Amores


Greetings from Havana

It's time to bypass the politicians: Some months ago Kirk Nielsen and I had discussions on the reopening of economic relations between the United States and the Republic of Cuba, in the context of U.S. law and Florida's historical trade and cultural relationships with our Cuban friends to the south. His story "Cows to Cuba" has further opened my eyes to the need for human kindness and special understanding of the feelings and needs of Cubans in Cuba today, as well as their families and friends in Florida. With this inspiration I have returned to Cuba for further agricultural negotiations and to attend Mass on Easter Sunday with friends.

Cuba and Florida stand so close and yet are divided by resentments and anger. Our prayers today at the Catedral de la Habana were for peace, understanding, and loving care for each other. The ravages of a failed "blockade" and the misery brought by politicians and their egos can make me angry and sad. This is now about the welfare of people, not politicians.

Thanks to Kirk Nielsen and New Times for bringing attention to the opportunity for a peaceful change of heart in our own back yard. In these times, good deeds speak louder than any words, and so as a Floridian and friend of Cuba, I will sail on across the Gulf Stream, in the face of any storm, political or otherwise.

John Parke Wright

La Habana


Editor's note: Owing to reporting errors in Kirk Nielsen's article "Cows to Cuba," the following facts were misstated: President Bill Clinton, not George W. Bush, signed the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000. Also Cuban agricultural officials and veterinary specialists did not visit Florida this past January. The trip was postponed because of concerns surrounding mad cow disease. New Times regrets the errors.

Criminals with Paintbrushes

Their moral arrogance is stifling: Great article in "The Bitch" column about Daniel Fila and Erin ("Ass Good As It Gets," April 8). My wife, my child, and I drove by the painting every day and found it very enjoyable -- bold and refreshing. It is great to see urban-style paintings done in a classy and tasteful manner.

As a society we've come to a sensitive place (or maybe we've always been here) where people are scared to death to talk to their children about anything that is even slightly uncomfortable. It saddens me that the arts are stifled by a few close-minded individuals who deem their morals and standards to be the law we should all follow. The individuals who covered Daniel Fila's painting with their "blank" graffiti are just as criminal as those who defile our road signs, walls, and fences.

Tim Orrange


It May Look Like a

Bizarre Obsession

But you'll see -- it's really an art project: Regarding "Dark Obsession" by Humberto Guida ("BuzzIn," April 8), Nicodemus Hammil is my friend, albeit a weird one. (I have always enjoyed the company of bizarre characters.) Carmel Ophir is also a good friend, and he's not weird at all, which shows that I'm open to all kinds of people.

As a friend I have asked Nicodemus and Anitra Warren to drop this nonsense against Carmel and crobar and get on with their lives, but to no avail. Whatever real or imagined thing the club or Carmel did to them, it is not enough to justify the obsession, the anger, the harassment. They've told me their grievances over and over again, and the whole thing is so lame I can't even remember exactly what it is. It doesn't make sense. But then again, one should not expect Nicodemus to be reasonable.

Nicodemus's e-mail blasts, no matter how insane and misguided, are a lot of fun to read, though. I encourage him to continue, though I hope not at my expense. Maybe Humberto or New Times could be his new targets! Now there's an idea that would definitely resolve Carmel's worries! But the best would be to give Nicodemus a real new enemy. A big one. Dick Cheney!

I think this whole issue is really an enormous conceptual art project Nicodemus is putting together, for which he will be awarded the grand prix award at some bienale in Eastern Europe. I'll be there for the party.

Rudolf Piper

Miami Beach

There He Was, Dressed in Black, Carrying Garlic

I tried pushing my grocery cart to the next aisle, but ...: In reference to "Dark Obsession," some of my fondest memories are from the days before the Chris Paciello witch hunt, sitting at Guido with my best friend Desi and Anitra Warren, just holding hands and shouting at passersby like celebrity Tourette's Syndrome victims while Nicodemus would look on approvingly. But those days are gone. How did I have the misfortune of getting myself involved in this Hammer horror movie that Freddie Francis forgot to film?

Well, for me it all started quite innocently. I had just begun working in the party-planning and marketing department of crobar when I found out it was Anitra's birthday. I thought I'd throw a birthday party for this wild and eccentric opera star -- after all, she is a fabulous party guest and nightclub friend. I made mention of it just once to Anitra and then when crobar found out they had to cancel the idea because Carmel was being harassed by Nicodemus. There also was a lawsuit or something -- I didn't know the details -- but I did know there was to be no party for Miss Anitra and no invites were printed. (What would have happened? Blow out the candles and slice a throat instead of the cake?)

A year later I'm at Publix, hung over, buying a steak and trying to decide whether I want to go all the way and buy the big bottle of A1 Steak Sauce or be cheap and buy the little one that only covers about two steaks. Who saunters into the condiments aisle but Nicodemus, dressed all in black like a cross between Adam Ant and Lestat, face powdered white in Louis XIV style, and brandishing (I'm not shitting you) a large string of about twenty garlics, like he was going to nail them to someone's front door.

He said to me, really civil, in a quiet voice: "Hello, Shelley. Did you get my e-mail about subpoenaing you for our lawsuit against Carmel and crobar?"

"Yes I did, and I have to say I think it's really shitty to get me involved in this vendetta against Carmel. I don't know what he did to you but you need to let it go. I do not want to be involved in this." And I grabbed the big bottle of A1 and pushed my cart to the next aisle.

Nicodemus followed me and came up into my face and said, "You will be involved."

Did he expect my eyes to glass over and for me to say, "Yes, master"?

Instead I was like: "Nicodemus, you need to move on -- maybe to Baltimore or someplace where the climate suits your clothes."

Nicodemus at that point got really pissed and growled, "What is that supposed to mean?"

I pushed my cart away and took refuge in the baby products/chocolate aisle, shaking from anger and fear. My friend came up to me and said, "Dude, I caught the tail end of that. What did that Bela Lugosi-lookin' dude say to you?"

I answered, "Nothing, dude, nothing. Let's buy some cheese."

So what it boils down to is this: I miss the good old days when everybody was young and out to have fun, when everybody was happy and people only yelled opera at each other, when the only threats were that Desi would snort your whole bag if you let him take it into the john with him alone.

So Nicodemus and Anitra, I was always a friend, and as a friend I want to publicly ask you to stop this vendetta against Carmel. Such anger can only be unhealthy. Carmel isn't holding back your career or stopping you from getting gigs, but the emergence of hip-hop culture and the decline of performance art is. I have to remind myself of that very fact when I long for a barrio-type spot to perform.

Tommy Strangie (a.k.a. Shelley Novak)

Miami Beach

Dress in Black? Yes

Black Magic? No

But a little diabolical fun? Of course: "Dark Obsession" gave me a good chuckle, but as a serious metaphysician I don't practice, nor do I believe in, so-called black magic. Real magic is without color. It has no taint of either evil or good. Magic is the application of little-understood natural forces to achieve a goal.

My main area of interest has always been the Qabalah and that dynamic reference point, the Tree of Life, and the connections between many disciplines, including Jungian metapsychology, yoga philosophy, astrology, Tarot, sacred geometry, and Jewish mysticism.

The Tree of Life is a fertile map of the psychospiritual structure of the universe, which a friend, as a birthday present, tattooed on my upper right arm a couple years back for easy reference. (Another dark obsession?)

The magic rituals I perform are based (with my own variations) on those of the Ordo Templi Orientis and are utilized for the purposes of healing and enlightenment, not to mention lots of playful, diabolical fun. For more, click on Ritual Chamber at my site.

Nicodemus Hammil

Miami Beach

Laughable but Not Funny

Animal Services is no joking matter: Carsie Launey's letter in response to Kirk Nielsen's "Dog Gone" article (March 18) is laughable. It's obvious either she or a family member works at the county's Animal Services facility. She says she didn't observe dozens of animals being euthanized. The euthanasia room is restricted. If she's not an employee, how would she know dozens of animals were or were not being euthanized?

During her visits did she also notice how the animals were not fed and didn't have drinking water? If she was there daily for almost one month, I'm sure she witnessed that. To learn the sad truth about Animal Services, just ask anyone who's dealt with the place. If it's as great as she claims, why is it now under investigation?

Maria Smith



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