Letters for November 15, 2001

Crabbing About Jen

... even when she's nice: At the risk of sending what, at this point, might be one retort too many of Jen Karetnick's restaurant reviews, please indulge me. Certainly the recent review of Rustic Inn didn't read like her harsh reviews of other establishments ("Simply Smashing," November 8). She saved Rustic Inn from a harshly negative slam, yet this full-page article, with its beautiful picture of a crab platter, missed the boat, so to speak. "If you can find it," she says. The name of the street is "relatively new," she says. She should have edited out of her article enough words to have told what she ultimately left out. She failed to point out that the restaurant is a mere few feet from the west entrance of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Rustic the restaurant is indeed. And the review could have read like a Hemingway novel, if written better. Karetnick likens it to a lodge in the Peruvian jungle. Huh? It would have made a ton of more sense to liken it to a fishing lodge in Alaska! And it also would have made a lot more sense to mention the lodge and the automated phone system in the same paragraph. For example, she could have written, "The automated telephone system is the modern antithesis to the overall ambience, which is reminiscent of an Alaskan fishing lodge." Instead, she writes: "...fish fanatics fulfill fantasies with a variety of fillets...." Gee, is this a generic regurgitation of a former review of a fish market? Let me tell you what Jen did not say. The pompano at Rustic Inn is a whole fish! And the shrimp arrabiata is a delicious serving of eight jumbo shrimp over linguini in a mildly spicy tomato marinara sauce. As for clam chowder having a bacon flavor, what the hell is she talking about?

Jen's attention to the crabs shortchanged the reader. She leaves out the fact that the Rustic Inn does a brisk takeout business from a takeout window in the back of the restaurant. The crabs can be gotten to go, in convenient plastic buckets. I am not affiliated with the restaurant. I am an occasional customer.

Marc Smilen
via the Internet

Key West antics: I am a former resident of Key West. I lived there for almost 18 years, beginning in 1982. I clearly recall the arrival of the Catman. In a town full of oddities, his trained-cat act was the talk of the town. Many locals, long ago bored with the Sunset Celebration, made a special pilgrimage to view his amazing show ("The Quest for the Catman," Amy Roe, November 1).

Over the years, I have seen him many times. An especially noteworthy performance came while I was working a remote gig for a local radio station. A large and fluffy gray Persian cat did the famous ring-of-fire leap. As the cat nearly cleared the flaming hoop, the tip of its tail brushed the blazing ring and the fur burst into flame. Without alarm by cat or man, [Dominique] LeFort reached down and casually snuffed the flame in his fist. The act continued without hesitation.

Because of my broadcast position "backstage," near his cat crates, only LeFort and I were witness to the incident. The consummate showman proceeded as if no harm had occurred. The cat never flinched. His understanding of the mind of the cat is truly amazing... and a bit disturbing, for some reason. Nonetheless, he is one of Key West's greatest attractions.

Gregg Wynn
Fort Lauderdale

Now tell us, would it help to bribe the INS? Bob Norman's article "Admitting Terror" (October 18) was a true public service. It's shameful how indifferent our authorities are regarding immigration. Having lived in Mexico, Uruguay, Spain, and Japan, among other places, I can tell you that those countries make it difficult for foreigners to live there. Ask anyone who has. Bribes help, of course, but a foreigner who risks a Japanese or Mexican prison is out of his mind.

Keep up the great investigative work.

E. Howard Hunt
Biscayne Park

Editor's note: For more than 20 years, Hunt worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. He later gained notoriety as a member of the Nixon administration's "plumbers" team of covert political operatives.

But don't expect anything other than self-serving spin: Regarding Bob Norman's article, it's grimly ironic, to say the least, that the Immigration and Naturalization Service was not even remotely as hard-nosed with deadly terrorists as it was with a helpless child, Elián Gonzalez. Obviously politics was involved, and quite probably anti-Cuban bias, which you wrote about in "Elián Plus One" (April 19). Nevertheless, the agency owes everyone an explanation, especially the loved ones of those killed on September 11.

I doubt, however, that the INS will ever offer much beyond self-serving damage control. Unfortunately, the damage caused by Mohamed Atta and his cohorts can never be undone.

Jay Donnegal

Lloyd sure ain't a rabbi: Susan Eastman's follow-up to her Orwellian piece about reactions to the September 11 disaster was a big improvement. People like Lloyd Shank ("The Hate Man," October 18) are nothing more than pathetic losers unable to nurture the best America has to offer.

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