Letters for May 2, 2002

Everybody's a critic

Emilio was first,tu perro!:How sad to learn that Vicente Lopez ("El Béisbolista," Gaspar González, April 18) failed to remember the man who laid the groundwork for him to start his baseball academy. Ask Carlos "Patato" Pascual, Sandalio Consuegra, and anyone else from that era. Lopez knows this all too well. Our families knew each other, and his daughter Isabel and I attended Shenandoah Elementary School together.

Emilio Cabrera created "Los Cubanitos" in 1961 in Miami, Florida. Thousands of kids reaped the benefits of learning and loving the sport of baseball (I have the pictures to prove it). Cabrera's goal was to keep newly arrived Cuban youngsters on the baseball field and off the streets. Ask the thousands of young men who were part of "Los Cubanitos" through the years and thanked him for teaching them discipline and a work ethic. Further, he went on to become a sports broadcaster and created the International Baseball World Series, in which teams from Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Colombia would play the U.S. team at the former Miami Stadium to standing-room-only crowds. The day that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, people brought their radios to the game in order to not miss the event.

It is particularly sad that Lopez failed to credit Cabrera and "Los Cubanitos" because Cabrera passed away recently. Cabrera was a humble man who didn't believe in tooting his own horn, so I'll toot it for him. I lived it all. Emilio Cabrera was my father. Every dog has his day, and if it strokes Vicente Lopez's ego to think he was the first one to start a baseball academy, then God be with him.

Barbra Cabrera-Zygner
Miami

Oh yeah, they know...:Peter Kerr-Jarrett writes like a sumbitch. Really, his stories are wonderful. The horse-race piece ("A Horse Race," March 28) was so vivid and full of images and dimension. The FAU piece ("Post-Catanese Wilderness," April 18) was a little more challenging because the subject is a bit drier. Still, both were beautifully done and sounded of the same voice. A sort of voice in the desert, a sad and resigned voice, full of humor and sensitivity to the irony that floods our world and would drown us, if we paid as much attention as he does. His is a voice of the magna civitas, magna solitudo.... And although we can find a magna solitudo about anywhere, the great cities that feed the contrast are New York, Chicago, and probably some other places that I don't know. I wouldn't say Los Angeles. It is just desert.

I loved the lead of the FAU story. The wind band ("ensemble"?) rounding off with a medley of "'50s pirate-movie music." Really nice. And one knows immediately exactly what it sounded like: Te duh Tehud. Du du du du DU du du! I also like placing the piece in a forum for student and faculty achievement, when there is apparently little of either due to a paucity of bread. (Yes, I noticed the headline quote took up your theme.) Water, water, everywhere, and still the boards did shrink. Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink. Starving in a bricks-and-mortar vacuum. Loved the florid, alpha-male description. Actually, the piece was so well-knit, they probably don't even realize what you did to them.

Joan Tumpson
Miami

Happy dole day?I was traveling on the west coast, and Chuck Strouse's April 11 column, "Happy Tax Day!" just caught up with me. Well done -- it's first-class material and should be on the front pages of the larger press and elsewhere in the public eye.

I particularly like the way he got all the apparent facts right and chided [Bob] Bekoff for going on the dole, as the English would put it.

Robert Ward
Fort Lauderdale

Follow the money:Bob Norman's articles about the politics in Pompano Beach are some of the finest examples of investigative reporting I have ever read ("Marina Madness," April 4; "Activist, Interrupted," March 14). I believe New Times in general has superb investigative reports that can often more than hold their own with the best of their genre, even in any of the national daily newspapers.

I have suspected for a long time that many of the political officials of Pompano Beach are at least incompetent or worse (I personally have long suspected worse). A friend of mine with experience in these areas has suggested following the money trail, e.g., is anyone buying expensive property, homes, etc., for themselves or family members that they might ordinarily not be able to afford?

Is there anything that any of the residents of Pompano can do that is effective to get rid of the scoundrels and/or bring them to justice? Please, please keep up the great work, keep writing, and keep their feet to the fire. God bless you.

Sherman Mechanic
Pompano Beach

Senility, maybe?Due to my absence from South Florida, I was unable to compliment Bob Norman on his superb article on our mayor, namely Bill Griffin ("Activist, Interrupted," March 14). Knowing the individual on a personal basis and having knowledge of the various boondoggles, I can say that Norman's article is right on the mark. It's amazing how Mayor Griffin has changed over the years. He did make some efforts to represent his constituency but soon forgot why he was elected.

Adriaan J. Holt
via the Internet

Burn a candle for Bill:When are area newspaper editors going to insist that their food critics do their jobs properly? These people are totally out of control! It's been a very long time since a food review was printed -- you know, that apparently obsolete one in which the reader is told about the food, its quality and pricing, and perhaps the décor and service. These reviews were basically informative and nonjudgmental (unless a major catastrophe occurred in the kitchen). Nowadays, you get a constant whine from pretenders like Jen Karetnick who don't want to tell you, the reader, about what they have eaten -- they want to tell the chefs how to prepare it. Or, to carry it to the ultimate, ridiculous extreme: how to serve it!

A recent review in a daily South Florida paper complained about the choice of eating utensil with one dish and later suggested a change in the sauce served with another. This critic mentioned 16 dishes -- he gave only four a passing review, finding fault with the others. The faults that were found fell mostly into the category of "I could do it better." And here is the crux of the problem. That is not a critic's job! Or, at least, it shouldn't be. These know-it-alls -- who lay claim to expert credentials in décor, amenities, lighting, sound, wine, service, cooking techniques, culinary skills, architecture, etc. -- are, in fact, just writers doing a job. And that job should not include taking a hatchet to restaurateurs.

They should take their pretensions and snobbery and overinflated egos and, in some cases, rude behavior, and open their own restaurants.

I specifically criticize the egocentric arrogance of food critics. But these critics are by no means alone in their belief that, because they are paid to write about a given subject, people really care about their narrowly focused, biased, out-of-synch-with-the-general-population views.

The number of malcontent critics -- dance, drama, music, television, et al. -- is surpassed only by the number of editors and/or publishers who do not rein them in.

The real professionals, who inform with intelligence, comprehension, and wit, are few and far between. Robert Tolf has moved on (his name appears occasionally in food publications such as Bon Appetit and Gourmet as a Florida source), and Bill Cosford has passed away. No one of their caliber is anywhere in evidence at this time in South Florida.

Jean Chang
North Lauderdale

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