Letters for May 30, 2002

A French licking

Distinction, oh yeah:On behalf of ME Productions, I extend a heartfelt thanks to New Times for its selection of ME Productions as Best Party Mavens (Best of Broward-Palm Beach, May 16). It was truly a wonderful honor to be acknowledged with this title of distinction.

We will proudly display our "Best Party Mavens" title with much pride and appreciation. Thanks so much!

Linda Hamburger
Marketing Communications Manager
ME Productions
via the Internet

Beethoven’s Cannons...should be fired at WTMI: In regard to Rebecca Wakefield's May 16 story, "The Battle for Bach," WLRN-FM (91.3) used to be a true alternative to the dross that passes for entertainment. Since President Ronald Reagan's gang cut its funding, there have been many programs that didn't survive. The folk and acoustic music show fortunately did, although it was moved from its traditional time slot. But the folk festivals did not make it. New Music Miami, an avant-garde program, was axed, as was Pandemonium, a comedy show. These were some of my favorites. WDNA-FM (88.9), another community radio alternative, cut my favorite programs when it went jazz and Latin. Among them were the rock shows, their fine poetry show, and Notes from the Underground, an eclectic garage-band and folk/blues delight. WVUM-FM (90.5), the University of Miami station, is the best the city has to offer, and it has picked up some classical programming to help defray the WTMI deficit, but it can never be enough when a whole classical 24/7 source was depleted and then extinguished. WLRN should be labeled "CBC" for Corporate Broadcasting Co., the public be damned, for all its interruptions to advertise the names of sponsors and for its public service announcements.

Classical music can be found on the Internet, on some digital cable radio channels, on some TV programs, and on the satellite radio broadcasts that are now beginning. Personally, I'd like to hear a 24/7 folk station as well as classical and avant-garde stations, but I am way in the minority. I think WLRN wastes valuable space on talk shows, which would be better on AM, if NPR had AM sister stations. Much can be done. It's a matter of utilizing creative imagination -- something that leaves corporate executives nonplussed. Thank you.

David Melvin Thornburgh
Miami Beach

...while we praise WXEL:I really liked Rebecca Wakefield's article on the efforts to get radio station WLRN to play more classical music.

I listen to WLRN and am a member. I wouldn't want to change a format that is successful for them. On the other hand, I do miss WTMI. I was a regular listener to the station before Cox changed the format. If the people who want more classical music want to do it a better way, they should pool their financial resources and start a separate classical station. I know this isn't an easy undertaking. Money does talk, and hot air walks. Former WTMI owner Woody Tanger was supposed to buy a station and make it a classical music station.

One final point: I was aware that WXEL-FM (90.7), which plays some opera, was going to increase its power. I wondered what was going on and e-mailed them about this. Their response was that the station's power will increase to 32,000 watts because of the height of the antenna.

Michael Taddonio
Pembroke Pines

Racist? Puhleeez:For the last few weeks, we considered ignoring Jen Karetnick's unfair April 4 review of Le Rescatore ("French Mistake") but decided, in the end, that we couldn't let her smug evaluation go unchallenged.

We have no problem with whether she liked the food. That's a matter of taste, and yours obviously did not match ours. Fine, we can live with that, because we have many repeat patrons who love our food. As for the service, we're disappointed to hear that you found it lacking. We care very much that customers feel they are being properly catered to, and we try to make customers feel they are special. But of course, that is not always possible when we get more customers than we were expecting. Our popularity is such that customers routinely show up without reservations hoping that we will try to accommodate them. Indeed, we try.

However, we do take issue with much of the other things she critiqued. It's one thing to try to be irreverent or even cheeky, but she failed in both attempts. The piece was mean-spirited, sophomoric, and, most offensively, racist. Had I not been a black Haitian woman but a white American woman, I'm sure you would not have been so sarcastic and skeptical about my French education and time spent abroad.

Perhaps the real issue is that she is not used to seeing a Haitian woman in my role. Maybe she's more comfortable seeing people like me as refugees or housekeepers or hidden in the kitchen of a South Florida restaurant washing dishes. Her skewed sensibilities come through loud and clear. As for the menu being written in Franglais (not a real word, by the way), all restaurants, whether Italian, Greek, or Mexican, do this to give patrons a better understanding of the offerings and a sense of it being authentic French, Spanish, or Chinese food.

Our restaurant is a small, homey place, not full of the pretense Karetnick exhibits. We have merely attempted to give the place a slice of our personalities, a little playfulness, a touch of France here, a tad of South Florida there. We aren't competing for the cover of Better Homes and Gardens.

We want our restaurant to be a place where people feel comfortable eating. So what if some of the posters are framed and some are not? What does this say about the restaurant, the food, or the owners? She goes out of her way to nitpick about this and then doesn't bother to elaborate on its significance. I'm sure there must be some larger meaning here, some larger truth. Or perhaps she simply came in, applied her patronizing assumptions, and decided she wasn't going to like the place. I thought professional food critics entered with an open mind.

What is so radical about keeping a book of patrons' compliments and thoughts? What is insincere about this? Restaurants and bars around the country do it. It's nothing new. Perhaps you should get out more. And the comment on Jacques having served Richard Nixon is beyond the pale. Please tell us what in the world you take issue with in your comments: "And then, of course, there's the blurb on the front that boasts, 'Chef Jacques of Le Rescatore France has proudly served international personalities, Richard Nixon and movie stars.' Which of these things is not like the other?"

We have no idea what she is talking about here. Does she? This is just an example of the ridiculous lengths she goes to to criticize every aspect of the restaurant. Does she even believe any of this nonsense, or is she trying to sound superintellectual? She writes: "A local fish might have more impact here. Indeed, not much nod is given to the South Florida region at all...." We are a French restaurant, for goodness's sake; we don't have to give a nod to South Florida cuisine, even if we do try to reflect South Florida in our décor.

Karetnick also seems to have a beef with the elderly when she refers to my lovely, very experienced, and well-loved pianist as just "an elderly woman on piano." You could not think of anything nice to say about her? I suppose not.

As for my singing, it's all in fun. Sometimes customers make requests for favorite songs; sometimes they come up and sing along. Maybe it's time Karetnick invested in some of the same brutal honesty she so proudly gave us in her review. If she did, the self-reflection might help her see that writing nastily is not the same as writing critically. Ms. Karetnick, you really could benefit from some journalism classes!

Jacques and Marie Bagot
Boca Raton

Erratum: In the Best Place to Take Out-of-Towners item of our Best of Broward-Palm Beach issue (May 16), we incorrectly identified the agency that manages the Wakodahatchee Wetlands. The wetlands are operated by the Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department. New Times regrets the error.

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