Letters for August 1, 2002

Dance the night away

 Only if you're a professional: Reading Ashley Fantz's July 25 article, "Caged Swelter," I confirmed once again why the public has such a misconception of "dancers." I belong to one of the top ten dance companies in the United States, New Century Dance Company, which is here in Miami; we are a company of 33 professionals who are multiethnic and employed all year long. We have been dancing as a professional company for more than ten years and have done shows, performances, music videos, television events, and so forth all over the United States and abroad, and I am appalled that an article is written about cage, go-go, and bar entertainers. These people are not dancers, although they would like to think they are. We, the real dancers, have to be witnesses of the mentality that a dancer is a title you give people who do not and never have trained to be one.

We have dedicated a great part of our lives and still do perfecting dancing techniques and styles, instructing ourselves religiously every day; in our world, Pamela Canellas is a joke; she underpays the supposed "dancers" she hires while making a commission off their pay -- more like a pimp, I will say. These are the people that have prostituted our profession and in doing so have hurt our image and reputation. That is why any Jane/John Doe from the street, half drunk with a good body, will go up on a box in a club and decide she or he is a dancer -- and will then make her living off that. It takes more than a few hours at your local gym and a plastic surgeon's visit to be able to dance or call yourself a dancer.

I resent the article, which is totally bogus. For crying out loud, any grandmother can go out in a boa and say she is a dancer. Dancers are trained professionals, just like athletes, with a very hard schedule. If you need an operation, you go to a surgeon. You don't go to the butcher at Winn-Dixie.

Ophelia Kawko

via the Internet

Plumbers didn't make it in Watergate... and they won't make it here: Mike Clary has written a great report on the situation surrounding the Cape Sable seaside sparrow and Everglades restoration ("For the Birds," July 18). Those federal agencies and private groups comprising the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force should be asked to include in their Coordinating Success document a plan for how they will relocate this bird to its original habitat.

If they cannot do this, then we cannot restore the Everglades. Any layman can see this by looking at the topographic maps and the water depths the Department of the Interior wants for the Everglades, including the water-conservation areas. It will not work.

L.J. Moller

Pembroke Pines

Unstraighten up, Ms. Mason: Sounds like business as usual in Fort Lauderdale. How can anyone suggest that the omission of women in a travel guide could be accidental ("Lesbians Be Damned," Rebekah Gleaves, July 18). Say that out loud, and listen to your own voice -- can anything sound more stupid and false?

Fort Lauderdale may, in fact, get more gay male travelers than lesbians. But how would anybody here know? Certainly, it has already been decided that lesbians aren't interested in vacationing here because we're all bunched up in the desert and New England lugging around backpacks. Anything else you can tell me about myself while you have my attention? Ask Richard Gray, the lone gay liaison whom the bureau consulted to draw the picture of all gay travelers. Is it any wonder?

For Gray to express the belief that lesbian activist Naomi Parker's concerns are unfounded sheds light on just how removed some white gay men are from the reality that surrounds them. But, you see... it's a reality that rests in their periphery. The reason: women, people of color, and families with children don't (1) count, (2) matter, or (3) hold interest in their world.

Try being a woman and stepping up to a bar with gay male bartenders and getting a drink. Look at the glazed expression that forms in the eyes of a gay man who has glanced at a lesbian and dismissed her from his brain in seconds, like she doesn't exist. Myth number one: Gay people, because they suffer discrimination, are more sensitive and aware -- and therefore don't discriminate against others. False. Some of the ugliest, most derogatory statements I've ever overheard against women, black people, and other people of color have been out of the mouths of white gay men.

So does it surprise me that a travel brochure that is supposed to be gay-friendly has been distributed with such glaring "accidental omissions"? No. It's business as usual in Fort Lauderdale. Meanwhile, my dollars are supporting this insulting garbage while I wait for Francine Mason, the [Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention &] Visitors Bureau's communications vice president, to perhaps "make the guide better next year." But then she says, "we haven't heard any complaints here about it." Yes, but exactly where are you listening, Ms. Mason?

Susan Coles

Hollywood

Open door: Rebekah Gleaves's July 18 article should be read by all gay business owners in South Florida. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, gay establishments will take the lead, encouraging the gay ghetto mentality to change radically, fostering the integration of our sexual preferences not only with nongays but also within our own spheres, so that these self-imposed barriers among white gay males, lesbians, black gay males, and all "others" melt away. If there is a list for lesbian travel accommodations, please put my bed and breakfast, Caribbean Quarters Inn, on it. I have no issues with lesbians.

I hope the doors of guesthouses in Fort Lauderdale and elsewhere will be opened for all. And will someone tell me, what is the point of "clothing optional" anyway?

Bernd Metz

Caribbean Quarters Inn

Fort Lauderdale

First whack... at those Eisenhower-era loonies: In regard to Bob Norman's July 11 article titled "First Pledge," I don't know whether "under God" is Constitutional or not. But I don't like having to take a political oath that states that the country and hence the oath taker is subservient to a deity. In many cases, grammar, middle, and high school students have to say this pledge. It isn't right to make atheists acknowledge any deity.

The fact that people are forced to do this is what bothers me.

Bob Andrews

Fort Lauderdale

And at them Bush-era journos... umm, that means us: In "First Pledge," Bob Norman writes: "An organization called American Atheists, out of York, Pennsylvania, mailed me a sheet of paper titled 'A Mathematical Proof of the Non-existence of God,' which was full of equations." American Atheists Inc. is located in Parsippany, New Jersey, and does not publish anything resembling the document described.

American Atheists is a nationwide movement that defends the civil rights of nonbelievers, works for the separation of church and state, and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.

Larry Mundinger

American Atheists Internet Representative

via the Internet

And at those religious wackos: Thank God (pun intended) that there's at least someone in the media out there who hasn't gotten all caught up in the knee-jerk groundswell over the Pledge of Allegiance issue. I was beginning to feel like I was the only person in the world who understands what the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state really means.

Personally, I'm a recovering Southern Baptist and was getting upset enough as it was when the city government I work for began displaying "God Bless America" banners across government buildings and schools, not to mention distributing bumper stickers with the same sentiment and the official city seal. But I didn't feel I could stand up and say anything knowing the overwhelming number of Bible-thumpers employed there for fear of losing my job.

Now, with everyone tripping all over themselves to decry the ruling as positively un-American, to proclaim the judge as something worse than pond scum, and to show their patriotism for both God and country, I wonder if there are any sane people left, including the so-called liberal media. Literally, everyone acts as if it's no big deal to be shoving religion down the throats of everyone else, without the slightest thought of whether it's OK or not. And God help the people (yes, again, pun intended) who would dare to stand up and say that, no, they don't like it (as you've obviously found out).

But what has left me most dumbfounded isn't even the zealotry. It's how people have so completely screwed up the principles upon which this country was founded. Hey, gang, the first settlers were people trying to flee a country that was trying to force a religion down their throats! They felt so strongly about this issue that they risked their lives to take a long and dangerous boat trip and start out with nothing. They even made the separation of church and state a cornerstone of their government.

Yet folks today have it exactly backward. They somehow believe that just because the majority of the founding fathers were Christians that we are, therefore, a Christian nation. They believe that anybody who doesn't like it is not a true American and should just leave. Sorry, you guys are the un-American ones! Idiots!

John Wilson Jr.

Fort Lauderdale

But not at Newdow: For what it is worth, I think Michael Newdow is to be congratulated. If I had an address for him, I would have told him myself.

Marilyn Day

Tampa

File this one... but not at 35,000 feet: After reading Chuck Strouse's "Security Collars" (June 27), I wondered if I should stop bellyaching about being frisked and having my underwear mauled four different times while flying between Atlanta and Green Bay, Wisconsin.

I am a five-foot, three-inch, 60-ish female of slight build. During one of my searches, I noticed that next to me, a nun had surrendered her luggage for a similar rifling. When I finally made it to the plane and asked the stewardess to whom I could write in protest, she began telling me her tale of woe about being searched. Then the pilot came out of the cockpit and told me his tale of woe. Does anybody feel one bit safer because the federal government is making sure there is no senior citizen carrying a nail file at 35,000 feet?

On my flight, they also protected passengers from a nun carrying a small Swiss Army knife with those tiny scissors, but they allowed a (burly male) passenger carrying a military-strength umbrella, another male carrying a large wooden easel, and any number of people with luggage carts, which surely have much more potential as weapons.

I don't believe for a minute that frisking me is about security. It's about the federal government telling citizens they'd better march quietly in step -- and definitely not carry a nail file.

Susan Ohanian

Charlotte, Vermont

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