Letters for May 22, 2003

A classic polemic

 The fear factor: I have read only selected highlights of Jeff Stratton's recent article concerning the Florida Philharmonic (Bandwidth, May 15), but that was enough to let me know that he is a man who sees clearly his own future. He must be very aware that the written word and reading are next on the cultural hit list, so he's afraid for his own living and perhaps concerned that the world would be a poorer place without reading.

Think about it.

Chris Ertell

The Richmond Symphony

Richmond, Virginia

Low-blowing? You mean a bassoon? Jeff Stratton's article of May 15 on the musicians of the Florida Philharmonic epitomizes the "low blow." How shocking that he was able to find a few unhappy quotes from musicians witnessing the collapse of the institution to which they have dedicated their careers. Yet he dares to characterize as an "attitude problem" the drive that made them "practice and sweat and bleed for a noble profession." Would that everyone had such an "attitude problem." Better to place the blame where it lies -- with those community leaders who failed to respond to orchestra chairman Daniel Lewis' generous offer to donate $16 million to "match" $4 million in leadership donations.

Henry Peyrebrune

Cleveland Orchestra

Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Farewell to journalists: I have just read the May 15 article written by Jeff Stratton about the philharmonic's final concert. I have news for Mr. Stratton. The profession that is about to become irrelevant in this world is not classical musician... it is print journalist. In a world with no reverence for classical music, there will also be no place for those who read or those who pretend that they can write.

As a retired symphonic musician with a career of 35 years behind me, I can tell you that musicians have always struggled to find an appreciative audience. And yet the beauty of symphonic music draws millions of people around the world. I hope that the musicians in the philharmonic will find more secure positions in other places. They deserve to work where the city, the music critic, and the management really appreciate them. Obviously, none of those things is true in South Florida.

Rosemary Rader

Indianapolis, Indiana

Best Congrats is: On behalf of the whole team at Hamburger Mary's, I just wanted to thank New Times for the recognition as Best Gay Bar in Broward County ("Best of 2003," May 15). We have been working very hard to make Hamburger Mary's a fun and welcoming environment, and it excites us to receive such great accolades. The write-up was superb! We look forward to becoming an even bigger part of the South Florida scene.

John Zieba

Wilton Manors

With a neighborhood twist: Susan Eastman's recent story "Where the Condos Are" (May 8) was a very insightful, well-written, and thought-provoking piece. Our sincere hope is that New Times returns again to this interesting theme and continues its exploration of other Fort Lauderdale development issues in future articles.

One story idea might be the Balkanization of the city into what can seem to be quasi-autonomous, private fiefdoms masquerading as neighborhood associations. The Fort Lauderdale City Commission formally recognizes 37 such voluntary neighborhood organizations.

Through the proliferation of these associations, the city funnels hundreds of thousands of dollars of grants catering to the interests of certain neighborhoods as something apart from the city as a whole, rather than committing to a comprehensive, cohesive, and cogent master plan for the entire city.

Do we really need to see "Victoria Park, Poinsettia Heights, Lake Ridge, Progresso, et al." neighborhood entrance signs and ersatz guardhouses that give each neighborhood the appearance of a gated community rather than a creative planned effort to connect each neighborhood to the collective city entity?

Why does the city abdicate its governing role and administrative power to these unelected self-anointed, self-interested, self-important groups of people who take it upon themselves to speak for an entire neighborhood? Where are the city's highly compensated urban planners? Why are they sitting idly by as Fort Lauderdale devolves into a crazy quilt of cross-purpose imaginary neighborhoods?

Neighborhood groups are unregulated, unrepresentative, unmonitored, and unaccountable. A handful of self-appointed individuals calls itself the board of directors and usurps the place of our legally voted representatives. The groups promote agendas that often have not been properly vetted or supported by the entire neighborhood in whose name they purportedly are acting.

I want my city and neighborhood development decisions to be made by my city commissioners with a sense of rhyme and reason, not by a neighborhood-association president who is driven by personal whims and an idiosyncratic personal agenda.

Laura Sturaitis

Fort Lauderdale

Just a number: I am the niece of Charlie Lee Osborne, and am pleased with Trevor Aaronson's May 8 story ("Death Road"). The story is absolutely correct. We still have no answers as to what has tragically happened to my uncle. I think it is extremely ludicrous for the Broward Sheriff's Office to not have provided any explanations and then wonder why no one respects its authority. I am at the point at which I myself couldn't give a damn about anyone who wears a badge. It's hard when I go to my grandmother's house and picture my uncle in the yard cutting the grass and look at my great-grandmother, Charlie's mom, and see the hurt in her face day after day. It's tough. But I guess the stories from inmates have been proven. When incarcerated, you're just a number, and that's it.

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