Letters for August 28, 2003

He hit a man

This columnist is decidedly not all wet:Thanks for Bob Norman's interest and excellent writing on the water treatment scandal in Pompano Beach. ("Don't Drink the Water III," August 21) It is truly a shame that an outsider has to take such an interest in our city, but considering the failure of the city officials, I am glad Norman has taken the time and effort to do so. As always, his article is factually accurate, to the point, and well-written. He pulls no punches and never stoops to taking cheap shots to make his point.

Janice L. Griffin

Pompano Beach

On Shrub II's deceitful risks:Bob Norman's thoughtful comments about our troops put into a deadly situation in Iraq because of our leaders' less-than-truthful political motives is tragic but very true. ("Peddling the Bush Agenda," August 14). I have one son in Northern Iraq. I would like to give Norman a window sticker I had printed to support them, which says, "As Bush Lies, a G.I. Dies."

M. Culp

Tamarac

Newton, you ignorant slut:It is amazing to see a newspaper that claims to be so liberal and thought-provoking publish such an uninformed uneducated article as August 14's "Plop Art." Managing editor and author Edmund Newton obviously knows nothing about the subject.

Newton must not enjoy the process of looking at a creation, then reflecting on his environment. Art doesn't always have pornographic purposes. It isn't always made to give people sensory pleasure and make money. Sometimes people make art to cause onlookers to think about society.

The thought bubble you put next to the Duane Hanson photo-realistic sculpture was so true. When I walk out onto the streets of Fort Lauderdale, everyone I see in beautiful South Florida looks like a sloth out shopping for souvenirs. Hanson was one of the greatest pop artists of the 20th Century. He lived in Davie most of his life and died here not long ago. He obviously saw these creatures while he was living in Broward County. Perhaps he was trying to make people stop and think about the way South Floridians look and act. Maybe he was trying to celebrate this culture.

It is interesting to know that a similar sculpture sold at a Christie's auction for $270,000 in 2001. I wonder how much this specific piece of history is worth now? Your staff should stop and think before it starts writing such vapid, trivial, and hateful articles quoting people who have no business talking about art. I would like to know what kind of educational backgrounds Newton and co-author Rebecca Meiser have in this field. We already know Broward Commissioner John Rodstrom has no credentials in this field.

I am so glad New Times has filled our county businesses, streets, sidewalks, and homes with all the lovely illustrations of toilets, drowning fat men, and massacred fowl. The multitude of ads for prostitutes you put at the back of your paper is also such a welcome cultural asset to our community.

Ollie William Potmeyer

Plantation

Editor's note: Edmund Newton's doctoral thesis at the Sorbonne discussed the internal contradictions of post-Romantic pre-expressionist work of the scatological school. Meiser studied poker-playing dogs at MIT.

But Rodin, oh, OK:You folks were way off the mark lumping Duane Hanson in with these other local yokels... Fifteen years ago, I met him while doing features and an art column for the Sun-Sentinel. He has a knowledge about art that is rare around this vast wasteland. I first learned of Hanson's work in a ten-page spread in a national magazine while I was studying at the Art Institute of San Francisco -- still the best art school in the country. I used to tell people that on a scale of 1 to 100, Hanson was at about 99 and these other folks were 2s or 3s. He is up there with Henry Moore, Rauschenberg, Calder, Miró, and a few other greats of the 20th Century.

Happenstance brought him to Broward; this county is lucky it got what it did from Duane, from artwork to seminars,etc. He will be remembered as the 20th-century Rodin. He studied under Karl Milles, who studied under Rodin, in fact. He beats the hell out of George Segal.

As far as some of that other junk, the one piece does look like a big rice cake.

Paul Heidelberg

Fort Lauderdale

Of the swamp:Susan Eastman's July 31 article about the Fakahatchee Strand and the Gulf American Land Co., "Paradise Crushed," brought some interesting memories back to life. During the fall of 1962 and through the spring of 1963, I worked for Gulf American in its executive headquarters in Miami. All work stopped one evening as we clustered around and watched President Kennedy tell America about the Cuban missile crisis and his planned "quarantine" of the island.

It was a surreal atmosphere. We processed paperwork relating to lot purchases and deeds; I don't remember the details. My first office manager was a real joker who should have been doing stand-up. I never knew anyone so quick with just the right retort. I came in one day smiling. He asked me why. I said I felt good, that I'd been driving to work with the windows open, listening to Handel's Organ Concerto at full blast. He turned around to my work mates. "Did you hear that? I asked him why he was in a good mood, and he said he was driving to work with the windows open, handling his organ at full blast!"

He was later replaced by a dull drone-like fellow. There were frequent attempts to generate "company spirit," and I remember the new office manager expressing his disappointment at the employees' failure to honor the "tradition" of contributing to holiday gifts to company head Leonard Rosen and his assistant.

Cape Coral was already being built and settled. The company was promoting its "Waltzing Waters" fountains, but no one really knew what Golden Glades Estates was. They only knew that we were selling lots in it on the installment plan. In my work area were the original plat books for Cape Coral. One evening, I was looking through them and noticed that one of the streets was named Oogaboo Avenue. Why, I exclaimed, would they give a name like that to a street? A nice middle-aged lady named Vada who worked with me spoke up. "I did it," she explained. I asked why. "I felt like it," she said.

In the spring of 1963, I limited my working hours to weekends. Unlike most employees, I enjoyed working Sundays. There were few people there, little work to do, and I could sit there all day making free long-distance calls to friends and relatives. Alas, one Sunday I arrived for a leisurely day of free calling and newspaper reading only to hear a work mate say, "Didn't you know? You've been replaced!"

Gulf American was a strange operation. For some reason, it sent hyperaggressive salespeople to Europe to target American tourists on foreign soil while leaving Americans in America largely alone. It used its political clout to arm-twist the state into building Alligator Alley, a trans-Everglades toll road paralleling the Tamiami Trail. The idea was that it would lead people into the mysterious Golden Glades. Like the trail, it had only two lanes -- but it also had tolls! The AAA fought hard to stop this project but failed.

Today, Cape Coral is a thriving city, and Golden Glades is, well, all wet. But I still wonder... whatever happened to Oogaboo Avenue?

Richard Rosichan

Miami Beach

Dan Savage?In response to Julie Kastanas' August 14 letter. Julie, I happen to like reading Dan Savage's articles. They make me laugh and remind me that there are others far worse off than I am. One great thing about this country of ours is the freedom. If you don't like some of the articles or ads, DON'T READ THEM! How can New Times go to hell? As a Christian, I was taught that God forgives all. But then again, you like politics. There's a scare. For all we know, you could be in right behind them. What makes New Times fun to read is that it caters to all different kinds of people. Yes, even your kind. Savage, keep up the good work!

Mike Huey

Fort Lauderdale

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