Letters for January 1, 2004
Pompano Beach splash: I want to thank Bob Norman for his December 18 column, "Don't Drink the Water, Seriously." It was really on the nose -- another gem for us to use to clean up Pompano Beach.
Norman feeds the masses: It appears obvious from Bob Norman's stories that he and his editor understand that journalists have a responsibility to expose questionable conduct on the part of powerful people. My father is visiting from Florida and wanted me to see your work. I can see why he enjoys it.
Up here (in Pennsylvania), the local press looks for reasons not to expose such misdeeds, to the detriment of our citizens. Our residents are starved for the coverage you folks give your readers. Good work!
Via the Internet
Snap out of your trance, Stratton: My, Jeff Stratton seems to have more bones to pick than a starving wolverine. What's up with that? In the December 18 Bandwidth ("Seeing Red over the Blues"), he argues against himself, denouncing South Florida Blues Society President Bob Weinberg for being focused on "electric" blues rather than "rootsy" blues, but then goes on to insist that harmonicas will need MIDI interfaces before he can accept them as relevant. Go listen to some more trance music, punk, and leave the blues alone. He obviously doesn't appreciate the genre, so why spout off about it?
And I beg, oh so humbly, to differ. Bob "Scribe" Weinberg has done a fine job in his column, and as a proud SFBS member, I applaud his efforts. But Stratton's assertion that no one has done more for the local blues scene is patently absurd and just goes to show how little he knows about the subject.
Try to learn something about the subjects you cover in your column, Mr. Stratton. You'll look like much less of an ill-informed harpy, screeching incessantly about things you don't understand.
"Nucklehead" Ed Blount
Bo Diddley and Buddy Guy ain't no second tier: I read Jeff Stratton's December 18 column, and I am more than a bit shocked at the personal attacks. It might be true that "Bluesbobby"'s letter to City Link Bob Weinberg, who is also a long-time friend of mine, was a bit over the top, but Bobby came up with the idea that a group of blues lovers could make a difference in a town where blues was struggling. He was not able to work anymore due to a stroke, but he needed to do things to keep himself motivated to get better. For years, people have not been willing to step up to the plate and get a blues society going -- one that connects to the national Blues Foundation in Memphis. While maybe not perfect, Bobby got it done and did so with record numbers of people joining in a very short time. In fact, the Blues Foundation was amazed as well and has written about it on its website many times.
As a member of the former Fort Lauderdale Blues Festival Entertainment Committee, with a long history with blues people going back more than 30 years, I am fairly well-connected to people in the industry. And, yes, as we age, it has become a struggle. But this music is so important to the history of all modern music, and it really is us who need to keep it alive. Remember that it links us all to our past and to the struggles of people black and white. It is a music that cries out about pain and joy in the same sentence -- about making you laugh at yourself and releasing anxiety.
I would also like to address a comment Stratton made about the entertainment at the blues festivals in the past. I'm sure that if you ask the columnist Bob Weinberg, who generally likes only the roots type of blues, he still could not deny the level of talent that we booked year after year. We were also under budget constraints and were not always able to book the most expensive acts. We booked those that people told us they wanted to see from surveys that we took at the festivals and from phone calls, letters, and e-mails we received during the year. I am going to give you some names of acts that have been at the festivals since I began with them in 1995. These are hardly second-tier acts: Buddy Guy, Bo Diddley, Keb Mo, Susan Tedeschi, North Mississippi Allstars, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Lonnie Brooks, Ike Turner, Pine Top Perkins, Luther Allison, Solomon Burke, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, Delbert McClinton, Bernard Allison, Son Seals, Koko Taylor, Shemekia Copeland, Walter Trout, Coco Montoya, John Mayall, Rod Piazza, Bobby Rush, Colin James, Carl Weathersby, Dick Waterman, Billy Branch, Little Charlie, and the list could go on.
The level of personal attacks made at Bluesbobby was really uncalled-for. Although his letter was a bit much, it didn't warrant this kind of behavior. The live music world is in jeopardy here as well, as many disc jockeys take over the clubs. Your column only serves to break down what we need to embrace -- live music -- all of it, and that includes blues and the society that has helped to bring it back.
Weinberg versus Weinberg: I was glad that Jeff Stratton gave some attention to the "clash of the Bob Weinbergs." Bob the writer is a great guy, and Stratton did a great job of defending him. I have never met the other Bob Weinberg, but I think I know the type. He comes across sounding like another loud, annoying white boy who knows nothing. Bob the scribe didn't deserve to get slapped in the face like that, and he is handling it like a gentleman. As Stratton said, this is a rare quality. Hopefully, City Link Bob's courteous manner will win out over the slovenly behavior of his most unfortunate name-twin.
What really caused that accident? In reply to Charles Miller's letter to the editor in the December 11 New Times, he said he tried to keep an open mind while reading Eric Alan Barton's December 4 article, "The Blink of an Eye." Well, to truly keep an open mind in this case, Mr. Miller needs to turn left from Roseland onto Dixie Highway; then, and only then, can he honestly say he has an objective point of view in this case.
For the record, I am president of Antique Row Association, and I own an antiques store across the street from the fatal intersection. I have turned left off of Roseland onto Dixie Highway. I do have children, but I can assure Mr. Miller that when I have to make that dangerous left turn, my children are never the issue.
Let's examine this intersection. To make that left turn, one has to proceed into oncoming traffic to even begin to see if it is safe to cross; therefore, your car is already in an unsafe position to proceed. So, let's begin with the fact that this could have easily happened to Mr. Miller. Let's assume that he has a valid drivers license, a registered vehicle, insurance, and children and he is about to make this dangerous left turn. He proceeds onto Dixie to see if it is safe. It's already too late: Officer Morash fatally hits his car. Is this any more or less tragic? My point being, this could have happened to any one of us, but it happened to Sonia Ortiz.
Let me also state that Ortiz did commit a crime and should not have been driving, but this did not cause the accident. The lack of a traffic light at this intersection did.
West Palm Beach
Leave the kids out of it: In response to Mr. Charles Miller's letter to the editor in the December 11 issue of New Times, let me first say that I feel for Officer Morash's family and that this was truly a very tragic accident. But from reading "The Blink of an Eye" and other articles and letters about this accident, it sounds as if this intersection were truly an accident waiting to happen.
From reading the article and reviewing the graphic illustration shown in the October 18 issue of the Palm Beach Post, it would seem that Officer Morash was not only speeding on Dixie Highway but he was also weaving in an out of traffic with no sirens and no lights. Anyone who rides a motorcycle will tell you that if you decide to do this, anything that happens after that is your fault. Motorcyclists have to ride extra defensively, as motorists simply cannot see them in most cases.
This begs the question, if this were not a police officer, would this have been chalked up as another careless motorcyclist? We have all seen our fair share of police vehicles dangerously speeding up and down our streets with no sirens and lights. Officer Morash, if responding to a call, should have had his siren and lights on. This may have saved his life or at the very least increased his chances. This has nothing to do with "all those damn kids."
Marcus de Souza
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