Letters for October 6-12, 2005
Maniac on the Floor
For the rest of us, it's Loving Rene: Finally, someone wrote about our ever-so-popular underground dancer, a.k.a. "Homer" ("Lord of the Dance," Jonathan Zwickel, September 22).
I've known Rene for a few years now, from Crobar on South Beach to Gumwrappers in Fort Lauderdale. He loves to dance without care or rhythm.
A true free spirit -- he's one of the very few, and I'm glad that the world will be able to read this and see it clearly through your words.
He's not stuck in the underground anymore: I enjoyed this article a lot. Rene is a great cat and one of the hidden treasures of the local scene. Thanks for making him a little less hidden.
We knew him when: I really loved your article about Rene. It is really so nice to have someone finally put down on paper what all the friends of Rene have been thinking.
Thanks for putting a spotlight on something other than all the negativity that has been going on all around us. We need more journalists like you to remind us of the little things that make life better.
North Miami Beach
So Far Right, It Hurts
Compared to WFTL, Clear Channel looks good: Once upon a time, Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties were awash in stations broadcasting local talk radio ("Savage Station," Bob Norman, September 22). Topics were interesting, stimulating, and at times boring as hell. There was the "Urine Lady," who advocated the drinking of one's own urine for health reasons. Crazies claiming they represented beings from other planets. However, there were many redeeming programs: Our local politicians were held accountable; hosts of programs included attorneys and judges as well as radio professionals. There were lawsuits and talk hosts publicly pissed off at one another.
Then the feds changed the rules, allowing broadcasting companies to own many stations in a market. Radio was always about money, as is any responsible business.
By the time Hurricane Andrew struck South Florida, radio had already become formula, except for a few smaller-signal stations, and most of the local talk-show hosts were gone. Syndication ruled, and few local hosts were left. Those who survived completely changed their formats to go with the national market. WTMI, Miami's signature classical radio station, changed ownership. WTMI had a hell of a signal, spelling big money in advertising dollars, and Cox radio shelled out real big bucks. After a time, Cox radio gave up on its meager but enthusiastic classical radio listeners to suck up to a younger demographic where the money was.
In the current radio world of syndicated conservatism, there arose WFTL-AM (850), a live local talk station -- "an oasis of local talk," as Bob Norman wrote. There was a fun mix of local folk, Democrats and Republicans. Listeners such as myself could call in and have our moments of anonymous fame. Then one day, they were gone.
And so, 850-WFTL has gone Republican/conservative, as have so many others. As its radio personalities trash the poor and bedraggled in New Orleans, I think of Clear Channel radio, whose programming has changed. But in times of emergency, as during Andrew and Katrina, Clear Channel was there for us -- radio survivors such as Mike Wolf, John Levitt, Ed Arnold, newcomer Brian Andrews, and so many others with continuous live programming, taking calls from folk, providing contact 24/7.
Alan W. Rigerman
Palm Springs North
Like a Greedy Neighbor
Can they sell this stuff and still sleep at night? It is a joke that United Auto Insurance gets away with what it does ("The Bad-Hands People," Wyatt Olson, September 15). The company writes more than $260 million a year in business and pays nothing. It says everything is fraud but investigates nothing.
How is this company still in business? Because someone in the Department of Insurance is getting paid. United Auto also owns its own body shops, where it sends its insureds' cars to be fixed -- so it is getting paid twice. We must also investigate the agents; how can the agents in good conscience sell insurance to their clients when they know their claims will never be paid?
Via the Internet
The offer you can't refuse: Hmmm, Chicago, Miami, an Italian owner, corrupt public officials -- is this a modern-day, Al Capone, mobster type using auto insurance as a front? This begs the question: "If it smells like Mafia, looks like Mafia, must be Mafia, right?"
Another Lost Battle
Principle doesn't count: No pith here: I was trying to think of some pithy words to jot down about Jim DeFede, and I realize I don't have any ("The Agony of DeFede," Chuck Strouse, September 15). I just have raw exposed feelings: like one big giant sore that won't heal. If ever there was a community that needed a reporter as fine and principled as Jim -- it is this one. The Miami Herald bigwigs are morons.
Eyes Wide Open
Gary knew what he was doing: I read "Finding Gary" (Bob Norman, August 4, 11, 18, and 25) with much amusement. When I moved to South Florida in the mid-'80s, there had been and continued to be scores of people wanting to make a fast buck in the drug business -- whether it was driving a boat, flying a plane, acting as a lookout, or being a "kicker."
Gary Weaver made the choice to enter that business, and he knew the risks. The fact that he apparently kept it a secret from his wife is another choice he made. His poor choices cost him his life and left her "wondering" what happened to him. Put the pieces together, Donna. He was a drug runner who paid with his life. There was no government conspiracy or corrupt agent to blame -- only Gary himself.
In the September 22 issue of New Times, a story reported that Shooters owner John Wile is facing prosecution for bookmaking and conspiracy to commit bookmaking based on transcripts of a cell phone call that was recorded by the Broward Sheriff's Office in a larger investigation of a gambling ring based in Atlantic City. The story indicated that Wile is a minor figure in the prosecution and that he denies any wrongdoing. The story also cited Wile's litigation history, including a lawsuit he filed against former employees Mindy Thaler and Irving Perrone, whom Wile accused of embezzlement with the use of a sham corporation. However, the story incorrectly attributed to Thaler's attorney a claim that the corporation had been set up to provide for Perrone's retirement. In court documents, Thaler and Perrone actually claimed that the corporation benefited Perrone's handicapped child. The story further stated that in regard to another lawsuit, Wile had pulled Shooters advertising from a publication, Around Town, after Around Town published a negative review of his restaurant. In fact, a Shooters employee, not Wile, had pulled the restaurant's advertising before the negative review appeared. Also, Wile moved to South Florida in 2000, not in the 1980s, and purchased Shooters that year, not in 2002. New Times regrets the errors.
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