In regard to the Undercurrents item about the Sun-Sentinel's Cuba coverage (March 22), any journalist trying to tell the truth from behind the lines of a police state is going to present a big fat target to that special sort of critic who likes to do his bitching from the gutless side of the razor wire.
But my question to you, New Times, is, hey, why don't you grow some balls and show your readers -- as opposed to telling us with a smirk -- how a journalist ought to comport herself in a place where people can and do go to jail for what they write? Hell, you're journalists. And it's not that hard to get into Cuba.
Tell you what. The next time New Times decides to run a big, risky investigative piece from behind the lines in Cuba, could you give me a heads-up? I sure wouldn't want to miss it. And you should probably give Vanessa Bauza a heads-up while you're at it. I'm sure she'll want to take notes.
Editor's Note: Belden is a former New Times staff writer. In addition, the column imprecisely used the word license to refer to the Cuban government's grant of permission for a Havana bureau for the Sun-Sentinel.
A maestro ruminates...:
Jeff Stratton's piece on Grant Hall ("Rock in a Hard Place," March 15) was magnificent. I was at FU*BAR for the May 2000 Alejandro Escovedo show, and it was indeed a disappointment.
As part of an act that has played original roots-rock down here for ten years, I think you hit on all of the problems except two: show times and centralization. Nine times out of ten, the shows start too damn late for the average 28-to-35-year-old altrock fan. My music has no real "dancing" element to it, and I have always been keenly aware of how few of my fans are capable of seeing a band that is forced to start at 11:30 p.m. on a Thursday.
For years I struggled to get people to come to 11 o'clock shows at Rose's and Stephen Talkhouse, only to be told that we're "really" starting at 12. People who like my music generally have to work in the morning. They need shows that start at 9 and end at 11, latest -- especially if it's a weekday. I play with Diane Ward, and it's the same thing.
The fact that FU*BAR and Churchill's are 35 miles from each other plays a role, too. It's not like a crowd can go musical club-hopping. If I go to FU*BAR, I either like what's coming out of the door, or I go to where? Cheers? Eight years ago we had three to four clubs in South Beach that you could visit on any particular night, and there was at least a chance you would get some unexpected traffic. These days you have to be dedicated to the idea of seeing a band. Otherwise you're stranded in Lauderhill.
One of the coolest gigs I've been to over the past years was the Humbert CD-release party, which took place in a small playhouse/movie theater. We need more of these types of places. I've given some real thought to only playing four to five gigs in town a year and renting out a place like this. I could use my own sound system and get whatever opening acts I could find to support my show. If a bunch of school kids can rent a playhouse for a night, why can't a bunch of rock bands? We'll see how it works out. I have to finish my album first. Again, thanks for an excellent article.
via the Internet
Of course Dr. "Norman Smith" ("The Doctor's Dilemma," Wyatt Olson, March 15) should sue his parents for slander. He's not a pedophile (as far as I know), and his parents know it. And their diatribes could harm him financially.
Also it appears his parents are in contempt of human decency. I suggest Dr. Smith call the police and have them arrested. They sound like they'd look good in prison garb -- and belong in prison. With parents like "Victor and Marie Smith," who needs in-laws?
Finally I'd like to point out to Dr. Smith that, contrary to his belief, his parents are anything but rational! Nut-jobs, kooks, hate-mongers, and lunatics are monikers that seem to fit them rather perfectly.
We ruin Carolina:
Hey New Times, why don't you go to France and ride the TGV? You sadly seem to be victims of American isolationism and provincialism ("Train in Vain," Bob Whitby, January 25). Drive somewhere in your state (as I last did in September 1999) and see how ugly it is. Its sprawl and strip-mall development are caused by reliance on cars, and there is no alternative transportation.
Then when you go to Paris, consider how it looks in comparison.
Maybe it's time Florida took the lead and showed some vision to the nation instead of first ruining itself, then western North Carolina.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Owing to a reporting error, New Times incorrectly stated the amount of aid distributed by Food for the Poor, Inc. ("Poor Ferdy," March 22). The charity distributes more than $150 million each year in aid to underdeveloped nations, not $1.5 million as reported.