Miami New Times
Letters to the Editor
April 26, 2001
Ah, to Be Young and Stupid Again
What a kick got out of destroying reputations:

Rebecca Wakefield's piece on the Vizcaya dinner for the king and queen of Spain ("You Are Cordially Invited," April 26) gave me a great rush of nostalgia. I was carried back to my days in the late Sixties, working at a precocious Boston weekly paper called Avatar (predecessor to the Boston Phoenix, which New Times hopes to one day grow up and become).

At Avatar writers were identified by their astrological sign (done with an absolutely straight face) and the masthead somberly noted: "Throughout history men have organized change, to alter the confines of the existing order, and to bring light into the dark places by sweeping away blindness, confusion, and fear. Long ago these tasks were begun by our greatest universal reformers -- Jesus, Muhammad, Moses, Lycurgus, the Buddha -- and carried to this century by countless visionary philosophers, political men, theologians, and revolutionaries.... Avatar is the symbol of community revival. Our goals are high, yet we are certain they will come to pass. For a long time we have remained convinced of the rightness of our task -- now it is time to bring our message to the world."

Having compared the paper's leaders to the greatest men who ever lived, we happily went about the business of smoking pot and peeing on the legs of anyone we thought was insufficiently like us.

God, it was great to be young, stupid, and free to treat journalism like a written version of a snuff film.

It was in this spirit that I read Ms. Wakefield's article calling me and several other attendees of the Vizcaya dinner "the grease" of Miami.

It's been years since I've been able to sling slime like that! In my day, of course, I could assassinate character with the best of them. Hell, I once called a local college professor a racist with absolutely no evidence and ruined his career. But the years and the grudging accumulation of knowledge and manners have slowed me down. I just can't do it anymore.

So Rebecca, enjoy this while it lasts. The ability to judge those you do not know. The assumption of moral superiority. The childlike belief that words are toys that may be manipulated and tossed about without consequences. These things do not last. You too will one day become weighted down with accumulated knowledge, judgment, empathy, perspective and -- if you are very lucky -- maybe even wisdom.

But this is clearly not an immediate threat.

Seth Gordon
Coral Gables


see also his: MEANWHILE: The war drags on, Avatar 12, 1967.