Amy Kaye, who became a familiar names around the Miami Herald for her fiery and pointed opinions expressed in e-mails and letters the editor, took her own life May 4 just minutes after sending me a startling last message: “Amy Kaye, 75, put a bullet through her head today outside the converted condo where she lived . . . “
Some 30 of her letters had been published in The Herald over the years. They’re worth remembering. Here’s a sampling:
From April, 2009:
In his April 12
entry under the headline A look ahead at the week in movies and TV, TV critic
and conservative columnist Glenn Garvin refers to The Cougar, in which young
men compete for the "creaky sexual favors of a 40ish woman."
For those who are in hiding from American television entertainment and who are fortunate enough to have something else to do of an evening, a cougar is a mature woman who owns a boy-toy. But how exactly does Garvin's sexism improve the situation? Does no one edit his work for lapses in taste?
And what in the world is wrong with The Miami Herald's female staffers that they don't object to this and other glaring examples of sexism in the paper -- like the soft porn "art" that periodically creeps onto Page 8A
From September, 2004:
How is Russian President Vladimir Putin's response to the Beslan school massacre - less democracy, more power in his hands - any different from President Bush's behavior since 9/11?
From January, 2004:
Re the Jan. 12
story 40-year squatter is booted out: Kenny Bethel has made his life and a
little money for 40 years, and nobody much minded. Now the army vet can't even
use a toilet when no one's around to be "frightened" or make a few
bucks picking up the golf balls.
Tell me this didn't happen to him now because the snoots from the new elitist cities across the highway don't want their game clouded by the sight of a homeless black man and his wife
From May, 2002:
From November, 2001:
How come I can
figure out what Osama bin Laden wants from us, while pundits and academics like
this columnist can't?
Bin Laden wants to return to what we call the Dark Ages and to be caliph of a united Muslim empire. All he wants from the United States and the rest of Western civilization is for us to get out of his way.
This endless prattle about hating us because of our political freedoms and economic excess only clouds the issue of why he would unleash terrorism upon our own shores.
From August, 2000:
Bravo to World
War II serviceman Bob Reno, who doesn't need any cold stone memorial,
especially on the Washington Mall. He writes that he has had his memorial for
55 years in our alive and vibrant United States of America.
Why are Bob Dole and company not satisfied with the Iwo Jima U.S. Marines memorial in Arlington? It is far more powerful and moving than the bloodless one planned for the Mall, it's in a proper setting, and it's been there, serving the purpose, for a half-century.
From April, 2000:
Re the videotape of Elian: Now do you get what this family really is all about and what its agenda is? Certainly not the little boy they've turned into a performing seal.
From September, 1997:
I have often
wondered how a man who date-raped a woman many years ago, when they were both
young, feels today as an older man when he reads this stuff, and it is or could
be his own daughter, and he realizes, maybe, that essentially we are talking
about him and a crime that he committed, except that he got away with it!
A few years ago I even attended a few sessions of a rape-survivors' group, hoping to find a woman my age, to inquire how it affected our lives. But they were all young, recent victims. Most but not all had been treated far better than I was.
I was a college sophomore, briefly living in the dorms while my parents were working out of town. The rapist was a student from one of my classes. It was a first date, we had gone to the movies and briefly to a college hangout for a beer. It happened on the way back to the dorms. I thought that he was insane and feared for my life.
I didn't realize
it for many, many years, until information became available in the media, but I
was surely not his first victim, and probably not his last. I had reported him
to university officials the morning after, when he approached me in the school
cafeteria as though nothing had happened. And indeed for him, nothing had, in
the sense that using brute force and intimidation was normal behavior for him.
The university treated me unbelievably badly providing me zero emotional support, even though my family was away. I was dragged out of classes, interrogated repeatedly, and even given a Rorschach test, tape-recorded without my knowledge, asked for the names of previous dates, and they, too, were interrogated and tape-recorded without their permission. The intent was to label me a tease in my own eyes and to blame me for what occurred.
To bring me to my knees and shut me up lest I say any more and embarrass the university, the administration took away my academic scholarship for the following year, illegally, I'm sure. But then, everything else that they had done was illegal also, at least by today's interpretation of civil rights.
To save my education, knowing even at 18 that there was no sense losing my education along with my virginity, I chose to say that what happened did happen, but it didn't matter. The rapist had told me outside my dorm that if he was "going down, " he was taking me with him, and there was every indication he could make good his threat. By that time the rape itself seemed almost insignificant compared to the university's behavior (rather like Hurricane Andrew and the aftermath). That summer my family received a letter that I could return, on scholarship.
I'm told that such an experience, particularly when there is no psychological counseling at the time, has a lifelong, negative impact on the victim. By the time I did speak about it in therapy, it wasn't high on my list of problems, traumas, etc., for which I was seeking help. Yet, who knows?
From July, 1997:
Almost weekly since the trial of the flight attendants' second-hand-smoke suit against the tobacco companies began here, The Herald prints a letter slandering the flight attendants and lawyers for allegedly greedily suing "deep pockets."
My father, a nonsmoker, died from emphysema and lung cancer because of a lifetime of secondhand-smoke exposure in hotel dining rooms, where he earned his living.
I'm sure that the workers' compensation doctors never told my father that he got emphysema from his job, even if they suspected it. He was retired by the time the lung cancer showed up.
The flight attendants don't just sue on behalf of their own occupation. They represent millions of sick or dead Americans -- waitresses, bartenders, musicians -- who serve us and are every bit as much victims of the tobacco companies' manipulation and deception.
From January, 1997:
Divorcing made easy It's no surprise the The Herald would editorialize against Representative Wise's campaign to do away with Florida's no-fault divorce laws.
Being in bed with the Christian Coalition may not be the most comfortable of accommodations, but in this instance it is correct.
Society must encourage laws that coincide with its best interests. Liberal, easy-to-get, inexpensive, no-fault divorce is a galloping plague that encourages selfish, irresponsible, and immoral behavior and the dissolution of the family.
From June, 1995:
The Herald is right to praise the new-found civility between President Clinton and House Speaker Newt Gingrich. How about some support for Hillary Rodham Clinton? She remained civil in the background while her hubby made nice with the man who called her a bitch and the one who served divorce agreement papers on his previous wife while she was hospitalized for cancer surgery.
Maybe after public opinion and the media succeed in getting politicians to clean up their rhetoric, we can go on to getting them to clean up their personal lives and family relationships, or have them pay the price at the polling booth.
From November, 1994:
I read TV Critic Hal Boedeker's column Nov. 1 with amazement (No ifs, ands or butts left for Caruso). Simply put, why do you hate David Caruso?
Surely his being an idiot and giving up the role of his career is not sufficient provocation for such overwrought contempt. Wouldn't pity be more appropriate for such typically human stupidity?
And anyway, a goodly portion of the blame for (Caruso's leaving the popular cop show NYPD Blue) would have to be awarded to (producer Steven) Bochco, who should have been willing to "pay" Caruso whatever his insecure ego needed to keep him. You can't possibly believe that (Jimmy) Smits, whatever his physical charms and previous successes, is going to fill the void. Or that (Dennis) Franz continuing to be wonderful will, either.
Why is it that critics, male critics anyway, just can't wait for the first character flaw to appear in any really good- looking actor, especially if he is capable at his craft (Don Johnson, for example)?
In my youth, long ago and far away, "hunks" were usually no-talent bums with no visible manifestation of intelligence and, for that matter, very little sex appeal, to me anyway (Rock Hudson comes to mind). Perhaps that is why Burt Lancaster's death was an occasion for such sadness. He was one of the grander exceptions.
I was so crazy about NYPD Blue (like Miami Vice, once upon a time) that I have almost boycotted it this year. I watch it with one eye, reading something with the other. I knew the first four episodes would have to be focused on Kelly's departure and would surely sacrifice loyalty to Kelly's character, as he was drawn so vividly in the previous season, in the process. I was right. Kelly would have never gone back with (Janice) Licalsi, though he would have stood by her as a friend and former lover (as he did as an ex-husband).
And by the way, what is your problem with Kelly frequently inquiring whether the other person in the dialogue is OK with that? Women LOVE that stuff and NEVER get it from the men in their lives because most men can't fathom the concept, let alone have the patience or commitment to learn to do it. Is that why you hate Caruso/Kelly?? Is there a significant other in your life who thinks he's great?
He's not really
good-looking, you know, at least not to me, and I could care less about his
naked behind. Women of my generation were not into buns. What Kelly's character
was that was so appealing was low-key, intense and sexually passionate, tough
as steel in his job but gentle with friends and tender with a woman, honorable
and loyal, loyal, LOYAL. And when he talked to anyone, he was completely
focused and he/she had Kelly's complete attention.
I never once heard him mumble, but then, I was really focused on what he had to say. Maybe you couldn't hear him because you just don't get it?
From March, 1991:
Re Herald staff writer Jacquee Petchel's March 11 article, "No health insurance, no hope, " about Carolyn Lamboley, who hanged herself at age 59 because she thought that Jackson Memorial Hospital collectors would take her house because she had too many unpaid medical bills after a mugging, which left her unable to work: This story gave considerable substance to a terror that many middle-aged -- or "aging, " as your story said -- women experience every day.
In fact, several of my friends told me that they thought of me in particular when they read the story because I'm 57, I was mugged though unhurt, and if I lost my job I would lose my health insurance, and if I were disabled, I couldn't work.
To my mind the
operative word here is "divorced." Divorced women such as Ms.
Lamboley make up what I call "the new poor." Stripped of any
security, any health protection, anyone to care for us if we are hurt, we
surely will constitute another tax burden for society by the end of this century.
From January, 1989:
I lost a temporary job because I worked for someone who didn't like the way I smelled after lunch (and a smoke). So as you suggest, workers already are being denied jobs if they smoke. The young woman who caused my dismissal, securely married for the moment, has no idea what it is like to be divorced, middle-aged, unemployed, frightened of the future or addicted. And she doesn't care. If we give such people the power to prevent people like me from doing even menial secretarial work, we may succeed in clearing the air a bit but the cost to our freedoms and tolerance for others' failings will be immeasurable.