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The Corn Refiners Association says Bill Maher is not "reasonable," just "bizarre."

12:00 AM, May 3, 2005
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They also are depicted as constantly caught between quarreling factions within the larger law enforcement community, and, in the end, they come to question the very dedication that brought them into law enforcement in the first place. Anyone who thinks such individuals are being depicted as figures of unequaled glamour has not been watching very closely.

David Skinner writes that there were weaknesses in dialogue and characterization, but his two examples fail to convince me. Tubbs's response, "Like a bad dream" to the question, "Is Calderone still following us?" seems an entirely appropriate simile for one who has seen the drug dealer Calderone kill his brother, and who has repeated flashbacks of the awful event. It's no stretch to imagine that the scene inhabits his dreams.

David Skinner is also puzzled by Tubbs's adoption of a Jamaican accent--"without warning," he says. But Tubbs's background, with which a regular viewer would have been familiar from the pilot episode, indicates he was a New York police officer who worked a robbery beat. Is it so surprising that such an individual would have picked up the patois? The scene in which Tubbs comes across with his "Cool runnin', mon," (not "Ja, mon")is not, as Skinner says, an "interrogation scene" with a Jamaican drug dealer, but a meeting set up by Noogie Lamont to establish some rapport with the Jamaican. Tubbs is, after all, working undercover. We're hardly surprised to hear Tubbs say "Sit yourself down, mon," and the like. When the actual interrogation scene takes place, Tubbs has dropped his Jamaican accent.

I think David Skinner would agree that through a combination of accomplished scriptwriting, jaunty direction, and tour de force performances by Bruce Willis, John Glover, Bruce McGill, and others in guest-starring roles, the series exhibited a range of brilliantly delineated characters in addition to the central figures. But I believe the genuine significance of the series lies in its presentation of a kind of "neo-noir" on the small screen with its emphasis on the subliminal, allusive power of film. I cannot say that every episode did this, or that the series as a whole achieved it consistently. But when it did succeed, it gave to episodic programming in the '80s a whole new look and mood. David Skinner recognizes this ("Miami Vice remains visually compelling"), though I'm not sure he would acknowledge how very significant this is. For my own part, I'd argue that all those lovely visuals were put there to serve some higher aesthetic purposes.

--Steven

*4*

Chris Pope's argument that a gas tax is no way to solve the problems facing America is largely right. Imported oil, however, is a different story. Petroleum is used for more than gas and America produces much of the oil used in the gas sold here. Three large American problems could be ameliorated through a tax on imported oil. New domestic energy sources could be developed, billions would pour into the treasury, billions would cease to go to the treasuries of Middle Eastern (and Venezuelan) despots, and our trade deficit could be reduced. It is most economically efficient to have free trade in oil, but other American interests require even tax-a-phobic Republicans like me to look at levies on foreign oil.

--John J. Vecchione

*5*

I think Chris Pope's argument is sound, but would like to point out how relevant the same argument is to a sin tax on cigarettes, which burdens the most anxious in our society, the poor.

--Barbara Velen

*6*

Regarding Irwin M. Stelzer's Monster or Myth?, there is an uncounted cost to the rise in the price of gasoline and that is the amount of money companies reimburse their employees for business driving.

I have watched the cost of gasoline increase over 40 cents per gallon without seeing the amount I am reimbursed increase at all. I am left to cover the difference between what the federal government will allow my company to pay me and what my per mile driving cost is. And the increase in the price per gallon of gasoline is only the most obvious factor in all of this.

Now that the gas companies know we will pay, albeit grudgingly, over $2.00 per gallon, why would they ever drop the price below that threshold?

--Aaron H. Frank

*7*