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Saturday April 30, 2005

On the Road

Critical Miami has seen a whole bunch of these cars on the road lately. To make a long story short, BMW bought the Rolls-Royce name, and this car is the first spawn of their white-glove assembly clean-room. You will be interested to know that they sell for $260,000, so, um . . . careful cutting them off.

And what the hell is this thing?! I spotted this 1940’s looking truck taking part in actual road-work (dredging?) on my way to work yesterday. Are we in Russia, or something? (Actually, it’s 9th and Washington on South Beach.)

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Friday April 29, 2005

Jimbo's

Jimbo's stretch shack

Virginia Key is one wacky place. It’s got a big water treatment plant, the Seaqaurium) that big marine animal abusing ghetto-disney of the ocean), and a big park with little more then a crappy beach. If you’re going to the park, it’ll cost you three bucks at the guard gate. Tell them you’re going to Jimbo’s, though, and he’ll wave you in for free. And he’ll give you a knowing smile: Jimbo’s is the best thing on Virginia Key.

Legend has it that Jimbo Luznar (The Friendliest Man On Earth) owns the northeastern tip of the island by squatter’s rights. His compound consists of a little dock, some trailers, and the most glorious shanty-shack in the whole county. Cats, dogs, and a few roosters wander around. Across a dirt patio area sit a few old, brightly-colored bungalows (Remember when Miami Vice went to the supposed Caribbean? Filmed here). A boogie-metal band plays covers on a stage riser under some mangrove trees. Old-timers play Bocce ball (and you can, too). And an indifferent person sells cans of beer and the most delicious smoked fish you’ve ever had (bring some potato salad and you’re done).

Bocce Ball On any given day you’re likely to run into local hipsters, fashion shoots, metal bands, friendly hippies, and Jimbo himself. Take a walk past some trailers and a beautiful wooden boat hull, and you’ll find a path that winds along some mangroves and a channel leading out to the ocean. At the north end, a clearing offers a spectacular view of the Port of Miami, Fisher Island, and the ocean. Did we forget to mention the Bocce Ball? Just go look at Jimbo’s amazing website. They’re so worried you won’t find the place they give you a map and a time-lapsed “how to find us” movie.

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Wednesday April 27, 2005

New Boondoggle

Well, it’s one step closer to official: the Marlins are getting a new stadium near (yes, near) the Orange bowl. Total budget is $420 million. The State legislature today agreed to kick in $60 million.

Critical Miami is generally so over Governments taking taxpayers’ money and giving it to sports teams (actually, giving money to any huge industry that obviously doesn’t need it) for no reason at all. We’re just going to say “good fucking grief,” and get on with our lives.

Oh, two more things. The vote passed the house 90-26 (hasn’t passed the senate yet, but does the house vote help you guess how that’ll go?). And another $75 million is going for a Nascar museum in Daytona Beach.

Critical Miami is going to start ordering everything from Amazon, because we’ll be damned if 6 cents on every dollar we spend is going to this crap.

Update (5/8/05): Heh. Turns out the deal didn’t go through, after all. Now we’re $30 million short of what’s needed for the new stadium. The Marlins are apparently talking to Las Vegas about the possibility of moving.

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S & S

S

The S&S Special is all the breakfeast anybody needs – ham ‘n eggs, hash browns, and toast. What better place to get it then then at the diner in Miami?

S

This place is tinny – a horshoe shaped counter, no booths, a window into the kitchen, and all the trappings of a classic. It’s been around since the 30’s, but can we please please loose the hideous wooden chef statue out front??

S & S Diner
1757 NE 2nd Ave.
Miami, FL 33137
305-373-4291

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Monday April 25, 2005

Fruit Loops

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

Florida Department of Agriculture employees cut down and destroy trees

We all saw the delightful headline:
Florida’s Supreme Court ruled that
$100 worth of Wal-Mart garden shop certificates
insufficiently compensate homeowners for the loss
of a citrus tree in connection with citrus canker infestation.
Duh. Really? I mean, it requires a Supreme Court,
even in a back-asswards state system like Florida, to determine this?

As much fertilizer as the citrus industry uses on its fields and trees,
it has spread even greater shitloads defending the practice
of removing private citizens’ trees to save its sorry thorned ass.
For example, while steadfastly maintaining that citrus canker renders the fruit
so unsightly that it loses its market viability,
the industry omits mentioning that most of the Florida crop ends up as juice, anyway—sold not for its cosmetic appeal but its yield.

But my favorite is the enforceable 1900 foot citrus canker limit

The Aggies won the right to remove any healthy tree
within 1900 feet of an infected one based on a study
it knows is legitimate because it paid good money to get it,
and knew Tallahassee goobers would buy it
because it would screw primarily south Floridians.
It sounds like alchemy to me, or elementary wiccinism,
but following years of litigation with the industry emerging victorious,
its cheers were drowned out only by the sound of chainsaws firing up once more.

So here’s my solution.

Step away from the trees! Get out of my back yard!
Drive your crews of arboreal assassins up to the commercial groves you want to protect
and tear out a 1900 foot trench from the outermost edge.
There. You’re safe from citrus canker,
and all the uninfected trees in south Florida are safe from you.
Yeah it cost you money but that’s the cost of doing business—your business, not mine, and not non-commercial tree-owners.

You squeeze the fruit.
We’ll take our chances.

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Friday April 22, 2005

Earth Day

A1A Construction I took A1A to work the other day, from South Beach to Hollywood Boulevard, and counted the number of construction sites I passed on that one street: 44. There is a weird time-travel quality to this trip; the gleaming, glass trump-phalluses share space with quaint relics whose days are obviously numbered. In a year this stretch of road will be very different.

Given that the clock on the wall says it’s Earth Day, there’s a few points to be made about what’s up with this. First, what’s being built isn’t going up on top of pristine beaches or protected estuaries, and what’s coming down is 40 – 60 year old one-and-two story mom and pop style motels, some of which are studies in kitsch and bad taste (but nevertheless interesting). This is a case of erection-swapping, as it were. There’s limited new environmental impact (“No cliffs, sands, or bluffs”).

AIA Construction That said, it doesn’t automatically follow that lining up high-rises on the edge of the ocean is a terrific idea, either. There’s the aesthetics of it – lots of beautiful new buildings are still lots of buildings – as well as the impact of a trillion people and their waste, traffic, mere presence to contend with. Plus the canyonesque wind tunnel effect: On a moderately breezy day, a fart in Golden Isles could carry down AIA all the way to South Beach. Speaking of Trump.

Critical Miami does not have a problem with times changing. We like new stuff! All we’re saying is that stuff is changing fast. Enjoy it before it’s gone.

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Wednesday April 20, 2005

OBEY!

Miami Performing Arts Center solicitation brochure Yesterday, I, along with every single person I know, got a copy of this schnazzy membership solicitation from the Miami Performing Arts Center. Bold direct-marketing moves for an organization that, last I heard, was looking for a way to pay for its seats, and which is an indeterminate number of years away from its first season. Well, ok, so how is MPAC doing these days?

The Center’s website says, “by December the building will stand at almost 92% finished.” Doesn’t sound too confident, huh?

That’s for good reason. MPAC was supposed to be finished in 2004, and cost $255 million. Now we’re looking at 2006, $419 million, and counting. Ouch!

Apparently the increases have a lot to do with squabbles between the architect and the contractor, each I guess accusing the other of incompetence. For example, the contractor ordered the wrong amount of steel for the project because, they say, the architect’s drawings were too vague to get a better idea of how much was needed. The county, who is overseeing all of this, had a real knock-heads-together solution: months of mediation to get the parties talking. That was back in 2003.

The thing that I’m vague on is how those amounts break down – some amount of the initial $255 million was picked up by taxpayers, and how much of the $164 million difference is being picked up by the taxpayers (something tells me the latter would be 100%).

As Henry Louis Mencken said: “The older I get the more I admire and crave competence, just simple competence, in any field from adultery to zoology.”

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Monday April 18, 2005

I-95 On-Ramp Traffic Signals

I-95 on-ramp traffic signal at 79th street

I noticed these cropping up in the northern part of Dade awhile back. I spoke to Ali K. at FDOT, who says activation of the signals has experienced a number of setbacks, and is currently scheduled for the end of July.

They’ll work pretty much as you would expect: if traffic gets too heavy on the highway, these lights will limit how many cars get on each hour. The upside is that traffic flows better. The downside is cars sitting on ramps and backing up on to local streets. Apparently after awhile people will anticipate this and seek alternate routes or travel times. Apparently cameras will monitor the backup, and release additional cars if necessary.

This is one of those things that books about the future predicted when I was a kid, so I can’t wait to see how it goes. I might be a little less exited if I used one of these ramps to get on the highway, though.

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Sunday April 17, 2005

La Vraie Difference

La Vraie Difference, 5912, NE 2nd Ave

We all love Tap-Tap. But there’s a nagging doubt about . . . well, its authenticity; it just seems a little too westernized. La Vraie Difference, in Little Haiti, leaves little room for such doubt. No menus; we were told that “Fish, spinach, and fish-kebabs,” were the choices of the day. We ordered the fish-kebabs, and (due to some glitch of communication,)
were served a suculent goat and cabbage stew, fried rice, and an entire plantain each. Tasty stuff, though (and vivid). Would have been even better if we’d though to order beer. A wall-mounted television played a video of a . . . actually, I’m not sure I can describe the video. Chad remarked, “I don’t know what to do with the rest of my life now.”

They do take-out, but believe me, that is not the way to go. Also, the guy at the next table had the fish, and it looked amazing.

La Vraie Difference
5912 NE 2nd Ave, Miami
305 758 1062

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Wednesday April 13, 2005

Ticket Clinic

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

Steve Klotz and his rare 1986 Toyota Corolla GTS

Ladies/Gentlemen/Lawyers:

Thanks for representing me in Traffic Court. Once more I emerge unscathed – no record, no fine, just your reasonable fees. A small price for freedom and piece of mind, right? I am convinced that the only way to avoid tickets here in the Banana Republic of South Florida (BRSF) is to stop driving altogether, but without a functional public transportation system, this alternative is not viable. Therefore, you, the Ticket Clinic and your assorted offshot ilk, you’re the real public servants, genuine heroes, and I thank you.

Insofar as your financial well-being is of interest to me, may I offer a pair of suggestions?

First, consider “brand loyalty.” In a competitive market like BRSF – ever count the attorneys in the phone book specializing just in traffic infractions? You might investigate ways to keep your repeat customers repeating. How about a Frequent Violator Program? The third violation within a 12-month period earns a significant discount, or the violator can choose to accumulate 2 more and the 5th one is Free. Not just a rewards program, but built-in incentives, too!

No? Then how about a series of rewards: In increments of 3, violators achieve gift levels we can either cash in for prizes or hold for even better, more valuable premiums. Maybe on the third violation, we earn free cellular telephone minutes; on the sixth a free cellular phone – for obvious reasons, encourage us to use these while driving. Maybe when we hit 10, we earn a lap dance at an emporium known for its police clientele. so we can celebrate with friends and acquaintances, and thank them for making the good times roll.

Second, with my official notice of purchased innocence you sent me a nifty themed refrigerator magnet, complete with phone number. Thanks, but let’s be practical—what about a bumper sticker or a windshield decal? You could emboss it with our assigned Frequent Violator numbers.

That way traffic cops recognize a sophisticated offender, and skip the usual law-and-order-responsible-driver-safe-streets blah blah urk urk oogah oogah bullshit with which they bore us to tears before handing us the illegible paperwork. It also means that when the cop finally roars off on his fund raising mission we can waste no time placing our calls to you, provide our personalized Frequent Violator Number (FVN) and get the legal process rolling. “When the cop’s on your tail, put the check in the mail.”

Just some thoughts from a loyal customer and stakeholder. Please drive carefully, but drive often, right?

Thank you.

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Not Home

Cover of 'Home Miami', 3/05: Versailles I saw this pretty, magazine-looking thing at Books and Books the other day, and I got all exited; a new magazine about Miami?

Well . . . no. What we have, in fact, is a glorified real-estate rag, with a couple of prefunctory articles (including a nice essay about the fiasco surrounding the Avery Smith house (which is around the corner from Critical Miami HQ!)). To top it off, it’s a chain (Ft. Lauderdale has one). Unless you’re desperate for something to kill 15 minutes, skip!

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