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Sunday July 31, 2005

Performing Arts Center Preview

Last week we begged and pleaded our way into a tour of the Miami Performing Arts Center construction site. Here is a photo of the approach. Dead center is what was left of the Sears building, which MPAC will preserve (as a refreshment stand). To the left is the theater/opera house, to the right the concert hall. Immediately behind the Sears tower (to the immediate right in the photo) is what will be a black-box theater.

Now let us digress just for a moment. The Sears fragment is a great thing to have (not for nothing is a photo of it featured on the CM logo). But an architect insider pointed out to us that there were two finalist designs for the buildings, one by Cesar Pelli, the other by Rem Koolhaas. Now, Pelli is a fine architect with an impeccable reputation. But look at their respective Wikipedia entries, and tell us Koolhaas doesn’t look more impressive. Clearly Koolahaas would have given us the unique, world-class landmark building that the Center’s marketing tries to tell us we got. So why did they pick Pelli’s design? We are given to understand it’s because Pelli’s design preserves the Sears fragment. Now, the juxtaposition of old and new is a great thing, but this is a compromise that cost Miami a truly exiting building by possibly the most innovative architect of our time. (Also, arguments between Pelli’s office and the Center’s general contractor are blamed, in part, for the Center’s $167 million (at last count) cost overruns.) But enough dumping on the guy and on to the buildings, which are not unspectacular.

Here we see the main stage of the opera house. To the left is the back of the main curtain, directly behind the hardhat guy is the actual main stage, which will move up and down, to the right is backstage, and overhead is the rigging area. The photo is taken from stage left (there is no stage right). The enormity of this area is difficult to convey; the stage itself is the size of an airplane hangar; stageleft and backstage are equal in size and shape, so that three complete sets can be shuffled during one evening.

The same curtain is seen, from the other side, on the right in this photo. Clearly the audience area has a ways to go.

Crossing the bridge over US-1 to get to the concert hall. Pedestrian bridges between two buildings are always cool, but unless they’re expecting lots of people to catch two major performances in one evening, this one is mainly intended for the staff.

The concert hall is in about the same state as the first building. The scaffolding in these areas makes it difficult to get a sense of scale, but seating capacity is roughly equal in each. The concert hall does not have the complicated backstage spaces of the opera/theater house, but has large empty spaces behind the auidence with massive “sound doors.” When opened, the sound in the room reverbates (think of the sound in a cathedral); when closed, the sound is deadened (like a room with thick curtains and carpet). This way, the acoustics of the room can be tuned to the needs of each performance.

This is an artist’s rendering of the concert hall. None was around for the opera house, but we picture it looking much more like a traditional theater.

An interesting diagram of the opera/theater house. We’ve added the color coding: yellow is stage, backstage, and stage left, green is audience area, red is the Sears fragment, and blue is US-1. The football shape is a large plaza which overlaps the street.

You can see the plaza in this model. God help us, the street can be closed for events on the plaza. The black-box theater is the gray block at the back (Critical Miami predicts 90% of the interesting stuff at MPAC will be held there).

In addition to the bit about preserving a piece of history, the architectural justification of the design is the subversion of the front/back/sides paradigm of most buildings. That’s why one building has a glass facade on the south end, one on the north end, and other glass elements are scattered everywhere else. The building is situated so that it would not make sense to have it definitively facing in any one direction. To us, it sounds like “we didn’t want to catch shit for having the back pointed towards Overtown,” but a walk around the site reveals that it sort of turned out that way anyhow. Whatever: in another couple of years the area to the west of the Center will be razed and rebuilt with condo highrises. The Miami Herald building might be torn down. And FDOT has some wacky (and expensive) ideas for the area just to the Center’s south. And so continues the grand transformation of our city.

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Thursday July 28, 2005

Teele the End of Time

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

This is one work of art Miami is better off losing.

This entire affair was handled very poorly, and Teele should hang his (bullet-ventilated) head. Couldn’t he have hired a better producer? He drives to the newspaper, whines for a while in front of some low-level employees, then pops his own cap. B.F.D. You’d find a better sense of mission in a teenage suicide bomber. If you’re determined to off yourself, take somebody worthwhile with you—a fellow commissioner, a particularly obnoxious member of the media, even an annoying clergyman. In this town, the selections are endless. Show some ambition. Hell, wielding an automatic weapon, even a crazed postal worker—a unionized Federal employee, no less— displays more energy.

And why hand the fishwrap Herald an exclusive like this? Naturally, they blew it: where were the blood and guts photos; grey matter coagulating on the scuffed linoleum floor? Why no tapes of sobbing conversation, no sound of bullet entering brain on the website ready for download? And look how they handled DeFede, the real loser in this sordid Lilliputian tragedy—he gets canned by a dickless little fraud whose claim to fame is staking out Gary Hart’s townhouse, irreversibly ratcheting down American journalism yet another notch. “We have to maintain the highest standard of integrity,” sniffs the corporate mouthpiece. So that’s what they’re doing with those strip-club ads, Cal Thomas columns, and unedited reprints of self-promotional government press releases.

It was amateur hour staging, but Teele did us all a favor and saved us buckets of cash. Confronting various local and federal agencies, each elbowing the other to get to the front of the indictment express lane, taxpayers’ legal bills would have staggered a Saudi bank. No adjudication costs less than a bullet in the skull, particularly when the perp’s buying.

So, concluding this art review, while we have to turn thumbs down on presentation, we applaud the artist for his public spirit. The end justifies the means, and in fact he went out with a bang. We wish him every success in future endeavors.

[See all Articles by Steve]

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Wednesday July 27, 2005

HD Radio From the Future

All you people putting money down for XM and Sirius satellite radio might ought rethink your position. HD radio is coming, and it may make these pay services seem obsolete.

Here’s how it works: each existing radio station will broadcast it’s present signal, plus a digital sub-signal. Say 99.1 is your main signal; well, 99.15 might be the frequency of the digital signal. The sound is CD-quality, and the signal can contain non-sound information, such as track and artist names that could appear on your radio’s display. You’ll need a new radio (compatible units will be sold in new cars next year), otherwise you’re stuck with the analog signal.

It’s all over England already, so we’re playing a little bit of catch-up, but a bunch of stations are alerady broadcasting HD, including Power 96, which, Radio Ink reports has just launched a digital commercial-free all-dance station. Why commercial-free? Radio Ink editor Reed Bunzel writes: “They’re broadcasting under an experimental license from the FCC, which stipulates they can’t generate revenue from it for 12 months.” WLRN is planning three digital substations, at least one of which will play classical music exclusively.

Apparently, though, getting the radios is a little difficult so far; we stopped by Best Buy and the car audio guy had no idea what we were talking about. When you do find them, they cost well over $500. But prices will come down, and the units will get better. The guy in Best Buy will hear about them. Give it a few months.

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Tuesday July 26, 2005

MTV VMAs

Yes Yes y’all, the VMAs are coming to town again, with your pal Sean Combs at the helm (Speaking of Sean, has anyone noticed that his clothing line’s web site hasn’t been updated for over two years? Um, we didn’t think so. Not to hate, tho: we checked some of the threads out at Macy’s (the store formerly known as Burdines, the Florida Store, which, good riddence to that shit) recently, and the shit was top notch and very up-to-date 80’s retro. If P-2-da-D is looking for some web-design help we might be persuaded to step in…). Please spare us the economic impact bullshit, this is all about a weekend-long (tops) party for world-class celebs in Miami.

If they’d asked us, we would have told them to come back in November. Needless to say, they didn’t ask us. But, not to be discouraged, Critical Miami is going to be testing its newly found clout to try to get some press passes to the shindig (did we spell that right?). For you commoners, may be suggest the sweepstakes. For those with hookups, holla.

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What the Lobster Mini-Season, Which Begins Tonight at Midnight and Runs Through Thursday, Means for You

Nothing.

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Cellphone Tower of Love

Can you hear us now? No? Oh. (via BoingBoing)

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S-s-s-s-s-s snakehead!!!!

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

When you find out that the snakehead is also called Frankenfish,
you might figure maybe there’s a problem. And you’d be right.

One of 28 species of snakeheads native to Asia and Africa, the Northern Snakehead Fish grow to over 3 feet long and 15 pounds. Aggressive predators, they’ll gobble up fish, aquatic birds, amphibians, and even small mammals. They can survive in crappy water with little oxygen and travel across land: in fact, snakeheads can survive out of water for 4 days in search of a more suitable habitat.

All god’s creatures, right? Well these guys don’t belong in the western hemisphere any more than tsunamis or babaganoosh, and for much the same reason: they’re murder on living things, and environmental disasters. Presumably, some dolt decided he’d toss one in a sewage pond—apparently he bought it with the intention of eating the damn thing and changed his mind—and in no time flat they’d taken over an entire creek in the Potomac River system. (“They’re as bad as developers,” one fisherman growled. “Not quite as nasty, but almost as slimy.”) They’ve since been spotted (and caught) as far west as California, as far north as Wisconsin, and as far south as Broward County, where the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Fishing Hall of Fame proudly presides.

With all the uproar from fish and game agencies, sport fishermen, and environmentalists of every stripe and kidney, one would think that the IGFA, here in the angling capital of the country, would be leading the charge to eradicate these pests (the snakeheads, not the environmentalists). And think how “Frankenfish” would make for a terrific marketing opportunity for membership and environmental awareness! But a review of IGFA’s website turns up precisely one reference—from a months-old newsletter featuring a photo of a 3 foot specimen caught (and released) in Thailand. Notorious for missing the boat (pun intended), IGFA stays the course.

Meanwhile, in the unlikely event that you find yourself poling through the freshwater flats and you spot what looks like Kathleen Harris
before her make-up and morning coffee staring up at you, whack its ass to death without a second thought. Because your next encounter may be on highway somewhere as it heads for cleaner water and a better habitat. Hmm. Maybe we should follow it.

[See all Articles by Steve]

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Sour on Bellsouth

Contributed by Potato Head

“We’re sorry; it is not necessary to dial a 1 or a 0 before dialing this number. Please hang up and try your call again.”

This is Broken. When I’m calling someone in Broward from another part of Broward, depending on the combination of numbers you either must dial a 1, or you must not dial a 1 (same goes for dialing Dade from Broward). How can you tell which it is? Well, you guess. If you guess wrong, the Bellsouth Bimbo gives you the line above, but it’s a lie. She should say “it is not permissible do dial a 1 or 0 . . .” If you’ve dialed the number before you’re forced to remember whether to hit the 1 first, otherwise it’s trial and error.

Are there people in north Broward with the same phone number as someone in South Broward? Of course not (otherwise you would be connected to them if you did the “wrong” thing). But if everyone’s number is unique, why is Bellsouth putting me through this? Because of their incompetence, that’s why. This situation bugs the crap out of every single one of their customers, and they don’t care enough to fix it.

I got a cell phone, disconnected my home land line, and am no longer using Bellsouth phone service.

Can they do anything right? For awhile I was using Bellsouth web hosting. About a year ago, they switched servers (why, why, why?? everything was working), and suddenly my e-mail died. I called their tech support, and waited for the next available tech support specialist (insert your own joke here). I waited for four and a half hours. Got the guy on, explained the situation (a slightly non-standard DNS arrangement), and he told me what to do. Well, to make a long story short, it didn’t work. It took three more calls to Bellsouth, over four hours on hold each time, re-explaining the situation each time, before they fixed the problem. Mind you, this is for a $20 per month service which is easily available for $8 these days. I am no longer using Bellsouth web hosting.

For awhile, I had Bellsouth DSL. It crashed. Regularly. I am no longer using Bellsouth DSL. (And I might add that they’re engaging in the same pricing bullshit as many others; why should I care what the monthly fee is for the first three months if I have to sign a contract for a year??)

Steve may have good cause to hate FPL, but Bellsouth gets my vote for least competent Florida company. I was reading this article, and noticed a banner ad for Bellsouth above it – they’re running a sweepstakes for $10,000 for new customers (you may not be able to see the ad there anymore; they rotate them each time the page is loaded). There is some sort of parallel between that tactic and the one described in the article – two powerful entities employing desperate measures to stay in power, while millions wait for them to die.

Update: This post got picked up on This is Broken, where a suprising number of people from all over the country reported having the same dialing problems with their local tellcos. Maybe, for some unfantomable reason, there really is no practical way to fix it. We struggle to conceive how that might be (again, the system knows enough to tell you what to do, just not enough to DO it automatically), but surely the phone companies get complaints about this, and they must have looked at trying to fix it. Maybe the infastructure just is what it is?

Still, if the phone companies can’t fix it, we’re all going to drop our land lines and they’re going to die. Hopefully all that infastructure can be put to use as data lines.

Update (1.21.06): Bellsouth tried to extort money out of Google.

Update (11.03.06): We still use their DSL and web hosting at work (long story as to why); once, the service went down for a few hours. I called their tech support and got a recording that said something like “we are currently experiencing a high call volume and will be unable to take you call” and hung up on me.

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Monday July 25, 2005

State of the Blog

The good news is that we hit 4,000 page views last week. This should level off, at least until summer is over, but still nice. The bad news is that we noticed the site is pretty damned broken in Internet Explorer. We were going to fix this tonight, but people have been asking about Sophie lately (she’s doing great), and we decided to use our coding-time to pop her into the site. Hi, Sophie!

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Lazy Mornings

Turns out that Monday is by far the most popular day to read Critical Miami, which means we need some content here…but the A/C is down at CM Headquarters, and brain activity slowed to a crawl over the weekend. Then we remembered our pal Frances Nash, and checked back in with her. Luckily, she’s been up to good stuff, taking photos both blessed and profane, and penning a Rimbaudesque creed about, um, barnacles.

Also, we were looking at this Eve Interrupted, which is supposed to be a local publication for gay and bisexual women. There seems to be very little going on there these days. After clicking around awhile, we found Fay’s Column (known in the space of two pages variously as “Fay’s Opinion,” “Fay’s Chronicles,” and “Fay Stories”), which is nice enough. But compared to Frances’ site, what with comments, random links, and myspace page, Eve’s static pages start to seem a little innert (possibly their club listings are of interest to some). Maybe they close up shop for the summer? Sounds unthinkable from here.

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Saturday July 23, 2005

Trouble at New Times

It appears there is blogging-related trouble at New Times. The head honcho had to fly down from the Denver home office. All the relevant posts appear to have been taken down, though.

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Thursday July 21, 2005

Franklin

Oh shit, y’all! It’s Tropical Storm Franklin!

Update: Oh, and we’re going to get hit with an African Sandstorm.

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No XXX Spam for You!

The Lincoln Road based BangBus.com, New Times Miami’s Best-of Miami Best Website from last year, has just been given the big wet Federal Trade Commission smackdown, to the tune of $650,000, for sending pornographic spam. Ha! Right? Well . . .

On a related note, Critical Miami has received at least one hostile response to a recent e-mail we sent to some people we thought were our friends. It read, in part:

Federal guidelines indicate that you must have an unsubscribe link in the spam you send. Your email is in violation of this federal guideline. Please cease and desist from distributing unsolicited emails .

The response was cc’d to Spamcop, and, you guessed it: the Federal Trade Commission. In case the Feds are reading, let us just say that

  1. Unlike the Bang Brothers, we are not making money from this site.
  2. Our e-mail contained a picture of downtown Miami construction, not amateur girls giving slow, nut-busting cum-crazy blowjobs.
  3. Even still, we are very, very sorry. We apologize without reservation. Can you find it in your heart to forgive us?

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Spiegel Grove Unstuck

A great big boat called the Spiegel Grove was sunk in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary few years ago to create an artifical reef. Well, it somewow turned over while sinking, and maybe part of it stayed sticking out the water. So our fearless park directors (and it doesn’t say, but we bet the Army Corps of Engineers was involved) cooked up a plan to turn the boat back over; that’s the diagram you see above.

Well, it didn’t work. But good news: Hurricane Dennis turned it over for them. Apparently, this makes scuba divers who visit the wreck very happy, because diving in a boat that’s right-side-up is more fun that an upside-down one. Got all that? Then tell us why they care about this in India.

[More pictures of SG ]

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Wednesday July 20, 2005

Zapped

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

Florida’s farcically-named Public Service Commission approved FPL’s request to gauge an additional $441.9 million from its suffering customers. Allegedly, this amount is to help pay off the cost of restoring power after last year’s hurricanes. As a result, 4.3 million households and businesses dependent on Florida Plunder and Loot will cough up about $1.68/month for an average 1,000-kilowatt-hour residential bill through February 2008,

Throughout its campaign of greed and legalized banditry, FPL has claimed it hasn’t raised its rates in two decades. However, the company has passed fuel costs along to customers, boosting our bills exponentially. Check it out: the fuel charge on FPL residential bills was $40.09 in March 2005, compared with $19.80 in March 1999.

FPL Group last year logged $887 million in profits on revenues of $10.5 billion.

FPL noted that in direct surveys, consumers indicated willingness to pay higher rates if it meant quicker restoration of services after hurricanes. This would be like asking Miami Cubans if they’d be willing to pay an additional tax on limes and plaintans if it meant the end of Castro. Who would say No? The hell does one have to do with the other? Neither is happening.

So far this year, without a single hurricane, I have personally experienced 4 power outages in my residence, and two at my place of business. Attempts to get Boob from FPL to respond—ever try to get a living person on their customer service line? Do you even know what number to dial for customer service? There’s no room on their website to post it, brimming as it is with propoganda and smiley faces—have failed, but in the interest of tearing new assholes, I persist.

Got an FPL horror story? Please post it here.

[Previously: Service With a Smile ]

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Freedom Tower Fate, Tonight!

Freedom tower, previously discussed here and here, is being voted on tonight, at 7 pm. This would be a public hearing, where citizen input will be heard and taken into consideration. If you’re not sure you want to go and speak, consider the developer’s recent attitude.

Update: The Dade Heritage Trust is fighting this permit. They suggest you contact your commissioners (the site has contact information) and let ‘em know how you feel.

Update (7/21): When the board is split evenly, the issue is unresolved, and goes to the City Commission.

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Tuesday July 19, 2005

What's Wrong with Housing Costs?

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

Perhaps you picked up on the rumor that Miami is experiencing the most remarkable explosion in both building and real estate prices in the entire country. In downtown Miami, cranes (the building variety) now outnumber turkey vultures 3:1.

The downside seems to be that ordinary middle-class working people are being priced out of the market. Median price of existing single-family home is $354,900 in Miami-Dade; $367,000 in Broward. The Herald’s business section, spearheaded by chief hand-wringer Lisa Gibbs, has focused on the issue over the last few weeks, not providing any real answers, of course (it’s the Herald, remember?) but pointing out that it’s already a big problem, preventing local industry, schools, hospitals, etc., from attracting the level of talent the area needs.

“People aren’t willing to give up their more spacious living arrangements to relocate,” recruiters are saying. “They look at what it would cost for similar housing here, and decide they can’t afford it. So they stay put, and we lose them.”

Well pardon my sarong, as Bob Hope once said, but isn’t the real problem here the rate of compensation, not the cost of housing? Housing here would be affordable if Florida employers actually paid workers at a rate competitive with the markets where those workers are found.

I did some research. Here’s a comparison of average annual wages of major metropolitan areas throughout the country. Read ‘em and weep:

What’s the big mystery here? Why can’t the Herald figure this out? South Florida pays its employees at Banana Republic levels, ensuring a steady stream of mediocrity in its workforce. It’s immediately obvious to any newcomer: professional services, skilled workers, laborers, educators, journalists, even counter staff are below average. Every one of us has a horror story or ten about the low quality of work and worker one encounters in south Florida. It is one of many factors often cited in discussions regarding our status as a national laughingstock.

This only proves you get what you pay for. It ain’t the housing that’s the problem, Sherlock, it’s what you’re paying the housed.

[See all Articles by Steve]

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Miami Ink, Tonight!

Miami Ink, previously discussed, premieres tonight on The Learning Channel. The New York Times raves.

[The NY Times site requires annoying registration. Here is the link to Bug Me Not, for those who prefer not to register.]

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Monday July 18, 2005

Two Cuban Films

Cuba: Beyond the Pearl of the Antilles will be screened this Thursday at Tower Theater. We bring this up because you need to RSVP for a free ticket, and it sounds like they might go fast. The movie focuses on the Jewish Community in Cuba, and from the photos it looks like much of it was shot there. One wonders why there isn’t as much of a stink about it as the now infamous Love & Suicide, but there you have it. Beyond the Pearl was a part of the Miami Jewish Film Festival in March but, confusingly, it’s not part of their mini-fest, which begins Sunday.

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Irreducible

Oh geez, isn’t yet another video show just about the last thing Miami needs? MAM has one up right now (recently reviewed), MoCA had one within the past year, and the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood had one about a year and a half ago. With all this exposure, another video show at an upstart museum needs to do a lot to justify its existence. Let’s forgo the suspense, and say that Irreducible, Contemporary Short Form Video at Miami Arts Central does so very much. Lavish, beautiful, and deep, Irreducible is the sort of show that just might win over some staunch anti-conceptualists.

Whether by magic, craftiness, or sheer force of cash, MAC has the curatorial strength to get world-class work in apparently any genre they choose, and while this exhibition is less star-studded then their previous (The Last Picture Show: Artists Using Photography), it is no less dazzling. Their ability to get the good stuff is matched by the money to show it right: the work is displayed variously on over 40 different monitors, projections, and flat-screens, with sound variously provided by loudspeakers, headphones, and parabolic speakers. Four pieces have had special sound-insulated darkened rooms build for them. Classy.

One of the most stunning pieces in the show is also one of the last the visitor encounters. Eva Koch’s Approach features a voice-over reading a passage from Dante’s Comedy while fourteen people perform the text in sign language. Arranged in a tight group in the middle of a circular plaza, the signers, dressed in white, gray, and black, function as a group of synchronized dancers, an effect accentuated by the intricate camera-work. The sound of their hands working can be heard, mixed with the single voice to sublime effect. The visual and aural effect is strong enough that it is not overpowered by the beauty of the words, but rather engages with them to produce a third layer of poetry, which is neither visual nor verbal.

Right next door, The Game of Tag has a group of naked people of varying ages playing tag in a cave-like room. It’s primal and frightening at first glance, but one comes to realize that they’re having uninhibited fun—something to envy.

A couple of the works feature a single inspired act, sometimes verging on prank. For example, in Ptáci (Birds), Czech artist Jesper Alvaer opens a bag of popcorn in front of a video recorder placed on the ground. The resulting flurry of pigeons, just over a minute long, is so intense that the video ends with lens is pointing in a different direction then at the beginning.

The idea of a prank is taken to the Nth degree in John Wood and Paul Harrison’s Hundredweight. Six monitors each display the same room from overhead. The room has grey walls and a white floor, forming a static rectangle on each screen. A man in the room performs various prop-assisted activities, each of which transforms the apperance of the room for a brief period. In one sequence, the room begins with black plastic pipes standing on end, pointing up towards the camera. The man knocks one of them over, which in turn knocks over the rest of them; they come to rest in an geometric pattern of crossing black lines on the floor of the room. In another sequence, a pair of paint sprayers are turned on a chair, casting paint “shadows” on the floor behind. Other props include lighting, fabric and plastic sheets, balls, and rubber bands, but what impresses most about the piece is its visual relationship to painting, not just its inventiveness.

Pictured with this article is Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla’s Returning a Sound, in which a young man rides through a landscape on a moped with a trumpet attached to the muffler, improbably resulting in a strange, endless melody. No interpretation of this piece’s odd power feels satisfactory: it is not a joke, a narrative, or an experiment. There is no glee, celebration, or development. There is only the wordless fascination of looking.

To be sure, not everything in this exhibition is successful. A few pieces, such as Yael Bartana’s Kings of the Hill, seem a better it for documentary treatment then an artistic one, while Aernout Mik’s video of jumping people is boring to little effect.

In a show with so much excellent work, a few weak pieces can be overlooked. But when it comes to presenting work, the MAC’s reach sometimes exceeds its grasp (ironically, their failings often fall in the realm of technology). On the day we visited the exhibition, two pieces were down for technical reasons. If that can be forgiven, the following cannot: in the interest of slickness, a number of pieces in the show employ wireless headphones, which work much less often then not. During the opening reception, we experienced all sorts of interference on these sets. But on returning on a regular day, the problems were multiplied by sets with dead batteries, incorrectly set frequencies, and generally poor-to-nonexistent reception. At least one piece had had it’s wireless headphones replaced with (much less impressive) wired ones; the same needs to happen to the rest of the pieces in the show (perhaps the biggest name in the show, Gillian Wearing, had her piece rendered moot by malfunctioning wireless audio).

Sadly, these failings are consistent with the MAC’s short record of multimedia presentations. During the previously mentioned Last Picture Show, demigod Martha Rosler came to speak about her work. At a podium set up in the middle of the audience of over fifty, Rosler had to choose witch half of the group would hear any given sentence of hers, because the MAC apparently could find no PA for her to use! To add injury to insult, the attendees got to see Rosler’s slides, but not the new work she had on her iBook, because apparently the MAC doesn’t own a computer video cable. So please, guys, a little less razzle-dazzle in the future, and a little more functionality. But otherwise, we can hardly wait to see what the MAC has in store for us in the future.

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Everybody Must Get Stoned

[Contributed by Potato Head]

I’ve been giving some serious thought to Glenn’s post on medicinal marijuana, and I want to share some of my thoughts.

Now, Glenn’s heart may very well be in the right place. He may want sufferingl glaucoma patients to be able to get relief from the cops that surely storm their homes and arrest them daily. But let’s be serious . . . medicinal marijuana activists, 99% of them, are not interested in glaucoma patients, except as a means to an end. They are hippie stoners.

Don’t get me wrong—I like hippie stoners. Some of my best friends are hippie stoners. But let’s level with each other for a minute. The people who are fighting for “medicinal” marijuana are the same people who say things like ‘all marijuana use is medicinal.’ They want a medicinal marijuana law passed because it will make it easier for them to score good Canamo.

Some friends of mine live in San Francisco, where “medician” dope is legal. Here’s how it works: You go to a MM “clinic,” where you’re given a form to fill out, with check boxes for allowable marijuana “ailments.” A “doctor” sees you, and $125 later you have a script for legal pot. Take it to one of many cannabis clubs, where any number of different types of weed are available for sale. And we’re talking primo weed here (not that you can’t get decent stuff in Miami now).

Do we really need to argue that legalizing drugs would be good for the US? Of course not. Actually, if you want to lie about it with this medicinal marijuana stuff, that’s fine too. Let’s get out there and legalize pot!

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Saturday July 16, 2005

Unlicensed Plastic Surgeon on TV

Last month, a fake plastic surgeon up in Weston was arrested for parcticing without a license. For some reason, stories like this seem to be a staple in South Florida. What makes this one special is that lots of women made the trip up there for their surgeries because, as the Herald reports, this particular doctor, Gregorio Nosovsky, was featured on two local spanish TV shows, Maria Elvira Confronta and Hoy en Marta Susana on Univision.

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Friday July 15, 2005

Service with a Smile

An occasional series on hurricane season
[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

Called my contact Boob at FPL (Florida Plunder and Loot) to see how the power company’s hurricane program was faring in this record-setting storm season.

“We’re extremely proud of our team and our record,” he enthused. “Dennis gave us opportunities to really strut our stuff.

“Any power company can have shut-offs and break-downs in the teeth of a storm—hell, at FPL, we write the book on that every year!—but with Dennis cruising up the Gulf and striking the Panhandle, we managed to have major blackouts as far away as northern Broward, Port St. Lucie, and even a few thousand in Duval—Jacksonville! They were out for hours, because we could tell ‘em our people were all committed to those storm victims up in Escambia.”

Great work, Boob. Any injuries?

A few losers got fricasseed when they stepped on downed lines, but, not our people. We never go out in the rain, you know. Customers can wait: what’s their choice? Go to the competition? Ha ha!

“So far this storm season, in the state of Florida alone we’ve clocked well over 23,000 interruptions in power, many on perfectly clear days with no ostensible cause. Broward had one just last night, in fact: no wind, no rain, no traffic accident, nothing except a 22 minute outage that screwed up the alarm clocks, computers, coffee makers, and security systems in entire neighborhoods. That puts us ‘way ahead of last year’s mark at this time.

And just think—it’s not even August!”

I thank him and ring off. Gotta admire a guy with such pride and enthusiasm for his job, y’know? Good thing he deploys his powers in the service of Good, not Evil.
Maybe I’ll send complimentary note about him to his boss.

[See all Articles by Steve]

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Wednesday July 13, 2005

You Can Learn to Drive: Part 2

With the recent lane-signal law change, this seemed like a good time for more driving tips.

1. Signal your lane changes. Please? OK, fine. But at least don’t cut people off. Some of us are constantly running late, and we’re trying to hurry. If you’re on I-95, don’t be in the left lane if you can maintain your same speed in one of the other lanes. The left lane is for passing, or going fast. Note that the new minimum speed limit on interstates is about to become 50mph, so clearly you do not belong in the left lane if you’re going 55.

2. Some fast food places, and other places, have dedicated ‘entrance’ and ‘exit’ lanes. Please heed these, otherwise Tom, from the Grapevine, might have to kick your ass.

3. Speaking of parking lots, we all have to get along. If you’re walking through a parking lot, don’t walk where you’ll unnecessarily inconvenience traffic. (That means, walk perpendicular to the sidewalk, not diagonally!)

4. On the other hand, if you’re driving, give pedestrians a break. In the rain, pedestrians always get the right of way.

5. It is acceptable for cars to cut off SUV’s. It is not acceptable for SUV’s to cut off cars. (If you drive an SUV, keep in mind that cars behind you are in an inherently dangerous position.) It is acceptable for anyone to cut off taxis and limo drivers.

6. Highway debris kills people. If you see a truck with crap that’s about to fall off, call *FHP and report them (hell yes, get on your cell phone, dangerous as that is, you’re saving lives).

[Previously, Part 1 ]

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Tuesday July 12, 2005

Pirate Radio Station Shut Down

“All kinds of other things use radio signals – military, airplanes,” Stein said. “Pirate signals could be jamming different signals that could put people in danger.”

We are not buying it. Pirate radio stations give people what they want, and cost the government a little bit of extra money. Please e-mail us frequencies you pick up, along with style of music and where they seem to be strongest, for a Critical Miami Pirate Radio Station Guide!

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Haitian Teen Allowed to Stay in US

Read it and weep. When will we stop putting people through this agony?

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Miami Hummus

This is the first Critical Miami exclusive recipe. Super-delicious, and equally suitable for broke-ass-living and fancy entertaining. The only downside is the need for a food processor, but you can get one cheap these days (get a big one, preferably with as few “features” as possible). What makes it “Miami” is the lime and the black beans; a more traditional variation substitutes lemon juice and skips the black beans.

2 19oz. cans of CHICKPEAS
1 15oz. can of BLACK BEANS
1 regular can of TAHINI
1 (or more) cloves or GARLIC
1/4 cup of OLIVE OIL
2 LIMES
1 tablespoon CUMIN
SALT, PEPPER, and CAYENNE

Crush and peel as many cloves of garlic as you dare, but keep in mind that you will be eating them raw, so be careful. Pop in a food processor with a few chickpeas, and let it rip a few seconds (just enough to give the food processor a chance to chop up the garlic). Juice the limes and add the juice, and all the other ingredients, and process until super-smooth. When possible, remove from fridge a couple of hours before serving – tastes best at room-temperature. Notes for non-experts:

  1. The lime juice is to taste; you may want to add it bit by bit and taste each time, but don’t be afraid to make it strong.
  2. The cayenne is totally optional. Also feel free to add other stuff; roasted peppers might work?
  3. Progresso black beans work well for this, because the sauce in the can is relatively thin, and easier to rinse. Kirby is much better for black beans and rice, when you will want to use the sauce.
  4. Supposedly it is possible to do this in a blender instead of a food processor, but be careful, do small batches, and add extra lime juice (or water) to make everything thinner and keep from frying your blender.
  5. Tahini is paste made from sesame seeds. Find it in the Kosher section of Publix. Cumin is in the spice isle (spring for the more expensive stuff).

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Bastille Day

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

We have the great pleasure to inform you that the French American Chamber of Commerce of Florida, French Tuesdays, and Union des Français de Floride organize together a spectacular Francophile get together for Bastille Day where we expect more than 2,500 people.

Got that e-mail last week. Following its fractured English further, one learns that this madcap celebration happens Thursday, 7/14—Bastille Day!—at Lounge Restaurant Yagé on Key Biscayne’s marina.

Bastille Day commemorates the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, the event that begat the French Revolution. A prison and symbol of the absolute and capricious power of Louis the 16th’s Ancient Regime, at the time of its takeover the fortress housed exactly 7 prisoners. Both guards were on a Gaulois break. A loyalist messenger fled to Versailles to warn the royal family that trouble was brewing like Café au Lait.

“The people of France are revolting!” he cried (words that remain true today).

The King and his Austrian bride, Marie ‘Let Them Eat Cake’ Antoinette, huddled with their advisors. A course of action was determined within minutes. “We will surrender,” proclaimed Louie the Louse. “Maybe they’ll leave us alone.”

Three years later, thousands of citizens packed a Perrier and picnic lunch and strolled to the public square for a show. Alternately cheering and munching on quiche, they hoisted their children to their shoulders to watch as Louie and Marie Antoinette were dragged to the guillotine, butchered like swine, and force-fed to geese for a foie gras feast 2 weeks later. Grainy footage of the deposed Head(less) of State lying decapitated on the cobblestones appeared that night on Al Jazeera—even then the French and sinister forces in the mideast had established contact—and the Bastille itself was sold to south Florida developers for conversion to condominiums.

The Cradle of Culture. This should be a hell of a party, n’est-ce- pas?

[See all Articles by Steve]

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Cuban Hurricane-Related Propaganda

This Cuban newspaper reports that Cuban exiles in Miami are calling for the embargo to be lifted. Pretty impressive that nobody in Miami noticed anything about this. Actually, the whole site is worth poking around a little; interesting stuff.

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Cafeteria

Ok, let’s get the hype out of the way: Cafeteria is a legendary Chelsea restaurant who’s owners were supposedly begged into opening a second location (in the whole world, understand?) on SoBe. The premise is gourmet treatment of diner food (think meatloaf and mashed potatoes), in a mod setting, open 24/7. A good gimmick, that.

The restaurant opened with fanfare, but suffered from reports of horrible service, sadly not unconfirmed on our visit. But nevermind: the place is beautiful, tastefully grafted into what originally used to be the Lincoln Road Cadillac dealership, and the food is wonderful. Our salmon was delightful, served with some mighty delicious couscous and marinated tomatoes (the menu called them sun-dried, which they weren’t), all over a slightly sour yogurt cucumber sauce. A pizza with chicken, broccoli, whole cloves of roasted garlic, and two types of cheese was yummy, and big enough to feed two generously.

Now, the sad fact is that as the restaurant filled up, our waiter became pretty scarce, giving some validation to the reports of bad service. Whatever – it’s a fun place to hang out. Considering the great food (and the location), the prices are downright reasonable. Almost seems like a decent place to become a regular at.

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Monday July 11, 2005

Boaters Gone Wild

This photo, badly scanned by Tropical Times from the keys edition of the Herald, shows what is apparently a well known spot for collective bacchanalia, off the coast of Islamorada, in the Keys. Seems the sandbar falls outside of Monroe County Sheriff’s traditional jurisdiction, which allowed people to do whatever they wanted. At least while it stayed semi-secret. Recently, things have been getting a little out of hand. From the Herald article:

Partygoers at the sandbar . . . have imbibed booze and done drugs, had public sex, lost toes in boat props and spawned nasty brawls. In one recent case, one man allegedly tried to kill his girlfriend in plain sight.

And from the Tampa Weekly Planet:

Though the filmmakers have been gone a whole year now, those neighborhood-watch wannabes apparently are still talking about the producers of Girls Gone Wild at the sandbar. More recently, in May, realwildgirls.com did some filming—but “we busted them and confiscated their work just as they were ready to leave,” the Sheriff’s Office district chief proudly recounts.

Spoilsport. The last straw, apparently, was when members of a Suspension Team set up a bamboo tripod and were hanging from meat hooks in their backs. Great. Attempted murder is no problem, but consenting weirdos doing something they enjoy results in a police crackdown. Can’t people be allowed to do whatever they want?

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Saturday July 9, 2005

Later, Dennis (Updated)

Tropical Storm Force Experimental Probabilities - 120 Hours

In a few hours, Dennis will be somebody else’s problem. Not too much action here, a few dramatically knocked over trees and lots of water. Don’t get too comfortable, though: another one is forming in the middle of the Atlantic as we speak.

Note: National Hurricane Center added at to links list.

Update: Hello, Emily!

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Friday July 8, 2005

The Weekend

Friday
The Ft. Lauderdale Museum of Art opens the South Florida Cultural Consortium exhibition, which includes Critical Miami pals Tommy Nolan, Charo Oquet, and Ricky LaBarbera. Also opening is Going, Going, Gone? Mid-Century Modern Architecture, which looks interesting. Don’t bother with the museum’s web site, unless you want to hear more about the King Tut exhibition, which opens in December, then about the one opening tonight.

7 – 10 pm (just guessing – they don’t say)
Museum of Art, Fort Lauderdale
1 E. Las Olas Blvd, Ft Lauderdale
954-525-5500

Saturday
Theoretically, the Second-Saturday art walk, with cool stuff happening at Rocket, Dorsch, and the Rubell, although the weather will be an issue. We’ll let Go See Art handle all the information, although someone should point out to that three shows opening at Dorsch does not make for three opening receptions.

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Thursday July 7, 2005

London gets Pegged

Off topic, but here is a good round-up of information related to the London bombings.

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The Boys are Back in Town

The U.S. Navy Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (along with a smaller escort ship) has been parked in the Port of Miami for the last few days. No further information avaliable, although, suprisingly, the ship has a detailed website.

Note the construction of the boring new terminal structure behind the rear of the ship.

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Suck It Up, Jesse

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

It’s always fun to cheer for the underdog, even when the underdog is a manipulative weasel. But perhaps we’re getting ahead of ourselves here.

It took 4.95 million taxpayer dollars—that includes some of mine, and a few of yours—to buy out Jesse James Hardy. Hardy has been perched amid the Everglades for 3 decades in a house of his own making (he claims) with electricity powered by a generator, and gas from a propane tank. The land itself is a failed development that was to be called the Southern Golden Gates Estates; it was gridded and partially dug out before it was abandoned. He bought 160 acres in 1976 for $60,000. Not a bad rate of return.

The state pressured him to leave, claiming the area he lives in is a critical part of the Everglades Restoration project, and should be flooded to restore fresh water flow. But standing on his inalienable rights as a property owner, American citizen, military veteran, and stubborn fly-blown self-aggrandizing redneck cracker, he ain’t going anywhere, damn your eyes. The hell good is this country when a red-blooded white man like himself is forced to sacrifice his pigsty paradise just to preserve a unique and irreplaceable ecosystem for a mere $4+ Million profit?

There’s always something distressing when an entire government brings its weight down on an individual or a select group. Essentially, it stinks of everything wrong about the abuse of power. And whether or not it’s a lifestyle we’d choose for ourselves, he chose it. It’s not like he was doing anything as horrid as breastfeeding at Starbucks.

But none of us really owns the land we live on. Ownership is a convention, an agreement, and as earthlings, a terribly temporary arrangement. It was wrong to even start construction on this ill-begotten Levittown-by-the-Landfill; it was wrong for him to dig a limestone quarry there; it was wrong for the state to encourage cluster-fuck development; it was wrong to treat the Everglades like plumbing in a drain-field, and it’s wrong for him to stay there in light of this last-inning, and perhaps futile attempt, to repair a century of damage.

So quit your goddam whining, Jesse. Five million bucks buys a lot of DEET and deodorant. If you had played this differently, you might be called a genuine hero today, not some selfish symbol of flag-waving right-wing zealots, who are using you as a stick to beat evil commie environmentalists. Pack up, move on, and fade from memory. The mosquitoes will find something else, and maybe better tasting to eat, and the rest of us will get over the money we spent to flush your ass away.

[See all Articles by Steve]

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Casa Casuarina

The Summer issue of Vive, an otherwise crappy womens’ magazine, has an interesting article (actually, it’s more of a photo spread) about the Ocean Drive Versace mansion we previously alluded to. Nothing interesting in the article beyond what New York Metro reported a year and a half ago.

Here comes (not that we were asking for it) South Beach’s answer to Soho House. Early next year, the Miami mansion formerly owned by Gianni Versace, who was shot and killed on its steps by Andrew Cunanan six years ago, will become Casa Casuarina, a members-only social club. Three years ago, telecom magnate Peter Loftin bought the mansion for $19 million, but it’s presumably too pricey to keep up as a home. “It will be a classy refuge from some of the craziness of Miami,” trills a mouthpiece. (We decided not to point out that classy, by definition, would necessitate a non-Miami Zip Code.) Perks will include food by Miami restaurateur Barton G., massages, and outdoor screenings. The founding committee and membership price are yet to be determined.

Update: How could we have missed this??

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Wednesday July 6, 2005

Let's Lower the Voting Age

Miranda outside the Florida state capitol in Tallahassee. As Glenn pointed out, Florida is one of the minority of states that allow ballot initiatives.

And boy do we ever take advantage; there are a bunch of folks pushing their ideas this very minute. The best one, though, is from Miranda Rosenberg, who is trying to get the voting age lowered to 16. She’s 18 now, but she’s been at this for three years, and is not about to give up. Her web site has a petition you can download and sign (it also has a petition for her dad’s ballot initiative, which would require Florida state legislatures legislators to pass the 10th grade FCAT—are good ideas running in this family, or what?).

Right now, she’s not doing too good, but she has three more years to get the 611,009 signatures she needs to get this on the ballot. Please, everybody, let’s make this one happen. What could be better then 16-year olds voting?

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Tuesday July 5, 2005

How Cool are You??

You think you’re cool? We’re so cool that our doctor sends us crazy random Viagra spam. (Note his Yin Yang “a/c” logo.)
[Click image for full-size.]

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Patriot

Patriot Missile System See update, below! Well, we survived the 4th; no reports of people killed by stray bullets (the graphic plea has been pulled off the Miami-Dade web site). Yes, we got to see the fireworks. Big deal. Fireworks are not impressive, but then neither is the old saw about how blowing shit up is a piss-poor way to celebrate our national heritage.

You want patriotism? How about orphaned children from around the world becoming American citizens. Actually, there’s something sinister about this. These kids want a safe place to grow up, and we force them to pledge allegiance to our flag. While you’re at it, kid, you’d better pledge some allegiance to our massive national debt, which you’re going to be paying the interest on your whole life. And get to be drafted when you turn 18.

This so-called patriotism is sick. You want to be a patriot? We suggest making a distinction between our country (good), its people (a mixed bag), and our government (pretty ugly).

Update: This 13 year old girl was hit by a stray bullet shot into the air, Iraq style, in celebration.

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Sunday July 3, 2005

Miami Ink

You’re sleeping, and you wake up in the middle of the strangest dream. You’re watching TV, flipping through the channels, and you land on TLC . . . a partially undressed girl is having something done to her; a massage? a facial? No, she’s getting a tattoo. As you watch, you realize it’s a reality show, set in a tattoo parlor. Weird. Then someone says something that makes you think the show’s taking place on South Beach. Surreal.

There’s pain, blood, exitement, skin, and an endless parade of of weird but cute boys and girls. Well, dream no more.

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Saturday July 2, 2005

Seatbelts and Wine

When the mandatory seatbelt law was passed back in the 90s, part of the deal was that you couldn’t be pulled over for not wearing a belt; the penalty could only be applied if you were pulled over for another valid reason. No more; As of July 1, “police can stop a vehicle if drivers or occupants who look to be under the age of 18 are seen not wearing seat belts.” Fine, whatever. We think everyone should wear seatbelts anyway. But we don’t think it’s the government’s business to make us do so. Boring old libertarian and slippery slope arguments…

More new stuff: We previously reported that you don’t have to signal lane changes. Sadly, this has now been changed. Not only is Critical Miami going to have turn signals installed on its fleet of cars, but we just lost some good rant material. On the plus side, the Florida legislature has granted us the right to bring half-finished bottles of wine home from a restaurant.

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Friday July 1, 2005

Digable Planets @ I/O

Out of nowhere, the Digable Planets have re-united and are touring. They’re at IO Lounge Sunday, live band and all. We saw them back in the day at Cameo Theater, so this counts as pure nostalgia. For you young’uns, here’s a good introduction to the group.

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Casa Casuarina

Those who feel all empty and miss the fun and horrible clothes of the early 90s, the New York Times has a solution for you, although it seems to involve buying things from Donatella Versace’s 2006 mens line. Where is the Things I Hate blog when you need it?

For nearly a decade Ms. Versace has been Italian fashion’s misunderstood bad girl, spiraling out of control as a corporation, valued at $870 million upon her brother’s death, hemorrhaged fiscal value and creative relevance. Ms. Versace’s cocaine addiction, which she discussed in the May issue of Vogue, was an open secret in the industry. At the end of every runway show she would teeter out to greet the audience and the news media, dazed and expressionless as an inflatable doll. It was in June 2004 that friends and family persuaded her to start rehabilitation.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh! Make it stop, please.

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