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Wednesday August 31, 2005

What will become of New Orleans?

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

“Great Babylon is come up before me. Oh, the wickedness, the idolatry of this place.”
Rachel Jackson, wife of President Andrew Jackson, on New Orleans

Yeah, you go, girl. Reports indicate that while the former president’s statue is still above water, most of Jackson Square in the French Quarter remains submerged. Has the former first lady reached out from the grave to invoke the gods against the Big Easy?

Probably not, but another president—the one who cut short his extended vacation in response to the emergency (not for that pesky grieving dead soldier’s mother at his front gate)—is coming under fire. Right now, the Philadelphia-based blog Attytoods carries a story, “When the levee breaks” (with well over 100 comments) detailing how projects planned for years to shore up the city’s sinking levees were put on hold, despite the threatening 2004 hurricane season, for lack of funds. And according to the Army Corps of Engineers, the reason for the available money’s drying up is simple: the expensive war in Iraq. One project involved shoring up the 17th Street Canal, source of the major breech leading to the city’s catastrophic flooding. Another, the $750 million “Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Protection Project,” was discontinued. When billions were diverted to the Iraqi desert, the waters poured into New Orleans.

Gives you a sinking feeling—excuse the pun—when you ponder the next storm and the Everglades Restoration Project, doesn’t it?

New Orleans is (was?) known for its rollicking parties and delight in old-fashioned sin. The Sphincter Police, ably represented back then by first lady Rachel Jackson, and today by, well, damn near everybody among the White House menagerie, stew in their sanctimonious juices while the band plays on. Was the city’s undoing intentional? Nah. Was the disaster allowed to happen? Apparently. Is anybody privately nodding a head, bawling a prayer, and citing god’s retributive will? Sho’ nuff, sweetheart. If you can find it when the waters recede, bet the house.

[See all Articles by Steve]

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Won't get FPL'd again

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

I didn’t need to call my contact Boob at FPL this time—the sucker called me. He was in full gloat mode, too.

“Two million people in South Florida without power simultaneously,” he crows. “We broke our all-time record!”

Right, Boob. America salutes you.

“Several hundred thousand households were taken off-line hours before the storm,” he squeals. “This was a brilliant policy our top managers developed at our strategic meeting in Barbados last spring (which we charged off in expenses). Why wait for power to fail? We just flick a switch and save all those pesky trouble calls!”

Makes me wonder why you bother to provide power at all, Boob.

“After last time, we calculated that we wasted hours and hours of manpower time answering the phone and listening to customers report outages, or complain about trivial shit like rotting food in their houses and sparking wires on their lawns and streets. Like we actually give a rat’s ass. So we put word out this time that customers didn’t need to send in reports about outages: we could tell from our own offices. And it worked!

“Didja see all those media releases about the thousands and thousands of workers we have working 18 hour shifts?” he goes on. And on. “How linesmen and tree trimmers and phone answerers from 25 different power companies all over the country are helping? We wrote those last May! They’re pure bullshit! We just cooked ‘em up, sent ‘em to the grammar spinners, and kept ‘em ready for the first little old storm!”

And it was a little storm, Boob. A Category 1. Fills me with confidence.

“At the same time, we wrote up fables about how FPL works harder and longer to get everybody”s power back. We set easy-to-reach goals and then brag how we beat our own hokey timetable! The thinking is, keep the public’s eye off management of the power grid, and create sympathy for the poor bastards out in the wind and rain climbing poles; risking their asses for the public! Ha ha! We’re so fucking brilliant! Brilliant!”

I ask Boob for the millionth time why the hell FPL runs an antiquated, fragile power grid in the most storm-prone and lightning invested geographical area of the nation.

“Same reason a dog licks his balls,” he hoots. “Because we can. And because nobody important wants us to change, and because everybody we give a shit about makes money. What—simply because we provide your power like this is a third-world nation, you forgot this is America?”

[See all Articles by Steve]

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Monday August 29, 2005

Katrina fixin' t'boom-bap New Orleans

Anyone who’s ever been to New Orleans cherishes it. Now is not the time to trying to find the words to pay it proper justice; sufice it to say that New Orleans is a national treasure.

If you think this Reuters article is scary, check out the warning from the National Weather Service in New Orleans, about halfway through this article.

... DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED … HURRICANE KATRINA … A MOST POWERFUL HURRICANE WITH UNPRECEDENTED STRENGTH…RIVALING THE INTENSITY OF HURRICANE CAMILLE OF 1969.

MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS…PERHAPS LONGER. AT LEAST ONE HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL…LEAVING THOSE HOMES SEVERELY DAMAGED OR DESTROYED.

THE MAJORITY OF INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS WILL BECOME NON FUNCTIONAL. PARTIAL TO COMPLETE WALL AND ROOF FAILURE IS EXPECTED. ALL WOOD FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED. CONCRETE BLOCK LOW RISE APARTMENTS WILL SUSTAIN MAJOR DAMAGE…INCLUDING SOME WALL AND ROOF FAILURE.

HIGH RISE OFFICE AND APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL SWAY DANGEROUSLY…A FEW TO THE POINT OF TOTAL COLLAPSE. ALL WINDOWS WILL BLOW OUT.

AIRBORNE DEBRIS WILL BE WIDESPREAD…AND MAY INCLUDE HEAVY ITEMS SUCH AS HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES AND EVEN LIGHT VEHICLES. SPORT UTILITY

VEHICLES AND LIGHT TRUCKS WILL BE MOVED. THE BLOWN DEBRIS WILL CREATE ADDITIONAL DESTRUCTION. PERSONS…PETS…AND LIVESTOCK EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL FACE CERTAIN DEATH IF STRUCK.

POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS…AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.

THE VAST MAJORITY OF NATIVE TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING…BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED. FEW CROPS WILL REMAIN. LIVESTOCK LEFT EXPOSED TO THE WINDS WILL BE KILLED.

AN INLAND HURRICANE WIND WARNING IS ISSUED WHEN SUSTAINED WINDS NEAR HURRICANE FORCE…OR FREQUENT GUSTS AT OR ABOVE HURRICANE FORCE…ARE CERTAIN WITHIN THE NEXT 12 TO 24 HOURS.

ONCE TROPICAL STORM AND HURRICANE FORCE WINDS ONSET…DO NOT VENTURE OUTSIDE!

Yikes. Katrina has made landfall. New Orleans braces itself.

New Orleans is 10 feet below sea level in some spots.

Authorities are concerned the storm could overwhelm a network of levees, turning the city into a toxic lake filled with chemicals from oil refineries and septic systems.

An update of the wind swath chart may help put things in perspective.

Update (10:34 am): The roof has come off the Superdome. We have unconfirmed reports that the levee around the city has broken. In addition to the toxic chemicals and floating poop, there is the fear of above-ground crypts becoming disloged, sending corpses floating around. Ugh.

Update (11:49 am): The Herald paints a grim picture, with parts of downtown New Orleans flooded, people standing on roofs in the wind, looting, fires, at least one building collapsed, and rain pouring into the Superdome, where ten thousand people are huddling.

Update (12:37 pm): from Bloomberg.:

``It looks like a war zone, with tree branches down everywhere,’’ John Hazard, 44, said today from the uptown New Orleans home of his brother-in-law Bill Hines. Looking out on Audubon Boulevard, he said, ``garbage cans are floating in three feet of water. The wind is howling and the trees are dancing like crazy.’’

from Reuters:

He said pieces of sheet metal and plywood, billboards and pieces of palm trees flew down Canal [Street], which borders the Quarter, as huge gusts of wind blew through the city. “It’s blustery. You can see the speed of it now, it’s unbelievable,” he said. “The power went out about an hour and a half ago and so now I’m just watching the occasional dumbass walking down Canal Street.” News reports said windows were being blown out of the big hotels near the French Quarter, forcing those inside to seek shelter in the hallways.

from CNN:

WGNO reporter Susan Roesgen, who is with the mayor at the Hyatt hotel, said New Orleans police had received more than 100 calls about people in the area trapped on their roofs . . . “Levees overtopped in Orleans and St. Bernard parishes,” the NWS said in a hurricane local statement. It also said “extensive and life-threatening storm surge flooding” was occurring along the Louisiana and Mississippi coast. The weather service reported “total structural failure” in some parts of metropolitan New Orleans, where Katrina brought wind gusts of 120 mph. While it offered no details, it said it had received “many reports.”

Update (3:17 pm): Steve says: “The destruction was not nearly as bad as anticipated, but it was severe.”

Meanwhile, here’s a scary headline for you: “Adjusters Mapping Response to Hurricane Katrina in Broward, Miami-Dade County, Fla..”

Update: Death toll high. French quarter more or less OK. More at Metroblogging New Orleans. Dang it all to heck . . . it spent all day today getting worse. We won’t know what the deal is for a few days; stay tuned.

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Sunday August 28, 2005

Former Diddy rival shot on South Beach

Suge Knight, in town for the VMAs, was shot last night at Kanye West’s party at the Shore Club’s Red Room.

Hold on, the Red Room? As in that red? Suge, who has “been associated” with the Bloods, got his start in the record business by showing up at Easy E’s offices with some friends and baseball bats to release Dr. Dre from his contract with Easy’s record company.

Suge’s company, Death Row Records, has been doing great ever since. Except for those 5 years he spent in jail. Oh, and there was that whole Notorious B.I.G. / 2Pac thing. Which, so, if you scroll down in that last link, the 4th picture is none other then Diddy, your host [link rife with flash, activeX, and other nastiness] for the VMAs.

Now, MTV is playing this very straight, but do we note a tone of glee in their press release? Does a shooting add a little street cred to an awards show desperate to look edgy? Does it focus the attention just a little bit?

Many of Knight’s friends and supporters — including Petey Pablo — were with the Death Row Records boss at the hospital early Sunday morning. He’s expected to undergo surgery on Sunday, and there’s no word on when he may be released. A rep from his camp said he’s doing well and that a full statement will be released later in the day.

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Saturday August 27, 2005

Florida Power and Light looks like a futuristic castle

We’re all bummed out over here because, due to a technical snafu, a cameraphone pic of empty onion bins at Publix from yesterday can’t be posted. If that’s comming across as gloating about our uninterrupted power, well . . .

Yes, hundreds of thousands are still without power (which is pretty staggering, when you think about it), and will continue to be so until sometime between Tuesday and Friday. (If you move to San Antonio, you won’t have to worry about these things.)

There is definetly a bummed-out, blah kind of feeling hanging over the city, even as the power gradually comes back on, in part because we know we got off easy.

The Herald can get exited about the VMAs, but we’re over it. Blah. Get MTV the hell away from us. Even kids today are listening to better music.

The only thing cheering us up is Frances Nash, who (from what we guess) must live in one of the hard-hit areas, yet manages to supply the name of this post, plust post-hurricane photos and photos and photos and photos and photos and photos.

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Friday August 26, 2005

Damaged

Let’s see what’s going on with post-hurricane recovery around the internet. The Miami Herald has reader photos, their own photos, a blog, and webcams.

The National Hurricane Center has an interesting wind swath graph. FPL has a scary map, and a tool that tells you they know your power’s out, and they’ll get to it when they get to it. $2.59 is the cheapest you should expect to find gas.

Speaking of gas prices, in the UK they’re worried about what this means for long term oil. Bloomberg tries to comfort them.

Bobby did some good hurricane blogging before loosing power (and even got in a last post on battery backup). Robert also appears to have lost power, as did Val, who set up a webcam in his back yard. Artblog is eerily quiet.

Pictures from our TV stations here, here, here, here, and here.

4 dead, 5 missing.

Update: Flickr photos, of course (via Flablog). And we have Hurricane Harbor with good commentary, Eye of the Storm, and a popular Technorati keyword (via Infomaniac).

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Wrongness

OK, most of us appear to have survived. Over a million people are without power. A few died. The roads are generally fucked up. Channel 7 is glefully replaying a documentary about how they lost power in their studio for 45 minutes. CM lost internet connection, bringing an end to updates around 8:30 pm last night, though commenters came through (we never did loose power). Who screwed up? Let us take count:

1. It was like a mantra yesterday: “It’s going to be a rain event, not a wind event.” Wrong: the TV is full of turned-over trees, removed roofs, and people killed by wind.

2. It’s going to hit North Broward/South Palm Beach, and track west. Wrong: Could’t have been more wrong – it went southwest over Miami, and grazed the Keys.

3. It’s going to move slowly. Wrong: as we speak it’s over the gulf.

4. The highway overpass. Good grief; construction sites should not be abandoned without being able to withstand a category 4 hurricane. Wrong: An overpass in construction over 836 west of the Plametto colapsed onto the highway, which was open at the time! Construction engineers are cleaning up the mess in stunned silence.

A final note: We’ve been somewhat lulled in the past by hurricanes that give you a 3 – 4 day warning. Katrina went from a possible tropical storm to hurricane landfall in under 30 hours. It just goes to show you that you really need to be ready for the worst at all times during hurricane season – there is no particular reason a Cat-4 couldn’t do this.

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Thursday August 25, 2005

Katrina (+updates)


[Caption: Tropical Storm (40mph or greater) winds advisory, as of 2 pm today]

Yes, It’s gonna rain (It’s gonna rain.)

Update 1: Is this where you’re coming for hurricane preparedness information? It sure must suck to be you. Nonetheless, we should be doing up-to-the-minute HURRICANE KATRINA UPDATES so stay tuned. We are currently expecting a Cat-1 storm, centered on the Broward/Plam Beach line. No school today or tomorrow. Don’t put out your garbage. Get ready for flooding. Don’t go nuts with plywood. For most people this will be more fun then anything . . . but get some candles and flashlights ready in case your power goes out in the middle of the night. E-mail us pictures of crap going down or interesting stuff.

Update 2 (Thursday, 2:30pm): Fuck the plywood, it’s just going to rain like crazy. The worst of it will be around midnight. What is the deal with this 24-hr coverage? Is there any time we need nerve-calming Jerry Springer more then during a hurricane? And they give us Brian Norcross. Joseph Cooper has the right idea; he goes on with his broadcast as usual, and drops in a “it’s raining outside, but here in the studio it’s nice and cozy.” Then Andy Wagner gives you a little information at the bottom of the hour. Do we really need to freak out?

Update 3 (Thursday, 4pm): Cool: over here on the Beach, Channel 10 is a dead signal. Katrina is now officially a hurricane. We’re shakin’ in our boots down here in Dade. Our pals in north Broward maybe not quite so much, but still.

Update 4 (Thursday, 4:46 pm): Channel 10 back up. babalú is doing some cool hurricane blogging:

Lots of lipservice being given to the MTV Video Music Awards that are supposed to taking place this weekend. Apparently, this year’s theme is water and they had all these pre-event parties scheduled to be happening. All of them have been canceled. South Beach footage shows a desolate Ocean Drive. My question is, how long before one of P Diddy’s cohorts blames Bush for the storm?

The airport is still open; airplanes taking off straight into the wind. I hope they’re offering folks cocktails before takeoff.

411 is right: what really got us about this hurricane is how it sort of came out of nowhere. In less then 24 hours we went from a tropical sorm warning to being locked in, waiting for a hurricane. Consider it a dry run – what if we had this much warning with a Category 4? Kathleen points out that the real storm to worry about is on the Sun.

TV is reporting that the western edge of the hurricane has made landfall, but most of the rain is on the west side . . . about four hours starting 5:15 pm, Ft. Lauderdale (and everyone else, to lesser degrees) will be seeing major rain.

Update 4 (Thursday, 7:17 pm): Chad says the power is out around Coral Gables; TV confirms. Everything is hunky dory on the beach. If someone comes to your door claiming to be from FPL, do not let them in – they’re scam artists robbing people, acording to TV reports.

Update 5 (Thursday, 7:51 pm): Power is out all over the place, including Hollywood. Yikes! the hurricane has killed 2 people. CM adivises you to stay home tomorrow. Preferably in bed.

KEEP IT TUNED TO CRITICAL MIAMI OVER THE NEXT TWO DAYS FOR URGENT UPDATES!!

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Wednesday August 24, 2005

Moca snarkage

Kathleen reviews the MoCA show. Franklin and an anonymous (imaginary?) friend scoff. We’re going to reserve judgement untill we see the show, but it sounds interesting, specially Frances Trombly’s work.

[Argh! The MoCA just re-designed their site, yet this link to the show is not permanent!]

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Tuesday August 23, 2005

Every building on Aragon Avenue circa 1948

Our pal Chad is in the process of archiving old photographs for the city of Coral Gables. Here’s a link to theproject’s web page. Nifty. Note the high-res scans of the backs of the cards: Nicholson Bakerism run amok at its finest (well, ok, there’s actually writing on the back of some of them).

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Monday August 22, 2005

Actual music: Churchill's

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a rock n roll band. The name of the band is unknown . . . in fact, we can’t even tell you whether they were any good. What we can say is that they have played Churchill’s Hideaway ((what? their web site is ugly? start taking notes!)) recently. And so have many other rock bands and musical acts of various incarnations. In fact, you can walk into Churchill’s almost any night of the week and catch a few different bands playing. Some will be great, and some will be poor. But they will all be groups of people that have gotten together, against all odds, and spent hundreds of hours honing their craft, spent thousands of dollars on their equipment, wrote, learned, and rehearsed actual songs . . . how much of this have you done lately?

The point is that improbably, there are lots of people still doing this; enough of them that you’d never be able to know them all, and pretty much the only place they have to play is Churchill’s. Oh, sure, there are other places to see music . . . there’s I/O, there’s Jazid, but these are places that show professional, established acts. Churchill’s is the only place left (in the 80’s there were at least ten) where an unknown band can get a set just by making a phone call. It’s nothing short of an incubator for a very significant portion of the local arts scene. Damn – this place should be getting grants.

But unless we’re, like, way off, they’re not. In fact, Dave Daniels, the British ex-pat who’s owned and operated the place since time immemorial, threatens to close it down every decade or so. But for the time being, it lives on. And it lives in style:

They’ve got British-style bar food (the shepherd’s pie is a rite of passage among local punks) and tons of beers on tap. There’s a laundry facility on premises. The bar is located in the middle of Little Haiti. U2 have caught Rugby games there. Weekly women’s mud wrestling. Weekly jazz jam. Weekly set by the Lanudry Room Squelchers. The list goes on.

Churchill’s Hideaway
5501 Ne 2nd Ave
Miami, FL 33137
(305) 757-1807

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For Rent

Are you like us? Do you hate writing about things that sound like they’re going to be good? We hereby present you with an offical Critical Miami regurgitated press release:

MIAMI WORKERS CENTER PRESENTS FOR RENT: who will pay the price? AN ANTI-GENTRIFICATION ART EXHIBITION

August 22, 2005, Miami, FL—- In the face of Miami’s unprecedented real estate boom, Miami Worker’s Center and RENT (Regional Equity for Neighborhoods and Tenants) have partnered with Miami Light Project to present FOR RENT an exhibition of gentrification artwork and film.

Featuring the work of photographer Meg Pukel, Protest and Anti-Gentrification Art-work and Propaganda as well as the films Boom The Sound of Eviction directed by Francine Cavanaugh, A. Mark Liiv, and Adams Wood, Fenced Out by FIERCE, Paper Tiger TV, and the Neutral Zone and Straight out of Scott by LIFFT and the Miami Workers Center, FOR RENT will showcase the detrimental effect that gentrification and development has had in communities around the nation. Also featured will be a trailer for BOOMTOWN FEVER, Miami-based filmmaker’s Lisandro Pérez-Rey’s Miami Light Project commissioned documentary about Miami’s real estate explosion.

Created in anticipation of RENT’s September 10th Town Hall meeting, FOR RENT’s objective is to bring attention to the other side of the glitz and glamour that developers and marketers push when promoting condo lifestyles. FOR RENT gives voice to the history built by communities and artists. It is this history that is threatened by the wave of gentrification sweeping the city. This art show asks, and begins to answer: Who will pay the price?

FOR RENT: who will pay the price?
At
The Light Box
3000 Biscayne Blvd #100, Miami, FL 33137
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
7:00pm
FREE
For more information call 305. 759.8717

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Bug me not

Around here we refer quite a bit to articles on the Miami Herald web site, which uses an annoying registration process that requires you to type in a bunch of fake information before you can see the articles (please don’t tell us you’re giving them your real information). As many of you know, Bug Me Not is a service that serves working usernames and passwords that help people bypass these idiotic flaming hoops.

Now Bug Me Not has another strategy. They are calling for an International Advertiser Wakeup Day, and are collecting pledges to register an account with fake details at one of several major, registration-required news websites. While the Herald is not one of the sites listed, it does tend to mirror whatever the NY Times and the rest of the lot do. Anyone who has ever been annoyed by these registrations should sign the petition and participate in the fake registrations; this sounds like it might have a good chance of success. If not, we’ve added a graphical Bug Me Not link to the left bar (underneath regular links). (Via BoingBoing)

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Sunday August 21, 2005

Miami Ink review

The usually quiet comment board on Miami Beach 411 has a million girls fawning over the Miami Ink guys. Great: they’re cute. But there were signs of trouble from the very first episode: a girl who wants to remember her brother by getting a tattoo of Red Hot Chilli Peppers lyrics? Cringe . . . shouldn’t someone have told her that that song is about heroin?

But ok, we let that one go; anyone deserves a second chance. In the second episode, we have a really sweet guy getting his twin sons tattooed on his chest in memory of his wife, who died on 9/11. It’s touching, but it demonstrates what will come to be one of the show’s fatal flaws: repetition. There’s only so many reasons people get tattoos [video].

The tatoo dude working on his body suit. The mother/daughter team thing. Tattoos of dead sisters, brothers, moms, wives, husbands, and, yes, a cat. And narcissism by the truckload. Tattos are very personal and very profound, but apparently they are personal and profound in a very limited number of different ways.

The guys are actually alright. Chris Garver (who reminds us of James Spader) is the senstive one, Chris Nuñez is the cute one, Darren Brass the slacker, and Ami James, the ex-Israeli army tough guy, who’s meanness always seems contrived. Yosji, especially, is interesting, getting fake-picked-on at work, and his girlfirend Bridget threatening that their daughter won’t have his last name unless he maries her (he proposed at the end of the second episode). Darren offers his profound insight: “having a baby is like getting into a fight – you’re never really ready for it, but when it happens, you do what you gotta do.”

But it’s not enough to make an interesting show. Following the Real World formula wight down to interspacing the “reality” with interview clips, the show somehow forgot that you need interesting relationships between the permanent characters. Yelling at Yosji a little each episode doesn’t cut it. Darren getting a haircut and forgeting an appointment doesn’t cut it. The guys taking a day off to go fishing for sure doesn’t cut it.

Let’s be clear – the guys do good work. Several people have e-mailed asking about where the shop is. As far as we know, it’s open and you can get a tattoo there . . . getting on the show might be another matter:

Miami Ink
1344 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Monday through Friday, 10 am to 6 pm; Saturday, noon to 6 pm

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Saturday August 20, 2005

A Prairie Home Companion

We’re guessing most Critical Miami readers have never heard of A Prairie Home Companion, which might be the quintesentially unhip NPR show. To be sure, it’s an aquired taste. But since WLRN generously plays it twice a week (6 pm on Saturdays and noon on Sundays), it’s an easy taste to aquire. The show broadcast from Miami is a pretty good place to jump in, and you can catch a repeat of it this very weekend. It’s radio for old people that non-old people should get hip to.

Real Audio of the entire show is available here (another older episode from Miami here).

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Dorsch, tonight, again!

. . . it don’t stop at the Dorsch:

The Dorsch Gallery hosts a Benefit Fundraiser
Saturday August 20th, 2005

The Miami Tsunami Reconstruction Team will hold a silent auction of artwork to raise money to send the team to Sri Lanka this September to rebuild homes and rebuild lives. Featured artist include Carlos Rodriguez, Kristie Stephonson, David Tezanos and R L Yokel. Wine and Food donated by Bijan’s on the River.

The Dorsch Gallery
151 NW 24th St
Miami, FL 33127
305.576.1278

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Friday August 19, 2005

Airport crash

“Unfortunately with technology you have periods where things happen.”

Really, though, is it unreasonable to want certain computer systems to have 100% uptime? Apparently, US Customs isn’t important enough, but yes, plenty of computer systems don’t ever crash. Smart people have figured out ways to keep computers running 100% of the time. Generally, the problems start when Bill Gates enters the picture. Is it a big deal to be standing around for a few hours in the heat because of a computer crash? Maybe not. And, in all honesty, we have no way of knowing whether Customs’ computers are running Windows (and even if they are, this might not have been related to Windows’ famous security holes). But this stinks. And nobody should have to tell Customs to keep certain systems separate from their employees’ Outlook.

Update: Why did the computer shutdown have a much larger impact at MIA then anywhere else? Natch, airport officials blame Customs understaffing, and Customs blames the Airport’s outdated facilities.

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Scala naturae

Let’s be honest: August is not the only month of the year when Miami is too hot for words—by our count, it’s March through October. Still, there’s something special about August; it’s the time when Miami residents hunker down for what we assume must be the hottest hell on earth. Actually, we’re cowering in our air-conditioned homes and cars (Cohen has a theory about how genocide and air conditioning are mutually exclusive propositions), but boy, outside . . .

Outside, though, is real life: there is nothing more alive then when the planet Earth’s tropics get cooking. Weird plants that wouldn’t survive anywhere else grow like crazy, it rains every day, and mosquitos multiply in any teaspoon of standing water. The whole place is teeming with life, and it’s very impressive, and a little gross. That’s if you think about it, which most of us don’t. But some of us do. Frances, the crab girl has recently marveled at all the spiders in her back yard. They remind her of masks and skulls (Frances was last spotted break-dancing on the Metro-Mover with some dread guys).

Kathleen’s parents have a pool with a broken pump, and she’s fascinated with what happens when we let a controlled bit of lake go wild. Incidentally, this is the same Kathleen that occasionally gives the painter dudes on Artblog.net a run for their argumentative money. Her new blog looks great so far.

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Thursday August 18, 2005

Localness

Our pal Rebecca Wakefield, formerly of New Times and currently of Miami Sun Post (she’s also part of this radio show), used up a suprising amount of bricks-n-mortar-style ink talking about Miami blogs and Critical Miami in particular in her recent column [note: Sun Post links expire with each new issue]. Yay for us! It seems reasonable to expect that this should cause a more long-lasting bump in readership then the recent Metafilter tag.

Rebecca is right: blogging in Miami is alive and well, but it leaves much to be desired. We link to several local blogs in our sidebar, but plenty of other local blogs are good for an occasional drop-in. It’s difficult to find them, but that’s where we come in.

Maria del Carmen Adela Lopez is Miami Girl, trying to be a good Christian, and rocking out to Journey. Scott Poulson-Bryant does the SPB-Q blog in addition to his serious writing. His profile says he spends part of the year in Miami, which makes him, eo ipso, a Miami blogger (plus, he’s just plain weird).

We also have Steph, who’s blog (2.5 years old, n that’s like 50 in internet years) would probably be a local legend if it wasn’t practically impossible to read (maybe it looks good in somebody’s browser, but not in ours) blue-on-black. Steph drops his cellphone number on his home page Timbaland-style, and writes all sorts of stuff which is basically personal, but somehow very Miami and very great. Equally personal if much more hetero is The Daily Sketch, a staunchly anonymous blog by a dude with a powerbook and yahoo personals account. His dating tips are worth it.

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Real-life El Chivo busted, officials kill s'more dogs

Hey, did you guys see Amores Perros? Remeber the homeless guy with all the dogs? Ok, well we’re getting reports about a possibly similar guy who was living in an abandoned house way west in unincorporated Dade with 43 dogs, 12 cats and a chicken. He may have been there as a squatter, but he sure doesn’t appear to have been hurting anyone (and he wasn’t anywhere near the everglades).

Well, they decided to arrest him, he threatened to shoot himself, and they finally tasered his ass and hauled him off. They also hauled off the dogs, which they have already begun to put to sleep.

Keep your pets safe, folks; our local officials appear to be on a rampage.

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Wednesday August 17, 2005

They killed my dog!

The very sad tale of a family who’s dog was put to sleep by the County’s Animal Services, even though the family had called and tried to pick the dog up and called repetedly. We’re only human, and if this was a simple accident, so be it. But a radio report earlier today made it sound like one specific person was responsible for giving the order to kill the dog (two hours before the family showed up!!), and that he knew they were on the way.

Ironies abound: this dog had one of those RFID chips, which are specifically designed to prevent exactly this sort of thing.

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Tuesday August 16, 2005

Dupe of Earl

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

Earl Maucker arrived in Florida in 1980, serving as Managing Editor of the Ft. Lauderdale News. He took over as Editor of the Sun-Sentinel in July, 1994.

“To get and keep this job, I had to place my journalistic integrity, as well as my manhood, in a blind trust,” he reports. “I had to convince the corporate masters of the Tribune Company that I would never, ever foul the corporate mission of maximizing profits with journalistic principles. Aim no higher than the middle of the pack, give the people what they want no matter how mindless, and always impress the pious with a veneer of sanctimonity. For over a decade, I’ve chanted the mantra: ‘Bottom Line. Bottom Line. Bottom Line’.”

Never has there been such a revelation of his M.O. than last Sunday’s Ask the Editor column, where he champions his readers’ famished appetite for news about the Miami Dolphins. No, he admits, As news, it’s not on the level of the war in Iraq or world peace, but dammit—that’s what south Florida readers clamor for, and I’m gonna make sure we give the people what they want.

What a prince, our Earl. A prince among men.

This region’s brain-dead infatuation for All Things Football to the exclusion of anything even vaguely enlightening or entertaining helps contribute to our national image of sawgrass-squatting savages. That one of its largest newspapers is captained by an incontinent goober whose sports department carries more first-hand reported news stories than the national and international pages combined speaks volumes about its own self-image and its assessment of its market. It’s strikingly similar to the balance struck between (e.g.) FSU’s budget for football vs. that of its philosophy department. Thinkers need not apply. Steroids, not Socrates.

Maucker has been called many names in his long career, dating back to 1969 and his whitebread days as a printer in Alton IL, but “committed journalist” isn’t one of them. He sells what they’re buying, and that’s good enough. He’s okay with reprinting verbatim news articles from genuine newspapers like the NY Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, LA Times days after they first appear—hey, you want breaking news, go watch teevee, right Earl?—but when the Dolphins Coach Napoleon Saban wants to bottle up his players and block them from talking to his ink-stained wretches, well, here’s Earl the Energizer up on his hind legs filing a protest. Oily Earl knows what side his bread is buttered on, and keeping information about a third string wide-out’s prostate infection a secret from his readers just ain’t American. Lord forbid his reporters should fight with their fountain pens, and win a war of words.

So not only do south Floridians suffer from the effects of year-round force-fed football, we’re tagged as losers for the obsequious, rudderless media that dominate our news, keep the public a step or two behind the rest of the nation, resist anything innovative, entertaining, or informative, and service the bland, uninquisitive middle. Welcome to Broward, where the only access to news (and culture, entertainment, opinion, etc.) is www.nytimes.com . . . well, and Critical Miami, of course.

[See all Articles by Steve]

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Clásica 92.3

Sometimes we’re the last ones to find out about stuff. Recent troubles with the Critical Miami limo have extended to the sound system, which normally plays the freshest IDM piped in from an 80-gig mp3 player, and we have been tossed to the FM winds, which have gotten surprisingly hip since we last tuned in 5 years ago. A timely sidebar that ran with the recent payola expose in the New Times included a sidebar that pointed out that Steve Malagodi’s Modern School of Modern Jazz
is alive and well at WDNA, which is now a full-time jazz station (which explains all the jazz we’ve been hearing).

The real surprise, though, was Clásica 92.3. Apparently everyone listens to this station already (they were there for Elian, yo!), so all we can offer here is a weak “me too.” But whatever: you get 60’s rock en español, classic merengue, and more then an occasional song in english. It’s old-school, weird, and very Miami.

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Monday August 15, 2005

Miami Wiki

Yesterday’s post, in particular the bit about Awesome New Republic, got us thinking . . . even today, in this age of hip-hop and electronica, there are so many actual bands living and breathing in Miami (mostly at Churchill’s, but still); shouldn’t there be some sort of account of them? Actually, shouldn’t there be some sort of account of everything??

Well, ok, whatever. This is an experiment which, frankly, is likely to go nowhere. But in the interest of doing right by folks who deserve to be known, we hereby launch Miami Wiki.

If this is to be anything, it will be a user-created source of information. For the time being, anything goes. You should be able to log in and create and edit whatever entries you want. As valuable content is created, structures will fall in to place to protect it. This is the way wiki works all over the place. Eventually, we hope to integrate this wiki with Wikipedia, who’s current Miami page, while useful and interesting, leaves much to be desired.

By way of seeding, we have copied a few Critical posts to the Wiki, although without pictures, links, or much grace. Frankly, we’re not sure what the proper relationship between a blog and a wiki is; both are somewhat embryonic WWW structures. We leave it up to our readers and users to forge the way (MiamiWiki is really great for sharing your thoughts . . . much better, say, then comments on the blog).

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Shanghai

This picture was taken approximately one year to-the-day ago, in Shanghai, China. We present it to shed some perspective on Miami’s supposed city-of-the-future status. The Herald recently suggested that the new Performing Arts Center is going to launch Miami into a new era. Careful study of this photo will suggest that Miami has a way to go.

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Sunday August 14, 2005

Blowhard

Great fun at the Dorsch fundraiser last night. Unconfirmed reports have Gustavo Matamoros hitting it out of the park with an early e-bowed guitar performance. Then we had some world music. Then the squelchers treated us to some of that now-legendary Miami din:

This picture will benefit from a little interpertation. In the background bent over a table we have the legendary Rat Bastard, working an arrray of electronic sound producing modules. To the left, wearing a green tanktop, is the group’s conductor (it is a feature of the Squelchers’ performances at the Dorsch to employ a conductor, something they don’t do at any other venue). In the immediate foreground we have the ariplane costume guy, who did an interpertative dance (it is another feature of the Squelchers’ performances at the Dorsch to employ an interpertative dancer, something else they seldom do at other venues). On your right in the photograph we have the horn section, including our pal Jim, of Dopee Francisco (which recently completed a great documentary but apparently can’t put together a web site). Fierce!

Next up we had the pop duo Awesome New Republic, which rocked the house tiny-drumkit-and-keyboards style, somewhat evoking the disbanded Unicorns. “It’s funny you should say that,” drummer MJ remarked after their set, “because we played with the Unicorns at I/O a couple of years ago and almost got in a fight with them . . .” Alas, no photograph exists of their performance.

Here we have the MSG Newness Blues Fuckers Plus, with your author on drums. Unaccoustomed to playing in such a large and echoy space, we were forced to rely on our senses of touch to know what to play. The star of the performance was saxophonist Chad Harris’es toe, which was apparently featured prominently in more then one video recording of the evening.

No official report yet on how much the event raised, but was that the point, really? Well, actually it probably was, although Brook Dorsch conceeded the point that you can’t have an A/C fundraiser and then not get the damned A/C.

And speaking of Brook, how about that guy? Looking clean-cut and energetic, he drifted through the hall, surveying everything and fixing whatever minor thing needed to be fixed. Everything went off remarkably well. “More power to you,” we might say, but it would be an excercise in redundancy. Having hosted a widely attended panel of local arts writers, the Subtropics festival, and more then a few first-rate exhibitions just in the past few years, the Dorsch was on its way to becoming a major cultural center even without the bloody air conditioning.

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Saturday August 13, 2005

Mold to Mold

Our pal Jeroen Nelemans has just posted pictures from his latest piece on his site. A site-specific installation in the bedroom of an undisclosed suburban home, the piece was a massive mold colony frozen under polyurethane and held at waist-level by a plexiglass support structure. Slowly pulsing lights underneath and a mirrored ceiling above completed the effect.

Originally, the installation was intended to be open to the public for a one-night viewing, but (despite the polyurethane) due to an abundance of caution revolving around health and safety issues, the event was scuttled, and we will only ever know the piece from photos (and the amazing video).

Incidentally, Jeroen will be leaving Miami shortly for a Masters program at the Art Institute of Chicago, and we wish him well. Here’s an unrelated link to a live mp3 recording of Eau De LaVue, with Jeroen on lead vocasl.

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Dorsch, Tonight!

A big musical extraveganza tonight at Dorsch Gallery, where several musical bands will be performing, including the MSG/Newness Blues Fuckers Plus, featuring yours truly. This is all to raise money to have the place outfitted with A/C, so donations will be accepted at the door.

Why fund a private gallery’s air conditioning? Because the Dorsch is much more then a gallery. It’s the center of the non-slick Miami art world, a gathering place, performance space, incubator, party scene, and whathaveyou. Everyone loves being there, and for the most part they don’t buy and artwork. So this all makes a lot of sense, and it’s going to be tons of fun.

The link above takes you to a non-accessibility compliant information page, here is a link to directions on the gallery’s old web site, which it seems might be the next thing up for improvement.

Admission by Donation

BAND Lineup:

8:15 – 13th Story – from Bradenton, FL
8:45 – Gustavo Matamoros
9:30 – Inner Voice
10:00 – Laundry Room Squelchers “vi far scoppiare”
Featuring Kate Csillagi, Max Pluto, Jeff Rollason and Dopee Francisco
10:30 ANR – Awesome New Republic
11:00 MSG Newness
11:30 Rene Barge and Kerry Ware

and
Visuals by Stian Roenning

Here is a link to photos of a past performance at the Dorsch, featuring Arthur Doyle, Pengo, and the Laundry Room Squelchers.

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Friday August 12, 2005

Laser Light Show

The laser light shows over at the Miami Science Museum planetarium have been happening for as long as anyone can remember. We stopped by a couple of weeks ago to see how it’s changed since our high-school days. It hasn’t. They still crack the same “no smoking . . . of anything” joke before every single show, and the technology seems to be cutting-edge 1979 lasers—n—slides. They’ve added shows set to Outcast and Green Day, but fuck all that, Floyd is the way to go.

These days, when every $300 Dell comes with trippy lightshow technology and techno geeks can experiment with beat-matching video generators, the laser show sounds primitive on paper, but sorry, it’s still great. The stream of high school stoners must have slowed down, though, because the planetarium recently went from four shows every weekend to two shows a month.

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Thursday August 11, 2005

Swap Shop Owner Fucks Over Circus

Preston Henn, the owner of the Swap Shop, stopped paying the folks who operated his circus three weeks ago. Today he threw them out, and apparently has no intention to have them back or pay what he owes them. By various accounts it’s because he’s crazy, or because they don’t have insurance. Animal abuse, apparently, is not the reason.

Frankly, we’ve never been able to fully process how Broward is able to have a free daily circus, so to have it be gone is odd, but hardly disturbing. Still, the loss of one more weird South Florida thing is something to mourn. Maybe the Circus will come to Miami. Maybe to Fairchild or something. Or maybe the Seaquarium—wouldn’t that be fitting somehow? All your alleged animal mistreatment under one roof?

Update: Miami News Blog links to this interesting story about Preston Henn in a very old issue of New Times.

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Meteor Shower, Tonight!

Before you go nighty-night tonight, go outside and check out the meteor shower. Better yet, get up early tomorrow (before sunrise); should be even better then. The meteors action is related to particles of dust from the tail of comet Swift-Tuttle.

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Ads on School Busses

Broward just joined Dade and Palm Beach in feeding kids ads in yet one more spot: on the school bus. No big deal, right? Kids are showered with ads at every turn these days, and if schools can raise a few extra bucks this way, why not?

This may well be a lost cause, but it’s just plain wrong (JPW). Kids get ads on TV, but their parents can turn it off. In principle, there’s a difference here: you don’t turn off sending your kid to school (not unless you want to be some home-schooling nutjob). True, sooner or later kids will have to learn to deal with ads. But showering them with more ads sooner does not help: the fact is that until a certain age, kids can’t distinguish between ads and non-ads. We’re turning today’s generation of kids into subservient consumers in a way no previous generation has.

Everybody knows you pay for what you get one way or another. Free stuff has ads, subscription stuff has few or no ads. Well, we’re supposed to be guaranteeing our kids an education, and by exposing them to ads, we’re making them pay for that education in a way that’s unfair and immoral, and has serious unknown consequences. TV ads influence kids in ways that are unfair, too. But those ads are served up by selfish corporations. These ads come from our kids’ school system. When you look at the results, it’s just not worth it.

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Wednesday August 10, 2005

Save Ginger!

Felice Grodin says:

Last Saturday night in New York, a dog I co-owned with someone some years back was given up for adoption in the city pound. I was not notified of this until last night. Ginger has not lived with me for some time but I had kept up with her life and as you can imagine I am very concerned for her now. Unfortunately, my building does not allow pets, therefore, if you, or someone you know might be interested in a truly amazing dog, Ginger is 8 years old, healthy and has a very mild disposition. She is gentle, sweet, low maintenance and very beautiful. If someone is interested outside New York I would be willing to arrange transportation.

Ginger can be viewed on the Animal Care & Control of New York City website. Anyone interested in adopting Ginger send us an e-mail, and we’ll put you in touch with Felice.

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Cuban Spies' Conviction Overturned

Our Cuban-American blogger friends are up in arms about the 5 Cuban spies who’s convictions were just overturned. And while we agree that there may have been pressure on the jury (though none of them was Cuban), shouldn’t that only have made a difference?

This really does have the smell of a court panel giving the Cuban-American community a slap [pdf] for their, shall we say, anti-Castro enthusiasm. Vindication will be pretty sweet after another multi-million dollar trial somewhere else finds them equally guilty.

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The Seminoles and the Seminoles

Seminoles Helmet As our society has changed over the last one or two hundred years, we have changed our understanding of what counts as an unacceptable prejudice. Overt racism has gradually become unacceptable in mainstream society, and even homophobia is gradually on the decline. We even have sports fans coming to the realization that teams names referring to Native Americans are offensive, and some teams are getting renamed.

Now the NCAA is laying down the law for college football on this:

“The NCAA objects to institutions using racial/ethnic/national origin references in their intercollegiate athletics programs,” said NCAA President Myles Brand . . . effective immediately, institutions with student-athletes wearing uniforms or having paraphernalia with hostile or abusive references must ensure that those uniforms or paraphernalia not be worn or displayed at NCAA championship competitions.

Florida State University, famously home of the Seminoles, is up in arms about this, and they have the Seminole Tribe on their side. In fact, the Seminole Tribal Council unanimously adopted a resolution in support of the team’s name and mascot.

The two questions to consider here are: (1) Is it possible for a team thusly named to be worthy of respect if they do everything they can to stay within the bounds of political correctness? and (2) Does “permission” of the subject of the target of alleged prejudice excuse said prejudice?

Let’s take the second issue first. Why might the Seminole Tribal Council be fine with the team name and mascot when obviously not all Seminoles are fine with it? Perhaps a trip to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino can shed some light on this. Now, we support gambling on Native American reservations as a viable—if ultimately futile—attempt to right the wrongs of history. But let’s be serious: this is big business; huge sums of extremely fickle disposable income are trading hands here. The Tribal Council is in effect operating not just as a government, but as the board of a massive corporation (here’s some quick research: revenue in 1997 was about half a billion dollars annually; the huge Hard Rock complex was opened in 2004; it’s safe to assume that the Seminoles today control the biggest chunk of the $16-billion annual income of Native American casinos).

Nothing wrong with that either. But when you’re running a huge corporation, public relations and politics come into play. What better then getting behind an all-American football team to get in the good graces of idiot slot-machine junkies who visit the Hard Rock by the millions (and who could just as easily stay home and drink beer)? And, why piss off the politicians in Tallahassee, a great many of whom are FSU graduates? Doesn’t their support come in handy from time to time?

But none of this would be an issue if the school simply decided to change the name. It’s their decision, and any arguments should be directed at them. And the arguments (as laid out by Native American activists) remain persuasive. The use of these team names and costumed mascots ultimately serve to perpetuate a Hollywood version of Indians as fierce perpetual warriors in war paint and feathers. They distance us from our brutal historical dealings with them, and they distance us from their present day reality, which often includes struggles with poverty, alcoholism, and suicide.

Sports nicknames may seem like a trivial matter, but their prominence in our society helps keep Native Americans trapped in history, cartoon figures frozen on the war-path. Even when they purport to celebrate positive characteristics, these names are perpetuating stereotypes (is there such a thing as a positive stereotype?). We are a country that was grew by slaughtering Native Americans, and naming sports teams after them is nothing more or less then adding insult to injury.

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Tuesday August 9, 2005

Woman Smuggles Birds under Wheelchair

This nice beagle saved 30 birds. A very mean lady was trying to smuggle them from Cuba into Miami, and she came up with this plan. She stuffed the birds into plastic tubes about the size of toilet paper tubes, attached them to the bottom of her wheelchair with bungee cords (always suspected fans of bungee cords), and rolled onto a plane. Customs caught her with bird-sniffing dogs. Once they unpacked it all, there were 39 birds, of which 9 were already dead.

So, who can someone tell us why this is appearing in the Chattanoogan and apparently nowhere else? Also, how was this person flying in from Cuba? Aren’t there travel restrictrictions in place?

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Monday August 8, 2005

Dan Marino -> FHoF

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

Perhaps today, the Monday after a weekend when 80% of South Florida’s population sat glued to the tube watching former Miami Dolphin Dan Marino’s induction into the Football Hall of Fame, it would be the right moment to remind people that football is a gruesomely stupid waste of time, even for the idiotic swine who favor it. Its fans are among the most vapid among sports enthusiasts, even worse than overall-clad NASCAR grease monkeys, and to top it off, Miami fans are recognized nationally as some of the least informed even among football faithful. So we’re really at the bottom end of the food chain here.

Sunday’s Miami Hurled (thank you, Miami Harold, for supplying that moniker in your frequent comments to this blog) featured a 20-page special section on the honoree, including childhood photos and a Marino Trivia Test where you can actually quantify the degree of your jock-sniffing disability.

Nothing against Marino, who from all reports seems to be a decent fellow and unquestionably a gifted athlete, but the game of football itself is idiotic. It is slow paced and boring beyond human endurance—one calculation notes that the actual action of the game, from snap to play-ending whistle, consumes about 17 minutes of the game’s 3 hour entirety—and its best and most entertaining moments are those where violence and injury predominate, like spectacular fiery collisions at auto races. (Personally, my favorite play is roughing the kicker.) Games are decided in the trenches, where 300 pound sides of beef line up cheek to jowl in a glorious attempt to cripple one another, ideally by bare-handed disembowelment or rupture. Drug use is encouraged. Brains are baggage.

As bad as this sounds, look at its fans. If, as is solemnly declaimed, on any given Sunday, any team can win, then on that same Holy Day one can depend on moronic hordes descending from trees and emerging from caves to goad their favorites on. Appealing to a humanoid’s basest instincts, football brags a gigantic following across the land, including south Florida, where grown men and women wear the colors, paint their faces, and purchase the paraphernalia of fandom. Teary eyed with devotion, Miami fans would wipe their bums with orange and teal if only they could.

It would be a lot more tolerable—a mere nuisance, a minor inconvenience—if it weren’t as all-encompassing and unavoidable, especially now, in season. It’s on every radio station, the newspapers’ front pages, and on the lips of every dullard you bump into; inescapable and cloying like mildew, without the pleasing scent. Face it, friends: this is a football town, ad we’re the worse for it.

We’ll revisit this theme as the season progresses, with a special focus on the singular place in hell reserved for college football fans, and the contributing role of swooning talk radio hosts to the general grunt-level sophistication of the public. In the interim, I’ll be at the cockfights.

[See all Articles by Steve]

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Sunday August 7, 2005

The Mop-Up

Jim DeFede tells his side of things in Miami Times. (This is via The Miami Herald’s Official Blog, which directed scorn on Critical Miami from their previous location. In fact, the Herald seems to like moving its blog around).

Also on the Herald, nifty webcasts of the I-95 traffic cams. It’s nice to know that if we’re being watched, at least we’re allowed to partake. I don’t understand why this is on the Herald site, though. Doesn’t FDOT have a web site? Yes, they do. Oh well; at least the cameras don’t seem to have the firepower to resolve license plates (you guys wouldn’‘t feed us a sub-VGA image and keep a high-res one for youselves, would you?).

New stuff is being added to the Linkiage section, including Florida News which has been fun playing an ink-blot game with florida congressional districts. Oh, and Florida Politics has something Steve is going to love about FPL.

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Friday August 5, 2005

State of the Blog 2

The starter went out on the Critical Miami limo this week, resulting in posting problems, and staff having to ride public transport: fun! We’re pleased to report that Miami-Dade busses are predictably slow, annoying, but ultimately effective. The K line goes from South Beach all the way up into Broward, but there’s a catch. Do you see on the page where it says that only every other bus goes to Broward (half of them stop at the Nude Beach)? Neither did we, and we caught the wrong one. But eventually, after much zig-zagging and construction detours (on the bus, that is), we made it.

The fun came the next day, when it was time to get the car to the shop. The car’s starter is (apparently) dead; it can be push-started, but does not start on its own. Call in to AAA, where, because the membership was recently opened, our friendly operator had to re-type all membership information from one computer screen to another. She asks what we need.

“The car won’t start. I need a jump or a push start, I’m not really sure.”

“OK. The service in your area is radio-dispatched, and they won’t be able to call your cell phone when they’re coming, so you need to wait by the car. It should take an hour, or less.” We wait outside in the relative heat of a South Beach August morning. (Note that this area has more tow trucks per acre then any other place in the US other than New York City.) Forty-five sweaty minutes later, the cell phone rings. It’s a recording:

The AAA service truck will be there in 15 to 20 minutes. Please go outside and wait by your vehicle.

ARGH! Why did the other lady lie?? Fifteen minutes after that, the phone rings again; a person this time.

“Hello, this is AAA. The driver will be there in about one minute, so you can go outisde now.”

Impressively broken. AAA pulls up in a pickup truck, not a tow truck. A kindly middle-aged gentleman with a sizable belly gets out with a jump-start kit, which fails to do anything. I ask him about the push start.

“Well, I’ve got a bad leg, so I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

He assesses the situation, eventually pulling out a frighteningly short rope with a sharp hook on the end, ghetto rigs it to his truck, and begins to climb into the cabin for what will turn out to be a successful—if nerve-wracking—pull-start. His cheerful last words:

“We’re actually not supposed to do this, but I’ve got to get you home!”

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Optic Nerve, Tonight!

One of the biggest art events of the year to those in the know, Optic Nerve at MoCA is tonight; sorry if this is the first you’re hearing about it. Optic has been selling out pretty consistently the last couple of years, and this year MoCA is openly threatening not to let in folks without reservations. (Actually they’re making a self-contradictory admission statement:

The event is free with museum admission. RSVP required. Seating is limited and not guaranteed. For reservations, call 305.893.6211.

Does this mean they’re going to take more reservations then they have seats?) Wethinks they bluff, but you’d better call just to make sure. There’re two screenings: 7 and 9 pm.

Update: First two screenings are sold out. A third has been added for 2pm Saturday.

Other stuff going on this weekend here and at GoSeeArt, from whence Optic is peculiarly missing at the time of this writing.

Note: Sorry for the slack time last couple of days; regular posting will now resume.

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Tuesday August 2, 2005

Village Idiot Escapes

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

From the front page of Tuesday’s NY Daily News: Dangling from chains off a Manhattan hotel balcony, a man showered midtown with bizarre leaflets about Florida tourism yesterday – triggering a massive police response amid fears he had a bomb.

Why should you care? You probably figure—not without good reason—that this sort of thing goes on routinely in New York on blistering hot summer afternoons. It’s just something to do before Yankee games. Mid-day amusement, a novel approach to snarling traffic between rush hours. Life in the Big Apple. That’s one reason you’re here, not there.

Turns out, though, that the nutjob has a Miami connection. The leaflets were printouts from antitourflorida.com, a bilingual website containing rants about Miami’s inhospitable crime, parking problems, weather, etc. One thing taken with another, this is the raving of a rather bitter fellow, who may or may not be the bozo hanging from a harness the cops hauled off the 13th floor balcony yesterday.

“I don’t give a rat’s ass who the hell he is or what’s his fuckin story,” one apoplectic commuter snapped, speaking for the entire metropolitan population. “I got things to do and he’s in my way. He should die. Gimme a gun. I’ll do it.”

The public ass-drag used to be a staple of civic disobedience here in the Banana Republic of South Florida. Typically, something especially politically obnoxious happens involving Cubans, either here in Miami or on the island, and the local response devolves into an intentional massive traffic jam, infuriating the population’s remaining majority beyond all rational thought. Naturally, whatever the motivation of the organizers, however noble their mission, the tactic itself pissed off everybody enough that the cause was lost, sympathy evaporated, and the effort backfired like a dyspeptic Metrobus.

The locals have wised up, but apparently we’ve exported the technology. As you see, it doesn’t play any better in New York, particularly in these times when any political bawdiness carries with it the taint of terrorist enterprise. Enough cops and firefighters were deployed against this ratbag to conquer Connecticut: a mere decade ago his crime might have been thought of nothing more serious than ambitious littering.

What this means is, the only effect his anti-tourism campaign might have is to encourage even MORE Noo Yawkuhs to find their way south on I-95, the exact opposite of what he wanted. The website itself, bilingually laughable, doesn’t warrant the bandwidth it takes to visit. I suspect what happened today is yet another glaring example of a Floridian fuckknuckle performing on a national stage. Last week it was a corrupt politician with a self-inflicted case of terminal lead poisoning; before that we had a brain dead woman and a crowd of chancel-dancing cross-wavers, led by Governor Bucktooth and the state police. OMG Next?

[See all Articles by Steve]

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I Am Not Your Mommy: Peggy Levison Nolan

This is going to sound a little funny, and you may need to make special arrangements with your work. Assuming, of course, you actually have a job.

There is just enough time to register for Fall classes at FIU so you can get into Peggy’s Nolan’s Color Class. Starting at the end of August, it will run Monday and Wednesday mornings. So we hope your employer is supportive and understanding, because Peggy does not plan to offer night classes. Why would you (a respectable adult) want to take a beginning color photography class?

It’s not because you want to learn to use your camera and it’s not because you want to take better vacation pictures. You come to Peggy when you want lessons in looking at the world. As most people understand it, photography is the act of taking pictures of interesting things. But the sort of art that Peggy, William Eggleston, and most serious photographers espouse is the art of creating beautiful configurations of ordinary things on a piece of film negative.

A wonderful photographer herself, Peggy has no trouble taking her students to task for missing the big picture (as it were. Or taking the long view). But those open enough to learn to look with new eyes will have the experience of a lifetime. And Peggy is not the sort to hold on to some sort of traditional student/teacher distance; she shares things with her students the way she would with her friends

Nolan’s beginning color photography class ought to be a rite of passage for any FIU student, in any major. But the class is entirely worthwhile for non-FIU folks, or those not currently attending any college, to take the class. The Cult of Peggy is the proof: this is more then a photography class; this is a communion of looking. Peggy Nolan’s Gentlemen may or may not be a hoax, but by the end of the semester you may wish it was not.

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The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Thursday (Updated)

This Thursday the Wolfsonian is starting a German Expressionism Summer Film Series (!) with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. We saw this movie recently, and it’s all that; here it comes on the mid-size screen. From the Wolf’s site:

One of the first and most famous examples of German Expressionism, this is a fantastic tale of a fairground entertainer who hypnotizes a sleepwalker into murdering innocent residents of a small town. Widely considered the first true horror film, the final shocking twist leaves one questioning what is reality or fantasy. Feature film is followed by a brief discussion on this highly influential genre.

Yikes! The rest of the series looks great, too. Find it under “Calendar,” which is under “Visit Us” on the Wolf’s site. Despite being filmed in 1919, it’s not exactly black and white, because many scenes are tinted various colors. That would bee the expressionism, see?

Update: the MAC has been having a huge, massive, uber-fest of movies, musical performances, and whatnot, which we have been criminally negligent by ignoring. Well, on Saturday (7:30 pm), one of the really good movies will be screened: The Middle Of The World (O Caminho Das Nuvens). Clipped from the PR:

This . . . film follows a family of seven as they bicycle 2,000 miles from Paraíba in the poverty-stricken Northeast of Brazil to Rio de Janeiro in pursuit of a better life. Based on the true story of an unemployed truck driver who takes his wife and five children on this road trip by bike . . . Filmed in eight weeks, in Juazeiro do Norte and its outskirts, and also in Porto Seguro and in Rio de Janeiro, THE MIDDLE OF THE WORLD offers a different perspective of the Northeastern region of Brazil . . .

More information about this movie, which you are encouraged to go see. We have the snappy brochure, but alas, pending a response from MAC there is no information available for it online.

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11th Street Diner

The South Beach Diner, at 11th and Washington, is a place that is more pleasant to walk by then to eat in. Built in Pennsylvania in the 40’s, the building was dismantled and brought down here after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. It’s gleaming, and well restored, but irritating to eat in. While the food is not bad per se, the place is loud, overpriced, and somehow unsatisfying. For one annoying detail, a regular turkey burger is $7.75. Add fries for $1.75. Add grilled onions, grilled peppers, bacon, cheese, or mushrooms for $.75 each. Then there’s a $9.95 version of the burger that includes the fries and all those toppings, but you’re only allowed to take off one of the toppings. So if you hate mushrooms and onions, you’re either paying twelve bucks, or picking the onions off yourself. Good grief, let’s just leave it to the tourists.

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Find Cheap Gas Prices

Yikes! If you were holding out hope that gas was going back below $1 a gallon (or even below $2 a gallon) anytime soon, it’s about time to let it go. There’s a clean, beautiful Hess station on Biscayne at 114th Street (yes, in the middle of yearlong construction) that serves up regular for $2.25; that’s as good a deal as you’re going to get with pay-at-pump. Not great, but cheaper then most. If it’s out of your way, Miami Gas Prices might be able to help you out. While you’re at it, isn’t it time to downgrade your Hummer?

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