Friday September 30, 2005
[Contributed by Steve Klotz]
Okay, it ain’t New Years Eve, and you’re not Latin. Nevertheless, it would be entirely appropriate to step outside at midnight tonight and discharge a firearm into the Great Beyond. Wherefore, you ask?
Because tomorrow—Oct 1, 2005—Florida’s “Shoot First” law takes effect. This is the new provision that allows ordinary Joes and Jose’s like you and me to draw our weapons and blow away lowlives who threaten our lives and property. We no longer have the legal obligation to run, duck, or wait for the first shot. The law allows us to behave proactively.
Anybody remember Bernard Goetz? Around Christmas, 1984, Goetz shot four thugs who were hassling him in a subway train full of passengers. It would have been his third mugging, and he wasn’t having it. He was acquitted of everything but discharging a weapon in public, and spent 250 days in jail.
“A conservative is a liberal what’s been mugged.”—Frank Rizzo, former Mayor and Police Commissioner, Philadelphia
Not everybody is happy with this Wild West approach. Strangely enough, not everybody believes, as Marion Hammer, president of Unified Sportsmen of Florida and former NRA president states, that “An armed society is a polite society.” The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence plans to hand out flyers at airports and purchase billboards throughout the state warning tourists about avoiding confrontations with the trigger-happy goobers for which Florida is justly famous. “Do not argue unnecessarily with local people,” cautions the Brady Bunch. Hell—isn’t that the reason people retire to Florida to begin with?
Special concerns have been raised about so-called Road Rage. Come October 1, the meaning of an elevated third finger flashed at motorists changes from “Fuck You!” to “Shoot Me!” But the thinking behind the law is that rather than raising the rate of lead poisoning incidents in the state, it will serve as a gigantic traffic calmer. (And we know how well those work in South Florida.)
When Governor Bucktooth signed the bill into law during the last legislative session, he dismissed the prospect of casual, widespread shootings. “It’s a good, commonsense, anti-crime issue,” he stated. “Why should the dregs of society enjoy the upper hand? You threaten somebody, you pay for it. Why, if this law had been on the books when Terry Schiavo was under attack, she’d be alive today!”
Florida’s tourist industry—20% of the state’s economy—has joined with law enforcement agencies at every level to decry the provision as assenine. But who listens to these testicularly challenged spoilsports? Yeah, that’s a gun in my pocket, and I’m not happy to see you.
[See all Articles by Steve]
Thursday September 29, 2005
our webhost experienced a server crash, resulting in the delete of today’s post. we’ll have it back up ASAP.
Update: the post is back up; unfortounately several comments were permanently lost.
Wednesday September 28, 2005
Critical Miami is now a family-friendly blog. We may indulge in the occasional four-letter word, but it turns out not to be a problem. Cussin’ among kids is becoming so accepted that the Palm Beach school board is loosening rules against it. “This is bullshit,” will get you an in-school suspension (depending on the context). We gather this is the first step in codification of what’s been a widespread de-facto policy for years.
This is the sort of news that calls for profound, philosophical reflection on the role of profanity in society and human nature. Luckily, we don’t have to do the heavy lifting, ‘cause we’ve got the New York Fucking Times doing it:
“In some cultures, swear words are drawn mainly from sex and bodily functions, whereas in others, they’re drawn mainly from the domain of religion,” Dr. Deutscher said.
In societies where the purity and honor of women is of paramount importance, he said, “it’s not surprising that many swear words are variations on the ‘son of a whore’ theme or refer graphically to the genitalia of the person’s mother or sisters.”
The very concept of a swear word or an oath originates from the profound importance that ancient cultures placed on swearing by the name of a god or gods. In ancient Babylon, swearing by the name of a god was meant to give absolute certainty against lying, Dr. Deutscher said, “and people believed that swearing falsely by a god would bring the terrible wrath of that god upon them.” A warning against any abuse of the sacred oath is reflected in the biblical commandment that one must not “take the Lord’s name in vain,” and even today courtroom witnesses swear on the Bible that they are telling the whole truth and nothing but.
Among Christians, the stricture against taking the Lord’s name in vain extended to casual allusions to God’s son or the son’s corporeal sufferings – no mention of the blood or the wounds or the body, and that goes for clever contractions, too. Nowadays, the phrase, “Oh, golly!” may be considered almost comically wholesome, but it was not always so. “Golly” is a compaction of “God’s body” and, thus, was once a profanity.
So what we have here is not so much a loosening of restrictions on cursing; we have the acknowledgement that George Carlin’s 7 words are no longer considered our society’s worst oaths. The NY Times again:
Some researchers are so impressed by the depth and power of strong language that they are using it as a peephole into the architecture of the brain, as a means of probing the tangled, cryptic bonds between the newer, “higher” regions of the brain in charge of intellect, reason and planning, and the older, more “bestial” neural neighborhoods that give birth to our emotions.
Researchers point out that cursing is often an amalgam of raw, spontaneous feeling and targeted, gimlet-eyed cunning. When one person curses at another, they say, the curser rarely spews obscenities and insults at random, but rather will assess the object of his wrath, and adjust the content of the “uncontrollable” outburst accordingly.
The new law doesn’t really allow kids to exercise this kind of wrath in school. Instead, as the 7 words are gradually becoming more acceptable in conversation (and on TV), a whole new set of words is becoming taboo, mostly racial epithets. You bet those words are not going to be tolerated in schools, whether they’re used in a hostile way or not.
Anyway, some will acuse the Palm Beach school board of wasting time on trivialities, but that really is not what this is. It’s an recognition that society is changing, and our rules need to change.
Larry Lebowitz is cool. Here he is breaking down the latest on the HOV-lane battles (the upshot: I-95 is going to have HOV in effect in both directions morning and evening between the Golden Glades and I-195). And here he is breaking down a recent proposal for a fleet of water-buses on the intercostal. He asks a lot of serious questions revolving around the practicalities of having a substantial number of people using the waterways as a way to commute to work. And while we know that practicalities are secondary when our local government gets it in its head to do something, we admire his homework.
And without end-of-the-line parking, commuters could face multiple transfers: wait for a free bus to the docks, followed by a 45-minute boat ride downtown, perhaps a three-block hike in Miami to the Metromover, and then walk a few additional blocks to the office. (. . .)That might sound like a typical day for a New York, London or Tokyo office worker, but it is much too inconvenient for South Floridians raised on a diet of drive-everywhere car culture.
True enough. Our nagging suspicion, though, is that public-transportation boats would be terribly fun, and that this project, even if it ends up dying like the previous water taxi (operated by a private company in the 90s), it’s worth a shot.
Tuesday September 27, 2005
The only thing shittier then this invite is the art on it. Actually, nevermind. It’s all ass. Print and design by starshootersmia, who should be ashamed (their web site indicates that graphic design is not their specialty, in which case they should stay away from it alltogether).
Robert critiques the Marlins.
T.C. Boyle at Books & Books tonight.
Frances listens to acorns.
Gus agrees with us about immigration policy.
Bickering on the set of Miami Vice.
Looking forward to the Ana Mendita exhibition opening at MAM this weekend.
Update: w/r/t the Tortoises, it gets worse. This is from the Duval County schools site (from last year, but still)(emphasis ours):
Since 1988, when the last gopher tortoise was legally plunged into a Florida stew pot, there have been reports of gopher shells bearing the marks of butchering. A dozen in a backyard, a few in an abandoned citrus grove. But nothing like what Eric Holt saw last week in Leesburg. More than 200 tortoise shells, some whole and others shattered, were piled densely among rotting leaves and trash in some woods off U.S. 27. Holt’s boss, the owner of a construction firm, was cutting a road through the area when he stopped to call his employee, who breeds turtles as a hobby. Holt quickly identified them as gophers, a state-defined “species of special concern” that developers can either relocate alive, or plow over their burrows and pay into state-regulated “mitigation banks” of habitat elsewhere. Neither of these legal alternatives is cheap, and they can delay building projects for months.
Monday September 26, 2005
This is a pretty brief handling of what we regard as a major incident. A boatfull of Cuban immigrants was intercepted three miles off the coast of Florida. This is a millitary unit, the Coast Guard, intercepting a group of hopeless refugees in the ocean, with the intent of arresting them and returning them to the place they are fleeing from. The Cubans got within a mile of shore before the Coast Guard conqured them. This is desperate stuff: if they make it on to shore, they get to stay. If the don’t, they get hauled back. So the struggle is pretty intense, but of course the Coast Guard guys win (they have the hardware).
Is this how we want to be running our immigration pollicy? But wait . . . it gets better: check out this woman, a Haitian who escaped when her life was in danger (um . . . anti-Aristide mobs were going around her neighborhood killing people) back in 1992. She pasted her photo into a passport she bought on the black market and escaped to the US, where she’s lived (and raised two sons) for the past 13 years. Now, becasuse of some mistake in a law designed to allow people to stay, she’s being deported.
Can we, as a nation, please sit down and figure this shit out? This is an embarrasement.
Sunday September 25, 2005
[Contributed by Steve Klotz]
Emerging from the house the other morning I encounter a puddle of watery shit on the sidewalk large enough to warrant a lifeguard. This can mean one of two things: canvassing politicians, or muscovy ducks. Insofar as there’s no impending election, I figure it’s the ducks.
Everybody in south Florida knows about muscovy ducks.
With their distended asses, greasy-looking feathers, and hideously mottled bare-red faces, their eerie resemblance to victims of radiation poisoning is unsettling. The males, which can grow to 15 pounds, emit a hissing noise when confronted, and while they can actually fly, it’s with all the grace of Rosie O’Donnell skateboarding.
But it’s their tendency to shit all over creation that is most irritating. Traveling in packs of 3 or 4, they slowly waddle down the sidewalk, shit pouring from their feathered butts every step of the way. Green, milky, and semi-solid—imagine a bowl of mildewed grits—it’s a source of salmonella and E-Coli bacteria, as well as a revolting and slippery obstacle to put a bare foot into.
I’m told that Caribbean people eat these things. When I mentioned this to a Bahamian acquaintance, he stared at me in horror. “Dat duck dere?!” he asked, pointing in disbelief.
Even though they’re non-native to south Florida, it’s illegal to slaughter them, presumably for the same reason that you can’t kill tourists, even in season. You can chase them, as I have, waving a baseball bat and screaming epithets, when I found them eating from the food bowls I leave for the cats (and merrily shitting all over the carport). But that bends the animal lovers out of shape, and frankly, the ducks don’t seem to really care: they shoot me a dirty look, waggle their tail feathers..and shit.
I thought about putting poison out, but that might end up inside some neighborhood kid, and I’d have a lot of explaining to do to its parents. Besides, with my luck, the damn duck would drop dead somewhere I can’t reach it, and rot. I hate it when that happens.
If they were bums—oh, I’m sorry, “residentially-challenged persons”—I could call the city and have them removed. If they were dogs, cats, or alligators, I summon animal control. But this feathered pestilence? Is there such a thing as DuckBusters?
[See all Articles by Steve]
Saturday September 24, 2005
Hooray: Kreamy ‘Lectric Santa are in town tonight, playing Churchill’s, of course. The uninitiated can read up in the New Times archive or go to this week’s story for a quick overview. The rest of us will be there. . . (plus also Mr. Entertainment and The Pookie Smackers).
09:00-09:30 HIDEOUS IDIOTS
09:45-10:15 MR ENTERTAINMENT
10:30-11:00 I DON’T KNOW
12:00-12:30 KREAMY ‘LECTRIC SANTA
12:30-12:40 LADY FINGERS
12:45-01:15 KREAMY ‘LECTRIC SANTA
02:15-02:45 CREEPY T’s
Friday September 23, 2005
[Contributed by Kenneth Cohen]
“Werner Herzog . . . the best post-war director of our times.”
Many of us have read this sort of praise, or others in the like, enough to make us never want to see another Herzog film again, ever. There is definitely something about the kind of hype this man gets that can be irritating and wearisome, enough so that with mostly contemptuous reservations and the quote above weighing on my shoulders I watched Grizzly Man, Werner Herzog’s latest documentary.
To incite you to see this piece, the following information, will hopefully provide just enough of an idea to convey how much can be done with an armor of rigorous conviction.
In October 2003 Timothy Treadwell died while doing what he loved most: living with grizzly bears. Treadwell left behind over 100 hours of footage that he shot over a span of 13 years, while staying –entire summers at a time- in the natural habitat of the grizzly. Herzog takes this footage along with interviews with friends, family, and adversaries, and spins one of the most complex documentaries I personally have ever laid eyes on. What happens in the film is not something I am going to give away but keep in mind that when this film comes to your town, you must find a way to see it, considering how much it applies to the way life is conspicuous and volatile. I can never fully understand any Herzog film in one sitting, yet I usually leave his films having experienced a full range of emotions. Which is what I suppose what makes him the greatest artist of our times.
Director, Werner Herzog; Camera (color, HD video), Peter Zeitlinger; editor, Joe Bini; music, Richard Thompson; sound, Spence Palermo, Ken King; associate producer, Alana Berry. Running time: 103 MIN.
Well, it’s official: MoCA will be opening an annex in Wynwood December 1st. The space is the same one used for the Olitski exhibition the Goldmans (pop Tony and son Joey, seen here) put on earlier this year, so those who saw that know the space is ready to go: lighting, a/c, everything is perfect for art. The Goldmans are leasing the property to MoCA for a buck a year through 2009, presumably because they like art and the presence of the museum will drive up values on the rest of their properties in the area.
The space will be used to show some of MoCA’s permanent collection. A show by Friends With You is also planned. And so the Wynwood juggernaut keeps rolling along.
Give yourself a pat on the back if you said, “what are the last four hurricane names of the season?” The Hurricane Center doesn’t use names that begin with U, X, Y, or Z, ‘cause there aren’t enough. So we were wondering what happens if there are more then four more tropical storms this season. Our first instinct (isn’t this what they do with bra sizes?) is to start the alphabet again, this time with names that have two of each letter at the beginning. So after Wilma comes Aaron. After Aaron comes . . . um . . . that’s where it gets dicey. Actually they’ve already got a plan for that, too. Turns out we go into a sort of hurricane-name overtime, and start in on the greek alphabet: Alpha, Beta, Gama, and so on (Omicron is a cool one).
In other countries, they name hurricanes after things other then people, plants, animals, and such. In Japan they give them numbers. But we suspect this is another area where foreigners are jealous of superior American culture: destructive storms named after people are somehow poetic. And going to greek letters after 23 storms in one season lends the event just the right amount of menace. We wouldn’t mind behing hit by another storm if it was called Iota.
That’s right, you. We’ve just learned that MIA played I/O Lounge this past Sunday. Somehow, this information slipped though the cracks of our event management system. We rely on our thousands of readers to serve as backup to this system, letting us know about good shit that’s going on.
Thursday September 22, 2005
“The older I get the more I admire and crave competence, just simple competence, in any field from adultery to zoology,” said Mencken, and we’re starting to admire him for it. We agree, in particular, as it pertains to web sites. Franklin had a strong hand in the design of the new dorsch site. And while it’s much more generic in apperance then the previous site, it’s easily navigable and useful. So, mission accomplished. That much cannot be said of many web sites with much much higher budgets. Alfredo Triff recently took a few local museums’ sites for a spin, and was pretty forgiving when, for example, the navigation system of the MAM website failed to work (to this date, the site still trips at resolutions other than 800 pixels wide).
Bad enough, but god save us from the City of Miami: Historic Preservation web site. Upon arival, the 3d-viwefinder wheel graphic serves to inform us of little more then that we’ve arrived at a sit upon which lots of money has been spent. Nothing in particular tells us what we should expect, or where we should click. The first item on the menu reads “Sites & Districts,” so let’s give that a shot. Nope . . . that link takes us to a 4×4 grid of colored rectangles that have no apparent meaning, and cannot be clicked. Study this page long enough, and you might notice a link to a “map” along the left margin. If you click it (and if you have flash) you’ll see a map with a detail area around downtown. Clicking that will take you to possibly the most “useful” page on the site (3 combinations of fairly well hidden clicks later; kind of like beating a bycicle lock), a poor map of downtown and area where “sites” are indicated by light green squares on an orange background.
While you’re at it, check out this useless page, where some of the “links” go to a No listing at this time message, some link to one item, and none give any useful information other then “name.” Also note that 180 pixels is the largest image this site thinks you’ll ever need to see. Also note, for example, the Art Deco page, which does everything but let you link to all the art deco projects on the site (check it: their first “example” links to a 404 error!!). We’ve been around the block, and seen our share of less-then-useful sites. This one is our blue-ribbon winner, though.
In Miami Today, Michael Lewis takes stock of the Miami Performing Arts Center’s construction and financial situation. An excellent, and very comprehensive, article—go read it. Some notes:
- We disagree that choice of MPAC’s site is poor. While putting it a few blocks further south might have made it more a part of downtown, it’s location extends downtown, and creates some good prospects for some of the forgotten parts of overtown. OMNI may have been a failed shopping center, but it’s presently home to a decent school. It’s also close to the Herald building, the Miami Women’s Club, and some of those snappy condos.
- The parking situation really is an embarrasment. They expect people to make a 15-minute walk from downtown? Not only is downtown more then 15 minutes away on foot, but that walk can be accomplished in evening dress maybe two weeks out of the year.
- Lewis enumerates a number of “lessons” learned from the project. For example:
The fourth lesson is that memories are short but major projects are long. Did you remember that this was once a $75 million project? Or that the county commission approved what is now a $446.3 million building cost at $198 million? Or that from the outset, parking was to be a key component? Or that the project was conceived to aid organizations that now find it had to afford the rent? The details and aims of a public project need to be spelled out and held up for scrutiny throughout its course.
But maybe this is a lesson that can never be “learned.” Maybe the only way projects of this size ever get done is through a combination of optimism and lies. Maybe any human endevor, when looked at closely enough, stinks. And maybe that’s ok. Miami’s poor can always use more help, but when we look at how people in some other parts of the world are living, the opportunities even the poorest person in Miami has make commiseration challenging. The taxpayers in Miami-Dade decided to buy themselves a world-class performing arts facility, and if ends up costing a little over a half a billion dollars, what’s the big damned deal? Hasn’t the US been spending that much every twelve hours or so in Iraq for the last couple of years?
Lewis ends on a well-earned positive note (unlike some puff pieces we’ve seen (via MAeX )), and he’s right to. While the project could have been better planned and managed, it’s going to be great, and we’re all going to benefit from it. Interestingly, there’s a very similar project coming down the pike very soon. Maybe the time interval wil actually be short enough that we won’t forget some of these lessons.
Bobby reflects on living in the line of fire.
Thank god nobody gives a fuck what FIU thinks.
Bret Easton Ellis reads at Books & Books.
Monday September 19, 2005
This guy came up recently on Artblog, though folks have been chuckling about him for months. He’s an artist/model being used to advertise a condo development in Wynwood. The joke is that (1) he’s not much of an artist and (2) unless he’s a stockbroker of lawyer by day, he’s not going to be able to afford $250,000 for 386 square foot efficiency. And if he can afford it, why’s he using brushes that cost $5 for a 10-pack? Brook, who snapped our picture, says
Update from the heart of Wynwood. That famous photo of the artist with the clean brushes is reproduced as a gigantic banner outside of the sales office here in da hood. Some clever artist(s) have graffitied the banner to add a big X over his mouth and a $ over his eye. I makes me smile everytime I drive by.
We’re biding our time. The cycle or artists moving into a poor neightborhood, attracting the rich, and getting squeezed out by rising rents has been repeated numerous times, even in a city as young as Miami (before lincoln rd it was coral gables). The smart (like Brook) buy early, and reap the benefits. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they get to stay. As high-rise condos go up, property value appraisals do, too, and with them taxes.
Let’s say you own a small apartment building in Wynwood. You see all this development happening , but let’s say you want to keep your rents low for the sake of your tennants.
Well, when your taxes start to go up, you’re essentially forced to raise the rent. Since your building isn’t nice enough to justify the increase in rent, the only option at that point is to sell, because you don’t have the money to kick everyone out and pay out-of-pocked for a 12-month restoration. Wow.
Mayor Many Diaz wanted to do something about it, changing the way appraisals are done to more favor these building owners, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to fly.
In the late 1990’s, inexpensive rent made it attractive for artists to live in Miami. The real estate boom in recent years has made it difficult for artists to find affordable houses and studios, thus creating a great demand for subsidized studios at such places as Art Center/South Florida. It seems that as soon as they set down roots in one neighborhood and become involved in dynamic relationships with other artist residents, their homes are demolished to make room for condominiums or, more ironically, “artist” loft-type living.
Sunday September 18, 2005
Driving school. Steve can have his Traffic Clinic, but we’re all for doing the time (floridadrivingschools.com 4-hour defensive driving course) if you do the crime (51 in a 35). This is great – you’re forced to sit in front of a computer for four hours and get lectured at in plain text (with animated spinning bullet points!), followed by a test. It’s pretty standard mind-numbing stuff, but a couple of nuggets do emerge:
Try to keep a 2-second distance behind your car. Distance behind your car is the hardest to maintain because other vehicles may tailgate or follow to [sic – the whole thing is full of gramatical mistakes] closely. If you are being tailgated, increase — do not decrease — the space between you and the car ahead.
We love this – they’re saying that you respond to tailgating by slowing down, which we’ve always believed to be the correct response. There’s nothing like a little sharp braking to put a tailgater in her place.
In Canada, where daytime running lights are required, there was an 11 percent decline in two-vehicle different-direction crashes during the day. (…) If your car is not equiped with daytime running lights it may be a good idea to turn your headlights on when you encounter any type of limited visibility situation or if you just want to make yourself more visible to other drivers.
Nice. We’ve experimented with driving with lights on during the day – it makes us feel more important. And who wouldn’t want to be more visible?
An average 170-pound male would need to consume four drinks in one hour on an empty stomach to rach a BAL of .08 [BAL = blood alcohol level; .08 is the legal maximum].
So if you have four drinks with a meal, you’re probably legal. If you’ve ever had four drinks with a meal, you know there are some legally drunk-ass people out there on the road. Watch your ass.
In approximately 44 percent of violent traffic altercations the perpetrator used a weapon such as a firearm, kinfe, club, or tire iron. In 23 percent, the aggressive drier used the vehicle as a weapon. More unusual weaons included pepper spray, egges, golf clubs, and, in one instance, a crossbow. (…) Never underestimate another driver’s capacity for mayhem.
Yikes! Scare tactics in time-lapsed html are pretty intimidating. But the truth is, not that many people die in road rage. Mostly it’s about intimidation. Don’t get intimidated.
[ Previously: You can learn to drive: Part 2 ]
Saturday September 17, 2005
It’s September 26th, the aniversary of the big 1926 hurricane that gave the first big popluation of Florida a taste of some tropical juice. It’s strange to think about this in the wake of Katrina, the strongest storm for as long as we’ve been keeping track, the most destructive since we’ve been giving them names . . . but 1926 is before all of that; this hurricane was just called “The Big One.” Nobody knows exacly how strong it was, but the Miami River rose by nearly 12 feet, damage reached $115 million, and more than 240 people died (most of them because they went out in the calm of the eye and got trapped). That’s $115 million in damage out of what little there was down here back then. But what there was, it pretty much destroyed.
Storms bring a lot of strange happenings because of vacuums. A strong wind passing over any object produces a vacuum in its holes and hollows. I left a car near the bay with the windows tightly closed during one storm. Afterward, it was found half filled with seaweed and small dead fish that apparently had been sucked in through gaps in the floorboards.
It’s not every day that Critical Miami gets to bring you some really really good news. But here you go: the County has a new system for solving all your problems. Something on your mind? Pick up your phone and dial 3-1-1. The only requirement is that your call not be an emergency. Their operators are trained to handle almost anything. The potential is endless; we shall be availing ourselves of this service, and bringing you reports as they develop.
Thursday September 15, 2005
And here we were getting all exited about our new PAC, when the Herald has to come and dump a bunch of coal in our stocking. First we have the price (which we reported earlier as already vastly overblown) going up by another $34 million. Holy smokes!
But you see, in a project as complex as this, $34 million is not that much, really. County Manager George Burgess says so:
“Some of our estimates were low . . . I don’t think this is an issue of miscalculation at all,” Burgess said. “This is probably one of the most complex construction jobs in the country today.”
Ah. Thanks George. How complex? Well, one source of complexity is where people are going to park. The Herald article refers to this as a “gnawing issue.” Apparently the best solution going is to build a garage underground. This has never been done in South Florida (and anyone who lives here knows why: you only have to dig about two feet before you hit water!), but luckily the guys with the plan are from out of town, so we’re sure they’ve got a plan. Meanwhile, “an underground garage can cost at least 25 percent to 40 percent more than above-ground—and it may not be effectively sealed from leaks or flooding.”
In the end, we’re sure it’s going to be great. In fact, there is plenty of available space for parking around the PAC, and the only question is how the most possible revenue can be wrung from every last square foot, a mission we wholeheartedly support. But we will be curious to see what the average guest will pay for parking in the Center’s first couple of years of oparation. From the sound of things, it is not likely to be cheap.
Wednesday September 14, 2005
Hey, remember a couple of months ago when a judge said it was ok for individual people to order wine from out of state? Well Sayvie Review links today to a story about how the Florida wine industry is fighting the decision.
You heard right: Florida has a wine industry. And you didn’t even know it, did you? The, um, “industry” consists of over 10 wineries, some of which are large and important enough to have their very own web site. Why, as recently as as 1998, a florida wine got good reviews (it’s the Blanc du Bois from these nice folks).
Nice going, guys. The only thing better then finding out about a local group of businesses is finding out they’re trying to screw their customers. We’re sure these places do a brisk business from walk-ins, but one suspects that mail order to individuals is a rather larger potential market. And wouldn’t people ordering out-of-state wine eventually lead to people ordering more in-state wine? I guess these folks didn’t think of that. Or maybe they saw how much success the RIAA was having suing its customers, and wanted to get a piece of the action.
It’s bad enough that we live in a country where it’s considered controversial to give gay couples equal rights as straights. Now we have a resurgence of actual violence and other overt discrimination against gays right here on Miami Beach, supposedly a world famous gay-friendly place. This crap makes us want to scream: there are real problems in the world, and our society is so ass-backwards that we have to worry about cowards (and it is always two or more guys against one) picking on people different from them.
Some homophobes have semi-legitimate Bible-based reasons for their misguided beliefs, some can be reasoned with, and some are just grossed out by something they perceive as being different from themselves. People who attack others are not of any of these categories – they’re just plain assholes. The only thing we can do is refuse to tolerate their presence. Shaquille O’Neal, of all people, found himself in a position to do just that the other day. He called the cops and followed the assholes to make sure they got arrested.
We implore anyone who sees any sort of crime to report it to the police. But when it involves senseless violence against the innocent… actually, it would be nice if the next time something like this happened a bunch of people around turned on the attackers and gave them a taste of their own, but you didn’t hear that from us. And Shaq, as far as we’re concerned, all is forgiven about the flood lights.
Tuesday September 13, 2005
[Posting has been slow lately due to various medical and circumstantial reasons. Meanwhile, please accept this latest rant by Steve Klotz, who might consider sharing what this has to do with Miami.]
You gotta fly from Miami to Philadelphia. You just do, okay? So you visit USAir.com to see your options. You figure, a quick look at a city’s major carrier is a good place to start. Right?
Key in the days and preferred times of your departure and return, then press Enter. A lovely selection of flights appears (in no discernible order), complete with time of departure and return, number of stops (if any), and that ever-useful code that tells you what kind of aircraft. Incredibly, what does not appear is the flight number and the ticket price. You can obtain this valuable information (and more) by clicking on a little Information icon. But if there are 25 flight options, you’ll need to do this 25 times.
Soooo, go back to the home page and specify that you want to inquire by price. Re-enter your cities of departure and return, and your choice of dates. Again, you get a list by price…...but—deja vu!—you do NOT get flight numbers or times! You can open the next screen and get this information one flight at a time, as before.
This is so broken. Who designed this? Albanians? FEMA? Screw this crap. USAir has been a Mickey Mouse operation for decades, ever since they changed their name from Allegheny Airlines (the mountain range into which they were fond of crashing their passenger jets). Over the years I’ve fought with these sour bastards over missing luggage, misprinted tickets, late arrivals, slow service, food poisoning, articles stolen from baggage, and more. Their flight attendants and service personnel are the nastiest, least helpful, and overtly hostile to passengers since Air Uganda staffed its craft with cannibals. In fact, years before 911, I sent them a note complaining that “On USAir, the terrorists are the stewardesses” (they did not respond). Who’s surprised they can’t operate their own goddam website?
So next time I try CheapFlights.com, and ironically, the best flight is USAir. Reluctantly, I book it, then just for shits and giggles I go to USAir.com and look for the flight. Glory Oskie, It’s not there! I send an e-mail on their own cumbersome pain-in-the-ass response form (which comes back undeliverable the first two times), asking USAir how I can confirm the flight, seats, receipt, print a boarding pass, etc. when the flight doesn’t come up on their own website. Six days later I get an inadequate response packed with apologies but short on data. (I was told my seat assignment was a strapado in the aircraft’s underbelly, along with the non-perishable baggage.) And they won’t give me a receipt. They don’t address the issue of the flight not appearing on their own website.
USAir has filed for bankruptcy twice and is not expected to survive a third. Meanwhile, Air Uganda is doing fine. If you fly, request the vegetarian meal (email@example.com).
[See all Articles by Steve]
Sunday September 11, 2005
[Contributed by Isabel Moros]
It was a bust! There was an insane thunderstorm that prevented us from looking at art in the hipper galleries, aka rocket projects. We missed people playing video games, which apparently was very rewarding for those in search of entertainment. where we did go, B. Steinbaum, there were some delicious cakes that were a little too sweet if you ate the frosting, otherwise they also were satisfying.
The rest of the show evaded me, as there were too many people shielding themselves from the storm and riding these s&m-like, swinging seats that were upholstered in a variety of fluffy materials and intended to appeal to a general sense of sexuality and nihilistic tendencies . . . I was there for 10 seconds and really just wanted to kill everyone, i didn’t look at the video, or inspect anything closely as there were people throwing oversized balloons at my head. Either way there was more to the cakes than anything else and it seemed that T. Diehl was trying too hard to impress us with materials and atmospheric manipulation that in the end was more of a distraction than anything else.
Friday September 9, 2005
Ok, people, it’s legit: We’re all going to die. Katrina swept killer bees across the ocean and into our fair city. Firefighters killed the hive, but not before the queen got a chance to escape. Beekeeper Adrian Valero, on the scene, said that where the queen goes the hive follows. Yikes!
Shocker! The State attorney has decided not to prosecute Jim DeFede for taping his conversation with Arthur Teele.
There are compelling reasons for the state to exercise its discretion and decline to prosecute Mr. DeFede on a criminal charge. There appears to have been no malicious intent on the part of DeFede to violate the privacy rights of Mr. Teele or to utilize the tape for any commercial purpose or to harm or embarrass Mr. Teele.
However, it would be incorrect for anyone to assume from this result that Mr. DeFede’s actions, in tape recording a conversation without consent, were appropriate or justified. They were not.
DeFede will be holding a press confrence, which should be aired on 5 pm local news.
Update: The Tallahassee Democrat has the best post-press confrence write-up:
“I’ve always felt that my actions, when viewed in their full context, would be understood,” [DeFede] said at a Friday afternoon press conference in the office of his Miami lawyer. “The state attorney’s office took the time, and now they’ve issued a report saying they clearly understood what I did. Now it’s up to The Miami Herald to see what kind of institution they are.”
The Herald came out with an expanded version of their story later in the day.
Of all the galleries in Miami, the invite mailing list to be on is Bernice Steinbaum’s. Years ago, she began to distinguish her gallery by sending out lavishly printed and die-cut invitations, each one a little more fancy then the previous. At some point other materials, such as fabric, came into play (many of her pieces from that period were particularly nice). Lately, we’ve seen a move into trinkets. The invitation too the “Mirror Mirror” show included a real little mirror, another invite included a tinny disposable camera (with film)! Now we get this gold lollipop bunny in a shiny wrapper and a glossy pink card. Yum. But ok, let’s be serious.
The invite is for Teresa Diehl’s solo show, “The Return of Pleasure.” Diehl, who teaches photography at BCC (from what we’ve herad, to say her teaching style is “intense” is an understatement), is known for walking the creepy/sublime line. What’s she done with Steinbaum’s first floor? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Elsewhere on Saturday
Tons of stuff. See Franklin’s list, or maybe Onajide’s is more to your taste? Especially worth note is Peggy’s installation at Dorsch (!), TM Sisters at Rocket, and COOPER’s “Black Lung” at Snitzer. We made Snitzer’s staff crazy trying to get a picture of the latter piece, so it would be silly not to use it (thanks, Tyler!):
Better late then never (?), here is the picture of empty onion bins at Publix last friday, the day after Katrina hit Miami. I’m sure we all would have enjoyed it more a week ago. That’s just how it goes.
Thursday September 8, 2005
Frances Trombly makes some of her work by hand, weaving and cross stitching; other pieces are created on a loom. Either way, it’s time-consuming stuff, and the woman has been busy lately. She’s just come off a well-received show at Tachme’s, has a current show at MoCA, and is in Hanging by a Thread at the Moore Space (opening tonight) and in Reduced at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood (opening tomorrow).
Others have written about Trombly’s work much more eloquently then we’re going to, but let’s have a brief run-down. The work succeeds through a kind of clear-eyed pith, married to hard work. Say what you will, but work resonates when it presents itself as the result of effort spent, whether that effort be physical, mental, or (as here) both. Trombly uses several different fabric-related media, and carefully selects her subject matter to each one. The roughness and rigidity of plywood, for example, lends itself well to cross-stitching. There is a value in drawing attention to the medium in this sort of work which Trombly seems reluctant to do. Rumor has it that she considered recording her loom and playing back the sound for the installation at the Art and Culture Center, although ended up not doing so. A careful balancing act, perhaps?
More samples of her work can be seen on her web site (a not-too-bad flash design).
Wednesday September 7, 2005
[Contributed by Steve Klotz]
1.) The “G” in Maynard G. Krebs stands for “Walter.”
2.) Gilligan’s first name is “Willy.”
3.) President George W. Bush once cited Gilligan as “my role model.”
Okay, I made that last one up. Maybe.
[See all Articles by Steve]
Monday September 5, 2005
Over at msg-inc.org, we are experimenting with how a quasi-blog web site can be used to help an art collaborative group do its work. The site, a work in progress, contains lots of information for the patient visitor, and a running dialog between members that anyone can follow along with. Hopefully, it’s a confusing peek into an uncertain endevor. A sort-of history is along the left bar of the site, and media clips can be downloaded on the right bar. MSG Newness has been around since 2003, and has been involved with Tachmes Gallery, and more recently, performing music.
Sunday September 4, 2005
In the Herald today, Elisa Turner reviews the show at the MAC we told you about back in July. Now you’re going to hear the Artblog crew bemoan that the MAC is getting another write-up, when the “much more deserving” Olitski show earlier this year got no coverage at all by local print media. There’s really no need for this to be an either-or situation, though: one review of a show per week would cover anything worth covering in Miami, and it’s not unreasonable to expect that of a major newspaper. The Herald fails us in this respect, and it fails us in many other ways, too. For example, notice that the review is running one week before the closing date of the show.
Now, suppose you wanted to see what other art exhibits the Herald’d covered recently. You might go to the story and click on the Visual Arts link in the sidebar, expecting to see said story prominently mentioned, followed maybe by a list of older visual arts stories, perhaps listed by author. No such luck: the link instead takes you to a mostly blank page that allows you to click on “listings” for Museums, Galleries, and Classes. It also gives you a brief bio of, of all things, the Herald’s architecture critic. (Why no other bios? Because this person is the Herald’s only writer who relates to this category – Elisa Turner is a freelancer, as is anyone who’s written about art in the Herald in a long time.)
The “listings,” by the way, are totally broken. We tried clicking on Galleries, and were taken to an unattractive listings page (1 of 8!) on which the first record was “821” (apparently a database error), the second record was “Actors’ Playhouse” (not a gallery, duh), and the third and fourth records were both “Ambrosino Gallery,” each providing slightly different fragments of information (at least they both agreed on the address, though neither gave any hint of what was going on there).
This is broken beyond belief, even before you consider that most people who would click on this link are interested in opening reception information. The Herald should be shamed that Franklin, working alone and for free, provides this information about a hundred times better then them. Over at Artblog we’ve frequently discussed the Herald’s failures in covering the arts; it shows little hope of improving. Is it too expensive to hire someone to write one review per week, and allocate a half of some clerk’s time to gathering useful art listings? It’s a tough sell when you consider that the Herald pays someone to do this.
Update: Franklin responds.
Also, a little more poking around shed light on the archiving issue: while the Herald is a little more lax about letting you see older articles, they still have a system in place where they charge heavily for older content. I don’t know what kind of major cash they’re taking in with this system, but I just want to go on record as saying that St. Huck hilariously and definitively disproved the profitability of this sort of system with real math(!) back in 1998.
The New York Times, which he was specifically addressing, has seen the light, making all their archives (back to 1851!) available online for free. (oops . . . wrong!)
And another thing! The “charge” link above, points out this:
The Miami Herald Archive contains no photos, charts, or graphics.
WTF?! Were hard disk prices really so outrageous in the 90s that this stuff couldn’t be archived? But the real crying shame is that even now, when the Herald is feebly attempting to incorporate “multimedia” (the little icons next to some article headlines . . . it’s really pretty pathetic) content, the question should be begged of why online newspapers deal with photos so terribly badly. Why do we get little 250 pixel thumbnails that don’t get bigger? Why is the new version more of these little pictures, instead of more and bigger? The physical paper has a cost related that relates to the size of each photo, but since that’s not true online, why are the online pictures smaller? Why are pictures black and white online just because they’re black and white in print? Why are many pictures missing from the online editions?
The Herald is paying lots of photographers good money to be out there making pictures; why not post them online? Why not post almost all of them online, and then narrow them for the print edition? Why not show them at good resolutions . . . say, 1000 pixels across (you could easily allow low-bandwidth users to switch to lower resolutions)?
Friday September 2, 2005
Oh yeah . . . we were supposed to tell you about this. A few of our friends had an opening at Ambrosino; originally scheduled for last Friday, then rescheduled for this Wednesday. Shit came up and we didn’t write about it or make to the show. The picture above (dino and jenny seven am) is by Hugo Montoya; others in the show (all photographers) include Ben Carrillo, Harlan Erskine (his “Affordable Houses” appear in the show), Hugo Zanzi, Sara Padgett, and Holly Lynton.
The last time Hugo had a show it was at FIU, and that was on a Tuesday. What the fuck is up with the receptions in the middle of the week? Can someone talk to Ambrosino and maybe throw a closing reception on a Friday or something? In the meantime, go check out the show.
So says Miami City Commissioner Tomás Regalado, of the city’s handling of a $255 million bond issue us voters, in our wisdom, approved in 2001. Imagine that – Miami politicians playing fast and loose with our cash.
This kid has had it rough. A blockage took out his small intestine when he was 5 months old. The IVs from treatment took out his liver. Unfortunately, in Japan they don’t do organ transplants on kids, so his dad got him to Chile, and finally to the UM Medical School, where he had six different organs transplanted: liver, pancreas, stomach, small and large intestines and spleen. It cost his dad $1 million, but at least everything turned out ok.
Clyde Butcher is often dismissed by “serious” photographers. But while they may fail as serious contemporary art, his photos are technically astounding, laborious, and sublime, in a way that is equal parts awe-of-nature and chemical/optical magic.
Butcher’s formula is simple – he applies the Ansel Adams approach to Florida’s tropical landscapes. This means employing a huge camera which takes an 8×10 inch sheets of film for each photo. It means wading through waist-deep jungle with a hardwood tripod, said camera, and other ancillary equipment. It means setting up for a shot and waiting hours, sometimes days, for the right light to take the photo. And it means meticulously hand-printing giant photos, often with complex burning and dodging.
The end result are huge photographs (some 5×8 feet) with more detail per square inch then you’ll see anywhere else (that’s what the big negative is for). That their highly stylized black and white detachment does not evoke the vivid, hot, mosquito-bitten reality most of us associate with the everglades is, perhaps, what gives them their supernatural drive. But Butcher isn’t just taking what he needs from the land; he’s involved in conservation, and has lived on the Big Cypress National Preserve for over ten years.
Butcher is not quite a Florida treasure, but his work is difficult not to enjoy (although employees at the cultural centers where he often shows do their best to ruin his work with crappy presentation). His photographs are on view in Naples through the end of September, he’s doing his big open house swamp walk this weekend, and he’ll be on Ed Bell’s show today at 1pm.
Thursday September 1, 2005
We’re straying way off topic here, but hang in for one more post. What will become of New Orleans? People are trying to help, but more is needed. Artblog recomends giving to Mercy Corps and Craft Emergency Relief Fund. BoingBoing has a series of cooky suggestions. Frances is worried about the animals.
In situations like this, though, the smart money goes to organizations that have a high ratio of money that goes to help people vs. money that goes to administration and fundraising. The American Red Cross is the old standby, but they’re also the ones doing the most help in the field right now. And please, do not earmark your donations to help Katrina victims specifically; all that does is tie their hands. What if something even worse happens tomorrow and the Red Cross can’t use its money to help people who need it most?
OK, now get those checkbooks and credit cards going.