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Tuesday January 31, 2006

More money more Tuesday

Let’s start out with some videos, and work our way into the heavier stuff:

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Monday January 30, 2006

Beacon sex assult censorship scandal

Honestly, situations where a number of people are acting like assholes are not uncommon in this town. What’s breathtaking in this particular story, though, is the sheer scope of stupidity that comes into play, how at each turn, the player that comes along somehow manages to up the ante of, as Kathleen would say, assholery. It all starts very simply, though, and it hinges on a modern American classic: the fine line between getting frisked, and getting felt up.

It all began on July 7, 2005, when the victim (let’s call her “Girl X” – “victim” is so one-dimensional, and Critical Miami editorial policy forbids the use of names of sexual assault victims), who is 18, by the way, was making out with her boyfriend in a car in Tamiami Park (this is at 1:30 am) after an evening on the town, as teenagers will. An FIU police car rolls up on them, all lights off, and an officer knocks on their window. Appropriate questions at this point:

  1. Why not leave two people minding their own business in a parked car alone?
  2. Why should law enforcement officers sneak up on people with his lights off?
  3. Why is an FIU campus police officer in Tamiami Park, decidedly OFF the FIU campus, anyway?
  4. Come to think of it, why does FIU need a freaking police force? What are they, like, the Sovereign Nation of FIU? What possible advantage could their be, except to make sure no student late for class ever parks on the grass without getting an immediate parking ticket (been there) . . . but I digress.

Anyway, the allegedly asshole cop (“allegedly” is holding real actual water here, because it was her word against his, even though he’s been convicted now, so technically it’s actually not “allegedly” anymore) orders them out of the car, searches it, then orders them back in one by one, while he frisks the other. All of that, in my opinion, would be bad enough, but then he goes and feels up Girl X.

How, specifically, is unclear; heck, she wouldn’t have been the first one to take a perfectly normal frisking and be offended by it, but nevermind – she was able to convince a jury of his peers, and the cop, Frederick Eugene Currie, was convicted of sexual battery and battery. This takes us up to last week, when the verdict was handed down, and he apparently made a big scene, collapsing the courtroom and all.

In a way, though, the real story is just getting started, as all the media in town are getting their reports together. For the most part, it’s accepted practice to leave the victim’s name out of the account, and all but one newspaper did just that. Who gets the clueless dipshit award for printing it? Look: it’s The Beacon, FIU’s own campus newspaper. In the Beacon article (which you might have a hard time getting to, because apparently the Beacon, too, needs to protect it’s precious content with some horrible user registration scheme; maybe don’t bother, because they’ve since removed the name from, at least, the online version of the story, but more on that in a second), they decided to throw caution, and common human decency, to the wind.

A stupid decision, but there’s an even stupider decision right around the corner: FIU’s general counsel, Cristina Mendoza, sends the FIU Police out to confiscate all the copies of the paper, basically sieze them from the racks!

By the way, Florida did, in fact, use to have a law against revealing the names of victims of sexual assault in print. The law was declared unconstitutional in 1994, a fact that Cristina Mendoza, who is, remember, FIU’s General Counsel, didn’t bother to check into (she also apparently hasn’t heard of the 1st Amendment). Someone at the school did, though, and the papers were sheepishly returned to Beacon staff. The staff promptly found a lawyer willing to represent them (for free, of course) in action against the school; one Tom Julin. Oh, and we get this golden nugget:

“Basically, they censored us. That’s the issue here,” said editor-in-chief of FIU’s Beacon newspaper, Harry Coleman, 21, a junior. “The issue is not about printing the girl’s name.”

Is that right, Harry? You’re the victim here eh? Then why’d you backpedal and take the girl’s name off the (previously mentioned) web version of the article, if that’s soooo not the issue? Maybe ‘cause you realized how, even though allowed by law, doing certain things just makes you a big jerk?

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Saturday January 28, 2006

Dog-on-Boar-ring

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

The Art and Culture Center of Hollywood opened its performing arts season Friday night at the Hollywood Central Performing Arts Center (HCPAC) with an astonishing dance company, Koresh, of Philadelphia. Members of the audience exited raving, some vowing to return this evening (Saturday) to see it again.

Tickets won’t be a problem. Half the seats in the auditorium (capacity: 500) were empty, a fact almost as astonishing as the performance. “Anywhere else but here you’d pay at least $50, stand in line, and sit in a packed house,” one seasoned patron noted. “What do people in South Florida do for cultural entertainment that’s better than this?”

Glad you asked. Turns out they’re heading out to the Seminole reservation to watch a little dog-on-boar action.

It’s pretty basic. Known (cleverly) as a “hog-dog fight,” a pit bull terrier or bulldog is tossed into a rectangular, 25- by 25-foot outdoor ring for a one-minute match. The object is to see how fast the dog can catch a terrified pig as it runs squealing for its life. The dog clamps its jaws on the pig’s snout, ears, or balls. Then “trainers” pry the animals apart with a metal bar. Surviving pigs are returned to the ring to fight again. If the pig collapses, they leave it for tomorrow’s breakfast bacon.

Great fun, yes? No wonder tumbleweed blows through Broward’s galleries, theaters, and concert halls on weekends. With football dominating Saturday and Sunday afternoons, you can’t expect citizens to whet their bloodthirsty cravings contemplating a pack of prancing poofsters, right? Watching dogs chew live pigs to death sets the proper mood.

Yeehaw.

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Thursday January 26, 2006

Roses for Jack Thompson

Jack Thompson is the Miami lawyer who’s led the war agains what he considers inappropriately violent video games (despite the fact that they make kids smarter). He’s gotten pretty famous declaring the evils of Grand Theft Auto (admittedly, a video game with some issues), often appearing on national media.

Well. This does not make him popular with the online crowd, as you can imagine. Rather then the standard hatemail approach, though, his legion enemies have begun a campaign to send him flowers. There is some sort of rationale behind this, but the Flowers for Jack website will explain it better then I ever could. Naturally, Flowers for Jack has a blog. I gather that they’ve raised about $1,500 so far, $650 of which will go to buy roses to be delivered to Thompson’s office, while the rest will go to the charity Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play. The deadline to make donations is Friday night; watch the blog for updates – they’re trying to get media to cover the delivery.

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Wednesday January 25, 2006

Tremont towing

I’ve been a bad, bad boy. First the impure thoughts about Fiona Apple, and now I’ve been caught parking my car in an inappropriate place. To wit: behind my building, blatantly underneath a tow-away sign. I can say very little in my defense (it was late on a Friday night, but not quite late enough, there was no parking for blocks, I used to be able to park under a similar sign at my old building a couple of blocks away without reprecussion) that any would-be parking violator couldn’t say.

Luckily, the nice folks at Tremont Towing were available to remove my car, simultenously getting it out of the way (before it could inconvenience anyone) and reprimanding me, loving-parent-like, for the error of my ways. Well, I called ‘em up:

  1. Yup, the’ve got my car.
  2. It’s going to cost $272, but only if I get it by 8 pm (no problem.
  3. Oh, and by the way, they only take cash).

Thanks, fellas! None of this presented too much of a problem – Tremont is right behind the South Beach Publix (ie very convenient to an ATM), and about a 20 minute walk from my apartment. I got there, and there are a few people hanging out in front of the building. A two-inch thick plexi window separated us from the clerk – nobody goes inside.

The folks waiting there were iritated: there are three or four steps between arrival and getting your car, and between each there is lots of waiting. This is probably to discourage you from misparking again in the future—the less plesant this experience is, the greater the deterrent effect—so it’s a good thing. I joined the others in waiting. “I remember this – everything’s a mission in Miami,” said a cute girl, one of a party of three, who were in a big hurry, obviously having important places to go.

Anyway, the Tremont folks were very nice, considering the hostility they get from some of their clients, and in under a half hour, I had my car back without a scratch (although, when I went back last night, a guy had called the cops about supposed nicks to his van that supposedly happened while it was in captivity). How they got to the $272 figure remains a mystery to me; clicking on the picture of their window will take you to a close-up of their fee-sign, while clicking on my receipt will enlarge it; maybe you can figure it out.

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Tuesday January 24, 2006

Hey man, nice shot

Sorry . . . this is a small item, but too much to pass up. I understand it’s an accident, but imagine if not. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time is a pretty good platitude, but what about Don’t do the crime if you don’t want to get shot in the balls?

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Winter Tuesday linkiage

Robert Annable on the tower of the Herald building

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Monday January 23, 2006

Swap Shop

After hearing about the Miami Beach Antique Show, there was only one reasonable thing to do this weekend: head for the Swap Shop! The circus may be gone, but there’s still plenty to see and do, especially with the current weather, which, despite being 5 to 10 degrees higher then it should be this time of year, makes being outside for a few hours not a forgone conclusion.

You want crap? This is where they have the crap: machetes, old toys, furniture in varying conditions, 8-track players and the 8-tracks they play, and chotckes up the wazoo.

Here’s a very reasonable gentleman doing a brisk business selling preserved piranhas.

Reproductions of Michelangelo’s David are fun for the whole family, whether in full-figure, 3/4, or bust configurations.

“Jesus is my Boss” is the hat-du-jour.

A dancing baby for Ally McBeal die-hards. Really works!

We didn’t really get close to this guy’s nuts, so we can’t vouch for their freshness. The freshness of his van, though, is plain for all to see.

The aforementioned old toys. Note Tickle-me-Elmo. Also note the crutches: the Swap Shop is your one-stop source for reasonably priced used crutches.

More toys: Lambchop chills with an unnamed Power-Ranger.

Set amid unidentified pieces of exercise equipment and lawn tools, a perfectly lovely little oil-on-panel

Antiques, as promised. Seriously, though: the silver may be real, but lots of the other “antiques” are fake as hell.

A lovely collection of wood and leather animal statues.

An impressive array of towel racks.

Wild horses.

The kitchen sink.

A collection of Cuban Puerto-Rican-flag-themed clothing and towels. Note: two different Daddy Yankee totes in the lower left.

Over in the produce section, a selection of lovely orchids. The problem with which being, after a few hours in the sun, the next stop is always a nice long brunch. You wouldn’t want to leave sensitive plants in the car for that long.

Out front, the carnival was hopping. This ride actually got stuck while we watched, but as you can see nobody was put in danger.

The log ride: more fun then having a bucket of water dumped on your head.

And there you have it. A note about parking: the “preferred” parking, which is first on your right as you approach from I-95 (on Sunrise Blvd), is $5. It’s also packed, and very difficult to find a spot in unless you’re early (the Swap Shop opens at 5 am on Sundays!). The second lot on the left is $3 – not a bad compromise, but pretty far from the action. The lot across the street is $2, but you may end up walking through an unpaved dirt lot.

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Friday January 20, 2006

Fullswing Friday

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Thursday January 19, 2006

Wall of hate

wall of hate

Nova Southeastern University has come upon a rather, uh, creative way to celebrate the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King: they’ve erected a wall of cinderblocks and inscribed it with as many racial and other offensive epithets as they could think of. Come noon on Friday, they’re going to ceremoniously tear it down. A sign next to the wall reads:

Through the act of constructing a wall representing our oppression of others and bringing down this structure, participants in this event are reminded of the need to act personally and experience the power to create positive change in the future.

No idea how intentional the Pink Floyd reference is, but the writing on the wall quote in the picture suggests it crossed their minds. We also get “Geek,” “Jap,” “Chico,” “Oreo,” “Dyke,” “Puta,” “Lard Ass,” and “Feminist.”

I wonder about that last one. Sure, “feminist” has sometimes been used as a derisive term in recent years, but are we ready to concede that it is “strictly” negative? Is it a word we want to “tear down”? It seems like a halfhearted step into a completely different set of words: “Communist,” for example comes to mind, and it’s much more likely to be intended as an insult . . . wasn’t Dr. King accused of being a Communist?

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Wednesday January 18, 2006

Tuesday ketchup

New court building, downtown

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Tuesday January 17, 2006

Gone clubbin'

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

It’s not that hard to understand, is it? It’s only when something lurid and reprehensible like this happens that homeless people get humanized. Otherwise, they’re nuisances at best, disposable rubbish at worst; bad for the neighborhood, dangerous, potential criminals. They stink like shit, they pis their pants, they’re covered in vermin. Some are burned-out druggies, others are stumble-down drunks, and some are just fuckin’ Pluto. Losers. Parasites. I hear this every day, don’t you?

Unlike dumb, ugly critters like Muscovy Ducks, they’re not even covered by environmental protection or animal cruelty laws.

So what’s to inhibit a pack of kids, inevitably picking up on all of this, from having a little fun? Who’s gonna care? Looked at this way, they’re doing the rest of us a favor, like cleaning out a pigeon’s nest in someone’s crawl space. The real surprise is it doesn’t happen more often.

I’ll leave the hand wringing and the moralizing to those who do it best (see your local newspaper: they’re just warming up), just as most of us (including myself) leave the hard work of human services to The Salvation Army, Broward Outreach Center, Camillus House, Miami Rescue Mission, etc. If you don’t want to get your hands dirty helping out, maybe just send a check. And I don’t mean the newspapers.

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Monday January 16, 2006

Weenies and meanies

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

Sunday’s Miami Hurled carried commentary by Clark Hoyt, Knight-Ridder’s Washington editor, regarding the Senate Republican Conference’s characterization a K-R story analyzing Judge Samuel Alito’s record. “Neither objective nor accurate,” is one neat summary. “Illiterate” a funnier one.

Hoyt’s approach is to sketch the parameters of the controversy, stating K-R’s position, best summarized by one paragraph: “Our job is to be neither with them nor against them. It’s to find out the facts, as best we can, and to report them as fully, fairly and accurately as we can”. He invites readers to examine the article for themselves, and provides a website to review other commentary.

Nice, neat, fair, measured, balanced, and professional, yes? Also, corporate, bland, bloodless, obsequious, testosterone-free, and dull.

This precisely exhibits the problem with contemporary mainstream journalism, and any more it’s the rule, not the exception. If he’s proud of the piece and has confidence in his correspondents, then K-R’s top dog needs to come out with six-guns blazing. He needs to tell the Senate Republican Conference and its hired stooges to go to hell and die. He should flame their asses purple, deride the frauds and mountebanks out there blowing smoke, defy them to refute his findings, and defend his position as a soothsayer; all the while exposing their prejudiced agenda. He needs to call a spade a spade, not act spayed (yeah, I know).

But most of all, he needs to do this with lucid, compelling, and inspired prose that rivets readers’ attention, not only to his argument here, but to the entire issue that gave rise to it. This is the journalist’s real job: keeping contemporary audiences informed and entertained with the words he writes and the thoughts they provoke.

But not only won’t you won’t find that in the Miami Hurled, you’ll be hard-pressed to find it anywhere else in MSM. And we’re all the poorer for it.

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City of Miami vs. Jimbo's? (updated)

Bocce ball at Jimbo's

An ominous article in New Times celebrates Jimbo’s while suggesting that its days may be numbered. Seems that a master plan is in the works for Virginia Key, and city officials are not too keen on including Jimbo’s in it. They’re not threatening to come in with bulldozers just yet, but they clearly want to keep their options open:

[T]he pending Virginia Key master plan — with its stated goal of introducing land use policies and developing public open spaces, including possible ball fields in the area of Jimbo’s — has put a question mark over the bar’s future. What some consider Jimbo’s charm — a raft of code violations, from rambling roosters and rotting mattresses to rusting car hulks and rank outhouses — doesn’t help its case with the city.

“You can’t enforce code in Little Havana and not out there,” said Miami City Manager Joe Arriola. “Places like that don’t belong in the City of Miami.” Despite his own opinion, Arriola said he is open to feedback by way of planned public forums on the master plan. “There’s no hidden agenda,” Arriola said. “Jimbo’s is on the table like everything out there is on the table.”

Introduce Arriola’s e-mail at this point (it’s jarriola [at] ci.miami.fl.us, if you must know . . . ) would be beside the point – there is going to be this master planning process, and only through that official vehicle will we (the people) have any say. Rob Burr, who runs Jimbo’s website, sent out an e-mail to mobilize the troops:

Every once in a while, someone in local government wonders aloud why we should not get rid of Jimbo’s. They say he has no lease, you can’t consume beer on the premises, smoking fish is not allowed, etc.

It may be time for all those that understand and appreciate Jimbo’s to pay attention to what’s going on. James Luznar is one of the nicest, most personal persons on this earth and he deserves our support. He deserves to operate his business, as he has for decades, without the interference of of those that would try to remove him from his enclave on Virginia Key.

I urge everyone to sit up and take notice. Let’s hope it’s all talk and no action. If not, the time to stand up and be counted may be near.

There you have it folks. Jimbo’s is one of those places that shouldn’t exist, but does. It’s one of the Miami secrets (like how to get from going south on Biscayne Blvd. to west on I-395) that locals know about and visitors rarely figure out. It seems unlikely that it’ll survive another fifty years, but then it’s pretty unreasonable that it’s survived the first fifty.

Are the quasi-vagrants that frequent the place going to show up for citizen feedback master-planning sessions? How would a place like Jimbo’s get formalized in zoning ordinances, anyway? And what’s going to happen when Jimbo Luznar, who is 78, is no longer with us?

Update: Rob says:

Some of Jimbo’s friends are meeting at Jimbo’s at noon Saturday to discuss his current problem with the city. If you are interested, and your schedule permits, come to Jimbo’s Saturday at noon for a discussion with Jimbo.

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Thursday January 12, 2006

Squeezed out

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

There’s no evidence supporting the theory the citrus canker
eradication program was finally yanked because of Critical Miami and other hyeniform screaming from south Florida consumers. No, as noted previously, this had everything to do with growers themselves finally getting boned.

But with the plug finally pulled on arboreal assassinations, the mood in Tallahassee is wistful, not sad.

“We got better’n ten good years outta this,” declares Secretary of Agriculture Charles Bronson (no relation to the deceased chisel-faced actor). “And collected $36 Million in USDA funds this year alone. ‘Tween us at state and the feds, we spread over $500 Million around. That’s damn good work!”

“And the only ones real pissed off are those rat bastards down
south,” gloats Snarla, his admin assistant. “Every time we squeezed their nuts, the rest of the state sent fruit baskets and thank-yous!”

“A real triumph for the Governor,” says Bronson, gleefully. “Shame to give up the gravy train—all told we were gonna pour about $1.5 Billion of public funds into friendly pockets over the next cuppla years—but we did plenty. We made our people happy, and screwed the rest. And if that ain’t that what a government’s for, I don’t know why the Christ we have one.”

Officially, the state blames the last two years of hurricanes for blowing canker spores all over hell and creation. Prostitutes masquerading as researchers still spew the weird science supporting the destruction of any healthy tree within a 1900-foot radius of an infected one, but say the disease is now too widespread. This is known as “fabricating plausible deniability.”

Residents whose trees were destroyed shouldn’t anticipate finding replacements any time soon: it will be at least two years
before new trees can be planted, and an edible crop takes
another five. “Keep your can openers handy,” advises Bronson,
happily. “And make sure you bring lots of money when you shop for Florida citrus products!”

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Wednesday January 11, 2006

Bayfront balloon rides

A company is planning on offering balloon rides (for 30 people at a time!) over Downtown Miami for $14 a pop. Almost as much fun as Trapeze lessons. (Via 411. The image is obviously a computer rendering.)

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South Beach: the TV show

Oh good, now we have everything we need, including a shallow, stupid Baywatch knock-off TV show based on South Beach, on UPN. Promises to make Miami Ink look like 24.

Speaking of which . . . has anyone seen that Nip/Tuck show? I hear it’s stupid, but I always thought that was a good idea for a Miami TV show . . . and at least a concept with potential and a good name. But I digress. Just ‘cause all the critics hate a show, does that make it not worth checking out? Probably, though those inclined can do so tonight at 8 pm (2 hour special, which . . . doesn’t that conflict with Lost?).

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Monday January 9, 2006

Head for Sure

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

Reliable sources have reported body parts turning up in some unorthodox locations throughout the region, the most unnerving of which is the floating head in Jupiter inlet. Turns out that this sort of thing goes on often enough that the state has an entire department established to investigate these incidents and coordinate with local law enforcement and environmental authorities. So I dutifully place a call, and get the usual “off the record don’t quote me” official to dish.

For background, I ask him a little about the department itself.

“Bureau of Parts and Wrecks really got going in the 30’s,” he says. “Before that, we mostly pulled bodies outta the water after boating accidents. But back when South Florida was teeming with racketeers murdering one another, body parts were found all over the place, and somebody needed to put them together just to keep track of who was dead or alive.”

That doesn’t happen any more?

“Oh, it still happens, but people are a lot more thorough these days. What with technology like wood chippers, explosives, etc., there ain’t a whole lot left over. And with paved roads all the way through the Everglades, it’s easy take a nice ride out, dump your prey, and let nature take over in a matter of hours.”

So what’s with the head floating in Jupiter Inlet?

“You mean Bob? We’re pretty sure there wasn’t any foul play with that one. No evident trauma at all. Maybe just an unfortunate boat person got ate by a shark and had his head horked up.”

Charming. Guess you got a lot of grisly tales to tell.

“Nah, not so bad. Mostly hands with the fingerprints burned off, occasional femur, bone chips in backyard gardens, ears. We got a whole freezer unit fulla ears. We call it the cornfield. Heh-heh-heh.”

Yeah, heh-heh-heh. When he offers to show me around if I ever get up that way, I beg off. I also skip lunch.

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Wednesday January 4, 2006

Terence Riley named new MAM head

Terence Riley has been named the new director of the Miami Art Museum. For the last 14 years, Riley has been the curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art. Clearly, the fact that MAM is preparing to build a new building factors heavily into the decision. Probably more important is where Riley is coming from (Columbia, in addition to MoMA), and where the MAM sees itself going.

I’m feeling very optimistic about this – Riley sounds like an intelligent guy, and his background appears to be more academic then managerial, which should be a good thing. How will this affect the artistic direction at the MAM? Well, he is a modernist . . .

The shows I curated at Columbia, on Paul Nelson [1990] and Iacov Chernikov [1991], showed other types of modernism. And the purpose of my International Style show [1992] was to demonstrate the reductivism of the original show, which was done at the cost of a lot of other routes to modernism. Johnson came to see the Nelson show, even though he told me he thought he was a bad architect. He said to me, “So, you want to be a museum man, eh?” I instinctually said, “No, I’m an architect.” I believe that was, unthinkingly, the correct answer.

I suppose that accepting the MAM directorship (he agreed not to practice as an architect as part of the deal) indicates a change of heart with respect to the latter statement. Or maybe not.

It is also unclear whether Riley was in talks with the MAM when he announced his resignation from MoMA in November. It will be interesting to see what comes of this. The Herald article indicates that the hiring of an associate curator will be one of Riley’s first tasks – whom he selects will be a very good indication of the direction he has in mind for the MAM.

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Tuesday January 3, 2006

Special Report!!!!!

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

A top-level report will be leaked later today, apparently pilfered from the offices of the (formerly Miami-based) Knight-Ridder Media Company, presenting conclusive evidence that Dave Barry is NOT FUNNY. The comprehensive report, undertaken in the wake of last year’s disastrously unfunny year-end review, had been kept under wraps with the idea that its release would have (further) soured reception of Barry’s 2005 version. Alas, it leaked.

“We really didn’t want this to get out,” one K-R official glumly noted. “Dave’s been a real cash cow for this company for a long time. And when it comes to print journalism, that’s our major—make that only—consideration. This hurts!”

In recent years, Barry’s appeal has substantially shriveled. The report contains graphs that visually demonstrate how poorly his humor travels. “The chart shows almost zero readership anywhere west of the Mississippi River except one small town near Moose Hind, Oregon,” an unnamed source confided. “It picks up slightly once you get east of the Florida panhandle. But basically, we’ve narrowed down his loyal readership to about a 2-square mile area in south-central Miami-Dade County. Psychographic research shows within this area, it’s mostly people who favor what we call ‘booger humor.’ Basically, his numbers have shrunken like a spent, wet weenie.”

The source would neither confirm nor deny that Barry and Jim DeFede had entered negotiations for a “Hurled from the Herald” concert tour later this year.

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Monday January 2, 2006

Very early Tuesday morning linkiage

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