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Friday June 30, 2006

The Palm Beach Post’s Frank Cerabino on the recent Liberty City terror arrests. “So don’t worry about the usual legal problems with entrapment and flimsy evidence. We are in a ‘detain indefinitely’ mode these days. And we can certainly work around all your constitutional deficiencies and elicit confessions through water-board torture, if necessary.” Related: “Miami Groups Cry Double Standard In Terror Arrests.”

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Alabama Jack's

Cardsound

Down in Florida City, on the way to the Keys, Card Sound Road splits off from US-1, providing an alternate route for one leg of the trip. Card Sound Road takes a straight two-lane shot through some classic Florida brush. There’s very little to see, and the lack of any particular place for a speed trap makes the posted speed limit a moot point for many drivers. The Village of Card Sound Road is a couple of shacks and houseboats clustered around the one little curve in the road. At the very end there is a toll bridge ($1) which officially takes you to the first of the keys and begins the stretch back towards US-1. Just before the toll sits Alabama Jack’s.

Cardsound

Built on stilts over the water channel next to the road (you can see water between the slats of the floor) with no air conditioning, Alabama Jack’s is an airy place. The menu is all about seafood beer, and various types of fries: everything a grown boy needs. (Respectively, I’m going to recommend the crab cakes, Key West Sunset Ale, and sweet-potato fries.)

Cardsound

Hell yes: the Cardsound Machine Band plays country music (with the occasionally obligatory Jimmy Buffet tune thrown in) Saturday and Sunday afternoons. If you’re expecting The Gambler, you’ll not be disappointed. The hours are a bit funky: the band quits at 5 pm, and I believe the whole place shuts down an hour or two after that. Odd for an open-air place that you’d think could do good business with folks coming back from the Keys late on a Sunday night, but there it is.

Cardsound

Just past the restaurant, the grand gateway to Monroe County. See the bridge in the background?

Cardsound

We climbed to the top; this is an idea of what you’re way into the middle of. Pure Florida loveliness.

Cardsound

On the way back to the car, the restaurant was empty except for a few bikers, the band having long packed up and left. And so it goes. I think I would have liked Key West more in the old days, before air conditioning. There’s something about resigning yourself to being hot and sweaty all the time that beats darting in and out of air conditioned little buildings that seems to be right for that place. Almost every restaurant and bar on the island has AC now, so maybe Alabama Jack’s is more Key West then Key West?

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Pie: the State of Florida legislative session is 60 days per year, which is too much fucking time.

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Thursday June 29, 2006

New Times Broward ran my crazy Mercedes photo.

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CandoCo at Florida Dance Festival

The Journey

Oh, so the Florida Dance Festival has been on since last week. Last night there was a performance at the recently reopened Colony theater by CandoCo Dance Company. The performance consisted of two extended pieces. The first, “The Journey,”[1] a kinetic piece built with tight clusters of activity, dancers interacting mostly in groups of two or three, even when all seven are on stage. CandoCo includes two disabled dancers,[2] one of whom has no legs. You would think this would be a challenge to creating a coherent performance of people dancing. In fact, though, the physicality of being disabled energizes the interactions of these men with the rest of the members of the company. It sort of makes sense when you see it. The choreography explores various ways in which a person in a wheelchair and a person standing can interact, but those movements are so well integrated into the piece that, suddenly, nothing could seem more natural then a dance company with wheelchairs.

In Praise of Folly

After that (and an intermission so long that the idea of ditching got bounced around) relatively straightforward piece, the second opened with a stage darkened except for a couple of spotlights, some arcane recitations, and a solo performance on a contraption which was sort of a cross between some pilates equipment and monkey bars (and which was later turned on its side to form a padded table). From there it proceeded to get really weird. Dance theater has a tendency to get theatrical and dark, but I’ve never seen it taken to this extreme before. The whole thing played like a scene from a David Lynch movie, with some dark meaning just out of grasp (out of my grasp, anyway). Lisa Hunt says of one section of the piece:

Most memorably the spotlight singles out a dancer, blindfolded, struggling and falling, in a metal tunnel – one of the most poetic representations of human suffering I have ever seen on the stage.

It was wonderfully strange. Not having a literal meaning allows dance to incorporate fantasy, horror, and science fiction elements in a way that’s, well, poetic. Were straightforward theater to do so it might come off as silly, but here it’s redeemed by the focus on movement. More stuff like this would have me going out to a whole lot more dance performances then I currently do.

The Florida Dance Festival continues through the weekend; here’s the schedule.

[1] Why do dance pieces always have silly names? Maybe because choreographers are inherently visual- and movement- oriented people, and dealing with words is so removed from their creative experience.

[2] This performance was co-sponsored by Tigertail, part of a collaboration with Florida Dance Association called danceAble.

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Wednesday June 28, 2006

lifeguard booths

Assembly line of new lifeguard stands for South Beach in Flamingo Park. Bummer: they’re cookie-cutter, not reconstructions of the iconic whimsical designs.

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Here’s one guy who got overcharged by FPL, to the tune of $140. “His digital meter was connected to another apartment and they think that the digital meter is reading incorrectly.”

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This is more the hasty squirting backseat passion of Prom Night.” Dave Barry gets edited. The piece is here.

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Tuesday June 27, 2006

No comment!

Rick reports problems with my comment system:

I write a comment, preview and then submit. The screen goes blank and there is a “Done” in the bottom left of the browser. Nothing else happens. If I go back, my previewed comment is still there, but when I submit it again, and again, and again, I get the same blank screen . . . it’s a chronic problem that mysteriously clears itself.

Anyone else have a similar experience? Please drop a comment (if possible) or e-mail.

Update: Textpattern high priest Zem responds: “It’s a PHP+Apache CGI problem. I think you’ll find it’s fixed in 4.0.x svn.” Where svn = “subversion number,” which i think involves mainlining PHP code straight into your bloodstream. I’ll look into it over the weekend.

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What's up with the Miami Intermodal Center?

mic

Miami Transit has a gushing positive writeup on the forthcoming Miami Intermodal Center (I’ll rag on their web site in a minute). The idea is one central interchange between the airport, Metrorail, buses, rental cars, pedestrian traffic, taxis, and probably pogo sticks: it’s a big central hub. It’s also a great big showcase, a $1.4 billion (you heard me) palace to our efficiency and Jetsonsness.

Boy do I ever call bullshit. This is one of the least sense-making things I’ve ever seen, for two completely different sets of reasons. Firstly, there is no logical reason for all these things to be under one roof. Consider: if you fly in to the airport, you have a good chance of leaving by a rental car or by bus. Is there any advantage to having a bus station at one end of the airport and car rental facilities at the other? Of course not. Do you need to be at some central transportation locus before you decide where you’re going and how? You don’t. Any reason taxis should drop people off at some central repository rather then as close to their gate as possible? Nope.

It’s as though our officials are overcompensating for idiotically not putting a Metrorail stop at the airport by turning that stop into a ridiculous palace (go to the Miami Transit page for more photos). The airport is already interfaced with buses, taxis, and rental cars. Is this monstrosity going to improve matters? Maybe ever so slightly, but this is a massive solution in hopeless search of a problem.

Which brings me to the other obvious problem: the $1.4 billion. Oh, the MIC web site? Hilariously, it has an unskipable flash intro, so that nobody with a flashless browser can see it without a deep link (here’s one). After that it’s graphics-only navigation menu, with random links to PDFs and other garbage. A hilarious number of the main menu buttons open up to a grand page with a single off-site link in the middle. It’s like these idiots consciously decided to do the opposite for every single web accessibility recommendation. But if you click around long enough (and if you have the right browser and software), you’ll see enough of the pictures to realize just how much of this thing is purely ornamental.

Oh, and it may look gleaming and beautiful in the computer renderings. But don’t be fooled: you know what happens to mass transit facilities. They get abused, and after awhile they start to look a little shabby. Imaging a huge glass and steel mass transit hub after a year in use: still huge and silly, but now much less immaculate, and looking for all the world like a gigantic mistake. I don’t need to run down the problems the county is facing for you to realize that this money could have been much much much better spent, do I?

Update: Transit Man has revised and extended his remarks. “It’s Kinda like watching the credits roll on Nacho Libre and wondering: ‘How can so many people see nothing wrong with putting this into production?’ except instead of the $10 ticket and popcorn, it’s $1.3 Billion.”

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Monday June 26, 2006

I don’t think anyone seriously believes that these were real terrorists. We used to have agents and confidential informants creating drug deals in Liberty City. Now it looks like they are creating homegrown cells.”—David Markus, Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

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FIU changes its mind about a Metrorail stop after a week of negative publicity and public opinion.

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Sunday June 25, 2006

at the Knitting Factory

Tilly and the Wall, t’nite!

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Friday June 23, 2006

Quote

In any prospective legal challenge, the basis for the removal will be highly scrutinized to ascertain to what extent the Board made a comprehensive review and analysis of the appropriateness of this book being part of an elementary school library’s collection. The Board’s findings—as indicated by the record of the proceedings—will also be reviewed by any party challenging the Board’s decision to determine if those findings are constitutionally valid. Therefore it is exceedingly important that the Board identify with specificity the legal grounds for any Board decision, particularly any decision that deviates from the DMRC’s recommendations. Moreover, it is our opinion that even a well reasoned decision by the Board that deviates from DMRC’s recommendations will expose the Board to liability.

That’s from a memo submitted by the Miami School Board’s Attorney, re Vamos a Cuba. “Identify with specificity the legal grounds for any Board decision?” How about “There’s a passion of hate. I can’t vote my conscience without feeling threatened.” What a bunch of knuckleheads. Here’s the whole memo in stark PDF beauty. (via SotP)

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Ana Menendez reports on the treatment of students who conducted a sit-in in support of striking UM janitors. “First, administrators threatened students with major charges that could get them expelled or suspended. When a who’s-who of Miami’s legal talent stepped forward to defend the students, UM quickly retreated, downgrading the complaint to ‘university offenses.’”Once again demonstrating that the University of Miami is run by assholes.

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Miami gets terrorized!

swat dudes

The whole entire world is abuzz about the “al-Qaida-inspired terrorism operatives” arrested in Liberty City yesterday. It sounds very large. From the Herald article, get this:

Federal agents, assisted by Miami police’s SWAT team, swarmed in Thursday afternoon, cordoning off several blocks around the building at 6260 NW 15th Ave., in the Liberty Square housing project, known by locals as Pork-n-Beans. Cedric Thomas, a co-owner of Thomas Produce Market, said the area around his store was teeming with federal agents. “There is a ton of guys in uniforms moving around, blocking the streets,” said Thomas, whose store, a Liberty City institution, is at 1376 NW 62nd St., near the area cordoned off by police. [sic]

They didn’t have any guns, explosives, or definitive plans. They did have pictures of the Sears Tower, though, so there’s that. It turns out that the group had been having communications with al-Qaida for awhile, just that the al-Qaida in question was undercover feds. Tricky. I wonder how the feds found about them. Oh, that’s right. Well, I guess everything worked out great.

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Thursday June 22, 2006

Right before launching into a discussion of zoning that made my eyes glaze right over, Rebecca Wakefield reveals why the Heat won. “Props go out to the lithesome gold-diggers at the Forge (you know who you are) who did their hometown proud last week by keeping several members of the Dallas Mavericks, ah, occupied, well into the night before a critical game 4. ... The Heat’s championship is due to the dissipating forces of South Beach at least as much as Dwyane Wade’s bank shot.”

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The Pulp’s interesting little meta-tidbit about the Heat/Mavericks championship. “Don’t believe a friend of a friend who claimed to have heard the Dallas Mavericks owner yell profane accusations.”

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So . . . will the Miami Performing Arts Center be finished on August 4th? Nope: “The Miami Performing Arts Center is on schedule for its Oct. 5 grand opening, but workers will be putting finishing touches on the complex until the end of the year.”

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The New Miamian has been hitting the pavement and taking pictures: Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, South Beach, Downtown.

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There is no shortage of Heat victory celebration posts and articles around. The only one remotely worth it is Christian’s post about the impromptu parade on Washington Avenue Tuesday night (ever the generous one, he also uploaded his full 457 picture roll). I’m sure the official parade will be great. But c’mon – a celebration three days after the victory? And only for people who can take a half-day off work?
Update: Oh, and read Christian’s hilarious reflections on posting the images, a comment that’s longer then any post he’s done on fanless in months.

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Wednesday June 21, 2006

Transit Man has a pretty great rant about parking around MPAC. I think his point is that there’s public transportation around, so less emphasis should be paid to a parking shortage. To which I say: more power to you! On the other hand, opera fans are older, well-dressed people. I find it difficult to picture 2,200 of them riding the rails to get to the theater. But overall the point is well taken. (p.s. The site design still needs some work. Can we have some margins between the text and the edges of the column? And can we not have a “MORE>>” link with each article witch doesn’t take you to anything more?)

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Nefarious Girl

The official after party for KRELwear 'WILD LIFE' Collection 2006

The other day, I got an e-mail from Jipsy, who’d just seen my brief mention of her great column from a few months ago. This would have been cool enough in itself, but it pointed me toward her amazing photography site, NefariousGirl.com.

Anyone who’s ever opened Ocean Drive knows that taking interesting photos in clubs is usually impossible; you get two or three garishly flashed idiot-smiling people standing in front of a camera, and a pitch-black background. Jipsy turns those photos on their ear, creating instant little dramas with a remote-flash technique that gets her interesting photos with alarming regularity. Borrowing liberally from punk, disco, goth, and glam, the kids in her photos make the perfect subjects for photos, too.

It’s tons of fun to just browse through her pictures. A few of my favorites: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

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Hey, everybody: the Heat just won!

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Tuesday June 20, 2006

The crashing halt of downtown Miami’s condo express couldn’t have come at a better time. Michael Lewis with another good point: “Not all the speculators were condo builders or buyers. Put government, too, on the list of speculators, willing to extract a property-tax bonanza from condomania without the pain of infrastructure development. Here comes the pain.”

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Virginia Key ceremony memorializes slaves forced journey. Virginia Key Beach was established as a “Colored beach” in 1945, which is considered an early victory for the early Civil Rights movement. More history here.

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I was at a party on Saturday night and around 12:30 like half the people left to go to see Jamie Lidell at Poplife’s 7th anniversary. Leaving wasn’t an option for me, but it sounds like I missed quite the thing. Next time, kids: CM promises to drag itself out to stuff like this more often.

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Over at the Pulp, Bob has been reading the Herald’s comment boards, and has a startling and crazy report.

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Oven transporter

No way, dude. You are NOT too cheap to have that delivered. Not with that Mercedes. You’re trying to kill someone for fun, admit it! You’ve got a weird device that cuts the threads holding that thing and sends it crashing into the car behind you, right?

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Monday June 19, 2006

It’s a funny thing about RSS readers: they track everyhing going on at your blog. So even though Miamity is dead [sob!!], I can tell that Kyle recently updated the Filling Out The New Times Poll post. No idea what he changed, but it’s still worth reading.

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Yikes! I wonder if DeFede’s prodding led to Winton’s being charged. Isn’t the timing weird? (via CGGV)

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Cool looking: the 2006 Miami International Guitar Competition and Assemblage, which goes Wednesday through the weekend. Steep prices, though. (via KH)

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FIU refuses Metrorail stop

Larry reports that there’s a problem with the planning of a Metrorail East/West line. Seems that FIU is refusing to allow the last stop to be built on its campus. This is completely insane on a number of levels, and the fact that the FIU administration is sticking to it does not bode well for the U’s future. What’s more, they’re refusing to even comment about their reasoning.

Well, I say they’re taxpayer funded, and mostly attended by locals, and they have to do what we say. Maybe a phone call or two (305-348-2111) to FIU’s (soon to be grossly overpaid) president would help.

Meanwhile, I’m glad to see that something like what I want is in the works for Metrorail. I still say connect it up with Miami Beach, though. There again, residents have to speak up and not let backwards-looking forces kill the deal.

Bonus chuckle: check out the multiple redundant headings on the page with Larry’s column: “Larry Lebowitz / Streetwise / STREETWISE BY LARRY LEBOWITZ / Metrorail project stopped in its tracks / By Larry Lebowitz / llebowitz@MiamiHerald.com.” And in case you forget, his name is repeated again at the end, this time with a different e-mail address. LOLz Herald!

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Here I live two blocks away and I had no idea that Apple was building a store on Lincoln Rd. wft?

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Sunday June 18, 2006

An inconvenient splotch

Ok, it’s the trailer for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth [Crazy Flash site warning]. Well, Conductor Songuacassal noticed something peculiar about this clip. There’s a section (about three quarters through the video) where they show the effects of rising sea levels on various parts of the world, including Florida. You’ve heard it all before, and of course it means that your condo is going to be worth much less then it is now. But so Conductor Songuacassal watched that part of the clip very closely, and he caught something strange. It seems that as the rest of South Florida sinks underwater, a little almond-shaped blob conspicuously stays above sea level in the video. Here are the two stills:

Global warming sealines

See it? Well, Conductor Songuacassal doesn’t like Al Gore, and he suspects some weird deliberate motive for the blob:

This “used to be next President” now wants us to believe that Miami will conveniently become an island? . . . This inconvenient truth is more like a inconvenient grudge that Gore seems unable to shake.

Having recently seen a A Climate of Fear, I’m a little skeptical of this view. Still, the little blob seems improbable . . . is there some sort of hill there that we don’t know about? And just where is that spot, anyway? Well, I spent some time staring at Google Maps and the two stills, and I honestly am not sure. It looks like west Broward to me, but I can’t say for sure.

Then I find this map. It shows a more detailed view of Florida’s coastline after a 3-meter increase in sea level. For my money, I see a little almond-shaped blob just under the ‘e’ in ‘Fort Lauderdale’ that remains dry. It seems to correspond in position to the blob in Gore’s video, though I’m not sure the sizes match. But video is funny that way, with shapes sometimes blooming a little (plus, we’re dealing with a timeline).

Still, I’m not aware of a higher-elevation area in west Broward, or anywhere close to the weird little dry blob. Anyone know what’s going on here? I’m sure it’s nothing, right?

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Manola makes Paella. Let’s have more Miami cooking!

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Lawrence A. Johnson reports that members of the defunct Florida Philharmonic Orchestra are miffed about the Cleveland Orchestra’s 10-year deal with MPAC. Seems they believe that the deal will make it more difficult to reform a professional orchestra of our own.

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jet-ski = personal watercraft

These guys are riding jet-skies from Anchorage, through the Panama Canal, and to Miami.

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Friday June 16, 2006

Al Capone on Versailles. (thanks, Steve)

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Darc karnival fetish party

goth chix

You’ve gotta love the goths. This is from an e-mail I just got:

Come one,Cumm all,
Indulge yourself at Darc karnival
Mesmorized with sights and sound, strobe lights flash as heart beats pound.
With a sentence and a smile, anxious all the while, to wait so patiently.. arriving seperatly
Flesh to flesh and skin to skin ,
Eyes connect and we begin dressed to kill just lick your lips sharpened claw like fingertips
Something wicked this way comes hypnotized we bang the drums Leather and latex vinyl and lace a new addiction with just one taste
Eyes connect and we begin Flesh to flesh and skin to skin ,
once a month a fetish ball Abusement park’s Darc Karnival fire breathers circus tents please Click Here To View Event.

Saturday June 17 2006, something wicked this way comes

So don’t hesitate…DV8!

DARC KARNIVAL FETISH PARTY

Saturday ,June 17
DARC KARNIVAL FETISH PARTY
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES..

DARC KARNIVAL
FETISH EVENT 3RD SAT OF EACH MONTH…18 up welcome!!!

Darc Karnival has a great vibe ,intense music and BDSM equipment set up thru out the club for your darkest fantasies, as well as our famous fetish shows ,kinky carnival games,Vending booths, and special surprise guest/performers all night long!!!

INFO 954 822 6350

BroadwayLIVE
doors open at 9pm
17813 Biscayne Blvd
Aventura, Florida

$10 in proper dress code

DRESSCODE: Vinyl, Gothic, rivet, cyber, Rubber, Leather, Vampyre, Uniforms, Victorian etc.
(all black accepted)

Be edgy. our past events have shown that it’s not only about the best underground parties but also about the incredible fashion…>

Plenty of FREE PARKING!!!

Abusement Park Productions-24 HOUR INFORMATION HOTLINE 954-822-6350

Doors :7PM-5AM, (open to the public @10pm after miami munch fetish dinner)
info 954 822 6350

PLEASE REPOST THESE SPECIAL EVENTS ON YOUR MYSPACE PAGES AND JOURNALS

You got it, guys.

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The UM janitors are now officially unionized.

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Reaction to the banning removal of Vamos a Cuba from Robert, Marc, Conductor, Rick: 1, 2, Boli-Nica, and Overtown (who’s ordering a copy of the book). Nothing yet from Val, who mentioned the vote here and wrote a good essay here. Update: Here’s the ACLU press release. NY Times story (thanks oldswish).

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There are certain intersections around town where the light always seems to change with drivers still stuck in the intersection. Then, the cars going the other way are stuck. Complete gridlock, honking, and pandemonium to the Nth degree ensue. The police’s response? Cops “at busy intersections to help identify which cars can clear an intersection before a light changes and stop those that would otherwise get stuck.” Excuse me? How about cops giving out tickets to the selfish idiots (usually: on the phone in a Lexus SUV) who block the intersections?? They’ll give out tickets to people who don’t get over, but not for this?

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busted flyover

Drove by the flyover demolition yesterday. It’s progressing nicely, and I didn’t see any major traffic disaster (this was afternoon rush-hour). More pics on the flickr.

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Some cranky guy loves hearing the school board meetings on WLRN, and so do I. The actual issues are lost on me: don’t have any kids, and don’t usually even listen long enough to get the full gist of what’s going on. But it’s real life in the raw, and the seriousness of the issues is unlike any fictional entertainment.

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Thursday June 15, 2006

What's up with Johnny Winton?

johnny got his ass beat

Jim DeFede wonders why Johnny Winton hasn’t been charged yet over . . . well, you remember. It’s been four weeks since the incident, and the prosecuting attorneys have not filed any charges. DeFede and others suspect preferential treatment, on account of Winton being a city commissioner. Well, maybe so.

I have another theory, though, and I’m running Johnny’s mugshot just so you can see what he looked like after the incident. The story is that he head-butted one of the cops, kneed the other in the groin, and then, after the scuffle, got loose and “fell against a wall.” That (the wall) is how he allegedly messed up his face. That’s the official version of the story. Well so OK, i’m not buying it. My theory, if you’d indulge some rampant speculation, goes roughly like this: Winton was drunk off his ass, attacked the cops, and they beat the living shit out of him, slamming his head against the wall. Doesn’t that jibe a little better with the photo?

Because I’m sorry, but if you’re drunk and attack two cops, they’ll have you under control very very quickly. How, then, do you subsequently get loose enough to wander around and fall into a wall?

If I’m right and the cops beat him up, then suddenly the lack of charges starts to make sense, no? The prosecutor cut a deal (or is in the process of cutting a deal) with Winton: we’ll let you slide if you let us slide. Works for me.

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Wednesday June 14, 2006

Hey, look: the book is gone.

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In the new New Times, the Bitch on Saturday night and whatnot else.

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Coconut Grove activists win one. Nice work, guys. (via CGGV)

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Don slips a love note to Miami on his way out. So long, Don. And actually, there’s some stuff on his list I need to check out.

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FIU president’s salary to jump to $542,600. This is an embarrassment; my friends just graduated from the BFA program there, and the freaking Fine Arts department couldn’t even scrape together a thousand dollars to print them a little catalog of their work. Folks who’ve had experiences with other departments talk about the poor management that goes on at all levels. I mean, they waited years to build a couple of parking garages, meanwhile rabidly ticketing students who tried to eke out a parking space here or there.

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Tuesday June 13, 2006

Manola’s report from Exxxotica this weekend. Hilarious.

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Geez, they’re really serious about this water-transit thing.

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A county board is considering historic status for an ancient Tequesta Indian burial ground in the far northwestern corner of Miami-Dade. Yes, of course. But let’s do something with it then, so it can in some way be appreciated by the public. Unlike Miami Circle, which sits dormant and behind a fence all these years later.

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Monday June 12, 2006

What's up with 'A Visit to Cuba'?

visit to cuba book cover

Over on Net for Cuba, Agustin Blazquez argues passionately for the removal of Vamos a Cuba and its English counterpart, A Visit To Cuba, from school libraries (via 26thparallel). The two books are in the middle of a giant debate, because it’s a “unreasonably sunny portrait of life under Fidel Castro.”

Blazquez’s argument boils down to this: if you remove books offensive to other groups (as is the school board’s policy), then you must remove remove this book, because it is extremely offensive to Cuban-Americans. The problem with that argument, of course, is that it could be used to remove books about nuclear power from schools if they are deemed offensive to environmentalists, or to remove books about computers if they offend the Amish.

No, the only sensible reason to remove a book from a school is if the book could be harmful to children. That would actually be the case if it misrepresented the political situation in Cuba. I haven’t seen the book, so I can’t make up my mind for sure. According to the description on Amazon, the book covers “land, landmarks, homes, food, clothes, work, transportation, language, school, free time, celebrations, and the arts.” It’s unclear how a denunciation of the Castro regime, or even depictions of suffering, would fit into this program: the book is intended for grades 2 to 4. What’s more, it’s part of a series, and I’m guessing the rest of the volumes don’t discuss the politics of the nations they’re from.

But yes, it’s a touchy subject, and it’s certainly possible that some of the pictures in the book cross the line. I suspect that what’s happening here, though, is that we have a book that is free of politics, and that is what bothers the Cuban-Americans. Any opportunity to criticize the Castro regime should be seized, and any such opportunity missed should be condemned. And while I’m generally sympathetic to that attitude, I don’t believe it should be extended to a book intended for little children. If all the it does is make the idea of people living in Cuba more of a tangible reality for children, then it’s doing exactly what it should to prepare them to understand the situation Cuban people live under. With any luck, by the time they’re old enough to learn about the specific politics, the Castro regime will be long gone, and Cuba will be democratic and prosperous.

Update: it’s gone.

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Looks like all the hipsters that dragged themselves out to see the Stills last week were mostly disappointed.

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Sunday June 11, 2006

The report from Saturday night

Dino lights candles at Dorsch

Dino Felipe sets up for his performance at Dorsch last night. The preparation was fraught with technical difficulty, but got up and running stunningly, a parody (homage?) to Lies, among much else. Even crouched down on the floor and lighting candles, he somehow dominates the room. Dino was also one of the judges in last week’s laptop battle, and has been reviewed by pitchfork and deleted by myspace.

The work in the exhibition was a mixed bag, but there was lots of good stuff to see, especially in the project room, for those who braved the absurd heat. I’m serious, though, it was something like 85° and 80% humidity and no breeze, try standing in an unventilated warehouse with 500 of your closest friends (and another 500 on the street outside). The good news is that I have been personally assured by Mr. Dorsch himself that this is the last exhibition ever without AC. The units are on the roof, and the duct-work is getting run right after the show closes. It’s going to be the end of a sticky era.

Even with all that, the highlight of the evening was Cliff Chidree’s new film, Somethin Awful. Cliff splits the difference between Charlie Chaplain and Matthew Barney, and this 30 minute short (On 16mm! With sound performed live! Shown at the esteemed Bas Fisher Invitational!) must be seen to be believed.

Speaking of homages to Guns n Roses, we stopped briefly at “The Bar” in Coral Gables, where the worst cover band ever played Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (yes I know it’s a Dylan song, but they were covering GnR, trust me) and attempted, rather unsuccessfully, Honky Tonk Women. Could not have gotten out of there fast enough.

TNFH went out too, and has more stuff.

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alberto tropical force probability graph includes south florida

Alberto doesn’t look like much, but it’s good to see that we’ll have hurricanes to kick around again.

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Carl Hiaasen on the removal of manatees from the endangered species list. “Last year, 396 manatees — more than 10 percent of the estimated population — died. Of those, only 81 fatalities were classified as natural.”

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Saturday June 10, 2006

A strange writeup about the stabbing of John Williams at Mansion (in last week’s New Times) alludes to a video of the whole thing shot on someone’s Treo. Well, Channel 4 has the video, along with some defense attorney spin.

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Friday June 9, 2006

DeFede riffs on hurricanes. “To me, the thing that makes a hurricane special in South Florida is that sense of panic that washes over the community when a hurricane is about a day away.” For the life of me, I can’t seem to be able to embed these videos here, though.

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South Florida Commuter Services has two blogs(!) – Diary of a South Florida Commuter and Diary of a South Florida Vanpooler. They seem pretty infrequently updated, and might (?) make for interesting reading, if they weren’t #EEEEEE on #FFFFFF (that’s light gray on white). (via Greener Miami)

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Reading books in Miami: The Odyssey: A Modern Sequel, and Notes from Underground. Somebody contribute more of these to this site and let me know. (via Kottke)

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The cover story of this week’s SunPost is a great article by Tiffany Rainey about the debate over changing the name of Little Haiti [back] to Lemon City. The kicker is that since the name refers to a neighborhood, not a city per se, nobody’s sure how it would be changed anyway (I say you start by changing it on official City of Miami communications).

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Something Awful Friday

production still from Something Awful

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Thursday June 8, 2006

Anybody wanna buy a distillery?

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M14m1 hax0rZ 0wnz th3 p#0nz

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Wednesday June 7, 2006

In a letter dated June 2 and addressed to [Coconut] Playhouse Board Chairwoman Shelly Spivack, state officials requested a meeting by June 19 to discuss the theater’s plan to repay the $125,000 plus interest.“ Which, btw, is part of $4 million total the playhouse owes.

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a trailer on top of some cargo containers

I’d heard about a mess surrounding the tower at Opa-locka airport, but I didn’t quite get it until I saw this picture yesterday. This thing is supposed to last three years, and it doesn’t matter that it’s “not a structure that meets any code whatsoever,” because the FAA, who put it up, is exempt from local building codes!

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Miami ranks #29 in SustainLane’s 2006 study of US cities. According to the study, we do well in air quality (#7), and, shockingly, in public transportation (#13), and poorly in local agriculture (#45) and disaster risk (#50). (via Greener Miami/MAeX)

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I say we solve all of our legal disputes with “one (1) game of ‘rock, paper, scissors.’

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Tuesday June 6, 2006

Streetcars in Miami

streetcar in portland

You missed it, right? The City of Miami considered, approved, and is now tweaking plans for a European-styled streetcar system for the area north of Downtown. These small trains share the road with cars, making frequent stops every few blocks. In high-density places (of which this area will be very very soon one), they make the prospect of pedestrianism much more appealing and realistic. And they’re fun to ride – overhead lines provide power to the electric engines, which make the cars very quiet, while their low floors maintain riders’ connection to the sidewalk. The streetcars in Vienna, for example, are so low that a woman with a stroller can get on them without help.

Streetcar map: Downtown to Wynwood. click for largerThe obvious downside is that they share the road with cars. Typically, the way it works is that the streetcars have their own set of traffic signals, and enjoy almost complete right-of-way over automobiles. Getting Miami drivers to accept this is going to be a little bit of a struggle, although if you factor in a decreased need to drive, streetcars actually don’t make traffic on the streets worse at all. Plus, they’re burly and intimidating, and carry a menacing jingle-bell-sounding horn.

Anywho, here’s the proposal pdf, but don’t bother, since lots of the specifics have changed: we’re talking about $200 million now (ouch: $4,200 per foot of track), not $120, and a completion date of 2010 instead of the original 2008. Check the map snipped from the proposal (click for larger), and the “Recommended Alignment Baylink” is demonstrative of just how pie-in-the-sky the writers of the proposal were feeling. Here we are, two breathless years later, and the project is locked and loaded.

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“The Ethics Commission found that through 1999 and 2000, only 36 officials in every municipality in Miami-Dade, 12 of them elected, reported gifts of $25 or more.” Government officials are required to disclose significant gifts they receive, but they’re either getting very few gifts or choosing not to disclose them.

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Monday June 5, 2006

Finally, a mashup of Miami and Manhattan. I saw the Kottke’s Manhattan Elsewhere and was wondering if anyone would do Miami. (via Hidden City)

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Miami-Dade county has 2,600 traffic signals: the original 2,000 are on a coordinated grid, while the new 600 are off. Updating the traffic signal system will cost $5 to 8 million and take three years, on top of $8.6 million and ten years already invested. I’m no networking expert, but to me that says exactly one thing: the wiring that should have been put in place when each new signal was installed was ignored. Otherwise, wouldn’t it just be a matter of putting in a few additional PC’s and recalibrating the system?

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Sunday June 4, 2006

Laptop Battle

Notes from the Laptop Battle at Churchill’s on Saturday. It was much stranger, and much more fun, then one might be led to expect. The performers fell into two categories: the straight-ahead music types, and the performance-oriented types, who often just hit ‘play’ on their computer (an MP3 player might have sufficed) and did some performance art. Seen above: Line Noise.

Here we have an attempt at a hybrid. I think this group was called Pet Sounds Kentsoundz, though i was a little too loaded to catch the other names. We have a guy in a wolf mask working a computer an a girl in an angel outfit dancing the Muse behind him.

The judges take this shit very seriously. There was a ‘no microphones’ rule, and the one guy who bent it (by singing without a microphone, at the top of his lungs, into the audience) passed on to the next round (he was wearing a New Kids on the Block shirt, so there was that).

DJ Saul DJ Je Nais Se Qua entertained the audience between matches with silly fake-Frence schtick and cheesy music (The Police? Aphex Twin!?). He would have stolen the show, at least until . . .

This guy WDF fired up his powerbook, pulled his overalls down around his ankles, and jumped into the audience, raving lunatic-like. He has on a leopard print g-string and a little monkey backpack with a strange strap hanging off it.

Yikes!

Ravelstein and friends rounded out the evening with a performance on the back patio. Hell yeah.

Update: Anyone know any of the other names of acts in the pictures? Got ‘em – thanks!

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Saturday June 3, 2006

Oh shit. Can someone please give Christian a ride to Aventura mall?

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Friday June 2, 2006

Castro’s alive. When I heard this report on the radio this morning, I swear they made it sound like he’d died for the first minute or two… there was even a “as far as we know, he’s alive and well” disclaimer at the end. Good grief! There’s also a big plan [pdf], presumably about what to do when he dies (it’s funny to read, because it’s a plan for “preparedness,” but they never say what they’re preparing for).

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Movie Weekend

Havana Suite still
Image from Suite Habana

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Thursday June 1, 2006

Gabriel has been doing pretty solid work at Miami Transit for the past few months, and is now the master of his own domain. The template may need a little work (light gray text on a white bg?), but the move is good (see #10): “Having a weblog address ending in blogspot.com, typepad.com, etc. will soon be the equivalent of having an @aol.com email address or a Geocities website: the mark of a naïve beginner who shouldn’t be taken too seriously.”

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Gables Diner vs. Prezzemolo

gables diner and prezzemolo

Let me begin by saying that I’m perfectly willing—eager, even—to stay up for hours and hours debating the right of any restaurant to charge $5.95 for a pint of Bass Ale. I don’t care if the same pint will run you $4 elsewhere in town: if you have some slightly pretentious interior, and are located in an allegedly hip part of town, feel free to charge the six bucks (since, and it might also bear emphasizing that the price was clearly marked on the menu, and nobody held a gun to my head and made me order one).

Having said that, I’m never going back to the Gables Diner again. I went with a group of friends last night, and two of us decided to split a pizza, the rest ordered sandwiches and whatnot. The sandwiches and whatnot came out all at once, and we were told the pizza was on its way. Which, um, it wasn’t. The sandwiches were decent enough, but even after they were long gone (a good 20 minutes later) the pizza was nowhere in sight. I should add that, except a quick water refill very early on, our waitress avoided our table like the fucking plague during all this. Then she had the gall to act all surprised when I got up, walked over, and told her to cancel the pizza order. Whatever; we were having fun, and nobody was actually left hungry. But it’s not right, and it’s also not right that after all that we were left sitting around waiting for the check.

Compare this, shall we, with Prezzemolo, another place we stopped at recently. Tucked in a strip mall just west of US-1 on Le Jeune, Prezzemolo is tinny, but it’s hip, and serves unexpectedly sophisticated food (I obviously took the photo above long after they’d closed). You can BYOB (or BYOCM1), and there’s even a liquor store next door. The star attraction is a long list of specialty pizzas. “Gourmet ingredients on a thin and flaky crust,” is one of those things you’ve heard over and over, but Prezzemolo’s pizzas really are unique and wonderful, and yes, many of their ingredients are imported from Italy. A particularly inspired one features gorgonzola and pears (!), and there’s a list of choices that include piquant cured meats.

We also had the most helpful waitress ever, who went through quite a bit of trouble to accommodate our fairly large party, suggested walking to a gas station for beer (the liquor store was closed), and even had the kitchen make a special smaller version of one of the salads for one of us that wasn’t very hungry. I didn’t get to try the desserts or coffee, but I’m told they’re every bit as great as would be expected from a top-notch little Italian place. Nice work, guys. (And thanks to Dig and KH for introducing us to this place.)

Gables Diner
2320 Galiano Street
Coral Gables
(305) 567-0330

Prezzemolo
4702 S Le Jeune Rd
Coral Gables
(305) 669-6119

[1] Sorry, it’s an inside joke. Regular readers are implored to (a) indulge me, and (b) believe me when I say you’re really not missing much.

Update: Prezzemolo has closed and Gables Diner is still around. There’s no justice in this world.

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