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Monday July 31, 2006

What's up with Castro?

Raul Castro

Holy shit: People have taken to the streets in Little Havana in Miami. Calle Ocho is packed with Cubans celebrating the news. The news, that is, of FIDEL CASTRO’S POSSIBLE DEATH. I’ll go with the guy on Calle Ocho that Balabu quotes: “While we celebrate here, I urge the Cuban people in cuba to take to the streets. This is the opportune moment. Now is the time.”

Image: Raul Castro, currently in control of Cuba.

Update (11:30 pm): Cubans in Miami wait for news on Castro. How would Raul Castro govern?

Update (11:56 pm): Channel 4 is doing online and on-air live coverage of local celebrations and ad-hoc analysis of Cuba’s future, “a nexus of emotion.” Manny Diaz is on the scene. I’m toasting Fidel’s possible death myself. Here’s to your hopefully imminent demise, old man—may you rot in hell!

Update (12:50 am): Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez press confrence: “The Emergency Operations Center is active on level 2 . . . keep your celebrations out of the street [fat chance] . . . 311 is open . . . blah, blah, blah.” Channel 4 just replayed the announcement that Castro’s office manager read, and it’s some crazy stuff. Meanwhile, balabu is still on it: “Behind every smile, behind every feeling of unbridled joy and desperate happiness, there are 47 years of tears . . . Viva Cuba libre coño!

Update (8/1/06 7:27 am): The consensus among news sources is that Fidel Castro is still alive, though probably in very poor health. Raul’s profile has been gradually increased, possibly over the last couple of months. Humanitarian violations in Cuba have stepped up over the last couple of days. Meanwhile, some Wikipedia articles worth keeping up with: July 2006 transfer of power, Raul Castro, and, of course, Fidel Castro. The latter entry is locked up tight to newbie modification.) From the Herald: the Complete text of the proclamation is worth reading. Can’t seem to find the video of the proclamation, which was also very interesting (the guy who read it was very young). Raúl groomed for top job.

Update (7:38 am): Wha? Part of the Herald’s coverage is coverage of Critical Miami coverage. I’d be careful about clicking that link – some weird hypertext feedback loop might result (ok not really – they don’t give my URI, much less link!). And yes, I had to find out about this from Rick, where, truth be told, I first heard about Castro last night. Way to go, Rick! (And check out his frank look at his own feelings about all this.)

Update (7:56 am): A brief report on how Cubans still living on the island took the news of Fidel Castro’s illness (4’s coverage of all this generally has been superb). I’m looking around for more media interviews with Miami Cubans about this, with little success. Val’s thoughts are great: “I should note, for those of you that arent very familiar with fidel castro’s deaths, that this is the first time where actual reports on castro’s health were made publicly to the Cuban people via Cuban media. [. . .] If you guys think last nights imromptu celebrations caused by the news of the relinquishing of power were big, just wait until the news that the old goat is dead top be confirmed. Even clocks will stop in Miami that day.”

Update (8:47 am): At the BBC, a great slideshow of Miami celebrations (which begins with a picture of the Cuban spokesdude that delivered the proclamation), as well as one of those quasi-celebratory Castro bios Val predicted. More quotes: “I’m praying to God to give us a miracle and let that man die.” (Gabriela Burmudez) “My grandfather waited forever for this day and he died in 2000. I’m here celebrating for him.” (Edgar Montegudo) And Conductor says, “As my grandmother has grown older . . . one of the things she frequently repeated was that she only really had one thing to live for anymore, to outlive fidel castro even if it would be by only one minute . . . Hang on Abuelita, hang on.”

Update (9:51 am): Joe Cooper is having a panel to discuss all this on his show today. Participants have not been announced. Listen at 1 pm on 91.3 fm or wlrn.org. Bob compares point sizes of the word “Castro” on the covers of the local newspapers. Y No Mas says: Castro’s signature is a fake.

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African dust settled over our city is apparently causing rosy sunsets and milky daytime skies. Didn’t notice anything this weekend, but I’ll watch for it tonight.

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Feds to help fund affordable housing. Hmm, let’s see: ”$82.9 million . . . part of $11.5 billion in [Community Development Block Grant] assistance [Secretary Alphonso] Jackson allocated to Florida and four other Gulf Coast states in January to support the region’s long-term recovery.” So . . . am I missing something, or are they graciously planning to give us less then 1 percent of the allocated amount??

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When you are a beanstalk with the figure of a broomstick who survives on cocaine, cigarettes and soda water, you don’t sweat—you dehydrate—which makes you a very good candidate for a coma. Manola offers answers to some of our most persistent questions. Click for the picture, at the very least.

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The heart of the hurricane season is about to begin. And meteorologists still expect it to be a powerhouse, unless El Niño rides to an unexpected rescue. Get ready, y’all! (via Pulp)

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Some folks got together and decided to create a proposal that would combine as many bad ideas as they could think of: Let’s build a new stadium for the Marlins out past the Urban Development Boundary. Is this a joke?

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An article in the Herald, which I point out mainly because the central question, “What do the activists want?” cannot be answered by skimming the article. Try it. Maybe because five writers on one story (two in the byline, three as contributors) is just too many cooks in the kitchen. Update: Hey, I think this is what Overtown is talking about.

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Miami Vice the movie review

foxx and farrell play serious

Oh boy! I can’t even begin to explain to you how badly this movie sucked. Let me begin by saying, though, that making a bad movie is excusable. Making a bad movie with anti-piracy bullshit planted in it is just plain wrong. But on to Miami Vice:

The plot was sort of like the plot of a sub-par episode of the original TV show, ended three-quarters of the way through. I’m not sure the concept of a “spoiler” even applies here: knowing it’s close to ending might be a relief. Sonny and Ricardo set up a big fancy drug deal, Sonny falls in love with a girl on the drug dealer’s team, Sonny and Ricardo mess with the drug dealers a little, there’s a big gunfight (what was supposed to pass for the climax scene) during which Sonny’s main concern is to save the girl, and a little epilogue wherein the girl gets sent off (to Cuba, where an earlier scene had been shot, except of course not really). Just when I was getting ready for a third act to sweep in and save the day, the whole thing ends. And it ends ugly: a glimpse of a sad little version of a reworked Miami Vice logo, followed by the credits rolling over some crappy band’s cover of Phil Collins’ ‘In the Air Tonight’ (which was sort of a suspense-building time-filler in the first episode of the TV show, and a radio hit, and not so great then, and no better as a shitty remake filing-out-the-theater music).

Okay, so maybe I’m wrong about the plot, right? Maybe I missed all the finer elements of the intrigue, or whatever (or maybe not). What else has this movie got going for it?

The connection to Miami? Nope, sorry. Bad Boys II showed off Miami better then Miami Vice. One scene was nicely done on a highway overpass, but for the most part it could have been set anywhere. Almost the entire movie is shot at night and on super-fast, super-grainy digital with crappy lighting. It literally looks like shit.

Speaking of which, the chauvinistic aspect: The movie starts out with two strong-seeming female supporting cast members. One of them shares a shower-and-sex scene with Jamie Foxx (which was really well done, by the way; probably the best thing in the whole movie), and then proceeds to spend the rest of the movie in a coma. The other, played by Gong Li, starts out as a high-up in the drug cartel, and promptly gets sucked into an absurd, almost James-Bondian “romance” with her “nemesis,” Colin Farrell. As I said, towards the end the plot sort of revolves around her, yet she’s used more as a prop then a character. Irritating.

The leads? Well, Foxx is awlright, but he’s just not on the screen enough. Farrell is just plain sad. Who cast this schmuck? What the heck does Manola see in him? He acts like a sad little emo boy, and the movie becomes more laughable and absurd in direct proportion to the percentage area of the screen his face takes up. A lot of “bad acting” accusations got thrown at Don Johnson during the TV series, but one look at this guy will solidify Johnson’s reputation as the king of cool.

OK, so you’ve heard about how the pastel colors of the TV show are out, right? So they’re replaced by a “look” that consists of video-effect faux-grit, supplied by the high-definition digital cameras the movie was shot with. These are becoming more and more common, and allow directors to manipulate the look of a movie without having to go through the intermediary steps of scanning film. Here it’s mostly used to make things look crappy. Only slightly more successfully, a couple of the scenes employ what I believe is a frame-rate trick, giving them a weird home-video look.

I got home and talked to a friend of mine who’d just gone to see a 3D version of The Ant Bully, [actually, it was Monster House] and raved about how weird, beautiful, and great it was. And apparently you can see it in 3D even at regular theaters. Maybe your money is better spent there. Blah.

Update: Miamians agree that the movie doesn’t really have much to do with the city.

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Friday July 28, 2006

Oh crap, I almost forgot! At Locust, 7 pm tonight, KH will moderate a panel discussion between Peter Boswell, Senior Curator at the Miami Art Museum, and artists Tom Scicluna, Norberto Rodriguez, and Leyden Rodriguez-Casanova, who are in the show “Something.”

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os mutantes on tv, 1960's

Os Mutantes, legendary 1960’s Tropicalia band, have reunited and are playing on Wednesday. $35, and you’ll want to get tickets asap. (thanks, Cohen)

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R suggests voting for Mayday.

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Jaimie Foxx and Colin Farrell snub Miami?

colin and jamie

Hi Guys! Nice work on the movie; thanks for doing it. You probably don’t know, or much care, but there’s been a little bit of grumbling around town about how both of you decided to skip the premiere. We have Tom’s post, which I linked earlier. Mostly, though, it’s just people I’ve been talking to around town. There seems to be a certain feeling that when movie premieres take place in L.A. or N.Y., the big starts are automatically there, and that your absence from our big night was because ‘it’s just Miami,’ and a certain resentment of said feeling.

During these conversations, I usually point out that if I was cool like you guys, I’d certainly not want to go where I’d be the center of the attention of large throngs of decidedly less cool people. The response to this seems to be that you’re movie stars, and it’s your job to do shit like this. And there I disagree: you guys have contracts (right?) that spell out what your job is. Doing anything beyond that is at your discretion. At that point, the conversation returns to the “but if it was LA or NY” bit, and gets dropped without a satisfying conclusion.

I’m sure it’s no big deal. Your movie seems to be well received, and I’m sure Manola will continue to be so sufficiently obsessed with you to slip references to Colin’s penis into casual conversation. And I ain’t mad at ya. Just thought you’d like to know.

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Thursday July 27, 2006

Miami Beach 1955

Here’s a cool pendant that Ross gave me. Early silk-screen printing kitsch ephemera at its finest!

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For those interested in an overabundance of information on the housing market, SFBJ does an extensive writeup of a recent report done by Metrostudy. Dig in.

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Wow, there sure is a lot of filming going on in town. Meanwhile, the Vice opening left a bitter taste in the mouth of some.

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Miamivision Blogarama

worlds tallest proposal

I don’t normally link to fresh new blogs, on the grounds that they’re often here today, gone tomorrow. But Miamivision is too good to pass up. Witness the picture above, from this post about the proposed Empire World Tower. No idea where they got the rendering (which is a year old in any case), but it sure is impressive.

Even more impressive are the observations about on the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts:

Architect Cesar Pelli was forced to keep [the Sears tower] in his design by well-meaning but misguided preservationists who went epileptic when they found out that it might get nixed in the plan. Although it is not a great example of the Art Deco style, it seems it was the only example of Art Deco architecture left in Miami. Too bad there isn’t any money in the budget to hire Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen to turn it into a giant flashlight pointing skyward. That would give Miami that elusive signature piece of art or architecture it sorely lacks because no matter how grand the design and effective the acoustics are, Pelli’s buildings would be hard to pick out of a lineup of concert halls.

[ . . . ]

”...it connects with a past that was precious to many people.” [Pelli] As someone who grew up here, that statement reeks with irony. It was in the Sears tower that I was first exposed to the Jim Crow laws of 1950’s Miami. I was probably five or six when I made the mistake of going to the wrong water fountain. . .

Snap! And there’s much more: a proposal for the soon-to-be gentrified Overtown, a tribute to Churchill’s Pub, and more more more. See also the original site, a mecha of (flash) weirdness. (via Transit Miami)

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el nuevo herald page

This is a photo that ran in El Nuevo Herald on June 25th. It shows a couple of police officers in the capitol of Cuba, indifferent to four prostitutes, and it’s a photoshop job. It sounds to me like the shit hit the fan at El Nuevo when the New Times started calling and they realized what’d really happened. On the other hand, even in this crappy reproduction the edit is obvious. Maybe this goes on all the time?

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The Miami-Dade County Commission has given the Coconut Grove Playhouse $150,000 so its board can hire consultants to devise an economic plan for the debt-ridden theater. No, it’s not a joke.

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Wednesday July 26, 2006

What's up with the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts website?

When Miami Performing Arts Center announced they were changing their name to Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, they had a new web site ready to go, and it was up and running the same day. Let’s take a look.

The Center’s previous website [screengrab] was certainly due for an overhaul, what with its undistinguished home page and clunky menu system. The new site ditches all of that for an almost all-Flash design. Now, you can on and on reading good explanations of why Flash is bad (and please do). But for starters, let’s just take a look at what the user sees when they load up the site:

internet explorer
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This is what I got in Internet Explorer. IE has a recently added quirk wherein you have to click on any flash animation before you can use it. This causes some of the content to not display, and some to display but be unusable until you click. Since there are four distinct Flash animations on the home page (!), that’s a lot of clicking. In Firefox, the situation is different. If you have flash installed, the site loads normally (albeit slowly), unless, like me, you have flashblock installed, in which case you get this:

internet explorer
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Oops! But nevermind; unless you’re one of the unfortunate who don’t have Flash installed at all, sooner or later you get to the actual site, which looks like this:

internet explorer
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We get a main-window animation with all sorts of faces. Clicking on someone’s face lets you order tickets for their show, right? Wrong: it takes you to an all-text listing of all shows. You search for the name associated with the face you just clicked, then you can buy tickets. Three boxes along the right give you more information (like about parking) in hilariously minuscule type. But you can increase the font size in your browser if your eyes aren’t so good anymore, right? Wrong: this is Flash, remember? That type is staying that size. At the top we get a banner with a little slide-show, and underneath that the main menu. Ah . . . the menu. The glorious little menu.

Well, I sat a couple of people down with this menu and watched them try to use it (apparently nobody at Carnival Center thought of doing that before unleashing it on an unsuspecting world). It invariably gave them fits. Each position on the menu opens a little horizontal submenu underneath. But as you go to click on one of these submenu items, if you brush past one of the buttons on the main menu, the submenu changes. Go ahead and try it! Pretend you want to volunteer! Go to the site, activate the menu, hover over “Membership & Support,” and try to click on “Volunteer.” See what I mean?

Most of the interior pages are just ported from the old site, and are unremarkable except for that funny menu you have to keep dealing with. (There must be multiple versions of this menu, too, because sometimes clicking “Home” took me home, sometimes it did nothing.)

What’s amazing is that it’s not that difficult to do this right. Miami Light Project, a Carnival Center “arts partner,” has a perfectly hip and very usable web site. The Lincoln Center, which MPAC has spent a lot of time comparing itself to, has a silly (but skipable) Flash intro followed by a Flash-free and relatively usable regular site (with a text-only version). The LA Performing Arts Center has a . . . well, you get the idea. I wonder what happened. Does the new Carnival site work for you? Let me know in the comments, and let me know what browser and version you’re using.

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Conductor has some thoughts on the Vamos decision. “For better or for worse the Miami-Dade School Board voted to remove Vamos a Cuba from school libraries. While I personally disagree with the decision, I believe the board was well within its rights to do so. [ . . . ] So now a judge has arbitrarily ruled that the book be put back into circulation and I have a big problem with that strictly from a separation of powers standpoint. As usual the courts are overstepping their bounds and making public policy.” It’s a point, although I question the aptness of the word “arbitrarily.” I think the courts’ intervention on matters like desegregation and censorship is a good thing. And Conductor never quite explains why he doesn’t consider the school board’s decision censorship. Update: Conductor updated his post, and updated the URL, too, breaking the link above! (thanks Franklin) Here’s the new link, along with a wag of the finger to Conductor and to Blogger: Cool URIs don’t change.

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Tuesday July 25, 2006

. . . and just like that, Vamos a Cuba is back in the schools for good. Damn, that was fast. (via hiddencity) Update: SDoF has a great quote from the judge: the School Board “abused its discretion in a manner that violated the transcendent imperatives of the First Amendment.’’ Also, a link to the full ruling [PDF]. Update: Oh yeah, they can appeal. Miami Gradebook explains what’s doing with each of the individual members and concludes they probably won’t.

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Why Miami struggles to be a world-class city. I’m not sure what to say besides that this article is pretty dumb. Why write a laundry list of complaints and not mention that solutions to many of them are in the works right now as we speak? Update: The Herald printed a letter that thoughtfully spelled out some of these objections.

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Roll Out!

sk8 pix

All sorts of people will tell you that roller skating is more fun then ice skating, right? Of course it’s apples and oranges. But Roll Out Tuesdays in Ft. Lauderdale isn’t just an ordinary rollerskate night. Hosted by the inimitable DJ Hottpants and attended by the hippest of both counties, Roll Out is (well, not to be retarded about it, but) like a club on wheels. I realize it doesn’t look like much in my pictures (hey, it’s dark in there, and people are zipping around: you try photographing it with something that fits in your pocket), but plenty of busy people will tell you that it’s worth a trip up from as far as Coral Gables on a school night. And hey, nobody’s getting stabbed.

sk8 pix

Take 95 north to 595, head East, get off at US-1, and go North. Gold Coast Roller Rink will be on your right almost right away (2604 S. Federal Highway). 8 pm to Midnight: hell yes. $3 door, $2 skate rentals. And the snack bar serves beer.

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I sure hope Vice isn’t as boring as Rene Rodrigues’ review. Salvaged a choice Mann quote: “There was an opening sequence in the film that will probably show up on the DVD in which we started off with an offshore powerboat race that brings you into a big-money, expensive marina. That’s kind of educational about what Miami is today.” But so wait for the DVD release? Probably not.

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Monday July 24, 2006

Cuban regime feeling heat from Czechs. The dissension in Czechoslovakia when it was under Communism is a strange and wonderful history, and it’s nice to see the Czech government staying true to those ideals. “The 44-year-old Kolar, who worked as janitor in the 1980s after he was ejected from a university for refusing to join the Communist Party, and more recently oversaw a human-rights division in the foreign ministry, said Czechs have a sense of kinship with the Cuban opposition.” Update: Robert’s thoughts.

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Hey kids, the Vamos a Miami writing contest. “Prose style must be naive, as if written for some young, impressionable pansy, but the underlying satire must be saw-toothed, with cojones.” Ha! Steve might have a head start.

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It’s a good time to go buy some pens and paper The back-to-school tax holiday is on, and ends July 30th.

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On Tuesday, the Miami Vice movie premiere official after-party. $500 tickets (almost sold out). In attendance: the Hilton sisters, Hulk Hogan, and Jessica Simpson.

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My one big complaint with last December was: “Not enough art fairs.” Well, this year it’s going to get a little better. The lineup: Art Basel, NADA,Pulse, Aqua. Scope, Bridge, Design Miami, DiVA, and Flow. See Artnet for brief descriptions and dates of all but the last (scroll way down). (via dig)

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Friday July 21, 2006

Price

Price the band

Hey, did you notice how I’m not doing the “it’s Friday, here’s what to do this weekend” sort of posts anymore? Well, I figure it’s the summer, there’s not that much to do, not that many people in town, and not that much desire to do anything but sit at home and bask in the warm glow of netflix. However, in the spirit of teaching a man to fish and he’ll eat forever, might I suggest signing up for the Sweat Records e-mail list. Well, ok, you’ll actually also have to get on Lolo’s friends list and read her bulletins. Had you done so last night, you might have been one of a small group that saw Price last night (pictured).

Which band was, by the way, quite wonderful in a white-soul, 1970’s, ironic-Michael-Bolton-t-shirt-wearing (and pointing it out) kind of way. And funky. Which brings me to my question:

What is up with the dancing thing? The DJ was playing before the band’s (tastefully brief) set, and there were a fair number of people dancing. Another DJ began to play right after the band, and actually a lot more people danced then. But for the entire time Price played, everyone stood there motionless. Now first of all (1), the boys were not that beautiful. I mean worth a look or whatever, but not worth staring at. Secondly (2), and I mean really, they were jamming; just as or more danceable then the DJ music preceding and following. I was noting this to an old friend I bumped into randomly there, and he had an answer for it which I forget now (it was that kind of night), so help me out here: why do people dance to records and not to bands??

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Thursday July 20, 2006

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Le Tub

Le Tub

Le Tub, on A1A in Hollywood, is more Key West then Key West, a truly bizarre half-restaurant, half-maze which calls into question the sanity of the city’s code enforcement while laughing in the face of false indoor/outdoor dichotomies. Signs posted every few steps throughout the unairconditioned restaurant say “multi-level,” and they are not joking. The entire palace looks like it was built out of an old pier, and no single piece of floor goes more then a few feet without some steps in a random direction leading to another platform. Oh, and did I mention that the key decorating motif are painted toilets and bathtubs? Wow. (To get the most out of the surrealness, try arriving after dark and completely drunk and/or high.)

Le Tub

Now, on top of all that, Le Tub has recently had their hamburger declared the best hamburger in the country by GQ magazine. As a result, bozos from all over flock there. As a result of that, waiting times on the $10 burger ($10.50 with cheese) fluctuate from one to two and a half hours. No problem there, right? Dress lightly, and come prepared to drink a lot of beer. Bring cash, because they don’t take credit cards, and the jukebox is overpriced (but after a couple of those beers you won’t care).

Le Tub

Oh, right, the burger! Yes, it’s good. And yes, it’s worth the ten bucks. It’s gloriously huge, made with delicious sirloin, and served outdoor-stand style on a disposable plate. Fries are extra; get exactly one serving for up to four people – they’re amazing and the order is huge. We were in a hurry and had to rush after eating; for the more leisurely I suggest a stroll on the beach after your meal.

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Elisa Turner reviews Snap Judgements. I can’t wait to see the show. (Note to the Herald web team: Please hit “refresh” and look at the articles when you post them. On this one all the body copy is in italics.) (via TnfH)

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Wednesday July 19, 2006

It’s official: Miami Performing Arts Center is now the Carnival Performing Arts Center. They transfered their name from the concert hall and ponied up an additional $10 million (for a total of 20 mill) for the name. Knight Foundation kicked in another $10 million and now we have the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall. Not bad for a day’s work. Update: Hey look, there’s a new web site.

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‘Miami Vice’ Film Reminds of Cocaine Past in the Washington Post. “The ‘Miami Vice’ TV series (1984-89) accurately reflected those crazy times, according to people who lived through them.” Fun article. (via, of all things, Miamist)

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Yes, the site has been down intermittently for the last couple of days. Dreamhost claims that the problems are all cleared up now. Thanks for your patience.

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Let's build offices

Biscayne and 19th Street

Some interesting developments (ha!) in the last couple of days. Over at Transit Miami a guest writer points out that downtown needs more office buildings. And the Herald suggests that more office buildings we shall have:

Currently 1.5 million square feet of office space is under construction—including the University of Miami’s 350,000-square-foot Clinical Research Institute in Miami’s newly named Health District. Another 6.4 million square feet have been proposed, according to the city’s Planning Department.

In some ways this is a perfect compliment to the glut of condos springing up. But keep in mind that part of the reason for the cool off are worldwide skyrocketing prices for construction materials. They may put a damper on some of those proposed projects.

Particularly foreboding is that the developer of Midtown Miami wants to sell. Midtown is that huge development in Wynwood in what used to be a shipping yard: probably the biggest construction project in Miami right now. The owner is claiming that he wants to sell “for tax reasons,” and that he’ll make about the same amount of money selling now as if he held on until construction was finished and sold the finished units. Which idea the article pretty well refutes, suggesting the obviousness of the assumption that he’s trying to sell now because of low and dropping demand for residences. Maybe someone else can “buy the risk” and get hosed down the line.

Or maybe not. Over at Blueprint:Miami, we get Gary Hennes’ 10 reasons why Miami will keep booming. Not uninteresting, and quite plausible:

4. New luxury hotels and restaurants bring new visitors each day, many who explore possibilities of owning something here.

5. Continued low crime rates, expansion of cultural institutions and sports venues make the quality of life better each year.

Go read the rest. What to do with all these contradictory messages? Maybe just to hang on for a bumpy ride.

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Tuesday July 18, 2006

Little Black Sambo vs. Vamos A Cuba

Nazi book burning

Bill’s recent comment on the ‘Vamos a Cuba’ post offers an interestingperspective. He compares the book to Little Black Sambo, and claims that both books must remain available, not despite their inaccuracies, but because of them, as they are part of our history.

While the argument is powerful, and works very well for LBS, applying it to VaC is problematic. First of all, the alleged sins of VaC are sins of omission, not sins of commission. Whereas Sambo is wrong because it encourages thinking in terms of racial stereotypes, the most we can accuse Vamos of is of overlooking unpleseant truths.

Little Black Sambo does have a place in Americas history and, as such, should be presented for what it was/is therby assuring a thourghly educated populace. I would not want the book to come up in discusion, only to have my child ignorant of its meaning and its history.

LBS has a place in the history of racist portrayals of people of color, and it needs to be perserved for that reason. But the word “history” is carrying serious weight there: the book was published originally in 1899. The same does not apply to VaC, though, which dates back to 2000 – it’s not “historical” in a real sense. It is, rather, a product of the present. That is to say, LBS’s place in history is decided not so much by its publication, but by its acceptance for most of the 20th century. We have the opportunity to deny that acceptance to ‘Vamos a Cuba.’

In some sense, that’s what this fight is about – does our society tolerate accounts of totalitarian regimes that are incomplete in this fashion? Or do we hold them on par with racial stereotypes?

It’s interesting to note that VaC is not being condemned for expressing an undesirable perspective – it’s being condemned for not expressing a sufficiently negative perspective — of Communist Cuba. One could make a comparison to a textbook banned in Saudi Arabia for not expressing a sufficiently negative perspective of life in the United States. Or something. It’s also worth noting that ‘Vamos a Cuba’ is not nearly the sunny portrait of life in Cuba some believe. While the text omits mention of politics, its depiction of poverty is unmistakable.

What’s interesting about the VaC situation is that there is no reasonable compromise. Val groped around for it when he tounge-in-cheek (?) suggested placing the book in the fiction section. A more ‘reasonable’ compromise is the warning label approach (“This book presents a view of life in Communist Cuba which many find inaccurate and disagreeable . . .”), which is also so patently absurd that nobody I know of seriously advocates it. We are left with a simple leave it/remove it choice.

Blinded by passion, some folks have advocated the removal of this book. I understand their frustration. Were it up to me, I’d leave the book, but in fact it’s not up to anyone – the Schoolboard has made the decision to pull it. From a legal perspective at least, it seems pretty obvious that they fucked up royally.

Had ‘Vamos a Cuba’ stayed in our libraries, we, as a society, would have had the opportunity to condemn it as propaganda and distortion. We could have continued to discuss its failings, and let those discussions be the history of this book, not the acceptance that ‘Little Black Sambo’ enjoyed.

But there’s the rub: we still can. And we will. Despite the Schoolboard’s boneheaded move, the book is still widely availabe. And it seems pretty clear that the ACLU action will have ‘Vamos a Cuba’ back on the shelves sooner or later. Unlike the Nazis, we’re not actually burning books, and we’re not about to start.

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Monday July 17, 2006

‘Before it was Mansion, Club Z, Club 1235, or Glam Slam, the trendy South Beach venue was Cinema Theater, a popular movie house where for almost 30 years the hot attraction was Yiddish-American vaudeville.’

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Top ten most stolen vehicles in Florida. Without citation, but looks plausible enough. The 1994 Honda Accord is #1.

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Materva

Just to test out this flickr link thing, here’s a set of photos from 2004. Could it be that it was all so simple then? Remember Street??

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Fans of Miamista already know that he’s back in town, and with a trio of classic rants: one to recap local politics and one to size up the state of our blogs.

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Tweaked

First of all, appologies to Internet Explorer users, who have been suffering on and off for weeks with a misbehavin’ left column. Now use that big button on the right to get firefox anyway.

I hate change as much as the next guy, but it was time for that three-column layout to go. Actually, the navbar is going to split into two little columns again, but nevermind for now. What we have, then, is a slight layout change, with a few other little modifications:

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Saturday July 15, 2006

Joe Arriola steps down as city manager. His new gig? Managing partner at a healthcare company. He starts Monday.

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Miami Light Project announces 2006/2007 season

Miami Light Project continues to be one of the most exiting performing arts presenters in South Florida, and they’ve just announced their new season. No household-name type superstars (i.e. Laurie Anderson, Sonny Rollins) this year, but it looks like a solid season. I assume that the Miami Performing Arts Center shows are in the Studio Theater, which along with the newly renovated Colony Theater would mean that MLP has finally got their perfect roster of venues. Rock on! From the press release:

NATASHA TSAKOS – Upwake
November 30-December 2, 2006 8:00pm
Miami Performing Arts Center
Her latest work, UpWake, has been in development for the last 3.5 years through MLP’s Here & Now commissioning program. Up Wake is a fast-paced tragic-comedy that fuses clowning, movement and technology to follow Zero, a toon character, throughout his day. More than a show, Up Wake is a science project where performer, original score, text projection and digitally animated images are meticulously integrated to transform a live 3-D installation into a magical journey of the human soul. This program is co-commissioned and co-presented with Miami Performing Arts Center.

VINCENT MANTSOE- Men-Jaro
January 26-27, 2007 8:00pm
Colony Theater
Descended from a long line of Sangomas (traditional healers), Mantsoe hails from Soweto, South Africa. Blending traditional African dance forms with contemporary modern & ballet, and Asian forms, Men-Jaro features an international ensemble of 5 dancers & 5 musicians from the Traditional African Orchestra. In Men-Jaro (township slang for friendship), Mantsoe redefines the intrinsic relationship that exists between African contemporary dance & music, investigating ancestral worship and rituals in a powerfully ritualistic, highly celebratory & transcendentally spiritual work.

HERE & NOW: 2007
March 13-30, 2007
Miami Performing Arts Center
Here & Now features newly commissioned short works by 4-6 Miami-based artists curated by MLP staff for a 2-week performance series. In addition to a commissioning fee, the artists receive rehearsal time in the Light Box, production support and professional development assistance. Here & Now is co-commissioned and co-presented with Miami Performing Arts Center

EMIO GRECO – Hell
April 6-7, 2007 8:00pm
Colony Theater
Italian choreographer Greco & Dutch theatre director Pieter C. Scholten have worked together since 1995. In their latest work, Hell, they take on dance as their art form absolute – delving deeply into the layers of dance expression to investigate components of different dance styles and discover their associations. A contemplation of “hell on earth,” Hell offers a profound perspective on the current global situation. The artistic team includes Dutch experimental filmmaker Joost Rekveld who specializes in kinetic installations & light compositions.

GIOVANNI LUQUINI – Idalina
April 18-22, 2007
Miami Performing Arts Center
Before relocating to Miami in 1995, Luquini worked throughout Europe and the Americas for 30 years as a performer and choreographer. For MLP’s latest major commission, Idalina, Luquini collaborates with Brazilian Capoeirista masters Fernando Lee and Eurico de Jesus, and Miami-based Composer and Musician José Elias. Inspired by the saga of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the capacity of mankind to endure cruelty and degradation with ingenuity and hope, Idalina explores ideas of resistance and freedom, creating a movement, sound and word collage of the enduring symbols of Capoeira, resonant with collective nostalgia, memories, universal themes and a message of personal resistance. This program is co-commissioned and co-presented with Miami Performing Arts Center

5TH ANNUAL MIAMI/PROJECT HIP HOP (M/PH 2007)
May 3-12, 2007
Various Locations
Miami/Project Hip Hop is an annual 10-day celebration of hip hop music, dance, theater, spoken word, visual art and film, will feature South Florida-born, New York-based composer and violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain who seamlessly blends funk, rock, hip hop and classical music into a new sonic vision for the next generation.

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Friday July 14, 2006

Our very own Uli Herzner is now on Project Runway. I saw the show, and it’s not bad, ok?

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The western expansion of Metrorail isn’t happening. A close vote, but no cigar. Not sure how I feel about the Bus Rapid Transit line, but since I don’t live down there I suppose it’s none of my business.

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‘Posted on Thu, Jul. 13, 2006: Miami-Dade Transit workshops tonight, Monday’. More funky business from the Herald web team, and again directed at Larry’s stuff (maybe they’re getting back at him for mentioning blogs). Has anyone seen the print edition, and is this in there?

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Don’t mind me, I’m just taking a piss. Christian has a voyeuristic streak when it comes to the old homeless women that parade down Washington Ave., but this one is a particularly strong cup of coffee. ”. . . but then I notice that she actually has a plastic cup in her hand.” Ack!

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cat power

Oh shit! Cat Power at Studio A tonight!

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Wednesday July 12, 2006

Mini-protest

protest with signsprotest with signs

A little protest (maybe 50 people), possibly about this, in which case they have my unmitigated sympathy. Monday afternoon, MacArthur bridge to the Beach. (click images for flickr link)

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At arcuRADIO, a slam of the SunPost Best-of 2006. And really, it did come across as very corporate and pro-business and a lame waste of time. All the annoying qualities of the New Times version (and more), with none of the redeeming charms (which not that they’re that charming anyway). It was just disappointing. (via ignore, w/r/t which, read the whole post; they get all cute and pissed off at “most white, middle-class bloggers” (wait a sec… that’s me!) for linking to their dis of “Vice” but not to their A-Trak interview. But get real, guys; A-Trak is cool, but that doesn’t make your stoned conversation with him any more worth reading.)

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Almost everything in this week’s issue of Miami Today is good. My favorite is Joe Arriola’s quote about the USS Mohawk: “The city deserves something big, beautiful and important,” he said. “No offense to the owner, but it looked like it belonged more as a reef than in Bicentennial Park.”

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Bicentennial Park/Museum Park

First of all, before you get all exited, this has nothing to do with the design of Miami Art Museum, Miami Museum of Science, or any museum. This is all about the park that will (maybe) contain them, plans of which have been released. MAeX linked to a Herald article which linked to the Miami Planning website which linked to two PDF documents, a big one (which crashed my computer) and a little one.

We get a restaurant, some fountains, some open space, a “promenade,” some fancy gardens, no parking to speak of, and room for two buildings, the models of which are there just to fill space, ‘cause nobody knows what they’re going to look like yet. In fact, they may never happen, which who knows what that does to the park layout?

In the interest of sparing you downloading the PDFs, and of burning some bandwidth, each of the images below links to a (near) full-size graphic. Enjoy.

map

model

model

model

renderings

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Oh crap, Critical Mass already happened. I guess I need to get out ahead of this stuff a little.

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apple store on lincoln rd

Photos of the new Apple store on Lincoln Rd. It opens Saturday morning, and the first 1000 customers get a t-shirt. (via Fanless)

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Tuesday July 11, 2006

Mangoes

mango

Mkh doesn’t like the Mango Festival, and I can’t say I blame him (I’ve been to Fairchild twice recently, and I’m over it). The fruit itself, tho? Sign me up.

Uniquely tropical, mangoes come in a multitude of varieties; a Bahamian woman I used to know told me about varieties of mangoes that are completely different from the fruit we think of; some that are small and soft, some that are green even when ripe, and a multitude of flavors (the wikipedia article lists 35 species). There’s the unbelievably fleshy texture. The intoxicating smell. The fact that the skin is poisonous. Mangoes are amazing, and they elicit a different type of affection then most other fruit. Most supermarkets only seem to sell the one “regular” variety, so maybe I should have checked out the mango festival, after all.

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Another insurance company, Florida Select, is out of the market. “Based on our initial review of their finances, they are not writing any new or renewal business until they can get additional reinsurance or until their financial condition improves.”

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Monday July 10, 2006

What's up with the S&S Diner?

ss diner

Uh-oh, first Smitty’s closes, and now the S&S is threatened. According to this article sent in by an anonymous reader, the site of the S&S is shortly to contain another giant condo development. The developers have “agreed to maintain the S&S building as a restaurant,” which sounds a little ominous to me. They will also build a new kitchen (‘cause they’re demolishing where the current kitchen is), which to me implies that the place will close at least temporarily.

The Miami city commission still has to approve the project, but I see no reason why they wouldn’t: developer doing as he likes with his property, agreeing with the recommendations of the historic preservation board, blah blah. This is cause for some major concern!

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Larry Lebowits interviews Gabriel of Transit Miami and rounds up local transit-related blogging. Cool! (Hopefully the Herald will fix the hilariously messed up links by the time you read this.) Herald readers landing here, if you’re really only interested in transportation click ‘Traffic’. And here’s that Metrorail anagram. Update: Yes, they fixed it.

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Beach Patrol: Miami Beach starts tonight at 8pm on Court TV. (via Fanless)

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Sunday July 9, 2006

DeFede’s love note to County Manager George Burgess.

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Saturday July 8, 2006

A comprehensive list of art-related activities for the weekend. Every single thing on KH’s itinerary sounds worth doing.

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Friday July 7, 2006

Steve does Vamos a Miami.

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FPL looks at wind power. All kidding aside, this sounds way too smart to actually happen. (via GreenerMiami)

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Parking at Miami Performing Arts Center has a PL4n!

parking garage 2-4 blocks, lots 1-3 blocks away

OK, folks, the plan is here: 1697 parking spaces on four lots and one garage (plus 751 valet spaces), all within “one- to three-block radius” um, no sorry, I’m looking at your little graphic (shown actual size; I guess we don’t need to see whatever that legend is), and the far end of the garage looks a little farther out then three blocks. But let’s be serious: you don’t walk ‘as the crow flies’ when you’re going to the opera: you have to stick to the sidewalks. I had a little extra time, so I imported a Google Maps image into Illustrator, and traced out a walking route from somewhere at the far end of the garage to the entrance of the opera house:

walking from garage to mpac

Then I straightened out the route and compared it to the legend. As sketched, it’s 2,496 feet, or just shy of a half mile. No big deal on a nice day, but try it dressed up on a muggy October Miami evening. I actually suggest the valet, which at $20 is only $5 more then the spot in the garage; standing around in the hot air is preferable to schleping a half mile. By the way, Here’s a link to MPAC’s flash-based parking widget. Personally, it doesn’t quite work in IE or Firefox for me, but others may have better luck.

For extra fun, let’s count the ways in which the Herald article blows it:

  1. Swallows the “three blocks” crap hook, line, and sinker—right out of the gate (metaphor whiplash, sorry).
  2. “announced this week that they have secured about 2,500 valet and self-park spaces” Opportunity missed to break out a calculator: it’s actually 2,448 spaces
  3. “a sell-out crowd at the center, which has a capacity of 4,820” Let’s not bother to point out that that means 1.97 seats for every parking space.
  4. “Center leaders acknowledged the need for nearby parking garages more than 10 years ago while planning the state-of-the-art center, which is $102.1 million over budget at $446.3 million.” Good enough, though the original budget was $255 million, which puts the current total more like $191 million over budget.
  5. “Though the center will miss the opportunity to profit from parking fees from its own garages, Hardy said the new plan won’t burden the budget, either.” I guess you can’t “LOL”s in a newspaper article, so we’ll let this one go.
  6. “The Performing Arts Center is likely to be completed in early August.” Wrong.

Update: Another Herald article offers a dry look at MPAC prices.

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Thursday July 6, 2006

HA! Tere’s also unhappy with Gables Diner. The fact that she keeps going there (and half-apologizes for them) once again proves my theory that there’s a dearth of decent restaurants in the Gables. Ironically, right?

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Do the right thing and sign up for some local food.

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Tere is unhappy with all the furniture stores in Coral Gables. Personally, I like the furniture in those places (can’t afford it, tho). But it’s interesting how these stores open in close clusters: there’s another group of them along Biscayne in North Miami. I like the fact that Tere photographed each of the stores without going it.

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Wednesday July 5, 2006

Nevermind soccer. How about kickball? In Miami? Christian says that the WAKA Founders Cup World Kickball Championship is on July 22 in Bicentennial Park. Meanwhile, White Dade tells us about drunk Kickball in Brickell. In an odd convergence, both of these posts refer to the same kickball league. Go figure.

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McClatchy in the house

Herald on cover of McClatchy magazineLet’s take a moment to acknowledge the passing of the reigns over at the Miami Herald last week. The sale from Knight-Ridder to McClatchy has now been executed, and we’re now officially in the hands of the new guys. This all happened very quietly in the newspaper, with just one little article suggesting plans for the web site, and a feel-good opinion post about how great everyone is, what an opportunity this presents, blah blah blah.

The mood inside the newsroom (yes, I know about these things) has been one of cautious optimism; nobody’s sure what McClatchy’s going to do, but they’re mostly glad to see Knight-Ridder gone. What with the, shall we say unsettled state of the newspaper industry, everybody knows that new thinking is required, and McClatchy is seen as maybe being capable of some new thinking. We can check out the sites of the Star Tribune and Modesto Bee to see what they like to do. The main thing to notice is how different the sites are, which lends credence to the “reflect regional design and flavor” line. Let’s hope they fix what’s broken (the archives, the search, browsing of past issues) and not what ain’t.

There were some murmurings about a possible piece in the Bee that was supposed to slam Knight-Ridder, but instead we got this ho-hum overview of the deal.

In one of my regular lashings of the Herald, I suggested that the newspaper (and maybe all newspapers) should be run as non-profit organizations (I’ve since learned that the St. Petersburg Times is run by a non-profit). Well, that’s obviously not going to happen now. Still, this is interesting: the Herald building is on the cover of the most recent McClatchy magazine. It turns out that the paper is now the biggest in the organization’s portfolio (total: 39 papers). Maybe being the flagship has its privileges. Maybe the Herald will be given some opportunities and resources to really stretch out and look at what a newspaper is in the internet age. Hopefully it’s more then just crappy little online videos and photo slideshows. One person I spoke to at the Herald used the phrase “manage the decline,” and I hope that isn’t true. We need information, and if the Herald can focus on the local, and look at ways to use the internet properly, there’s no reason for any decline except in paper pulp consumption.

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Monday July 3, 2006

hurricane

A nifty, and hair-raising, animation of the 5 hurricane categories. How much for a hotel room in Atlanta until the end of hurricane season? (via hiddencity)

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ignore treats us to a pre-emptive dis of the Miami Vice movie. “The filmmakers sent an offer to Edward James Olmos to reprise his role as the never-not-brooding, pineapple-faced Lieutenant Martin Castillo. He declined and reportedly had his agent send a VHS [of] a 20-minute loop in which Olmos silently stared into the camera in absolute disgust.” Update: ignore gets hatemail.

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Sunday July 2, 2006

Kiwano

The Kiwanos are here!

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“Cessna Lands On U.S. 27 In Hialeah” LOLz .. quick, take a look at this before they yank it down in shame.

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A discussion and some great photos of Miami’s skyline over the years on Skyscraper City. The Freedom Tower was the tallest building in Miami from 1925 to 1928, when the Dade County Courthouse was completed. Obviously, the conversation is going to have to be updated very soon . . .

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Saturday July 1, 2006

A midsummer night's navelgaze

graphalicious

We’re halfway through the year, kids! And since there’s so many new folks reading, a mid-year review seemed like something to do. There’s been some “does anyone read my blog?” speculation going on lately, and I’m pleased to say that the answer is ‘yes.’

Whatever. In lieu of congratulations, please send acerbic letters to Republicans (before I start to sound like this guy). Meanwhile, here follows a somewhat absurdly replete ‘best-of’ from the last 6 months (and see Critical Miami year-end chin stroking for a similar treatment of 2005) in forward-chronological order:

January

February

March

April

May

June

As a parting thought, I might point out that my favorite blog of all time hasn’t been updated since November of 2003.

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Simon Hare

star island from the air

Simon Hare has pictures of South Florida that are so eye-popping that it’s worth dealing with the wretched flash interface they’re imprisoned in. Stick with the “landscape and architecture” section on his site: this boy knows how to shoot water. And yes, I know he’s photoshopping the snot out of them. (via Fanless)

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