Thursday August 31, 2006
Well, I finally made up with flickr (and ponied up my $25), and just in time to upload a few pictures from the last three days: before and after Tropical Storm Ernesto, a big fat dud, and the very thing we shall point to to explain why people didn’t bother getting properly ready for the next one, which might take us all out. Enjoy; regular bloggigng resumes next week (or not).
Tuesday August 29, 2006
Well, Ernesto predictions weakened to a tropical storm for S. Fla. yesterday, but could expand to a hurricane, so I’m off to make some preparations at the parents’ house and at work.
Hurricane related bloggage at Eye of the Storm, Stuck on the Plametto, Klotz, Miami Vision Blogarama, Hidden City, Babalú. Also some NY Times love (“South Floridians began hoarding gasoline and other emergency supplies . . .”).
Monday August 28, 2006
It’s insane out there. I just got back from Publix, where the parking lot was choked up, more cars were coming in then leaving, and people were either at each other’s throats or being creepily nice (the guy in front of me offered me nuts he was munching on). I only went to get some fun stuff, thinking it’d be empty, but of course I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Anyway, y’all need to relax. It’s a hurricane. You’re going to live. Stop shopping like it’s the end of civilization, and buy stuff that’ll help you have fun during and after the storm. From the picture above, and in no particular order:
- Whole wheat pita and beans: I had a batch of Miami Hummus in the fridge, so I decided to add some beans, garlic, and oil to it to bulk it up. This, plus the pita, is a decent staple. Unrefrigerated hummus will keep for a few days.
- Juice: I normally buy juices and mix them with seltzer. If the power’s out water will work, since room temperature seltzer is kind of nasty. Like Rebecca says, though, just fill up some pitchers before the storm, and you’ll have plenty of water (plus if you haven’t bought it by now it’s too late anyway).
- Booze: I’ve opted for a couple of bottles of Shiraz and a big bottle of Bushmill’s. Both work great at room temperature.
- Extra sharp chedar: You want to be sticking with the hard cheeses—anything soft will spoil (ever tried eating brie that’s been out overnight? Yikes!). Plus, it goes great with the wine.
- Tomatoes: I got the delicious ones on the vine. Any veggies that can be eaten raw would work, though.
- Yuca: I might feel motivated enough to cook this up tomorrow morning, and do up some olive oil and garlic to go with it.
- Coconut, avocado: more fun stuff from the produce isle. Cracking open and eating a coconut sort of makes anything feel like a celebration.
- Candles: I’m required by the Responsible Blogging Act of 2003 to tell you to use a flashlight, because you will burn down your home if you light a candle during a storm. But for myself, I rather like the candles. Plus reading by flashlight is a little jr-high for me. All the good hurricane candles in tall jars were gone, of course, and I can’t abide scented. Luckily I found these awesome Kosher candles. 72 to a box!
That’s it; there’s plenty of other stuff in the house. Plust, last year I didn’t even loose power. Bonus tip: if you have a hand-basket, you can pile as much stuff as you want in it, and they’ll let you slide at the express lane, regardless of how many items it is. How’s everyone else’s day going?
Ahh, it’s moments like this, when even the Herald is shitting it’s pants, that really get me going. Some helpful links:
- Remember the Carnival Center for the Performing Art’s Ready for Impact brochure? The site is gone, but this remnant remains.
- Two takes on “Ready to Die”: The amazing Unicorns, who drop a subtle reference to Notorious B.I.G. (can you spot it?)
- A wind-powered BMW.
- We’re all going to die!
I’ve got the day off from work today, baby, so prepare for more hard-hitting hurricane-preparation coverage! Watch this space! Read my blog! Prepare for impact!
Update (Monday, 1:14am): OK, fine, here’s a “responsible” link: Rebecca’s hurricane preparedness tips. Don’t worry be happy.
Sunday August 27, 2006
Sure hope you wern’t planning on buying any plywood, water, or batteries today! Update: The 5 pm update brings us ever so deeper into Ernesto’s cone of possibilities. Update: I’m sure it’s nothing: Evacuation of tourists ordered in Florida Keys.
Friday August 25, 2006
Ladies and gents, I give you Tropical Depression Five He doesn’t look like much, but by the time you read this his name might be ‘Ernesto.’ Didn’t I just say things were going to get dicey? Ok, this one doesn’t look so tough. But what about the next one? This would be a good time to grab a NHC RSS feed.
Thursday August 24, 2006
Miami-Dade police are searching for the man who was caught on tape starting a fire inside an adult bookstore in Miami. The shocking video.
Holy moly! Someone got good service at Gables Diner! (The food was a different matter, but then you can’t have everything, now can you?) Update: btw, how do you spell “moly”?? I’m getting 448,000 google hits for ‘holy moly’, 100,000 for ‘holy moley’, and only 986 for ‘holy molly’. Update: Definition of “moly”: “a mythical herb with a black root, white blossoms, and magical powers.” So that sounds right.
DeFede echoes my rant about the peaceful demonstrater that got shot by rubber bullets by cops. “Could it be that these gallant men are really just a bunch of cowards…. and are afraid to meet this woman face to face – without all their guns and rifles, and riot gear.”
Of all the restaurants in Miami, Tap-Tap is my favorite. I’ve eaten there more often then anywhere else (except maybe the two Taco Bells near my work), and dragged friends, family, girlfriends, friends of family, and just about anyone else there, sometimes kicking and screaming. When I have this much to say about something, it’s often best to ignore the reader’s needs and resort to bullet points:
- The best mojito in South Florida. It’s made with brown sugar and gigantic pieces of mint, and looks like dirty river water. Friends, you haven’t lived.
- omg the stews. Lamb, chicken, shrimp, conch, whatever. The stews are always a good choice.
- Every single surface in the place: all the walls, the tables, the chairs, the floors, everything is painted and decorated with intricate designs and images. Every wall is a mural.
- It’s pretty Americanized. At worst, you’ll have to pick chicken meat off the bone. Those in the mood for a more distinctive experience can always check out La Vraie Difference.
- Bass on tap. Praise Jesus.
- The desserts. I’m not normally much of dessert person but these are long on coconut and banana, which works for me.
- Smashed and friend plantains with every meal. Plus a weird super-spicy cabbage condiment thing that I can’t get enough of. Plus your choice of several varieties (!) of rice and beans.
- Oh, so by the way, a tap-tap is a pickup truck converted to a jitney, and painted and decorated in bright, ostentatious colors. One of the restaurant’s vehicles was featured prominently in the first episode of The Real World Miami.
- Live music on (I believe) Fridays and Saturdays, as well as special appearances by various performers. I once saw a theatrical performance by some master percussionists from Haiti there (this is prob 3+ years ago) that I’m still recovering from.
- The prices: they’re shockingly reasonable. If this place were a few blocks further east, it could get away with being twice as expensive. On the other hand, it does get busy. I dropped in on a Saturday recently, only to find a party of about twenty people waiting to be seated, and the owner not in any particular mood to be apologetic about not knowing how long the wait would be. If you want food on a friday or saturday night, make a reservation.
- I almost forgot… the fried pork! My all-time favorite. You douse it with some provided lime juice, or the aforementioned spicy cabbage, and you’ll never be happier. I want some right NOW.
I recommend going early and often, and taking out-of-town guests here. It’s actually a little absurd that I’ve been doing this blog for well over a year, and haven’t properly written about Tap-Tap.
819 Fifth Street
Tuesday August 22, 2006
Let’s not get too comfortable, kids: Atlantic hurricanes could rev up any time. Take ‘ol Andrew, back in 1992. That was the first hurricane of hurricane in that year, and it hit on August 24th. The peak of hurricane season is about the three weeks before and after September 10th. “There’s absolutely nothing that I know of that is unfavorable (to hurricane development) in the eastern Atlantic,” said Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center.
The mythology behind Rick Ross is staggering: he began dealing drugs in high school, gradually transferring his profits into legitimate businesses: a record label (Poe Boy Entertainment), a lawn-care service, and condos he bought and rented out.
Now, a background in crime can be a useful asset in business, but it’s not a regular everyday thug that buys his first house at the age of 21, and a Rolls-Royce Phantom by 28. Mark that: he owned the Rolls before he had the record deal. What we have, then, is a guy with serious force of will, which happens to be the very thing that is most crucial for an MC.
Throughout his 20’s, Ross worked on his mic skills too, releasing mix tapes, ghost-writing lyrics for other rappers (he won’t say who), and building up underground cred. And so the release of his first album, Port of Miami, isn’t the result of a lucky break—it’s the product of a bidding war for his contract that Def Jam Records won. (And it’s interesting that as he transitions from businessman to rapper, he is aligned with Jay-Z, who has recently retired from rapping to serve as president of Def Jam.)
OK, so let’s cut to the chase: Port of Miami is a great; it stops just short of being a classic. The beats are slow and funky. The songs are mostly good; though cutting a few of them would have improved the album (I don’t know what it is about the hip-hop industry lately that makes everyone feel that they need to fill up the full 78 minutes of every CD released: some of the best albums of all time, including hip-hop albums, barely break 40 minutes); see for example the slightly new-jack-swing I’m Bad. But for the most part, fans of Hustlin’ will not be disappointed: similarly perfect beats, mostly slow and blunted, abound, and Ross has more then enough charisma to sustain interest. And the 808 is in effect throughout most of the album.
Occasionally clunky lyrics (like infamously rhyming ‘Atlantic’ with ‘Atlantic’ on Hustlin’) are mostly overlooked in the wake of better lyrics. Lil’ Wayne has the misfortune to have to deliver one of the particularly silly lines: “bullet-proof car got me feelin’ like a turtle.” Mostly, though, the few guest appearances are great, particularly Akon on Cross that Line and Jay-Z himself on a remix of Hustlin’. And yes, this isn’t just an album from Miami, it’s an album about Miami, references to the city are peppered throughout, and it’s fun to pick them out.
Farecast is a service that tracks the price history of an airline ticket and tells you whether the price will go up or down, and whether you should buy the ticket now or wait. It has only supported flights from two airports, but is now open to 55, including Miami and Ft. Lauderdale!
Monday August 21, 2006
What’s up with St. Thomas University? First it turns out that one of their criminal law professors is a f’real criminal, though students with a record get expelled, and now it seems that the law school is expelling unpromising students to raise bar pass rates.
In the total and complete heart of Little Havana sits Yambo, a 24-hour Nicaraguan joint that has to be seen to be believed. We ended up there around 4 am Sunday morning, after visits to Seven Seas and PS14. Like Le Tub, this is an establishment where the decor and the food fight fiercely to be the most unforgettable, surreal experience.
Stuff like this is everywhere, and though the inside seating was closed, I am given to understand that it makes the outside look somewhat half-assed and drab.
This is the awesome lady who took our order. I doubt Yambo has ever employed anyone who spoke more then a few words of English, but (even though I was under South American supervision) the food is ordered from a deli-style counter, possibly by just pointing, so non-Spanish speakers could probably do just fine here. Cash only, natch.
Carlos Rigau (AKA Kenneth Cohen) and Jeroen Nelemans (visiting from Chicago, where he’s working on a fine-arts masters degree at the Art Institute) model the crazy perimiter wall, lined with old-school concrete and mosaic patio tables and chairs.
A close up of the food. The French-toast-looking thing in the foreground is fried cheese. To the left of that is some blood/rice sausage. The egg-foo-young looking things are fried pastries filled with ground meat. Pretty much everything gets fried, and involves lots and lots of ground meat. It’s a good thing I don’t live across the street from this place.
1643 SW 1st St.
Friday August 18, 2006
Hmm… I wonder if Joseph is talking about this. A little birdie told me “yes.” In fact, they refer to “bloggers” diggind up the el nuevo photo montage, which is little more then a reference to New Times. Of course the Herald has to pretend NT doesn’t exist.
I’m rather taken with this idea: a gelato shop, hosting an exhibition, of “custom designed fantasy shoe sculptures.” It’s just too bizarre to miss; the invitation skates on the edge of complete absurdity (“Come see shoes that lift the soul”??). The sculptures are by Robert Tabor, and will be on display through November 30th. Some not-great photos here. The gelato’s not bad, either (though it’s not my thing):
Gelato Station, 5580 NE 4th Ct (next to Soyka and that amazing carwash pizza place that I’ve eaten at a million times and never catch the name of), 305-756-0407.
Thursday August 17, 2006
Here’s the cover of the March/April issue of Inside Arts. The cover story contrasts the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts with the Carpenter Center in Richmond in a standard success/failure scenario:
The geometry of the new Cesar Pelli-designed Miami Performing Arts Center, scheduled to open October 5, 2006, already forms the dominant profile along Biscayne Boulevard in the city’s Omni District—the emblem of a revitalized and quickly changing Florida metropolis and of an elevated profile for arts presentation.
Meanwhile, in downtown Richmond, Va., between Broad and Main Streets, the Carpenter Center sits dark and unused. And the ambitious performing arts center project set in motion by the Virginia Performing Arts Foundation—which involved the renovating and expanding the Carpenter Center and two other existing venues as well as constructing a brand-new music hall—is stalled in its tracks, perhaps never to be realized as it was envisioned.
The article goes on to point out the reasons for the Miami project’s success: a demonstrable need for such a center in the community, public support for the project both in votes and with financial contributions, and strong resident companies. It mentions, in passing, the overbudgetedness aspect and the unfortunate folding of the Florida Philharmonic. A pretty interesting read.
The cover cheerfully reproduces the the Miami center’s pre-construction mockup, which to the untrained eye looks like an aerial photograph of the center, downtown in the background. Of course the photo is a mockup, and the center as it appears in it is a computer rendering (although at least a rendering of actual plans—as far as I know, the parking garage seen on the right side of the image is a pure fantasy).
Speaking of parking, I recommended in that article going for the $20 valet parking rather then the distant $15 self-parking. Well, according to last week’s Miami Today, there is no valet company in place.
“I would like to say for the record that the scope of services in this agreement does not include valet parking,” said Jami Reyes, chairwoman of the [Miami Parking Authority]. She said the authority does not want to be part of “negative publicity if something goes wrong” with valet services at the center.
This suggests that MPA doesn’t believe it can provide valet services for $20. It also sets the center up for hiring another provider, for more then $20 per car, and having to make up the difference, since they’ve already promised their patrons that price. Which suddenly makes their profit on regular parking (which is 0%) look not so bad.
The Herald has had a pair of articles in the last week about the Carnival Center. The first is a glimpse of the center’s first year budget, with predictable results:
The center’s first-year deficit is projected at $551,476. And planners had to use extra doses of county tax money and bigger bequests from private and corporate donors to get it down from a first-draft deficit of $2.7 million.
A second article delves into the unpredictability of the acoustics in projects like this until after they’re finished and tried out:
At Philadelphia’s $235 million Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, where the duo’s firm, Artec, created an acoustical system similar to Miami’s, classical music critics at its 2001 opening blasted its sound as ‘’lacking in warmth,’’ even ‘’an acoustical Sahara.’’ And even after three years of tinkering, Artec wrote a report in 2004 recommending major, expensive changes to the acoustics of Kimmell’s Verizon Hall. Johnson and Nakajima promise Miami won’t encore Kimmel’s song.
Pretty funny, but it sounds like the Artec learned from the mistakes they made in Philly, and corrected them on our design. Concert hall acoustics is a fascinating, and endlessly complicated topic. More here, here, and here.
Wednesday August 16, 2006
White Dade does an interesting one on the difference between Cuban-Americans and Cubans. I have no way to confirm what he says, but it relates to part of what I said in Cuba: what happens now? (i.e. that Cuban-Americans are not a random sampling of Cubans, therefore their feelings about, say, Fidel, cannot be attributed to Cubans with 100% certainty). Also something about the “Miami accent.”
Tuesday August 15, 2006
Holy crap: Photoshop the Fidel Castro image and win a free ticket to Disney World at Miami Beach 411.
Cuban exiles suspect Castro photos are fakes, obviously. The US government says “there is no reason to doubt the authenticity of the photos,” but yet they’re “conducting further analysis.”
Coconut Grove Grapevine has a very definitive vision for the Grove: No big tourist attractions, no housing developments, and businesses that cater to the locals. “Mayfair used to be a Winn-Dixie and Cocowalk was a gas station that I think ended up being a mini-flea market on weekends after the gas station closed. To be honest, this was the Grove to me, not the monolithic tourist traps that took over.”
10 People To Spend Their Afterlife As An Artificial Reef. Seriously. The company is Eternal Reefs, and they’ve been doing this a long time. They cremate you, mix your ashes in with a couple of hundred pounds of concrete, and sink you off the coast of wherever you want. No prices on the web site, unfortunately.
Monday August 14, 2006
No, seriously. What are you trying to do, lull us into a false optimism? This is just sad . . . my cat can work photoshop better then this. I used to do better photo montage with MS Paint when I was in jr. high. Or, were you trying to say that if you can whip up a cartoon with Fidel in it it proves he’s alive?
What, in Cuba they always do a 4-inch bottom margin on the front page of the newspaper, so that bearded dictators have a comfortable spot to grip? Well, ok, i’ll play along. Look at his fingers. Look at the newspaper right around his fingers. Anyone who’s ever held a newspaper knows that’s not how it looks to hold one. OK now look at the newspaper closely. You’ll notice that the paper is sort of an off-white in the photograph. Compare to Fidel’s (sporty, I must say) Adidas jacket. The jacket, along with his face, is clearly lit by crappy flash. The paper, on the other hand, has a much more natural lighting to it, sort of a diffused indirect-sunlight sort of thing.
Speaking of light, though, my favorite thing is the “shadow” the newspaper casts. Look at the neat little line running along the right side of the bottom part of the newspaper. We’re supposed to believe that this is the shadow cast by the camera’s flash. It doesn’t follow the shape of the bed because it’s all about the shape of the object (paper) relative to the flash and the lens. True: crappy flash pictures really do work this way; you can try it. The problem is that the exact thing should happen with the shadow of the top half of the newspaper. But our Comrade Photoshopper thought it looked pretty natural this way: newspaper casting a shadow on the vertical part of the bed, not horizontal. Give me a break. Buy yourself a newspaper, sit in front of a bed, and have a friend flash you. Have fun: get yourself a Cuban-flag-colored Adidas jacket!
Maybe the el Nuevo Herald guys learned photoshop on the island. Sorry, kids: I’m not sure if that’s a real newspaper or not, but I’m damned skippy that it was never in the same room with Fidel.
Here’s the photo released this morning, Fidel with Hugo Chavez and Raul. I haven’t had a chance to look at it closely yet, but on first blush I find this one a little more convincing. While it’s certainly possible that they montaged ‘em together, if I were trying to inspire confidence I wouldn’t choose a picture of FC lying in a hospital bed. Also, Chavez would have had to go along with it, and why would he put his integrity on the line like that? On the other hand, we have the weird “be prepared for bad news” comment coming out of Cuba, so it’s a mystery. I still say the first photo’s a fake, though.
Friday August 11, 2006
Miami International Airport has a SWAT team; they just said so on the Early Show. What’s interesting is that MIA’s web site says nothing about it. The best I could do is this—some reports about the guy shot by Air Marshalls mentioned it.
Yes, apparently there are seven commandments. The flag of the USA has been tastefully cropped to accomodate them. Oh, the glory! Update: Ok, it’s a bit more complicated then that; see Comment #4 (thanks, NicFitKid).
Super-quick recap: back in 2003, Miami hosted a meeting of the Free Trade Association of the Americas (FTAA), and hilary ensued. We’ve all read the CIP’s report, so we know the outlines of what happened. I bring up the case of the lady who was hit five times with rubber bullets fired by Broward police because it so succinctly demonstrates my understanding of police mentality. Let’s recap:
- The video (the Herald’s video doesn’t work for me) clearly shows her not doing anything threatening (duh) — she’s walking away from the police.
- They fire FIVE RUBBER BULLETS at her. Nice work, fellas!
- The next video shows them laughing about it. Let me repeat for emphasis: they’re all standing around laughing about it.
- When it all comes out (this Wednesday), the police department apologizes for laughing about it.
Where is the apology for hitting her with rubber bullets? Wait, nevermind that; it turns out that no police officers were disciplined for anything in all of this. OK now I have some observations.
- No apology for the rubber bullets.
- No officers disciplined. Ah but of course: we “have no way of knowing which officers fired the rubber bullets.” You know why? Because the the guy standing next to the guy who fired won’t say. And the guy on his other side won’t say.
- . . . i.e. when police officers do fucked-up criminal shit their buddies cover for them. This utterly refutes any sort of “it’s just a few bad seeds” argument that anyone would care to attempt to make, right?
- And nevermind discipline. I believe we have a name for shooting at someone, and it’s actually a crime. So how about filing some charges. Oh, right: see #3, above.
- You know how killing a cop is a worse offense then killing a random person? OK, I understand that rule, and have no problem with it. But by the same token, the police are entrusted by us with special power. I think that when they abuse that power in committing a crime (which is precisely what this was), their punishment should be similarly more harsh.
The worst thing about all of this? For every instance of police abuse of power that gets caught on tape, there are hundreds or thousands that are never heard of. Messed up.
Thursday August 10, 2006
Jonathan does the Atlantis. The Atlantis defined Miami architecture in the 1980s: sleek, absurd, and best appreciated while zipping by at 60 miles per hour on I-95. Heck, it’s right there in the Miami Vice opening credits.
A peculiar thing happened along the way. In the 90s, they built up a wall between the Northbound and Southbound sides of I-95, so you can’t see it when you’re going South. The only way to get a good look is to crane your neck almost completely around while going Northbound. Unless you know it’s there, you’ll miss it; in fact, for awhile I assumed it had been torn down; was just aware of not having seen it in a long time. But there it is, still looking much bigger then its 20 floors. The bummer of it is that it would have made a great home for the Miami Children’s Museum. Instead, the Atlantis fades from our consciousness, replaced, I suppose, by Espiritu.
Wednesday August 9, 2006
‘Audience Choice’ award winner Nastassja Schmidt, Julie Lara Kahn, and Brook Dorsch, at the Dixie Dingo Super-8 “International Film Festival”
Okay, so first of all, if Brook ever gives you a little film camera and asks you to make a little movie, only only only ever turn it on in full midday sunlight. OK, we’re talking about the film screening last night, and actually almost all the movies were pretty great. Taken as a group, they just about made up a poem about Miami. Nastassja Schmidt absolutely stole the show. She decided to sing Amazing Grace while her movie played. Now keep in mind that nobody saw the movies before they were screened, right? So, she starts to sing, the movie starts to play, and the screen is completely dark.
Somehow her movie was the most underexposed of them all, and with only one little flash spot of light (which—important—made it clear that the problem was with the film, not the camera), Nastassja sang to a dark screen. She seemed a little taken aback, but not at all thrown. So, ok, she’s an amazing singer, right? And she’s doing this incredible acapella version of Amazing Grace, with little slides and flourishes and stuff, and just as she gets to the “but now I see” line . . . the screen comes a live with just the briefest shot of light, something that looks like a chandelier, or an explosion, or a bouquet of flowers (of which the latter is what it was, she explained afterwards how she had mixed artificial flowers with real flowers, and it was supposed to be about how misleading hasty judgements can be).
So yeah, it was unbelievable. After that, nothing was going to compete, though Crispin Sylvester’s movie was great, and apparently lost by only one vote. Some more thoughts about the night:
- TM Sisters did some crazy good titles, which somehow made the whole thing feel a little like the Oscars, and managed to perfectly complement grainy B/W footage, feature dogs (the festival’s named after a dog, remember?), and still be in the TM’s trademark style.
- Faktura Pet Projects were taking donations and selling artwork to support animal adoption (the dog the festival’s named after was found and adopted by Brook and Julie).
- William Keddell’s amoeba pictures and 3d viewers are great. You’ve seen the picture on the Dorsch site? Well, then, you haven’t seen anything.
- Cinema Vortex was involved with the projecting and technical aspects of the whole thing, cause, you know, Best Buy doesn’t sell Super-8 projectors anymore. And for example how they transferred the TM’s titles to Super-8 was the mystery of the night for me.
- The Miami-Dade department of cultural affairs gave them a grant to throw this thing.
All of which brings me to say that the Dorsch Gallery has now completed it’s transformation into a full-on cultural center. This is the sort of event that the smartest non-profit in the world might try to do, but for a supposedly commercial gallery? I’d say it’s pretty singular. Just wait until the AC’s in place!
Tuesday August 8, 2006
A wall in Liberty City that was built to separate blacks and whites is being considered for historical status. Am I the only one that thinks this is a terrible idea? For one thing, a wall with historical status is still a wall: still does what the original did: make it more difficult to get from here to there. More importantly, the perpetrators of racism are the ones that need to be reminded of stuff like this, not the victims. Update: Miami-Dade historical page. (via Urban Paradise)
Miami will host the Superbowl in 2010.
I’ve quoted it before, but it bears repeating: “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.”
Monday August 7, 2006
Frances went to Viscaya, As in July, in August it’s free on the last Sunday; that would be the 27th. The closest thing we’ll ever have to a real castle, Viscaya seems like a no-brainer must-visit for any Miamian. Since regular admission is $12, a free day is not insignificant. Info on the Viscaya site.
Noted without comment, though Robert has some.
This is a project that Brook Dorsch and Julie Kahn cooked up last year. They somehow came into the possession of eight Super-8 cameras, and gave them to eight semi-randomly selected people along with a three-minute spool of film. One week later, everything gets returned, developed, and subsequently screened. The screening is the first time anyone gets to see the movies, including the organizers. Nice. I missed it last year, and I’m not missing it again.
Tomorrow Night! (Tuesday, 8 pm) From the website (which as far as I know has no permlinks:
Julie Lara Kahn & Brook Dorsch announce the second Dixie Dingo Super-8 Invitational Film Festival at the Dorsch Gallery on 8/8/06 at 8:00 pm. The DDS8IFF is a free one-night festival of Super-8 films by Miami strangers. The festival celebrates the 3rd birthday of a stray Dixie Dingo puppy named Logan who appeared on the steps of the Dorsch Gallery on 8/8/03. We adopted him and he changed our lives forever. The festival pays homage to the creative possibilities of such serendipitous meetings with strangers. The evening will benefit Faktura Pet Projekts—a non-profit organization run by artists Jacquelyn Johnston and Angela Roell dedicated to using the arts to enhance community by raising awareness, funds and support for the rescue of stray pets. This year”s 8 filmmakers are: Elizabeth Howard; Eduardo M. Lopez, a personal driver, sailor and diver from Argentina; Teresa Mears, an assistant features editor for the Miami Herald; Crispin Sylvester, a Rastafarian; Bethany Quinn, a UM hunger striker; Nastassja Schmidt, a high school actress, singer, model, dancer & aspiring filmmaker; Us Not Him, a local collaborative; Alon Siso, a hairdresser and modern artist who works with oil and canvas.
On a hot day earlier this year, Brook & Julie cruised through Miami neighborhoods handing out cameras & film to 8 random people. Each stranger was provided with a super-8 camera, a 3-minute film cartidge & 1 week to shoot. Their exposed film was then collected, processed and compiled onto a single reel without any editing beyond what was done in camera. The reel will be screened via old-fashioned projector with the help of Barron Sherer and Kevin Wynn of Cinema Vortex at the Dorsch Gallery on August 8th at 8 pm. No one will view the films before the festival, not even the organizers or the filmmakers, we will all be virgins together. In addition to the 8 virgin films, the organizers commissioned credit trailers by Miami-based art duo, the TM Sisters, best-known for their xerography, sewn collage, animation, and video game collaborations. After the films and trailers are screened, the audience will vote for an Audience Choice Award Winner. The evening will conclude with a dance party featuring DJ le Spam and an opportunity to mingle with the filmmakers and their guests.
Update: Sweet Jesus, I didn’t even realize (but KH points out) that it’s 8 folks making Super 8 movies, shown on 8/8, at 8 pm. I’m about to have a seizure.
I got a weird e-mail link to this weird invite yesterday, and I ignored the living shit out of it. This morning, when Christian and Rick have posts about it (and so do probably a bunch of other bloggers I haven’t looked at yet – Fanless is my first stop when he has a new post, and Rick is comprehensive, hence my checking there to see if anyone else noticed it), I dug it out of my inbox trashcan and took another look.
So, yes, hi guys! I agree with Rick: this is a great idea. I also agree with Rick that it’s mainly great at getting your restaurant, vineyard, or whatever it is, some inexpensive publicity. Clever.
But no. You don’t get to throw the big party where all the Miami bloggers finally get together. Too many of us are anti-corporate, some of us are adamantly anonymous, and most of us have an aversion to the 33139 zip code. I have hung out with a few of the Miami bloggers, and I’m sure we’ll have more things where more of us get together. But when it’s organized by some out-of-town corporate interest, I don’t think I’m the only one who’s going to be able to find something more interesting to do.
Saturday August 5, 2006
Had trouble getting on Critical Miami in July? Here’s why.
Randa Shaath, Untitled, from the series Rooftops of Cairo, 2002-3, Twelve gelatin silver prints, Courtesy of the artist [and crudely rephotographed by me in the gallery, hence the crappy quality]
Guy Tillim, Ntokozo and His Brother Vusi Tshabalala at Ntokozo’s Place, Milton Court, Pritchard Street, Johannesburg, 2004, Courtesy the artist and Michael Stevenson Gallery, International Center of Photography, New York
Theo Eshetu, Trip to Mount Ziqualla, Ethiopia, 2005, Courtesy the artist
You want to make a snap judgement? Enter Miami Art Central’s gallery. You’ll be faced with several huge, drastically out-of-focus pictures of uniforms. You won’t be tempted to go in for a closer look (large out of focus photos tend not to reward close looking), and you might temporarily question the wisdom of your decision to come. As it turns out, the show, despite making this oddly poor first impression, is full of amazing work. And MAC [flash!] has a habit of saving its best stuff for upstairs.
But let me pick on them a little more. From the brochure: “the recognition of African photographers and their unique visual language has come about only recently.” I’ll have to take curator Okwui Enwezor word for it, because the show certainly doesn’t exhibit anything like a particular “unique visual language.” Many of the individual photographers have a UVL, to be sure, but I perceive no more of a hint of common sensibility in this show then in, say, Aura of the Photograph: The Image as Object recently at the Harn. That show presented photography from around the world, and from the entire history of the medium.
Of course this is a good thing; any exhibition claiming to give even the most cursory look at the photographic work of a continent of 840 million people and 20 percent of the world’s land area had better be pretty freaking diverse, and Snap Judgements is. The show has its share of uninspiring pictures, but it’s full enough (too full maybe; pictures are packed tightly, double-hung in places) to include dozens of pictures that are, in turn, beautiful, alarming, tender, and haunting. Just go already.
Miami Art Central
5960 SW 57th Avenue
Miami, Florida 33143
Free Sundays, $5 other days
Friday August 4, 2006
In commemoration of Jamaica’s 44th Independence anniversary celebrations, the Bank of America Tower downtown will be lit in the colors of the Jamaican flag – black, gold and green – tonight through Tuesday.
Thursday August 3, 2006
Whether you’re like me, and you’re recovering from the craptastic Miami Vice movie, or you loved the movie and are wondering what all the fuss of the TV show was about, the classic opening credits might come in handy.
I lived at 936 Pennsylvania Ave when the Synagogue at 935 Euclid was being rebuilt; I could see their stained glass star-of-David window from my window on the alley standing at the sink in my kitchen. I have a big photo of the building, gutted and ready to be rebuilt as luxury condos, hanging in my present apartment (a couple of blocks down on Euclid). Since then all the condos have been sold; probably for close to half a million each (wild guess—anyone know for sure?).
Another synagogue, on Washington and 3rd, became the beautiful Jewish Museum in the 1980’s (?), but I was under the impression that the synagogue a couple of blocks down the street from my new apartment was still functioning. Boy was I wrong. Unbeknownst to me (and so done much more subtly then the 936 job), it has been converted into one huge contemporary residence. I’m going to go ahead and declare this “creepy.” Who would want to live there? Well, we’ll see: it’s selling for 17 million. The one thing I think I like about this renovation is that they left the exterior intact.
So as far as I know the only functioning synagogues on the Beach are on Alton now. What we have, of course, is the Jewish population moving away, mostly to Broward. It makes sense that the synagogues in residential neighborhoods would be converted to residences, and the ones along the bigger arteries remain as is. Unfortunately, the ones being renovated were more architecturally interesting, so there’s a severe loss of history here. So it goes. (via Rick and thanks NicFitKid, in Rick’s comments, for additional info)
 That’s my attempt to rephotograph it through the frame glass, and so the crappy quality of the picture.
“I kept waiting to hear that the president dropped by Mansion nightclub so he could guest DJ and referee the latest VIP room slap fight between Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.” Jim DeFede on W’s visit to Miami. Not uninteresting is that in the text version, Paris becomes “Jessica Simpson.” Ouch.
Wednesday August 2, 2006
Oppenheimer is all like, wtf is going on in Cuba?? And then he’s got some good speculation. Conclusion: Even if Fidel recovers, “we would see a power-sharing agreement in which Fidel Castro could become—at least in title—a ceremonial head of state.”
Let’s assume for the moment that Fidel Castro is alive in fact, but dead effectively: that is, he’s sick to an extent that will make it impossible to return to power for a long while. Let’s further assume that the instability of the transfer, along with Raul Castro’s weaker political clout and cult-of-personality, make it impossible for the new leader to hold the Communist regime together. These assumptions each have considerable evidence behind them, but I feel comfortable making them primarily because the effect of their incorrectness would be little but to delay whatever the result would be. Where, then, does that leave us?
Since our current international eye is so used to looking at Iraq, it’s easy to conjure up images of civil unrest, chaos, and jostling for power. I find such predictions unpersuasive. In fact, I think the Velvet Revolution may be a much closer model of what is to come in Cuba. Whether it be in weeks or years remains to be seen, but let’s consider how the end of the Castro era in Cuba is likely to be similar or different from the fall of Communism in Czechoslovakia. (For new readers, I was born in Czechoslovakia in 1974, and immigrated to the US with my family in 1980.)
The Velvet Revolution was precipitated by events from outside the country: specifically, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the overthrow of Communism in most surrounding countries. As shocks to the system go, it seems roughly equivalent to loosing the one figurehead who’s been in charge of the Communist regime of Cuba for all this time. So the spark is there. But is there any fuel? By my estimation (And this might be a fair moment to point out that I’m no expert on on this stuff. If these thoughts have any weight, they must have it on their own merit. Feel free to dismiss them as rampant speculation.), two components are necessary for a relatively bloodless transition away from Communism: a strong intellectual dissident movement, and a significant percentage of fed-up population willing to put themselves at some risk to overthrow the regime.
Dissident intellectuals? I suspect Cuba is rich with them. Witness the reports that the government has been cracking down on just such dissidents over the last few days. That Raul may take a particularly strong position against them in the first days of his rule to prove his strength. And note the plight of Guillermo Fariñas, which, for all his suffering, made it into the international press. On NPR today I heard an interview with a Havana resident described as a “dissident and economist.” Nuff said.
Fed-up population ready to demonstrate? Hmm… here’s where Cuba’s geographical situation works against it. The problem is that it’s just so darned close to the US, which provides an escape hatch for those to whom the regime is most insufferable. I mean, no, the journey from there to here is nothing if not arduous. But it’s doable. And the costs of an attempt are low. (In contrast, my family had to go through endless legal wrangling and political subterfuge to get official permission for a vacation in Yugoslavia, which for some reason had a demi-porous (read: soldiers with machine guns patrolling, but only intermittently) border with Austria.) The result is that the very Cubans who might right now be most eager to rush into the streets of Havana with a view towards overthrowing the Commies are . . . living in Miami.
Of course this isn’t intended as a slight on Cuban-Americans or on the act of immigration. (When faced with a situation, it’s only right that each family does what it needs to do.) It’s an observation: one that might explain the oddly reticent reaction of folks still on the island. The lack of protests might very well be a simple a biding of time, though.
In the case of the Velvet Revolution, more then a week went by between the sparking incident and the tipping point, which came on November 17, 1989. Basically, what is required is a consensus feeling that change is possible, and something to motivate a lot of people to get out there and make it happen. Lots of things go into something like this, and again I note the importance of dissident leaders as a motivating force. (The riot police who responded to the demonstrations on November 17th blocked all the exits except one, and every person, as they filed out, got a whack of billy club across the back. The strength of a large group of people being able to take shit like that leads rather directly to the downfall of governments.)
Weighing all of this, I can’t help but feel optimistic for Cuba. Some absurdly thoughtful comments at the previous thread make it clear that the Velvet Revolution is but one possible model of what is to come in Cuba. Another equally plausible one is China: a Communist power that relaxes financial restrictions while holding tightly on to control of society. I don’t think I need to convince anyone that the way I’ve outlined—of temporary, short-lived suffering, followed by the sweet freedom of reality—is preferable to the slow and gradual relaxing of restrictions by a still oppressive regime. But I think the the situation is right for this kind of overthrow. The idea of Communism in Cuba is so closely tied to the leader that Val calls ‘the bearded goat’ that with him gone, everyone—man in the street, soldier in uniform, party intellectual, and even Raul himself—will be thrown into enough of a state of anomie that some drastic change will seem inevitable. The inevitability of that change itself is a powerful motor. Let’s hope it gives a push in the right direction.
Tuesday August 1, 2006
An old-school thread at Artblog. Sure check out Franklin’s ovalup (new term: coined!), then skip down to comment #11 and read as long as you can stand it. Yay for Artblog discussions!
Shameful: Study finds disparities in judges’ asylum rulings. In fact, Miami is one of the hardest places in the nation to get an asylum. Update: Trying to find more details about the study. This report says it was conducted by the San Jose Mercury News, but their report is from the AP. Hmm… Update: Here’s the report. (thanks Liz, you’re the best!)