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Friday September 29, 2006

Sometimes a comment really hits home, and provokes a lot of reflection, as this one, suggesting “wow, alesh why don’t you tell us what you ate last night.” Not a bad idea, and so here pleased to be presenting: i eat food, my new blog. Updated probably maybe twice a week or so, and sporting a design which I consider to be an homage to Preshrunk, though with more red.

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If we don't keep the Everglades wet, it will be a desert, and no one will be able to live there A cute, if somewhat nonsensical, ink drawing from The Everglades Invade the City, an installation by Edwin Villasmil and Elba Martínez, which runs through February 28. From the press release:

Villasmil and Martinez are artists, environmental activists and educators. For the past two years, they have researched the Everglades through our library system and documented their findings through art. The result – a fairytale world of line drawings, sculptural installations and graphic-novel style storytelling that parallels Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ River of Grass and recounts the natural, social, and cultural history of the Everglades. Their goal is to investigate the relationship between art, society and nature, and to create awareness of the need to protect our natural resources.

Call 305.375.5048 or email art@mdpls.org for more information, ‘cause this is the closest thing to a web page about it. It’s at the West Dade Regional Library, 9445 Coral Way, way out here. Make this my default location? Oh yeah, babe.

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Home Depot to build in the Grove

proposed home depot design has trees along the street and a sloped roof

It appears that Grove residents have lost the fight, and the Grove Depot is going forward. On the other hand, maybe what they got for their trouble is a much more neighborhood-aware, smaller design. But they sure aren’t satisfied. Although some disagree that it’s much of a compromise.

I guess I just don’t get it. This is a gigantic property along US-1 which formerly held a K-Mart. Is having a Home Depot and a Milams there really the end of the world?

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This is what real estate agents are turning to now to help sell houses: burying statues of St. Joseph on the property. The bad news that it demonstrates where we’re going. The good news is that it’s funny, and that it works!

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The Book Fair is coming, November 12 – 19th. Mkh has some issues with their web site. Check: click “2006 Confirmed Authors List” on the home page, and you get to a page that says “2005 Confirmed Authors,” and who’s URI is “miamibookfair.com/2004/author_eng.htm.”

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Thursday September 28, 2006

IMG_5823.jpg

A couple of months ago, the Dirt had a thing about the photo of Gil Dezer at the Trump construction site in Sunny Isles. I thought it would be fun to go photograph it, finally got around to it. He’s the second guy from the left. Here’s more about Gil.

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Wednesday September 27, 2006

We’ve got bedbugs!

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rendering of citysquare, CCPA, some weird building

Speaking of the PAC, do I read this right, that Citysquare has been approved?

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Huh? Did someone say gentrification?

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Gabriel is serious: he’s got several quick transportation proposals for Coral Gables. “. . . the [Metromover] omni loop will be rendered useless once the streetcar is completed seeing that they essentially cover the same part of the city. The salvageable tracks, vehicles, and station components can then be used to create a new Coconut Grove Loop People Mover system.”

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Carnival Center for the Performing Arts opens

Carnival Center for the Performing Arts John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall

The Carnival Center for the Performing Arts Sanford And Dolores Ziff Opera House had its big opening night last night with the musical The Light in the Piazza. Michael Hardy was on the radio earlier in the day saying that part of what made it a good choice for the opening that it was relatively simple, technically—a good idea for the opening night of anything.

It sounds like everything went off without a hitch. In addition to the article, the Herald has a video, a slide show, and trotted out (hopefully for the last time) their crappy flash animation depicting the construction process.

The parking situation was hassle free, though I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet—this was only one of the houses, not even completely full (see the pic), and since it was an opening party, people arrived over an extended period, not in a big rush. Rave reviews for the hall itself, as well as for the outdoor and lobby artwork, though. Sounds like everything went very well!

Update: Right after I hit “post” came the review of the show from Christine Dolan: “And in the very first test of the new theater’s sound, from the orchestra-level seats, it wasn’t just good—it was superb. Near the end of the show, when an agitated Clara sits alone trying to sort out the truth of her life, as she smacks at her face and smoothes the flowing skirt of her dress, you hear the slap of skin-on-skin and the rustle of lacy fabric.” Yay!

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Tuesday September 26, 2006

Carnival Center for the Performing Arts Knight Concert Hall

Alex deCarvalho has a pretty amazing set of photos of the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts Knight Concert Hall shot last week during the tuning concert. Looks beautiful.

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the skyway is an elevated highway over the everglades

Greener Miami has information about the Everglades Skyway, a proposed 11 mile elevated highway which would allow the water to flow the way nature intended.

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Tires

You’ve got to love Hallandale. The topic of my framing choices is open to a little more debate.

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Steve makes fun of Charlie Crist, who seems to be doing very little besides deserving it.

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The funniest thing I’ve seen so far today: In a recent online poll, 81% of the respondents thought online polls should continue. (Rick thinks I’m a spoilsport to suggest that online polls are a waste of time, even “just for fun.”) Update: Everyone agrees that I’m an ass for “making a big deal” out of this. See Fanless and the entire argument in the comments. BTW, I like to “click on buttons and look at graphs” as much as the next guy, and in that spirit I offer a link to the implicit association test at Harvard.

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Swimming in the ocean at night

Swimming in the ocean at night
You’ll have to take my word for it, but this is the ocean, photographed around 5am this morning, low tide. The light bands toward the bottom are the surf breaking on the beach, the little light in the upper right is a ship on the horizon.

No, nobody was swimming in the ocean tonight. It would be cool to go, though. But first, let’s get the shark thing out of the way. Here is the information on shark attacks in Florida. You can have it by month (September leads!), time of day (11am – 7 pm leads, but of course that’s when the most people are in the water!), victim activity (surfing leads, swimming #2: a ‘duh’ might be in order), or by county. That last one is reassuring, at least: total number of shark attacks since 1884? 10. Fatalities? 1, and that was in 1961. So there it is: swimming in the ocean at night is not dangerous, not in Miami.

And now for some links. 12 people want to swim in the ocean at night. Inky Circus has some stuff about ocean phosphorescence, when the ocean produces light in response to being disturbed. (She also transitions nicely away from the shark issue.) Jen saw the same thing in Costa Rica. Does that happen here?

It turns out that phosphorescence is caused by red tide, which really only happens on the west coast of Florida, not Miami. Bummer.

And there you have it: the ultimate Tuesday-morning throwaway post.

Update: Yes, that is a photograph. If you see a black rectangle, your options are (1) adjust your monitor (2) join the commenters in making fun of me.

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Monday September 25, 2006

plaza at carnival performing arts center with zany designs

‘Pharaoh’s Dance,’ a site-specific installation by Gary L. Moore on the plaza of the new Carnival Center for the Performing Arts. (via dig)

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Two good ones via Miami Nights: Lastnightsparty.com Book Tour: Miami (NSFW) and Bacardi denies its 151 rum caused bar burn injuries. w/r/t the latter, wtf?—everybody knows 75% alcohol solutions are flammable. It’s like suing a bridge manufacturer for someone jumping off…

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Stuart Miller, president of the largest housing builder in Miami-Dade, is puzzled by the sudden downturn in the housing market: “It happened very quickly, very suddenly. I can’t identify the trigger.” That’s ‘cause you haven’t been reading, dude. “Miller plans to ‘keep the conveyor belt running’ and finish building new homes in projects already underway. He also plans to offer sales incentives and slash prices to get the homes sold.”

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Friday September 22, 2006

Yoko Ono will be hosting a party during Art Basel 2006.

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Top 10 polluters in Miami-Dade County. A cool Google Maps mashup. (via gM)

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Wireless town-hall meeting

Wireless townhall meeting

Ok, it fell to me to go to the Miami-Dade Mayor’s meeting regarding the beginnings of a plan to have county-wide free wireless last night. For the most part, it was a back-patting/grandstanding session for both the presenters and the audience participants. But they did provide a decent overview of the plan. The mayor gave a brief “this is going to be great” sort of opening talk, and then three other speakers did the bulk of the information sharing. Actually, the guy who did the research for the project, Ira (I missed his last name, and the handout helpfully didn’t bother to list the names of the speakers!!), gave most of the useful information. Even though the crowd was maybe 100, the speakers were on stage, and even the questioners had microphones, so there wasn’t much opportunity for “conversation,” per se. But here’re the salient points (apologies for the bullet point format)(and i’ll correct/amend/supplement this post as I get more information):

Sorry for the parenthetical rant. Actually, a little information on the project is available at the Mayor’s page, here and here, although you could be checking those pages twice a day and you wouldn’t have known about last night’s meeting. Our government has a way to go.

Oh, but back to the project at hand. Of course this is sort of “duh” to me, and I think they should get rid of the “no $$ out of the tax till” concept and just fund it 100%. In the future everyone will use the internet (that’s the idea behind this thing, anyway), so what’s the point of charging some and subjecting the rest to ads? Just make it free as the air we breathe, and fund it out of the money you collect from property-owners. Whatever injustices that unleashes will be offset by reduced administration costs. This is a no-brainer. It’s obvious. Except, of course, that the sooner it happens the more it’ll cost. With every year that goes by the technology gets simpler, easier to install, more far-reaching, and cheaper. But whatever: we have lives to live. Get the shit up and running.

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Thursday September 21, 2006

DeFede: “The Miami-Dade water and sewer department had 4,200 active cell phone accounts, in a department of just 2,600 employees.” This highlights the differences between how things work in private companies and how things work in government, where a “we have this money in the budget, quick—we need to spend it by the end of the fiscal year, September 30th” mentality is currently reigning.

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Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez will pitch his vision for a countywide wireless Internet system (!!!) at a town hall meeting tonight at Miami Senior High. 7 pm, 2450 SW First St. Who’s going?

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I submitted my old wind energy rant to Digg. 3 diggs so far!

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Some harsh words for the Coconut Grove Playhouse’s board of directors. Good news for the Playhouse, tho.

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An interview with Nancy Spungen and Fancy, two of the founders of Studio A. Update: A choice quote (from Fancy): “This is another strange thing about Miami. The Rub in New York is, like, that’s just how people deejay. This is something I learned coming down here. There’s a certain New York style. We call it “hip hop and classics,” which really simply means party stuff when you go out. That’s what every single place does. There is no dance music in New York, well there is, but nobody cares about it. Like in Miami, they have an actual word: open format. In New York, ‘80s and hip hop that’s just called deejaying. Miami sees that as two separate levels. Miami is also very segregated, people-wise and musically. There’s parties for black people, there’s parties for white people, and there’s, like, clubs for house music, everyone gets their own space and there’s really zero sharing.”

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Video Art at MAC

Peter Campus, Interface, 1972
My friends and I goof around in front of Peter Campus’ Interface

I have neither the knowledge nor the fondness for video art to be writing any sort of review about an exhibition of it. But I stopped by the opening of Video: an Art, a History 1965-2005 at Miami Art Central Tuesday, and I think this is another of those shows that everyone should see. In part this is because video art has the potential to be fun, even for those who don’t generally sit still for capital-A “Art,” and this exhibition is; it’s a “take the kids, take grandma!” kind of thing. While a few of the pieces are in the “like TV, only stranger” mode, many others have a physical interaction with their setting, using big multi-screen installations, live video cameras, and projections to interact with the viewer. Isaac Julien’s Baltimore, which forms the centerpiece of the show, is a three-screen mini-movie.

It’s going to be fun for the art snob too, though. I described the Dan Graham piece in the show to Cohen (who called me while buying cigarettes in Times Square; he’s in NYC working on a Masters), and he knew exactly what it was; “that’s a seminal fucking piece, man.” It was like that with everything, and actually, so the art snob will probably be most easily impressed if I just give you the list of artists in the show: Vito Acconci, Isaac Julien, Samuel Beckett, Thierry Kuntzel,Dara Birnbaum, Matthieu Laurette, Peter Campus, Mark Leckey, Stan Douglas, Chris Marker, Valie Export, Bruce Nauman, Jean-Luc Godard, Marcel Odenbach, Douglas Gordon, Tony Oursler, Dan Graham, Nam June Paik, Johan Grimonprez, Walid Ra’ad / The Atlas Group, Clarisse Hahn, Gary Hill, Zined Sedira, Pierre Huyghe, Bill Viola.

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Wednesday September 20, 2006

Some cranky guy bemoans the death of traffic reports done live from helicopters. Possibly related: Forecast Advisor links to various online weather predictions, and more importantly, lists how accurate each one has been over the last month and year. This type of information should be available for TV station weather. And radio traffic reports!

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Strange pods

Bass museum park plant 1

In the field next to where the old Miami Beach library used to be, by the Bass Art Museum, there are these amazing huge old trees. People often hang out under them, reading, and generally frolicking. A couple of weekends ago I was one of those people, and took this photo of one the weird pods that fall off the trees (here is the other part; there was also a white, fleshy bit—it’s amazing what grows in the tropics during the summer wet season). Anyone know what these are called?

Also, after much fiddling and experimentation, I have what I believe to be working links to add CM articles (just the ones with titles) to del.icio.us and Digg, for those who like to mess with those services. It makes me feel like I have a real blog. Would someone let me know whether they work (hint: experiment with an article you actually think is worth linking to; ie not this one)? I’m also trying to get my tags (still experimental for now) to work with Technorati tags. Any other services anyone uses that I might should try to set up?

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a crappy horror movie

The original A Nightmare on Elm Street is showing tonight and tomorrow at the Lincoln Rd. movie theater. How about The Serpent And The Rainbow next? (via ignore)

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Tuesday September 19, 2006

Captain's Tavern

[This post was contributed by Michael Froomkin of Discourse.net (local blogging since 2003!), as part of Miami Cross Blogination. I’ve got a post at Miami Beach 411 today.]

First thing is, the Captain’s Tavern is easy to miss. It’s been around forever—more than 25 years, and that’s more than forever in the South Florida restaurant business. Even so, plenty of people who’ve lived here for years have never noticed what may be the area’s top fish restaurant, located at 9621 S Dixie Hwy in Kendall. Here’s why: You’re driving south on US 1, it’s dark or it’s raining, and you’re concentrating on the nuts passing on the right, or swerving on the left. You pass Dadeland on the right and cross Kendall Drive, you go under the 826 entrance ramp overpass, there’s Evening’s Delight (no, not what you’re thinking—they sell fancy fancy gas grills and hoods) and—whoops!—you’ve missed the turn. The Captain’s tavern is on the left, plunked at a funny angle in the middle of a large parking lot. Here’s a map. You may need it.

That large parking lot is a good thing. By the time you get there it’s almost full. The Captain’s Tavern is bigger than it looks, and it’s probably full too. You’ll have to put your name down on the list—no phone reservations accepted unless you have a really big group—and hang around in the crowded but well-stocked bar, or the tiny overcrowded waiting area, or even outside if it’s not too wet or too hot. Get there early—before 7:00, and you’ll probably waltz in. By 7:30 on a Friday or Saturday night, it’s a 30 minute wait. Get there around 8:30, and it’s often much longer. Hang on. It’s worth it. And if it’s not too late and you have half an hour or more, tell them you’re going for a walk (if you ask nicely they’ll hold your table if you miss your turn), then pop over to the original Kendall Bookshelf, still the best used book shop south of Miami Beach and only three doors northwards, and load up on paperbacks while you wait.

Eventually, you get a table. Be sure to notice the specials board on the way in—it won’t be visible from anywhere else, and it tells you which dozen or so fish are fresh today. If you’re very lucky, you might get seated near one of the colorful fish tanks; that will keep your eyes off the pretty tacky nautical decor, which looks likes it hasn’t been changed much since they opened.

The decor doesn’t matter. It’s a full room of happy people tucking into large portions of great food. They’re not the people who make the South Beach scene. They range from UM student young to grandparent slow; many are families with two or three generations round a big table. If you have little kids, hope especially hard for a fish tank—keeps them happy all night. There are probably more Anglos than Hispanics in the mix, but who can tell for sure given the general hubub. Not a see and be seen scene, just lots of happy people.

You’ll have to ask for the wine list. You must ask for the wine list.
For despite having probably the best priced wine list in town, they won’t give you a wine list unless you ask for one. Let me say it again: this is a great wine list. The Captain’s Tavern has probably a couple of hundred wines on its list, from good to very good (and maybe better – I haven’t tried the top end) all priced at about the same as you would pay if you bought it at Crown. None of this 200%-300% markup that infects the fancy places in Coral Gables or on the Beach. The Captain’s is making a different sort of statement. There isn’t much need to get past the first couple of pages, which list the bin ends and specials. There’s always something very nice for under $20, and if you are lucky there may be some fairly exotic choices at very reasonable prices.

Starters are a problem. There are so many good ones. There’s the Lobster Bisque, which is delicious although it’s not so refined as to threaten a Michelin chef. There’s also a great, but very peppery, Conch Chowder that is more unusual, and comes with a plastic thimblefull of sherry that you pour in and cuts the pepper very effectively. Or maybe the stuffed mushrooms. Or the huge plate of spicy Thai calamari salad. Or the super-fresh and generously portioned sushi.

Every dinner gets a little salad with a choice of dressings (I like the creamy garlic, the kids divide between oil & vinegar and blue cheese).

Then the main course. So often in Miami the main course is a
disappointment after the appetizers. That’s not true here. You can get any of the fresh fish of the day (you did check the board on the way in, right?) cooked how you wish: blackened, stuffed with crab, “island style”, grilled, fried, and I’ve probably left some out. Or you could try the crab cakes. Or a selection of large and slightly pricey oysters. Or maybe, topping the regular price chart in the high twenties (market price lobster might be more), one of the house specials such as the Cataplana Seafood, a large bowl of fish and seafood swimming in a tomato-based sauce. The Admiral’s Platter is great selection of grilled fish and steamed shellfish, with a good-sized piece of lobster, plus some scallops and shrimp. A hungry person could finish the Admiral’s Platter—I’ve managed it. Sometimes. You’d have to have amazing capacity to eat a whole Cataplana; it’s suitable for splitting between two diners, which the Captain’s Tavern will do for a small extra charge.

I’m told there are great deserts—especially the brownies, available until they run out, sometimes even on days when they’re not on the menu. I wouldn’t know. By that stage I’ve always been too full to even think of desert.

The Captain’s Tavern is a great place to go with friends. The staff are friendly, helpful, but don’t hover over you or rush you, and you walk out happy. By the time you add it up, it’s not a cheap date, but it’s a nice one.

Oh yes. They serve meat too. But who would be silly enough to order it?

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Monday September 18, 2006

What's up with the holes in I-95?

Highway work 4 (clearly a fucking jackhammer)

Have I made it sufficiently clear that I like Larry Lebowitz, and respect his writing? Good. With that out of the way, I call BULLSHIT on his latest article.

It talks all about the difference between the road surface of ‘95 between BPB and Dade, and the pothole repair strategies of FDOT subcontractors. Fine, sofar as it goes. But color me stark raving mad, they’re putting those holes in, not removing them. Why? I don’t know. Maybe they’re installing sensors of some sort. But check the holes: they’re at suspiciously regular intervals. Some of them are are perfect-rectangle-shaped. And check my photo sequence, shot of a crew working on I-95 late one night: the approach, they’re doing something with a big fat hole, two big holes, and as above, a picture of some dudes very clearly jackhammering the highway (the latter is digitally brightened, which is why it looks different). Explain that!

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The weeklies news

New kid on the block

Four months to the day after making this declaration,

There’s this thing that’s been invented. It’s called “blogging.” All the kids do it. Seriously, though, online journaling is so four years ago, kind of like Oakland Raiders jackets and Nike pool shoes. Stay away.

The Miami New Times eats its words and launches a blog. Predictable enough, but wait . . . what’s this? It’s a column in the regular paper, formatted like a blog. Hmm… are they excerpting the “best” of their blog once a week in the ink version? Nope—those articles don’t appear on the blog. Turns out that “Riptide” is the name of their blog as well as the name of an unrelated weekly(?) column. They also still haven’t quite figured out this linking business: All the links are hidden unless you accidentally hover over them, and the column version never quite links to the blog version (at the end it does link to two particular posts). They also quote White Dade(?!) and list his URL, unlinked). What a mess.

I think this is new, but we are now the honored recipients of City Link. A free weekly put out by the Sun Sentinel, Citylink is now being distributed in Miami. The classifieds prove it to be the regular Broward/Palm Beach edition, but there’s not too much local content in there anyway.

Meanwhile, the Sun Post continues to do interesting work, but their arcane website effectively removes them from the online conversation, since you have to wait a week or after an article is published to get a permanent link to it. Can someone please please have a little fireside chat with whoever’s running things over there?

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Updated plans for Watson Island.

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Friday September 15, 2006

The architects for the new Miami Art Museum building have been selected: Herzog & de Meuron. I’m officially exited. The decision was suggested by Terence Riley and approved by a civic panel. The building might open in 2010. Tyler Green says, “Miami is the most fascinating museum city in America.” (via Riptide)

Update: Verticus went to the meeting, pitching Gehry, and was not pleased with the proceedings.

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Henry, of Cuban-American Pundits, has started up Herald Watch. He began right before the Marti fiasco perfect timing. This should be interesting.

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South Pointe Park

South Point Park

South Pointe Park is at the southernmost point of South Beach. It’s not a very “parky” park, if you know what I mean; the nice thing about it is that it’s the intersection of a lot of different human activity. You get surfers, swimmers, sunbathers, and readers on the side where the beach joins it. You get Cruise ships, Jet Skis, sailboats, freighters, and Coast Guard cruisers. Helicopters fly overhead, airliners fly overhead, and prop planes with banners fly out at sea. Beach wedding Last weekend, there was a wedding on the beach. There’s also a big crazy seawall, a pier that the bastards have closed to the public, and a predictably overpriced restaurant with crappy service and good steaks (or so I hear) (yes, it’s a restaurant in the middle of a park; don’t ask me why).

There’s rich people from the high-rises that pepper the neighborhood (apartments currently going for $1-6 million, depending on size and altitude), tourists, surfers, models+photographers, bums, and teenager hooligans. There’s a big field with big dogs running around. There’s a weird little cluster of fountains you can wander into. And across the water, there’s Fisher Island, where Oprah lives part of the year. But even with all of that, the atmosphere is sort of quiet and peaceful. I wouldn’t go out of my way or anything, but occasionally I end up here when I’m strolling around, and it’s always surprisingly pleasant. Incidentally, Miami Beach is planning a major renovation of the park, including a
big marble glaicer, which sounds like a great idea to me.

Update: Here’s an amazing picture of Government Cut. South Pointe Park is to the right, Fisher Island is to the left.

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Wednesday September 13, 2006

Vix, a restaurant at Hotel Victor on Ocean Drive, sells a $1,000 cigar

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Miami airport to train all 35,000 workers to spot suspicious people.

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Yay(?): Miami is getting the Bodies exhibition. It opens in (of all places) the old Virgin record store in The Shops at Sunset Place, September 22. Update: Interestingly, the article doesn’t mention which organization is bringing the exhibit.

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Milan Kundera: Ignorance

Light blue book cover Milan Kundera’s novel Ignorance is about a few characters that emigrated from Czechoslovakia during Communist rule, and what happens to such people when the Communist regime falls and they return to confront those that stayed behind. What does one do with the years or decades spent in another country? What are the consequences of returning, and what are the consequences of staying?

Ignorance opens in 1989 with a conversation between a Franco-Czech and her French friend; the one utterly baffled that the other hasn’t returned to her country to support the protests. After just two pages, though, it veers into a lengthy discussion of the word “nostalgia” in various languages, the Odyssey, Arnold Schoenberg’s ideas about his legacy, and the numerical beauty of the history of the Czechs in the 20th century. In other words, it’s typical Kundera, diffuse and seemingly stream-of consciousness, weaving threads that will come together only gradually as the book weaves along.

    “They can’t understand that we left without the slightest hope of coming back. We did our best to drop anchor where we were. Do you know Skacel?”
    “The poet?”
    “There’s a stanza where he talks about his sadness; he says he wants to build a house out of it and lock himself inside for a hundred years. We all saw a three-hundred-year-long tunnel stretching ahead of us.”
    “Sure, we did too, here.”
    “So then why isn’t anyone willint go acknowledge that?”
    “Because people revise their feelings if the feelings were wrong. If history has disproved them.”
    “And then, too: everybody thinks we left to get ourselves an easy life. They don’t know how hard it is to carve out a little place for yourself in a foreign world. Can you imagine—leaving your country with a baby and with another one in your belly. Loosing your husband. Raising your two daughters with no money . . .”

When Communism falls in Cuba, many many Cuban-Americans will be faced with the stay here/return home question. Probably many contemplate that decision even today, and some may know exactly what they will do when Castro is dead and the island is free. But when it happens, this question takes on a whole new meaning. Those who once lived in Cuba and no longer do will be faced with questions and feelings that are probably too distant and abstract to contemplate now.

The book follows two people returning to their home country after decades, and the mixed feelings they experience at returning (temporarily for one of them) to places and people they have had no contact with in all that time.

    Now time as a very different look; it is no longer the conquering present capturing the future; it is the present conquered and captured and carried off by the past. She sees a young man disconnecting himself from her life and going away, forevermore out of reach. Mesmerized, all she can do is watch this piece of her life move off; all she can do is watch it and suffer. She is experiencing a brand-new feeling called nostalgia.
    That feeling, that irrepressible yearning to return, suddenly reveals to her the existence of the past, of her past; in the house of her life there are windows now, windows opening to the rear, onto what she has experienced; from now on her existence will be inconceivable without these windows.

Their two stories weave and intertwine, and towards the end they have a remarkable encounter, which I suppose implies that immigrants will always relate to each other in a way that is fundamentally different from how they relate to natives of their adopted country, or their friends and family that stayed behind.

It’s a sad book, but I have to hasten to say that Kundera doesn’t hit the reader over the head with anything. He forever digresses into beautiful stream-of-consciousness fragments, and even many of the scenes with his proper characters have the flavor of dreams. Reading any of his books is quite different from reading anything else.

Milan Kundera published his first novel in 1967. In 1975 he immigrated to France (so one assumes that this novel has its share of autobiography, or in any case that he knows whereof he speaks), but continued to write in Czech until 1990. His novels after that, written in French, got much shorter, and acquired a more direct poetry—a stronger sense of abstractness (they also all have one-word titles). This particular one has special significance for many Miami residents, but they’re all quite breathtaking, really.

And don’t get me started on the older, longer novels, which are full of strange literary experiments, history, sex, and the beginnings of that same poetry. You may have seen The Unbearable Lightness of Being, but of course the movie only shows the part of the book is filmable. I recommend reading all of his books in quick succession over a few months.

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Tuesday September 12, 2006

Recently I commented on TnFH about a Legal Art workshop at Art Center South Florida to the effect that it presented exactly the information that artists didn’t need to photograph their work. Franklin noted my objections and wrote up the Artblog.net Guide to Shooting Totally Adequate Digital Images of Your Work, which is spot-on correct and super-useful. I made some additional comments under his post (#12), but overall I just sort of second everything he says.

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A lot of noise about online-only local “magazines” lately. Indi Live Mag was recently written up in New Times (is it me or do they really not give a link??), and is available for download as a PDF or ZIP (someone should tell them that a correctly done PDF is already compressed, so they’re doing nothing by zipping it except making headaches for anyone who doesn’t use WinXP). We also have Category 305, in a more web-readable format, which appears to be pretty nightlife-centered. Update: More information at a secret (?) New Times Blog post that Manola found.

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Ile Orishas

some sort of hair thing with a handle

Ile Orishas is an amazing looking botanica in Hialeah, with a great web site, full of incredible photos. Check out this one, for example. Well worth exploring. Information about botanicas in english here. “Santería and South Florida” essay by Chris Leonidas here. (via Reunion-USA2, which also linked here. And so, does anyone know enough Creole to be able to translate what they said? I have a general idea, but am still curious.) Update: It’s French. See comments for translation.

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Monday September 11, 2006

El Niño might signal end of hurricane season. Could also be accounting for why the hurricane season has been pretty unimpressive this year; something to do with cross-winds shearing and sort of tearing storms apart as they try to form. Confusing, and apparently the formation of El Niño right now is sort of a freak occurrence, so maybe back to 2005-type storm season next year. (thanks, Skip)

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Barry University guard tower

I was all in suspense while they were building this thing, wondering what it was going to be. As far as I can tell, it’s just a way for Barry University to increase its visibility in Miami; I couldn’t find any mention on their site to “Silvester Tower.” A great idea, but really now: it matches the noise walls along I-95, and the architecture really suggests a prison tower more then anything else. A tasteful fence with barbed wire top in front completes the effect.

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3,000 illegal building permits issued.

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At least 10 local journalists accepted U.S. government pay for programs on Radio Martí or TV Martí. El Nuevo Herald fired two of them Thursday for conflict of interest. Whoa. More at the Pulp. The Babalú perspective.

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Overtown gets his copy of Vamos, and muses about Cuba. “Another woman was amazed that there was so many black people in Cuba. She asked us why there are no black Cubans in Miami. No one had an answer for that one.”

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Sunday September 10, 2006

September gallery hop

I may as well come right out and say it: it’s been a while since I’ve made any art. Lots of things interfere (not the least of which is this blog), but probably the most significant is the somewhat incomplete sense of accomplishment brought about by my most recent project, the wall pictures (which, surprisingly, a couple of people have quite randomly complemented me on lately, not the least of which was Tom Virgin, last night). I’m planning out another project which hopefully be more satisfactory, but my reason for bringing all this up is something else entirely: that last night I was looking at art more as a spectator then as an artist, and it is in that spirit that I share my observations, and my joy of looking, in hopes of attracting more non-art types out to the gallery walk, say, next month.

gallery hop

Michael Tedja at Locust, including painted and bejeweled bicycle tires, lots of ape faces, ab-ex scrawls, collage, a black Santa, crazy snatches of text (“More money more murder”), more fabric then immediately apparent, a pair of flip-flops with paint squiggles, and, yes, real beer bottles stuck everywhere. At some point I suspected that this was an art joke; that no serious person could leave without being annoyed by something. More likely, it’s created for the sheer joy of making stuff, without such overintellectualization.

gallery hop

Here’s Gean Moreno and Fred Snitzer hamming for a press photog in front of one of Gean’s pieces. Self-conscious and capital-A “Arty,” Gean’s pieces were nonetheless beautiful, and satisfying in a way that Michael’s weren’t. Attached to free-standing 2×4’s for no particular reason (nothing interesting happening around back), they made unnecessary reference to all sorts of shit (e.g. 80s metal), yet achieved a sort of effortless (say it with me) grace. I suspect that the effortlessness is more important to Fred then the grace, and for that I disagree with him, but as ever, the shit is good.

gallery hop

Frances Trombly at Kevin Bruk. Unless I’m completely ignorant, Frances didn’t knit, crochet, or weave the fabric for these streamers, as she did in the past. Still nice, though. (*Update:* Confirmed: I am completely ignorant. KH sez: “Frances spent a bazmillion hours weaving and hand dyeing that silk, man!”) The less said about Craig Kucia’s paintings the better.

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I believe this is “Against the Girl” at MoCA’s Goldman warehouse. Sounding like a cross between Tori Amos and Iron Maiden, they left me, frankly, wondering who picked them and why. Here is someone’s idea of a representative half-minute of their performance. It’s a little more disco then the rest of their set. A Kyle Trowbridge video piece, of moshing at hardcore shows in 1984, in the next stall, made the visit worthwhile. (As did something else, which . . . more on that later.)

gallery hop

Here’s a bit of the actual “hoping.” Say what you will, but it’s September in fucking Miami, and it’s nasty hot outside. The industrial beauty of Wynwood is undeniable, but I was unplesantly sweaty all night, despite making any trip longer then a block in an airconditioned car. Maybe I’ll skip September and October and see you folks in November.

gallery hop

But no, because our last stop made everything worth it. A performance by Tracy + the Plastics. It’s funny, but though the “live performer + life-sized video of the same performer interacting” is so much of a genre as to be a cliché, when done right, it has undiminished power. Tracy’s was a piece of live performance art that also spanned elements of installation, (2-channel!) video, music, digital illustration, poetry, audience participation (the audience didn’t particularly rise to the challenge, actually), and more then a little sound design (microphone hiss that came and went depending on dramatic need, not any technological factors). It was a little drama wrapped inside a riddle (involving sheets), and it came down, as all performance art might, of being aware of yourself in the moment in which you exist. Which it couldn’t have been more successful at: I’m still aware of myself in that particular moment, a full day later.

gallery hop

By the time I got home (a road that involved a visit to Denny’s, and not to the Forge), there was a guy passed out in the street across from my building. It seemed fitting somehow; I feel like that guy. Don’t worry, he’s OK—I passed by looking for a parking space a few minutes earlier and he was in the same spot, but sitting up. And the cop cars swarmed the next morning around a completely different spot, down an entire block. Life goes on.

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Friday September 8, 2006

Art Saturday

the order of perfect happiness

Too early in the fall for my taste, but the art season is back. Stuff I’m planning on hitting Saturday night, tentatively:

Probably more at TnFH soon.

Update: I’m adding more the the list above. I guess you can keep checking.

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Thursday September 7, 2006

Pitchfork pans Rick Ross’ Port of Miami. “Sure Ross needs these beats—he has all the charisma of a cold meatloaf.” Ouch.

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A great writeup of the Coconut Grove Farmer’s Market at the new Miami food blog, mango&lime. And a flickr set. (via SotP)

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Hey, I have an idea: let’s forget all this crap about XHTML, accessibility, hyperlinks, and all that bollocks, and just put everything on the internet in the form of gigantic jpegs. (I got an e-mail that linked directly to this jpg, by the way: it’s not part of another page somewhere.)

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Greener Miami has information on a tour of local food growers Saturday.

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The chilling effect

new ac

Here’s Brook Dorsch hanging out on the roof of his Gallery, with one of three gigantic new A/C units, which are recently purchased (e-bay, baby), shipped from California, installed, wired, debugged, and switched on. And they work great — the opening this Saturday (Lucas Blanco and Marc Roder) shall take place in a pleasantly cooled gallery. So I sat down yesterday to chat with Brook about the A/C, the future of the Dorsch, and Wynwood in general.

The units were purchased (new) from California at a bargain price because a recent law made them uninstallable there. But it turns out that wasn’t the problem; nor was the problem installing them. The big pain in the ass was wiring them for power, which required a whole new electrical panel for the gallery, and ended up costing thousands of dollars. But nevermind: they work.

Standing on the roof, it’s impossible to miss the gigantic new power-lines running down the block eastward — not the ones you see in the picture, the much bigger ones supported by the fat pole rising in the the mid-right). They were rush-installed by FPL to power the almost-complete Midtown development, and they crackle softly in the damp air, murmuring about the changes rapidly approaching for the neighborhood.

When Dorsch moved his gallery from Coral Gables to Wynwood six and a half years ago, the only art-related thing there was “Locust”: and maybe the “Rubells”: (though they weren’t open to visitors yet). He was the first of dozens of galleries which flocked there at first because rent and property values were cheap, later because everyone else was there. But now, thanks to Midtown, the art-ification of the neighborhood, and general property-boom, property values are maybe about ten times what they were then. And when Miami 21 hits and almost certainly re-zones the whole area from industrial to some sort of residential/commercial combination, it’s really going to take off. At some point (methinks less then five years), the forces of the marketplace are going to force the galleries to begin to move out, and the Lincoln Road cycle will begin again somewhere else.

Update: Brook mentioned this about a million times, but not enough for me to remember: Onajide did a podcast Steve Kaplan did a podcast on Onajide’s blog about the AC. I haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet, but there it is. Why isn’t Critical Miami podcasting? Why is the Miami Art Exchange blog opening in a funny box (rendering permlinks useless)? What do you get when you drop a piano on an army base? All excellent questions.

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Tuesday September 5, 2006

a fistful of worms is not a pretty picture

Sweet mother of God: hey, so how did you spend Labor day? If you live in Davie, maybe the answer is attending a mealworm eating contest. “Prezant, 37, even has recipes for bug dishes on his company’s website. He was selling tasty bug treats such as scorpion and cricket lollipops, ant candy, and salt-and-vinegar flavored crickets. But he had never eaten live bugs before, which proved to be his downfall against the mealworm-munching high school student.”

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How to vote

don't forget to press the red buttonIt’s election day, y’all! Time for us to celebrate the fact that we live in a free (sort of) country, and maybe even make some changes to make that country better. Oh, but wait, these are local elections? Well, crap, who bothers with the small-time shit? Local government doesn’t do the really important stuff, and nobody knows any of the names, so why bother?

Well, of course voting in local elections just as important as in the nationals: this is about the money and decisions that are closest to us, and since (all the more reason) very few people are voting, one vote can be a really powerful voice. The way it rarely is in, say, presidential elections. Though it was in 2000 in Florida, a super-close swing state, and so, thanks again to you jerks that voted for Nader. But I digress. The question is, how do you decide who to vote for today? I present to you some possible methodologies:

  1. Keep up with local politics all year. Then you’ll be ready. Of course it’s too late to do that now. And by the way, I write a local blog, so I should know more then the average person about this stuff, but I’m pretty clueless.
  2. Just print out the Herald’s recommendations and vote down the line with the Herald (or vote down the line opposite what they recommend, you anarchist you).
  3. Delve deep into the Herald’s logic and decide on which points you agree with them or not. Which would be a lot easier if there were a competing newspaper news source in town who’s recommendations you could compare against the Herald’s. God love Miami Today, but their only mention of the elections just isn’t very helpful in this regard. The New Times? Helpful . . . if you’re wondering who writes the dirt. (Ok, I admit—it’s me. What, the slick design didn’t give it away?[1]) Biscayne Boulevard Times? Nope.
  4. I was going to suggest keeping up with the results throughout the day, and voting for whoever’s behind, the idea being that it’d make it easier for those who do know what they’re talking about to get those people elected, despite, say, the Herald’s recommendation. But now I’m not sure this approach is mathematically correct. After all, you might be counteracting the votes of just those well-educated voters.

So where does that leave us? I guess reading up in the Herald (And, no, the Sentinel’s coverage doesn’t say peep about Miami Dade elections.), and cursing the darkness. You should also check out the antidisenfranchisement guide at Hidden City. The official Miami-Dade elections page.

[1] Joking.

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Monday September 4, 2006

Miami-Hialeah’s is tied with Houston for the dubious honor of being the sixth most congested city in the nation. A Reason Foundation report on traffic in the US. “3.9 percent of Miami-area workers currently use mass transit, but it accounts for 69 percent of the area’s planned transportation spending over the next 25 years.” (via Larry Lebowitz)

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It’s looking more and more like the case of the Miami terrorists was straight-up entrapment. The FBI rented the warehouse for them? Gave them cell phones and video cameras? Suggested targets??

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tropical depression six heading in the suspicious direction of florida

Say wha?

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Friday September 1, 2006

Sunshine State with overheard snippets of conversations at the S&S diner. With gorgeous photos. (Previously re. the S&S: 1, 2).

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