Tuesday October 31, 2006
A crappy video with a few excerpts from the Governor debate last night, to which Reform Party candidate Max Linn was added at the last minute by court order. My man Chris Matthews moderated. I’m trying to find the complete video online.
Los Tres Amigos (here) will be familiar to anyone who frequents the area near the Jackson Memorial Hospital or the Allapattah grocery district (where I took a lot of these photos) has driven by it. Brook recommends the crap out of it, and we stopped by last week for beers and food.
In retrospect, some of those are actually Halloween decorations, but I’m sure the inside passes for perfectly overdecorated even on the worst of days. This is one shot, but really every nook and cranny is tricked out.
The eponymous Tres Amigos Enchilada. Two types of mole, three types of meat, beans, rice, queso cheese, and sliced radishes (wannabe Mexican gourmets take note!) — yum! Also note: two types of salsa, plus sliced jalapeños, plus beans served with the tortilla chips. Also note: Negra Modelo served in a salt-rimmed mug with a slice of lime (I was skeptical, but it works).
Brook swills one. Meanwhile, two guys by the door were super cool. They were blasting the jukebox (f’realz Mexican music with a little Reggae thrown in) and drinking beer, and occasionally taking cell phone calls and reaching behind the machine to turn it way down, then back up.
Also worth a visit: a little shop attached to the side of the restaurant. We have sombreros, candy, t-shirts (religious and soccer), clay jugs, hemp bags, keychains (religious and soccer), a shelf of hot sauces and salsas, pork rinds, toy torros, and chotckes that may or may not have been for sale. Worth it.
Attention underemployed art(s) kids: my friends at Tigertail Productions are looking for a Project Coordinator. Sounds like a perfect opportunity for someone who has only administrative experience and wants to make an interest in the arts into a career:
Applicant must have strong office skills and be computer proficient on a Macintosh platform (Word and Excel at a minimum, Photoshop, iMovie and HTML and web skills a plus). Bilingual in Spanish strongly preferred (multilingual in other languages a plus, excellent spoken and written business English an absolute must). This person needs familiarity with and enthusiasm for the arts, culture and the diverse communities of Miami. The position is 3 – 4 days per week, 9 am – 5 pm, but schedule can be flexible.
Sounds like something I’d have jumped at a few years ago. E-mail Tigertail’s associate director, Robert Rosenberg (robert ·AT· tigertail ·DOT· org) to apply or get the complete info.
It’s Halloween at Rainbowsk8. Lolo says:
GOTH: New wave and goth club classics mixed into the ROLL OUT playlist!!
GRIME: Tonight will be the official CD release party for the new Lady Sovereign CD “Public Warning” coming out on Def Jam Records!! We have tons of samplers, posters, and giveways, and we’ll also have a drawing box to win a super rare limited edition Lady Sov SKATE DECK!!
GUILTY PLEASURES: Drink specials, free shots given out throughout the night, spooky visuals and SERIOUS PRIZES for the best costumes… $100 for the best costume!! $20 +bar tab for most original!! $20 + bar tab for best couple!!
Along with this we’ve got 3 super guest DJs joining us in the booth: Ray Milian (Off The Radar), DS363 (Dadeabass), John Vincent (Television Club)
As well as fun Halloween decorations, candy and more!! AND, for this special night we’ll be open from 8pm until 1am!! We hope to see you all there.
Monday October 30, 2006
This ad, for the development on the last empty bayfront lot in Brickell, is notable for its insistence that prospective buyers show the class and cachet to own unimpeachable pop art. (It’s across the street from this cute, and very historical, building.)
You want Miami restaurant reviews blog-style? Check out Consumable Joy, dedicated to exactly that. Actually, the site gets into restaurants all over, but is based in Miami.
Interesting article about housing prices in the New Yorker. “[I]f you control for inflation and quality, Shiller found, real home prices barely budged between the eighteen-nineties and the nineteen-nineties. The idea that housing prices have nowhere to go but up is, in other words, a statistical illusion.” (via kottke)
Here’s an issue that a lot of people are disagreeing about: the Crosswinds development for Overtown was just approved by the Miami City Commission. Since the Herald’s open comments seem to be a thing of the past, it seems worth getting into here.
What we have is a big mixed-use project, mainly residential, now approved to be built in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Hundreds of people showed up to either support or oppose the project. On the pro side, obviously, is the observation that the development would be an economic boost to the neighborhood. Those opposed (who included Arthur Teele) say that the project would hurt the character of the neighborhood, raise property values in the whole neighborhood, and kick-start gentrification.
The question is whether, with the Performing Arts Center, places like Karu & Y (here), and even historical renovations like the Lyric Theater, gentrification isn’t inevitable. Otherwise, it’s worth pointing out that the plan seems to follow Miami 21 principles; the tallest buildings are on the side of the busy boulevard (exact address?), with a height-transition down to the existing houses and apartments.
Of the 1,050 condo units in Crosswinds, 112 will be “heavily subsidized” (up from the 50 the developer was originally offering), and another 210 will be partially subsidized. Hardly makes a dent in the 1,200 new subsidized units the city wants for the neighborhood, and doesn’t really square with the 50/50 market-rate/subsidized ratio that was previously discussed, either. This is peculiar, since by my reading the city gave the developer the land.
Two lawsuits must be resolved before construction can begin, one of which was brought by the Power U Center, the folks who brought the 25-foot inflatable rat to the commission meeting. Should be interesting.
Sunday October 29, 2006
- A different level of government once sued Microsoft for monopolistic practices, remember? Here’s our county government doing its part to extend that monopoly.
- The error message is an absurdity at best, a lie at worst. It should say “This website is broken,” or “Sorry, this website doesn’t work with standards-compliant browsers,” or something.
- 99% of the people who make websites bust their asses to make their sites cross-compatible (it’s a pain mainly because of Microsoft’s malice and incompetence, btw). The fact that the government of our county — the 8th most populous in the nation — can’t be bothered is disgusting.
Overall, my impression is that miamidade.gov is a very information-rich site, but with lots of baffling gaps. Check out how the parks listed on pages like this don’t link to the parks’ pages. C’mon, guys; you can do better. Update: Dugg.
Friday October 27, 2006
Tonight, two of my friends have openings. (left) Felice Grodin (with Matthias Saillard and Veronica Castillo) at Carol Jazzar‘s home gallery. Felice uses abstract-expressionist ink drawings as her starting point, then meticulously applies the language of architecture to them, creating delicate, multi-level maps. (right) Erika Morales, with drawings and an installation at Leonard Tachmes Gallery. Erika’s last installation was a home made set of monkey bars that were wired to produce sound when someone monkey-barred across them, so this should be impressive.
More this weekend:
- Two Rooms: terrorism theater! At Nova, Friday and Saturday.
- Inner City Bonfire at Poplife Saturday.
- Official Halloween content: Italian horror movies at Miami Beach Cinematheque, Saturday and Sunday.
Thursday October 26, 2006
Two cool things happening tonight: At the Wolfsonian,
Go Native!: Ideas to Make Your Garden a Natural Habitat — landscape architect Raymond Jungles (ha!) runs through native species suitable landscaping, and shows some recent projects done native style. At the MAC, Dan fucking Grahm. 8 pm. Update: Grahm was great. A true believer in the power of [old-school] video technology to bring people together.
Wednesday October 25, 2006
Our litigious, intellectual property-obsessed, too-much-time-on-its-goddamned-hands society is running amok again. Our own local heroes, Dogma Grill (I will not link them in a house . . . you know the drill) has successfully sued another fancy hot-dog restaurant into submission.
We expect this crap from big stupid corporations, but a small local business? For shame. Oh, wait. But just you wait for the details: the name of the business, which would have caused confusion in the consumer’s minds? “Hot Dogma.” That’s right: the only similarity is the stupid pun. Turns out our local heroes p0wn that pun. More confusion: the offending restaurant is in Pittsburgh. I suppose Miami residents on vacation up there would have somehow associated the restaurants, and somehow . . . done harm to something, is what Dogma Grill, or rather it’s owner (a former MTV executive) was thinking. Good job, guys. Way to stick it to the man.
Pittsburgh residents are rightly pissed, but there’s not much they can do. But there’s something we can do, allright: get our hot dogs somewhere else. Anyone know a good place that serves fancy schmancy dogs?
Tuesday October 24, 2006
The Corruption in Surfside, Florida blog. Wow, sounds serious. (thanks, Ed!)
Blue Note Records sits just off 163rd street on 15th Ave in North Miami. Back in the early 90’s, it was an absolute palace. I used to work at a Peaches around the block, and we’d send people there all the time for anything we didn’t carry. And honestly, it still has a lot of the same charm.
The inside bears an uncanny resemblance to the cover of that Shadow album — here’s one place that doesn’t particularly cater to DJs, but where records outnumber CDs. I browsed around, hoping to find something that prominently featured the color yellow. No luck with this or this. They do, however, still have very strong Jazz, R&B, and Hip Hop sections, about in that order.
Not to mention knick-knacks. Really, this is the place to come if you want to stumble onto something you didn’t know you needed. Like a Bee Gees lunchbox. Or that Stevie Wonder CD. The typewriter’s not for sale. Wait, you don’t have Songs in the Key of Life? Get down there right now and grab that copy. Quick!
Back in its heyday, Blue Note used to take up this whole building, holes in the wall connecting separate rooms. The middle section was full of jazz records and a lounge, and the far end was full of rock, broken down into about five different sub-genres. At some point, I think they actually took over part of a warehouse space down the street. Then Amazon came along and sort of changed the world for independent (and not so independent) record stores. A few great ones are still thriving in Miami, though, and Blue Note is worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood.
Monday October 23, 2006
Carl Hiaasen taunts Republicans about the Foley/Negron ballot fubar, and doesn’t quite have the guts to say how tactless and transparently partisan it is for the Democrats to fight having a sign put up announcing the switch.
Construction along Biscayne Blvd., taken with my dangerous new camera. Location.
Allow me to clear up a certain amount of confusion: Charging too much during a civil emergency is price gouging (the wrongness of which is established by law, though debatable). Charging too much all the time is called having a business in a free motherfucking country. Gas prices on South Beach too expensive for you? Drive over to the mainland, or open up your own gas station, charge less, and make a killing.
The Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition. Since what goes on a polling places here is still sort of messed up, getting in touch with them and volunteering to observe (film?) polling-place closings during the upcoming election would be a most excellent idea.
Sunday October 22, 2006
Enchanting Taiwan, a collection of photographs from the island, is currently on view at Coral Gables city hall, and will stay up through the 28th. The images are “photo contest” winners, not art per se, although obviously some of them are breathtaking. The show is free and open to the public weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm, and there will be a reception Monday evening (tomorrow).
A few ‘meta’ things to point out:
- Problems surrounding the recent upgrade to Txp 4.0.4 with caps and comments have been fixed. Anyone still having problems that started in the last week let me know in the comments.
- Heck, if anyone has any problems at all feel free to let me know.
- You are now the proud owner of a tag cloud. Yep, just like if it was 2003. Scroll down, and you’ll find it towards the bottom of the navbar. I’m still going back and tagging old articles, as well as cleaning up tags, so the whole thing is very experimental. And FYI only tags with more then one associated article show up in the cloud.
- Google recently showed Critical Miami some love and bumped the pagerank from 5 to 6.
Saturday October 21, 2006
Union Products, makers of the original pink flamingo lawn ornaments, are closing down. According to the article, the flamingos came out in the 1950’s, when everybody was trying to get in on the original wave of Miami cool. Of course, they’ve had some famous history since then.
Some sort-of decent knock-offs available here. Interesting that both the wiki page and the LA Times article have a photo of some other crappy black-beak knock off (the LAT article actually includes a correction/apology for this). (via bb)
Friday October 20, 2006
Rick is absolutely right: many anti-child-molester actions the government takes are completely idiotic. If you want to prevent child sex-abuse, there are experts that can tell you what to do. And they’ll all tell you that crap like this is a waste of money that could be used to do stuff that actually helps. Previously.
- Tonight at Books and Books, the launch party of Damn, a new local magazine started by my friends Erika and Julian. I’m all up on the staff of Damn (along with a bunch of notable Miami artists), so I’ll be there. Yay!
- Then it’s off to Churchill’s, where Lolo is throwing Plug Miami. Playing: the Down Home Southernaires, Jesse Jackson, Velveteen Pink, and DJ Hottpants. Plug website.
- Saturday, the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood (where I work!!) is presenting Up on Stage, a sort of a season-preview grab bag of dance performances by companies from all over Florida.
- Sorry if I’m plugging two Churchill’s shows in one weekend, but oVo, who killed shit last Summer is playing on Saturday. (I bought their t-shirt at that show.)
- Get your cheese on: Appetite for Destruction a Guns ‘n Roses tribute band (!!), plays Studio A on Saturday.
- Sunday: finally check out the Lorna Simpson show (would it kill the MAM to fix their website and get some permlinks going?).
- Sunday evening (6pm): a good time to check out the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, and plus a performance by the South Beach Chamber Orchestra. No cost listed on their website, so maybe it’s free?
Cocaine Cowboys movie/opening review. After the “those of us who aren’t fortunate enough to have tickets . . .” bit, Rick got an invite to the premiere!
Thursday October 19, 2006
The ‘Get Fuzzy’ / Miami Herald controversy. Fidel Castro’s name comes up!
Jim DeFede is moderating a debate between the candidates for Miami District 2 commissioner tomorrow (October 20). 7 pm at the Bayshore Lutheran Church, Biscayne Blvd. and NE 60th Terr. You can send questions you want him to ask to firstname.lastname@example.org. (via Biscayne Boulevard Times e-mail)
Wednesday October 18, 2006
Steve beats up on Dania Beach. Pretty funny.
Jim DeFede’s mom: “Eat your spinach. It’s good for you. Have a salad, it won’t kill you.”
Tonight, Tigertail Productions is throwing a party to kick off its season. A panel discussion begins at 6:30, the party kicks in at around 8 pm. Astrid Hadad, who’s performance is this weekend, will be in effect.
Pathetic: not a single building in Miami-Dade is green. “Miami Mayor Manny Diaz is considering incorporating green elements in Miami 21, the city’s new building and zoning blueprint, and requiring that new city buildings are LEED certified. Miami-Dade Commissioner Katy Sorenson has pushed the county to require sustainable building for any facilities it owns, operates or finances.”
A beautiful photo of downtown at night by Jonathan. I have no idea where he took this from.
Tuesday October 17, 2006
Yay: A new batch of photos from Frances Nash. I love the one of the power plant.
Yesterday, nearly 200 employees walked out of a Wal-Mart in Hialeah to protest changes in employment policies. “It’s the first time that Wal-Mart has faced a worker-led revolt of such scale, according to both employees and the company. Just as surprising, the company quickly said it would change at least one of the practices that had sparked the protest.” Good job, guys!
OK, I’m just getting caught up here, and everybody knows about the fight between the football teams of U.M. and F.I.U. that took place on the field of the Orange Bowl the other day. There is all sorts of outrage about this, which outrage has now gone national.
My question: What’s the big goddamned deal? Excuse me, but aren’t sports teams supposed to have big rivalries? Isn’t it the whole point of sports to be entertainment? From the strongly-worded opinions that are flying around the internet, news, and TV, you’d think somebody got killed or something. Geez, it’s a fight. These guys are in college. They’re involved in an physical (some would say ‘violent’) sport, where shit-talking is totally within the norm. And didn’t fights happen in like every hockey game played until just recently? I just plain don’t see what the fuss is about. I mean, a silly open letter from a university president? 31 suspensions? A sportscaster getting fired? Is that really the required response to a fight that lasted less then a minute?
Now, that’s what I’m talking about. You come into our house, you should get your behind kicked. You don’t come into the OB playing that stuff. You’re across the ocean over there. You’re across the city. You can’t come over to our place talking noise like that. You’ll get your butt beat. I was about to go down the elevator to get in that thing.
What Rick refers to as “egging UM players on,” (hint: the guys on the field can’t hear the announcer, so he’s not egging on shit), I would call “making light of a situation.” But in our society, we’re now unable to distinguish between different shades of bad, and once once something can be described as ‘bad,’ everybody’s got to fall over themselves to make it sound as terrible as possible. That guy who made light of it? Why, he’s just as bad as the “perpetrators,” and he’s got to go. Good grief.
Now we’ve got permanent rule changes, goofy apologies flying all over the place, and more finger-wagging then you can wag a finger at. Give me a break — you can’t encourage ever-increasing levels of verbal asshole behavior and then suddenly be all freaked out when it gets physical.
Anyway. Link to the long version of the video, link to a shorter version with some blow-by-blow analysis. I Ambrosia has some nice insights into the FIU/UM psychology at Metblogs. Robert has some good comments, too. Next!
Update: At Miami Nights, B.A.C. is spot-on. And Ana Menendez says: “Oh, sure, everyone’s simply appalled. Who’s ever heard of football players slamming into each other? Where did all that meanness come from?”
Disclosure: fwiw, I graduated from F.I.U. Also, I don’t know shit about sports.
Monday October 16, 2006
I’ve been out of pocket the last few days, sick and in bed. Here’s a video I made a few days before, driving down an unnamed street in south Broward, among lots of police activity. I’ll tell ya, though: trying to film and control the ol’ vehicle is like driving drunk, or driving and talkin’ on the celly. Anyway, I hear there’s been some sports-related controversy lately, but I stay out of that. More bloggin’ soon.
Thursday October 12, 2006
The Miami Mystery: why the westbound lanes of the 836 always slow down to a crawl, any time of the day or night, around the airport. Well, so now I hear that it’s all over, and traffic is flowing smoothly (except during rush hour, of course)? Can anyone confirm? More importantly, can anyone explain?? Update: Gabriel’s got some answers, though I’m not sure if his story quite accounts for the dramatic change.
“The South Miami-Dade Watershed Study has been an ongoing process to determine the course for growth over the next 50 years. The Infrastructure and Land Use Committee (INLUC) of the County Commission will be present and your voice and attendance is vital to promote sound results that will impact future development and conservation.” A public workshop will be held tomorrow, October 13, from 9:30 am to 2pm. Go to Greener Miami to read how and why to participate.
Some last thoughts about the Jesús Díaz thing. About a week ago it came out that a certain column by Carl Hiaasen actually played a large role in Díaz’s quitting. The column is a fairly uninspired summary of the Radio Martí fiasco, written in a sarcastic “this is great” mode. The headline is “Finally, someone appreciates journalists’ work.” You get the picture.
Well, this was around the time that the whole fiasco was still blowing up, and apparently Díaz didn’t think it was a good idea to be throwing gasoline on it, so he ordered the column not run. Well, great. But Hiassen is a best-selling author, and lots of people even enjoy his column, so he’s got a certain amount of pull. He threatened to quit, and make a really big stink, first to Díaz and then to the senior management at McClatchy. Reportedly, all it took was a phone call from Howard Weaver, McClatchy’s senior newspaper guy, in which he told Díaz that “we believe in strong columnists.” I think the phone call probably went a little different then all that, with a little back-and-forth in raised tones. Regardless, Díaz that very day; the 16 days until it was made public was because he agreed to give them a chance to find a replacement before making the announcement.
The word “reportedly,” above, links to the Miami Herald article about this whole incident, which is what I find probably most remarkable. Here’s a newspaper reporting on some fairly significant struggles for power within its own walls. And while the article doesn’t say so (and nobody can know for shure), it’s likely that this incident did more to piss Díaz off, and push him out, then the re-hiring of the journalists he fired. Rebecca Wakefield has about as good a summary of this whole saga as you’ll find, and she comes a little closer to saying just that, though.
In the end, the Díaz story is about how different orders of human existence can pull something in different directions, and it has an air of inevitability to it. He had to fire those guys when he did, and he had to take them back, for reasons that were just as strong, though completely different. Rebecca does a great job of teasing out all the separate issues, but really, this is just how things are with human beings: messy.
Wednesday October 11, 2006
10,000 Killer Bees found in ceiling of Miami apartment. Is this for real? It’s an Orlando station.
Fuck democracy, right? That’s what the Miami-Dade Commission is saying. Enough voters signed petitions to get the strong-mayor proposal on the ballot (to, you know, let the voters decide), but the commissioners have hired outside council which will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, to see if they can ignore the petition. Oh, and of course the bill is being picked up by the taxpayers. And by the way, they already have a lawyer on payroll who specializes in this sort of thing. There’s always “how about we vote your asses out of office, how’s that for a ballot initiative?”, but this pisses me off, because getting those signatures is very arduous, and they shouldn’t be seen as something to be fought by anyone in power they inconvenience. Update: More at MVB.
Tuesday October 10, 2006
Here’s my full write-up on the Carnival Center’s—Miami’s—new building. Lots of text, lots of pictures = too long to go into the main text flow. Hence the unprescented move of doing a jump. Sorry. Deal with it and click:
Monday October 9, 2006
Target GlobalBeat was the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts’ giant opening party for Miami: a free, 10-hour, 50-performer festival, where the doors were basically thrown open and anyone who wanted to could roam the entire complex unrestricted. And it was expertly organized, too: I suspect that anyone who caught even one of the shows would have been impressed: especially the indoor performances were all first class, many were exotic, and they worked together to create a seamless kaleidoscope of music from around the world by featuring mostly local performers and with international talent. A class act. There were some minor problems with the sound, which I’ll mention as I go along, but for the most part they take nothing away from the excellent performers or the Center; after all, each venue (and there were seven) had at least six different performers, who went on in quick succession and with little to no sound check. I’ll talk about the performers today, and get into looking at the buildings themselves tomorrow.
The Florida Memorial Steelband opened things in the Knight Concert Hall. Their MC explained how a steel band works—there are 10 players on the steel drums, plus two “percussionists.” They played a few original compositions, then brought out the horns and launched into some Sonny Rollins. It was all quite beautiful, even for the faint-of-steeldrum. Featured audio issue: a hissing (almost buzzing) sound from the speakers between songs, probably from a piece of the band’s equipment, because it was gone later.
Bharti Chokshi, of the Association of Performing Arts of India, rocks the sitar, with a tabla player, in the Studio Theater. The sitar/tabla combination is the quintessential configuration for Indian classical music. Both instruments are so complex that if you close your eyes, it’s difficult to imagine that only two people are making it. Both the performers were masterful, but the 15-minute set, all with people crowding in and taking flash pictures, was hardly ideal for enjoyment of this type of music. Featured audio issue: a strange reverb on the tabla that made the dāyāñ (the smaller of the two drums) dominate the mix a bit. (And yes, my photo is out of focus; I was there to enjoy myself, not fuss with photography.)
Next up were two Indian dancers. They were completely spellbinding, as was the choreography. Their movements were sometimes in unison, sometimes sequential, and sometimes complimentary, and were punctuated by pauses, during which the dancers stood motionless except for subtle movements of their heads. They were, in a word, tight. I cannot possibly explain how great the Association of Performing Arts of India is, or the completely otherworldly beauty of Indian culture. Update: The dancers are Madhavi and Meenakshi Menon, and they have a website.
Outside, the giant dragon puppet, brought by the Miami Overseas Chinese Association, rages to the accompaniment of giant drums.
Fusho Daiko, a Taiko ensemble, at the Ziff Ballet Opera House. They cranked it up to 10 right at the start, and then turned it up to 11 later, blasting the place out with just enough rhythmic variation (and almost no harmonic content, except for the occasional conch blow) to be mesmerizing. In a word: fierce. They generally rearranged the drums between every piece, varying the organizational structure of the group. This was one of the highlights of the day. (An inquisitive reader will want to know: “do the men in the ensemble shave their armpits?” Answer: some of them.) Featured audio problem: none—they were unamplified!
One of several parades/street parties in the plaza.
Peru Expression. The band played one song (featured audio problem: the singer and guitar were almost inaudible for most of the song), and then the singer launched into a long story, in Spanish, before bringing out the dancers. I was out of there.
Black Violin, who bring the hip-hop approach to, um, violins. Their act consists of playing violin along with existing songs, and setting classical pieces to beats. The latter approach works a little better, but overall I can imagine this group being more effective in concert, going back and forth with 50 Cent (as they recently did). Still cool, though.
A reduced version of the normally 30-member Klezmer Company Orchestra played around, setting old Klezmer songs to South American rhythms, which worked surprisingly well. Not as joyous and unrestrained as I’d have expected, but they played well, and their musical director’s between-song history and anecdotes were interesting. Featured audio problem: couldn’t hear the bass(!), except when she played one particular note, high up on the neck.
I was in the nosebleed section for the Delou Africa Dance Ensemble, which turned out to be a bad choice, because I couldn’t see the dancing very well, other then to get a sense of joyous abandon. The music was a different story, though. Employing a similar ensemble and soloist strategy as the Taiko group, but to completely different ends, it was precise, aggressive, and had the feeling of one-upsmanship, but with a constant give-and take. The drummers would lay low, and the African Xylophone would play some polyphony, and then they’d come to the front of stage and trade solos, walking while playing. Great. Featured audio problem: feedback.
Conjuncto Progreso. Featured audio problem: not sure, they were arguing with the sound guy and hadn’t started yet. I couldn’t stick around, because I was on my way to see . . .
The Cooper Temple Church of God in Christ Mass Choir, which was a powerhouse. This is the contemporary gospel choir in full force, and everyone was suitably impressed. Maybe there was a little too much emphasis on the drums, and not enough on the singers, but it worked perfectly for me. Wow.
One of the many performances in the lobby of the Concert Hall. I believe this was Los Tangueros.
Back over to the Studio Theater, where local break-dance crew D-Projects was doing their thing. I only caught a little, but again, it looked like one of the highlights. Breaking done right is still impressive. And it’s still being done right, twenty-five years later. Crazy.
Mayday [Flash!] was in the house, playing to what looked mostly like fans, and impressing the crap out of everyone. Not bad for a white, 4-piece (keyboards, bass, DJ, MC) outfit. Featured audio problem: a horrible crackling distorted sound every time the DJ tried to scratch. This was in the Peacock Studio, which is really a dance rehearsal space. It was set up without seating, and black fabric covering the walls, sort of club-like.
DJ Craze, three-time World DMC Champion, closed out the night with some of his jaw-dropping turntable dexterity. Actually, I take that back: there are other scratch-DJ’s who focus on show-off DJ techniques, and while Craze has his share of show, what puts him over is his musicality. Dude is dope. Don’t take my word for it, check him out here. Dang!
There you have it: a class act all around. I can’t imagine anyone going to this event and not feeling right about the Performing Arts Center. Maybe they’ll throw a big party like this once a year? There’s hoping. My biggest quibble with the day was the annoying plastic rattlers that someone was handing out to the kids; whoever had that idea deserves eternity in a purgatory where a hundred kids shake those things at random while they’re trying to pay attention to something. Also, I think there was a fear of having the place overrun with an unmanageable amount of people, hence the wristband thing, which allowed the organizers to reserve the right to exercise some sort of control. No worries, though: while the event was well attended, there was no shortage of wristbands, and I didn’t hear anyone complain about not being able to see what they wanted to see. And everyone was walking around with smiles on their faces; I think it was a genuine pride and excitement, that after all the problems, this thing is finished, and it’s being done right. Tomorrow: the building!
Saturday October 7, 2006
Becky Flowers, FIU grad student and performance artists, has a blog where she documents one action she took each day. For example, intervening with a sculpture. Check out day 1. Also, her action for tonight will be at the Wallflower Gallery at 7:30! (thanks, Dervis!) Related: Bust that cycle.
Friday October 6, 2006
The full moon hits Saturday night. Govern yourselves accordingly.
This is it, folks: the big weekend! And not only does the Carnival Center have a brand new website that actually works, but in addition to the expensive stuff happening all this weekend, there’s a free festival, Globalbeat, on Sunday from noon to 10 pm. Ok, ok, there are still some problems: when you click the Globalbeat link on the website you get a blank page (try here for the basics), and apparently the big show on Thursday didn’t go over great, but it sounds like stuff that can be ironed out. See you there Sunday.
Target Globalbeat is free, but space is limited for the indoor performances. Vouchers, which are redeemable for wrist bands on the day of the event, will be available at the 13 Miami-Dade County Commissioners’ District offices from Monday, September 18 to Friday, September 22. Carnival Center recommends contacting the District offices for a specific time and date to pick up vouchers. Vouchers can be redeemed at the Target Globalbeat Tent on Sunday, October 8 for wrist bands which provide admittance into the Center during any one of three three-hour sessions beginning at noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
Wrist bands will also be issued, as space permits, on Sunday at the Target Globalbeat Tent up to two hours before the start of each session. Arriving early is highly recommended.
Hmm… in other words, anyone who had the inside scoop and got their vouchers two weeks ago is getting in. Everyone else will have to show up and hope for the best.
Thursday October 5, 2006
Some interesting statistics from this poll [PDF link] of Cuban-Americans:
- Only 61% of those who came to the US in the 1980’s and after are registered Republican; it’s 81% for the 1970’s and before.
- Only 13% say they would return to Cuba if freedom and democracy were reinstated.
- Only 45% oppose allowing American citizens to travel to Cuba!
- Only 53% support continuing the embargo on Cuba!!
More analysis from Henry and DeFede. Questions for thought: For how many different reasons might the 13% above be a much lower number then how many would actually consider returning if freedom and democracy were reinstated? How might the group of people who refuse to talk to surveyors feel differently about these issues then those who agree to do so? And how does a pollster get their list of names and phone numbers, anyway?
“Prosecutors in the case of accused Israeli drug lord Ze’ev Rosenstein want Israeli undercover agents testifying at his Miami trial to wear disguises and use numbers instead of names to protect their identities.” And not everyone’s happy about it.
Python eats aligator and pops: the one year aniversary. Good times.
Stopped by the opening of “10 Defining Experiments” at CIFO last night. (Sorry: still not able to link to Flash sites.) Lovely event, I must say: fully stocked bars, beautiful people by the boatload, and a spectacular facility. The art was meh, and three gorgeous photographs absolutely stole the show. Big openings of course ≠ a good place to experience video so, you know, caveat there. And this sculpture made of bobby pins was very nice, though I expect it doesn’t look like much in the photo. Then I rushed over to the MAM, but the opening there was already over, having closed at 8:30(!) and people were on their way out.
Next time: opposite order!
Today we get homework: sift through MiamiPost’s City Hall Confidential and see if you find anything, anything of value. (via Tere, who says “When I started this blog, I considered making it an “exposing the ugly side” kind of thing. Then I realized, duh, I don’t know anyone who could help me expose jack shit.”)
Wednesday October 4, 2006
A great article about the dangers and opportunities newspapers face in case my rant from Monday wasn’t long enough.
Internet advertising revenues account on average for no more than 10 percent of total ad revenues because online readers of newspapers still have small value for advertisers. Newspapers need to expand their Internet readership very substantially and, particularly, persuade their online readers to stay hooked to their digital versions much longer. The way to do that is to embrace the cultural change.”
It goes on to suggest customization as one way to embrace cultural change. In one way, the Herald is doing this: they have hundreds of RSS feeds, so anyone who knows about RSS can get a customized version of the Herald. Which makes me wonder: why not a customized home page, ala My Yahoo?
Unfortounately, even the RSS feeds are slightly snafu’d: right at the top is Liz Donovan, who hasn’t written for the Herald since July. And just this morning, when I clicked an item from the Local section’s feed for a brand new article, I got this error message page. Great, I guess I’m back to wading through web site. Good thing I caught it today, because by tomorrow I’d be forced to use the dreaded search engine. (thanks, Val)
Hey, cool, Rat Bastard has his own wikipedia page. Years ago, I was playing in a band, and Rat took us into his studio (the old one on Washington Ave) and recorded a pristine 4-song demo for some absurdly low amount of money (I think it might have been a hundred bucks). He did the same for probably thousands of bands, including Marilyn Manson, and has been a catalyst in bringing tons of notable bands to town, and organizing shows for local nights. Oh, and I also played with Rat’s Laundry Room Squelchers for a while.
I haven’t seen Rat in years, but then my attendance at Churchill’s has been pretty spotty. It looks like he’s doing fine; him and V, who took that last photo, are an item. And the Squelchers website has him touring with a bunch of boys (as ‘To Live and Shave in L.A.’) and a bunch of girls (as LRS) in 2006. Go Rat!
Tuesday October 3, 2006
My new photo set, taken around downtown, mostly here, in the area just west of the Cultural Center. According to the Miami River Commission, this area is supposed to contain “office buildings, condos, and river-oriented commercial businesses,” but as you can see, it mostly appears to contain abandoned, gutted buildings and empty lots. I’ve inclued specific Google Maps links with some of the photos; let me know if any other locations are unclear.
Miami Herald publisher, Jesús Díaz Jr., resigns, and the firings of the reporters who wrote for Radio Martí are reversed. “While I still believe that the acceptance of such payments by the nine journalists was a breach of widely accepted principles of journalistic ethics that violated the trust of our readers, our policies prohibiting such behavior may have been ambiguously communicated, inconsistently applied and widely misunderstood over many years in the El Nuevo Herald newsroom. It has been determined that in fairness we should extend an amnesty to all involved and enforce our policies more forcefully and consistently in the future.” Update: More at SotP, babalu, Herald Watch, Pulp, and the Herald itself. I haven’t come to a positive conclusion; conversation in the comments is ongoing. Update: and still more at Miami Vision (“We’re sure the new owners of the Herald didn’t have a clue about what they were getting themselves into.” And by the way, making the whole paper a tabloid is an excellent idea.), Klotz, and babalu)
Monday October 2, 2006
Great idea: Verticus proposes turning the Biscayne Boulevard corridor around the CCPA into a theater district. It’s going to take some forward-thinking folks in the development sector, some daring creative types, and a little help from the government.
Damp or encased in plastic bags, or both, and planted in the bushes outside where it’s cold, full of news that is cold too because it has been sitting around for hours, the home-delivered newspaper is an archaic object. Who needs it? You can sit down at your laptop and enjoy that same newspaper or any other newspaper in the world. Or you can skip the newspapers and go to some site that makes the news more entertaining or politically simpatico. And where do these wannabes get most of their information? From newspapers, of course. But that is mere irony. It doesn’t pay the cost of a Baghdad bureau.
Yes yes, touché, Time. Hey, what’s that you’ve got there? Maybe you should be writing about the future of the home-delivered weekly magazine, eh? But no, Time magazine didn’t write that essay — Michael Kinsley did. The focal point of the article is the recent struggle at the LA Times.
The LA Times is owned by the Tribune company, which is controlled by shareholders, who care about one thing above all else: the change in their stock price from one quarter to the next. This makes it possible for a very successful newspaper (which LAT was/is) with very healthy revenues and profits (which LAT had/has) to look like a weak performer. So the stockholders demand changes — ie increases in their stock price, ie increases in profits, ie decreases in operating costs, ie layoffs in the news room. Anyone can see that that may lead to an increase in stock prices from this quarter to the next, but not in a sustainable increase. But there it is.
So anyway, when the brass at Tribune recently demanded more staff cuts, the LAT’s editor, Dean Baquet, and publisher, Jeffrey Johnson, refused. While Tribune insisted that insubordination would not be tolerated and they could not stay in their positions unless they make the cuts, so far they haven’t been fired.
Kinsley suggests that local ownership of newspapers would go a long way toward avoiding situations like this, but in a world where large holding companies make offers on devalued properties, a local interest has no guarantee of being able to hold on to a newspaper trying to navigate through the stormy waters the industry is in. I’ve suggested considering non-profit ownership of newspapers in the past. Non-profits are much more likely to resist buyout offers, and their structure is, at least in theory, more in line with newspapers’ stated goal of working for the public good. (The only two newspapers I know of that are non-profit are the St. Petersburg Times and the Christian Science Monitor.)
The bigger issue is that the whole “newspaper model,” of publishing one issue per day, is not ideally compatible with the internet. And in many ways newspapers are making large steps to try out new models. Articles are published around the clock almost universally now, and newspapers are experimenting with interactive features, blogs, instant feedback, and lots of other stuff. Kinsley again:
The “me to you” model of news gathering—a professional reporter, attuned to the fine distinctions between “off the record” and “deep background,” prizing factual accuracy in the narrowest sense—may well give way to some kind of “us to us” communitarian arrangement of the sort that thrives on the Internet.
In other words, newspapers should try to take part in the larger online conversation. I would argue that an important part of that is dropping this bullshit about paid archives. I don’t know how much the Herald is making from their archives, but I expect it’s minimal: nobody’s going to pay $2.95 for an old article unless they really, really need to. On the other hand, old articles can be very useful if they’re free, open, and searchable. Again, I don’t know how much ad revenue the Herald averages per article impression, but it strikes me as self-evident that the finances for open archives work out a lot better then for closed.
Putting old stuff behind a paywall not only doesn’t make business sense, though — much more importantly, it belies a lack of understanding of how the internet really works. Links that expire do not exactly encourage linking.
Let me give you an example: a study was recently done about the future of highways in the US. Transit Miami commented on it, and I mentioned it briefly. We both found the study through Larry Lebowitz’s Streetwise column, but, while we linked to the page, our discussions focused on the study itself, and largely ignored what Larry had had to say about it. Of course this is a shame, because Larry probably knows more about South Florida traffic then anyone else, but that’s exactly what happens when you can’t trust a link to work more then a couple of months. The study will stay online, and our comments will stay online, but the Herald column will not; it’ll be excluded from the record.
Other bloggers have taken a different approach to disappearing articles. Herald Watch, for example, frequently reproduces the full text of articles he’s addressing. These sites often offer the following “Fair Use Notice”:
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of political, economic, and scientific issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research, educational and informational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.
Now, you don’t need to be a legal scholar to know that reproducing a work in its entirety does not constitute fair use under the law. Yet newspapers routinely allow this to go on. Why? Because they, like Mr. Kinsley, recognize that their survival depends on being part of the conversation, and they’re muddling through, trying to figure out the best way to do that. Clearly, though, the obvious solution is to make their content more accessible, open, and searchable.
And yes, the search functions on most newspaper web sites is atrocious. Actually, I take that back. The Herald has a very powerful search interface for the paid, older content. The search for the free stuff is a dumb search box at the top of every page. Not good. More Kinsley:
Newspapers are not missing the blog boat. They are running for it like the last train out of Paris. They hold their breath and look the other way as their most precious rules and standards get trampled in the rush, and figure they’ll worry about that later.
oRLY? Well, the Herald is certainly serious about blogs if you go by quantity: they currently sport 19 of them. But then why are some of them hosted on Blogspot?? That’s just plain weird. A cursory examination of their blogrolls indicates that they’re much much better at linking to “Other Herald Blogs” then to anything in the outside world (one or two do link to a handful of local blogs). Overall, the Herald’s portfolio of blogs is very much “throw a bunch of stuff at the wall, see what sticks.”
But these are minor quibbles. The fact is that the very “real newspaper” / “blogs” dichotomy reveals a poverty of imagination on the part of management. 100% of the Herald’s bloggers also write “real” articles for the newspaper, and use their blogs for short snippets, to test out ideas, and sometimes to simply duplicate their regular writing. This is the sort of no-brainer, obvious way to set things up. The problem is that this is a huge, super-important organization in a huge, super-important industry. We should be getting much better, more creative, and non-obvious approaches to things. Why aren’t a reporter’s articles instantly linkable from their blogs and vice versa? And why should regular articles and blog entries be treated so differently, anyway?
The Miami New Times recently launched a new blog, and overall their approach, while not perfect, indicates that a lot of thought went into how to set it up, and integrate it into the workings of their print publication. While the approach would not translate to the Herald, something along its lines might.
The Herald has recently been purchased by McClatchy, and so there is reason to believe that attempts at innovation are down the line. We may be approaching the period when the phase during which the new owners get comfortable working with the management of the paper, and begin to explore major changes. At the same time, McClatchy is not publicly traded, so an LA Times type fiasco is not going to happen here. The Herald has recently hired a top-level executive who will be charged with re-assessing the paper’s online efforts as a whole. Let’s hope this person brings in a team of smart people, and they really examine and rethink some major things. And let’s hope the management gives them the leeway to try some unconventional things.
Sunday October 1, 2006
The Spanish Monastery (aka St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church) in North Miami is one of my favorite places. It was originally built in Spain in the 12th century, and shipped to the United States and reassembled, brick by brick, in the 1950’s. Here’s a nice photo set of the building (and here is an alternate, lower resolution but easier to use version of the same photos). More photos at the Monastery’s own web site.