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Friday December 29, 2006

clever train holiday decoration

Cute photo, uploaded to the Herald’s Holiday Lights page. Check out the “smoke.”

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A fruity person has a good time in Miami during the holidays.

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Noo Yeerz Eave weekend

king mango strut parade

New Years’ Eve? Well, there really are perfectly good stuff-to-do lists all over the place: Miami Music Guide, the Herald (1, 2), MiamiBeach411, and the aforementioned Miami Nights, so I see no reason to do one of my own. The smart money is celebrating with a small group of friends at a low key party, anyway. I’ll be at OceanDance, and you’re all invited.

By the way, tonight, End of Cinematics [Flash with sound] at the Carnival opera house looks impressive, and of course Woody Allen is kicking it old-school in the concert hall.

What about Monday? How about brunch and a light outdoor activity in the early afternoon?

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Thursday December 28, 2006

“For Sale. Land, plans and permits for [a big Miami condo project]. Includes fully equipped sales center.” A great Reuters article on the popping Miami condo bubble, with lots of brain-bending numbers (77,000 condo units are still scheduled to be built in Miami; 1,900 have been canceled) along with the prediction by Jack McCabe that it may take 5 to 10 years for the prices to bottom out.

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Carnival Center

A few new photos at the Miami at night photoset. Here’s the Carnival Center from across the bay.

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Fun with the Rick Ross Wikipedia page: Calvin Godfrey pointed out some earlier vandalism (error? methinks not). Here is another version that existed for about ninety seconds, before it was reverted and a stern warning issued. Interesting discussion at the talk page: “Why name yourself after someone that pumped crack and other drugs into the Black Community for years…..WHY? I didn’t want to believe it at first, but there is no valid way to get Rick Ross from William Roberts. There is no excuse for this.”

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Wednesday December 27, 2006

The Star Islanders, a Miami-based fiction blog by Francie Leighton. Interesting. Start in August and work your way forward. It will be interesting to see if this works.

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Johnny Rockets pads the bill. Oh, and charging for a slice of lemon? That shit is wack, yo. And now it can be told: you never, ever tip on the tax. $28 for lunch for two at a burger joint . . . I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.

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Miami Nights isn’t fucking around: they started last week on their New Year’s Eve party list, and are updating it continually. Prices for most parties are in the three and four-digit range per person, whazzup! Update: Here’s the Herald’s list.

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Another piece of Coconut Grove history on the auction block: they’re trying to move Marjory Stoneman Douglashouse. Update: Marjory Stoneman Douglas impersonators/protesters at the Mango Strut.

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I-195 and 38th St

A parking garage right here? Well, duh.

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“County Auditor Cathy Jackson released a report that said Hometown Station had misspent more than $3 million that was supposed to be devoted solely to construction costs . . . Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess gave [the] developer one week to return $5 million in public money . . . a lawyer for the development company . . . said it has no immediate plans to return it.” Classic. Check out the video “House of Lies,” too.

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Tuesday December 26, 2006

Chancletas

The caption to this picture reads “Many people talk on their cell phones an awful lot. The threat of cancer does not intimidate this young lady. Note the tight pants and chancletas.” Here’s what chellybelly has to say about “chancletas:”

A word for flip flops or other type of slip on, inexpensive sandal. Only SoFla people ever know what I mean when I say it. The word is Spanish Slang Cuban and Carribean [sic] influenced. Miami girls wear them everywhere in the 00’s. Also called Chanks, or Chanx.

The image is from the photostream of humhooter, who has another great picture here.

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Jeb Bush’s official portrait includes his Blackberry. (via BoingBoing)

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[Tom Fiedler] was a great reporter, a good political editor, a decent editorial page editor and, ultimately, so-so as executive editor.” Rebecca Wakefield considers Fiedler’s legacy, and the state of the newspaper he’s leaving behind, concluding: “As imperfect as it is, as rudderless, bogged-down and lacking in stones as its management has often seemed, we need the Miami Herald.” (via Herald Watch) Update: a complete transcript of Rebecca’s interview with Tom.

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green heart Lolo has been rocking the restaurant reviews over at Meatless Miami. She’s squeezed a lot of functionality out of Blogger, allowing you to browse restaurants by neighborhood or search for the top-rated ones. Vegan-centric resource par excellence.

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In Miami-Dade it’s illegal to sell a dog or cat without a microchip implanted in it. Not to get all “our children are next” on you, but doesn’t this seem a little fucked up? I understand the motivation, but . . . ok, what if you have, say, religious objections (mark of the beast and all)? Or what if you think it’s just weird to have a microchip implanted in your pet?

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Saturday December 23, 2006

Ho ho ho. Frances Nash photographs some holiday lights. And you thought there was going to be no holiday post. Look out for her trademark Chuck Taylors.

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Friday December 22, 2006

Broken new WLRN website

wlrn 91.3 listen online button WLRN has a snappy new website. The old website needed an update, and the new one is good looking and useful. What bugs the crap out of me is that the “listen online” link is locked up in a big flash banner. What’s more, the actual stream is in a Windows Media format, and sometimes doesn’t work under Firefox or on Macs. Nice work, fellas. Did you know that Internet Explorer has a click-to-activate “feature” for Flash now, so all IE users see is a gray box with no writing? (Firefox with flashblock gets a big empty box with a little button.) This is like giving your listeners a quiz before letting the radio turn on. Notice a drop in online listening since this system has been in place, or do you not track that?

There’s a particularly disturbing irony here, because WLRN has long run a radio reading service for the visually impaired. Guess what — the visually impaired are exactly who they’re screwing with this system, who used to be able to listen online but now can’t. There’s a handy “if you’re experiencing problems listening online” link. I clicked it and (since it’s also part of the flash bar, someone without Flash wouldn’t be able to click it, and I didn’t have any way of knowing what it was about to do:) it opened my e-mail program with a pre-prepared e-mail to someone at Conquest Business Group. These are apparently the folks who helped WLRN set up their online streaming. They haven’t bothered to build themselves a website, but they can tell you that they’re a “Microsoft Gold Certified Partner.” The body of the pre-prepared e-mail asks you to answer a few questions — what’s your operating system, browser, etc. This is ominous: when you “click here” if you have problems, you’d think you’d be taken somewhere where they would help you, but you get the exact opposite.

I figure I’ll give them a call about this, so I click “contact us,” and proceed to a page with an address, phone number, and picture of the building: exactly what I want. I dial the number and, wait for it, I get the voicemail of a very nice lady in WLRN’s “Audience Response and Membership” department(!), who’s on vacation until January(!!); in other words this isn’t WLRN’s main switchboard number, it’s someone who takes complaints and memberships from listeners. I finally got through to someone, and even called Conquest, but I never discovered any way to access the stream without Flash.

Look: accessibility is important. That’s why the US Government has a law about it. WLRN is not a federal agency, so it doesn’t have to abide by those rules, but of course it still should. Aside from making a website available to disabled people, there are all sorts of business and meta- reasons for doing so. In the old days, Flash was considered intrinsically inaccessible, and while that’s no longer 100% the case, it’s still mostly true. My recommendation? Get rid of the Flash. It’s an irritant at best and an impediment all too often. (If someone offers to build you an all-Flash site, my advice is to run.)

By the way, no other NPR station I could find does this. I checked Chicago, Austin, Atlanta, and New York. All have simple-click streaming, and they all seem to work without problems. (Some are very advanced, with a choice of different streaming technologies and podcasts. If thousands of teenagers can podcast, why not an NPR affiliate?) WLRN is a great station, but this needs pronto fixing.

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Thursday December 21, 2006

Miami Art Museum and Miami Art Central partnership

MAC Back

When I first heard about the partnership and possible merger between the Miami Art Museum and Miami Art Central (Links: MAM and MAC), I was aghast. I like things the way they are — these are two great institutions with very distinct curatorial and operational philosophies, and (like RL in the comments of the TNFH post) I didn’t see how any partnership between the two would do anything but water down those philosophies, creating a larger but less interesting homogenized whole.

But I’ve spent almost a week thinking about this now, and kicked it around with a bunch of smart and prominent local art people, and I’ve come around. The MAM has a new building to build in Bicentennial Park, and it needs to raise at least $100 million for it. You don’t do that by sending out a solicitation mailing. This deal may not bring Marty Margulies to the table, and ther collectors, such as the Scholls, are already working with the MAM, but the MAC is a gathering place for the hundreds of less prominent South American collectors who live in Miami, and this deal has the possibility of making them feel much more connected to the MAM. And of course Ella Fontanals-Cisneros has enough money herself to make the MAM pay attention when she makes a suggestion. A deal like this puts a lot of important momentum into an important fundraising project.

As for the MAC, well, it’s difficult being an organization that gets the majority of its money from one private source — just ask the once-wonderful PBICA. In a merger, the MAC’s facility becomes a satellite space for the MAC, in return for which the MAC gets . . . a say in the curatorial direction of the MAM? The MAC’s exhibitions have been described as more “cerebral,” and it has a strong inclination to exhibit South American art. But the MAM may already be heading in that direction, what with the new Director, it’s open Curator position, and it’s mission, which is all about art in the “western hemisphere” anyway.

In other words, this may actually be a good fit. The MAC gets absorbed into the MAM, we loose a little bit of a differentiated curatorial philosophy but gain a reinvigorated museum with three(!) significant exhibition spaces. In the more immediate term, have you seen how much programming the MAC does on weekends? It will certainly be great to have some of that thinking trickle to downtown. And as Tyler Green points out, the more distinctive extreme of MAC’s programing may be migrating to cifo anyway. And the permanent existence of MAC may not have been tenable anyway — how long can Fontanals-Cisneros focus on MAC and cifo anyway (and serve on MAM’s board)?

(One interesting side concern is the MAC’s staff? They’re really the ones that really make a museum what it is. If the merger really hits in six months, there are going to be lots of redundant people. When the new MAM building opens, the staff needs will increase again, but there’s probably years between those two dates. What will happen there remains to be seen.)

But so an eventual merger seems inevitable. It seems that there are reasons to be optimistic that this is the best way forward, just not the reasons the Herald article gives. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, all that.

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Wednesday December 20, 2006

What's up with Washington Avenue?

It’s not doing so hot, that’s what. Check it out:

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Here’s a store with what appears to be a semi-permanent “Clerance 70% off” sign.

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Outback Steakhouse. If you look closely, you’ll see a sign that says “Opening Fall of 2006.” Opps, it’s Winter now, and Outback doesn’t look like it’s anywhere close to opening. This is in the fancy building at Washington and 5th, which was built with great fanfare a few years ago, and still has a number of vacancies to this day!

Rustical Drilling

Some sort of WWII-era looking pumping truck outside Pizza Rustica. Same one that’s been around for years, but it’s still weird.

Who wants to open a nightclub?

At 681 Washington, the former location of Goddess is available to any would-be club entrepreneur. Anyone?

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Tuesday December 19, 2006

Pizza Rustica

Pizza Rustica

We’ve all heard or been in a million “best pizza in Miami” arguments, right? Forget it. Usually those are talking about New York style pizza, a thin-crust round piece of dough with a little tomato sauce, cheese, and maybe pepperoni. The not-so-secret is that pizza like this is so easy to get right that hundreds of places make it really, really well, which can be shocking if you’re only used to Hut/Domino/Caesar crap. Everyone’s attached to some little joint somewhere (in Miami they’re usually called “Steve’s,” for some reason), all of which make great pizza, I’m sure.

Pizza Rustica is something else. Big rectangular pieces (they slice them into six pieces so you can pick it up!) of Roman-style pizza smothered with any of a dozen+ very specific combination of toppings. They use a particular type of oven. They import their flour from Italy, for chrissakes. Cute girls will pop your slice into the oven for a few minutes and set you up with a coke or a beer (on tap, but nothing good) if you’re eating there. I think all the “slices” are $4, but all it takes is one and you’re stuffed. I don’t normally tip when I’m ordering from a counter like this, but here I always do; come on, they’re running around that hot oven all day, right? Plus, it rounds it up to $5 (no messing around with tax), and so the best $5 meal in town.

Pizza Rustica

Here’s a slice of the eponymous Rustica (bad photo, sorry). Prosciutto, tomatoes regular and sun-dried, black olives, artichoke hearts, and whole basil leaves. Serious business. On a second visit, or for vegetarians, might I recommend the potato pizza — it sounds weird but trust me; the potato is sliced very thin, and paired with a few other specific ingredients, and it works. All the varieties are like this — very specific combinations of a bunch of ingredients. Caprese salad pizza? Chicken Fiorentina pizza? You get the idea. They’ll also custom make (round) pizzas with any combination of 35(!) ingredients. Forget the silly arguments: this is the best pizza in town by a long shot.

There are three locations on the Beach: the one on the corner of 9th and Washington is the original, though the other two have a little more seating inside. There’s also one in Ft. Lauderdale which I’ve never eaten at. Google maps does a good job of finding them.

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Monday December 18, 2006

Miami Vice the movie DVD review

boats crusiing past the port of miami

Warning: Minor spoilers ahead especially for anyone who hasn’t seen the movie at all. If you haven’t seen the movie, watch the DVD, which is a big improvement over the theatrical release, before reading.

The theatrical release of the Miami Vice movie sucked. But guess what? The DVD version is almost a completely different movie. Masterpiece? No. But the new cut (Don’t call it a “director’s cut” says Michael Mann, the original was a director’s cut too) fixes the biggest problems of the original movie — it’s tenuous connection to the city of Miami and the original series, and the weakness of the bond between Sonny and the Isabella.

Good news: the opening “port of Miami” sequence has been restored. Bad news: it doesn’t show more of the port then you’d see from the MacArththur Causeway. Nonetheless, the speadboat opening sequence begins by firmly grounding the movie in Miami, which makes a crucial difference for how the rest of the movie plays, at least for this lifelong Miami resident. Now when a scene takes place in an empty lot with a vague view of downtown at night in the background, I’m not straining to see if it’s authentic or not, and the backgrounding of the landmarks actually adds to the credibility. The original movie’s incomprehensible nightclub-scene opening was one of its major blunders.

The second key sequence that’s restored to the DVD is Sonny and Isabella’s romp in Havana. The original version included only a few seconds on the island, while the new version tells the story of the two characters taking a couple of days there together, falling in love. Since their bond drives the resolution of the movie, it makes more sense with these scenes in place, though they do slow down the action in the critical second act. Incidentally, the scenes in Havana are carefully handled: the city is presented simultaneously as an international tourist playground (for everyone but Americans) and as a once-great but now decaying place of deep and soulful beauty (the latter sense is dealt with only briefly, but it rings true).

Lots of other new shit is in the DVD version too; mostly stuff that give the movie a grand feeling balancing the gritty gunplay which overwhelmed the original version. Little exchanges between Sonny and Ricardo. A second shower sex scene mirroring the one in the original (still the best scene in the movie).

You wonder, then, how the original edit could have been so thoroughly botched. Probably the idea was to put in as many action sequences and as little dialog and exposition as possible. The problem with that is that it was impossible for a first-time viewer to fully understand what was going on, which in turn made the action sequences less meaningful. The new film does a much better job of balancing all the factors that go into making a thriller — the intrigue, the action, the romance . . . it’s hackneyed, but at least it’s done well.

It also plays more like an episode from the original TV series, in which shifts in mood were so critical. This movie feels like an episode that just had too much good stuff that couldn’t be edited down (and in fact Mann has said that he wanted to do Miami Vice as a movie before even doing the TV show). So what we get then, is a movie with the same basic set of key scenes, but where all the in-between bits seem to have been switched out and rearranged. A movie that’s actually pretty good, and more importantly, makes sense.

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Sunday December 17, 2006

Geo Metro needs babysitter for 3 months: a sort-of contest

The Blue Man Period of Milton Van der Spuy

Cayetano writes:

I came into town with the Basel storm and just kind of stayed, as I am currently something of a hobo. Well I’m going to Puerto Rico in a couple days and I have this car that I have to get rid of.. and I was hoping you’d be interested enough to . . . write an essay for a chance to get a free piece of shit car.

I recently drove across the country with this Geo Metro with a radical paint job… from Oakland to Miami. Surprisingly, it made it all the way and its still going strong. I’m flying to South America in a few days and I’m hoping to put it into some good hands for the best 25-word essay that I get. The catch is, if its still running when I get back in March I’d like to drive it up to Chicago.

Thanks, Cayetano! Not interested myself, but if anyone else is, 25 words really isn’t that much, and climbing in through the passanger door isn’t that big a deal, and there are bound to be pretty few entries, and it is pretty arty, so this might be worth a shot. Here are links to the craiglist post and flickr set. Good luck!

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Friday December 15, 2006

An Art Basel flickr photoset, dominated by pictures of the Friends With You parade. Great!

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Miami Basel: An Art Costco for Billionaires. Ok, fine. But “glorified sandbar?” I have an idea, Mr. Trebay. Why don’t you report on something other then a list of events you heard were happening and shit you read off a press release? The closest thing to a fact we get in this piece is the bit about 216 NetJet flights because, what, it was impossible to make more then one phone call? (thanks, Lei)

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Pre-holiday tension weekend

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Thursday December 14, 2006

Looks like The Dirt hasn’t posted anything in awhile and — wait, WHAT?! Critical Miami got a namecheck in New York magazine?? w00t to that shit, plus my eternal public thanks to anyone who can send me a scan of the full page with said reference. Update: Here’s the “oh, SNAP!” link: New York Travel, Miami. Since The Dirt is dead, and MB-Miami is strictly coasting on the coattails of the worldwide MB empire, does this mean that Val and I are the big men in town?

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The Blue Man Period of Milton Van der Spuy

The Blue Man Period of Milton Van der Spuy

Greig Coetzee performed this one-man play tonight, and will do so again Saturday and Sunday. It’s a fantasy about a man who fancies himself an artist, a “Renaissance Man,” but is actually a wannabe dabbler. Coetzee lets us laugh at his character for most of the play, but of course he’s got a sad twist up his sleeve: the refrain of the play seems to be “but mother says, my talents lie elsewhere.”

Any one-person play will struggle to be more then a monologue, right? But Coetzee does a remarkably good job, making excellent use of fractured story lines, jumping from present to reverie, and making surprisingly great use of props. It’s a low-key and whimsical little piece, but completely worth seeing.

At the Carnival Center Studio Theater; two performances this weekend. Coetzee is also doing White Men with Weapons, which looks at least as good. (At just over an hour each, it seems like they could have done them both together with a long intermission.)

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The tables of Basel

One of the great things about Art Basel was the galleries from all over the word trying to out-do each other with the tables and chairs they brought in, really the only non-art way they have to distinguish each other. This new photoset has my favorites, with commentary.

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Wednesday December 13, 2006

Soyka

Soyka

Soyka is owned by the same guy who brings us News Café and the Van Dyke. It gets respect for being the first restaurant along a pretty sorry stretch of Biscayne Blvd., but too often this translates directly into bloviating about how amazing and unique it is. Sorry, but Soyka is one of the most consistently overrated restaurants in town.

The food is inconsistent at best. I’ve eaten there a couple of times, and everything seems to be prepared and conceived very well, but a lot of the dishes come out bland or otherwise unremarkable. I get the feeling that if they tightened up the menu it would be a lot better. I wouldn’t criticize it for being overpriced if the food was always spectacular, because it’s obvious they’re using quality ingredients and employing a degree of craftsmanship, but as it currently stands it qualifies as moderately overpriced.

The service has been described elsewhere as being very good. I have no idea what they’re talking about. On a recent visit, and random request to our waitress had about a 50% chance of being correctly and timely fulfilled. There was a bit of attitude at least once when we corrected her. As I recall, the service wasn’t so great on past visits, either.

The layout is nice. It sort of an industrial warehouse with a select few posh restaurant touches. The ceilings are high, with exposed concrete and steel, and are offset with nice wood, leather, and wicker furniture; it’s a very nice space to be in. Enough to overcome the other shortcomings? Actually, it might be. If you’re frequently in the neighborhood, you don’t have many nicer dining options, so you may return often enough to learn what’s really great on the menu. After that, it might be a decent place to pop in for a business lunch. The rest of us will stick with the fancy pizza place next door.

Soyka
5556 NE 4th Ct
33137
305-759-3117

Update: Everybody but me seems to love Soyka, so maybe I need to give it another chance. See the comments.

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Tuesday December 12, 2006

What, people are still going on cruises? What are they, stupid? “The world’s largest cruise ship was held in port Monday for intensive cleaning after a second outbreak of gastrointestinal illness in two voyages sickened 106 people.Norovirus!

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What's up with the New York Times?

While clicking around the internets yesterday, I came across Rick’s post linking to Ziva’s post about Pinochet. Neither is particularly remarkable for what it says (“Pinochet was a bad dude, now he’s dead,” etc.), but interesting threads developed in the comments. It seems that there are actually passionate supporters of Pinochet walking around in our midst, and they’ve let their voices be heard.

Check out Manuel A. Tellechea’s comment — neither site will let me link to it directly, but it’s high up in both threads, pretty long, and hard to miss. This is a guy I’ve very much agreed with in the past, but here he’s just silly. Here’s one paragraph:

But the leftwing media in this country and Western Europe, which believe that countries have the right to commit mass suicide so long as it’s done democratically, as in Germany in 1933, proceeded to blacken Pinochet’s name while extolling the perennially unelected Castro as a folk hero.

Now, that’s just plain silly (even after the “mass suicide” gaffe). Nobody in the mainstream media has ever called Castro a folk hero, any more then they’ve supported the holocaust. When pressed, Manuel challenges me to find articles in major newspapers that refer to Castro as a “monster,” or a “dictator,” as they do with Pinochet. There’s at least one of the former, and plenty of the latter.

The right-wing guys always fixate on the New York Times, and of course the NYT also . . . wait a second. I’m searching the NYT site for articles that include the words “Castro” and “dictator.” Many of them obviously are mentioning Castro in passing, and talking about a different dictator but, hmm, ok — here’s one and here’s another. Whoa! What’s going on here? Here are the respective quotes:

. . . a man whom the vast majority of Cuban-Americans in Miami consider a despicable and murderous dictator.

. . . Mr. Castro, whom the United States government tars as a dictator who suppresses his people.

Putting aside for a moment the fact that one of these articles is a “fascinating” look at a pro-Castro radio station, and another is a rather positive look at a Cuban educational program, why does the New York Times always holding the word “dictator” at arms length. “Those people call him that,” it seems to say, implying (does it not?) that it does not consider him one?

Now, playing the numbers game to try to see who’s better between Pinochet, Castro, Stalin, and Hitler (that’s four murderous dictators, btw, two right-wingers and two left-wingers) is just absurd, as is the notion that American media doesn’t call Castro a dictator — most of them do. But what’s up with the New York Times?

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Monday December 11, 2006

Fuck Microsoft

usage chart -- summary below

I just installed Internet Explorer 7 on my work computer, and it made the bullet points on the CM navbar lists disappear (this after all the hoops I jumped through to make CM look reasonable under IE6). I have no intention of upgrading on my computer at home, so the odds of this getting fixed are pretty slim.

IE users, listen to me — you’re perpetuating bad stuff by not switching to Firefox (on Windows). There’s a reason why the phrase “internet explorer is evil” returns more then a million hits on Google. Switch to Firefox. You’ll be doing right by yourself and by the whole world. Feel free to use the comments section to tell me why you don’t want to.

Update:
Let me just dispel one misconception: it’s NOT Firefox that’s messing up websites.

We have these things called standards, which are a consistent set of rules for how a web browser is supposed to work. Smart people from all different places put them together. You’ve heard of a “standards compliant” browser? Firefox is one (it’s not perfect, but it’s 99% right). Safari is one. Opera is one.

With Internet Explorer, Microsoft chooses another way — to do whatever the fuck it wants. Accept some of the rules, ignore others, and implement still others in a way that’s deliberately different. There are ways to make a website look right in all the browsers, but they require workarounds, hacks, and other standards-violating tricks on the part of web developers.

Any internet search on this topic will bring up thousands of rants by people who build web sites about how terrible this is, the “evil” link above is just one extreme example. Putting these workarounds means that building a website that looks good in the major browsers can take twice as long as it otherwise would or more.

So, web developers are unhappy, but regular people don’t need to care, right? We can just use whatever browser’s best for us, right?

No. This hurts everyone, because it raises the bar to putting something on the internet, and keeps information away from all of us. To the extent that it’s difficult to build a good website, it’s largely Microsoft’s fault.

There is a slight learning curve for someone switching to Firefox, but it’s worth it. And not just because you’re supporting the people who are doing the right thing, and snubbing the people who are doing the wrong thing: Firefox is a better browser, too. It’s more secure, and it has better features — as evidenced by the fact that Internet Explorer 7 “borrows” many features from Firefox (and still doesn’t implement them very well).

I would suggest that when Windows asks you to download IE7, you download Firefox 2 instead (use the link above).

Microsoft can get away with this because a lot of people use Internet Explorer, so web developers have to cater to it. But fewer people are using it every day. In the comments, R. links to a usage graph for Europe. Above is a graph for Critical Miami so far in the month of December. I say everyone else should consider getting with the program.

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Still more pictures from the weekend: Miami Art Exchange photoset.

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Sunday December 10, 2006

Basel weekend: everything else

This one and the next one are the only thing I have from Pulse, which was pretty small, cramped, overcrowded, and cost $10. There were, however, lots of great pieces. This scary little photograph is by Roger Ballen. It totally fooled me into thinking it was a real Joel Peter-Witkin-style photograph, but for some reason on screen now it looks much more like what it is: a digital composite.

More obviously digital, this is a detail from a big image by Dionisio Gonzalez.

Jesus looks over the entryway to NADA.

This little joke piece shows up every year. At $200, (unframed) in an unlimited edition, it makes a killing.

Installation with a customized Gucci suitcase at the Sister gallery (L.A.).

An arresting photograph of an empty Jack Daniels bottle by Melanie Schiff, titled Emergency. Not the only alcoholic humor art we saw: a David Kramer print at Pulse prominently read, “WHOEVER IT IS THAT SAIDLESS IS MORE’ PROBABLY OWES ME A ROUND OR TWO.”

Here’s the NADA building from the outside. Very relaxing, with a big lawn, hammocks, and a little restaurant (nothing to write home to mom about there, though).

This guy performed on the lawn, heavily reverberated voice, guitar, and chime percussion. He sounded a little bit like Panda Bear, but he kept stopping to chat with his friends who came up. We got impatient and left.

An opportunistic resident outside Scope, spraycan-changing the price for parking on her property from $10 to $15. I think her logic was that if someone eventually did park there, she’d boost her profits by 50%. Unfortunately for her, everyone was just parking on the street.

One of the things I really enjoyed about Scope (oh, sorry: ~scope) was the outdoor scene. There was a lot more there then I’m going to show you, including a big stage, a bus with a tent in the back that you entered to see a light show, and some extremely fancy porta-potties. This is the immortal Eric Doeringer, hawking his bootleg versions of contemporary art. Eric is beyond cool: I have a picture of him holding up a fake Art Basel VIP card, with which he apparently got into the Vernissage, among other things.

blood for art

The Blood for Art table. This idea is simultaneously great, depressing, morbid, and inadvisable on a long weekend of running all over town and spending most of your time on foot.

Oh the art. This amazing drawing by Mat Brown.

Other then the Nike logo, a great sculpture. Christopher Cutts Gallery, Toronto.

Sometimes you just can’t pass up a picture.

Locust Projects contacted Flight 19 (Tampa) to co-present something at Scope this year. They came up with this Negativland piece, Rightmanland, a singing animatronic Abraham Lincoln. Efforts to bring Negativland to Miami are in the works!

Photo Miami was excellent, and for some reason sparsely attended.

Here’s one piece, by Luis Molina-Pantin.

Earnest

Opening/party for the Monster Show, Thursday night. This is a link to a photoset; click the picture to see more photos from the evening (probably not interesting unless you were there).

Opening at Carol Jazzar’s on Friday evening.

One last visit to Basel.

This wasn’t up before: a loop of magnetic cassette video tape hovering in the field between two fans. No artist info, sorry. Zilvinas Kempinas, Spencer Brownstone Gallery.

Saturday night in the Design District/Wynwood. This is the incomparable Cody ChesnuTT. Cody was performing a new suite of songs, solo electric, and recording it, so he asked us to hold our applause until the end. He was great, and a surprisingly agile guitar player, though I’m not sure the self-indulgence that bugged Pitchfork is waning anytime soon.

Cody’s crowd.

We spent the rest of the night hanging out at Lenny’s. The show he has up includes pieces from his private collection, including a Gregory Crewdson, a Robert Rauschenberg, and this lovely drawing by Hope Gangloff.

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“Instead, [Chan Marshall, a.k.a. Cat Power] flew home to South Beach, pulled the shades, turned off her phone and began drinking herself to death.” Interview by Brett Sokol in Ocean Drive. Here is the picture she’s talking about in the first ‘graph.

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MoCA has an idiotic no-pen rule. (via SotP/r)

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Confirmed: Miami clubs are assholes

District crowd

Okay, not really. I get it — when you have a room with a maximum occupancy of 500, and 5,000 kids wanting to get in, there are certain things you need to do — you actually have to start charging cover, and you almost also have to start playing games with people. You’re cool enough to get in — you’re not.

We’ve all expected this from South Beach clubs for over a decade: you can be a celebrity, have major cash to spread around, or look completely fabulous; preferably two of the above. For awhile, the downtown clubs were a refreshing alternative — places that dispensed with the bullshit, and were hipper, too.

My recent experiences with the District and PS14 indicate that this particular era has come to a close. They’re both still cool enough places to hang out (bettered only by the divine Studio A), but it’s undeniable that SoBe rules now apply. I was made vividly aware of that this weekend.

The District
While at the MoCA warehouse on Saturday night, a guy from the District came up to me and my friends, handing out wristbands for free admission to the club, until 12:30. No particular interest in going to the District that night, but I took one anyway. I figured I could pop in on the way to PS14. Anyway, I dropped in on the District around 12:10. A big crowd was outside, and I maneuvered my way to the one bouncer, who told me I needed to go to the other bouncer, who . . . let me in! — to see the girl at the register. I showed her the wristband, and she told me the time for the free entry was over, and it’d be $10. I told her it was supposed to be until 12:30; she checked her PDA and said it was 12:35. I thanked her very much and got the fuck out of there. When I got out of the crowd, I checked the time on my celly: 12:31.

PS14
For whatever reason, this was my second time being told I’d “be on the list.” Plus, other people told me that good shit (not even counting the New York Dolls) was happening at PS14 on Saturday. So I get there, and I actually have a business card with my name printed on it, which I hand to the door guy. He doesn’t have me on his lists. Fool me once, shame on you (oh right — a couple of months ago I was supposed to be on the list at PS14 and wasn’t. That time, I cheerfully paid the cover and had a great time), but fool me twice? Not fucking likely. I got the hell out of there without even asking what the cover was.

Another thing. Last time I was at either of these places, the standard price for, say, a shot of Jameson’s, was $8. Now, a 1.75 liter bottle of the stuff sells for $32, give or take, at most liquor stores (some have it for less). At that price, a shot (0.0443602945 liters ) is worth about $.80. So the price is a 10x markup. A 1,000% markup. A crazy fucking markup. Since I tend to go through a number of these drinks, I actually would be a good bet to be let in anyway.

But the moral is simple: Go out. Have a good time. And if someone offers to get you in for free, be very skeptical. Just be glad you can pay your cover and get in at all.

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Friday December 8, 2006

The Art Basel guide for normal people

inside art basel

Art Basel is fun! You don’t need to be an expert, or have a big checkbook, to enjoy it. In fact, most people there this weekend will just be there for fun, to look. If you’re thinking about it, just go! You’ll have a good time. The Herald, the New Times, and everybody else has big “Art Basel Guides,” but if all you want is to go for a few hours and see what all the fuss is about, just read the next paragraph and go! This isn’t rocket science, and you don’t need to do any major preparations.

Art Basel is here. Google will give you very nice driving directions if you need them. The parking lot across the street from the convention center charges $10, the garage in 17th Street charges $8. It costs $24 to get in for adults, $12 for kids, students, and seniors. The earlier you’ll go, the less crowded it’ll be and the more time you’ll have to look, and maybe take a break for food at Lincoln Road; just tell the person at the door you’re coming back and they’ll stamp your ticket stub or whatever. Once you’re inside, you can find out about Art Video Lounge, Art Positions, Art Perform, and Art Sound Lounge, which are in the neighborhood and which you may want to check out, too. Unless you want more then a casual day trip, don’t worry about anything else; some of the other fairs are great, but they’re much smaller, and a bit of a hassle. The “special events” are a hassle too, especially for parking. I spent six hours at Basel the other day and I still didn’t see nearly everything.

What to expect
I have pictures of some of the artworks I liked here and here. Expect to do some serious walking! Wear comfortable shoes. The fair is laid out in rows, but when you’re walking around it feels like a complete maze. I’d wandering around at random and getting lost. They have a little map, but trying to follow it to “see everything” is an exercise in futility, and you can walk through the same area over and over and see new stuff anyway.

The people who work for the galleries are all very nice. Unlike at some of the other fairs, they generally won’t start conversations with people (which is a relief for me), but they’re very happy to answer questions. If someone tries to talk to you and you’re not interested, nod and walk away — they’ll think you don’t speak that particular language!

Oh, about “stupid question.” Yes, unfortunately there is such a thing as a stupid question. Don’t ask “what makes this art?” or “couldn’t anybody do that?’ Questions about how something was made, or details about the artist, are great. It’s considered polite to preface “How much does that cost?” with a question that suggests why you’re interested in a particular piece. (Eavesdropping on conversations between gallery employees and visitors is a good way to learn interesting little tidbits.)

Officially, cameras are banned, although these days it’s easy to sneak a little camera anywhere. I walked around with a big camera over my shoulder and photographed everything, and though I have credentials that say I can do so, nobody really checked. Lots of people take photographs, so you should be able to sneak one here and there, so long as you TURN OFF YOUR FLASH. (Yes, break out your camera’s manual right now, and figure out how to take it off auto-flash mode and to turn the flash on and off yourself, because the truth is that the camera often does the exact opposite of what you need to take a good photo. But I digress.)

Do save some time for Art Video Lounge, which is across the street from the convention center. I haven’t been yet, but in past years it’s always been great. Art positions is about a 10 minute walk from the convention center. It’s usually worth it, especially if you’re wanting to get some fresh air anyway, but mainly it’s more of the same.

By the way, here’s a link to the Art Basel website, not that it’s particularly helpful.

Stuff for free and cheap
Art Basel is expensive! For a family of four it’s $82 with parking. Personally, I think it’s worth it. If you don’t want to spend the money, NADA is free, and it’s great! It’s like a smaller, more relaxed Basel. There isn’t nearly as much to see, and not all the artwork is as impressive, but it’s very much worth a visit. There’s a parking lot that charges $10, but you might be able to find free parking on the street in the surrounding neighborhood.

I think you can get in free to Basel’s Art Positions and Art Video Lounge without a ticket, but I’m not sure. I’ll find out put the information right here by tomorrow morning. [ Update: Yes, Positions and Video Lounge are free. Also on the beach, Bridge, Aqua, Ink, and a couple of the other fairs are free. Basel is still worth the money, though.]

There’s a list of the rest of the fairs here. I’ve also been to Scope, Pulse, and Photo Miami so far, and all three cost $10. Scope was my favorite — I’ll try to do a post about it later. Photo Miami was also great; much much better then a lot of people were for some reason expecting. I wasn’t as crazy about Pulse. I generally don’t like the hotel-based fairs like Aqua, because the rooms tend to be cramped and not good for looking at art (ymmv).

Whatever you do, don’t waste your time this weekend going to the Miami Art Museum, Miami Art Central, the Margulies Warehouse, or any other place with art that you can visit next weekend, or in a month. These places are all very much worth visiting, but this weekend they’re overrun with out-of-town art people, and there’s a lot going on that’ll be gone by Sunday evening.

Other events
The big thing is Saturday night in the Design District/Wynwood. There’s going to be a huge street party, with all the galleries open, bands playing, and general mayhem. Traffic and parking are going to be the nightmare of the century, but it’ll be fun. I’m probably going to entrust myself to the hands of friends who will know what to do (Update: Though Cody Chesnutt is performing at MocaSonic!). Tons and tons of other events listed at Alex in the City (I don’t know who she is but she’s doing a great job of rounding this stuff up), The Next Few Hours (a great, “mostly kid-friendly” list), and Miami Nights (party-oriented). You might also try to slog through the Herald’s coverage: try here and here, or try the New Times, who says “We’ve got Basel’s best!”, but appears to list everything (I’m just scanning). It’s probably better in the print version. Online they say “see our Art Basel Event listings” but there’s no link, and I can’t find them!

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Thursday December 7, 2006

Images from Art Basel 2006, pt 2

Never have so many different people found so many different reasons to dislike a single painting. Commercial, San Juan. This gallery also had a 1970’s GMS custom van in their booth, all arted out with log-cabin wood paneling, hippie furniture interior, and cute girls hanging out inside.

Paul McCarthy plasters his head and one arm into a wall, a piece from 1973. I hope you can see it in this size, because it’s pretty crazy.

Alison Elizabeth Taylor. Super-elaborate inlaid wood job. No paint was used in the making of this artwork, just some shellac.

A perfectly lovely little photograph by John Riddy.

This piece, by Cornelia Parker, appears to be a hologram of a dress, but it turns out to be an actual nightgown in a lightbox, and the nightgown turns out to be the one that Mia Farrow wore in Rosemary’s Baby.

Chris Burden. This image emphasizes a much more subtle use of crappy reflections.

No information on this one, but I’m including it to once again show the prevalence of neon handwriting (“badly organized” — HA!) and cast brass, in this case fluorescent tubes. Elsewhere, there was a life-sized shipping palette, and of course yesterday’s Judd.

A massive dyptic, maybe 8 or 10 feet tall. This was listed as “camera obscura unique print,” which turns out to mean this: The artist brought a pinhole camera the size of the final print to site with the photo paper in it, and opened the hole. The exposure was probably days or weeks, then the pinhole gets closed, and the whole thing gets transported to a light-tight location for removal of the paper, unless the location could be completely darkened to allow someone to enter the pinhole without letting in any light. Since there is no negative, the image itself is reversed. My friends, this is photography at its most hardcore. The subject is a piece of mining equipment, probably about 20 stories tall. You can see something similar driving down the Turnpike by the Rinker facility. The small object in the lower part of the right side is a bulldozer.

Like I said, very little video art. We did get serenaded by this CGI fish, though.

Tomas Wesselman. Anything old was selling for major bucks — this piece is $150,000, but other little paintings on the same wall were three times as much (one of the few booths that included prices on wall labels).

Chrome furniture by Vito Acconci.

Installation by Shintaro Miyake, including painted wood pieces, photographs (of a performance), drawings, sculpture, and stuffed plush animals.

In the same booth, a lovely Hideaki Kawashima painting.

A video installation, from a single overhead camera. Various wild animals wander around from screen to screen. Diana Thater.

Roni Horn. This is a fairly huge piece of cast glass, maybe about the size of a bulldozer tire. The sides and bottom are as cast, rough and naturally frosted; the top has been melted with a blowtorch and allowed to cool, for a perfectly smooth surface.

Elizabeth Peyton.

A painting of a Jesus bust lamp encountering a black and white photograph of a Mickey Mouse toy.

OK, this reproduction came out particularly terrible, which is unfortunate. It’s a photograph of two groups of skiers on some sort of cross-country ski race, possibly taken from a helicopter. It loomed over me — look, you can see reflections of people’s heads about halfway up. The only new Gursky I saw yesterday (?!) so I’m including it despite not having a decent image.

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Wednesday December 6, 2006

Images from Art Basel 2006

Lots to get to here. The show seems to get a little more tame every year, but there’s still lots and lots to see. Here’s a few things that jumped out at me; I’m going to give the artist’s name if I have it, the gallery’s name if not.

Jacob Hashimoto. A sculpture of cocktail umbrellas connected by string, 4 levels deep.

Candida Höfer really came into her own this year. This one was my favorite in the show. (Yes, I’ve got glare. It’s going to get worse.)

Handwriting-styled neon was ubiquitous. This piece consists of the first four lines of “Dumb,” apparently based on a scan of Curt Kobain’s diary. The words flashed on and off individually at the speed he sang the lines. Like, um, deep. Dude. (neugerriemschneider, Berlin)

A brass Donald Judd. Probably the first piece of his I’ve really appreciated. Note to gallery: please wipe the top off with a soft lint-free cloth; it’s dusty!

A John McLaughlin painting from 1957. You’re seeing some cracks in this reproduction, but actually it had a lovely texture.

Another blinking-lights sculpture. This one is from Sicardi in Houston. Maybe they play 3-D chess on it.

The same gallery had a number of optical-type works. The sides of the shapes on this one that face away from the front are painted different colors, so that the piece is monochrome except for the little triangular shadows (it’s a subtle thing).

Romare Bearden, stellar in color.

A fantastic piece from the early life of Gregory Crewdson. How he gets those points of light in the photo is a mystery. Then again, the same is true of his more recent work.

Carl Andre intended for these to be walked on, but the galleries generally don’t feel the same way.

In an effort to counteract the anomie-inducing effects of So. Much. Freaking. Art., the organizers peppered the show with “Art Kabinets,” little mini-shows which are at least internally curated. One of these is dedicated to William Wegman. In this photo series he builds a box in John Baldessari’s studio. (Overheard price: $85,000 — CHEAP!! )

A detail from another of the pieces, in which he glued down postcards, and then completed a painting to join them into a composition. Wegman went on to make silly dog photos. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)(Sorry, there I go ruining art for people.)

Collage and electrical tape on wall. (Arnaud, São Paulo.)

Doug Aiken has been one of my favorite artists for years, and he totally saved the day. I’m going to show you three pieces, but this one was my favorite. Unfortunately, you’ll have to go see it yourself, because it faced the food court, and the glare is decimating it.

Nevermind, right? But this 5-channel video piece showed surveillance footage of empty buildings into which individual animals had snuck.

If I read the label correctly, this artist would like to be known as “MR.” On the off chance that that’s incorrect, I’ll just say that it’s Lehmann Maupin gallery, New York. Another neon piece in the background, this time by Tracy Emin. What it says is not important.

You saw the chrome floor earlier? This place had a bathroom-tile floor, with several big bath-themed paintings to match. I really like this one. (Note: I’m getting better with the color time on my new camera, but I really botched it on some of these and couldn’t even save them in Photoshop.)

The second Aiken. This one has polished stainless steel hexagons that slowly shift over time.

When digital meets paint, the results are often not pretty, but this picture probably suffers unfairly for being dragged back into a computer. In person it really had some potential.

A photo of a man’s profile A picture of a man’s profile made by photographing guys with and without shirts sitting on the beach.

See?

I love this ballpoint pen drawing on folded paper, but I lost the name of the artist. Anyone?

Damien Hirst, w00t! These are real cigarette butts which he put out in rows, and then (‘m guessing) had assistants glue down in exactly the same position. Mental.

Another Hirst. Real butterflies were most definitively harmed in the making of this artwork.

Installation by Richard Jackson. Now this is more like it, Basel. Some giant cartoon ducks shitting out paint through hoses into buckets. Life sized (the toilets, not the ducks), natch. (Not right now, but if you don’t see it in person come back later and try clicking it; I might link it to a bigger version.)

A whimsical sculpture with real plates and bowls. (OMR, Río de Janeiro.)

Just like some stuff can’t be photographed, some stuff just sits around and waits for a camera to complete it. Can you figure out what’s happening here? (Lisson, London.)

Drat — you can’t make out the text. It says “WHAT’S THE POINT OF GIVING YOU ANY MORE ARTWORKS WHEN YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND THE ONES YOU’VE GOT?” Bethan Huws.

Wolfgagn Tillmans. Rockstar.

More photography: Eric Baudelaire. This was one of a stellar group of four.

The best color-period Cindy Sherman photo I’ve ever seen.

OK, I’m beat. More tomorrow morning.

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zOMG the media

zOMG t3h MEDIA

Sam I am

free food

Champagne

The Basel Media reception. Nobody cares, so I’m going to make it super-brief. Captions, clockwise from top left:

Next up: art.

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Miami Vice was released yesterday on DVD. It’s an Unrated! Director’s Cut!! with Bonus Features!!! so we should all give it a second chance, even though it sucked the first time. I’m game; just moved it to the top of my Neftlix queue. I can’t tell from the marketing speak whether the Port of Miami intro sequence is on the DVD, but after seeing the second season of The Wire recently, I sure hope so.

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Tuesday December 5, 2006

Art Basel T minus 1 day

Governor

It’s silly for me to talk to out-of-towners since they’re either packing, in transit, or settling in, but whatever. Welcome to Miami Beach. Sorry about the crowds. You’re in the Northernmost portion of the world-famous South Beach (please don’t call it SoBe), a neighborhood called Collins Park. Here’s a map. You’re at the convention center, and the white square in the upper right is where Positions is; the right edge of the map is the beach (the other two edges of the map are just where the map leaves off. Google shows it pretty good). It’s about a 10-minute walk between the Convention Center and Positions, and through a neighborhood that’s experiencing a small-scale and slightly delayed version of what’s happening in all of Miami — massive buildup and reconstruction. You’ll see brand new buildings, old buildings, buildings getting torn down, renovated, and built up. The weather should be okay — it’s not going to be hot like it was last weekend, but it’ll probably rain here and there.

I’ll reserve judgment, but if last year’s any indication, the satellite fairs on the mainland tend to be better then the ones on the Beach. The Beach fairs (such as Scope and Aqua) are mostly in hotels, and I find that sort of setting very claustrophobic and not conducive to looking at art — you’re in a small room, usually with a desperate gallery owner breathing down your neck and being all friendly and shit. The beautiful building of NADA and and even the absurd tent of Pulse were more open and relaxed to me (at least last year).

A general word of advice, as much to myself as anyone else — go slowly. There’s no way you’re going to see everything anyway; it’s better to have quality time with fewer pieces then to run around looking for some sort of cream. If you think you can spot the stuff you really need to see very easily, you’re probably just accentuating your self-imposed tunnel-vision. Also, this might be a good year to stop fawning over overpriced German photography. Maybe.

Now let’s have today’s list of links:

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Monday December 4, 2006

Quintessential DeFede: “when you initially heard that a deranged fired newspaper employee had stormed the Herald building with a machine gun, you thought to yourself, ‘Oh my, what’s DeFede done now?’” The he gives some advice to McClatchy. Nice.

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The word on Art Basel

Art
Basel always brings some temporary outdoor art installations. This one is in front of the Jackie Gleason Theater. Some more are here and here

Yes, I’m going to be talking about Art Basel this week; apologies to those who don’t care. For non-art people who are interested, I’ll probably do a post on Friday to tell you what to see if you don’t want to see everything. For the others, somewhat more frequent updates on what’s particularly interesting.

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Sunday December 3, 2006

Just what you needed on a Sunday evening: my thoughts on a few varieties of booze.

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At a meeting last week about Miami 21 which I had on my calendar but forgot to attend anyway, nothing much happened. The project is coming along but vewy, vewy, slowly. Update: I’m working on a calendar section. Check in the bar on the right.

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Saturday December 2, 2006

Things you CAN’T do when you’re NOT in a pool. Have a nice weekend, y’all.

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Friday December 1, 2006

Miami at Night photoset

Added some photos to my Miami at Night photoset, including a few interiors.

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USB turntable

USB Turntable. spotted at Urban Outfitters.

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