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Thursday February 1, 2007

Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo at Studio A last night, their first show in Miami in 22 years. Endless noisy jams interspersed with quiet numbers, eccentric covers, and extreme musicality are I guess to be expected from Yo La; the big surprise for me was that yes, three people play almost all the parts you hear on the records live. On “Sugarcube” for example, James played keyboard bass with one hand and shakers with the other, with Georgia on drums and Ira on guitar (he was also great on keyboards off and on throughout the night).

The high points early in the set were “Little Eyes,” and a hornless but still funky “Mr. Tough,” during which I’m pleased to report that there was even some (ironic?) dancing. The crowd was great, by the way. Kudos to Studio A for managing the event really well — anyone who showed up before 8 pm got in, probably because they packed in enough people to possibly violate fire codes, but not enough that anyone was uncomfortable. Good balance, well done.

Yo La Tengo

Ira serves up another bottomless bowl of whoop-ass. On more then one occasion he concluded a guitar freakout by setting down a still reverberating guitar with broken and detuned strings, only to pick up his other guitar and seamlessly segue into the next song. (His guitar tech would then frantically restring and tune.) He also worked in a dig at New Times about this, and took advantage of the opportunity to slip an Indianapolis-based cover into the set (it registered as vaguely familiar, but I’ve no idea what it was).

The first encore included a we’re-slightly-over-this-song version of “Autumn Sweater” (James on snare and shakers, Georgia on drumkit, Ira on Farfisa organ (obviously hauled around specifically for this song), once again coming dangerously close to the dense sound of the original recording) and the final encore concluded with their now-famous cover of “I Found a Reason.” My one gripe was the absence of any of the great mellow songs from And Then Nothing, but what can you do. Maybe in another 22 years.


Wednesday January 31, 2007

Art Center South Florida Super Bowl Super Store


Art Center South Florida offers an incisive critique of the over-commercialization of professional sports with their “Super Bowl Super Store” exhibition. Or, wait . . . is that what this is? It looks awfully realistic. Are they really actually selling this stuff? “Well, it’s a little of both,” said their executive director Jeremy Chestler when I called him to ask this morning. Turns out they’ve rented the gallery out to a vendor for Super Bowl week. “Many non-profits rent their spaces out to raise money, this is just for a little longer period.”


This is a great idea: with so many people in town for the game, the Center’s prime location is going to be getting lots of eyeballs this week; why waste the attention on art? But it’s really the tip of the iceberg, right? I mean, let’s rent it for even a little longer; say, the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s when folks are really shopping. And for a couple of weeks before Halloween you could sell costumes. Firecrackers for July 4th. The possibilities are endless. The lesson is this: stop worrying so much about showing art all the time, find stuff that people want, and put it on sale. You can really, um, make a profit.

Total gratitude to Worm-Hole Laboratory, who spotted this first (and has generally been giving great blog lately).

Update: More photos.



Cameo theater

The old Cameo theater, which is no longer Crowbar, is going to be the Cameo theater again. I hope they start having concerts there again.



Somewhere between confiscating your water before you get on a plane and a stairway to heaven we have this treasure.



Volleypalooza: the models of South Beach play volleyball. Will the wonders never cease? Christian wonders (jokingly?) where in the tori anus (.com!) Shulaville is. This reveals it: “Shulaville [is] Sprint’s ceremonial name for Lummus Park.”


Tuesday January 30, 2007

Category 305

category305 logo Poor Category 305 — they’re trying so hard, but they just seem to be getting nowhere. A number of talented writers struggling in the face of an oppressive, unwieldy content management system. I mean, look at this thing: enigmatic menus along the top with enigmatic drop-downs. I’ve been clicking around this thing for the last half-hour, and I occasionally land on something that looks interesting, but never get any sense of an underlying structure. The RSS feed doesn’t work. There’s a photo “gallery” where once you finally find the photos you’re not sure why you bothered.

My favorite is “Shoutout! Submit Your Story,” a prominent link on every single page. I’m game, so I click. “You are not authorized to view this resource. You need to login.” Um, ok; I’m not sure I care, but out of a sense of curiosity I actually created an account. Shouldn’t have bothered, because I’m still not authorized to view whatever the resource is. In fact, the only new thing I get access to for my troubles appears to be a ‘links’ section, and the only link goes to now-defunct The Dirt — oops! And what’s up with the weird techno styling? They designed this thing in 2006; why make it look like 2003?

This is all a little disturbing — Category 305 is spending good money running ads on WLRN. They’ve got writers doing interesting work (check out the new Oriental market survey). They have someone photoshopping text over photos. They’ve got Rebecca Wakefield, for christsakes! But unless this website gets fixed dumped and redone from scratch, and I mean pronto, it ain’t going nowhere.



“[Metrorail] also does not go to many other places that many Miami residents would like to go, which is why most of them do not use it. To them, the Metrorail train is a mysterious object that occasionally whizzes past over their heads, unrelated to their lives, kind of like a comet. The point is, you need to rent a car.” Dave Barry’s guide for Miami visitors.



Everybody gets a shot


Tremont and Beach Towing (via) share the wealth. One time I parked in the alley behind my building to unload my groceries, and when I got back from dropping the first haul my car was on the truck. Cost me $125 just for him to put it down; he didn’t tow it a foot.

On the other hand, Beach residents feel a little differently about these guys then anyone else, because without them we’d never be able to park.


Monday January 29, 2007

Luna Cafe

Luna Cafe

In the discussion about Sokya I said something about how it was the only restaurant of its kind in the neighborhood. Actually, just a few blocks south there’s Luna Cafe (not to be confused with Luna Star Cafe). Located in the bottom floor of a nondescript office building (and currently behind a serious construction barrier), Luna Cafe is in some ways the exact opposite of Soyka — less stylish, but with excellent service and spectacular food.

I think valet is the only parking offered; in any case it’s free so we gave it a shot. From that point on everything was easy. We were welcomed, sat down, and presented menus. Everything about Luna is a little old-fashioned, by the way; it’s got a sort of old-Miami vibe. It’s got style, but it’s not stylish.

The menu’s got a big seafood section, lots of pasta dishes, and a few risottos. The shrimp risotto was delicious, and so was the tuna (you’d think that blackened on the outside and rare on the inside would be difficult to do, but it came out perfect). We even tried the little chocolate soufflé, which came with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. Amazing. Most of the dishes cost between $15 and $20.

And yes, the service was great. Whenever we needed anything our waiter seemed like magic to appear, water glasses got refilled promptly (no wine tonight, though it would have gone wonderfully with the meal), and we were even warned that the soufflé would take a little longer then the other desserts.

They’re a little difficult to find with the never-ending Biscayne Blvd. construction, but it’s worth the effort. (Hint: it’s just a little south of the Publix.) Next time you’re in the neighborhood, well, you know what to do.

Luna Cafe
4770 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, FL 33137


Friday January 26, 2007

Ambiguity is our watchword. NicFitKid says: “These [were] all over Carol City right [before the election]. I think it’s pretty slick how they don’t even mention the strong mayor proposal.”



Low ticket sales and high operating costs caused an unanticipated $610,000 loss for the first three months at the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts. Not good, but attendence went from 26% in October to 38% in November to 52% in December.



To Live & Shave in L.A’s new album got an 8.0 on Pitchfork. (One half of TLASILA is our own Rat Bastard.)



Miami-Dade County is opening a brand new 1/8 mile drag strip. Here’s the crappy flyer.



With this kind of entertainment available, do you really care how strong the mayor is?



Maps weekend

old map


Thursday January 25, 2007

Here is a good question for you: There were 150,399 ballots cast in the election. If you add the yes and no votes together they total 149,335. What happened to the other 1,064 ballots?”



Schnebly Redland's Winery

Schnebly winery

Oh, the mystery. Wine doesn’t grow in our climate, so how can there be a winery in Homestead? On the drive, the signs say “Winery” and even have a little picture of a bunch of grapes. But Schnebly Redland’s Winery in fact makes “wine” out of tropical fruits such as lychee, passion fruit, and guava. The winery itself is a bit of a tourist trap: housed in a pair of trailers (a new visitor facility is under construction), and charging $6 for a wine tasting and another $6 for a tour, wtf? We opted for the former and skipped the latter.

The short pour

How’s it taste? Pretty good, actually. They all look like white wine (except the guava). And they taste much more like the juice of their respective plants with a little alcohol then actual wine. The closest to real wine was the oak-aged version of the carambola (starfruit) wine, but it wasn’t great. We agreed that the lychee one was the best, and ended up getting another bottle to drink outside, which was the best part of the whole thing. You can save yourself the trip and just order a bottle from their website if you’re curious.

Tourist feet

The tour also gets you the privilege of doing a wine fruit-stomping contest. Like I said, tourist trap. There’s also a “Boo-Boo” wine, supposedly a heirloom blend of fruit to which the recipe has been lost, so “once it’s gone it’s gone.” It actually is delicious, but at $35 for a half-bottle . . . well, I guess you have to set your own priorities.



NWS Frank Ghery bldg

A rendering of the proposed Frank Gehry building for the New World Symphony. No idea where Verticus got it. Read more about the plans at Bloomberg and at the Herald.



Defeating the Miami Herald’s lame login wall. Sure you can bugmenot it once and be done for life, but lackner has another way — the Herald’s website apparently lets you view a few articles without registering, so if you’re a light user, all you have to do is delete your cookies once in awhile.


Wednesday January 24, 2007

101 things to do in South Florida. #2: See Manatees in the Wild. #47: Jai-Alai. #85: Palacio de los Jugos. Great list. Update: Let’s play ‘what’d they miss?’



Photo of the Sears tower when it was the Sears Building.



Miami Dade voters ignored the advice of blogger Critical Miami yesterday and voted to give the mayor broad new powers as a strong mayor.”



Cleveland Orchestra at Carnival Center

Carnival Center, Cleveland ORchestra
photo: Roger Mastroianni

For all intents and purposes, this past weekend was the night everyone was waiting for with respect to the Carnival Center’s concert hall — the first performance by by a full-scale, professional orchestra. The Cleveland Orchestra did it right, too, performing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, paired with Leonard Bernstein’s 1st, to a sold-out audience. We already know that the Cleveland Orchestra is considered the best in the country, so the real question regards the Knight Concert Hall’s acoustics. (Although “Are they so good that a few performances a year make up for not having a local orchestra?” comes to mind.)

So let’s just get it out of the way: the room sounds great. When the music goes lound and fast in the 4th movement of the 9th it was almost overpowering. But where it really shines is on the quiet bits. Bernstein gets all 20th-century-American experimental in the first movement of his symphony, and there are little one and two bar solos for various instruments. Each time, it sounded like the player was sitting in my lap. Your ear adjusts for dynamic levels the same way your eye does going from a darkened theater into bright sunlight, but the Knight hall made everything sound just right.

The hall’s sound-modifying features were in their medium-intimate setting, with the canopy in its lowest position and the sound-doors partially open. I spoke to Gary Hanson, the Cleveland Orchestra’s executive director, who told me that this was the orchestra’s preferred configuration, giving the Knight Concert Hall an intimate sound, not unlike that of their own Severance Hall. The configuration was determined during the orchestra’s tuning visit to Miami last year, and will be used for all Cleveland Orchestra performances at Carnival Center. Other orchestras may choose a different configuration; for example, the New World Symphony actually changed the configuration between pieces during their inaugural performance last year.

Hanson was enthusiastic about the sound. He pointed out that like any concert hall, the sound is a little more reverberant in the top balconies and a little more present on the floor, but it is generally very consistent, which is in fact one of the marks of a great hall. The Cleveland Orchestra is very happy in the Knight Concert Hall.

So on to the show. The performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was spectacular, comparing very favorably with my London Symphony Orchestra recording, especially in the third movement, which sounded the most modern. The biggest difference I noticed was in the opening; whereas on my recording the first movement opens with a bang, on Saturday it built dramatically from a quiet foundation. This performance featured 180 singers from the U/M Frost Chorale and the Master Chorale of South Florida. They sat motionless behind the orchestra for the first three movements, and only came in for the grand fourth movement (the longest), which goes full-tilt almost from beginning to end. Wow. Lawrence Johnson checked the Friday show out for the Herald, and he was also thrilled. (By the way, here is an interesting radio interview with conductor Franz Welser-Möst about his views of Beethoven’s 9th.)

What do you pair the most famous symphony in history with? Welser-Möst chose Leonard Bernstein’s 1st symphony, which seems odd only at first blush. Bernstein’s three movements are very different from each other; one is probing and experimental in a early-20th century sort of way (quirky two-bar solos! woodblock!), the second is fast and dramatic, and the third is mournful, and featured Kelly O’Connor’s vocal (which was wonderful, but honestly I couldn’t even tell what language she was singing, and it was English); this was the perfect thing to wake up the ears.

And so we have one of the best orchestras in the world in town for a few weeks every year. And while some former members of the defunct Florida Philharmonic feel that this will make it more difficult to re-form a local orchestra, as an audience all we can do is enjoy it. Apropos of that, extra seats have just been released (on the choral riser! should be a great place to sit) for the performances this weekend (Mahler!), and tickets are also available for the March performances (Tchaikovsky!).

I wouldn’t let the high-art thing intimidate me, by the way. Dress nice and bring your active-listening ears and you’ll be fine. If you can avoid wearing a loud jangly bracelet and moving around all night, you’ll be doing better then the woman sitting across the aisle from me (what was she thinking?). There is nothing quite like being in this particular room listening to this particular band; it’s something everyone should do.

See also: More information about the Knight Concert Hall at my Carnival Center writeup.


Tuesday January 23, 2007

Pizza Rustica: opening in Hollywood, closing in the Gables Grove.



Refresh Miami is, um, “a community of designers and developers working to refresh the creative, technical, and professional culture of New Media endeavors in their areas.” That clears it up. I guess they’re tech-people. You know, geeks. See also Monica Betancourt’s blog.



building guts

Guv says: Attached is a photo I took Saturday with my cell phone, during a beach bike-ride, of one of the (many) buildings along Miami Beach that is being torn down for new construction. I like the way the guts of the building are suspended mid-crumble.



Strong mayor: vote NO

For the reasons mentioned previously, I’ve come to realize that the Strong Mayor proposal is a BAD IDEA. Read here and here, or just consider: under the proposal, the department heads serve at the mayor’s pleasure. The department heads decide who gets city contracts. The people who want the contracts make campaign contributions to the mayor. The current system is broken and corrupt, but the path to corruption under the proposed system is much shorter. The system needs to be fixed, but let’s not do, as mkh says, “gee, this frying pan’s hot . . . I wonder if the fire will be any cooler.”

Right now, this measure is on its way to passing. If it does, we’ll be in for bigger trouble then we’re in now. So, though our friends at EoM will disagree, it’s important for you to vote, and vote no.

See also: Strong mayor debate.

Update: I just voted. The guy told me I was the second person there in the first hour. Depressing.


Monday January 22, 2007

Are Cuban-Americans violent?


This is a stupid question, and I don’t really have much to say about it. I wanted to express my disagreement with the thrust of Rick’s recent series of posts on the subject without really getting into the argument, so I left a comment saying he was “out of control.” Then I was singled out (with a link, thanks!) in the most recent post, so I feel like I should at least express an opinion.

Asking whether Cuban-Americans are violent is like asking if blonds are violent. Of course it’s absurd to say that there haven’t been violent incidents in the history of anti-Castro activities in Miami. But posts like this one . . .

Are you looking for an adventurous way to spend your Friday afternoon? Wander on down to SW 8th Street and 13th Avenue to the Bay of Pigs Memorial any time after noon and check out the rally that is planned.

If you really like living on the edge, wear your favorite Che tee. And, by all means, wear a pair of good running shoes.

. . . do nothing to advance the conversation, and amount to little more then a middle finger directed towards the entire anti-Castro Cuban-American population. You want to talk about the problems within the Cuban-American community, Rick? I’d suggest starting by showing some empathy with the cause, and trying to understand where those strong emotions come from. Otherwise, you make it too easy to dismiss you as a one-dimensional anti-Cuban demagogue.

Yes, there are violent knuckleheads in the anti-Castro community. There are violent knuckleheads in any group, and when it comes to an issue that people are as passionate about as they are about Cuba, those violent tendencies have a tendency to be inflamed. Those elements deserve criticism, but I believe that criticism of that sort is more credible coming either from within the group, or from a source that has shown empathy with the group’s cause.



Jacques Herzog: Miami lecture


Jacques Herzog is one of the architects of Herzog & de Meuron, who have been selected to design the new building for the Miami Art Museum in Bicentennial Park. On Friday, he gave a talk at the University of Miami. And while he didn’t reveal any design (it will probably be revealed during 2007 Basel) or even discuss the project directly at great length, he oriented his discussion around concerns related to the project (and Miami in general), and so gave many hints as to what may be coming. Follow some observations I found interesting from the talk:

Update: The Lincoln Road project (dangerous Flash w/video+music ahead)(thanks, Blingtown).



Honestly, I was a little too far gone to even realize where I was at that point. Circa 28, as it turns out. Seemed nice enough.



Do I believe the Florida Legislature needs to pass a law that increases moving-violation fines and points for slowpokes who lollygag in the far left passing lanes? You bet your ass I do. But more importantly, I think police forces across the state need to re-prioritize which offenses actually get enforced: start pulling over people who don’t use their turn-signals for a change. And by the way, no, you’re not allowed to change lanes without signaling.


Sunday January 21, 2007

I started working on a post about Dino Felipe months ago but never got around to finishing it. If your computer speakers are experiencing any kind of difficulties, turn the volume up. Yes, turn the volume up.


Saturday January 20, 2007

The University of Miami has to get permission from the City of Coral Gables Planning and Zoning Board to build anything of significance on campus. However, the board has refused to approve anything since 2004. Most recently at a January 10th meeting, the university’s 25 projects were unanimously rejected.


Friday January 19, 2007

WTF Transit Miami?



Comedy weekend




“Considering Miami’s predominance of Cuban immigrants, it’s astonishing that truly wonderful, home-style, traditional Cuban meals are rare here.” But Pamela Robin Brandt found Las Delicias Restaurant to be to her satisfaction.



Equal Rights: Reggae and Social Change

Peter Tosh Equal Rights album cover [MDPL press release]

Equal Rights: Reggae and Social Change
January 11 – February 28, 2007
Main Library, Auditorium

This traveling exhibition tells the story of 30 years of Jamaican art, music, and social change throughout the African Diaspora with words and amazing album cover art from landmark records by Ras Michael, Louise Bennett, The Skatalites, Bob Marley and the Wailers, Peter Tosh, and many more. Co-curated by Herbie Miller and Josh Chamberlain, and organized by Catherine Amidon and the Karl Drerup Art Gallery and Exhibitions Program at Plymouth State University.

On January 20th, from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m., get schooled in reggae consciousness, culture and history, as Herbie Miller, manager of the late reggae legend Peter Tosh, reggae historian, and co-curator of Equal Rights: Reggae and Social Change, presides over an afternoon of art, performances, and discussion, including performances by Millenium Band featuring King Arthur and dub poet Malachi Smith; and a conversation with radio host, historian, and community leader Winston Barnes; Lloyd Campbell (Producer, Joe Fraser Records); Reggae Vibes DJ Lance-O; Hal Anthony (of Millennium Band) and Malachi Smith.

[also on view:]
To the Barbershop: Call and Response Series #2
New work by Noelle Theard and Works from the permanent collection by Richard Davenport
January 11 – March 20, 2007
2nd floor exhibition space, Main Library

Author Craig Marberry writes that the black barbershop is “a world of kinetic jazz and air you could see and grownups who actually knew how to laugh…a think tank…a comedy showcase.” The show started with a series of photographs by Richard Davenport from the Library’s permanent collection, depicting black barbershops in Miami during the early 1980’s. Miami photojournalist and documentarian Noelle Theard created a new body of work, snapping some of the same barbershops—including Liberty City’s Mop City and Overtown’s Green & Fort—26 years later. Together, the old and new sets of photographs convey a sense of the permanence of these neighborhood institutions—the decor and “No Profanity” signs have pretty much stayed the same—and the breakneck change of the Magic City outside.



“A department director eager to keep his job would be mindful of which bidder was favored by a less-than-ethical mayor.” Michael Putney on the strong mayor proposal. That quote is the strongest reason to vote for the proposal, though you need to read his piece to get the full perspective. He does a really good job of looking at the issue from all sides, and finds fault with the commission, the mayor, and even the Herald’s handling of the issue. Best case scenario: reject the strong-mayor proposal, and form a panel to do an independent charter review and make a comprehensive set of recommendations, as Commissioner Katy Sorenson has called for. Update: Michael Lewis hammers pretty much the same point.


Thursday January 18, 2007

The bad news: Lincoln Road Cafe, a Cuban restaurant that I always enjoyed, is closed. The good news: it’s now a German restaurant! Hofbräu München, which sounds great. This is very good, since Edelweiss is apparently permanently closed. (via Rick)



The Houses of Morningside

Click picture for photoset.

Morningside was founded in the early 1920s by James H. Nunnally, a candy baron(!) who, according to local lore (OK, I talked to a guy walking his dog) would take folks up from downtown on a boat, smoke cigars with them, and sell them houses in what was a premium community even then (original price for a bayfront house: $13,000). More history here and here. The houses are the usual mix of Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco, and 1960’s suburban sprawl. It’s surrounded on three sides by much poorer neighborhoods, so much so that you can see the boundary on the google map, and it’s been gated/walled in for awhile.

I’d originally meant to photograph up and down Biscayne in this area, but once I wandered into this neighborhood, I was hooked. The Houses or Morningside photoset has commentary with each of the houses. Look for Nunnally’s house, plus three model houses that he had built to show off the style he intended for the neighborhod. On the map, the three model houses are grouped together on the little triangular wedge between 57th and 58th streets.


Wednesday January 17, 2007

God's view

(photo by miami fever, formerly Incredibly Smooth Blondie) This photo was taken with a special lens, which allows the sharp focus line you see from the upper left to the lower right, while twisting everything else out of focus. This happens naturally at close focal lengths, which is why this effect makes everything look like a toy (or a model).

You’re getting the American Airlines Arena, part of Bayside, and, in the lower right, part of the amphitheater. Compare the google maps view. Possibly taken from this building. See also this shot, possibly more interesting, but less place-obvious.



The dumb ass Home Land Security people in Miami don’t even know the name of a Swedish Royal Family member, how on earth are they going to recognize the terrorists?




I saw this while working on a series of photos of houses in Morningside. A crazy tree covered with huge flowers that hang straight down. The hedge around the house was blooming, too, with big flytrap-looking flowers.



Eating locally

If you’ve read The Omnivore’s Dilemma (and you should; it’s a great book), you know that eating locally grown food is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your community, and your environment (see also 100 Mile Diet). The bummer is that Miami is not an easy city to eat locally in. One of the less-then-perfect options is the Redland Organics CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) food subscription.

Rebecca at Greener Miami and Tere at the mom blog have gone in together on a one-month trial, and have posts up on their initial reactions. The pros: you get super-delicious food, and you’re very legitimately eating locally. The cons: not for the faint of heart —

  1. You have no idea what you’re getting from one week to the next.
  2. You get lots of food. Better suited to big families with flexible pallets and hippie communes.
  3. You sign up before the growing season, then you get food for about 20 weeks; November to April. The rest of the year you’re back on your own.
  4. You need to pick up your stuff from one of the “convenient locations” every Saturday morning.
  5. Pretty expensive: a “half-share” for the year is $350. That’s $18 per week. (The full share works out to about $30 per week, the trial about $38 per week.)
  6. Rebecca reports that the vegetables need serious washing: dirt, plus “a spider, a little worm, and a snail.”
  7. The shared-risk aspect: you’re paying for the farming, not the food. If there’s a drought, you agree that you’ll get less stuff (or nothin’).

Wow, that’s a lot of downside. Everybody should still do this, though. Send ‘em an e-mail and get on their waiting list for the 07/08 season. The thing about it is that each of those downsides makes a lot of sense. The stuff is dirty because it comes out of the ground. It’s expensive because it’s grown by (relatively) well paid Americans. You get whatever they’ve grown because, well . . . you get the picture. Local food is good food. Can’t wait to see how the rest of the month goes for Rebecca and Tere.



Hey, what is it with the animal crossing road signs?


Tuesday January 16, 2007

Fla panther crossing

Florida Panthers now number about 70. They cover about 5% of their original habitat. And eleven were killed last year, the most ever. (image: dotpolka)




Nipples. Biscayne Blvd renovations, around 50th Street.



MaEx links to Beth Dunlop’s writeup of the unappealing new South Beach lifeguard stands. Here is the one I photographed last year, and here they are under construction.



Way in which the Herald is wasting it’s money #213: the Idol Watch blog. Stumbled on through this article, which (huh?) appears in the Miami-Dade section.



Carlos Alvarez on Topical Currents (91.3fm, 1 pm) today to discuss the strong mayor proposal.


Monday January 15, 2007

Miami is one of four cities where MINI is trying out a weird RFID billboard advertising scheme. Any MINI owners got their keyfobs yet?



WOW! How much did this cost? Looks nice, can me and a couple hundred of my homeless friends live in it?” Don’t miss the video.



Talk about microblogging: the Justice Building Blog, about the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building.



Art Basel leftovers. Some nice pictures of lingering street art.



January arthop

at Locust

Um, I was [what’s the opposite of meticulous?] about getting the names of artists Saturday. No big deal — somebody will set me straight soon, so check back in a few days and I’ll have them all. Until then [That was quick.] This is by Jen Stark [thanks, KH], in the group show at Locust (see here for links to most of the galleries). It is what it is: a color vortex cut straight out of the wall.

Kerry Phillips at Locust

Kerry Phillips’ installation at Locust.

Vicenta Casañ at Diana Lowenstein

Vicenta Casañ‘s photoshopped images work a little better in theory then in practice, but I loved them anyway. At Diana Lowenstein.

at University of Miami project space

Brent Cole [thanks, bp], at University of Miami project space. A suitcase containing two Miami swimming pools and the sky.

Arnold Mesches at Dorsch

Arnold Mesches kicking ass at Dorsch. My glare? Not so much.

Georges Rousse

That’s my man Georges Rousse, folks. Very odd to stumble randomly on to a show of his work.

Georges Rousse

Same guy, video installation. A video camera mounted above where I was standing live-feeds to a nearby projection.

That’s about it for the work. A few more pictures, mostly of people, at the flickr.


Saturday January 13, 2007

Little changes at big Critical Miami

I need your suggestions and complaints, but yes, I’m fiddling with the site lately. The little ad in the navbar doesn’t seem to be displaying anything relevant, so it’s probably not going to last long. The calendar thing, which I made myself, seems to be working about like I’d want, except I need to make a custom navbar for the calendar items. Links have temporarily disappeared because there were too many, but they’re coming back in some way or another. I’ve been using tags for awhile, but haven’t gone back to tag all the old items. Nonetheless, I need to switch to “clean URLs” to get my tags recognized by Technorati as tags, and that happens as soon as I publish this post.

Things will break. Please let me know. Comment on this article with broken things as well as general complaints and suggestions. Thx.

(The problem with clean URLs is that while old links will still work under the new system, links created under the new system will not work under the old system should switching back be necessary. Hence my stress level — I’ve tried this before and eventually had to to go back, and broken links to CM are still out there.)


Yep, the consequences are unpredictable. For expample, there’s now a Calendar page, as well as an article page and a linklog page, none of which work in a way that particularly makes sense. Suggestions as to what these pages should do are hereby solicited. Maybe refer to Waxy links for guidance (not to mention some kick-ass links.

For those following that sort of thing, and now work. Click the buttons at the bottom of the navbar or the subscribe button in your Firefox address bar.



Excuse me for to be going off-topic this weekend, but ringfo. A phone number (617-712-3574) you call with your cell phone while you’re in a bookstore, type in a UPC#, and get the Amazon price for that book (or other item, try it). To complete the circle of awesomeness, you can punch your cell # into the website later to get a list of items you’ve checked.


Friday January 12, 2007

“How the drinking water aquifer for 2.4 million residents of Miami Dade became contaminated with benzene by rock miners does not rise to the threshold of a news story, or, relevance in the question whether or not to empower an executive mayor, is that it?” Eye on Miami is on a freakin’ rampage.



Art Deco weekend

Vicenta Casañ


Thursday January 11, 2007

“[T]he city seems to be spread out over an area larger than Rhode Island. This geography eliminates much of the community feel lots of smaller and even larger cities have. So basically the situation makes it hard for people to meet other people. Kind of counterintuitive to the party scene Miami is known for.” Interesting point.



Bob Norman breaks down the recent changes at the Sun-Sentinel: 1, 2.



Bennet on the recent developments at Umoja Village, a shantytown at 62nd St. and NW 17th Ave. More here, here, and on the Village’s blog.



Hollywood Boulevard.



County Commissioners launch offensive against strong mayor. This is a case of, as one guy at the debate put it, “the more you talk, the less inclined I am to support your position.” Also, Bruno Barreiro (my commissioner!) is quoted as saying, “It’s going to be tough, but I think we’ll win once we get our message out to voters.” Whenever someone uses a soundbite opportunity to deliver empty optimism rather then an argument, I realize they have no good arguments. Update: A dubious meeting.



2007 We Media Film Festival

We Media Miami logo OK, let me see if I understand this correctly. A conference, We Media Miami (that’s a link to a post on the conference’s blog about the conference), which is now in its third year, and this year includes an “online film festival,” We Media Film Festival, which is aimed at short YouTube-style amateur video (in fact, you submit entries by uploading or by YouTube link). Back to the blog, and here’s a press release about the festival part. All of this is presented by ifocus, a non-profit, and hosted by the University of Miami School of Communications to present the conference.

The conference is expensive, and the film festival can be entered by anyone (deadline: February 2), so no action required. I mention this mainly because it’s another example of something interesting the UM School of Communications is doing (Tuesday we noticed BarCamp), and because it’s cool.


Wednesday January 10, 2007

A great time-lapse movie of the sun setting over downtown Miami, with an unnecessary Ocean Drive coda. (No sound.)



aerojet facility view from sattelite

Jonathan visits the Aerojet rocket factory in the Everglades, where Saturn I rockets were once constructed and tested, before being barged up to Cape Canaveral. He’s got eerie photos and a good account of what happened there. An amazing bit of South Florida history.



More adventures on

screengrab of a horrible online tool nobody should have to use

Sooner or later, you’re going to run into a Genious of Despair, and he’s going to ask you if you know who your county commissioner is. Time to get ready . . . except that the website doesn’t make it easy. There’s a list of commissioners, and pages for each of them, and, hmm.. ok those link to maps of the districts, but where’s a map of the whole county? Wait for it . . . and nope: after five minutes of furious clicking and searching, I can’t find the answer. There’s a “Who is my Commissioner?” link, but that takes me back to the Firefox now allowed page. The site is borked in other ways, too — expanding menus won’t stay expanded, links launch new windows and mysterious “applications,” and I just know there’s a hidden link to a PDF lurking somewhere ready to crash my computer. Let’s play a game: I’ll give you safe Jpeg links to the district maps, and you try to figure out which one you live in with the fewest possible clicks (give yourself a pat on the back if you get it in six or fewer!). Then return to this page to decode your answer. Ready?

Nope, that didn’t work either. The URL’s to the district maps are not consistent, and some of the Commissioners’ pages don’t even give a link to the map. Surrendering, I fire up Internet Explorer, and go to this horrible contraption, what appears to be a Java-powered nightmare from the latter part of the 20th century. My computer wheezes, groans, and chuckles as I tried to pan and zoom on the crappiest of little maps.

Seriously, though, if it’s wrong for the WLRN website to be inaccessible, it’s 10 times worse for the county (annual budget: $6 billion+) government website. (Ways in which it’s inaccessible #4080: the commission map is color coded. Plus, what’s up with 13 commission seats and only 8 zones on the map?) Hello, is anybody out there listening?



Here we go again with the Marlins stadium

The Miami Orange Bowl Oh my God, here we go again: Plans for a new Florida Marlins baseball stadium in Miami include the use of community redevelopment money. Let me quote the first few paragraphs:

The latest plan to build the cash-strapped Florida Marlins a new stadium in downtown Miami involves using millions of dollars of money meant to improve blighted neighborhoods.

It also calls for the city of Miami to deed property to Miami-Dade County so the Marlins — which would lease the stadium — could receive a tax break. And it requires money, once again, from the state Legislature.

“They’re looking at the Park West/Overtown CRA boundary that stops a block from where the site is,” said Miami-Dade tax collector Ian Yorty, the county’s point man for stadium negotiations. “The city has plans to expand the boundary.”

Money from a Community Redevelopment Agency, by law, must be used to spur economic development in “blighted” neighborhoods. Tax money created from a CRA stays inside the district.

Word of the new stadium plan infuriated some community members, such as Overtown’s Irby McKnight, who said the CRA has yet to build a single home in Overtown.

“I’m just looking at this in amazement,” he said. “We’ll remember this on Election Day.”

Miami Commissioner and CRA Chairwoman Michelle Spence-Jones declined to comment.

But Miami Mayor Manny Diaz described using CRA money to build a new ballpark as money well spent. He believes a baseball stadium would anchor redevelopment on the downtown’s western flank, much like the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, which receives $1.43 million yearly from the CRA, has spurred development on the city’s eastern edge.

I have to say that I share McKnight’s amazement. The nerve of these people — and then the head of the CRA has “no comment” when the newspaper asks her about it? How’s that for a big middle finger to the taxpayers?

Let’s review. Baseball is a business; the government has no more business supporting it then they do paying McDonalds to build restaurants. Plus, they’re cynically bending the whole point of the CRA by expanding the boundary to include their chosen site! And if we didn’t have ample local proof that sports stadiums in fact don’t “anchor redevelopment” for jack shit (Hello Miami Arena? And the Orange Bowl was built in the 1940’s . . . last time I drove by it was located in a nice quiet residential neighborhood?), we could turn to the research, which shows overwhelmingly that government spending on stadiums is a big waste of money.


Tuesday January 9, 2007

Shaq's house

Shaq’s house on Star Island is up for sale: $35 million. He bought it for $19 million in 2004; it was built in 1992. Read the phunny article. “After seeing how the decorator has blasphemed and insulted the house, Your Mama now understands why the O’Neals have being trying to unload this place practically since the day they moved in.”



Fly on the Wall, a South Florida restaurant review site. An overproduced and bizarre one, that — the top rating is five flies? I’ll spare you the torture of their navigation system with some direct links: Soyka (two flies), Duo (four flies), and Touch (“The style of cooking is over made-up pretentious and condescending”).



Foreclosure filings in the Southeast were up 37 percent last year from the year before, but Florida no longer held the top national spot.”




Barcamp Miami

Cool! BarCamp is happening in Miami. Very exiting. That’s a link to a blog, which has preliminary information and links; link to the wiki page. For some idea of what this is like, see Rules of BarCamp. More here.

Update: Still confused? Wikipedia to the rescue.

Update: BarCamp Google group.




Little treasure, remnant of holiday decorations.



Overreaction at the Port of Miami

Let’s just clear the decks on this one: the thing at the port. (here is the Herald link, but I’m a little fed up with the Herald as I sift through my archives and find all my links to their articles dead; at least Rick quotes the pertinent bit). Well, the internets exploded yesterday with jeers about the overreaction, the hysteria, whatnot. I don’t have the links, but trust me, there are 4,000 links on Technorati, windows were popping up faster then I could close them yesterday, and I don’t feel like digging them back up.

Here’s the thing: A guy pulls up to the port in an 18-wheeler. He doesn’t speak English. He doesn’t have a permit to enter. He says there’s nobody in the cab with him, but it turns out there are two other dudes, who also don’t speak English. And you guys think it’s overreacting to think that it could be a terrorist attack? I mean, OK, it’s a little silly, when you think about it logically, if there were explosives or whatever going through the port, they would come in on a ship and leave on a truck. But still — the guards have a job to do, and it seems like an overabundance of caution in this case was pretty advisable.

I direct your attention to Type I and Type II errors. An inperfect system can be optimized to tend to generate either false-positive or false-negative errors. If false-negative = successful terrorist attack, isn’t a false-positive once in awhile sort of acceptable?

Update: Subject to verification. If the driver in fact speaks perfectly good English (as Rick says in the comments) and it was the guard who had a language issue (as was claimed somewhere) then somebody should be hung out to dry.

Update: Channel 10 unfortunately doesn’t have the video Rick’s talking about, but here’s the story.

Amar Al-Hadad said he was “humiliated, disrespected (and) treated real badly just because my name is an Arabic name and I’m a Muslim.”

Well, there’s that, and there’s the fact that you were rolling into a freakin’ port without the proper permits, with two other dudes, one of whom didn’t even have ID. If he shed any light as to what the hell he was thinking, the article doesn’t quote that part. The police treat everyone like shit, and while it’s entirely possible that they’re racist and treat non-whites worse, I don’t see how this guy knows how he would have been treated were he, say, a Mormon from Minnesota.



More on AM: Category 305 (“But honestly, does Art Miami have to be this boring?”) Miami Art Exchange writeup (“only a few galleries . . . featured work that is clearly 2nd and 3rd rate at best”) and photoset. Update: And New Times, which gives props to Carol Jazzar and Gismo.


Monday January 8, 2007

According to a study by 1000 Friends of Florida, Miami-Dade county is one of only two places in Florida not expected to be completely built-out in 2060 (the other is the panhandle).


Sunday January 7, 2007

Someone named Brown wrote a book on the history of Little Haiti. This Miami Herald article gives neither the book’s title nor the author’s first name. Update: NicFitKid and Manola to the rescue; see the comments.



An 18-year old guy was freaking out, and his family called the police for help. There is some disagreement as to exactly what the police did to restrain him, but whatever it was it killed him. And Miami Police Chief John Timoney says the officers acted properly. (via LAist)



Radio and TV Marti is now broadcasting in Miami, and DeFede is not happy.



“There certainly is a lot of blegh art at Art Miami . . .” TnfH goes for a look, and suggests a change of date. Agreed.


Friday January 5, 2007

What's up with the Art Miami ad?

Art Miami ad is a photo of a lifeguard stand.
Click for larger.

How do I dislike the Art Miami ad that’s running everywhere? Let me count the ways:

  1. Not a real Miami lifeguard stand. I have no idea where this is from, but not anywhere in driving distance.
  2. Not the real Miami ocean. Give me a break; we’ve seen the ocean here, and it’s never been this color. Ever. This is probably in the Caribbean, and then color-tweaked with an eye toward absurdity.
  3. Not a real Miami beach. It isn’t this color. It doesn’t look like that.
  4. Even with all that, those three elements are all assembled in photoshop — note the wishy-washy hand-painted shadow. Look where the legs and ladder meet the sand. They didn’t even try. In fact, I’m not even sure the sand and water are from the same photo.
  5. Text not really stenciled. More photoshop, and again not well done.
  6. Absurd cloud-collages are de-rigeur these days (see here), but this one is particularly laughable. I detect pieces from maybe 5 different photos.
  7. Actually, the typography’s not bad. I kind of like this part.



Heads up: Yo La Tengo at Studio A, January 31. Early warning because it’ll sell out.



Strong mayor debate

Strong mayor debate

At the strong mayor debate last night. Senator Gwen Margolis argued for the proposal, Commissioner Sally A. Heyman argued against; and Nancy Liebman, president of the UEL, MC’d. A very good meeting, and all three had a lot of interesting things to say, but it wasn’t completely satisfying, and I’m less certain of which decision is right then I was going in.

The gist of Margolis’ argument was that under the current system, county department heads who form alliances with a few of the commissioners become very difficult for the county manager to fire, since thel thirteen commissioners directly hire/fire him. She cited successful cities that have a strong mayor. She pointed out all the corruption and scandals that have plagued the government, and was adamant that a single person, accountable to all the people of the county, was the solution. On the other hand, she was short on reasons why a single person is inherently less corrupt then thirteen. Also, she seemed torn, repeating “this is about an issue, not a specific person,” but also citing the talents of Carlos Alvarez as a reason to vote for the proposal.

Heyman was very adamant that the corruption/scandal situation was not tolerable. But she argued that the solution was to enforce anti-corruption laws, strengthen the ethics committee, and weed out the bad department heads, who are the real problem. She pointed out that a strong mayor was a dangerous concentration of power, and anti-democratic in the sense that the locally-elected commission is more directly accountable to the people. She also pointed out that giving the mayor direct hire/fire power over department heads makes those positions more political (currently the non-elected county manager makes those decisions), and that those decisions are not subject to change by the commission, even by a super-majority, under the proposal. However, for all her insistence that corruption was a long-standing problem, she didn’t give a satisfactory answer as to what could be done about it, and why it hadn’t been done up to this point (she wasn’t for term-limits — surprise). And her argument that since the only legal requirements to be mayor are a minimum age of 18 and a 3-year residency in the county (vs. a long list of professional qualifications to be hired as county manager), we might well end up with someone unqualified in the job, was just bizarre. Does she not think the voters consider a candidate’s qualifications?

That’s it in a nutshell — uncompelling arguments on both sides. Some other things that came out of the discussion:

That’s the high points. Genius of Despair was there, and here’s what he had to say. MKH and Rebecca Wakefield were also present, so maybe their thoughts soon. The debate continues; the vote’s on January 23rd.


Thursday January 4, 2007

You could spend hours drinking Prosecco and talking smack:” a couple (literally) of promising new writers at Metroblogging.




Old school at Miami Graffiti. More favorites: 1, 2, 3. They also helpfully link the Florida statutes on graffiti. (via rakontur)



You might could take some issues with this list of the 100 greatest Miami Bass songs of all time (Sir Mix-A-Lot?), but you’re better off trying to figure out how many you’ve danced to. OK, how many do you know?




New Year’s Eve at Mansion, photoset by Merlin Bronques/lastnightsparty. (via Miami Nights)



South Florida Radical Activist Conference

I saw the page about the SFRAC on Indymedia, but unfortounately it doesn’t give too much information or a schedule. I e-mailed them, and here’s what I got back; still not much information, but better then nothing. I’d imagine you can google some of those names and figure out what you need to go to:

If you haven’t heard yet…the South Florida Radical Activist Conference will be this week starting with NoiseNOTBOmbs friday @ the Wallflower Gallery in downtown Miami

7:00-7:45 — Lars Din
7:50-8:10 — Carol, Critical Resistance, prisoners’ art
8:20-9:00 — I Want Whiskey
9:10-9:40 — SOFUQT (radical cheerleaders)
9:50-10:30 — The Free Chris
10:40-11:20 — Under No Order
11:30-12:30 — The Lepracy – This show will be $7 at the door and all the money will go to benefit foodNOTbombs!

The conference will be held Saturday and Sunday starting at 11am with bagels and doughnuts for those who arrive early!

Wallflower Gallery
10 NE 3rd St., Miami, FL 33132

Update: Indymedia appears to be temporarily down. Here’s the cached page. More info.



Three Colombian restaurants.



Frank Thiel's Stadt 7/12 (Berlin)

Stadt 7/12 (Berlin)

Carlos Suarez De Jesus reports that Frank Thiel’s Stadt 7/12 is currently on display at the Bass. Wow; it’s time for me to pay them a visit. No reproduction will ever do it justice, let alone a 500 pixel one, but this is the photograph. Imagine if all of downtown Miami were being built at once. (That’s sort of what happened in Berlin after the fall of the Wall.) Imagine a photograph of that event, the detail of which is almost infinite. This image consists of four panels, each of which is 9 feet tall, and which has per-square-inch detail better then your 4×6 Kodaks. What you have, then, is the informational equivalent of about a thousand regular photographs. “Staggering,” is an understatement — I saw this piece at ABMB in 2004, and nothing I’ve seen since has equaled it.

Carlos’ article gives a pretty good historical background of the piece (and makes the show sound pretty damn good!). More of Thiel’s work here (keep clicking for enlargements, and try to convert the centimeters to inches — these are all big photos). Every year since Art Basel brings more Thiel photographs, but this one was his zenith. Lately, he’s been taking pictures of paint peeling.


Wednesday January 3, 2007

How to cook Cuban Black Beans and Rice. Skip the post, and head straight for Firefly’s comment. “Who’s ever heard of ‘draining’ a can of black beans?” Agree there, though beans, rice, and cheese on a tortilla sounds pretty good to me, delusions of Cuban cuisine aside.



“Grove Playhouse drops appeal of historic designation” basically because “the developer backed out of the deal.” The Coconut Grove Playhouse saga continues.



The MiamiSportsDude had a busy day today.



OK, another question. True/false: Sylvester Stallone once donated $1 million for a renovation that kept the Gusman from closing. Forget google — if it happened, the internets don’t know about it; the best I found was $75,000 for the Miami Film Festival back in ’98. But I’m sure someone told me this in all seriousness once. Were they talking out their ass?



Jessica Alba Bikini

Hide your kids, y’all: it’s Jessica Alba frolicking in the temperate waters of the South Beach Atlantic Ocean. More here and here. Apologies to those that thought I wasn’t going to go there. Update: Jorday sez, “I’m not sure who she is but(t) – ah, a woman’s ass! I’m such a heterosmacktual…”



“I’ve lived in much better places than south Florida, and worked in many more, but I moved here 21 years ago and I’ve never been happier. While this will never be home, this is where I’m staying. I like it, in part because of all its faults. In fact, I love it.” Steve Klotz gets all sloppy all over Miami. (I meant to link this last year but for some reason it stayed in ‘draft’ mode.)



David Byrne’s account of visiting Miami for Art Basel: “why am I enjoying the art so much? Shouldn’t I be taking a more cynical attitude, with all this nonsense going on all around? Am I naïve? I realized the banana doesn’t know much about United Fruit and its nasty ways as it grows in the fields . . . The next day was overcast as I rode my bike over the Venetian causeway, a lovely island-hopping ride — bridge, island, bridge, island and partly shady too . . . I went for a pee and when I opened the bathroom door a couple were coming out of the one stall — ooops, I guess the cocaine days are not over down here just yet.” Just skip the beginning, where he waxes philosophical on the evolutionary function of art, and read to the end. Also see a slideshow of Byrne’s favorite pieces from the fairs. (via rakontur)



All newly issued US passports now contain RFID chips, arousing some justified paranoia. Wired magazine to the rescue! How To: Disable Your Passport’s RFID Chip: “Hammer time. Hitting the chip with a blunt, hard object should disable it. A nonworking RFID doesn’t invalidate the passport, so you can still use it. . . . But be careful – tampering with a passport is punishable by 25 years in prison.”