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Saturday June 30, 2007

Diffraction Saturday

roma

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Friday June 29, 2007

Miami 21 pushed back another 90 days. One of the tactics used to get people scared: “Commissioners themselves at moments seemed confused over one detail: whether many existing homes in the city would be deemed in violation of the new code.” Um, no kids — the plan effects new construction. Duh. Update: Ryan has some comments on this.

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Rainy weekend

rain

It’s a rainy weekend, so everyone’s going to be running around with their clear umbrellas. Right. Actually, rain chances are only 30% over the weekend, so let’s see:

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Thursday June 28, 2007

It’s official: M.I.A.’s upcoming tour doesn’t take her anywhere near South Florida.

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2 Live Looks

2 Live Looks

Discovering new “Miami” blogs and websites is becoming a daily occurrence in these muggy and rainy days of Summer, as peoples retreat into their air-conditioned rooms and behind glowing terminals.

The new street fashion blog 2 Live Looks is different, because Matthew actually has to leave his house to gather material. “Websites similar to this one have long existed for other cities, with Miami conspicuously missing.” Sure enough. The question is whether Matthew can keep up the post-a-day pace he seems to have set for himself. (Remember Miamity?) I sure hope he does.

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With 16 of its 21 seats filled, the Miami-Dade County Charter Review Task Force can get to work. Not joking: four Miami-Dade commissioners (Carlos Gimenez, Sally Heyman, Barbara Jordan, and Javier Souto) appointed themselves to the committee. I suspect that if anything positive comes from this it will be despite their participation, not because of it. In any case, the task force is supposed to submit its final report at the end of October.

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I don’t get it: over a number of years, property values have shot through the roof, and property taxes have followed. The current tax reforms are intended to roll back some (not all) of the disproportionate increases. So why is everyone in such a crisis mode?

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Wednesday June 27, 2007

Soyka gets the big thumbs-down from Meatless Miami. Update: Hmm… this is from December, but it just turned up in my RSS randomly …

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ikea painted

I am given to understand that this is the finished new Ikea building, getting its blue paint. Still no more specific an opening date then “Fall 2007.”

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Yes, it’s a grasshopper. But really it’s a caption contest, isn’t it?

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State anti-ballot-initiative law vetoed

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Night tennis. Somewhere downtown?

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“Our mission is the historic preservation of the Hialeah Park Race Track (1925) and all of its elements. We are a group of community residents [MySpace] working cooperatively to attain local, state, and federal support necessary for the Hialeah Park’s restoration and preservation.” Also: Hialeah Park decays in the sun, 11 most endangered places, Activists celebrate designation, and Dig calls for a multi-disciplinary [read: arty] competition to propose programs for the park.

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FIU and UM have a new program in place that allows students of either school to attend classes at both. But wait: it only applies to Doctoral-level students. What’s up with that?

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LOL: The Miami Dolphins sent an e-mail to hundreds of their season ticket buyers in a way that revealed all of their e-mail addresses

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Tuesday June 26, 2007

Miami Nights has a dSLR, and they’re not afraid to use it. They are, however, afraid of editing their photos down to two manageable sets. I scoured through their two most recent galleries (I only recommend doing this if you were there those nights and you’re looking for pictures of yourself), looking for diamonds in the rough. A few I liked: Black fingernail: there’s a blank but distrustful look, but there’s also a lot of interesting stuff happening with fingers and feet. Two hamming girls: but the guy in the background sort of steals the picture. Overhead: reminds of that Gursky rave picture. Saddest picture: Closed bottle — nobody looks good in this, least of all the photographer that instigate the scene. Update: Nefarious girl’s photos from the Dirty Disco night.

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A super-comprehensive rundown of South Beach hostels. Are there hostels anywhere else in Miami?

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How to add a lane to I-95

I-95 lane changes

Easy: you remove the shoulders. Here’s the re-striping in progress on Southbound I-95 — the solid stripes are the transition to the small section that’s striped the new way, in preparation for the doubled for-pay express lanes. Observe:

  1. Original shoulder. Wide enough to accommodate a pulled-over car or an emergency vehicle.
  2. New shoulder, approximately two feet wide.
  3. Here’s where the double lines diverge. The faint line is where the lines originally were. The solid lines are the temporary transition to the repainted section.
  4. So all the lanes move over and get a little skinnier, creating a new lane over here.
  5. Here’s where the physical new express lane barrier will go, cordoning off the two left lanes.

So right about now what you’re thinking is “Wait a second, if they think they can just add a lane, why didn’t they do it like, maybe, a few decades ago?!” Well, traffic engineers take it on faith that adding lanes to existing highways brings diminishing returns. You read that correctly: they don’t think a new lane would have helped. So the difference here? Well, they hope that by erecting a physical barrier between some of the lanes, they’ll effectively be creating a separate highway, and this is supposed to make the difference. Charging for the two lanes is more tied to creating a justifiable new revenue source then an integral part of the solution.

In other words, everybody wins. Except the drivers in the regular lanes. Oh, and two-person carpools, who get booted out of the express lanes. And the people paying an amount as yet undisclosed floating rate for the privilege of driving in non-rage-inducing rush-hour conditions. I still say it won’t work.

Update: A commenter suggests that the lane reshuffling may be unrelated to the express lane conversion.

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Monday June 25, 2007

Hmm: South Beach man whore meets his match. This could get interesting.

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Latest draft of Miami 21

miami 21 frontage

The latest draft proposal of Miami 21 is available for download. I can’t say that they’ve made it easy for people . . . rather then a web-readable format, or a reader-hostile pdf, the planners have chosen to do this as an extra-reader-hostile multi-pdf. The meat begins in section 4, where, on page 17, the maximum densities for downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods are laid out.

I’ll leave it to urban planning experts to judge the details of the plan, but the broad outlines of it are based on modern urban planning principles that are well established, and as such this is very important for the long-term growth of our city, as I’ve argued previously. You’ll hear a lot of criticism of the plan, and almost all of it comes from self-interested land owners who fear (oftentimes incorrectly) that the plan limits their options on how they can develop their land. But remember that we’re talking about making our city more livable here. (And sorry sir, but we really don’t need a high-rise in the middle of this neighborhood of single-family homes.)

Passing the plan will be an important step, but since the effects of something like this take place over the course of decades, the real test will be how seriously future city governments take it. I guess we’ll have to see how it plays out. For now, Verticus says that Miami 21 is going before the commission for first reading Thursday.

Update: Ryan runs down some of the changes.

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Hey kids, it’s Lightning awareness week! Stop by every morning for the next few days for fascinating information about this mysterious force, and helpful tips for staying safe. Lesson #1: Lightning can strike without warning out of a clear, rainless, and cloudless sky and kill your ass instantly. Bonus fact: Florida is #1 in the nation for lightning deaths.

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oak plaza development

Oak Plaza, coming soon to the Design District. Pedestrian-friendly ground floor shopping with residences above, just the way we like it.

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Saturday June 23, 2007

A car you'll never have Saturday

fiat 500 interior

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Friday June 22, 2007


New Flickr set: Graphs and infographics.

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First of the Summer Weekend

beach

Daily downpours and nonstop mugginess? Must mean that Summer rolled in at 2:07 pm yesterday. Appropriately, I recommend cowering in the air-conditioned box, or going whole hog and heading down to the beach and sweating it out in direct sunlight. But if you must:

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Thursday June 21, 2007

Hey everybody, New Times is hiring. Know anybody that can “understand the difference between magazine-style reporting and the hurried fact-finding of daily papers”?

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graph
Graph. Dania Beach.

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The seawall around Miami Circle is disintegrating. Not good. The article has links to two old Herald articles which track the history of what happened, and what was supposed to have happened, to the circle (which looked mighty strange next to each other in my RSS reader, causing a confused early version of this entry).

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The Coconut Grove Village Council is behind on posting notices of their upcoming meetings and minutes of past meetings on their website. Tom challenged them on it, and got back a very polite letter which basically said, we don’t have the time to do it. Which Tom correctly points out is BS — you don’t not have time — you just don’t consider it a priority. If you can send out e-mails and press releases, you can update a website. If you thought it was important, at the very least there’d be a message at the top of your website along the lines of “Volunteer help needed running this website. Please contact us.”

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New Dolphin Expressway, with new toll plaza and new roads. Links to Herald.
A new Sunpass-only lane?! Is that even, like, constitutional?

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“[W]hen you came to Miami in 1964, were I-95 and I-395 already built, ripping through Overtown and basically converting it into the slum it is today? Did you drink from the segregated drinking fountains or eat at a segregated lunch counter? Did you see the ID cards blacks needed to come to Miami Beach? Or when the hotels advertised ‘Always A View, Never a Jew’? [. . .] Miami was a divided city long before the Cubans arrived and it will continue to be.” — Alex cuts to the heart of the matter, which almost makes this post (which accuses me of accusing Rick of being a racist — no wait, it really accuses me of accusing Rick of almost being a racist — no, sorry, I think it actually accuses me of thinking that Rick is a racist but not saying it) worth it.

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Wednesday June 20, 2007

Case of the stolen bike

bike and lock

So, this* is a bike I’ve had for probably maybe about 10 years, and for most of that time it sat unused at my parents’ place. A while ago I brought it down, but I didn’t really start riding it until a couple of weeks ago, and you know what? It was fun. Cycling isn’t nearly as good exercise as running, but two hours on a bike is better then twenty minutes jogging, and you get to see a lot more. I’d even planned a bus+bike route to work. But getting the damned thing in and out of my closet was a pain in the ass, and leaving it in the middle of my living room was getting annoying, so, enter the above lock.

Long story short, the bike lasted two days on the bike rack in front of my building, and was gone. So, yes, I recognize that it’s a shitty lock, and probably pretty easy to crack. But my question is this: who stole my bike? Was it someone who just happened to see it (someone from the immediate neighborhood maybe) who recognized that the lock was easy to pick, and did it sort of for the heck of it, or was it more of a “professional,” who would have been able to get through any lock (bolt cutters?) and has some sort of buyer of stolen bikes lined up?

In the end, this is just a good excuse to buy a better bike. But I need to know if I can keep it outside (with, say, a Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit), or if it’s going to have to live in my apartment with me.

Marginally related: Abandoned bicycles of New York.

* This is the closest picture I could find. My bike actually had a 5-speed shifter and straight handlebars.

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Tuesday June 19, 2007

Marty Margulies is taking back his sculpture collection, which has been on loan to FIU since 1994. Why? One possibility is that it’s fallout from the MAM building flap (Margulies opposes the building, and a prominent FIU trustee is also a trustee at the museum). But my inside sources (!) have a different story: FIU has been taking crappy care of the outdoor sculptures. They have often been rusty, and on one occasion, a construction bulldozer supposedly backed into one of them. BTW, I still have yet to hear an explanation of why Margulies opposes the new MAM building that makes sense to me. Anyone??

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A good discussion about Museum Park has been going for the last couple of days at Transit Miami.

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The Battles

Battles performing at Studio A

So, the Battles show at Studio A last night was, surprisingly to most, packed. Also: the Battles’ ethereal, otherworldly on-record sound becomes something quite different live. Pitchfork’s observations notwithstanding, when you take a laptop-assisted rock band, and remove the post-production laptop aspect, you’re mostly left with a band jamming along to, and with, loops. E.g.: Guy plays a riff on a bass, which is recorded into a loop device. He continues playing, layering the sound. Two guitar players follow suite. Uber-heavy real drums come in. Mix-n-match to fade.

Or so it would be if Battles weren’t four exemplary musicians. But they are, and by throwing three different versions of guitar/laptop-based multi-instrumentalism into a pot with an absolute beast of a drummer, they’ve arrived at something special. I don’t know that it’s a finished product yet, but they’re on to something — or, on their way to something (or, at least, pointing the way to something).

Oh, about that drummer. John Stanier used to play for Helmet. I don’t know about you, but the chance to hear him take an “arty” turn was one of the thing that got me off my ass and down to the show. Shure enough, his kit is minimalist (save a singly showy-high cymbal) and front-and-center on the stage (“He’s a real showman,” said Cohen). It’s tough for a drummer to interact with loops, but you’d never know it watching Stanier — he’s as natural as he is heavy. Another thing — one thing he does not make it look is effortless. Three songs into the set and there wasn’t a dry stitch in his shirt. He nails everything perfectly, but the Sisyphean effort he’s putting in is inescapable. It would be forgivable — hell, it might be musically advisable — for him to ease off on the attack a bit here and there. But he is either unable or unwilling — alternating strictly between full-on and full-off.

So, there I am about half way through the show, and something’s nagging me: this music is reminding me very strongly of something that the record didn’t. Then it hit me: The Feelies! The Battles are The Feelies + laptops. It’s all there — the angular guitar interplay, the fronting of strong and unusual rhythms, and the barely-there vocals. (It appears that The Feelies’ seminal Crazy Rhythms is out of print, but I’d encourage Battles fans to seek it out, um, “by any means necessary.”)

In the meantime, I note how moving music can be when it is this reduced to formal qualities. Like Helmet, the Battles’ sound is mostly devoid of emotion (well, there is a sort of glee to it), but it’s somehow infectious. It’s strange how potent cheap music is, but it’s even stranger how fun really cerebral music can be.

Finally, yes: Studio A deserves credit for bringing down bands like this. The probably wouldn’t have been any other place that’d have hosted them. (And believe it or not there was even some sporadic dancing.)

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Monday June 18, 2007

Frank Houston visited Miami Childrens’ Museum and was none too impressed.

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mosquito Seems like forever since you’ve seen a mosquito? Here’s why: Since mosquitoes lay their eggs in water, their populations drop during drought. The bad news: the eggs don’t die — they just accumulate, and wait for the water to come back, which in case you haven’t noticed, it has. Please to be expecting a major spike in the mosquito population, and mosquito-related illness. Yikes!

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Bill Proenza gets reprimanded

Bill Proenza Anyone who’s ever worked in the higher levels of any government organization (which, improbably, I have) will particularly appreciate this: Let’s say you’re the head of your own office. The boss you report to is off-site — in another state, actually. One Friday morning she drops by your office, and very cordially (these things are always cordial) hands you a three-page memo of reprimand [pdf]. What do you do?

Well, if you’re Bill Proenza, director of the National Hurricane Center, you call the goddamned press, that’s what you do. You tell them your bosses are being assholes, and no, you do not shut the fuck up (Bill has reputedly criticized budget appropriations that have endangered weather satellites and has generally had the nerve to be honest about predictions). I could kiss this guy. Oh, and NOAA? Get off Bill’s back. And send him the money he needs for some new equipment. There’s people down here counting on it.

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Dark side of the Boom, a documentary about the housing crisis in Miami, is screening tonight at Barry University.

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The sordid tale of Biscayne Landing. This patch of land between FIU North and Oleta State Park was considered for a zoo, an “international center” with a revolving restaurant atop a tower, an amphitheater, a golf course, and airport . . . well, for most of the 70s it was actually a dump. It was an EPA Superfund site from 1982 to 1999. Now it’s a condo development, last seen promoting itself with ultra-cheesy billboards featuring scantily clad women and silly “too cool for downtown” taglines. Not unsurprisingly, 93 units have been sold, out of a planned 6,000. Also not unsurprisingly, the superfund business is not mentioned on the development’s FAQ. The saddest part is that the city of North Miami gambled with the developers on this, leasing them the land and paying $31 million to clean up the site, hoping for a tax windfall.

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Clevelander renovations. Lovely wrap-around billboard that doesn’t promote anything other then general hedonism.

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Friday June 15, 2007

The Herald profiles Mika, the gay/ambiguous singer who’s playing Studio A Sunday. I skipped it in my weekend roundup because the show is $20 and his album got crazy panned in Pitchfork. But check out the profile — they’ve got audio clips, and it just might be your thing.

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All hell broke loose in Coral Gables when a whole bunch of sacrificed, headless animals were found in front of a house last week. (via MVB)

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Dad's weekend

Father's day

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Yay: The Google embargo has been lifted. Attention Google visitors: Critical Miami is safe.

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Thursday June 14, 2007

The City of Miami has approved $2 million for the planning of MAM’s new building, despite the objections of some.

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An index of various online maps of Miami.

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“Ms. Drucker was a master of ignoring budget or board to book a stellar performer.” — Michael Lewis’ touching tribute.

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Ceviche on the beach.

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Damian Fernandez was enjoying his summer vacation, taking a nap, when two guys broke into his parents’ house. He woke up, grabbed his Samurai sword, and fought them off. One was arrested.

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Miami Circle is going to be run by the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, and will probably be opened to the public at some point. It’s been nine years since the site was discovered — why did it take the state nine years to make this deal?

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Wednesday June 13, 2007

Interested in being an MTV host?

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Miami Beach nude cycling event. One arrest, but no actual nudity. What I want to know is how it’s illegal to organize a group of people to ride bicycles down Lincoln Rd.

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June gallery hop

What's your DADA performance
Click image for slide-show.

Contrary to all predictions, the weather on Saturday was actually very nice — not just no rain, but sort of almost comfortable out. We’ll see about July. Anyway, I decided to do this as one of these slide-shows (10 images), so click the picture to get started. You’re not going to see a whole lot of art, because frankly, there wasn’t much art to write home about. A few nice pieces here and there, which we’ll hear about later.

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Monday June 11, 2007

Badware

It has been brought to my attention that Critical Miami has been flagged by StopBadware and by Google. All I can say at this point is that I’m operating on good faith, and nothing malicious that may be happening is a result of anything I’ve deliberately done. I’ve appealed to the respective authorities for help in tracking down and eradicating whatever problems exist, but I also need your help — if anyone’s noticed any peculiar behavior out of this site lately please use the comments. Hopefully this is all a misunderstanding; watch this space for updates. (Thanks to everyone who pointed this problem out.)

Update [6/11/07, 10 pm]: Requests for help have been filed at StopBadware, the Textpattern forum, and Dreamhost tech support.

Update [6/12/07 8:11 am]: Aha! The answers are coming in. It appears that CM was, in fact, hacked! Along with 3,500 other Dreamhost customers (curse Dreamhost — maybe time to switch?). Information at Dreamhost’s blog and numerous other sources. I’ve removed the offending code, and will keep an eye on the situation, so CM is now once again safe for your computer. Watch this space for information as it develops. In the meantime — alternate hosting suggestions?

Update [6/12/07 8:45 am]: I’ve gone through all the various domains and sites I host, and sure enough, the offending “iframe” code was in every single index.php and index.html file. I’ve variously fixed or yanked down all the sites. The first sign of this was when Steve’s blog disappeared last week (so no, Steve, it wasn’t your fault (for once) — sorry), because it seems that in some cases the script that’s doing the hacking replaced the files rather then appending (which of course makes it much easier to spot). I’ve also changed my ftp password. The good news is that Steve’s files were not re-infected over the last week, so hopefully this was a one-time thing. Stay tuned.

Update [6/13/07]: The coast is clear. The malicious links have all been removed, and StopBadware has been notified, so the block that Google has placed on CM should be lifted whenever they get around to reviewing the case. Thousands of sites were hit with the same code, this one coincidentally was crawled by Google in the week or so the the code was there. Meanwhile, this code (essentially, it loaded hidden versions of other web pages, which may have included malicious javascript) has been all over the place, so everyone is encouraged to update their anti-virus definitions and do a thorough scan.

Update [6/15/07]: Yay! The warning has been removed from Google. It’s still listed at StopBadware, which is odd since I the appeal was submitted through them.

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Bob Norman dissects some choice phrases the Sun-Sentinel has been kicking around lately.

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Vehicular transportation: two contrasting case studies

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“Ingots were buried under the Miami Performing Arts Center by workers installing the subterranean infrastructure. The performance was photographed. The ingots remain.”

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Friday June 8, 2007

'Huh, another boat show?' weekend

boat show

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Thursday June 7, 2007

The going-rate for a jump start

here's my new battery pretending to get a jump

A couple of weeks ago I was left needing a jump-start in front of my apartment on South Beach. I don’t have jumper cables anymore. I asked a few people, and they were all very sympathetic but nobody has jumper cables anymore, so I marched down to a busier street to find a cab (cabbies will sometimes jump you, but they charge). Against all odds, I spotted a tow-truck from one of the two great towing companies we have down here before a cab. I flagged him down. How much for a jump?

“If you’d called the station and they dispatched me, it would have been $75, that’s how much we’re supposed to charge,” he said. “I’ll do it for twenty bucks.” And sure enough.; I got a ride the two blocks back to my car, and in another minute I was on my way.

Reflecting on this, the $20 seems like a perfectly reasonable and appropriate fee, consider the inconvenience caused the jumper and the benefit to the jumpee. And so I propose that the $20 be formalized as the informal going rate for a jump with someone else’s cables. Henceforth, if somebody gives you a jump with their jumper cables, hand them a twenty. If it’s a private citizen, they’ll be grateful, and the price is commensurate with the help they afforded you. If a cabbie asks you for $40 for a jump, wave an Andrew Jackson in his face, proclaim loudly, “I’ve got twenty bucks,” and watch him melt. On the other hand, if someone gives you a jump and you’ve used your own cables, I say all they get is a friendly handshake and a sincere thank-you. After all, this is still a society, and we’re all helping each other out here.

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Glimpse from inside the Vamos a Cuba appeal. The ACLU is all like, “All a publicly elected body has to do to ban a book is utter the word inaccurate? If that’s the case every library administrator and library association in the country should be worried.” And the judges are all like, “[what about] a book about Adolf Hitler that would credit the Nazi leader with creating the Volkswagen and bringing Germany out of the depression — but not mention the Holocaust.” Also, for the sake of posterity, I’m mirroring the court documents posted at the Herald: School Board’s Complaint [PDF]. ACLU’s response [PDF].

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Wednesday June 6, 2007

bank robbery in Miramar

Bank robbery in Miramar. (via Pulp, via Herald, via Miramar Police, via SunTrust Bank)

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How beneficial was the Super Bowl for South Florida? South Florida CEO magazine takes 2,000 words to say that nobody knows. The high estimates are in the hundreds of millions of dollars. One thing’s for sure — the indirect TV publicity is priceless. (Ok, not priceless: “the report by Sports Management Research calculates that just the region’s exposure thanks to the Super Bowl — Miami, South Florida and Dolphin Stadium hometown Miami Gardens were mentioned 65 times during the game broadcast — was worth $48.5 million.”)

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The (Ft. Lauderdale) airport expansion, she is approved. Meanwhile, the power plant is denied. Update: “I probably would have voted no, but I don’t really care. This place is already ruined anyway.” — anonymous Pulp advisor.

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Trouble at the Concert Association of Florida

Judy Drucker photo by Darryl Strawser Judy Drucker started the Concert Association of Florida, and has been its leader for the last forty years. Until last week, that is, when she was forced out by the board of the organization.

Now, Drucker is a phenomenon. In 2003, the SunPost said, “Drucker virtually created the vibrant performing arts cultural scene in South Florida over which she reigns as supreme and indispensable diva.” But the Concert Association has a deficit that from the sound of the article is approaching $3 million. Drucker is described as “feisty,” which many who have worked with her translate to mean “difficult,” “obstinate,” and — well, you get the picture. She’ll be replaced by Al Milano, who’s been with the CA less then a year, but she’ll stay on as an adviser, so I don’t think this will really tarnish her reputation.

The bigger question is what this portends for Miami’s future. There are two ways to read the events. It’s possible that Drucker simply made some mistakes, and with someone else keeping an eye on the books everything will level itself back out. A more ominous possibility is that if Drucker couldn’t make it work, maybe nobody can. Remember that a chief justification for building the Carnival Center was six major performing arts organizations that needed a home. Well, the Florida Philharmonic folded before the center was even completed, and now we’re down to four. The Herald article lists the increased “rental costs and other service fees” at the Carnival Center as one of the main reasons for the Concert Association’s troubles. Remember the tense negotiations early last year between these organizations and the center? What if the center just pushed too hard, and the fees are such that, especially after a little miscounting, they end up sinking the Concert Association?

It’s just possible that Drucker couldn’t make it work because nobody can make it work. And if the CA folds, it’s just going to make life that much worse for the Carnival Center. Heck, it’ll make life worse for everybody. I talked this over with Tiffany Hill, who is on the board of directors of the Florida Dance Association and Artistic Director of the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood (yes: where I work), who helped me think this through. She summed it up this way: “It’s all bad for the cultural scene of South Florida.”

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“As Miami underwent one of the most explosive growth periods in its history, with luxury buildings reshaping the downtown skyline, the city [government] squandered millions of dollars on troubled housing projects and failed to collect massive overdue loans — some borrowers haven’t made a single payment in years.” — Cenziper, Corral and Lebowitz share credit for a big expose in Sunday’s Herald.

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Tuesday June 5, 2007

sand art

hay-zoos: Free Jams goofs around in the sand.

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“As any careful reader knows by now, the St. Petersburg Times and The Palm Beach Post were the only Florida news organizations that sent reporters to cover Gov. Charlie Crist’s trip to Israel. But The Miami Herald still found an enterprising way to get a little coverage.” The St. Pete Times nips in the general direction of the Miami Herald, who nips back. Feisty! They’re talking about Charlie Crist’s trip to Israel, which was kinda sorta covered for the herald by state representative Dan Gelber.

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Just got around to reading Matt Meltzer’s guide to searching for jobs in Miami-Dade. It’s equal parts sarcasm and actual information (ok, maybe 2:1). Pretty good.

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Best of New Times best of listings

Best way to end up a millionaire in the restaurant business - Karu & Y - 71 NW 14th Street - Miami 33136 - 305-403-7850 - Just do like the owners of Karu & Y: Start with $25 million. Then spend close to that amount, and three years, to open a 25,000-suare-foot indoor/outdoor restaurant (42,000 square feet including special event spaces) in a desolate and dangerous 'downtown arts district' that doesn't yet exist. Give your dining establishment a name no one can understand, feature a cutting-edge cooking style that appeals only to a small cadre of foodie enthusiasts, and charge $18 for a cocktail, $24 for an appetizer, and more then $40 for en entree. If your're lucky, when all is said and done you'll still have a million of your dollars left.

How do I love this? Let me count the ways:

  1. It’s so true: every time I convince myself I need to splurge and try Karu & Y just to see for myself, I hear another horror story about it.
  2. Fucking hilarious: I can’t verify the 25-24=1 math, but even if remotely true it’s one for the record books.
  3. Just plain good: I read most of the best-of issue, and while it’s full of solid, sometime unexpected, choices and good writing, this stands out as particularly insightful. Yet . . .
  4. Manages to insult the entire city: see, we just don’t have enough “foodie enthusiasts” to enjoy this place’s “cutting-edge cooking style.”
  5. Exposes a certain meta-ness of the “best of” issue: you know some of their categories are custom-made for someone they just want to shout-out to. This is the best of all possible examples of that phenomena.
  6. It’s written in a style I can relate to: lots of punctuation, lots of linguistic asides, and lots of numbers.
  7. Exposes discrepancies between the print edition and the online edition: it’s right there on page 137. But online? No está aquí. Numerous discrepancies between the online and print editions have been spotted, but an entire missing category takes the cake.

Bonus reason: I love the way we get a partial line right before the column break where a weird box juts part of the way into the column (between “cooking” and “style”). Whazzup to my crack New Times layout department, slapping it together and getting it out there! Previously on “Let me count the ways:” What’s up with the Art Miami ad? and What’s up with the Sunguide ads? Also, let me point out that the entire text of the above listing is in the scan’s alt-tag, just to make this legit and accessible.

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Monday June 4, 2007

Critical updates

site stats: 274945 page views in May I spent most of the day Sunday neck-deep in code and stuff like this, trying to make you a new and improved Critical Miami. I mostly got done the more “coding” type stuff, and left the sorting/data decisions for another time, because I can officially only use one half of my brain per day, and I need to do this geek-out stuff during my rare forages into sobriety. Anyway, here’s a summary:

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South Florida Menu Pages: easy to use, comprehensive menus for damn-near all restaurants, with virginal ratings. This has been tried before, and now somebody did it right. Get in there and write some reviews, people! Update: A number of the menus seem to be old information. Good for getting an idea of what the restaurant serves and how expensive it is, but not necessarily accurate for calculating exact pricing.

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Get ready for hurricane season 2007

hurricane tracking chart Hurricane season began Friday, and goes through the end of November. No worries, though — this chart has things staying at a low simmer until around August, and peak of the season is in early September. But the beginning of June is important conceptually, because it’s a good time to at least start thinking about the storms. This survey found that more then half the people living in hurricane strike-zones don’t feel vulnerable, and haven’t done anything to prepare.

Well, as someone who lived through Andrew, I can safely (har!) tell you that you are vulnerable. And on the other hand: relax, people. It’s not the end of the world. Your chances of dying are vanishingly small, especially if you’re not a knucklehead who decided to go for a drive during a storm. Your property damage is covered by insurance. For the most part, hurricane season consists of watching storms whiz through the Atlantic, betting on who they’ll hit and when. When one comes close it generates a lot more in exited preparation, days off from work, and hurricane-party intoxication then it does in actual violence. Chill out, people — hurricane season is fun.

Having said that, I do recommend getting into the hurricane frame of mind. Here’s a hurricane crib-sheet to catch you up on the physics of a storm. Here’s the Red Cross hurricane preparedness style guide. Here’s NOAA’s think-piece about harvesting the energy of hurricanes. Oh, and click the retro-chic hurricane tracking map above for NOAA’s home page, with your daily official predictions. But don’t sweat it. If you want, get yourself some plywood or shutters if you don’t have them already (you don’t want to be one of those fools on TV standing in a Home Depot line for three hours and then going home empty-handed, now do you?). Pick up some basic supplies. And keep a stray eye on the news. For your convenience, I added live satellite imagery to the sidebar. Now hurry up and relax.

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Friday June 1, 2007

School's out for Summer

empty hallway with lockers

Yesterday was the last day of the school year for most kids. The punks (and the teachers who teach them) get two-odd months of kicking-around time. But this isn’t about bitching about having to work. I want to point out a post by Frances Nash about the last day of school, which pretty well summons up the feeling of the last day of high school.

As I sit on the curb and wait for Dad’s car, a tide of papers cartwheel in the breeze. Weeks later, they will crumble into the grass like melted snow: all the quadratic equations and gross national products, the research papers and dangling participles. I will try to remember them and draw a blank.

Congrats to all the kids that survived another year, especially those that just graduated high school. You’ll never experience anything like that ever again. Not that you’ll miss it, but it’s a memory that will seem more surreal with every year that goes by. Do like Frances: get yourself a digital camera and use it.

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Hurricane season weekend

ana gaskell

It’s the first day of hurricane season, and the first day of kids summer vacation today (and the stinkers had a half-day yesterday — when was the last time you had a half-day at work?). More on that later.

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