Wednesday April 30, 2008
Blah, now I feel like throwing up: Studio A is closing. Why?? If a sharp and trendy live-music venue in a low-rent part of downtown can’t make it, what hope is there for this god-forsaken hell-hole of a town? (Translation: Now you have to go to Revolution in the-fort-that-dare-not-speak-its-name to see new national acts.) BLAH! Isn’t there a petition we can sign or something?
Bob Norman has a great rant about the newspaper industry, esp. as it pertains to Miami. “Look at the Miami Herald. It’s been hit by an 11 percent decline in the six-month period ending at the end of March. It’s down to 240,000. … And what do we get? Same shit, only softer.”
A Miami-Dade school principal offered to do his job for $1 per year plus benefits, and the school board turned him down, essentially saying he can have the job for $120,000 a year or not at all. The reason is some budgeting BS. Meanwhile, the State is cutting $60.5 million in funding to Miami-Dade schools (and, if you want extra anger with your lunchtime burger, “Meantime, there’s enough money to keep giving the owners of 20 sports stadiums and arenas — including the ones used by the Miami Dolphins, the Miami Heat and the Florida Panthers — tax subsidies as high as $2 million each.”)
Tuesday April 29, 2008
Hmm.. Daniel Brody’s cat PJ has a blog called Meow.
Your State government watch: mandating ultrasound scans for women before they can get an abortion in the Senate, undermining evolution in the House. (Neither bill is a law yet.) Attention Republicans: how do you sleep?
Monday April 28, 2008
A writeup on my friend Kaí Nakpangi Green, manager of the Joseph Caleb Auditorium, in the Herald last week. (Thanks, Obalesque)
Ahh, Florida legislature, how we love thee. Just in the last year you’ve screwed us out of having our votes counted, debated what can hang from the back of a truck, and now this: the good folks in Tallahassee are considering the ‘I Believe’ license plate.
Now, this is an easy opportunity to engage in a little open Christian-bashing — and believe me, I’ll get into that in a second — but let’s consider the central argument against the plate. Sayeth Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida,
“[it] sends a message that Florida is essentially a Christian state” and, second, gives the “appearance that the state is endorsing a particular religious preference.”
Well no, it doesn’t do that. Florida has some 200 different specialty tags. Does anyone think the state legislature in any meaningful way “endorses” the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Florida Memorial University, or NASCAR? Of course not. What we have here is the highly dubious enterprise of the state raising revenue through its vehicle licensing arm. You can question the whole enterprise, but letting it go for the last 200 plates and then suddenly deciding that this one is somehow extra-contemptible is absurd. Of course there is no shortage of folks ready to do just that. But sorry, the state isn’t forcing anyone to get this plate or making it the default choice. And a quick glance at the list of current specialty tags makes it clear that yes, this plate will soon be followed by plates for a plethora of other religions, and maybe even one for us atheists (several folks have suggested a Flying Spaghetti Monster plate). The state’s policy has been clear: it’ll print a plate if it thinks more then a couple of dozen people are interested. No sane person would infer any sort of approval.
There are certain areas where the state should draw the line. I’m personally still horrified every time I see the “Choose Life” plate. Does one of the most agonizingly troubled moral debates of our time need to be reduced to a license plate? Should the Florida Transportation department be used as a revenue collection agency for assholes who harass pregnant women? Don’t I have a right not to be reminded of abortions of all things, when I drive down the road? By any reasonable, objective, standard this plate is a universe more offensive then some silly deceleration of faith.
Oh, about those Christians. Well, honestly: what can you say about folks who want to proclaim their religious belief through so tacky a means? Have you guys read the bible? You know it wants you to stone adulterers and gays to death, right? You’re cool with that. You know your precious pope is helping the cause of AIDS by opposing condom distribution in Sub-Saharan Africa, right? What, you don’t support those things? So, the bible is the word of God or is it not? Yeah… I believe there is a word for you: hypocrite. (That’d make a good license plate!)
As for the rest of us, let’s take a deep breath and go with it, as well as with the other religious plates that are sure to follow. The “endorsement” is non-existent, and remember that separation between church and state is a balance. It says that you trust in God on your money, after all.
Friday April 25, 2008
- Schubert, Berg and the Lyricism of Vienna, a festival of events (many free) anchored by performances by the New World Symphony (which are not free).
- Opens 4.48 Psychosis at The Naked Stage, a “porthole into the mind of a mentally ill woman.”
- Also opens Handel’s Julius Caesar at Arsht Center and 12 Angry Men at the Broward Center.
- Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.
- Tonight: The Hobo Film Festival starts its US tour tonight at Sweat, 8 pm. (Thanks Lolo)
- Viernes Culturales.
- Saturday: Zen Art Faire at Wallflower.
- Green Living Expo in Ft. Lauderdale (so don’t go).
- Elisabeth Condon: Seuss Dynasty, one of three excellent shows currently up at Dorsch, got reviewed by Michelle Weinberg (but I prefer the Grant Haffner stuff).
- ANR at Upper Eastside Garden.
- Not sure who goes to see Bon Jovi these days (40-something women?), but this Saturday is your chance.
- Sunday: Crap, as always. If so inclined, the Euro Car Show.
Thursday April 24, 2008
John Timoney update: still our police chief. Stunning. Latest development: the Florida Commission on Ethics has preliminarily found him to be guilty of violations of the State’s ethics laws. Comes next: a formal finding, and a recommendation as to punishment. What the hell is Pete Hernandez thinking?
Wednesday April 23, 2008
A little pussy chases a big cock. Ok ok let’s be nice — Miami, Bro has been rocking lately. Here’s two recent posts: Jimbo’s B-day bash, and Sneaking into clubs (easy, though it helps if you (1) have some gumption and/or (2) are a babe).
An expansion at Coral Way Elementary requires cutting down 6 old Ficus trees, and local residents are protesting.
OK, suppose you find an 8-foot alligator in your kitchen, between you and an open door. All you have is a broomstick. Can you prod the alligator out the door? (Bonus link: the temperature their eggs incubate at determines a gator’s gender.)
Tuesday April 22, 2008
The Florida State Senate just passed an amendment to a transportation bill that bans Truck Nutz, the metal dangling testicles you’ve seen hanging from the hitches of classier pickups around town. The final vote is Thursday. For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my state. (via kottke)
Michael Lewis unpacks some of the maneuvering behind the Global Agreement, the packaging of the port tunnel, performing arts center bailout, jungle island bailout, streetcar, Marlins stadium, and museum park, as one political package. The plan was approved because each piece had a few commissioners in support of it. Now, in large part because of economic troubles, the individual votes will be in serious trouble. Lewis argues that this is in fact a good thing.
The new ginger-bread house bridge in Hollywood.
Just passed the third anniversary of this’ere blog (that’s right — old enough to be your blog great-granddaddy), and so I was looking at some site stats, and the above graph struck me. We’re looking at page views per year, and while the numbers may be impressive, the trend is not. Extrapolating the numbers for 2008 out, we get 4,257,150. In other words, the difference between 07 and 08 is smaller then the difference between 06 and 07. That’s all kinds of bad — slowing growth, a gradual leveling off of readership.
On the other hand, this is all a bit of an oversimplification. Growth happens in fits and spurts and most of those come in the second half of the year, for whatever reason. And while my stats program doesn’t track unique IP stats (arguably a more accurate indication of readership), they have been growing more dramatically: 54,522 last May, 210,437 in March. Who knows what it all means.
Monday April 21, 2008
The Joseph Young House, built by the founder of Hollywood as his residence, is up for sale. The house is from 1925, is a huge 7,200 square feet, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Asking price is “$2.39 — 2.79 million.”
Friday April 18, 2008
- We got el grande shaft and they moved the Bead Fest to last weekend, so those of you who have been looking forward to it… well, sorry bro. Damn.
- All weekend, the 420 fest at Churchill’s, with free pot for under 21.
- Sunrise Balloon Race is Saturday and Sunday?
- Tnite: Go on the Secrets of Coconut Grove Twilight Walking Tour if you want, but don’t believe the hype about the “natural air conditioning.” Natural AC is a scam.
- Saturday: Soccer game! ($10).
- Lincoln Road Gospelfest. “Tickets cost five bucks at the door, but if you buy a Swamp Stomp T-shirt for $10, they’ll let you boogie on by for free.”
- Dispose of your junk in an environmentally friendly way.
- It’s “International Record Store Day” and Sweat Records’ 3th birthday, so of course a big celebration at Sweat starting at 7pm, including a performance by Nil Lara and DJ set by Otto Von Schirach. Moves over to Churchill’s 10ish for that 420 thing, performances by Jessee Jackson and Dino.
- Sunday: Best place for a contact high: Earthfest at Crandon park.
- I’m told it’s free admission at Metrozoo if you bring in an old cell phone. But their website is down so you’re on your own.
- Musician’s Forum at NWS, free, 3pm. (And while you’re there check out their construction site — these people do NOT mess around.)
- Attention old white people: Arrested Development plays the Green Apple festival, some sort of “consciousness-raising” thing.
- blissful frequencies/up in smoke at PS14.
Update: Oh right, there’s a big Porn Fest at the Convention Center. Also, cb says “Gospelfest is free and the Swamp Stomp is a separate event over at Jimbos.” I have no idea, read the comments and figure it out.
Thursday April 17, 2008
In front of the building at Meridian and 13th, recently redone. Some sort of Philippe Stark meets the old west meets Japanese traditional thing going on here. I tend to frown on this sort of thing when done to multi-residence buildings.
A fierce combination of soccer and hockey, indoor soccer is played on a small enclosed court with some thin astroturf. It’s much more frantic then regular soccer because of the enclosed space and no stopping (the ball’s stays in play if it hits the wall as long as it’s below the black line). Midtown Stadium Indoor Soccer [Flash site; will play Van Halen Jump really loud unless you mute your speakers before entering] in Wynwood (where the indoor skate park used to be), it’s free to watch or $120 per hour to rent the field, less during off-hours and weekends.
Two co-ed teams that played like nobody’s business, the spectators sitting just behind a flimsy net, flinching as the ball hurtles to within inches of their face. All set to club music. Apparently they’re booked through most evenings (open 24 hours!), so you can just swing by and watch some soccer when in the neighborhood. (Thanks Brook!)
Wednesday April 16, 2008
So, we were just talking about the North Miami bagel/deli circuit, and I thought I’d mention my favorite. A little less cramped and hectic then the Bagel Cove and not overpriced like Sage Bagels, Mo’s has that old-school, family-run atmosphere you’re looking for. (There’s a new place up the street at Miami Gardens Drive and 18th Street that’s distinctly not what I’m talking about here.) The food is what you’d expect from a diner, but with massive portions and skewed towards your Kosher stuff. Delicious breakfast specials, massive sandwiches, homemade soup. You get the picture. By 10 am on weekends every table is full, and there’s a line out the door. Service is usually pretty good.
Lox lox lox, and fish, smoked fish.
So, does somebody really want to tell me this isn’t a “real” deli? True, it’s not from the 60s, but cut them some slack. Honestly, I don’t know what to do with any of this stuff. I sort of just admire it while waiting in the checkout line. Note the back of the take-out menu for a list of stuff available to go by the pound: 8 different types of smoked fish, 8 different soups, potato pancakes, knishes, and something called Israeli Health Salad. (Actually, the “Salads” section is a hoot, and features turkey, shrimp, and egg salad, in addition to the ominously titled “Vegetarian Chopped Liver.”)
And of course pastries. And yes, you get a little plate of sweet nibblies when you sit down. Yum! Oh, thanks again to Susan for letting me use her camera!!
Mo’s Bagel & Deli
2780 N.E. 187th St
North Miami Beach, FL 33180 (they say they’re in Aventura, I say no)
Tuesday April 15, 2008
The first of several huge class-action lawsuits against the state’s past Citrus Canker policy has come home to roost. The Miami Herald article deals primarily with the legal technicalities of the case, but here’s the point: The state based its decision to cut down healthy trees growing within 1,900 feet of infected trees on junk science, and didn’t sufficiently compensate owners. Well, now comes the penalty phase — we’re talking hundreds of thousands of trees, and the plaintiffs are talking as much as $5,000 per tree. Tim Farley, who’s quoted extensively in the article (and you can hear audio of him talking some more!) says the Florida citrus industry should pay, “but unfortunately that’s not how the system works.”
Actually, a tax on the citrus industry to pay compensatory damages in these cases would be just a wonderful idea. But they’re not the really really real guilty party here — industry looks after its interests, right? That’s what they do, that’s what they have lobbyists to do, that’s what we expect them to do. The real criminals here are the people that put the 1,900 foot rule into place — the government officials who failed to stand up to the industry, to stand up for residents with trees.
So, what do you do to ensure this doesn’t happen next time, with the next situation? Nothing. You take it, and the next time you take it again. There’s your moral. Now, get out there and plant some citrus trees — they only take a few years to get to fruit-bearing age.
Update: Clarifying the compensation per tree. First of all, that’s what the trial is going to determine. $5,000 is the pie-in-the-sky figure the plaintiffs are starting with, a number to be compromised from, and even then it’s intended to be the upper range. Actual amount would be determined by the size/age/value of the tree, with the majority in any case being under $1,000.
Monday April 14, 2008
My third trip to Fairchild was the most interesting yet, thanks in part to unwillingly (and groaningly) submitting to the tram tour. The garden has over 500 volunteers, and among other things they lead all these tours, which are — surprise — extremely interesting and helpful in making sense of what might otherwise seems a somewhat sprawling estate. Fairchild has four distinct plant habitats and … well, I’m not going to regurgitate everything, but trust me, it’s worth it.
The public attraction aspect is almost secondary to Fairchild’s scientific function. A premiere collection of tropical wildlife, every plant on the property is a scientific specimen, and many are tagged for reference. Botanists come from all over the world to study this stuff.
In the arid area, almost every different plant is a different species. Set atop a small hill, the area was excavated and filled with fast-draining sandy soil to simulate a desert environment.
So, I guess we should talk about the Lichtenstein. There are only about 10 sculptures, but they’re pretty hard to miss of course. At their best (for example, this lamp light sculpture) they’re pretty darned good.
Also the house sculpture, charming enough in a photo, but employing a perspective gimmick that makes it look like it’s moving as you walk past it. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of tired “brushstroke” pieces to be had, but the best of it was pretty good.
Also, remnants of Chihuly abound. Here a lizard has gotten pretty comfortable with the red tubes. I sort of wish they’d get rid of the glass, because it’s pretty distracting. In the tropical rainforest all people were photographing were the sodding glass balls in the stream. (Tour tidbit: since Miami doesn’t get nearly as much rain as a rainforest needs, the area has a treetop-level sprinkler system — every layer of the rainforest needs water, not just the ground.)
Orchid fever in the enclosed conservatory building. I took the orchid pictures, but Susan took most of the rest of them, because like a knucklehead I left my camera battery at home. More orchid pictures at flickr: 1, 2, 3. Oh, one last thing. Fairchild has a butterfly garden now. Did you know that if you plant the right plants, butterflies will just start hanging out? Well, they planted lots and lots of them in one little area and viola — a year-round swarm of butterflies. Good stuff.
Friday April 11, 2008
- The Sicilian Film Festival of Miami at Miami Beach Cinematheque.
- Concludes the Miami Beach Dance Festival.
- Jim Camacho’s rock opera(!) Gurus at Churchill’s, tonight.
- Renaissance music concert at SoBe Music Institute (free, I think).
- The Newport Guitar Festival comes to Miami Beach. Hmm…
- Big Saturday at Target Globalbeat, including a show by the 18 Wheelers at 3 and free step-dancing lesson at 4.
- Margaret Cho at the Jackie Gleason.
- Soccer, people, soccer. The Miami FC battles Charleston Battery in their first home game of the season.
- Jimbo’s 81st birthday party Sunday, noon to sundown. Rob says, “Bring a birthday present for Jimbo (a good cigar), some food and drink, and a friend or ten. Pass the word to the right people…”
Thursday April 10, 2008
Yes, there are still Jewish delis in Miami.
Do not adjust your monitor — the geniuses in Hallandale insisted that the little bike guy face right, even if that meant two overlapping opposite signs.
Turmoil at the Herald, as the newspaper offers buyouts to selected employees, with a goal of a 2% reduction in staff. Sayeth the e-mail from the Herald’s executive editor to staff: “The buyouts will be available to three areas of the newsroom where the least attrition has come the past year or so. They include a portion of the photography staff, a group of veteran writers from several departments, and members of the administration staff, including news assistants, executive assistants and wire room staff.”
Forecasters are predicting the next hurricane season: 15 tropical storms, 8 hurricanes, 4 intense hurricanes. They’re doing it very sheepishly, though, because they know their predictions have been worth squat for years. Meanwhile, other scientists “worry that errors in the long-term predictions will undermine faith in real-time forecasts of actual storms.”
Wednesday April 9, 2008
Sometime in the distant foggy past (ok, 1889), Paul really was a single bakery in Croix, France. Over the last couple of decades, it’s expanded to a worldwide empire, with shops all over the world. Their foray into the US began in 2005, and currently consists of five shops all in our little neck of the woods. The North Miami Beach location is the center of the hub, where all the baking is done, and that’s where these pictures are taken.
Paul messes with my head a little bit. On the one hand it’s got a faux-rustic corporate sheen, with the fingerprints of expensive consultants visible everywhere (note, for example, the faux-mismatched chairs in the dining room). Walking in there feels more like walking into a theme-shifted Friday’s (or Starbucks, for that matter) then A La Folie. On the other hand, there’s the genuine French heritage, the decent food, and the wait staff with French accents. If you’ve ever been to Panera, it’s sort of like that, with maybe another notch up in quality and price, and the eurotrash theme.
So, the food. Above are my eggs benedict from a recent excursion. The goal was to spend as much as possible on brunch for two sans alcohol (and yes, you can get your brunch combo with Champagne or Mimosa), and mission accomplished at over $30 for what is, essentially, fast food. Mind you, the eggs benedict was delicious, as was every sandwich, pastry, and coffee I’ve tasted there. You line up, order your food, and they bring it to your table. All the bread is baked by Paul’s staff, as are the pastries (I believe?), and it’s served in that French style, where the portions are not overly large and everything has a small field-green salad on the side.
All the same, I’m inclined to give it the thumbs-down. The corporate stench that lingers in the air sort of ruins the experience for me. I can go to any diner and get food that’s almost as good and a lot more honest, and if I want faux-rustic corporate food I’ll go to Panera, Crackel Barrel, or some such, where it comes without the Epcot-planet overtones. Your mileage may vary.
14861 Biscayne Blvd. and other locations
N. Miami Beach, FL 33181
Update: In the comments, Kathie reports that Paul in Miami “doesn’t even compare” to Paul in Paris. Over at Flickr, BeanBlossom reports that service at Paul on Lincoln Road is terrible. (N. Miami Beach location always has gushingly good service. I sort of prefer medium snooty service with my French food, another reason I like Folie.)
A few recent articles on Miami artists: Brett Sokol on William Cordova, Adler Guerrier, and Bert Rodriguez, who are currently in the Whitney Biennial, a report on Bert’s piece, in-gallery therapy sessions, by our pal C-Monster, Victor Barrenechea on Scott Murray of Twenty Twenty, and … grr — the maroons at the Herald have yanked down the Wendy Wischer profile, though the slideshow of her work remains. (via)
Tuesday April 8, 2008
C.L. Jahn gives us a history of the last 2 years of the Coconut Grove Playhouse, and proclaims, “It’s time to admit it: the Coconut Grove Playhouse is dead.” But careful — what he means is the organization, not (necessarily) the idea of performances in that building (though that too seems unlikely for a long time, as the building is quite deteriorated). Bummer.
This shouldn’t be too surprising: guy/girl come down from New York, do all the stupid predictable shit, and write about it for the New York Times. (Aka a weekend in Miami for $500.)
I picked up a copy of Biscayne Times the other day, and found a piece on Miami guerrilla gardening group Tree-0-5, which plants impromptu gardens in abandoned lots. Of course the group was started by Rag Trade’s Stephanie, so there’s another reason to be bummed out that she’s leaving town.
Last week I wrote an article on what I perceive to be Transit Miami’s anti-car bias, and here is Gabriel J. Lopez-Bernal’s thoughtful response. This is a response to the response.
First, let me say where I agree with Gabriel. We are both urbanists, and share the goal of making Miami less car-dependent, more transit and pedestrian centered. So-called “livable” cities everywhere in the world feature public spaces that put the focus on humans (as Gabriel so eloquently calls us), with public plazas, pleasant sidewalks, and convenient mass transit that makes getting around town without a car not just easy, but pleasurable. An important component of this is increased density, and we both support Miami 21, which would put higher density development where it can do the most good, and bring about other pro-pedestrian changes. We would like Miami to be more like that, and less of a car-dominated no-man’s land of suburban sprawl. Where we differ is on how that change ought to be brought about.
What happens when you can’t park?
Gabriel has clarified his position to be that the way to bring change about is to reduce parking on new developments. By decreasing the number of parking spaces, you reduce the number of drivers going there, therefore reducing the number of drivers on the road, therefore increasing the use of public transit. I don’t like this approach for two reasons — because I don’t think it’s very nice, and because I don’t think it will work. Thought-experiment with me here. Let’s say you’re going to the barbershop. You hop in your 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid and head over to Lou’s Barbershop, in their new location at Lopez-Bernal Centre.
But guess what? LBC has insufficient parking, and there’s no space for you. That sense of frustration you’ve got there — that, to me, is not a way to win converts to the public transportation cause. Moreover, under Gabriel’s logic, you react to this situation next time by either finding a bus route to Lou’s, riding your bike, or car-pooling with a friend. Sorry, but this just does not wash with the reality that I live in. When parking shortages make driving somewhere difficult, the most natural reaction is to drive somewhere else! Lou looses your business, and the environment is the worse off if your new barbershop is farther.
Extending this logic to residences is even easier: will you move somewhere if there’s no place for you to park? Of course not. Friends stop visiting because parking is impossible (we know something about this on South Beach)? Start looking for a place to move to.
I am on board with a lot of the rest of Transit Miami’s solutions to this problem, including increased and improved public transportation. A good example is the streetcar, which, serving a corridor of new high-density developments (US-1 between Downtown, Edgewater, and the Midtown), would be a very good step in the right direction. People in those developments will have a real alternative to driving their cars. But make no mistake — they’ll still need cars, and people from outside the area will need places to park when they come visit.
South Beach is a very bikable city. The rest of the county is not. I don’t think the lack of a degree in urban planning makes me particularly unqualified to make those statements, but the use of Bogota as an example of rapid change is telling. Every Sunday in Bogota many roads are shut down, open only to pedestrians and cyclists. It’s quite something to see, but it does not represent a change in how that city goes about its business. Enrique Penalosa has made some improvements to the public transportation system (which most people there used before), but the urban bike lanes in downtown Bogota are empty.
Odds ‘n ends
For what it’s worth, I think that cycling and public transportation combined can be an effective way of getting around the city, and have said so and done so. I’ve disagreed with TM about the viability of a bike rental program. The very last comment at that link is from Gabriel, who said he was working on a map of how such a program would work in Miami-Dade. Well, there is no map, because outside of a very limited geographical area (say, that covered by MetroMover), the distances are just too great.
Oh, the thing about growing a mountain was a joke. But I don’t think it’s unfair to point out, when you’re talking about “experiences that both illuminate Montreal’s successes and Miami’s potential,” that a vast majority of your article has no relevance to Miami’s “potential” unless you intend to tear the whole city down and start from scratch.
Parking and the law
Technically, the article I was addressing had to do with a legislative issue — the reduction in legally-mandated parking spaces. As a matter of libertarian principle, I actually agree that the government should not be in the business of mandating parking in developments. I think adequate parking is in the interest of the developers and owners, and they ought to be the ones to determine the best definition of “adequate” (e.g. I don’t think Aventura Mall is being legally compelled to build those new garages). While this complicates the disagreement we’re talking about, I don’t think it significantly alters it.
The way forward
There is hope. A commenter on the previous post linked to a density index for various US cities. On a scale that assigns 6.22 to New York, 1.78 to Los Angeles, and 2.1 to San Diego, Miami earned a 1.55 (2000 figures, and note that this applies to the “Metro area,” e.g. for Miami it would include most of Dade and Broward). But as I stated above, parts of Miami are in fact increasing in density, and are good candidates for increased mass transit. As these lines are constructed, anyone who can will use them. The Coral Gables-Downtown commute is a good example, with some people taking the rail despite the fact that it’s more expensive then driving. If we want to change the city, the way to do it is to push for increased transit (which of course TM does) and pricing that makes public transportation an obvious bargain for everyone. Let’s build rail that goes to the airport, Little Havana, and for god’s sakes the Beach. And let’s not get distracted with trying to keep people from parking their cars.
Friday April 4, 2008
- D’Orient, a contemporary dance based on African and Middle Eastern themes performed by a Belgian dance ensemble.
- The artist formerly known as The Dade County Youth Fair.
- The Sunshine State Smackdown, a roller skating thing.
- Looks interesting The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore, tho the Edge Theater doesn’t have a website and the Theater League’s listings don’t have individual pages (?!) but find it buried on this page.
- Listen to me people, I’ve seen it (a previous production last year), and there is nothing more vile then Forbidden Broadway.
- Dude, cool flyers. Beets having to make a website.
- I know you were exited about getting in one more Kraftworks before Stephanie sells Rag Trade, but sorry it’s been canceled.
- Miami Dolphins Cheerleader tryouts. I think this website, but I got impatient and clicked on before anything loaded really.
- Like, a closing reception for the shows ad Dorsch, which I’ll probably be at because I still haven’t really gotten a chance to see the show, dammit.
- The work of John M. Synge
- The Punk Rock Primary at Studio A, which is $5 for under 21, free for above. More things should be priced like this. Take 50, subtract your age, and that’s your admission cost. Or better yet, staggered admissions with commensurate drink minimums. I’d get in free everywhere. Too bad I can’t stand listening to kids try to play punk.
Thursday April 3, 2008
Here’s the spot in Key Largo where I camped out on my trip. I should say first that as far as I know it’s private property, and doing anything there is probably technically illegal. Nonetheless, I was informed by locals that this spot is frequently used by teenagers for parties, and it’s obviously used by outsiders as an impromptu campground at least occasionally. I was asked for directions to the spot, so here you go.
Take US-1 to the Overseas Highway, Key Largo. Here’s where it gets tricky, because I’m not so good at linking up Google Maps to reality, but refer to this map, and what you want, apprently, is to turn left at Ocean Bay Drive, very roughly around MM100. (Alternatively, turn left at Key Largo Fire Station No. 1, and follow that road to Ocean Bay Dr, then turn right.) Follow the road awhile, over a bridge, until it becomes a dirt road, at which point you’ll see the Key Largo Yacht Club on your left. Keep following the road (there may be a gate, which is easy to go around and/or just open) and make the first left turn. Viola, you’re at the site.
Amenities include a concrete waterfront patio with fire pit and the most spectacular sunrise view I’ve ever seen. No running water, no toilet, and no electric. Then again I was desperate, and just thankful not to be pitching a tent in the Arby’s parking lot or paying $160 for a room at the Day’s Inn (no shit, that was the lowest rate). Please report your experiences.
Hallandale Beach has a blog. A deliciously snarky and weird one at that.
More Yay!: Alex, formerly of Stuck to the Plametoo, finally has a spanky new blog: Miami & Beyond. Still chained to the bitch which is blogspot, with an almost criminally pretty header, but I’d forgive anything. This is one blog I have been waiting to read since gansibele began commenting around 2005. Congrats!
YAY!: Article about the March gallery walk in OceanDrive by Brett Sokol with photos by me! No word on when my Bigshot Photojournalist certificate will be mailed.
Any way you slice it, graduation rates for Miami-Dade schools are pathetic. It is astounding to me that school boards are too logjammed and uncaring to get their shit together and fix this. I know the problems are difficult, but there are good solutions out there. Get the experts together, figure it out, and do it. I know it’s hard, but is it impossible? (Alternate link)
Wednesday April 2, 2008
What do you mean “ironic”? Photo by Miami Nights.
Transit Miami is a great blog, it’s been around a long time and done lots of excellent work, but lately I’ve been troubled by the increasingly single-minded, almost militant, anti-car zeal coming from over there. Now look, I’m a big supporter of public transportation, so I agree with the direction that TM wants to see Miami move in. But I think that advocating change is more effective when one has a firm grip on reality, and — well, let’s take a look at a recent post, Gabriel and Ryan’s open letter to the Miami city commission.
An increase of net parking spaces – to one per unit, as the city commission proposed – will only worsen the traffic conditions along Biscayne Boulevard and the surrounding streets. The aim of the city administration and all downtown development should be to reduce automobile dependency, not enhance it, especially in one of the few areas well served by public rail transit. Any increases in available parking will only serve as a means with which our residents will continue to neglect and undermine the intended purpose of public transportation.
They go on to say that supporting both public transportation access and parking spaces is “contradictory – essentially taking one-step forward and one-step backward,” and conclude by quoting the notion that “in order for public transportation to be successful it [must] be at least equally attractive as the alternatives.”
I have to admit to being baffled by this. The way to encourage public transportation use is to make driving more unpleasant, parking more difficult? I have two suggestions here. First, that improving public transportation is a better strategy then worsening the experience of driving. Second, a realistic understanding of where Miami is, and how far and fast it can change, is beneficial when advising on public policy meant to hasten that change. Let’s consider.
When we talk about “public transportation in Miami,” we are of course referring to Miami-Dade County. The county runs the public transportation system, and the City of Miami accounts for a small fraction of the county’s population. It takes only a passing familiarity with Miami-Dade to see the difference between it and the cities with the great public transportation systems that TM so admires: most Miamians live in single-family houses with great big lawns, while the citizens of those cities live far more often in high-rises, mid-rises, townhouses, and rowhouses. In other words, the population density is higher. It’s a fact of life that the potential effectiveness of a public transportation system is proportional to density. Yes, increasing population density is a worthwhile goal. And yes, Miami 21 will move us in that direction. But these changes happen slowly, and in the meantime the simple fact is that the overwhelming majority of Miamians, whether they live in the great suburbs of Miami Gardens of one of the new towers in downtown, have a car, need a car, and use a car everyday to commute and run practically all of their errands.
But furthermore, as those errands and commutes become easier to do with public transportation, the way to nudge the nice folks is make that public transportation more pleasant. To try to get them to switch by making driving more difficult is suicide for elected officials and inhumane for public professionals. I’d think it’d also be inadvisable for bloggers who want to change public opinion.
Sure, it’s fine to look at other cities, but let’s be realistic about how much they can “illuminate … Miami’s potential.” Miami is not going to have the public transportation system of Montreal any more then it’s going to suddenly grow a mountain. And the same goes for cycling in the city — last year I challenged TM to show me how a bike-rental system like the one that works relatively well in other cities would look in Miami. Nothing came of that because it wouldn’t work here for the same population density reasons. (And trust me, I know a thing or two about cycling in Miami.)
These situations will improve, and we should certainly work towards improving them, but it helps to be realistic about the time frame we’re talking about: when this happens, it’s on the scale of generations, not years or even decades. In the meantime let’s do what we can to make public transportation — and driving — easier and more pleasant.
Tuesday April 1, 2008
An MFA in art is serious business. Not only does it mean you’re serious about this stuff and you intend to spend your life making art (75% of fine art BFAs make no attempt to have a career as an artist*), but you should have your act together, and be making serious work that can be judged at the highest levels. Right? So. Here’s the latest crop out of FIU, one of Miami’s better art programs.
Harumi Abe is a friend of mine, but I don’t think I’m being unfair to say that she stole the show. Her paintings popped off the wall, and they’re both hyper-real and completely mundane. You know that line Franklin used to kick around his footer, the one about the painting of a carrot starting a revolution? We’re getting close here.
So, I’m given to understand that there’s some technical difference in Fred Karrensberg’s work that makes it incorrect to say that he’s the obvious protege of Bill Burke, but you could do worse then to be just that. These pieces are mysterious and rich, and one even managed to combine cast glass and video without being laughable. (But I wouldn’t recommend trying that again.)
Dan Mintz has been working on this body of work, photos of his son, for years, and it’s come together spectacularly. Cheers, Dan (although might I suggest a middle initial or something, because there may be a google problem lurking). Photography always suffers in hastily-re-photographed reproduction, but I’ve managed to mangle this piece more then usual. Apologies; I assure you the original was crisp and masterfully printed.
Angelica Clyman. Here’s where we start to get into trouble. I understand about the carrot and everything, and Clyman obviously has the light thing figured out, but her attempts to convey spirituality and deepness through images of a couple hanging out outdoors
I also wasn’t completely convinced by the work of Chaitra Garrick. Based on stories told to her by her grandmother, they’re charmingly crude mixed-media drawings of people and animals in peculiar situations. The best of them exude a sort of iconic charm, and maybe Garrick will find a way to harness more of that in future work.
I made this number up. But I’d batcha it’s close.
After being unable to gain the necessary number of signatures to have the intersection in front of his house turned into a traffic circle, Marc Sarnoff got himself elected to the Miami city commission, had the rule waived, and the traffic circle got built. Good times.
Someone asked awhile back what I thought of the Key Deer situation. The size of dogs, key deer have lived in the southern Keys since the whole area was attached to the mainland. They were hunted into near-extinction in the 1940s, and are today they’re on the endangered species list, and have a sanctuary in the southern keys, where development is highly limited, and fences block access to their habitat. That rubs some locals the wrong way, and some have taken it out on the defenseless animals killing them, often in grievous ways.
So, I’ll tell you: I think anyone who willfully harms one of these creatures should be sentenced to a slow and painful death. At the same time, if the government passed laws that infringe on property owner’s rights (and this applies to many more situations then just this one), I think they should be made whole — compensated for the difference between the land’s previous value and the land’s subsequent value. Bought your land after the laws were passed? Tough luck. But if you bought land, and subsequent laws make it impossible to do what you wanted to do with it? Well, that smells like a form of eminent domain to me, and I think the law should treat it as such.
BTW, I passed through the deer’s territory on the recent trip, but didn’t get a chance to hang out with them. Apparently they’re very friendly, and will come right up to you and eat out of your hand. Awwwww.