Friday June 29, 2012
So, Obamacare, right guys? But also the face cannibal. Maybe especially the face cannibal, since right now the Obamacare thing is getting lots and lots and lots of attention. (Although maybe not one particular aspect, which being how fucked up it is that Anthony Kennedy voted against it.) So the autopsy report of Rudy Eugene, the causeway cannibal, was released. The Miami Dade Medical Examiner brought in an outside toxicology lab to assist, and together they found nothing but pot in his system. The Google is not strong with me this morning, and I’ve not found the report, or even a press release, on the medical examiner’s web site. But here is the quote being repeated on numerous news sites:
The laboratory has tested for but not detected any other street drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs, or any adulterants found in street drugs. This includes cocaine, LSD, amphetamines (Ecstasy, Meth and others), phencyclidine (PCP or Angel Dust), heroin, oxycodone, Xanax, synthetic marijuana (Spice), and many other similar compounds … within the limits of current technology by both laboratories.
Now let’s recall the timeline leading up to this incident. Rudy lives in Broward. He wakes up at 5:30 am during Urban Beach Weekend and heads to South Beach with his bible. He spends the morning there and when he tries to leave in the early afternoon he finds his car broken down. Next we have him walking back toward the mainland along the MacArthur Causeway, shedding his clothes, swinging from lamp posts, and tearing pages out of his bible. At around 2 pm he crosses the bridge to the mainland and finds a homeless guy, attacks him, strips off his clothes, and bites off pieces of his face in a prolonged attack. Eventually a police officer arrives at the scene and orders Rudy to stand down, and when he doesn’t the officer shoots and kills him.
There was all sorts of speculation that Rudy had done drugs on the beach that caused him to go psychotic, and an initial coroner’s report indicated that there were undigested pills found in his stomach. (The coroner’s report released this week doesn’t appear to mention this, which is extremely odd. If the initial report was wrong, why not say so to clear it up?) But here’s the thing: the bible. It was there at the end, and it was with him when he left the house in the morning. That’s the key to the whole thing, because it suggests that the attack wasn’t caused by something that happened on South Beach, but something that happened prior to everything else in this story.
He shed his car, his clothes, and even his gold teeth. Everything except for his bible. It was next to him when they hauled away his shot-up body. He tore pages from it ceremonially as he walked across the causeway. (Have you walked the MacArthur Causeway? I’ve walked it. I’ve biked it. I drove across it twice a day for years. It is maybe the most beautiful stretch of road. Walking it is not untranscendental.) Rudy was clearly having a psychotic/religious experience. (Or as Eowyn puts it, “demonic posession.”) Check out Brief Psychotic Disorder. (“Grossly disorganized” behavior? Check.) The guy lost his mind, quite possibly due to brain damage or a brain tumor, which are headline causes of Psychosis. I’m assuming the coroner would have mentioned a tumor if they’d found it, so it’s something that does not show up in this kind of autopsy.
Thursday June 28, 2012
The sinister looking main office building of Dade County Public Schools has had a banner on its south-facing wall forever, and for years it was a close-up of one ernest-looking student doing her work. Boring, and due to budget cuts that banner stayed up way longer than it should have, and over the years in the sun got embarrassingly faded and sad looking. Well, the school board finally decided to spring for a new banner last year, and this is the result. I can see how the intentions behind the photo shoot that led to this image were good, but the fact that none of the people who saw this image on its way to being hung from the side of the building said anything, well, it just tells you everything you need to know about the people in charge of educating our future leaders.
I want to count the ways in which this picture is terrible, but I’ll just note that the DCPS staff decided — at the very start — that sending a photographer into a school to take a photo of actual students actually learning could not result in a presentable photo and therefore they’d have to “stage” something.
Wednesday June 27, 2012
Friday June 22, 2012
Sorry, I am just here playing with the NYTimes’ random Summer drink generator. Or as I like to call it, the tonight drink generator.
This image, created by Hialeah Haikus (which is usually a blog but is currently redirecting to a listing of a book by the same name, which you should probably buy) was posted to Facebook by the always awesome Liz Tracy. But so ok: look at the middle line. How many syllables do you count? The correct answer is 7. “We’re” = 1 syllable. “going” = 2 syllables. “Versailles” = 2 syllables. BUT if you’re Cuban apparently you pronounce it with three syllables. So, by the powers of poetic license, I concede that this is a right and proper haiku.
Wednesday June 20, 2012
All this while, Steve and I have been doing a podcast. Today comes the 27th episode. Topics include Powerpoint, the usefulness of the field of psychology, Mitt Romney, and yes, the return of Critical Miami. If you feel so inclined, you can subscribe in iTunes here.
Folks, here’s my vision of the near future. Elections happen in November. It’s close. Florida ends up deciding the race again, as the NYTimes map suggests. The last poll, now a month old, had Romney ahead of Obama by 6 points. It’s no good.
There’s plenty of jockeying going on, what with Romney considering Marco Rubio for his VP choice and Obama’s immigration announcement. But, same as it ever was, it’s going to come down to the economy. And the economy is looking grim. The unemployment numbers get worse with each month. Europe is about to go off a cliff. Bad stuff.
My question is, what do we do about it? There are five months before the election. Most of the people reading this believe that Barack Obama needs to be president for four more years despite his legion of disappointments (highlights include the continuation of the policy of secrecy begun by GWB, the drone war, and the treatment of whistleblowers). We’re on the ground here in Florida. What can we do to persuade our fellow Floridians who voted for Obama last time but are considering voting for Romney this time that they shouldn’t? The future it is in our hands people. We need a course of action.
Last week I had a run-in with Herald security guards in which I was told that photography of the Herald building from the sidewalk is not allowed. Well, Bill over at Random Pixels called up the Herald and got some answers. It turns out that the Herald does indeed own the sidewalk and the street in front of their building. I’ve marked in blue their private property in the picture above. They do, in fact, have the right to not allow protography, to ask anyone to leave, or do anything else you could do to someone standing in your driveway. (Well, technically they sold the building last year and are now just leasing it temporarily, but that’s not really relevant to the issue.)
As far as I’m concerned, that settles the matter. It’s their property and they can do whatever they want, including not allowing photography. Do I think this is a dumb rule? Yes, I do; there are dumb rules all over the place, so has it ever been. Do I think the Herald should post “No Photography” signs or “Private Property” signs? No, I think that’d be ugly and even dumber. Do I regret being a jerk to the security guards at the Herald? No. I was a jerk to the guy who was a jerk to me first. He very clearly said that photography was “not allowed” and didn’t say shit about the sidewalk and street being private property. I was perfectly polite to the second security guard, who came closer to explaining the situation correctly but still only made vague reference to “the Herald’s area” (although he knew it also included the street). I do think the security guards could be better informed about why they’re enforcing the rules, but I also understand the point that they’ve got a lot of other things to worry about, and I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I’m cool with the Herald again, and I wish them well in their move to Doral or wherever, where presumably they won’t have to worry so much about pesky people with iPhones photographing their building.
Tuesday June 19, 2012
I’d have to say the #1 upcoming concert I’m exited about right now is Dirty Projectors at Culture Room on August 7th. If ya didn’t know, now you know. You will unfortunately have to navigate Ticketmaster’s user-hostile, scammy, impossible to figure out online ordering, and pay $16 in fees for two $20 tickets. Fucking Ticketmaster.
Can you believe I’ve lived in Miami for over 30 years and I’d never been to Fox’s Lounge until last weekend? There’s a mystique that surrounds Fox’s that it’s hard to imagine a real place (a bar) living up to. Originally a pilot’s hangout in the 40’s, it’s sort of a Raymond Chandler/Charles Bukowski old-school bar, once classy, then sleazy, now mildly renovated and reformed, but yet to lose it’s original charm.
I have been inside some dark bars, but when you first walk in Fox’s is dark. You find your way by feel (or memory) to one of the booths or barstools in the small first room. It turns out there are two other small rooms that are actually well lit. People come here to eat, and I hear the food is actually not bad.
After awhile your eyes adjust and you get this. Much to my chagrin there is a TV set mounted to the wall, otherwise it is exactly as I would have it. There are a handful of beers on tap, but they seem out of place. This is a place for simple old-school cocktails. I had a whiskey sour (single-liquor drinks are two-for-one during happy hour), which was spot-the-hitting.
On the wall is a stained-glass geometric red fox light. In the hallway is a free jukebox with 60’s music. Tellingly, the mirror in the bathroom is by the door, so you can come in, do your business, wash up, and never have to look at yourself. Anachronisms abound, like window outside around back where you can buy liquor. It’s the sort of thing that’d make a person want to blog about Miami. Better go before they turn it into a Starbucks or a CVS.
Monday June 18, 2012
So, first of all, I realize that nobody has time to check in with a friggin blog every day. This is why I have set up some handy social media things which you can use to follow Critical Miami in whatever way you like. Hooray!:
- First and foremost there is a Critical Miami Twitter account that you should follow. Will tweet every time there is a new post. (You may also be interested in following me, Alesh, the person.)
- Additionally there is a Critical Miami Facebook page. If you are the sort of person who Likes things on Facebook you should most certainly Like it. I will be posting links to each article there, so theoretically you can follow CM this way, tho this is subject to the whims of Facebook’s news feed.
- For you sassy types, there is a Critical Miami Tumblr page which mirrors all the posts, so you can enjoy CM from right inside Tumblr.
- And for the last few people who still use Google Reader or whatnot there is still the Critical Miami RSS feed. (If you’re plugging this into Flipboard my hat goes off to you.)
Now listen up! Eyebrows have been raised at the large type and lack of sidebar on this site. I am going for a new-fangled, mobile-friendly thing, inspired by this Zeldman post and redesign. (His fonts make my fonts looks small!) I have moved some of the stuff that was in the sidebar (and links to the social media feeds) to the footer at the bottom of this very page. Your input in all of this is welcome. Links to archives and a search box will be comeing soon, but let me know what else you miss and generally what you think. Note also that I am seriously considering converting the comment system to Disqus, so thoughts about that pro or con are welcome.
Finally, I want to thank everyone for reading. This site has been offline for longer than it was alive, and the fact that I can come back and immediately have so much positive reaction is incredibly gratifying.
Sunday June 17, 2012
Correction: In the Photography of the Miami Herald building is “not allowed”? post, I got the link to Carlos Miller’s blog wrong. The story of the other link is here. Apologies to Carlos, and bigups to sloppy blogging!
Update: And here is Carlos’ post about my post and the incident. Carlos contacted a couple of Herald reporters, and it sounds like they were disturbingly nonchalant about the whole thing. Some people have stuck up for the security guards in this situation, and I absolutely agree that the problem is with head of security or whoever set the policy, and the managers of the paper who allow it to continue. Total bullshit, and yes, we should go down there with cameras. Name the day.
Update: Facebook discussion.
Friday June 15, 2012
I don’t have a whole lot of interest in visiting the not-so-new Parrot Jungle on Watson Island. I see where it makes perfect sense for them to be close to the urban center, and I even see the need for attractions like that in places like that. But there’s an old-Florida charm to the original location that I think I’d miss too much. But it turns out that the original location is still open, boringly renamed Pinecrest Gardens.
Thursday June 14, 2012
Wow, wait till you hear this one. So I’m out for an early morning bike ride, and snapping a few photos, and I end up in front of the Miami Herald building for this one. Out the garage comes a guy in a Volkswagen Beetle (with a white “Un-Beetle” decal, so, you know, clearly a douche) comes out and tells me “no photography.” I laugh him off, but he’s quite serious. “I’not allowed to stand here and take pictures?!” says I. “No, you’re not.” says him, now puling a badge out and waving it at me, without identifying himself as any particular law enforcement. “What’re you going to do, call the cops?” say I. “Yeah, I will!” says him. “So call them,” says I. “Just don’t take any photos!” says he and pulls away.
So I circle around and talk to another security guard, who is very nice about it and somewhat equivocal, but he says yeah, photography of the building is not allowed. “But it’s a public street” say I. “Well, they consider this Miami Herald area” says him, pointing at the street with a completely straight face. “If you want to go across the street, that’s something else…” He also says something about how it’s because it’s a landmark(!) and that they’d like me to get a permit if I’m going to be photographing. I mentioned something about how I’d like for them to cut me a check for a half a million dollars, and I guess at that point he realized he had a wise ass on his hands and said something about just being cool about it.
So, first of all, what a sorry pair of backing-down-ass security guards, right? But more to the point (and I actually wonder whether this needs to be said) how fucking ironic is it that in this era when photographer’s effective rights are being chipped away, and the job of news photographers like Carlos Miller* to do their jobs is getting harder and harder (to speak nothing of our civil liberties), the Miami Herald is contributing to this extra-legal “no photography rule” nonsense. Do the reporters and editors know about this “rule”? How far are the security guards actually trained to go in enforcing it? (And do they have clear boundaries?) And when will the idea get into the popular consciousness that “rules” happen on private property and on public property the only “rules” are laws, and it’s very poor policy to have your security people confuse the two and try to represent one thing as another?
* I originally got the link to Carlos’ blog wrong. The original link went to a … I’m not sure what the fuck it is, actually. The story is here. Thanks to Carlos for the correction.