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Sunday June 18, 2006

Manola makes Paella. Let’s have more Miami cooking!

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Tuesday August 28, 2007

Ian's hurricane Andrew journal

Click to read Click for slideshow.

My friend Ian was publishing a sort of zine around the time of Andrew, and in one issue he transcribed his journal from during and after the storm. His house was in the part of town that got hit really hard, and this is about as good an account of what happened that I’ve seen. I held on to it, and the 15th anniversary of the storm seems like a decent time to share. Click the image above to read. I also have high-resolution scans of the cover and inside pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. I unfortunately lost contact with Ian (don’t even remember his last name), and if anyone reading knows him, please have him get in touch, at the least to let me know if I can leave this up.

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Tuesday September 4, 2007

Utilities-marked sidewalk

paved sidewalk, spraypainted by utilities

People, this does not bode well. This is the Biscayne Boulevard sidewalk in front of the American Airlines Arena, where the fancy improvements are underway to make it a pedestrian paradise. The paving is still underway (half a block there are unpaved sections and stacks of bricks), but the whole stretch in front of the arena has been spray-painted, not by vandals, but by utilities. Here’s a page with the color codes; there were different colors farther up the block.

So . . . what the fuck is going on here? Did they just put all this sidewalk down only to tear it back up? Is there someone who just decided the street will NOT look attractive if they have anything to say about it? Did someone make some idiotic boo-boo? Either way, some right hand somewhere doesn’t know what the left hand is doing, and this does not bode well.

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Tuesday December 26, 2006

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

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Tuesday January 9, 2007

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

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Thursday October 19, 2006

Jim DeFede is moderating a debate between the candidates for Miami District 2 commissioner tomorrow (October 20). 7 pm at the Bayshore Lutheran Church, Biscayne Blvd. and NE 60th Terr. You can send questions you want him to ask to debate@biscayneboulevard.com. (via Biscayne Boulevard Times e-mail)

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Friday November 24, 2006

For anyone who thinks the Radio Martí thing is over, check out some recent posts at the Pulp and Herald Watch. That’s right — still raging!

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Tuesday January 29, 2008

Look here: Kyle, the proprietor of all-time best local blog Miamity, long ago shut down, has a new blog.

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Monday April 16, 2007

Manola runs down healthy food spots on the Beach.

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Sunday August 27, 2006

south florida in ernesto's orange cone!

Sure hope you wern’t planning on buying any plywood, water, or batteries today! Update: The 5 pm update brings us ever so deeper into Ernesto’s cone of possibilities. Update: I’m sure it’s nothing: Evacuation of tourists ordered in Florida Keys.

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Wednesday October 18, 2006

Jim DeFede’s mom: “Eat your spinach. It’s good for you. Have a salad, it won’t kill you.”

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Thursday July 19, 2007

Fun with the Coconut Grove billboard

Coconut Grove Grapevine, July 14.

Transit Miami, July 19.

Wannabe Yuppies, Rich Hippies

— Critical Miami.

Update: Another one.

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Monday March 17, 2008

If you’re going to review which restaurant bathrooms are best for doing blow, do it right and provide the criteria on which you judge: “7) Bidet? (Only problem is, you might never come out).”

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Thursday March 27, 2008

Boo, hiss: I stopped by Canela last night about 10:20 pm (went out of my way, because I know they’re open late), and arrived to be told by a waiter that they were closing because it was a slow night. Their regular closing time is supposed to be 11:30 pm. Look for more slow nights, Canela, because that’s bullshit.

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Thursday July 27, 2006

For those interested in an overabundance of information on the housing market, SFBJ does an extensive writeup of a recent report done by Metrostudy. Dig in.

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Thursday September 7, 2006

Hey, I have an idea: let’s forget all this crap about XHTML, accessibility, hyperlinks, and all that bollocks, and just put everything on the internet in the form of gigantic jpegs. (I got an e-mail that linked directly to this jpg, by the way: it’s not part of another page somewhere.)

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Tuesday May 9, 2006

Comments on herald.com!

Be still my heart: this article in the Herald (on the debate over rock mining) allows comments!! Has anyone ever seen this before? I wonder if this is an experiment, or the beginning of a new policy of some sort? In any case, it’s long overdue.

Nice system, too: there’s a comment rating system, a separate RSS feed (the herald has the RSS thing down), and some transparent moderation going on: “Messages 89.6 through 89.10 were deleted.” Nice job, Herald!

Update: Another and another.

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Friday May 19, 2006

There’s been so much grumbling about the raise that county commissioners are asking for that I’ve been waiting for someone to come up with a clear and persuasive argument for the raise. Michael Lewis to the rescue.

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Wednesday February 28, 2007

Subtropics: Helena Bugallo and Amy Williams, and Joan LaBarbara

Subtropics: Helena Bugallo and Amy Williams

I didn’t quite know what to make of these two during the group pieces the other night. Their contribution was wispy and ethereal, and most difficult to register of the group. But when Helena Bugallo and Amy Williams took the stage, it was obvious from the first notes that they are a powerhouse. They opened with a set of pieces by Conlon Nancarrow written for the player piano. That’s right — they performed music written to be played by a machine. These pieces often involve simultaneous lines at different speeds, notes played together very close to each other on the keyboard, and a general cacophony of piano. Imagine the trip from Keith Jarrett to Cecil Taylor, and then go again as far in the same direction, or imagine ten schoolchildren hitting keys at random on a single keyboard, but then imagine that notated note for note . . . well, it sounds unplayable because it is unplayable, and if I hadn’t seen Bugallo and Williams do it I’d not believe that it was possible.

They actually somehow made it look effortless, too. Working almost as a single being at one piano (the picture above was taken during a later piece by a different composer), their hands frequently crossing and overlapped in bizarre configurations (sometimes all four hands in the space of one keyboard octave), taking turns turning the pages of the score, and hitting each jarring note exactly dead on. It was simply breathtaking.

Bugallo and Williams took a break from Nancarrow to perform three longer compositions by other composers, most notably the Sonata for Two Pianos by Salvatore Sciarrino. From the Subtropics site:

The two performers must simultaneously operate in two mindsets: one characterized by a great deal of indeterminacy (no precise rhythms, pitches, dynamics, or tempi are specified) and the other dominated by extremely precise ornamentation (black and/or white note glissandi of varying lengths, no less than fourteen different types of trills, and a wide range of clusters). The gesture of ornamentation is brought to the forefront.

They’re not kidding. The performance was a romp through ultra-fast repeating patterns on the upper range of the pianos, full of the aforementioned glissandi and trills, and it was positively dazzling. I think iSAW has been recording the whole festival, and this piece belongs on any collection of highlights.

Subtropics: Joan LaBarbara

What’s surprising about the work of Joan LaBarbara is actually how unique it is. Voice is such a primal component of the human experience, yet we spend so little time considering its possibilities beyond utilitarian speech and a still relatively conservative approach to “singing.” LaBarbara has been exploring the other possibilities of vocal performance in the 1970s, and remains one of the very few artists working in this mode. Trained as a classical singer, LaBarbara began toward the end of her training to gravitate towards the extended vocal techniques and an experimental approach out of a desire to work with living (read: avant-garde) composers, and hasn’t looked back since. I cherish my copy of Voice is the Original Instrument, and I was blown away by seeing her live.

She performed an all-Cage concert, suitable to the theme of the festival but highlighting her (considerable) talents as a traditional singer more so then her “extended technique.” But the material was impeccably chosen, and we did get a taste — a piece where LaBarbara dueted with a pre-recorded version of herself (synchronized with a stopwatch — see the photo!), hissing, yelping, and . . . actually nevermind, verbal descriptions will never do this music justice. Suffice it to say that it’s transportative in a way that nothing else is. She also performed a piece with short phrases interspersed with long silences (Cage trademark), which was the height of drama (at least until someone’s cell phone went off).

I could go on and on about Joan LaBarbara, but suffice it to say that she’s a legend, and it was a privilege to see her perform.

Tonight: The Subtropics Marathon! (7 pm, $10)

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Monday October 8, 2007

10 ways the new miamidade.gov website sucks

miamidade.GOV

“OK, we’ll show those bastards. We’ll re-design the site, top-down, make it all Web-2.0 looking, throw every widget under the sun at it, and be damned if they’re not blown away.”

Uh, sorry, Judi. You blew it. Big time. So much so that a comprehensive, methodical analysis would take weeks, of which I ain’t got. But let me give you some highlights:

  1. You’ve got five (oh so slick) tabs running across the top: ‘Home,’ ‘Service Center,’ ‘County Agencies,’ ‘County Hall,’ and ‘Calendar.’ With the exception of the first and last one, do you really think anyone who doesn’t work in a county government has any idea what those things mean? You get paid for obfuscation?
  2. It’s a non-standards-compliant mess of HTML tables. I sympathize: web standards have only been globally accepted since around 2002. Nobody would expect you to get up to speed when building a website for a body that only governs 2.4 million people.
  3. Some of your links launch new windows . . . some don’t. This would be annoying enough if there were some rhyme or reason to it. There ain’t. Speaking of links, about half the links to existing pages have broken.
  4. What’s the single worst method for delivering online video? Windows Media? OK, let’s use that exclusively. (I’m letting the random links to PDF’s slide.)
  5. Here’s another great idea: let’s have as many sections of the site look and behave as completely differently from each other as possible! OK, you’ve got the main page. Compare the following: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 . . . ok, I’ll stop. Those last two aren’t technically even on the same domain (btw, is there a reason for that?). This takes the cake, though, right? No navigation for you! (What makes this particularly fun is that all these pages are a just a single click off the main page. Imagine what we could find if we dug a little.)
  6. With the possible exception of the Luminati, every other website in the universe that requires registration has the registration button on the login page. I searched like crazy for the registration button, and after a long search was informed that “Due to our recent upgrade, however, registration is temporarily suspended.” Ah — so this is one of the new “features.” Got it. Curious about why I was trying to log in?
  7. because the “My Calendar” thing seemed like the only hope for getting useful information out of your otherwise hopeless calendar page. Speaking of the calendar, if a sane rethinking of the whole thing is out, can we at least have the events open to real pages, instead of crappy popup windows?
  8. On the “Information for . . .” menu, residents are #9 on a list of 11. Thanks for making it abundantly clear where we rate.
  9. Extra poke in the eye to Firefox (or any non-IE/Windows) users: home page opens scrolled down a random number of lines, “intro” video distorts into its letterboxed shape, and of course none of the previously mentioned FUBAR has been addressed.
  10. . . . all of which brings me to the sad conclusion that this is nothing but a shitty new skin on the same shitty old mess. We think these people are going to implement county-wide wireless internet access? They can’t even get a website working right.

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Friday September 23, 2005

Critical Miami hates YOU

That’s right, you. We’ve just learned that MIA played I/O Lounge this past Sunday. Somehow, this information slipped though the cracks of our event management system. We rely on our thousands of readers to serve as backup to this system, letting us know about good shit that’s going on.

You guys let us down; we know that lots of you saw MIA (one of the most import artists of our time) on Sunday. That you couldn’t find the time to drop us an e-mail is a true dissapointment.

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Sunday December 3, 2006

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

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Wednesday May 2, 2007

Price gouging (again)

gas Once again, our friends over at Metroblogging are outraged by South Beach gas prices, and throwing around accusations of “price gouging.” I corrected them on this when the same thing happened last year, and got an earful from our friend Biscayne Bystander:

It is illegal in the state of Florida to sell gas below your competitors.

The Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (yes they do exist) does not tolerate price discrimination. Infact, this little known and well organized lobbying group had the Motor Fuel Marketing Practices Act enacted into law in 1985.

With all due respect, “The MFMPA prohibits below-cost selling at retail . . .” does not mean it’s illegal to sell your gas cheaper then the guy down the street. It means it’s illegal to sell your gas for less then what you paid for it. This prevents large retailers from undercutting local competition at a loss to themselves for awhile, until the competition is driven out of business and the big guy gets 100% of the market share.

Let’s say you’re a mom and pop gas station. Actually, nevermind — let’s say you’re a mom and pop doughnut store. I’m a big ghastly doughnut empire, and I move in next door to you. Well, my massive nationwide profits allow me to sell doughnuts for less then it costs me to make them for a few months. All your customers come to me, and after a few months you have to close down. Then I raise my prices back to normal, and I can go about my business without any of your annoying competition. That’s what the law prevents.

Once again: expensive prices ≠ price gouging. Gouging is when prices go up to take advantage of a civil emergency. Expensive is when prices are high because of other factors, like the cost of taxes and insurance on South Beach. I explained all this back in 2005 in the original price gouging article but nobody was reading then.

The gas stations on the beach are for emergencies and for the carelessly rich — everybody else buys their gas on the mainland. (BTW, that photo is from downtown — on the beach it’s much more expensive!)

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Tuesday August 15, 2006

underwater reef looks sort of like a big flowerpot with holes

10 People To Spend Their Afterlife As An Artificial Reef. Seriously. The company is Eternal Reefs, and they’ve been doing this a long time. They cremate you, mix your ashes in with a couple of hundred pounds of concrete, and sink you off the coast of wherever you want. No prices on the web site, unfortunately.

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Thursday February 1, 2007

Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo

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

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

Yo La Tengo

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

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

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Wednesday December 20, 2006

What's up with Washington Avenue?

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

DSC_3930.JPG

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

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

Rustical Drilling

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

Who wants to open a nightclub?

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

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Wednesday August 8, 2007

Barack Obama is coming to Miami

Barack Obama rally

Saturday, August 25th, Barack Obama will be in town, and you can get tickets to go see him speak at the Miami-Dade Democratic Party website. This isn’t a blog about national politics, but I feel compelled to say that Democrats, at least, should seriously consider going to see him. I’ll explain why as briefly as possible.

Barring some unforeseeable event that would give a Republican a chance, the next president will be either Obama or Hillary Clinton. Either one would make a good president in terms of policy, but I think Obama would be a much better leader for the country in terms of someone we have to listen to/see all the time. In a word, it’s all about sincerity. (This is something of a circular concept, because for a politician being “sincere” often means appearing sincere, but let’s let that go.) I think even opponents of Obama and even supporters of Clinton would agree that he is more sincere then she is. To me, that makes him the better choice for president.

That would be enough reason to go see him, but there’s something else. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that Clinton has the edge in the race. If things go the way they look like they’re going to go right now, she’s the next president. But for now, it still very much could go either way. So you have maybe the last chance ever to see Obama talk while he (and everyone else) believes that he may well be the next president. If the reports of his oratorical powers are to be believed, this is an opportunity not to be missed. Also, insofar as his slimming chance is still substantial, your attendance (and $30 ticket price) is helping push things his way.

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Friday September 22, 2006

Yoko Ono will be hosting a party during Art Basel 2006.

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Saturday December 31, 2005

Critical Miami year-end chin stroking

Ordinarily, this space would be reserved for a review of the events of the last year. I’m not going to do one, though, partly because there are already lots of reviews out there (for example, you can read this one by our pal Rebecca Wakefield) and partly because I’m half a world away, and now the DSL went out and I’m stuck on European dial-up, and I just can’t be bothered.

What I can be bothered with, though, is a wrap up of how Critical Miami has done this past year. Web usage statistics are a pretty tough nut to crack, but you can see from my graph that page views are up (the specific numbers are probably exaggerated, but the trend ain’t bad). Since we obviously have a lot of new readers (and I can’t blame anyone for not digging through the archives), here are some of the more interesting things Steve and I have written:

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Happy new year, kids!

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Tuesday October 4, 2005

Tuesday morning linkiage, statewide edition

Hey, y’all, our state Attorney General has a blog. Um, sort of. And if you said “he must be running for something,” give yourself some bonus points (via Sayfie).

What are florida developers killing this week? How about manitees?

Dimitri Saïd Chamy is building the new Miami Light Project site. There are some broken links and whatnot right now, but it looks like it’s going to be impressive.

Check out these photos by Onajídé Shabaka.

Entertaining: Florida News has been calling up random FL congressmen and bugging them about taking that money Tom DeLay’s been indicted for.

Doing anything? Go help these nice folks sort books. You might snag a couple of good ones for yourself?

Janaína Reis, 17 years old and from Brasil. Killed by her 22 year old boyfriend.

Didja know that the Drudge Report is based out of South Beach?

Huh? Save the Biltmore?? Oh, they’re not really talking about this Biltmore. Our Biltmore doesn’t need savin’.

Franklin is simultaneously exited and horrified about Bodies: The Exhibition.

What did we think of the Elian interview, you ask? Actually, we sort of agree with 26th Parallell’s take, and with only a slightly lesser sense of weariness.

One more: Check it out: This is broken picked up our Bellsouth rant.

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