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Friday August 5, 2005

State of the Blog 2

The starter went out on the Critical Miami limo this week, resulting in posting problems, and staff having to ride public transport: fun! We’re pleased to report that Miami-Dade busses are predictably slow, annoying, but ultimately effective. The K line goes from South Beach all the way up into Broward, but there’s a catch. Do you see on the page where it says that only every other bus goes to Broward (half of them stop at the Nude Beach)? Neither did we, and we caught the wrong one. But eventually, after much zig-zagging and construction detours (on the bus, that is), we made it.

The fun came the next day, when it was time to get the car to the shop. The car’s starter is (apparently) dead; it can be push-started, but does not start on its own. Call in to AAA, where, because the membership was recently opened, our friendly operator had to re-type all membership information from one computer screen to another. She asks what we need.

“The car won’t start. I need a jump or a push start, I’m not really sure.”

“OK. The service in your area is radio-dispatched, and they won’t be able to call your cell phone when they’re coming, so you need to wait by the car. It should take an hour, or less.” We wait outside in the relative heat of a South Beach August morning. (Note that this area has more tow trucks per acre then any other place in the US other than New York City.) Forty-five sweaty minutes later, the cell phone rings. It’s a recording:

The AAA service truck will be there in 15 to 20 minutes. Please go outside and wait by your vehicle.

ARGH! Why did the other lady lie?? Fifteen minutes after that, the phone rings again; a person this time.

“Hello, this is AAA. The driver will be there in about one minute, so you can go outisde now.”

Impressively broken. AAA pulls up in a pickup truck, not a tow truck. A kindly middle-aged gentleman with a sizable belly gets out with a jump-start kit, which fails to do anything. I ask him about the push start.

“Well, I’ve got a bad leg, so I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

He assesses the situation, eventually pulling out a frighteningly short rope with a sharp hook on the end, ghetto rigs it to his truck, and begins to climb into the cabin for what will turn out to be a successful—if nerve-wracking—pull-start. His cheerful last words:

“We’re actually not supposed to do this, but I’ve got to get you home!”


Friday February 15, 2008

A directory of spots in Florida where there are frequently speed traps, organized by city.


Wednesday May 24, 2006

Nice: Channel 10 tested the ice at a number of local restaurants just to see if it had, say, fecal material on it. Well, whadya know, they came up positive in quite a number of cases. Click the link for a list of places you may want to avoid, and wonder about the places they didn’t test (or the guy who scooped some ice after sloppy wiping right after Channel 10 left). Personally, I don’t get too worried about stuff like this, but I’m heartened to see Jerry’s on the list of non-fecal bacteria list.


Thursday November 8, 2007

Hey, wouldn’t the Freedom Tower be a perfect spot for the Bay of Pigs museum? (From Suzy’s comment #9, here)


Tuesday January 2, 2007

Miami Today says: “Industry leaders see signs of recovery for housing market.” Eye on Miami responds: “Bull.”


Tuesday June 13, 2006

Manola’s report from Exxxotica this weekend. Hilarious.


Wednesday September 19, 2007

Jackie Gleason’s occult library on exhibit.


Monday January 16, 2006

City of Miami vs. Jimbo's? (updated)

Bocce ball at Jimbo's

An ominous article in New Times celebrates Jimbo’s while suggesting that its days may be numbered. Seems that a master plan is in the works for Virginia Key, and city officials are not too keen on including Jimbo’s in it. They’re not threatening to come in with bulldozers just yet, but they clearly want to keep their options open:

[T]he pending Virginia Key master plan — with its stated goal of introducing land use policies and developing public open spaces, including possible ball fields in the area of Jimbo’s — has put a question mark over the bar’s future. What some consider Jimbo’s charm — a raft of code violations, from rambling roosters and rotting mattresses to rusting car hulks and rank outhouses — doesn’t help its case with the city.

“You can’t enforce code in Little Havana and not out there,” said Miami City Manager Joe Arriola. “Places like that don’t belong in the City of Miami.” Despite his own opinion, Arriola said he is open to feedback by way of planned public forums on the master plan. “There’s no hidden agenda,” Arriola said. “Jimbo’s is on the table like everything out there is on the table.”

Introduce Arriola’s e-mail at this point (it’s jarriola [at], if you must know . . . ) would be beside the point – there is going to be this master planning process, and only through that official vehicle will we (the people) have any say. Rob Burr, who runs Jimbo’s website, sent out an e-mail to mobilize the troops:

Every once in a while, someone in local government wonders aloud why we should not get rid of Jimbo’s. They say he has no lease, you can’t consume beer on the premises, smoking fish is not allowed, etc.

It may be time for all those that understand and appreciate Jimbo’s to pay attention to what’s going on. James Luznar is one of the nicest, most personal persons on this earth and he deserves our support. He deserves to operate his business, as he has for decades, without the interference of of those that would try to remove him from his enclave on Virginia Key.

I urge everyone to sit up and take notice. Let’s hope it’s all talk and no action. If not, the time to stand up and be counted may be near.

There you have it folks. Jimbo’s is one of those places that shouldn’t exist, but does. It’s one of the Miami secrets (like how to get from going south on Biscayne Blvd. to west on I-395) that locals know about and visitors rarely figure out. It seems unlikely that it’ll survive another fifty years, but then it’s pretty unreasonable that it’s survived the first fifty.

Are the quasi-vagrants that frequent the place going to show up for citizen feedback master-planning sessions? How would a place like Jimbo’s get formalized in zoning ordinances, anyway? And what’s going to happen when Jimbo Luznar, who is 78, is no longer with us?

Update: Rob says:

Some of Jimbo’s friends are meeting at Jimbo’s at noon Saturday to discuss his current problem with the city. If you are interested, and your schedule permits, come to Jimbo’s Saturday at noon for a discussion with Jimbo.


Thursday January 11, 2007

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


Tuesday December 6, 2005

Ad-hoc radio guide

The problem with the WRLN pledge drive is that even after you give them money, it doesn’t stop. So we present some radio listening tips from your FM dial:

  1. 90.5 when south of downtown, of course. Gimme gimme indie radio.
  2. 92.3 is still a favorite.
  3. 102.7 pop music from the third quarter of the 20th century. It’s important to get your fill of this station now, because their audience isn’t getting any younger, and it’ll probably be gone within a few years.
  4. 103.5 for surprisingly great hip-hop, often with the dirty words left in.
  5. 103.9 plays amazing reggae up in Broward. This morning, they played a new Patra track, then two guys with thick accents and signal-processed voices discussed it. At length. This station is so good it would be worth driving to broward to listen to it.
  6. 105.1 does great tracks about 1:1 with bland MOR-R&B ballads, which can be an effective mix. Plus, don’t they blues every Sunday afternoon?
  7. 105.9 can be fun in small doses. Turn it off after a couple of songs or you’ll become an old white guy with a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off and a gold chain.

I’ve also been scanning the AM dial looking for a talk-radio alternative, but have come up with nothing listenable. It’s interesting to note that, yes, liberal radio can be every bit as irritating as Rush. Good work, guys.


Wednesday May 2, 2007

“And then there are those days when my car is rammed at a stoplight in Opa Locka by two thugs with guns and drugs trying to evade a multi-car police chase.”


Wednesday March 12, 2008

Jonathan just posted a bunch of new photos. I particularly like this one, of a tractor trailer tower pulling a tractor out of the bay.


Thursday May 18, 2006

Oh boy, everybody’s coming down on Johnny Winton: Jim DeFede, the police, and even John/Miamista. That’s gotta hurt.


Wednesday July 25, 2012

What's up with housing prices?

edgewater development

First, a quick recap: here’s what I said on February 13, 2006:

Privately, I’ve been advising home-owning friends and family thusly for the last six months or so: find a moment (and find it soon), to sell your house, put your stuff in storage and rent an apartment for a year (maybe two or three), then buy your house (or one similar) back, for a maybe $200,000 profit. It remains to be seen whether my advice is worth anything (to date, everyone has emphatically ignored it), but for the first part, housing prices are finally starting to crash.

Then, on January 14, 2009, writing at Buildings and Food but in the voice of Critical Miami, I said this:

Now, listen carefully: it’s time to go shopping. Remember the factors that led to the bubble? Idiotic interest-only mortgages, gross overbuilding, and what seemed like terrifying hurricane seasons as far as the eye could see. The picture today? (1) mortgage idiotics universally recognized and being dealt with to the tune of trillions of dollars from the federal government, (2) overbuilding spectacularly finished, and (3) relatively calm winds for the last two seasons. To boot, (4) an incoming president that everyone seems to think Can Fix Things.

So here we are, another three years down the road, and time to check in and see what’s up. Heres the graph for housing inventory, which tells an interesting story:

housing stock in Miami

But for an even more vivid look, check out the plot of housing prices for the last 6 years. Both are from our friends at the Department of Numbers:

asking prices for Miami Florida

Yup: housing prices dropped steadily from 2006 to 2009, at which point they began to level off. The actual bottom came in the second half of 2011, and prices have been recovering fairly sharply since. For the record, anyone who sold when I said and bought when I said really did stand to pocket between $150 and $200 thousand. But so where are we now?

We’re at a very interesting time. Florida’s unemployment rate has dropped from over 10% to 8.6% over the last half year. (Not amazing I know! But an improvement over 11.4%, which is where we were in 2010.) From where I sit in Edgewater, development appears to have started up in full force. There’s one condo at the end of my block that was recently finished and is now selling, one across from me that’s being finished up, and an empty lot behind me where construction is just starting. A response to the low inventory I realize, but just a few blocks away is Paramount Bay, a positively huge building completed in 2009 that, judging by the number of lights on at night, sits over 90% empty. Drive around Miami and you see the same everywhere: construction cranes.

This suggests that a steep rise in prices, anyway, is not forthcoming. But remember that for the time being we’re in a world where the subtleties of European international relations will determine whether the world’s economy will recover or re-crash. (As evidenced, e.g., by this random news story from the NY Times. Oh, and since you’ll ask, here’s the Times’ resident Sourpuss’ most recent missive on the European economy. Grim, kids.)

So, what the hell is going on? Why are condos being built and sitting empty when inventory is relatively low? Peep this:

Interest is particularly strong from Venezuelans and even Argentinians, [Luis Marin, vice president of TSG Realty] said, because shifting government policies in their home countries makes investing in properties there more tricky. Basically, it’s a way for the wealthy in those countries to protect against domestic political uncertainty. “The good thing about investing in South Florida, you’re investing in the first, best country,” Marin said. “You have more security fiscally; you’re not going to have trouble.”

Could it be true that South American investors are buying up Miami condos to protect their investments? Believe it or not, South America is in the middle of “an economic boom.” Meanwhile, 65% of housing sales in Miami have been all-cash transactions (that’s 77% of condo sales and 46% of house sales).

So where does all this add up? If you bought a house in 2009 or 2010, give yourself a pat on the back. Otherwise, I’d be careful right now. Officially, prices are still low. But the condo market makes me weary. And Europe could collapse at any moment, sending us into the double dip that the Sourpuss has been promising us for years, just as Romney is taking office. On the other hand, Europe has been promising to collapse for months and hasn’t (despite pretty close to the worst case scenario w.r.t. Greece). It could shore itself up through the magic of German bonds and we could be in a rosy economic picture just as Obama takes his second oath of office. See? Uncertainty.


Wednesday October 18, 2006

A meeting about the Miami streetcar will take place tonight. btw, the url at the end of the Herald article is so mangled I can’t even guess what it is.


Wednesday July 18, 2012

Shut Up and Play the Hits, the L C D Soundsystem film, is playing tonight only at Tower Records, and as of right now there are still tickets available for the 9:30 pm showing. If you miss this you will be very sad watching it on your VCR or whatever.


Thursday July 27, 2006

Miami Beach 1955

Here’s a cool pendant that Ross gave me. Early silk-screen printing kitsch ephemera at its finest!


Friday August 3, 2007

Good evening. Please note that Miami Nights now has an RSS feed. Thank you, gentlemen.


Saturday May 10, 2008

Gallery walk tonight


Tuesday February 12, 2008

Bike lanes around the world separated from regular traffic, often by a row of parked cars. Bad idea, because right-turning cars can’t see the bike, and you die. Bike lanes need to be in very plain view of regular traffic, so I agree — the Barcelona solution would have been a beautiful way to go for Biscayne Blvd. Fuck you very much, city planners and FDOT.


Tuesday October 11, 2005

Happy Jew Year!

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

If you know any Jewish folks (and “some of your best friends are Jews,” right?), you might be aware that they’re in the midst of the holiest time of year. The 10 days between Rosh Hashana
(New Year’s) and Yom Kippur (Juvenile Sardine) include Shabbat Shuva, the “Sabbath of Returning,” a period for self-reflection in which to justify their existence to god. The way it works, god opens the Book of Life on Rosh Hashanah, and by the time he slams it shut 10 days later on Yom Kippur, he has determined whether or not your dirt nap is scheduled in the next 12 moons.

Sounds cut and dried, no? But the way it’s set up, you have those 10 days to repent, to cleanse, to ask forgiveness of those you’ve screwed over or treated badly in the course of the year. And if your performance is satisfactory, maybe the Big Guy cuts you a break, although let’s face it—the god of the Old Testament was known for having a shorter fuse than George Steinbrenner. And a little less money.

On Yom Kippur, often referred to as the Holiest Day of the Year, Jews are required to fast, avoiding all food and beverages from sundown to sundown (actually, 25 hours). In so doing, they emulate the angels, which never eat or drink—or bathe, and in fact, certain Orthodox Jewish groups practice this omission as well. In sticky South Florida, this is inadvisable if popularity is a priority. In any event, it means that at the conclusion of the holiday—yeah, some holiday, sort of like calling a trip to the colon cleanser a holiday—there are lots of teeth-grindingly hungry people let loose in the streets. Many head for restaurants to break their fast.

South Florida has a large Jewish population, which suggests that area restaurants must brace themselves for an influx of ravenously hungry diners. I called around to a few that share their neighborhood with synagogues to ask what it was like. (None of them would talk to me unless I promised not to identify them.)

“It’s the worst goddam day of the year,” one deli owner exploded. “I wanna tell you, and remember, these are my people I’m talkin’ about, they’re pushy and demanding when they’re not starvin’ to death. When they bust through that door on Thursday they’re positively drooling. Some of ‘em start licking the salt shakers!”

The manager of a Spanish cuisine restaurant shrugged his shoulders. “The customers are no worse than they are any other night around here,” he said. (Pause. Smile.) “They’re no better, either.”

The Chinese restaurant manager got indignant. “Jews good customers! Jews very good customers! You no make fun of Jewish customers! Thursday very big day here for Jewish customers. You come you see! You no make fun!”

The guy behind the barbecue waved his hand dismissively. “Nobody’s eatin’ pulled pork sandwiches on Yom Kippur, ” he said. “A lotta Jews come in here alla time, but Yom Kippur Pork? That’s just fuckin’ wrong.”

At the pizzeria the chef laughed and clapped his hands. “Oh, boy, Young Kipper!” he exclaimed. “Bigger than the SuperBowl! Better’n Christmas and the 4th of July! What I do is I bake ahead—I got dozens and dozens of shells all set to go half heated. They come through the door all dressed up screamin’ and wavin’ and shovin’ aside the old and the lame and I’m slicin’ and boxin’ and grabbing the cash! You never seen so many people burnin’ their mouths, tomato stain all over their white shirts, neckties and beanies. Hooey! I bring in my whole family to help out. I fuckin’ love Young Kipper!”

So there’s your story, South Florida. Family values, respect for tradition, celebration of diversity, observation of faith. What a great community we share.

[See all Articles by Steve]


Wednesday December 5, 2007

Everglades anniversary


Everglades National Park celebrates its 60th anniversary tomorrow. As we pointed out a couple of weeks ago, the restoration of the park is in serious turmoil, and the latest is that the Army Corps of Engineers are trying all sorts of tactics to get elected officials to pony up the necessary money.

There is a lesson here about green accounting, and the true cost of the choices that we make as a society. Unfortunately we are not yet at a point of looking realistically at this stuff. Alas, our choices now are to bite the bullet or to let the wilting of the ‘glades continue (I’m looking at you, piss-on-the-UDB Miami-Dade commission). I hope we choose right and make Marjory proud. Anywho, I stopped by last weekend and got this photo.


Saturday November 26, 2005

SoFla blog scene picks up steam

Sorry to bug you with a nother post about Miami blogs, but there’s lots going on. We’re going to sail through it, and then lay off the blogs for awhile; fair enough? (BTW, we’re much more interested in blogs about Miami, not just bloggers who happen to be in Miami).


Wednesday April 30, 2008

New designs for Miami Art Exchange and Transit Miami, both modern and very nice. Congratulations, gentlemen.


Thursday September 29, 2005

This is bullshit

our webhost experienced a server crash, resulting in the delete of today’s post. we’ll have it back up ASAP.

Update: the post is back up; unfortounately several comments were permanently lost.


Monday March 24, 2008

The West Palm Beach sheriff’s department sent in 100 deputies to break up a fight at the Sunshine Flea Market yesterday. That’s how you do it, folks: nothing beats a small army.


Monday May 8, 2006

Jim DeFede on the boot camp beating death. He’s never been more right: “the special prosecutor in the case needs to move forward in pressing criminal charges against not only the guards who were present and participated in this heinous act, but the nurse, who stood by and watched as a young child was killed.”


Saturday July 7, 2007

2007.5 Saturday

doll factory


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??


Tuesday February 21, 2006

Outoftowner Tuesday