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Thursday April 3, 2008

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.

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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!”

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Thursday August 2, 2007

What's up with Miami Spice?

Miami Spice website

Miami Spice gets way more gushing then it deserves. For $35, you get an appetizer, a main course, and dessert. Drinks and tip (“Base the gratuity on what full price would have been, not on the actual check.”) are extra. It runs August and September. Basically, this is a great deal if you’re a Fat American who (1) always orders appetizer and dessert, (2) likes going to posh restaurants, and (3) doesn’t much care what you eat there.

If you’re the coupon-clipping type, this means that you’ll probably eat out more in the next two months then you do the rest of the year. More power to you, but this is not the approach to life that I’m advocating. Part of the fun of eating out is reading the menu, and eating exactly what you’re in the mood for. That’s out the window. Restaurant portions are generous, and if you’re not full after a regular meal, you need to evaluate your appetite (and probably your waist size). Dessert should be split with a date. Also: you’re not saving money. Even if you drink nothing but tap water, you’ll be spending close to $50 per person (if you followed the tipping rule above). For just a few bucks more, you can eat like a normal person — a menu, a plate of food, and a glass of wine, and not have to check the scheduled days and meals when “the deal” applies.

Basically, this is a cheap (where “cheap = “inexpensive”) stunt by the restaurants to drum up publicity. Take the slowest months of the year, throw together a fancy website, send out some PR, and wham — you get “an event” that gets some traffic. A whole mess of sponsors kick in money and advertising help. Everybody wins.

Sure, some of these restaurants are outrageously expensive, and you could potentially get a great deal. Just weigh that against the possibility that Miami Spice customers have been snubbed in years past. I recommend you to go out and eat at nice places throughout the year, as the mood strikes you. Dress well, order what you want (the more expensive things on the menu are usually worth it), splurge on wine and coffee, tip generously, and generally live large for a night. Put it all on a credit card. When it’s paid off, repeat. You’ll be happier in the long run.

Update: The Herald article hilariously gives the [non-clickable] website as “ilove miamispice.com” — you guys are just messing with me now, right?

Update: Of the great minds please us to be thinking similarly.

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Monday March 26, 2007

On 'Critical'

When the whole Carnival Center thing happened, I remember being sneeringly asked something like, “what qualifications do you have to be a critic, anyway?” Well, for the record, I have none (nor do I agree that writing about thing should be left for so-called qualified professionals). But the question has stuck with me, and from time to time I’ve introspected about what I meant by the word ‘critical’ when I named this site. It really breaks down into about four distinct meanings, which I consider to have the following order of relative importance:

  1. There is an almost slang-like sense in which the word was used in the late-80s/early-90s to mean ‘important.’ See also “crucial.” It turns out that this corresponds roughly to the first definition of the word in Webster, but for me the word still has a casual connotation. Also, to the extent that critical=important, it’s writing about important things — or things we pretend are important because they’re fun to argue about — not that the site itself is supposed to be important.
  2. The critical thinking sense. In other words, writing for the sake of the fun of picking apart ideas. Plus: “How can I know what I think until I see what I say,” a quote so good it variously gets ascribed to W.H. Auden, Raymond Carver, Oscar Wilde, Richard Hugo, Winston Churchill(!), Graham Wallas, and E. M. Forster (the latter is apparently correct). I hadn’t gotten to write a whole lot since college, and picking localness as a subject gave me a wide field of topics to work with. (Well, and plus there was no Miami omniblog at the time — had SotP been around, I doubt I’d have started.)
  3. The “writing negatively about things” sense. Because it’s fun to criticize things, even if you couldn’t do it any better yourself. Heck, sometimes it’s important to. I think this is the sense that people get first when they hit the site — note the Metafilter link, and the Destination Blog kiss-off: “not critical enough.” Hmph.
  4. Finally, the “writing judgmentally about cultural stuff” sense. I actually try to tread lightly when I do this, and again, I don’t claim any particular qualifications. But what’s the big deal, anyway? We all go look at, listen to, and do stuff, and it’s only natural to talk about whether we liked it or not, and why. There’s no persuasive reason why this should be left to professionals.

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Tuesday January 9, 2007

Shaq's house

Shaq’s house on Star Island is up for sale: $35 million. He bought it for $19 million in 2004; it was built in 1992. Read the phunny article. “After seeing how the decorator has blasphemed and insulted the house, Your Mama now understands why the O’Neals have being trying to unload this place practically since the day they moved in.”

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Wednesday June 21, 2006

Transit Man has a pretty great rant about parking around MPAC. I think his point is that there’s public transportation around, so less emphasis should be paid to a parking shortage. To which I say: more power to you! On the other hand, opera fans are older, well-dressed people. I find it difficult to picture 2,200 of them riding the rails to get to the theater. But overall the point is well taken. (p.s. The site design still needs some work. Can we have some margins between the text and the edges of the column? And can we not have a “MORE>>” link with each article witch doesn’t take you to anything more?)

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Monday April 17, 2006

Some news on parking for the Miami Performing Arts Center.

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Thursday February 7, 2008

The Knight Foundation has announced major grants to three local arts organizations: $10 million to the Miami Art Museum, $5 million to MoCA, and $5 to the New World Symphony. Other organizations and individual artists can apply for a chunk of another $20 million available for smaller grants, which must however be matched by funding from other sources. Given this, and given the recent $30 million Arsch gift and the $10 million recently given to the Harn museum in Gainesville, the question becomes: who’s going to be the next to step up with an 8-figure donation?

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Thursday September 28, 2006

IMG_5823.jpg

A couple of months ago, the Dirt had a thing about the photo of Gil Dezer at the Trump construction site in Sunny Isles. I thought it would be fun to go photograph it, finally got around to it. He’s the second guy from the left. Here’s more about Gil.

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Thursday September 22, 2005

Who's afraid of historic preservation?

“The older I get the more I admire and crave competence, just simple competence, in any field from adultery to zoology,” said Mencken, and we’re starting to admire him for it. We agree, in particular, as it pertains to web sites. Franklin had a strong hand in the design of the new dorsch site. And while it’s much more generic in apperance then the previous site, it’s easily navigable and useful. So, mission accomplished. That much cannot be said of many web sites with much much higher budgets. Alfredo Triff recently took a few local museums’ sites for a spin, and was pretty forgiving when, for example, the navigation system of the MAM website failed to work (to this date, the site still trips at resolutions other than 800 pixels wide).

Bad enough, but god save us from the City of Miami: Historic Preservation web site. Upon arival, the 3d-viwefinder wheel graphic serves to inform us of little more then that we’ve arrived at a sit upon which lots of money has been spent. Nothing in particular tells us what we should expect, or where we should click. The first item on the menu reads “Sites & Districts,” so let’s give that a shot. Nope . . . that link takes us to a 4×4 grid of colored rectangles that have no apparent meaning, and cannot be clicked. Study this page long enough, and you might notice a link to a “map” along the left margin. If you click it (and if you have flash) you’ll see a map with a detail area around downtown. Clicking that will take you to possibly the most “useful” page on the site (3 combinations of fairly well hidden clicks later; kind of like beating a bycicle lock), a poor map of downtown and area where “sites” are indicated by light green squares on an orange background.

While you’re at it, check out this useless page, where some of the “links” go to a No listing at this time message, some link to one item, and none give any useful information other then “name.” Also note that 180 pixels is the largest image this site thinks you’ll ever need to see. Also note, for example, the Art Deco page, which does everything but let you link to all the art deco projects on the site (check it: their first “example” links to a 404 error!!). We’ve been around the block, and seen our share of less-then-useful sites. This one is our blue-ribbon winner, though.

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Tuesday May 9, 2006

Speaking of Rick, he’s all exited because M****st (I will not link them in a house. I will not link them with a mouse. I will not link them here or there. I will not link them anywhere!!) linked to MB411. Whatever. And for the record, I have been to an auto show. It was when I was 14. They had a mock up of the A-Team van, with a mounted machine gun. It was great.

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Thursday May 1, 2008

County commission sells out Everglades

Last week, the Miami-Dade commission approved several developments beyond the UDB, and while the developments are still up in the air pending a mayoral veto, this spells trouble. A Time Magazine article very nicely lays out the compromised integrity of various members of the commission (“One of the Lowe’s project’s biggest backers on the commission is Jose “Pepe” Diaz, who is under federal investigation for allegedly receiving gifts from developers whose plans he’d voted for.”), but it also points out a larger point.

Nominally underway is a $10 billion Everglades restoration project funded by the federal government. In actuality, the whole effort is troubled and behind schedule. How, the Time article asks, can South Florida expect such a huge national investment in the ‘glades when we can’t resist paving more and more of it over? (via TM)

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Thursday July 6, 2006

Tere is unhappy with all the furniture stores in Coral Gables. Personally, I like the furniture in those places (can’t afford it, tho). But it’s interesting how these stores open in close clusters: there’s another group of them along Biscayne in North Miami. I like the fact that Tere photographed each of the stores without going it.

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Friday September 1, 2006

Sunshine State with overheard snippets of conversations at the S&S diner. With gorgeous photos. (Previously re. the S&S: 1, 2).

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Friday September 29, 2006

The Book Fair is coming, November 12 – 19th. Mkh has some issues with their web site. Check: click “2006 Confirmed Authors List” on the home page, and you get to a page that says “2005 Confirmed Authors,” and who’s URI is “miamibookfair.com/2004/author_eng.htm.”

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Tuesday August 8, 2006

Rocket Projects has closed?!

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Tuesday October 17, 2006

Yay: A new batch of photos from Frances Nash. I love the one of the power plant.

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Friday June 17, 2005

Take this Carpool and Shove It

HOV lane 6 am - 10 am, 3 pm - 7 pm The shit was supposed to hit the fan with extended “High Occupancy Vehicle Only” lanes on July 1st, but now the whole thing is postponed until further notice. Someone at FDOT maybe had the thought that _“If a program is failing, why not expand it”_ was not the best policy. Weird, eh? We will be calling our man Ali K on Monday to get to the bottom of this.

Meanwhile, the FDOT’s whole stupid website seems to be built from PDF’s. When will the madness end??

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Monday April 16, 2007

“These Haitians left their homeland in a desperate attempt to escape the horrendous political, social and economic conditions in Haiti.” — a letter sent by South Florida’s three Cuban-American members of Congress regarding the 101 refugees being held at the Broward Transitional Center. Also: Day 12 of the hunger strike. Information on how to help at FANM. BTW, the cost of applying for a green card is about to go up from $325 to $905. Rick pretty well lays out how messed up that is.

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Monday October 22, 2007

FEMALE LOVE, IT’S AL WAYS TEMPORARY” And getting it painted on your cars is the best solution? I don’t know what she did to you, buddy, but it’s time to let go a little.

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Tuesday April 25, 2006

The Herald hired a PR firm to manage public opinion after firing Jim DeFede. “Am I alone in thinking this is an unseemly violation of the trust newspapers have with their readers? The press, after all, is charged with the task of getting past the cover stories of P.R. firms to get to the truth about government, business, etc. If readers can’t get the unvarnished truth from the newspaper — free from the influence of hired obfuscators — then where can they ever expect to get it?”

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Friday August 17, 2007

A rundown of bars (not clubs) on South Beach. I’ve really been enjoying Matt Meltzer’s work for Miami Beach 411.

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Monday December 12, 2005

Wilma aftermath on Boing Boing

This is pissing me off the more I think about it. Boingboing, a site I normally love, ran a very long account of hurricane Wilma and aftermath by one Ralph T. Castle, who was living in north Broward when the hurricane struck. The pervasive theme of the (fucking long) piece is his contempt for his neighbors; Castle had been living in South Florida just a little over a year when Wilma hit, and it’s pretty clear how much better then everybody else he thinks he is. For example, he derides folks for their attempts to seek gasoline in the aftermath of the hurricane:

But then I realized: The people in this gas line couldn’t do what I had done. They had already used so much of their gas, they were now trapped in the disaster area, and—better still—the $20 refuelling [sic] limit guaranteed that they would remain here. This knowledge made me happy. If I did decide to make a run north, the highways should be relatively empty.

This is a guy who drove several hours north of town with six gas cans, keeping his truck and his generator topped off throughout the week he describes. He keeps the generator running 24 hours a day, running two refrigerators and a freezer. When others run their generators?

Some of my neighbors were running generators, presumably to keep their kids pacified with DVDs and satellite TV. The night was noisy with the droning of small gasoline engines, and I wondered how long that would last.

Great. The sense of superiority and fear (he says things like “I imagined the entire southern end of Florida sliding into a state of anarchy, like a giant version of the New Orleans Superdome.”) runs through the whole thing, as well:

Add it all up, and I see some folks getting hungry a couple of days from now. They may not deal with this in a very mature manner. Floridians tend to assume that in their feelgood semitropical paradise, they are exempt from adversity.

And this one:

Indeed, some food distribution centers have started giving away military rations, but these centers are widely scattered, and my neighbors may run out of gasoline to visit them, because people have been cruising around, admiring the hurricane damage as if they’re on vacation.

Of course, Castle himself decides to go through a drive in the middle of the hurricane, again immediately afterward, and then (in search of gasoline) every day thereafter. It’s some downright unpleasant reading, and one wonders why the usually great Mark Frauenfelder decided to post it on BoingBoing itself (normally they link to interesting things posted elsewhere).

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Wednesday May 25, 2005

24"

24 inch rims Sweet Mary mother of Jesus! Is this even safe? Actually this picture was taken about a month ago, and these are all over the place now. We’ve even heard of 26 inchers. Critical Miami is exited about the oversize wire rim trend, because it’s going to make spinners suddenly look old and lame.

Hopefully.

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Wednesday May 9, 2007

Panel homework

In preparation for tonight’s panel, I’m reading and re-reading recent work by my fellow panelists. Here’s what I’ve got:

OK, sorry, I’m getting a little carried away venting my frustrations with these publications’ websites. I’m not addressing the writing; these are obviously all fine writers, I just hate to see good work be put into crappy packages. Anyhow, see you there at 7 pm.

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Tuesday May 15, 2007

Here’s a zip code map of Miami-Dade. Always seem difficult to find when you need it.

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Monday March 17, 2008

A week of sunshine

A Week of Sunshine

Thanks, Brent Cutler.

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Saturday March 17, 2007

Steve eats Pizza Rustica.

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Monday November 19, 2007

A few places you can get Thanksgiving dinner, but there’s gotta be lots more, right? Anyone have any recommendations from years past?

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Tuesday August 23, 2005

Every building on Aragon Avenue circa 1948

Our pal Chad is in the process of archiving old photographs for the city of Coral Gables. Here’s a link to theproject’s web page. Nifty. Note the high-res scans of the backs of the cards: Nicholson Bakerism run amok at its finest (well, ok, there’s actually writing on the back of some of them).

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