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Monday June 20, 2005

Traditional Wetland Culture

[Contributed by Tyler Emerson]

When we needed a place to show some German friends the best Florida had to offer, we headed west on 41 (Tamiami Trail) past FIU to Coopertown. There we took an airboat tour given by a 30-year veteran of the Everglades. Since we arrived between rainstorms, the light and breeze were perfect. In between speed sessions (airboats can travel wonderfully fast) our guide told us about swamp lilies, banana trees, egrets and cranes, and, of course, alligators.

This week the University of Miami hosted the Traditional Wetland Cultures in Transition Conference about the Everglades restoration project and the task of saving wetlands all around the world, including the Iraqi marshlands. The Topical Currents program on Tuesday June 14th [unfortounately, TC programs not archived] interviewed Fernando Fernandez Wilhelm of the University of Miami and Baroness Emma Nicholson, leading advocates for the plight of Iraq’s marshlands. After the Kuwait war, Saddam Hussein systematically destroyed the marshlands of Southern Iraq, an ancient area known as Mesopotamia – the Tigress and Euphrates River Valley, in order to eliminate the source of sustenance for the marshland group of Southern Shiite Muslims. This destruction was in effect a form of genocide – the Iraqi marshlands are saltwater, so when you drain it, you find slaty earth beneath it, completely unfit for fishing and farming.

The draining of the Everglades near Broward, while it did not have a malign intent, also had disastrous results. By draining too much of the wetlands, the flat Florida land’s only way of retaining a water supply, you lose the water supply for the growing population in the newly developed land.

At UM’s conference this week, the eye is on the Everglades restoration project as a way to build knowledge about the issues related to the careful balancing act of allowing wetlands to change healthily – sustainable development- along with the needs of its population.

A vital and often elusive component of saving these precious natural resources is awareness and proactive action of local government. When hearing the discussion about this conference it is important to remember that natural treasures is something that links us all. Go and see the Everglades at Coopertown to see why we should save them. Listen to the Topical Currents program to hear about the complexity of the issue.

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Wednesday September 27, 2006

rendering of citysquare, CCPA, some weird building

Speaking of the PAC, do I read this right, that Citysquare has been approved?

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Monday June 18, 2007

The sordid tale of Biscayne Landing. This patch of land between FIU North and Oleta State Park was considered for a zoo, an “international center” with a revolving restaurant atop a tower, an amphitheater, a golf course, and airport . . . well, for most of the 70s it was actually a dump. It was an EPA Superfund site from 1982 to 1999. Now it’s a condo development, last seen promoting itself with ultra-cheesy billboards featuring scantily clad women and silly “too cool for downtown” taglines. Not unsurprisingly, 93 units have been sold, out of a planned 6,000. Also not unsurprisingly, the superfund business is not mentioned on the development’s FAQ. The saddest part is that the city of North Miami gambled with the developers on this, leasing them the land and paying $31 million to clean up the site, hoping for a tax windfall.

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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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Tuesday July 31, 2007

Photos from the City of Miami’s 111th birthday on Sunday. Also, more about the birthday (from before the event) at Category 305.

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Tuesday August 1, 2006

Shameful: Study finds disparities in judges’ asylum rulings. In fact, Miami is one of the hardest places in the nation to get an asylum. Update: Trying to find more details about the study. This report says it was conducted by the San Jose Mercury News, but their report is from the AP. Hmm… Update: Here’s the report. (thanks Liz, you’re the best!)

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Thursday April 12, 2007

What’s the Miami connection with the Don Imus flap? Bob Norman lays it out, along with an analysis of why the Miami Herald failed to report the story. (Thanks, Steve)

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Saturday September 17, 2005

Are you lonely tonight?

It’s not every day that Critical Miami gets to bring you some really really good news. But here you go: the County has a new system for solving all your problems. Something on your mind? Pick up your phone and dial 3-1-1. The only requirement is that your call not be an emergency. Their operators are trained to handle almost anything. The potential is endless; we shall be availing ourselves of this service, and bringing you reports as they develop.

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Monday November 19, 2007

305

Commitment to place.

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Thursday September 21, 2006

I submitted my old wind energy rant to Digg. 3 diggs so far!

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Thursday July 7, 2005

Casa Casuarina

The Summer issue of Vive, an otherwise crappy womens’ magazine, has an interesting article (actually, it’s more of a photo spread) about the Ocean Drive Versace mansion we previously alluded to. Nothing interesting in the article beyond what New York Metro reported a year and a half ago.

Here comes (not that we were asking for it) South Beach’s answer to Soho House. Early next year, the Miami mansion formerly owned by Gianni Versace, who was shot and killed on its steps by Andrew Cunanan six years ago, will become Casa Casuarina, a members-only social club. Three years ago, telecom magnate Peter Loftin bought the mansion for $19 million, but it’s presumably too pricey to keep up as a home. “It will be a classy refuge from some of the craziness of Miami,” trills a mouthpiece. (We decided not to point out that classy, by definition, would necessitate a non-Miami Zip Code.) Perks will include food by Miami restaurateur Barton G., massages, and outdoor screenings. The founding committee and membership price are yet to be determined.

Update: How could we have missed this??

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Tuesday February 28, 2006

Fat Tuesday

sunset over the golden glades interchange

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Saturday January 13, 2007

Little changes at big Critical Miami

I need your suggestions and complaints, but yes, I’m fiddling with the site lately. The little ad in the navbar doesn’t seem to be displaying anything relevant, so it’s probably not going to last long. The calendar thing, which I made myself, seems to be working about like I’d want, except I need to make a custom navbar for the calendar items. Links have temporarily disappeared because there were too many, but they’re coming back in some way or another. I’ve been using tags for awhile, but haven’t gone back to tag all the old items. Nonetheless, I need to switch to “clean URLs” to get my tags recognized by Technorati as tags, and that happens as soon as I publish this post.

Things will break. Please let me know. Comment on this article with broken things as well as general complaints and suggestions. Thx.

(The problem with clean URLs is that while old links will still work under the new system, links created under the new system will not work under the old system should switching back be necessary. Hence my stress level — I’ve tried this before and eventually had to to go back, and broken links to CM are still out there.)

Update!

Yep, the consequences are unpredictable. For expample, there’s now a Calendar page, as well as an article page and a linklog page, none of which work in a way that particularly makes sense. Suggestions as to what these pages should do are hereby solicited. Maybe refer to Waxy links for guidance (not to mention some kick-ass links.

Update:
For those following that sort of thing, http://www.criticalmiami.com/atom/ and http://www.criticalmiami.com/rss/ now work. Click the buttons at the bottom of the navbar or the subscribe button in your Firefox address bar.

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Tuesday January 22, 2008

A Citizens’ Bill of Rights has been added to the January 29th elections ballot. Here is the question, and here is the ‘Bill’ itself (I think). So it looks like this crappy Herald article is wrong — it’s not “Miami voters,” it’s “Miami-Dade voters” (thanks again, Miami-Dade officials, for making this extra confusing), not an insignificant distinction. What the article does not bother to do is to explain just what consequences this measure might actually have. Update: I’m wrong wrong wrong: the “Bill of Rights” is a City of Miami thing, the County thing is something else.

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Thursday August 2, 2007

“You’d think I would have 5-10 therapists in my phone (or in 3 out of 5 spaces in my T-Mobile MyFaves™), since I’m a nutcase, but I eschew traditional therapy and prefer to self medicate with German pornography and dull razors.” — God loves Lackner.

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Monday April 30, 2007

“Miami-Dade County health officials said they have received numerous complaints about the dead birds from visitors of the beach, but there is nothing that can be done because the religious practice is protected by the U.S. Constitution.” Bullcrap — there’s nothing in Santeria that requires leaving a mess (right!?). Kudos to Channel 10 for providing a link to more information about Santeria, but UM’s page is pretty lame. Try Wikipedia next time.

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Wednesday October 31, 2007

Two more roosters found!

william burroughswilliam burroughs

Muchas gracias to Suzy of MB411 for sending these photos over. She says: “I found you some more cocks! These aren’t Cuban though…I found each of them outside of Nicaraguan establishments! The first one is on Flagler and NW 16th Ave and the second is on SW 2nd ST and 8th Ave.”

Perfect. I’d say that we now have enough material to get a tag up: cocks. And while careful examination of the shapes suggests that not all the photos are originate from the Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust program, clearly there is a family resemblance. So . . . does anyone have any more cock pictures?

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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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Wednesday September 14, 2005

Living with assholes

Carl Zablotny, after his attack. image from http://www.expressgaynews.com/ It’s bad enough that we live in a country where it’s considered controversial to give gay couples equal rights as straights. Now we have a resurgence of actual violence and other overt discrimination against gays right here on Miami Beach, supposedly a world famous gay-friendly place. This crap makes us want to scream: there are real problems in the world, and our society is so ass-backwards that we have to worry about cowards (and it is always two or more guys against one) picking on people different from them.

Some homophobes have semi-legitimate Bible-based reasons for their misguided beliefs, some can be reasoned with, and some are just grossed out by something they perceive as being different from themselves. People who attack others are not of any of these categories – they’re just plain assholes. The only thing we can do is refuse to tolerate their presence. Shaquille O’Neal, of all people, found himself in a position to do just that the other day. He called the cops and followed the assholes to make sure they got arrested.

We implore anyone who sees any sort of crime to report it to the police. But when it involves senseless violence against the innocent… actually, it would be nice if the next time something like this happened a bunch of people around turned on the attackers and gave them a taste of their own, but you didn’t hear that from us. And Shaq, as far as we’re concerned, all is forgiven about the flood lights.

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Thursday October 20, 2005

Miamist stumbles onto the scene

Hey, check out our about page [Our about page has changed, the original one is here.], and it’s pretty clear we were inspired by the -ist family of city blogs. So when Kathleen dropped us a note earlier tonight about Miamist, we were very exited. On first glance (actually, the second glance – on first glance miamist crashed firefox), it’s hard not to notice the absence of a skyline icon, typical of the other -ist sites. On second glance, the site seems a bit of a mess overall; broken links abound, and the staff page is a complete train wreck (we got a screen grab; click the image to see the whole horrid thing, if they’ve improved things by the time you read this). Clicking on the staff suggests they’re writing for Chicagoist, but we assume someone just copied a page and hasn’t plugged in the information yet (no idea on what the garbage at the top is).

Oh right, so their archives indicate they went online at the end of September, about three weeks ago. So far the focus seems disproportionately on sports, with little tidbits thrown in. Some of it is clearly hack-work (hurricane prep tips??), while some of it is decent (a post on South Beach vendors works, but someone should tell them that “Google Images” isn’t really a photo credit!). Nothing we saw definitively proved that any of the writers has ever set foot outside Chicago, but doesn’t disprove Miami-nativeness, either.

Miamist is the competition, but we are thrilled to have them. Hi, guys! Thanks for gracing our town with your presence. Please clean up your links, import a skyline photo (we know you know how to use google image search!) into illustrator and get up a logo, maybe reconsider the puke yellow, and get down to business. We’ll try to compete with our (thus far) non-commercial resources. It’ll be fun.

Meanwhile, we’ll be rewriting our about page. And, especially in light of Wilma (Category 5, y’all), we’re packing an overnight bag and heading up to Chicago for a little Critical counteroffensive.

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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.

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Sunday December 18, 2005

Critical Miami hits 'snooze'

If you’re a sharp observer, you noticed that Steve’s King Tut article had his own name in the Posted field at the bottom. Steve has begun to post his own articles, and the occasion is my trip to Prague, which goes for the next three weeks. Posting here will be light (at least for my part) during this time. (I don’t want to hear any kvetching on this point – my all-time favorite blog, Laughing Boy, hasn’t been updated since November 23, 2003!)

For those interested in following along on my trip, I’ve set up a space for some trip-blogging. I’m not making any promises about frequency of posts there, though.

The good news is that when Critical Miami returns to full-strenght (mid-January), it’s going to be hitting on all 6 cylinders like never before – with a new South Beach headquarters, digital photography aparatus, and unprescedented new respece. Get ready.

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Tuesday May 16, 2006

The thing about the alligators

sign: We Sell Smoked Alligator Original or Hot
Image by Frances Nash

Now don’t get any ideas – this isn’t going to be one of those we’ve been eating them for decades, it’s a wonder they haven’t started eating us sooner type of things. But what’s really going on with all these alligator attacks? Look. Gators have brains the size of a pea. They’re running on some ancient-ass instinctual behavior, and they’re designed to live in the swamp, not in a lake by some dumb UDB-pushing cookie-cutter development (actually, human beings aren’t designed to live like that, either, but I don’t want to digress). What’s more, they’re cold blooded, kind of like a solar panel – the warmer it is, the more energy they have to move around, and the more they have to eat.

But of course the alligators aren’t the problem – the problem is people. Remember the guy from Grizzly Man? He thought he was going to be friends with bears, and ended up getting his brain snacked on by a grizzly while his girlfriend watched. Well, that’s the same thing that’s happening for our whole species with the alligators. The solution is simple: stay the hell away from the gators, and especially don’t feed them. (When gators get used to being around people (and esp. if they associate us with food), the possibility of taking a bite out of our ass becomes to look pretty attractive to a hungry one.)

The problem with this approach is that everyone has to do it for it to work. Good luck there. Also, all the alligators that have already gotten used to people are not going to un-learn shit. So my alternate suggestion is to watch your ass. Forget the zig-zag running thing – it’s a myth (alligators don’t chase people). The key is to just stay the hell away from them. If you’re attacked, pound the crap out of their snout and eyes. Yikes. All that and more in this fun video:

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Tuesday June 19, 2012

Fox's Lounge

fox's lounge

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.

fox's lounge

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.

fox's lounge

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.

fox's lounge

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.

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Wednesday July 19, 2006

It’s official: Miami Performing Arts Center is now the Carnival Performing Arts Center. They transfered their name from the concert hall and ponied up an additional $10 million (for a total of 20 mill) for the name. Knight Foundation kicked in another $10 million and now we have the John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall. Not bad for a day’s work. Update: Hey look, there’s a new web site.

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Wednesday April 18, 2007

Greener Miami written up in the Herald. Congrats, Rebecca!

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Tuesday January 16, 2007

Fla panther crossing

Florida Panthers now number about 70. They cover about 5% of their original habitat. And eleven were killed last year, the most ever. (image: dotpolka)

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Monday August 27, 2007

Frances Nash rides the Metromover. “‘Please stand clear of the door,’ says the robot voice, as if we’re going to the Magic Kingdom to visit Mickey Mouse. The boys get off and a homeless-looking dude waddles on board. He tries to sell me some palm leaves twisted into roses and grasshoppers. I pretend that I don’t speak English, but he won’t take the hint.”

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Thursday January 31, 2008

KITTY!

Come on, she’s CUTE!! This kitty made it half way across the country recently after being packed in a suitcase accidentally and checked into luggage on a plane leaving out of Ft. Lauderdale Airport. Then the wrong person got the luggage! Anyway, she’s fine.

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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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