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Friday June 29, 2007

Miami 21 pushed back another 90 days. One of the tactics used to get people scared: “Commissioners themselves at moments seemed confused over one detail: whether many existing homes in the city would be deemed in violation of the new code.” Um, no kids — the plan effects new construction. Duh. Update: Ryan has some comments on this.

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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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Thursday May 11, 2006

The New Times’ Best of Miami is out.

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Tuesday September 25, 2007

Sushi Samba

Sushi Samba is obnoxious; if you can deal with that, you’ll probably love it. Exquisitely designed by Scott Kester, its shanty-space-pod interior, immaculate black-clad waitstaff, and perfect futuristic-Brazilian music give it a singular retro-modern atmosphere that would be right at home on TV.

Despite living no more than a few blocks of away since it opened years ago, I’d never been; this weekend a friend and I decided to give it a shot. It was Saturday afternoon and SS was fairly empty. We arrived, and . . . immediately had a problem with the hostess. You see, SS has two types of tables — 5 and 6-person booths, and outrageously uncomfortable tables for two. We didn’t like the first table we were offered, and even the second one was less then ideal. There were parties of two seated at booths, but it seems that we’d arrived after some sort of cut-off time after which this was no longer possible, in anticipation of the evening rush. A bit of tension ensued, and we ended up acquiescing to the cramped but not uncomfortable little table.

After that, though, the evening went rather remarkably well. Our waitress (the record will note that she was tall, beautiful, and really, really good at her job) eased our lingering irritation with an introduction the the restaurant’s aesthetic (“Japanese-Brazilian”), and got our waters. So I’ll cut to the chase: the food was great. We had beer, sake, several sushi rolls, edamame, and dessert, and every single thing was spectacular. The secret of their success is that all the portions are a little smaller, and a little more expensive, then you’d expect. Still, after tax and tip, we barely cracked $100 for two people.

The sushi rolls are a cut above. Try the Green Envy (wasabi pea crust, tuna, salmon, asparagus, and aji amarillo-key lime mayo) or the Neo Tokyo (yellowfin tuna, tempura flake, and aji panca), and you may wonder why you’re paying twice what you’d pay for the same amount of food in a regular sushi joint, but only until the first taste. There is substance to this here style.

When the kitchen was out of spoons for our dessert, they apologetically brought out two sets of huge soup-spoons and tiny spoons (then our waitress rushed out with the correct spoons, still warm from the dishwasher), which pretty well sums up how good the service was (but not everyone seems to have had quite this good an experience). I left feeling like quite the elegant slouch — Sushi Samba is style over substance, but only just barely.

Sushi Samba Dromo (menu)
600 Lincoln Rd. (Pennsylvania Ave)
Miami Beach

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Thursday February 2, 2006

One hour Martinizing


[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

Once in a great while your elected officials say something honest and sincere. When they do, it stands out like a swollen gland, usually for the level of vapidity it reveals.

In today’s Miami Hurled you can read about Florida Senators Martinez and Nelson jointly proposing a bill to protect Florida’s coastlines from oil and gas drilling interests. It’s so popular, Republicans worry it might help Democrat Bill Nelson get re-elected. But never fear:

Martinez downplayed suggestions that Nelson’s political future could play a role…… “At some time we’ve got to just work in the public interest,’’ Martinez said. “If that means working with Senator Nelson, so be it.”

Got that? Martinez admits that there actually are moments—rare, perhaps, but detectable—when against his every instinct, he simply finds “serving the public interest” inevitable, his only alternative, as distasteful as it is. In a squalid career grubbing money from special interests, pulling faces at cameras, boning voters in back-room deals, and strutting his power at Washington cocktail parties, there are still those isolated situations when, well dammit, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.

I can see his handlers cringing over this one. “Holy shit, Mel, the hell you say that for? You’re supposed to say, ‘In matters as essential as protecting Florida citizens and ensuring the integrity of our irreplaceable environment, I call on all members of the Senate from both sides of the aisle to support this legislation.’ You make it look like politics is the last thing on your mind! Act like a dignified fucking statesman, can’t you?”

Remember, it’s not just Mighty Mel we’re talking about, it’s every mother’s son of ‘em. Treasure this hour of truth and light, and keep an eye out for more. They’re infrequent as Haley’s comet, but not nearly as dependable.

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Thursday May 10, 2007

Art journalism panel

art journalism panel
Left to right: Me, Joanne Green, Elisa Turner, Omar Sommereyns, Anne Tschida. Photo by Onajídé Shabaka, Miami Art Exchange.

The panel was a riot. Silvia Karmen had this very interesting opening statement that touched on a number of interesting topics that I was looking forward to getting into, but it turned out that the crowd pretty much had one thing on its mind — they want more arts coverage. More coverage overall, more intellectual/critical writing, and better listings. I thought the format was really brave; it allowed audience members to jump in with questions/comments pretty much any time, which lead to a rollicking discussion, with moderators, panelists, and audience members all occasionally fighting to get a word in edgewise (kudos to Claire for stepping in when needed). Anyway, it (the format) ensured that Franklin’s fears were moot — members of the audience were very open with their concerns right from the get-go, and they kept the conversation where they wanted it.

To that end, the consensus was that improvements in arts coverage (both in quantity and in quality) will happen when the editors of our local publications come to believe that there is a strong demand for it. I promised to provide contact information for those editors, and here it is:

Personally, I think that paper letters are most effective, followed by phone calls, followed by e-mail. (Feel free to send me more specific information for these folks, or additional names that we should contact).

One of my suggestions for addressing the lack of arts writing was to call for a community of Miami arts bloggers. Someone asked “how do you get people to start an art blog” or something, and I never got to answer, but here it is: you encourage them. Grab them by the scruff of the neck and yell at them if you have to. There are lots of kids in college who are (a) majoring in journalism but interested in art or (b) majoring in art but interested in journalism or© majoring in something else but interested in both of the above. My message to these kids would be: start the damned blog! It’s easy, and you’ll be doing something that needs doing. There should be a whole range of blogs just about art — you can be completely silly and trivial, completely serious and academic, or anything in between. Compare Wormhole and Modern Art Notes — they couldn’t be more different, yet they both contribute something to the same community.

For their part, the panelists were smart and constructive. The time definitely flew by. I also wanted to say that I did this panel not because of any particular commitment to journalism or art, but because panels are fun, and I wasn’t disappointed. The discussion was great, and I got a chance to meet some very interesting people afterwards, for which I’m very grateful.

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Tuesday February 19, 2008

Big news of the morning: Fidel Castro has officially resigned as dictator of Cuba. Three quick things: (1) Obviously this is to lessen the political turmoil that would otherwise have been caused by his (imminent?) death. (2) What happens in Cuba now? My optimistic predictions from 2005 still hold. (3) I’m offended by the opening sentence of Frances Robles’ article: “Saying he is no longer healthy enough to hold office, Cuban leader Fidel Castro has announced he will not seek reelection after 49 years in power and nearly 19 months sidelined by illness . . .” When elections are universally believed to be a travesty, why mention them in the opening paragraph about a leader’s resignation? At least put quotes around “seek reelection” so we know you’re in on the lie. Update: What timing!: A map from the revolution, hand-drawn by Castro in 1953, is up for auction. Update: Val’s thoughts.

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Monday April 16, 2007

These glass reeds are supposedly worth tens of thousands of dollars each. A bit of pre-insurance claim hyperbole, perhaps?

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Friday May 5, 2006

Critical Miami supports getting rid of stuff, and living an uncluttered, unencumbered life. Now, Greener Miami has a guide for getting rid of stuff: the A-Z Disposal & Donation Guide.

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Wednesday October 3, 2007

HUD takeover approved

I’m looking for something interesting, and it’s really just slim pickins. Yesterday the Dade Commission approved HUD’s takeover of the County’s housing agency. We knew this was coming, and the commission voted 11-1 for it because this way they get a little oversight and a little veto juice over some of the fed’s decisions. They’re unhappy, and so are housing advocates, on the grounds that the fed’s just a bigger bureaucracy (and so how can we expect it to do a better job).

But come on, people — the Miami-Dade Housing Agency was a clusterfuck for a very long time, lots of people knew about it, and they let it slide. And don’t give me “the problems are being addressed,” either. The response has been a completely limp, “we’re addressing the issues” type of shit, not the “we’re going to lock up everyone involved, and everyone who knew what was happening.” Also: you think that was the only Agency in the county that was corrupt? Where are the crackdowns on the other departments, Mr. Carlos Alvarez, Strong Mayor? Where are the results?

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Friday February 2, 2007

Wayback Machine entry for Critical Miami, circa May 2005. Masthead and right sidebar appear broken, but everything else is where it should be. There are no links to other blogs because, with the exception of Babalu and Infomaniac (which I didn’t know about yet) and Artblog (linked) there were none.

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Wednesday December 27, 2006

Miami Nights isn’t fucking around: they started last week on their New Year’s Eve party list, and are updating it continually. Prices for most parties are in the three and four-digit range per person, whazzup! Update: Here’s the Herald’s list.

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Friday August 26, 2005

Damaged

Let’s see what’s going on with post-hurricane recovery around the internet. The Miami Herald has reader photos, their own photos, a blog, and webcams.

The National Hurricane Center has an interesting wind swath graph. FPL has a scary map, and a tool that tells you they know your power’s out, and they’ll get to it when they get to it. $2.59 is the cheapest you should expect to find gas.

Speaking of gas prices, in the UK they’re worried about what this means for long term oil. Bloomberg tries to comfort them.

Bobby did some good hurricane blogging before loosing power (and even got in a last post on battery backup). Robert also appears to have lost power, as did Val, who set up a webcam in his back yard. Artblog is eerily quiet.

Pictures from our TV stations here, here, here, here, and here.

4 dead, 5 missing.

Update: Flickr photos, of course (via Flablog). And we have Hurricane Harbor with good commentary, Eye of the Storm, and a popular Technorati keyword (via Infomaniac).

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Tuesday January 29, 2008

The Miami Condo Investments blog is being sued for $25 million. Seems that an allegation that Developer Tibor Hollo went bankrupt in the 80s is the sticking point, along with some predictions that his current projects are headed for failure. Doesn’t this sort of alternate-revenue-seeking lend credence to the latter assertion, though?

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Thursday December 6, 2007

Rather then do a second one, I’ve updated yesterday’s post with photos from NADA and the Stooges show. More later!

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Monday June 25, 2007

Latest draft of Miami 21

miami 21 frontage

The latest draft proposal of Miami 21 is available for download. I can’t say that they’ve made it easy for people . . . rather then a web-readable format, or a reader-hostile pdf, the planners have chosen to do this as an extra-reader-hostile multi-pdf. The meat begins in section 4, where, on page 17, the maximum densities for downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods are laid out.

I’ll leave it to urban planning experts to judge the details of the plan, but the broad outlines of it are based on modern urban planning principles that are well established, and as such this is very important for the long-term growth of our city, as I’ve argued previously. You’ll hear a lot of criticism of the plan, and almost all of it comes from self-interested land owners who fear (oftentimes incorrectly) that the plan limits their options on how they can develop their land. But remember that we’re talking about making our city more livable here. (And sorry sir, but we really don’t need a high-rise in the middle of this neighborhood of single-family homes.)

Passing the plan will be an important step, but since the effects of something like this take place over the course of decades, the real test will be how seriously future city governments take it. I guess we’ll have to see how it plays out. For now, Verticus says that Miami 21 is going before the commission for first reading Thursday.

Update: Ryan runs down some of the changes.

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Friday March 9, 2007

Priceless: “While hundreds of U.S. law enforcement agents intercepted imaginary Cuban migrants during a massive training exercise in south Florida, two boatloads of actual Cubans sneaked ashore on Miami Beach on Thursday.”

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Thursday April 27, 2006

FIU BFA Spring Exhibition 2006

Ross Harris,  pumpkins, oil on canvas, 5x8 in., 2005 (from ongoing series)

This Friday is the reception for FIU’s latest batch of art majors. You might think that the school would publish a little brochure, maybe with an image of each of their work, or at least do up a little web site, but you’d be wrong.

Well, my pals Ross Harris, GisMo, and Silvia Llopis are in the show, as are Lisa Ashinoff, Kathleen Bulger, Reneé Cagnina, Gary Fonseca, Javier Gonzalez, Andrew C. Horton, Efren Izquierdo, Kelly Kuylen, Luisa Maria Mesa, Adam Pedrone, Laura Ploude, Danielle Rottler, Nicole Soden, Donna Lee Steffens, and David Tamargo.

FIU runs a decent art program, and the show will be worth checking out (even if it sounds like a lot of work to cram into the Frost’s space). By the way, please let me know if there is an applicable web link for any of these artists that I missed.

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Wednesday November 28, 2007

Tonight and Saturday:

Slave house tours

See the Miami Hidden History website for more info.

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Friday August 11, 2006

Miami International Airport has a SWAT team; they just said so on the Early Show. What’s interesting is that MIA’s web site says nothing about it. The best I could do is this—some reports about the guy shot by Air Marshalls mentioned it.

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Sunday January 7, 2007

An 18-year old guy was freaking out, and his family called the police for help. There is some disagreement as to exactly what the police did to restrain him, but whatever it was it killed him. And Miami Police Chief John Timoney says the officers acted properly. (via LAist)

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Tuesday November 20, 2012

Blah. Nothing new last week, nothing new this week. I’ve been writing other stuff. The first thing is up now at The Atlantic: How Partisans Fool Themselves Into Believing Their Own Spin. I hope you to enjoy it. And by the way, the Twitter account is alive and well for you to enjoy, here.

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Sunday August 14, 2005

Blowhard

Great fun at the Dorsch fundraiser last night. Unconfirmed reports have Gustavo Matamoros hitting it out of the park with an early e-bowed guitar performance. Then we had some world music. Then the squelchers treated us to some of that now-legendary Miami din:

This picture will benefit from a little interpertation. In the background bent over a table we have the legendary Rat Bastard, working an arrray of electronic sound producing modules. To the left, wearing a green tanktop, is the group’s conductor (it is a feature of the Squelchers’ performances at the Dorsch to employ a conductor, something they don’t do at any other venue). In the immediate foreground we have the ariplane costume guy, who did an interpertative dance (it is another feature of the Squelchers’ performances at the Dorsch to employ an interpertative dancer, something else they seldom do at other venues). On your right in the photograph we have the horn section, including our pal Jim, of Dopee Francisco (which recently completed a great documentary but apparently can’t put together a web site). Fierce!

Next up we had the pop duo Awesome New Republic, which rocked the house tiny-drumkit-and-keyboards style, somewhat evoking the disbanded Unicorns. “It’s funny you should say that,” drummer MJ remarked after their set, “because we played with the Unicorns at I/O a couple of years ago and almost got in a fight with them . . .” Alas, no photograph exists of their performance.

Here we have the MSG Newness Blues Fuckers Plus, with your author on drums. Unaccoustomed to playing in such a large and echoy space, we were forced to rely on our senses of touch to know what to play. The star of the performance was saxophonist Chad Harris’es toe, which was apparently featured prominently in more then one video recording of the evening.

No official report yet on how much the event raised, but was that the point, really? Well, actually it probably was, although Brook Dorsch conceeded the point that you can’t have an A/C fundraiser and then not get the damned A/C.

And speaking of Brook, how about that guy? Looking clean-cut and energetic, he drifted through the hall, surveying everything and fixing whatever minor thing needed to be fixed. Everything went off remarkably well. “More power to you,” we might say, but it would be an excercise in redundancy. Having hosted a widely attended panel of local arts writers, the Subtropics festival, and more then a few first-rate exhibitions just in the past few years, the Dorsch was on its way to becoming a major cultural center even without the bloody air conditioning.

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Friday June 29, 2012

Not making any sense out of the causeway cannibal's autopsy report

Rudy Eugene 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.

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Tuesday August 8, 2006

the olmos stare

I’ve quoted it before, but it bears repeating: “The filmmakers sent an offer to Edward James Olmos to reprise his role as the never-not-brooding, pineapple-faced Lieutenant Martin Castillo. He declined and reportedly had his agent send a VHS [of] a 20-minute loop in which Olmos silently stared into the camera in absolute disgust.”

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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).

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Thursday August 16, 2007

Let's cut the Coconut Grove Playhouse some slack

coconut grove playhouse Miraculously, the Coconut Grove Playhouse appears to be on a slow road back to solvency. A foreclosure was avoided yesterday, and many of the major debts are repaid, including all the back-pay owed the former employees and actors. But:

Money owed to Actors’ Equity for salaries, pension and health insurance has been repaid, but because there are penalties outstanding, the theater and Mittelman remain on the union’s default list — meaning no Equity actor or stage manager can work at the theater until that debt is eliminated.

I say it’s time for Actors’ Equity to cut the playhouse some slack. “Promoting the theater arts” is central to AE’s stated mission, and with regional theaters all over the country struggling and/or closing, here’s their chance to put their money where their mouth is. If they drop their fines, they forgo some potential profit, but they help hasten a theater back to its feet, where it can employ their members again. The playhouse is doing the right thing, and a show of confidence from AE would be a welcome gesture. If you agree, let them know: here’s their contact page, and here’s a sample message you might send; feel free to cut-n-paste and modify to your liking:

As a theater fan in Miami, I support the Coconut Grove Playhouse. The playhouse has been struggling to pay off its obligations and reopen, and it has paid everything it owed to your members. Yet it remains on your organization’s default list because of unpaid fines for shortfalls during its most troubled period. Please help the Coconut Grove Playhouse get back on its feet — and begin to employ your members — by forgiving its outstanding debts to your organization. You’ll be helping to strengthen the theater scene in Miami, and sending a positive message of encouragement.

Photo by ImageMD.

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Tuesday February 19, 2008

It’s sort of funny how we negotiate our co-existence with semi-domesticated animals living in the city. New laws passed in North Miami prohibit roosters, but a last-minute change allows people to feed feral cats, which they were considering outlawing.

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Thursday April 5, 2007

MoCA will be trippling the size of its building by 2010. The article is worth a read, and reveals that MoCA is largely financed by the city of North Miami. (via TnfH)

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Monday July 16, 2007

Reporting on the Serve to Preserve Florida Summit on Global Climate Change last week: Jim DeFede, Carl Hiaasen, Rebecca Carter (and here, with video), and Ken Kaye. Here are some photos, and here’s the AP version.

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