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Tuesday July 26, 2005

S-s-s-s-s-s snakehead!!!!

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

When you find out that the snakehead is also called Frankenfish,
you might figure maybe there’s a problem. And you’d be right.

One of 28 species of snakeheads native to Asia and Africa, the Northern Snakehead Fish grow to over 3 feet long and 15 pounds. Aggressive predators, they’ll gobble up fish, aquatic birds, amphibians, and even small mammals. They can survive in crappy water with little oxygen and travel across land: in fact, snakeheads can survive out of water for 4 days in search of a more suitable habitat.

All god’s creatures, right? Well these guys don’t belong in the western hemisphere any more than tsunamis or babaganoosh, and for much the same reason: they’re murder on living things, and environmental disasters. Presumably, some dolt decided he’d toss one in a sewage pond—apparently he bought it with the intention of eating the damn thing and changed his mind—and in no time flat they’d taken over an entire creek in the Potomac River system. (“They’re as bad as developers,” one fisherman growled. “Not quite as nasty, but almost as slimy.”) They’ve since been spotted (and caught) as far west as California, as far north as Wisconsin, and as far south as Broward County, where the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) Fishing Hall of Fame proudly presides.

With all the uproar from fish and game agencies, sport fishermen, and environmentalists of every stripe and kidney, one would think that the IGFA, here in the angling capital of the country, would be leading the charge to eradicate these pests (the snakeheads, not the environmentalists). And think how “Frankenfish” would make for a terrific marketing opportunity for membership and environmental awareness! But a review of IGFA’s website turns up precisely one reference—from a months-old newsletter featuring a photo of a 3 foot specimen caught (and released) in Thailand. Notorious for missing the boat (pun intended), IGFA stays the course.

Meanwhile, in the unlikely event that you find yourself poling through the freshwater flats and you spot what looks like Kathleen Harris
before her make-up and morning coffee staring up at you, whack its ass to death without a second thought. Because your next encounter may be on highway somewhere as it heads for cleaner water and a better habitat. Hmm. Maybe we should follow it.

[See all Articles by Steve]


Monday July 9, 2007

“It’s not like I’m irresponsible about sunstroke, bleeding to death, or skin cancer, though. E.g., I know now that when it’s 92 degrees with matching humidity, it’s vital to remain hydrated: drink liquids! That’s why I always take breaks every 40 minutes or so to pound a cold beer.” — Steve Klotz mows his lawn.


Tuesday August 14, 2012

The Miami Martini


The Martini FAQ is pretty fantastic, and I agree with 90% of it and generally endorse and co-sign, etc. It goes without saying that in Miami the phenomena of the “Martini Menu,” bearing such abominations as the “Appletini” and the “Chocolatetini,” is particularly rampant. (To some extent this is just a semantic issue, but also, no. No no no.)

Where I start to have issues with Brad is exactly when he recommends shaking a Martini. Yes, Bond, but the whole point is that Bond was wrong about the shaken Martinis, which I think we’re meant to speculate about. (“He was a spy, see? The shaken Martini is more watered down, which allowed him to stay sharper.”) I learned to make drinks from Tony Abou-Ganim, who says you stir a drink with spirits, shake a drink with mixers. (Brad says so later too, but too little too late.)

But my real beef is this, right there in section 1.2, “How do you make a Martini,” long before the discussion of the freezer: “The glasses should be stored in the freezer.”

I don’t know how it is up there, but if I pull a Martini glass out of the freezer it’s going to have frost all over it when I serve the drink, and the stem and base are going to be wet and slippery. You might as well bust out those freezer frost-covered beer mugs like they love at divey Mexican restaurants (where everything is delicious except that one detail) and crappy poolside bars. For a drink as refined and presentation-oriented as a Martini, this is completely WRONG. And a 9,000 word Martini guide that gets this wrong … well, what else is he screwing up?

For the record, here’s how you do it: start by filling your room temperature glass with ice. Add some water. Then go about making your Martini (or Manhattan of Appletini or whatever). Dump the ice and water right before pouring, and wipe the rim of the glass if you need to. Now the part of the glass that holds the drink is cold, the part that you hold is room-temperature, and everybody’s happy. Anything else would be … uncivilized.


Friday August 11, 2006

I give you the Seven Commandments (and a cropped USA flag)!

Yes, apparently there are seven commandments. The flag of the USA has been tastefully cropped to accomodate them. Oh, the glory! Update: Ok, it’s a bit more complicated then that; see Comment #4 (thanks, NicFitKid).


Wednesday June 20, 2012

On The Fence episode 27

All this while, Steve and I have been doing a podcast. Today comes the 27th episode. Topics include Powerpoint, the usefulness of the field of psychology, Mitt Romney, and yes, the return of Critical Miami. If you feel so inclined, you can subscribe in iTunes here.


Thursday June 28, 2007

I don’t get it: over a number of years, property values have shot through the roof, and property taxes have followed. The current tax reforms are intended to roll back some (not all) of the disproportionate increases. So why is everyone in such a crisis mode?


Monday June 25, 2007

Hmm: South Beach man whore meets his match. This could get interesting.


Thursday June 16, 2005

Art Collector Factions

The Miami Art Museum has started up something called the Collectors Council. Collectors pony up $5,000 per year to be a part of the group; the money gets spent on collections. Debra and Dennis Scholl are in (the launch party was at their house). Marty Margulies, we assume, is not. For him and others who are pissed about the MAM moving into Bicentennial Park, may we suggest writing a check to these people.


Monday June 18, 2007

Clevelander renovations. Lovely wrap-around billboard that doesn’t promote anything other then general hedonism.


Monday October 30, 2006

Crosswinds approved


Here’s an issue that a lot of people are disagreeing about: the Crosswinds development for Overtown was just approved by the Miami City Commission. Since the Herald’s open comments seem to be a thing of the past, it seems worth getting into here.

What we have is a big mixed-use project, mainly residential, now approved to be built in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Hundreds of people showed up to either support or oppose the project. On the pro side, obviously, is the observation that the development would be an economic boost to the neighborhood. Those opposed (who included Arthur Teele) say that the project would hurt the character of the neighborhood, raise property values in the whole neighborhood, and kick-start gentrification.

The question is whether, with the Performing Arts Center, places like Karu & Y (here), and even historical renovations like the Lyric Theater, gentrification isn’t inevitable. Otherwise, it’s worth pointing out that the plan seems to follow Miami 21 principles; the tallest buildings are on the side of the busy boulevard (exact address?), with a height-transition down to the existing houses and apartments.

Of the 1,050 condo units in Crosswinds, 112 will be “heavily subsidized” (up from the 50 the developer was originally offering), and another 210 will be partially subsidized. Hardly makes a dent in the 1,200 new subsidized units the city wants for the neighborhood, and doesn’t really square with the 50/50 market-rate/subsidized ratio that was previously discussed, either. This is peculiar, since by my reading the city gave the developer the land.

Two lawsuits must be resolved before construction can begin, one of which was brought by the Power U Center, the folks who brought the 25-foot inflatable rat to the commission meeting. Should be interesting.


Tuesday April 10, 2007

Miami blogger receives bizarre letter from lawyer of Miami Herald columnist

Here’s something! Last November Henry Gomez did a post about Marifeli Pérez-Stable, an FIU professor and Miami Herald columnist. The post links to a report and quotes an e-mail by an Indiana University professor that makes some pretty serious accusations against Pérez-Stable:

In 1993, I wrote an academic study entitled “Academic Espionage: U.S. Taxpayer Funding of a Pro Castro Study“ for the Institute for U.S. Cuba Relations in Washington, D.C. The report was translated into Spanish and published in Miami’s “Diario las Américas” newspaper. I used only one quote from the Pérez Méndez debriefing, which indicated that one of the participants of that project, Professor Marifeli Pérez-Stable, “was a DGI agent who responded to Cuban intelligence officials Isidro Gómez and Jesús Arboleya Cervera. Pérez-Stable, who had organized another DGI front group called the Cuban Culture Circle, was receiving $100 for every person that traveled to Cuba through that organization. According to Pérez-Méndez, Pérez-Stable replaced DGI agent Lourdes Casal after her death in Havana, and the DGI and ICAP prepared the yearly plans for Pérez-Stable.”

. . . wherein DGI is the Cuban intelligence agency. Good, right? Well, I guess word was slow to get around, but two weeks ago Henry got a letter from Pérez-Stable’s lawyer basically claiming that posting the accusation consisted of slander, insisting that it be taken down, and making veiled references to monetary damages:

Please provide me within thirty days of receipt of this letter or April 28, 2007 the name of your insurance carrier with information of all available limits.

Oh, and the letter came headlined “Not for Publication.” Henry, to his credit, talked to a lawyer who assured him that not only did he not have to take down shit, he could go ahead and post the letter, because NfP requests are just that — requests, not legally binding.

Now, I have no idea whether Pérez-Stable is guilty of any of this — I rather doubt it. But I think baseless accusations are best answered with openness and information (possibly information along the lines of why your accuser might have other motives), not with legal threats. It sounds to me from reading the EFF FAQ on Online Defamation Law that Henry is very much within his rights here:

A public figure must show “actual malice” — that you published with either knowledge of falsity or in reckless disregard for the truth.

Obviously Henry made it clear that he was repeating the words of somebody else, and that individual would seem to have at least reasonable credibility. What’s this lawyer thinking, anyway?


Monday October 8, 2007

LOL: The Beer Depot.


Thursday June 21, 2007

The seawall around Miami Circle is disintegrating. Not good. The article has links to two old Herald articles which track the history of what happened, and what was supposed to have happened, to the circle (which looked mighty strange next to each other in my RSS reader, causing a confused early version of this entry).


Thursday May 24, 2007

Miami Beach mayor sues Dade over petitions

claim (pdf) “It shall be unlawful for any person, entity, or elector intentionally to make or cause to be made any false statement concerning the contents or effect of any petition for initiative, referendum, or recall submitted pursuant to Article 7 of the Miami-Dade County Home Rule Charter to any person who is requested to sign any such petition or who makes an inquiry with reference to any such petition and who relies on such statement.”

So reads a law passed November 28, 2006, by the Miami-Dade County Commission. Pretty straightforward: the law makes it illegal to lie to someone to get them to sign a petition. Who could have a problem with that? Well, your suspicions might be raised when you hear that the law was passed by an embattled commission facing the strong mayor proposal, opposed by Katy Sorenson (widely held as the sole voice of reason on the commission), vetoed by Mayor Carlos Alvarez (veto overridden), and that Miami Beach mayor David Dermer is now suing the county over the law (here’s a (.pdf) copy of the claim, which includes the oridnance).

Here’s the counter-argument: let’s say you’re getting signatures to help the manatees by restricting boating speeds in canals. I’m a boater and I hate the idea. I call the cops and tell them you’re “making a false statement” about manatee populations. Next thing you know you’re in the back of a squad car, hauled off to MDPD headquarters. Even if my claim turns out to be bogus, you’ve had one unpleasant afternoon, and are going to be pretty discouraged from going back out on that corner. (And forget a countersuit — you’d have to show malicious intent.) So basically, the argument goes, this is just another attempt by the commission to consolidate their power by making it more difficult for citizens to get referendums passed, this time at the expense of first amendment rights.

Keep in mind that the referendum process is governed by the county charter (check it out, it’s a real page-turner), which by definition the commission cannot overrule. Keep in mind also that actually lying to someone in the process of collecting petition signatures is fraud, which is of course already illegal — the difference is that I can’t call the cops down to slap handcuffs on you then and there.

And keep in mind that getting a referendum on the ballot requires getting something like 100,000 signatures, which is hard enough without these bullshit obstacles. I hope the commission’s power-grab gets slapped down by the courts. But more importantly, I hope you people vote some of these turkeys out of office soon.


Wednesday April 23, 2008

OK, suppose you find an 8-foot alligator in your kitchen, between you and an open door. All you have is a broomstick. Can you prod the alligator out the door? (Bonus link: the temperature their eggs incubate at determines a gator’s gender.)


Thursday January 4, 2007

Frank Thiel's Stadt 7/12 (Berlin)

Stadt 7/12 (Berlin)

Carlos Suarez De Jesus reports that Frank Thiel’s Stadt 7/12 is currently on display at the Bass. Wow; it’s time for me to pay them a visit. No reproduction will ever do it justice, let alone a 500 pixel one, but this is the photograph. Imagine if all of downtown Miami were being built at once. (That’s sort of what happened in Berlin after the fall of the Wall.) Imagine a photograph of that event, the detail of which is almost infinite. This image consists of four panels, each of which is 9 feet tall, and which has per-square-inch detail better then your 4×6 Kodaks. What you have, then, is the informational equivalent of about a thousand regular photographs. “Staggering,” is an understatement — I saw this piece at ABMB in 2004, and nothing I’ve seen since has equaled it.

Carlos’ article gives a pretty good historical background of the piece (and makes the show sound pretty damn good!). More of Thiel’s work here (keep clicking for enlargements, and try to convert the centimeters to inches — these are all big photos). Every year since Art Basel brings more Thiel photographs, but this one was his zenith. Lately, he’s been taking pictures of paint peeling.


Friday April 14, 2006

This is just rich: Miami-Dade publishes its own manual on how to treat public officials. Perhaps a manual for public officials about how to treat their constituents would be more apt.


Saturday July 9, 2005

Later, Dennis (Updated)

Tropical Storm Force Experimental Probabilities - 120 Hours

In a few hours, Dennis will be somebody else’s problem. Not too much action here, a few dramatically knocked over trees and lots of water. Don’t get too comfortable, though: another one is forming in the middle of the Atlantic as we speak.

Note: National Hurricane Center added at to links list.

Update: Hello, Emily!


Wednesday September 13, 2006

Miami airport to train all 35,000 workers to spot suspicious people.


Tuesday February 28, 2006

Fat Tuesday

sunset over the golden glades interchange


Friday January 26, 2007

Low ticket sales and high operating costs caused an unanticipated $610,000 loss for the first three months at the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts. Not good, but attendence went from 26% in October to 38% in November to 52% in December.


Wednesday May 25, 2005

Random Wrap-up

Formerly trusty 1988 528e This car has been terrorizing the city for years, cutting off SUV’s and taxis, making questionable U-turns, and parking in strange places. Well, no more: it finally fucked off and cooked itself Monday morning. RIP.

We have been blessed with tolerable temperatures late into May this year. Well, with a humid high of 87 degrees today, it’s all over. We welcome our 6-month Summer (with some trepidation).

The South Florida Historical Museum is doing something tonight; good luck figuring out what. I overheard something on WLRN about a food tasting, party, lecture and whatever else going on. No luck getting clarification from their web site, which promises “Thursday, May 26 / Taste of the Carribean” (misspelled like that and all). Then the link takes you to a schedule where Taste of the Caribbean (this time spelled right) was on May 5th. It’s one thing when no gallery in town can keep their web site up to date. But for a major cultural institution to have misspellings and information that was never true on their homepage is bad (plus we tried to call them and that was no better).

Good art argument here, brought to you by the fine people of


Monday September 10, 2007

I hereby order you to love the Good News Social blog. Behind every good city there are good people, networking, and making things happen. This is their site.


Sunday September 25, 2005

Don't call me AFLAK!

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

Emerging from the house the other morning I encounter a puddle of watery shit on the sidewalk large enough to warrant a lifeguard. This can mean one of two things: canvassing politicians, or muscovy ducks. Insofar as there’s no impending election, I figure it’s the ducks.

Everybody in south Florida knows about muscovy ducks.
With their distended asses, greasy-looking feathers, and hideously mottled bare-red faces, their eerie resemblance to victims of radiation poisoning is unsettling. The males, which can grow to 15 pounds, emit a hissing noise when confronted, and while they can actually fly, it’s with all the grace of Rosie O’Donnell skateboarding.

But it’s their tendency to shit all over creation that is most irritating. Traveling in packs of 3 or 4, they slowly waddle down the sidewalk, shit pouring from their feathered butts every step of the way. Green, milky, and semi-solid—imagine a bowl of mildewed grits—it’s a source of salmonella and E-Coli bacteria, as well as a revolting and slippery obstacle to put a bare foot into.

I’m told that Caribbean people eat these things. When I mentioned this to a Bahamian acquaintance, he stared at me in horror. “Dat duck dere?!” he asked, pointing in disbelief.

Even though they’re non-native to south Florida, it’s illegal to slaughter them, presumably for the same reason that you can’t kill tourists, even in season. You can chase them, as I have, waving a baseball bat and screaming epithets, when I found them eating from the food bowls I leave for the cats (and merrily shitting all over the carport). But that bends the animal lovers out of shape, and frankly, the ducks don’t seem to really care: they shoot me a dirty look, waggle their tail feathers..and shit.

I thought about putting poison out, but that might end up inside some neighborhood kid, and I’d have a lot of explaining to do to its parents. Besides, with my luck, the damn duck would drop dead somewhere I can’t reach it, and rot. I hate it when that happens.

If they were bums—oh, I’m sorry, “residentially-challenged persons”—I could call the city and have them removed. If they were dogs, cats, or alligators, I summon animal control. But this feathered pestilence? Is there such a thing as DuckBusters?

[See all Articles by Steve]


Monday December 17, 2007

Whoa: Homestead’s city commission just passed a moratorium on building in the city’s eastern portion.


Wednesday February 6, 2008

“While you’re drinking diet Snapple.” First of all, NSFW, even though all the f-bombs are beeped out. Sarah Silverman and Jimmy Kimmel have been an item for over 5 years, and this is a video she made for him for his 40th birthday. I get to post this because of a sketchy Miami connection: the clip was filmed at the Delano.


Tuesday June 21, 2005

Fête de la Musique

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

Fête de la Musique – the global music party held each year on June 21 to welcome the summer – will be celebrated in Miami with a free concert at Mary Brickell Village from 5 to 10 pm [update: due to fears of rain, it has been moved to the Gusman].

On this day, from sunset till sunrise, musicians take over the streets and play to their heart’s content from sunset till sunrise. Musicians of all genres, be they amateurs or professionals, are invited to perform voluntarily. Musicians do not pay to take part, nor is the public expected to pay to watch. Launched in France in 1982, Fête is celebrated in more than 110 countries today, where thousands of musicians perform for millions of people throughout—

Hold it right there. The French are behind this?

Look, it’s not only easy to pile on the French, it’s a lot of fun, too. And everybody does it! Le Monde, France’s leading newspaper, reported the results of a recent survey that revealed that only 31% of the French “had sympathy” for Americans, and only 35% of Americans admitted to liking the French. (I’m surprised it’s so many—is John Kerry’s family that large?) Imagine how the poll questions were phrased: “Raise your right hand if you like the French….Raise both hands if you are French.”

Following high-level meetings about European unity—an oxymoron of destiny—England’s Tony Blair and France’s Jacques Chirac have brought the two nations to their lowest mutual affection level since DeGaul pissed on the Union Jack, much to the delight of the British public whose shit-kicking of Blair in the last election over his support for Bush and Iraq is only a few months old. Wanna pick up points? Put down the French!

It’s not difficult to work up a bellyful of bile for a nation with the mantra, If You Don’t Speak French, You’re Not a Human Being. Sixty years after the fact their surrender
to the Germans remains their defining stereotypical characteristic. They are reviled as cowardly, effeminate, infuriatingly snotty, and utterly untrustworthy. You know, “Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion” and all that. Pinky-lifting snail suckers sipping sparkling wine and chewing cheese that smells like ass.

Great stuff, n’est-ce pas? Well, that aside, Fête de la Musique is a terrific concept, and a tribute to civilization. It actually hurts that the French cooked up something good, but they did, so get over it. It’s not like they’re loosing legions of Gaulois-stained accordion players on the world: the alleys are open to every musician, professional and amateur, local to the audience and completely free of charge. The first day of summer and music is everywhere. I’ll be on Brickell, wearing my Kiss a Frog Today pin. Not.

[See all Articles by Steve]


Wednesday November 1, 2006

Dr. James M. Jackson Office and Surgery

Dr. James M. Jackson Office and Surgery: This charming little building is in the middle of a bunch of huge skyscrapers in the middle of Brickell. It’s on the national register of historical places, and it’s got its own Wikipedia page. It’s the office of the Dade Heritage Trust, who haven’t renamed themselves to the Miami-Dade Heritage Trust ‘cause they’re all about, you know, heritage.


Tuesday March 21, 2006

Musicians' Forum

The New World Symphony gets plenty of lip service around here, and I’ve been thinking I need to start actually attending more of their concerts (particularly after Marc’s recent visit, which he sounded exited about).

The Musicians’ Forum sounded like casual, adventurous fun (and it’s one of New World Symphony’s free events), although it turned out to be less casual then expected. The musicianship was first-rate, of course, but the program was pretty long, varied, and excellent. The evening opened with a couple of duets (who knew that a pair of trombones could be fun to listen to?), followed by the only piece composed by a NWS affiliate, 28 year old Fellow (?) Piotr Szewczyk’s violin concerto. Accompanied by a 38 piece orchestra, Szewczyk was obviously exited premiering the piece. Though I’m not sure it lived up to whatever expectations may be cast by the “very new music” claim, the piece was brooding and dramatic, and an excellent vehicle for the violinist’s scorching playing.

After intermission, more trombones, this time as part of a brass quintet, followed by an early-20th century solo flute piece. Performed by Ebonee Thomas, it had the drifting quality of much of the music of that time (see Saite and Debussy), along with some super-fast passages that Thomas executed gracefully. Ravel’s Tzigane, a violin/piano duet, closed out the evening. Ravel uses beautiful passages which dissolve into frenzied, hyperfast runs, and some Reeves Gabriel-style extended technique, atonality, rapidly alternating picking and bowing, and general craziness. A total show-stopper (the performers, Boris Zelichenok and Ching Ming Cheng, seen above accepting ample applause from the audience). Wow.

Next stop: the Percussion Consort.


Thursday February 22, 2007

Alex Villalobos kills the “get out of the left lane you slow-ass” bill in the State Senate Committee on Transportation. I second his damning. And in fact, here’s his web page — whereon an e-mail address and a map of his district can be found. Maybe let him know how we feel?