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Friday April 7, 2006

Artblogging panel

The panel was fun. There was a little of an information gap, but overall, my worst fears were not realized. To wit: I wondered, since the five of us are obviously articulate in writing and perfectly fine expressing whatever we need to on the blogs, whether there would be about this forum that would add to that. The answer turned out to be “yes.” And while I’m sure there were moments that were painfully dull for the audience, there was also some good back-and-forth. The library didn’t close promptly at 8 pm as was threatened, and so the conversation was allowed to run its course very naturally. One of the questions that came up afterwards was “so what do we do for part 2”? The answer seems clear to me now: different bloggers!

One of the points I found myself making was how different blogging is from journalism (this was particularly apparent during a great chat I had with Omar Sommereyns and Tiffany Rainey of SunPost at the post-panel chowdown at Parilla): a journalist starts a story with an idea, then goes to gather the facts through phone calls and research, then fits it into the space allocated, and into a fairly well defined “story arc.” As a blogger, my approach is almost the reverse of this – I start with experiences that I’ve had, and things that I’ve done or thought because of my personal interests, then fit them into posts; in a sense, the “idea” for the post comes last. I can write as much or as little as I want, and I can do it whenever I want. So, well, it’ll be interesting to see where this stuff is 10 years from now, when blogs and newspapers have gone through whatever integrating they’ll go through, and the percentage of human beings with blogs has plateaued, and this stuff’s place in society is established and not feared.

Oh right, the panel… Well, KH and Alfredo got into a little back-and-forth with Franklin, but there was too much love for real sparks to fly. Helen Kohen was a great moderator; she approached it with the freshness of an outsider (who, as a journalist, did her research!), and was very good about passing the [proverbial] mic around.

Oh, and so Rebecca Carter liveblogged the first hour of the talk (and summarized much of the rest) at Greener Miami, and I think caught much of the more interesting content (the photo above is also hers). Nice work, Rebecca! Meanwhile, over at this Artblog thread Jack gives his assessment at comment #18 (note to Jack: at the dinner after the panel, someone suggested checking Artblog to see what you’d said about it, so we all saw your comment moments after you posted it, about an hour after the end of the panel).

Update: KH has some reflections here and here.

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Thursday August 3, 2006

“I kept waiting to hear that the president dropped by Mansion nightclub so he could guest DJ and referee the latest VIP room slap fight between Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.” Jim DeFede on W’s visit to Miami. Not uninteresting is that in the text version, Paris becomes “Jessica Simpson.” Ouch.

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Wednesday April 19, 2006

Broward home price medians still rising. (Allegedly,) after a dip post-Wilma, housing prices are back on the rise. Yeah, right; I’m thinking this is a slight uptick on the way down. Witness: (1) ”[t]he number of homes sold during March continued to decline, though, to 649 homes from 958 single-family homes sold for the same month the year before,” (2) the source is realtors who have much to gain from everyone thinking everything’s hunky-dory, and (3) no data given for Miami-Dade. I’m sticking with my predictions.

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Monday August 20, 2007

The charter review is underway. Video of the task force’s first meeting is up at Miami-Dade’s webcast page (for 8/14/07), and I thought I was going to have to watch it, but luckily, Rebecca Wakefield did the dirty work for us. It’s all a little disappointing: panelists with vested interests, a limited number of topics under consideration, and interesting ideas from citizens given warm dismissals. Lots of interesting information available at the task force’s page.

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Friday June 17, 2005

Juices

[Contributed by Veronica Fernandes]

Biking to Calle Ocho, what my ears expected was to hear Cuban music from the heart of the most Cuban place outside of Cuba.
“You will be surprised, everybody down there loves Buena Vista Social Club.” And I thought I could accept its naïve stereotype for a little while.

I kept biking, and I couldn’t hear more than “psst-psst” from cars and trucks. Suddenly, in the middle of the street, a huge red-and-brown rooster trying to look all friendly smiling with his beak told me, “Welcome to Little Havana (for tourists use and abuse).” Not used to these straight endless American streets, I was still distrustful, and decided to look for the real (whatever that means) Little Havana somewhere else; in little abandoned-looking backyards and narrow lanes behind stores, where it seemed I was not allowed. How has this place been described?

Description A: yellow and red streets, friendly people welcoming you, rum and coke flavor, animal sacrifices in every corner of the street. Wrong.

Description B: nobody cares of people strolling around, its easy to walk alone. Wrong. “Psst-psst.” Wrong.

Description C: unsafe – there are no attractions worth that name.
To check.

After a lot of “psst-psst” and undressing looking, I stopped at a green corner, which ended up being a dusty-and-green combination juice bar and a grocery store. The sign was orange chalk on a school-size blackboard: “Juices.”

Everything was white and orange, plastic stained and burnt table cloths, straws, plastic flowers, and the frame of a big dog picture. Some good old well-known regulars (unlike me) were sitting on a bench, analyzing the situation outside, without talking. Still and bitter atmosphere. The whole place looked like a doll house – children’s drawings hanging on the wall, an elephant-shaped teapot, nail polish bottles, Miami postcards, and plastic grapes. And, right in front of that, a quite young man washing coffee cups, laughing at the guy behind a castle of watermelons and bananas.
The main attraction: a big steel juicer shining under the sun outside.

A short Cuban lady –the owner- looked at me with a who-are-you-and-what-the-hell-is-that-camera expression. To make sure I got the message she asked, “what do you want?”
Unimpeachable customer care.

“Can I have a strawberry juice?”

“We don’t have.”

“Cantaloupe?”

“We don’t have.”

“Watermelon?”

“Do you want a carrot-orange-lemon juice?”

Quiet, she started making my juice and three or four carrots drowned in that juice maker. Noisy. There was something very attractive about it. “Why don’t you take a picture of me?” I did, and she immediately stopped being interested in my camera.

After that, Little Havana became a dreamy view through plastic cups filled up of that juice. A stroke of still-life in my sight-seeing mood. To know more of this small world drowned in itself, apparently, I need I guide. (Like Dante, mpf)

A fat Argentinean guy showed a statue of Holy Mary holding a beheaded Holy Child. (Luckily, a fervid Christian put a plastic pink gardenia as substitutive head and gained his way to Heaven)

Second guide, Lorenzo. 70-year old Cuban man with light blue eyes. “My wife is in Cuba,” he said. “I left Cuba more than 30 years ago, because I hated it. I hate Miami, too. But I play domino.” In few minutes he introduced me the whole domino club –Little Havana’s throbbing heart- and forced me to drink 5 coladas in two minutes, with his sweet toothless smile. Around the tables, smell of cigars and sweat, and words coming from their mouths like snakes, lisping.

“Cuba is my heart.”

“Cuba is connected to Sicilian mafia, do you know that Italian girl?”

“I wanna be buried in Cuba.”

“Cuba was wealthy and happy, once upon a time.”

No present, only past and future, memories and hopes. “I buy gold in Colombia,” says Lorenzo, “to sell it here. I make good money, I have never been a Communist. Cuba is Communist. People die in Cuba, they don’t have enough food and children don’t have milk. And if they have some, they grow, but they are not happy. You are very lucky, you know? Why don’t you write something about that?” Well, I tried.

(Can I leave a sentimental note? I miss you a lot, all of you. Oofa.)

[Previously by Veronica: Miami is A Rebours ]

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Monday July 30, 2007

The Kryptolok bike-theft challenge

$80 bike, $34 lock

OK, so here’s my new bike, replacing the one stolen in June. I decided to double the amount of money I spent on the previous ineffectual lock, and got a Kryptonite Kryptolok, $34 bucks.

Kryptonite has a five-level system to assign theft-proofness to their locks, which is — no kidding — 7, 8, 9, 10, and 12. This lock is a tame level-8, but it looks impressive enough, and comes with $1250 worth of theft insurance (no power tool exemption, but enough hoops that require jumping through that I’m not going to bother).

By the way, this $80 bike from Target is great. It absolutely eats the road, it’s got 21 speeds, front suspension, and a seat that can be adjusted/removed on the fly. I’ve been torturing it, riding through construction sites, on beach sand, through water, and it holds up like a champ.

So, it’s been in front of my building since Saturday, locked just like you see it here (I’ve been removing the seat and water bottle). Let’s see how long it lasts!

And yes, that amazing pink bike with sponge seat is theft-proof. It’s got a hardware-store chain with a master padlock, a flat front tire, and it’s been sitting out there, unridden, for years. An inspiration to abandoned bikes everywhere.

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Thursday November 29, 2012

Coin flip example

“If a woman has two children and one is a girl, the chance that the other child is a girl has to be 50-50, right? No.”

I figured this out. Go back to the coin example. I flip two coins into a box, such that I can see the results and you can’t. The probability of two heads is 1 in 4. The probability of two tails is 1 in 4. But since there are two ways to get one heads and one tails, the probability of one coin being heads and the other being tails is 1 in 2.

I look down, and I say, “one of the coins is heads.” At this point, the probability of the other coin being heads is 1 in 3, and the probability of the other coins being tails is 2 in 3.

Back to the example of the kids. If I said “the woman’s first child is a girl.” Then the probability of her second child being a boy would be 50-50.

I think what this highlights is the extent to which what our brains are good for is based on how we evolved. We’re wired to figure out certain real-world practical problems, and comparatively terrible at abstract thought. We have the illusion of being good at abstract thought. Simple puzzles like this poke holes in the illusion.

(Via Steve, who brought an old newspaper clipping with this.)

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Thursday September 27, 2007

What's so great about a housing crash?

platinum condominium Platinum Condominium has had some trouble selling units, so they decided to try selling 20 units off at a live auction. The results? Well, as Lucas put it at Miami Condo Investments, “the auction was a disappointing failure and Miami condo developers should soon be seeing brown stains appear in their underpants.”

Only 9 units were auctioned, and most came in hundreds of thousands less then what identical units have recently closed for. Luis has more analysis (plus videos of the event), and leaves open the question of whether this is the bottom. Well, folks, it’s not. Reports on the sub-prime mortgage meltdown have that fiasco continuing for about another year, so it’ll be feeding coal to this fire well into next year.

I still say this is great for Miami. The housing crash is nation-wide, and steps are being taken to fix the situation, but because it’s worst in Miami, those steps will do little more then soften the landing a tad. Consider the internet bubble of the 1990’s: one of the results was that insane amounts of fiber optic cable were laid down, much more then it made financial sense to do. The result is cheap broadband for everyone (and a hosing for greedy companies). The result here? Well, a hosing for greedy developers, but cheap condos for everybody! (With fancy lofts and primo stainless-steel appliances, natch.) Workforce housing? Give me a few more months, and I’ll have all the workforce housing you need on tap for ya.

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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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Saturday October 27, 2007

Port-au-Prince Saturday

haiti

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Thursday May 18, 2006

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

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Monday October 31, 2005

Price gouging?

All this talk about “price gouging” post-Wilma has got us thinking. Actually, it started when we saw this guy on TV, charged in court and tar-n-feathered on the news, for selling cases of water for $10. How much is a case of water supposed to sell for? Critical Miami recently bought a case of water at BJ’s for $5. Mind you, this was well after the hurricane, and at a discount membership superstore. Was David charging more for the water then Publix? Yes. Was he getting rich off the suffering of hurricane victims? Unless he had a very high-volume operation going, it’s unlikely he was getting rich. Look: there’s a reason economists don’t get worked up about price gouging. Heck, even Wikipedia has some trepidation about it.

This price-gouging stuff started up after Andrew, when people were buying generators in upstate Florida, driving them down to Kendall, and selling them for twice the original price. Whether this is exploitation or free-market economics comes down to a matter of perception. As a society, we have made the collective decision that the former is the case. Is the unavailability of, say, gasoline, a consequence?

Say I’m a gas station owner. I see the reports of rowdy 3-mile lines and ornery customers. Am I going to bust my ass getting out of bed to open my shop for you assholes? Not for $2.83 a gallon, I’m not. Our guess, though, is that if you were one of the poor bastards who really needed to fill up last Wednesday, you’d gladly have paid $4.50 a gallon; all the more so if the line was shorter for all the people who suddenly realized they didn’t really need fuel so bad. So the price gouging law is what made fuel extremely difficult to buy.

Florida saw 246 price gouging reports during Wilma. Some are from assholes looking to make a quick buck, and some are from people looking to cover their costs while providing needed supplies to people in need.

Whatever. David Brown explains the idea better then we’re going to. Report price gouging if you must; just remember that that paying too much for something may be better then not having it at all.

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Friday April 29, 2005

Jimbo's

Jimbo's stretch shack

Virginia Key is one wacky place. It’s got a big water treatment plant, the Seaqaurium) that big marine animal abusing ghetto-disney of the ocean), and a big park with little more then a crappy beach. If you’re going to the park, it’ll cost you three bucks at the guard gate. Tell them you’re going to Jimbo’s, though, and he’ll wave you in for free. And he’ll give you a knowing smile: Jimbo’s is the best thing on Virginia Key.

Legend has it that Jimbo Luznar (The Friendliest Man On Earth) owns the northeastern tip of the island by squatter’s rights. His compound consists of a little dock, some trailers, and the most glorious shanty-shack in the whole county. Cats, dogs, and a few roosters wander around. Across a dirt patio area sit a few old, brightly-colored bungalows (Remember when Miami Vice went to the supposed Caribbean? Filmed here). A boogie-metal band plays covers on a stage riser under some mangrove trees. Old-timers play Bocce ball (and you can, too). And an indifferent person sells cans of beer and the most delicious smoked fish you’ve ever had (bring some potato salad and you’re done).

Bocce Ball On any given day you’re likely to run into local hipsters, fashion shoots, metal bands, friendly hippies, and Jimbo himself. Take a walk past some trailers and a beautiful wooden boat hull, and you’ll find a path that winds along some mangroves and a channel leading out to the ocean. At the north end, a clearing offers a spectacular view of the Port of Miami, Fisher Island, and the ocean. Did we forget to mention the Bocce Ball? Just go look at Jimbo’s amazing website. They’re so worried you won’t find the place they give you a map and a time-lapsed “how to find us” movie.

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Wednesday November 9, 2005

Strike thrower / strike breaker / flame thrower

[Contributed by Steve Klotz]

Former Florida Marlins relief pitcher Ugueth Urtain Urbina has traded his seat in the bullpen for a small jail cell in his native Venezuela, where he and his family own large tracts of land. Five agricultural workers claim Urbina tied them up, beat them with a machete and set fire to one of them after dousing him with gasoline.

It’s not the first example of employee/employer strife between the Urbinas and their labor force. Last year the pitcher’s aged mother was abducted and held for ransom by (allegedly) kidnappers hired by labor unionists. However, as the kidnappers themselves, since arrested, were not dues-paying members of the nation’s Kidnapping Union, ulterior motives are suggested. Like money.

The Urbina family, including brothers Umbilical, Unctious, Usufruct, and Unguantine have denied the allegations, and counter-filed papers allegedly criminal misconduct against the agricultural union represented on the family’s vast holdings. “If Ugueth had really used a machete on those bastards, they’d be sliced chorizo by now,” sneered Usury Urbina, a family cousin and their legal counsel. “Not whining about a few slashes and burn scars.”

The pitcher was instrumental in carrying the Marlins to their World Series championship in 2003, serving as the team’s closer. In 2005 he split his season between the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies. He was known for a blazing fastball and cutting slider—ironic, considering the current charges of burning and slashing.

Labor relations in oil-producing Venezuela generally have been particularly stormy as world prices have fluctuated wildly, and markets are perceived as wide open. Unions clamor for a greater share of record profits, while ownership claims widespread sabotage and looting of facilities. Gunfire through the night and burning buildings are commonplace, and local media, infamous for sensationalist reporting, feature daily stories with lurid photos detailing police beatings, muggings, vandalism, and murder. “It’s one reason why Ugie felt so comfortable in Miami, Detroit, and Philadelphia,” commented Uric Utensil Urbina, the pitcher’s uncle. “It was so much like home.”

The Philadelphia Phillies have already noted that Urbina’s future with them is doubtful. “However, we could have used him here last week during the transit strike,” grumbled one frustrated commuter.

Told he probably wouldn’t be in a Phillies uniform next season, Urbina replied, “Uniform? Is she one of my cousins, too?”

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Monday July 2, 2007

Interview with Miami Police Chief John Timoney re. terrorism threats during July 4th on NPR.

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Monday May 14, 2007

Hidden City gets into a car accident with some guys who’re being chased by the police. Hillary Hilarity ensues.

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Friday February 15, 2008

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

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Thursday September 13, 2007

Rebecca Wakefield on Florida government budget cuts. “According to the gloom and doom projections of financial analysts, the consequences of years of mortgage fraud and ill-considered sub-prime loans have just begun to hit. In other words, we ain’t seen nothing yet. The budget reductions could last several years. .  . It won’t surprise you that Florida ranks 44th out of the 50 states in benefits for workers, such as health-care coverage, and 50th in the percent of private sector workers with pension/retirement plans.”

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Thursday June 1, 2006

Gables Diner vs. Prezzemolo

gables diner and prezzemolo

Let me begin by saying that I’m perfectly willing—eager, even—to stay up for hours and hours debating the right of any restaurant to charge $5.95 for a pint of Bass Ale. I don’t care if the same pint will run you $4 elsewhere in town: if you have some slightly pretentious interior, and are located in an allegedly hip part of town, feel free to charge the six bucks (since, and it might also bear emphasizing that the price was clearly marked on the menu, and nobody held a gun to my head and made me order one).

Having said that, I’m never going back to the Gables Diner again. I went with a group of friends last night, and two of us decided to split a pizza, the rest ordered sandwiches and whatnot. The sandwiches and whatnot came out all at once, and we were told the pizza was on its way. Which, um, it wasn’t. The sandwiches were decent enough, but even after they were long gone (a good 20 minutes later) the pizza was nowhere in sight. I should add that, except a quick water refill very early on, our waitress avoided our table like the fucking plague during all this. Then she had the gall to act all surprised when I got up, walked over, and told her to cancel the pizza order. Whatever; we were having fun, and nobody was actually left hungry. But it’s not right, and it’s also not right that after all that we were left sitting around waiting for the check.

Compare this, shall we, with Prezzemolo, another place we stopped at recently. Tucked in a strip mall just west of US-1 on Le Jeune, Prezzemolo is tinny, but it’s hip, and serves unexpectedly sophisticated food (I obviously took the photo above long after they’d closed). You can BYOB (or BYOCM1), and there’s even a liquor store next door. The star attraction is a long list of specialty pizzas. “Gourmet ingredients on a thin and flaky crust,” is one of those things you’ve heard over and over, but Prezzemolo’s pizzas really are unique and wonderful, and yes, many of their ingredients are imported from Italy. A particularly inspired one features gorgonzola and pears (!), and there’s a list of choices that include piquant cured meats.

We also had the most helpful waitress ever, who went through quite a bit of trouble to accommodate our fairly large party, suggested walking to a gas station for beer (the liquor store was closed), and even had the kitchen make a special smaller version of one of the salads for one of us that wasn’t very hungry. I didn’t get to try the desserts or coffee, but I’m told they’re every bit as great as would be expected from a top-notch little Italian place. Nice work, guys. (And thanks to Dig and KH for introducing us to this place.)

Gables Diner
2320 Galiano Street
Coral Gables
(305) 567-0330

Prezzemolo
4702 S Le Jeune Rd
Coral Gables
(305) 669-6119

[1] Sorry, it’s an inside joke. Regular readers are implored to (a) indulge me, and (b) believe me when I say you’re really not missing much.

Update: Prezzemolo has closed and Gables Diner is still around. There’s no justice in this world.

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Thursday January 24, 2008

The ugly side of historic preservation

Ugly house

Tuesday, we saw a stately, if not exactly iconic, house from 1913 gain historic status, and everybody cheered. Now we have this news: the Miami Beach city commission has declared the eastern half of Alton Road between 8th and 14th streets a Newly Minted Historic District. The above little house is one of a group designed by “prominent” [?] architect Robert A. Little in 1934 which is cited as evidence for the NMHD. These houses (see them all in this pdf) are located between 12th and 14th Streets; the argument for 8th to 12th streets is apparently much weaker.

Now, Alton Road is a busy commercial corridor which serves the residents of South Beach — unlike Washington and Collins, which are much more tourist-oriented. These houses, designed as single-family residences and now all pressed into service as businesses, are clearly a drag on the commercial potential of the immediate neighborhood. With their newly found historic status, this is what they will remain.

In passing the ordinance, one of the commissioners cited a study which found that 88% of the city’s residents considered historic preservation important. Well, of course we do, and Miami Beach has much architecture that deserves protection. But I think we like our preservation to include concessions to common sense. Here is a group of out-of-context buildings that are ill-suited to their surroundings, and are of widely varying aesthetic (and debatable historic) value. Miami Beach boasts many homes from this time period in, you know, residential neighborhoods.

By advocating for historic preservation in all cases and at all times, preservationists appear oblivious to the reality that without tearing down old buildings, the only development possible is on virgin land (hello, UDB). The positives of historical preservation ought to be weighed against its natural negatives — a drag on economic potential of a property, and a contribution to sprawl.

In the case of these particular buildings, the argument against declaring a few of them historical and allowing the rest to be torn down falls particularly flat. Preservationists argue for the need to preserve the “character” of neighborhoods. This is laughable in the case of these particular buildings, which could not be more out of character to the street they find themselves on today. It is in fact much easier to argue that the historic and aesthetic value of the couple of real gems in the group would be heightened if they were surrounded by the more contemporary, and higher-density, buildings the neighborhood needs.

Such is the case with the Coral House, which (the same article notes) is now thankfully in a much better position to be restored and preserved. It’s the case of Dr. Jackson’s Office in Brickell. Both are gems, and both were once surrounded with similar buildings built in a similar time. Would we wish that those neighborhoods were “preserved” as they were thirty years ago? Of course not. Only a packrat saves everything — the rest of us keep a few cherished mementos from the past and toss the rest.

I’m going to close with a dose of libertarian argument, because the Miami Beach commission did not just act like packrats. After all, these properties are not theirs to do with as they wish — they have actual rightful owners. What has actually happened here is that the property rights of these owners have been restricted. It’s of course necessary for society to do this under certain circumstances, but it needs to be kept in mind. Property rights, aesthetics, economics — here we have an act of historical preservation that is almost all downside.

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Wednesday December 27, 2006

Johnny Rockets pads the bill. Oh, and charging for a slice of lemon? That shit is wack, yo. And now it can be told: you never, ever tip on the tax. $28 for lunch for two at a burger joint . . . I just threw up a little bit in my mouth.

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Wednesday April 11, 2007

Michael Hardy's Herald essay about the Carnival Center

carnivalBYnight

Michael Hardy’s Herald essay about the Carnival Center. I suspected that not pointing out he was the center’s director was a part of the Herald’s head-up-ass approach to their website, and that he was so identified in the print edition, as Henry confirms. The essay goes point by point through some of the complaints the Center has received, most of them just routine first-year pains.

I agree that it’s a little disingenuous of Hardy to imply that the tax money that has gone into the center is “not taxpayer money,” and he’s been taken to task. But the bed-tax aspect is worth remembering, and looking at this from the perspective of decades, it’s very possible that the center will pay for itself with the economic revitalization it has very obviously begun to bring (contrast that with the three or four stadiums we’ve built so far with the bed tax).

But I think part of the reason there is so much
hostility is that several completely different things are being conflated when we talk about the “Carnival Center.” Primarily, there is the lingering pain of a construction project run several hundred million dollars over budget at the taxpayers’ (sorry) expense. But of course the organization of which Michael Hardy is director had nothing to do with that. There is the building, and there is the organization that currently manages the building. There are plenty to be blamed for the botched construction project — the county government, the architect, the general contractor, etc., but obviously the arts administrators running the facility didn’t have anything to do with that. (And let’s remember that a not insignificant portion of the expanding construction costs was due to increases in building materials that effected construction worldwide.)

Same goes for the current parking fiasco, which should have been addressed at the earliest stages of planning by the visionaries (I almost used that word in quotes, but let’s do give them some credit) who were pushing for this project for decades.

Another source of frustration is traffic around the center. Let me tell you that the Heat fans going to the American Airlines Arena certainly do share some of that frustration. From what I’ve seen walking around the area on a couple of super-busy nights, the police do a piss-poor job of managing the traffic, but it’s worth remembering that Biscayne Boulevard is undergoing major roadwork in that area.

What I think is that the Center’s programming is spot-on. It’s diverse, with plenty of broad appealing programs (musicals and Broadway were always part of the plan) as well as lots of high-art and esoteric things. The problems are on the marketing/outreach side, and while Hardy is correct that word-of-mouth and time are the two most important factors in increasing attendance, there are some obvious things the Center should be looking at (fix the !@#$% website), and some not-so-obvious solutions it should be looking for. Maybe re-thing the print-ad blitz and bring in some fresh ideas for marketing. The center is doing lots of public outreach, but I suspect that’s the area that needs to be beefed up. Maybe some of that radical transparency would help (Hardy’s essay is a good first step).

I like the fact that the Herald can run a ‘things are pretty bad’ article alongside the essay. But I think of it this way — the Carnival’s start has been messy, and if anything there still isn’t enough blame falling on the people who screwed things up. But I think a rocky start is part of the beginning of anything really great. We could have built a smaller, cheaper, less ambitious performing arts center (almost everyone agrees that something along these lines needed to be built), but is that really what Miami deserved?

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Tuesday August 22, 2006

Let’s not get too comfortable, kids: Atlantic hurricanes could rev up any time. Take ‘ol Andrew, back in 1992. That was the first hurricane of hurricane in that year, and it hit on August 24th. The peak of hurricane season is about the three weeks before and after September 10th. “There’s absolutely nothing that I know of that is unfavorable (to hurricane development) in the eastern Atlantic,” said Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center.

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Sunday May 7, 2006

Cuban connection

A follow-up to the Herald blogging post is really not necessary, since most of the blogs, while based in Miami, are not really about Miami. (There are, by the way, two new ones.)

Oscar Corral’s Cuban Connection is interesting sometimes. He recently posted about breaking up his blogroll into pro-Castro and anti-Castro, which just comes across as weird: the Herald’s blog on Cuban issues is “neutral” about whether Castro is good or bad?! To top that off, he refers to the “irreverence” of some of the anti-Castro blogs. Robert actually had a pretty good-natured response to that comment, which I’d have been pissed off about if I were him. Also, babalú gets oddly snubbed.

In any case, the comments section looks completely unmoderated, and an unhinged argument ensues.

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Tuesday June 27, 2006

No comment!

Rick reports problems with my comment system:

I write a comment, preview and then submit. The screen goes blank and there is a “Done” in the bottom left of the browser. Nothing else happens. If I go back, my previewed comment is still there, but when I submit it again, and again, and again, I get the same blank screen . . . it’s a chronic problem that mysteriously clears itself.

Anyone else have a similar experience? Please drop a comment (if possible) or e-mail.

Update: Textpattern high priest Zem responds: “It’s a PHP+Apache CGI problem. I think you’ll find it’s fixed in 4.0.x svn.” Where svn = “subversion number,” which i think involves mainlining PHP code straight into your bloodstream. I’ll look into it over the weekend.

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Friday October 26, 2007

I think this might be Halloween weekend

halloween pumpkins

Halloween is next Wednesday, so I guess a certain amount of the related celebrationing is to fall on this weekend. Not any of the particularly emphatic celebrationing, I doubt, but there seems to be a lot of stuff for kids. I haven’t got the interest to try to distill it, so just check the top of SunPost’s Calendar.

Tonight

Saturday

Sunday

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Friday September 2, 2005

Ambrosino, this past Wednesday!

Oh yeah . . . we were supposed to tell you about this. A few of our friends had an opening at Ambrosino; originally scheduled for last Friday, then rescheduled for this Wednesday. Shit came up and we didn’t write about it or make to the show. The picture above (dino and jenny seven am) is by Hugo Montoya; others in the show (all photographers) include Ben Carrillo, Harlan Erskine (his “Affordable Houses” appear in the show), Hugo Zanzi, Sara Padgett, and Holly Lynton.

The last time Hugo had a show it was at FIU, and that was on a Tuesday. What the fuck is up with the receptions in the middle of the week? Can someone talk to Ambrosino and maybe throw a closing reception on a Friday or something? In the meantime, go check out the show.

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Tuesday April 18, 2006

Oh, look, our ‘one year ago today’ button (in the left column) has I-95 On-Ramp Traffic Signals, w/r/t which nothing has porgressed one iota this past year. They’re still there, sadly waiting to be turned on.

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Sunday May 28, 2006

freedom of the seas

I’m getting a little sick of all the damned freaking fuss about the Freedom of the Seas. It’s a stupid, ugly boat (with a stupid name), and as you can see from my picture, it’s a little bigger then the one next to it. Geez.

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Sunday February 19, 2006

Neiman Barkus

Neiman Barkus is a cute little store in Wilton Mannors, and they’re being bullied by Neiman Marcus to try to make them give up their name and URL, neimanbarkuspet.net. Neiman Marcus has been doing this to pet stores with the same name around the country, and William Thomson, owner of the Broward store, is the first to stand up them. Dean Trantalis is a Fort Lauderdale city commissioner and a lawyer; he got interested in the case and is representing Thomson:

This big Goliath wants to beat up on my little puppy, and we are not going to let them do it . . . There can be no consumer confusion between Neiman Marcus and Neiman Barkus because they have different names, different products and different clients.

I’m not a lawyer myself, but I’ve followed a number of situations similar to this, and it’s clear to me that this is decidedly not about is a legitimate claim of trademark infringement or dilution. Neiman Marcus’ lawyer practically says so himself: “Several [other owners of stores called Neiman Barkus] have said, at first blush, that they’d fight it, but none have.”

Their demanding the URL is particularly absurd. See the case of The Shops at Willow Bend for an example of one case of a large company bullying the little guy which dragged on for years, cost the company lots and lots of money and both parties lots and lots of time, and ended in victory for the defendant.

I’m not sure what the status of wrongful or groundless threats of infringement laws is in Florida (anyone?), but I do think that any trademark purity Neiman Marcus has to gain from this will be at the expense of a significant public relations cost. After all, not even the snobbiest of rich people likes a bully, especially when they’re going after someone who’s got fancy stuff for their Brussels Griffons, right?

Update: Two other legal point I’ll throw out for consideration: This use of the Neiman Barkus name seems like a very clear case of parody, a particularly well established sense of fair use. Secondly (probably less significantly), and I think this is in the Wikipedia article I linked at the top of this post, business that are named after people (say, Ford, or Neiman Marcus) enjoy less legal protection of their names then companies with names that are made up, like Sony or Exxon.

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