Thursday, August 31, 2006

What the "Miami Circle" Needs: A Madman in a Bulldozer

In 1998, archaeologists found a 36-foot diameter circle of holes in downtown Miami. 24 big ones plus some "minor ones." The archaeologists figured the holes were between 1,700 and 2,000 years old. It wasn't a discovery on the scale of say, finding King Tut, in fact, it was hardly on anyone's archeological meter at all because basically, no matter how you looked at it, it was nothing more than a CIRCLE OF HOLES IN THE GROUND. It wasn't the tip of a pyramid poking through the weeds holding the remains of some bejeweled, gold laden king. It was a CIRCLE OF HOLES IN THE GROUND. Initially, one expert was sure they were the remanents of a septic tank but he was soon overruled by a majority of experts who agreed that they were the remains of post holes, dug thousands of years ago to support a ceremonial hut of some sort (to some archaeologists, it's always a "ceremonial" something or other). I believe the only thing found of interest in one of the holes was a shark's tooth and a condom (circa 1949). With the exception of a some really old people, archaeologically speaking, Miami can't lay claim to anything much older than a hundred years, so the "Miami Circle" as it soon became known, was something to latch onto with pride.

Like remoras on a shark, civic leaders, quasi-Native Americans, and kids from around the world thanks to unsupervised time on the Internet attached themselves to these crude holes in the ground and made them a cause celebre with reasons ranging from "because they're sacred" to "they're cute." Before long, with the world rising against him, developer Michael Baumann caved in to the pressure and dropped his "Brickell Pointe" condo project in the proverbial hole of good intentions.

"Yeah, yeah," I can hear some proud citizen saying, "you may have the Taj Mahal, but we got a freakin' circle of really old holes in the ground."

Perhaps, in the end, something good did come out of all of this. The twin towers that got deep-sixed were unexceptional in their design for such a landmark space.Hopefully reason will return to the community someday in the near future and a world-class building will be erected on that spot that will lift our spirits with it as it rises skyward from a murky past to an exciting future full of hope. Right now, all we can pray for is that one night, a madman in a bulldozer will run rampage over the "thing" in the ground and grade it all to hell so that we can get on with our lives, to embrace the future and to put the really boring past behind us. For that man, MVB would hope to see him honored with another bronze statue flanking the noble Tequesta on the opposite side of the Brickell Bridge, commemorating the day Miami got its senses back.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Real Heroes vs. Sports Heroes

Today the Miami Herald ran their annual pro and college football special edition. It was an amazing thing to see and hold-- it could easily replace light dumbbells for a workout. It had 6 sections, 74-pages with full color/full depth covers of serious, stoic players. Only one guy was frowning this time-- probably because he was a college player and wasn't getting paid copious amounts of money yet. Daunte Culpepper, the new Dolphins quaterback was almost smiling which is understandable since he has a lot on his mind right now considering the still questionable strength of the repair to his devastating knee injury (something local TV still likes to show over and over again and something we still can't watch). Now don't get us wrong, the staff at MVB loves football. We believe it is the nearly perfect game that combines suspense, action, brute strength and violence with athleticism and balletic beauty. But that doesn't mean we aren't tired of seeing athletes made into heroes. It is our contention that our community should also allocate time and media space for the unsung heroes, the ones "who live lives of quiet desperation," who get up every morning to go to work to make ends meet, who struggle to keep a family together despite working for minimum wage. ABC News recognizes the worthy in their Friday "Person of the Week." The Miami Herald and local TV could do the same. These kind of awards and recognition are not only good for the spirits of those being honored, they're good for us too because they remind us, if nothing else, that someone a lot like us-- maybe even someone who is worse off than we are-- can make the effort to not only keep on keeping on but takes it a step further by giving something back to the community.

With that in mind, we would like to bring recognition to those in our community who really deserve it. We can't gurantee an award each week but when we are reminded by one or more people who continue to "put up the good fight," you can bet they will be recognized with a "Thelma Award." Named in honor of the mother of one of our staffers, this remarkable woman recieved her recognition in the late fifties when the Miami News (the long gone but not forgotten afternoon paper) ran a pictorial on her. Readers discovered that she had given birth to two boys. The second one died at 17-months in her arms from complications due to cerebral palsy. Less than a year later she caught the polio virus and was never able to walk again without braces and crutches. Her husband died when our staffer was only 14-years-old. Without a car and "depending on the kindness of strangers," life got tough. Still, her son reports that she never complained and was in fact cheerful throughout her life. Despite her handicap, she was for years the neighborhood organizer for the March of Dimes and Muscular Dystrophy where she made sure volunteers went door-to-door soliciting money to fight those diseases. Despite all the bad deals life handed out to her, she still managed to not only hang onto her faith, but gave large amounts of her time to her church as its kindergarten secretary where she earned a small salary that was able to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. The church got the best part of the deal because Thelma would volunteer to write the weekly church bulletin and the monthly newsletter-- something that required many late hours at home on a manual typewriter. Since this was long before the computer age, frequent last minute changes meant using lots of Wite-Out and laborius retyping into the wee hours of the morning to prepare the "mimeograph" stencil for printing. Yet, her son never heard her complain. She was always cheerful right up to the end when a heart attack finally killed her through the side effects of muscle atrophy brought on by the stress of living for 25-years with useless legs.

In all deepest sincerity, MVB presents the first "Thelma" award to David and Sherrone Jenkins, parents of their slain 9-year-old daughter Sherdavia. Cut down on July 1st in a shootout between thugs in a Liberty Square public housing complex, Sherdavia, a bright-eyed chess champion and a student who aced her FCAT test, was destined for greatness. How her parents were able to continue on continuing on was an amazing thing to see as the media covered the story. Living in the projects is a day-to-day struggle. Keeping a family together compounds the difficulty. We learned that the Jenkinses were able to do this and more by guiding their children by example. We remember reading that Mr. Jenkins, a security guard, first heard about the shooting at work. Not having a car, he had to walk and take busses back home. In the one-and-a-half hours it took him to get home all he could think about was what he might find there. In the aftermath and under the media spotlight the parents showed uncommon composure and Mr. Jenkins in particular humbled us all with his off-the-cuff eloquence. Since that time through the "kindness of strangers" and Mr. Jenkins' boyhood friend, U.S Rep. Kendrick Meek, the family has gotten a second chance at having a happy and fulfilling life: they now have a home of their own, a duplex with a lawn and trees and a front porch far from the projects. Now, only time and their faith and the effort they put in every day to get out of bed and get along will help them distance themselves from what once was to what can be.

The Miami Herald has created a commendable multi-media site that includes a timeline of articles with still photos, video, and music. It is quite moving. To see it, please click here."

Except in terms of reaching a larger number of viewers, the "Thelma" award is not so different from the ABC News "Person of the Week." It comes with no financial honorarium but in a case like this, an award as such is little more than meaningless self-referential hubris on our part without attaching money to help the family along. So, if you want to extend a helping hand to this deserving family, please join us by writing checks out to David and Sherrone Jenkins, C/O Audra D.S. Burch, South Correspondent, Miami Herald, One Herald Plaza, Miami, FL 33132. Please enclose the check and any personal correspondence to the parents in a separate envelope so that it can be given to the family unopened.

UpDate (1/29/09): The City of Miami renamed a mini-park for Sherdavia Jenkins. The Sherdavia Jenkins Peace Park at NW 62nd Street and 12th ave comes "as Liberty City bursts with outrage over the neighborhood's latest fatal shooting -- a weekend (1/23/09) bloodbath that left two teenagers dead and seven others wounded."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Knights who say "Si!"

In "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," King Arthur is quoted as saying "Camelot is such a silly place."

So is Miami.

It is a rare occasion when MVB gets comments and when it does, we try not to embarrass our brave Internet travelers and ourselves with too much fawning and genuflecting when they grace our blog with their opinions. However, when one of you says we're not funny, that's where we draw the line. Recently, "Anonymous" said we were not funny the moment he read the word "Si" in an interview MVB had with Oscar Rivero, a Miami developer busted for ripping off the poor ("Miami Public Housing: Country Club for the Homeless"). In fact, he went further by adding "it's clear that there is an anti-Hispanic undercurrent to your joke."

Really? Oscar Rivero is Cuban for crisesakes. If he was Italian, we can guarantee there would have been a "Fagidabouit!" in it somewhere. All we can say to Anonymous (if that's his real name) and the rest of the easily offended, please don't go to the Dade County School Board and try to have us banned from computers in the classroom because we can promise you the ACLU will be all over your ass before you---

We're sorry. We got carried away. Please forgive us, sit back, kick your shoes off, have a mojito (our choice of drink here at MVB), and try to enjoy the inspired little take we call "Manny Mojito and the Quest for a Sense of Humor." It picks up with Sir Manny, King of Little Havana, and his band of Knights of the Mesa Redonda as they are stopped in their quest for a sense of humor by a group of very tall knights who live in the Redlands Forest. Very little is changed from the original script except for the addition of one little word.

Knights of Si: Si! Si! Si! Si! Si! Si! Si! Si!

Sir Manny: Who are you?

Knight of Si: We are the Knights who say..."Si!"

Sir Manny (horrified): No! Not the Knights who say "Si!"

Knight of Si: The same.

Other Knight of Si: Who are we?

Knight of Si: We are the keepers of the sacred words: Si, Ping, and Nee-womm!

Other Knight of Si: Nee-womm!

Sir Manny (to Sir Bedevere): Those who hear them seldom live to tell the tale!

Knight of Si: The Knights who say "Si!" demand...a sacrifice!

Sir Manny: Knights of Si, we are but simple travelers who seek the enchanter who lives beyond these woods in a mystical place called Cuba.

Knights of Si: Si! Si! Si! Si! Si! Si! Si! Si! Si! Si!

Sir Bedevere (grabbing head): No! Nooo! Aaaugh! No!

Knight of Si: We shall say "Si" to you...if you do not appease us.

Sir Manny: Well, what is it that you want?

Knight of Si: We want
(pregnant pause)

(minor music)

Sir Manny: A WHAT?

Knights of Si: Si! Si! Si! Si! Si! Si! Si! Si! Si! Si!

Sir Manny: No! No! Please, please, no more! We will find you a shrubbery.

Knight of Si: You must return here with a shrubbery...or else you will never pass through this wood...alive.

Sir Manny: Oh, Knights of Si, you are just and fair, and we will return with a shrubbery.

Knight of Si: One that looks nice.

Sir Manny: Of course!

Knight of Si: And not too expensive.

Sir Manny: Yes!

Knight of Si: And with a sense of humor.

Sir Manny: What?

Knights of Si: Si! Si! Si! Si! Si! Si! Si! Si! Si!

Sir Manny (tears are rolling out of his eyes as he grabs his crown): Please stop!

Knight of Si: Noowwww...GO!

Unlike the original script, Sir Manny and his band of Knights of the Mesa Redonda were never heard from again. Rumor has it they, like Arthur who was unsuccessful in his quest for the Holy Grail, were never able to find a sense of humor.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Boner for the Weather

Well, it's already started. 24-hour hurricane coverage on local Miami TV. At this time, Ernesto is still a tropical storm somewhere over Cuba for crisesakes. They can't even wait until it turns into a full-fledged hurricane before they trot out their latest technological gizmos to show us how it looks in 3D. Television as we once knew it has been preempted for the latest news on some guy buying plywood in Home Depot. WPLG, the local ABC affiliate, cut Charlie Gibson off at the knees. We never got to see the national news because it was much more important to see how people were behaving in Key West (they were drinking). Some call this the "Mean Season." To MVB, it's the "Slice and Dicey Season." Why? When local TV starts covering hurricanes ad infinitum, after a while, you just want to walk into the kitchen, pull out a knife and end it all. Whether you do it or not is the "dicey" part: it depends if WSVN-Fox's Elita Loresca is giving the update. She's worth hanging around for.*

*Please note that MVB apologizes in advance if we offended any women or men who took offense at our "objectifying" women. If we did-- and we are not so sure we did-- this is the first time and we feel very ashamed but sometimes a stronger primeval urge still calls to us across the broad landscape of political correctness and, despite our best efforts, we just can't say "no" to a good, albeit shallow, joke. As a group of men, we need to be spanked. If there were any women working here, we would at least have offered up a worthy weatherman, but there aren't, so there. It is also with great regret that we ran the top photo of the weatherman with a boner for the weather. Please forgive us.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Miami Country Club for the Homeless Developer BUSTED!

As you may recall, yesterday's posting reported the abrupt end to a telephone interview with Oscar Rivero, the Miami developer revealed by the Miami Herald in a front-page story that morning to have taken millions of dollars of public money to build, among other things, a 11,000-square-foot mansion for his wife and himself instead of housing for the poor. Well, it seems Mr. Rivero was giving the interview on his cell phone while driving his black Mercedes C240 to turn himself in at the "Miami-Dade Public Corruption Investigations Bureau" (MVB is not making that up) where the phoner was terminated (see photo by Herald photographer Donna E. Natale Planas). Described in the account as "a 36-year-old lawyer and civic leader," you have to wonder, what was he thinking when he decided to give himself up in the black Mercedes? Didn't he have a Honda Civic parked behind the mansion for just these kind of situations? Maybe he could have borrowed a bike from one of the homeless guys he's building the country club for. Maybe he had a lot on his mind. In any event, he was later charged with two first-degree felonies: grand theft and committing an organized scheme to defraud. If convicted, he could serve a minimum of 21-months in state prison which is probably what he'll get since he's a "civic leader." By that time, with a little creative financing that will allow him to pay back the money he took from the county without totally relinquishing his assets, his "Country Club for the Homeless" should be ready for him to move in. Who says "Crime doesn't pay?"

UpDate (9/21/07): Rivero's 11,000sf mansion will be up for auction on October 3rd. 65% complete, the infamous house has six-bedrooms, nine-baths, a four-car garage, library, billiard room, spa, pool, two-story cabana, and a three-story high grand foyer "adorned with Mediterranean columns and a spiral staircase." It's been on the market since last October for $2.95 million but never sold. SunTrust is owed $1.9 million.

UpDate (5/9/08): This is the story that started us down the dark and dirty lane of local politics. We had no intention in taking that path. We wanted to focus on the arts and ideas in relation to south Florida. But Oscar Rivero's shameless exploitation of the needy was so over the top that we felt compelled to comment on it. That led to more comments on local politics-- which proved a fertile field in Miami and the Beaches for its over abundance of nincompoops and rip artists of the public trust-- and the rest is history. As of today, Mr. Rivero agreed on a plea agreement with the state attorney's office to spend the next 10 years in jail. If he gives up co-conspirators, that time can be whittled down to 21 months. We suspect he'll drop names like there was no tomorrow and more arrests will be made. Stay tuned.

UpDate (7/29/08): Rivero's law license is suspended effective August 21st.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Miami Public Housing: Country Club for the Homeless

"I know it looks bad. But I can explain everything."

Oscar Rivero, the poster boy for Miami's public housing rip-off, the man who promised to build affordable housing and collected over $3 million in advance from his cronies at the public housing authority with nothing to show for it except the mansion he is currently building outside of Coral Gables, may have been thinking this when he opened today's Miami Herald. The story, led by future Pulitzer Prize winner Debbie Cenziper (you read it here first), features a front page photo (above) by Miami Herald photographer Tim Chapman. It shows Rivero's 11,000-square-foot palatial estate under construction. It has five bedrooms, nine baths, eight walk-in-closets, a four-car garage, a wine cellar, library, billiard room, elevator, pool, spa, fountain-- "plus a grand foyer, three stories high, fixed with Mediterranean columns and a spiral staircase."

MVB believes everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. With that in mind, we decided to call Mr. Rivero to get his side of the story. The following interview may sound like something the MiamiVision Comic might use in one of his stand-up routines and he probably will once he is released from Mercy Hospital (see blog entry "Attack on the MiamiVision Comic") but for those who live in Miami, what may appear highly unbelieveable, is quite the norm in the city's everyday "Surreal Life."

MVB: Mr. Rivero?

Rivero (R): Si.

MVB: This is MiamiVision Blogarama.

R: Que?

MVB: "The Rodney Dangerfield of Blogs."

R: Never heard of it.

MVB: Of course. Would you care to comment about today's Miami Herald story?

R: I know it looks bad, but I can explain everything. That mansion you see on the front page, it's going to be a country club for the homeless.

MVB: "Country Club for the Homeless"?

R: Si. Do you really think I would build something that big just for my wife and me?

MVB: Well, we want to be objective here, but there is so much evidence against you--

R: Evidence-- schmevidence! That house was built with the poor in mind and to suggest otherwise would be politically incorrect.

MVB: "Politically incorrect"?

R: Si. Just because you're poor and living on the streets, does that mean you can't have a place to crash for a little R&R?

MVB: Of course not, Mr. Rivero, but some might suggest that the poor are on the streets in the first place because you never built one building for them in four years.

R: What do you call my "Country Club for the Homeless"?

MVB: A nice try.

The interview was cut short when Mr. Rivero hung up. Despite numerous attempts to call him back, we were unsuccessful in reaching him before this posting.

UpDate (5/9/08): This is the story that started us down the dark and dirty lane of local politics. We had no intention in taking that path. We wanted to focus on the arts and ideas in relation to south Florida. But Oscar Rivero's shameless exploitation of the needy was so over the top that we felt compelled to comment on it. That led to more comments on local politics-- which proved a fertile field in Miami and the Beaches for its over abundance of nincompoops and rip artists of the public trust-- and the rest is history. As of today, Mr. Rivero agreed on a plea agreement with the state attorney's office to spend the next 10 years in jail. If he gives up co-conspirators, that time can be whittled down to 21 months. We suspect he'll drop names like there was no tomorrow and more arrests will be made. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

New Downtown Miami Baseball Stadium

Click Image to Enlarge.

Now that the front office of MLB has finally stepped up to the plate to help the Florida Marlins find a home in downtown Miami, maybe there's a chance that dream will finally come true. Up until that announcement, the only pitch left to swing at by the team was a landfill site out in godforsaken Hialeah. Although the proposed site is in downtown, it still could be better. Since 2003, I have been pushing for a location that ties in with the "old" Miami Arena. As you can see from the picture above, it is built over the North-South MetroRail line. Center field's wall is hundreds of hotel balconies and the entire stadium is enclosed (not shown: center field stadium seating fronting the hotel parking garage-- the hotel rooms and balconies extend over the stands).

Hey, it's only an idea and, until it becomes reality, it's pretty cheap. As a private/public project, splitting the costs 4 ways between the team, the hotel, the arena, and the county, should make it affordably real. Right now, business models are only split between the team and the county. Of course, a more semi-practical approach, would cover the field with a stretched fabric-- but I would not make any predictions how long that would last during a hurricane. Anyway, I like the enclosed field atrium. That means air-control (not necessarily "air-conditioning") which should make for a far more comfortable experience during the "mean season."

Other reasons the concept is worthy:
  • It affords multiple use from rock concerts to tractor pulls with weather never becoming a factor,
  • It can be used for conventions tied-in with the Miami Arena with extra exhibition space spilling out onto the field,
  • It ties in with mass transit and,
  • It prepares Miami for being accepted as a future host of the summer Olympics.

Think about it: Miami could schedule simultaneous Olympic events with gymnastics in the Miami Arena, basketball at the American Airlines Arena, baseball at the new downtown stadium, with soccer and track-and-field at the Orange Bowl. Plus, if my other idea became a reality, spectators could walk or take a MetroMover to Bicentennial Park to watch the surfing competition in the 24-hour wave pool off of Biscayne Boulevard (see the earlier blog entry "Miami: Surfing USA?"). Aside from the Orange Bowl, the two arenas, the new baseball stadium and the wave pool are all within walking distance. With a MetroRail line extended a short hop west from downtown to the Orange Bowl, no one would need a car to get anywhere-- and that alone makes this proposal worthy.

UpDate (7/27/08): Glenn Straub, owner of the Miami Arena, announces he will tear it down to build a baseball stadium-- if he can strike a deal with the City of Miami and the Florida Marlins. Part of the deal he wants is to gain title to the Orange Bowl site (now torn down) to build affordable housing. Initial reaction from the Marlins and the city: not interested. Typical. And surprising since at one time the Marlins insisted on a downtown site.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Favorite Miami Sunset Photo

A picture can't get much better than this when trying to describe why we live here. If you want to see more of this photographer's work, please click here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Attack on the MiamiVision Comic!

Some people never learn.

On August 5th*, the MiamiVision Comic made a mistake joking about the Cuban exile community 's short fuse when it comes to anyone questioning their interepretation of the "American Way." The response that night was nothing compared to what happened last night.

Last night at the MiamiVision Comedy Club, the MiamiVision Comic was attacked by an angry mob who didn't find him very funny at all. What began as a luke warm reception to some well-worn jokes in the sparsly filled club on the outskirts of Little Havana, quickly turned into a mob scene when the comic tried to get topical. Hours earlier the news reported that the Dade County School Board voted to challenge a Federal Judge's order to stop them from banning the book "Vamos a Cuba." The book, part of a series depicting different countries for 5 to 7-year-old kids, was deemed by the 4th largest school district in the U.S. to be unsuitable for children because it painted a false picture of life in Cuba. The kids in the book actually seemed to be enjoying their lives and, according to the large and very vocal Cuban exile community, that ain't so and it's a lie and a danger to kids living in Dade County to tell them otherwise.

Well, wouldn't you know it, after joking about how much it will cost the school board to defend their action in court-- estimates of at least a quarter-of-a-million-dollars-- with predictions by legal experts that they will lose, he went into a riff about how Cuban's are more like Castro then they want to admit.

"The next thing I know," the MiamiVision Comic recalls from his hospital bed while nursing a black eye and a couple of broken ribs, "someone threw a mojito in my face and started cussing me out in spanish. When they rushed the stage, I thought I was going to die. I had a flashback to that old 'Frankenstein' movie when the villagers are chasing Boris Karloff through the night with torches. Well, one guy was flicking his Bic at me, that's pretty close to being a torch, I guess. Anyway, the last time I got into trouble down here, I discovered if I yelled 'I just heard Castro died!' it'd save your ass. This time it didn't."

Mercy Hospital expects the MiamiVision Comic to be released tomorrow pending further tests.

*Scroll down the main blog to that entry "Is it a joke or what..."

UpDate (6/7/07): The Miami-Dade School Board defends its ban on Vamos a Cuba before a Florida appellate court. Legal costs in the case have exceeded $250,000.00.

Monday, August 21, 2006

"Mr. President, we cannot allow a spaceport gap!"

Governor Bush
I keep telling you, General Turgidson, I'm not the President.

Gen. Turgidson
I'm sorry, sir, it's just that you exude so much authority I keep forgetting you're his kid brother.

Governor Bush
Stop trying to kiss up and get to the point.

Gen. Turgidson
Well, Governor, it looks like the Ruskies aren't the ones we have to worry about getting civilians into space first on regularly scheduled commercial flights.

Governor Bush pauses and turns to Turgidson with a sigh.

Gen. Turgidson
It's New Mexico!

Governor Bush
(yanks the inhaler away)

Gen. Turgidson
I know. I found it hard to believe myself. They got that Limey, you know, the guy that owns Virgin Airlines. What's his name?

Governor Bush

Gen. Turgidson
Yeah, that guy. What is he, a lord or something?

Governor Bush
A knight.

Gen. Turgidson
Yeah, whatever. Seems he made a deal with New Mexico to build the first spaceport for his Virgin Galatic. Talk about gall. Hell, Florida should be the first place to do that! Not New Mexico, for crisesakes! When was the last time they ever launched somebody into outer space?

Governor Bush
Where is New Mexico?

Gen. Turgidson
Hell, Mr. President-- I'm sorry-- Governor, I had to look it up. It's next to Texas!

Governor Bush
I thought I heard of it.

Gen. Turgidson
Yeah, but that ain't the half of it. Texas is building a spaceport too!

Governor Bush

Gen. Turgidson
That's right, sir. They're building it on some guy's ranch.

Governor Bush
My brother's?

Gen. Turgidson
No, some guy named...
(whips out a notepad and starts reading from it)
Bezos. Jeff Bezos. He co-founded

Governor Bush
You gotta be freaking kidding me?

Gen. Turgidson
I wish I was, Mr.-- Governor. But it gets worse.

Governor Bush
Should I be sitting down?

Gen. Turgidson
You already are, sir.

Governor Bush
Then go ahead. Let me have it.

Gen. Turgidson
Oklahoma is building one too.

Governor Bush
Oh, lord.

Gen. Turgidson
Do you know where that is, sir?

Governor Bush
(wearily waving his hand)
Yes, yes, it's somewhere out west.

Gen. Turgidson
(checking his notes)
So is New Jersey, Nova Scotia, Scotland, and some place called Manus Island.

Governor Bush
Where the hell is that?

Gen. Turgidson
Somewhere off of Papua New Guinea.

Governor Bush
You mean to tell me headhunters got the jump on us?!

Governor Bush grabs his inhaler, puts it over his nose and mouth, and takes a really deep breath.

Governor Bush

Gen. Turgidson
Excuse me, sir. I didn't quite catch that.

Governor Bush
(pulls the inhaler away)

Gen. Turgidson
Well, sir, to put it bluntly, we have a spaceport gap. We're working on it, but nothing is locked down yet. Mr. President, if I may say so--

Governor Bush
(stopping in mid breath)
What did you just call me?

Gen. Turgidson
I'm sorry, sir-- Oh, why don't you just run for President, sir, and get it over with. Your brother even says you'd make a great president.

Governor Bush
(slowly, patiently)
And what have I been telling everybody including the press?

Gen. Turgidson
(sweating, looking sheepisly at the floor)
That you don't want the job, sir.

Governor Bush
That's right, and if I hear you call me that one more time, I'm going to demote you-- no, I'm going to kick you out of the Florida National Guard and then you'll have to get a real job and won't get anybody to salute you. Do you understand?

Gen. Turgidson
(loosens tie)
I do, sir, and I promise you that won't be necessary.

Governor Bush
Good, now please tell me how big this spaceport gap is?

Gen. Turgidson
(removing jacket)
Well, from what I can tell, sir, we still have a chance. New Mexico is putting up $200 million to build theirs from scratch in some godforsaken desert or something. Seems these things need a lot of space which kinda caught me by surprise. I mean, it's not like we're going to be launching them like rockets at Canaveral. Hell, they take off and land on a runway. I don't know, maybe those eggheads know something I don't but if it's supposed to be so safe and regular, what the hell do they need all that space for? I thought they'd be sharing runways with MIA.

Governor Bush
Get to the point, General Turgidson, before those New Mexicans finish building the damn thing.

Gen. Turgidson
Sorry, sir. Anyway, despite everything I've said, it ain't as bad as it looks.

Governor Bush rolls his eyes, shakes his head, and sighs.

Gen. Turgidson
We already got a runway! 10,500 feet of poured concrete right out in the middle of the goddamn f***ing Everglades!

Governor Bush
General Turgidson, must I remind you? This is not the White House!

Gen. Turgidson
I'm sorry, sir. I'll keep that in mind. I'm just so gaw...darn excited about what I discovered. The damn thing's been sitting there since the 1970's. Seems Miami was going to build a Jetport to accomodate the new SSTs that were coming. Because they were supposed to be so fu--freaking loud, they built it way out in the Everglades so no one could hear 'em take off and land. It's 36-miles west of Miami, man-- I mean, sir! They got as far as one single two-mile long runway before Congress killed the SST and a bunch of tree huggers killed the plan. They still use it, Mr.-- Sir. For emergencies and pilot training, you know, touch-and-goes.

Governor Bush
Are you trying to tell me in your own simple minded way that I don't have to ask for money to build a runway?

Gen. Turgidson
Well, I'm not sayin' it won't cost something-- maybe a few million dollars, ten tops. It doesn't have any lights and its got a critter problem.

Governor Bush
A "critter problem"?

Gen. Turgidson
Gators and the occasional deer get on the runway, but that can be rectified at little or no cost, sir, when you compare it to what those New Mexicans are going to have to shell out. Hell, Governor, with a little TLC, we can be launching civies in no time. Beat those New Mexicans at their own game.

Governor Bush
(pausing, staring into space)
I wonder how many mules it would take to get me and Columba's luggage out to their launch pad?

General Turgidson is taken back. His eyes blink uncomprehendingly as Governor Bush turns his chair slowly toward him.

Governor Bush
I'm joking.

General Turgidson
Oh, hey, and a very good one too, sir.

Governor Bush
General, before I leave office in January, I want that spaceport gap closed! Florida isn't going to get bushwhacked by a bunch of New Mexican Johnny-come-lately rocket jockies. Kennedy had nine years to get to the moon. I'm giving you five months. I want Columba and me to leave office with a bang, on the first regularly scheduled civilian rocket flight in the world-- from Florida. Do I make myself perfectly clear?

General Turgidson
(snapping to a salute)
Yes, sir!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Graft in your heart? Check out these Miami-Dade County workshops!

Please note that the above insertion is supposed to be funny, some might even call it satirical. It is based on a real public notice placed in Sunday's Miami Herald. If I have offended anybody, I apologize in advance. Still, I must remind you that, as noted humorist Steve Martin once said, "comedy is not pretty."

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Miami: Home of the First Star Trek Yacht?

It may not be considered a megayacht in size, but the Trilobis 65, a four level, 20 meter floating object-of-desire would still turn heads at Miami's downtown soon-to-be-built megayacht marina. Giancarlo Zema Design Group (GZDG) of Rome in collaboration with Canadian company Underwater Vehicles are working hard to have one of these futuristic babies floating soon in a marina near you. This floating luxury home will sleep 6 people and is described by the company as "ideal for living in bays, atolls, and maritime parks." Considering it is nonpolluting because it uses hydrogen fuels, perhaps even the rangers at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the nation's first underwater park south of Miami and east of Key Largo, will cut it some slack and let it drop anchor over the reefs. Trilobis 65's fourth level is 3 meters below sea level. The "observation bulb" looks like something Captain Kirk would be comfortable in commanding and its design is entirely fitting with the yacht's overall "Star Trek" appeal. Although none of us will live long enough to see space exploration on the level found in "Star Trek," the few earthlings who can afford the estimated $4 million price tag of the Trilobis 65, will undoubtedly "explore strange new worlds" above and below the sea.

But wait, there's more! GZDG has designed a floating house called the Jelly-fish 45. Granted the name needs a little work, but priced at $2.5 million, it's a steal. It's ten meters high, sleeps 8, and has five levels connected by a spiral staircase. Any good Miami entrepreneur could rustle up a couple of these floating homes, dock 'em at Miami's megayacht marina, and lease them out for 3, 4, or 7-day vacations that include a leisurely cruise and anchorage at the John Pennekamp reefs. "Scotty, beam me down!"

Miami: The Hollow City

A recent European immigrant I know expressed how happy he was in discovering a 9th floor, three-bedroom, 1.5 bath condo in Miami for $500,000.00. After my head stopped shaking and my eyes stopped blinking uncontrollably, I had to wonder if I had been living here too long. No matter how many times you say 500 thousand dollars, it still sounds like half-a-million dollars to me. Maybe where he's from, that's a good deal, but from where I come from, that's a whole lot of money for way too little-- no matter how great this town is. Thanks to the recent Miami Herald article "The Price of Paradise," I'm reminded that property taxes on that much money will easily set you back $12,000.00 a year or "$230 a week." Add that to your mortgage and insurance costs plus your car payment and it's insurance, and, suddenly, Miami is becoming a city where only the wealthy can afford to live. Like the article suggests, Miami may become a "stratified community, where the rich live well, the poor get by, and the middle class get out."

Still, the downtown condos are selling. I suspect, however, that many of them have been bought on speculation with the hopes of making a quick profit on the investment. A small percentage may actually be retirement or second homes for the wealthy but most are beyond affordable for the middle class. Doctors, lawyers, and Indian Chiefs (casinos) might be able to live there, but where will everyone else live? In 2001, the average Miami home cost $158,000.00. Today, the median is $378,000.00. Yikes! No wonder it is nearly impossible to recruit new teachers. They can't find affordable housing in the county and, with the rising costs of gasoline, commuting from Broward is looking like a thing of the past.

With an estimated 40,000 downtown condo units planned, I suspect Miami is becoming "The Hollow City," nothing more than a pretty facade for movies with empty rooms overlooking one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bob Enzyte Arrested at MiamiVision Big Idea Awards!

Click the button for Enzyte theme music.

"What was he thinking?"

That seems to be the question on everyone's mind following the arrest of Bob Enzyte at the MiamiVision Bob Enzyte Big Idea Awards last night at Churchill's Pub in Little Haiti. Early consensus was that he wasn't. Thinking, that is. All agree that the formal eponymous award ceremony commemorating "big ideas that will make Miami a better place to live," was without incident until Mr. Enzyte stood up to take the mic from Verticus Erectus, publisher of the blog

"The man didn't have any pants on," reports Mr. Erectus. "No one knew this at the time because he was sitting on the stage behind a dais draped with a tablecloth. I mean, Bob's a great guy and all, but ever since he's been self-medicating, he's, well, different."

"I'll say," Alex, the beautiful, tattooed and piereced English barmaid adds. "I was busy working the bar when I heard someone scream. I turned around and saw people yelling, pointing, and running out the door and, well, when I saw what they were pointing at, let's just say, it's something I won't soon forget."

"When I saw that thing coming at me, I backed away and fell off my chair," Bruce Rubin interjected. Mr. Rubin was the honoree of that night's award. "I refused to touch it," he shouted over his shoulder as he exited the building. "And you can keep your stupid award too!"

When asked if MiamiVision Blogarama will continue to share the "Big Idea" award with Mr. Enzyte, a celebrity businessman, Mr. Erectus said, "Right now it's Curry Night and I'm focusing on my potato vindaloo."

We were unable to contact Mr. Enzyte for his side of the story by press time.

Latter MVB Big Idea Awards: Shaya Boymelgreen, Carlyle Group, Jorge Perez.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Habitat for Humanity "Sweat Equity" solution for Miami Public Housing

When Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alverez heard that nearly 900 public housing units are available but remain vacant due to a shortage of maintenance staff responsible for repairs and renovations, he directed county officials to move families into these vacant homes ASAP. When he heard at least another 100 vacant units are ready for occupancy but remain empty he deemed that "unacceptable." This action followed the recent brouhaha over the corrupt and incompetent county public housing authority in which the head of the department and others were promptly fired.

The mayor's directive came a day before the Miami Workers Center was to announce their 12-point plan to solve the public housing crisis. In 2002 the Center began a "Fill the Vacancies" campaign to "expose the problems." According to the Center spokeswoman Sushma Sheth, 40,000 families are on a waiting list for affordable housing. I'm sure they made the mayor's office aware of their initiative. Question is, "Why didn't the mayor act sooner?" At least he trumped the county manager who played catch-up in trying to explain his inept handling of the public housing authority after the Miami Herald's revealing "House of Lies" series exploded upon the scene.

Although the Miami Herald story did not run any pictures of these available "units," a local TV station went out to the projects and revealed row after row of boarded up apartments in largely empty neighborhoods. The most amazing thing we noticed was that the buildings looked to be in pretty good shape and we had to stop and ask ourselves, what is going on here? These buildings are sturdy structures built out of bricks, concrete, and wood and you can bet they meet code (see pictures found on the net). With a few simple repairs (broken windows, new doors, some electrical, etc, etc.), people could be living in them.

MiamiVision Blogarama (MVB) proposes that the answer to correcting the problem does not lie in paying county workers to "fix them up" but rather in giving them to the poor in exchange for the Habitat for Humanity principal of "sweat equity," where first time homeowners take on the responsibilities of repair and maintenace in exchange for the keys to the "unit," which we like to call "foothold homes." With a "foothold home," the poor get a helping hand to step up to becoming part of the middle-class while taking from government and placing upon themselves the burden and expense of repair and maintenance. Coupled with the ideas that transformed Chicago's reputation as having the worst public housing in the U.S. into a prototype for the best in public housing-- which includes listening to the people who live there about what they want and need and drug testing of housing applicants (if you fail, there is no way you're moving into the neighborhood)-- then we might just have something that works.

Peter DeMaria, architect extraordinaire, to Miami's Public Housing Rescue?

Architect Peter DeMaria, the man responsible for turning used shipping containers into homes, is coming to Florida. Because a posting by this blog suggesting Mr. DeMaria would be the perfect solution to solving Miami's public housing shortage was discovered on the net (see 8/2 comments section for that topic), we were encouraged to contact him directly-- which is part of the blog's mission statement of affecting change (see request for President Jimmy Carter to head the county's corrupt and incompetent public housing department). Following is the email exchange:

From Peter DeMaria:
Thanks for your advocating and comments. It sounds like you may have struck a chord down there in Miami. The University of Miami School of Architecture is a headquarters of sort to "New Urbanism". It's so close to you that it could be worth a visit. Our office has been researching a few potential office locations in Florida but we haven't selected our final location just yet. Your ideas about the "workforce housing" could not have been more accurate. This condition is not only in Miami but here in LA as well. My research has shown that just about every metropolitan area is experiencing some level of this lack of housing at an affordable price point. While our custom home project in Redondo was not "affordable housing" per se, it is being constructed at far less than average and affordable cost per square foot. The response to it has been overwhelming and from all parts of the US and as far away as Italy. We think that it will open some doors and minds to a new technology that can translate into affordable building construction.

Your platform for dialogue regarding affordable housing that won't blow away in the next hurricane is a real service to many people in the Southeastern U.S. - great job, keep it alive! I'll keep you posted on what
we've got going on and please stay in touch. Once again thanks for your support.

All the best,


Peter DeMaria AIA
DeMaria Design Assoc.
941 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
T: 310 802-1270
F: 310 802-1260

8/8 reply:
Dear Peter,

Thanks for the email. Regarding "workforce housing" in Miami, it is so bad here that the school board (4th largest in US) is considering selling property to build up a reserve of cash to help teachers put down payments on their homes. It is so bad here that the school board can't hire new teachers because they can't find affordable housing in the county. With record numbers of teachers retiring, a crisis in education is predicted because new teachers can't find a place to live. It's architects like you who think outside the "box" that could be the answer to a whole lot of social problems. If you move to Florida, I would suggest putting your office in Miami. Aside from getting more than enough work on the affordable housing side, you can also service clientele with enough money to buy upscale IBUs and other more traditional designs (or non-traditional), money-empowered jet setters who buy condos and homes in Miami so that they have a place to crash when traveling or investment. Plus, there are more than enough developers here who could be your Medicis. Put your office where all the political power is and that is in downtown Miami which is undergoing a building boom of high rise chi-chi condos and office towers that rivals Beijing thanks in part to the soon to open nearly half-billion dollar Carnival Center for the Performing Arts (Cesar Pelli). I went to UM and yes, it has a great school of architecture, but it is off the beaten trail and highly academic (besides, they have been non-existent in this housing solution-- no statements have been issued, no comments solicited from the media). Again, thanks for the kind words, and best of luck in your endeavors.

Monday, August 07, 2006

FEC Tracks for Commuter Rail? In our Lifetime?

We found this in the Miami Herald today (8/7) regarding the chances of seeing a commuter rail running from Palm Beach into downtown Miami. If and when it happens, it will be like a heart bypass on a sick patient. It will increase vitality and jump-start a sustained renaissance:

Back-channel talks have been under way between top state transportation officials and Florida East Coast Industries over the 82-mile corridor that runs through all of the redeveloping east-side downtowns from Miami to West Palm Beach.

''I think it's a huge opportunity to create a light-rail option,'' Stutler said last week. ``I think it would be really exciting. We've got to create more [transportation] options and we've got to be smarter how we retrofit our communities to deal with the future needs.''

Most transit experts believe the FEC corridor that Henry Flagler built is where Tri-Rail should have been from the get-go. But the 1980s-era FEC wasn't interested, so the state turned to CSX and bought the old Seaboard line along I-95.

Today, the FEC corridor is ripe for high-density, high-rise, mixed-use development. More than 1.1 million people live within a half-mile of the rail line in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Imagine what the area could become over the next three decades as population continues to rise, land becomes scarcer, traffic congestion worsens and cities retool vertically.

With a few exceptions, most of the FEC corridor from Miami to Jupiter is 100-feet wide -- plenty of room to lay two ribbons exclusively for FEC freight and two for future South Florida passenger service.


And today's publicly traded FECI, headed by longtime Miami business fixture and power broker Adolfo Henriques, is a much different company than the one that wouldn't negotiate in the 1980s.

FECI is not only a major freight hauler, but one of the state's largest -- and most politically connected -- landowners, especially since it acquired the real-estate and development empire of Bush's old business partner and mentor, Armando Codina, earlier this year.

Henriques and Codina know FECI is sitting on a gold mine.

The state might agree to buy the corridor and provide the infrastructure to guarantee uninterrupted freight and passenger service. Imagine FECI agreeing to sell some of the right-of-way in return for tax credits that will help it build workforce housing near some stations and secure air rights over other key stations.

''As a resident of this community, I believe we need to work very aggressively to develop a viable public-transportation system,'' Henriques said. ``Passenger traffic [on the FEC corridor] needs to occur. We're prepared to discuss it. I'm willing to discuss anything.''


The timing is right. The corridor is needed. Traffic congestion already ranks among the top issues cited by voters in every poll. FDOT can't pave its way out of the problem. We'll worry about how Miami-Dade, Broward or Palm Beach counties can pay for their respective shares another day.

Want to bet a deal gets done before Bush leaves office in January?

''I think you should stay tuned,'' Stutler said.

Got a commuting question or an idea for a future column? Contact Larry Lebowitz at or call him at 305-376-3410.

UpDate (5/3/2010):
Here's an excerpt from today's Miami Herald By Alfonso Chardy. After nearly 4-years, maybe our message in the "cloud" is finally getting through.

``All aboard!'' shouted Amtrak conductor Shaun Robertson as the passenger train departed from downtown Miami Saturday morning, headed to Jacksonville on a track along Florida's eastern shore -- rails chiefly reserved for freight trains.

Robertson's classic call marked the beginning of a historic journey, a special train Amtrak operated to check the feasibility of resuming passenger service between the two east Florida cities.

The last time the densely-populated eastern shore rail corridor had regular passenger service was in 1968. Since then, the Florida East Coast Railway or FEC, which traces its history to railroad and hotel pioneer Henry Flagler, has largely been reserved for cargo trains.

State and local officials aboard the special train said that if Amtrak restarts regular passenger service on the line, it may lead to a second commuter rail service in South Florida -- one running on the same FEC track east of Interstate 95 and through the downtown areas of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

The FEC commuter rail service would be in addition to -- or an extension of -- the existing Tri-Rail commuter rail now operating on tracks west of I-95.

While planning for eastern shore rail passenger service has been around for years, state and local officials believe they have a better chance of realizing their dream now because the Obama administration is interested in fostering a national rail system to improve rail connections between urban centers both with high-speed rail between cities and more efficient commuter rail between counties.

An expression of official interest in FEC passenger service was the presence of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist at the send-off ceremony for the special train by the track just west of the Freedom Tower and the American Airlines Arena in downtown Miami...."

Sunday, August 06, 2006

And the MiamiVision Bob Enzyte Big Idea Award goes to...

Bruce Rubin for his August 6th Miami Herald Letters to the Editor "Big Idea":

Opa-locka an option

Remember when Eastern Airlines was the king of Miami? Then, suddenly, the king was not just dethroned, but beheaded. It took years to replace the airline's revenue contribution to Miami International Airport, not to mention its philanthropic involvement in many facets of the community.

At that time, it would have been reasonable to expect that government and aviation officials never again would allow the airport's economy, not to mention a good chunk of our overall financial health and welfare, to be held hostage to one airline.

Oops -- it seems that one slipped by us, because here we are again, but worse off than before. Now we're dealing with the new Terminal A, otherwise known as the Interminable Walk to the Gate -- or the money pit.

It would be easy to blame American Airlines. The airline mounted an effective, hard-nosed lobbying effort, combining financial support with a gun-to-the-head approach. But that's what corporations do. When push came to shove, our government caved yet again. Instead of continuing this revolving door of aviation directors, why not just hand the keys over to American Airlines? That's who is in charge, anyway. With all the cost overruns, there's no way that MIA is going to attract the Jet Blue kind of carrier. The costs to use the airport already are too high.

But we can still fix this problem. MIA is a lost cause, but Opa-locka Airport isn't. There sits a vastly underused airport that can be spruced up and used to entice Southwest Airlines to start flying in and out of Miami. You don't think Jet Blue will fly out of both Broward and Miami-Dade counties? Why not? It flies out of all three of New York airports, Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark.

Such an effort will not only add short-term gains to the local economy. If done properly, it should boost long-term revenue and provide convenience to residents and tourists. It just takes a bit of leadership.


Bruce, we couldn't have said it better. Congratulations on your award!

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Is it a joke or what...

When the FAA restricts the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts from popping its beacon on and lighting up the night sky because it might interfere with pilots landing at MIA? Hell, if anything it ought to help them find it.

"I lost Miami!"
"Follow the light!"
"It's too bright! I can't see!"
"What? You didn't bring your aviator sunglasses? And you call yourself a pilot?"

(Uncontrolled laughter)

Geesh, I tell you, if I was paranoid, I'd think the Atlanta branch of the FAA which makes up these cockamamied rules has got it in for us. They're even telling us we can't build buildings as big as we want to. The nerve of them. Last time I checked this was America-- except for certain parts of Miami.

(Uneasy laughter)

Hey, I'm only kidding. Lighten up. Where's a translator when you need one?

(Someone heckles the Miami Vision Comic in Spanish. He doesn't know Spanish but senses he may have crossed the line. He tugs at his necktie and begins to sweat under the spot lights. He quickly whips out his emergency back-up line)

I just heard Castro died!

(Uncontrolled cheering and shouts of joy)

Yeah, the first parade is scheduled right after this set.

(Except for a few blog surfers that stumbled into the Miami Vision Comedy Club accidentally and haven't a clue about what is going on, the room is suddenly empty as the audience rushes out onto Calle Ocho to begin another round of marching up and down the street and waving small Cuban flags which they always carry somewhere on their bodies for exactly this kind of news).

Friday, August 04, 2006

Carnival Center for the Performing Arts: The Jewel in the Rough

Despite all the negative publicity our city is getting recently from the incompetency and greed of its fleecing of the public, the newly named Carnival Center for the Performing Arts stands out above it all. If Captain Kirk had a "Prime Directive" for the good of the universe, the CCPA is our "Prime Motivator" for the good of Miami and the county. Because of its existence, downtown is undergoing a building boom which will probably never ever be seen again. To see a really neat interactive 3-D display about the CCPA and the new buildings it will spawn around it, please click this Miami Herald link: You'll be glad you did. That's my opinion. What's yours?

Contract with Habitat For Humanity to build public housing in Miami

If Dade County manager George Burgess was on top of things, he would have known about county public housing employees ripping off the public and stopped them in their tracks. No excuses. He looks like a "Johnny Come Lately" following the Miami Herald series "House of Lies" with his grandstanding after-the-fact. County mayor Carlos Alverez should demand an accounting. Personally, I'd fire the incompetent and hire an organization that understands the meaning of the words "non-profit." If Mayor Alverez has any real vision beyond his strong mayor plan, he should look into contracting with Habitat for Humanity. Hell, I'm sure President Jimmy Carter would be more than happy to take over the public housing reins. Aside from actually building housing for the poor, I'll bet Carter's team would save the county money by excising the bloated, self-serving public housing staff. That's my opinion. What's yours?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hurricanes, Schmericanes!

I know the "mean season" has arrived and I'm not talking about the weather. Yesterday, I turned on the TV to catch the local six o'clock news and quickly started changing channels. Every station was doing a story on hurricane Chris for crisesakes. Yesterday it was probably a thousand miles away. Today it's just a whimpering blip on the radar.

Is it just me, or do you feel the same way about hurricane coverage? It's way too much information way too soon and for far too long. My God, sometimes they start the coverage when a tropical depression forms off the coast of Africa! The last time I looked, that was on the other side of the freaking Atlantic Ocean!

You have to understand, I grew up here. When the media asks if you are prepared, baby, I've been prepared since Hurricane Donna (1960) with the exception of one additional change: I make sure my remote has fresh batteries so I can find something on TV other than the latest hurricane updates. Back then, before weather satellites and remotes, when weathermen were men and not hot babes in tight-fitting clothes in low-cut necklines (although, I must admit, that is an improvement), we got our info from radar and brave men who flew vintage aircraft into the eyes of hurricanes-- and that was only when it was close enough to read on radar screens. And you know what? We got through it without a lot of hand-holding, 24-hour advice from the media. This was before there were Home Depots in every neighborhood where you could rush out and buy your supplies. There were a few Lindsey Lumber stores around (now history) but most of us just lowered our window shutters, hunkered down, and waited for the storm to pass. As far as I'm concerned, the media is making Florida a state of wussies. That's my opinion. What's yours?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Miami's Public Housing Answer-- provided no one figures out a way to rip off the public.

Leave it to Californians to show us the way. Architect Peter DeMaria is using old shipping containers and building homes from them. They are half the cost of a typical California home (approximately $125.00/s.f. instead of $250.00/s.f.). Seems the trade deficit has created a surplus of these babies known in the business as IBUs (Intermodal Building Units). Insulation is a NASA developed ceramic coating a little thicker than a credit card which is sprayed on the inside and outside of the IBUs. Some homeowners are spray painting them with bright automotive colors.

When stacked, it is possible to create roof heights of 20' or more. This seems like one answer to creating public housing in Miami-- provided there is a system of checks and balances to keep corrupt officials and bureaucrats from stealing public dollars allocated for these projects-- which the recent Miami Herald series "House of Lies" led by reporter Debbie Cenziper points out will be an uphill battle. Used IBUs now cost about $2,000.00 each but once word gets out that there is a demand for them, I'm sure the price will go up.

Looking at some of the houses already built, this kind of contruction might also be a solution to building affordable luxury workforce housing-- an oxymoron if ever there was one. As an example of what is possible, a 3,500 s.f. IBU home was built in California that has 4 bedrooms, 3.5 baths, with 20' ceilings for $125.00/s.f. The ironic thing about all of this? The used IBUs come from Florida. That's my opinion. What's yours?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Rodney Dangerfield Masthead Mechanics Confidential

I've had a few queries regarding the masthead (I'm sorry, that's a lie. I hardly get any queries or comments. This is afterall, "The Rodney Dangerfield of Blogs"). It, like the rest of the images on this site, was created in Corel Draw/Photopaint using pictures I either made or found on the web.

Regarding Rodney Dangerfield, besides being one of my favorite comics, I actually met the man while floating in the Atlantic Ocean off of Ft. Lauderdale. The first thing I saw was Rodney's head moving toward me just above the water. I instantly had a flashback to that famous hamhanded black and white trick-pic of Chairman Mao taking a swim in the Yangtze river. It was released by the commies to prove that Mao was not only very much alive but for an aging dictator, he was also one healthy, lean-mean swimmin' machine. Both images had an odd, otherwordly appeal except that Rodney's head talked back to me. "Hey, how's it going?" he asked. I'm sure if he had a necktie to tug at, he would have. God bless Rodney Dangerfield where ever he is. In case some of you have never heard of him because you are so freaking young and would like to hear him do some of his jokes, please go to the website he created before his death at: If you dig deep enough in his video archives, you'll find Rodney's famous "Triple Lindy" off the diving boards. That Rodney, always a cut-up in the water.