Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Miami FreeQuarium



Me and the boys of MVB were sitting around talking and sipping mojitos, is our wont at the end of the day, when the lively conversation inevitably turned to the county commission's poster child for boorish behavior and environmental indifference. When Natacha Seijas recently beat back the citizen led attempt to have her removed from office, I wondered half seriously if perhaps our community might be jinxed. I was surprised by the response by our staff resident renegade on the run, Nokosee Osceola (first introduced here with his hot girlfriend).

NOKOSEE: You got that right.
VERTICUS: What do you mean?
NOKOSEE: My shaman, E.F. Hialeah says--

At this point, I was surprised to see the staff lean forward in anticipation. I sensed I had been missing out on something and made a mental note to attend more of the daily mojito sessions.

NOKOSEE: Free the fish.
VERTICUS: "Free the fish"?
NOKOSEE: Free the fish.

I must have been missing something. I looked around for help. The guys were nodding their heads in sage agreement.

VERTICUS: Okay, Nokosee, what the hell are you talking about?
NOKOSEE: Until you free the fish, this place will never be happy hunting grounds.
VERTICUS: "Happy hunting grounds"?
NOKOSEE: Si.

I sighed and tried to remember that Nokosee is the product of a Cuban mother and a Miccosukee/Seminole father who met at Hialeah High School and that getting a straight answer, an answer that I might understand without an interpreter, would require patience, something I'm not famous for. So I exhaled slowly once more through my mouth and waited, smiling hopefully that the young hunk sitting in front of me in a loincloth sipping the last drops of his mojito would be more forthcoming.

NOKOSEE: It's wrong to imprison the fish. Like all living things, we are born to be free.

I looked around at the guys.

VERTICUS: Does anyone know what the fvck he's talking about?

Eyes rolled, shoulders shrugged, but no one had a clue.

NOKOSEE: The big fish in the Seaquarium, you dumbkoff! Do I have to spell it out for you?

Nokosee's outburst caught us all by surprise. Although rumor had it that he had been groomed by his mysterious ex-Green Beret Nam dad to be the first of the "New Seminole" to take back south Florida, we hadn't seen any of that probable streak of genetic madness until now. I proceeded cautiously.

VERTICUS: You talkin' about Lolita the killer whale?
NOKOSEE: You got it, kemasabe. As long as she's kept in captivity, this land will be cursed.
VERTICUS: "Cursed"?
NOKOSEE: Big winds, bad people, and insurance rates skyrocketing right out the top of your chickee.

I was afraid to say anything and tried to conceal my astonishment that anyone today would believe in such nonsense when I guess Nokosee caught my left eyebrow rising slowly across what I thought was my best poker face.

NOKOSEE: You don't think the land and its people are cursed, do you?

A trembling smile broke across my face and I shrugged helplessly.

NOKOSEE: Did you know that California hasn't had an earthquake since they freed Willy?

I looked around for help. The guys turned away. I tried to keep my mouth shut, but I'm cursed too.

VERTICUS: Just mudslides and fires.

Nokosee jumped up and threw his cocktail glass down on MVB's terraza floor. It exploded in deadly shards. One stuck in Nokosee's calf and blood began to pump out but he never flinched or lost a beat.

NOKOSEE: That's for their other sins to mother earth!

With that, he set his bare foot on my desk, yanked the glass splinter from his leg and threw it at the Hooters calendar on the wall behind me. The glass shard stuck squarely in the middle of today's date. I swallowed deeply and turned to see him leaving a trail of blood across the floor and out the door. The resounding sound of the door slamming shut had us all jumping in unison.

As we paused to collect our breath and to wait for our collective heart beats to drop, it became clear to us after a much needed mojito refill, that the half-naked Seminole might be onto something. Especially after our resident archaeologist Bobby Bermudez, champion of the controversial notion that the Miami Circle is really a giant pre-Columbian "Smiley Face," suggested that history is full of cursed people and lands and despite intense scientific scrutiny, many have not been disproven. So, after another round from the mojito pitcher, we all agreed that freeing Lolita was worth the effort. By the end of the work day we approved the following course of action:
  1. Work to free Lolita.
  2. Propose a joint venture between the county and the Seaquarium to reinvent the old rusting hulk by turning it into the biggest and best fish-friendly aquarium in the world. No more performing mammals of any size-- except for the divers who will clean the tanks.
  3. Call the new tourist attraction FreeQuarium.
Over the following days following our communal hangover, we discovered more reasons to lift the curse. For example, we should work to remove the trained animal shows because of the methods employed. You can learn more about why we have taken this stance here and here.

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