Saturday, March 31, 2007

Miami's Shame: The Miami Marine Stadium Redux

A couple of days ago the first of four public meetings was held regarding proposals for Virginia Key where Miami's Shame can be found covered in graffiti and crumbling under the sun. Initial talk from City of Miami planners is to tear down the stadium and replace it with something far less than visionary: restaurants, boat repair/supply stores, or sandwich shops.

It really is enough to make you cry. In fact, it is an outrage. It looks like from the outset that saving the stadium was never in the cards. Where is the Mayor Manny Diaz of 2002 when he promised to restore the stadium? Mr. Mayor, if the only thing your city planners can come up with is sandwich shops and retail, you should fire them all for lack of vision. Hell, the Marine Stadium is just sitting there waiting to be fixed. It's not like you have to build it from scratch. It's very engineers Pancoast, Ferendino Spillis + Candela (since morphed into Spillis Candela DMJM) are headquartered in Coral Gables. Give them a call. Here's their phone number: 305-444-4691. See if they think it can be repaired at a reasonable price. The first report of roof damage following 1992's Hurricane Andrew supposes that the hairline cracks found on the cantilevered concrete roof (the largest such structure in the world in 1963-- and it still may be for all we know) may have been there BEFORE the hurricane and the implication was that the hurricane may have had no effect on the integrity of the construction.

Of course, that was then. Fifteen years have passed and nothing was done to repair the roof or to protect it from the ravages of white trash neglect. Yet it still stands much like the Roman aqueducts and Coliseum have for nearly 2,000 years. But the Romans had an excuse for not taking care of their public works projects: the Huns. What's Miami's? Despite concrete's fabled strength and endurance, we suspect that the modern introduction of rebar into it will accelerate the stadium's decline because once rebar comes into contact with salt air and water, it's basically over. We're sure this kind of negligence on behalf of the city only acerbated the problem. If the City decides to tear down the Miami Marine Stadium, some lawyer ought to sue the city for fiscal incompetence or some other kind of mal practice for not doing all it could to protect assets belonging to its citizens.

Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, whose district includes Virginia Key, is reported in the Miami Herald as complaining about being kept out of the planning loop prior to this week's first public meeting. Hopefully his umbrage will fire him up and he'll get behind saving the Miami Marine Stadium. Hopefully, he'll see its historical significance and want to preserve it. Yes, it might cost some money to repair but why not do as MVB suggested in our first post on this subject in September 2006. Why not consider seeking out a company that could fund the restoration in exchange for naming rights. Since the stadium was first conceived as an arena for hydroplane racing, why not approach the company that sponsored the most famous hydroplane racing team of all time: Miss Budweiser? In exchange for the millions that it will cost to make the repairs and remove the graffiti (and getting Miami placed back into one of the most important slots on the unlimited hydroplane racing circuit), the city would rename the stadium as the Budweiser Miami Marine Stadium.

If you feel the same way we do, please take time to let our Mayor and Commissioners know by E-Mailing them here.

Click here to see the "Masterplan for Virginia Key" and to post comments to the consulting firm.

Click here to email your thoughts to the City of Miami Planning Dept.

If by some wild chance you don't see things the way we do, please refrain from emailing the above. We went through a lot of work for this post what with adding the links and all and would hate to see someone use it against our cause. Instead, please go to our previous post and help Lexi battle breast cancer. Thank you.

UpDate (8/20/08): The third public meeting for the Virginia Key Master Plan will be held Tuesday, August 26, 2008. The latest design ideas will be presented by EDSA, the lead consultant.

When & WhereTuesday, August 26, 2008
6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.Miami City Hall Chambers
3500 Pan American Drive

For more information on the Virginia Key Master Plan, please visit
UpDate (8/27): The "experts," AKA city planners/consultants, came back with the latest designs for Virginia Key. Despite an earlier charette where the public overwhelmingly agreed that the Marine Stadium should be saved, it is glaringly absent from this latest iteration. In its place: Two 5-story parking garages, a "dry-stack" boat storage for 700 boats, 41,000sf of "small scale retail," and Olympic-sized swimming pools among other sundry items. The city and its experts have effectively destroyed one of the few things that makes Miami unique in the world and replaced it with the pedestrian. The Marine Stadium was the only one of its kind on the planet. Now, because it might be "cost prohibitive" to fix-up, we have become a lesser city, less unique, and a people less worthy of being taken seriously, at being looked upon by others as blessed, lucky, special and cool.

UpDate (9/19/08): Friends of the Miami Marine Stadium pulled off a major coup: they got the World Monuments Fund to endorse saving the Marine Stadium. This couldn't have happened at a better time because The City of Miami Historic and Environmental Preservation Board will discuss and possibly make a determination of the final historic designation of the Miami Marine Stadium at their meeting on Tuesday, October 7, at 3:00 PM, City of Miami Commission Chambers. Failure to do so should make them look like idiots-- or at least suspiciously on the take. If you got the time, try to stop by to make your voice heard.

UpDate (10/7/08): The City of Miami historic preservation board finally saw the light: by a vote of 8-0, it agreed to designate the Miami Marine Stadium worthy of preservation as an historic site. Let's see the visionless try to knock it down now!

Go to "Labels" below for more postings on this subject.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Help Lexi Fight Breast Cancer

God is many things but rarely is the Creator thought of as Cute or shamefully Adoreable. Leave it to a child to remind us of this. Nine-year-old Alexis Rachel Lehrman is one of those kinds of kids with an inner glow and disarming innocence who, by her mere presence on this planet and infectious optimism, makes the most jaded among us question our doubts about God's existence because now we know the Great Silent God is alive and well and shining through the eyes of a little girl on Miami Beach.

Recently the Miami Herald did a story on Lexi, as she prefers to be called. For her ninth birthday, she decided at that tender age that she already "has enough;" that she's "lucky" and "healthy" and wanted to use her birthday to raise money to fight breast cancer. With her mom's help, they did an Internet search and found the local affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a national nonprofit which battles breast cancer. With the charity's help, they were able to create a web page that makes it easy to donate money in Lexi's name. Because pink is Lexi's favorite color ("I loved it all my life"), pink e-mails were sent out asking Lexi's friend's and family for support. More than $3,500 was raised by the time the story was published yesterday. The nonprofit was so impressed that they asked the third grader to speak at its annual grant awards assembly at the University of Miami Bank United Center.

"I feel really good, like I changed the whole world," Lexi says.

Little, darling, Lexi, you surely have.

If you would like to make a contribution in Lexi's name toward conquering breast cancer, click here.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Budget Boy Explains It All

MVB: So, Budget Boy, how do you explain the latest county budget crisis?
BB: Which one is that? The airport? The port tunnel? The--
MVB: The $1.2 billion dollar "Port Tunnel"? We haven't even started building that thing.
BB: Oh, right.
MVB: Do you know something we don't know?
BB: (snaps heels together and looks away): I know nothing.
MVB: Sgt. Schultz?
BB: My hero.
MVB: We're not surprised. No, we're talking about Carnival Center. The Miami Herald says today that the Center will run out of money by mid-May and needs a $4 million cash infusion.
BB: It's true.
MVB: It says Carnival has a "disaster plan" ready if they don't get the money: closing the nearly half-billion-dollar center for 30-days during the summer.
BB: A good time. Everybody is on vacation and who wants to schlep a couple of blocks through the heat and humidity of the "mean season" anyway. It's not like we budgeted in a parking garage across the street. Makes perfect fiscal sense.
MVB: It says one reason they're over budget is "higher-than-expected costs for utilities, security, maintenance, and insurance. Ticket revenues are 44 percent below projections."
BB: It's nothing Vince McMahon can't fix.
MVB: Vince McMahon?
BB: The head of the World Wrestling Federation. They should sign it over to him. He'll fill those seats. Batista, their world heavyweight champion, ought to pack the house.
MVB: "Batista"? A guy named after one of Cuba's most notorious dictators? You think he has a chance in this town?
BB: I guess you don't understand professional wrestling. They'll come in droves.
MVB: That's your solution?
BB: Anything but Bach.
MVB: Right.
BB: Also, get FPL to supply the joint with free electricity for naming rights. They could blast a beam of light up into the sky every night to act as a "cultural beacon" which would of course bring attention to their freaking logo on the tower.
MVB: Not a bad idea, Budget Boy, but they already sold the naming rights.
BB: Talk about a give-away. Carnival got the naming rights for a lousy $20 million. Disney had to cough up $75 million to hang their name on the Gehry designed LA concert hall. That extra $55 million would have come in handy right about now. No, I'm talking about hanging the FPL logo on the Art Deco Sears Tower in exchange for free electricity forever.
MVB: What, and make FPL give up their lame multi-million-dollar "Bob" advertising campaign?
BB: Exactly. They're a monopoly anyway. Where's its competition? Why advertise at all? Trust me, they won't miss the money. Anyway, I've just about had enough of "Bob" and his microphone. I think I'm speaking for everybody when I say I'd love to shove that microphone right up his ass.
MVB: Ouch! Well, Budget Boy, you got that one right.

UpDate (12/13/08): Christmas comes early with the announcement that the tunnel project succumbs to a well-deserved death when the state and Bouygues Travaux Publics can't agree on terms. Hurray!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

MVB Exclusive: Miami's Three Amigos of Larceny Land Movie Deal!

MVB has learned that Miami's three amigos of larceny have scored a movie deal with a major Hollywood studio. Tentatively titled "Three Amigos Do Miami," Oscar Rivero, Raul Masvidal, and Reynaldo Diaz will portray themselves in a re-imagined version of the original 1986 movie starring Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short.

Following is a short synopsis of the "treatment" for the proposed movie given to us by our contact at the studio on the condition that the studio remain anonymous.

The movie appears to be conceived as a series of hilarious flashbacks of the three main characters as they sit in jail in their mariachi costumes while talking to the camera in an attempt to explain their actions. All three, of course, have a different take on their arrests for defrauding the people of Dade County.

Oscar Rivero, who took $3 million from the county to build public housing with nothing to show for it except a 11,000 s.f. mansion he was building for his wife and himself, swears, while holding his sombrero solemnly over his heart, that the mansion was really a "country club for the homeless." What a card.

Raul Masvidal, a one-time pillar of the community and one-time owner of two failed local banks who lost a bid in 1985 to become mayor of Miami, begins his story in jail reminiscing about a better time when he was a watermelon farmer in Puerto Rico. He blames his failure to build Dade County's $3.2 million Housing Agency headquarters on the county's bureaucracy and his jones for watermelons.

"I can't help it," he says in the script, "I got watermelons on the brain. Teacups too."

This is of course a Mad Hatter reference to him buying two monumental sculptures from his boyhood friend and acclaimed artist Julio Larraz at the public's expense. His infamous $287,000 purchase of the painted bronze stacked teacup sculpture officially known as "Space Station," was supposed to grace the grounds of the Housing Agency headquarters he never built. For the last two years it has resided, like other monumental pieces of county public art, in storage. When county auditors found an exact replica by the same artist could be had for $150,000, they started digging deeper and discovered that Masvidal had slipped in the cost of a giant Larraz watermelon sculpture called "Mars" by getting an art dealer to write a fake invoice listing only the stacked teacups.

Further digging by the county revealed that not only did he spend public dollars on art, he siphoned off millions of dollars in public funds to cover a $355,000 payment on a personal home loan and management fees for the unfinished project.

"Maybe if banks had leant me money," Masvidal's character remarks, "things would have been different. Maybe I wouldn't have had to punch out Larraz, that ungrateful putz who calls himself an artist."

A plot twist reveals Larraz had loaned Masvidal a "lot of money" and when Masvidal couldn't come to terms in settling the debt, he started beating up his old friend in frustration. Larraz filed a police report and Masvidal was arrested on battery charges the next day.

The treatment for the screenplay states that there will be a "dream sequence" where Masvidal will do a mincing song and dance number in his back yard around "Mars," exhorting the virtues of "watermelons, teacups, and public dollars."

As for Reynaldo Diaz, he's portrayed as a double-dealing expediter who can tap dance while an "unwashed gang of pistoleros calling themselves the 'Fanny Mae Brothers' fire their weapons at his boots to see him dance for their amusement." It seems Diaz ripped off the Fanny Mae Brothers who loaned him money on land he never owned. When they discover he was in cahoots with Rivero on another financing scam, the movie rapidly devolves into a major shootout with lots of cartoonish death scenes for the Fanny Mae Brothers.

The final scene shows the Three Amigos strumming guitars and singing about the American Dream in Spanish as they walk among thousands of back slapping fans and body groping molesters during the Calle Ocho Festival toward a stunning, fiery sunset.

A note from the publisher: The boys of MVB are split over the depiction of the main characters in this comedy. While we all agree Rivero and Diaz were in it for the money at the public's expense, Masvidal's character is more difficult to dismiss for some of us. We hold a begruding admiration for him because he is a visionary and an art lover. Unlike most developers, this guy put up his own personal fortune to guarantee a $20.5 million construction loan to build Hometown Station, the project that included the Housing H.Q. And, knowing the lethargic pace at which a bureaucracy performs, maybe he's right about Dade County being partially responsible for the failure of the project because of undue delays. Perhaps one of the things learned here is never ever put up your own money when partnering with government. And then there's the behind-the-scenes bureaucrat who never appeared in the script. Rene Rodriguez, the former director of the Housing Agency, now retired, played willy-nilly with the rules including overriding one which stated that loans could only be distributed to developers once construction had started. His ordering the agency to advance more than $5 million to the Three Amigos effectively removed the county's fail-safe protocols which created a no-win situation for all parties. Finally, it's too bad Masvidal tried to slip a $150,000 partially eaten, giant slice of watermelon past us, but we do like his taste in art. We think the teacups and giant fruit are pretty cool and would like to see them rescued from storage and put on display around downtown Miami, perhaps near Government Center where our bureaucrats and politicians can see them and be reminded that you can never get away with ripping off the public because, inevitably, you will get caught. Of course, whether or not you do any jail time remains to be seen. I guess we'll just have to wait to see the movie.

UpDate (9/1/08): Mars, that $150,000 21-foot slice of bronze watermelon by famed artist Julio Larraz, is sold at auction for...$100. Arizona Federal, who loaned money to Masvidal, forced the auction and was the only bidder. We can only hope the fruit's new owner will donate the piece to the county so that it can be placed in the lobby of our Government Center as a reminder to bureaucrats and politicians alike that there is a price to pay for dining at the public trough. Well, financially it might just be a slap on the hand, but your name will long live in ignominy for any appetite for getting rich off the sweat of the common man.

UpDate (5/24/2014): A Miami-Dade judge dismisses fraud and theft charges against Masvidal on the grounds that the statue of limitations had run out and that the disputed money didn't actually belong to the county. The judge agreed with Masvidal's lawyers that the "ownership of the money" was flawed and that "the matter was a civil dispute that did not belong before a criminal court judge." Prosecutors are considering an appeal.

Miami in Top Five Cities in the World for International Arbitration

Ourselves...According to the Miami Herald, Miami is one of only five cities in the world capable of handling international arbitration thanks in part to the large number of local law firms specializing in that discipline. Most international business contracts include arbitration clauses that dictate where the arbitration will occur if necessary and under what rules, such as those defined in the Florida International Arbitration Act. Many of those contracts dealing with Latin American companies are listing Miami above the other four cities: New York, Paris, London, and Geneva. Not bad company. And it will only get better when more choices in the arts and theater become available because having access to the sun and the sea will only take you so far-- even though the "other four" will never be able to compete in that area. Once the mega yacht marina opens on Watson Island's Island Gardens, corporations with yacht worthy CEO's will flock to Miami with arbitration taking place in their staterooms. Mark our words.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Architecture God Has Spoken: Espirito Santo Plaza in Miami Shows Less Really is More

I consider this to be one of the most beautiful buildings in the world and the best example of my credo Less is More. According to the Espirito Banco Portuguese banking family, their 36-story Miami office, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates , symbolizes Miami's gateway to the Americas. The subtle, 30-story concave arch of glass is Miami's answer to the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Located in Miami's financial district which has become known as the "Wall Street of the South," the building sits at 1395 Brickell Avenue as a glistening jewel of monumental sculpture. Consisting of offices, condos, and a luxury hotel (Conrad Hilton) on the last 11-floors, the things I love most about it besides its sublime design are:
  • It's ballsy sky lobby that begins on the 25th floor. It separates the hotel suites from the condos and serves as the access point to the restaurant and lounge. The view is to die for and the happy hour drinking scene is well worth the schlep upward.
  • An inspiring four-story, glass atrium surrounding a "water court" on the second level. This open, naturally lit space contains the main elevator banks and a translucent glass-bottomed reflecting pool above the building's driveway and a pedestrian bridge from the adjacent parking garage.
  • Moving water is "an integral part of the aesthetics of the building" and that theme is found throughout the complex in various forms ranging from waterfalls to reflecting pools.

Now if someone would just fix the broken windows from hurricane Wilma! I mean, it's close to a year-and-a-half since it hit for crisesakes! Do I have to come down there and do it myself? Don't make me come down there. I'm warning you. If you can't take care of your beautiful things, I'll find me another city to favor where its citizens love and respect where they live. You know, some place like Atlanta.

Previous pronouncements by A.G can be found here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

MVB Exclusive Interview with Miami-Dade County Budget Director's Budget Boy

Many of you may be concerned with the recent escalating budget busting estimates coming from the county regarding a myriad of public building projects. With that in mind, MVB tracked down one of the experts who works for Jennifer Glazer-Moon, Miami-Dade County's budget director. Wishing to remain anonymous, we shall refer to him as "Budget Boy."

MVB: So, "Budget Boy," what gives? Today we read in the Miami Herald that since opening five months ago, the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts is $3 million in the red.
Budget Boy (BB): Blame it on Bach.
MVB: "Bach?"
BB: Bach.
MVB: Why Bach?
BB: He ain't Pit Bull.
MVB: Pit Bull?
BB: Or Wyclef Jean. They sell tickets.
MVB: Well so does Bach.
BB: Not enough. His audience is older and won't put up with Carnival's Triple-P Curse.
MVB: "Triple-P Curse?"
BB: Parking, Panhandling, and Pricing.
MVB: Is this some kinda voodoo thing?
BB: Yeah, "voodoo economics." No, I think it had something to do with Nancy Liebman. Rumor has it she cursed the damn thing before she died.
MVB: Uh, Budget Boy, Nancy Liebman is still alive.
BB: Really? Okay, who started raising a fuss years ago everytime some Art Deco building bit the dust? She's the one who cursed the building.
MVB: I think you mean Barbara Capitman.
BB: Yeah, that's the one.
MVB: But why would she curse the Carnival Center. Hell, they saved the Art Deco Sears Tower-- over architect Cesar Pelli's objections-- and built everything around it.
BB: Because
MVB: Budget Boy, I think you're trying to give us the runaround.
BB: That's part of my job description.
MVB: Do you think Carnival will ever make a profit?
BB: Not in our lifetimes.
MVB: How 'bout our kids'?
BB: I don't see that happening either.
MVB: Ever?
BB: Never. Like it or not, voters made them and their children's children theatrical impresarios when the county commission approved the construction of the center over twenty years ago when I estimated the whole thing would cost $170 million.
MVB: It came in close to half a billion dollars.
BB: So I was off a bit.
MVB: Are you involved with MIA?
BB: Of course.
MVB: That thing is estimated to cost $6.2 billion before completion in 2010.
BB: The key word is "estimate."
MVB: It's already a billion dollars over budget. Do you expect it to go higher?
BB: Does the sun rise in the east every morning?
MVB: What about MIA's Intermodal Center? The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates it will cost $2.25 billion.
BB: That's a good one. This is coming from federal experts, the same ones who figured how to finance the war in Iraq.
MVB: I'm afraid to ask but what about the Port of Miami tunnel? It's estimated to cost $1.2 billion.
BB (laughing): Sure it will and I get dates with super models.
MVB: It doesn't look like you're losing any sleep over this.
BB: When was the last time you saw anybody fired for under estimating a budget in the public sector?
MVB: Carnival was $200 million plus over budget and we must have allocated nearly $10 billion for these unfinished projects. I mean, with that much money the county could launch a Cuban to the moon.
BB (arching eyebrow): A Cuban?
MVB: It just sounds funny.
BB: Do you have anyone in mind?
MVB: I can think of one fat ass commissioner in a dress.
BB: A woman?
MVB: Not necessarily. Hey, Budget Boy, don't try to distract me. This budget stuff is serious. Aren't you the least bit worried about how we're going to pay for all of this?
BB: What, me worry? I live in Broward.

UpDate (5/22/07): Metro-Dade commissioners give MIA another $503 million to finish the North Terminal making the expansion project nearly $1 billion over budget.

UpDate (5/15/08): Today the Miami Dade County Commision will vote on whether or not to increase funding the North Terminal by another $64.3 million in order to finish the baggage handling system ($43.5 million) and the automated people mover ($20.8 million). How can they say no? And so it goes.

UpDate (12/13/08): Christmas comes early with the announcement that the tunnel project succumbs to a well-deserved death when the state and Bouygues Travaux Publics can't agree on terms. Hurray!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Why Anthony Bourdain Is Better Than Bradbury, Faulkner, Robbins, Wolfe, and Steinbeck

Everyone has their favorite authors. We like them enough to re-read them over and over again. I can't get enough of Bradbury's "Something Wicked This Way Comes." Or Wolfe's "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" or his "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby." Or Faulkner's "Sound and the Fury." Or Robbins' "Still Life With Woodpecker." And Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath." I guess you could say I have a jones for great American writers with a distinctive lyrical voice. In my mind, Anthony Bourdain is right up there with them only he does them one better: this guy can cook. You may have seen him on the Discovery Channel. He's got a show on it that airs on Monday night at 10:00 p.m. It's called "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations," and it basically follows him as he eats his way around the world. He's written two novels but I like his memoir "Kitchen Confidential, Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly." It's the eye-opening, laugh-out-loud recounting of his life in the restaurant business as a skinny-6'-4"-chain-smoking-profane-New York-punk-wiseass-erudite-American graduate of America's greatest cooking school, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). He's "Bowzer" in the "Sha-Na-Na" land of bad boy (and girl) cooks and dishwashers who bust their chops shoulder-to-shoulder, elbow-to-elbow hidden away from our eyes in hot, confined quarters as a motley crew of sweating immigrants, drug addicts, alcoholics, ex-cons, everyday Joes, and culinary school graduates in order to fulfill our order. He considers a good chef to be a "wrangler of psychopaths." When another chef confides how terrible he feels about firing an insubordinate cook who later kills himself, Bourdain writes:
  • "The guy had to go," is what I said, the kind of cold-blooded statement not unusual for me when in chef mode. "What? Are you gonna keep the guy on? Let him talk shit to you in front of your crew? Let him show up late, fuck up service... because you're afraid he's gonna off himself? Fuck him. We're on a lifeboat, baby. The weak? The dangerous? The infirm? They go over the side."

This is Bourdain on what it takes to work in a restaurant:

  • "If you are easily offended by direct aspersions on your lineage, the circumstances of your birth, your sexuality, your appearance, the mention of your parents possibly commingling with livestock, then the world of professional cooking is not for you."

You gotta love this guy. Living in south Florida affords you the opportunity to eat in one of his Les Halles restaurants. Headquartered in New York, the restaurants are listed on the company's website as the home base of its "Chef-At-Large," Anthony Bourdain.

UpDate (3/20): Bourdain's recent take on the Food Network and their roster of celebrity chefs is dead on and worth a read. Here's a portion on America's sweetheart in the kitchen, Rachael Ray:
  • We KNOW she can’t cook. She shrewdly tells us so. So...what is she selling us? Really? She’s selling us satisfaction, the smug reassurance that mediocrity is quite enough. She’s a friendly, familiar face who appears regularly on our screens to tell us that “Even your dumb, lazy ass can cook this!” Wallowing in your own crapulence on your Cheeto-littered couch you watch her and think, “Hell…I could do that. I ain’t gonna…but I could--if I wanted! Now where’s my damn jug a Diet Pepsi?”

And Paula Deen:

  • Even if her supporting cast is beginning to look like the Hills Have Eyes--and her food a True Buffet of Horrors. A recent Hawaii show was indistinguishable from an early John Waters film. And the food on a par with the last scene of Pink Flamingos.

Hell Has Frozen Over! Cheap Tixs At Carnival!

Hopefully this is a sign of things to come. Support the world's most expensive performing arts center that counts on the kindness of strangers to provide parking-- the half billion dollar project was built without any consideration for parking-- by ordering tickets here.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Architecture God Has Spoken: The FTAA Miami Secretariat Building Design is Fabulous!

Despite what some mortals may think about the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) initiative*, the design for the building's Miami headquarters by local architectural firm Spillis Candela is the stuff dreams are made of. And hope too. Built to house offices for 34 nations on Watson Island smack dab in the middle of Biscayne Bay, it reminds me of the fantastic post-apocalyptic world found in "Cadillacs and Dinosaurs," a collection of comics drawn by one of my favorite mortals, Mark Schultz. In that 26th Century world, the earth's sea levels have risen to the point that New York city has become known as the "City by the Sea," with skyscrapers protruding through the water like marching sentinels with no streets below, just water and, in some instances, steps leading out of the water. Just like the Spillis Candela design which I find is a prophetic ecological cautionary tale that reminds you at the same time of your connection with your watery origins when hybrid creatures with lungs crawled out of the water millions of years ago. Plus it's a nice place to catch some rays or toss a fishing line.

*I like the idea. You mortals have got to start thinking as one living organisim. Everything is interconnected in ways you cannot fathom.

Previous pronouncements by A.G can be found here.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Want to Make Miami a Better Place? Start Here


Leadership Miami program participants will host a "Storybook Breakfast" event for pediatric cancer patients on Thursday, March 29, 9-11:30 a.m. The event will be held at Holtz Children's Hospital's Hematology/Oncology Clinic (ACC West 5A), 1611 NW 12 Avenue, and will celebrate the launch of a book program for patients and families.

"Storybook Breakfast" activities include a storybook themed breakfast, magic tricks, story telling and more. The event is open to patients and families of the pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic at Holtz Children's Hospital.

"The children's book program will brighten the lives of children who are battling cancer and other blood disorders by providing them with a variety of books to choose from," said Kefryn Block, project coordinator for Leadership Miami's Mission Possible, the team who spearheaded the initiative. "We hope that reading will allow them to escape the confines of their treatment rooms and to use their imagination."

Members of the Mission Possible team have raised more than $4,000 to date to purchase a selection of children's books. However, additional funding is needed to support the program's longevity. For information about donating to the project, call Kefryn Block at (786) 223-2733.

Leadership Miami is an annual program sponsored by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, the South Florida Progress Foundation and leading Miami-based firms committed to the development of the next generation of business and civic leaders. The program is targeted to men and women interested in making Miami a better place to live and work. For more information about the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce's leadership development programs, call Ivette Canales at 305-577-5458.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"Who's Behind Barreiro's Door?" Redux

Miami Dade County commissioner Bruno Barreiro is up to his old tricks again. Earlier this year, he was found conducting a meeting with some commissioners behind closed doors strategizing how to fight the Strong Mayor proposal at the voting booth. They lost that one. Now he wants the Florida Legislature to alter the state's fabled, sacrosanct "Sunshine Law" established in 1967 which requires meetings on public issues between elected officials to be held in public. His solution to better government: allow any two members of a government commission or council to meet privately if that group is made up of 12 members or more.

Our newly elected governor has a problem with it. "It sounds like a retreat on openness," Governor Crist is quoted in the Miami Herald.

The State Attorney General's office has a problem with it. "The people of the state of Florida felt access to government was so important that they put it in the Constitution," said Associate Deputy Attorney General Simone Marstiller. "There's no better way to hold them (elected officials) accountable."

We will have to wait until April 24th to see if the Miami-Dade County Commission has a problem with it when it comes up for a vote. We predict they won't.

UpDate (4/26/07): The Florida State Legislature quickly shoots down Barreiro's proposal to mess with our "Sunshine Law."

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Museum Park Masterplan Meeting

The City of Miami Planning Department will unveil conceptual drawings of the park and solicit public input and feedback of the information presented.
  • Wednesday, March 21, 2007
  • 4:00 PM to 6 PM
  • Performing Arts Center
  • Concert Hall-- Green Room
  • 1330 Biscayne Blvd.
We wonder if it will include our Surfing wave pool! Probably not. Just like not including an affordable place to park near the Carnival Center, a spot that won't require taking out a second mortgage on your house.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The MVB Miami Megaplex Manifesto: Build It Here and They Will Come

The Miami Megaplex is seen as a practical, cost saving solution to building a baseball stadium in downtown Miami. By engaging the Miami Arena and bringing in a hotel, it spreads the enormous cost of building such a structure. Instead of giving away valuable public land which is in short supply, this plan needs only street closures. Success is ensured because of the symbiotic relationship between the five major players (including government and the FEC railroad): the stadium and the Arena can be used for everything from baseball games to tractor pulls and concerts. The hotel can book rooms and conventions based on the unique location and ability to tap as much convention space as needed by using the Arena and the stadium. Since it is built over a major transportation nexus, attendance will rise and rooms will be booked because everything is easy to get to-- no more fighting traffic-- and inexpensive-- no exorbitant parking fees . Finally, the Miami Megaplex will someday help us land the Summer Olympics, where access to gymnastics, basketball, baseball, surfing, and boating events off of Bicentennial and Bayfront Parks are all within walking distance. Can’t you just see a parade of nations marching along Biscayne Boulevard into the Miami Megaplex for the opening and closing ceremonies? The boys at MVB sure can.

If you are as fired up as we are with our idea, please let your elected representatives know. We like to think of the Miami Megaplex as "the Grand Central Station of the American Pastime." Right now, it sure beats out the county commission's latest idea which is building the stadium at the Orange Bowl. Besides being in a dreary, boring part of town, the location has no access to mass transit.

For a more detailed examination of our proposal-- which includes Disney's involvement and some really cool roofed stadium renderings-- click here.

Please note, regarding the "commuter train." It's not here yet. The tracks are and negotiations are underway to lease them from the FEC railway. As for BayLink, it's a pipe dream being held hostage by obstinate nimbys and visionless elected Miami Beach officials. We believe BayLink will save Carnival Center if a station is built across the street from the opera house. We also believe it will save the planned art and science museums in Bicentennial Park. And, it will even save Miami Beach from itself-- traffic gridlock and a poorer quality of life by getting cars off the street (we advocate building the north-south run on the sands of Miami Beach). It will really save everyone if it's the people-friendly, proven Disney-style monorail most people can't wait to ride. Disney has licensed that design to Bombardier. They built one in Las Vegas to connect the major casino/hotels. With a little vision, they could build one here too.

First MVB posting re this idea (8/24/06), MLB's first choice for a downtown stadium looks a lot like ours (9/15/06).

Friday, March 09, 2007

MVB Downtown Miami Baseball Stadium Plan Endorsed by SotP!

It's nice to be endorsed. MVB at times feels like a "voice in the wilderness." We rarely get feedback. Although our downtown Miami baseball stadium proposal has been characterized by some as something conceived by a "design student on 3 tabs of acid"* it's good to know that we are achieving our goal regarding the future of Miami and the Beaches: reaching out through the blogosphere to present a different point of view that will lead to discussion and hopefully incorporation of our ideas.

Please note MVB staffers have never met the talented guys behind the award-winning and respected Stuck on the Palmetto.

*Also please note the strongest stuff we imbibe today is a morning and afternoon rocket-fueled cafecito and, of course, intermittent mojitos throughout the day, the drink of choice at MVB.

Miami 21 New Building Code Revealed!

For those who care and hopefully you do, the City of Miami will be unveiling their new building code during an open house Saturday, March 24, 2007 from 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. at Archbishop Curley Notre Dame High School, 4949 NE 2nd Avenue. The purpose of this open house is to go over the written code and answer any pending questions regarding the plan prior to the public hearings.

Zingerding Blog: For Those Who Appreciate the Comic Strip

For those who appreciate a well-drawn comic strip (or even a badly drawn one with a ripe sense of humor) and want to discuss your favorites with others, the new Zingerding Blog might just be your cup of tea. MVB found its initial postings regarding the de-evolution of the comic strip entertaining and enlightening. It even appears to have Florida roots.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Downtown Miami Baseball Stadium Redux

Okay, so now the county commission is having second thoughts about the latest proposed site for the downtown Miami baseball stadium next to I-95 and Government Center. They think there isn't enough room and worry about fallout from taking land promised for a Children's Courthouse and a magnet high school teaching police science. The commission now wants to move the stadium out to the Orange Bowl. MVB believes if they kept the Orange Bowl and the stadiums were already connected to MetroRail, it would be a no-brainer. Unfortunately, MetroRail doesn't connect to the Orange Bowl (or to anything else that would justify its expense and existence). To make this plan feasible, it needs a mass transit feed that will encourage fans to attend games from all parts of Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

Which brings us back to MVB's Miami Megaplex proposal and its 5 part solution to the problem:
  1. It splits the enormous cost of building the stadium further by bringing in at least another private party,
  2. Attaches to an existing MetroRail station,
  3. Saves the Miami Arena,
  4. Reclaims public streets to build the baseball stadium without sacrificing limited downtown public land
  5. Gives immediate access to the stadium for people living in Broward and Palm Beach via the FEC tracks.

The hotel component fronting the outfield and supporting the enclosed roof is connected to the Miami Arena. It would lease space as needed from the Miami Arena for conventions and from the city/county for added space or for special events ranging from tractor pulls to concerts. During these kinds of events, rooms with balconies fronting the stadium would command top dollar. Since Disney announced a few weeks ago that it is branching out into free-standing hotels and looking for smaller venues to build micro-tourist attractions, this might be a good place to start. (This also fits in nicely with another MVB proposal that links Miami to Miami Beach with a Disney monorail. That proposal gives Disney land on both sides of the bay to build whatever they want to in exchange for sharing the costs of constructing and running the monorail, i.e., Disney hotels anchoring each end with one of the hotels on Watson Island connected to its own dock for its cruise ships.)

Our proposal sits on top of an existing MetroRail station. There is no need to waste time and millions of dollars to retrofit the Orange Bowl with an elevated rail system.

Our proposal revitalizes the Miami Arena by giving it more options to earn revenue through the symbiotic relationship between it, MLB and the hotel.

Our proposal offers street closures instead of major public land swaps.

Our proposal helps insure success for all parties because it offers a location that is within a short walk from the FEC railroad tracks making a trip down from Palm Beach and Broward counties another no-brainer.

Finally, the bigger vision of this proposal is landing the Summer Olympic Games. With the American Airlines Arena a couple of blocks away from the Miami Megaplex, its conceivable that one could catch various indoor events in the arenas such as gymnastics and basketball and outdoor events such as baseball in the stadium just by walking around downtown. Opening and closing ceremonies could take place in the enclosed stadium with a parade beginning on Biscayne Boulevard. If another one of our ideas becomes reality, thousands of people could watch the surfing events at Miami's downtown outdoor surf pool. Who knows, maybe by then MetroRail will finally connect to Joe Robbie stadium and you'll be able to catch an Olympic soccer game without ever getting into your car.

Photos are of Seoul Stadium designed by Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners. They can be found on the Sports Venue Technology site.
"Grand Central Station of the American Pastime:" MVB proposed site post shows link to mass transit.

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.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

International Toy Fair-- It Ain't in Miami

MVB has encouraged city leaders and those in real estate over a number of postings to make Miami the home of the toy industry. It began when the International Toy Center (ITC) in Manhattan lost its lease two years ago. Cities like Atlanta, Dallas, LA, and Orlando began sending delegations to the ITC to pitch them on moving. Last night the Toy Industry Association (TIA) voted to move the 2007 American International Fall Toy Show—the mass market show—to Dallas.

We believe a valid, single-minded effort on the part of the Beacon Council through a joint venture between Miami Beach, Miami and the County would have convinced the TIA to come to Miami.

It's a lost opportunity for Miami and the Beaches to show the international toy industry how worthy we are and what a great location south Florida would be for a permanent headquarters. Hosting the fall show would have made it easier to convince the TIA to move here. As it's been said before, you only get so many chances...

UpDate (3/16): It was revealed that "only Dallas and Atlanta presented complete proposals," to the TIA to move its mass market show out of New York according to TIA president Carter Keithley. Where was Miami and the Beacon Council?

Friday, March 02, 2007

"Sacrificed" not "Wasted"

"Wasted" is our communal Freudian Slip. We know the politically correct term is "sacrificed" but in our heart of hearts we know the true word is "wasted." We don't want to believe it, that thousands of young American men and women are dying and coming home missing arms and legs for a cause and a people not worth fighting for. Barak Obama was the first presidential candidate to make the faux pas. McCain the latest. It just slips out. One way or the other, the truth has always had a way of making itself known. Steve Martin once said "Comedy isn't pretty." Neither is the truth. Perhaps that's why Justice wears a mask.

"Universal Soldier" is Native American Buffy Sainte-Marie's gift to the world. It's the antiwar song. Donovan's YouTube version, while powerful, can't touch Ms. Sainte-Marie's. If you want to hear and see her sing the song, play this video:

Although you'll have to sit through a short introduction you'll be able to hear a voice that will cut through your jaded psychic body armor right to your soul. Oh, yeah, if neither version touches your soul and brings tears to your eyes, you've been listening to rap too long.

Finally, if you haven't signed the petition to end the war on this site, now is as good a time as any.