Thursday, August 30, 2007

Last Missile Out of Havana: Epilogue

Patience and cajones paid off. Anna waited for the soldiers to pass before working her way around and over the mangrove buttress roots to get to the raft. Orestes had commandeered an old beat-up ’49 Merc station wagon and turned it into a motorized boat on the sly. Anna drove it right out of the mangroves and into the Gulf Stream. She was relieved to see it didn’t leak. Hell, even the radio worked.

(Please play to increase your blogging pleasure-- 
the music is Miami Para Mi by Adam's Apple):

Anna was in the middle of the Florida straits when she looked up and saw the luminous plume of the rocket arcing across the sky. It would get to Miami long before she did. When it disappeared over the horizon’s sea tossed edge, she stared northward wondering if an atomic bomb blast could be seen that far away.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Last Missile Out of Havana: Chapter 4

Castro turned out to be more of a liability than a shield. The old man couldn’t keep up with Anna and Orestes as they fled the “last party” and stumbled to the floor. Gripping the old man by the back of his collar, his emaciated body had become a useless bag of bones Anna and Orestes struggled to drag behind them toward an old Russian military truck parked outside. The driver, with an AK-47 slung around his shoulder, was leaning against the truck smoking a cigarette when he looked up and saw them coming his way. The PPK got him standing upright and his hands in the air. Anna ordered him to walk to the back of the truck. He arrived when they got there and she had him surrender his weapon, drop the hatch and help Orestes throw Castro inside while she watched their backs. When the hatch was slammed back, Orestes ran around the side and Anna got the keys from the driver before turning him around and using him as a shield. It didn't do any good. The driver took a round of bullets as they backed toward the cab and died instantly. Anna let him fall to the ground and fired a couple of shots killing two soldiers which scattered the rest and gave her enough time to climb up into the cab. Orestes wasn't there waiting for her.

"Orestes!" Anna yelled through the open passenger window. The keys weren't going into the ignition. "Orestes!" She leaned across the seat and looked out the window.

Orestes was lying in a pool of blood.

A bullet caught the side-view mirror driving Anna back into the cab. They were firing again. No time to process. Put the keys in the ignition. Drive away like a bat out of hell.

The truck lurched forward and...the shooting stopped as she crashed through the gate and turned down the street. When she looked back it quickly became apparent why: the Old Man and fallen out of the back of the truck and the soldiers were running to his aid.

Within minutes, all kinds of military and police vehicles were chasing Anna through the dark and bumpy Havana side streets. She killed the lights, pulled over and parked behind an old Chevy parked in front of some party official’s home. She got out and jumped into the unlocked car, found the wiring under the dash, pulled it down and yanked wires from the starter. Within a few seconds she had the engine running and was driving away with the lights off toward the coast and the raft she hoped would be waiting for her.


Castro looked half dead when they slipped the old cosmonaut helmet over his head. Raúl made sure it was fastened tightly.


The red death dots told Anna Orestes had blabbed. The army knew where to look for the raft. She drew the Karishnokov closer and held her breath as the red death dots danced around her. She wondered if Orestes had sabotaged the missile.


At dawn, Castro was launched into space.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Last Missile Out of Havana: Chapter 3

The sun was setting as Anna drove through the ancient, dingy streets of Havana. She caught herself thinking about how many yanquis dollars her heap would reap when the norteamericanos see it. Anna’s loyalty was wavering in the last days like the shimmering images rising up from the heated road beyond the dusty windshield. She knew it was impossible to look the other way and pretend there was a future in Cuba with or without Castro. The writing was literally on the wall. The country’s buildings were decaying, falling into the earth in large chunks of mortar and small flakes of paint like the languid sweat rolling down the faces and backs of the people in the streets. Havana had become a Daliesque painting, dripping slowly toward nothingness. She smiled at the absurdity of going to a party in the middle of the meltdown.

But Anna knew she would always party until the end and then welcome back the gusanos and norteamericanos with open arms. She knew she could live anywhere under any system because she was willing to do whatever it took to survive.

Her hand shook when she handed her ID to the guard at the gate. She smiled to hide her fear. He thought she was being friendly and smiled back. He was thinking about flirting with her until he saw her name and that the invitation was personally signed by the Maximum Leader. He snapped to attention and returned her papers with a sharp salute. Anna knew what he was thinking. She could see it in his eyes as he stared straight ahead. “Girl Friday.” Fidel’s favorite party girl on his favorite party night. And now she was ready to toss it all aside. For love. For Orestes.

Anna drove past the barbed wire fence toward La Vivienda. The ten story building was bathed in light. Huge diesel powered military search lights had been driven in and placed around the building. La Vivienda was so white and clean. It reminded her of the other buildings surrounding it, buildings that hadn’t seen a fresh coat of paint since 1962 when Lider Maximo angered the yanquis with the missiles and they began an economic quarantine that cut the revolution off at its knees. She was glad she had met a Sherwin-Williams franchisee in Hialeah. She knew that contact would want to go into business with her after the fall.

Anna drove up to the heavily guarded entrance. One of the soldiers, dressed entirely in black, pulled at the Caddy’s door until it opened and offered his hand. She took it and stepped out. She knew she was something else, that all eyes were on her. The Versace dress she bought in Europe. The diamond necklace was a gift from Fidel. She thought she heard a soldier groan with pleasure. No one knew this would be the last time any of them would ever see her again.

A colonel took Anna by the arm and ushered her through the main entrance. Anna wondered where the other women were as she was led past a buffet table and a group of officers and government bureaucrats. A salsa band was playing in the background but nobody was dancing. And then she saw why.

It was as Orestes said it would be. In the center of the building was the last Soviet ICBM in Cuba. And it wasn’t on display, either. La Vivienda wasn’t a restricted apartment complex for Cuba’s elite. Neither was it a museum. It was a goddamn missile silo stuck in the middle of Havana. The building was nothing more than a hollow facade, a ten-story atrium of death.

And the fuse is lit, Anna thought. She could see smoke seeping out from the bottom. Her stomach tightened and she grew faint. Her escort caught her and struggled to hold her up.

“Anna, darling!” El Comandante called out across the cavernous room. Thanks to a microphone his feeble voice bounced off the concrete walls. “I’m so glad you could make it to the Party's last party.”

Anna thought she was going to throw up. The room was spinning. Orestes, Cuba’s youngest lieutenant colonel, had told her it was there, but she couldn't bring herself to believe it. And now, there it was, an imposing monument to insanity. She saw Fidel waving her over with a cigar in his hand. His aide de camp, a young soldier, was standing next to him holding an oxygen tank and mask.

Where was Orestes? She could feel Fidel’s arms around her body. She shuddered. She could feel his bones poking through his weathered and splotched skin. She could smell his old man’s death breath.

“What’s wrong? Are you alright?” he asked.

She tried to smile but the cigar smoke only made her sicker. Orestes was right. The old man was crazy. Loco.

“It’s only a missile, my dear. Albeit an old one, but, like me, it’s still got a lotta fight left in it.”

Anna tried to speak. “I..I didn’t know we had any left.”

“Just this one. But it’s enough. Let’s dance.” He turned to the band. They were chained to their chairs, soldiers guarding them. "A merengue, if you please."

He escorted Anna out onto the floor next to the missile’s smoking rocket engines. The man with the oxygen accompanied them. The Old Man tried to lead Anna in the dance but she kept slipping toward the floor and tripping over her feet. But that didn’t stop Fidel from trying to dance. And sing. Despite his shortness of breath, he made a gallant attempt at singing along with the music.

Anna thought she had stepped into a nightmare as the old man feebly tried to dance and sing beside the huge missile. She saw the band whirl by. When he spun her around, she instinctively held on tighter lest she be thrown into the madness rushing by.

The old man struggled to hold her up and stopped dancing. “So, what do you think?” he wheezed. “We’re a nuclear power and you didn’t even know it.”

Anna tried to look up at the tip of the rocket so far above her head and lost her equalibrium. The missile looked like it was falling but it was only her. Fidel's air man caught her and held her up. She tried to focus on the old man and the cigar in his mouth.

“You’ve been humpin’ a man with an atomic bomb between his legs. Not too many whores can say that.”

He’d never spoken to her like that. He could see her confusion and pain.

“That’s right, comrade fucker. This is your last assignment.” He grabbed her arm and led her stumbling across the floor toward the missile. When he stumbled, his aide de camp grabbed him too. As they rounded the missile, Anna stopped short and screamed. Her wretched wail bounced off the walls and rose through the hollow building. Orestes, still in uniform, bleeding and bruised, was being tied by a group of soldiers to the missile like a man on a cross, duct taped and hog-tied around the missile’s girth.

“Anna.” Her name barely spilled from Orestes’ mouth.

“Shut up!” Fidel shouted. “This is what happens to traitors.” He turned to Anna. “Think twice about screwing with the Fatherland! When you betray me, you betray the people!” He whipped Anna around. “Did you really think you could screw around behind my back? C’mon, Anna, you’re one of my top spies. This is embarrassing. Just for that, I’m launching you First Class, with a One-Way ticket straight to Miami. It’s my way of giving you a chance to redeem yourself. Your final mission will be to take out every last one of the gusanos who’ve been a pain in my ass since day one. Take her!”

Anna shook loose and backed away. “Generalissimo, why are you doing this?” Anna cried as soldiers ran towards her.

Castro motioned for the oxygen. When he paused to take a hit, Anna lifted her skirt and pulled out a Walther PPK from a holster wrapped around her thigh. She aimed and shot one soldier in the shoulder which brought them all to a slip-sliding halt.

“Don’t make me shoot the Old Man!” She was walking toward the Maximum Leader with both hands holding the gun aimed at his head and before his old shriveled up brain cells could figure out what was going on, he had been whipped around and turned into a shield with the gun planted firmly just above his right ear.

Castro raised his hands to caution his men to keep their cool before whispering. “Anna, darling, it’s all over for me and the regime. Raúl hasn’t got what it takes to keep it going. It was a good run but it ends tonight with my fuck-you rocket. I’m tired of dying slowly like an old man. This is my last hurrah, my 9/11 inspiration. Armageddon is just around the corner. If I’m lucky, this baby will just make it to Miami. Ain’t no one gonna push ol’ Fidel around no more.”

“But they’ll retaliate! We’re no match for them! You’ve killed us all!”

“Fuck the people. Talk about a bunch of spineless losers.”

Anna was frantic as she looked for a way out. And a way to save Orestes. “Listen, old man,” she whispered, “if you don’t cut Orestes down I’ll shoot the rocket and we’re all dead and there’s no grand finale for a lunatic.”

“You’d shoot the rocket?” Fidel asked in a fragile, breathless whisper.

“In a heartbeat.”

Fidel paused for a moment. “And they say I'm nuts.”

The old man turned to his aide de camp. “Cut the bastard down and bring him here.”

The soldier ran off, shouting instructions to cut Orestes down.

“You know, sweet Anna, you’ll never get away with this.”

“Considering my options, it’s worth a try.” Anna began to back away towards the entrance.

“You are one calculating bitch. So what are you going to do with me? Kill me? Let me go?”

“I’ll let you go. You’ll be dead soon anyway.”

“That’s for sure. One way or the other. You know there’s nothing you can do to stop the launch. The countdown has already begun. My scientists are already in the air flying to Venezuela. Chávez wants some ICBMs too. So, what Che and I began so many years ago, la revolución, it will continue on without us.”

“Not if I can help it.”

“Spoken like a true traitor.”

“Go fuck yourself.”

“I plan too. Royally. Anna, Orestes wasn’t flying alone. I was going with him.”

“What are you talking about, you crazy old coot?”

“I’m really going out in a blaze of glory. Nikita gave me an old cosmonaut suit and my scientists have been able to retrofit it for my last hurrah. See it over there?” He pointed at some skittish bureaucrats huddled around the suit. It looked like it was attached to a portable air-conditioning unit. "I'm going to be the world's first dictator spaceman!"

“You gotta be fucking kidding me.”

“I never kid when I fuck.”

Orestes was brought up and held in front of them. He could barely stand.

“Now what?” Castro asked.

“Now they hand over Orestes or I put a bullet in your head.”

Castro sighed and shook his head. “Do as she says.”

Orestes is let go and pushed across the floor. He stumbles into the Old Man. Castro grabs him and struggles to hold him up. “You are one lucky peon. Anna’s got bigger cajones than all of us combined. Look at this sad excuse for a man, Anna. He’s not worthy of your sweet, sweet pussy.”

Orestes pushed Castro away and, holding his side, stood behind Anna.

“You need a real man, someone with an atomic bomb between his legs. Someone like me. Are you sure you don’t want to go for a ride on my rocket?”

Anna backed toward the entrance, taking Fidel with her. “You’re coming with us.”

“But we made a deal.”

“I’m not letting you kill millions of people, you crazy fuck.”

Monday, August 27, 2007

Last Missile Out of Havana: Chapter 2

It began with an invitation from Lider Maximo himself. He wanted Anna and her big tits at a party he was throwing at one of the most heavily guarded buildings in east Havana, La Vivienda. Anna knew she was a showpiece for the regime, that she was being exploited for the juxtaposition of her Junoesque beauty and its politically correct allusions to the heroic, overly wrought Stalinist sculptures lining the Paseo del Prado and her steely, no-nonsense Maybeline eyes. She didn't care. She knew the West's women's movement would frown on such behavior but she also knew to indulge in life on the level she aspired meant using whatever got her through the door to a bigger and better apartment or car or vacation in Spain.

She was surprised at how little it took to get the car. In America in 1959, a '59 Caddy convertible, the one with the rocket fins was a status symbol. In Cuba today, it still is, albeit a rusty one. Anna's car was a gift from Fidel. He said it reminded him of her. Something about the tail lights. Anna blushed and made the old man happy that night. When she got out of bed the next day, however, she noticed the Caddy's paint job and been brushed on and that the only standard instrument left on the panel behind the steering wheel was the car's left turn signal. All of the other instruments, including the speedometer and gas gauge were missing, victims of 40+ years worth of scavenging. She wondered if it even ran. She would have been surprised if there were keys in the ignition and, since there wasn't, took the two wires hanging loosely from beneath the dash and expertly hooked them together, using one of her earrings to weigh down one wire against the other. The V8 turned over with a loud, unmuffled roar scattering pigeons from the driveway outside Fidel's home. When she looked up over the huge steering wheel, she saw the guards looking at her and smiling knowingly. She smiled back and shot them a bird. She looked for something to make the top go up and, not finding it, stepped out of the car and walked back to the neatly folded canvass roof and pulled it up. It was a joke. A bad joke. The thing had more holes in it than a comrade's underwear. She shook her head and smiled. She should have known better. He knew she wanted a car and this was it. From a distance, like her country, it looked good. Up close, of course, was another thing. Still, it wasn't bad for a blow job. At least she had some wheels. Rust had taken its subversive toll on the regime's transportation system. Walking or riding a bike was more reliable than waiting for a vintage Blue Bird bus or worst, hitching a ride on an old Soviet truck left over from the "good ol' days". She got back in the car and, before driving out of the compound, looked back up at the second-story bedroom window. He was standing in the shadows, watching her from behind the louvered shutters as he smoked a cigar. And sucked oxygen from a tank.

The old bastard is taking a long time to die, she thought.

She knew he would be there. If it wasn’t him, it’d be someone else watching for him. She smiled and blew him a kiss before roaring down the driveway in a dark cloud of smoke.

A few days later, Anna got the invitation to the party at La Vivienda.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Last Missile Out of Havana: Chapter 1

"Washington had a file five inches thick devoted to
missiles in Cuba, three years before the Russians
sent them. Some reports were laughable and made all others suspect."
--THE BRINK, by David Detzer
Machine gun bullets screamed inches above Anna's head as she threw herself onto the dark jungle floor. She looked up through the mangroves and saw stars twinkling through the clouds. She cursed the government's weather report that had promised cloud cover and began to crawl as quickly as she could through and around the tangled mangrove roots. Anna wished she had gotten the WTVJ signal out of Miami and listened to that gringo Norcross, the man hurricane Andrew had turned into the weatherman hero of the Caribbean. But her government was having a good day scrambling the airwaves and she missed the report. Too bad. It was common knowledge on the island that a well-planned escape from Cuba meant catching a weather report from Miami. Outside of El Generlisimo himself, the biggest liars in Cuba were the meteorologists. But they had a purpose: they kept the population guessing. A Cuban never knew when it was going to be a fair weather day to make his escape.

The flying buttress roots of the mangrove trees were exploding all around Anna as she pushed feverishly toward the sound of the pounding surf. She looked up and stopped short. She caught the sound of her heated, screaming breath and stared at the red death dots of the infrared scopes undulating across the mangrove roots above her head. They reminded her of summer fireflies circling and diving in the night air of her youth. How ironic, she thought, as she tried to control her panic, that the red dots of those carefree days had followed her into the swamp, a place she hated as a child and loathed even more as an adult. A few months ago, she was part of an elite group of Communists who wore the largess of Fidel's approval by living a lifestyle unknown to her fellow countrymen. She had her own apartment, indoor plumbing that worked, electricity when no one else did, a TV set wired into a master television tower on top of her building that could, on a bad day for the government, pick up those elusive TV signals from Miami and, above all, air-conditioning from a little portable unit hanging outside her window.

She was a Young Pioneer who had made good. But getting that apartment didn't come without its costs. In exchange for a lifestyle that was common for most Americans, Anna-Maria Rivas, would have to risk her life and freedom to spy for the Old Man himself. At age 24, as one of Castro's personally handpicked spies, it was worth the risk because it was an adventure and yes, even an honor. She was proud and fearless and relished the opportunities to live on the edge. In her mind, there were no alternatives. For those who spoke the party line (or had nice tits), Fidel could make life in a hellhole worth living. Defection was out of the question. In Cuba, she was pampered, one of Fidel's favorites. In America, she would be just another exile who had to work for a living. And besides, there were too many beautiful women in America, too much competition. In Cuba, what with the escapes and defections, it was becoming harder and harder to find a real babe on the island. And that's the way she liked it.

Red death dots were moving up and down and over and around the roots and leaves toward her. She tried not to move because she knew the soldiers were wearing night vision goggles, high-tech contraband she had bought on the streets of downtown Miami. She had been part of a "tourista team" sent in by Fidel through Spain to shop for a wish list of items banned by the U.S. as Cuban imports. She remembered how easy it had been to buy everything Castro ever needed to keep his regime abreast of the technological times of the international war machine. The transaction took place in broad daylight in a store on Biscayne Boulevard, roadway for the annual "King Orange Parade". When she watched the parade back in her Havana apartment and saw the store in the background, she thought how stupid the Americans were.

A red death dot moved down a mangrove trunk and leaped onto her black designer gown. She held her breath and wished she had her camo fatigues. She hoped her diamonds wouldn't sparkle in the moonlight. She felt the sweat bead up on her forehead and roll languidly down her cheek. She hoped her mascara had streaked and that the face "to die for", as Fidel had called it when he lifted a toast to her only hours before, was now nothing but shadow among the roots.

When the red death dot stopped over her heart, she thought of Orestes. He had kissed her there, between her Cuban Peoples Award-winning breasts. So tenderly. Like no man before him. He said he loved her when they made love and that frightened her almost as much as her imminent death.

What would Fidel think if I had loved him back? Was it worth the risk to love a man? A man the Maximum Leader had introduced me to?

She remembered the first time they met. All she could think about when she shook Orestes' hand was her mascara; was it running? Had she smeared it across her face? She had hoped not, she was using gringo makeup bought on one of her forays into the exile community in Miami and it was guaranteed not to smudge. She closed her eyes and tried to remember how it had all began. She wondered how she had fallen so far from Fidel's graces; if Orestes had sabotaged the missile.


To continue reading, please click the "Last Missile..." label below. It will load up a single page with the entire story BACKWARDS. It also starts the MVB theme music by Wayne Cochran which you can turn off (top right YouTube embed).

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Passin' On Paradise: South Florida's High Cost of Living is Driving People Away

From today's Miami Herald: "Recruiting workers and keeping them has become increasingly challenging for South Florida employers, as home prices have soared out of reach even for many two-income households."

Scary Stats:
  • Incomes rose here by 28% between 2000 and 2006. The $39,900 median income has been "all but gobbled up by the rise in property taxes and insurance alone."
  • Property tax on a median-priced home rose to $8,011 last year from $3,505 in 2000.
  • Between 2000 and 2006 the median home price rose 172 percent to $375,800 in Miami-Dade.
  • Only 1 in 10 homes sold in Miami-Dade was affordable to a family earning the median income.
  • Turnover of prosecutors at the Miami-Dade state attorney's office is approximately 20% per year because they can't afford to live here.
  • To recruit doctors and research scientists, the University of Miami is kicking in up to 50% of the purchase price of a home-- up to $300,000-- in exchange for a stake in the property. When an employee sells the property, the university shares in the equity appreciation.
  • Nurses and other skilled medical workers can't afford to live here. Baptist Health has bought a large Kendall apartment complex which it is renovating to offer as discount rentals for hard-to-fill positions such as nurses.
As MVB has been saying for over a year now, it's scary out there and getting worse.

UpDate (9/12): Today's Miami Herald reports that nearly a quarter of south Florida homeowners spend at least half of their income on housing. Miami-Dade had the highest rate in the U.S. (24.9% spend 50% of income on housing).

UpDate (9/20): And it keeps getting worse. Today the Miami Herald reported south Florida housing costs rose 8.4 percent in July and August-- the fastest rise in 25 years-- while overall costs rose 3.7 percent.

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.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Roxcy, Pickup Trucks and Coral Gables, the City Anal

Reading today's Miami Herald story about two brother lawyers taking on and winning a battle against the City of Coral Gables over the right to park their pick up truck in the "City Beautiful" got us to thinking about the late Roxcy Bolton. Ms. Bolton was the one-woman dynamo who, among other things, got hurricanes named after men too, instead of just women. But she couldn't convince Coral Gables back in the 70's to cut her some slack regarding parking her pickup truck at her home. So, when we read brothers Lowell and Spencer Kuvin were able to persuade a Third District Court of Appeal judge to rule the city's statute was unconstitutional, we couldn't help but think Roxcy was finally getting the last laugh. Senior Judge Alan Schwartz paraphrased a Pete Seeger song in his written opinion:

"Perhaps Coral Gables can require that all its houses be made of ticky-tacky and that they all look just the same, but it cannot mandate that its people are, or do. Our nation and way of life are based on a treasured diversity, but Coral Gables punishes it."


For those who have never heard of Pete Seeger or his song and for those who would like to hear it again, please click the button, mix up a mojito and offer up a toast to the brothers Kuvin, the Judge and Roxcy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sir Manny Mojito, King of Little H, and the Knights of the Mesa Redondo say Farewell to Elita Loresca

It had been awhile since Sir Manny Mojito, King of Little H, and the Knights of the Mesa Redondo had seen Elita Loresca's disembodied impossibly large and perfect breasts. The last time was under the MacArthur Causeway bridge where they urged the boys in equally perfect stereophonic balance to take up the quest to rescue her from the Temple of the Storm Goddess, aka WSVN-Fox's Channel 7 studios. Seems management wouldn't release her from her contract. The on-air confrontation with the weather temptress landed everyone in jail where they stayed for many weeks until Verticvs Erectus, publisher of MVB, was able to raise enough money to bail them out. That weather report, thanks to YouTube, soon became one of the most viewed and most discussed videos of all time and within days, Sir Manny and the boys became known as world-class fuck-ups world-wide. Because of their shame, a vestigial personality trait rarely seen in south Florida, they elected to remain secluded in MVB's cramped offices where they sought forgiveness by praying incessantly to a make-shift altar dedicated to Ms. Loresca, Goddess of the Storm. This was also their penance because they believed that as long as they prayed to Ms. Loresca, hurricanes would be averted from south Florida. So far, no one could argue with them over that. Not even Max Mayfield, the weather swami at WSVN's rival station WPLG-ABC. And so the boys kept praying, day and night, hoping for forgiveness and a chance to regain their honor by praying away all shape and size of hurricanes.

And then the heavenly habahabas appeared.

King Manny saw them first as he kneeled and prayed in front of the altar. He heard the Storm Goddess' voice and, still in a trance, opened his eyes. They were hovering over the Bank of America building. The building had been lit up in green lights and there, floating at the top, were Ms. Loresca's impossibly large and perfect breasts.

"I must go," they said in a hushed and throaty voice, undulating slowly from side to side.

"Why?" King Manny asked.

"I am needed elsewhere," they replied. "I must save California from...everything."



"Even Rosie O'Donnell?"

"Almost everything."

"Can I come along?"

"Me too!" Sir Belvedere cried.

"And me!"

"Me too!"

All the Knights of the Mesa Redondo wanted to go with her and, despite their devotion, I am sorry to report some even tried to cop a feel.

"I wish you could join me," the shimmering love globes replied. "But you have a more important job to do. You must continue to pray to my very sexy picture on your altar. Only your devotion will keep hurricanes away. Can you do that?"

"Yes!" they shouted. "For you, anything!"

"Good," the marvelous mammararies mumbled. "With your devotion on the east coast and the prayers of my followers on the west coast-- and they are legion-- just maybe America and all it stands for will be saved from the ravages of the...Storm Goddess!"

At that point, thunder sounded off in the distance.

"I'm gonna miss you, Goddess of the Storm," King Manny choked.

"Call me Elita, good King Manny Mojito. And remember this, boys, I'm only a thought away-- especially if you close your eyes and rub real hard-- I mean think real hard."

"I'm already real hard," Sir Belvedere replied.

"Me too!"

"That's your broadsword, you big dummy!"

"Whoe, I guess that explains all the fookin' blood!"

"Oh," the goombahs gushed, "you are such bad boys. I love you all."

Someone, maybe more than one, started crying.

"Now don't cry. Remember when you were lost in the Redlands Forest looking for someone with a sense of humor?" the magic magumbos asked.

"Yes. And we were never able to find one. What a bummer."

"But things got better anyway, didn't they?"

"Well, yes," King Manny replied sheepishly, "especially after meeting your magnificent maracas under the bridge."

"And they will again," the tits teetered. "Just remember to look on the bright side of life and that will get you out of any forest of gloom and doom. In fact, I have a song I want you to sing and sing it you shall, in remembrance of me. When you awake from your trance, you will begin to sing as a chorus, a choir if you will. Some of you will even tap dance as you sing. In time, when things get you down, this song and dance number will set you right with the world. Now, until we meet again, sing....sing this song..."

And they did:

UpDate (8/23): Today's Herald announced Rosie O'Donnell is coming to town November 4th for the Miami Book Fair. She will be promoting her book Celebrity Detox. Sir Manny Mojito and the boys did not take this well and began taking turns self-flagellating with a cat-of-nine-tales while circling in front of the Goddess of the Storm makeshift shrine. Please note that no knights were hurt during the above incident because they were protected by their chainmail and thick linen cloaks. Although they may be prone to acting out, they do steer away from self-mutilation which is something to be thankful for considering these are grown men walking around in the hot Miami summer in suits of armor.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Scrap the Orange Bowl? Say it isn't so!

Today 70-years of history and fond memories of championship seasons rests in the hands of the 17-member executive committee of University of Miami Board of Trustees. They will gather on campus to decide the fate of the venerable Orange Bowl stadium. According to the Miami Herald the school will save $1.5 million a year by moving their football games to Dolphin Stadium. In the words of Greg Cote, one of the Herald's esteemed sports writers, that's "loose change under the sofa to major college football." But that's where they're looking instead of at the bigger picture. Maybe if the old stadium was in another city instead of one of the poorest in the nation, things would be different. Maybe if UM's newest president Donna Shalala had been around long enough to appreciate the stadium's history, the question of moving would never have came up. Officially, UM doubts the City of Miami can fulfill its promise to renovate the stadium. Like the Miami Marine Stadium, for years the city has allowed the Orange Bowl to rot away, ignoring it in the finest white trash tradition. Both stadiums are rusting, scavenged car wrecks up on blocks missing wheels in Miami's front yard. Although many of us take umbrage at being labeled third world, we are surely the white trash city of America. We never have enough money to fix that car on the lawn but, by God, we're going to keep it up on blocks and some day, when we get enough money, we're going to fix it.

Maybe UM should give the city more time to come up with the money. Of course, if they do, then that makes them white trash too. Or at least white trash enablers.

If the executive committee gives the Orange Bowl the heave ho, the saddest part will be the lack of vision displayed by both parties. As we have said earlier, keeping the Orange Bowl is keeping the opportunity to host an affordable Olympics. We'll know by the end of the day if history and the future can co-exist.

UpDate (5 minutes later): Vision- 0, Souless-Pandering-to-the-Bottom-Line: 1. UM will move to Dolphin Stadium commencing 2008. How sad. Now, the City should strike a deal with FIU. Fuck the 'Canes! Go the Golden Something-or-Others! Let today be the first day in the beginning of a new forward-thinking tradition where someday, the Golden Something-or-Others will become a collegiate football juggernaut that OWNS the Orange Bowl, whose style of play erases all memory of the team that once played there! Ye-Haw! Go Golden Something-or-others!

UpDate on the UpDate (30-mins later): Will someone please have a talk with City of Miami Manager Pete Hernandez. He keeps talking about tearing down the Orange Bowl to build a baseball stadium with a retractable roof. Hasn't he heard of the Miami Megaplex? Doesnt' he read Miami Vision Blogarama? As much as we want to preserve the Orange Bowl, we would be remiss not to point out its obvious shortcoming: no mass transit connection. Our downtown Miami Megaplex proposal includes one form of existing mass transit (MetroRail) and two forms of proposed mass transit: FEC commuter train from Palm Beach directly to the stadium (the tracks are already there) and a BayLink monorail connecting Miami Beach to the stadium. Keep the Orange Bowl for FIU and the Olympics. Build a new downtown baseball stadium next to the Miami Arena. It's much more cost effective and makes a helluva lot more sense.

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.

Say "No!" to Real-Estate Speculators!

Some say they come from Outer Space looking not for a planet to take over but a killing in the interplanetary real-estate market. They gravitate to waterfront property with explosive development. Many can be found camping outside developers' sales offices hoping to score a condo or two on the first day of pre-construction sales where deposits are minimal and the rules lax. But don't expect to see Roswell-style aliens looking back up at you. These fiendish creatures have cloaked themselves to look like you and I. Like locusts descending on a wheat field, their very nature is to take what they can before moving on to the next real-estate hot spot. A quick profit is all that matters. This scorched earth policy leaves behind inflated housing prices and hollow cities of empty apartments no one can afford. The most recent example happened in Miami. 33 of the 102 units set aside as "affordable" (between $99,000 and $216,000) for the Loft 3 development in downtown Miami were resold within a year of closing with at least one fellow, Al Lorenzo, who was the campaign manager for Mayor Manny Diaz, flipping it within a month for a markup of $92,100. Of those 102 "affordable" units, only 6 remained in the same hands for more than a year but none of those six list them as their home address within the city. Since then, the City of Miami has installed safe-guards to protect affordable housing from these predator aliens. Whether or not it works remains to be seen. County and state-wide laws protecting affordable housing from real-estate speculators might be more effective because in the end, if the land has been made uninhabitable because the habitats are unaffordable, it becomes a crisis of biblical proportions, a plague not induced by God's wrath or alien real-estate speculators but by man's greed.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Only In Miami: Chicken Busters

Tonight, ABC World News closed with a story on Miami-Dade's "Chicken Busters". We thought this would be a good time to bring out one of our "Only In Miami" pieces we had shelved months ago when we discovered that Stuck on the Palmetto beat us to the punch with their multi-media post (the south Florida blogosphere is quite competitive and only the bravest of souls-- or those without a clue-- should venture into it). Elizabeth Vargas, substituting for Charlie Gibson, got quite a kick out of the story, as we are sure the rest of the world did too. You can see it here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Pharmacy Miami Style: When Aspirin Isn't Enough

Inspiration found in today's Miami Herald front page story's opening paragraph:

The Santero Next Door

Noriel Batista has had little peace since a swarm of Coral Gables police officers burst onto his property, disrupting a Santeria ritual intended to initiate him into a special order of his religion's priesthood.
''It has ruined my life,'' said Batista, a Cuban-born pharmacy owner who bought the home on Casilla Street nine years ago.
Business at his Coral Way pharmacy has suffered, he says. Neighbors expressed outrage that animal sacrifices -- in this case, 11 goats and 44 fowl -- were taking place in the City Beautiful.
Shortly after the June incident made the news, Batista received a handwritten note, scrawled in the margins of a Miami Herald article: America has become a dumping ground for trash like you. Go back to Cuba and take your animal sacrifices with you.

We highly recommend reading the story by Tere Figueras Negrete and Elaine DeValle. Only in Miami (and certain parts of Coral Gables).

UpDate (8/13/2011): Noriel Batista the pharmacist is arrested and loses his pharmacy due to Medicaid fraud. I guess even practitioners of Santeria can't escape the Feds when it comes to busting people and companies trying to rip off the public. (

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

MVB's BayLink Monorail Solution: It's half the cost we thought it would be!

The Internet is a wondrous place for ideas. Like-thinking individuals or groups can easily find each other because of key words. "Monorail" brought a retired engineer with over 40-years of building monorails in the Far East to MVB. He likes our concept of connecting Miami to Miami Beach with a monorail that runs at grade along the MacArthur Causeway and then along the sand of Miami Beach. He likes it so much that he took time to give our conceptual solution real world numbers. And we're glad he did. For one, our estimate to build a monorail BayLink connection is about $10 million less per mile than we thought it would be. This is what he came up with:
  • It's 8.6 miles long,
  • The Miami run is a 4.4 mile one-way single beam rising from and returning to the Watson Island station (for system costing it is considered equivalent to 2.2 miles of dual-beam two-way run),
  • The MacArthur Causeway at-grade run is 3.1 miles long,
  • The Miami Beach run is a two-way dual beam 3.3 miles long.

  • Estimated cost: $370 million.
  • As structured under the original BayLink plan, the Feds pick up half the cost ($185 million)
  • State picks up ¼: $92.5 million
  • County picks up ¼: $92.5 million
  • Cost per mile per county share: $10.8 million.
  • Construction time: 30-36 months with an additional 6-months for testing.

Our consultant wants it known that "the proposal has given thought on how to mitigate the impact of construction on existing road traffic. It is suggested that serious consideration be given during the design stage to evaluate the feasibility of using single large bored pile foundation and column as a contiguous structure. The columns could be clad externally to better embrace some art form that befits the local ambiance."

The 3.1 mile MacArthur Causeway run and the 3.3 mile long north-south run along the sands of Miami Beach takes advantage of a unique set of conditions found only here. Instead of disrupting the lives of hundreds of thousands of people over many years while tearing up miles and miles of streets to lay trolley car tracks and to realign underground utilities, 80% of our solution runs where none of the aforementioned problems exist: on the south side of the MacArthur and over beach sand. Unlike the current default BayLink plan, archaic, lane-hogging, slow-moving trolley cars with their ugly overhead power lines will not be forced onto narrow streets with stations every few blocks. Our approach is to get people from one side of Biscayne Bay to the other as quickly as possible with a minimum of stops. Of course, besides stops at Lincoln Road/Beach and the Convention Center/Live Nation Theater, our monorail stops at Carnival Center, American Airlines Arena, Museum Park and, although it doesn't currently exist, the "Grand Central Station of the American Pastime." Our design makes it possible to take a commuter train on the FEC tracks all the way from Palm Beach to the Miami Beach Convention Center with only one transfer.

Although it isn't cheap, we are suggesting sharing the costs to build and maintain it through a joint venture between public and private enterprise. We are also advocating directing the $200 million allocated for building a downtown Miami streetcar towards the BayLink monorail.

All it takes is a little vision on the part of the people and their elected officials. MVB from the get-go has seen itself as a gadfly (or roach) regarding our community. Not content just to post ideas, we are pro-active in trying to get others to see things our way. Most elected officials have been contacted and, believe it or not, we may have actually convinced at least one Miami Beach commission candidate to see it our way. Only time will tell.

Until then, remember the MVB rallying cry: Free our streets! Grab the Vision and lets Monorail!

Monday, August 13, 2007

MVB Big Idea Award Goes to Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger!

Enhance your blogging pleasure: click the button for Enzyte theme music.

Once upon a time before government got intertwined with our everyday lives, before Medicare, even before health insurance, there was a time when people actually paid doctors for medical care Yes, we know, "What kind of cannabis are you smoking?" you may ask but it is true. Recently the Miami Herald revealed that there exists in our community a doctor who not only won't accept insurance-- not even Medicare-- but who runs his practice on a cash-only basis. His name is Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger and he is the latest recipient for MVB's "Big Idea Award."

His story, captioned by the Herald as "The Maverick MD," is our kind of guy. He's a visionary who marches to the beat of a different drummer and because of that is forcing other doctors to rethink their partnership with the bloated healthcare industry. Considered a "progressive maverick," Dr. Wollschlager supports universal healthcare and the movement to all-electronic medical records.

By adopting MVB's "less is more" approach to most things in general, he has been able to make medical care affordable to everyone. Instead of paying staff to help run his office-- including bookkeepers to handle the deluge of paperwork required by Medicare-- he basically-- thanks to the computer-- runs his office by himself. Appointments and follow-up questions are made online with waiting in the office no more than 5 or 10 minutes. Office visits range between $65 and $75.

For more information or to book an appointment, please click here.

Regarding the traditional awards ceremony at Churchill's Pub in Little Haiti, many of you will again be happy to learn that our official award giver Bob Enzyte was able to complete the entire function without once dropping his pants. Perhaps that had something to do with Dr. Wollschlaeger. Bob could be seen conferring with the good doctor during the dinner proceeding the presentation of the coveted award. We noticed that he more than once stopped Bob from trying to remove his pants. Perhaps he was able to convince Bob to forsake self-medication or at least recommend a shrink who can help him. Only time will tell.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Igwe Gets Down With MVB!

Victor Igwe, the mysterious, reclusive City of Miami Auditor General agreed to a short interview with MVB yesterday in the shadowy bowels of his office. For those who have never heard of Mr. Igwe, he's the Mayor and City Commission's fly in the ointment, resident party pooper, and all-around pain-in-the-ass. Over the years, a few have threatened to fire him because of the things he has uncovered.

MVB: Can we open the blinds?
VI: No.
MVB: It's pretty dark in here. We may not be able to get a good photo.
VI: Too bad.
MVB: That accent, it sounds English but with a touch of...
VI: Nigerian. I was born in Africa but raised in London.
MVB: And something else...
VI: Texan. I went to college in Texas.
MVB: Quite lilting in a mixed-up polyglot sort of way.
VI: (Nothing. He just stares through his Wayfarers, looking at...nothing)
MVB: So, what's it like being the City of Miami's Auditor General?
VI: (Still looking at nothing but now rubbing his temple) It's never boring.
MVB: (Awkward pause) We're surprised you don't list yourself in the City of Miami directory as "Dr. Igwe" since you hold a doctoral degree in Business Administration from Nova Southeastern University.
VI: I don't think so.
MVB: How 'bout General Igwe?
VI: (Looks up) Yes, and maybe I should paint a large target on my back too.
MVB: Death threats?
VI: No comment.
MVB: C'mon, you can tell us. Our readers, except for the possible exception of a guy named Klotz, abhor violence of any sort. You're safe.
VI: In my job, no one's safe.
MVB: Maybe a Hurricane fan is out to get you? After all, you discovered University of Miami was stiffing the city out of more than $400,000 in Orange Bowl user fees.
VI: I love the Canes and their new coach Dandy Shannon.
MVB: Uh, that's Randy Shannon.
VI: Whatever.
MVB: How 'bout Mayor Diaz?
VI: What about him?
MVB: Do you think he's got a contract out on you?
VI: Don't be ridiculous.
MVB: Well, your audits tied him in with some dubious practices over the years.
VI: Please, you're beginning to bore me.
MVB: How 'bout ex-City Manager Joe Arriola? That's one guy with a short fuse. We think he holds the record for the "Fan Thrown Out of the Most Miami Heat Games." Maybe he wants to kill you.
VI: I'm sure he does but he won't.
MVB: Why not?
VI: He's the first guy they'd go looking for.
MVB: How 'bout--
VI: Stop.
MVB: We could go on...
VI: Don't. I get the idea. A lot of people have it in for me. That doesn't mean they want to kill me.
MVB: Then why all this cloak-and-dagger Stealth-Auditor General stuff?
VI: Just in case I'm wrong.
MVB: Well, we for one are real fans of yours. We'd like to give you an award.
VI: Is that the one where some guy keeps dropping his pants on the dais?
MVB: No, this is the one where we give you a big "W" carved out of genuine Swarovski crystal.
VI: Could you mail it to me?
MVB: It wouldn't be the same.
VI: I'll pass.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

HUD Seizes Control of Miami-Dade County Housing

Accused of "grossly mismanaging" housing programs for some 25,000 of its neediest families, the County today becomes the seventh out of 4,100 public housing agencies to be taken over by the Feds. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alverez vows to fight it in court. We wish he wouldn't. This is the best thing that could have happened to the poor in a long time. Local government had more than enough time to get it right. Now let's see what the Feds can do.

UpDate (8/8/07):

"Alvarez, County Manager George Burgess and the County Commission would lose all control of the agency -- a devastating blow to their credibility..."
--The Miami Herald, Wednesday, August 8, 2007

What credibility? Aside from Mayor Alverez whom we admire (except in this instance), their action over the past couple of years speaks for itself. Besides hurting the poor, their inaction and less than professional behavior has embarrassed all of us in the eyes of the world. Instead of threatening a costly lawsuit against the Feds, defending the work of Burgess and his bureaucrats and seeking solidarity with the commission, Alverez should be distancing himself from all of the above by taking the high road by admitting the government-- and the problems that came with it when he was elected-- fucked up. Fessing up and taking responsibility is a rare thing nowadays, but once seen, like the fleeting and legendary ghost orchid in the Everglades, it is something to cherish and behold. It also might get you reelected.
UpDate (8/23): A federal judge has ordered mediation over control of the Miami-Dade Housing Agency, a small early victory for county leaders trying to fend off a takeover by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Over HUD's opposition, U.S. District Judge Donald Graham ordered the nonbinding mediation on Monday. A daylong session is scheduled for Sept. 10. (Miami Herald)
UpDate (10/3): The county approves a deal that allows a federal takeover of the Agency for at least nine months.
UpDate (10/23): Ending months of "political jockeying," the feds have signed off on a deal to temporarily take over the Miami-Dade Housing Agency. HUD will officially take control this Friday, October 26th and stay in charge for at least nine months but could last more than a year if the agency doesn't meet goals agreed upon by both parties.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Kudos to Tomas Regalado, Michelle Spence-Jones and another City of Miami Commissioner who wasn't mentioned in today's Miami Herald or other news media

In a narrow vote of 3-2, the City of Miami passed on shoveling $55 million down the $1 billion-plus hole known as the Miami Tunnel Project. Led by commissioner Tomás Regalado who has been against it from the get-go because the city's contribution would tap funds from the Community Redevelopment Agency-- its mission is to "improve the quality of life in some of the city's downtrodden neighborhoods, `thereby achieving the complete eradication of slums and blight'.'' Fellow commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones who represents one of those "downtrodden neighborhoods" backed Regalado. As of this moment, MVB hasn't a clue who the third commissioner was who voted against throwing millions of dollars down our own version of Alice's "rabbit hole." Hopefully they will remain firm because now the real pressure begins, coming at them from the county and the state.

MVB believes there is no way this tunnel from Watson Island to the Port of Miami is going to be profitable for the city-- even if tolls are levied. It's structured much like those infamous movie investments where some dumb bastard agrees to take "points" on a movie deal. Because of unforeseen expenses or the costs of doing business, profits never materialize. Miami-Dade county residents have already become "producers" for life on the Carnival Center because of its immense expense. We believe the same thing will happen to Miami residents-- they'll never see their investment. However, everyone will pay for this mad plan through a higher cost of living-- the only real thing that will be passed back to the "investors."

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!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Erectvs Kids Return From Everest Expedition

Verticvs S. Erectvs, publisher of MVB, is happy to report that his kids are returning safely from a summer sojourn in the Far East. They combined learning and travel with the apex of their adventure taking place 17,000 feet above us at the Everest base camp. Daughter returns to UF to continue her studies in Literature and History while son graduates and goes to London to work on his masters in conflict resolution at the University of Westminster. Welcome back, kids! You've sure done a lot with your lives in a very short time. Keep it up!