Wednesday, October 31, 2007

From the MVB Files: The Sears Site

For all of those who have a problem with the Pelli designed Carnival Center for the Performing Arts, it could have been worse. Much worse.

While the medieval half of our staff is worshipping at the altar of the fickle, but well-endowed Storm Goddess Elita Loresca, the other half began cleaning up the MVB offices. We were throwing out years of collected crap to make room for our new IKEA line of furniture. This included many files. When we opened up one labeled "DDA," we stopped short. In it were years of the Miami Downtown Development Authority's newsletters-- some from over 20+ years ago (something they have stopped producing and we have been missing for over a decade). Roy Kenzie and Kitty Roedell were running the show then and let us tell you, that's when the DDA was really something. In any event, we came upon this November 1984 "Citynews" newsletter which was highlighting a proposed $123 million mixed-use 23-story development for the Sears site. All we can say is, thank God it failed. Looking at the drawings, we have to ask ourselves, who in their right mind would want to build something as ugly and as uninspiring as this? It is interesting to see in the proposal that not only was the Sears Tower saved, so was the entire Sears department store-- which in our estimation, was as ugly as the proposed design.

For the record, MVB does not have a problem with the Pelli design. We have a problem with its location. If anything should have embraced the connection Miami has with the sea, it was the PAC. Watson Island would have been a great location. But beggars can't be choosers. With Knight-Ridder donating the land, it was better than nothing. Right?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mercedes introduces the Miami Smart Car

"Ya, it had to be modified to be driven here," DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche said in response to MVB's question. "What with your love for the Humvee and the way you drive, we had no other choice."

The limited edition Miami Smart car will be available in January with the release of the original Smart car to US showrooms. Although only 25,000 of the regular Smarts will be sold in this country next year, 35,000 refundable deposits have been taken for the $11,590 two-seater. Four feet shorter than a Mini Cooper, the three-cylinder, 40 mpg car is expected to go over big with Americans-- especiallly Shriners.

Test drives will be available from 10am to 5:30pm Saturday through Monday for the non-Miami Smart at the Town Center at Boca Raton, 6000 Glades Rd., near Saks Fifth Ave. For drivers living in Dade County, the Miami Smart test drives will be available at mile marker 55 on the Tamiami Trail across the street from Joe Bobb's Everglades Safari Tours.

The Miami Smart will cost an extra $60,000 but the ladder to climb into the thing is free thanks to a Home Depot marketing tie-in.

Carnival Center CEO fired! Replaced with wunderkind Wilker

Michael Hardy finally got the axe yesterday, something we've been urging since May 22nd. He will be replaced by legendary performing arts center savior Lawrence J. Wilker, once head of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Wilker is noted for creating award shows for the center that could be sold to TV earning JFK millions of dollars over the years. The center's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and the PBS series Kennedy Center Presents are two examples. Much of his success came from producing musicals-- something we've been told more than once is something Miami won't support.

Wilker will share a 6-month interim contract with Scott Shiller who will act as executive VP until they or others are permanently hired.

From what we can gather from the press conference, Wilker doesn't sound any different than Hardy. Both talk about "divirsity and inclusiveness" as part of their approach to making the Carnival Center work. Wilker adds he wants to make everyone feel comfortable and welcome at the Center.We guess Hardy didn't believe in those concepts enough to make them work. One thing that still remains a mystery, why wasn't Hardy fired before last month's 42 percent pay raise? That would have saved everyone a whole lot of money.

We suspect Wilker may come out of the gate running with some sort of TV broadcast deal to be held at the Carnival Center. In the end, it will be interesting to see what he comes up with. All we can say is good luck to both of you guys, because you're going to need it.

Vince McMahon, who was restrained by two huge wrestlers from his WWE conglomerate, took umbrage for not being given enough time to develop his slate of programs for Carnival. "Mark my words," he yelled as he was escorted out of the Carnival Center offices, "you'll be back begging for my help! No one knows Miami better than me! No one knows the US better than me!"

Regarding Mr. Hardy, don't feel sorry for him. He will retain a severance equal to one year's salary. Thanks to that controversial pay hike, he'll be looking at an easy $326,255 for doing nothing. Reports suggest Mr. Hardy will be taking remedial math courses at the downtown Wolfson campus during his time between jobs.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sir Manny Mojito and the Knights of the Mesa Redonda become depressed when they hear tropical depression Noel is headed their way

"Tropical depression Noel?" Sir Manny Mojito, King of Little H, asked in disbelief.

"It's coming our way," Sir Belvedere of Plymouth replied.

"But we've been worshipping non-stop before the Elita Loresca Storm Goddess altar since June to keep hurricanes away."

"We are not worthy."

"No wonder she skipped town."

"Talk about rubbing our un-worthiness in our own faces. She's even given it a proper British name!"

"Boy, boys," Verticus Erectvs interrupted, "it's not your fault. Your constant vigil in front of the Elita Loresca Storm Goddess altar kept us hurricane-free all these months. If anyone's to blame it's that little tart you built this altar to."

"Blasphemer!" Sir Percival screamed. Sir Belvedere had to restrain him lest he impale Verticvs with his broadsword.

Bobby Bermudez jumped in. "Verticvs is right. Elita Loresca abandoned you, you never gave up on her. Talk about old school chivalry, you, Knights of the Mesa Redonda, should be holding your heads high!"

"Must...keep...praying," Sir Belvedere mumbled as if in a trance.

And, as if well-trained monks, they turned in unison, knelt on the floor, and began to chant and pray some more. No one could persuade them to take a break from the five month long self-imposed mission. Nor would anyone try to convince them that Elita Loresca was not worthy-- especially when the weary and short tempered knights were carrying their long and very sharp broadswords.

UpDate (10/29): Pray boys, pray! It's now a tropical storm!

UpDate (10/30): Dammit! What the hell's going on over there in front of that cheezy altar? Noel's a killer on the loose and it's coming our way!

"," one of the Knights of the Mesa Redonda moaned.

UpDate (10/31): Boys! Boys, don't give up! It seems to be working! Your unselfish devotion to the Goddess of the Storm is turning Noel away from Florida! So stop flailing yourselves with your chainmail, because you are worthy! It looks like you may have saved all of Florida!

UpDate (11/1): Success! The boys were able to shift Noel's course away from Florida! A thankful people showers them with valuable gifts and suggests a parade is in order following the end of hurricane season.

UpDate (11/2): Noel, far out to sea, has been elevated to a "killer hurricane" with a death toll in its wake of over 116 people.

Simon Cruz for mayor of Miami Beach

In our 10/23 posting, we admitted-- as does the Sun Post-- we couldn't recommend any of the mayoral candidates running for office in Miami Beach. Our reasons were based on the fact that, as hard as we tried, we couldn't see any vision. Until now. In today's Miami Herald Neighbors, it mentions that Cruz is for BayLink as opposed to Mattie Bower, his main opponent. That's enough for us.

Vote for Simon Cruz for mayor of Miami Beach.

UpDate (11/3): Opposition TV ads quote Cruz as saying the following: ''If you can't take their money, drink their liquor, mess with their women and vote against them, you should not be in politics.'' That quote was picked up from a 10/26 Miami Herald article but it shouldn't be attributed to Cruz. I was at that public forum and Cruz prefaced the quote by telling everyone it was by Huey Long although Wikipedia attributes it to Jesse M. Unruh (which we tend to believe because our own research couldn't find Huey Long attached to anything as outrageous as that quote). In any event, Cruz was misquoted in the Miami Herald and now it appears he may end up paying for it. By the way, Cruz used the quote to deflate his opponent Mattie Bower Herrera's grandstanding sneak attack on his accepting money for his campaign from special interests. She wanted him to give the money back. He explained that money has never influenced his votes and used the quote for emphasis. The audience reaction he got that night was applause and laughter-- something that also failed to find its way into the Miami Herald.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

It's official-- today, October 27, 2007, marks the first time the Miami Herald is no longer a "family newspaper"

Unless, of course, your family is headed by a...Leather Master!

I grew up here and have seen a lot of things in the Miami Herald but never a large color photo of a man and a woman dressed up in chains, black leather, and fishnet stockings. Oh, yeah, they're walking a pug with pink accouterments. The historical (some might say hysterical) picture appeared on the front page of Section B. You can read the story and see the photo here (it's the second one in on the slide show on the paper's website). Except for the lack of profanity, the story could have been lifted from the New Times.

Friday, October 26, 2007

BALLET BOOTY CALL rockets Miami to the top of the ballet world

"I have seen the future of ballet and it resides in Miami."
Those are the last words Peter Martins, Ballet Master in Chief of the New York City Ballet, uttered before attempting to take his life following the premiere of the Miami City Ballet's "Ballet Booty Call." Choreographed by Edward Villella with music by Luther Campbell based on an idea by Verticus S. Erectus, the homegrown spectacle was the first time anyone can recall where a ballet got the audience dancing-- and in some cases it was reported, fornicating-- in the aisle.
"I guess that's a good thing," a rather pale and shaken looking Villella said following the premiere at a party at Jumbo's on 7th Avenue.
"You're goddamn right its a good thing, you honkey flake," Campbell added. "'Ballet Booty Call' will save the motherfuckin' Carnival Center!"
"Damn right, bro," Erectus replied while offering Campbell a lame handshake which was ignored. "We be rollin' in the bling, that's fo shizzle."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Signs of the Apocalypse Miami Style: Dumbing Down Culture to pay the rent

Regarding the direction Carnival Center will take in the future for programming:

"We'll let the audience decide."
--J. Ricky Arriola,
Chairman of the Center's trustee board

Miami Today held a Roundtable discussion on October 3rd at the Gusman between county cultural bureaucrats and the heads of our local cultural institutions. It's fascinating and we highly recommend you find the issue and read it (unfortunately, the weekly has not posted it on its website).

The cultural enablers and the culture makers like Miami City Ballet honcho Edward Villella were trying mightily to come to some sort of consensus on what constitutes culture here. And, like all discussions in this era of political correctness where every culture is given equal value, it became clear that the canons of white western culture-- ballet, opera, symphonies-- would have to fight for their piece of the limited local dollars set aside for the arts, something Mr. Villella had a problem with.

"I've come across ethnic leaders and I've said to them, 'Why are you bringing only that particular ethnic culture to that ethnic culture?'" he says. "What we need to do is to open minds beyond that and, forgive me, rap...drives me nuts. Hip-hop is not as qualitative as other types of dance in terms of guiding the minds of younger people."

Hear! Hear! Mr. Villella. We consider it the music of a bankrupt culture obsessed with the baser aspects of life.
Unfortunately, this is the dominant culture here.
So what's a guy like Villella to do when the chair of the Carnival Center board-- who didn't attend the Roundtable but made it a point to remind Villella in a separate interview that "not everybody likes the ballet"-- thinks the fix in making the half-billion-dollar buildings profitable is to turn to the people for programming ideas?

Get to love the "butterfly," Eddie. I'm sure a creative guy like you can make a ballerina work her pelvis just as well as any of the chongas on the street. In fact, may we suggest you consider choreographing a new ballet and calling it: Ballet Booty Call. Ballerinas shaking their tutus like swans in heat toward posturing ballet bad boys with their bulging cups and Spandex leotards ought to fill all the seats and more. Try combining rap rhythms with a symphonic score while lifting the theme out of the gutter where most rap resides and you just might save western culture as we know it. Of course, it may look a little different than what most educated people are use to seeing, but then the arts are always evolving and the best artists are showing us how to see the world differently. Work with the masses, baby. Strive to be dance's Picasso.

Good or bad, Miami's culture is the prototype of the world's cultural future where rap has not only taken a foothold, but is flourishing. Just check with Vince McMahon first to make sure he can fit Ballet Booty Call into the WWE Smackdown schedule at Carnival.
UpDate (2/15/09): It appears Japan has the answer to propping up our cultural institutions. According to Parade magazine, it "checks the waistlines of citizens over 40, and those considered too fat undergo diet counseling. Failure to slim down can lead to fines." In this county, there are enough obese people to fund two performing arts centers!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Monocle Man Make a Confession

WARNING: First off, anyone wearing a monocle today should be viewed with suspicion. This gentleman, who wishes to remain anonymous as is a blogger's wont, is not the kind of guy you'd invite to a party. If his 1,000 yard stare doesn't quickly put your shindig into an irreversible slide toward downersville, his jaded, dyspeptic personality soon will. So, dear reader, read his words with caution and a mojito, MVB's drink of choice, in hand.

I have a confession to make. There are two fire extinguisher cases inside my home next to the front door. The fire extinguishers have been removed. One case has a mannequin head wearing a cheap wig. I call him "Wayne the Wig Wearer." The other case holds a brand new box of Camel cigarettes. Both are lit from above.

Wayne the Wig Wearer is there for a first date when I really want to make an impression. I figure if I wear his hair, it'll make me look younger. Somehow, it hasn't been working. I'm not a smoker but the box of Camels are there when I finally want to end it all. If I decide the cigarettes aren't working fast enough, I might install a third cabinet for just such an emergency. It will hold my loaded .38 Smith & Wesson.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

MVB Pick of the Candidates: Miami Beach November 6th Election

Real visionaries are hard to find, especially when looking at those running for office. Last night, we got a chance to ask questions of some of those running for Miami Beach council and mayor at a public meeting sponsored by the Hibiscus, Palm, and Star Island Homeowners Association in their 1920's era clubhouse. Of the campaign literature we've seen, none showed any ballsy vision. Instead, there was a plethora of platitudes and safe stands against over development and clean streets. That's why we made an effort to press them further, at least on one main question: Where do they stand on Baylink? Although none of them have taken a stand for our monorail solution, we are happy to recommend the following for being open-minded and willing enough to acknowledge the need for some form of Baylink which, in our eyes, is better than nothing when you consider how the sitting Mayor David Dermer did all he could to derail Baylink-- something these candidates reminded us the people of Miami Beach voted for twice-- once in a county-wide referendum and a second time when Dermer tried to kill the initiative by forcing a second vote onto the public. All of them, thank God, are against tearing up the streets to run trolley cars powered by catenary lines.

For Group IV: We recommend Jonah Wolfson. Mr. Wolfson, the youngest one in the race at 32, was the first candidate to respond to our initial question months ago. His attitude gave us hope.

For Group V: We recommend Michael Gongora (incumbent). At 36, he's the second youngest running for office. We were impressed with his poise. He reminds us of a younger Neal Sedaka by the sound of his voice and his appearance, which says way too much about how old we are.

For Group VI: We recommend Deede Weithorn. The woman has an engineering degree from M.I.T. and is a Certified Public Accountant for crying out loud.

If they get elected, with a little cajoling from MVB and others, who knows, maybe a monorail linking Miami with Miami Beach might actually happen in our lifetimes. Stranger things have happened. Especially in this town.

We wish we could recommend someone for mayor but of the two who showed up last night, Mattie Herrera Bower and Simon Cruz, we were disappointed by their lack of vision. As sitting commissioners, they never made us sit up and take notice and they still didn't last night. Both want to hold down growth and make Miami Beach a cleaner city. Yippie-kai-yay.

More reasons why we love Miami: WPLG-ABC's Jeff Weinsier arrested on the job and then booked for carrying a concealed weapon

Miami-Dade County School Police Goon Squad arrested Jeff Weinsier today for not getting off a public sidewalk outside Miami Central high school. That's when they discovered he was carrying a loaded .357 magnum revolver. His camera man, who captured the whole incident (click here), reported Jeff started carrying a gun when he began getting death threats from people who were unhappy with his continuing series on restaurants that have failed their health inspections.

It says a lot about this town when reporters have to carry guns when working their beat. It also makes you think twice before complaining about a meal at a local restaurant. One thing is for sure, Miami is never boring and for bloggers in-tune with the scene, there is never a lack of material for inspiration.

From our point-of-view, it looks like WPLG has all the reasons needed to file a winning lawsuit against the Miami-Dade County Schools. Good luck, Jeff!

UpDate (10/24): Weinsier bonded out later that night. Today's 6PM newscast was quite thorough in laying out the facts, some of which were contradictory-- WPLG says the Miami-Dade County Schools gave their reporter permission after a clarifying phone call minutes before the arrest. Today, they deny giving permission for Weinsier and his camera man to report from the sidewalk in front of the school. The station also made it known that its parent company frowns on its reporters doing their jobs while packing heat. Since Jeff didn't tell corporate he was legally carrying a concealed weapon, his goose may be cooked. Hopefully not. The guy's in-your-face reporting style is one of the things that makes Channel 10 News worth watching.

UpDate (11/13): All charges are dropped against Weinsier by the State Attorney's Office because it couldn't find any law he had broken. By the way Weinsier described to his colleague Rad Berkey how he was handcuffed for hours while kept in the backseat of a police cruiser and in jail, don't be surprised to see a lawsuit against the Miami-Dade County Schools in the near future. And rightly so.

UpDate (1/9/08): Weinsier files suit against Miami-Dade County Schools and the school cops that arrested him.

Commuter train connecting Palm Beach to Miami Gets Studied to Death

It's been going on since 2005, but experts will continue studying the feasibility of using the FEC railroad tracks to build an 85-mile long commuter rail corridor connecting Palm Beach with downtown Miami until at least 2010.

It's times like these that make you consider the merits of a dictatorship. What this state needs is a transportation czar that says, "Enough with the studies! Let's build the goddamn thing already!"

Every city the tracks pass through-- with the exception of Miami Shores-- wants it yesterday. We say start laying the second track NOW. Since the FEC wants to continue using its tracks for freight, a second line is a given. Just start building it. According to Miami Today, property values will rise and development will increase along the corridor. A commuter rail line will also attract big business and the rat race will get a whole lot easier.

Miami Today newspaper jumps on our bandwagon regarding the proposed $1.2 billion Port of Miami tunnel

We've been saying it officially on this blog since July 29, 2006 what publisher Michael Lewis opined on in his October 18th Miami Today piece:

The main argument for not using the existing rail line at the port is that only about 11% of it heads north-- "not enough to make a rail option economically feasible," according to port spokesperson Andria Muniz-Amador.

We say: Hogwash!

Whatever it costs, using the rail line as proposed will be way cheaper than building a $1.2 BILLION tunnel. To even consider such a plan reeks of madness!

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!

It's a sad day in Mudville when the Florida Marlins chose the Orange Bowl site for their new stadium

The Orange Bowl site for the proposed Florida Marlins baseball stadium is not "downtown"-- something the Marlins have been insisting upon from the get-go. But then, beggars can't be choosers.

A Miami-Dade County bond advisory panel approved using $50 million in bond money earmarked for renovating the Orange Bowl to build the new ballpark for the Marlins. Estimates to ease arterial traffic congestion should the stadium get built in the old Little Havana neighborhood will be more than $12 million. That's $62 million that could have been spent on a downtown stadium that sits at the nexus of a proposed transportation hub that encourages the "New Millennium pioneers" living downtown to take in a game and those living outside of downtown to leave their car behind to catch a train from Palm Beach, Metrorail from Dadeland, and a monorail from the beach.

Too bad for us. And still we beat our drum...

UpDate (10/26): The Marlins are having second thoughts about moving into the soon to be vacant Orange Bowl spot. By not being in their preferred downtown location, they believe they will ultimately lose money. Because of that, they want to renegotiate the lease and reduce their contribution to building the new baseball stadium. Frustrated City of Miami commissioners have given the team until December 13th to put up or shut up. If a stadium plan isn't set by that date, "we move on," according to Commission Vice Chairman Joe Sanchez. Too bad someone in the city doesn't have enough foresight-- vision-- to offer them the MVB downtown site as an alternative.

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.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Select a Presidential Candidate Quiz: It's fast! It's simple! It's the American Way!

As a Public Service, MVB is proud to cop this presidential candidate quiz posted by WQAD-TV out of Moline, IL. We believe it will save all Americans lots of time by helping them cut through the political rhetoric to get to the presidential candidate they really share common ground with. Based on 11 simple questions, it's
the fastest way we know of to cull the herd of presidential hopefuls. You also may discover, as we did, that the one you thought you'd vote for, didn't share as many of your ideas as did another candidate. In fact, the one that came up for us, we were only vaguely familiar with. Maybe it had something to do with that question of whether or not we had any problems with a cross-dressing president. We don't. As long as he keeps it in the White House.

The Most Important Ad in the History of Advertising: The Gorbachev Louis Vuitton Ad

Advertising exists to make you buy something-- anything. The above ad is currently on the back page of Time magazine. I love it. Although it doesn't make me want to buy into the Louis Vuitton mystique, it does make me want to believe that the world is headed in the right direction. The fine print below the picture in the ad reads:
A journey brings us face to face with ourselves.
Berlin Wall. Returning from a conference.
Talk about "less is more" and "a picture is worth a thousand words." Not since Roberto "Bobby" Bermudez' discovery of the world's first advertisement has there been anything as important and humanizing as this.

Friday, October 19, 2007

City of Miami publishes first Historic Preservation E-Newsletter

The City of Miami has released its first E-Newsletter on Historic Preservation. For all of those interested in the subject, please go here to sign up.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Britto vs. Seijas: Round One

Looks like the Miami-Dade County Commission's designated bully is at it again. This time, Natacha "I want my water" Seijas is picking on everybody's favorite diminutive Brazilian artist Romero Britto. She doesn't like his nearly gratis* designs for proposed new MIA attire. She thinks they're "tacky" and said "My maid wears better clothes than this." She particularly doesn't like the one design that is supposed to be a flamingo. She thinks it's really a snake. Besides not liking manatees, it also appears she doesn't care much for snakes either especially when they seem to be rising from the wearer's pants.

Which raises other questions only a shrink might care to dig deeper for answers. As for us, we're too afraid to go there.

Although we don't take Britto as seriously as others do, we think his "nearly free"* designs for the county are worthy. They will allow passengers something to gaze upon when standing in long, slow moving ticket lines or while waiting interminably for their luggage. Mixed with the proper dosage of hallucinogens, visitors staring at the MIA shirts won't mind any inconvenience since the only thing they will recall will be the "groovy, undulating snake charming shirts." In fact, we're inspired to offer the county at nearly gratis rates a slogan of our own to go along with the shirts: "MIA, man, what a trip!"

*The deal brokered by Visitors Bureau Chief Executive William "Bill" Talbert would cost the county $15,000 to own the rights to 48x48" canvas by Britto. Valued at $150,000, this art could also be used for county workers at the Port of Miami. This uniformity would help establish Miami, in Mr. Talbert's words, as a "destination."

For what? As a "fun and sun capital" for sure, but never as a place that would even know real art if it came up and bit it on it's cellulite dimpled ass.

UpDate (11/24): It appears the original design has been toned down. Today's Miami Herald shows the shirt split down the middle (how appropriate for a committee decision). One half is flamboyant Britto, the other (and back) is just one color (pale yellow). The "snake" is history. 1,500 have been ordered (5 per employee). Officials are considering selling replicas in MIA shops. BTW, the article mentions MIA wants to use the shirts to show the "friendliness of MIA staff." Maybe you should get Britto to paint smiles on their faces. Bright colored smiles with his signature/logo buried in them somewhere.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fuck FCAT!

Science teacher Shawn Beightol, now freed from draconian exile by the Miami Dade County Schoolboard, will lobby before them Wednesday on behalf of the Miami Professional Educators' Association, which he co-founded following his release last year from the bus depot. Mr. Beightol will be endorsing board item H-16, which asks the august body to re-consider needless FCAT testing, the scourge of student and teacher alike.

"Over testing and micromanaging are not necessary if you hire and provide for competent, qualified, impassioned teachers," he says. "Take the emphasis off over testing, useless School Improvement Plans, and micromanaging your teachers. Invest in professional educators and liberate them to educate Miami."

Hear! Hear! Now if someone will only listen. Hopefully Mr. Beightol will be surrounded by supportive teachers and students at tomorrow's meeting when he makes his point.

Even going down-- and this is not about Caragol-- the shitter, there's always a gleam of hope for Miami*

A day rarely passes in this city when you don't come away feeling weighed down with the slime of mankind who seem to have taken up residence all around you. In today's Miami Herald we're reminded of a guy who left a five-year-old girl to die in the Everglades-- which she did, getting eaten by an alligator. Or the scum buckets who live among us who prey on the gullible through phone party chat lines, characterized by the paper as the poor man's Internet "where often young people longing for socialization" opt for a chat line.

Too bad for them. According to Assistant State Attorney Stacy Glick, "patching into party lines is like playing Russian roulette with a telephone keypad."

In enough instances to make you sick, some people here are getting raped and murdered when they meet for the first time.

But then when you think all hope is lost for us, the paper runs a story about research scientists at the University of Miami working to discover a cure for prostate cancer. Under the leadership of Dr. Mark Soloway, chairman of urologic oncology at UM, doctors Bal L. Lokeshwar and his wife Vinata Lokeshwar with their assistants Dominic Lyn and Luis Lopez are on to perfecting a simple, drinkable cure based on a rare plant found deep in the Amazon jungle. None of them are bothered by the fact that they will not profit financially. Bal Lokeshwar sums up their approach when the drug is finally perfected years down the road: "We don't celebrate. We're scientists. Our reward is to do the work, not win the prize."

Amazing. Makes you proud to live here.

*Please vote for Caragol!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dogs In Danger

Dogs in Danger is a worthy cause. works with more than 120 shelters nationwide that destroy dogs. Although it appears there are no participating shelters in south Florida (typing in our Zip Code brought up a shelter in Texas), the site allows "Man's Best Friend" a last shot at a reprieve from the Grim Reaper. In fact it tracks each dog's destiny with death with a countdown before it is exterminated. For those that were not saved in time, the site offers an "In Memoriam" page. Some stats to think about:
  • More than 4 million dogs are euthanized in the US each year.
  • The top reason dogs are dumped in shelters: Moving.
  • As you are reading this, 24 dogs have been killed.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Only In Miami: Candidate's campaign (and we're not making this up): If you like oral sex, vote for Caragol!

Hialeans, please, please vote for Jose "Pepe" Caragol. Or, as his radio and TV ads say, "Si te gusta el sexo oral, vote por Caragol por sonsejal." He's everything many of you have been looking for-- and he may not even require you to worship him after he gets elected! The guys here at MVB know he's everything we've been hoping for. Of our crew, only Bobby Bermudez lives in Hialeah-- which frustrates us to no end since none of us will be able to vote for the 76-year-old Caragol.

UpDate (11/6): Caragol wins a seat on the Hialeah council.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

MVB's Monuments 'r Us: Miami's Gateway Arch to the Americas

According to today's Miami Herald, Miami-Dade Commissioner Carlos Gimenez thinks the county should consider building a massive Ferris wheel at the Port of Miami, duplicating England's hugely successful London Eye and an even taller one being built in Beijing for next year's Olympics.

We would like to counter offer with another re-cycled idea: MVB's Miami's Gateway Arch to the Americas. Yes, it's a rip-off of the St. Louis Gateway Arch but it serves a specific purpose other than reminding everyone that Miami is the Gateway to the America's. If moved further west along Government Cut, it could act as a pedestrian bridge/tourist attraction between the Port of Miami and Watson Island (Yes, security would be a problem but not insurmountable). The scale is the same as the St. Louis Gateway Arch and if the same technology has been warehoused since it was built, i.e, the climbing cranes that rode the outside of the original arch, perhaps they could be used to build this East Coast version at bargain discount prices.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Sondheim pens new musical for Carnival Center: "It's Only Information!"

Miami-- Seven time Tony Award winner Stephen Sondheim (West Side Story, Gypsy, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, Sweeney Todd and more) is turning to Miami for inspiration for his next musical. It's Only Information! is based on the City of Miami Police Department's unique take on reporting crime. Where most cities report carjackings, hold-ups, and muggings as crimes, Miami sees it only as "information"-- something the Chamber of Commerce encourages since it keeps crime statistics down.

When Mr. Sondheim heard this, he immediately dropped to his knees and thanked God because he'd been in a long creative slump and was wondering where his next big idea for a musical would come from.

"'It's only information' was all I needed to hear," he said. "It became the musical's main refrain. I guarantee you everyone will be humming this song in no time. The song-and-dance number with all the cops alone is Tony material."

Vince McMahon, is co-producing the musical, his first since being appointed CEO of Carnival Center where it will make its world debut. "Who needs Broadway," Mr. McMahon said. "We've got a half billion dollar performing arts center. Let's put it to work."

This will be Mr. Sondheim's first launch of a musical outside of New York. When asked if he was a little anxious working with Mr. McMahon who's had no experience with musicals, he said, "Vince is a great guy. Once you get past his muscles, it turns out he's a Broadway aficionado. Hell, the guy even took ballet and tap dancing lessons as a kid. You should see him do a shuffle-off-to-buffalo in a top hat and cane. The guy's a Renaissance Man, I tell ya. We're a perfect match."

When asked how he felt about debuting a musical in Miami, a town without pity for musicals, Mr. Sondheim said, "That's the only part that's got me worried."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Vince McMahon appointed CEO of Miami's Carnival Center

Miami-- Vince McMahon, founder of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), has been named the new CEO of Miami's Carnival Center for the Performing Arts. Unable to stop the hemorrhaging of millions of dollars a year due to mismanagement and poor booking decisions by its former CEO Michael Hardy, the Center's board of directors voted unanimously to fire Hardy and replace him with "someone who knows what the people want." With a profit of nearly $100 million for the second quarter, Mr. McMahon and his WWE seem to know what the people want. His first order of business was to initiate the new advertising campaign "Less Bach. More Batista." Batista is the reigning world heavyweight champion and Bach, of course, is some old dead guy no one listens to in Miami except for maybe a couple of nearly dead guys and their wives. As Mr. McMahon says, "Batista sells tickets. Bach pushes up daisies."

Mr. McMahon's first production will be Batista taking on Goldberg in the "Ultimate Smackdown" for the World Heavyweight Championship. Both halls at Carnival are sold out with the Knight Center being used for a live TV feed from the larger opera house across the street.

The Discovery Channel inked a multi-million-dollar deal for the exclusive rights to broadcast these events. They will be marketed under the following slogan: Welcome to full contact culture.

County commissioners stumbled over themselves to present Mr. McMahon with a key to the city which he promptly ate before challenging them to a fight to the death. When Commissioner Seijas stepped forward to take him on, he turned to his leggy babe reps and yelled, "Run away! Run away!" And they did.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Damning Words if ever there were ones for the Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust

In the Miami Herald's continuing series Poverty Peddlers, today's front page story succinctly summoned up in just a few sentences what the Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust did and didn't do:

"...the Trust's investments...reveal a pattern of favoring insider firms above mom-and-pop enterprises while banking on risky real estate ventures that undermined the agency's own mission...During the past eight years, the Trust provided just $267,000 to seven small businesses around this intersection (NW 62nd St & 7th Ave) while dividing up nearly $3 million among a politically connected nonprofit group, an out-of-town development company that has been slammed by the county's inspector general and a local developer caught up in a scandal over the county's housing agency headquarters."

It goes on but the more you read, the more you want to cry as new names join the list of "usual suspects" and you soon begin to wonder if there is any hope at all for this community and you stop reading. To vent your frustrations, you blog, hoping the action is worth the effort to affect positive change. But as each day goes by living here and with each new series the Herald seems to start on a regular basis about public corruption, you know it probably isn't and begin fantasizing about pulling a Charles Bronson on the greedy bastards who started it all.

UpDate (10/17): Sandy Walker, the long-time Miami-Dade County lobbyist and sister of County Commissioner Barbara Jordan, pleaded guilty to defrauding the Miami-Dade Empowerment Trust by submitting false tax returns under a $200,000 loan agreement with the non-profit anti-poverty agency. She was sentenced to six months of house arrest followed by three years of probation. Ms. Walker was once chief of staff to County Commissioner Dennis Moss.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Meet Ingrid, Tracy, and Dave

Once upon a time in America, you could hear almost anything on the radio. Times, of course, have changed. In the south Florida market, choices are limited. In larger cities like New York, Boston, and Philly, you can hear this song on the radio because their demographics are more diverse and sophisticated enough to have an audience that will support folk music. If it hadn't been for an Old Navy TV commercial, the boys here would never have discovered Ingrid Michaelson and her great song The Way I Am.

Or, thanks to Folk Alley on the Net, we wouldn't have found Tracy Grammer and the late Dave Carter. When we first heard this song, Gentle Soldier of My Soul, we actually made an effort to track it down and buy the CD without knowing anything else about the duo. Since then we've bought all of their CDs. Carter passed on in 2002 at the age of 49, three years before we had ever heard of him and his magical songwriting talents. Tracy Grammer continues on with haunting and evocative CDs of her own.