Friday, November 30, 2007

Give a soldier a phone card for the holidays

This post is from a suggestion by my daughter. MVB is open to all activist ideas of this nature. If it fits in with our politics, we'll be glad to get the word out.

"Thanks to Bush Administration cuts to the Veterans Administration (VA) budget in recent years, veterans recuperating at VA hospitals aren't even allowed long-distance time to call home to their families over the holidays."*

AT&T Inc. will give away more than 50,000 prepaid phone cards by the end of the year. The total 2007 donation is valued at more than $450,000. With the help of the USO, the cards will be distributed to military personnel who are stationed overseas.

If you would like to personally make a donation, you can click here. It will take you to a website sponsored by Veterans for Peace and CREDO Action. Your tax-deductible contribution of $10.50 will get two-hour phone cards into the hands of three deserving veterans this December. A contribution of $52.50 will get phone cards into the hands of fifteen veterans.

MVB is against the war and want our troops brought home yesterday. Until the madness finally stops, please consider giving a soldier a gift that can't be beat-- talking to a loved one back home.

*From Veterans for Peace website.

Only In Miami: Dead drivers are a problem but "live drivers are worse."

Herzog & de Meuron Miami Art Museum design unveiled

We really, really want to like the proposed new Miami Art Museum design from Herzog and de Meuron but...

Our hopes have fallen as flat as the new building's roof. Unlike Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, it doesn't jump out and grab our soul.

And, it makes us anxious. It looks less than hurricane proof-- despite reassurance from a Herzog/de Meuron spokesperson that the post and beam design will be "extra stiff" (perhaps Viagra should be hit up for naming rights. Seriously). We suspect the first major hurricane to hit Miami will make MAM Gone with the Wind. The hanging vines are cool, but again we believe they will be scattered like soggy flotsam after the first summer thunderstorm. Perhaps the architects from Basel should have spent time in a hurricane before setting pencil to paper.

Not to sound completely negative, we do like the "floating" gallery space and the open-air feeling of the design-- which will come in handy with the first tidal surge. It reminds us of Gehry's design for an extension of the New York Guggenheim that was nixed after its projected costs approached a billion dollars. His titanium "clouds" floated over the water.

We also like how the Basel Boys' design beckons everyone unlike the current museum which is cut off from the public by imposing walls.

But then we read that the underground parking garage is "exposed." The last thing I want to see is a car at the museum, to be reminded of the rising cost of gas and a world just outside the door that is reeling and may soon collapse from all kinds of economic horrors.

In any event, this is a working model as Terence Riley, director of the museum, takes pains to point out more than once in today's Miami Herald article and on the video that can be found here. Changes undoubtedly will occur. Hopefully.

UpDate (9/19/08): Here's an example of what we could have had had there not been a convocation of sycophants living and working in Miami. It's the Gehry designed Guggenheim for Abu Dhabi. Click the image to make it larger.

UpDate (11/2/08): Or we could have had something like this, Zaha Hadid's 7,500s.f. Chanel Pavilion, a traveling homage to the company's famous purse "2.55." It is currently on display in New York City's Central Park until November 9th before its 700 pieces are dismantled and reassembled in London. Too bad Miami isn't worthy enough to make the cut. There couldn't be a more fitting city for it during Art Basel (December 4-7th).

Or place: Bicentennial Park, on the same plot of land reserved for the second rate Herzog & de Meuron monument to stunted dreams. It would look great sitting along the water's edge in Bicentennial Park and would speak volumes of what we could have had instead of what we will have, a flat roofed auto mall that instead of lifting our spirits and reminding us of our potential as humans, squashes all hope with uninspiring design. Perhaps that building, following the skyrocketing rate of suicides attributed to its opening, will be required by law to post this sign in the county's three official languages of English, Spanish, and Creole to the unsuspecting: Abandon All Hope to Those Entering Here.

MVB suggests we buy the Chanel Pavilion on clearance sale after it has its run and make it our new art museum. The Herzog & de Meuron can be built where it rightly should go: along the Palmetto Expressway with all the other car dealerships. I'm sure Maroone AutoWorld will be able to use it for another one of its brands. And, although the Chanel Pavilion may seem small, it is more than enough space for Miami's public art collection which, if we are not mistaken, contains a handful of paintings and a couple of sculptures. To see a slide show of the Chanel Pavilion in NYC, click here. To see the official site for the traveling exhibit, click here. It includes a slide show about the building's design (Exhibition/Statement) narrated by Ms. Hadid.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tampa Bay Devil Rays unveil new baseball stadium proposal

Yesterday the Tampa Bay Devil Rays unveiled their new waterfront baseball stadium proposal. Unlike Miami's, which looks like it is trying to shun its location, this design embraces everything we love about living here: sunshine and ocean breezes. We like it and hope it sees the light of day. The 34,000-seat stadium appears it will face the same hurdles of getting built as our stadium has. Devil Ray officials hope to see it open for the 2012 season. We wonder which one will get built first? Hopefully not the Miami one. It's ugly, doesn't challenge the spirit and the location (the old Orange Bowl site) sucks big time.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Verticvs "Stiletto" Erectvs Confessicvs

I would have made a great woman.

Perhaps I was one in another life. Who knows? In any event, I can't get enough of stilettos. In fact, I love them so much, I built a custom trike around one. Talk about a babe magnet, hoo-wee, the stories I could tell trolling Ocean Drive. Although I've never put them on and tried walking around in them (it's purely aesthetics for me, just like my affectation for everything in leopard prints, old school flames-- retro rods, not retro babes-- and a backward turned Kangol), I know they're not easy to walk in. So it was of great interest to me when I stumbled upon an article in today's Miami Herald about how to do just that. Kathryn Wexler, the fashion diva at the paper, revealed the secret-- and, as a public service to women everywhere (including my daughter who didn't think it was so funny soliciting a boyfriend for her on this blog), trannies, and closet cross dressers, here's the low down on a quick fix for walking gracefully and painlessly on the highest of heels:
  1. Find a cobbler.
  2. Have the cobbler remove the lift, the tiny platform on the bottom of the heel.
  3. Saw off the same amount from the heel.
  4. Reapply the lift.
  5. Add a thin rubber platform beneath the ball of the foot. In "cobbler-speak," this is called "rubberizing the sole."
  6. Apply shoes to feet. Walk with your head held high while singing this song:

The Usual Suspects: Miami-Dade County Commissioners vote 8 to 5 to push back the Urban Development Boundary

The Urban Development Boundary isn't supposed to be touched or moved an inch. It's been there since 1989 to protect ourselves from over development and encroachment of our wellfields and recharge areas, working farms, and environmental lands vital to the health of the Everglades and Biscayne National Parks. Yesterday marked the third time Lowe's came before the commission to request extending the boundary further west so that they can build another home improvement super store. Despite county staff recommendation NOT to do it, 8 commissioners did. They are: Bruno Barreiro, Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Joe Martinez, Javier Souto, Dorrin Rolle, Barbara J. Jordan, Natacha Seijas, and Audrey Edmonson.

They should be ashamed of themselves.

Environmental activists have sworn to file a suit to stop the project if county Mayor Carlos Alvarez refuses to veto it first.

In any event, it now goes to the state for a third time. Twice the state, which oversees such matters, voted against extending the boundary. Let's hope they remain consistent.

For those commissioners who stood firmly against such a cockamamie notion, we applaud them heartily. They are: Carlos Gimenez, Sally Heyman, Dennis Moss, Katy Sorenson, and Rebecca Sosa.

UpDate (12/5): Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alarez vetoes the resolution.

UpDate (4/25/08): The Miami-Dade County Commission votes 9-4 to move the UDB. Even if Alvarez vetoes the vote, the commission has enough votes to override it. Next step: litigation. The state will oppose and we predict the county will lose. Right now, the people have lost thanks to these short-sighted, visionless, usual suspects: Bruno Barreiro, Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Audrey Edmonson, Barbara Jordan, Martinez, Dorrin Rolle, Natacha Seijas, Rebeca Sosa and Javier Souto.

UpDate (4/30): Alvarez vetoes the vote. Whoop-te-doo.

UpDate (5/7): The county commission overrides Alvarez's veto 8 to 4. Those who voted against this asinine proposal and who should be lauded are: Commissioners Carlos Gimenez, Dennis Moss, Katy Sorenson and Sally Heyman. Now it goes to the state. Expect another court fight.

UpDate (7/18): The State overrides the county stating "the city and the county skirted their own growth-management rules." The State believes "there is still enough land inside the development boundary for commercial growth." According to Mike McDaniel, chief of comprehensive planning, "There is no need for additional commercial land." Lowes vows to fight on.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Joe Martinez: The Most Dangerous Man on the Miami-Dade Commission

Joe Martinez is the powerful chairman of the Miami-Dade County Commission. He is also a man who can't take "No!" for an answer because developers are again knocking on nature's door with proposals to extend the Urban Development Boundary. We're already living on the edge of the Everglades but extending the boundary (in this case for a Lowe's home improvement center) is too much. He should be like fellow commissioner Katy Sorenson who won't even consider such an option. His reasoning for opening Pandora's box: Loew's promises to build a flyover which will relieve traffic congestion in that neck of the woods. How sad.

UpDate (4/25/08): The Miami-Dade County Commission votes 9-4 to move the UDB. Even if Alvarez vetoes the vote, the commission has enough votes to override it. Next step: litigation. The state will oppose and we predict the county will lose. Right now, the people have lost thanks to these short-sighted, visionless, usual suspects: Bruno Barreiro, Jose "Pepe" Diaz, Audrey Edmonson, Barbara Jordan, Martinez, Dorrin Rolle, Natacha Seijas, Rebeca Sosa and Javier Souto.

UpDate (4/30): Alvarez vetoes the vote. Whoop-te-doo.

UpDate (5/7): The county commission overrides Alvarez's veto 8 to 4. Those who voted against this asinine proposal and who should be lauded are: Commissioners Carlos Gimenez, Dennis Moss, Katy Sorenson and Sally Heyman. Now it goes to the state. Expect another court fight.

UpDate (7/18): The State overrides the county stating "the city and the county skirted their own growth-management rules." The State believes "there is still enough land inside the development boundary for commercial growth." According to Mike McDaniel, chief of comprehensive planning, "There is no need for additional commercial land." Lowes vows to fight on.

Monday, November 26, 2007

City of Miami announces first annual End of Hurricane Season Parade

Today, in a ceremony at Miami City hall, mayor Manny Diaz presented Elita Loresca, the Storm Goddess, and Sir Manny Mojito and the Knights of the Mesa Redonda with a proclamation designating December 3rd as the first annual "End of Hurricane Season Parade." Ms. Loresca, former weatherperson at WSVN-Fox in Miami, will be the parade's first Queen. Sir Manny Mojito, who claims to be the King of Little H, will be the King of the parade and his Knights of the Mesa Redonda will act as the Queen's court.

"If it hadn't been for Sir Manny and his Knights of the Mesa Redonda, we're sure Miami wouldn't have been spared from a major hurricane or two this season," Manny the Mayor said. "Because of their constant vigil at the altar of the Storm Goddess, praying night and day while on their knees in chainmail, it's the least we can do for such a great group of guys."

"So why did you invite Ms. Loresca?" a New Times reporter asked.

"I can think of two reasons," the mayor replied with an unsure laugh.


The mayor motioned with his eyes toward Ms. Loresca's impossibly large and perfect breasts. So did King Manny.

The reporter shook his head sadly. "But didn't she threaten to destroy this city if Sir Manny and his knights didn't free her from her contract with Channel 7?"

The two Mannies paused and looked at each other before turning to Ms. Loresca. She looked up and smiled sweetly at them before cupping her impossibly large and perfect breasts.

They-- the two Mannies, not the Magnificent Magical Mammararies-- turned to the reporter. "Yeah, so?" they replied in unison.

"She's a fooking goddess!" Sir Belvedere of Plymouth, yelled. "She can do anything she fooking wants!"

The reporter looked away with a roll of his eyes. "Okay. Relax. Sorry I asked."

Unfortunately, Sir Belvedere saw the roll of the reporter's eyes. He pushed aside Ms. Loresca and the mayor and jumped off the podium with his broadsword drawn. The reporter, bloodied from an earlier encounter covering a similar story, turned and ran for his life.

"C'mere, you fooking mincing coward and take it like a man!" Sir Belvedere screamed.

The reporter paused for a moment and bent over. "Oh, I hope so," he said.

"Die Sodomite! Die!"

The crowd standing before the podium scattered as Sir Belvedere charged through waving his great broadsword to and fro but he was no match for the swift reporter who escaped with his life.

"Ladies and gentlemen!" Diaz yelled over the din below him. "The Parade will hopefully follow every hurricane season on the first Monday in December. Besides having floats and marching bands, we'll also have floats and marching bands from New Orleans and other cities spared the Goddess of the Storm's wrath. Won't that be fun?"

No one was listening. But many were screaming and running.

"I mean, since we no longer have an Orange Bowl parade, what could be better? Or more meaningful?"

Diaz turned to Ms. Loresca. She was flashing her impossibly large and perfect breasts at Sir Manny. Transfixed, he could only stare and drool. It wasn't pretty. Diaz began to wonder if the parade was such a good idea after all.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Models for new Miami Art Museum to be unveiled during Art Basel

Sometime between December 4th and 6th the Herzog & deMeuron designed Miami Art Museum will be revealed to the public for the first time. So says Terence Riley, the museum's director in the December issue of Smithsonian magazine which profiles Art Basel.

We believe that "unveiling" will be the most important part of Art Basel. Depending upon what the wunderkinds of Switzerland have come up with, it could be as important to architecture and aesthetics as the unveiling Pericles must have enjoyed when he showed his plans for the Parthenon to the Athenians 2,400 years ago. This year's hot artists may or may not outlive their hype a decade much less centuries. Some may not even make it to next year's fair. And that doesn't matter because most of those works will never be seen by the common man since they will be scooped up by wealthy investors for private collections. But the art museum may well be around a lot longer. Especially in the minds of men. Whether or not it is as inspiring as the Parthenon remains to be seen. We can only hope because Riley is quoted as wanting a "great museum" instead of an "iconic" one. We can only ask, why can't they be the same?

UpDate (11/30): The working models were unveiled today. Although the Miami Herald reports people are tripping over themselves to praise the design, we are underwhelmed.

Tim Tebow, take my daughter. Please.

Let me be the first father to officially offer up his daughter to the greater glory of football and the Christian church (not necessarily in that order). Her name's Diana and she is currently attending UF. She's a beautiful kid, has a great sense of humor (I hope), loves crafts, and can cook and sew (how many young women can say that). And, unlike most girls who may be showing up at your Sunday school class just to throw themselves at your godlike body, hoping to get you to notice them, my girl would never dream of ever demeaning herself-- or you-- in such a matter. She is truly worthy and would make a great wife and I would make a great father-in-law. If you would like to meet her, please advise and I will be happy to forward her email addy to you. Best of luck on the Heisman.


UpDate (12/8): Tebow wins the Heisman, the first Sophomore to do so. Still no word on his interest in my daughter.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Miami Marine Stadium Air Races

What's wrong with this picture? It's another figment of our fevered imagination. If any city in the world should have its own air races, it's Miami. London gets them over the Thames. Rio along the Copacabana. Perth over its harbor.

Thanks to Red Bull, even Istanbul, Budapest and Abu Dhabi get air races. All over water.

But what do we get. We get this and a five year old unfulfilled promise from Miami mayor Manny Diaz to restore the Marine Stadium.

We are so unworthy.

UpDate (8/27/08): The "experts," AKA city planners/consultants, came back with the latest designs for Virginia Key. Despite an earlier charette where the public overwhelmingly agreed that the Marine Stadium should be saved, it is glaringly absent from this latest iteration. In its place: Two 5-story parking garages, a "dry-stack" boat storage for 700 boats, 41,000sf of "small scale retail," and Olympic-sized swimming pools among other sundry items. The city and its experts have effectively destroyed one of the few things that makes Miami unique in the world and replaced it with the pedestrian. The Marine Stadium was the only one of its kind on the planet. Now, because it might be "cost prohibitive" to fix-up, we have become a lesser city, less unique, and a people less worthy of being taken seriously, at being looked upon by others as blessed, lucky, special and cool.

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

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

Later today (it was a slow one and I was inspired by today's events) I sent this email to Red Bull:

Red Bull should consider bringing its Air Race to Miami-- and funding the restoration of the Miami Marine Stadium in exchange for naming rights, i.e., Red Bull Miami Marine and Air Stadium. I'm sure a deal could be arranged where Red Bull gets a piece of the action for all events held there-- and not just the annual air race. Please see my blog post on that topic at:

Thank you,

Friday, November 23, 2007

Miami-Dade teachers get the shaft...again.

The following is an excerpt from Shawn Beightol of the Miami Professional Educators Association (MPEA) to its members regarding the school board's suggestion that due to the sluggish economy, contributions from the county to teacher health care will need to be cut back with teachers expected to fill the gap which is estimated to be around $1,200.00 annually:

"If this happens, this negates any financial gain of this so called 'historic' contract that I am proud to say I and many of you voted "no" on. I hate to say it, but this is what the 'radical,' 'angry,' 'unpredictable' teachers who stood with me were prognosticating...this isn't new this year. This is business as usual. This is balancing a bloated bureaucracy's budget on yours, mine, and the ed support peoples' backs yet ONE MORE YEAR.
And every year we let them.
Every year they count on us forgetting the sacrifices, the concessions of the year before.
Except now, with unparalleled inflation in housing costs, their tyranny is exposed. Your homes are 2nd mortgaged, your credit cards are maxed, your meals are tuna helper (even though you have a masters degree).
It's not supposed to be like this. At least not while THEIR health care is being paid. While their parking fees, cell phone bills, conference travel are being paid. If we were all suffering the same, we could justify the mother Theresa 'suffer for the kingdom' BS.
But it's not equal.
We are supporting a bureaucracy that exists solely to provide rich paychecks for those accustomed to being paid well from the masses. Baby-doc and Papa-doc in Haiti knew how to live richly off pennies from each member of their is this ANY different?"

The next MPEA meeting will address this question and others Tuesday, November 27th at 730 PM at the Education Faculty's library of the College of Education's Ziff Ed Building (ZEB), room 330 (NOT FIU's library).

MVB wishes the fledgling MPEA the best of luck in finding enough members to make the school board take notice. Again, it appears that the board is changing its teachers into thousands of angry, frustrated Howard Beales, people who are "mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore." In our opinion, if the school board makes teachers pick up the difference in health care costs, they should strike. Unfortunately, this in unlikely to happen because most teachers live from paycheck to paycheck and the prevailing union now in charge doesn't have the gumption or resources to pursue that course of action.

And so it goes.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Don't get us started on the Miami Circle...

We're against its current approach to preservation so, when we saw this recent email from the City of Miami Planning Department's Historic Preservation E-Newsletter about the Miami Circle, we couldn't resist reminding our gentle readers what a lost opportunity it was not to combine development with preservation. When this "thing" in the picture above is one of the more recognizable objects uncovered at the site, it makes us wonder: what the hell were they thinking when they bought the site from a developer for $26.7 million eight years ago to save it? Today, the septic tank has been covered in sand to preserve it until funding can be found to build an observation tower or some other kind of building for all of those (3 people?) who have an uncontrollable desire to stare at a bunch of holes in the ground.

How to become an American

That's the title to Michael Putney's article on immigration in today's Miami Herald. He suggests that our community should focus on "assimilation" as the way to curb crime and the high school dropout rate, one of the highest in the nation.

Good luck on that. Although the article is about Haitians, its really about all the other immigrants living here who just don't get it: you're living in America, land of opportunity, take advantage of it and forget about where you came from. That place never did anything for you because if it had, you wouldn't be here now.

Unfortunately, it seems immigrants of high school age don't value a free education or the "old school' work ethic to achieve the American dream. Those that do graduate from high school can barely read and write. The ones that don't graduate, enter our world with no skills but lots of in-your-face attitude. Putney reminds us that most of the gangland style killings last year were between Haitian gangs warring over turf.

He also uses the controversial Andres Oppenheimer article a few weeks ago that foresees a "generation of disaffected and angry young Hispanics, the children of undocumented parents, who strike back against those they see as the oppressors" to make his point that young Haitians will be leading the rebellion here.

We see it coming from both sides. Good luck to us all because it's worse than you think.

Sasquatch wins: Simon Cruz gets tossed through the windshield of Miami Beach politics

Mattie Herrera Bower is the new mayor of Miami Beach. Lord help us all. Expect resistance to change and the stonewalling of the BayLink project. With her Svengali, ex- obstructionist knee-jerk reactionary mayor David Dermer standing beside her, the status quo should pretty much remain the same for the next four years. Cruz screwed up royally when he brought out the "ethnic card" pitting the Jewish vote against everyone else. The TV spots portraying Bower as a dumbkoff didn't help either. Maybe real ideas instead of the tried-and-true safe topics of clean streets and fighting crime might have helped his campaign. But that would have gone against the prevailing stinking winds of local political campaigns: don't promise anything that might not appeal to everyone.

The only good thing that happened was seeing Deede Weithorn get elected as a city commissioner by a measly 65 votes. Talk about a close election.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Random Thoughts from MVB

  • The race for mayor of Miami Beach has always been disappointing with its lack of ideas, but now it has also grown uglier. It appears our candidate of choice Simon Cruz has pulled off the kid gloves and is going bare knuckle against his opponent, the grandmotherly but dangerous Mattie Herrera Bower. Her side began the scuffle with a lie and now Cruz is responding with half-truths implying she's not for the Jews (her husband's Jewish) and TV ads that present Ms. Bower as someone who isn't qualified to shoulder the responsibility of the mayor's office. The TV ads show Ms. Bower over and over again admitting she doesn't have a clue when it comes to what is being presented to her at the commission meetings which is true but these spots make it look like grandma's being picked on by a much younger man. This could come back like a sucker punch in the back of the head at the polls this Tuesday. It reminds us of the beef jerky commercials. You don't mess with grandma Bower just like you don't mess with Sasquatch:

  • We can only hope Cruz isn't hurled by the voters out of City Hall like Sasquatch hurls those idiots that are picking on him. Why? Because he's the most qualified and open minded of the two. He's open to revisiting BayLink which is probably the most important issue facing Miami Beach (but which no one running for office talks about). Unless a mass transit system is championed between the Beach and the Mainland, the quality of life will continue to be less than it could be. Only Cruz has been willing to face the inevitable-- unlike Bower who seems to fear and mistrust outright any idea that will get traffic off the streets it if means accommodating those living on the mainland. So, despite Mr. Cruz's willingness to mix it up with grandma Bower, please consider the alternative and vote Tuesday for Simon "Messin' with the SoBe Sasquatch" Cruz.
  • Vote for Deede Weithorn, too, for Miami Beach commissioner. She's in a very close run off and shouldn't be. She is so qualified. Voters should have been stumbling over themselves to get her elected the first time.
  • According to the Miami Herald, "More than 71,000 residential property owners in Miami-Dade and Broward failed to pay property taxes for 2006 and delinquencies are growing as costs climb and the slump deepens." The total unpaid amount: $365 million. In Miami-Dade, that's 41,544 residential property owners (one in 16 households). You don't have to be a financial guru to predict that this crisis will be as devastating as a direct hit by an Andrew-class hurricane if something isn't done to bail people out. Too bad most of these homeowners drive to and from work. What with the rising cost of gasoline, it is going to become even more difficult to pay taxes and make their mortgage payments. Now, if this region had a working commuter rail running north and south and a monorail running east and west, they could scrap their cars in favor of keeping a roof over their heads. Unfortunately, that option isn't there.
  • Miami-Dade County wants to add "Miami-Dade" to Carnival Center. We're against this idea because of two things. One is aesthetics. Less is always more. The other is ethics. "Miami-Dade" is synonymous with slime, bribes, incompetence, waste, political correctness, and back-room politics. Don't make us think about that every time we look at the buildings.
  • What's with all the weathermen and women retiring and skipping town? Do they know something we don't know? First it was Elita Loresca. Now, after a blatantly orchestrated and prolonged exit for retiring weatherman Don Noe that's built around getting local "celebrities" to pronounce how sad they are and how much they're going to miss him through staged video spots every night for the past two weeks, it began to dawn on us that quite possibly these weather professionals might really know something we don't. Should we be worried? Sir Manny Mojito and the Knights of the Mesa Redonda think we should. After a short break following their valiant and body breaking effort to keep hurricane Noel away from our shores, the boys in chainmail have started a 24-hour "worship-a-thon" in front of the Goddess of the Storm altar. UpDate (11/24): Now it appears that some of the people who know better when it comes to hurricanes are taking it a step further. Instead of skipping town or retiring, one of them has actually had the temerity to die on us. Herbert Saffir, who came up with the hurricane classification system known as the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, died today at the age of 90. What? He couldn't hold out until the end of hurricane season?

UpDate (1/10/08): This is the last post that mentioned Carnival Center. As of today, the name will change to Arsht Center for the Performing Arts because Adrinne Arsht agreed to donate $30 million and Carnival didn't have a problem with it. Ms. Arsht sold her Total Bank last year for $300 million so it's not like she's going to miss it. Now, if they can only come up with a way to get people to buy enough tickets to make it profitable.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

2008 Corvette: The Cartoon Vette

It appears the Corvette designers are getting younger and younger, taking their styling cues from cartoons. At least that's our take on the new Vette. As soon as we saw it we started to laugh which was followed by an uncontrollable urge to pump high octane gas into the company car. You can see the new Cartoon Vette at the Miami Auto Show going on now at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Miami is like the wild west with a twist-and-a-half

You know you're in Miami when the first three minutes of the 6pm News chronicles:
  • Another armored car robbery (this is the third one in three weeks)
  • A SWAT team was called out to extract a crazed husband from his home
  • An alligator kills and eats a suspect on the run (this is the twist part).
We're sure in Wyatt Earp's eyes, Dodge City would have looked like Mayberry compared to Miami. Oh, yes, one more irony: the guy killed by the gator was running from Miccosukee Police* when he jumped into a lake behind their edge of the Everglades casino (this is the twist-and-a-half part, sometimes called double irony or, as we like to call it, double dutch dark energy at work).

*Earlier posting said it was the Seminoles. Rick, from SotP, thanks for pointing it out to us (see comments) and thanks for reading MVB. You are worthy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Surfin' USA Miami: the world's first urban surf pool

Enhance your blogging experience by pushing the button:
According to today's Miami Herald, "Miami city officials are concerned that plans for the redesign of Bicentennial Park are too elaborate and pricey." Well, since it has been brought up, we thought we'd remind who is ever interested that one plan that has never been discussed is ours-- creating the first urban surf pool in the boat slip separating AA Arena and Museum Park. We think it's a natural. Funding might be a joint venture between the city and a surf pool builder (there are more than one). Open 24 hours a day, it would also provide free entertainment to those sitting on grassy berms on each side of the surf pool. And, of course, it would be another already-in-place venue for a future Olympics. If you agree with us, you can voice your opinion at a public meeting tomorrow from 6:30-8:30pm at City Hall, 3500 Pan American Drive. If you can't make the meeting, you can still contact the City of Miami planning department here to let them know how stoked you are on this idea. Until then, keep hanging ten, dude!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A message from the Miami-Dade County Schools to its best teachers: Keep your mouths shut and do your job or else

What's with the Miami-Dade County Schools? It appears to have a penchant for taking its best teachers who have the temerity to ask questions that threaten the system's status quo and, through heavy-handed draconian measures, remove them from the classroom, banishing them to non-teaching positions in an effort to punish and intimidate.

Shawn Beightol was the first to feel the wrath of the bureaucrats downtown. This gifted and beloved chemistry teacher made the mistake of using the schools' email system to send out emails "of a political nature." For that offense, he was yanked out of the classroom and sent to the bus depot to sit and stew and, we guess, to think better of ever trying to fuck with the system again. After 17-days, Beightol was allowed to return to the classroom. He is now organizing the Miami Professional Educators Association which will give teachers a real choice and a pro-active union that will demand and expect more from the school board. Serves those fat cat administrators right!

Now the bullies downtown are at it again. This time they're picking on another stellar teacher. Patrick "Taz" Williams, equally beloved by students and parents at Wm. H. Turner Technical Arts High School, has been removed from the classroom where he taught Spanish because he had the audacity to ask to see a budgetary report. When Principal Valmarie Rhoden ignored his numerous requests, he contacted Regional Superintendent George Núñez and wondered if there might be something to hide?

How dare he! The next day he was informed that Rhoden had filed a harassment complaint against him and was removed from campus. He is not allowed to communicate with students, parents or employees and now spends his time sitting in a room at the Regional Center III that is, in his words, "extremely cold," while waiting the outcome of his "review."*

Which is interesting because Mr. Williams was only doing what the state has asked him to do: his job. He is an elected member of the Educational Excellence School Advisory Council, a committee designated by Florida Law to be the "sole body responsible for final decision making at the school relating to implementation of the [School Improvement Plan]” (1001.452). In effect, the Miami-Dade County Schools may have interfered with his ability to carry out his duty which may be a violation of the law.

In a letter written to the school board in support of Williams, Beightol states:

"Taz, as a highly educated African-American male who speaks 7 languages has been able to do what many consider impossible - he was able to ignite his minority urban students to exceed the boundaries of mediocrity and pass the Spanish AP exam 16/18 and 18/18 with District commendation on this achievement. Why is this important to point out his ethnicity and gender? Because our children are hurting for passionate, honest, men of integrity in their lives. I know. I grew up without a male role model and Taz is the kind of man that would have made me want to learn. The 'proof is in the pudding' - Taz' students did disproportionately better than the other AP students in the area. Taz is a good teacher and should be returned to his classroom at the earliest for his students' sake. He should also be commended for trying to fulfill his mandate to represent the school's and its stakeholders' best interest by doggedly asking questions."

Hear! Hear, Shawn! Maybe this time the "system" that bludgeons kids' and teachers' spirits everyday with FCAT tests picked on the wrong guy. Again.
*These tactics remind us of Guantanamo and wonder if ex-intelligent officers aren't moonlighting for Rudy Crew and company.
UpDate (11/23): Mr. Williams has been out of the classroom now for 22 days.

Michael Putney Explains it All

What's wrong with Miami-Dade County government? According to Michael Putney, one of south Florida's most respected journalists, it's the Miami-Dade Charter Review Task Force. And we agree. This week the Miami Herald ran a column he wrote regarding his personal observation of the task force at work. It's not pretty. Their job once every five years is to review the county charter and to recommend changes to make it better. He attributes the embarrassing state of county affairs (which gives this blog its meat) to the new strong mayor (we're not so sure that's a bad thing) and a 1993 court decision mandating single-member districts (we whole heartily agree with that assessment). Unfortunately, it appears that this task force won't be stopping or reducing the "parochialism of the most toxic kind along with self-interested commissioners whose top priority is protecting his or her own turf."

"The task force could stop or reduce this practice, but gives no indication that it will. What a wasted opportunity if it doesn't. I attended a task force meeting last week and came away disappointed and depressed. There are several knowledgeable people among its 21 members, but they're being drowned out by others who reflect the short-sighted self-interest of the people who appointed them."

Who are these bully-boys: lawyer/lobbyists Miguel de Grandy and Jorge Luis Lopez.

According to Putney, they basically "framed the issues and drove the discussion. Not surprisingly, both argue against any substantive charter changes."

Putney is still optimistic however. He's "convinced" the task force's chair Victor M. Diaz Jr really means well and wants the panel to "act boldly and produce some meaningful recommendations." To that end, he urges "anyone interested in fixing the problems with Miami-Dade government to call or write Diaz and the task force members:

Or show up at the next meeting November 20th at 10am at County Hall. As he writes, "Get in their face. Remind them that they have a unique opportunity. It would be a shame to blow it."

Right on, Michael!

Shaq knows best: Vote for Cruz

Shaquille O'Neal, a famous Miami Beach policeman, has endorsed Simon Cruz for mayor of Miami Beach. You should too. Get out and vote November 20th or vote early on the 17th or 19th between 9am and 7pm at Miami Beach City Hall or the North Shore Branch Library. Stop provincialism in its tracks, embrace responsible change and vote an open minded gentleman into office.

The Orange Bowl's last hurrah is tonight

After tonight, the Orange Bowl becomes a fast fading distant memory. Following tonight's game with the 'Canes taking on 23rd ranked Virginia at 7:15, the fabled bowl will be torn down. In fact, according to the Miami Herald, some locals are already ripping the seats out for souvenirs.

How sad. The stadium's ignoble fate is symptomatic of every public arena down here. We suspect next up on the hit list will be another example of the white trash mindset of our public officials: the Miami Marine Stadium. It too was left to rot away into nothingness and memory. Whether or not it can or will be salvaged is still a mystery.

We have advocated saving both. When we wrote that the Orange Bowl would come in handy for future Olympic Games, we were laughed out of the stadium, so to speak. We saw the stadium being re-imagined as an organic structure that appeared from the street as a giant wall of bougainvilleas with red, purple, burgundy, and orange bursts of color against a leafy green background. Aluminum planters welded to the sides of the old structure and connected with an automatic watering system would create the appearance of a living, breathing monument to nature's dazzling beauty. The idea was that someday, the "Bougainvillea Bowl" would be connected to downtown via MetroRail or a dedicated monorail link. This would create an "Olympic Village" because all the venues-- American Airlines Arena, Miami Arena, downtown baseball stadium-- were close by and connected by mass transit. Not to be.

We are also dismayed by the lack of vision found in our local government and the amount of time and energy they invest in pursuing the idea of building a baseball stadium on the Orange Bowl site where access to mass transit and expressways is non-existent. We still believe our Miami Megaplex idea is the way to go because it puts the baseball stadium downtown over existing MetroRail and future commuter rail and a BayLink monorail. The new downtown with all of the condos about to come online will supply many of the fans. The rest can leave their cars behind-- even those living as far north as Palm Beach-- by taking the train or, hopefully, a monorail. And, of course, attaching the Miami Arena to the baseball stadium/hotel would help both survive through using the space for conventions, concerts, and tractor pulls.

Miami is a city of compromises starting with MetroRail (at one time, rubber tired vehicles were considered) and most recently the location of Carnival Center, a performing arts hall split down the middle by a major highway. The land was donated by Knight-Ridder, once parent company of the Miami Herald. The best location available at that time belonged to the public but it wasn't considered. A Watson Island location with architecture befitting its place could have rivaled the Sydney Opera House. But it was being saved for something bigger and better and not so public: Miami Island Gardens.

So it goes.

UpDate (11/11): The Orange Bowl has the last laugh on the university that betrayed it. The 'Canes lose to Virginia 48 to nothing.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

After the Vote

There is a Blog God after all. For all of those who forum on the Net through personal observations about politics and the arts (like us), it looks like we won't be short of inspiration thanks to yesterday's elections. Of the candidates we championed, it was refreshing to see that the City of Hialeah is as horney as it wants to be with the election of Jose "Pepe" Caragol whose campaigning slogan "If you love oral sex, vote for Jose 'Pepe' Caragol," seems to have worked.

In Miami Beach, there will be a runoff between Simon (no nickname) Cruz and the grandmotherly but dangerous Matti Herrera Bower. Cruz is a gentleman and has been conducting a non-smear campaign which is saying a lot for this community. He has to battle misleading information, some of which comes from the Miami Herald-- which has yet to make a correction. Mr. Cruz is open to BayLink unlike his runoff opponent who is at best a David Dermer obstructionist who basically wants to keep Miami Beach the way it was before it became popular. We hope you will consider going back to the polls in two weeks to ensure Miami Beach will get a better chance at facing the inevitable-- change-- by electing Simon (this guy needs a nickname) Cruz.

Finally, Deede Weithorn is also in another Miami Beach runoff. With an engineering degree from MIT and a practicing CPA, she probably is by far the smartest person ever to run for office in that city. She's also open to revisiting BayLink as the mass transit solution to getting large amounts of people from one side of the bay to the other-- which, for no other reason, is why you should vote her into office. At the forum where the Miami Herald misquoted Cruz, the candidates were asked about BayLink. Ms. Weithorn's opponent (whom we will not mention) didn't respond. Not a good sign. Ms. Weithorn, on the other hand, not only made a compelling reply, she made an effort following the forum to seek us out to talk further. We liked that and were thoroughly impressed with her up-close-and-personal one-on-one. Go ahead and give her your vote.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Miami's Park West and Soul Street U.S.A

Miami's Park West is back in the news. Overtown, Miami's historic black neighborhood, and other parts of this run down downtown business district have been grouped together by the City into a CRA called Park West. Designed to attract investors and developers via tax incentives and special use permitting, Park West's most prominent sign of its existence has been nightclubs. Low rent and 6am closing time's make it a no brainer for anyone wanting to open a club.

When we first heard about this years ago, we thought a sign at Biscayne Boulevard and N.E. 11th street marking the main entrance to Park West and the biggest nightclubs was in order. Besides featuring a revolving disco ball and a Jumbotron screen featuring ads from the clubs, it also came with its own graffiti-- "Party" was tagged partially over "Park." It was our personal contribution to a great City of Miami idea. It went over like most of our ideas: Nothing. No feed back. Nothing.

Now we hear that a Boca Raton company known as The Falcone Group has been quietly buying up much of Park West for several years. Art Falcone and Marc Roberts revealed in the Miami Herald that they now have more than 20 acres that will include "soaring office and hotel towers, condos, shops and plazas immediately west of Biscayne Boulevard."

Falcone and Roberts are true visionaries and deserve an
We hope they will also consider our other proposal for Park West which is "Soul Street U.S.A" since it includes much of what the dynamic duo is proposing-- except that it focuses on Overtown's African American heritage. Falcone and Roberts assembled lots abut the Miami Arena and another MVB idea: The Miami Megaplex which includes our proposal for a downtown Miami baseball stadium built over an existing MetroRail line and a proposed FEC commuter rail and BayLink monorail.

To see an architectural rendering of what Falcone and Roberts are proposing, please go to one of our favorite local blogs: BoB.

The Miami Herald is currently posting a slide show of the project here but, since they never lock links, there are no guarantees that this link will be functioning in the future.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Note to Larry Wilker, new CEO of Miami's Carnival Center of the Performing Arts: Miami has no bookstores

Talk about dark energy (aka "irony"). Today's Miami Herald reports that the city, home of the largest book fair in the country if not the world, hasn't one bookstore. The paper asks:

"Can Miami claim to be a center of arts, culture and commerce without a major bookstore in its city limits? How can a city have a new half-billion dollar performing arts center but no bookstore?"

Good questions. The reasons given for that are the same reasons why finding what sells at the troubled Carnival Center will not reflect traditional productions of the past because most of the population doesn't speak English and probably hasn't read a book since it was required to in high school.

And it's not like its going to get any better. The Naples Daily News reports that the dropout rate from Florida high schools has never been worse. Half of the state's high schools are considered "Dropout Factories." This is four times the national average. In Miami-Dade, 13 high schools are considered to be "Dropout Factories" including one middle school. What was most shocking to those of us who have lived here longer than most was that once A-list high schools are now on that list: Miami Beach and Coral Gables.

What happened? A whole slew of things of which we won't get into here, but the main thing to consider is that the general population-- despite the big, gleaming half billion dollar performing arts center sitting smack dab in the middle of it-- doesn't care about the arts, i.e., the traditional forms of opera, ballet, live theatre, and symphonies. According to the experts, they even have an aversion to Broadway.

So, short of forcing them to board buses at gun point to be driven to Carnival Center to see a show, Mr. Wilker is going to have his work cut out for him.

Perhaps the only way to fill those empty but very expensive seats is to give everyone living in Miami-Dade county a graduated rebate on property taxes or the cost of obtaining a driver's license depending upon how many shows they can show they saw. For instance, if you show up to get your driver's license and can show proof of purchase of say, five tickets to the opera, you get half-off the cost of the license (since opera tixs are the most expensive, a better deal might be five tixs = a free driver's license). Or, the more tickets you buy for any program at Carnival, the less tolls you have to pay on our clogged highways (this could be discounted through a computer tie-in with the county's SunPass program).

Hey, these are just some ideas and they're all free from your friends at MVB-- unlike Wilker (and his sidekick Scott Shiller) who will be getting $40,000 a month to come up with something better. Unless you want to dumb down culture or, as Carnival's board of trustees chairman suggested, "let the audience decide," what other options do you have?

UpDate (11/3): Today's Miami Herald reports that Justin Macdonnel, the programming director, resigned yesterday. Wilker will assume that roll. Part of Wilker's plan to save the center is to produce more original programming-- the opposite approach of Michael Hardy whom he replaced. Hardy thought the only way to cut expenses was to stop producing. Wilker's "inclination is to present more...otherwise you're just a renter."

What does this all mean? Coupled with the head of the board of trustees prime directive to "let the audience decide" on programming, it will be interesting to see what Wilker wroughts.

UpDate (5/15/08): 6,400 south Florida high school kids (that's 1 in 5 Dade seniors) won't graduate this spring because they couldn't pass FCAT. Considering what it takes to pass-- students don't even have to show they are working at a 10th-grade level (passing scores are lower than that)-- it's worse than you can imagine.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Found on the Miami Craig's List today: Topless Female Cocktail waitress needed

And who doesn't need a "Topless Female Cocktail waitresses"? We're guessing it's for a Thomas Kramer affair, possibly tied-in with Art Basel. The entire ad can be found below:

Topless Female Cocktail waitresses needed
Reply to: Date: 2007-10-31, 1:09PM EDT for private party in miami beach estate In 6 Weeks I will be hosting a professional private celebration party and will need topless cocktail waitresses. No sex or touching will be requested. I will be paying you $250.00 per hour plus tip to serve drinks and offer friendly conversation. You will simply be wearing black lingerie which will be custom fitted for you which you will be allowed to keep. You will have 4 outfit options to choose from. The outfits will be black, sheer panties, garter belt, pantyhose and a black bra or corset that will cup the lower half of the breast exposing the breasts and nipples. Also cat eye masks will be available if you choose to use them. Because this is a visual requirement, you must be in excellent physical shape. Be comfortable with your breasts exposed, comfortable with your body and be able to make others around you comfortable as well. Requirements are: your breasts must have a full firm shape, with nice nipples and a clean shaved body, happy energetic personality is also a must with no negativity. Please reply to this ad with a recent photo, if you have any photo’s with exposed breasts and feel comfortable emailing them this would be preferable however it is not required. I am looking for a specific look, if I do not reply to your email please do not take it personal; you simply did not fit the look I have in mind. If you have the look that I am looking for I will contact you to give you outfit options and to also schedule an interview. This is an ongoing event for a multi millionaire so you will be able to count on doing this at least once a month if you choose to. Again this is a professional event where visual fantasy is only expected.

If it is an Art Basel related event, Lincoln Basel, MVB's art critic, who really could care less if the waitresses are topless or not, would love to attend.

Sir Manny Mojito, King of Little H, and the Knights of the Mesa Redonda are recognized for their unselfish devotion to saving Florida from hurricanes

"We are humbled," Sir Manny replied to the many keys of the city-- and one from the state-- that were given to him and the Knights of the Mesa Redonda for their unselfish effort in keeping south Florida and the state hurricane-free this season. The ceremony took place on the steps of the Dade County Courthouse where dignitaries agreed a parade was in order following the end of hurricane season in four weeks.

"But," Sir Manny added, "the hurricane season still isn't over yet and we mustn't be too quick to revel. Our job is far from finished. Anyway, we owe it all to Elita Loresca, Goddess of the Storm. If it weren't for her giant--"

"'Elita Loresca'?" a New Times reporter interrupted, "Didn't she skip town for greener pastures?"

"She didn't skip town," Sir Belvedere of Plymouth scolded. "She's on a quest."

"Yeah, a quest for fame and fortune."

"Sir," Sir Manny replied angrily, "I'll have you not defame the Goddess of the Storm!" He drew out his big broadsword. "Stand ready to answer for your blaspheme!"

"Whoe, dude, lighten up. You wouldn't harm an unarmed reporter would you? It's not like I'm Jeff Weinsier or something."

As it turned out, they would. But before they could-- impale the reporter, that is-- Chief Timoney stepped in and, with the intimidating authority invested in himself, escorted the man through the huge crowd to safety. How the reporter was later found dazed and confused in a back alley, his face bloodied beyond recognition, would be an unsolved mystery since the man, besides losing his dignity and a front tooth, also lost his memory.

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