1 Herald Plaza

Fortunately there is one South Florida media source poised to fill the blood-spattered void Rick and Sally will leave behind, a publication dedicated to giving its readers what it sincerely believes they want: the most sensational and horrifying tragedies the world has to offer.

Discerning readers of the Herald might have noticed the subtle shift, particularly among those stories chosen for display on the front page, in that precious viewing area "above the fold." A recent sampling:

November 30: "Gunfight Erupts Between Arafat Loyalists, Israeli Soldiers" (featuring a color photo of terrified Palestinians fleeing gunfire).

December 1: "The Wreck of the Silver Meteor: 70 hurt as Amtrak train smashes into truck" (color photo of the wreck).

December 3: "The End of the Cocaine King: Police kill Escobar during gun battle atop Medellin roof."

December 4: "Notorious Drug Baron Laid to Rest" (color photo of Escobar's funeral).

December 5: "Flying Date Ends in Tragedy" (color photo of the victim accompanied by this caption: "Courtney Hillman, 18, was found strapped to plane seat").

December 8: "Terror Aboard N.Y. Train: Gunman kills 4, wounds 17" (color photo of a tearful relative).

December 9: (Train follow-up) "Racial Hatred Drove Massacre Suspect." (Next to this report was a story about a 48 Hours broadcast spotlighting Florida crime. The headline teaser: "Dade leaders called Wednesday's network program negative, one-dimensional, and sensationalistic.")

Nothing could ever replace the Rick and Sally show, of course. But it's comforting to know that the Miami Herald is trying.

Special bonus item! A challenging test of your cryptographic skills. See if you can untangle this coded message from Herald sports editor Edwin "The" Pope. The sly master of obfuscation wrote this as the opening two paragraphs of his December 9 column:

"Mickey Mantle grinned that slow grin, the same kind a screen ape grinned, before he hit 536 home runs and made 20 American League all-star teams.

"No offense to baseball's mightiest Mick. So-called screen apes were idolized in northeast Oklahoma, where Mantle grew into one in the same mine his father worked. Screen apes were the only miners who could handle 16-pound sledgehammers and break rocks into small enough pieces to go through screens."

You Read It Here Second
New Times headline: "Free Wheelin'" (about Metro's shuttle service called "The Breeze," which runs a loop from downtown Miami through South Beach). Publication date: October 14, 1992. Herald headline: "Easy Riders." Publication date: September 26, 1993. Elapsed time: 347 days.

New Times headline: "Lessons of a Lounge Lizard" (about South Beach nightclub promoter Michael Capponi). Publication date: March 10, 1993. Herald headline: "SoBe Prince, 21, Already Veteran of the Club Scene." Publication date: September 12, 1993. Elapsed time: 186 days.

New Times headline: "Move Over, Morris" (about cat trainer Hector Castaner and his talented feline, Buster). Publication date: April 21, 1993. Herald headline: "Can You Teach an Old Cat New Tricks?" Publication date: October 29, 1993. Elapsed time: 191 days.

New Times headline: "Kids Just Wanna Have Fun" (about the growing popularity of amusement parks for kids). Publication date: August 4, 1993. Herald headline: "Kids Can Romp, Rock and Roll at Area Fun Parlors." Publication date: November 12, 1993. Elapsed time: 100 days.

New Times headline: "Rubber Match" (about a store called Condomania and its battle to advertise in the Southern Bell Yellow Pages). Publication date: August 11, 1993. Herald headline: "Condom Store Owner Fights for Directory Ad." Publication date: August 19, 1993. Elapsed time: 8 days.

New Times headline: "Man of Letters" (about the American AIDS Alert Association and its controversial leader, Bruce Gorcyca). Publication date: September 15, 1993. Herald headline: "Group's AIDS Literature, Letters Stirring Controversy." Publication date: October 6, 1993. Elapsed time: 21 days.

New Times headline: "Temple Tantrum" (about the conflict over the future of Temple Beth El in North Bay Village). Publication date: November 24, 1993. Herald headline: "As Battle Rages, Temple Struggles Along." Publication date: December 5, 1993. Elapsed time: 11 days.

"1 Herald Plaza" is open for business and is accepting all tips, rumors, internal memos, confidential documents, et cetera. Anonymity guaranteed! Call the editors or a staff writer at 372-0004. Fax: 372-3446.

MHPC's CubaNews reads, quite unabashedly, like a primer for would-be imperialists.

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