Swelter

Momentarily chastened, ready for the Wise Blood self-laceration routine, gradually drawn back into the land of sin. The Devil, as ever, making us do it, yet again forging an unholy alliance with the avenging constellation of the tabloid universe, perpetually prepared to smite the powerful. As ever, driven by the necessity of feeding the mawing succubus of a mortgage: more often than not, the wellspring of the world's eternal moral shabbiness. Appropriately enough, working on real estate matters, the true Miami art form. Oprah Winfrey's people looking at condos on Fisher Island. The penny press reporting on Cher's empire that infomercials built, spending a cool $1.5 million on a La Gorce Island house and promptly tearing it down to the foundation, taking advantage of rehabilitation tax credits. The rich get richer, and Miami gets glitzier, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, rumor has it, putting down a deposit on a megahome, either in Bee Gee or Stallone turf. Who knows, and given the long view, who really cares?

On to a private party, another journalist, one smart woman of the mainstream school, full of blissfully sordid stories. Local Haitian gangs operating as consultants on Caribbean corruption, joining forces with the Italian mob, crime making for strange bedfellows. The Gambino family turning Washington Avenue into one big Little Italy social club, infiltrating the parking nightmare infrastructure. The Moroccan underworld, pretending to be French for greater, and perhaps arguable, social acceptability, smelling money and jumping into the fray. One local modeling agency, within leaping proximity of a club infested with snatch and cash, nothing but a glorified escort service controlled by wealthy investors, most notably the scion of a fortune built on arms dealing. An ambitious Heidi Fleiss type pimping Russian girls imported from Brighton Beach: dicey hygiene habits, but willing to work hard for a chunk of the American pie. Professionals, unlike professional beauties, offering the virtues of discretion and diplomacy, not likely to bore one with their petty travails, all the split ends and cosmetic challenges.

Back to Espanola Way, the rich pageant of love and laughs concluding with a keg party, James Trotter and Kevin Arrow wrapping up an art installation called As the World Dies, the Eyes of God Grow Bigger. Arrow right in touch with the all-is-dust aesthetic: "You're so urgent, like someone's holding a knife to your heart." Shuffling home at an ungodly hour, reeking from the nectar of champions, riddled with shame and hubris. Distracted in a deserted parking lot, taking a meeting with ourself and muttering aloud, a suburban jeep with three evil teens A screaming maric centsn in a charming Latinate way A swooping in with the sickening inevitability of a kamikaze strike. For a moment, the ultimate number about to be called. Briefly considering going out in a blaze of glory, making the papers and all. And then the miraculous workings of salvation, the hand of God and common sense. Without a backward glance, breaking into a pell-mell scramble, a stray fist flying over our head. The jolly tormentors trapping us in a doorway for sport A feeding on fear like jackals A and then roaring off in a wake of contemptuousness. A world marked by imponderable mysteries, the elusive workings of grace, but one verity remaining certain: We'll simply have to get a better class of fans. That's no way to treat a star.

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