Swelter 20

Home to the badlands for sleep without dreams, waking up to yet another golden morning on the new horizon, smarting from various indignities, stylistic abortions, and a lingering chemical hangover brought on by a new appetite for antidepressant pills. For some reason, Nietzsche, the first prophet of doom, coming to mind: "Mankind can withstand anything except a succession of too many beautiful days." Like Florida, the state is a Day of the Locust frontier of hope, beauty, and thwarted fantasy, but something has gone wrong. Too many people are also pioneers of narcissism, tending their own gardens to a horrifying degree, isolated in spinning orbits of self-actualization while complaining about a lack of friends. Superficially polite, unless pushed, and not given to the art of making connections: an alienating gestalt, when you live, as we do, for the tonic of other people. And as with Miami -- the other asshole of the American dream -- there's a bubbling subterranean rage everywhere at once, an anger that comes when the promised land fails to deliver its bounty. A sustaining image of the trip being a society matron in a Rolls-Royce, gesturing out her window with a bagel in her hand, screaming bloody murder when the light turned green.

California, last-chance saloon in lifestyle hell, totally beyond, a boot camp of enforced jollification. The vibe had turned ugly: Day-to-day existence is irksome enough without donning a hair shirt and flagellating yourself on an ostensible vacation. In minutes, packed and ready to roll, and it's goodbye to all that.

Naturally, not being our usual perky self, neglecting the passion play of South Beach upon our return: Strange, since the your-money-is-no-good-here rounds remain one of our favorite precepts to a more nurturing lifestyle.

No doubt due to some harmonic convergence of the comp gods, the week all about musical cultures. An opportunity to dine chez Strand with Melba Moore, working her gotta-dance saga of major-to-minor fame -- eventually everyone winds up here. Another freebie frolic looming at Lua, emerging songstress Tami Hert celebrating the Epic/550 release of The Seal, produced by Desmond Child of Deston Entertainment Miami/New York. Tempted by it all, but content to loll in bed, a news flash drifting in: Chris Paciello and Ingrid Casares opening "Liquid" in the old Dune space sometime in early November. Ingrid's the best, and Paciello's Risk was a damn fine club A the dissipation possibilities are endless. It's our kind of town, this satisfactorily rank void: politically hopeless and unreasonable, terminally unpleasant, and yet interestingly insane, an unlikely pleasure dome wrenched from the swamps. The same old place, sweet home Miami.

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