Riptide

WTVJ-TV (Channel 6) senior correspondent Ike Seamans doesn't take infirmity lightly. Or quietly. Back in November 1997 he had a heart attack right there onscreen. That's right. He taped his suffering then played it for the world during sweeps week. Truth be told, his ticker is doing better than his station.

This month Seamans takes his suffering to a national level. The Columbia Journalism Review, in an article about stress, notes that the 61-year-old newsman suffered from the malady. Indeed Seamans described for the magazine a long-ago incident that forced him to slow down. Burnout hit him like a pile driver. "I couldn't do it the way I was doing it before," he told CJR. "I wasn't comprehending the stories as sharply."

Now Seamans says he's back to warp speed: "I am not an anemic little fart. I am working more hours than I have ever worked before ... [but] it's a hell of a way to get famous."

Last Tuesday Herald columnist Liz Balmaseda gushed that sugar baron Alfonso Fanjul, whom she called (yuck!) "Alfy," "commands an eclectic universe." Fanjul "defied all the usual caricatures" and received a "big 'gracias' from Jorge Mas Jr." for throwing a fundraiser for President Clinton. Nice fella, huh? What she didn't tell you was that, before writing the fawning piece about Fanjul, ol' Alfy had invited her to the shindig at his Gables Estate manse. Most journalists weren't given access. They had to glean information from a pool reporter, who shared information with colleagues. Everyone else had to pay $25,000. Moreover Balmaseda heaped all this praise on a man whom even her colleague Carl Hiaasen has called "grossly wealthy" and someone who "uses the Everglades as a toilet."

Balmaseda insists that she was given "an exclusive as a reporter" to cover the gathering. "I took notes and interviewed people," she explains.

Al Scaletti has all the luck. First authorities investigate the 33-year-old bail bondsman for bribing jail guards. Then 27-year-old Daniel Walker, Jr., alleges that Scaletti knocked out eight teeth during a botched apprehension. And now Scaletti has been picked up for armed burglary with aggravated battery.

But there's a bright spot for the public in all of Al's bad fortune. There's absolutely no chance he'll violate any bond agreements. See, Judge Ronald Dresnick denied bail because of the risk that Scaletti might leave the area. The purported bruiser faces a possible sentence of life in prison because he allegedly used a gun to hit Walker.

Was it just Riptide's imagination, or did that guy on WLRN-FM (91.3) really say that? Yep, Sean Toner, a fill-in newscaster who works for Shadow Broadcast Service (which is contracted by the public radio station) reported the sad case of 22-year-old James Scavoni recently. Scavoni, it seems, fell overboard while on a cruise aboard the Destiny, a very large ship operated by Carnival Cruise Lines. Despite a lengthy search, his body didn't turn up. He was likely dead.

Toner reported all this then made a joke: "Maybe it was his ... destiny." "I don't think it was in bad taste," he comments. "I do a lot of play on words, but not to chagrin [sic] anyone's personal feelings."

Round one in Madonna v. Madonna goes to Frank Pinter, the oft-married owner of the colorful Eastside restaurant near NE 79th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. A judge last week ruled that Pinter is due about $600. You'll recall that Pinter, owner of Madonna's Restaurant, sued his strip joint neighbors, Club Madonna, over an unpaid catering bill.

Pinter says he isn't sure whether he'll ever be paid, but that's not the point. "The money isn't what I went to court for," he remarks. "I went there to tell people that I don't cook for free."

One more thing: His nemesis at Club Madonna has changed the name on the marquee. It's Black Gold. Pinter has no plans to dump the Madonna moniker.

as told to Chuck Strouse

Tips? Call 305-571-7605 or e-mail Riptide@miaminewtimes.com

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