By Michael E. Miller
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By Luther Campbell
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We at New Times do not put out a "magazine," as some people mistakenly believe. We produce a weekly newspaper. We are in the news business. We know, for instance, that news is afoot when two vans from WSVN-TV (Channel 7) pull into our parking lot and telescope their antennas skyward. When we return from lunch and have to step over thick black cables, our sharp news instincts prompt us to investigate. "It's O.J.!" barks a man on a cell phone. "He's in the building."
Hey, hey! Just two weeks after New Times reported that O.J. is Miami's most public of celebrities ("The Juice Is Loose,"January 25), Simpson proves our point by visiting our very building. Earlier in the day he turned himself in to face charges stemming from a well-publicized December burst of road rage near Killian High School. Now word flies around our parking lot that Simpson posted $9000 bond, hammed it up for reporters waiting for him outside the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, grabbed some lunch, and then headed over to his attorneys' offices, which happen to be on the ninth floor of the New Times building.
He makes a grand entrance. Wearing a dark-blue denim button-down draped over a white T-shirt, and moving as quickly as his limp (ooch!) will allow, Simpson breezes through our lobby toward the elevators. Although flanked by attorneys, he catches the eye of two attractive female members of our sales staff. "I enjoyed the story you guys wrote on me," he says. He is being sarcastic.
For the next three and a half hours Simpson huddles with his attorneys and hosts a brief press conference, a media event during which he claims -- get this -- his total innocence in the traffic altercation. He held the press conference here, he says, because he didn't want a zoo of reporters camped out on his front lawn.
He has a point. While Simpson argues his integrity upstairs, our parking lot grows increasingly congested. The two Channel 7 vans are soon joined by trucks from Channel 10, Univision, CNN, and others. News crews who clearly have done this sort of thing before transform our parking lot into a base camp worthy of Elian. Reporters laze on folding chairs while technicians set up batteries of spotlights and silver reflecting screens.
The commotion distracts us from the stories on which we're working -- namely a six-part series of 10,000-word articles about some neighborhood activist with his knickers in a twist. Slowly we begin drifting outside to join the throng. Leaning against cars, we stare at the firing line of television cameras aimed at the elevator doors. A few of us wonder about the ambulatory abilities of the intern at a Spanish-language station, a beautiful young woman in a miniskirt and sky-high stiletto heels. We discuss Simpson's legal representation. While it is kind of convenient that Simpson's attorney works in our building, wouldn't it be better from a continuity standpoint if Simpson were represented by Elian attaché Spencer Eig? One reporter, walking outside to mail a birthday letter to his grandmother, runs into yet another cameraman guarding the front door. "We've got every entrance covered," the cameraman says. "We've got four cameras here in all."
Time passes with no sight of the former football great. We grow bored out of our skulls. Upstairs Simpson feels our pain. "I know it's a story if I'm involved," he says at his press conference. "But I'm sure a lot of you feel it was a waste of time hanging around outside all day." When he finally does descend into the scrum of cameras, he doesn't even bother to speak. He simply limps (still!) from the back door into a waiting Lexus SUV. Then he leaves. Soon so do the television trucks. All that lingers is a surprising melancholy, which we relieve by smacking each other over the head with cardboard tea boxes, looking for evidence of bruising. Maybe the Joe Carollo media circus still has a few openings.