By Michael E. Miller
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Munzenrieder
By Sabrina Rodriguez
By Michael E. Miller
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Luther Campbell
By Kyle Munzenrieder
During a demonstration of police gadgetry for the press this past Friday, the city's top cop gamely agreed to guinea pig a high-voltage Taser -- on himself. Timoney locked arms with police spokesman Delrish Moss and Sgt. Angel Calzadilla and went for it. Police trainers attached probes to the trio's pants legs; then there was a sound like a giant fly being zapped into the afterlife. The three men jumped.
The Bitch (who assures readers that the following is in fact a fundamental statement in many Irish Catholic manifestoes) was disappointed when the chief did not hurl the same invective -- "You're bad! Fuck you!" -- at the Taser that he had at a protester corralled during November's free trade protests.
Instead the chief, who claims to have previously twice experienced the searing of the hand-held device, exclaimed, "Jesus! I forgot how much that sucked."
Fry will be done.
Tomás Mestre has now truly earned his title as the king of dirt. Mestre is the politically connected (Alex Penelas fundraiser) waste hauler (lots of county contracts) who sued a Redland woman clean out of her house.
It started in 1997, when potential toxins cropped up in a Mestre-owned dirt dump in Ellen Perez's neighborhood. The dirt contained elements of arsenic and ammonia. County officials tested the area's underground wells to see if drinking water was contaminated. Perez read a county report and mistakenly interpreted it to mean that arsenic had intruded into her well; she said as much in the press. Mestre proceeded to SLAPP her down (that's Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). Through his high-priced lawyers Mestre claimed Perez "intentionally made false statements" about his company, Ouster, to put it out of business. He didn't have a chance of winning. And he didn't. The case was tossed. But it took three years -- three very expensive years for Perez and family.
"As a result of the long struggle over the Ouster facility and the lawsuit filed against me in June of 2001, my family and I are faced with the necessity of selling our home and leaving the area," Perez wrote in a letter to friends and supporters. Perez had private lawyers for the first year of the lawsuit. When she couldn't afford them anymore Michael Pizzi took the case pro bono.
"I'm kind of proud of the work I did on that case," Pizzi says. "In the end we exposed the county, we exposed him, and we got the case dropped."
The Bitch couldn't reach Perez, who has been sick in addition to her other woes. But her letter, forwarded by friends, couldn't have put it more succinctly: "It certainly seems slightly ironic that I spoke out against the activities of the Ouster Corporation to protect my home, my family, and my health, and have lost so much of it in the process," she wrote.
By the end of the summer, Miami will have lost two hip urban shops, M-80 and Osiel Store. The Design District-based M-80, which was co-owned by fashion writer, nightlife promoter, and woman-about-town Anna Maria Diaz-Balart and professional stylist Maria Barraco, shut its doors in May. "After two years, I felt I had gotten a lot out of it, and it was time to move on to the next thing," explains Diaz-Balart over the phone from New York, where she is interning with tres cool rock label Frenchkiss Records (home to Les Savy Fav and the Detachment Kit).
Meanwhile Osiel "Ozzy" Rojas has been slowly packing up his inventory of clothes, IDM records, and vintage toys. When he's done, he plans to set up an online vinyl store at www.adivisionofyou.com. "We've had a great response," says Rojas, who opened last year on Washington Avenue with the help of a few private investors. "But now I'm looking forward to doing other ventures."
Though both Diaz-Balart and Rojas say their businesses were modestly profitable, neither was able to significantly expand its customer base beyond the handful of local devotees who were more interested in cutting-edge sounds and independent designers than celebrity-spotting, played-out corporate fashions, and bad hip-hop. So does the demise of these stores, not to mention the recent closing of Miranda, mean the Magic City isn't ready for the underground culture currently thriving in New York and other major metropolitan areas?
Diaz-Balart says no, and points to other Miami spots such as b-boy shop YoYo and the art gallery/boutique OBJEX Artspace as proof that there's life beyond South Beach tackiness. "I don't want to say that the Miami market doesn't support [small boutiques]," she says, "because I think other people should try."