The Dead Only Quickly Decay

Were it not for all the delusional people The Bitch runs across, this column would be about 90 percent white space (the remaining 10 percent would, of course, be devoted to the welfare of pigeons). Fortunately the horror vacui bullet is dodged again this week, though the lead is buried -- alive.

Irving "Shelly" Fishman, it seems, has acquired insight into immortality through a lifelong flirtation with the Grim Reaper. Last month Fishman placed a cryptic ad in New Times that read in part: "Are you game for an adventure? You may sense the feeling of Death about me. It's the opposite! Those who befriend me and cooperate, will receive leniency from death." Fishman indicated that he would tell respondents what he knew for ten dollars. The ad gives a phone number and an address, and the warning: "Caution in transportation."

In great but disjointed detail, Fishman explains that in his 73 years, from Brooklyn to Berlin, he has escaped death by a hair's breadth so many times he feels a special kinship with wormwood. "I have the delusion I have kind of a situation with death," he says.

Fishman was alerted to his extra-mortality a few years ago, when he rented a room at the Clermont Hotel in Atlanta. "I got a thought in my head and I had never had it before in my life," he reveals. "The thought was that room was meant for people to be murdered in and that the room was in a parallel universe. I was paralyzed in the bed. I had to get out of the room."

So where do you go to assuage the shock of stumbling into a metaphysical snuff zone? Fishman went to a nearby Waffle House, where he was certain he saw a corpse walk in. Saw clouds in his coffee. Fishman swears he has a parking ticket "to prove I was at the hotel," noting the experience left him satisfied that he had peeked at the unknowable, and gotten away with his life. But then, back in Florida, he noticed people staring and laughing at him. He speculated that he must look like a corpse himself, further proof of his graveyard magnetism.

Death, it turns out, is a hell of a muse. "This may sound strange, but I have a pretty good idea of mankind's future," Fishman says. "There's more than one universe.... I've got a theory about who runs all the universes, but I can't say it over the phone."

Unfortunately no one has taken up Fishman on the offer to exchange his complete theories for ten bucks, although he has had a few phone calls. "I think it's a story worth hearing," he grouses. (One gem from the manifesto in progress is that Satan is not so much the devil incarnate as he is the god "who takes care of women from birth to death." The Bitch kind of doubts that.) Fishman adds that he's not trying to establish a new religion or anything, although he advises people of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, just in case. "I've had the thought that if you are trying to find out who runs the universe that might fall under the heading of religion," he reasons.

They Hang Brightly

Northbound drivers who take the Interstate 195 exit to Miami Beach and Biscayne Boulevard may detect some cool murals from atop the flyway. The twelve-foot banners on the side of the building at NW 27th Street and Sixth Avenue are blowups of the work of German photographer Thomas Ruff. The faces of a young man and woman stare calmly and not unhappily out at the traffic.

The building they are hanging on is the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, which is home to thousands of works of art belonging to developer/Museum Park opponent Martin Margulies. According to the collection's curator, Katherine Hinds, the murals have been on that wall since the place opened in 1999 and there are no plans to remove them or exchange them with something new anytime soon.

Can the Recruitment of Andrew Sullivan Be Far Behind?

According to The Bitch's sources at Miami's Only Daily, a so-called commuter street sheet along the lines of Chicago's Redeye may be in the offing.

A number of Miami Herald staffers say this is an unmedicatedidea for profit-minded Knight Ridder to pursue, not least because Miami HAS NO public transportation-using commuters to speak of. Knight Ridder's vice president of corporate relations (and father-in-law to Psycho actress Anne Heche) Polk Laffoon did not respond to requests for comment.

Developers Get the Checkered Flag

A group of South Miami-Dade builders is floating a kooky plan to buy 530 acres of environmentally sensitive wetlands from the City of Homestead to build up to 3000 new single-family homes.

The land is a stone's throw away from the Homestead-Miami Speedway, where, 260 days a year, souped-up racecars roar like rhinos dosed with large amounts of androstenedione. Adding insult to injury, the acreage was converted into wetlands ten years ago by city and speedway officials, at the behest of county and state conservation agencies, to offset the loss of sensitive lands used to build the racetrack.

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