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.

The proposed residential development was conjured by Coral Gables-based Land Star South Dade Holdings LLC, along with South Dade builders Manuel Mato, Daniel Lopez, Michael Latterner, and Wayne Rosen. The consortium is offering the city $1000 per unit the Homestead City Council approves for development in exchange for building on the wetlands. Later this month, the city council is expected to vote on the proposed deal, which must also be approved by the Miami-Dade County Commission.

But approval would create a quandary for the Homestead-Miami Speedway, asserts Curtis Gray, the racetrack's president. Gray is employed by Daytona Beach-based International Speedway Corp., the company hired by the city to operate and stage motorsports events at the Homestead track, including the season finale of the NASCAR Nextel Cup in November. "A residential development is completely incompatible with what we are doing here," Gray insists. "When you build homes that close, the speedway will become a nuisance to residents. This deal just doesn't make sense."

The builders' lobbyist, former Homestead mayor and erstwhile Miami-Dade County Manager Steve Shiver, downplayed Gray's concerns. Shiver asserts: "The builders have also promised to notify potential buyers that the houses are being built only a few hundred feet away from the speedway."

The Junk Is a Sickness

Karen Fierro is on a mission to stamp out junk mail, at least from the 900-unit North Miami Beach high-rise condominium complex where she resides. "This morning I went down and the garbage bin was filled to the top completely, and some of it was actually falling off to the floor," Fierro testifies. The overflow happens several times a week when Fierro and her neighbors transport bundles of direct mail flyers directly to the trash can.

Fierro took a nonpaper-using course of action. First she called two of the culprits, The Flyer and the Miami Herald, and asked to have her name stricken from their direct-mailing lists.

Direct marketers can be as difficult to pin down as al Qaeda cells. But Fierro made a discovery by calling the U.S. Postal Service, whose employees tipped her to the Detached Address Label (DAL). A DAL, which is about the size of a postcard, must accompany all pieces of bound matter that mail carriers cram into our boxes. The name of the junk mailer should appear on the DAL. Search and destroy.

Conspicuous Consumption Is So Passé

Like a shark, a veteran club promoter and aspiring real estate magnate must keep moving to survive. Such is the case for ubiquitous entrepreneur Michael Capponi. Capponi normally uses a weekly e-mail newsletter to keep remoras and other hangers-on informed of what's going on with his parties at B.E.D. and elsewhere, but along with the call for table reservations, he recently included the following addendum to his normal bulletin:

"I'm moving to a new house and would like to lease my apartment at the Green Diamond ... It is a luxurious three bedroom, three bath, SE corner, ocean front apartment with unobstructed bay and city views, completely upgraded with mahogany paneling and marble floors throughout including balconies, crown moldings everywhere including all doors. The unit has a private bar, Jacuzzi bath, washer and dryer and most high end amenities. ... A must see, definitely one of the finest units in the Diamond buildings, $4500 per month."

Did the recipients of the e-mail -- mostly people who have highly refined free-drink detectors owing to low actual cash flow -- respond in droves ready to pay monthly rent roughly equivalent to the price of a 2001 Kia Sephia? Capponi wouldn't tell The Bitch.

Real-Life Rock Tales

This past May at I/O, Fort Lauderdale garage-rock favorites the Heatseekers took first place at Little Steven's Underground Garage Battle of the Bands, a rock and roll competition sponsored by Bruce Springsteen's guitar-strumming sidekick, radio host, and The Sopranosstar Little Steven Van Zandt. The victory earned them free gear (a guitar, a bass, and an amp), recording time at Trails of Smoke Studios in Hollywood, and a chance to vie for national supremacy against nine other hopefuls at New York City's Irving Plaza on July 23.

Unfortunately the prize didn't include four free plane tickets to the Big Apple. So on July 16 guitarists Owen McLean and Chris Maggio, drummer Chuck Loose, and bassist and New Timescontributor Terra Sullivan packed their gear into a Honda Odyssey minivan and set out on a road trip. Far from a vacation, the industrious foursome worked hard for their gas money, cranking out shows in Jacksonville, Atlanta, Chapel Hill, and Philadelphia. After arriving in Manhattan on July 19, they knocked out several performances, including one at Saint and Sinners in Long Island.

Finally the Heatseekers battled an amped-up field at the climactic Irving Plaza showdown. "All the bands were really good," says Sullivan. "Nobody expected to win. They were just happy to be there." In the end, Chicago's Blackouts and Providence's Muck and the Mires prevailed.

The Heatseekers drove back home, though not before squeezing in a set at Trash in Brooklyn. They also got "tons of exposure," Sullivan cheerily notes. The MTV2 special on the competition will air at 9:00 p.m. Saturday and will include brief sets by the two winners as well as by Nancy Sinatra, the Strokes, and the remaining live members of the New York Dolls.

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