By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
Lorie, who is a dapper but compact fellow, can't fathom how anyone would think he could challenge the imposing Pelaez, a tall and broad bodybuilder.
"The guy is three times my size and he is gifted with muscles," Lorie scoffed, adding that Pelaez was the aggressor. "When he elbowed me, he yelled, öYou are invading my fucking space' at me," Lorie recalls. "So I told him I was the owner, that I thought he had too much to drink, and I asked him to leave. I grabbed his cup to set it down on the bar and called security to escort him and his date out," Lorie said. "But he kept belittling me and threatening that he was going to ruin me."
Outside, Pelaez said he filed a complaint with a pair of off-duty police officers guarding the door across 40th Street at Grass, the impossible-to-enter Design District fortress. The officers questioned Lorie about the incident. "I found it offensive that the cops just took his word and wrote up an incident report," Lorie said. "They also told me that this wouldn't happen if I hired off-duty cops for security."
Miss MTV RegretsThough MTV hasn't called yet about a special Made episode starring The Bitch ("I Want to Be a Reclusive German Expressionist Film Director"), the network is at least pretty good about sending her lots and lots of press releases. Still, it was surprising recently to get a missive titled "RECALL RECALL RECALL," an attempt to get recipients to ignore or pretend they hadn't seen an earlier release about the hiring of Jacqueline Cantore as vice president for MTV Latin America, based at the channel's Miami Beach headquarters.
Turns out it wasn't the content of the release about Cantore the network marketing folks didn't want noticed, it was the enclosed photo of the Brazilian programming scheduler. As you can see yourself, though, there's nothing wrong with the image. Sure, Cantore seems to be in character for a Square Pegs/Betty La Fea costume party, but aside from the specs held together by lug nuts from a Boeing aircraft, she's a cute girl.
BellSouth, What Is the Frequency?Debbie Perkinsjust wanted to pay less for her local phone service when she signed up as a customer of U.S. Telecom Inc., a Miami company that offers less expensive rates than dominant local phone service provider BellSouth. Instead Perkins learned that Ma Bell still reigns supreme in the world of analogue communication.
On August 27, Perkins, of Coral Gables, picked up her receiver and was greeted with an ominous recording stating that her phone line was "being checked for trouble." She could not receive any incoming calls. She reached U.S. Telecom via her cell phone to ask what the heck was going on. A U.S. Telecom customer service representative, Perkins says, informed her BellSouth had frozen U.S. Telecom's phone lines, but that the problem would soon be resolved. Three days later, Perkins says, "I had a new recording that said I had to call DSLi, another local phone company, to get my service restored." But DSLi could not reconnect because the lines were still on lockdown. By now Perkins was ready to reach out and bitch-slap someone. So she called BellSouth. Perkins recalls: "I asked if I could have my service restored through them. But the only way I could keep my current phone number was to pay another $40, which I wasn't about to do."
Finally Perkins went to the Florida Public Service Commission, the state agency that regulates utility companies. The PSC explained that U.S. Telecom had turned over its local customer list to DSLi, and that DSLi was now responsible for reconnecting her phone line. On September 20, DSLi finally restored Perkins's phone service. "I came home and my answering machine light was blinking!" a jovial Perkins exclaimed.
BellSouth spokeswoman Marta Casas-Celaya says the company has filed a complaint with the PSC to terminate its service agreement with U.S. Telecom. "We notified them that we were going to disconnect their customers because of nonpayment."
U.S. Telecom president Luis Coello acknowledged his company has a billing dispute with BellSouth, but that instead of working it out, the state's dominant phone carrier decided to play hardball. "There are seven million phone lines in Florida and only 500,000 are in the hands of privately held local phone companies," Coello says. "It is no secret that BellSouth wants to maintain its monopoly and will go to war with us and other local carriers."
Motion SicknessAbout this time last year, authorities in Surfside were slapping hundred-dollar fines on people for feeding stray cats; private lawyers who work for the town were paid thousands of dollars to prosecute the animal lovers. Now investigative hounds from the FBI are reported to be sniffing around the town, lured by allegations of another feeding regimen, one that may have fattened the town's lawyers as well as several current and former town officials.
In a Miami-Dade courtroom last week the man who defended the cat-feeders, attorney Alan Soven, told Judge Lawrence Schwartz a little bit about the federal criminal investigation. Soven represents the owners of six residential properties who owe the town several million dollars in fines for violating various ordinances aimed at keeping Surfside serene and scenic. (Soven is appealing rulings by the town's hearing officer, Carolyn Howard, a private lawyer Surfside hired in 1999 to handle its code enforcement cases.)