By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
Julieta Venegas was the big winner at this past Thursday's MTV Video Music Awards Latin America, and you just have to be happy for such a buoyantly talented singer-songwriter and snappy dresser, not to mention that Venegas looks like a flower. Not that there's vegetative stillness about Venegas, she just has a nice, pretty, organic presence that's rosy, yet sunflowery. Venegas even wears some shades of green and hangs out in a flower box in the video for "Andar Conmigo" (which did not win an award).
The awards show itself at the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach was okay, too, or at least less self-important and with better sound than the "main" VMAs in August at American Airlines Arena. Like all awards shows though, the VMAs LA were too long, far exceeding 35 minutes, the maximum possible time to command The Bitch's attention.
Erica Pedreguera, the long-suffering PR specialist at MTV's Miami Beach satellite office frequently tormented by this column, was gracious and patient, even permitting The Bitch to mince along the purple carpet behind Lenny Kravitz, thereby tricking dozens of disappointed teenage Gap customers into thinking she was Sarah Jessica Parker. The Beastie Boys still look like teenagers themselves, though it had to be hot in those shiny elfin-green sweat suits. "Monkey tastes def when you pour it on ice," advised The Bitch.
What else is happening in Miami Beach? Well, nothing -- not to crobar, anyway. Despite rumors that the megaclub would dim the familiar marquee and head to the mainland, independent promoter Carmel Ophir, whose production company Creations PMG holds down an important corner of the crobar circus tent with Monday's ever-popular Backdoor Bamby party, says that's just not going to happen. "Nope, we're not moving," swears Ophir. "We're possibly opening another venue downtown in addition to the South Beach venue."
Music nights are up and down at the Marlin. Samantha Stormo, having leaped quite successfully to the classic hotel and bar at 12th and Collins from a shaky situation at Nerve Lounge, has booked some great live acts. A recent show by Big Brooklyn Red and Maya Azucena was a standing-room-only event for a way-appreciative crowd. Other evenings are dead quiet: This past Saturday, Stormo was nowhere to be found around midnight and the lounge was about empty. (The cocotinis were still free, though!)
Nor are cost-free beverages hard to come by at the inexplicably successful Amika for those willing to navigate an obstacle course of velvet. Amika's director, Tony Guerra, is a swell fellow and everything, specifically when it comes to generosity measured in Ketel One, and The Bitch admits that the music at Amika has improved, the addition of more trance-based house beats leavening the Weathergirls house variant.
The big problem with the nightclub-as-a-white-box-space is its polar color scheme (white sofas, floors, walls) and all-blue-spectrum lighting. It feels cold and confining, and it must be stopped.
I Want a Pony
The City of Miami may have used horse sense, or chosen a different tack, by reining in plans to move the mounted police squad to historic Lummus Park. Historians and preservationists were in a lather when officials announced that the equestrian unit would leave Tropical Park on Bird Road, where horses now must be transported in trailers after shifts in the city.
William Keddell, founder of Friends of Lummus Park, feared that stabling Miami's Mounties would trample the aesthetic at the city's oldest park, home to historic structures such as the William English plantation slave house later used as military barracks at Fort Dallas. "My initial response was öOh no!'" remembers Keddell. He agreed, however, to bridle his lack of enthusiasm until a planned November meeting where police would present the final plans for the new stable.
The Urban Environment League also weighed in, riding city manager Joe Arriola in a letter saying nay to the plan. Either the UEL holds Arriola's reins a lot tighter than he lets on, or something else is in the works: UEL president Nancy Liebman says she got a surprise phone call from one of the city manager's stable ponies, informing her that the mounted police were no longer planning to lasso Lummus. "We're just waiting to find out where they are planning to move," Liebman says.
But City of Miami spokeswoman Kelly Penton says the plans "haven't necessarily been canceled." After a feedbag full of letters from citizens bucking the move, "the city has decided to take time to take those concerns into account," Penton says. "There's not really a time frame -- we're going to work on it until we get it right."
Least Competent Hackers
A senior staffer for a Democratic candidate sidles up to a reporter at a union rally. The staffer, in costume for the occasion in work boots, scuffed jeans and a brand-new firefighters local T-shirt, unloads an unverifiable tale that vaguely impugns the Republican opposition. These desperate measures are a sign that the Democrat, despite years in government and detailed plans to deal with social and economic ills, fears the threat posed by his opponent, an authoritarian type once described by a political analyst as "a simple man using simple words" who brandishes his security credentials or mouths bland platitudes when asked about his platform on almost any other issue.