Wristy Business

In a state of unharmonic convergence possible perhaps only in Miami Beach, the promotional tour for Yehuda Berg's The Red String Book: The Power of Protection brought its Kabbalistic babble to the China Grill (a.k.a. The Forge with windows) on Ash Wednesday. Hilarity ensued.

A crowd undoubtedly attracted by the names of Ingrid Casares, Tommy Pooch, and Alan Roth on the invite rather than the search for spiritual tranquility gulped cheap wine and milled around through a haze of Aquanet and soy sauce smoke. Many of the Catholics in the crowd seemed compelled to represent, sporting on their foreheads suspiciously pristine blotches of charred palm from morning mass, while yarmulke-and-wig-wearing Orthodox Jews made their own stand, trying to reclaim the once-mystical mood of the Kabbalah from the clutches of new-age aphorism-spouters.

The book itself espouses the same sort of justification for greed and callousness once the province of some born-again congregations, about how there are no victims, only people who choose to be victims (i.e. losers), and how to avoid the evil eye of unattractiveness, a small house, and a three-year-old car by wearing a red wool string tied to the left wrist.

A million milligrams of caffeine goodness awaits Cafetto patrons
Jonathan Postal
A million milligrams of caffeine goodness awaits Cafetto patrons
Kevin "Ital-K" Smith continues working for, and brawling with, WLRN
Kevin "Ital-K" Smith continues working for, and brawling with, WLRN

Even people who believed seemed confused, somehow, about what they believed. Though the book says that Kabbalah is not a religion, one man proclaimed to The Bitch: "I'm a Gentile, but I'm also a Kabbalah practitioner. It's really working for my wife and me. We're going to convert to a Halal diet." Huh?

Another fellow offered a less muddled reason for his presence at the book reception. "I'm gay, and I wanted to go to a gay bar during the Super Bowl and watch the commercials," he complained. "Instead I had to go to a straight wedding and the bride was a real sourpuss. So tonight I just want to drink for free."

Speaking of drinking, the bottles of Madonna-merchandised Kabbalah bottled water handed to guests must've been a good vintage, or something: They were stamped with an expiration date of September 2002.

Not So FastSince it is Lent, The Bitch has given up all her vices for the appropriate period of time. All except one: coffee. Fortunately, a small but cool coffee shop has opened to address this need in the 1500 block of Washington Avenue on Miami Beach. Iván Teran Casabianca, Carla Alejandra López, and Luigino Cornielles, who run Cafetto, were, respectively, a dentist, a psychotherapist, and an electrical engineer in their native Venezuela, but the trio decided to try something totally new for their first adventure in Florida. Cornielles says he thinks people are ready for an independent, non-chain affiliated hangout that offers old-school coffee shop accoutrements such as chessboards and stuff to read.

"We just want to offer a really good coffee blend, prepared as it should be, in a öwant to stay here' place," says Cornielles.

A Great Disturbance in the Force, ContinuedThe Bitch admits she has not of late been performing diligently in her self-appointed role as the personal Savonarola of Public Radio StationWLRN-FM (91.3). The reason for this is, at least partially, the station's unpredictable unlistenableness during daylight hours, especially on the weekends. On Saturdays and Sundays it used to be that a dog could count on a few regular media morsels from Ira Glass or Mo Rocca and just shut the radio off during the unbearable, but scheduled and thus avoidable, Prairie Home Companion, Car Talk, and Folk & Acoustic Music Show.

But when WLRN added three blandly interchangeable programs to its weekend lineup this past November -- What D'Ya Know with Michael Feldman, Weekend America, and The Next Big Thing,it introduced the random terror element of scattered blasts of folk music broadcast sporadically through each of these programs. Not that WLRN isn't the perfect place for the personal soundtracks of those determined to get jiggy with the left-leaning do-gooder movement so aptly skewered, oddly enough, in the song "Easy to Be Hard" from the musical Hair. It's just that so few members of the station's potential public audience are actually served by the hysterical self-righteousness of Iris DeMent or fond recollections of (absentee father, overweight, drug-addicted) Jerry Garcia.

But as The Bitch spends more and more time listening to Internet radio, WLRN's wonderfully outspoken traffic director Kevin "Ital-K" Smith soldiers on, defending, among other things, his status as heir apparent to Sounds of the Caribbean. Smith is down to an on-air presence of one show a week.

"I'm on the air only on a Thursday night, Friday morning. The remaining four nights have been given to David Reuterand Jeanette Drew, who are not as experienced as I am. As far as I'm concerned, it's an effort to diminish the program, and disrespect Clint O'Neil's legacy," Smith explains. O'Neil, whose Sounds of the Caribbean show aired for more than twenty years, died in October 2004.

The Bitch asked Ital-K what O'Neil would have wanted to see happen with the program.

"Clint made it very clear to them, and he made it clear to the public, that he would want me to continue in his absence. He made that adamantly clear before he passed," stressed Smith. "But neither [radio station manager] Ted Eldredge nor John LaBonia, the general manager, will say a word to me."

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