By Terrence McCoy
By Allie Conti
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
Rodriguez auditioned to be a VJ on a lark, never thinking he'd get the gig: "I thought MTV was too big for me."
Menendez's break was similarly serendipitous. She was on her way from Inter-American University of Puerto Rico to medical school, working part-time as a producer for an extreme-sports program. One day the host didn't show up; Menendez grabbed the chance to get in front of the camera and has stayed there since.
Menendez cites MTV VJ Lala as a role model, while Rodriguez prefers stalwart Carson Daly ("He's very chill-out.").
When The Bitch invoked the name of her favorite VJ, Jesse Camp, the pair shrieked a simultaneous "Eeewwww!" Rodriguez recovered quickly, demurring, "Maybe you and he are more like ... rock stars."
This past Sunday at 8:00 a.m. The Bitch was intercepted during a stroll in Coconut Grove by another early riser handing out leaflets. "Are you fighting against the Home Depot?" a tense woman asked without preamble. The Bitch, who doesn't care if a neutron bomb explodes over the former Kmart on the corner of Bird Road and McDonald Avenue as long as the supply of aioli dipping sauce doesn't disappear from the adjacent Gardner's Market, murmured a semi-diplomatic: "Um, no, not really."
Seriously, though, what's the problem? Grovites complain a Home Depot would drive down property values. The Bitch says: That's too bad, considering land prices have soared in the neighborhood so wildly in recent years long-time residents are being driven off by the encroaching moated palaces, and new would-be dwellers had better have a portfolio in the seven figures before even ringing up a realtor.
Quality-of-life handwringing seems a pallid point as well, considering there's a Taco Bell, a McDonald's 24-hour drive-through, and an abortion clinic within 100 yards of the proposed HD site.
Traffic? Noise? The very nearby Metrorail tracks and, uh, U.S. 1 seem already to have that ambiance covered.
Miami City Commissioner Tomas Regalado takes the opposite tack, though, in a letter posted to e-mail listserv of the anti-HD Grove First. Responding to a letter from Grove resident Jeremy Flores, Regalado (whose district does not include Coconut Grove, the province of Johnny "Captain Kirk" Winton) huffed, "The mayor wants the Home Depot, the administration wants the Home Depot, and the area commissioner also wants Home Depot. I am sorry for the Grove, I know what is coming, but they won't listen to me."
Earlier This Month ...
Across the highway between the train tracks and a cluster of antiques shops, in what is known as the Bird Road Art District, an intimate gathering of about 200 people communed outside a warehouse to celebrate the work of artist Jonathan Riesco. Amid the eclectic crowd of boozers, art denizens, and uninvited hippies were two men in dark suits, alert to any would-be terrorists who may have been after a third pinstripe-sporter, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez.
The mayor dropped in to show support for the son of José "Pepe" Riesco, chairman of the political action committee that has raised more than $300,000 in financial support and gathered 200,000-plus signatures on two petitions aimed at stripping power from the county commission and handing it to Alvarez.
The mayor posed for some photos, perused the exhibit (consisting of 69 paintings and titled "Nice to Meet You Thru Nice to Know You Volume 2: The Benefits of Conversation"), and mingled with the crowd for about an hour. The Bitch asked the artist if Alvarez had purchased a painting. "We discussed a similar set of paintings for the mayor's office," said Riesco.
After making the rounds, Alvarez sped off in the standard government-issued black Expedition and left the politicking in the capable hands of Papa Riesco. Undaunted by his April 5 appearance in front of the commissioners, during which a routine meeting turned into a verbal bloodbath, Pepe collected about 100 more signatures for his Procurement Reform and Executive Mayor petitions.
"We went in there with a plan and a purpose, and they went off on a rampage," Papa Riesco said. "They dropped innuendo and personal attacks. They said it was a power grab, that this is what happens in Cuba and other Latin American countries, which is ludicrous. What we are seeking to do is to provide transparency. Right now there's no transparency. The commission controls the budget, the agenda, the spending, and the purchasing. So if there's any totalitarianism, it's what we have right now." What's sad is that, while trying to "reform government," Riesco didn't notice when some less-than-civic-minded, art-loving hoodlum jacked his $600 cell phone/Palm Pilot complete with the contact info for some pretty powerful Republicans. The Bitch is still waiting for a Paris Hilton-PDA hack-like Website to go up. She needs to bark at Jeb about the crime in this town.