28 Days Later

Shakespeare-referencing HBO series Deadwood gave viewers a season finale that began with a funeral and ended with a wedding yet left an impression more tragic than comedic. A Miami Beach-based Bitch TV focus group resoundingly approved of the South Dakota serial, with the male specimens enthusiastic over the episode's depictions of demises by shooting, stabbing, hanging, and throat-cutting/opium overdosing, and the girls in tears (but in a good way) over the frontier town's myriad romantic entanglements.

So obviously the Bitch would rather spend the weekend watching TV than being on TV, but after receiving an invitation this past Saturday to visit the set of TLC's new series Miami Ink, she couldn't avoid being on camera. Very annoying.

When The Bitch arrived at the Washington Avenue tattoo parlor at the scheduled meeting time, a hyper, pneumatic production assistant gave the normally entrance-empowered hound a roller-derby-style block that would've done the chica right at a Juicy Couture sample sale, and demanded, "Who are you here to see?" The Bitch asked for TLC's PR pack leader Brian Eley. As a crowd of fight-hopeful onlookers grew larger and The Bitch felt the last of the cough syrup evaporating from her bloodstream, Eley came bounding down the sidewalk with his hand extended.

Around the corner from the shop is the show's control room, stacked with a wall of monitors documenting the body-modification action. There Charlie Corwin of Original Media describes Miami Ink as the Barbershop of permanent decoration. "The artists are tattooing people who are a cross section of punk rock, South Beach subculture, and celebrities. That's Johnny Messnerfrom The O.C.," Corwin says as he points to one of the monitors.

"Reality [TV] is largely about casting, a concept matched with characters," Corwin adds, explaining his decision to create a ground-up operation. "It's the boy-band formula." Corwin was introduced to tattoo artist Ami James, who is the smart-ass, tough guy of the bunch, and James then helped pick the rest of the guys from a crew who had all apprenticed with the late Lou Sciberras: Chris Garver (the big brother), Darren Brass (the teddy bear), Chris Nuñez (the ladies' man), and their own apprentice, Yojiro Harada.

Miami Ink isn't just about the artists. The people getting tattooed and the emotional stories behind their desire to permanently document on their skin a love, a loss, or a momentous occasion are part of the series as well.

James was still working on a giant cross on Messner's forearm as The Bitch began asking questions beneath a canopy of cameras, lights, and microphones:

"You'd better write nice stuff about me," says James. "I'm not a friendly guy when I'm mad."

Don't these cameras bug you?

"No, I'm totally oblivious to the impact of the show," the smart-ass replies. "I just hope to make more money."

So how do you think the show will affect business?

"The prices are going to go up."

You're not afraid of wild Washington Avenue riffraff stumbling in at all hours of the night?

"No, this is a classy joint. I'm not doing any damn Tweety Birds."

The aggro PA then grabbed The Bitch by the collar and dragged her into the floods. "Just introduce yourself and say why you came down here today. Just say that you heard about this new tattoo shop and you had to come down and cover it for the paper. Talk about what you think about people with tattoos," Miss Anabolic prompted. The Bitch rendered her best version of "studiously ignoring."

Finally another man waved a release form at the distempered dog. "This is so they won't have to blur out your face; don't you want to be on TV?" he asked.

Um, not really.

Look for the Bitch-free series debut of Miami Ink on the cable channel TLC sometime in July.

Civil Court a-Comin'

Robert Novak won't debate Bitch idol Eric Alterman, but will the combative conservative and unlikely defender of journalists' source protection come to the Magic City to bust some heads on behalf of the Miami Herald? The Bitch's ears pricked up this past week at whispers of an "invitation" from the Miami-Dade County Police Department to haveHerald reporters in for questioning. The topic was not racial profiling, stun guns, or the war zone in Opa-locka. Instead word leaked out police director Robert Parker was vitally interested in the identity of a profanity-spewing officer. The Herald was not inclined to reveal the cusser's name. It may not be source protection on the level of Bush administration officials outing a CIA agent, but ridiculous in its own way. Here's how it went down:

May 5 Herald reporters David Ovalleand Trenton Daniel were interviewing residents in an apartment building in Opa-locka's notorious Triangle neighborhood. Five-year-old Melanise Malone had been killed during a gun battle near her apartment building the day before. The reporters were there in part to assess residents' feelings about the Opa-locka police department, which had failed to stop the gunfire ripping through the neighborhood for two days before Malone's death.

In a scene straight outta Miami Vice, a Dodge Intrepid containing two plainclothes officers screeched to a halt in front of the apartments. The Herald story published the next day described the reaction: "Residents scattered. Two cops jumped out, one waving a gun. öThis ain't Opa-locka, motherfucker!' one of them yelled. öThis is Metro-Dade!'" (In the Herald version, the word was ameliorated as "m-----f-----!")

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