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
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-----!")
The article went on to describe the arrest of a man with a gun by Miami-Dade Lt. Mike Dieppa and Sgt. David Cohen. The county had temporarily dispatched some of its officers to help the Opa-locka PD get the city under control.
The day the story came out, one of the reporters received a phone call from the county police internal-affairs unit. He was asked to come in for questioning. The Herald also received an unrelated summons from the State Attorney's Office, asking for statements regarding the reporters' witnessing of the arrest.
Like Christopher Walken as the angel Gabriel in The Prophecy, director Parker was upset one of his officers wasn't watching it with the public profanity. Clearly colorful vocabularies rank high on the list of problems in the Triangle. Parker's office referred The Bitch's calls to top police spokesman Robert Williams, who said he couldn't comment on any potential open investigation but did say that professionalism in general is taken seriously within the department. "The director is a firm believer in us keeping a professional attitude here," he said.
Herald general counsel Robert Beatty was advised of the requests. "I'm aware of the [verbal] internal-affairs request. We will respond to the State Attorney's Office request. That's the only official request we've received at this time."
Art Film Exasperation
While quietly munching some meat-free snacks at Yuca this past weekend, The Bitch noticed one of her fellow diners was Australian actor Geoffrey Rush of Quills and Elizabeth fame. Rush recently bailed on the current future masterpiece by the Brothers Quay (Institute Benjamenta) called The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes, and The Bitch had to know why. Turns out there was simply a schedule conflict between Piano and the Pirates of the Caribbean sequel. The Bitch loves Johnny Depp as much as the next female, but still. Rush on the marquee could've given the Quays some box office oomph, enough to expand their fan base beyond one devoted canine.
There Is a Loa
After five years at 2301 Biscayne Blvd., Jakmel Art Gallery will close May 28. Artist, musician, and vodou priest Jude Papaloko Thegenus says he'll move his Haitian-themed operations to Little Haiti, but he's sad to be a victim of gentrification.
"I'm moving because the building will be destroyed -- just like all the other little houses in the neighborhood -- to make room for a high-rise," Papaloko told The Bitch, adding that there's a "huge moving sale" through the end of the month at the gallery.