Cracker, Please

The gallery's Website is still live, but the last update was April 12. "Apologies in advance for all the broken hearts," it reads.

AdaptationThe Bitch is normally much more interested in zoology than botany, but the passionate insistence of conservationist-photographer Rick Cruz persuaded her to check out his portfolio of some of Florida's rarest plant specimens. Cruz's new exhibit includes shots of the moss-loving orchid cranicus mucosa, recently rediscovered in Fakahatchee Strand after not having been sighted for more than 100 years.

"I really never was too interested in photographing [orchids]; I'm primarily a landscape photographer," Cruz recalls. "But when I went exploring with [Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve biologist] Mike Owens, we saw a ghost orchid, the most beautiful orchid I've ever seen. When I heard about the near-extinction of some of these plants -- which include bromeliads and ferns as well -- it triggered a need in me to document and show people our Everglades need further protection."

Cruz later found a trove of fifteen ghost orchids and a colony of rare air plants in a swath of the Fakahatchee -- known now as Cruz Slough in his honor. "My knack is to find what the average person would miss," the photographer says. The exhibit runs through June 27 at David's Café II, 1645 Meridian Ave., Miami Beach.

Does NOT Love the KidsIt's one thing when construction projects such as the MIA expansion or the Performing Arts Center blunder into the inevitable "cost overruns" that add millions and years to projected completion figures. But The Bitch is sad to see Miami's Bermuda Triangle effect causing money and time to slip away from a planned day-care center for children of poor families in Little Havana near the Orange Bowl.

In 2004 local entrepreneurs William Amaya and his wife Tania signed a lease with landlord Isaac Del Sol, owner of Isaac's Roofing. Under the terms of the deal, Del Sol agreed to renovate his commercial building at 2000 NW Second St. so the Amayas could open a day-care center. The Amayas collaborated with the Miami Rescue Mission and various neighborhood and charitable organizations to get the word out: Soon there would be a place to park the pups after school or during business hours, a service badly needed by the working poor.

Del Sol was to have the renovations completed by this past September. "He still hasn't handed over the property," says William Amaya. "First there were problems with contractors, then with the permitting process. I finally volunteered to help oversee the project, which I didn't have to do according to the lease, but I just wanted to get everything finished so we could open up." Then Del Sol demanded an additional $6000 to complete the project, according to Amaya. When Amaya agreed to give him the money only in exchange for a reduction in lease payments, Del Sol threatened to stop renovation.

"There's sort of a bigger picture here, and he doesn't seem very interested in that," says Amaya. "We could have been open by now."

On the advice of his attorney, Isaac Del Sol is not commenting.

Leave Manifestos to the ProsThe Bitch received a long -- very long -- letter from the promoter convicted of ripping off children who had paid to see a Coconut Grove Christmas show in December 2003, and who is also accused of being a generally crazy fellow. Bearing a postmark from Miami's federal detention center, the document, which smells like cigarette smoke and contains among other things a short story and a demand that The Bitch return 35 copies of the document to the sender, is from David Essilor. As far as The Bitch can determine, Essilor's main point is he has applied to legally change his name to Prince David Not Guilty.

Scare AmericaBeginning this week a new radio show will air talk radio on WMBM (1490-AM) featuring the cohosting talents of New Times writer Rebecca Wakefield. The show, called JWalkin', is hosted by opinionated loudmouth Jason Walker, whose day job is working for Miami city commissioner Johnny Winton. Other guests include attorney Marlon Hilland Basil Binns II (un otro Winton aide). The show airs from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday (at least until the good Bishop Victor Curry wises up). This week's topic is the New Miami, reality versus fantasy. In the latter half of the show, Miami Mayor Manny Diaz is scheduled to discuss the wildly optimistic vision he expressed in his recent State of the City address and take callers.

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