By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
Since 1987, Maslon has been buying and restoring prints of Lewis's films, and now he's working on a documentary about the exploitation film king. Maslon is in town this week filming interviews with onetime cast members, trying to locate any vestige of the Miami that existed when Lewis made it the setting for his seminal work.
"Well, the Suez was torn down last year, but we'll probably do some beach shots," Maslon says. "I think it's important to make a film about this guy, because he's fascinating and he's an intelligent and funny man. Actually, humor, intentional or not, is sort of a critical component to appreciating his movies. They're definitely campy, even when they're disgusting. And a lot of the actors took their roles very seriously at the time, which makes it even funnier."
Stretching the Limo LawIs the limousine industry in Miami-Dade controlled by some well-oiled syndicate like the one in Cuba? Or to put it another way, cannot a Marielito with an entrepreneurial spirit and a nice 2005 GMC Yukon SLT catch a break in this county a quarter of a century after the historic 1980 boatlift from the island? These are questions Emilio Izquierdo, Jr., is asking.
Izquierdo alleges that Miami-Dade's Consumer Services Department, which issues the permits to operate a limousine business in el condado, is running the industry like a "hybrid of state-run government" and only "certain designated big companies" are allowed to operate.
He has eight years of experience, a proper driver's license, and a Florida-registered corporation called Emilio Miami Limo. But to roll, he needs a "luxury sedan" limousine permit. With that, he'd be a free man, tooling to pick up Shakira or Kanye West as Workinforthemanville disappears in his rear-view mirror.
But no. This past April, CSD director Cathy Grimes Peel wrote a letter to Izquierdo telling him he could participate in a July lottery for about 40 new luxury sedan licenses. Or he could obtain one from a current holder.
She also told him the county cannot allow him to operate his one-vehicle service from his home. Since that is precisely what Izquierdo wants to do, he opted for none of the above. Instead, he sent a letter to all the Miami-Dade commissioners chronicling the bureaucratic gridlock he had encountered. The county offers only two avenues to a limo permit, he wrote. "You have to become ... a big company with huge expenses," he submitted. "Or you have to work for some of the existent companies, without [health] insurance or other benefits, with irregular schedules and labor conditions that destroy your social and family life, [all] for the benefit of special interests." He added, "In a democratic society we are all entitled to benefit from the progress of the community that we live in. The main objective of the government of this county, regarding limousine service, should be the excellence in the quality of this service, not indulging special interests."
Izquierdo is not opposed to special interests when it comes to squelching the visas of Cuba-based musicians who want to perform in Miami. In 2001, he helped convince the U.S. State Department to cancel visas for several bands that had planned to attend the Latin Grammys at the American Airlines Arena. The rambling 57-year-old is also founder and public relations director for the Asociación de Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Producción, a group of ex-political prisoners from Cuba. Izquierdo says, "Castro is like Saddam Hussein."
The Bitch caught up with him via cell phone last week as he sat in his Yukon outside the University of Miami Convocation Center. He was waiting for Colombian belly dancer Shakira, who appeared on Premios Juventud, an awards show televised on Univision. Izquierdo met her "three or four" years ago while he was working for Padrino Limousine. He now drives for two companies, Exclusive Limousine, which has a county permit, and for his own one-vehicle venture, Emilio Miami Limo, from his home, without a permit. Isn't he afraid the authorities will hunt him down? "No. They don't want any fights," he declares.
But the county is going to get one. Izquierdo and several other members of the chauffeur-proletariat will be organizing FILDA, the Florida Independent Limo Drivers Association. In the coming weeks, they hope to drive their way into the county bureaucracy, or at least make a racket by driving around the Stephen P. Clark Government Center.