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
The Bitch likes a good Spanish-language variety show now and then, a little Don Francisco to lighten up her Sábado Gigante, but it wasn't until she began tuning into El Show de Fernando Hidalgo that she understood how colorful, how delightful, how varied a variety show can be and she doesn't mean just shades of orange pancake makeup.
For the reader unenlightened to El Show's endless charm, a synopsis of what to expect on America TeVe, Channel 41, weeknights at 7:00 p.m.: A recent episode featured two musical numbers and one Chia pet ad (gourmet Chia herb garden) in the first seven minutes. The band stars three chunky beauties wearing pink spandex, bell-bottom unitards, shaking maracas and singing the day's headlines to the tune of "Guantanamera." The FDA has unveiled the food pyramid in Spanish! (Guajira, Guan-tan-a-mehhhhr-a) Air marshal shoots bipolar passenger! (Guan-tana-mehhhhhhr-a....)
The back-up players include what The Bitch believes to be the first trumpeter to appear on network television in a do-rag.
Both the show and its celebrity guests tend to be local. During another a recent episode, against a backdrop of neon palm trees and the flags of Latin America, Hidalgo quizzed Israel Kantor, Grammy nominee for Best Traditional Tropical Latin Album. "What's your favorite sad song?" he asked and Kantor sang an excerpt.
"What's your favorite happy song?" Another excerpt.
"What song do you like best?" and so on, until the second Chia ad of the evening (Chia cat grass planter) intervened.
Adorning the musical interludes and awkward comic sketches are the dancers, who are dressed in skin-baring ensembles that typically incorporate multicultural influences: Spangled Moroccan-genie bikinis accentuate ample tops; Twenties flapper fringe meets Mohican loincloth on mostly exposed bottoms. To further confuse the audience's cultural sensibilities, the dancers often salsa in cowboy hats with Fred Astaire canes.
Hidalgo encapsulates the three qualities The Bitch loves most about Miami: He is garish, obsessed with tetas, and favors loud ties with his pinstripe suits. His interviewees, crowding the couch at the end of an episode, represent our city's finest in silicone and synthetic fabrics. He even has his own Latino Jack Hanna Rey Becerra, who arrives bearing prehistoric reptiles to terrify the ladies.
Break for another Chia ad (Chia Scooby-Doo).
The Bitch wants to know: Can she get some tickets to be in the live audience and maybe perform stupid canine tricks? Please?
Dysfunctional yet Continental
When The Bitch received an invitation boldly claiming "Happy Hour Is Back in Fashion!" for a Thursday evening (read: beginning at 6:00 p.m.) party at Funkshion, she thought it was a good idea; maybe she'd begin drinking early at the resto-lounge at 1116 Lincoln Road.
But when she arrived this past Thursday around 7:30 p.m. with eager Eurotrash friends in tow, no festivities presented themselves. In fact there was a distinct dearth of alcoholic activity, save for that of the tremens-inducing array of flat-panel television sets behind the mostly empty bar.
"I found out that there was some miscommunication early in the night with some of the door people," sweated Augie Lasseter of REF Public Relations, when the thirsty dog later accused him of playing the sort of prank she herself enjoys.
Thomas Barker, a freelance marketing Mouseketeer, came to the rescue the next night, spiriting The Bitch to Madiba's most excellent Friday festival. The Bitch felt immediately cheerful amid a crowd of polite, well-dressed, friendly, clean-smelling, handsome men who could really put it out on the dance floor. But then a disappointing thought in terms of puppy procreation crossed her mind.
"Everyone's so nice.... This must be a gay party," she verbalized.
It was, but owing to the Belgian hound's amazing Dutch-speaking abilities, she was able to inflict her native Nederlandse on the restaurant-club's South African staff. Soon Serge Jules, one of the owners, dragged The Bitch to the bar for tequila shots. "I'm not gay," he intoned. Maybe not but, um, Jules is married.
Detectives in Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale are trying to piece together a story that, according to one anonymous tipster, has Miami restaurateur and landlord Shelly Abramowitz allegedly jacking a plasma TV set.
The 49-year-old proprietor of South Beach Stone Crabs, Abramowitz, age 49, is adamant that the whole mess is a setup, the work of a psycho, stalker, insurgent German con man with a grudge approaching High Plains Drifter levels. "I'd like to kick his fucking ass up and down," Abramowitz says of the man, who goes by the alias Charles Conde, according to a police report Abramowitz filed this past October.
In the report, he accused Conde, whose name doesn't appear in public records databases, of burglarizing his house. Abramowitz says Conde is out to get him because, until recently, he dated Conde's old squeeze, a 29-year-old UK citizen named Jacqueline Wright whom The Bitch couldn't reach for comment, though a message was left with Wright's mum in England.
This all began when someone called Abramowitz to a lunchtime meeting about investing in real estate, the restaurateur declares. The mysterious caller, several potential investors, and Abramowitz were supposed to meet at noon Saturday, October 22, at Fort Lauderdale's Hyatt Regency Pier 66 lobby.
"[Conde] lured me up to the meeting," Abramowitz says.
The South Beach Stone Crabs owner says he and Wright drove to the hotel, but nobody showed, so they split. Shortly before 1:00 p.m., someone stole a $2000 plasma TV set from one of the hotel rooms, according to police.
About 2:00 p.m. Saturday, after returning to his Hibiscus Island home, Abramowitz found a TV set matching the description of the Hyatt's in the outdoor shed at his house. He says he thought it belonged to one of his many tenants who, he contends, occasionally droplift possessions at his place unannounced for safekeeping. With Hurricane Wilma set to hit Miami two days later, Abramowitz says, he didn't think much about the TV.
The next day, October 23, Abramowitz and Wright took off for Orlando to avoid the storm, leaving a side door to the house open so a neighbor could walk the dog. The pair returned a few days later to find a laptop, checkbook, and a 28-inch plasma TV set gone.
While reporting the theft to police, Abramowitz named Conde as a possible suspect. He also mentioned the other TV set, which remained in the shed.
Though Abramowitz says he hadn't heard anything about the hotel theft until The Bitch called him, hotel security found his Miami Beach Golf Club membership card outside the room from which the TV was stolen, and a witness told police he saw a man loading the set into a white Porsche Cayenne the make and model of Abramowitz's ride. The witness gave his name as Karl Cerecke and said he was staying at a nearby Ramada Inn, according to a police report. That hotel has no record of his being a guest there.
It's unclear whether the TV in Abramowitz's shed is the same as the one belonging to the hotel. Hyatt security has yet to find the serial number for the missing set, but none of Abramowitz's tenants has claimed it.
"It could be a setup," says Dirk Lowry, security chief at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66.
Abramowitz is not a suspect in the theft and had not been questioned as of last week, according to Fort Lauderdale Police Det. Brice Brittenum. Although Brittenum declined to discuss the case in detail, he said he had received an anonymous, untraceable fax fingering Abramowitz. The Bitch received an identical anonymous dispatch.
Conde's former colleague in an adhesives venture, Barry Rosenthal, agrees that Conde is a madman, alleging Conde stole Rosenthal's son's Jeep.
"It's a stupid story of petty theft and just, you know, a guy's obsession with a girl," Abramowitz says.