Piece Out

Like the Messiah, whose birth we celebrate this week, and also Prince, The Bitch would die for you

All that remain are what Knox calls "educational animals," an African gray parrot named Whoopie, Priscilla the opossum, a small family of unbelievably cute dewy-eyed marsupials called sugar gliders, and a few others who accompany her when she visits classrooms. The dozen or so cold-blooded animals — turtles, tortoises, and snakes — are inside the house, sheltered from temperature variables.

Who will The Bitch call when her furry and feathered friends get hit by cars, fly into windows, or tangle themselves in wire? "I don't know," says Knox, who is moving to the Englewood area on Florida's west coast, where her daughter lives. "It bothers me. It really bothers me."

Phineas J. Talon
Wendy Doscher-Smith
Phineas J. Talon

For those who take umbrage at the willful disintegration of Miami's only daily newspaper, The Bitch has identified a new outrage. Judy Miller, the Aqua Lady's managing editor for features and news, is being shipped out to "create and test an interdivisional training program," according to an e-mail sent this past Monday to Herald staff. No, not that Judy Miller, you weapons-of-mass-destruction-obsessed loon! This one was president of the prestigious Investigative Reporters and Editors, among the highest-ranking openly gay newsroom leaders in the Southeast, and editor of the Herald series "Vote Fraud," which won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. Problem is, she drew the ire of some newsroom staff, according to sources too shy to give their names. (Herald executive editor Tom Fiedler didn't return a call seeking comment on Tuesday afternoon.) To this non-fool-suffering canine, the decision is worse than the firing of Jim DeFede. Miller has a keen mind, good news judgement, and little patience for dullards. So, crusaders, scrape those "Free Tibet" stickers off of your Escalade bumpers, and head for the Herald. It's Miller time.

Forever in Debt to Your Priceless Advice

Like the Messiah, whose birth we celebrate this week, and also Prince, The Bitch would die for you. But first she has an appropriately depressing holiday poll. If you, like Mr. Versace, were about to bite the bullet, who is the last person you'd want to speak with? And what would you say? Send the dog of death your thoughts, and your answers will be printed in a forthcoming column.

Coming in January: J.D. Salinger

Beginning this past May, publisher Elena Carpenter merged her three publications — Coconut Grove Times, Brickell Post, and South Miami Times — into Miami Monthly, a glossy compendium of civic-minded blather. The December issue includes columns by the president of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau — William D. Talbert III — and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez.

Carpenter, sniffed out by The Bitch for a general inquiry about the revamped pub, is clearly proud of almost everything in her new mag. But she is particularly puffed up about landing a certain prominent scribe to pen a year-ender. Upon receiving The Bitch's call, Carpenter asked, unprompted and allowing an ample pause (during which the jaded dog stretched and yawned rather than responding with the clearly expected shock and awe): "Are you calling to ask me about Jim DeFede writing for us?"

Um, actually no. Well at least not at first. But then The Bitch got her dew claws on the December issue, which includes a Carpenter column gushing over the former New Times and Miami Herald muckraker ("Whether I agreed or not, he always made me think. And that is a beautiful thing."). Next to the column, Carpenter ran a full-page ad promoting DeFede's freelance piece (a year-end review), boldly titled "Jim DeFede, Uncensored."

"It's nice to be back in print, but I sort of laughed when I saw the ad. It's both flattering and way over-the-top," DeFede somewhat shyly admits.

The Bitch understands that many humans enjoy DeFede's work and have subsequently embarked upon an all-out, no-holds-barred effort to protest Herald editor Tom Fiedler's decision to fire the columnist. But please, people, enough. Go rent Veronica Guerin from Netflix. Even DeFede is a bit flummoxed by the surfeit of support.

"I was a little surprised by some of it. And some of it was misplaced. But it's part of the reason why I decided to stay in South Florida after I was fired," he sighs. "Unfortunately Miami only has the one daily paper, so I've been trying to stay busy developing some other projects, a little writing, and some TV and radio work."

"Do the chickens have large talons?"

Writer-photographer (and, The Bitch adds, a great friend to stray and needy dogs) Wendy Doscher-Smith describes a recent quill-raising adventure at her 123rd Street North Miami high-rise: "On Friday night while I was writing out Christmas cards and having my annual holiday pity party, this winged creature swooped right onto the railing here on our twelfth-floor balcony.

"His wingspan was about seven feet. I nearly fell off of my chair watching him. This bald eagle hung around all night, preening and swiveling his head to tuck his massive don't-even-think-of-messing-with-me beak into his back plumage to sleep.

"I really had to resist assuming the role of a good hostess and venturing out to offer a mug of hot cocoa and a warm bed, but Phineas J. Talon, as I took to calling him, looked as if he wanted to be left alone. Forget rottweilers. What people need to protect them from all the harms of suburbia is a predatory bird.

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