Penthouse and Pavement

Areas of concern: The deaths of vinyl, gabardine, and celluloid

The Bitch's ultrasensitive ears have been picking up intimations of the pending closure of the Virgin Megastore at Sunset Drive and South Dixie Highway in South Miami. Although the store is often overpriced, and the Shops at Sunset Place is generally the biggest intelligence vacuum outside of Miracle Mile in Coral Gables during happy hour (or South Beach anytime), the potential closure is indicative of a larger lamentable trend.

Record stores are disappearing. Sure there are still a few good ones left, but they scarcely hark back to the time when a good record shop was the musical touchstone of a neighborhood. Remember walking in and checking out the flyers on the wall for shows, scanning the new-release bin, hearing the muffled thump of a row of records being righted, or the plastic click as someone shuffling through racks of CDs?

The Bitch is a very Internet-loving creature, but damn if the Web isn't choking the life out of record stores. Indeed you can check out local bands on Myspace.com, but record stores used to be the physical repository for local music, sometimes even hosting shows (thanks to Sweat Records for trying to do this in the face of adversity and a fairly flaccid local "scene"). But you can't strike up a conversation with the scowling hottie checking out an Operation Ivy seven-inch online! You can't flip through the phantasmagoric Funkadelic album covers online! For all its faults, Virgin has a damn good vinyl selection, and Richard Branson's minions can order just about anything you want.

Inquiries about the store closing were met with the following chain of response: The store manager, Curtis (who refused to give his last name and demanded not to be quoted), referred The Bitch to a corporate flack, who never called back and didn't return messages, leading to another call to a different corporate flack, Christine O'Quinn, who told The Bitch that "Everyone who knows the answer to that question is traveling today, but I'll try to get back to you tomorrow." Quinn promptly disappeared, never to answer the phone again. No one called back. The Bitch can't help but wonder: Would there be this much bullshit involved if Virgin's answer were simply "No, we're not closing"?


So Ought

Still getting used to the early-evening onslaught of sunlight generated by daylight-saving time, The Bitch was squinting a bit this past Thursday when she settled at the Delano's oceanfront bar a little past 7:00 p.m. Wishing as always to avoid eye contact largely and conversation particularly with other imbibers, who at that hour were mercifully few, the hound began idly fiddling with a friend's digital camera. Almost immediately a soft burr of a man's voice broke the dog's self-imposed isolation: "I wouldn't take you for a digital user. You seem much more the SLR type."

Readying a lime slice with which to douse the offender, The Bitch instead was pleased to meet photographer Patrick McMullan. "Um, it's not even my camera; I'm not a good photographer — I'm color blind!" The Bitch responded abashedly. McMullan laughed and boomed in an extremely pleasant baritone: "Well welcome to my party anyway!"

Indeed the occasion for the celebrity photojournalist's visit to Miami Beach was the Floridaland promotion of his latest coffee-table-size book, Kiss Kiss, which features 200 portraits of his famous subjects smooching. Perhaps documenting so many boorish celebs has been a benefit to McMullan, for he proved an extremely gracious and extroverted host. He posed for photos with everyone from an elderly German couple staying at the Delano who had strayed into the party, to Wire's Thomas Barker, and Matt Welty, the Atlanta-based director of The Wall Street Journal's weekend-edition marketing engine.

Welty, with close-cropped silver hair, a pin-stripe charcoal suit, long-sleeve shirt, and tie, cut a crisp figure as the outdoor reception began to fill with a typical South Beachy mix of tanned hipsters in carefully worn retro T-shirts and destroyed denim. "In Atlanta the hip-hop scene and the marketing of the appearance that goes with it is huge," Welty observed. "But even in the ATL I don't see as much bling in a week as I do here tonight."


Chairs Missing

Location-shooting for Miami Vice (the movie) has long since wrapped, but the Caligulan scourge that is Colin Farrell continues to disrupt even the highest echelons of Miami Beach social strata.

Case in point: an auction this past Sunday night of celebrity-autographed chairs to benefit the Miami Children's Hospital Foundation. The event was held at the Shore Club's Nobu on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach. The restaurant is being renovated and thus was the source of the B&B Italia oxblood-red leather chairs that were auctioned. Each of the 30 seats bore the gold-flake-paint signature of celebrities ranging from the members of Linkin Park to Lenny Kravitz to Robert DeNiro.

Although some of the chairs displayed extra-creative penmanship (the dog highly approves of Busta Rhymes's scrawled "BITCH!" on the seat of his), Farrell, perhaps mindful of his recent Internet-video notoriety, decorated his designated seat with a jailhouse-crude, larger-than-life-size drawing of a penis and testicles.

"There is no other way to describe that but nasty," sighed Angella Forbes, the ever-classy event organizer. Nonetheless the Irishman-inscribed chair eventually sold for $500. The Bitch hovered longingly around the seat signed by Bryan Ferryuntil bids on it exceeded her net worth of $350. The top earner at $1500 was the John Hancock of another patriot, President Bill Clinton.


No Bar

After months of speculation, spokeswoman Michelle Leshem confirmed crobar will close "to undergo renovations." The famed nightclub in the Cameo Theater building on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach will conclude nearly a decade of partying Tuesday, April 25. Crobar, which has satellites in Chicago and New York, will live on in some semblance as crobar 24@Nocturnal in downtown Miami.


Government Not on the Go

From an unintentionally amusing Miami-Dade County press release:

"The Government on the Go Bus, scheduled for different events this weekend, has suffered an unexpected mechanical problem, and it is being sent to the shop for repairs. The Government on the Go Bus, therefore, will not be at the following events: the Oliver Hoover Elementary Vehicle Day on Friday, the Northside Unity Festival on Saturday, and the Easter Celebration at Continental Park on Sunday. The Government on the Go Bus is expected to resume operations on Tuesday."

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