By Michael E. Miller
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Munzenrieder
By Sabrina Rodriguez
By Michael E. Miller
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Luther Campbell
By Kyle Munzenrieder
But The Bitch had come to see Buju Banton, who began an unbelievably energetic set with some hard-hitting dancehall classics, whirling frantically and working the audience into a frenzy before switching into more spiritual, soothing songs such as "Hills and Valleys" and "Til I'm Laid to Rest," which he converted into a ballad about the persecution he has faced as an artist. Banton had the crowd singing along as he delivered heartfelt messages about unity and love. But then he flipped, beginning what is sadly his most famous song, "Boom Bye Bye," before abruptly stopping the band.
He said, "People ask me: 'Buju, don't DJ "Boom Bye Bye" anymore.'" He then delivered a snarling, scary freestyle chant that ended with the line, "There is no end to the war between me and faggot," and stalked offstage momentarily. Banton's homophobic rant received a loud affirmative response from the crowd.
It was disappointing that an artist with so many positive things to say could reveal such close-minded hypocrisy. The Bitch was further surprised when Miami Herald music critic Evelyn McDonnell glossed over Banton's outburst in her Monday concert review, instead offering the comment: "Buju Banton withheld from gay-bashing in a performance that was stirringly passionate and soulful." Perhaps McDonnell missed the words war and faggot or couldn't decipher Banton's patois.
After a performance by her crush, Damian "Junior Gong" Marley, The Bitch left, tail between her weary legs, unwilling to stay to listen to Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, and Shabba Ranks all promote the same hatred.
Shopping in South Beach can offer a sense of both compelling desirability and beguiling allure. One-of-a-kind boutiques such as Brownes Apothecary on Lincoln Road currently the only place in the world offering a stock of discontinued Stephane Marais cosmetics attract a discerning clientele having the wherewithal to know about, and acquire, such rarefied items. Yet some purveyors of exclusivity are spurning the overt profligacy of the Beach in favor of more subtly luxury-loving environs.
Tourneau, the Geneva-based timepiece chain with twenty U.S. stores, opted for a spot in the expanding Aventura Mall. Tourneau already has outposts in the Bal Harbour Shops and at the Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables, which is where The Bitch met with the chain's southern district regional manager, Martin Bassoff. "We're looking for a certain type of customer the type of customer who wants to buy a watch," says Bassoff, who resembles a more streamlined version of actor Donald Pleasance (Dr. Sam Loomis to fans of the Halloween movies). Speaking softly in an alcove of the store that smells strongly of leather despite the absence of such except on a few Cartier bands Bassoff does all the right "dog management" tricks making good eye contact, deploying the solicitous shoulder touch and is smart enough to realize that glib patter isn't enough to satisfy The Bitch.
"When we select a store location, we desire someplace that allows our upper-demographic client to feel a certain level of reputability," Bassoff concedes. "But we also, like any other store, need traffic, just numbers, to get people through the door. So we decided upon Aventura for its delivery of an affluent consumer in high numbers."
Bassoff insists he's speaking only of class as defined by manners, not as a euphemism for race. "Our very busiest store, in terms of revenue and number of sales, is at the Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta, which, I don't have to tell you, is a very diversified ethnic area," Bassoff says. "People can be extremely sweet or outlandishly demanding anywhere. I just moderated a situation where a woman who felt slighted wanted the offending associate to meet with her, me, and the entire staff of the store and to offer her a public apology. Then she wanted the associate fired in front of everyone. We always try to please our customers, but ... we didn't do that."
Cindy Barshop, owner of Manhattan's Completely Bare Spa, did an intuitive type of market research when deciding where to open her first Florida salon, which heretofore has had only a few satellites in the five boroughs and Scarsdale. "I looked around on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach," she says, "and I thought, The only people who'd come to a spa here are just waiting to pose for a magazine cover, not my clientele at all."
"I'm not South Beach; I'm Palm Beach, I realized," continues Barshop, seated on a white recamier in the foyer of the new spa, which opened May 15. Indeed the salon on South County Road just over the bridge from mainland Palm Beach fits seamlessly into a row of understated boutiques that whisper rather than scream money. Barshop is very much a product of her low-key service, which headlines the hair removal department but includes laser skin resurfacing and conventional facials. A tawny 38-year-old with a shiny brunet mane and amber eyes, Barshop is a no-nonsense entrepreneur who leaves client-pampering to aesthetician Lisa Ciampa, a sun-drenched Boston blond with a charming Chaucerian gap between her gleaming white teeth. This pair is so much more individualistic and striking than their silicloned South Beach sisters. Ciampa lights scented candles and plays Enya-esque tunes in the all-white room where she works on her clients, but her own iPod is cranked to the Allman Brothers' Seven Turns. The Bitch beamed at Ciampa when she noted the hound's aversion to the sun: "Wow, I can really tell you use your sunblock!"