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
The Bitch was fortunate to visit the Miami City Club for the first and undoubtedly only time Wednesday, August 23, for the launch of the Havana Club, the power brokers' boite-within-a-boite on the 55th floor of the Wachovia Bank building on Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami. The view from the club is just high enough that light refracted from the bay makes everything twinkly and magical. Indeed the hound would've been content simply to look out the windows had not a number of attractive nuisances presented themselves.
The first was when the Havana Club's surprisingly gentle, unconflated developer, Robert Katz, graciously presented his brother and business partner, Richard; City Club president Bonnie Crabtree; and Mayor Manny Diaz. Sounding genuinely awed, Katz told an assembled group of about 300 that "even about a dozen movie stars I can't really say who they are have become charter Havana Club members."
Before The Bitch could even form the thought Ocean's 13 launch party, Katz continued. "I'd also like to introduce some other city commissioners including, from the city of Miami Beach, Simon Cruz, and, the man who ... well, I'll just say, he'll always be my commissioner ... Johnny Winton!" Winton, near the podium, waved cheerily at the crowd with the hand that did not contain a beverage. But, oops! Beside the stage, the woman who isKatz's commissioner, Linda Haskins, paused in mid-ascent.
To his immense credit, Katz performed a deft real-time correction, recognizing Haskins and quickly changing the subject.
"We've got Paolo Garzaroli here from Graycliff Cigars," Katz segued. The Graycliff company, based in Nassau, presented the city dignitaries with a tasteful red leather box of pink- and blue-tube-covered stogies (swag that surely cost less than ten dollars). "And wouldn't it be great if we could ignore the fire code and light these up?" Katz plowed on. "What do you say, Police Chief John Timoney? Can we go for it?"
The Bitch nearly spilled her Diet Coke, so great was her haste to extract her tiny, wide-angle, Senior-Executive-Assistant-to-the-Police-Chief-Angel-Calzadilla-detecting digital camera from her pocket. Never one to miss an opportunity to uphold the law, self-proclaimed Bitch nemesis Timoney responded with a roared "Yeaahhh!" that echoed Lil Jon.
The Bitch, whose elaborate surveillance system failed to note the presence of Calzadilla, observed that the police chief seemed to have come across a supply of wild-cherry-flavor Hi-C or perhaps Kool-Aid, or maybe it was a healthfully berry-tinged cask of sugar-free Crystal Light. The chief law enforcement officer, resplendent in a mushroom-color tweed suit, quaffed several glasses of the liquid.
The Bitch noticed several agents speaking into their lapels and decided it would be a wise and law-abiding move to depart. On the way to the club's hushed marble foyer, the smoke-detecting hound passed by Garzaroli, who was fiercely guarding a table display of his wares. A blond thirtyish woman in a boxy, quilted, Chanel-ish suit picked up two of the cigars which seemed to be available for sampling purposes. Garzaroli, a small but exceedingly loud man with salt-and-pepper hair parted into devil horns, pounced: "Hey, how about asking? Are you stealing those cigars? Do you even smoke cigars? How about some manners?"
The woman, whom The Bitch was later able to identify as an actual City Club member, was clearly flummoxed, though she politely answered while handing the smokes back to the agitated Graycliff purveyor: "I don't smoke myself, but I thought my husband might like to try these...."
"You can have one. One cigar. There's only enough for people to have one, you understand?" Garzaroli shouted as the woman escaped. He was clearly enjoying his emerging role as the evening's star sociopath.
So The Bitch asked him for a business card; there was a large stack by the disappearing cigars. (She was fearful of extending her paw in that direction.) But he continued chomping. "Business card? I don't have business cards. When I got up this morning, I didn't even know I was coming here tonight. Do you always bring business cards when you have to go out of the country unexpectedly? No? I didn't think so."