Brawls to the Wall!

New Times salutes Miami's finest fisticuffs of the past year

In 1651 a tubby little Englishman named Thomas Hobbes rocked the thinking world with his book Leviathan. Hobbes put forward the idea that man's life was "nasty, brutish, and short." The only reason primitive dudes finally traded in their beatin' sticks for butterfly ballots, Hobbes guessed, was fear of a violent death -- from some bigger, more primitive dude. Safety and security, he ventured, were the whole point of society.

Too bad Hobbes never made it to Miami.

Alligators and giant pythons may struggle to do each other in just beyond Miami's western edge, but the same violent weirdness slithers through our swampy citadel every day. One weekend on South Beach, and Hobbes would no doubt shit his knickers.

In honor of the town's rough and tumble moxy, Miami New Times has decided to take a hard look back at the most magnificent matchups of the year. Our only regret is that Hobbes couldn't be here to enjoy the show.


Heeeeere´s Johnny!

Many Americans now spend days preparing for the ordeal of navigating a U.S. airport. Others no longer fly at all, fearing they will have their shampoo, their dignity, and their pocketknives hurled into a large trashcan by the same doofus they used to beat up in middle school, who is now an agent of the federal government.

Thank god for Johnny Winton, former Miami city commissioner, visionary developer, and steel-belted American.

On May 15, 2006, Winton arrived at Miami International Airport and stepped onto Concourse A sometime around 5:00 p.m., headed for Houston on official business. But the Nazis at the American Airlines ticket desk had other plans, citing "bad weather."

Poppycock!

Winton fears no weather; he could have flown that plane through the eye of a hurricane with his teeth.

The delay allegedly pissed Winton off somethin' fierce. He found an ally in a Texan named Karl Sherman Folckemer, whose shoulder-length blond hair and golden hoop earrings must have appealed to Winton's love of virility. Bound by their travel woes, the pair retired to Altitudes Bar for some refreshments around quarter to six, according to a police report.

Winton kept to seven glasses of Robert Mondavi's finest Pinot Grigio. Karl, somewhat more rugged, stuck to beer, whiskey, and amaretto. One hundred thirty bucks later, Johnny and Karl were ready for Texas.

It was just a small matter of that dweeb behind the ticket counter, who had canceled the flight outright. Around 7:00, Winton let loose with both barrels -- a double blast of Johnny.

Concerned that his new pal Karl would be stuck with a hotel bill or, worse, stranded in the terminal like a Russian orphan, Winton demanded that American Airlines provide Karl with lodging. He wasn't going to leave Gate A-3 until Karl got what Karl deserved. You see, Winton wasn't fighting for the sake of being drunk and belligerent: He was fighting for the rights of Karls everywhere -- like a shitfaced Gandhi.

Unfortunately Karl failed to live up to the Folckemer name, running out of grit just when it mattered most.

Around 7:30, a pair of Miami-Dade County cops squashed the nonviolent protest. Karl quietly submitted to charges of drunk and disorderly. Winton, according to their report, screamed obscenities as he was being arrested for disorderly intoxication.

The cops said Winton put up his dukes, only to be handcuffed and led out of the airport. (New Timesattempted to speak to Winton, but the former commissioner didn't return our calls. We also tried calling Folckemer at his home outside Houston, but we were unable to reach him.) At some point, Winton allegedly went bananas, ramming one officer in the face and chipping his tooth, and kicking the other in the ding-a-ling.

Karl bargained his way out of a misdemeanor charge and went back to Texas for some counseling. Johnny, on the other hand, lost his commission seat and cried on local television. Last week he was sentenced to two years' probation, abstinence from alcohol, $2000 in restitution, and anger management courses after pleading guilty to misdemeanor battery and disorderly intoxication charges; his lawyer claims Winton is entitled to return to office.

On television, Johnny was contrite, calling himself a jerk, claiming he'd ruined his reputation ... whatever, Winton. We know that if Karl had just stuck by your side, you both coulda taken those cops ... and flown that plane to Houston.


The Old Man and the Sea Monster

The first target had been chosen wisely. The execution came off without a hitch. They got him right through the heart -- on camera, no less. This past September 4, a bull ray whacked "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin off the coast of Australia, a warning that these badass pseudosharks weren't taking any more shit.

According to ABC News, ten mutilated stingray corpses turned up on Australian beaches in the week following Irwin's death, their fins and tails sliced menacingly from their bodies, which were left rotting in the sun.

Retaliation.

But the stingrays would not be intimidated; the bloodshed would only stir their murderous fervor.

Forty-six days and nine thousand miles later, 81-year-old James M. Bertakis woke up in his manufactured home in Lighthouse Point and brushed his teeth. Little did he know he was standing in the cherry-red bull's-eye of an international stingray assassination conspiracy.

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