The Lexus Leprechaun

Miami Police Chief John Timoney is just another lucky Irishman

The Lexus Leprechaun

Filed under: Flotsam

Early last week the embattled John Timoney suggested that a friendly guy, of Irish ancestry, could walk into a Lexus of Kendall dealership, make friends with the owner, and be granted an indefinite test drive.

Well, he didn't say that.

But he expected everyone to believe he had wangled himself a free $53,186 hybrid SUV for a year by doing just that. And that it was the most normal thing in the world.

So maybe it was.

Last Thursday afternoon I got behind the wheel of my shitty Toyota Corolla and made a beeline for Lexus of Kendall, on South Dixie Highway and SW 102nd Street. The glistening glass building — house of the infinite test drive — sits along a canal by Dadeland Mall.

The black-tile showroom shone with the newest models displayed in bright, pearlescent paint. An army of suited salesmen (30 in all) wandered the floor, pretending to look busy. There didn't seem to be a brogue among them. Where was this superfriendly Irishman? The Lexus Leprechaun?

Nowhere in sight.

Timoney's car of choice, the RX 400h hybrid SUV, gleamed in the corner. It contained a computer that tells you where you are in the world, a rearview camera (so you don't have to turn your neck when you back up), and white leather seats that heat up when your ass gets cold. The sticker boasted 32 miles per gallon.

It was perfect. Exactly the kind of car I always imagined myself driving, for free.

After being rejected twice by "busy" salesmen, my request for a test drive was granted by a dapper man named Roger. Driving the Lexus RX 400h proved even better than looking at it. It didn't make a sound. It just coasted in smooth, electric silence. As we pulled out of the dealership, Roger sharpened his eyes on a Channel 4 news van parked across the canal, its four-foot antenna raised high in the air.

At the first intersection, Roger demanded that I make a right.

"Where are we going?"

"We're going around the block," he said.

"How long do these test drives usually last?"

"We just go around the block," he replied.

"What about the Timoney test drive?"

"What?"

Roger didn't know anything about the Lexus Leprechaun, or the police chief's special deal. He wasn't Irish himself; he probably just didn't understand. Calvin Godfrey


Is There Something There?

Filed under: News

After last week's Fidel feeding frenzy, Riptide couldn't help wondering: Who was the ass-wipe who started the Castro death rumors that got everyone in a lather?

We're still not sure. But we do know that City of Miami Police Chief John Timoney says he knew the gossip as early as Thursday, the day before the faux news spread like digital fungus all over the Internet.

According to Tampa Bay TV station WTSP, Timoney was quoted on the issue this past Saturday: "Two nights ago, the head of the FBI called me, at about 11:00 at night, and said the chatter is stronger and more frequent than usual, so there is something there."

We're not saying Timoney was looking to divert media attention away from all of those stories about his yearlong test drive of a luxury hybrid SUV.

Really we're not.

We're just saying if one wants to get oneself supplanted in the news cycle in Miami, it never hurts to play the Castro card. Although "rumors of [Castro's] death are a staple in the heavily Cuban-exile city," as WTSP put it, they're still always good for pulse-quickening buzz and some front-page real estate.

Alas, Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen turned out to be the voice of reason, telling the station: "Everyone is wondering what the news is, and the news is, there is no news. And so we wait." Frank Houston


Barack, Belated but Beloved

Filed under: News

Presidential candidate Barack Obama was on Miami time during his one-day gallop through South Florida last Saturday. The Miami-Dade Democratic Party hosted the Illinois senator at Miami-Dade County Auditorium for a fundraiser that began at 3:00 p.m. Despite assurances from local party leaders that Obama would give his speech at 4:30, he didn't take the stage until an hour later, when he reiterated his position on the Cuban embargo ("When I'm president, I will grant Cuban-Americans unrestricted rights to visit families and send remittances to the island," he said).

Then Obama delayed his appearance at South Beach nightclub Mansion, where more than 400 people had purchased tickets (priced from $50 to $250) to hear him speak. The event kicked off at 6:00 p.m. By 8:00, no Obama, which left some Dems in the audience frazzled.

Miami Beach physician Jodie Stover informed Riptide that she and her mother, Beverly, had waited outside Mansion since 5:00 p.m. "We got here early to get good seats," Stover said. "We've been here forever. They haven't even announced when he's going to show up. It's really frustrating." Asked if she intended to vote for Obama, Stover said, "You're seriously not asking me that question right now."

Behind them a lady in her midforties bellowed, "If he's not here in the next 10 minutes, I'm leaving. This is ridiculous."

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