The Water's Fine!

Or is it? With the budget ax hovering, we might never know.

First, a pale family hauling coolers and beach towels waved and snapped a photo. Then a dumpy middle-age woman nudged her friend and they both laughed. As we headed back to the shop, a leather-skinned bum with no teeth gave us an encouraging thumbs-up.

"See how they're looking at us?" Mizrachi shouted over the music. "I just made you famous."


Kyle T. Webster

Crunch Cranks

At FIU's besieged journalism school, budget cuts are greeted with shrugs.

By Elvis Ramirez

Over a pitcher of Icehouse in a dark corner of the North Miami Beach Ale House last Thursday, four Florida International University journalism students began hatching their plan: Road trip!

But this would be no jaunt to Daytona Beach. Instead, the students, who are set to graduate this Monday, would trek to Tallahassee to visit budget-squeezing legislators, in protest of the 12 percent cutback FIU administrators are socking to their program.

"If we just sit aside, we're going to keep getting hit," said Monique Matiace, one of the students planning to object.

Earlier in the week, FIU President Modesto Maidique had announced the administration was slashing nearly a half-million dollars from the journalism school over the next three years. He made it clear the university's yet-to-be-built medical school is more important, as is its athletic program, which gets $19 million, the majority of which funds a football team that is 1-11 this season.

Maidique outlined administrative budget trims of 9.5 percent, but not quite across the board: There was no mention of the president's office slimming down. Defending his position, Maidique said he had taken a $30,000 budget cut last year.

"I challenge you to find any administrator who has taken a higher cut," Maidique said. Still, he makes $476,486.65 a year.

Hyped up on their itinerary, the students returned to the school's Biscayne Bay campus to try to gather more recruits for the trip. But their proposal garnered more inaction than traction.

In one journalism school classroom, they were met with foot-tapping, eye-rolling students who seemed more worried about getting out of class early than about the budgetary ax. The instructor further squashed the group's idealism by downplaying the threat. "It's not the death of a school to be part of a larger school," said instructor Carlos Suris, referring to the possibility that the program might lose its independence and be shuffled into the School of Arts and Sciences.

Some students said they believed things aren't as bad as they've been made out to be. One went so far as to call the outcry a conspiracy of fear mongering.

"I think it's a tactic," said student Javier Correoso, a regional director of the Republican Party of Florida. "Administrators are trying to protect their salaries by putting fear in the students."

A fog of confusion and uncertainty had settled around the school in the days since Maidique's announcement. "We've been hearing a lot of different things: where is the school going, that we can't take money from [one group] but they can take money from us. It's just going to get worse," said journalism student Marlene Pimentel. "I can't imagine what's going to happen for people graduating two or three years from now."

The students planning the trip to Tallahassee left the classroom disillusioned and unsure about the prospects for their protest.

"We have to see if we get enough people, if we we can get a bus ... it's really up in the air," said a doubtful Matiace, who soon landed on an alternative: "We are going to write letters [to Gov. Charlie Crist]."


Mama’s got a brand-new bum.

By Tamara Lush

Sometimes here in South Florida, it seems as though crazy news, weird stories, and impossibly tasteless tidbits are served up on a silver platter, just waiting to be skewered.

Take this week's only-in-Miami offering: Bal Harbour plastic surgeon Michael Salzhauer's recent self-publication of a children's book titled My Beautiful Mommy. In the words of the doctor, it's a "must-have for any mother" going under the knife: "Join a young girl as her Mommy goes through her plastic surgery experience, and learn how the entire family pitches in to help Mommy receive her beautiful results."

The book follows a mom who is getting a nose job and a tummy tuck, though her boobs look suspiciously larger — and surrounded by fairy dust — by the end of the colorfully illustrated tale.

Says the mommy character to her daughter: "You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn't fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better." The kindly doc is a dead ringer for Prince Charming. Postsurgery, Mom looks like a tarted-up Ariel from Disney's The Little Mermaid, wearing hip-hugger jeans and a half-shirt with her bellybutton exposed.

Riptide smells a sequel: My Mommy's Beautiful New Butt.

"Hey, Mom! Where did your behind go?"

"Why, darling, can you say, 'Brazillian butt lift'? Now Mommy can drop it like it's hot at the upcoming Power 96 MILF Olympics!"

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