By Michael E. Miller
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"Arrrg!" says an inebriated Cap'n Pete Poopdeck as he slams a fist on the wooden bar top at Seven Seas (2200 Red Rd., Miami, 305-266-6071), a charmingly dingy pub off Coral Way. "Can ye fetch me a beer?"
The barkeep — a small woman with gold jewelry, bright red lipstick, and dark, wavy hair — looks blankly at him. She pops the top off a bottle of Heineken and places it in front of him.
Pete is wearing an eye patch, but that apparently isn't enough to rattle this wench, so he busts out a plastic hook, positions it around the neck of the beer, and drags the bottle his way. "Aye!" he says, aiming a pale green eye at her. "Ye are a pretty lass. Would ye like ta walk me plank?"
Without changing her expression, she turns to help another customer.
"Scallywag!" he responds before throwing down some cash and adding a few fake gold coins as a tip. The barmaid pockets the bills, sweeps the gold coins onto the ground, and kicks them under the bar.
Pete steps outside into a drizzle and strikes up a conversation with Savannah, a 20-year-old with funky flaming-red hair and a chest full of bright tattoos. "Why are you people asking about pirates, anyway?" she wonders. "It's kinda stupid. There's no such thing as pirates anymore."
The holiday has particular significance in Miami. In 1622, a hurricane hit the Caribbean, disabling a Spain-bound 28-fleet convoy loaded with booty. Naturally, scavengers raided the vulnerable ships, raping, pillaging, and then transforming our town into a major buccaneer port, which later attracted the likes of Blackbeard, Bowleg, Calico Jack, and Gasparilla.
And today, with politicians stealing from the public, rich guys in Hummers running over the poor, and a plethora of bootlegged movies available for purchase at Flagler Flea Market, isn't it safe to say that everyone in the Magic City has a little pirate in them?
"I wouldn't mind having a little Johnny Depp in me," Savannah says as she passes a half-smoked cigarette to her friend Josh, a burly man with moppy hair and long cut-off shorts.
"Not me," Josh says, "but I'd do a mermaid."
"How?" Savannah asks as it dawns on her that despite all of that long-haired, half-shelled, buxom gorgeousness, mermaids don't have genitals.
"I'd pull back a scale or two and just go to town."
Slightly repulsed, Pete heads to Halo Lounge (1625 Michigan Ave., Miami Beach, 305-534-8181), a classy, gay-friendly, black-light-laden spot off Lincoln Road.
Amy, a curvy girl wearing all black, sips on a strawberry mojito as she greets him. "If I could be a pirate, my name would be Sailor Jupiter, because I'm from a whole different planet of pirates," she says. "And I'd steal girlfriends, because, well, I already do that."
"Not me," her tall and tan friend Jade says. "I borrow booty and then toss it right back."
Daisy, a chatty, well-groomed male hairstylist, shows Pete a cell phone full of pictures of himself draped in a gaudy flower-patterned "Jewish" dress while smoking a blunt. He'd never touch a pirate. "They're filthy," Daisy says, "but I'd definitely give one a cut. I'd yank all of his long, greasy hair over his head and then hack it all off with one snip. Then I'd do the same to his beard and charge him $200."
Talk about piracy.
Enough of the metaphorical buccaneers. The question is: Do true-blue hornpipe-dancing, grog-drinking, chum-loving freebooters still anchor off our shores? After a pitcher of New Castle at Scotty's Landing (3381 Pan American Dr., Coconut Grove, 305-854-2626), Pete bumps into Robert John Paul George (Ringo?) Mender, the potbellied captain of a scow called Knight Moves.
"One pirate still exists," Robert says as he stares, red-eyed, at the dark bay off Dinner Key. "And his name is Jimmy Buffett. He's the greatest pirate of all time because he doesn't have to steal. People just give him money."
Robert talks about his many conquests — would you believe more than 200 women? — before leaping to a completely different subject, his late wife's vagina.
This is too much for Pete, so he moves on to Texas John, a weathered man with a shaggy blond beard who's pedaling a bicycle on the boardwalk that separates the bar from the sea. T.J., as he likes to be called, is a Miami native who briefly moved to Texas and returned with Lone Star State tags on his car. "Want to talk about pirates?" he asks. "The City of Miami is the biggest pirate." The thieving bureaucrats, he says, want to charge him $400 a month to live on his own boat at the nearby marina. "But that's okay if they want to fuck with me," he says. "I'll fuck with them right back."
As T.J. begins to describe a parking scam, one-toothed Skip (short for Skipper) moseys our way. He's a small old man who wears tiny white shorts that are mostly covered by a long red polo shirt. On his tanned cheek is a large mole that looks as if it's been picked.
When Skip was a young lad, he says, he fixed up a sailboat that was built in Massachusetts in 1918 and sailed it down to Miami. Since then, he's been sailing the seas around South Florida — shrimping, exploring, and gaining an acre of property on Rose Island in the Bahamas for fixing some dude's roof. "I've been to Jamaica 12 times and Colombia twice. And because of those trips, I was able to get a Maserati and a Lamborghini," he says with a smile, revealing a few more sparse teeth, "but I don't know nothing about pirates."
Well ... then, shiver me timbers.