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I like an afterparty as much I like playing Ms. Pac-Man. But, just like Ms. Pac-Man, afterparties have no ending. I love Ms. Pac-Man, but level after level, ghost after ghost — they just keep on, until I die. Afterparties are cool, but hour after hour, smoke after smoke — they just keep on, until I leave. So I started skipping out on afterparties and visiting the late-night eateries.
After playing a show, nothing sounds better to me than snacks. So I gather my sweaty silken blouse off the stage. Then I grab my eight to ten closest friends, bodyguards, and lovers/ex-lovers, as well as my accountant, my manager, and my historian. I hop into my car and get some pan con everything.
The most exciting place Sunday mornings at 4 a.m. is La Palma, at SW Eighth Street and 61st Avenue in West Miami. It is excellent. The tables are stuffed with 54-year-old bachelors on the prowl for 47-year-old girls. The smell of the amazing vaca frita blends with the scents of cheap perfume and body spray. The salsa music coming from the boombox is inaudible over the whistling, cat-calling, and professional-grade chusmería. The pastelitos de queso are perfect, the coffee is pretty good, and the visuals are intense: a sea of caked-on makeup, frosted tips, and T-shirts with golden foil overlays. It's an exhausting experience.
My all-time favorite spot to grab a sandwich de pollo (sin salsa — that's no ketchup and no mayo, dude) at 3 a.m. is Mary Coin Laundry, at SW 27th Avenue and SW 25th Terrace in Miami. I'll chase that sandwich down with the place's award-winning batido de trigo (that's a milkshake with puffed wheat cereal goodness).
At Mary's, I can relax and feel the breeze. Usually they have 102.7 FM blasting in mono from the PA. And aside from the occasional homeless harmonica player, City of Miami Police Bomb Unit, or neighborhood kid who talks to me way too much about wrestling, it's hassle-free.
About a year ago, I went to Denny's for a late-night meal. Never again. Everyone in that place hates everyone in that place. They blame each other for forgetting sugars and creams, and throw each other under the bus to avoid owning their mistakes. It is a horrid and evil place — with pretty good pancakes.
So please don't get insulted if I decline your invitation to your afterparty or to Denny's. It's only because I'd rather have a snack and go home to play Ms. Pac-Man. Until I die.
José El Rey is a singer, dancer, and lover. His column, ¿Que Pasa, M.I.A.?, appears occasionally in print and every Thursday morning on CrossFade, New Times' music blog, at blogs.miaminewtimes.com/crossfade.