Best Of :: People & Places
How can you tell when your relentlessly pesky attacks on your small town's leadership are hitting their mark? Here's one surefire sign: When the mayor personally sends building inspectors to try to shut you up. That's exactly what happened to Stephanie Kienzle, a furiously grouchy online critic of North Miami Beach Mayor Myron Rosner. From her feisty blog, votersopinion.com, Kienzle has waged an escalating war against Rosner — and gotten results with hundreds of posts blasting city hall. When she knocked Rosner for plastering his face on "Happy Holidays" signs around town months before campaign laws allowed electioneering, the Miami Herald picked up the case. When she trashed him for allegedly accepting free ad space from a city vendor, the Florida Election Commission opened an investigation. And when she whacked Rosner for spending hundreds of dollars on hotel stays in nearby Hollywood and downtown Miami, the mayor himself finally had enough. In February, Rosner retaliated, asking his building inspectors to check out "several violations" at Kienzle's house. If his goal was to silence the legal secretary and 20-year North Miami Beach resident, Rosner struck out big time. The very next day, Miami's best gadfly was back on her computer, blogging about Rosner's crackdown and demanding his head. What a pain in the ass! (That's a compliment, Stephanie.)
The scene: A messy Harvard dorm room. A young, drunken student chugs beer at his computer.His handsome, dark-haired best friend wanders in.
"I need you," the first young man says.
"I'm here for you," his friend replies earnestly. "No, I need the algorithm you wrote to rank chess players."
"Are you OK?" the friend asks.
"We're ranking girls," the drunk at the computer answers.
And so Facebook was born — at least according to The Social Network, the Oscar-nominated film that took American theaters by storm last fall.
That drunk at the computer, of course, was Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's brash, oft-criticized founder. His handsome friend, played by heartthrob Andrew Garfield, was none other than Eduardo Saverin.
The lesser-known half of Facebook's founding duo has had a breakout year thanks to The Social Network, a film largely based on Saverin's version of the website's founding — and his acrimonious split with Zuckerberg — as told to author Ben Mezrich.
Long before Saverin was fighting Zuckerberg for Facebook's billions, he was growing up in the Magic City, the son of Brazilian immigrants from São Paulo. Before heading to Harvard, Saverin cut his teeth at Miami's Gulliver Prep.
Now everyone knows the rest of his story: founding the business end of Facebook, getting screwed out of his shares by the devious Zuckerberg, and eventually getting the last laugh by winning an estimated billion-dollar court verdict against Facebook and literally writing the book on the website's incredible inside history.
Not a bad year for a local kid.
Call it "Obamarail" all you want, you freaky-looking doppelganger to the creepy preacher from Poltergeist. The plan to build a high-speed rail system through Florida was championed by Gov. Charlie Crist, your Republican predecessor in office. And your rejection of $2.4 billion in federal funds to build the system — which would have created thousands of jobs — will bite you in your luminescent, bony ass. If there's one principle constant among state politicians of both red and blue ilk, it's this: Money from Washington is glorious. It is to be accepted with no argument. It is an oatmeal cookie from Mom. You would never tell her: "What's the calorie count in this cookie?" You would not inquire as to whether the cookie was gluten-free. You would take the fucking cookie and then figure out what to do with it. Florida has seen a lot of different kinds of morons in office, Rick Scott. But none dumb enough to turn down a giant cookie when the state is suffering from some seriously low blood sugar. That's why you were sued by Florida senators from both sides of the aisle. That's why your approval rating is doing its best impression of Emilio Bonifacio's batting average. And that, dear sir, is why you need to climb back into the fiery hole in Hades from which you emerged.
Only in Miami could a billionaire with an empire of auto dealerships be the underdog. But that's exactly what happened when 78-year-old Norman Braman took aim at Carlos Alvarez. The Miami-Dade mayor never saw it coming. How could he? Considering that — unlike most of his predecessors — he didn't break any obvious laws, Alvarez was probably already designing the statue of himself to go up in Little Havana. But when the South Florida economy tanked, each Alvarez mistake became a stone in Braman's ever-growing arsenal. With all of that ammo, Braman couldn't miss. He announced a recall campaign against the mayor and pumped more than a million bucks of his own money into the effort. When the results came in, it was a victory of biblical proportions for the billionaire: Almost 90 percent of voters decided to oust Alvarez's ass. But like any other Banana Republic coup, it left everyday citizens wondering which despot is next.
Unless you support terrifying cyborgs sent from the future to eliminate state government with just their laser eyes (cough, cough, Rick Scott) or count yourself a member of the Marco Rubio Tea Party Pretty Boy Army, the past 12 months have been a dismal time to be a South Florida voter. A terrible year, that is, with one bright, sequined, outrageously colorful-hat-wearing exception: Frederica Wilson, Miami's newest rep in the U.S. Congress, is pretty much the bomb. Wilson made a name for herself by winning unlikely battles: first as a Miami principal who closed a fume-spewing plant near her school, then as a state representative and senator taking down everything from high school dirty dancing to HIV testing for prisoners. Now in Washington, she has brought some much-needed visibility to a Democratic freshman class overshadowed by the boisterous GOP, earning a cover photo on the Washington Post Magazine, and backing controversial legislation, such as a ban on cell phones while driving. Down with the cyborgs! Up with blinged-out cowboy hats!
When big shows roll into town, there is usually only one person who can grant media access to ink-stained wretches. His name is Woody Graber. Want to cover the Bob Marley Festival? Call Graber. Want to hit up the South Beach Comedy Festival? Call Graber. Bruce Springsteen is playing at the BankAtlantic Center, and Girl Talk is headlining at the Fillmore Miami Beach? You know who to call. Same Woody you call to, ahem, interview porn stars Dylan Ryder and Phoenix Marie at Exxxotica. A cantankerous old-school publicist who doesn't show any shame in cutting off access to reporters who annoy him, Graber is the dean of the concert promotion scene. You could be the second coming of Hunter S. Thompson and he would still freeze you out.