The equestrians staging this month's Miami Beach Arena Polo Cup are an informal cadre called the Polo Lifestyle Team. They are basically a group of very wealthy fellows from Argentina, Switzerland, Italy, and India, along with American nouveau riche such as Tim Gannon of Team Outback (yes, the owner of the Tampa-based, Bush-lifestyle-boostin' steakhouse). Apparently it's easier to run a passel of Fauxstralian Fosters eateries than to promote a two-day pony show, for the poloists have churned through significant public relations drama on the way to the second annual tournament. The first event was in April 2005 on the beach facing Casa Casuarina at Ocean Drive and Eleventh Street.
At that time, affiliating with the Versace mansion made sense, for the storied pad's manager was Reto Gaudenzi, who was a former pro polo player with Team Europe. Recently though, Gaudenzi reportedly became fed up with Casuarina owner Peter Loftin's transmogrification of the mansion from private club into super-high-priced time-share. So he left the employ of the North Carolina media mogul and took the tournament with him up the beach to the Setai.
Last year Gaudenzi hired Ellen Marchman, then with Zakarin PR of Coral Gables, to promote the polo cup. Marchman, now self-incorporated as Get Ink PR, and Gaudenzi reconnected for the upcoming chukkers parties. The contracts were all but inked when the riders were thrown. "It's a long story," sighs Marchman, a shag-haired brunet beauty with a fiercely determined smile. "It was not my decision [to drop out of representing the polo cup. It was] based on politics of another firm bringing large sponsors. It was a painful experience, as I had several placements already secured."
Miami Beach Arena Polo Cup
The sponsor-wielding firm was Miami Beach's Patton Group, an agency so mysterious that browsers must register to gaze upon its Website.
But Patton's grasp on the reins of the polo cup was also tenuous. An anonymous Patton agent contracted to handle the tournament for a few days was animated in telling The Bitch the lowdown: "True I'm not handling the polo but I am so relieved. No one is interested in it this year. People think it was a one-time gimmick," blurted the aggrieved flack (who is no slouch from what The Bitch has seen). "I pitched stories to fashion editors on polo fashion. No interest, no room. I pitched it to the Miami Herald's sports department; their sections are so small now they told me it was a no-go. Frankly I think a lot of people just don't care about a bunch of horses shitting on the beach."
For the time being, the polo dudes are again hooking up with their original agents at Zakarin. "We handled polo last year and are again this year," confirms Zakarin's Lindsay Dufresne. "Expect plenty of details in the next week or so!" This year's tourney will be held on the sands beginning April 14.
Manipulate Your Mind How about advertisements as entertainment? What about spending your Friday night watching commercial after commercial more than 200 for education and amusement? Go smoke some more crack, you say?
The Bitch was high on life one recent Friday evening when she settled in for Night of the Adeaters, or La Nuit des Publivores, as the host, Alliance Française de Miami et Fort Lauderdale, insisted on calling it. Held in a small theater at the Miami Museum of Science, the event featured some of the most ridiculously creative, funny, and, yes, stupid ads from all over the world. It was a walk down the road you normally avoid: There was everything from the Seventies-era song-and-dance bit for bug spray in Côte d'Ivoire to David Bowie grappling with his digitally resurrected alter ego Ziggy Stardust as he hawks bottled water. Cars, tea, plastic surgery, perfume, condoms it was all on offer in ingenious and unexpected ways that sometimes involved mystery and more often included voluptuous women.
The event began 25 years ago, when a French ad exec committed himself to compiling commercial footage and showing it in a movie-theaterlike atmosphere in Paris. Nowadays you can find Les Nuits des Publivores from Burkina Faso to Mongolia, according to adeater.com. Although The Bitch can't argue with the Website's claim that advertising is a "a statement of our times, a common language for all audiences," she isn't so sure that's a good thing. Case in point: Philippe Lentschener, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi France, opened Miami's adeaters night with a lecture about the "specificity of advertising," whatever that means. Though much of what Lentschener said about the "economy of attraction" seemed valid, The Bitch whined when Lentschener praised Louis Vuitton for promoting its "values" with Uma Thurman's luscious image.
But enough of that esoteric weirdness. Try to picture this public service announcement promoting civil public discourse: A man at a restaurant table is spewing all kinds of hateful rubbish about women and the poor. As the camera pans around the table, the viewer sees other diners' looks of disgust and, finally, the wheelchair in which the speaker is sitting. "This man is disabled," the narrator intones. "But above all, he's an asshole."
Generation Tee When Megan Nicolay came to Miami Beach, she spent her first afternoon exploring Lincoln Road. It didn't take her long to realize how much she stood apart from the crowd. "I was like, do I look as different as I think I do?" she asked with a laugh. (The answer is yes.) Nicolay is the author of Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-shirt. And in a city where the local uniform lists toward designer labels, she sticks out like an origami rose in a store-bought bouquet. The adorably gamine Nicolay is all about T-shirts. At her reading at Books & Books this past week, her entire outfit was made of them. The skirt was created from layers of stitched-together tees. She paired it with the "Brokenhearted" project described in her book, a punk-rock heart slashed into an otherwise generic red jersey. Her fingers were adorned with what she called "un-bling rings," brightly colored strips of cloth decorated with appliquéd fabric flowers. Even her cute Faryl Robin flats were covered in retro T-shirts. The Bitch complimented Nicolay on her wonderfully unique, comfortable-looking ensemble. "Thanks! It's one thing to get a compliment on your outfit, and another to be able to say I made it myself," she smiled.
Nicolay was eager to explain her fascination with the sartorial staple. "The T-shirt as a fashion statement is an icon. It's versatile and very unintimidating. You don't have to go to a specialty store to get one. Everybody owns at least one. Or in my case, a thousand," she says. She's put them all to great use. No scrap goes unwasted. Nicolay's book features projects ranging from pillows and shag rugs to iPod cozies, bikinis, and circle skirts. The 108th project in her book is a T-shirt wedding dress, which the author describes as "the perfect start to the ultimate low-budget wedding." Her aesthetic is inspired by the punk-rock rebellion of the Seventies and Eighties, and Nicolay is down with some of the major groups in the crafting community.
"Um, there's a crafting community?" The Bitch asked.
"I'm a member of the Department of Craft," the author assured the dog.
During her reading (which perhaps would have been better suited to the self-expressive hipsters at Sweat Records than the subdued, tweedy audience at Books & Books), Nicolay tried to show locals how to put the Y in DIY. Sadly The Bitch remains more comfortable adding Office Space-inspired pieces of flair to her typically black, quilted Chanel collars.
Vespertine Icelandic elf Björk had a big time at Winter Music Conference in South Beach on March 25 and made the scene at Mynt, among other places. She bounced up and down on Mynt's sofas while downing vodka cranberries as DJ Pasha Ibiza spun but looked on nervously. Björk screamed at the assembled crowd, which included producer Nelly Hooper, to "save the manatees Florida's aquatic mammals!" After she closed down Mynt at 4:00 a.m., the revelry moved to Mynt owner Roberto Caan's Miami Beach apartment, where the partying paramour of artist Matthew Barney joined Felix da Housecat as he spun old-school disco tunes. The costume-loving songstress performed an impromptu concert in Caan's living room. Suddenly ducks, swans, and geese appeared on the balcony.
Beware, My Pony Canyon Ranch is the Tucson-based, health-oriented resort where those stressed by too much wealth and fame go to detox, camp, and be in the sun in other words, a place The Bitch avoids at all costs. Recently the expanding spa has been busily eviscerating the historic Carillon Hotel at 6901 Collins Ave. in Miami Beach, with the intention of offering its Arquitectonica/David Rockwell-designed interior spaces as pricey permanent residences for the abstinence-inclined.
Showing The Bitch around an outdoor spa area, Marcia Martinez, a ranch rep via Zakarin PR, handed the bitch a frosty beverage. "These are mocktails made with infusions of organic fruit, purified artisanal water, no salt, no sugar, and no caffeine," explained Martinez. The Bitch clutched an authentic Canyon Ranch meditation pillar engraved with the word feed as she reeled in horror. "But," Martinez continued, "there's a little bit of extra-pure organic vodka in yours."
This happened March 31 at a reception for Manhattan clothing designer Zac Posen. While most of the guests snuck off for snacks, Posen forced a gloveful of fans to endure a three-hour outdoor screening of Auntie Mame, a film he claims is his favorite sartorial inspiration. As The Bitch chugged her vodka and avoided the screen, Miami thread-carrier Julian Chang chatted on his cell phone, oblivious to both Posen and the projection of Mame. Guess he's not a fan.
A party this past Friday celebrating the nighttime opening of the Gulfstream Park thoroughbred racing complex at 901 S. Federal Hwy. in Hallandale Beach (about a hundred feet north of the Miami-Dade County line) featured none of the horses The Bitch had eagerly raced to the rail to spot not beloved track star Funny Cide, who last appeared at Gulfstream in February, nor up-and-comer Babaro, who won the park's Florida Derby on Saturday. Instead Univision singer Sassi bawled out some tunes in the winner's circle while a crowd pushing the white-shoe-before-Memorial-Day-issue milled about, scarfing down mojitos, champagne, ceviche, and (a delightful addition to any evening) freshly grilled arepas.
Upstairs in the clubhouse The Bitch spotted nightlife careerist Tommy Pooch staring at a buffet table of swordfish, lobster, lamb, and salmon as if he'd never seen food before.
The refurbished Gulfstream décor is surprisingly and comfortingly old-school racetrack, with simulcasts of the action at Belmont, Saratoga, and Santa Anita as well as nearby Calder. The crowd of about 1000 on Friday was congenial enough.
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So what about the ponies? "There will in fact be horseracing, I believe in the evening," Megan Quitoni, a park spokeswoman through Harrison & Shriftman, added.
Effective Immediately From the MAEX Newsletter delivered this week to The Bitch: "Miami Art Exchange has also relocated to downtown Fort Lauderdale. Thank you."