In Miami, billboards are less than advertisements for South of the Border and more than homes for pigeons
Jonathan Postal

Between Something and Nothing

Shoegazer: Hey, at least it's not emo. Sometimes The Bitch's addiction to the music that has evolved into the more flatteringly termed "dreampop," thrumming with the alien wail of guitar reverb and a Dagwood sandwich of effects, is soothed with the live music methadone known as Internet radio. No, it is not the new My Bloody Valentine album, but nothing is, so there you go.

Still there was much happiness in the land when Slowdive's "Watch Me" suddenly came droning out of the hard drive. What are the chances of finding aficionados of Ride, Bailter Space, and Flying Saucer Attack in Miami? The Bitch has listened to the broadcast of Sonic Sound System for months, but was astounded to learn last week that the station originates not in Manchester but in Kendall. It turns out that the enthraller is local musicologist Alex Caso, a.k.a. "Detective Severino," further self-described as "Cookieheadz" and "once in a while known as Alex Christ, King of the Dudes."

Caso is one of the resident DJs at Poplife at I/O Lounge, where he spins what he calls "a hodgepodge of obscure and classic retro music" in the side room. Caso also spent quite some time on the turntables at Revolver, but became too busy for the extra night owing to his numerous music and screenwriting projects.

"The station is actually an outlet for music I can't play at these trendy nightclubs, since these barely legal hipsters don't really care for this type of stuff. Then again, we live in Miami, where nightlife is an escape, not a place to discover new or forgotten music," says Caso. "Don't get me wrong, I love this city, and it has come a long way, but it still needs a push."

The station also features the occasional wildcard cut from Blur, the Who, and Magnetic Fields.

"It is still a baby, and I try my best to update it weekly," Caso says of Sonic Sound System, adding that he hopes to present live streams and have some guest DJs within a few months. Those programs will likely take place at night so as not to interfere with his day job.

"I am actually an arbitrator, but detective sounds more interesting," he offers with a shrug. Tune in at stations/detectiveseverino?play

Felony Charges Take a Powder

The mythical Snow Queen must be smiling on Armando Perez-Roura, Jr., the 49-year-old son of el exilio's leading AM radio moralist, Armando Perez-Roura, Sr. This past January 4, a Miami cop pulled over Armando, Jr., in Little Havana and busted him. Charges: cocaine possession with intent to distribute, and driving with a nonvalid driver's license. In his police report, Ofcr. Pablo Camacho writes that he had observed Armando, Jr., conduct "a narcotics transaction" in the Wendy's parking lot at NW 32nd Avenue and NW Seventh Street. When Armando, Jr., noticed Camacho's marked squad car, he climbed into his own vehicle, drove away, parked again, "was observed stuffing something under the passenger seat," and walked off. "Vehicle inventory after arrest revealed a black pouch containing sixteen clear plastic bags with cocaine powder, thirteen clear pink plastic bags with cocaine powder, four clear plastic bags with cocaine rock, and two clear yellow plastic bags with cocaine rock. Cocaine field tested positive on scene." That's a nice bit of yeyo, but a snowball compared to the avalanche of kilos that a younger Armando, Jr., imported from Colombia in the early Eighties. That is, until 1984, when the U.S. Customs Service caught him. He was convicted and sentenced to five years, but served only two, after agreeing to be a government informant.

Still 35 baggies is a substantial drift, and moreover, Camacho discovered that Armando, Jr., had an outstanding arrest warrant stemming from a worthless $920 check he wrote in 1997. That year state prosecutors dropped the case after Armando, Jr., agreed to repent by entering a counseling program. He didn't complete the counseling, hence the warrant.

How does a convicted felon escape being put on ice? Apparently it has nothing to do with the fact that State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle's dad and Armando, Jr.'s pop are buddies, or that Rundle has appeared on Armando, Sr.'s Radio Mambí talk show, suspicions recently floated to journalists by former state prosecutor Al Milian, who is one of Rundle's challengers at the polls this fall.

Deputy chief state attorney José Arrojo explains: On January 8 at 2:45 p.m. Tom Wessel, a prosecutor in the SAO's felony screening unit, sent a memo to Lt. Steve Rossbach at MPD's court liaison unit at the county courthouse requesting more information about the alleged crime. "Was the defendant alone in the vehicle? Was there anything else under the seat that could have been what the defendant placed there?" Wessel wrote.

The memo warned that if Wessel didn't receive the info by 6:00 a.m. January 22, he would have no choice but to "no-action" the case. Arrojo says Camacho did not respond. "Rather than actually bringing officers in for face-to-face meetings, we will allow the officer to file an affidavit," says Arrojo. "If this were a more serious case -- homicide, robbery, sexual battery -- we would require a face-to-face meeting."

"The whole thing stinks," fumes Milian. "If you get a guy with a record like this one, with a prior trafficking conviction ... and he gets caught with that amount of cocaine, which clearly shows it's packaged for distribution, not for personal consumption, it's a very sad statement for the voters of Miami-Dade County that the State Attorney's Office says that's not a serious case. The State Attorney's Office should tell that to some of the parents who have kids who are addicted, or whose kids become victims of violence prompted by drug trafficking. I think that's outrageous." He says the SAO should have put the case at "the top of the heap" and issued the arresting officer a subpoena.

Arrojo says Camacho never responded to the memo. (Neither Camacho nor supervisors at the MPD court liaison unit responded to requests for comment.) This past May, the state also dropped Armando, Jr.'s worthless-check rap after he finally completed an eight-week counseling program. Cool.

Go Tell It on the Mastiff

The Bitch gets a lot of invective-filled messages. Many of them just say "You suck and oh by the way your knowledge of Italian cinéma vérité sucks too" or "It's Frango Mints, you moron" and are confined to about that many words. Other correspondents devote themselves to more expansive deconstructions of this columnist's many flaws, and a few especially intrepid, or as we like to say in Bitchville, unmedicated, authors pry themselves away from their stygian tasks to pen critical Remembrance of Things Past-length manifestoes consisting entirely of sentences beginning with the word "I."

Some writers, however, actually pose mysteries for The Bitch to solve using her considerable sleuthing powers. So began the case of the Coconut Grove Parking Meter Fairy. Inspired by a skit on the sadly defunct MTV program Jackass, in which an irate Los Angeles parking-enforcement officer berates Johnny Knoxville, someone wondered if the CGPMF, a guy whose real name is Xavier Cortes, was breaking the law by in effect tampering with the natural expiration of quarter-supported parking.

According to The Bitch's interpretation of the City of Miami's ordinances Sec. 35-160, Tampering with, damaging, etc. meters (Code 1967, 34-31, 34-36, 34-37; Code 1980, 35-51, 35-66, 35-67), the answer is no.

The citation reads: "It shall be unlawful for any unauthorized person to remove, deface, tamper with, open, willfully break, destroy or damage any parking meter, and no person shall willfully manipulate any parking meter in such a manner that the indicator will fail to show the correct amount of unexpired time before a violation. "

The Bitch takes this to mean that for the meter to "show the correct amount of time," it doesn't matter whether it is slug-fed by the hand of fairy or human....

The Avian of the Masses

The Bitch also got a lot of incoming from an item about a man seen caging up and taking off with pigeons in Miami Beach. Readers responded with tips about the identity of the pigeon-nappers.

A likely suggestion: Many botánicas, catering to Santería adherents, sell pigeons along with roosters, hens, and other fowl. A caller left the following message: "I am concerned that The Bitch has not ever visited a botánica. They sell plenty of animals there. Perhaps you could trace the pigeons to see what they do with them. Of course, they bleed them to death. But do not be overly concerned! I am not overly concerned, because pigeons are nothing but rats with wings. And it keeps people in line to have a religion. "

The Bitch called several botánicas; they do sell pigeons, and though no one had ready answers about what ultimately happens to the birds, it's safe to say they don't end up starring in the upcoming remake of On the Waterfront.

Another call came from someone identifying himself as Joey. "I know a guy who catches pigeons in the way you described in your article. He's selling them to local laboratories. He's getting about four dollars a bird and, um ... he smokes crack." This tip remains unverified: Joey's number was mysteriously disconnected and no local labs will fess up to buying cages full of pigeons from crackheads. This important issue continues to be bird-dogged.

World's Quietest Board Game

Only about a dozen people attended the late-night portion of a July 8 meeting of the Miami City Commission, during which commissioners approved a settlement with Clear Channel Outdoor over the media giant subsidiary's illegal flock of hundreds of billboards citywide. This civic beautification boon is actually a boondoggle. Clear Channel will pay about a million dollars to keep half of its eyesores on a stick painfully visible.

Anti-billboard activist Steve Hagen said, via e-mail: "I think I will better invest my time looking at brochures of places that respect their scenic beauty ... as billboards will reign in Miami and for that matter most of Florida for the rest of the time I have to enjoy this planet, unless voters demand more from their city and state officials."

To summarize a decade's worth of billboard terrorism:

1985: City tells billboard companies new expressway billboards illegal.

1990: City tells billboard companies non-expressway billboards must go in five years, or else.

1991-2000: Billboard companies put more signs up, especially on expressways. City: zzzzzzz.

March 2000: First of ten New Times exposés: City zzzzzzz!

July 2003: Settlement allows Carter Outdoor to pay city $350,000 for signage sins. Must dismantle two signs by 2023, or pay $40,000 more and relocate them. Ten illegal expressway billboards remain intact in exchange for free advertising.

July 2004: Settlement allows Clear Channel to keep about half of its 450 signs in exchange for cash up front, $250,000 per year, and free advertising.


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