Like the dementors stalking Harry Potter in The Prisoner of Azkaban, the demands of citizenship pursue the bedeviled Bitch wherever she goes, even within the haven of the Miami-Dade County Law Library in the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building. While brushing up on her pro se skills, she was approached by an agitated fellow seeking the scholarly dog's paw print on a petition to keep the library -- the only public law library in the county -- open.
The library's funding was eviscerated courtesy of our Jeb-brainwashed state legislature in July 2004, when voter-approved Article V was invoked. This move transitioned court funding from the counties to the state and eliminated civil-court filing fees earmarked for law libraries.
"These fees were a major revenue source; we were forced to take a major hit to our funding. The law library suffered a lost of approximately one million dollars a year," explains director Robert E. Riger. The legislature did give the counties the absurd option of collecting a portion of a mandated $65 "criminal fee" owed by those on the accused end of misdemeanor and felony cases, but as Riger observes dryly: "It is difficult to collect fees from criminals."
John Nott, an interpreter who works at the courthouse, is fuming over the library's imperiled status. "The other [law libraries] belong to the universities or the big firms and are not open to the public. A lot of citizens can afford only to represent themselves, especially in civil cases, and for them it's essential to be able to do the research," Nott says, adding he refers many of his clients to the free resource.
"It beats me how the whole law is based upon precedent and no one's going to be able to defend themselves without researching what the precedents are," Nott continues. "It's a terrifying prospect."
Nott says he took a course at the county law library recently and got the impression he wouldn't be able to sign up for too many more. Several studiers told The Bitch they believed the library might close as early as September.
"News of our imminent demise is a bit premature," Riger insists. "We can certainly benefit from the support and prayers of the entire community in communicating the message to the powers that be that it is certainly in the best interest of Miami-Dade County to maintain an adequately funded law library."
You normally wouldn't have to expound further on the analogous implications: This past Saturday night at Le Meridien's Bice bar, Tori Spelling shilled for her new jewelry line (bearing the unfortunate name Maven) as Nights of Cabiria flickered on a small television set in a rear corner. The Bitch considered this scenario briefly while half-watching the dual Felliniesque spectacles, captivated by Julieta Massina's spunky prostitute and troubled by whores with darker tendencies.
But it takes a professional anthropologist, not an amateur nuthound, to really take advantage of these offers ... especially in Sunny Isles Beach. Turns out Spelling, who played teen princess Donna Martin on Beverly Hills, 90210 for a decade and has appeared steadily in Lifetime-genre movies since then, was down-to-earth and extremely gracious to a north county crowd still a little in awe of the semifamous so non-head-turningly common in South Beach. Spelling -- frail, exhausted, and fake-baked to melanin overload -- coped cheerfully with an extremely demanding entourage composed of about a half-dozen golf-cap-wearing fey young men and an equal number of watchful hens in Eighties Lacroix pouf dresses, plus prowling realtors, dazed tourists, happy autograph seekers who opportunely had made a wrong turn looking for the Aventura Mall, and a befuddled popsarazzi corps. (Two such gents argued furiously between themselves as to whether the name of the show their grandchildren watched was 90021 or 91200.)
The Bitch was content to merely observe and enjoy the effects of the new drug of choice at the Chateau Marmont, the weedball -- a potent mixture of cannabis and espresso -- but managed to sidle up to Spelling to pant out a few questions, namely: "How does it feel to be the star of the best-named cable movie of all time, Mother May I Sleep with Danger?"
Spelling grimaced at the memory of the 1996 girl-in-peril flick but laughed, "Oh, I know it still comes on all the time ..."
Is there any chance of Spelling's pilot for a reality show, NoTORIous, making it onto a network this fall?
"I'm still hoping, though it's not definite yet," Spelling beamed, Maven necklace gleaming at her throat. The jewelry itself, not made of platinum or dripping in carats and thus unsuitable for collar material, was pretty mundane charm-bracelet type of stuff. A bit understated for wear with a Dolce Vita-size chapeau.
Andrew Nazaretz, better known to WVUM-FM (90.5) listeners as DJ Contra and host of the Friday-night rapfest The Underground, was recently chosen to be M.I.A. 's new tour DJ. He took the place of party-rockin' indie hero Diplo, who is leaving the road to concentrate on his production career.
Nazaretz says he got the call Friday, June 3. Monday he moved out of his Coral Gables apartment and flew to Manhattan. The next night he made his official debut with M.I.A. during a sold-out concert at SOB's.
"The show was ridiculous," says Nazaretz as he prepares for a second sold-out concert at SOB's. "Dog, Kanye was there, Nas, Kelis, Matt Damon came in, fuckin' a whole bunch of models. Shit was dope." To distinguish himself from people who might mistake him for Diplo, Nazaretz identified himself Miami-style: He wore a Bangbus.com T-shirt.
Nazaretz landed the gig through M.I.A.'s management team at Cornerstone; he has worked on various projects for the influential marketing and lifestyle company for the past several years. "It's all in the family," he says. After a handful of stateside shows, the M.I.A. tour heads to Europe and then back to America for another series of dates. (Nazaretz says there are tentative plans for an M.I.A. concert at Pawn Shop Lounge in Miami, but it hasn't been finalized.) He will move back here after the tour ends in late October.
Before landing a prime spot backing up the Sri Lankan goddess, Nazaretz had never toured with a major act. Does he get nervous performing in front of crowds? "It comes in phases, but really, when I get onstage, it's cool," he sighs.
"Hey, I'm not going to spend my whole life on this shit," continues the 24-year-old Nazaretz, who is well-known around town for his hilariously laconic attitude. "It's like, yo, fuck, I'm going to tour the world on somebody else's dime and get paid for it? There's no guessing that."
Herbs and Spices
The familiar flavor of clubland discord has a Mynt-y bite this week. It seems Nicola Siervo and Roberto Caan, owners of the rarefied-clientele-serving Miami Beach club Mynt Ultra Lounge, have decided to part company for an "undi$closed rea$on." Though he denies any pending litigation, Siervo says, "I can't tell you why I left. There are lawyers involved, and anything I say could compromise the outcome."
Caan, who had no comment for The Bitch, will remain at Mynt while his ex-partner ventures out and prepares for the opening of two new venues. The first is a restaurant on Lincoln Road called Quattro and the second a new nightclub yet to be named. The latter will apparently be poised to compete with Mynt, which is at Nineteenth Street and Collins, by opening on nearby 23rd Street. A third Mynt principal, Rony Seikaly, will be partnering with Siervo for those concepts.
Uh, It's Bootleg, Baby
South Florida is awash in entrepreneurs selling their illegal wares, but the new hotness seems to be bootleg DVDs. The problem with buying these things is you never know how well the wire thief in the theater recorded the film off the screen with a semiconcealed camcorder. But now this gray market offers its own brand of quality assurance. Freejackers carry around their laptops to bars, coffee shops, opium dens, and the like and show previews of their liberated digital wares. So now you don't have to wait one extra minute to own Fever Pitch!
Don't Drop Your Candles
An interview with Miami Beach Mayor David Dermer aired on no less a civil authority than "public" radio station WLRN-FM (91.3). Certainly all must be well by the shore.
In fact The Bitch was reminded why it's good to live on the mainland when she heard the following phone message on a Beach resident's answering machine: "This is an important message from the City of Miami Beach. Hello, this is George Gonzalez, the city manager of Miami Beach, with an important message. Hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through November 30. Miami Beach is prepared for this year and to help you get prepared is eliminating state taxes on all hurricane-related purchases made from June 1 through June 12. There will be two Hurricane Fairs to inform local residents of what they can do in the event of storms; the first will be held on Lincoln Road on June 5, the second on June 11."
Date of phone message: June 7. Imagine how late it might have been if the city weren't prepared.
The Funky Hairdo
Salon UKA has opened in a small studio just off NE Second Avenue at 43rd Street in the Design District, and judging by a small open house there this past Thursday, it's going to soon be attracting flocks of cool kids clutching photos of Interpol's Carlos D and Bpitch Records' Ellen Allien. Guests were treated to extremely strong rum-and-cranberry beverages and lots of snacks. Client and Marlin Bar promoter Samantha Stormo (on hand with neatly shorn beau Tomas from Aquabooty) displayed possibly the coolest haircut of all time, platinum blond with a tea-colored swath and touches of asymmetrical, but pretty, whimsy.
Is It Safe?
Jerald Fine's debut, The Predator's Return, is making waves on the independent film circuit. Since the short's completion in October 2004, it has won awards at more than twenty independent movie festivals around the nation. "I'm gearing up for submitting this to the really big festivals. I missed the deadlines for Tribeca and Sundance, but I will be submitting it to the Telluride festival in September," says Fine. Not bad for guy who hasn't quit his day job. "I've been a stockbroker for the past 27 years, but I started writing when I was in sixth grade. I did some writing in college, but then after that, for 30 years I stopped writing. I rediscovered writing about four years ago. I wrote a book of short stories, and then after that I hired actors and put together an audio book version of my short stories. Then I decided to turn it up another notch," explains Fine.
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The Predator's Return is an unflinching look at the bitterness of age. Abe Rosenberg (Harry Lupu), a resident in an assisted-living home, becomes convinced the new guy (Warren Stevens) is actually Horst Richter, a Nazi death camp official who personally attended to the slaughter of Rosenberg's family 60 years ago. Fine admits to being influenced by a pivotal scene in John Schlesinger's 1976 film Marathon Man, in which Laurence Olivier's character, the fugitive war criminal Christian "The White Angel" Szell, is recognized by an elderly concentration camp survivor. In Fine's scenario, Rosenberg is unable to convey his suspicion to anyone because a stroke has left him mute.
The film's conclusion is decidedly dark and depressing. "Quite frankly, that was exactly the kind of reaction I wanted to create," says Fine. "I'm a fan of The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and most of those episodes don't turn out to have happy endings. I wanted to put the audience in that kind of situation where hey, you know, it's not a warm and fuzzy thing where you walk outta there feeling good. They will be disturbed by the ending, and they won't forget it whether they like it or not."
The villainous star of Fine's film, Warren Stevens, has a long list of film and television credits and has acted alongside some of the brightest stars of Hollywood's golden age, including Humphrey Bogart, Henry Fonda, Bette Davis, and Ava Gardner. The 86-year-old actor met Fine at The Twilight Zone convention in Los Angeles.
"Warren's got a razor-sharp mind, and interestingly enough, he developed a long-term relationship with the hairdresser/makeup artist from the film, who's 40 years his junior. He came down here for the Palm Beach Film Festival and he spent a couple of days with the makeup artist. So I've brought these people together," Fine tells The Bitch with a mixture of puzzlement and pride.