Through no fault of her own (actually, definitely through her own fault), The Bitch set off an argument among a group of friends out walking on Collins Avenue about whether the coral rock house on the corner of Ninth Street deserves a continued reprieve from death by heavy equipment.
"If people like it so much, why doesn't one of our many local zillionaires buy the coral house instead of a flat in the Blue or Green Diamond?" The Bitch wondered.
"There's too much red tape; the City of Miami Beach is making things too difficult for anyone to buy it," chided one friend.
"I'm sick of looking at it. I wish they'd just go ahead and tear it down," sighed another. (On February 15, the Miami-Dade County Unsafe Structures Board ordered the demolition of the 87-year-old house within 60 days, but it's still there.)
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Miami Beach Commissioner Matti Bower, who has launched several appeals to help save the structure, complained earlier to the Miami Herald: "We have gotten to a point where the first thought is to demolish our historic buildings and not save them."
The Bitch throws garlands to preservationists and landmarkers trying to give Old Florida buildings such as the coral cottage and the Coconut Grove Playhouse the respect they deserve, but given the absolute lack of modernist architectural theory (or any theory) applied from one end of Miami-Dade County to the other, there's no undoing what development has done to the area. When buildings cease being usable, they might as well be razed and replaced. It's replacing them with something better that's the trick.
On the corner of Loquat Avenue and Douglas Road, at the mouth of one of the Grove's most lushly foliaged blocks, a house dubbed "Twiggy" by its neighbors is more or less under construction -- a long-unmonitored pool is filled with twitching mosquito larvae. This two-story home is only about thirteen feet wide, and observed against the Key West chalets and casually overgrown jungles on the rest of Loquat, it looks intriguing but weird.
"It is almost complete," says Grove activist, teacher, and lawyer Glenn Terry, "and, I admit, a unique, interesting design set in the wrong place."
So in her usual spirit of cheerful ignorance, The Bitch offers the theory that maybe it might be best to begin preserving neighborhoods rather than hopelessly derelict single buildings. Although neighborhoods aren't necessarily paradigms of pure architectural styles, they do provide good examples of what domestic life was like at a certain time. Maybe preservationists of the near future could earmark blocks that haven't changed much since, say, 1960, and work to keep them intact. There are still many such enclaves in the Grove, Coral Gables, and North Beach.
Meanwhile some concrete crypts, large and small, are useless and ugly and should be repurposed immediately. The entire 163rd Street Mall, for example, would make a great giant air-conditioned and sun-free agility and play area for dogs, who could in turn invite their equine friends over from nearby Gulfstream Park.
The Bitch asks readers: What buildings would you like to see inscribed on the wrecking ball, and what would you replace them with?
Is That a Nori Roll?
The Bitch is fascinated by the aquaria populated by pulsating jellyfish at South Beach's Hotel Victor and never passes up an opportunity to admire them, so she didn't much mind ducking into the opening party for the hotel's Spa V this past Thursday.
After locating the basement spa (Who knew there were basements on the Beach?) and being greeted by cucumber martinis, the seaweed-loving dog was taken on a tour by an enthusiastic spa staffer suspiciously named Victoria. A warmly lit ladies' lounge led to a romantic couples' massage room, complete with side-by-side rose-petal-strewn massage tables and aromatherapy candles. The next stop was the hydrotherapy room, where a well-endowed gentleman -- his naughty bits barely covered with a modest terry cloth square -- lay beneath warm, cascading showers as his tired muscles were massaged and invigorated. Feeling a bit uncomfortable about gawking, The Bitch tried to lope down the hallway.
"Where are you going?" called Victoria in her vaguely Transylvanian accent. "You must see how wonderful this Vichy massage is."
The Bitch tried to take her eyes and mind off the massagee, and instead stared at the stainless-steel jets and wondered if those gallons of luxuriating waters were being recycled.
"Next, we have this ritual room, which allows you to indulge in multiple treatments at the same time," Victoria announced as she stopped outside another massage room, where a bare-breasted woman was undergoing a manicure, facial, and "special exfoliating breast massage, which tones and tightens the skin to give you a lift." The Bitch peered into the room and was relieved to see the woman's lower region was covered.
The Bitch somehow managed to complete the rest of the tour without getting her fur stroked or having to undress, but couldn't help but wonder who would have been watching should she have chosen to have one of the spa's $40 "forearm waxing" treatments.
Bad Boy for Life
Even the fiercest events promoters are at the mercy of the weather, but apparently someone forgot to forward that message to MTV's planning department. Most of the arrangements for the VMA nominations announcement ceremony at the Surfcomber Hotel on Miami Beach seemed logical and formulaic: Get a heavy cadre of celebrities (in this case Sean P. Puff Diddy Daddy Combs, Kanye West, and Kelly Clarkson), surround them with beautiful bodies, and turn on the bright lights (as Diddy did to some Antarctic penguins earlier this year).
But it was the bright light in the sky that drove Monday's shadeless outdoor press conference into meltdown. By the time MTV president Christina Norman took the stage, respectable members of the Miami press corps were shedding their shirts and dousing themselves with towels soaked in bottled water. How hot was it? It was so hot DJ Irie's records melted on the turntable, leaving him with drooping gobs of vinyl.
Diddy, blotting himself with a towel whose purpose, he revealed, was "to preserve the sexy," made several subtle references to the temperature: "I'm the hottest performer in the hottest city. MTV is hot and [the VMAs] are going to be hot.... It's hotter than a motherfucker out here!"
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