The Bitch was executing a Tokyo Drift-style parking-lot maneuver this past Wednesday night, which caused the Wire album embedded in the Bitchmobile's CD player to become dislodged and fly out the window, thereby becoming the property of Walgreens. The consequence of this sequence of events was positive, though. The FM radio station that became audible was emitting unbelievably not just electronic music but also dance music, and not just EDM but also trance. Wow!
Turns out the low-frequency station had been pushing a 150-watt signal that has reached most of central Miami-Dade for about a month. "It's a privately owned, low-signal station, right," confirmed DJ Pharaoh, who had been putting in fifteen-hour days at the station's tiny (and secret) console when The Bitch reached him by phone. "And, yes, I am trying to play some trance even though there are so many househeads in this community. I want to try to mix it up and play variety, play what people want to hear. But I'm concerned because the owner says dance music might not be the right format, might change to reggaeton or hip-hop."
The owner in question turns out to be Maurizio Martinez, a sometime-promoter, sometime-DJ who has been on the fringes of Miami's dance music scene for years. Martinez was a little evasive when The Bitch tried to ask him about what was going on, but she was able to extract a bit of data....
"The 107.1 station is a temporary, experimental situation," Martinez grumbled. "It will be taken down soon, as early as next Friday. It's really a springboard for what will be my digital radio station, Vyberadio.com. Also I want to revitalize AM radio in Miami. AM radio isn't what you think. If you get a good receiver, it'll sound great."
The emergence of the station has predictably yet inexplicably kicked up a ruckus on the reflexively negative message boards at CoolJunkie.com, where a topic slugged "107.1 is now the NEW 93.1?" has generated 90 posts and 1431 page views since June 17. "I'll give you 50 to 1 odds it sucks," flamed someone with the handle AdamSinger.
"I'm hoping since they're ... on a very public forum like ours that they've got their paperwork and such in order," chided one of the board moderators.
"Well, uh, it's got a temporary authorization for that bandwidth from the FCC due to the fact that it's ... temporary," Martinez said cautiously.
The other dance music station referenced in the posts on CoolJunkie, WPYM Party 93.1, collapsed in the fall of 2005 and despite a repetitive and unchallenging playlist during the day, had many fans.
Charles Cavalli of West Palm Beach has begun an online petition at www.myspace.com/party931campaign to persuade Cox Communications, the station owner, to turn 93.1's strong-signal broadcast back to an all-dance format. "107.1 is an excellent station that does what they can, but they can't even reach up to Fort Lauderdale," Cavalli sighed.
So far the petition has garnered 845 digital signatures, dozens of comments, and 1363 virtual friends. "Bring back the good shit house, trance, and breaks!" demanded 22-year-old Michael Perez from Miami.
Cavalli, who did some programming for 93.1, admits, "We did play a lot of cheese because we knew that when you have the commercial masses on your side, you have power, and when you have power, you can play whatever you want. You can't tell me that we didn't have the street cred, because we did 300,000 people a week listened!"
The Bitch was uneasy when the wealthy white filmgoers at Sundance high-fived Hustle and Flow, Craig Brewer's paean to a Memphis operator, in 2005. The film about a black pimp's aspirations to become a hip-hop star was mad overrated. It seems as if white people are way too eager to embrace such modern-day minstrel shows that proffer the image of a black man made nonthreatening through extravagantly tailored suits, big hats, and crazily embellished cars. Then of course, there's the issue of exploiting women....
So the cynical dog (who is practically an albino herself) was highly skeptical when she heard about the lecture by Miami Beach photojournalist and author Bob Adelman promoting the re-release of his book Gentleman of Leisure: A Year in the Life of a Pimp. She expected the talk, which took place the evening of June 27 at Books & Books in Coral Gables, to be populated by a very vanilla group fulminating in either indignation or benign patronage. The anticipation was abetted by the verbiage from the book's jacket printed on the invitation: "They are the original macks, the original players. They are big-city pimps the heroes of gangsta rap.... This stunning exposé explains the passionate bond between a pimp and his ho's."
Yet the evening offered some intelligent discourse and outlooks of pragmatic humanism.
The audience of about 30 contained people of all ages and races including a smartly dressed fellow sitting in front of The Bitch who looked exactly like actor Giancarlo Esposito. Adelman spoke compassionately but unsentimentally about the subjects of his book the pimp Silky and Silky's "wives" Lois, Linda, Kitty, Tracey, and Sandy, with whom the photographer and his collaborator Susan Hall spent months interviewing and lensing. (Prior to this summer's reissue, the book has been out of print for a while, and first editions, according to Books & Books owner Mitch Kaplan, are very expensive collectors' items.)
Silky, Adelman explained, went along with the project because he thought there'd be a film made about his life. Instead the New Yorker, who is now about 60 years old, was arrested for tax evasion.
"The women, though, were intelligent, witty, charming surprising normal, not what you'd call neurotic," Adelman recalled.
"How do you define intelligence?" demanded a red-haired woman in the crowd who earlier had been bemoaning the presence of a Cold Stone Creamery in her neighborhood.
"What about the violence from the pimps against the girls and pimps against each other?" inquired a serious-looking fiftyish man in dad shorts. Finally a striking, long-haired blond who identified herself as "Susanne with an s" asked what most people seemed interested in: "Are you still in touch with Silky and the women?"
Turns out Adelman has intermittent contact with many of the women and with Silky and his family. But the photographer did not come away from the documentary experience with a completely positive impression. "In a perfect world, I'd have to say I wish there was no prostitution at all," said Adelman. Over the years, Adelman, who is well known in the archival photography world for his portraits of the Rev. Martin Luther King and documentation of the civil rights movement, has been associated with a number of progressive social causes including the ACLU and NOW. "I don't think paying for sexual acts is a way for men to interact with women or vice versa."
But Adelman admitted, "There's been prostitution since the beginning of human history. At least making it legal, as it is in Germany and even Nevada, would make it legal, taxable, and would eliminate the need for pimps altogether."
Baby's in the Mountains
Though our city brims with Hispanic (or is it Latino?), Caribbean, and even European flair, we are located in the United States. After 9/11, variations on Betsy Ross's theme were flying from every pole and plastered on every fossil-fuel-sucking SUV, as well as on city vehicles across the nation. But as time passes, fads like flags fade, and this past week the U.S. Senate couldn't rally enough votes to pass an amendment banning flag-burning.
Of course the anarchic Bitch is not the most patriotic of dogs you'll never see the pup sporting a Stars and Stripes bandanna but when she learned of some decal dirt involving Miami Beach's public works department, she went sniffing around the flagpole.
"It wasn't really an American flag, but a red, white, and blue insignia that looked like a flag," Manny Viera says of the sticker slapped on some public works vehicles. "It looked like a badge that was red, white, and blue, and it said 'All-American City' on it. You see, we were an All-American City in 2004, and now it's 2006." (Actually, according to the Website for the National Civic League, the organization that bestows the All-American City Award, Miami Beach was a winner in 2003.)
Initially Viera did think he was being told to remove the American flag by a department supervisor. "That's what I thought, and I was mad, so I asked about it."
So does this mean we're not an All-American City anymore?
"No, we're just back to being the same old Miami Beach again," Viera laughs.
Power to the PR Firm
The Bitch barely has the mojo to operate a battery-powered screwdriver, so she didn't expect to make the cut for South Florida CEO magazine's 2006 Power Issue. The 112-page April glossy documented the 45 most powerful South Floridians, devoting to each authority figure a full-page photo.
The Power Issue included the folks you would expect, such as land baron Ron Bergeron, lobbyist Ron Book, WSVN Channel 7 owner Edmund Ansin, Florida House Speaker-Designate Marco Rubio, and University of Miami president Donna Shalala.
One comparatively underwhelming name leaped out at The Bitch: Jami Reyes, a local PR executive who is a partner at Gordon Reyes & Co (that's Gordon as in Seth "Chancellor Palpatine" Gordon). Sure, Reyes might be a fine media operator, but she's no Carrie Meek (who also made the Power Issue). But then The Bitch noticed a pattern: Six of the 45 Power Issue inductees are now this is unbelievable clients of Reyes's PR firm.
There's former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffee and Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, whose law firms are clients. Donald V. Browne, president of Telemundo, made the list. He's a client. And there are the construction types: Latin Builders Association president Gus Gil, Terra Group chief executive Pedro A. Martin, and, of course, ubiquitous Related Group honcho Jorge M. Perez. Yep, they're all clients too.
Reyes and South Florida CEO editor William Plasencia didn't respond to The Bitch's obvious question: If this dog hires Reyes, will she land a spot in next year's Power Issue?
An oft-heard gripe about the Magic City is that customer service disappears south of the Broward County line. Ohioans and other rubes tend to blame diversity. South Florida natives attribute the politeness deficit to a particularly superficial culture that is both transitory and selfish. Regardless, The Bitch has noticed that the rudeness nexus seems to be Miami International Airport.
This suspicion was confirmed when the Bitch was told the following tale:
On June 5, Florida International University graduate student Nicole Vaughan took her mother, Elaine Hinds, to MIA. Hinds, a native of Jamaica, had suffered a mild heart attack the previous month, but her doctors cleared her to travel only if she took it easy. With that in mind, Vaughan arranged to have a wheelchair meet her mother at the curb and take her to the gate for her US Airways flight to Norfolk, Virginia.
Vaughan dropped off her mom, made sure the wheelchair was there, and checked the luggage. Goodbyes were said.
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"I thought everything was okay, everything was going as planned," Vaughan recalls.
Not exactly. The attendant wheeled Hinds to the security checkpoint and then walked away. Twenty minutes later, when the wheelchair attendant failed to return, Hinds grew nervous about making her flight and decided to walk to the gate.
"She was getting winded and taking breaks, sitting down along the way," Vaughan says. Hinds barely made it to her gate for her flight. By the time she boarded the plane, she felt sick. "She was weak and nauseated," Vaughan says. "She got sick three times on the plane."
US Airways representatives wouldn't comment to The Bitch, nor have they responded to Vaughan's written complaint.