The Wheels of Justice
Filed under: Flotsam
The other day, while whipping through the parking lot of the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, Riptide came across a sleek egg-shape ride stamped with the unmistakable portrait of the county's top crime fighter: Katherine Fernandez Rundle. Painted in a futuristic, fast-forward blue-and-white scheme, the Toyota Sienna minivan is dubbed "Justice in Motion" for its ability to make evildoers pay for their crimes. Well, um, sorta.
According to a Rundle spokesman, Ed Griffith, the van is used for community outreach, including educating the public on the importance of cooperating with law enforcement. "People always ask why cases are dropped," Griffith says. "Well, witnesses just don't show up. So pressing the flesh helps us reinforce the importance of cooperating." The Sienna — which also offers crime prevention seminars and criminal record-sealing and expungment — came courtesy of Kendall Toyota, which leases the vehicle to the State Attorney's Office for one dollar a year.
Coincidently Kendall Toyota is owned by the people behind Lexus of Kendall, the dealership that handed Miami Police Chief John Timoney the keys to a free luxury SUV for one year. We're not saying Rundle's office did anything untoward. In fact the deal has been blessed by the Florida Department of Management Services.
But you gotta wonder: Why are the corporate officers for both dealerships, Robert Harter and Gerald F. Bean, so enamored with handing out vehicular freebies to prominent law enforcers? Did one of them have a traffic imbroglio gone awry or something?
Harter declined to comment about the Timoney "lease," but he defends the deal with the state attorney. "When anyone asks what we hope to gain from this, I find it a little offensive," Harter says. "We are part of this community, and we want to give back to this community." — Francisco Alvarado
City of Excess
Filed under: News
La Ciudad Que Progresa's upcoming council election just got a little bit sexier. As November nears, strange rumblings about blowjobs have been crackling over the Spanish-language airways.
Hialeah city Commissioner José Caragol has been a good talker all his life. He was born in Havana, came to the States in 1960, and was educated at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. According to his city bio, Caragol began his career as a translator and law professor.
For more than 20 years, Caragol has translated Hialeah's city commission meetings and code enforcement hearings into Spanish. He was the go-to guy for then-Mayor Raul Martinez's Office of Protocol and Public Relations Affairs. At age 76, having served on the council since 2005, Caragol still manages the delicate role of public information officer for the city's cops and firefighters.
At a recent meeting of the Miami Herald editorial board, commission seat challenger Mercy Dominguez raised a stink about a saucy couplet Caragol had recited on a La Kalle 98.3 FM morning radio show: "Si le gusta el sexo oral, vote por Caragol para consejal." ("If you like oral sex, vote Caragol for council.") According to Dominguez, it's been a running gag ever since January, when he debuted the joke on Channel 41's Seguro Que Yes.
There is a slight chance the joke might hurt Caragol's little-old-lady numbers. "Last night I heard somebody call in to La Poderosa and say it was offensive," says Dominguez. "A lot of people have become totally outraged. They're asking me to run because of this."
Says Milly Herrera, an activist fighting Hialeah's higgledy-piggledy zoning practices: "I think he's crazy. He's a public official; it's uncalled for."
Caragol did not return phone calls seeking comment, so Riptide decided to check in with him — where else? — at a funeral for a local businessman last Friday. The incumbent commissioner stood at the back of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Hialeah, shaking hands with various guayabera-clad grievers. His heavy frame filled out a distinguished blue blazer; his silver hair was parted neatly to the side.
Outside, in the hot afternoon sun, his face lit up when Riptide broached the matter of sexo oral.
"Around here, election season is like hurricane season," he said, doffing his blazer and wiping sweat from his brow. "It brings all kinds of tropical depressions." Caragol would not respond to questions about his oral sex slogan; he refused to apologize for his personality, which, he said, is prone to joking. "We also came up with Forget the Cholestoral, and Vote for Caragol."
Caragol seemed to suggest it is his refusal to bow down to anyone that keeps him alive. "I will keep on being myself every time and every day," he said with a chop of his hand. "I rest most in full action and full dynamism."
Behind him, a costumed mariachi band gathered before the church and struck up a tune as grim pallbearers carried the casket toward a waiting hearse. "The other option is right behind me." — Calvin Godfrey
The Naked Truth
Filed under: Flotsam
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Spencer Tunick, the photographer who fills public places with hundreds of naked people, brought his camera to the Sagamore Hotel in South Beach earlier this week. He had about 600 volunteers, some standing blank-faced, some lying in heaps; Riptide was among them.
People from all walks of life showed up, from buff guys with pec implants and lipo-sculptured six-pack abs to an 86-year-old walking wrinkle who showed up just because it was "something to do." Pudgy? Fine. Pregnant? Come on in. There was even a female-to-male transsexual, in mid-process, with bright red surgery scars slashed across his chest where breasts used to be. But he still has a vagina. I know this because I saw it. As did everybody else there.
At naked photo shoots, there is no polite avoidance of the mention of one another's nudity. Everyone freely talks about everyone else's stuff — boobs, trimmed/untrimmed pubic hair, testicle size, the works. Yes, people actually will look at you and say, "Nice penis." (Although no one said that to me.)
No jewelry was allowed, much to the chagrin of a young female model named Lauren, who sported a shiny clit ring. Her solution was to perch herself on a ledge behind my head and straddle me, hiding the clit ring behind my neck. Then she rubbed her boobs all over my head, but that was just for fun. — Dan Renzi