At 2:00 p.m. Saturday, May 27, the atmosphere in South Beach was thick with tattooed flesh, rattling bass boom, and the mad, intoxicating energy of people sweating, driving, eating, drinking, and spending in every nook of America's consumer Eden. Miami New Times dispatched to the scene a Universal Complaint Department emissary carrying a cardboard box marked "complaints" and wearing a company hat to discover just what stuck in the crowd's collective craw.
In the warm mist of an outdoor shower behind the Loews Hotel, James, a portly D.C. barber, complained of being horrified and undersexed.
"How you supposed to get some ladies to sign in and come up to your room?" he asked between puffs of his blunt. "Eight hundred dollars for a hotel room and you can't bring no visitors up."
"Plus, I'm traumatized," James sighed, eyeing passing women. "I didn't come all the way from D.C. to see some crazy white boy throw himself and his kids off a balcony." Earlier that morning, a doctor from Illinois had thrown his children and then himself off the fifteenth floor of the Loews, three doors down from where James had been sleeping.
Rinsing off a few feet away, two lithe, yellow-skinned girls from Chicago bemoaned an excess of rude men in South Beach. "Plus the ozone's going away," one remarked as she washed the salt water from her frizzy tangerine hair.
Sunbathers, gadabouts, and loungers on the fine white sand agreed they wouldn't have any complaints until tomorrow. Rene and Jackie, a pair of 23-year-old Miami Herald employees, seemed to have a beef with sand itself. "It's disgusting," Jackie said as she exited the beach. "It should be grass or foam or AstroTurf or something."
Rene recommended that the universe consider a "big gym mat."
One block west, the vibrant, near-asphyxiating action on Washington Avenue proved far more ribald there was a saucy rant on every street corner.
While simultaneously promoting his clothing line (Made in Dade) and his services as a $50-per-hour escort, Tommy, a tall young man in a baseball cap flecked with rainbow 305's, complained about cops. "I saw five male police officers arresting a female, and they were being real overaggressive," he said just before asking a passing woman in green Daisy Dukes if he could touch her hair.
Just then a well-appointed passenger in a BMW shouted he "didn't have no fuckin' money," and an acne-scarred youth clutching a pile of sweaty tablets announced, "I don't got no complaints, but I got some E-pills for sale."
A few blocks down, four lusty young women who identified themselves as "the Eastside Hoes" railed against science for failing to produce a satisfactory condom. "Why does it always feel better raw?" they demanded to know, stamping their feet petulantly.
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"Sean John," a drunk rake with green-apple Blow Pops jutting from his hat, listed his grievances against the universe while perched atop a SunPost newspaper box. "We want more strippers; we want pussy worth a stack," he began as he downed what he called a "mixed drink" from a brown-bagged can of Old E.
"Police need to stay their ass at home," he added, making a bold dive for a fistful of passing derriere. "There ain't this many police on Calle Ocho."
Seated soberly next door, Eric, a burly correctional officer from Baltimore, decried the $89 ticket he received for wearing sunglasses while driving his motorcycle after sundown. "Slap me on my wrist," he suggested between licks of his chocolate chip gelato cone. "The police are just trying to inconvenience people having a good time."
As evening arrived, Washington Avenue sidewalks swelled to capacity. A gray-bearded 50-year-old street sweeper named Frankie Jake doddered through the crowd. Jake said he had only one complaint: paper flyers. "But then," he smiled, passing his broom through the deluge of feet and fallen trash, "that's how I make my money."