Miami's top news stories of 2011
It's July 2010, one of those beautiful Miami nights that make you want to don white linen and stunna shades, buy an eightball from a guy named Manolo, and declare nuclear war on your septum.
The red lights of the Brickell skyline blink in the night like Rudolph's testicles or Kujo's glowing eyes. The moon hanging above looks like the one in a postcard of Miami. (Sorry, we suck at similes.)
Three best buds stand atop the American Airlines Arena. They're loudly toasting each other with swigs of Cristal.
Miami news highlights 2011
These fellows are extremely tall. Tattoos peek from their cardigans. One of them looks a lot like a velociraptor. Another constantly grabs chalk powder from his pocket and tosses it into the air. It's an annoying habit.
Our heroes — let's call them Los Tres Gigantes — are celebrating a coup. They've joined forces in the subtropics to rescue our beleaguered metropolis from its horrifying five-year basketball championship drought.
They just wrapped up a preseason fog-machine-and-fireworks party that will clearly never be recollected as a bad idea. "That's how we do!" yells the one we'll call Wayne, swigging his champagne.
"Akron represent!" cheers the one we'll nickname LeJohn.
"Take that, Voldemort!" screams the third friend, the pitiable man-child in our saga. He's strangely obsessed with Harry Potter and, despite standing six-foot-ten, is afflicted with a disease that has left him too weak to lift a milk carton without yelping.
The poor sap, whom we'll call Chris Bosh, tries to fit in with the other two, but he can't quite pull it off. He keeps accidentally locking himself in his Maybach, and his diamond earrings are perpetually so two months ago.
But tonight, as his pals are whooping it up, Chris Bosh is determined to create a bonding experience. That's why he had his agent's manager's assistant's cousin buy him a psychotropic toad from Peru.
Turning his back to his friends, Chris Bosh pulls the hapless amphibian from his sweater pocket and squeezes a few drops of psychedelic juice into the Cristal bottle.
He gives Wayne and LeJohn a refill, and the trio lift their champagne glasses in the air. Chris Bosh's eyes widen maniacally. "Bottoms up, Muggles!"
Miami has been making some pretty drunken decisions for a few decades. We've stuffed coke up our noses, tossed sex offenders under a bridge, hung out at Churchill's too much, smashed our piggy banks to buy more condos, and might have had sex with a dolphin at one point.
But 2011 was the year we finally fell out of bed, smashed the CD alarm clock blasting Willow Smith, and moaned in pain at what the cast of Stomp was doing inside our head.
We opened our gator-skin wallet and found no money but a mass of crumpled receipts. What were they for?
• We bought a baseball stadium for $2.4 billion? That's going to be an overdraft.
• Why in hell would we pay a billion dollars for a tunnel going nowhere? That makes no sense.
• Who is Allen West and why did he scrawl his phone number next to a terribly inflammatory cartoon of Muhammad?
We're going to allow our beleaguered basketball buddy to try to make sense of this apocalypse — one of Jäger-bombed cops on all-terrain vehicles mowing down civilians; a nefarious, smooth-skinned circumcised penis for a governor; and a mayoral race that included Uncle Luke as a serious contender.
Wait — just how drunk were we?
If you need us, we'll be hunched over this trash can, retching up mofongo and Red Bull.
Two nonsensical words echo painfully in Chris Bosh's head: Dirk... Nowitzki... Dirk... Nowitzki...
What does it mean?, he thinks, forcing his eyes open to blinding daylight sun. What language is it? German? Parseltongue?
He glances at his Hublot timepiece. It's December 2011. The last thing he remembers is swigging that spiked champagne on the arena roof 18 months ago.
Every bone in his body hurts. He's been run ragged. He feels like a Seaquarium trainer the day after dolphins grow opposable thumbs. He feels like Snooki a week into an Italian jail sentence. He feels like he spent the past year getting thrown around a hardwood court by seven-footers.
His eyes adjust. He realizes he's curled in a fetal ball at the bottom of an enormous dirt hole. Workers in hard hats push wheelbarrows around his lanky frame. Chris Bosh yells out to LeJohn and Wayne: "Anybody else reminded of The Prisoner of Azkaban?"
But when he looks around, he notices his friends aren't there. Ditched again, he thinks dejectedly: They're probably doing a really cool press conference in matching sweaters.
Unbeknownst to our hero, he's trapped in a money pit deep enough to rattle the chandeliers of Hades. In November, drilling began on a billion-dollar tunnel connecting the Port of Miami to tiny Watson Island. Our always-prudent politicians — and the developers scrambling like obese piglets at a sow's swollen teats — tell us this tunnel is necessary to accommodate a constant barrage of trucks headed to Watson Island.
To be clear, there is no such barrage. This is the ten-figure municipal equivalent of a Pasta Pro. You know, that gizmo you recently bought at 4 a.m. after watching a carefully crafted infomercial. Such aguardiente-and-hash-fueled purchases are how Miami rolls. Two thousand eleven was just when we finally began getting our ill-advised crap in the mail and realized, Dude, it's just a pot with holes in the lid.
So while Chris Bosh tries to claw out of the hole, five miles — as the bullshit flies — to the west, workers put the finishing touches on the world's largest and most expensive Slap Chop. It gleams like an untreated anal wart off the Dolphin Expressway: the Miami Marlins' unnamed future home, a convertible dome paid for almost entirely by taxpayers. Because around these parts, what follows "Take me out to the ballgame" is "and plug me in the forehead with a bolt gun."
With interest, this fuchsia PT Cruiser of stadiums will cost us $2.6 billion. At a time when barrels-with-suspenders are haute fashion in Hialeah and Kendall, the Marlins are even putting citizens on the hook for parking garage taxes totaling millions a year — a development our short bus full of county commissioners didn't calculate.
Even as federal agents — who at this point might consider setting up a pneumatic tube to South Florida for delivering subpoenas — investigate the criminally bad stadium deal for possible corruption, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria has spent hundreds of millions on high-priced free agents such as the Mets' Jose Reyes. Loria is tossing around the public's cash like Rick Ross at King of Diamonds.
Laugh now, Jeffrey. If God is a taxpayer, you'll spend eternity watching Miami Social reruns while seated on the pointy end of a Romero Britto palm tree statue.
Chris Bosh finally hoists himself out of the dirt pit. He lies on his back and gasps. He has a split lip and two black eyes, is covered in grime, and appears to be near tears.
In other words, he looks like he just played a Tuesday-night exhibition match against the New Jersey Nets.
He finds his vehicle — a Rolls Royce Phantom with a B0YW1ZARD vanity plate — sitting dented on the shoulder of the MacArthur Causeway. The back seat is hopping with psychedelic frogs (prolific breeders) and strewn with champagne bottles.
As he starts the engine, he hears an urgent thumping in the trunk. "LeJohn and Wayne!" he screams, giddy like a Hogwarts first-year as he rushes to the back of the car.
But when he pops the trunk, instead of his friends, a sleek, slippery, and totally nude man leaps out. He wraps his hairless thighs around Chris Bosh's neck. "You gonna fuck on me?" he screams shrilly, beating our unsuspecting protagonist with a tire iron.
Gaunt, jaundiced, bald, and leering, this terrifying stranger looks like a survivor of a nuclear apocalypse. Ranting about something called "Obama rail," he suddenly leaps to the ground and sprints away.
A serious question, Florida: How — besides the effects of some statewide 37-second keg stand that's been wiped from our memory — do we explain Gov. Rick Scott? At least other states' dumb-as-bricks governors (see R. Perry, S. Palin) have a Sling Blade-esque simpleton's charm. Scott, meanwhile, is as charismatic as a gulag-keeper and smells, we imagine, like the burnt circuits that animate his limbs.
During his rookie year in office, the "Madoff of Medicare," whose company was once forced to pay a $2 billion fraud settlement, brought those same fiscal smarts to his position as shah of Florida. Among his first acts: Reject $2.3 billion — hey, that's almost a baseball stadium! — in federal funds for a high-speed rail system. Even Republicans turned on their beady-eyed leader after that one. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle sued to force Scott to accept the cash, but it ended up going to Massachusetts ("Thanks, brah!") instead.
Then there was the bill Scott passed mandating drug testing for welfare recipients — which benefitted a company owned by his family. That's not to mention New Times' revelation that the guv's own brother received welfare in Texas without being tested. Which means Scott is hated even by his loved ones.
The peach-hued muskrat-in-chief wasn't the only Tea Party debutante we discovered in power upon waking from our absinthe haze. Let's not forget Rep. Allen West, who spent most of this year's workdays antagonizing Muslim-American advocacy groups on congressional stationery and rewatching Patton. Oh, and Sen. Marco Rubio, who... well, he did fend off accusations that he lied about being the child of Cuban exiles. Hey, you try accomplishing more than that while simultaneously keeping your boyish hair perfectly parted.
Of course, not all decisions we make while drunk are bad. (Or so the purveyors who advertise in the back pages of this publication would have you believe.) In the maelstrom that was 2011, we did revoke the lapel flags of a couple of county politicians who were treating the Stephen P. Clark Government Center like their own personal palm-greasing Kremlin.
In a Jackie Chan moment, we booted two bad guys with one kick. Righteously wrathful billionaire Norman Braman — whom we can only assume keeps a pet tiger and dances to Phil Collins in his Indian Creek Village mansion — made a million bucks rain on the effort to recall Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez, a grim stooge who increased taxes, gave county workers raises, and supported the aforementioned Hindenburg of a stadium deal. Also recalled was Natacha Seijas, a contemptuous, toad-like figure who had ruled with a Crisco fist for 18 years.
The race to replace Alvarez in the mayor's seat included our own esteemed columnist Luther "Uncle Luke" Campbell, who touted his "trickle-down booty sweat" economic theory. (If those at the top of the socioeconomic period get so horny, those at the bottom will become at least slightly aroused.)
Alas, voters passed on Luke and voted in Carlos Gimenez, a county veteran who, chaw-gnawing scouts tell us, doesn't have Alvarez's powerful graft-collecting arm but still has the potential to be a big-league cretin.
That's the South Floridian circle of life: You bounce two sticky-fingered nincompoops and invite in four new friends for mojitos. While you're muddling the mint, they're sizing up your silverware collection and wondering where you keep the jewelry.
Pity Chris Bosh, who — as you've been reading this — has straggled to Miami Beach, past the neon and nipple piercings of Ocean Drive, and collapsed onto the sand. He doesn't know he's being used as a not-at-all-contrived literary device by a Skittles-addled alt-weekly writer. All he knows is he's disoriented, tired, and lonely.
A crowd gathers around the beached giant, whose face is smashed into some kid's sandcastle.
"Hey, isn't that the guy from the Heat? The third guy?" somebody asks.
"Who?" replies another voice. "Zydrunas Ilgauskas? Mike Miller? Bimbo Coles?"
"No, you know, the Jurassic Park-looking dude. Oh, forget it."
As darkness falls, Chris Bosh fades out of consciousness. He dreams of Gryffindor.
Our marooned basketball player suddenly awakens to huge knobbed tires pummeling his chest. He looks up to see an ATV — driven by what appears to be a police officer in uniform — careening down the beach. "MBPD rules!" the cop yells. A svelte blonde clutching his waist hoots with him.
Chris Bosh rubs his eyes. Great, he thinks. Now even my sight is failing.
Chaos reigned across the globe in 2011. Bin Laden and Gadhafi got Biggie'd and Tupac'ed. The U.S. credit rating got MC Hammered. A deadly tsunami hit Japan. Joe Paterno got shitcanned. Police nationwide became gourmands when it came to properly peppering hippies. A Kardashian marriage was shorter than a house fly's pupal stage. Herman Cain existed.
But in Miami, our personal bender was of especially epic proportions. We saw the University of Miami football program devastated by the claims of a Napoleonic grifter named Nevin, the fabled Miami Herald building peddled to a Malaysian casino ring, an invasion of giant African land snails, and a transgender doctor arrested for inflating female patients' rumps with Fix-A-Flat. It was a year of inexplicable behavior that we wouldn't believe until we saw the Facebook photos the morning after, a cock and balls still scrawled in Sharpie ink on our forehead.
Most indicative of the mayhem that struck Miami in 2011 were the Jell-O-shot-tossing antics of our local police officers, who, on the scale of integrity, have always seemed closer to Sergeant Tackleberry than Serpico.
For starters, Miami Police Chief Miguel Exposito's department came under investigation by the feds after seven fatal shootings. The chief was caught on tape boasting that his officers were "predators" and apparently unable to avoid being photographed with assault weapons at news conferences. ("We rescued a cat today. Check out this new AK!") So he was sumo-bumped out of a job by nemesis Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado.
Not helping downplay the image of our police as trigger-happy Halo fiends — or our streets as a postapocalyptic, booty-shaking wasteland — was the Urban Beach Week fiasco. At Miami Beach's annual Trick Daddy Awareness Summit, police were caught on cell-phone video riddling a stopped car with bullets — killing its driver — and pointing a gun at an unarmed man. Seriously, Dirty Harry wouldn't have lasted three months on the force if there was MediaTakeOut.com back then.
On a more sensual note, other Miami Beach law enforcement types treated their professional posts like an audition for a Reality Kings epic called Copulatin' Cops 17: Rock Hard Justice. Officers Derick Kuilan and Rolando Gutierrez were in full uniform when they decided to hammer some shots and bump and grind on a bachelorette party at the Clevelander on Ocean Drive. A photo later filed as evidence shows them posing, like fist-bumping bros at a Kings of Leon concert, with a gaggle of women they almost certainly referred to as "hardbodies." Afterward, Kuilan — whose blood alcohol content was roughly the equivalent of Emilio Bonifacio's batting average — invited one of the ladies onto his police ATV. He steered it toward the beach, where he promptly ran over two people, breaking their legs.
Really, we don't need jokes for this one. A court stenographer could relay an account of this story that would read like the work of the world's greatest stoner-flick screenwriter.
Which brings us to our next installment of real-life Miami cops emulating Super Troopers. This particular saga began when an awesome Florida Highway Patrol trooper pulled over, arrested, and berated a Miami policeman who was speeding down I-95 at 120 mph without his siren on. Naturally, Miami police — or their Ex-Lax-chugging supporters — responded by smearing diarrhea all over an FHP cruiser. Then a Miami cop pulled over an FHP cruiser for no apparent reason.
This month, the two departments attempted to bury the hatchet by playing a softball game — which seems sweet until you remember these aren't warring summer camps but the armed professionals who guard our streets.
Oh, and did we mention that Solange Knowles — Beyoncé's sister— claimed Miami Beach police pulled a switchblade on her when she was trying to enter a nightclub in a banana suit?
Yep, 2011 was that kind of party, the kind where you either spend the next day vomiting into the wastebasket or you mix yourself a Gorbachev-strength bloody mary and hit the sauce even harder. Which do you think Miami will go for?
But at least things are looking up for Chris Bosh. As our Hedwig-loving adventurer lies on the beach, the wind blows a discarded newspaper onto his face. The headline: "NBA Lockout Ends."
After removing it, he spots what looks like two extremely tall figures sprinting down the beach. Could it be? Yes! It's Wayne and LeJohn, running to meet him.
Grinning, he spreads his arms for a big hug. But as his long-lost teammates reach him, LeJohn stiff-arms Chris Bosh, who flops back onto the sand.
The two superstars keep running. That's when our protagonist sees the camera crew following his teammates. The realization hits him like a brick of cocaine thrown from a twin-engine Cessna: They're filming a Gatorade commercial. Without me.
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