Mary, a wrinkled 46-year-old in a straw hat and purple string bikini, sits on the second-floor balcony of Wet Willie's (760 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 305-532-5650). Below is a mass of scantily clad tourists, a green palm-tree-dotted park, and, in the distance, a thin turquoise strip of Atlantic Ocean. As she sips from a heavily spiked red slushie named Call-a-Cab, she declares:
"The CEO of BP is a total jerk!"
Funny, because Mary resembles a piece of beef jerky — if it came with a jiggling, marsupial-like pouch.
BP oil spill
"If I could, I would tattoo a ring of dolphins — to represent the thousands that he's probably already killed — around his belly button," she says before almost falling off her stool. "And then I'd force him to wear midriff shirts the rest of his life."
Her husband, Hal, sporting a pair of khaki shorts and sunburned shoulders, takes a much simpler approach: "I'd like to see Kevin Costner stick his oil-separating machine up [the CEO's] ass."
Well, at the very least, that would make up for Waterworld.
As oil continues to flow from BP's underground gusher into the Gulf of Mexico and toward Miami, beachgoers and city slickers alike are pondering the danger in their own unique ways. Some are outraged. Others are just indolent. Still others are like Sofia, a 32-year-old Latina wrapped in a Scooby-Doo beach towel, whom I spot by a crowded public shower.
"I don't understand why they don't just push the 'off' button," she says, "or unplug whatever is leaking all that oil into the sea."
Her boyfriend, 39-year-old Fausto — wearing flip-flops, a powder-blue polo shirt, and a tight black Speedo — defends his lady love. "You know, in Brazil and Norway, they require an emergency shutoff valve, which is like an 'off' button," he says, putting his right arm around Sofia's shoulders. "America is too greedy to spend the extra money on these valves, which is why we're in this mess in the first place." (Message to Fausto: BP had such a valve. The company didn't tend to it.)
Out on the beach, three teenagers lie sprawled out on a blanket next to a surfboard while drinking frosty cans of Coors Light. What if the sparkling teal water in front of them turned black from the spill?
"That'll take forever to happen," says Marcos, a skinny 17-year-old in tropical-print board shorts. "I mean, the spill happened in the Gulf, not in the Atlantic."
"Yeah, it probably won't affect us, so why do I care?" piggybacks Jorge, a slightly buffer 16-year-old beginning to grow a patch of chest hair.
Then Mariska, a pretty, dark-skinned 16-year-old in a yellow bikini, pipes up:
"I'd only care if I couldn't eat fish anymore, because then I'd probably get fat."
And what would she do to the people responsible for the leak if they were standing right here?
"I'd roll them up in rice and seaweed and feed them to a shark," she laughs. "But that's only if I get fat."
In search of more informed opinions, I head across the MacArthur Causeway to the BP gas station at NE 10th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. There, about 100 people have gathered for the World Naked Bike Ride — a protest against the spill, car culture, and dependence on oil.
The same sort of event is being held in cities such as New York, Mexico City, Vancouver, Budapest, and London. Riders are to "face automobile traffic with [their] naked bodies as the best way of defending [their] dignity," according to a written statement on the World Naked Bike Ride's Wiki site (wiki.worldnakedbikeride.org).
But the closest thing I find to streakers are a female college student made up in creatively placed body paint and a spunky-looking hipster in pasties. Most of the protesters wear bikinis and strategically placed neon signs that include slogans like "be pissed and honk."
Cesar, a 30-something with shoulder-length dark hair, wears a black thong. Feathers and streaks of black paint cover his tanned flesh. "We wanted... a protest where no one gets arrested for public indecency," he says. "Hence the clothing."
Miriam Cruz, the petite, curly-haired brunette who organized the protest, dons a maternity bra with pacifiers glued to her nipples. She explains the bizarre getup in even more bizarre fashion. "What am I feeding my children?" she asks. "If oil gets into our water source here in Miami, who knows?"
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Nearby at the gas pumps, Sue, an attractive 60-year-old bohemian type in a long hippie skirt, fills her white Infiniti G35 with high-octane fuel and rolls her eyes. "Why protest BP?" she says. "Personally, I want to support the company. They're the ones who need to fix the rig and stop the flow of oil, and the only way they're going to be able to do that is if they continue to make money. Cutting off their revenue would just perpetuate the problem."
As the protesters depart on their bikes, making their way across the busy boulevard and toward the Venetian Causeway, Sue glares at them, her blue eyes the same shade as the water across the street in Biscayne Bay.
"I mean, really," she says, gesturing at a pedaling protester dressed in a full-body plush dolphin suit. "What's the fucking point?"