My parents taught me lots of things, like never lie, cheat, steal, or take advantage of people. The lessons came in handy the other day on the streets of downtown Miami. In fact, they saved me twelve dollars.
It went down like this: A black man with a gray beard approached me on Biscayne Boulevard and told me he needed some help. He told me he was a sailor from South Africa, and he handed me a Greyhound baggage tag on which was written this: "Seaman Inn Hotel, $300 paid in advance, talk to Maria." I told him I wasn't familiar with the hotel, but that if we could find a public phone and look up the address, I could tell him how to get there. He acted flustered. As we searched for a phone, another man walked out of a bank. "Let me ask him," the African sailor said. Other Man was a talker: he was assistant manager of the Arby's in Hialeah, he knew the Seaman, it had been torn down when they built the Arena, the sailor had been conned out of $300, but he knew another place the sailor could stay. Let's all walk over there and get this guy lodging.
The sailor took out a wad of money. The other man told him to put it away, now, because there are so many people around here who will rip you off. You're already out $300, you're lucky you met two honest guys, don't worry about the white guy, there's no apartheid here.... The sailor said he'd pay me $100 to help him, and I could give $50 of that to Other Man. "No thanks," I said. "I don't want your money. I just want to help you out."
After much more conversation we got to a corner near Overtown. Other Man asked the sailor if he had ID. "No, man, no. It's still at the bus station on 163rd Street." More talk. Then Other Man came up with an idea. He would volunteer to drive the sailor to the bus station, where the sailor had $5000 and his ID, then bring him back downtown. "But I ain't gonna drive him nowhere while he's holding all that money," said Other Man. "They'll rip him off again." What to do? "How about if you hold his money till he gets back?" he suggested. I didn't think that was a good idea, and explained why. "Oh, c'mon, man, help the guy out," Other Man said, turning to the sailor and pulling out a handkerchief. "Wrap your money in this." The sailor turned his back and began to wrap his money. Other Man told him to turn around and act normal.
Suddenly the sailor grew nervous. "You put your greenbacks in here with mine," he told the other guy. That's when I said, "I'm outta here" and walked away from Overtown. Maybe I should've played it out, got the guys arrested, but I had other things to worry about, like maybe at this point they'll just jack me. Theirs is an old con in new clothing A next they would've asked me to put my cash in the handkerchief, then put that in my pocket and wait for them. If I had done so, I would've ended up with a handkerchief full of paper and been out twelve whole dollars. I called Metro-Dade cops to let them know of the scam, but the police weren't interested. So I'm telling you.
A benefit for Earth Alert takes place this Friday at Churchill's with Day by the River, Third Wish, and Moak.
A big weekend up at the Plus 5, with the return of John Goodwin and the Appetizers on Friday. They'll share the bill with Texas West. On Saturday the club stages Seventh Circuit, featuring members of the Itch, Amboog-a-lard, Jack Off Jill, Smoke Dog, Radiobaghdad, and Mrs. Scabtree.
If you want to have your tape listened to by Sony, mail it to Sony Music Distribution, 5901 Peachtree-Dunwoody Rd, Building C, Suite 100, Atlanta, GA 30328 and mark it to the attention of Marnie Smith.
Yet another venue for Natural Causes. This Friday they play the Sunny Isles Bridge Patio Bar and Grill in North Miami Beach. No cover charge. Call 947-2003.
Now I'm getting angry letters from jealous dogs. My good friend Roxy (a.k.a. Chum Dog), who turns four years old this November, is one mad puppy thanks to all the coverage lately of young Kinabaker, companion canine of Ana, Maria, and Nelly. "Baker: So I gotta change my name to Roxybaker to make it into your stupid newspaper column?" writes Roxy, who lives with humans Eddie and Irene. "I've known you a lot longer than that little son of a bitch, and I thought we were friends," the Chummer adds. "I took you fishing for paw's sake! It's over! -- (signed) Roxy." Not so fast, fourlegs. It was Eddie that took us fishing, and if you'll recall, it was me who got you drunk for the first time in your life. Back then you thought it was real funny when I joked about tossing you overboard while we were shark fishing near Stiltsville (hence your way-cool nickname). I'm the guy who lets you jump all over me when I drop by your house. Cut me a break already.
Big one-year-after-Andrew party by the name of Sweatfest '93 occurs on Saturday at Kendall Park Commercial Center, 12187 SW 132nd Ct. Performing will be Blue Wail, Velvet and Nails, the Endorphins, the Room, and Paulette & the Megabytes. Bring a picnic, get your face painted, sweat. For more info, call 235-5043 or 271-5866.
America's worst band, Scraping Teeth, is playing the Square this Friday.
Well, let's see, if you listen to WSHE, you know that the hottest band of 1993 is Genesis. If you want to hear worthwhile rock and roll, you move within the broadcast range of WVUM-FM (90.5) in Dade or Piper High School's WKPX-FM (88.5) in Broward. Those are also the two stations you dial up to hear music made in South Florida. Except that you won't be hearing Dore Soul on WKPX any more. The station's faculty adviser, Joanne Boggus, says KPX policy forbids the airing of songs by bands with names or album titles that might be offensive. Two students have been suspended from the station for airing Dore Soul songs -- the same songs that KPX had been playing regularly. But when the band titled their new album Blowjob, they blew it. Even though songs on Blowjob contain no profanity (several tracks that KPX had been playing were remixed for Blowjob). By connecting them to the title of the album, the songs suddenly became inappropriate. Boggus says DJs are supposed to attribute songs they play to an artist and album, putting the station in a sort of Catch-22. The station's ban also includes Jack Off Jill tunes (DJs called them "the Jills"). (KPX long ago banned the mention of show venues where alcohol is served.) There's no censorship involved -- the school board is technically the owner of the station, they can ban anything they want -- but the logic sure seems screwy.
Spiderfoot is spreading it around: They play tonight (Wednesday) at Squeeze, Thursday at the Zoo, Friday at the Square, and next Monday at Rosebud's.
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SHOW ME HOW
This Sunday you can enjoy some bluegrass and some outdoors at the Ives Estates Optimist Club (1511 NE 207th St.) where a number of local bands will play. Call 987-4960.
Butthorn of the week: Ticketmaster. A reader says he went to a Spec's to get Elton John tix. He has two complaints: First, there were fifteen people in line. They were forced to draw numbers and then realign themselves accordingly. Second, he says, "We got seventh row on the side, which ain't bad. But it seems like none of the tickets for the front middle section were being sold. I wonder who those tickets go to?"
The media circus: Blues guitar player and teacher Alex Gomez, who moved from Miami to Orlando a while back, will be returning to tape more episodes of his Blues Slide Guitar Workshop, which recently was written up by TV Guide. Something about "a tuneful treasure chest." We knew that.
Pet corner: One of her human companions now claims that the proper spelling of the dog's name is Kina Baker. "Spelling it as one word is screwed up," says Nelly. "It's libel even." I think she's conning me.