Alert architect Robert Swedroe contacted The Bitch to register his rage over unpoliced offscourings on North Beach. What the City of Miami Beach calls a park at 76th Street and Atlantic Way east of Collins Avenue has Swedroe swearing "What a dump!" -- and he's not campily referencing Bette Davis in Beyond the Forest or Elizabeth Taylor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
"It's getting worse every day," says Swedroe, who lives and works near the eyesore, and who has sent the city several letters regarding the accumulating refuse but has received no reply. "It was originally supposed to be nice single-family homes on the beach, part of the Altos del Mar area. But then, right around the time that the Ocean Blue condominium started going up right behind it, the city changed the plan and made it into a park, which coincidentally gives the condo buyers an unfettered view of the beach and ocean. I think the two things go hand in hand, and there's no convincing me otherwise."
Swedroe and other neighborhood activists fought Ocean Blue's developer, Kent Robbins, who in 2002 announced he wanted to build a 22-story tower in the neighborhood. There's a five-story height restriction in the area. "We won that battle, but then the city turned right around and let him build to eleven stories," an exasperated Swedroe says. "So now we have a building too big for the neighborhood and a trash dump that the city calls a park."
When The Bitch phoned city spokeswoman Nanette Rodriguez to howl and whine on September 9, she said she was unaware of Swedroe's complaints. But then on September 12, Rodriguez announced the site had been cleaned up. Rodriguez added that the city is trying to curb illegal dumping, and pointed to an arrest this past Wednesday.
According to police reports, officers responding to a complaint from a resident tracked down unlucky litterer Carlos Alberto Lulic, who admitted dumping a truckload of wood and mattresses in an alley near 73rd Street and Byron Court. Lulic "expressed great remorse," according to officers.
Can You Hear Me Moo?
During one of her frequent oceanside peregrinations, The Bitch noticed the continued presence of a cell phone tower that had been erected in Lummus Park for Memorial Day weekend. Though set up on the Beach as a temporary installation, it was still there. Finding the large metal tower rather gauche, or at least unnatural in a beachside park, she phoned the city spokeswoman.
"I don't know about any cell phone towers," Rodriguez says. "I know that Memorial Day weekend we put up a cow."
Even this hound was momentarily stunned into silence, envisioning a Babe the Blue Ox-size grazing Guernsey, the Cows on Parade urban installation by Swiss conceptualist Beat Seeberger-Quin, or some other annoying public art project about heifers with cell phones.
"Um, a cow?" The Bitch finally asked. "Do dairy products improve satellite reception?"
"Not that kind of cow," responded Rodriguez. "A C-O-W. It's an acronym. It means Cellular On Wheels." Oh! Turns out Miami Beach puts them up for event-jammed weekends such as The Winter Music Conference and Memorial Day, or for weather-related cell outages like those experienced recently during Hurricane Katrina. Barring another hurricane, says Rodriguez, the tower should be turned out to pasture by September 30.
More Modern Problems Because of the Internet
Though canines mate faithfully for life, humans must endure the seemingly genetic propensity for infidelity. And once a cheater, always a cheater. Whether said refrain is empty cliché or a blatant truism, for many playing the dating game, it's a rule of thumb. Or at the very least, it's a reason for wariness when a girl is smitten with a handsome stranger. Which is why Tasha Joseph, a furiously scorned Miami-based publicist, after a night out with a group of similarly wandering weinered girlfriends, decided to take action. "You can do a background check for an employee. Why can't you do one for a potential boyfriend?" she says.
Joseph launched the Website dontdatehimgirl.com this past summer. Since July, more than a hundred community-minded women have posted profiles and photos of men caught cheating (including Jude Law). Joseph says her site has been receiving about 2500 hits per day.
A nameless woman who uploaded her grievances this past week about her 22-year-old former Miami paramour, Bassam, was merciless: "I want to save all of Miami's women from this two-faced excuse of a man! He is chubby and tries to act all innocent when he's really lying to your face. He cries a lot!"
Another person -- who had caught her man with another girl -- was mortified to catch a discussion of her posting on a popular morning radio show: "I heard about it on Power 96," says the woman, who wants to remain anonymous. "[Callers and announcers] were talking about it."
There were unexpected results. "It made him realize what he had lost. It made him come back. He wrote a poem," the heartbroken but proud chica says, noting she doesn't consider her self-expression a success.
She says all the public attention, among other things, will prevent a private reconciliation: "It blew up out of proportion. In every relationship every woman keeps secrets. How could I get back together with him after everyone knew he was a cheater?" Not that she wanted to.
A Little Bit Country
While enjoying her normal Saturday-night café con leche at Puerto Sagua, The Bitch ran across Scott Gerlock, a senior writer for Country Music Television. Actually Gerlock, who's from Nashville, asked the caffeine-swilling hound for a suggestion about what country acts to be on the lookout for on the Beach.
"Um, I'm not really sure," she replied to the first inquiry, eyeing Gerlock's mandals and CMT T-shirt suspiciously. "Jack White? Didn't he play country music in Cold Mountain?" she hazarded hesitantly.
Following the mention of the White Stripes, Gerlock and The Bitch agreed Renée Zellweger should've stuck with Jack and thus avoided the whole mess with Kenny Chesney.
"Yeah, fraud," Gerlock snorted, noting he believes Chesney enjoys spending time with other shaggy, wife-beater-wearing dudes, specifically citing Kid Rock. "I probably shouldn't be telling you that," Gerlock reflected as he pushed his boliche around a gravy-smeared platter. "You probably work for MTV. I know MTV has an office here!"
At that moment, somewhere, MTV Miami's real public relations doyenne Erica Pedreguera psychically recoiled in horror. Gerlock went on to reveal that he is actually a big fan of art-and-arena rock artifacts Yes.
The Miami Herald Newspaper in Education Department runs an ad in the Herald howling: "Why Use the Newspaper in Your Classroom?" Needless to say, some of the subsequent reasons are goofy ("It is a book in a different form."), but the best rationale as printed in an August issue goes like this: "It's an adult medium. No big seventh grader who CAN'T READ likes to be seen carrying around Six Ducks in a Pond, but he's proud to be seen READING the Miami Herald."
Which begs the question: Just how simplified has the level of writing at the Herald become?
William Arthur took a light course load at Miami Dade community College this past spring because he was working full-time at an architectural firm even as he studied the demanding discipline. One of these courses, Michelle Candela's ARC1302 Design II class, appealed to Arthur, who already holds an associate's degree from the junior college, which sometimes masquerades as an actual four-year school. Professor Candela was well-known for her aggressive teaching methods, Arthur says, but he had no idea his problems with the class would eventually wreak havoc on his life's blueprint.
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Now in Gainesville, Arthur is caught in a nasty bureaucratic mess that began with his receiving a D in ARC1302. Despite completing all of his assignments, his attendance was in the basement (something he blames on having to attend to a family member's illness). The class syllabus reads: "Four (4) classes missed (excused or unexcused) will constitute a failing grade for the course."
Trying to repair his damaged transcript and explain his family situation, Arthur learned that only a grade of F can be changed through an apparently circuitous academic process called "grade petitioning."
In the four months since the semester ended, Arthur has had to wade through endless bureaucracy. Because his GPA dropped, he lost his scholarship money and now owes fees to MDcC. Because he owes fees, the college refuses to release the transcripts that will ensure his attendance at the University of Florida, where he was provisionally admitted for the fall session, already in progress without Arthur in attendance. Arthur says he's generally frustrated with MDcC but particularly blames Candela -- who did not return The Bitch's phone calls -- for her intractability regarding his personal situation and for not following the syllabus for her own class.
This past Friday, Arthur received word from MDcC that his grade will be changed to an F so he can begin rebuilding his academic aspirations.