Take the Guardhouse and Run

Movie actor, multizillionaire, and part-time Miami resident Sylvester Stallone dropped in on the September 14 Miami City Commission meeting to add a dash of Hollywood vanity to an otherwise dry budget hearing. In persuading commissioners to save downtown's Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, the thespian nonpareil promised the city 50,000 of his own dollars and delivered a soliloquy that would have wowed 'em in Stratford-on-Avon.

In case you missed it, here is the full text of the unrehearsed monologue, from the unabashed debt to Julius Caesar ("Friends, Romans, countrymen . . .") of the opening strains, moving fluidly and confidently through the Hamletian themes of the central agon, then nailing matters firmly shut with the glorious summing-up of "Take the money and run," a brilliant melding of the spirit of Polonius with the poesy of Woody Allen (extemporaneously, no less!), its meter echoed perfectly by the impeccably cadenced farewell:

"Mayor, commissioners, fellow neighbors.
"Having just come from Los Angeles, I realize how important it is to keep history intact. And we have lost many, many theaters out in Los Angeles. But now they are revered and they have poured in great sums of money in to resuscitate them, like the El Capitan, Mann's Chinese theater, the Pantages.

"But we don't have that many theaters here to really, uh, to be that free to have them goes the way of the dinosaur, to become extinct. So whatever I can do to put my weight behind this, to try to bring light to this, I think a dilemma, because Miami, it's very, very important that Miami, ah, begin to settle into a cultural center for cinema because we have such diverse nationalities down here it can only be in an artistic sense exuberant, exciting, multifaceted, and without any finish line, as Nike would say.

"I just see the future as looking beautiful.
"So to lose the Gusman is something that you really cannot duplicate. And I believe in putting one's money where their mouth is. So at this point, I would be willing to personally donate $50,000 to the support of the theater and hopefully and I know. . . [applause from the audience of Gusman supporters] . . . and I know the city as, as most cities are, have, you know, plagued with problems, but that unfortunately comes with being alive.

"And I know there's many, many important things that the, the commissioners have to deal with every day. So if this can take a little weight off and maybe help give us some breathing space so we can eventually put together some formula that it will be self-perpetuating and not call upon so much, ah, tax dollars in the near future, this is something that I hope that will be able to leverage us in that direction.

"In other words, let's just take the money and run.
"Thank you very, very much."
All in all, a very eventful day for the philanthropic thespian. Earlier in the proceedings, in fact, commissioners had passed -- with little discussion, and in the form of an emergency item -- an ordinance Stallone had vigorously backed for months. Their unanimous vote, taken just before lunch, paves the way for the film star's posh Cliff Hammock neighborhood to form a special taxing district for the construction of a guardhouse that would provide 24-hour security. Cliff Hammock -- eighteen single-family homes on a dead-end street just north of Villa Vizcaya -- also includes Alice Wainwright Park, a public facility. For years residents have complained about prostitution and gang activity in the park; in recent years a new nuisance has arrived -- busloads of movie buffs cruising Brickell Avenue in an attempt to spot Stallone or his neighbor Madonna. A guardhouse cannot legally deny public access to the street or to the park, but it is expected to deter many of the pests.

Stallone has said he wants the guardhouse so badly that he's willing to supply the estimated $120,000 it will cost to build it out of coral rock.


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