Miami New Times loves its city. We write love letters to it just about every week and are ready to defend it when its honor is attacked. But that doesn't mean life in Miami is all sunshine and lollipops. We can't even paint all of our city's defects as lovable quirks. In fact, there are some downright horrible aspects that come with living in Miami.
So just in time for summer, let's review the worst parts of life in the Magic City. Airing grievances can be cathartic, after all, and then we can all go back to enjoying the parts of Miami life we love.
For most of its existence, the area we now call Miami was a wet swamp. Humans decided to tame the environment to use for winter leisure, but something went horribly wrong and people started living here year-round. Air conditioning has generally made this a more hospitable life, but there is no avoiding walking outside for five minutes in the summertime and having your shirt drenched in sweat and your hair instantly frizzing out. For most of America, summer is spent out in nature. We spend it hiding inside being coddled by modern refrigeration.
The Feeling That We Are America's Third-Best City, but the Fact That America Does Not See It That Way
Most Miamians will give measured props to New York and L.A., but that's about it. Go ahead and ask around if anyone you know really wants to move to Chicago. We think Miami is great. We're the capital of Latin America! We're an intentional hub of business and culture! We've got it going on.
Of course, most Americans do not see it that way. They think we're some weird little oddity with a nice beach and a serious cocaine problem, and nothing more.
Giving Out-of-Towners Directions
Miami-Dade has one of the largest street-grid systems in the South. So in theory it should be relatively easy to get around here, yet it's just messed up and confusing enough that people get hopelessly lost. You can meet people who have found their way to Cutler Bay, asking, "Is this South Beach? Because I thought if I just drove south enough, I'd start to see signs for the beach." At least we know how to get there. In fact, we can only really be counted on for knowing how to get from (a) our home to our place of employment, (b) our home to downtown, and (c) our home to the beach. Anything other than that, most of us have only a very general idea.
The worst, though, is when friend or relatives from out of town get lost and call you in a panic and ask where they are, especially when they wind up in a suburb you're not familiar with. "I'm at 22nd? I'm by a Burger King." That doesn't help at all!
The Dating Scene
It's not hard to meet someone in Miami. That's for sure. The problem is that more often than not, that person meets one of these criteria:
- He/she is a visitor who has a plane to catch Monday.
- He/she is already in a relationship but just not advertising that fact.
- He/she doesn't want to get serious because he/she isn't sure if he/she really sees him-/herself living in Miami forever.
- He/she would rather have oral sex in a parking garage than an actual date.
- He/she just doesn't want to commit right now. He/she is just playing the field. Maybe there's something better out there. You know.
- He/she has a deep, dark secret or problem or personality defect that will eventually consume and destroy your life, and you should run while you still can.
Eventually, you might find someone, but the journey is not an easy one.
Paying Jacked-Up, Tourist Prices Despite Being a Local
Most of us are smart and know the right places or the right people to usually avoid this, but sometimes it's unavoidable. A friend wants to meet at a lounge, and you end up paying $14 for a Skol Vodka and soda. You try a new restaurant and get charged $20 for a plate of truffle-glazed heirloom potato fillets (a fancy word for French fries). There are enough rich people with little concept of value who make Miami their playground who will pay for these things without thinking twice, and to enjoy your city fully, you end up paying those prices too.
The Traffic and the Drivers
Well, duh, what else is there to say about it at this point?
The Politicians Are Extra-Sleazy
And we're just used to it. We're a newspaper. We see how much you click on and care about different stories. "Another mayor indicted by the FBI? Yawn. sounds about right. See, this is why I don't vote in the first place."
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The Never-Ending Onslaught of Change
Miami is constantly getting a civic facelift. Some people can leave their hometowns for a few years and return only to find that the biggest change is a new Walmart opened and the old Long John Silver's is now a Wendy's. Miami — not so much. Not only do we tear down and rebuild things at a blistering pace, but also even neighborhoods that are mostly physically untouched have a habit of changing their identities every 20 years. There is no constant here. This is no nostalgia.
Being Located in Florida
It's a state with a reputation for such soul-crushing weirdness that just about any weird crime here makes national headlines.
The Nagging Feeling That This Will All Be Underwater One Day
Scientists say the city you live in will one day be reclaimed by seawater, perhaps starting in your lifetime. The places you were raised, lived, made memories, and grew as a person will one day very possibly become a real-life Atlantis. Your homeland will no longer exist. Which leads to a certain existential dread that too many people deal with by simply ignoring the situation altogether.