Kids Dying in Cars, Pulizter Prize-Winning Flops, and Norman Van Aken Gets it Half-Right.

This week's print edition of the Miami New Times is flack-proof. It's not for the faint of heart. And it's certainly hard on those that do wrong, as it should be. If you're in the public eye, for whatever reason, you'd do well not to see your name in our pages this week. But if you are lucky enough to sidestep the bloodshed, revel in the ass kicking we give those who truly deserve it.

Kids are dying in alarming numbers in the backseats of cars across the country. And one-sixth of those cases happen in Florida. It's a tragedy beyond words. But for the parents who are at fault in the deaths of their children, the law has very different consequences. In "Left Behind," New Times staff writer Michael Mooney explores how some parents get off with little more than probation after leaving their children to wither and die in cars, while others, like Antonio Balta, get 20 years of hard time. 

Politics has always been the playground for the inept, and Staff writer Francisco Alvarado shows us that the tradition runs strong in the form of Daphne Campbell, a Haitian-American nurse who recently won seat in the state House of Representatives, in "Daphne's Disaster." Campbell runs group homes in Miami-Dade where bad things (including alleged rapes and mysterious deaths) happen, repeatedly.

Just when you thought you might get some levity in the form of theater and restaurant reviews, this week's New Times, keeps the hits coming. Theater reviewer Brandon K. Thorp doesn't give Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Nilo Cruz a pass on his latest effort The Color of Desire at the Actor's Playhouse at the Miracle Theater. Thorp recognizes shoddy work when he sees it and he saw it.

Cruz's play is probably about things such as identity and false consciousness, and the way totalitarianism can be practiced in miniature in the bedroom. But what it communicates most of all is the senselessness of producing a play's first draft. The script is full of howlers, each of which is made doubly offensive by the fact that its author once won a Pulitzer. (Cruz took the prize for Anna in the Tropics in 2003.)

These errors represent lapses of common sense. Others represent lapses of taste. Some of Cruz's dialogue is so banal it seems like a parody.

Norman Van Aken has done a lot for the culinary scene in Miami. Some, including New Times Restaurant Critic Lee Klein, say he's even helped define our tastes. But that doesn't mean Van Aken's new restaurant Norman's 180 is inoculated from criticism. In fact, Klein cooks up some choice comments  for the gourmand.

"Globally inspired, seasonally wired," is their menu motto. The first part is true: This bill of fare is all over the map. Instead of doing a 360 and returning to his fine-dining roots, or starting from zero and redefining his cuisine altogether, Norman and team have combined the two notions and come up with a discombobulated 180 (also the address) -- which means that a $39 main plate of rib eye steak mingles on the menu with an $8 small plate of crispy chicken wings.

And just to finish things off tidy, Dan Savage rounds out this week's print issue when he does his name proud in a verbal assault on a mild mannered man of faith who asks that not all Christians be thrown out with the holy water with regard to the bullying that is increasingly victimizing gay and lesbian children. But it's not all tragedy--Savage's column seldom is--you also get insight on what it means when you catch your man checking out some tranny porn.

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Sebastian del Mármol