Sixteen years after its original publication, Up for Grabs has been returned to print by the University Press of Florida, and it is as relevant as ever. As its author, John Rothchild, notes in the freshly written afterword to this enlightening local history, anyone pining for a more innocent era of our city's development needs to get a clue: "Miami rolled out the red carpet for Al Capone in the 1920s, became a playground for retired mobsters in the 1940s, was the target of a Senate crime committee in the 1950s, allowed bookies to operate openly in the lobbies of beachfront hotels in the 1960s, produced Watergate burglars in the 1970s, embraced the drug trade in the 1980s, and hosted the corruption epidemics of the 1990s." But forget about trying to pin all this chicanery on any one ethnic group or the elite. Rothchild offers a more compelling rationale for our hometown's ongoing loopiness: It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature. He reminds us that upon its founding, much of Miami was swampland, while Miami Beach was entirely manmade -- a strip of sand dredged from the ocean's bottom. Both common sense and the cosmos suggest that we just weren't meant to live here. Our city is a living testament to man's folly in the name of year-round sunshine and real estate speculation. And here you thought it was just something in the water.

"There is a substantial likelihood that the “Cuba Affidavit' will be found unconstitutional," Moreno declared in a seventeen-page ruling in May of last year. And with that he suspended the so-called Cuba ordinance, which required that anyone conducting business with Miami-Dade County sign a document vowing not to transact business with Cuba or with any business that conducts business with Cuba. The most prominent targets, however, were county-funded activities that brought musicians and artists from the island. Moreno put the handwriting on the wall in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Miami Light Project, GableStage, Teatro La Ma Teodora, and concert promoters Hugo Cancio and Debbie Ohanian. At the time the U.S. Supreme Court was reviewing a similarly repressive Massachusetts state law targeting business dealings, including cultural exchanges, with the repressive regime in Myanmar (the country once known as Burma). When the justices nixed that law in June of last year, Moreno dutifully followed suit with a pro-forma edict declaring the Cuba ordinance unconstitutional. Poof! County lawyers vanished from the courtroom without argument. Soon the highly uncomfortable (but constitutionally protected) rhetorical contortions performed by the ordinance's defenders, including county commissioners Javier Souto and Miriam Alonso, Mayor Alex Penelas, and lawyer Victor Diaz, also disappeared from view. There is, however, a substantial likelihood that some of them still believe it makes sense to oppose a dictator by thinking like one.
Eddie Jones, Anthony Mason, Ricky Davis, and Dale Ellis for P.J. Brown, Jamal Mashburn, Tim James, Rodney Buford, and Otis Thorpe
Oh, how many, many times have we heard the complaints: You newspaper people only care about bad news. Everything you print is so negative. Why can't you ever write about the good things? How about being uplifting for a change? Well, we are delighted to announce that someone has been listening. Someone who cares. Someone who works at the malevolent Miami Herald, of all places. In his role as the paper's television critic, Terry Jackson can be as viciously snarky as they come. But once a week he parks his mean streak. Every Thursday, in the "Wheels and Waves" section, he pens a column called "Behind the Wheel," in which he test-drives and reviews new automobiles. We have it on good authority that the column represents Jackson's quiet effort to bring some sunshine to the otherwise gloomy pages of Miami's Only Daily -- despite what cynics say about the influence of automobile dealers and their advertising dollars. No, for his determination to utter nary a discouraging word, for his selfless service to the community, Jackson deserves praise and a reprise of some typical headlines from the past twelve months: Luxury in a pickup? The nimble Sierra C3 suspends our disbelief. •Escalade a classy SUV competitor. •Extra-roomy, redesigned Le Sabre gives families alternative to minivans, SUVs. •SC430 convertible coupe is eye-catching. •The new explorer is better in every way: handling and ride vastly improved. •Toyota takes a fun mini-SUV and makes it larger, better. •Nissan aims for cutting edge in reviving the Z. •Interior makes Lexus LS430 a ride in lap of luxury. •Chrysler's minivans improve on success. •Acura's MDX meets demand for luxury SUV. •Volvo's XC: Wagon for a new age. •Fast and stylish, Lexus IS 300 a top performance sedan. •Performance is a plus for redesigned Aurora. •Breakout designs mark a new course for Cadillac. •New SUVs look like performance vehicles. •Pickups keep on truckin' -- new models far from basic. •Going topless is the secret of Pontiac Sunfire's success: fun convertible shows less is more.
In an interview with New Times last year, GableStage artistic director Joe Adler said, "Television, and to some extent movies, is about maintaining a level of mediocrity. This is not the case with theater. It's a much bigger commitment. The audience is a participant." Adler combined his numerous years of film and TV experience with his passion and directorial savvy, turning Popcorn into a dark and riveting satire about the movie industry, among other things. Known for his emotive directorial style, Adler knows how to get the best out of his actors. By pairing Claire Tyler and Paul Tei, he created just the right balance of innocence and evil. Adler consistently shows a keen awareness of the context of contemporary theater. He never makes theatergoers slaves to the stage. And he often uses film, video, music, and sound to propel the play into the imagination of the audience. In Popcorn Adler reminded audiences that live theater can offer excitement that television and film can't, without record, play, and rewind.
Born Again Voodooist
For reasons unknown it was a banner year for errata brimming with political intrigue, even paranoia. Any number of conspiracy theories spring to mind while reading them. For example an El Nuevo Herald story that ran July 20, 2000, reported that fallout from the Elian saga had caused a decline in Republican Party membership in these parts. Wait a minute. That's impossible! Everyone knows the Democrats take their orders from Fidel. The correction, which editors craftily dubbed a "clarification," affirmed that the Democratic Party (you know, Janet Reno's people) suffered the loss.

Another intriguing erratum ran after an article by Miami Herald reporter Elinor J. Brecher this past April contained a curious case of mistaken identity. The story was an account of a Bay of Pigs conference in Cuba that brought together veterans from the revolutionary army and five open-minded members of Brigade 2506, the anti-Castro invasion force. Like the invasion, the story had problems. It reported that a real-life relative of John F. Kennedy, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, and Pierre Salinger were among the participants. It should have said Jean Kennedy Smith (JFK's sister) and Richard Goodwin (a JFK advisor) attended. Thanks to operatives deep inside the Knight Ridder organization, Anthony Shriver, who is considering launching a political career in Miami Beach, may have lost the Brigade 2506 vote. Unlike most of its corrections, this one did not include the phrase "The Herald regrets the error." Hmmm.

But the weirdest erratum resulted from an El Nuevo Herald story by Rui Ferreira about Radio Martí, the U.S. government station that broadcasts to Cuba. Angelica Mora, a Chilean journalist, filed a discrimination complaint after station management replaced her with a Cuban-American reporter. The original story read: "According to the testimony of Ramon Cotta -- at the time news director of Radio Martí -- [Office of Cuban Broadcasting director] San Roman [said] that the journalist's departure resulted from suspicions about her professional integrity." For unknown reasons the February 28, 2001, correction presented entirely new information, particularly allegations that the Cuban government had planted stories on Radio Martí and quotes from station employees about an open FBI investigation that was supposed to be kept quiet. "The paragraph that mentions ... Ramon Cotta should have said: “Cotta contacted the office of the Inspector General and reported that San Roman had told him the FBI was conducting an investigation about five reports transmitted by Radio Martí that were planted by the Cuban government. San Roman also told Cotta that Radio Martí employees could be involved in the conspiracy.... San Roman told Cotta not to talk to anyone about the FBI investigation." Oops.

Last December the school board brushed aside a proposal by its maverick member, Marta Perez, to create an ethics commission that would act as a watchdog over the district. Why? Millions squandered on questionable land purchases. Fortunes spent to settle sexual-harassment lawsuits. Administrators with diploma-mill degrees. Overcrowded classrooms. Underpaid teachers. Unwelcome parents. But in rejecting the measure, Perez's colleagues argued that they didn't need an ethics commission because there weren't any problems. Now, that takes chutzpah.
"Hence! Wilt thou lift up Florida?"

"Great Gore --"

"Doth not Alex bootless kneel?"

"Speak, hands for me!"

"Et tu, Alex? Then fall, Gore."

If you want to get back together good and fast, just spend a half-hour or so together in this dark, desolate zone of urban destitution. Seven years ago a huge homeless encampment known as the Mud Flats was spread out here, and despite a multimillion-dollar cleanup and relocation, the area is still a haven for people with serious problems: window-washers, panhandlers, all manner of lame and halt. They don't so much live here anymore as work here -- there's money in those SUVs trapped in lines at the traffic lights leading to the expressway entrance ramps. This is the time and the place where you and your estranged need each other most. You need, at all costs, to escape from these looming shadows, and this you can do with the help of that wonderful person next to you, clutching your arm like a tourniquet, who will never let you go again.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®