It may be hard to imagine that a guy who keeps a cougar as a pet could be physically deficient. But 66-year old Northwest Dade resident Alan Rigerman, who was featured in our 2007 story, "Cat People," about loons who own exotic felines, has serious heart and spinal issues. He qualifies under the Americans with Disabilities Act, has a handicap card hanging from his rear-view mirror, and walks with a cane.
On Friday, August 14, he showed up at Murphy's Law, the Irish bar at Hollywood's Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, to celebrate a high school reunion. He had one $6 Bloody Mary- with "half a shot," he's quick to point out before getting sick of the loud music and heading to his car. But a few seconds after leaving the pub, says the very burly Rigerman, he started feeling "thoroughly exhausted... I was huffing and puffing and realized I wasn't going anywhere."
So Rigerman, who's had a heart attack in the past, climbed over a rope into the bar's nearly-empty outdoor area, laid his cane on a table, and sat down. A waitress came over to take his order and he told her he was ill and just catching his breath. But when the same waitress came by twice more, says Rigerman, he began to get testy. "I ordered a drink before; I'm not feeling well at the moment; I'm leaving soon!" the cat-tamer recalls saying.
Within a few minutes, though, he was surrounded by three large security guards who accused him of "threatening the waitress," says Rigerman, and ordered him to leave. "One of them was so close, his gut was touching my back. I'm aware the whole time that it's Indian land, and I have no rights on Indian land."
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Rigerman stumbled to his feet and away from the bar, he says, feeling "dizzy", close to collapse, and breathing heavily, when an employee of the neighborhing Improv Comedy Club took his arm and put him in a bicycle taxi. Now Rigerman is seething about the encounter. "I'm not trying to sue; I'm not trying to get anybody fired," he insists. "But somebody should teach these security guys to treat people with respect, especially if they're having a medical emergency."
Anybody who knows Rigerman knows he is a rabble-rouser- and perhaps the most prolific letter-to-the-editor-writer in South Florida newspaper history. He was in the news most recently when, in November 2008, his cougar mauled a 16-year old girl.
But Murphy's Law has a reputation as well. In 2007, New Times detailed the plight of Air Force Airman John Thomas, who was drinking there when a brawl broke out. Seminole cops claimed that Thomas, who was not involved in the fight, tried to interfere in the arrest of his friend, so he was thrown on the ground and arrested. The airman spent 12 hours in jail and was charged with criminal trespassing even as the police refused to release surveillance tapes and other potential evidence. The tribe's sovereignty protects it from civil suits when customers suffer injury at the resort.
Representatives of the Hard Rock have not returned Riptide's call seeking comment. Rigerman isn't foolish enough to think he'll get any sort of response from the bar, the resort, or the tribe- but you can be sure he's going to continue to raise hell anyway.