Longform

Miami's top news stories of 2011

It's July 2010, one of those beautiful Miami nights that make you want to don white linen and stunna shades, buy an eightball from a guy named Manolo, and declare nuclear war on your septum.

The red lights of the Brickell skyline blink in the night like Rudolph's testicles or Kujo's glowing eyes. The moon hanging above looks like the one in a postcard of Miami. (Sorry, we suck at similes.)

Three best buds stand atop the American Airlines Arena. They're loudly toasting each other with swigs of Cristal.

These fellows are extremely tall. Tattoos peek from their cardigans. One of them looks a lot like a velociraptor. Another constantly grabs chalk powder from his pocket and tosses it into the air. It's an annoying habit.

Our heroes — let's call them Los Tres Gigantes — are celebrating a coup. They've joined forces in the subtropics to rescue our beleaguered metropolis from its horrifying five-year basketball championship drought.

They just wrapped up a preseason fog-machine-and-fireworks party that will clearly never be recollected as a bad idea. "That's how we do!" yells the one we'll call Wayne, swigging his champagne.

"Akron represent!" cheers the one we'll nickname LeJohn.

"Take that, Voldemort!" screams the third friend, the pitiable man-child in our saga. He's strangely obsessed with Harry Potter and, despite standing six-foot-ten, is afflicted with a disease that has left him too weak to lift a milk carton without yelping.

The poor sap, whom we'll call Chris Bosh, tries to fit in with the other two, but he can't quite pull it off. He keeps accidentally locking himself in his Maybach, and his diamond earrings are perpetually so two months ago.

But tonight, as his pals are whooping it up, Chris Bosh is determined to create a bonding experience. That's why he had his agent's manager's assistant's cousin buy him a psychotropic toad from Peru.

Turning his back to his friends, Chris Bosh pulls the hapless amphibian from his sweater pocket and squeezes a few drops of psychedelic juice into the Cristal bottle.

He gives Wayne and LeJohn a refill, and the trio lift their champagne glasses in the air. Chris Bosh's eyes widen maniacally. "Bottoms up, Muggles!"

Miami has been making some pretty drunken decisions for a few decades. We've stuffed coke up our noses, tossed sex offenders under a bridge, hung out at Churchill's too much, smashed our piggy banks to buy more condos, and might have had sex with a dolphin at one point.

But 2011 was the year we finally fell out of bed, smashed the CD alarm clock blasting Willow Smith, and moaned in pain at what the cast of Stomp was doing inside our head.

We opened our gator-skin wallet and found no money but a mass of crumpled receipts. What were they for?

• We bought a baseball stadium for $2.4 billion? That's going to be an overdraft.

• Why in hell would we pay a billion dollars for a tunnel going nowhere? That makes no sense.

• Who is Allen West and why did he scrawl his phone number next to a terribly inflammatory cartoon of Muhammad?

We're going to allow our beleaguered basketball buddy to try to make sense of this apocalypse — one of Jäger-bombed cops on all-terrain vehicles mowing down civilians; a nefarious, smooth-skinned circumcised penis for a governor; and a mayoral race that included Uncle Luke as a serious contender.

Wait — just how drunk were we?

If you need us, we'll be hunched over this trash can, retching up mofongo and Red Bull.

Two nonsensical words echo painfully in Chris Bosh's head: Dirk... Nowitzki... Dirk... Nowitzki...

What does it mean?, he thinks, forcing his eyes open to blinding daylight sun. What language is it? German? Parseltongue?

He glances at his Hublot timepiece. It's December 2011. The last thing he remembers is swigging that spiked champagne on the arena roof 18 months ago.

Every bone in his body hurts. He's been run ragged. He feels like a Seaquarium trainer the day after dolphins grow opposable thumbs. He feels like Snooki a week into an Italian jail sentence. He feels like he spent the past year getting thrown around a hardwood court by seven-footers.

His eyes adjust. He realizes he's curled in a fetal ball at the bottom of an enormous dirt hole. Workers in hard hats push wheelbarrows around his lanky frame. Chris Bosh yells out to LeJohn and Wayne: "Anybody else reminded of The Prisoner of Azkaban?"

But when he looks around, he notices his friends aren't there. Ditched again, he thinks dejectedly: They're probably doing a really cool press conference in matching sweaters.

Unbeknownst to our hero, he's trapped in a money pit deep enough to rattle the chandeliers of Hades. In November, drilling began on a billion-dollar tunnel connecting the Port of Miami to tiny Watson Island. Our always-prudent politicians — and the developers scrambling like obese piglets at a sow's swollen teats — tell us this tunnel is necessary to accommodate a constant barrage of trucks headed to Watson Island.

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Gus Garcia-Roberts