The Seminole Sun Sets on Anna Nicole

The Seminole Sun Sets on Anna Nicole
Filed Under: Scene
The day Anna Nicole Smith's corpse was wheeled from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, tribe members were setting up for their annual powwow. The 36th gathering, which began last Thursday, is a celebration of Seminole culture that includes traditional dancing and singing, fair-style food, live music, a rodeo, and merchant booths. Like the hotel complex, the weekend-long event attracts visitors and dollars from well beyond the reservation.

This past weekend, the international media were gone. The lenses had moved to Nassau, where Anna Nicole's paramour, Howard K. Stern, was busy selling his reunion with her baby, Dannielynn, to Entertainment Tonight and the New York Post. (Since then, of course, three others have staked a claim to custody of the prized kid.)

On Sunday, inside the complex's Paradise arena, a sparse audience watched as more than a hundred Native Americans meandered in a circle on a beige, earth floor to the vigorous beats of clans in various drum circles. Some walked slowly and chatted, others carried babies, and the most exuberant twirled in place as they made their way around.

The participants wore numbers, like marathon runners, and most were decked out in brightly colored traditional garb, feathers fanning in profusion from their heads and backs.

The scene was an affirmation of cultural perseverance. It was also a rebuke to the disposable culture exemplified by Anna Nicole Smith, and to the journo-jackals who arrived Thursday to feed on her carcass. They were gone by the weekend, trailing front page headlines from New York to Sidney, filing solemn stand-ups from outside Smith's Bahamas mansion.

There will be no mention of the shape-shifting, would-be starlet in the pages of the next bimonthly Seminole Tribune, "Voice of the Unconquered," which concerns itself generally with positive news about the tribe, like its recent acquisition of the Hard Rock franchise for a billion dollars.

But the powwow is sure to get plenty of play. "I'm always very moved when they do the cultural dance," said a Tribune reporter, who noted the tribal governing council had cooperated with the media horde, but not happily.

Outside the arena, tourists milled around the plaza between the dim casino and the merchant tents, filing in and out of chain stores and restaurants like Brookstone and Hooters. An elderly Native American woman, in full regalia and black Reebok running shoes, carried a canvas bag from Bad Ass Coffee as a trio of long-haired tribal adolescents crashed through on skateboards. — Frank Houston

Have a Heart for Your Cart
Filed Under: Flotsam
Shopping carts tend to collect beneath highway overpasses, in the parking decks of high-rises, and in burned-out lots overgrown with nettles. Perhaps they deserve a little more respect.

It is to honor these neglected vessels that some unknown authority (perhaps the U.S. Census Bureau?) has declared February "Return Shopping Carts to the Supermarket Month." While its origins are obscure, the designation has been embraced by Team Metro West, a county agency that will be roaming the streets with a trailer every Tuesday this month. Assisted by volunteers, these citizen soldiers will seek out orphan carts, breadbaskets, and milk crates, and return them to the strip malls from whence they came.

It is unclear what color ribbon should be affixed to the lapel to indicate support (perhaps the receipt from your last trip to Target?), but we salute thee, good neighbors! — Emily Witt

Bike Pains
Filed Under: News
To take to the roadways of Miami-Dade County by bicycle is to take your life into your hands. And juggle.

Despite the fact that just four percent of the county's population lives there, twelve percent of the county's bicycle-related accidents in 2005 occurred in Miami Beach, where bike lanes are as rare as available parking. With those figures in mind, this past week I joined self-described "local cranktivist" Gabrielle Redfern for a tour of the Beach's bike lanes. It didn't take long.

"This was clearly the way the city thought they could make me shut up," Redfern said cheerfully at the corner of 42nd Street and Sheridan Avenue, the start of the Beach's first-ever bike lane, built in 2004. "Look at it: It's a four-foot travel lane, no parking, well-striped." But no sooner had she sung its praises than the lane vanished four blocks later. "And then it ends. And here we are, at the end."

Redfern, a stylish, funny, and unceasingly energetic woman in her midforties, took up bikes as a cause when she moved to the Beach in 1998. She's a member of the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC), was president of her Orchard Park neighborhood association, and is on the steering committee for the Beach's Alliance for Reliable Transportation. She's running for city commissioner this fall.

Our next stop on the Beach bike tour was a lane on Alton Road. When resurfacing work began on Alton four years ago, Redfern clamored for bike accommodations. Instead, the Beach got "bulb-outs" on the northern stretch — aesthetically enhanced hunks of concrete that hug curbs, and are intended to have a "calming" effect on traffic. When the second phase of the Alton Road project began, Redfern redoubled her efforts. "I made big stinks," she said. "Big stinks."

The result: the Beach's second bike lane. "It starts in the middle of nowhere," admitted Redfern, "but it's here, and it's used, and it's beautiful." Indeed, the lane abruptly springs into existence alongside the Miami Beach Golf Course and then continues for a good, well, almost a kilometer, anyway.

The last bike lane to grace the roadways of Miami Beach is the unmarked white line on the Venetian Causeway, which I'd failed to use on my way to meet Redfern. I mistook it for a shoulder.

Redfern remains hopeful. She has lots more plans for bike lanes on the Beach, on Prairie Road and along the Dade Canal, as well as an extension of the existing Alton Road lane.

"If you build it," Redfern assured, "they will ride." — Isaiah Thompson

More Good News for Cheerleaders
Filed Under: News
As if you needed another reason to worship cheerleaders.

National Geographic recently named Mireya Mayor, a former Dolphins pompom girl, as one of its seven Emerging Explorers, awarding her $10,000 toward her research.

Mayor, 33, is a professor of anthropology and forensics at the University of Miami. The Little Havana native is also one of the world's foremost primatologists. She's traveled the globe studying the rarest of our cousins. In Madagascar, she discovered a new species of mouse lemur that turned out to be the world's smallest primate. She convinced that country's prime minister to establish a national park to help protect the little guy.

"There's something very special about a gorilla, when you look into their eyes," Mayor said by way of explaining her passion for primates.

Mayor has twice been nominated for an Emmy, as a correspondent for the magazine's Explorer TV series. Did we mention she's also a Fulbright Scholar and a National Science Foundation Fellow?

As for the cheerleading gig (1992 to 1996, while in college), Mayor is characteristically modest. "I thought, öWhat better way to stay in shape and watch football every week?'" — Rob Jordan

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Frank Houston
Rob Jordan
Contact: Rob Jordan
Isaiah Thompson
Emily Witt
Contact: Emily Witt