Tuesday, March 29, 2011

MiMo Boulevard

Boulevard of Reality

Just north of downtown Miami is a stretch of Biscayne Boulevard that defies understanding. From thirty sixth street to seventy ninth, more recently known as MIMO or Miami Modern is a stretch of swamp anchored on the south end by MAC a new public school in the old channel 10 building and the Boulevard Strip Joint on the north. Along the way is a charming blend of the residential and commercial that typify bayside living. From the tony gated Bay Point and leafy Morningside to the raunchy motels of days gone by, this stretch of tropics is ripe for commentary.

Crazy Is

The deco decals on the sidewalks are barely dry and already there are erratic markings that indicate where to tear up and dig down for some reason only FDOT could explain.

Shutter the Thought

Package Stores are a South Florida staple. Old sailors and missionaries still call them that as the word "package" was code for beer n alcohol. Where but in the land of Anita Bryant would the word "liquor" be so forbidden and the thought of wanting a drink before 12 noon on any given Sunday be tantamount to certain condemnation. Today the old booze businesses still abound but it is now ok to have display word signs.

PostCard Parade

Along this stretch of Boulevard, the dominant architectural elements are the old roadside motels that were popular with the budgeted crowds of snow-birds from a bygone era of fun in the sun. Here are just a few of the dilapidated postcard gems

Art Galleries are closing faster than whiskey bars in the middle east.

Church n Turf

How this New England house ended up next to a classic modern church is a testament to exactly why Biscayne Boulevard is so befuddling.

Havana Fascade

A box is just a box until the cuban builders do a mediterranean revival make-over on it. From Kendall to Aventura people are generally comfortable with this trolicalization of otherwise non-buildings.

Classic Modern Old

Q: Why does so much of Miami appear.... well just plain empty?
A: Because it is mostly swamp occasionally interrupted by attempts at architecture.

Smut Palace

You cant kill vice, it is as old as man.

Play It Again, Sergio

This is actually one of 79 street's best kept secrets, the little piano bar that could.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

where Moses meets Godzilla

approaching a million plus hits on Utube....

Friday, March 25, 2011

miami snapshots

Hat Racking a Ficus...

Endless Road Work Commentary...

Movie House Closed Forever...

Robert Chambers...

The Real Thing...

Artist Unknown...

State Bird...

Get the Job Done... on a 6 inch ledge.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Fete ala Haiti

Miami is a place in transition, an anthropology that moves like molasses.
I am old now but my recollections of Lemon City are forever etched in a bitter-sweet affection for the swamp that shaped me.

Better known today as Little Haiti, the hood just north of fabulous Design District is home to an up-rooted people coping with assimilation while clinging to the spiritual heart of their beloved island. The source of their strength the spiritual capital of the Caribbean.

With all the "progress" that Miami has endured, it is still possible to find a main avenue that has not been paved in ages. In fact there isn't even a curb, until now. Little Haiti is primed for urban development.

The immigrant experience is unique to each group that is transplanted in mass. For many Haitians the conversion to catholicism was easy, their churches were infused with bush's faith-based dollars. Fair enough. The employment opportunities were plenty as few others were willing to do the work for such offensive wages. From the nurses that care for our aged to the house-keepers that polish up SOBE, Haitian humility has a lesson for us all, hard work is the corner-stone of any good home.

I have said that art is the most powerful force on earth. Indeed man is but a passing shadow without the rituals of music, dance, sculpture and painting. At the top of the class is the inimitable Serge. Muralist and political activist with his feet on the street and his heart in all things Haitian.

Herve Di Rosa is a French painter and long time friend. Through his nomadic adventures and prolific style, Di Rosa has chronicled multiple cities with his unique perspective. With deft naivety his paintings of Little Haiti can be found courtesy of The Bass Museum on Miami Beach. Though Herve has moved on, his delightful view of the swamp is everlasting.

The third pillar is Edouard Duval Carrie, the ardent proponent of all things Haiti. Duval rules with the irons and potions of a modern shaman. His tireless work in helping to realize the Little Haiti Cultural Center is noteworthy. His artwork is a wellspring of the mystical.

Today the Center is a reality, a reality not yet formed for it takes time to build the virtual edifice by a people in flux. Last night another brick was added to the effort by Miami's own Rhythm Foundation.

The Rhythm Foundation is hosting monthly happenings at the Little Haiti Cultural Center.

The plaza was jamming to the beats. On stage were several legendary percussionist and some very energetic dancers.

My pal RaRa the rabbinical rapper tore up the joint with hypnotizing smoothness and of course his own brand of hebrew hollering. RaRa is awesome.

What South Florida event would be complete without plenty of FooooooooD for everyone.
The BigNight in LittleHaiti is no exception. Visitors were fed and feted most satisfactorily.


Monday, March 14, 2011

ground zeros

Call me cuckoo for haarping on about the greatest myth narratives of our time, but i'm just saying consider the truths less traveled.

Japan nuclear reactor meltdown 3/11 act of god...

... NYC nuclear demolition 9/11 act of man.


Friday, March 11, 2011

Taboo Caravan

Here we go again... the trillion dollar question is " W H E R E T O ? ".


Monday, March 7, 2011

Road Racket

In South Florida Turnpike, CASH is a 4 letter word.
I've said it before and here it is again. SomePass others don't.
When is the motoring public going to get a voice and stop the racket on our roads...


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wayside Ramblings

Surreal Estate

Surveying the swampscape to find understanding and purpose has lead me to conclude that the trouble with the tropics is a man-made disaster. But here the Miami power players are not swayed from promoting the alter ego myth of the Florida Panther in spite of the real extinction of the Eastern Cougar.

Tyrone Power

When i was a little brown nut fresh off the boat, Miami extended its kindness welcoming thousands of political refugees with open arms and a commitment to freedom that still towers today. The Freedom Tower (we called it Tyrone Power) was the Ellis Island for Cubans who fled the tumultuous castro revolution 90 miles south. My childhood memories of that place are the subject of a dreary past that haunt me and the historic downtown landmark. The cries and wails of anguish can be heard today 50 years later.

Pardon our Appearance

No amount of renovating will glamorize its historic significance. Boatloads of sandblasting will not strip the place of its haunting. The Freedom Tower stands mostly empty with memories of the Cuban experience etched into its pillars and facade.

Land of Yesterday

Just south of that pinnacle of promise was Bayfront Park, or Pigeon Park as it was know to us. This brief expanse of public commons was my retreat from the drudgery of poverty. The Library stood at the south end as a repository of knowledge nested in charming tropical landscape. I spent hours there reading under a coconut palm in perfect swampiness.

Miami Nice

Some years passed and assimilation seeped in through my pores. I found a warm spot in my heart for Miami. From Morningside to Gesu to Edison and MDCC the Orange City was not a bad place to be. I waited on tables at the then futuristic eatery that defined the marina where Miami Vise would be filmed years later. I graduated and said goodbye to the swamp.

Birds Eye View

Things always look better from on high, but the reality on the ground is usually less impressive.
Something happened in the 80's. The beloved Bayfront Park of my youth was deemed wild and unsightly by officials bloated with a cocaine fueled economic boom. The library was demolished and a master plan for the precious property was hatched. The carrot of developers has always been progress and economic boom, but the truth in time is always disillusion.

Sign of the Times

The precious patch of tranquility and permanence became a commercialized endeavor. Worst of all it got pummeled with truck-loads of concrete. Today it is a labyrinth failure, a monument to the lack of vision.

For some this may all seem perfectly normal. Caravans of courtesy coaches loaded with shoppers. For me it is a manifestation of everything that is wrong about brute-head planning and self serving profit minded interests.

Believe it or not this is the actual entrance to the park today.

This is what you will see where once stood elegant stands of royal palms framing a vista of downtown.

This is the Pelican today after Hard Rock closed due to the glut of restaurants nearby.

This is a monument to the diminutive Christopher Columbus with hands extended as if to say " don't blame me".

Not sure what this chimney thing is, perhaps a Tequesta BBQ pit.

The Water Feature, no doubt designed by a world-class genius, may off limits to the public but the sea gulls can't read so they take advantage of the giant drinking fountain.

This is the actual waterfront boardwalk looking south...

This is the view of the promenade towards the norther direction.

In fairness there is a nice sandy spot for visitors to soak in the sun. But there is probably concrete below the surface.

Prohibited Panorama

You know I am a visual person. I am very keen on what is evident to the optic nerve. My glass is neither full nor empty, but crystal clear. Pictures do not lie. This is a scene from the ruins of Bicentennial Park, future home to a museum of complexity.

This is another composition, a still life of the approach to the performing arts mall.

This one says it all. No words are necessary.

The inspirational banner on the back of the WLRN building says allot also. A crowd of kids with arms extended as if to surrender to the authority of progress for progress sake.

Miami is not a complete disillusion. Street art, such as this hidden gem in Wynwood, give hope in the most direct way. Perfectly swampy irreverence.

The Miami of my youth was a better place. Better because it really was less of mans making. Given time we manage to make things worse. Not by intent but by sheer ineptitude. Not content to leave well enough alone, man has the uncanny ability to blunder his way to oblivion. Give us time and money and we create not a better world but one that is fraught with misgivings. At the end of the day, life is about people. But the places we inhabit determine how we behave towards each other.