Tag Archives: miami

Welcome to Miami

Remember when flying used to be a fun adventure, not a fraught stressfest? You would dress up for a trip, hope to get bumped to first class, maybe join the 1000-mile club. Now you just try to pack as many things into as few bags as possible to avoid luggage fees, wear clothes that are easy to unbelt and unshoe at security, and make sure none of your fellow passengers are packing bombs in their underwear.

We had an easy flight from Los Angeles to Miami, driven by pilots name Axel and Buzz — is this a plane or a rock band? Behind us sat two little girls with the cutest baby labradoodle puppy. After the dog had given Cole a good tongue bath, the littlest girl — her hair in perfect twists — pronounced, “He likes to eat poop!” That tyke was all self-assured mouth.

“She is …” I didn’t finish.

“She is!” her grandmother agreed. “A shake comes with those fries.” And the rear of the train laughed.

It was a sweet start to a vacation, until we landed at MIA and waited 50 minutes for our baggage to be unloaded. As one irate passenger noted, we paid to have our bags be late. Remember when checked luggage was free, and came off the plane before you did?

The new American wing at MIA is shiny and beautiful. I felt like I was walking though a luxury emporium. Cuban restaurants beckoned with their pork and rice. It’s good to be home, Cole says. Miami may just be one of the places I’ve lived, but it is his home.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Going Mobile, Uncategorized

M.I.A. at the Mayan

I first saw M.I.A. about five years ago in Miami and have loved her since. As then, she can rock a house like few others — her politics are secondary to the pleasures of the dancefloor. The sold-out crowd at her Mayan show Thursday was full of women and gay men, who clearly find her inspiring. I reviewed it for the LA Times.

Leave a comment

Filed under Populism

M-m-m-m-m Michael's

Day 27 (July 15)
Had one last great meal in Miami: Lunch at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drinks. Pizza with shrimp and chorizo, a handmade soda with cherry syrup and a sprig of rosemary, and for dessert, not just my favorite of all time: the chocolate cremoso with sea salt and sourdough crostini, but also popcorn ice cream. Sounds strange, but was light and rich and sweet. Michael Schwartz deserves his James Beard award and more. I got a sneak peek at his forthcoming recipe book; I recommend you preorder it now at Amazon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Going Mobile

Drag Bombs

Saturday the drag bombs exploded. A “drag bomb” is what punk queen Taylor Mac calls the revolutionary messages he sets off in his performances, one of which he gave Saturday night at Miami Beach’s Colony Theater. Mac is a drag deconstructionist, in the spirit of Ethyl Eichenberger, Justin Bond, or even Theo Kogan. He channels the channeling of divas, throwing in a mix of homeless savants and Jello Biafra. In The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac, he pummels and parodies post-9/11 paranoia. He also takes a hard look at his own emotional issues, singing pitch-perfect absurdist confessionals, with or without a ukelele — Tiny Tim meets Stephen Merritt. He pulled a typically buff, tan, “homo-genic” looking gay man from the audience and dressed him in a dirndl, then sang, “The revolution will not be masculinized.” The show was brilliant, deep, hilarious, disturbing, perhaps the best musical I’ve seen since Hedwig and the Angry Inch.Mac’s performance was part of the new Out in the Tropics festival, the kind of cutting-edge event that gives me hope for Miami.

Seemingly at the other end of the spectrum, but really not so different, was the Red Bull Flutag, earlier that day at Bayside Park. The  Flutag is an infinitely silly event: Contestants devise flying machines that, after performing skits that show the widespread influence of Monty Python, they then send crashing into Biscayne Bay. The Flutag had none of the serious moments of the Beast, but with grown men parading in silly costumes, pretending to be Italian pizza makers or Mario villains, it was its own kind of drag show. It drew an estimated 80,000 people under the baking sun, as opposed to the 100 at the Colony. Both inspired me — to slip out of my gray shorts and crash land a dada party frock.

The Mullet Slappers

The Mullet Slappers

Leave a comment

Filed under Going Mobile, Uncategorized

The Heat

Day 21 (July 9)

It’s an exciting time to be in Miami: A front-page column promised LeBron James bikini-clad babes in December if he signed with the Heat, and I guess it worked. Now that’s journalism! But it’s the wrong time of year to spend three weeks on vacation here, even if you have a pool.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Medialunas Over Miami

Hammock

Cole in van, July 4

Days 10 – 18 (June 28 – July 6)
When you revisit a place that used to be home, you see the extremes which had come to seem ordinary. In the Sunshine State, the light is brighter, the shadows newly sinister. Miami feels dangerous in a way I used to try to convince myself it wasn’t. This isn’t irrational fear: A few days ago, a 20-year-old friend of Kenda’s died in police custody during broad daylight at busy, commercial Normandy Triangle, just two blocks from our house. Three months ago, our gardeners’ 16-year-old son was killed by a stray bullet outside a high school dance. We keep hearing story after story like this, not just headlines from local news, but sordid, tragic happenings around us, to people we know. The recession — sorry, Richard; can’t call it a reset — is drawing out people’s survivalism, their viciousness. People drive like crazy in Miami not just because they learned on foreign streets, but because they’re only looking out for themselves, for the next deal, the payoff around the corner that will bring them the American dream and their Scarface bayside mansion. This is Third World colonialism: an acquiescence to vested power and gated apathy to the violent desperation imbalance breeds.

The city is also heartbreakingly beautiful. The buildings that have managed to be completed are lush and extravagant: koi ponds and Spanish moss on Lincoln Road, a green Swiss-cheese UFO on Collins that pays tribute to the legacy of Morris Lapidus, a modernist Miami Beach High School with grass walkways and white columns. The Atlantic is warm and blue, the beaches soft and white. I love this city and it will break your heart.

Ladies Who Listen

Ladies Who Listen

Such a cliche: You can’t go home, but I can sit in the lovely upstairs studio of my neighbors’ house and look at the red tile roof of the first home Cole ever lived in and I ever owned, where there’s a green-tile pool I built, and roses growing where I buried my longtime cats. Our tenants have it looking better than ever and I’m grateful that they’re there, but talk about close and yet so far.
We’ve spent the past nine days in our old haunts, eating gelato at Dolce Vita, sushi at Katana, and medialunas at Blue Sky, and even checking out a brand-new spot: Bernie’s Latin American Cafe on Alton (healthy Cuban-based cuisine; sweetest, most tender ropa vieja ever). Cole and I went snorkeling over an underwater cemetery, a sunken barge, and a reef with a Shake-A-Leg boat. It was the first time in 30 years, since he broke his spine, that our friend Harry Horgan dove. I saw Harry using his paralyzed legs underwater, gracefully, strongly pulling himself down an anchor rope, son Eli right behind. The next day we watched some eight fireworks in four directions from the Shake-A-Leg island in Key Biscayne, toasting Susie Horgan’s 50th birthday.

The Great Outdoors

The Great Outdoors

Mostly, it’s about the visiting. Nineteen days here is not enough to see all the people I really want to see. There’s much about Miami society I can’t stand — epitomized by Ocean Drive — but when it comes down to individuals, there are amazing people here. I managed to meet with my old Ladies Who Listen music club and with many of the women from my former book club — funny, smart, spirited dames. And of course, it’s been great seeing Cole’s sisters, Kenda and Karlie, who look as beautiful as ever and are also older and wiser. We even got a bonus: hanging out with Bud’s niece and her family, who were also passing through town our first day here. So much to do; that’s why I haven’t written, and have to go.

Leave a comment

Filed under Going Mobile

The Hole in Courtney

Usually, the train stays on the track, and nobody writes about it. Hole played the Fillmore at Jackie Gleason in Miami Beach Friday night and the show was probably most remarkable for what didn’t happen: No Courtney Love insulting her own fans with racist comments, no three-hour wandering self-indulgent marathon, no inability to play the chords and finish a song, no mass exodus by the audience. In other words, a totally different show from the disasterfest that made for such a great review by David Malitz in The Washington Post recently. (I hereby nominate said writeup for the Best Music Writing anthology of 2010.)

Unfortunately, since Love long ago gave up on letting her music be what’s important and compelling about her, it made for a rather boring show. Hole made some of the best songs of the ‘90s; tracks like “Doll Parts” and “Live Through This” still seem smart and powerful and timely. But for Love, fierce cock-rock blocking long ago became just another pose. She looked great, but in a tailored, expensive way: cascading Hollywood hair, perfectly lifeless breasts, little black dress. She bragged about her Raleigh penthouse — er, how punk rock. She opened with “Sympathy for the Devil” and sounded like a cross between Keith Richards and Bob Dylan, spiked with her own inimitable roar. But that roar has become a mannerism, not a statement. I’ve always wanted Love to succeed, to not just live through it all but triumph through it. Even when she’s not totally screwing up, she still disappoints.

Leave a comment

Filed under Going Mobile, Populism