I was trying to explain this last night to friends; I have a love-hate relationship with Miami. It has tons of culture and a thriving arts community, cool architecture — art deco, Mediterranean, modern…certainly some of their newer buildings around Miami-Dade county are more visually appealing than some of the boring boxy glass towers Broward has let get thrown up — funky signage, diversity of people and activities… There’s a lot to see and do and experience and a vibrancy you can feel. It’s also full of the most insane traffic this side of L.A., terrible drivers, illogical parking — when you can find it, — rudeness and entitlement stemming from that sort of obsession with hyper-coolness I can’t begin to understand. Continue reading
I may have had a few moments while trying to figure out parking in Dadeland where I’d wished A) I’d taken the train, B) I’d driven my Jeep instead of the husband’s truck, and C) that I’d stayed home. I have a love-hate relationship with Miami and its fun lack of parking and terrible drivers. That said, let’s head in the Marriott. (I also can’t recall a good experience with a Marriott, but then, I like boutique hotels, clown motels, and camping.)
Here’s the thing, I’ve been obsessed with pens and paper and stationery and art and office supplies since I was small. Like, as a kid I went to the office supply aisle in department stores the way other kids ran for the toys. I got a desk-style tape dispenser when I turned 16. This is back before you could get one anywhere and we lived in a fairly small town, so the options were pretty much order it through work or go to the specialty shop one town over. Continue reading
I picked up this book because it’s by a local guy and was in a local bookstore. Figured I’d support local people and whatnot. I also have a pile of Florida-set books I’m working my way through. Figured I could add this one.
I hated it.
Sorry. I just did.
I know, however, that not all books are for all people, so let me explain. You might love it. It might be just what you need to keep you warm on cold nights. It might be your new favorite. But here is where I tell you why it’s not mine.
It’s written in a pulpy sort of style like something out of the forties or even sixties. It’s written like the sort of books I used to avoid for that very style. The bludgeon-you-with-description, egotistical, leading man and his tough-guy pals who banter with racial slurs and misogynistic “jokes” that come off as dated and boorish. I’ve come to accept it in books written back in the hey-day of pulp when that was considered acceptable — in the same way I can accept the language of Huckleberry Finn. And if the book were set back in the day, I could maybe accept some of it as a throwback, an intentional mimic. But references to Facebook and Twitter while still calling each other “Spic Boy” and saying things like “Buck is as queer as a three-dollar bill” or “how many fortunes, dynasties and countries had risen and fallen due to the whims of a woman?”
Look, I get there’s a certain amount of Cuban machismo embedded in this thing, but… It’s’ not for me.
Then, there’s the main character. I like one with a few warts (other than being a narrow-minded ass). I like one with problems (other than the “case” at hand). I don’t really care that much what the problems are. He/She can see dead people, be a zombie, a malfunctioning robot, an alcoholic, a drug addict, afflicted with bad genes, bad health, bad family members, have sleep apnea, too many ex-spouses, too many bills, too much acid reflux. Something. If he’s a guy with no real problems who loves himself — and it’s not just a surface reflex that hides his greater torment — he’s boring (to me, anyway). If he’s got a great girlfriend and happy-go-lucky buddies and a thriving business… I just find I don’t care. Sorry.
As a travel guide to Miami, it’s not bad. Hits on some of the better-known restaurants, lets on to the popular dishes and enough history to make you feel you’ve read a few of those metal plaques on a tour. And, while I suppose it has a local’s view of the weather, the guy doesn’t seem to ever be hot or cold or notice if it’s raining or sunny. Then again, I’ve only been in South Florida since the mid-90s. Maybe I’m still not fully acclimated.
Look, it’s a short little book and I’m sure it’s for someone. I’m just not that person. If you think it’s for you (and you’re in the US), I’ll be happy to send you my copy. Gotta clear out some of these book piles anyway.
Pros: Like a short tour of greater Miami with food and drink descriptions. The crime plot isn’t bad.
Cons: Misogynistic, pulpy writing style that didn’t seem to go with the modern-day setting. (Book might work better in Spanish, though I don’t know.)
Bottom line: If you need a short read and can overlook the style, give it a go. And if you’re the first one to ask, you can give it a go on me.
Yesterday, I reread the old Dream Country Sandman story about the writer who kidnaps a muse. I also went to the comic book store with my buddy, listened to some of the music he’s been working (electronic, club sort of stuff), and then wandered down to the Art Walk in Miami with him.
It amuses me that the old Fashion District has morphed into the Wynwood Arts District (though the old “El Barrio” series of warehouses does look prettier with the colorful graffiti than it did with the cyclone wire and bad dog signs). The cyclical nature of certain city areas interests me. That if the economy continues to tumble downward, the art students will have less of their parents’ money to spend on cute dresses and skinny jeans and art, thus the area will deteriorate again. If the economy picks up, the hipsters will grow up to be real estate developers and convert the whole area to trendy lofts and overpriced condos.
For now, it’s a hotbed of this sort of thing:
My buddy kept asking me if anything was inspiring me. He meant visually because I’ve also been known to shoot a lot of photos in my day. I’ve also had a tendency to experiment with old cameras, Polaroid transfers, etching, solar prints, pin hole cameras… you know all the hipster foolishness that has turned “shitty” photography into an art form because digital made non-shitty photos too easy.
I’m not sure it inspired me visually, but I did file a lot of things away. Or, the “hamsters” I joke do all the filing in my brain filed things away.
I do have a character that lives down that way. I haven’t revisited him in a while because I’ve been working on a different story at the present. Makes me wonder what he’d think of the changes. Methinks he’d be amused, too.
Plus, if I keep roaming the streets of Miami and the like, I won’t need to kidnap a muse for ideas.
So, the Miami Book Fair ended yesterday. My buddy, M., and I always try to make it to the street fair. Actually, the first time I went was about twelve year ago. That year I went by myself and, being relatively new to Miami, got all turned around on the Metro Mover. I think I rode that thing in a giant circle about four times before I figured out which stop was closest to the entrance to the fair. Of course, after the fair came the task of figuring out how to get back to my car. Last year, M. and I drove separately because she was coming from further south and I from further north. She always gets primo parking — practically at the gates to the thing. I, however, had to park about ten blocks away on the ground floor of a garage designed by M.C. Escher.
Last year, there was a huge tent of comics. I think the two biggest draws for that tent, though, were A) the air-conditioning and B) the comics (in that order). This year, the comic vendors and author/illustrator types seemed fewer and smaller. This is perhaps because Tate’s decided not to participate this year. Or perhaps they all just blew their travel budget for the year at ComicCon.
I ended up with enough books to give myself a good arm workout carrying them around (also, they didn’t all fit in my little cotton Books N Things bag and I had to break out the heavy artillery (Hartford’s flat-bottom shopping bag)). I also got several back issues of literary journals at 5 for $5.