due torre
30 June 2005
Dawn over Biscayne Bay
posted by mike d
Miami morning

This was taken from my front doorstep at 7:45 in the morning on June 7th. That's what makes Miami worthwhile.
29 June 2005
posted by mike d
Mind you, I was in a pissy mood with Miami before this. To alleviate that mood, I decided to get off my slothful ass and get a pass so I could get into our free gym here in the building. As the passes were manditory since the beginning of January, and it was the end of May, that'll give you an idea of just how slothful I was. The following is from a little over a month ago...


As it looked like it was about to pour cats & dogs on a Sunday afternoon (and now, an hour & a half after I went down to the gym, it still looks like it...), I went down to the gym (at a little before 6pm) to pretend to know what I was doing on some weight machines, and then get in a half hour on the exercise bike, to burn some of the old fat...

Our gym is a simple gym, but it has a gorgeous ground-floor view out over Biscayne Bay and out to Star Island. The exercise bikes & treadmills are pointed directly at the bay, so if you're pedalling a little too hard to read whatever you brought, you can zone out on the view and listen to whatever monstrosity you've downloaded off the net that week. There were a couple of people hanging out on the dock behind the building, and I half-noticed them as I debated bringing up some MP3s for a friend when I head up to New York tomorrow.

I have ten minutes left on the bike when a dark blur flashes down outside, to my left. It's a mannequin that lands on its feet before giving into the momentum and falling backwards, away from me. Bits of debris fall down with it. But it's no mannequin, and at a second look, those are definitely the ends of his shinbones -tibia, or whatever- sticking out at his ankles, and his feet are laying there at an unnatural angle.

The first couple of seconds are given over to processing what just happened- I'm still pedalling away, but have slacked off a bit, and my head is tilted a bit to one side, blinking once or twice. Before the feet have even registered with me, I assume this is some bizarre prank whoever lives on the second floor (with the balcony right over the patio), most likely drunk, is pulling, and this ass-clown is going to get up, giggling. But he doesn't.

At this point, one of the guys out on the dock, who obviously has a better grip on reality than I do, has come up to the gate and is opening it to get to the patio. Behind the glass, the ankles register with me. Before anything else, before even thinking to attend to the guy on the ground (in retrospect, as I haven't taken a CPR class in 15 years, this is probably for the best), the thought goes off in my head like a claxon: "Call an ambulance!!" I hop off the exercise bike, and, iPod in hand, haul off to the front desk.

I get to the front desk out of breath and drenched in sweat (from the bike, not from the 100-yard dash from the gym to the front), and blast in the front doors. I immediately confront one of the 20-year-olds they have working the front desk here, and gasp like a fish: "Call a fucking ambulance -gasp- Someone just fell -gasp- On the fucking patio behind the gym." Guy turns to his partner behind the desk and says call an ambulance, and heads out the front door back to the gym. I follow, gibbering about how I'd been on the bike when this happened, and God knows what else.

The guy heads out onto the patio, and I don't follow, as I don't have anything productive to add, and don't want to get in the way. I watch, flustered, from the elevator hallway, which has a glass door out onto the patio (right next to the entrance to the gym). I'm at a loss of what to do- I toy with the idea of shying away people who are coming in and out of the elevators from looking out on the patio. But then I realize they can't see what's going on out there anyway, and my shushing -or whatever- would just attarct attention to what was going on. I realize I can actually be useful by waiting out front for the medics.

I head out front just as the responding officer shows up- I wave him out towards the patio, where he takes charge of the situation, and the medics show up a minute or two later, coming out on the patio from the far side of the building, which lets out onto 10th street.

From this point out, we (me, the couple of guys from the dock, and a couple other residents) are just gawkers. I watch from inside the gym -which the guy from the front desk let me back into- as the medics do their thing, talking to the guy (who is breathing, but I can't tell if he's conscious- he doesn't seem to be responding, and I never see him move his limbs under his own power), and putting a neck brace and other padding on him in preparation for lifting onto the gurney. After rubbernecking inside for a while, I headed out to see if this poor guy was OK. I was really confused that no one who was having beers with this guy when he fell over had come down to check up on him.

Outside, I was disabused of a couple of those thoughts. First, it was a she, not a he. That long-haired guy with some cloth across his chest was a girl in a sarong-wrap top or something. I thought she was wearing trunks, but now (a little over two hours after the fact), I can't remember.

After she was wheeled away -and the officer closest to us couldn't or wouldn't give us a readout on her condition- another officer picked up what I had thought was a book that had come down with her. He turned to another cop and mentioned that it was a passport, which from where I stood looked like the blue US ones. Near that, which they didn't pick up, was either a small book tented on the ground or her wallet. So she wanted to be identified. And it was with that thought that I realized that she hadn't fallen by accident.

One of the cops said that someone across the way, in the Mirador, had seen this woman open the door out onto her balcony (rumored to be the sixth floor), and walk straight out and climb over, with no hesitation.

I head back upstairs, and my roommate and his friend have been blissfully ignorant of the whole deal, so I fill them in on happenings. I hop in the shower, and it's only when I get out that they fire up the sirens on the ambulance to drive off. I don't know why. The evidence guys -CSI types, I think- just left the site a couple of minutes ago, but a quick check shows the Miami Herald site is still mum on all this. So who knows what the back story is.

While I get down on Miami as a place to live -it's awesome in 36 hour doses, with your amigos in tow- I can only imagine what goes on here, that I'm not aware of, that would drive someone to that.


A month later, I've still seen nothing in the news -anywhere- on this. When I got back to my apartment building a couple of days later, after travelling, I asked at the front desk, and the guy there wasn't particularly enlightening, but he was of the understanding the woman -from the 9th, not 6th, floor- didn't survive. It's disheartening that something like this just gets swept under the carpet, but there you go.
28 June 2005
Miasma (rolls across the Everglades...)
posted by mike d
I'd written a solid 500 words last night on what is wrong with Miami and dammit if Blogger and Camino don't get along like they should, and everything got deleted. Which is annoying, and -frankly- surprising, as all the hipster kids would tend to be using both (everyone who's cool has a blog, and everyone who's cool has a Mac, right? I'm cool, right?). But I digress (what do you call it when you digress before you've even reached the subject at hand? “progress”...)

While the computer in the other room downloads Google Earth (homina homina homina), I'll try to rewrite this.

Miami is weird- it's an incredibly fun town in 36 hour segments. When I have friends in town for the weekend, we have a famous time. Admittedly, it's not particularly enlightening for those of you following along at home (how many times can you read “...and then we went to the Delano, for $12 cocktails and the ogling of much silicone,” over and over again before you realize this has just turned into US Weekly.com?), but it's fun nonetheless (although the amount of sleep I get in drops precipitously).

But it's the Tuesday, 9pm, situation that gets me down. There's nothing to do. Or, more accurately, there's no one to do it with (doesn't that sound dirty). Almost everyone in this town is a moron (those of you offended, please- spare me your letters). I was talking to a friend on the phone today, and she mentioned how the line I'd fed a mutual friend that “the most intelligent conversation I've had in Miami is about real estate. And I hate real estate.” had gotten back to her. With all observation humor (or attempts at it), it's funny 'coz it's true (well, almost true. I had a conversation on Saturday about the furniture import business that was simply fascinating, let me tell you).

Miami is not an intellectual mecca, fine. It's the kind of town that is not going to attract people who's salient measurements are their SAT scores- I can accept that. But the way in which the town fosters a lack of intellectual curiousity is amazing. I mean, nominally, this town does have some intellectual/artistic attractions: Art Basel Miami Beach is a pretty big deal, and everyone who's anyone in entertainment in Latin America has spent some time here, if nothing else because they speak the language.

But with almost everyone I've met here, whether they're native born or imported (and the segregation between locals and trnasients is arguably worse than it is in DC, a town notorious for it), I've found myself gasping for conversation after 90 seconds of small talk. Even the banal platitudes of weather, sports, and work are too difficult for us to manouver in a way that one of us isn't looking to our cups, muttering that we should refill our drinks.

And, with the few people I've met here who are interesting, we're ('we'? Counting yourself as one of them? Well... with this post as evidence, I'm obviously not wild about Miami) so bitter about being in Miami that we're no fun to be around. I had drinks in March with (among other people) a guy who is the local Spanish-language correspondent for a big news provider/corporation. Originally from Colombia, the guy asked me my thoughts of Miami after six months. Putting the best face on it I could, I said that I was still getting adjusted, discovering the place, etc, etc. With his wife at his side, he retorted back to me: “I've been here for five and half years. I still don't like the place.” Those encouraging words are typical of the people who are “smart” here. Which makes them insufferable to hang around with, because, as I mentioned at the top of this rant, Miami is fun.

I hate being this negative about a place, but, well, here we are. And, despite all evidence to the contrary (e.g., this whole damn site), I still think there's some benefit to the old “if you haven't anything nice to say, don't say anything at all” canard, and so haven't posted much about my experience down here.

I have been lucky to travel some, and have meant to post about that, but hey- I'm lazy.

So does this mean we can look forward to another almost-year-long hiatus briefly interrupted by cryptic posts like we've seen in the past? Who knows! But, while I've been noodling around on this end, a couple of things I've drafted will probably become posts shortly, and -if we're lucky- the momentum will lead us on to further posts.

So, before I'm off to DC on Friday, we can look forward to one more negative, and then two positive posts about Miami. Stay tuned...

And was this post prompted by the noting by some that I haven't posted in forever? Of course not...

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