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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Welcome to Miami, Part Dos

2005, hmmm, You may have missed some of the fun. In the '90's when the craziness was winding up there was all of the craziness and, swear to God, a friend was in the paper for finding a package of drugs while fishing that he turned in to the cops! That was really the high point for out migration (one would see bumper stickers reading “Will the last American leaving bring the Flag”). Miami-Dade actually has experienced a declining population, with schools actually decreasing enrollment (thus better class sizes). Immigrants are going elsewhere and domestic migration has just begun to start again after a serious outflow.

There are so many things to do that you may never get to them. Downtown Weston (Broward) has a frontier “Cracker” (as in the whip-cracking frontier cowboys) theme though it is getting overshadowed by the blandness of encroaching suburbia. Going down to you can find some old farms that open from the winter through the spring, selling GREAT baked goods and produce. I suggest looking up http://www.redlandriot.com/Anderson.html It is pretty close to the Redlands Tropical Fruits and where anything that you can glean from the ground is free. This is about the only time you will get to see historic Miami because there is not a lot of nostalgia for old Miami in what is largely an immigrant city. (Most of the housing stock in the city is older however. It is interesting to get a book by Arva Moore Parks and compare the pictures of a strikingly unchanged landscape throughout the city.) If you can't get down to the Redland (though you should) you can try on Old Cutler in which bills itself as the only tropical garden in the in the mainland U.S.! The Miami Book Fair, around Wolfson (downtown campus) is great and should be coming up this time of year. Speaking of books, I believe that Books and Books in may have some of the most interesting speakers / authors and they also have a store on Road (Miami Beach) which has a great outdoor café with great food. It also should be time for Bayside to be transformed into a Winter Holidays theme park. This theme park is a funny but entertaining combination of a traveling carnival, a Disney winter show and a walk way of Latin American street meat purveyors. Las Olas and Riverwalk up Broward are also great places to spend an afternoon or weekend. (Don’t miss the free evening in downtown Ft Lauderdale with trolley with live musical entertainment.) The beaches and parks in Key Biscayne are great and there are a number of restaurants and fresh seafood places.

Another plug: unemployment in the city is WAY DOWN! Okay not really. But for Miami, it's a booming job market. Just look at my advice in an earlier post about getting a local telephone number and address if you are going to apply for a job here.

Pet peeves are still the drivers not using indicators thing, people who park on the lawns and grass, the lack of civic spirit, the politics and ethnic tension. I should also point out that everyone mislabels everyone in Miami who speaks Spanish as Cuban.

Many of the follow up questions that I received to Part Uno were about were about where an English speaker can live and get by. Many people do speak English who may seem not to. It is just that they are ashamed that they don't think they speak it well so work with these people and they will work with you. Still, I must confess that after Elian the Alien thing it might seem that Miami-Dade is a foreign country, so the question is fair. So here is my list:

Coconut Grove, South Miami, Kendall, The Falls, Killian, Richmond Heights, Miami Beach, Bal Harbour, Bay Harbor Islands, North Bay Village, Surfside, Fisher Island, North Miami Beach, Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Ridge, Lakes by the Bay, Perrine, Coral Gables, South Gables, Biscayne Gardens, California Club, Aventura, Sunny Isles Beach, Golden Beach, Highland Oaks, Morningside, Miami Lakes, Miami Springs, Miami Shores, Doral? The Roads/Shenandoah?

My advice to anyone buying a home and worrying about hurricanes- buy an older house. They are time tested. Some of the newer builders are really fly by night types who just became contractors and developers because of the boom (sorry Uncle Eddie!). Remember that Miamians think of Hurricanes as a chance to shake down Uncle Sam for some FEMA money! ; ) True story, I was walking down the street after Katrina and a dude and his family were beating up their car and house while trying to fell an old tree with an axe while to look as if it was blown over! The African immigrant culprits, a rarity in the central area where this occurred, obviously had learned quickly but not quickly enough. An Anglo passed by and commented to me that these people were crazy if they throught that the insurers wouldn't notice the wood chips! Great point!

Use a hurricane as the chance to visit Naples, St Augustine, Orlando, Key West, dependent upon the predicted track. Ironically, if I could plan it early enough I used to fly to New Orleans. Anyway, it's rarely as bad as it is portrayed in the sensational media.

Remember Miami is still America. I know that between the Masonic Lodge, the JayCees, neighborhood associations, and the friends from some classes at "The U" as well as my own alma mater clubs I can avoid my relatives altogether! ; )

Still think that Miami will be boring? The news reads like an episode of Miami Vice with drug busts and the like, though the Herald is trying to play this down more these days. There aren’t car bombs and shootings in the middle of malls like there used to be so you get to be entertained without being in jeopardy. The politicians have toned it down also even though a city councilman just killed himself in the Herald building (long story). Immigrant politicians and local born scammers have learned that theft, car bombs, fire bombs, fistfights, open kickbacks, voting fraud and gross malfeasance is not acceptable as acceptable as it once was. That assessment may be premature.

Miami has been cleaned up dramatically as far as its politics. The Maimi-Dade County Mayor, Alvarez did fire Angela Gittens, who is considered one of the best public airport administrators in the country, because she protested the kickbacks, and several elected officials were connected with a scheme wherein a convicted crooked former cop and his ring stole airplane fuel and resold it, and id's were being sold to people to access the Port of Miami (can you say drug trafficking?)... Okay, Miami still has some work but hey, it's not just us! More importantly the crime rate in Miami is WAY DOWN, even lower than most cities in America and police Chief Timmoney was brought in from out of town (after a number of cops where prosecuted for robbing drug dealers and reselling the drugs and still others were convicted of killing a number of people and planting weapons, and there was also missing evidence such as guns and drugs from lockers, and police involved in bank robberies). Any way, the police are VERY POLITE and they aren't ticket happy like many other cities!

Miami can be a lot of things but bland is not one of them.

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