Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bye bye Blago!

Keith Olbermann bid Blago adieu Friday night with a string of comedy clips.

Where's Carlos Alvarez Jr.? UPDATE


This afternoon someone anonymously left a comment on my Dec. 22 post regarding the release from prison after 13½ years of serial sexual predator Carlos Alvarez Jr., who just happens to be the son of Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez.

Some of the statements made by the commenter raise new questions about the way the case was handled by police in 1994. Couple that with the fact that the original case received very little media attention, any prudent person would conclude that this is a story that needs to be looked at again.

Because the author chose to remain anonymous, there's no way to verify the veracity of the statements he or she makes. But they're easy enough to check.

The commenter does however, drop enough clues about the case that leads me to believe that he or she knows what they're talking about.

More than a month after Joan Fleischman broke the story in the Herald and I followed up on my blog, not one media outlet (**coughcough jimdefede coughcough**) in South Florida has looked into any of the concerns raised in my original post.

Doesn't the fact that a violent sexual predator who kidnapped and raped several young girls at knifepoint and who was released from prison after only 13½ years lead even the most naive observer to conclude that perhaps some pressure from higher-ups was exerted and that maybe Alvarez Jr. is being extended special treatment?

And it seems to me that in light of the fact that many sexual predators are still forced to live under the bridge on the Julia Tuttle Causeway, that even the most recent journalism school graduate would become suspicious and take the time to make a few phone calls and see if Alvarez Jr. is also required to spend time under the bridge. And if not, why not?

Below is the comment left this morning on my original post. There are a few misspellings which I've left intact. The questions raised by the commenter are serious enough, it seems, to warrant a closer look by both the media and parole and probation authorities.

Before it's too late.
well they say the acorn doesn't fall from the tree.

i was a metro dade police officer when this happened.

i had a friend who actually handled the case and was excluded from his arrest because of who the rapist's father was.

his father used his position as assistant director to intimidate those officers involved in the collar.

what's worse is right after the arrest the subject was fed pizza and his choice of soft drink. he was treated more like a vip than the piece of garbage he really is.this all took place at the kendall district station 5.

how many slices of pizza and sodas did his victims get as he violated them at knife point.

the commenter above has no idea of what they are talking about.rape is an act of violence and control and there is a high degree of recitivisim. [sic]

rapist [sic] do not get cured especially those who have been incarcerated for long stretches at the university of hard knocks.

they only learn in prison how to be a better more successful rapist, and the author is right...i guarentee [sic] that when he starts up again...you will see that he will progress to disposing of his victims, deadmen can't testify.

i'm sure that his corrupt father, carlos alvarez sr, now the mayor, will wield his influence again to either hinder any investigation or get a light sentence for him...as he has done in the past.

i have seen many good police officers careers ruined by that man and his mccarthy tactics.

his abuse of power and sphere of influence has ruined many families and lives...just as his son carlos alvarez junior has with his victims.

time will tell...but mark my words..you won't see the last of their names in the media dispite [sic] the mayors corrupt practices and abuse of power.

maybe the justice dept. should take a good look...they can start with abuse of power and influence during the pinellas [sic] campaign.

signed
mdpd corruption watchdog.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Matt Damon...the story continues

If being rude was against the law, Miami would be one large penal colony.
-anonymous Miami Beach police officer
...

So this blogger puts up a post the other day about how she attempted to get a picture of Matt Damon at a club. She tried being nice but when that didn't work she went into full paparazzi mode:
"I just walked up and took a picture and they all started yelling at me, “this is not a zoo!” or “does this look like a ZOO???!!”

I stumbled away, and I really wasn’t much but disappointed that I didn’t get a face picture.
The title of her post was "Matt Damon hates my guts and I hate his."

She explains that she felt she was entitled to a picture because she is "nice to old people and animals." And besides she says, Damon "makes a shit ton of money."

The problem here is she wasn't nice. She was sort of obnoxious...just like the paparazzi are on occasion. (I should know, been there, done that.)

But she acted like a paparazzi and when she got treated liked one she was offended: "Matt Damon is a crappy star."

By the way, I love animals too and have helped more than my share of old ladies across the street. But one has nothing to do with the other.

...

When I'm out looking celebrities my motto is "We can do it the easy way or we can do it the hard way...your choice." I don't care...I'm going to get the shot.

A few years ago I - along with a few other "celebrity journalists" - got a tip that Matt Damon was having lunch with Ben Affleck at Lario's on Ocean Drive.

I got there in about 10 minutes and walked into the nearly deserted lobby at about 3 in the afternoon. I sat down at the bar and ordered a Coke.

It was a good tip. Damon and Affleck were sitting in the dining room with Damon's fiancee and her daughter.

After a wait of about 15 minutes, Affleck and Damon got up and paid the bill and walked towards the front.

I approached Affleck and asked if myself and another photographer could get a picture. He snapped back: "NO!"

No problem. We walked outside where 2 or 3 other photographers were waiting.

In a few seconds Damon and Affleck emerged and the chase was on. They walked briskly down Ocean Drive towards 9th Street. All of the photographers were backpedalling snapping shots as the stars threaded their way past diners seated at outdoor tables.

They continued towards Mango's where their cars were parked, jumped in and drove way.

The point here "Miami bro" is that if you're going to act like a paparazzi, don't be surprised if you get treated like one.

As for me, I don't care what celebrities think of me or whether they "like me" or not. I don't suck up to them. I just take pictures and then I leave them alone.

When they're in public, they're fair game!

Got it?


Footnote: I ended up making a good chuck of money from that shot. It turns out that it was the first time that Affleck and Damon had been photographed together in a few years.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Down and out on South Beach

OK, so you're a little down on your luck.

You've been wearing the same clothes for the past five days and you haven't eaten since last night.


But that sand feels mighty warm on your back and the soft breeze blowing in off the Atlantic takes your mind off the gnawing emptiness in your gut.

Or maybe you've been wearing those clothes all winter, haven't had a bath in months and can't remember the last time you actually sat down to a hot meal in a restaurant.


But you're spending the day on Miami Beach where the temperature hit 79 degrees today.

Earlier you picked up a newspaper and read that the temperature yesterday in New York City was 19 degrees at sunrise.

So while things could be a whole lot better at least you're not freezing your ass off.

But now it's time to go out and see if a kind stranger will give you a buck or two for a hamburger and a cup of coffee.

After that you'll worry about where you're going to sleep tonight.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The inauguration picture you didn't see!

So you think you've seen every possible image from the inauguration? Not so fast!

I like photographers who try to show me something I haven't seen. And that's not so easy when you're competing against hundreds of other photographers.

Here's a guy who shot 220 images on a Canon G10 and then stitched them together.

Make sure you zoom in on the image. You can actually distinguish faces in the crowd.

Late Night Blues...Saturday edition



Texas bluesman Lightnin' Hopkins sings "My starter won't start this morning"

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Here's a little something for the 22 per centers


(CBS) President Bush will leave office as one of the most unpopular departing presidents in history, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll showing Mr. Bush's final approval rating at 22 percent.
So just in case any of you in that small group are already starting to feel nostalgic and missing Dubya, here's a little compilation of video clips from the past 8 years courtesy of Keith Olbermann at MSNBC!

Enjoy!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

How to sell lots of magazines

Gawker.com reports today that Time Magazine
Has.
Printed.
Every.
Possible.
Obama.
Cover.
Variation.


Fifteen in all.

And he's not even president yet!

Gawker goes on to wonder if "there are any new ways left of showing this man on a magazine cover."

Well, I accepted the challenge and came up with this minimalist treatment of an Obama-inspired TIME cover in about 15 minutes.

If any Random Pixels readers are inspired by Gawker's challenge I'd love to see the results.

Send a small jpg. to me here at Random Pixels. My e-mail address is in the links column on the right-hand side of this page.

I'll post every one that I receive.

Save the Sea Kittens!



Apparently the folks at PETA have way too much time on their hands. So they've started a campaign to save the "Sea Kittens."

What's a Sea Kitten you ask? Read this.

PETA has decided that if fish are portrayed as being adorable; people will think twice about sticking a hook or a fork in them.
"PETA thought that by renaming fish sea kittens, compassionate people who would never dream of hurting a dog or a cat might extend that sympathy to fish, or sea kittens," PETA campaign coordinator Ashley Byrne says.
Whatever you say Ashley. But first, pass the tartar sauce!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A day with Miss Universe


From my files:

July 10, 1984...Yvonne Agneta Ryding, a 21 yr. old nurse from Sweden has breakfast in bed in a $1,700-a-night suite at the Hotel Intercontinental in downtown Miami.

The night before a group of judges at the Knight Center declared her the most beautiful woman in the world and crowned her Miss Universe.

Her hometown newspaper, Kvallsposten, has hired me to document her first day as Miss Universe.

I, along with other photographers, reporters, Miss Universe officials and an ever-present chaperone set out for a day of sightseeing and shopping and photo ops.

I don't remember a whole lot of what happened that day. But thanks to this picture which I recently unearthed in my files, my final minutes with Yvonne are crystal clear.

After ditching her entourage, she retired to her room with just her chaperone, myself and and the Swedish reporter in tow..

Yvonne was exhausted and as her chaperone disappeared into another room, the world's most beautiful woman collapsed on the couch.

Finally, after a day of staged photo-ops, I finally had a candid moment.

I swung my Nikon FM2 in her direction and focused the 28mm lens and hit the motor drive.

I was able to snap three or four frames before the chaperone re-entered the room and scolded Yvonne for allowing herself to be photographed in a pose not befitting a queen.

But I already had the picture that perfectly summed up the 18 hours since young Yvonne had been told she was the fairest of them all.

The editors at Kvallsposten loved the picture and ran it on the front page with the headline: "EXHAUSTED."

Yvonne went back to Sweden and became a TV personality and now has her own line of skin care products.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Will The Herald survive in 2009?

A day after The Herald quietly raised the single copy price of the paper, I found myself in downtown Miami near the Miami-Dade Government Center.

Directly in front of the Metro Rail entrance and a block away on Flagler street were two Miami Herald promotional kiosks loaded with stacks of the Herald and el Nuevo Herald. The kiosks were also brimming with Miami Hurricane and Miami Dolphin t-shirts.

The men at the kiosks were buttonholing passersby, handing out free copies of the paper and at the same time trying to sell subscriptions to the paper. I guess if you bought a subscription to the paper you got a free t-shirt.

I didn't hang around long enough to find out.

I'm not sure a hundred kiosks at every corner along Flagler Street from Miami Avenue to Sweetwater could sell enough subscriptions to salvage what's left of the Herald. It's hard to imagine anyone in South Florida slapping themselves in the forehead and saying "Yeah, today's a good subscribe to the Herald," no matter how many free t-shirts are offered as a premium.

The Herald's circulation is steadily declining. To be fair, the price increase is the first in 18 years. But you don't need a PhD in economics to figure out what a price increase now is going to do to already sagging circulation numbers.

All three South Florida papers are going through hard times but things are especially bad at the Herald.

Massive staff reductions, declining circulation and ad revenue have taken a toll on what was once the largest and most influential paper in the state.

The Herald's parent company McClatchy is saddled with massive debt and its stock is selling for somewhere in the buck-a-share range. And reports say McClatchy wants to unload the Herald

One financial writer predicts that won't happen.
"The Herald won't be sold. There is too much risk here for a buyer. The most likely fate of the paper is that it will be merged with the Ft. Lauderdale paper or some other media in south Florida."
Expect big changes on the South Florida media horizon in the next 12 months.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Late Night Blues...Saturday edition





Here's a couple from blues shouter Wynonie Harris, a true rock 'n roll pioneer.

Congratulations to me!


Thanks to everyone who voted for me at SFDB. And, as always, thanks to Rick for all the kind words.

I guess I must be doing something right!

THIS JUST IN! Miami Beach is all about mindless SEX!

from today's NY Post Page Six:
THOSE who associate Miami Beach with wrinkled retirees will find their jaws dropping when they read Steven Gaines' new exposé, "Fool's Paradise," out Jan. 27 from Crown.
[...]
"Miami Beach is a rich city on a little sandbar whose primary business is sex," Gaines says. "Miami Beach is all about a 'dirty weekend' and mindless good fun."

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Feel good story of the day!



Dog and elephant become friends at an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee.

If this doesn't get to you, then nothing will.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

How long before we see ads on the Herald's front page?

The New York Times ran its first page one display ad on Monday.



And now the Boston Globe is following suit.

Back in July of last year I suggested that the Herald think about renting out their "prime front page real estate" as a way of bolstering their bottom line. They do run ads on the front of the local section.

But how long before we start seeing ads on 1A of the Herald now that the big boys are doing it?

Cats, dogs, raccoons and puppies

Here's your Random Pixels round up of stories from around the 'net today that feature furry little creatures:

  • Cat found in freezer after home burglary

  • Woman shoots raccoon as it attacks her dog

  • Girlfriend gets to keep puppy her boyfriend stole
  • Tuesday, January 06, 2009

    More hard times at New Times

    White Angel Breadline, San Francisco (1933) by Dorothea Lange (via artnet.com)
    ...
    If you have a lunch appointment coming up with Miami New Times editor Chuck Strouse, chances are you'll be picking up the tab...for both lunches.

    According to an internal memo written on New Year's Eve by Village Voice Media - New Times parent company - boss Michael Lacey, all "VVM Publishers and Editors are taking 10% pay reductions until our revenues begin to grow again." Apparently that includes Chuck.

    Here's the entire memo:
    December 31, 2008

    To all Village Voice staffers:

    It's no secret that the chickens have come home to roost from the George Bush economy of the past eight years. We have all felt the downturn at Village Voice Media operations and, as you know, have been trimming expenses since December of 2007

    Unfortunately, this year we have found it necessary to make staff reductions and have placed all staff openings on hold.

    We are also going to take these additional measures effective January 1, 2009:

    1) All VVM senior managers and officers, including Larkin and Lacey, are taking 15% pay reductions.

    2) VVM Publishers and Editors are taking 10% pay reductions until our revenues begin to grow again.

    3) We will suspend the Village Voice Media match into our 401-K plan. The plan will still remain open and we urge you to take advantage of the tax deferred personal savings advantages.

    We hope that these measures will be the last steps we have to take until our business improves, however will continue to be watchful as 2009 progresses.

    We believe in our local publishing and local digital businesses. It is our conclusion that the downturn in weekly publishing is largely cyclical and that as daily newspapers continue their decline, we will have numerous publishing opportunities in the markets we serve.

    Many of you know that Village Voice Media digital businesses are growing and expanding quickly. As this current economic nightmare ends, Village Voice Media will be well positioned for the future in both digital and print.

    We have navigated tough times before and although this seems the roughest stretch we've ever seen, we are confident that the content Village Voice Media operations produce and market daily will carry the day in whatever format the future might serve, print or digital.

    We appreciate the effort each of you make to insure our success every day. Should you have any comments or questions please feel free to contact your publisher or either of us below.

    Thank you,

    Jim Larkin

    Michael Lacey
    Chances are you won't be reading about this in the pages of New Times.

    They've been pretty much close-mouthed on VVM's financial woes.

    Broward New Times media watchdog Bob Norman finally got around to writing about the subject last week some 48 hours after my first post on the subject.

    Why does the Herald ignore South Florida bloggers?

    In the spring of 2005 at a meeting of the American Society of Newspaper Editors a speaker put up a slide of Craig Newmark. He then asked
    ....how many people in the room of several hundred recognized him or his name? Only a smattering of hands rose. A few more hands went up at the mention of Craigslist and its free classifieds.
    Here's a guy who was taking business worth millions of dollars from newspapers and the people who who ran those papers didn't even know his name.

    Newspapers in one city - San Francisco - had already lost $50 million to $65 million in employment advertising revenue to Craigslist according to a 2004 report.

    Phil Bronstein, former SF Chroncle editor and now an editor-at-large with Hearst Newspapers admitted just today that mistakes were made:
    "But the notion that we old media institutions are still the big boys, so much more more important and, well, HEFTIER than these pesky digital newcomers sounds familiar: we had the exact same view of things when CraigsList started cranking up at the beginning of the 2000s.

    "We were up to important things then, too important to worry about this quirky little community, sell-your-bicycle site. Weren't we? Hundreds of millions of dollars in lost classified revenues later, newspapers no longer feel that way. Too late for crying."
    And it's well documented that the people who run newspapers pretty much missed the boat in grasping the importance of the Internet.

    And now they have another problem....blogs!

    The proliferation of blogs is a part of the democratization of the delivery of information.

    Newspaper decision makers who ignore this fact are making the same mistake as those who failed to grasp the importance of the Internet and Craigslist, hoping perhaps, that those two entities would go away.

    Our hometown paper - The Miami Herald - is a microcosm and might well be the poster child for problems that continue to plague the newspaper industry.

    And it's missing the boat again.

    Can you remember the last time you read a story in the Herald or on its website that talked about or linked to a local blog?

    That's right...almost never!

    Occasionally one of the Herald's blogs will link to a local blog.

    But for the most part the Herald continues to deny that bloggers exist in South Florida.

    Many blogs in South Florida - including this blog - link to Herald stories many times a week. SFDB links to all of South Florida's three newspapers everyday. For many, a visit to SFDB is a must first thing in the morning...even before a visit to MiamiHerald.com.

    And there's some damn good writing showing up on some of our blogs. And there's stuff you won't read anywhere else.

    Why can't the Herald reprint some of the best writing from South Florida's blogosphere on its op-ed pages once a week or more often? And what's wrong with devoting a section of their website with links to some of South Florida's best blogs.

    Other segments of South Florida media occasionally recognize the existence of bloggers.

    But not the Herald.

    Those in power at the paper can no longer afford to ignore bloggers as they did with the Internet and Craigslist. We're not going away. We're here to stay.

    In September of last year David Letterman said to John McCain after McCain blew off an appearance on his show during the campaign: "You don't come to see me, well we might not see YOU on Inauguration Day!"

    To paraphrase Letterman, bloggers to the Miami Herald: Ignore us and we might just start ignoring you!

    And a final thought to those in charge at the Herald: There's not much riding on this...just your survival!

    Sunday, January 04, 2009

    Castro Dead!


    Making predictions about Fidel Castro and Cuba can be embarrassing.

    Just ask Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer, who, in 1993 wrote a book on Castro with the least prophetic title imaginable: Castro's Final Hour: The Secret Story Behind the Coming Downfall of Communist Cuba. Ok, so he was off by just a few years.

    But with the fiftieth anniversary of Castro's revolution behind us I think I can safely say that his days are numbered.

    I'll even go out on a limb and predict that Friday, April 10, 2009 will be D-Day for Castro. "D" as in Dead!

    Historically speaking he's already dead. The only thing left for him to do is....well....die.

    Newspapers all over the world already have written his obituary.

    All they need to do is put new top on their stories containing a few details like the time and date of his death and then start the presses!

    But you don't have to wait that long.

    Because much of what will happen on the day he dies is so predictable and on the off chance you might be really busy on April 10, here's a Random Pixels Exclusive! -- a look at first few paragraphs of the "Bearded One's" obit along with the Herald's front page the following day:
    HAVANA - (AP) - Fidel Castro Ruz, the intractable and defiant leader of Cuba for nearly half a century, died peacefully in his sleep Friday according to a statement read on Cuban state radio. He was 82.

    The bearded lawyer-turned-rebel seized power in Cuba on Jan. 1, 1959, relinquishing it only after he fell ill in 2006.

    Cuban television broadcast pictures of thousands of tearful Cuban citizens milling in the streets of Havana.

    Meanwhile in Miami, tens of thousands of Cuban-Americans, many of who weren't even born when Castro came to power, took to the streets in noisy celebration.

    Miami police shut down streets in many sections of Miami's Little Havana district including large stretches of famed Calle Ocho.

    A police spokesman reported numerous traffic jams.

    The spokesman also said his department had made about a dozen arrests including two television station live truck operators who got into an fight over a parking space at the Versailles Restaurant.
    So, there you have it. I might be off on the date of his death by a few months but I think I have everything else right.

    Because while much of what takes place in Cuba is so unpredictable (Andres Oppenheimer can vouch for that); a lot of what happens here in Miami is easy to predict.


    Thursday, January 01, 2009

    Fireworks ... up close and personal!


    I've never really been a big fireworks fan. I've seen glimpses of fireworks shows. It's a fact of life when you live here on Miami Beach.

    I've certainly never set out to take pictures of fireworks. I just find the displays kind of boring. I mean, you've seen one fireworks display you've seen them all.

    But tonight I figured out the reason why past fireworks displays were boring.

    I wasn't close enough!

    I was at a friend's apartment on South Beach. He lives in a building at 9th St. and West Ave.

    So as midnight got closer we went out on his sixth floor balcony to watch the display over the Miami skyline.

    And then all of a sudden it sounded like World War III had just started.

    Fireworks started shooting off from a barge that was moored in the bay right behind the Mondrian Hotel at West Ave and 11th St not more than 100 yards from where we stood.

    The explosions were deafening.

    I pointed my camera and grabbed a few shots.

    Fireworks are great...as long as you're close enough to actually hear and feel them!