Saturday, May 30, 2009

The New York Times visits South Pointe Park

Random Pixels photo

The New York Times analyzes Miami Beach south of Fifth Street in tomorrow's Travel section:

North of Fifth Street, club kids work off their hangovers at Ocean Drive madhouses like News Cafe, bachelorettes prowl for gallon-size frozen margaritas (with four straws) and busloads of tourists search for the Versace mansion. All the while, menu-wielding hostesses canvass passersby with two-for-one drink specials.

In contrast, the area south of Fifth almost feels like a gated resort — though, in reality, anyone can waltz in. More European than Daytona Beach-at-spring-break, the SoFi scene skews a little older, a little more arrived than arriviste, cushioned by the base of wealthy second-home owners from the area’s gleaming condos.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Late night blues...Friday edition

Buddy Guy live playing Sweet Home Chicago

Let's talk about 'burgers

This week, Lee Klein of Miami New Times, offers up his list of best places to get a 'burger in Miami.

The list:

  • Bar Burgers at Bourbon Steak: Fairmont Turnberry Isle, 19999 W. Country Club Dr., Aventura

  • Clarke's Miami Beach: 840 First St., Miami Beach

  • Dune Oceanfront Burger Lounge: Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, 455 Grand Bay Dr., Key Biscayne

  • Five Guys Burgers and Fries: 3401 N. Miami Ave., Miami

  • Kingdom: 6708 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
  • The winners? Tie between Bar Burgers at Bourbon Steak and 8-oz. Burger Bar.

    And while we're on the subject of 'burgers; President Obama stepped out for a big ol' sack of 'burgers today at 5 Guys in Washington.

    Babalu Watch

    The boys at Babalu blog have dutifully reported that a Miami man has been awarded more than $1 billion in suit against Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.

    However the Herald points out that the money "may be almost impossible to obtain."

    But I was kind of wondering when Babalu blog might be reporting the other big Cuba story of the week.

    That being that the Cuban government will now begin allowing sex change operations after lifting a ban a year ago.

    Not really, but it is fun pondering when Babalu's Val Prieto will get around to responding to all the right-wing racist attacks on Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

    Especially since they're always ever-vigilant in their effort to expose what they perceive as left-wing racism against Hispanics and Cubans where ever it exists.

    Must-see websites

    New York Times photographer James Estrin recommends some photography-intense websites.

    -from the NY Times photography blog, Lens.

    Thursday, May 28, 2009

    Father Cutié gets re-frocked

    In case you've been out of touch, Father Alberto Cutié, Miami Beach's naughty Catholic rock star priest has jumped ship and morphed into an Episcopalian, which one very thoughtful Herald reader calls a "fake religion."

    The Herald reports that the transformation took place today at a "small, private ceremony ... early Thursday afternoon at Trinity Cathedral, the church's South Florida headquarters in downtown Miami."

    Random Pixels has a reporter on the scene who reports that a full-fledged Miami Media Scrum is taking place with "about 50 media people milling around and smelling like wet socks."

    Miami preacher con man gets 'jacked!

    The Dallas Morning News is reporting today that "notorious televangelist Robert Tilton [who] left Dallas in disgrace more than a decade ago and has been quietly rebuilding his life in Miami."

    You may not know the name, but if you watch enough late night cable TV you've no doubt seen him promising eternal life if you just send him a "gift."

    (Actually the DMN is a little late. Miami New Times reported Tilton's relocation to Miami over a decade ago.)

    One interesting bit of new information in today's DMN report:
    "[Last] February...a masked gunman invaded Tilton's beachfront mansion, and the Miami news media didn't even bother to report the incident.
    "After the home invasion, the Tiltons moved out of their 8,000-square-foot Miami Beach mansion and into a South Beach high-rise with 24-hour security. They put the house on the market for $6.9 million."

    Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    Who's in charge at the Herald?

    On some days it occurs to me that people in charge at the Herald are just going through the motions.

    Over the weekend executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal gave readers another one of his pep talks.

    In his column he reveals,
    "New readership numbers that came in last week from Scarborough Research delivered some very good news: The Herald and El Nuevo Herald are gaining readers on almost every front.

    The biggest increases are on the websites, which together draw more than 6 million unique visitors a month, according to Omniture data. If you look simply at the local reach, online readers are up 17% for The Herald and 35% for El Nuevo, the new Scarborough numbers* show. Herald print edition readers are down slightly daily (4%) and up a little Sunday (2%); El Nuevo is up daily (17%) and Sunday (7%)."
    Gyllenhaal actually wants readers to believe that Sunday print readership is suddenly climbing despite a recent report that shows that the Herald's daily and Sunday circulation has fallen to a record low and shows no signs of a reversal.

    And then there's this: Today while browsing the Herald's site I came across this page.

    The page explains the benefits of subscribing to the Herald along with a colorful graph pointing out the various sections of the paper.

    Click to enlarge

    Notice that on Friday you get LIFE magazine as part of your Miami Herald sbscription.

    One small problem.

    The LIFE magazine newspaper supplement ceased publication over two years ago!

    Which leaves readers with this question that Gyllenhaal didn't bother to address in his Sunday pep talk: "Is anyone in charge at the Herald and if there is do they care?"

    It doesn't look like it.

    Lost and found


    Miami Herald - Thursday, January 9, 1997
    by FRANCES ROBLES - Herald Staff Writer

    It was Overtown 's version of Pennies from Heaven : quarters and cash from I-95.

    Miami firefighter Manny Rodriguez was there trying to quell the chaos after a Brinks truck crashed. Hundreds of people with dollar signs in their eyes went wild around him. Money was everywhere, and folks were dropping on all fours to get some.

    He plucked 20s out of trees. He gathered rolls of quarters from the dirt. Bills flew in the air. Nestled in the bushes, Rodriguez found a jackpot: a square white 50-pound bag.

    Rodriguez's jaw dropped. A $50,000-a-year firefighter who usually responds to gas spills was working a money spill. And he had just found $330,000. Cash. Currency. Moolah. And he got there a half hour after the crash.

    ``It was loot , a lot of money,'' said Rodriguez, 33. ``It was very heavy. I didn't even know how much was in there. I gave it to the Brinks guy, and he told me it was about $330,000. I freaked out.''

    Why didn't he try to keep it?

    This is a practical man: He likes being a firefighter. He could lose the job he has had for nine years. He would get in big trouble and lose his treasure anyway.
    Other people find money in the street; I find bottled water and cigarettes.

    But I'm getting ahead of myself.

    It was a slow day today. Nothing on the calendar so I set out to do a few errands and then stopped by my Starbucks at West Ave. on South Beach.

    Went inside and scooped up previously read copies of the Herald and the New York Times and took a table outside.

    While reading the paper I spotted a shopping bag from Whole Foods holding what appeared to be trash sitting by the door.

    I kept reading the paper for a half hour before going inside to order a Java Chip Frappucino.

    And then I watched in amazement as people who had come in after me picked up their orders and sauntered out the door while I stood there like some neglected red-headed stepchild.

    Finally I stepped forward and asked where my drink was.

    The sheepish barrista immediately knew that she'd screwed up and apologized and offered me a card for a free drink on my next visit while at the same time starting on my drink.

    Back outside, I picked up the papers and continued reading.

    Soon a light rain started to fall and I retreated to a table under an awning by the door where the Whole Foods shopping bag still stood.

    Curious, I looked inside and found a treasure trove.

    Inside the Whole Foods bag was a bag from CVS containing a Right Guard deodorant stick and pack of Marlboro Lights. The cigs and the deodorant had been purchased at 2:15pm. Total cost $8.88. He saved 66 cents on the smokes. Paid for with a credit card.

    The mystery shopper then walked 4 blocks to the Whole Foods at Alton Road and 10th Street and bought two bottles of Evian Spring Water at 2:30pm. Total $4.98. Credit card used again. (I wondered why someone would care enough about their health to buy overpriced imported water but still smoke cigarettes.)

    From Whole Foods our mystery shopper then walked across the street to Starbucks and took a table outside, spending some time and then leaving without their shopping bag.

    I sat at the table for another hour or so thinking perhaps that someone would realize they forgot their stuff and come back for it.

    No such luck.

    My total take for the day: two newspapers, a drink of my choice on my next visit to Starbucks, a pack of Marlboro Lights, a Right Guard deodorant stick and 3 liters of spring water.

    Hey, we're in a recession and every little bit helps.

    But if you know who who left the shopping bag behind; have them shoot me an email.

    In the meantime I continue to keep a close eye on any armored trucks that speed by me.

    UPDATE: Rick from SFDB sends me the following screenshot.

    Click to enlarge

    South Beach Chatter--Hip Hop Weekend Special

    Usual random acts of stupidity on Miami Beach again this year.

    But Random Pixels has learned of one particularly dumb act committed over the weekend.

    A platoon of bicycle-mounted police officers from Hialeah were having dinner at an eatery at 7th and Washington. They parked their bikes on the street without locking them.

    That's right, you guessed it.

    One of the bikes was stolen.

    Probably not the brightest criminal move this weekend since the ratio of cops to people on Memorial Day weekend works out to about 10:1.

    Anyway, after the cops discovered the missing bike, a "be on the lookout" was broadcast and the perp was caught a few blocks away.

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009

    Photography is not a crime on MetroRail

    via Miami Herald / JOHN VANBEEKUM

    Back on May 16 the blog Photography is not a Crime posted an item about a tourist who said he was "Harrassed in Miami by Metrorail Chief of Security" for taking pictures at a MetroRail station.

    I use Metrorail on occasion and have taken pictures from the Government Center station from time to time and have never been bothered.

    Curious as to why someone from the transit authority would confront a tourist with a camera, I sent an email to Harpal Kapoor, director of Miami Dade Transit asking for clarification on the legality of taking pictures at MetroRail stations.

    In my email I explain that I learned of the incident on a blog but he apparently thinks that I'm the one who was confronted.

    But the rest of his email is clear: It's OK to take non-commercial pictures at MetroRail stations.

    However, he does explain that "security personnel and/or any MDT employee are encouraged to inquire as to what objects/images a patron is photographing." The entire email is below:
    From: Kapoor, Harpal (MDT
    Sent: Tue 5/26/09 11:25 AM
    Cc: Muntan, Eric (MDT); Chen, Hugh (MDT); Forbes, Clinton (MDT)

    Thank you for your electronic correspondence in which you advised Miami-Dade Transit (MDT) that you would like clarification as to whether or not individuals are allowed to take photographs of the Metrorail system. In your correspondence, you indicate that you were told that you could not photograph unless you possessed a permit.

    MDT regrets any inconvenience or embarrassment this incident may have caused you. MDT is not aware of any federal, state, or local law which would prohibit personal photography at our facilities. The incident that you experienced appears to have been the result of the misinterpretation of local county law, specifically Miami-Dade County Code 30(B), which requires permits for commercial photography. MDT also requires permitting for photography when it involves equipment other than a hand-held camera (i.e. tripods, cables/wires, screens, etc.), which could pose a potential safety hazard to other patrons. Although not prohibited, security personnel and/or any MDT employee are encouraged to inquire as to what objects/images a patron is photographing. This is done not with the intent of harassing patrons or station occupants, but rather as a means of ensuring the security of our infrastructure and the general public and ensuring that commercial activity is not being performed.

    Miami-Dade Transit certainly acknowledges the efforts of your work. We have advised the MDT Office of Safety and Security and our security contractor, The Wackenhut Corporation, that there are no prohibitions against taking photographs for personal purposes and that the public should not be prohibited from doing so, as long as taking these photographs does not violate Miami-Dade County Code, Chapter 30B.

    On behalf of MDT, I thank you for bringing your concern to our attention. Should you have additional questions or concerns about security on the MDT system, please call the MDT, Office of Safety and Security at 305-375-4240.

    Harpal S. Kapoor
    Miami-Dade Transit
    701 NW 1st Court, 17th Floor
    Miami, Florida 33136

    Thursday, May 21, 2009

    The soldier in pink underwear

    David Guttenfelder / Associated Press photo

    I did a stint in the Army including a year in Viet Nam.

    During the year I was there, my mother religiously scanned all of the news pictures in the Herald hoping she might spot a grainy wire photo of me single-handledly capturing a platoon of Viet Cong.

    When she saw a photo that mentioned a place I might be, she clipped out the photo and mailed it to me with the query: "Are you here?"

    Unfortunately Mom never saw any pictures of me in the Herald.

    Sheree Boyd of Fort Worth TX had a little more luck finding a picture of her son in the paper. He's Army Specialist Zachary Boyd and who's serving in Afghanistan.

    The other day a picture of Zach ended up in the Ft. Worth Star Telegram and on the front page of the New York Times.

    She was probably happy that Zach followed the advice that all mothers give their kids: "Always wear clean underwear."

    To find out why, click here.

    Today's saggy pants story...

    ...comes from Kenner, Louisiana.

    A groom was arrested at his own wedding for disturbing the peace after his nephew violated the dress code with low-riding pants, Kenner police said.

    Best quote: "We got arrested like 20 minutes after they said 'I do,'" said Samuel Lucas, the 19-year-old with the allegedly low pants. "They spent $1,500 on dance lessons and they didn't even get to dance."

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009

    Seconds from death

    from the New York Times:

    by James Estrin

    [New York Times photographer] Tyler Hicks edged his way across a four-inch-wide plank that bridged a rushing river in the Korangal Valley in Afghanistan.

    Arriving at the other side, he turned and photographed Private First Class Richard A. Dewater, 21, as he crossed the river. He looked down at the preview screen of the camera and decided to photograph just one more soldier make the crossing.

    “I thought it might make a better picture if the soldier was two feet farther along the plank,” Mr. Hicks said, when I interviewed him by telephone last week. And so he photographed Specialist Robert Soto on the little bridge. Then he tried to catch up to Private Dewater.

    Just as Mr. Hicks ran up the hill, a bomb exploded under the private, killing him. A Taliban ambush had begun.
    The rest of the story is here.

    Tuesday, May 19, 2009

    Plenty of "guilt" to go around

    Anders Gyllenhaal

    It all started with a 545 word story - short by newspaper standards - published two weeks ago in the Herald.

    The paper had obtained a copy of a sleazy Spanish language magazine that featured photos of popular Miami Beach priest Alberto Cutié canoodling with a woman on the beach.

    A priest with a woman? Now that's news!

    But I digress...

    Since that first story appeared, the Herald has provided its readers with relentless and "breathless" coverage of a tabloid-generated story.

    All of this, ironically, just weeks after the paper won its 20th Pulitzer Prize for journalism excellence..

    The paper dispatched platoons of reporters and photographers across South Florida looking into every angle of the story.

    Herald staffers pestered Father Alberto's mother, harassed the woman involved, staking out her Miami Beach apartment, even printing her address in the paper.

    It was coverage the National Enquirer would be proud of.

    Since the first story appeared in the Herald on May 5, the Herald has printed no fewer than 20 stories.

    Twenty stories on what is essentially a private matter between Cutié, the woman involved and Cutié's parishioners.

    Cutié has presumably asked for forgiveness and is on a "prayerful journey" according to a diocese spokesperson.
    And today we learn that the paparazzi who took the photos are now asking for forgiveness.

    And the Herald? The paper continues to milk the story. It's the only participant in this whole sorry affair that's shown no sign of contrition.

    This past Sunday Herald ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos made an attempt to explain the Herald's actions in covering the story.
    "In general, I don't think that The Herald's coverage of Father Cutié has been sensationalistic. But I do think that it got breathless and, as days went by, treated him like an object instead of an individual with rights of privacy, perspective and respect. In other words, the Herald got used to treating him as a public 'scandal.' "
    Not "sensationalistic" but "breathless." Classic Miami Herald doublespeak!

    Schumacher-Matos continues:
    "The photos, taken by a vulture paparazzi, were never offered to The Herald, Executive Editor Anders Gyllenhaal told me. But he said he would not have bought them and would not have pursued the story had the statements not made it a public issue. The priest's personal relationship by itself 'is not the kind of journalism we are interested in,' Gyllenhaal said."
    So Gyllenhaal wouldn't have bought the photos? No surprise there. The Herald has barely enough resources for pens and notebooks.

    But that didn't stop the sanctimonious Gyllenhaal from "appropriating" the images giving the green light to publish them on the paper's website and in the paper.

    And Gyllenhaal is being slightly disingenuous when he says that the "priest's personal relationship 'is not the kind of journalism we are interested in.'"

    Really? Then why print over 20 stories? Wait! I know the answer. It's not about journalism. It's all about website page views!

    And it didn't stop him from giving the OK to print the woman's address. Was that journalism too Anders?

    So while everyone involved in this story is asking for forgiveness, perhaps a few people on the fifth floor at One Herald Plaza should also consider asking for a little divine absolution.

    Monday, May 18, 2009

    Babalu blog hates the Herald!

    Yes, unless you've been living in a cave for the past couple of years, then you already know that the muy macho hombres at the Babalu blog hate the Herald.

    Babalu's hater-in-chief is one Henry Louis Gomez.

    Henry runs a blog called Heraldwatch that he doesn't bother to update and no one bothers to read.

    Henry's reasons for hating the Herald are numerous.

    But basically he faults the Herald for printing the truth.

    Since the Herald won't parrot the Miami right-wing, hard-liner version of what goes on in Cuba and in Miami's exile community, then the Herald must be anti-Cuban. Right?

    Other reasons Henry hates the Herald are because of some columns written almost half a century ago by columnist Jack Kofoed, and the fact that columnist Ana Menendez dares to think independently, and other various crimes and misdemeanors.

    Henry specializes in sweeping generalizations. Writes Henry: "...along the way they've [the Herald] alienated pretty much the entire community they are supposed to serve."

    Yes, Henry, we've heard all of your reasons for hating the Herald before. But like a lounge singer who only knows five songs, you've become tiresome and predictable.

    If the Herald were to fold tomorrow Henry, what would you replace it with?

    "The Raven" gets some national exposure

    Last March 30 I posted an item about Miami Beach's long distance runner, "The Raven," after he ran his 100,000th mile.

    Today I noticed that post was getting a lot of hits, probably due to the fact that ESPN finally got around to running the short documentary style video that they've been working on since January.

    You can check out the video here along with a January 2008 essay by writer Joshua Hammann.

    It's extremely well done and worth a look!

    The story has also garnered quite a few comments.

    Really big pictures!

    The Photojournalist, 1951, by Andreas Feininger

    If you're a photography fan like I am, then one of your pet peeves might be newspaper sites that run tiny, little 400 pixel 600 pixel photographs.

    But there are a few places on the Internet where you can find full screen photojournalism.

    The gold standard is the Boston Globe's Big Picture run by the Globe's web developer Alan Taylor.

    The Wall Street Journal jumped into the mix some months ago launching Photo Journal. And it's more than just a coincidence that Photo Journal looks a lot like the Globe's Big Picture blog.

    And today the NY Times launched a large format photo blog called Lens after "more than a year in development."

    Saturday, May 16, 2009

    Get ready!

    Yep, it's almost here! Memorial day weekend on Miami Beach!

    Less than a week until the fun begins!

    Here are some scenes from last year's festivities.

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    Whatever you say Padre!

    Apparently there are dirty, filthy Cuban commie spies in South Florida maquerading as paparazzi.

    So says Father Cutié.
    ""I think that being Cuban American, we have that paranoia that perhaps it could be someone from another government, from another place..."
    Ummmm, whatever dude!

    5 Guys coming soon to Miami Beach

    If you're a burger fan - and who isn't - then you've probably heard of 5 Guys.

    Well, I'm a burger fan but had never heard of - much less visit - 5 Guys until yesterday.

    A friend and I stopped in at the 5 Guys at The Shops at Midtown Miami, 3401 N. Miami Ave.

    This is hamburger heaven without distractions. As simple and as basic and no frills as it gets. To say 5 Guys is unpretentiousness would be an understatement.

    For the uninitiated, the menu at 5 Guys is pretty simple. Hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries.

    Oh, and big boxes of in the shell peanuts which are free!

    The 5 Guys "mission statement" is also simple:
  • There are over 250,000 possible ways to order a burger at Five Guys.
  • We use only fresh, never frozen, ground beef.
  • There are no freezers in Five Guys locations, just coolers. Nothing is ever frozen.
  • We use only Peanut oil.
  • We use only Idaho potatoes.
  • Our menu is trans-fat free.
  • I ordered a little bacon cheeseburger and shared a large order of french fries with my friend. The fries arrived in a large brown sack liberally spotted with grease, which as we all know is a sign that you're in for a fine dining experience!

    There are half a dozen of these places in South Florida including one that's soon to open at 15th and Washington (at the old "Dogma" store) on Miami Beach, which ironically, is just across the street from South Beach mainstay Cheeseburger Baby.

    Can you say "cheeseburger wars?"

    Tuesday, May 12, 2009

    Donald Trump commutes Miss California's death sentence

    I know that way too much has already been written on this subject and I'm told that all three cable channels carried the Donald's decision live, but here's all you need to know about this non-story.

    But if you're short on time this comment pretty much sums up the whole affair:
    "Isn't Donald's position on hot blonds with great jugs becoming pretty predictable?"
    "Nuff said!

    Sunday, May 10, 2009

    NEWS FLASH! News to be delivered to your home computer!

    Frank Rich of the New York Times mentions this video in his column today on the current state of newspapers.

    Sounds like it might save newspapers!

    Anders Gyllenhaal loves Random Pixels

    Miami Herald executive editor Anders Gyllenhall has had a change of heart.

    After chastising me a couple of weeks ago he's apparently rethought his position.

    I logged on to the Herald's website today and was shocked to see an ad for my blog on the homepage!

    click to enlarge

    Glad to have you in my corner Anders!

    Saturday, May 09, 2009

    Zip code 33856

    St Petersburg Times Senior Correspondent senior correspondent Susan Taylor Martin, has written a great story for those of you who wonder where mail carriers go after carrying their last sack of Victoria's Secret catalogs and junk mail.

    It's Nalcrest, FL, where there's no home delivery of mail and the old timers spend their days complaining about the rising cost of stamps and reminiscing about close encounters with pit bulls. Which might be the reason that dogs are banned in this little town!

    Friday, May 08, 2009

    Feeding frenzy

    UPDATED Saturday @1:15pm: Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute, (quoted below) after reading my post, dropped me an email early this morning and offers this clarification: "I think I said the job of the journalist is NOT to NEVER invade privacy, but to respect privacy. We do invade privacy when there is a legitimate reason--when the invasion is outweighed by the public good."

    Miami experienced an old-fashioned media feeding frenzy this week.

    Or as one Miami media watcher declared: "It was like swimming with a bloody, open wound in the midst of a swarm of hungry sharks."

    I'm speaking, of course, of the Father Cutié story.

    Everybody got a piece of the action.

    TV live trucks lined the street in front of Cutié's St. Francis de Sales church on South Beach.

    The Herald dispatched reporters and photographers in search of Cutié and his mysterious friend. This morning's stories in the paper carried no fewer than six bylines.

    And today we also learned the identity of the woman. A Spanish TV outlet tracked her down and the Herald dutifully printed her street address.

    WPLG senior political reporter Michael Putney, who once wrote for the Herald, believes the story is a legitimate topic for discussion. "Here we have a rock star priest carrying on an affair in public."

    But Putney has nothing but scorn for TV stations camped outside the woman's Miami Beach apartment. "There's no reason to be staking out her door."

    "She never took a vow of celibacy," Putney told me today by phone. "Leave the woman alone for God's sake."

    Today I also asked Al Tompkins, who teaches journalism ethics at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, if the Herald erred when it printed woman's address.

    "What's the purpose?" asked Tompkins. "It's his [Cutié] story."

    "If you're going to publish the address, explain why...the reason. Explain the relevance."

    Tompkins said the Herald could have accomplished this by running an editor's note explaining why it felt compelled to print the woman's address.

    Tompkins says there are circumstances that would justify printing the address: "If she lived in a convent," or at "10 Downing Street," for instance.

    Tompkins explains that the rule in journalism is "never invade privacy; respect privacy."

    Tompkins went on to say that some one's right to privacy is sometimes outweighed by the public's need to know. Such as a politician's private business dealings that might come into conflict with his ability to serve.

    So The Herald jumped feet first into the feeding frenzy, and, in its quest to be first, it blurred a few ethical lines.

    Hopefully when all the heavy breathing subsides, someone at the Herald will sit down at a keyboard and explain who made the decisions regarding this story.

    And perhaps an apology to Ruhama Canellis might be in order.

    Putney summed up the Herald's dilemma best when I asked him if this was the first time the Herald got caught up in a tabloid story.

    "No," he said, "but they used to hide it better."


    Michael Putney will discuss the Father Cutié story this Sunday on "This Week in South Florida" at 11:30am on WPLG, Channel 10.

    DUI Checkpoint tonight!

    Date: Friday, May 8, 2009

    The Miami Police Department will be conducting a Multi-Agency DUI checkpoint and Saturation Patrol on Friday, May 8, 2009 in the vicinity of the 1000 block of the Macarthur Causeway. This checkpoint will take place in the City of Miami’s Downtown NET Service area. The checkpoint will be conducted during the hours of 9:00 PM – 1:00 AM. The goal of this checkpoint is to identify and apprehend impaired drivers before they can kill or injure others.

    The Miami Police and Miami Beach Police Departments will show zero tolerance for motorists who violate Florida’s traffic laws. Miami Police officers will be on alert to apprehend motorists who are driving impaired and ticket those who are unbuckled.

    This effort is in conjunction with the Florida Sustained DUI Enforcement Program, “2009 Drunk Driving: Over the limit, Under Arrest”, Let Eliminate Aggressive Driving and the “2009 Buckle Up Florida: Click It or Ticket” Campaigns. The goal of the Drunk Driving: Over the Limit, Under Arrest program is to save lives.

    Members of the local media are invited and encouraged to support our effort by providing live news coverage. For additional information, please call (305) 603-6525.

    For more information on the Florida Drunk Driving: Over the limit. Under Arrest program, and the Florida Click It or Ticket Program, visit their websites at and

    Doesn't Anders Gyllenhaal already have his hands full in Miami?

    So we get the news Wednesday that Miami Herald executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal has been appointed chair of the Pulitzer Prize Board.

    If you had just landed on earth in a flying saucer and read the Columbia University press release on Gyllenhaal's appointment, you'd be led believe that all was right with newspaper journalism. And that Anders Gyllenhaal was the Herald's savior.

    And you'd be partly right. Newspapers in general, and the Herald in particular, are still doing some great work.

    But apparently the writer of the press release doesn't read the Herald on a daily basis or visit the Herald's website that often.
    "Gyllenhaal (pronounced Jill-in-hall) has been a leader in online development in each of his newsrooms. The News & Observer was among the first newspapers in the country to develop an ambitious online strategy in the early 1990s. Under his direction, the Star Tribune launched a widely praised remake of its digital site and The Herald remade its primary Web site this year and has launched a series of successful online niche publications."
    Gyllenhaal's "a leader in online development" but this was the state of the Herald's website last summer under his leadership.

    And when the Herald launched their new website in September this is what readers saw.

    And let's not forget that the Herald's circulation has seen
    an unprecedented decline in the past year under Gyllenhaal's "leadership."

    The press release also says that Gyllenhaal has "emphasized experimentation" in his newsrooms.

    Perhaps Gyllenhaal should stop experimenting and stick to basics like reporting the news in a timely fashion instead of waiting 10 days after the fact to publish a news story. Or, in some cases, two weeks. Or two months!?!

    And then there's the little matter of Gyllenhaal's imperious and dismissive attitude towards readers who take the time to write to him and point out the Herald's shortcomings. Gyllenhaal apparently still believes that freedom of expression and "freedom of the press is limited to those who own one."

    And finally Anders, did you give the go-ahead to print the address of the woman involved in the Father Cutié kerfuffle? Even the National Enquirer doesn't print addresses! That's really showing "leadership!"


    Congratulations Anders on your appointment.

    But remember that despite all the flowery language in that press release, there are still a few of us here in Miami who know the real story of how your "leadership" has transformed the Herald.

    Shouldn't you spend your time making sure the Herald is the best paper it can be before you tackle another assignment?

    Thursday, May 07, 2009

    What will you read when the Herald folds?

    In a post on Yahoo Finance today, Tim Melvin ponders the future of some newspapers.

    Melvin writes of The Miami Herald's parent company McClatchy: "It appears McClatchy is hanging on by a thread right now."

    But Herald publisher David Landsberg says "the Herald is here to stay."

    Herald executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal says "The Miami Herald is not going anywhere."

    Which leaves me wondering: Will the dead tree version of the Herald be around 6 months from now?


    A year from now?


    Two years from now?

    Not likely.

    Three years from now?

    Definitely not.

    Certainly not if the paper's circulation continues its present downward spiral. The Herald's circulation has declined by 50,000 copies in the past year.

    I still see the Herald existing with an online only presence and with a greatly reduced staff.

    And there will be lots of resource sharing with the other two South Florida dailies.

    So what will you read when the Herald folds?

    It's all happening at the zoo!

    Some great zoo pictures courtesy of the Boston Globe's Big Picture blog.

    Wednesday, May 06, 2009

    Who shot Father Cutié?

    That's the question everyone in the South Florida media wants answered. Who shot the compromising photos of popular Miami Beach priest Alberto Cutié? And who is the woman he was photographed with?

    A source tells Random Pixels the woman is a Spanish TV celebrity.

    The credit line with the photos in TV Notas magazine credits the images to Full Cover News.

    I've been involved in the South Florida media scene for years and have never heard of this outfit. I also checked with a photo editor at a major tabloid who says he's never heard of Full Cover News.

    A quick domain search shows the following registrant info connected with Full Cover News:
    Cinelux Productions
    1540 Bronson
    Los Angeles, CA 90028


    Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
    Cinelux Productions
    john Smitth
    1540 Bronson
    Los Angeles, CA 90028
    One thing's for sure, this story isn't going away anytime soon.

    And one Miami TV newsman was overheard telling his newsroom colleagues this morning, "It's getting pretty bad when a Catholic priest is getting more action than I am!"

    As for Cutié's future? I'm predicting he'll be hosting his own talk show on Univision within 6 months!

    Tuesday, May 05, 2009

    Father Cutié speaks

    Not being Catholic, my first reaction to the Father Alberto Cutié story was to ask one Catholic friend why the archdiocese would want to remove Cutié from his post for a dalliance with a woman when the same church merely covered up hundreds of cases of priests molesting children.

    He couldn't give me coherent answer.

    Ironically just a couple of weeks ago Cutié gave an
    interview to the Washington Post where he spoke of preaching in South Beach:
    How do you preach in South Beach, the land of night life and clubs and beautiful people?

    I have a theme I came up with the day that I was assigned there four years ago: When you come to the beach, don't forget who made it. People come to the beach for all kinds of things: night life, partying, dancing, sex, vacations, to have fun. Probably the last thing on people's minds is that they would come for spirituality, but my little church is a spiritual oasis in the middle of the noise of South Beach. I really believe that you find God in the most unique places.

    It's one of those news days!

    Some days news stories are so wacky they're almost stranger than fiction.

    Here are some stories making headlines today.

  • A Miami Beach Catholic priest named Cutie is photographed by paparazzi on the beach with **gasp** a woman!

  • New Yorkers would rather have a sex addict running their state according to a poll.

    ...and last but not least...

  • President Obama and VP Biden went out for burgers today!

    What we want to know is when did Catholic priests become fair game for the paparazzi and when did they stop stalking real celebrities?
  • Monday, May 04, 2009

    Biscayne Times catches the Herald napping

    Jim Mullin, former editor of Miami New Times, and now the editor and publisher of the monthly Biscayne Times, has published an old fashioned, take-no-prisoners piece of investigative journalism in the current issue of his paper that's likely to have lots of people talking at Miami City Hall.

    It's the kind of reporting we've come to expect from our big city daily and not a struggling monthly neighborhood newspaper.

    The piece, written by former Miami Sun Post editor Erik Bojnansky, is also the kind of journalism that makes politicians nervous.

    Bojnansky's piece reveals that "in calendar year 2008, a total of 97 city employees received more than $200,000 in compensation, costing taxpayers more than $22.76 million, according to documents prepared by the city’s budget office and department of employee relations. Interestingly, 84 percent of those individuals were middle- to high-level supervisors at the fire department."

    Bojnansky also reports that of the Miami Fire Department's "685 employees, 81 received more than $200,000 in total compensation in 2008. Capt. Jon Hart was the highest-paid person among that elite crew. In fact he brought home more money last year than anyone employed by the City of Miami: $308,317.88."

    What does Miami mayor Manny Diaz have to say? "...never at a loss for comment when talking about pet projects like a taxpayer-subsidized Marlins baseball stadium, [Diaz] was tight-lipped about the salaries. His spokeswoman, Helena Poleo, would only say this: 'He does not have any comment.' "

    Sunday, May 03, 2009

    South Beach Chatter

    Employees at the Clevelander Hotel on South Beach are buzzing about three of their number who have been busted by Beach cops in the past few days.

    Sources tell Random Pixels that at least three Clevelander staffers have been arrested for DUI after leaving the newly renovated hotel following their shifts this week.

    At least one staffer was busted for impaired driving after leaving a training session in preparation for the hotel's grand re-opening celebration this weekend.

    Saturday, May 02, 2009

    Power to the people

    How a small village in the Sierra Maestra mountains in Cuba produces power in the 21st century.

    Tip from Alan

    Friday, May 01, 2009

    Looking for a $58,000 condo on Miami Beach

    photo by Alex Quesada for The New York Times

    The New York Times reports today that South Beach real estate agents "say they’re working harder than ever to put together [real estate] deals," despite the fact that "inventory is up, prices are down."

    Allison Cotter, an agent with Esslinger Wooten Maxwell, says she gets "numerous phone calls from people who want to buy in Miami Beach, but they’re looking for that $58,000 condo.”

    God, I love Photoshop!

    Earlier this week we learned that the folks who are in charge of Air Force One had come up with a creative new way to spend more than $300,000 of your tax dollars by flying their your plane over New York City for a photo-op.

    But just about every cable news TV pundit pointed out that any 15 year old with Photoshop could have done it for about 5 bucks!

    I'm certainly not 15, but I was inspired enough by the event to come up with this scenario in about 5 minutes!

    The NY Daily News website has been deluged with other Air Force One Photoshop concoctions.

    Here are a few of my favorites:

    And the pièce de résistance:

    More Air Force One Photoshop madness here!