Saturday, April 30, 2011

They said it...Special White House Correspondents Association Dinner Edition


"Michele Bachmann is here though, I understand. And she is thinking about running for president. Which is weird, because I hear she was born in Canada. Yes, Michele, this is how it starts." -President Obama speaking at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner and floating the rumor that Bachmann was born in Canada

"Donald Trump often appears on FOX which is ironic because a fox often appears on Donald Trump's head." -Seth Meyers, of Saturday Night Live speaking at the White House Correspondents Association Dinner

"Donald Trump has been saying that he will run for president as a Republican - which is surprising because I just assumed he was running as a joke." -Seth Meyers

"Donald Trump owns the Miss USA pageant, which is great for Republicans because it will streamline their search for a vice president.” -Seth Meyers

More Seth Meters lines here.

And here's the video of Seth Meyers' brilliant performance.



And here are some special zingers President Obama aimed at Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump is here tonight,” the comedian in chief said, grinning. “Now, I know that he’s taken some flak lately, but no one is prouder to put this birth certificate to rest than The Donald. Now he can get to focusing on the issues that matter. Like, did we fake the moon landing? What really happened at Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?”

“All kidding aside," Obama told Trump, "We all know about your credentials and experience. In “Celebrity Apprentice," the men’s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha steaks, but you recognized that this was a lack of leadership, so you fired Gary Busey.”

“These,” Mr. Obama said, “are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well-handled, sir. Well-handled.”



Save the date



Just a reminder that next Sunday, May 8, will be the last Lincoln Road Antique and Collectible Market of the 2010-2011 season.

It's your last chance, before the dog days of summer descend upon us, to come people watch and pick up one-of-a-kind bric-a-brac and collectibles.

Friday, April 29, 2011

They said it


"Who wants to live in a building named for somebody everyone's laughing at?" -Democratic strategist Bob Shrum talking about the predicament of people who live in Donald Trump's buildings.

"All comedians love Donald Trump. If God gave comedians the power to invent people, the first person we would invent is Donald Trump… God's gift to comedy." -Jerry Seinfeld

Broward New Times columnist Bob Norman joins WPLG Local 10 [UPDATED X3]

UPDATED @ 2:50pm: Random Pixels spoke with Norman just a few minutes ago. He says Channel 10 approached him about working for the station. "They asked me if I'd be interested in bringing my brand of journalism to the station and I accepted," said Norman. He rold me he's excited about the new challenge but adds, "It's not easy leaving New Times after 13 years."

UPDATED @ 3:30pm: Norman's boss at New Times, editor Eric Barton, talked with Random Pixels a short time ago and said this: "It's a sad day for us. He was the face of this paper; he put us on the map."

I asked Barton why Norman's posts sometimes generated hundreds of comments. Barton told me, "I think that one of the things Bob did was to create a discussion with his readers. He'll be sorely missed."

UPDATED @ 5:40pm: WPLG's Steve Owen tweets: "Extremely proud Bob Norman is coming to work at Local 10. It's proof that great journalism is still alive and well."

...
Just received this email:

I am very happy to announce that one of the finest journalists in South Florida is bringing his talents to the best television station in the market.

Bob Norman has worked for the Broward New Times for the past 13 years. Prior to that, he worked at the Gannett newspaper in Ft. Myers. Bob is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and his wife Brittany is a reporter at the Sun Sentinel.

In his reporting career, Bob has done remarkable work. He has broken countless big stories. He’s exposed corruption. He owned the Scott Rothstein story and many other scandals involving top political leaders in Broward County. He is a top notch reporter, who knows the market and knows how to get to the truth.

Bob will contribute to both on-air and online. His very popular blog, The Daily Pulp, will be moving to Local10.com, under the name Bob Norman’s Blog.

Bob joins us on May 23rd. Prior to that he will be spending some time in Dallas with our talent coaches to help with his transition from newspaper to television. Please make him feel welcome.

Bill Pohovey

VP/News Director

WPLG І LATV Miami І Post-Newsweek Stations

3401 West Hallandale Beach Boulevard, Pembroke Park, Florida 33023
Norman is not the first South Florida print journalist to make the switch to television.

WPLG's Michael Putney got his start in broadcasting when he left the Miami Herald in 1981 to take a reporting gig with WTVJ. He joined Channel 10 in 1989.

CBS 4's Eliott Rodriguez was hired away from the old Miami News by WTVJ in the early 80's.

More recently, journalist Jim DeFede, was hired a few years ago by WFOR after leaving the Miami Herald.

Coming soon to a bookstore near you!

What a week it's been for flamboyant Miami traffic ticket attorney, Mark Gold.

With the revelation that he spent almost $19.000 on booze and lap dances at a strip club, Gold quickly went from his role as a much-admired, hard-charging barrister to becoming the Donald Trump of the Miami legal community.

But Gold, like Trump, knows how to turn lemons into lemonade.

We've learned that Gold is hard at work on a quickie book that will tell his side of the story.

And we've got the EXCLUSIVE first look at the book jacket!

You go Mark! See you at Books & Books.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The happiest man in South Florida

Kendall Coffey
Miami attorney Kendall Coffey has to be the happiest man in South Florida.

Why?

Because, from this day forward, when lawyers gather at one of those posh Brickell Avenue watering holes for an after-work cocktail, Coffey knows his name won't come up when someone asks the question: "What's the dumbest thing a lawyer ever did in a strip club in Miami with a credit card?"

Last week, the answer to that question was, indeed, Kendall Coffey.

No longer.

That honor now belongs to Miami DUI and traffic ticket attorney Mark Gold.

If you haven't heard by now, Gold has filed suit against a Miami strip club for getting him sloppy drunk and then allegedly loading his credit card with almost $19,000 in charges.

Unless Coffey's been living under a rock foir the past few days, he's no doubt heard of Gold's story.

I don't know Coffey personally, but I'm very sure his jaw tightens a bit when he hears the words "credit card," "stripper" and "strip club" mentioned in the same sentence.

Here's why.

Fifteen years ago, he was caught up in a sordid incident involving a stripper and a $900 bottle of champagne...paid for with a credit card. And there was a bizarre twist.

From the Miami Herald, May 18, 1996:
U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey resigned Friday, a day after The Herald reported that he was under internal investigation for allegedly biting a topless dancer on the arm.

Coffey , South Florida's top federal law enforcement officer, said he will step down on May 31.

"The decision to leave is the most painful and difficult choice of my life," Coffey said Friday. "But leave I must,
because my family has already paid too great a price for the sacrifices that accompany public service. And, with the allegations recently raised and pending, I now have concerns about the possible impact on the important work of my office."

[...]

"We're all the victims of our individual foibles," said Tom Cash, former Drug Enforcement Administration chief in Miami. "The secret is to take responsibility, which Mr. Coffey certainly is doing. This is the best move for him."

Rumors and a probe

Coffey 's resignation comes after an intensive investigation by the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General. For months, Miami's legal community has buzzed with rumors about Coffey biting a topless dancer.

Coffey refused to address the rumors directly, and his office issued strong denials that he had even entered a topless bar.

"This office seizes places like that," Coffey 's spokesman, Wilfredo Fernandez, said in March. "The idea that he would even go into a place like that is ridiculous."
Fernandez would later regret making that statement.

Kendall Coffey had indeed, been inside the strip club and there was a credit card receipt to prove it.

From the Herald story:
Coffey entered the Lipstik club at 8099 S. Dixie Hwy. about midnight on Feb. 22, a Thursday. He came alone, driving himself.

Coffey 's home is not far from the club.

In the club, Coffey struck up a conversation with [Tamara] Gutierrez, who is considered one of the best-looking dancers and a favorite of VIPs who visit the club.

At the bar, Coffey purchased a $900 magnum of Dom Perignon champagne, the equivalent of two regular bottles, and $200 in " Lipstik money," which is used to pay the dancers for private sessions. The club does not permit "lap-dancing."

Coffey paid with his American Express card. In accordance with club policy, he presented his Florida driver license to verify his identity.

Coffey and the dancer eventually retired to the club's private "champagne room," which features two C-shaped couches and a platform where the dancers can perform for customers.

A big case lost

In the champagne room, Coffey and the dancer sat on one of the couches. Coffey lamented losing a big case. Exactly a week earlier, Coffey 's prosecutors were shocked when a Miami jury acquitted Willie Falcon and Sal Magluta, who had been charged with importing more cocaine than any other defendants in U.S. history.

"He was not discreet," a source said. "He used his name. He flashed around his ID."

Coffey drank his champagne and pressed his body onto the dancer. He also gave her small, affectionate bites.

He tried to kiss her on the lips. She turned away. He grabbed her, pulled her back and bit her hard on the left upper arm, breaking the skin and drawing blood, the sources said.

She screamed, attracting one of the club's bouncers, who, with the night manager, ejected Coffey .

Because Coffey was visibly drunk, they called him a cab, sources said.

In the parking lot outside the club, Coffey refused to get inside the cab. The bouncer loaded Coffey into the cab head- first.
Within hours of the incident, Coffey's father drove to the club and paid about $1,200 in cash to retrieve the receipt.

It wasn't long before rumors started swirling. And it was just a matter of time before the Herald got wind of the incident. An investigation followed and Coffey was forced to resign.

The day after that story ran in the Herald, Carl Hiaasen weighed in with his take:
Friends have smirkingly inquired if I scripted the sensational Lipstik affair that led to Friday's abrupt resignation by U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey .

The answer is no. In fact, I'm surprised he couldn't come up with a more literary way to wreck his career.

As everyone knows, a nude dancer says the prosecutor bit her on the arm at a South Dade adult club called Lipstik .

Curiously, I wrote a novel that begins with a prominent Democratic politician misbehaving badly in a South Florida strip joint. Suspense and hilarity ensue.

[...]

[L]et's talk about the champagne. In the novel, my drunk politician character picks up an empty champagne bottle and clobbers another customer in the bar.

In real life, Kendall Coffey did something even more outrageous with a champagne bottle: He bought it.

For $900! And he put it on his credit card! It's such an implausible scenario that even a gonzo hack like myself wouldn't try to sneak it past readers.

At many upscale strip clubs, customers are enticed to
purchase absurdly overpriced champagne with the lure of a secluded "table dance" by their favorite performer.

According to the Lipstik dancer Coffey took a fancy to, that's why he bought the bottle. Shortly thereafter, in a private room is when the alleged carnal gnawing occurred.

Picture this: You're the top law enforcement official in South Florida, a position demanding the utmost discretion, sobriety and prudence. Now, what are three sure-fire ways to get yourself noticed in a nudie bar?

(1) Buy a $900 bottle of champagne, something only a hapless sucker would do.

(2) Pay for it with a credit card, so there's an irrefutable record of your presence.

(3) Drink heavily, chew on a dancer and get yourself thrown out of the joint.

Not even in fiction could somebody be so dumb. At least in my novel, the horny politician had the brains to wear a disguise. Not the U.S. attorney.
So, move over Kendall Coffey...your Stupid Strip Club Stunt has been eclipsed by Mark Gold.

But, I'm sure you won't be shedding any tears over losing your crown.



Donald Trump is 'really proud' of himself

UPDATE: Video - Trump is offered a chance to look at the birth certificate in New Hampshire and refuses.



After watching Donald Trump in the video below, I can only come to one conclusion: There's no one in American politics that's more dishonest or a bigger a**hole than this guy.

If you get a chance, try to catch the video on MSNBC of NBC producer Shawna Thomas as she tried to show Trump a photocopy of the president's birth certificate today in New Hampshire. He refused to look at it.

Follow Thomas' tweets here as she follows Trump today in NH.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Miami Dade Transit director quits

The Miami Herald reports today that "Harpal Kapoor, head of the beleaguered Miami-Dade Transit Agency, is stepping down from his job after failing to restore millions in federal funds suspended last year after allegations of mishandling of agency accounting practices."

“Yes, it’s true,” Suzy Trutie, Miami-Dade County’s assistant director of communications told the Herald. “He is retiring from his job.”

Random Pixels has obtained a memo to County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez from County Manager Alina Hudak who reveals that she's aware that, "MDT's business and financial management continues to disappoint the community."

Hudak writes that Assistant County Manager Ysela Llort will be running the troubled agency. Llort has been with the county for just over 4 years and makes over $260,000 a year.

And, in what must have MDT's remaining executives sweating bullets, Hudak says, "I have asked Ms. Llort to carefully evaluate the skill sets among the MDT staff and develop an action plan to address deficiencies." Ouch!

However, some county insiders think that Llort also needs to go.

Kapoor Retires

DUI attorney Mark Gold demands refund from a strip club!

UPDATED @ 7:10pm Random Pixels spoke with Gold by phone this evening. Gold declined comment on the lawsuit saying, "I can't comment on pending litigation."
...

Mark S. Gold
Miami DUI attorney Mark Gold, founder of The Ticket Clinic, is demanding a refund of $18,930 in charges a Miami strip club put on his credit card.

Presumably, some of that 19 grand went for lap dances.

(Random Pixels saw the inside of more than a few strip clubs back in the day. But when we were going, lap dances had not yet been invented so we're not even sure how much a lap dance costs. Okay, it was the Aquarius on LeJeune Road if you must know!)

South Florida Lawyers reports that Gold is alleging, "The defendant, [Goldrush,] a strip club, served the plaintiff, a lawyer, so much alcohol that he became "temporarily unconscious, and further to the extent that he had a complete loss of judgment, rational thought, or the ability to enter into lawful contracts or agreements." Then the defendant charged his credit card $18,930 for "goods and services."

Objection, your honor! Wasn't Goldrush just doing their job? Isn't that why someone goes to a place where alcohol is served...to get shit-faced?

And Kyle Munzenrieder at Miami New Times has a question:  How can "someone can rack up $18,930 at Goldrush. How many lap dances can that buy you? Did he agree to pay for a strippers college education or something?"

Gold should know better. After all, in his TV ads he brags that he was going to traffic court when other attornies "were still in diapers."

So, if you're reading this Mark, here's a site that caters to horny guys just like yourself. And you can probably get away with spending a whole lot less than 19 thou!




Strip Club Lawsuit


Monday, April 25, 2011

Zacharie Perez just might be the luckiest man in Dallas

-thanks to Jeff for the heads up.

How lucky can a guy be who has his motorcycle rear-ended on a Dallas freeway and then gets sandwiched between the car that hits him and a car in front? And then, after all that, gets thrown into the next lane of traffic -- where he barely misses being run over by a white SUV?

How lucky?

He lived to tell about it.

Bruce Tomaso of the Dallas Morning News has the story:
"I'm all right," the motorcyclist, 25-year-old Zacharie Perez, said in an interview. "I guess I was pretty fortunate."
[...]
"Everyone who's seen the video says I was lucky," he says. "My fiancé's mother said everyone she knows who's been involved in a motorcycle accident is either dead or paralyzed."

Perez, who was wearing a helmet, is already back at his job, working for Viverae, a corporate wellness company. He expects to make a full recovery, though he says he still has a slight limp and chronic back pain, along with soreness in his knees. Because he's still healing from the spleen surgery, he said, "I can't lift anything over five pounds."
Lesson learned? Always wear a helmet!

The way we were

Thirty years ago, the Miami News printed a letter from Samuel Seidman of Brooklyn who complained of the "arrogant" storekeepers and hotel employees he encountered during his visit to Miami Beach. Seidman also took the time to note "all the vacant stores on Lincoln Road."

If you're reading this Sam, I'm happy to report that all those vacant stores on Lincoln Road now have tenants.

Sorry to say, though, that everything else is pretty much the same.


from the Miami News, April 25, 1981


Sunday, April 24, 2011

What a bunch of 'loosers!'

-thanks to Alfred for the heads up!

-from the Miami Herald Twitter feed

It's Spring...

...and the frangipani tree in my backyard is blooming once again. (Click images to enlarge.)






Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday night doo-wop with The Platters

They don't make them like this anymore!

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes



Only You



The Great Pretender (1955)



My Prayer



Twilight Time

There's a lesson here somewhere

Michi Nogami Marshall's mugshot (photo by BSO portrait studio)

from the Miami Herald:
Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall spent Friday night and early Saturday morning in the intensive care unit of a South Florida hospital after being stabbed by his wife, Michi, sources have confirmed to the Miami Herald.
Also from the Herald:
When Brandon Marshall joined the Miami Dolphins in 2010, he had a string of scrapes with the law in three states, repeated domestic disputes, contract squabbles, and petulant behavior during three years with the Denver Broncos.
[...]
After getting married to Michi Nogami in 2010, Marshall said she, a psychology major, was helping him cope with his quick temper.

"She is turning my life around. I am a very passionate, emotional person, and she is teaching me to channel that. My life is so much calmer now," he said in 2010.

But on Saturday morning, Nogami had been arrested for stabbing him.

She is not the first woman in his life to stab him. His then girlfriend and high-school sweet heart Rasheedah Watley said in an ESPN interview that she had used a knife to defend herself in 2007.
Brandon Marshall's Southwest Ranches home.
Click here to see more pictures of Brandon Marshall's home where the assault allegedly occured.

Nogami Arrest Report

A timeline of Brandon Marshall's past "troubles" via the Denver Post :
Oct. 31 2004: Marshall faced misdemeanor charges of trespass, resisting arrest without violence, disorderly conduct, refusal to obey and assault on a law enforcement officer from a Halloween night arrest his junior year at Central Florida. All charges were ultimately dismissed.

April 8, 2005: Marshall was charged with retail theft, a misdemeanor, after police in Orlando accused him of trying to return a stolen set of bed sheets at a Burlington Coat Factory. The charge was dropped.

June 17, 2006: Marshall and his girlfriend Rasheedah Watley both filed police reports alleging physical abuse by the other in an hours-long a fight at Marshall's Orlando apartment. No arrests.

Jan 1, 2007: According to court testimony in the murder trial in which Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was the victim and Willie E. Clark was the defendent, Marshall and his cousin were involved in an altercation outside a downtown Denver nightclub with Willie E. Clark and Daniel "Ponytail" Harris. Prosecutors believe an enraged Clark followed a limousine that he thought Marshall and his cousin were in. Clark was found guilty of firing at least 15 shots into the crowded limousine that killed Williams. Marshall and his cousin were in another vehicle. Clark is serving a life sentence.

Jan. 24, 2007: Police interview Marshall and his father after an argument in an Orlando parking lot. Marshall claimed his father tried to run him over with his car, while the father told police Marshall had shot a gun. Both declined to press charges.

March 18, 2007: Watley told Atlanta police that Marshall had punched her and taken her purse while at a downtown hotel. Marshall left before police arrived and no charges were filed.

March 21, 2007: Police in Palm Beach County, Fla., interviewed Marshall and Watley twice in one night after two loud arguments. Both said the incidents were not physical, and no arrests were made.

March 26, 2007: This is the first time the Broncos and Denver-area sports fans understood the magnitude of Marshall's domestic troubles with Watley. Marshall was arrested in Highlands Ranch on charges of domestic violence and false imprisonment after another argument. Marshall hired attorney Harvey Steinberg to defend him and charges were dropped in May 2007.

June 8, 2007: Two incident reports were filed by Atlanta police. The first was to investigate damage to private property when Watley's friend alleged that Marshall hit her car and then threw a rock at the passenger door, where Watley was riding. In the other, Watley told police Marshall had cut her in the thigh and punched her in the face. She was taken by ambulance to a local hospital. Marshall was not on the scene, and no charges were filed.

June 30, 2007: Watley told Atlanta police Marshall had punched and choked her at his downtown condo, leaving a bruise on her eye and scratches on her body. He was not on scene and no charges were filed.

Oct. 22, 2007: Marshall arrested and charged with DUI after he allegedly was driving the wrong way on a one-way street in downtown Denver hours after a Broncos game.

March 4-5-6, 2008: Three incident reports and one criminal warrant filed after Watley and Marshall got into a fight at his Atlanta condo. She told police Marshall had punched her in the mouth and eye. Marshall told police his hand was also cut on glass during the incident, which included Watley's two younger sisters. Marshall was arrested on March 6 on a misdemeanor battery charge.

May 21, 2008: An Atlanta police officer was dispatched to Marshall's condo to enforce Watley's temporary restraining order while Watley was there removing her belongings. The officer described Marshall as being cooperative and Watley as being argumentative, though Watley told the officer she felt threatened by Marshall and his relatives who were also there.

Feb. 8, 2009: Played in his first Pro Bowl in Hawaii, an honor received because of his performance in the 2008 season. While on that trip, he proposed to his girlfriend, Michi Nogami Campbell.

March 1, 2009: Takes part in a fierce argument with his fiancée that leads to their arrest on disorderly conduct charges. The charges are dismissed the next day.

Aug. 14, 2009: A six-person Atlanta jury acquits Marshall on a misdemeanor battery charge stemming from the March 6, 2008 incident.

Aug. 28, 2009: Coach Josh McDaniels suspends Marshall for the remainder of the preseason for conduct detrimental to the team, the day after he lost his cool at practice, punting away a football and batting down balls in frustration. He was reinstated on Sept. 6.

Feb. 26, 2010: Marshall testifies for the prosecution in the murder trial of Willie Clark, the man accused of killing former Bronco Darrent Williams on Jan. 1, 2007. Marshall was partying with Williams the night of the murder.

In his testimony, Marshall said he escalated a dispute outside a downtown nightclub with Clark and Clark's friends. "I think about it every night," Marshall said.

April 1, 2010: Marshall marries Michi Nogami in a courthouse ceremony in Jefferson County. Marshall was spotted wearing his new wedding band in a fashion magazine photo shoot on April 13.

April 14, 2010: Marshall is traded to the Miami Dolphins for two second-round draft picks, one each in 2010 and 2011.

July 17, 2010: Marshall and his wife again exchange vows in a formal ceremony in Miami.

April 22, 2011: Michi Nogami-Marshall is arrested and jailed after she admits to police she stabbed her husband with a kitchen knife in self-defense. Marshall is hospitalized following emergency surgery to repair a non-life threatening stab wound to his stomach.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Every picture tells a story

L.A. County Sheriff's detectives said the tattoo on Anthony Garcia's chest included key details from the scene of a liquor store murder that puzzled them for four years. (Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department)

I like this story from today's Los Angeles Times, which could be a movie script:
By Robert Faturechi, Los Angeles Times

The process was routine. L.A. County Sheriff's homicide investigator Kevin Lloyd was flipping through snapshots of tattooed gang members.

Then one caught his attention.

Inked on the pudgy chest of a young Pico Rivera gangster who had been picked up and released on a minor offense was the scene of a 2004 liquor store slaying that had stumped Lloyd for more than four years.

Each key detail was right there: the Christmas lights that lined the roof of the liquor store where 23-year-old John Juarez was gunned down, the direction his body fell, the bowed street lamp across the way and the street sign — all under the chilling banner of RIVERA KILLS, a reference to the gang Rivera-13.

As if to seal the deal, below the collarbone of the gang member known by the alias "Chopper" was a miniature helicopter raining down bullets on the scene.

Lloyd's discovery of the tattoo in 2008 launched a bizarre investigation that soon led to Anthony Garcia's arrest for the shooting. Then sheriff's detectives, posing as gang members, began talking to Garcia, 25, in his holding cell. They got a confession that this week led to a first-degree murder conviction in a killing investigators had once all but given up hope of solving
.
Read the entire story here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Film: not quite dead yet!

Time magazine has released its list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

To shoot the portraits of people on the list, they dispatched superstar portrait photographer Martin Schoeller.

The video below offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how one of the world's top editorial photographer works.

Note that he still shoots film.

Today's classic Don Wright cartoon

from the pen of former Miami News and Palm Beach Post editorial cartoonist Don Wright.

Click to enlarge.

-Miami News, April 22, 1986

(After more than 50 years as a newspaper photographer and cartoonist, Don Wright is still drawing cartoons.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Busted by a blogger!

Kudos to fellow blogger Elaine de Valle for a scoop that's made its way to the pages of the Miami Herald.

A few nights ago de Valle caught State representative Frank Artiles with his pants down... in a manner of speaking.
TALLAHASSEE -- More than 170 days since Republican Rep. Frank Artiles was elected, he still hasn’t moved to the west Miami-Dade district he represents in the Florida House — a potential Constitutional violation that could cost him 5 months’ pay.
Artiles was caught living in his Palmetto Bay home two nights ago when a Miami political blogger knocked on the door of his Palmetto Bay home.

Wearing gym shorts and socks as he watched the Miami Heat basketball game, Artiles admitted to blogger Elaine de Valle that he didn’t live in his district, she wrote.

“I’m moving to West Kendall next week,” he told de Valle, a former Miami Herald reporter, according to a Tuesday posting on her Political Cortadito blog. When she pulled her video camera out to interview him, she wrote, he closed the door on her.
Congratulations Elaine! We've been following your blog for a few months now and we like what we see. We know what you're feeling right now. It's always nice to see a story you've broken first end up in the pages of the local paper. Keep 'em coming

Excuse me, Donald Trump wants to be what?

Excuse me, did someone say President Trump?

Puh-leeze!

Just what this country needs, an arrogant, thin-skinned windbag in the Oval office.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Stuff we like

They gave out the Pulitzer Prizes yesterday.

Some people wait all year for the Academy Awards.

I'm different. I can't wat for that onr day in April when the Pulitzers are announced.

The story below is one of the reasons why.

LOS ANGELES - It was the biggest story of the year in Southern California. Officials in the working class suburb of Bell were paying themselves exorbitant salaries, in one case more than $1 million. And it was all uncovered by two Los Angeles Times journalists: a veteran reporter, Jeff Gottlieb, and Ruben Vives, who is just three years on the job.

A jubilant newsroom toasted the pair as they were announced as Pulitzer Prize winners for their work Monday, reports CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker.
[...]
But there's a story behind this story. Vives, a native of Guatemala, came to the U.S. at age 7 to join his mother, a housekeeper in Los Angeles. He lived here many years in the shadows, without proper documentation -- an illegal status he knew nothing about until he was nearly 18.

"You know I was in high school," said Vives. "My mother told me my senior year of high school. At the time I didn't think about how serious the situation was."

His mother worked for two L.A. Times reporters, who, one month before Vives' 18th birthday, helped him get a green card -- and a job as a copy boy at the paper.

"If you give one person a voice, you never know what will come of it," said Shawn Hubler, Vives' mentor. "We helped Ruben, in a small way, find his voice."

-via the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric

Life in the South Florida blogosphere

Among the many joys associated with perusing South Florida's vast blogosphere, are the occasional and fascinating glimpses into the lives of fellow bloggers.

In.
Nauseating.
And.
Pathetic.
Detail.

Just the other day, "Rick," of the South Florida Daily Blog shared his experience of having his car attacked by paintballers.
For those of you lucky enough not to have been targeted just yet, the paint does wipe off with a damp towel but it's the hard-to-see splatters that you have to worry about. You really don't want them to have the chance to dry.
"Rick's" report was a public service.

Really!

I had no idea that South Florida's crime problem was this bad. Or that Pembroke Pines had become such a hotbed of criminal activity.

Now, if only we had a newspaper that reported on the kinds of things that "Rick" so diligently covers with his blog.

If only....

Sunday, April 17, 2011

British tourists shot and killed in Miami...but where are the bodies? [UPDATED x2]

From the Daily Mail in the UK:
Two British tourists have been shot dead in Florida, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

The victims, both men, are believed to be victims of a street robbery that went wrong.

Their relatives have been informed, but the men or where they are from have not been revealed. The shootings took place in Miami, Florida, on Saturday night.

Police sources with the Miami Homicide Department said the men died after what was was thought to be a botched robbery.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: 'We can confirm the death of two British nationals in Florida.
That's pretty straightforward...except no one seems to know where the bodies are. And I'm not sure what the "Miami Homicide Department" is.

Meanwhile, this from the Miami Herald:
Miami and Miami-Dade police officials deny the reports and say that no tourists or British citizens had been killed in either agency’s district this weekend.
Can't wait to see how this one ends.

I do know from past experience that the Brits are notoriously lacking in their knowledge of South Florida geography. They tend to think of all South Florida as "Miami." On the other hand, it's unfathomable that two people could be shot and killed without some word of it finding its way into a news report by now.
...

UPDATED @ 5pm

from the Miami Herald: Two British tourists, reported by British media to have been murdered in Miami early Saturday moring, actually died in Sarasota, the British Embassy confirmed Sunday afternoon.

from the Sarasota Herald Tribune:
A 16-year-old teen was arrested this weekend in connection with the shooting deaths of two British men.

Sarasota Police identified the victims as James M. Cooper, 25, and James Thomas Kouzaris, 24, both of England.

Police were notified by an area resident that a man covered in blood was collapsed on the ground in the 1700 block of Gore/Carver Courts about 3:20 p.m. Saturday.

Officers came to that man and while checking the area discovered another body across the street.

Investigators recovered about 20 shell casings from the scene.

Saturday’s killings mark the second fatal shooting in Newtown this year.

The teen was charged with two counts of murder
.
(Looks like the Daily Mail reporter who quoted the "Miami Homicide Department" has some explaining to do.)


UPDATED @ 7:30pm:
At least one British tabloid (click on screenshot above) is still reporting that the two British men were killed in Miami. Much of the information in the story looks like it was lifted from the original erroneous Daily Mail story. So much for British "journalistic standards" and all that.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Donald Trump brings his freak show to Boca Raton


Donald Trump brought his sideshow to Boca Raton this afternoon.

And, as with any sideshow, there were more than a few freaks in attendance.

There was one at the podium with really bad orange hair.

And at least one in the crowd with a bad hat.

Ordinarily I don't give a rat's ass about Donald Trump. I figured out a long time ago that he's living proof that having money doesn't automatically mean you have class.

But my Random Pixels Palm Beach correspondent sent me a few pics which is all the reason I need to do a post on The Donald.


photographs for Random Pixels by the Boca Flash

Is Trump a serious candidate? From Talking Points Memo:
On Friday, Karl Rove told Fox News Trump is a "joke candidate" because of his birther-centric media cavalcade.

"He's off there in the nutty right, and is now an inconsequential candidate," Rove said.

Today in Boca, Trump seemed to relish the criticism from members of his own party. In his speech to the tea party rally, he excoriated Rove. The tea partiers, no fans of Rove from back in the days of Christine O'Donnell, booed Rove's name when Trump mentioned it.

"It's amazing," Trump said. "He's so against me, because I am questioning. All I want to see is the guy's birth certificate."
Wow! When Karl Rove starts calling you a right-wing nut, you know you're in trouble.

Something new has been added

To all my regular readers....

If you are a regular reader and visit here everyday or several times a week, you obviously like what I'm doing.

For instance, many of you emailed me and thanked me for posting the list of 3300 Miami-Dade employees making more than $100,000 a year.

It was a story that no South Florida media outlet reported until we posted the list here. It was finally picked up by the Miami Herald and every TV news outlet in South Florida.

So, as a regular visitor, you may have noticed that I've added a Donation button in the upper right hand corner.

I'll spare you the public radio pitch that we so often hear: "If you don't send us your pledges, the next time you tune in we may not be here."

That's not going to happen.

I plan to keep this blog going until I get bored which won't be anytime soon.

But circumstances have forced me solicit donations from my regular readers.

Please consider making a donation in any amount you choose.

For those making a donation of at least $20, I will send you one of my world famous posters of the legendary Biscayne Bay piano as a token of my appreciation.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me by clicking on the email link just below the donate button.

Thanks for your support!

Friday, April 15, 2011

New York Times reports on Miami Heat fan douchebaggery


New York Times reporter Don Van Natta nails Miami Heat fans in a great piece in today's Times.

Van Natta - a former Miami Herald reporter - examines the enigma surrounding a Heat fan base that's blessed with a roster full of superstars, but that most of the time seems pre-occupied with just about any activity that doesn't actually involve watching the game or cheering for the team.

Some highlights:
  • Ticket holders straggle in long after the opening tip and flee en masse midway through the fourth quarter to beat the traffic.


  • Meanwhile, the arena’s plush lounges are jammed with fans sipping mojitos, snacking on tapas and taking in the sumptuous Miami skyline. Texting is rarely interrupted for cheering. And when P. Diddy claims his courtside seat — midway through the second quarter, usually — his presence creates more electricity among the nearby high-paying fans than any alley-oop dunk by the Three Kings.


  • Rick Torrente, a season-ticket holder since 2000, is stunned that some season-ticket holders in his section do not take their seats until halftime. “In general, and I’m sorry to say this and sad to say this: Miami fans are not true fans,” Torrente said. “I have never seen a team work so hard to get people to cheer.”


  • A Heat home game ranks among the loudest in the N.B.A., but much of the noise is artificial. A platoon of Heat employees, all armed with microphones, repeatedly order fans to cheer. The public-address announcer Michael Baiamonte regularly shrieks, “Ladies and gentlemen, stand up and make some noise for your Miami Heaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat!” A rap D.J. named DJ M. Dot even shouts, “Make some noise.”


  • Thursday, April 14, 2011

    The way we were

    from the Miami Daily News, Aug. 7, 1950

    Stripper loses her 6 foot-long snake on Miami Beach


    from the Miami Daily News, Aug. 8, 1950

    Impossibly cute cheetah stealing the hearts of journalists everywhere!

    photograph courtesy of Busch Gardens

    Journalists aren't normally known for being sentimental slobs. Usually they're just known for being slobs.

    But, journalists are known for being pretty good at resisting pitches from annoying public relations people.

    But if you're a PR person at Busch Gardens in Tampa that just got a baby cheetah from a Jacksonville Zoo after its mother wasn't able to care for it...well, that's another story.

    For the past few weeks, the folks at the theme park have been pumping out cute pics of the newborn cheetah just as fast as they can.

    And Florida newspapers have been posting them on their websites as soon as they pop up in their inboxes.

    "Busch Gardens' Baby Cheetah is So Cute We Literally May Have Died," Miami New Times cynic-in-residence Kyle Munzenrieder wrote a few weeks ago.

    However, the folks at Busch Gardens, perhaps sensing that pictures of their cheetah, cute as it is, were wearing thin, upped the ante this week.

    They doubled the cute factor by releasing pictures of their impossibly cute cheetah with an equally impossibly cute, 16-week old female yellow Labrador puppy.
    "Well, reader, it's been nice knowing you. See you later, because you're about to die of cute overload.

    "Busch Gardens Tampa Bay's famous fuzzy baby cheetah has a new best friend — a 16-week old female yellow Labrador puppy. The public now has a chance to name both adorable animals ("Snuggle Muffin" is out of the question, though)",
    wrote giddy St. Petersburg Times staffer, Stephanie Hayes.
    Other hard-bitten, tough-as-nails reporters are also being sucked in by the cute pics.

    My friend Tamara, a wire service reporter who's covered the earthquake in Haiti, multiple murders in half a dozen Florida cities and last summer's Gulf oil spill, sent me a link to the cheetah/puppy pics this morning with this warning: "Sit down. You might not be able to handle the cuteness."

    C'mon Tamara, you don't think I'm gonna fall for that, do you?


    Will today be the day that Richard Dunn finally speaks out against those who are terrorizing his constituents...



    ...or will he continue to blame the police department?

    Miami City Commissioner Richard Dunn, who's been a vocal critic of the Miami Police Department's efforts to put a stop to crime in Liberty City and Overtown, has been pretty scarce lately.

    A few months ago Dunn was making statements like this: “It looks like the chief [of police] has succeeded in creating a culture in the police department of shoot first and ask questions later. Unfortunately, it only seems to happen in District 5.”

    Dunn believes he has a better way to deal with the violence that pervades his district: Prayer.

    However, it appears that God is not listening.

    from the Miami Herald:
    Police: Two men shot dead in Liberty City
    By Diana Moskovitz

    Two men were shot dead Wednesday night in Liberty City, according to Miami-Dade police.

    The attack took place about 7:30 p.m. in an apartment complex near Northwest 65th Street and 21st Avenue. Two men were approached by the shooter, who carried a gun that was described to officers as an assault weapon, police spokesman Detective Roy Rutland said.

    The shooter opened fire, striking both men, he said. One died at the scene, in the complex’s playground, Rutland said. The second died at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
    But, I'm sure after Wednesday night's killings, Commissioner Dunn will be going before a bank of TV cameras and microphones today to apologize to Chief Exposito and denounce the real perpetrators of violence in his district.

    Right, commissioner?

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    New county manager re-shuffles executive office staff

    UPDATED @ 10:30pm with additional info on the mayor's former communications director, Victoria Mallette-O'Bryan.
    ...

    Brand new Miami-Dade county manager Alina T. Hudak has posted several memos on the county's website since assuming office March 15.

    But one interesting memo she's written is missing. The one that answers the question a lot of people have been asking: What happened to Carlos Alvarez's staff?

    In the memo - written two weeks after her appointment - Hudak details changes she's made in executive office staffing at County Hall.

    A couple of highlights from the memo: Victoria Mallette-O'Bryan, former mayor Carlos Alvarez's Communications Director, has been re-assigned as a public information officer at the Office of Emergency Management and will receive a layoff notice on April 27.

    (Mallette-O'Bryan's page has been removed from the county website but a cache can be found here.)

    Several others will also be laid off.

    Matthew Pinzur, former Miami Herald reporter and special assistant to former county manager George Burgess, "continues providing support to county manager; assumes additional responsibilities to provide support to six departments assigned to Jennifer Glazer-Moon," according to the memo.

    Hudak also says she has decided to "close two satellite office used by the previous Mayor and terminate the lease in the one not housed in a County building."

    Alina Hudak re-shuffles executive staffing at County Hall.

    Staffing

    Square Grouper filmmakers land on front page of Miami Herald

    Congratulations to Rakontur filmmakers Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman!

    They're featured in a front page story in today's Miami Herald in advance of Thursday's Miami premiere at the O Cinema in Wynwood of their latest film, Square Grouper. The O is at at 90 NW 29 Street.

    Tickets to the screenings can be ordered in advance here.

    Corben tells me that he and Spellman will be at the late Friday screening and Saturday night screenings.

    "Also there's some kind of official after party on Friday night at Cafeina in Wynwood.," says Corben.

    "The O Cinema tells me this is their best pre-selling event since they opened," Corben told me.

    And today, Spellman told me that Grouper will also be screened at Miami Beach's Colony Theatre, next Wednesday, April 20.

    Don't miss this chance to see a great film and meet the filmmakers.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Monday, April 11, 2011

    What I've learned about writing

    I am not a writer. Not even close.

    Telling you otherwise, would be an insult to those who actually know what they're doing and who write for a living everyday.

    But, I've had this blog for over three years, and in over 1200 posts, I think there might be one or two things here that might pass for good writing.

    (My friend Gus Moore has given me an opportunity to showcase some of my essays on his website. And that's allowed me reach more readers than I could ever hope for here.)

    I should be an excellent writer.

    In over 25 years as a professional photojournalist, I've worked with some great writers.

    Each of them - whether they know it or not - has taught me something about the craft of writing.

    Associated Press editor Will Lester once told me to write shorter sentences. "Use lots of periods," said Will. "Ernest Hemingway got very rich doing that."

    AP writer Cathy Wilson schooled me on how to conduct a proper interview: "Once you've asked the question; shut up and let them answer. Don't interrupt."

    I used to read AP writer Dan Sewell's breaking news stories and wonder what his secret was. (One of these days I'll tell you my favorite Dan Sewell story that involves an elevator ride at the old Orange Bowl with the late Miami Dolphins owner Joe Robbie.)

    Miami Herald writer Ellie Brecher taught me that a skilled writer can turn any piece of crap story assignment into sparkling prose.

    And in a state that some call boring and uninteresting, St. Petersburg Times reporter Jeff Klinkenberg showed me that Florida is really a never-ending source of material for good stories. His book, Pilgrim in the Land of Alligators, is proof of that. Jeff is Florida's best storyteller.

    St. Petersburg Times reporter Craig Pittman showed me with his book, Manatee Insanity, that it's possible to turn a seemingly mundane subject - manatees - into an entirely readable and enjoyable book.

    AP writer Tamara Lush taught me that writing can be fun and to never take myself too seriously.

    But the writer who's had the most lasting influence on me is Rick Bragg.

    After several decades as a reporter at some great newspapers, Rick now teaches writing at the University of Alabama.

    I met Rick over 20 years ago when he was assigned by the St.Petersburg Times to cover Miami.

    Rick has written over a half dozen books and has a loyal following of readers that would make any writer envious.

    Needless to say, Rick has taught me a few things about writing.
    I learned a lot just by watching him as we covered many stories.

    One important lesson: It's sometimes best to stay in the backgrond and let the action play out before you. Become a fly on the wall.

    But the most important lesson I learned from Rick is something he learned a long time ago from a Birmingham newspaper editor: "Show me, don’t tell me. Let me see what you see. Paint me a picture. Then, I’ll follow you anywhere, even past the jump."

    Rick must have had that advice in the back of his mind when he was assigned to write a story about a wild bobcat that attacked a pet chicken named Mopsy near Clearwater in 1989. Bragg went out and came back with a couple of paragraphs that are still talked about over 20 years later:
    Mopsy has looked into the face of death, and it is whiskered.

    Mopsy is a pet chicken belonging to Wini Bauman.

    Mrs. Bauman was on the porch of her Narnia Court home Wednesday morning when Mopsy came tearing around the corner of the house, feathers flying.

    Hot on Mopsy’s tail feathers was a bobcat.

    ‘I couldn’t believe my eyes,’ Mrs. Bauman said. Mopsy made it to the house safely.
    Fans of Rick's writing got some good news a few months ago when Southern Living magazine announced that Rick would be writing a monthly column. In the February issue Rick wrote about a dream menu made up of his favorite restaurant dishes he's enjoyed over the years. The dessert from a Miami restaurant made the list.

    Today I received an autographed copy of the one of Rick's more recent books that was missing from my collection: The Prince of Frogtown.


    I leafed through the book and then turned to the back of the dust jacket that contained quotes from different reviews of Rick's work.

    I was drawn to one quote that appeared in an Atlanta newspaper: "Bragg tells about the South with such power and bone-naked love that he will make you cry."

    Yes, he will.

    25 years ago

    The Miami News, April 11, 1986

    Saturday, April 09, 2011

    Where's your outrage now, Commissioner Dunn?

    Commissioner Richard Dunn and smirking murder 
    defendant Demarcus Alexander.

    UPDATED @9:00 pm, Aug 8, 2012: Attn.: viewers of The First 48 - Demarcus Alexander remains incarcerated in the Miami-Dade County Jail, still facing a number of charges. He won't be released anytime soon.

    ________




    ________


    Demarcus Alexander had a reason to smile in court Friday.

    That's because prosecutors dropped murder charges against him for his part in the Dec. 14 slaying of Ciara Lee, 24, and her 2-year-old son, Devin Franklin.

    Why?

    “We’ve had no help from the community, and the witnesses we had suspiciously and suddenly became unavailable and uncooperative,” Miami police Sgt. Eunice Cooper, of the homicide unit, told the Miami Herald.

    You read that right. "We’ve had no help from the community," said Cooper.

    The same community, by the way, that can't get to a TV camera quick enough when the police are forced to shoot and kill an armed suspect. Among those vocal community members is Miami Commissioner Richard Dunn, who loves to decry violence. But only if the violence stems from the police doing their job.

    (Alexander "won’t be getting out jail anytime soon," reports the Herald. "Prosecutors Matthew Baldwin and Susan Dannelly announced Friday that they believe Alexander violated his earlier probation for a 2007 armed robbery conviction.")


    Demarcus Alexander booking photo (12-24-2010)


    Click to enlarge.

    (The murder of Ciara Lee and her son Devin was recently featured on A and E's The First 48.)

    But, Commissioner Dunn has been silent or missing in action as of late.


    Diron Andrew
    On March 27 when Barbara Smith-Brown and her son were shot leaving a family function in Overtown, Dunn was nowhere to be found.

    A few days later, Miami police arrested 19-year-old Diron Percy Andrew and charged him with shooting Smith-Brown and her son. Dunn had no comment.

    Over the past year, there have been other shootings and killings in Miami. Here's a list:

    Jahnya Ware 4-11-10 "On Friday night, Jahnya's life was cut short when a car she was riding in was riddled with bullets on a Little Haiti street."


    Daniella Cooper 11-6-2010 "Daniella Cooper was slain inside her home, at 176 NE 82nd Terr., by an unknown assailant. Her toddler son was the only apparent witness, police said."


    Michael Beatty 11-14-2010 "Michael Beatty, 20, was standing outside the Brotherhood convenience store at Northwest 16th Avenue and 60th Street at about noon Sunday when a black four-door Nissan Maxima with tinted windows pulled up, Miami police said.


    "A short time later, a man with a gun can be seen on surveillance video chasing Beatty. The victim tried to escape, but the gunman chased him about a block and shot him several times, killing him."


    Summer of violence:


    May 6, 2010: Eric Pratt Jr., 18, was playing dice at Athalie Range Park, 525 NW 62nd St., when he was shot to death.


    July 22, 2010: Someone shot into a car parked in the Miami Gardens driveway of Pratt's family home, gravely wounding 12-year-old Dharmaniyah Moore. Dharmaniyah's father is friends with Pratt's father. The boy is in a coma.


    July 29, 2010: Lexsis Ray, 17, was shot dead and John Baker, 19 -- a friend of Eric Pratt -- critically injured in a drive-by shooting in Little Haiti. Lexsis was walking home from a friend's home when a man with a high-powered rifle jumped out of an SUV and began shooting at Baker. Lexsis was struck as Baker ran.


    Aug. 2, 2010: "A 17-year-old boy was shot in the head and his toddler niece shot in the left foot Monday in Liberty City.


    "Both were taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital, where the teen was in critical condition. The girl was expected to recover, according to Miami police.


    "The teen's sister, Sharell Green, 25, identified him as James Taylor, and the little girl as Janaisiah Hudson. Janaisiah turns 2 next month."
    The violence continues with no end in sight.

    When the killing comes from from within the community, the response is always the same. Teddy bears and candlelight vigils but no real solutions.

    In the case of Demarcus Alexander, some community members had a real chance to make a difference.

    Instead they chose to remain silent. So now, they have become accomplices in the murder of Ciara Lee and her two year-old son; just as if they had driven the getaway car.

    And so is Commissioner Dunn. Click on the links in the stories above. You won't find Dunn's name in any of them. That's because the shootings and killings weren't done by the police.

    Dunn says he wants the violence to end in Overtown and Liberty City; but he can't seem to talk honestly about the real causes. He doesn't come up with real solutions to the violence. Instead, he continues to look for scapegoats.

    There's a reason why I paired Commissioner Dunn's picture (above) with that of an accused killer.

    That's because both Dunn and Alexander, in their own way, are equally responsible for the never-ending cycle of violence that has become entrenched in the City of Miami.