Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Your lunch hour time waster

AMAZING! Australian Magpie and Jack Russell terrier are best friends.





Monday, December 30, 2013

Cuban dissident Jorge Luis García “Antúnez” comes to U.S. for medical care and then insults Pres. Obama


NEWS ITEM: Cuban dissident Jorge Luis García “Antúnez” and his wife come to Miami for medical care. Garcia pays the U.S. back for its hospitality by calling President Obama a "leftist."

From the Miami Herald's Juan O. Tamayo:
Garcia also said that he was not surprised by President Barack Obama’s handshake with Raul Castro earlier this month “because my impression of Obama is not very good ... He is a leftist.” 
García, who spent 17 of his 49 years in prison, and his wife, Yris Tamara Perez Aguilera will return Tuesday to their hometown of Placetas in central Cuba. They are considered to be among the most active government critics on the island.

Both received medical treatment while in the United States, he said.
But Garcia didn't stop there.

Local 10's Bob Norman also got Garcia on tape taking a shot at Obamacare: "If it comes from Obama, then it can't be a good plan," Antunez said.

So much for gratitude.

Have a nice trip back to Cuba, a**hole.



video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player






25 years ago...


Dec. 31, 1988: 92-year-old Miami News ceases publication.


Dec. 31, 1988.

Don Wright's final Miami News cartoon. 
(Click here to enlarge.)




Sunday, December 29, 2013

Organized Crime: 'It's not just the Mafia anymore'

via FBI.gov


Criminal Enterprise: The FBI defines a criminal enterprise as a group of individuals with an identified hierarchy, or comparable structure, engaged in significant criminal activity.

Organized Crime: The FBI defines organized crime as any group having some manner of a formalized structure and whose primary objective is to obtain money through illegal activities.

Source: FBI
________



The headline on the Organized Crime page of FBI's website pretty much says it all: "It's not just the Mafia anymore."

Consider these two recent investigations by the Miami Herald and the Sun-Sentinel:

Feds to Bal Harbour: Hand over $4 million in seized drug loot. 
The U.S. Justice Department shut down Bal Harbour’s celebrated federal forfeiture program and ordered the police to return more than $4 million, slapping the agency with crushing sanctions for tapping into drug money to pay for first-class flights, luxury car rentals and payments to informants across the country. -Miami Herald, Oct. 31, 2012

_________


How Sunrise Police make millions selling drugs. 
SUNRISE — Police in this suburban town best known for its sprawling outlet mall have hit upon a surefire way to make millions. They sell cocaine.

Undercover detectives and their army of informants lure big-money drug buyers into the city from across the United States, and from as far north as Canada and as far south as Peru. They negotiate the sale of kilos of cocaine in popular family restaurants, then bust the buyers and seize their cash and cars.

Police confiscate millions from these deals, money that fuels huge overtime payments for the undercover officers who conduct the drug stings and cash rewards for the confidential informants who help detectives entice faraway buyers, a six-month Sun-Sentinel investigation found. -Sun-Sentinel, Oct. 6, 2013


As those stories show, in South Florida it's becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between the cops, the Corleones and the Sopranos.

Need more proof?

In a piece posted on the Herald's website, el Nuevo Herald reporters Melissa Sanchez and Brenda Medina report:
Sweetwater police officers knew what was expected of them when they patrolled the streets of this small city in west Miami-Dade.

They were to arrest the highest number possible of suspects in order to tow their vehicles, even if the towing had no connection to the alleged crime.

Sweetwater depended on the $500 administrative fine it collected from people recovering their vehicles. In fact, the city had set a yearly goal of $168,000 of these fines under the category of “miscellaneous revenue” in its police budget.

And the company, Southland The Towing Company, was partly owned by former Mayor Manuel “Manny” Maroño for quite awhile — although many officers apparently had no knowledge of that.

Arresting, then towing became the norm in Sweetwater, according to several officers who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Figures show 37 percent of all arrests in Sweetwater last year resulted in towing.
[...]
An analysis by el Nuevo Herald of the more than 460 arrests involving towing in 2012 found several trends. Among them:

• Two-thirds of the arrests were for traffic violations, including driving with a suspended license or without a license. In cases of criminal charges, 77 percent ended up dismissed by the state attorney’s office or a judge. Some 11 percent led to criminal convictions.

• One in four arrests with towing took place at the Dolphin Mall, a shopping center annexed into Sweetwater in 2010. That same year, Southland obtained the monopoly to operate in the city. Although the majority of the Dolphin Mall arrests occurred in the parking lot, the arresting officers did not allow subjects to leave their vehicles there. Even in the cases of shoplifting inside the stores, officers apparently went outside to the parking lot to search for the subjects’ vehicles to tow.

• The suspects usually had limited incomes and could not afford the $500 fine the city charged, in addition to the storage fee they had to pay Southland to get their vehicle back. Nearly one-third of the arrests were unemployed people, while 35 percent said they were workers or students. Many drove popular cars, like Nissan Altimas and Honda Civics, which were a majority of the cars towed by Southland.

• In 40 percent of the cases — most of which were for driving without a license or for possession of marijuana — officers released the suspects with a "promise to appear in court." Typically, charges were dropped before a public defender was assigned to the case.

(Read the complete el Nuevo Herald story - in English - by clicking here.)

But Mafia-like behavior by South Florida law enforcement isn't limited to just Sunrise, Bal Harbour and Sweetwater.

Earlier this year, a federal judge ripped the Miami Police Department for its "culture of corruption."

“It seems the City of Miami Police Department has a culture of corruption that exceeds all other police departments," U.S. District Judge Robert Scola remarked after sentencing a Miami cop to 15 months in prison for extortion.

And the corruption isn't just limited to law enforcement agencies.

As I reported here last May, Miami Beach elected officials, bureaucrats and shady businessmen, have for years, enabled two Miami Beach towing companies to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars annually from Miami Beach residents and tourists.


________


Miami Herald, Nov. 22, 2013: Tainted by scandal, Sweetwater Police Department is in turmoil.

Random Pixels: Bal Harbour police chief Tom Hunker and his department come under federal scrutiny

Random Pixels: Federal judge rips Miami Police Department's 'culture of corruption'

Random Pixels: Sweetwater...still dirty after all these years

Random Pixels: Sweetwater...still dirty after all these years (Part 2)

Read related Miami Herald stories on Sweetwater corruption by clicking here.





Saturday, December 28, 2013

Your Saturday time waster

In Istanbul, when you order an ice cream cone, you also get a show.









Friday, December 27, 2013

The way we were...The First King Mango Strut, 1982

The first King Mango Strut was held on Dec. 26, 1982, and was staged for $400.


Miami News, Dec. 27, 1982. 
(Click to enlarge.)



Miami Herald: King Mango Strut returns to Coconut Grove This Sunday





Saturday, December 21, 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Your lunch hour time waster

Maymo, a lemon beagle, gets the best Christmas present, ever...210 water bottles.







Wednesday, December 18, 2013

WLRN's John Labonia: The Grinch Who Stole Christmas [UPDATED 1x]

John Labonia, WLRN's
General Manager.
UPDATED 1x BELOW

Here's something to consider the next time you tune in to WLRN and they're asking you to pledge your hard-earned money to "keep the station on the air."

From Miami New Times:
Miami-Dade County Public Schools and WLRN are both making serious cuts to part-time employee hours, supposedly because of Obamacare.

The cutback will affect "several hundred" school employees, including substitute teachers, custodians, and security guards, according to an MDCPS spokesman. Also seeing their hours slashed are part-time WLRN employees, some of whom are paid by the school district.
[...]
Under Obamacare (officially called the Affordable Care Act, or ACA), large employers must provide health insurance to employees who work 30 hours or more.
Put another way, WLRN and the Miami-Dade County School Board have cut the hours and pay of employees who can least afford it. And just in time for Christmas.

Employees interviewed by New Times "say their hours are being cut from 30 to 25 per week."

A WLRN staffer told New Times, "No one seems to have seriously considered the alternative: that the school district pony up and pay for health insurance for all employees working at least 30 hours.

"I'm sure it would be expensive to cover us," she says. "On the other hand, Starbucks continues to offer its employees health insurance. What's wrong with this picture? What's wrong with this country? Why is nobody talking about this?

"This is a lot of money and a lot of people we're talking about. It looks like they are going to make money on our suffering."

But not everyone at WLRN is suffering.

WLRN's general manager John Labonia is doing just fine, thank you very much.

Labonia has been with WLRN since 2000, and according to one staffer, his tenure has been one of "bullying, harassment and downright evil behavior."

Labonia, at times, runs the station like some 1860s Mississippi plantation owner, thinking up subtle ways to demean and belittle station staffers, and "keep them in their place."

Here's an email Labonia sent out last year to Peter J. Maerz, the station's programming and operations manager:
From: Labonia, John D. 
Sent: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 9:24 AM 
To: Maerz, Peter J. 
Cc: Reilly, Eileen A.; Siy, Bernadette Y.; Barrios, Mario A.; Adam, Margarette

Subject: Routine Cleaning of Radio Studios and Edit Suites

Peter,

Beginning July, 1st all radio personnel will be required to perform routine dusting and light cleaning during their shifts. Bernie is going to speak with Alfred about getting some Swifter dusters and some other light cleaning materials.

Thank you,

John

Meanwhile, one station staffer told New Times that she makes so little "that she hasn't been to a sit-down restaurant in two years."

And Labonia?

Like I said, he's doing just fine.

While his staffers struggle to provide for their families this Christmas, Labonia pulls down a hefty salary - paid for, in part, by Miami-Dade County taxpayers - and lives in a half-million dollar home that sits on a pleasant cul-de-sac in Weston.

Merry Christmas, John!

WLRN General Manager John Labonia lives in a
very nice house in Weston.


_______



UPDATE: Just a few hours after the New Times article appeared online, WLRN's programming and operations manager, Peter J. Maerz, sent the following email to the station's staffers:

From: Maerz, Peter J. 
Sent: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 5:16 PM  
To: [Recipients]

Subject: Thank you

Dear All,

Before I leave for my holiday/furlough period, I want to thank you all for all that you do. I know my thanks will not help to ease the hardships caused by altered work schedules and other difficult conditions here, but I do want to offer them just the same. You guys are the core, the heart of this enterprise. WLRN Radio would cease to exist without you. So thank you for always being there, always doing what’s asked of you and then some, day after day, week after week. You’ve made us what we are and will help to make us what we hope to be.

I hope your holidays are peaceful and fulfilling.

All best,

Peter





Monday, December 16, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Musical chairs at the Miami Herald

Nancy Ancrum, right, is the Miami Herald's
new editorial page editor.


They played another game of musical chairs at the Miami Herald today.

From MiamiHerald.com:
Nancy Ancrum, a journalist with more than 30 years of experience who for the past two decades has weighed in on editorials ranging from local government to healthcare, has been named editorial page editor for the Miami Herald.

“Nancy’s vast experience as a journalist and opinion writer will serve our readers and this community well,” Miami Herald Media Company Publisher David Landsberg said Thursday. “She’ll continue the important work of helping to set the agenda on issues that affect all of us who call this home.”
[...]
In recent years, as the news industry has evolved, Ancrum has worked to enhance the editorial board's community outreach and online presence.
(David Landsberg? Is that the same David Landsberg who last year told us that "We have transformed our business [the Miami Herald] to become 24/7 information specialists.")

But now that she's in charge, perhaps Ancrum will actually "enhance" the editorial board's "online presence" by being more active on Twitter. Right now, it doesn't appear that she understands how to use it effectively. Maybe that's why she has just 32 followers.

And, here's what else today's story about Ancrum's appointment didn't say: Her promotion surprised no one at the paper.

The Herald hasn't hired any new staffers in years.

When someone at the paper leaves, they look for someone within the building to replace the departing staffer....kind of like a never ending game of Whack-a-mole.

So, when the former editorial page editor Myriam Marquez, was named executive editor of el Nuevo Herald last October following the departure of Manny Garcia, Ancrum - who had been the editorial page letters editor - was really the only choice to succeed her.

The Herald's "editorial board" now consists of five members, and one of those answers the phone and opens the mail. (A far cry from the board's glory days in 1983 when the paper won a Pulitzer for editorial writing.)

So that's five four people responsible for producing two pages of the paper that almost no one in Miami-Dade County pays attention to anymore...unless they print something really stupid, like they did recently.

Here are a few more things you won't read in the Herald.

The Herald has yet to replace longtime obituary writer Elinor Brecher who retired in September.

Add to that, a half-dozen or so copy editors who've left since the first of the year.

And the paper now has three fewer photographers than it did a year ago.

Forty-year veteran photographer Tim Chapman retired in December 2012, and photographers Marice Cohn-Band and Joe Rimkus Jr. recently accepted a buyout and left the paper last week.

When those three walked out the door, they took with them a combined 115 years of experience.

And they're not being replaced.

And despite a skyrocketing crime rate in Miami-Dade, the paper hasn't had a full-time police reporter in years.

However, Herald honchos continue to insist that they're producing a quality newspaper.

But, if that's the case, how do they explain the fact that they're practically giving away what they produce?









Richard Sharpstein | 1950-2013

"It's an amazing thing. You know, what you just saw there was humanity like you have never seen. That somebody can be that hungry, that devastated and that wanting. It just makes you appreciate every little thing you have. To go down there and just have people grabbing at you because they want something to eat." - Richard Sharpstein





h/t Justice Building Blog





The way we were...stupid Canadian busted at the Fontainebleau


Miami News, Dec. 12, 1972.
(Click to enlarge.)

41 years ago this week: 21 year-old Canadian Alton Cyril McCorquodale sauntered into the manager's office at the Fontainebleau and announced that he'd "hidden bombs around the hotel," and would reveal their locations if he was paid $100,000.

He didn't get the money.







Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jon Stewart weighs in on 'The Handshake'

Jon Stewart: "Obama had the audacity to greet another world leader with a gesture so meaningless you can train a basset hound to do it."








Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Handshake


Click image to enlarge.

President Obama shook hands today with Cuban President Raul Castro at the memorial service in South Africa for the late Nelson Mandela.

Reaction was swift and predictable.

Minutes after the photo of the handshake was flashed worldwide, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos tweeted this: "Question: Has there been a U.S. President who has greeted Fidel or Raul Castro since l959?"


There answer is yes. Clinton shook hands with Fidel at the United Nations in 2000.

One Miami TV station sent a reporter to the Versailles, where he went to work rounding up the usual suspects.

And Cuban-American lawmakers in Washington reacted swiftly, too. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said this of the handshake: "Blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah."

And, over at el Nuevo Herald's website, the story of The Handshake of the Century has generated over 170 comments...most of them in this vein: "There are those who voted for Barack Obama. Now, the golden boy gives them a kick in the face and greets the tyrant with a brazen smile. Congratulations!"

I was all set to ignore reading anything further on The Handshake until one of my Facebook friends, Andy Diaz, took a shot at those who were using it to float some ridiculous conspiracy theories:



After Diaz - a Cuban-born, Miami-raised, management consultant living in Washington DC - posted that, a lively discussion ensued.

And then he posted this, which I think cuts right to the chase rather nicely:
I have friends and relatives who suffered under the Castro regime. I also count myself in that group since I was born and raised in Cuba, and felt and saw the oppression every single day of my life. So let's ease off on the sanctimony, shall we?

The president of the United States doesn't play juvenile games with dictators, and pretend not to see them, or ignore them on purpose. That is childish.
 
The image of today was absolutely perfect. A young, energetic American president facing a Cold War dinosaur who looks like a tiny old hag and couldn't help but come off looking starstruck and weak--some strongman. [Emphasis mine.] 
By the way, Obama himself is the perfect argument against the Castros' persistent argument that black men have no future in the United States. As it turns out, their future is far brighter than it is in Cuba, where the same cadre of white dudes has ruled for almost 60 years. 
And also, if today was a victory for the Castros, how come the images haven't been shown on Cuban TV?

Any questions?

Fidel Castro shaking hands with Vice-President 
Richard Nixon during a press reception 
in Washington in 1959.



Miami Herald: Cuba-U.S. handshake — 13 years in the making





Attorney Richard Sharpstein found dead at his Miami Beach home [UPDATED 1x]

Richard Sharpstein. (1980s.)



Miami defense attorney Richard Sharpstein was found dead at his Miami Beach home Tuesday morning. (UPDATE: Miami Beach Police incident report here.)

I wrote a short profile on Sharpstein in 2010 which I've reposted below.

________


Richard Sharpstein, a former Assistant Dade State Attorney, has been practicing law in Miami for more than 30 years.

His firm's website says that "he has tried hundreds of cases across the spectrum of criminal defense, civil fraud and civil rights litigation in high profile and complex cases representing corporate executives, politicians, international bankers, police officers, and other public figures."

And reporters covering Sharpstein's cases know they can count on him for highly printable quotes and sound bites.

In 1990 when he was representing a client involved in the case of former Panamanian strongman, Manuel Noriega, the Miami Herald said this of Sharpstein, "a big fan of metaphors and twisted cliches, he approached Noriega at his bond hearing and, after a few jokes, asked him for help in answering a few questions about the case. Noriega agreed. Sharpstein openly relishes his involvement in the case, which he calls the Starship Noriega."

What follows, are some of Sharpstein's more colorful metaphors and twisted cliches.
Sharpstein represented embattled Dade County commissioner Joe Gersten in the early 90's. When Gersten was spotted signing autographs at a bar, Sharpstein told the Herald: "He's out on the campaign trail. He's been signing a lot of autographs lately and, like Elvis, he's been spotted in a lot of places."
---

In the mid-80's, Sharpstein represented one of eight Miami cops who were implicated in the beating death of career criminal Leonardo Mercado.

At trial, Sharpstein had this to say of Mercado: "Leonardo Mercado was a cockroach who bred a new generation of baby cockroaches."

Sharpstein called Mercado's stepsons - whose last names were Soto, and who admitted to selling dope and lying on the stand - "Teenage Mutant Ninja Sotos."
---

In the early 90's, Sharpstein represented one of four executives of home builder GDC, who were accused of conspiring to cheat thousands of home buyers during the 1980's. Prosecutors said the four broke the law when they brought buyers to Florida on trips to see homes -- but the trips, the prosecution said, prevented buyers from learning about the local real estate market.

Sharpstein scoffed at the charges.

"If you're going to charge these men with a crime, you might as well indict Vanna White for hiding vowels."
---

In the mid-80's Sharpstein represented a top manager with the City of Miami, who along with dozens of others, was accused of buying stolen clothes from Emeterio Marino Pijeira, a man who kept his small Miami duplex filled to the rafters with racks of suits, dresses, ties, belts and shoes. The Herald reported that Pijera "didn't accept credit cards and charged no sales tax."

Said Sharpstein of the charges, "It's not the crime of the century. Wasn't it Woody Allen who said that in his family it was a crime to buy retail?"
---

And in 2000, Sharpstein represented a Miami cop accused with three other officers of taking part in the cover-up of the 1997 shooting of a homeless man.

One former cop, Rolando Jacobo, agreed to testify against his fellow officers. Sharpstein told reporters how the prosecution convinced Jacobo to cooperate: "They put his feet to the fire, they seasoned him, they basted him, put him on the spit and turned up the fire to see if he'd flip over. Then they told him: `We have your goose cooked.' ''


richard sharpstein, girlfriend Debra Leibowitz, miami herald





Monday, December 09, 2013

The way we were...Michael Putney pans 'Scarface'

Back in 1983 Michael Putney was a relatively young, hot-shot reporter at WTVJ.

And on the afternoon of Dec. 9, 1983, he was outside the Miracle Theater in Coral Gables interviewing folks who had just paid $4 to see the first screening of Scarface.

Putney ended his report with a little review of his own:

On Al Pacino's accent: "Dad never taught Tony [Montana] how to talk good. What a mumbler. And what an accent Al Pacino has here. A mongrel mixture of the South Bronx, Milan and Matanzas."

On the movie: "You can sum up Scarface in two words...bang bang, snort snort."

I wonder if Putney's opinion of the film has changed in 30 years? I'll contact him and ask. Stay tuned.






_________



Dec. 9, 1983...'Scarface' hits Miami





Your lunch hour time waster

Jimmy Kimmel: “You know those crazy people who wear tinfoil hats because they think the government is tracking them? It turns out they were right.”









Sunday, December 08, 2013

Dec. 9, 1983...'Scarface' hits Miami


Miami News, Dec. 10, 1983. 
(Click to enlarge.)


30 years ago this week, on Dec. 9, 1983, Scarface came to town.

MIAMI BOOS, CHEERS SCARFACE AT OPENING

Saturday, December 10, 1983
by JAY DUCASSI, Herald Staff Writer

A loud Bronx cheer somewhere from the front rows greeted the image of Fidel Castro as it flickered on the theater screen.

Laughter greeted actor Al Pacino efforts to imitate a heavy Cuban accent as he cursed "the Commoonists."

And groans filled the theater as a Colombian drug-runner got a bullet in the brain on a busy Miami Beach street.

Such was reaction at the Miracle theater in Coral Gables Friday afternoon as Scarface opened in seven Dade moviehouses. The movie is about a Mariel refugee who spills blood by the gallon to make it to the top of the drug underworld. A number of Cuban exiles in Miami had expressed fears it would tarnish the image of all Cubans and Miami.

Judging from theatergoers' comments, though, the fears were, perhaps, exaggerated.

William Nitzschke, a carpenter took his wife to the matinee, said, "It was a fantastic movie. They might have overdone the violence a little, but it was a great movie."

Nitzschke said the movie's fictional account of a Cuban cocaine czar didn't affect his view of Cuban exiles or Miami.

"Al Capone didn't hurt Chicago, did he?" he said.

Nitzschke's wife, a registered nurse, said Colombian and Bolivian drug dealers were made to look worse than the Cubans. The movie also left her with a somewhat sympathetic view of the main character, played by Pacino, who kills and maims his way to "success."

"He didn't have bad feelings," she said. "It was just the way he made his living."

Those coming out of Scarface found themselves beseeched by television cameras and reporters anxious to find out what a South Florida audience thought of the movie that producers pulled out of Miami.

The film's producers, who originally planned to shoot most of it in Miami, left for California when the controversy over its treatment of Cuban exiles heated up. They later claimed Miami lost millions of dollars that it would have made during the filming.

Theater manager Joe Kram said the Miracle sold more than 360 tickets for the matinee, leaving only a few empty seats.

Kram said it was unusual for a film to draw such a large crowd for a matinee during the Christmas season. Scarface , he predicted, will sell out the whole weekend.

In a Dec. 4, 1983 review of Scarface, the Herald's movie critic, Bill Cosford wrote: "It's not a great movie, not even a very good one..."

Scarface does contain one scene that seems destined to become a screen classic: crazy Tony behind his big desk in the mansion, burying his nose in a mound of coke and rooting in it like a hog, then lifting his head to reveal a hilarious, white- tipped nose. And all the while, the Bolivian hitmen are swarming over his walls, closing in.

The performances are good, Pacino's dialect notwithstanding. Bauer has something of the perfect sidekick about him, and he looks and sounds like a Miami Cuban, which, in fact, he is. Mastrantonio is his female counterpart, and Pfeiffer is the proper ice queen with the frozen nose. The script, by Oliver Stone (who won an Oscar for his adaptation for Midnight Express) is pulpy and quick and fairly campy -- the movie has a tough time keeping up with it, and at just under three hours, it occasionally drags.

It's hard to call a film such as Scarface fun, but that's all there is to it. You either like De Palma, and you like your gunplay and blood bags, or you don't. Yes, we expect more from this director, because he knows what he's doing. But this is his genre picture, and the genre is tough, particularly given 50 years of screen liberation. It's a comic strip all right, but a mean one.

One of those in the audience for the very first screening of the film at the Miracle that Friday was Rene Rodriguez, then a student at Coral Gables Senior High. He wasn't about to wait until the weekend to see the film.

"Scarface had to be seen immediately," he would later write.

"I skipped school the Friday SCARFACE came out and caught the first showing at the Miracle Theater (I had to buy a ticket for another movie and sneak in, because they used to be very strict about R-rated films back then).

"When I walked out of the theater, Dwight Lauderdale [from Channel 10] stuck a microphone in my face and asked me what I thought. I said something like "It was really good and bloody." They used it on the 6 o'clock news. My first ever movie review!

"Monday morning, when I walked into homeroom and handed the teacher my fake note explaining my absence, she said 'Uh-huh. I saw you on the news. Don't even try.' BUSTED."

Rodriguez went on to study film at the University of Miami and is now the Miami Herald's movie critic.

Twenty years after the release of Scarface, Rodriguez was getting paid to write about film.

In a Sept. 21, 2003 Herald article, Rodriguez wrote:
Today, Scarface is considered to be one of the most influential Hollywood movies of the 1980s, as important to - and loved by - its generation as The Godfather was to their parents.
[...]
And how has Scarface aged as a piece of pure cinema? Very well, actually. The story arc depicting Tony's meteoric rise and even faster fall is still problematic, and the feeling remains that the movie is too big, too oversized, for the hamfisted tale it tells.

But it's that same lurid aura - from De Palma's overheated visuals to Ferdinando Scarfiotti's immense, extravagant sets to Pacino's volcanic, spittle-flecked performance - that makes Scarface so indelible and vibrant even 20 years later, and keeps it from becoming an object of tacky retro nostalgia.

The movie also contains the most succinct visualization of 1980s greed and excess of any movie from that decade: an overhead shot of a coked-out Tony Montana sitting in his bathtub in the middle of his gigantic, gold-plated bathroom, smoking a cigar and staring blankly at the TV set, having finally amassed his fortunes and yet still feeling miserable and alone. It may not qualify as high art, but as far as pop culture goes, Scarface is immortal.




________


Random Pixels: Aug. 28, 1982: The day two Miami Herald columnists almost turned out the lights on Miami's film industry

Random Pixels: Beepers and pay phones in Casablanca

Random Pixels: 'Scarface'...now the story can be told!

St. Petersburg Times: Threats forced 'Scarface' from Miami

rakontur.com: Cocaine Cowboys





       




Saturday, December 07, 2013

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Mark Soyka is a 'dinosaur'




Mark Soyka tells John Dorschner how News Café came to be a 24-hour operation.


______



John Dorschner retired from the Miami Herald earlier this year after 42 years at the paper.

But he didn't stay retired for long.

Lately, John's been out breaking news, interviewing people, shooting videos and writing stories for the Biscayne Times and others.

He's even started a blog. 

John has a story in this month's Biscayne Times: A fascinating interview with News Café owner Mark Soyka.

Dorschner writes, "Soyka is often hailed as a visionary for opening [News Café] on Ocean Drive well before the crowds came, and then, in 1999, for opening Soyka Restaurant at 55th and Biscayne, a move that many believe sparked the rejuvenation of the Boulevard."

Read the full interview here: Soyka at 70, News Café at 25.

John's not much for self-promotion...so I'll do it for him. Go on over to Facebook and "like" his page and follow him on Twitter.

I have a feeling John's going to be writing about things you won't see anywhere else.






Executive at failing newspaper chain offers Random Pixels some free advice

When last we heard from Anders Gyllenhaal in 2010, he was hightailing it out of town, leaving the Miami Herald where he had been the paper's executive editor for roughly three years.

In Oct. of 2010, the Herald's parent company, McClatchy, named Gyllenhaal vice president, news and Washington editor.

During his tenure at the Herald, Gyllenhaal oversaw massive staff cuts and one of the steepest circulation declines in Herald history - a decline that continues unabated under his successor.

In 2012, Miami New Times reported that Gyllenhaal was pulling down a salary of $375,000.
He went home with $56,000 in "incentive compensation" last year on top of his $375,000 salary, according to new filings obtained by Riptide. Along with stock awards and "other compensation," he nearly made $1.3 million last year.

So, we were more than a little surprised the other day, when the highly-paid, big-shot editor Anders Gyllenhaal took some time out of his busy schedule to fire off an email to us.

While he didn't come right out and say it, Gyllenhaal was apparently annoyed with my latest post that criticized Herald managing editor Rick Hirsch and executive editor Mindy Marques.

Click here to enlarge.


Here's the email:
Bill,

I received your most recent email and would like to make a couple of points. I think you know from our years of discussing coverage issues in Miami, the editors at the Herald and the leaders of the company read and do our best to respond to criticism and complaints from everyone who writes. None of our newspapers is perfect, and we work through issues with readers and critics on a regular basis.

But I have to tell you, your emails and blog have become so vicious and personal in respect to the editors in Miami that they do not merit response. The posters, name-calling and ridicule have no place in media criticism. While the Herald and McClatchy are open to all kinds of questions about coverage and individual stories, we cannot respond to diatribes like these.

Bill, look around at what media blogs elsewhere are doing and how they approach their topics. There're plenty of issues, questions and concerns in coverage issues you can dig your teeth into without the kind of weird personal assaults you resort to.

Anders

Gyllenhaal is a prime example of why newspapers, like the Herald, are failing miserably. Gyllenhaal still doesn't realize that this is no longer 1985 and that newspapers no longer control the dialogue.

There are two lines in Gyllenhaal's email that prove how out of touch he is...and also prove that he wants it both ways.

"The posters, name-calling and ridicule have no place in media criticism," writes Gyllenhaal.

Gyllenhaal apparently never got around to reading Herald Star Columnist Fabiola Santiago's attack on filmmaker Billy Corben last year. In her column she called Corben a "tweeting twit."

From Miami New Times:
[S]he uses her column for a full-out ad hominen attack on Corben. She makes a point of using his legal name, "William Corben," like she was an angry mother reprimanding her son. She calls him "condescending," and a "bad-boy" narcissist, and chides his "stupidity" and "runaway self-promotion." Never mind that Santiago herself comes off as condescending and slightly stupid.

And I'm pretty sure Gyllenhaal never saw Santiago's column last February where she bullied, ridiculed and name-called a teen girl struggling with dependency issues who happened to get on the wrong side of a hot-headed judge with issues of his own.

But my favorite line in Gyllenhaal's email is the one where he advises me to "look around at what media blogs elsewhere are doing and [see] how they approach their topics."

Imagine that...Anders Gyllenhaal, an executive for a failing newspaper chain, and the man who single-handedly drove some of the few remaining nails in the Miami Herald's coffin, offering me advice on how to do anything.

Thanks, but no thanks, Anders.  I think you have your hands full taking care of your own crumbling empire.










Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Your lunch hour time waster

What do border collies do on their day off?

The same thing you do. They screw off.







Monday, December 02, 2013

Random Pixels Guest Columnist: Michael Putney

Michael Putney.
Local 10's Michael Putney closed out his show Sunday morning with some thoughts on the recent reports of Miami Gardens police harassing and arresting the patrons and employees of a convenience store in the Gardens.

________


Before we leave you this morning, my personal perspective on law and order, Miami Gardens-style. it is, in a word, ugly.

But don't take my word for it, let's go to the video. It shows Miami Gardens police officers harrassing customers and employees at a convenience store, the 207 Quick Stop. Most of the cops are white, nearly all of the customers are black. Naturally, you're wondering, why are the cops acting this way? Well, the answer apparently is that the owner of this store, Alex Saleh, signed on to the police department's zero-tolerance against law-breaking about two years ago, then watched the cops use that policy to roust, harrass and abuse many of his customers and one of his workers. Saleh withdrew his support for "zero tolerance" and that's when the cops stepped up their harassment.

After the Herald broke this story, Local10 and other TV stations ran with it, showing the disturbing video and getting reaction.  But the reaction from the Miami Gardens mayor was not what you'd expect. Instead of condemning this obvious police misbehavior, Mayor Oliver Gilbert basically defended it, and criticized the store owner. When more incriminating videos were released, the mayor finally conceded something might be amiss.

Then late Wednesday, Miami Gardens city manager, Cameron Benson, weighed in saying he was, "deeply bothered by these allegations" of misconduct. Wow, that's reassuring. Just "deeply bothered" when white cops are manhandling black residents?

How about saying you're outraged [or we're] going to put an end to it while we conduct an investigation?

Well, the city manager says there will be an investigation and he's asking the state attorney to review it. FDLE, too. A better idea would be to ask the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to conduct the investigation. Otherwise, I smell a whitewash coming.



video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player




Three veteran journalists prepare to say goodbye to Miami Herald

Three veteran Miami Herald journalists with a combined 120+ years of experience are preparing to bid the paper farewell.

Copy editor Sam Jacobs, and photojournalists Marice Cohn Band and Joe Rimkus Jr. decided to accept a recent buyout offer and will say goodbye to colleagues this Friday.

________


Sam Jacobs. 
Copy editor Sam Jacobs joined the Herald in 1967 and is the paper's longest serving newsroom staffer.

Last Friday, I asked Sam to tell me a little about his almost half-century at the Herald.

He was kind enough to send this email:
I probably am the most senior newsroom employee, unless you count people like Ed Pope, Jay Clarke and Bill Van Smith who still write sometimes.

After coming here in 1967 just after graduate school, I worked on the copy desk for a few months until a reporting vacancy opened up, then worked in Broward for about a year and a half, mainly covering government. Then I had a fellowship in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from the Inter American Press Association for almost a year.

After that, I was a reporter on the city desk in Miami for about 10 years at various times covering poor people and poverty programs (before that subject got out of style), local government and politics and the Latin community. Halfway through that period I had another fellowship in Washington in a program run by the American Political Science Association for journalists, political scientists and government employees in which you work for a member of the House and a member of the Senate for about four months each -- anyone you want to work for as long as they will have you. I had two really great assignments -- with Rep. Morris Udall of Arizona in the House and Sen. Birch Bayh of Indiana in the Senate. This was right during Watergate, so it was particularly fascinating to be in Washington then.

In the early 1980s, I was the Neighbors editor in Hialeah for about three years. That was when I first met Al Diaz. Since then, I've mainly been doing editing of one sort or another, although I have written stories from time to time. For quite a few years, I was involved with the International Edition (known at the Herald as the Clipper) which went to parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. As I mentioned to you on the phone, I also spent a couple of years on what was first called the Jewish Herald and later the Jewish Star-Times (don't ask where that name came from; it didn't make any sense). Since then, I've been on the copy desk.

I only had a very small part in covering the Eastern crash. The main reason I was asked to write about it last spring was because I'm probably the last person left who was at the Herald then. Probably the most memorable story was the trial in the mid 70s of three county commissioners who were charged with taking zoning payoffs. They were found guilty, but the convictions were thrown out on appeal. They never went to jail, but at least they never held public office again. A couple of years later, I was the principal reporter on a four- or five-day series we did on ethnic relations in South Florida, a project that had been my idea.

I'm not sure I had any mentors, but I did get to work with the two best reporters I've ever met -- Gene Miller and Edna Buchanan. I also had some excellent editors in my first few years as a reporter, Ben Burns and Steve Rogers in Broward and Rich Archbold and George Kennedy in Miami. (George later went on to a long career as a journalism professor at the University of Missouri.)
Recently retired Herald staff writer John Dorschner describes Sam this way:
Sam Jacobs is a super-efficient, super-quiet copy editor for the past several decades -- one of those guys who does a great job and keeps quiet about it. He was the guy who fixed copy problems without making a fuss.

In his earlier years, he was a government reporter at The Herald.

He's a baseball fan, and given to baseball trivia. He also has a dry sense of humor -- so dry that I can't think of a single one of his jokes at the moment.

He's the longest serving staffer left -- he started before me (I was 1970) ... and served as the institutional memory, as the Peter B. Sinclair story shows. 

Retired Herald photographer Tim Chapman told me, "Sam is a journalists' editor. He made you look good by catching your mistakes before they were printed. He checked facts and would call you at home to do that. His knowledge of South Florida is unmatched in local journalism."

________



Joe Rimkus Jr.
(Click to enlarge.)
Joe Rimkus, Jr. began his career in photojournalism by tagging along to football games with his father, long-time Miami News photographer Joe Rimkus Sr.

"I learned everything from him," Joe told the Sun-Sentinel in 1995.

Joe - an FIU graduate - began his career at the Herald 40 years ago, getting his foot in the door by starting out as a photo lab tech.

One of his early assignments was to photograph a group of composing room employees for a Herald in-house publication.

Joe lined them all up and shot photographs and was gone in a few minutes. But, a few days later, he was back in the composing room for a re-shoot.

And this time, unlike the first, he remembered to put film in his camera.

Joe says that for years after that incident, whenever he ran into a composing room employee in the building, he was invariably asked, "Hey, Joe...you got film in your camera?"

A few days ago, Joe told his Facebook friends of his decision to leave the paper:
[Last] Sunday was my last game at Joe Robbie Stadium! How fitting I covered the game with Charles Trainor Jr. Our fathers covered the Miami Dolphins together also. Time for me to join the other unemployed newspaper photographers. Taking a buyout out so I only have one more Dolphins game and 7 more days of work. Time to buy my own cameras and reinvent myself.

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross congratulates guard
Richie Incognito following the Falcons / Dolphins game, Sept. 22, 2013.
(Joe Rimkus Jr. / Miami Herald)


Last Friday, I chatted with Joe for a bit and I asked him what his favorite assignment was.

Without missing a beat he replied, "The 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy."

Joe told me that, as a sports photographer, he enjoyed covering events like skiing and snowboarding - sports that aren't all that common in South Florida.

Former Herald colleague Tim Chapman started at the paper in 1972, a year before Joe. I asked him what Joe's legacy at the paper would be:
I would say that Joe covered the Dolphins better then anyone I ever met. The [readers] will miss his consistent brilliance from every game he ever covered. I hated football after the 1973 season, but Joe remained a constant force in photographing football.

________



Marice Cohn Band.
(Click to enlarge.)
Tim Chapman calls photojournalist Marice Cohn Band, "the best feature photographer to ever walk in and out of the Herald.

Says Chapman:
[Marice] could take a feature assignment that would make me vomit as a hard core newsman, and catch a moment that nobody else could. Those features made up the majority of Herald assignments, especially in the last 10 years, so the loss of Mo as I call her, is huge. More then being a great photographer, Mo is a true friend, the kind of friend I could tell anything and would forgive my weaknesses. My wife called Marice my "work wife."

Born and raised in Miami, Marice began her career at the Herald in 1979 after an internship at the old Miami News and a stint as a photographer at the Miami Beach Sun-Reporter.

In her almost 35 years at the paper, she's covered every kind of assignment. But she's perhaps best known for her tender feature images of children.

In addition, she's traveled to Cuba on countless occasions.


"Green car, Havana."
(Marice Cohn Band / Miami Herald )


Marice lives in Miami Beach with her husband Michael, a long-time Miami attorney.

Away from the Herald, she finds plenty to keep her busy. In addition to raising three daughters, she's been a Girl Scout leader for 23 years.

I also chatted with Marice last Friday and asked her what her most memorable assignment was.

She told me she considers the photographs she shot for a 2005 Miami Herald series on land mines in Latin America as some of her most important work. That assignment took her to Colombia, Nicaragua, Chile and Ecuador.

In 2006, she won the Inter American Press Association's photography award for her work on the land mine story.

________


How will the loss of these experienced veterans affect the Herald?

Tim Chapman has an opinion: "These three true journalists are not what is wrong with the Herald today. Even if the Herald tried to replace them, which they will not, they could not."







Sunday, December 01, 2013

The Miami Herald's Rick Hirsch and Mindy Marqués fiddle while Rome burns

Question: Why are these people laughing?
Answer: Because their mission to destroy
what's left of the Miami Herald is nearly complete. 

________


"Anything worth doing, is worth doing right." -Hunter S. Thompson


________



It's been a little over a year since the Miami Herald announced it would start charging readers to access the paper's website.

In an email to staffers, Herald publisher David Landsberg outlined the reasoning behind the paywall:
Why are we doing this? The world of news and information keeps changing. Technological advances provide us with the convenience of mobile phones, tablets and social media channels. We have transformed our business to become 24/7 information specialists, with the ability to deliver breaking news through a variety of digital platforms in addition to our print newspapers. These changes have resulted in a new business model, whereby the cost of producing our news coverage is spread across the various channels we provide.
When I first read Landsberg's line about the Herald delivering breaking news on a 24/7 basis, I actually believed him. (Anyone want to sell me a bridge in Brooklyn?)

The Herald's paywall went up on Dec. 18, 2012.

I'm no mathematical genius, but by my calculations, it's been almost a year since the Herald started charging to access the website.

So how's that plan to deliver "Breaking News 24/7" working out?

Answer: It's not.

Sometime Saturday night, 4 women were shot in Liberty City.  Two of the women died from their wounds.

The Herald's 24/7 Information Specialists finally got around to posting something on the shooting at 10:57 this morning.


And the story? A four sentence copy-and-paste job from CBS4 that fails to mention that two of the women died.




You don't need to follow the news all that closely to know that these kinds of violent crimes are occurring all too often in Miami-Dade.

Here's an incomplete list of last month's crime-related headlines:



  • Suspect Charged With First-Degree Murder With a Firearm in Miami-Dade Nail Salon Shooting of Aaron Vu.

  • Child Shot in Miami Gardens, in City's 10th Shooting in 11 Days.

  • Boy, 9, Shot in Face While Sleeping in Liberty City Home.

  • Elderly woman shot while sitting inside home.


  • And just yesterday, in a story the Herald hasn't yet copied and pasted from CBS4, a man and two teen boys, carjacked a Miami Gardens man at gun point.

    Most of those stories received scant, or minimal coverage on the Herald's website, and if they made it into the paper, more often than not, they were buried deep inside the local section.

    Crime has reached epidemic proportions in Miami-Dade. But you wouldn't know it from reading the Herald.

    What stories are more important than crime to those in charge at the Herald?

    An art museum.

    Miami Herald, Dec. 1, 2013.


    Abortion in Haiti. (A two-parter than ran on page 1A both days.)


    Miami Herald, Nov. 24, 2013.


    When will the Herald start covering crime the way it should be covered?

    Probably when it starts affecting the paper's two top managers.

    As far as Herald managing editor Rick Hirsch is concerned, there is no crime problem. At least not in his neighborhood. He lives in a half-million dollar condominium on Belle Isle in Miami Beach.

     And the Herald's current executive (absentee) editor - and former People Magazine Miami bureau chief - Mindy Marqués, doesn't even live in Miami-Dade. She lives in Broward County.

    Today I'm offering Rick Hirsch and Mindy Marqués this challenge: For the next year - starting Jan. 1 - how about covering crime in Miami-Dade as if it were occurring in your cloistered neighborhoods of Belle Isle and Davie?

    In other words, cover crime as if it were affecting you the same way it affects people in Liberty City, Overtown, Opa-Locka and Miami Gardens every goddamned day of the year.

    Cover and analyze every violent crime that occurs in Miami-Dade for a year.

    Explore how violent crime impacts young children. How does it affect them developmentally?

    Try to explain how high-powered weapons end up in the hands of young thugs.

    Try to learn why 15 and 20 year-old men seemingly have no moral compasses. Report all that and explain it to your readers.

    Stop chasing that Pulitzer in Haiti that you'll never win, and start covering things in Miami-Dade that actually impact the lives of your readers. In case you've forgotten, your readers are the people who buy your paper, patronize your advertisers and pay your salaries.

    Are you up to it?

    We shall see.