Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Did you lock your door this morning?

No problem; I can still get in!

This was sent to me by a City of Miami police officer!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A sinking feeling....

One of my favorite Saturday afternoon activities as a kid was going to downtown Miami to see a movie. (Yes, that's where all the movie theatres were.)

One movie I will never forget was 1958's (No pun intended) A Night to Remember. The movie was a very factual depiction of the sinking of the Titanic.

I sat on the edge of my seat throughout the entire film. It was a classic disaster picture.

We all know the story; The Titanic, on its maiden voyage, struck an iceberg and eventually sank and over 1500 people lost their lives. A little over 700 survived even though there were lifeboats for almost 1200 people.

Many of those on board that night believed that it was impossible for the Titanic to sink; it was unsinkable after all. The Titanic was warned of icebergs in the area it was sailing but some of those warnings never reached the captain. Once the ship struck the iceberg; leadership and rational behavior took a back seat to confusion and panic.


After reading the latest report on circulation declines at the Herald I have this suspicion that many who work at that once great newspaper must have some sense of what it must have been like to have been on board the Titanic that cold night in April of 1912.

The Herald continues to experience circulation losses in the range of 10%--more or less--every six months.

Other newspapers are experiencing losses but on a smaller scale. Only the Dallas Morning News, which has a much larger circulation, experienced a decline of something close to 11%.

By comparison the state's largest newspaper, The St. Petersburg Times lost a little over 2%.

The inescapable truth is that if the Herald continues to lose 10% of its circulation every six months then how long will it be before their circ dips below 200,000?

Comparisons between the Titanic's demise and the Herald's predicament are unavoidable.

Like the Titanic, people who run the Herald -- and other newspapers -- were warned about the dangers that lay ahead. And like the Titanic, people in the newspaper industry either didn't get the message or when they got it they chose to ignore it or at the very least, downplay the harsh reality. And when they decided to act, they acted too slowly.

And now, confusion and panic are setting in. And it appears, that no one at One Herald Plaza knows what to do next.

Case in point...people with dozens of years of newspaper experience can't even make a simple everyday editorial decision without screwing it up.


As everyone knows, the future of journalism is on the Internet.

But the Herald's website is an absolute disaster and has been for a very long time.

It's evident that no one there has the desire or expertise to change it.

Instead they are trying to make up for circulation losses with Internet page views silly features; some of them looking very much like soft porn.

All this from a newspaper that's won close to 20 Pulitzer Prizes.

No one has called for the lifeboats to be launched yet. But when they are launched it will be interesting to see who gets in and who goes down with the ship.

If the Herald is to survive they have to figure out what they've done wrong in the past and try not to make the same mistakes again.

And, as in the case of the Titanic, they might not get a second chance.

Footnote: The Herald carried an AP story about the just released circulation figures but conveniently left out out their own dismal numbers.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Today's contrived controversy

Gas is $4.00 a gallon, we're stuck in a war in Iraq that's killed over 4,000 American servicemen and women, people are losing their homes in record numbers and the polar ice cap is melting.

But this is what the media is fixated on: Miley Cyrus's "nude" photos in Vanity Fair magazine shot by Annie Liebovitz.

In the story that accompanies the article in VF Miley says: "You can't say no to Annie...She's so cute. She gets this puppy-dog look, and you're like, OK."

A lot of words come to mind when I think of Annie Liebovitz but "cute" isn't one of them!

(However the puppy dog look doesn't always work and Annie doesn't always get her way. Look what happened when she tried to get the queen to remove her tiara last year.)

Meanwhile, Miley, apparently at the urging of her Disney handlers, has changed her tune about the shoot--that was attended by her father--"I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be 'artistic,' and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed."

Uh, yeah...sure! Miley like every other 15 year old girl, seemingly changes her mind every 15 minutes.

The New York Post, that overseer of America's morals, called the photos "MILEY'S SHAME" on its front page. But not all that shameful as they chose to run one of the sleazy pics. Must have done wonders for newsstand sales.

And according to Vanity Fair, the nefarious photo shoot has parents threatening to host Hannah Montana bonfire parties. Great! Once again Americans will get to demonstrate how infantile they can really be!

Stop him before he writes again!

Seriously; is there anyone over the age of 12 or with an IQ higher than 85 who finds this crap funny?

His stuff is so tired....and unfunny.

It's a cryin' shame...

So I guess the news sports fans will be talking about today is will Pat Riley be resigning as Heat coach?

I was going through some old news photos in my files and came across this. (above)

I shot it on assignment for the New York Times on Dec. 7, 1988 following the Miami Heat's loss to the Sacramento Kings. The Heat were well on their way to an 0-17 start in their inaugural season, an NBA record.

The Times asked me to get photos that showed them playing badly.

The Heat were losing all their games because the other teams were scoring more points. I wasn't sure how one or two images could convey that.

I guess I could have waited until the game was over and shot the scoreboard. But I don't think the photo editors at The Times would have appreciated that.

So I shot game action hoping for a telling moment...some kind of picture that would sum up the Heat's dismal first season so far. I got a shot of coach Ron Rothstein ranting on the sidelines and looking frustrated.

After the game I wandered back to the locker room, not really sure if there was a picture that would tell the story.

One of the players was being interviewed and the light from a TV camera was spilling onto center Scott Hastings who was on a bench caught up in a private moment. I immediately focused on him with an 85mm lens and banged off a few frames. I don't even think he knew I was shooting him.

I do remember Rony Seikaly shooting me a nasty look.

The story of the Heat's wretched performance ran in the Times two days later with the photo of Hastings as the main picture.

It's hard to say by looking at the photo if Hastings is really shedding tears. I never said so in my caption. But he's certainly not happy.

However the photo didn't sit well with Heat honchos.

I learned later that they had instituted a rule as a result of my photo that forbade entry by still photographers into the locker room without a special credential. Also forbidden was the taking of photographs of players without permission.

A week after the game against Sacramento the Heat would get their first win against the Clippers in L.A.

The Heat went on to post a terrible 15-67 record that first season.

Pat Riley's record this past season? 15-67!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

The more things change....

...the more they stay the same.

From the New York Times:"Forty years ago, a young radical Columbia Law student named Gus Reichbach became the first student prominently disciplined by Columbia University for his participation in the blockades and protests in 1968.

He is now Justice Gustin L. Reichbach of the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn."

Two days ago he returned to Columbia to speak on the 40th anniversary of the protests. And apparently "the man" is still on his case ...even after 40 years! Watch the video!

OMG!!! WTF?? :=(

Let's see what happens when they go to look for jobs!

They're not getting mine!


No sex please, we're German

Bank tells staff: no more sex on expense accounts

thanks to Tamara for the heads up!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

It all started with a craving...

Must be some damn good burgers!!

A picture is worth....

-by Béatrice de Géa for The New York Times

photographed Tuesday in Pennsylvania.

Write your own caption.

Sad news from the fashion world!

The people who write the fashion laws have decreed that the dress is out!

New York Times Guy Trebay writes:
“The eye is looking for something new, and so is the psyche,” Anne Slowey, the fashion news director of Elle magazine, said last week from the set of “Fashionista,” a new fashion reality show in which she will play herself, a fashion editor, only meaner. “The dress has been done to death,” Ms. Slowey added, “not to sound really cliché.”

That's Anne (above)

Shut up, Anne. Please?

She must be a hoot at parties!

Naughty bits!

News from across the pond:

The Brits have got their knickers in a bunch this week over the latest Royal shenanigans brought to them courtesy of Prince William or as the press there likes to call him, "Wills."

Seems like Wills was out the other day tooling around the British countryside in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, training for a war that he'll never fight.

But what got everyone's attention was the fact that he landed it in a field near the home of his girlfriend Kate Middleton.

The Washington Post's Kevin Sullivan writes: :
"He landed, spent 20 seconds on the ground, then took off again. It wasn't exactly Tom Cruise wooing Kelly McGillis from a "Top Gun" cockpit, but it was a majestic use of military aircraft as a flirtation device.

'Wills puts chopper into Kate's garden,' screamed the headline in the Sun, making a very naughty double-entendre in British slang."

Piss poor reporting on the part of the Sun; they didn't bother to mention whether or not "Kate's garden" was well-manicured!

Esquire mag likes Club Deuce

Some of our other local dives they like and then the list fans out across America.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What's next; a comics section?

For as long as I can remember the only pictures on the front page of The Journal were tiny little line drawings. They never ran photographs.

Rupert Murdoch owns the paper now.

Change is good...I guess.

The best Internet radio station on the planet

When you can't stand one more second of American Idol, Power 96 or Love 94 come on over to WWOZ-FM New Orleans

Listener-supported, volunteer-operated, Katrina-resilient miracle of FM radio plays funk, jazz, blues, roots, Latin, soul, zydeco, R&B, and everything in between.

It's as cool as the other side of your pillow!

There's plenty for everybody!

Don't rush out Costco at the same time.

When animals get pissed....

...they kill their handlers!

An elephant tramples a man at the Irinjalakuda Koodalmanikyam temple near Trichur in Kerala state, India, Wednesday. The elephant rampaged through the Hindu temple in southern India on Wednesday, killing three people, including one of its handlers, police said.

A 700-pound grizzly bear attacked and killed his trainer at a compound near Big Bear Lake in California that trains wild animals for movies and television work.

The AP reported: "....the bear started licking [the trainer's] face and then all of a sudden it just bit him," a witness said.

Today's totally unnecessary story...

....Comes to us from The New York Times:

As the economic downturn forces consumers to cut back on discretionary spending, laser vision-correction surgeries have been falling — as they did during the last recession.

**Slaps forehead!** Ya think?

Yeah, I guess they're right. I'm not an economist but I would imagine that all discretionary spending is falling off.

Why they chose to focus on laser eye surgery is beyond me.

The day after...

...Hillary's win in Pennsylvania a couple of images from the campaign trail that I like....

on the plane with Hillary....-by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

...and Barack.-by Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Now it starts to get interesting.

A cop's worst enemy...himself

"A Palm Beach County sheriff's deputy - whose flamboyant brother killed his girlfriend before leaping to his death a year ago - faced potential manslaughter charges himself and Monday night torched his car and apartment before shooting himself in the head."

Just two weeks ago The New York Times reported that a cop is two or three times more likely to die from suicide than in the line of duty.
It's estimated "that 400 to 450 officers kill themselves each year, compared with 150 to 200 who die in the line of duty."

Something to think about and something all those cop shows on TV hardly ever touch.

Tragic and sobering.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Know anybody here?

Don't know how long they've had this feature but has a slideshow with lovely, suitable-for-framing full-color booking mugs of the newest residents of the Palm Beach County Jail.

I'm sure that their page view count has gone through the roof since they started this gem.

First impressions? They got some ugly ass criminals in Palm Beach County.

Prediction: You won't be seeing this feature on anytime soon. Why? Figure it out!

So get a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy and thank your lucky stars that you don't have one of these miscreants for a neighbor! Especially that guy up top!

Monday, April 21, 2008


...for 41 hours in an elevator.

What would you do?

NOTE: This happened in 1999 but the video is now coming to light.

Let's talk about music

My friend Steve has a blog.

Just so there's no confusion let me say up front that Steve is one of the smartest people I know. He knows all about TV journalism.

But he doesn't know squat about music. I say that affectionately. We all can't be perfect. I'm certainly not! **wink**

Exhibit "A" is Steve's post over the weekend on his blog. If you know anything about music and you've sat through an American Idol show then you know what I'm talking about.

But not to worry Steve. You have lots of company. Most Americans have no clue when it comes to good music.

Case in point: they just announced the 2008 Pulitzer prizes and Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post won for feature writing.

The idea behind Weingarten's story was deceptively simple. Stick world class violinist Joshua Bell outside a busy Washington subway station at rush hour and observe what happens.

In Weingarten's words "In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?"

Apparently not.

Presumably some of the almost 1100 people who passed the violinist during Weingarten's experiment were patrons of the arts.

You know the kind; the ones who get dressed up in tuxedos and attend opening night at the symphony and pay hundreds if not thousands of dollars to mingle with the musicians and opera singers and get their pictures published in the paper to prove that they really love the arts.

But on that morning apparently not that many people stopped to listen. And at least one of those was an admitted classical music fan.

So, you are not alone Steve.

There are millions of people who profess to know all about music. But when it comes right down to it, they apparently can't appreciate it unless they are dressed in tux and tails and sipping champagne.

They just don't have time for a guy who's fiddling around outside a subway station.

Listen to Bell's performance here.

NOTE: In a similar vein Bruce Springsteen performed on a street in Amsterdam about 20 years ago. Unsure if that many people recognized him but he certainly had a larger audience.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ghost town...

EDITED Saturday evening

I’ve always been drawn to desolate places, abandoned buildings, deserted parts of a city.

I’ve never lived out west but if I did I’d probably spend a good amount of time looking for ghost towns to photograph.

As a photographer I find that the sorts of things you see when you visit places like these make for interesting pictures. Broken windows, peeling paint, faded signs, that sort of thing.

Back in the winter of 1992 I was a hired as an assistant to a photographer who was shooting an assignment in four or five cities for Fortune magazine.

Bill Clinton was challenging George Bush for the presidency and the gist of the magazine piece we were shooting photos for was: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

We visited some depressed parts of the country.

One of the places we shot at was a small town outside of Pittsburgh. The entire main street of this town was deserted. Every storefront was shuttered for blocks and blocks. There were still goods on the shelves in some of the stores. It was if everyone decided to leave on one day and never return.

That was 16 years ago.

The scene I saw on that one street in January day in 1992 is being repeated on a somewhat larger scale across the country today.

Newspaper offices are turning into ghost towns.

And it’s going to get worse.

Martin Gee, a designer for the San Jose Mercury News, saw this happening in his own building after a round of buyouts and one night picked up a camera and documented the eerie desolation. Parts of his workplace had taken on the look of a ghost town. You can also see his photos and hear him talk about them here.

From Miami to Seattle, newspapers, faced with the reality of rising costs and shrinking revenues and declining redaership are being forced to lay off dozens and sometimes hundreds of loyal and talented employees.

These are not short term or isolated events.

Newspapers will never regain the prominence they once held in American life.

Newspaper circulation for the entire country, from what I can gather is at about 55 million, higher on Sunday. People still read newspapers and newspapers will probably be around for some time in some form.

But newspapers are losing their readers who are migrating to the internet to get their news. A good percentage of people who still subscribe to newspapers do so out of habit and loyalty. But newspaper readership while still strong, will never return to the levels of 10, 20 or 30 years ago. That’s Never with a capital “N.”

Why? Because the loyal newspaper readers are dying off and being replaced by younger news consumers who find it easier and more practical to get news and information from the 'net.

What part a daily newspaper will play in American life 10 years from now remains to be seen.

Right here in Miami they are looking for ways to cut costs at The Herald. The buyouts announced 10 days ago won’t affect that many people. My sources say they are only looking for a half dozen or so editorial employees to take the buyout. And because the incentive is only six months pay probably the only people who’ll accept are people who were already contemplating leaving.

But what’s going to happen 6 months or year from now as circulation and ad revenue continues to decline?

It can’t be a very happy place to work at. Employees and resources are already stretched tissue thin.

Back at the end of February I tried to call the Herald city desk with a news tip on a Saturday night.

I called no fewer than four times. The only response I got was a constantly ringing phone that no one ever answered. I was calling about a shooting that had occurred on South Beach earlier in the broad daylight.

The Herald had nothing in the paper on Sunday but did carry a story three days later. In an e-mail to me a high ranking Herald editor admitted to me that they had blown the story.

You never know, if things keep going like that, One Herald Plaza might start taking on the look of that ghost town outside of Pittsburgh, sooner rather than later.


If you aren't moved by this

...or this...then perhaps you've been working too hard!

Kristy Lee.... who??

So I just read that someone named Kristy Lee Cook got booted from some show called American Idol.

The blurb on the Herald's website said she was a "country girl."

OK boys and the risk of dating myself, what Kristy Lee is doing in that clip ain't singin'! Not many people on that show know what singing is; including Simon-what's-his-name.

Here's some singing by a couple of country girls who knew how to sing: Brenda Lee and the incomparable Patsy Cline.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled program.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Iraq is getting safer!

Finally! The Iraqis are finally doing something to make their citizens safer.

The New York Times' Erica Goode reports from Baghdad that Iraqi authorities are cracking down....on drivers who don't buckle up!

They'll get around to taking care of those pesky kidnappers and suicide bombers one of these days. You'll see.

But just don't get caught driving in Baghdad without a seat belt. It'll cost you.

Bringing the Shiite militias and insurgents under control might take a little longer. The New York Times reported yesterday that Iraqi soldiers deserted their posts in Sadr City despite pleas from American commanders.

Maybe John McCain is right. This thing looks like it's going to take about a hundred years.

Iraqi soldiers on Tuesday after abandoning their posts on a joint mission with American troops in the Sadr City area of Baghdad. None of them appear to be wearing seat belts.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Take me to the revolution!

Burt Glinn, a photojournalist, commercial photographer and former president of the Magnum photo agency, died last week in Southampton, N.Y. He was 82 and lived in East Hampton, N.Y.

Glinn was a photojournalist in a time when it actually took a little bit of skill to take pictures. Before memory cards and pixels and Photoshop took over the profession.

One of the stories Glinn covered was the revolution in Cuba in 1959.

In New York on New Year's Eve when he got word that Catstro would be entering Havana, Glinn hopped on a plane for Cuba.

"At seven in the morning I was in Havana at the airport figuring out how to find where this thing was going on," Glinn said in an interview with Magnum Photo on the agency's Web site. "You can't just get in a cab and say, 'Take me to the Revolution.'"

But listen to him tell the story himself and look at some remarkable photographs he shot at the time.

Monday, April 14, 2008

My #1 rule when dining out....

....I never eat at a restaurant that can drive away in the middle of third course!

In L.A. they have a big problem. County officials say there are nearly 14,000 registered taco trucks and possibly as many as 28,000 operating illegally that siphon business away from established restaurants.

As an aside 42,000 Taco trucks seems like an awfully high number for one city considering the fact that fast food giant Taco Bell only has 5,800 stores in the entire country!

So they're considering strengthening that laws that would limit how long they can park in one place.

I wonder why this trend hasn't caught on here? Media noches on wheels?

"Scarface" the story can be told!

PLUS...the pictures the Miami Herald didn't want you to see.

Twenty five years ago this month Director Brian De Palma and his production crew hurriedly filmed some exterior shots for the movie Scarface on a sleepy, rundown part of Ocean Drive and then hightailed it back to California to lens the remaining scenes of the film that was destined to become a cult classic with Al Pacino in the title role.

The entire movie had been slated to be shot in South Florida. But six months prior to the filming some members of the exile community in Miami raised a fuss over the fact that the main character of De Palma's remake of the 1932 gangster classic would be a Cuban drug dealer.

Fearing for the safety of the cast and crew, the film's producer Martin Bregman decided to pull the production out of Miami.

The Miami Herald carried several stories a week starting in the summer of 1982 focusing on every aspect of the controversy.

One of the main voices speaking out against the making of the film was then Miami commissioner Demetrio Perez; his super-heated rhetoric exacerbated by the fact that a mere two and half years had passed since Castro sent 125,000 refugees northward from the port of Mariel. Miami was still reeling from the effects of the influx of that many refugees.

By the time the film actually started shooting it seemed like just about everyone at the Herald with a byline had written a story or two about the ruckus. (NOTE: All of the stories that appeared in the Herald are available on various databases. I found all of them on a database that I accessed through the Miami Dade Public Library.)

Back then I was lucky enough to get tipped off about the filming on Ocean Drive. So on a Saturday in April, I showed up with my cameras, and over the next 3 hours I was able to record a piece of film history.

I took my film to the Herald to be processed and eventually sold a few images to the Associated Press.

About a year ago I found my negatives and scanned them to Cd's and started pitching the story to different publications.

Glenn Albin at Ocean Drive immediately recognized the significance of the story and my images. In January, Ocean Drive scooped everybody when they published 4 pages of my photos along with a story by Humberto Guida.

Click images to enlarge.

Last week New Times' Frank Houston weighed in with his take on the story.

Apparently the passage of 25 years hasn't softened Scarface producer Martin Bregman's opinion of Demetrio Perez!

Today St. Petersburg Times film critic Steve Persall updates the story along with some tantalizing details that producer Bregman says he's never revealed before.

After I sold a few pictures to the AP I stored the negatives and for got about them until last year. The pictures I shot that day helped me convince the Miami Associated Press photo editor to give me assignments. I shot on and off for the AP for the next dozen or so years.

On that day I'd originally taken the pictures to the Herald and photo editor Joe Elbert told me they'd probably run one or two the next day to go along with a story on the filming.

The story ran but they never used my pictures. It seems that Sunday was the third anniversary of the Mariel boat lift and some editor killed the pictures. The thinking was that my photos of Al Pacino as a Cuban drug dealer blowing some guy's head off in the middle of Ocean Drive might be a little too much for exile community to handle.

Anyway, you can now see the images that were too hot for the Miami Herald...25 years later in a slideshow courtesy of Miami New Times.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The lost generation

As if we needed any more proof that the current crop of young people are hopelessly lost and castaways on an island of mediocrity and superficiality the Herald gives us this complete with a gallery of 16 photos.

And written by a guy named Jaweed.

''It's chill, laid-back,'' says 30-year-old Alexis Newell, who works in marketing.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Why the Herald sucks!

Apparently they don't bother to read anything but their own rag...or that's what Herald managing editor Dave Wilson is implying here.

Anyone who read Isaiah Thompson's jaw-dropping piece on sex offenders living under the Julia Tuttle in New Times last December knows that it was some of the best journalism done in these parts in a long time.

But if you're Dave Wilson all you have to do is pretend you didn't see the New Times piece and you can then claim the story as your own when you run it almost 6 months later!

This just in!

"We just couldn't believe how big his beak was," 62-year-old Bob Morton told the Daily Mail.

OK! Whatever!

Can't happen soon enough!

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Katie Couric may be leaving CBS sooner rather than later. Her contract runs through 2011 but after two years of ratings that never got out of the basement it looks like Katie is getting ready to jump ship.

Or maybe someone will leave the door open in the next few days and a good, stiff breeze will blow this light-weight away!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Lunch with Rick Bragg

My friend Rick Bragg stopped off in Miami last week for a few days.

He was in town to do research for a magazine piece he's writing.

I met Rick almost 20 years ago, in 1990, when he came to Miami as the St. Petersburg Times South Florida bureau chief.

Back then the Times bureau was in an actual office in a building on Coral Way and 22nd Ave.

There was a reception area with a desk for a receptionist that was never used.

Rick's office adjoined the reception area. There was a desk and a chair that sat in the middle of the room that was devoid of any other kind of decor; not a picture or a plant.

A coat hanger hung on the back of Rick's office door. On the hanger Rick kept a wrinkled sport coat and a tie for the times when he needed to dress up for an assignment.

When the phone rang Rick would answer it in his Alabama drawl: "Newsroom, this is Rick."

I became friends with Rick and together we covered many stories for the St. Pete Times during his almost two years in Miami.

When we weren't covering stories we were having lunch at a Morrison's Cafeteria in a shopping center west of the airport which Rick believed was the only place in Miami that served decent food that came anyhwere close to the southern cooking that he loves so much.

Back then the St Pete Times was considered - and still is - one of the best newspapers in America.

Rick was born in 1959 in Alabama and came to the St Pete Times after working at a succession of small papers in his home state. Eventually his writing was noticed by the editors at the Times. They hired him, Rick says, because he had won "a pick-up truck full of writin' awards."

He covered stories in St Petersburg before being transferred to Miami. Once here he wrote stories about everyday people; stories that other journalists missed or didn't care about. Rick was drawn to people who had experienced pain and suffering.

Read the lede to his celebrated story of "Dirty Red," a six-year-old boy wrongly accused of rape in a Ft. Lauderdale housing project:
The neighborhood has low rent and no trees, a leaky bucket of a place where dreams seem to run right on through. Dirty Red's mother pries the boy's fingers from the hem of her dress and tells him a hundredth time: "Baby, it's okay to play."

Dirty Red knows if he goes outside children will call him names and punch and pinch him, like the day before and the day before that. To please his mother he walks outside, but instead of going to play he doubles back up the stairs and sits just outside the closed door.

Dirty Red can't face the neighborhood, not today. He curls up in a ball on the concrete steps and sticks a thumb in his mouth. People step over him like litter.

"They don't like me," he said.

But Rick can also write stories that make you smile. Here in a May 1991 story he gives some no-so politically correct advice to Queen Elizabeth who was about to visit Miami.
The queen's 'do is wrong for Miami.

Her hair just lies there on her head, like some gray cat that crawled under her crown and went to sleep just above her eyebrows. It needs character, it needs dash, it needs . . . it needs . . .

"Wispy bangs," said Miami hair stylist Ricardo Felices, whose last name in Spanish means "happiness."

"And maybe," he said, "a nice platinum color."

Queen Elizabeth II is not just another rich woman coming here for a few days of sunburn and Seminole bingo. She is royalty, and deserves the best Miami can offer when she flies in Friday and takes up residence on her royal yacht.

But the nagging question is:

No, not how many times she will be the victim of a smash-and-grab robber. But:

Can she fit in?

She's got no Porsche. She's got no narcotics arrest record. She's got no fish-net pantyhose (that we know of). She has a limp 'do.

Miami needs a queen, if only for a day or so to show its elected officials they only think they're royalty. Most people here would prefer it was the Queen of Spain, yes. But here you take whatever queen that washes up.

And here in a May 1992 story he takes on some of the pretentiousness that is South Beach:
He swaggers down the sidewalk in jeans so tight he couldn't fish a quarter out of his back pocket for a bus ride to heaven.

His tan is terrific, his pecs are proud, his glutei are granite. A lock of coal-black hair droops insolently over one eye, as if to say:

"See, I am beautiful. And I do not even try."

By his side is a woman who would make a preacher lay his Bible down. Her hair is like sunrise, her eyes are jade, her legs are longer than Man o' War's. She says she would, like, really love to chat, but she is, like, on her way to a really, REALLY big shoot.

Together, they glide down Ocean Drive in South Beach as the adoring eyes of less beautiful people track them like so many hungry hounds.

"Models," guesses a tourist, guessing right.

"God," says a fat man as he reels in his tongue and cranks shut his jaw.

"Mmm-mmm-mmmmmmmm," says a woman, trying not to drool.

"God," the fat man says again.

It is a Saturday afternoon on South Beach, and the beautiful people do not sashay by just every now and then. This is a parade, an endless procession of flawless skin and rippling muscles. This is The Scene on South Beach, the new world capital of high fashion modeling.

"It is," said Richard Pavitt, art director for an advertising agency in Great Britain, "a poser's paradise."

These are the faces and bodies in Cosmo, Vogue, Elle - and, yes, in JCPenney catalogs and Sears circulars. These are the people who show the rest of us how we should dress, how we should look.

"The most beautiful in the world," said a New York fashion photographer, whose name really is Kit De Fever.
Rick left Miami right around the time of Hurricane Andrew and went to Harvard for a year on a Nieman, returned to St Pete and eventually ended up at the NY Times and in 1996 won a Pulitzer for his feature writing.

A few years later he returned to Miami as the NY Times Miami bureau chief where once again we got to work on some stories but this time they were played on page one of the Times.

Rick left the Times a few years ago and now teaches writing at the University of Alabama.

Last week when he came to Miami our first stop was at the Versailles. (see photo above)

As much as Rick loves southern cooking he also loves Cuban cuisine and he tells me it's pretty much impossible to find good ham croquetas, black beans and Cuban sandwiches in Tuscaloosa.

For those of you who know of Rick and enjoy his writing you'll be happy to know that his latest book is due to be released next month and he tells me that he'll probably be doing a signing at Books and Books at some point.

The "Turk" pays a visit to the Herald

In pro football the turk is the guy who lets you know that your services are no longer required and now might be a great time to clean out your locker.

The turk surfaced at the Herald yesterday.

Chances are you won't be reading about him in this morning's paper.

In this case the turk is Herald editor Anders Gyllenhaal.

Gyllenhaal sent out this memo informing editorial employees that the Herald plans to offer buyouts to three areas of the newsroom in an effort to cuts costs.

The Herald is not alone here. Newspapers all over the country struggling to cope with decreasing ad revenue and circulation declines.

On Monday the Seatle Times announced that it was eliminating about 200 jobs. Coincidentally the Herald's parent company McClatchy owns a stake in the Seattle Times Co.

Need more proof? Check this site for a week or so to see how bad things are.

The paper now is a shadow of its former self. The Herald used to have the largest circulation of any paper in the state and bureaus that stretched from Key West to Tallahassee. No longer. The Herald's website now lists 10 bureaus although I suspect some of the "bureaus" are staffed with just a single reporter. And the paper with the largest circulation in the state is now the St. Petersburg Times.

What does this mean for Herald readers and subscribers?

Fewer editorial employees means less output and a lower quality editorial product regardless of how Herald executives spin it.

Morale at the paper is already rock bottom.

Read part of an e-mail sent to me recently by a Herald staffer:

"I get as frustrated you. I only have [a few] years here but we run this shop completely different than when I first started.

I'm not sure who my editor is. We care more about web hits than good tales.

To get decent play, a story needs to be pre-planned, pre-packaged with video and audio.

The only urgency is to post something (accuracy sometimes OK) online by 9 a.m. - but by the time, it comes to putting it in the newspaper, don't be surprised if the editors forget to publish your story.

Dude, trust me, I'm always days behind on some stories because I'm juggling an entire county and everyone else is trying to figure out how to use a video camera."

Does that sound like a happy camper? I think not.

So how did the Herald - and other papers - get in this fix?

#1 Circulation declines. Fewer readers means fewer eyeballs and that means that papers get to charge advertisers less. One of the reasons for falling circulation is a direct result of newspapers offering their content for free online. The Herald's circulation continues to to plummet as many readers simply decide they no longer need the print product when they can read the paper online.

#2 Decreased revenue. Fewer advertisers of course means less ad dollars. And traditionally a large part of advertsing dollars for newspapers came from classified ads. Sites like Craigslist that offer free classified ads have cut sharply into newspaper classified ads. Anyone who says differently is lying.

The Herald is a great good newspaper; just not as great good as it once was.

The paper and the people who work for it have done some great work. And along the way they've amassed 19 Pulitzer prizes for that work.

Will the paper still be around five years from now? In 10 years?

You'll have to ask someone who's a lot smarter than I am.

But right now my guess is that you won't find too many people at the Herald this morning who can - or want - to answer that question.


Footnote: While poking around the internet researching this post I found this.

More examples here.

I wonder if ol' Jack would be welcome at the Herald today?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Yahoo! It's Bill Gates!

The third richest man in the world blew into town last week for a few events. One of them was the Microsoft sponsored Government Leaders Forum held at Westin Colonnade in Coral Gables.

Bill showed up for a few photo ops and made a speech that capped off the two day event which is designed to "bring together government leaders to exchange experiences and discuss issues related to technology and innovation for social development" according to the forum's website.

I was hired by one of the forum's sponsors to document certain events.

The highlight for me was to be able to stand a few feet from one of the wealthiest and most influential men of the past century.

I couldn't really make an educated judgment about the man except to notice that he probably needs to get out a little more and work on a tan. Another observation was that he apparently doesn't travel anywhere without an army of publicists.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Coming soon to FOX TV...a new reality series!

SAN FRANCISCO (AP)—Marine biologists studying wild octopuses have found a kinky and violent society of jealous murders, gender subterfuge and once-in-a-lifetime sex.

An epidemic of violence.


From the Washington Post:

20 Chicago public school students have been fatally shot so far this school year -- seven in March alone.

That's 20 in the first three months of the year!

In all of last year there were 24.

Steal this car!

Pictured above is the 1995 Honda Civic. If you drive one of these you probably feel sorry for yourself every time you slide behind the wheel of this 13-year-old turd.

But guess what? Your car is very much in demand--by car thieves!

In fact, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) the 1995 Honda Civic was the most stolen car in 2006. Congratulations!

And if you own a Hummer or a Porsche, relax. According to the NICB the average value of a stolen car is a little over $6600. So that leaves you out.

Apparently there's a method to car thieves' madness.

Read all about it here along with a photo gallery of car thieves' favorite targets.

Ralph Nader appears in Broward...

....on April Fool's Day.

How appropriate!

Here you go Ralph, this cup's for you!

It's a start!

Broward judge barred from courthouse.

Now if we can just get the chief judge to bar all the lawyers we'll be in good shape.