Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Random Pixels' newest fan!

In my post yesterday on Miami-Dade's "slaughter farms," I quoted parts of a 27 year-old Miami Herald story on the subject by former Herald reporter Jeffrey Weiss.

Today, Weiss - who now works for the Dallas Morning News and freelances for - dropped me a note telling me that he stumbled across my post while doing a Google search.

Weiss told me that "That pig story was one of my favorite ever‏..." and added some background:
Long ago and far away. I will *never* forget the smell. The photog needed to get up close for a while to get her shots. Me, not so much on the staying close.

When the inspector invited us out for that visit, he told the photog and me to go buy firefighter-style rubber boots. We would not, he said, want to be tromping around an illegal hog farm in anything less. Too right!

I've wondered, given the buildup in Miami-Dade population since then, whether there were still space for those operations to exist. Hard to believe that so little has changed. OTOH, my 'rents still live in SFla and I get back there pretty regularly. So I guess it is *not* so hard to believe...1:-{)>

Thank you for bringing back a memory.

Jeffrey Weiss

The Dallas Morning News
In a follow-up email, Weiss tells me how he found my post and fills in some of the gaps since he left the Herald years ago:
I was googling to see if some stuff I'd done had been picked up on blogs and saw the link. Was astonished when I realized what it was about.

Sure. Feel free to repost. FYI: While I was born in SFla (Jackson, which is as local as it gets) and worked for the MHerald for about 8 years, I've been at the Dallas Morning News for 21 years. And these days, I also contribute freelance to (which was what I was trolling for pickup about).

As I recall from back then, even areas that were zoned for ag needed special zoning for hogs because the smell was so awful. And that was when a pigfarm was run properly. The day I was at *that* location, there was a stack -- a small pyramid -- of dead, rotting hogs with a stench that you cannot imagine. Not to mention the flies. That someone would buy something there to *eat* was just beyond thinking...
Proof that nothing has changed much since Weiss made that visit 27 years ago.

Which is just one more reason why the county should shut these places down!

Dept. of Homeland Security pays a visit to blogger!

Now this is a little scary.

Travel blogger Christopher Elliott answered a knock on the door the other day and was surprised to find, standing on his porch, a special agent from the Dept. of Homeland Security.

The agent was there to serve Elliott with a subpoena.

The TSA is demanding the identity of the person who gave Elliott a copy of of a recent TSA security directive on physical searches and pat-downs which Elliott published on his blog.

Despite the nature of the visit, Elliot reports that his cats took an immediate liking to the special agent and that his kids now refer to him as “our friend from the TSA."

Now, that's scary!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

And you're shocked because.....

Many in South Florida's business and legal community expressed shock and amazement when Ft Lauderdale attorney Scott Rothstein's Ponzi scheme was exposed last November.

But there were clues early on.

After all, is there any good reason why anyone needs 120 watches worth more than $2 million?
From a Sept. 2007 Miami Herald story:
CEO of the law firm Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, Rothstein's personal collection of more than 120 timepieces is worth more than $2 million. If it was simply about telling time, he might very well sport a $50 Timex. But Rothstein does not care so much about telling time as he does about owning the absolute best and most uniquely engineered pieces around.

"I've been collecting watches for 15 years this year," says Rothstein, as he watch-shopped at Levinson Jewelers in Plantation, on a recent Tuesday afternoon. "And I could just check my cellphone for the time, if that's all I wanted. But when you're into hoarding things, there's nothing more beautiful to have than a watch. If made right it's the perfect combination of science and art. Really, they're beautiful."
Rothstein explains, "It's business as well as personal. These things . . . won't lose value. But back to the personal, if they are creative in design and well made, picking out a different watch to wear each day can be as fun as picking out a different set of clothing."

Miami-Dade's "secret" shame

CNN aired a powerful report yesterday by bureau chief John Zarrella on animal slaughter farms in Miami-Dade county. It's a report that should outrage and sicken every South Florida resident.

Except that many of those residents help keep these places in business by patronizing them and buying their nochebuena lechons.

Even though most of these places are illegal and unlicensed, they operate openly with little fear of being shut down by police.

Last March, Miami New Times' Gus Garcia-Roberts also exposed these places in a cover story entitled "Pork Pirates."
To be fair, Northwest Dade is outlaw territory, where illegal slaughter certainly isn't the only criminal activity practiced with impunity. The farmland is marred by rampant illegal dumping: Old tires, gutted boats, ancient Jet Skis, and other discarded items lie in Calcutta-esque mounds on roadsides. At the intersection of NW 186th Street and 137th Avenue, the torched remains of vehicles are regularly found — presumably the work of thieves, drug dealers, and insurance swindlers.

On a recent weekend, all-day revelers filled the neglected area. Club ranches — sprawling cowboy bars — blasted bachata music, served beer, and roasted meat. On a dusty inlet that one resident calls "cockfight alley," men toted roosters to and from rings in specially designed narrow cases emblazoned with slogans such as "Gallo Fuerte," brazenly defying animal-cruelty laws.

Unlicensed butchery is but the most prominent tentacle of the criminal activity that has seized Northwest Dade, says Carlos, a burly Cuban-American who has spent most of his 47 years in the area. He insists on anonymity as he describes a sort of local meat mafia awash with drug cash. "The people are scared to talk because of threats," he says. "Here they'll shoot at you if they think you ratted on them. It's like a Third-World county we're in right now."
CNN's Zarrella interviewed activist Richard "Kudo" Couto who thinks there may be more than 100 illegal, unsanitary and unregulated slaughterhouses in the area.

Zarrella, in trying to get answers as to why these place are allowed to exist, ran into some classic Miami-Dade bureaucratic buck-passing.
CNN contacted Miami-Dade Animal Services Department, an agency that had a representative at that meeting. Spokesperson Xiomara Mordcovich said the agency does not deal with issues involving farm animals and directed us to the Miami-Dade Police Department.

The Police Department declined an interview. "We are not actively investigating any incidents involving illegal slaughterhouses," the department said in an e-mail. Then it referred us back to Animal Services and also to the code compliance department.

Charles Danger, director of the Miami-Dade Building and Neighborhood Compliance Department, admits that it was because of Couto's persistence that it is now putting together a multi-agency task force he called "Operation Miss Piggy and Mr. Ed."

According to Danger, part of the reason nothing has been done to clean up this area is because of fear for the safety of inspectors.

"Every time we go in there, we have to go in there with the police -- and even the police don't want to go in there," says Danger.

Danger says the Miami-Dade Police Department is now on the new task force, which also includes agencies such as the state health department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "It comes from a lot of years of illegal operation. We have to do it together because it's not going to be easy," says Danger.
And as far as I can tell, the Herald hasn't done a story on these places in years.

Using the search term "illegal farms" I dipped into the Herald archives.

A Herald story in Jan. 1992, by Chuck Strouse - now the editor of Miami New Times - makes mention of a "[proposed] farm [that] will provide meat for buyers who now sometimes purchase from illegal farms in West Dade. Metro zoning inspectors say illegal pig farms that spread waste into groundwater are a big problem in the area."

But one has to go back to 1983 to find any mention in the Herald of action being taken against illegal farms:
Tuesday, January 18, 1983
by JEFFREY WEISS Herald Staff Writer

In the ruins of a Northwest Dade pig farm, the smell of burning wood competed unsuccessfully Monday with the pungent, cloying odor of too many hogs.

In December, the last time Dade County inspectors visited the area, 107th Avenue north of 138th Street was a thriving shantytown of almost 100 Cuban refugees and a dozen pig farms.

None of it--neither the pigs nor the people nor their buildings--was legal.

Monday, when inspectors returned to gather evidence for future court cases, most of the people were gone. Many of the hogs were not.

The owners of the dozens of remaining illegal farms and buildings cited Monday will probably appear in court within two months, and the offending structures should be gone in four months, county zoning officials said.
As recently as last month, hundreds of people crowded the area to purchase the porcine makings of a traditional Cuban holiday meal.

"After seeing that mess out there, I'll never eat another pork chop as long as I live," Robert Martin, chief enforcement officer for Dade's Building and Zoning Department, said Monday.
None of the 107th Avenue farms have permits, said MacCallum.
So here's a question for Charles Danger - or maybe the always spineless and non-committal Carlos Alvarez would like to answer - when are you going to get around to doing something about these places? After all, they've been operating openly - and illegally - for at least a quarter-century.

How to sell newspapers

Or maybe not!

However, astute NY Post readers will no doubt notice that this is the first time that Tiger Woods has not appeared on the front page of the paper since some time in early July.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Miami Herald's sports Web site named one of the best

The Associated Press Sports Editors has picked the Herald's sports Website as one of the ten best in the country in the division of over 1 million unique visitors during a month.

Not bad considering that that USA Today, New York Times and Washington Post sites were among those named.


Getting out alive

Somewhere in the world, at the very moment you are reading this, someone is writing a book that will detail all the reasons why newspapers perished.

The resulting book will probably contain 350 pages or more.

But the reasons newspapers are dying aren't all that complicated and it's a story that can be told in just a few paragraphs.

Writer Ken Auletta, in his book about Internet giant Google - a company that some say is helping to kill newspapers - thinks that newspapers hastened their own demise.

Indeed, the people who run newspapers are the same people who are killing them.

A New York Times story today on the move by media outlets to finally start charging for online content contains a quote by former newspaper executive Alan D. Mutter on another mistake that newspapers made:
“One of the problems is newspapers fired so many journalists and turned them loose to start so many blogs,” Mr. Mutter said. “They should have executed them. They wouldn’t have had competition. But they foolishly let them out alive.”

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Looking at pictures

Paris Hilton poses at a photocall on the Carlton Hotel pier during the 58th Cannes Film Festival May 13, 2005. (REUTERS/Eric Gaillard)

Here are some great images from various newspaper Websites to enjoy this holiday weekend.

What all of the pictures have in common is that they're big in size...the way I believe pictures on the Web should be.

  • The Boston Globe's Big Picture offers up the Decade in News Photographs

  • The New York Times Lens blog showcases 282 family photos sent in by its readers

  • The Big Picture posts some exceptional photojournalism from the war in Afghanistan

  • St. Petersburg Times photographers share their favorite images from 2009

  • The Wall Street Journal photo blog posts the Pictures of the Week, Dec. 20-24
  • Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    Late night jazz...Wednesday edition

    Summertime, by Sidney Bechet

    Now this is cool!

    Most viral videos making the rounds are the Internet are interesting and clever enough...for about a day until the next one comes along.

    Not so with this video.

    Produced by a video club at Shorewood High School in Washington state, the video was made in response to a challenge from another high school video club.

    It starts off normally enough.

    But that's where the similarity between this video and other viral videos end.

    The entire thing was shot backwards!

    The credits at the end of the video say the director and editor is Javier Caceres. Remember that name. I have a feeling we'll be hearing more from Javier in the near future.

    Stunning work guys!

    Monday, December 21, 2009

    White Christmas

    In the news business, the days leading up to Christmas can be deadly boring.

    Most of the big shots have taken the week off. And those left to do the grunt work, aren't eager to turn over any rocks that might contain a story that could have them working until midnight on Christmas eve.

    Twenty one years ago tomorrow, I was dispatched by the AP to a rundown warehouse in Miami's fashion district to photograph a major DEA drug seizure.

    The seizure - as far as I can tell - didn't even rate a mention in the Herald.

    But as you can see, it does occasionally snow in Miami.

    Merry Christmas from Random Pixels.

    Note to police officers everywhere!

    Photo by Matthew Bradley via Flickr
    Here's some friendly holiday advice to cops everywhere: In case you haven't noticed, there are more cameras being carried by more people than ever before in history.
    So if you're planning on packing heat at the next neighborhood snowball fight; you might want to rethink. Your random act of stupidity might end up being flashed around the world for all the world to see.

    Also a word to police department spokespeople and supervisors...same advice: Don't automatically stick up for your people who are accused of wrongdoing until you have all the facts. Especially when there are hundreds of witnesses and the aforementioned cameras. You could also end up looking foolish in front of the entire nation. From the Washington Post:
    People squealed as they hurled balls of snow across the largely deserted road. Then, a snowball or two slammed into a Hummer. The driver, a plainclothes detective whom D.C. police refused to identify, got out, drew his gun and exchanged angry words with revelers, according to video footage and witnesses.

    Police said initially that the detective had not flashed his weapon. On Sunday, the officer was placed on desk duty after Twitter, blogs and YouTube appeared to show otherwise.
    From the AP:
    Washington's police chief criticized a veteran detective Monday for pulling a gun during a mass snowball fight. Authorities said the officer is on desk duty while the case is under investigation.

    Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said she had watched video clips from the weekend confrontation and has no doubt that the off-duty officer pulled his gun after snowballs hit his personal vehicle during Saturday's record snowfall.

    "Let me be very clear in stating that I believe the actions of the officer were totally inappropriate!" Lanier said in a statement. "In no way should he have handled the situation in this manner."
    The story has prompted a firestorm snowstorm of over 700 reader comments on the Washington Post's Web site.

    Saturday, December 19, 2009

    2009's Worst South Florida Politician

    click image to enlarge

    It's official!

    This year is not yet over, but Random Pixels has chosen Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez as 2009's Worst South Florida Politician.

    And quite possibly, the worst ever.

    With press clipping like these, how could we even begin to consider anyone else for this prestigious honor?

    Congratulations Mayor!

    In a town with a rich history of incompetent and corrupt politicians; your complete disregard for anything remotely resembling ethical conduct and your lack of a moral compass has put you head and shoulders above any of South Florida's other morally bankrupt and ethically challenged politicians.

    NEWS ITEM, Dec. 17, 2009:
    Probes launched over outside work by Miami-Dade employees

    The Miami-Dade Inspector General has launched an inquiry into private consulting work by county Chief of Staff Denis Morales and several law enforcement officers who moonlighted as police trainers in Panama.
    When the [Herald] asked Alvarez about Morales' double-dipping, the mayor initially defended his top aide. ``Nothing you have described for me is unlawful, improper or unethical,'' Alvarez wrote in an email. He added: ``Sharing knowledge with others is something that should be commended and encouraged.''

    A day after the Dec. 8 Herald report, Alvarez said he was ``rather disappointed'' about the fact that Morales used paid leave instead of vacation time on that March trip to Panama. ``I would never have approved it,'' Alvarez said.
    NEWS ITEM: December 9, 2009:
    Miami-Dade mayor halts paid 2nd job for top aide


    Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez has ordered his chief of staff to stop moonlighting as a private consultant in Panama, and to use vacation time for a week he spent in the Central American country in March working the second job.

    For the trip, aide Denis Morales took his regular salary from county taxpayers for five days even though he was also being paid by the outside firm. Instead of using vacation time, county officials said, Morales granted himself paid leave.

    ``He is not going to be going to Panama anytime soon,'' Alvarez said on Tuesday afternoon, following a Miami Herald report detailing how the top staffer worked abroad as the county struggled with a historic budget crisis.

    ``Quite frankly I was rather disappointed that he used'' paid leave instead of vacation, Alvarez said in an interview.

    He added: ``I would never have approved it.''
    NEWS ITEM, August 23, 2009:

    When Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez delivered his State of the County speech in February, he said the most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression required government to "do more with less." Budgets must be trimmed, jobs cut and waste eliminated.

    "Make no mistake, we are in for some tough times," Alvarez warned. "We are all in this together."

    Yet, three-and-a-half weeks after the speech, Alvarez gave an 11 percent pay raise to his chief of staff, Denis Morales .

    The hike increased Morales' salary from $185,484 to $206,783 annually; he also gets $18,720 in cash and executive benefits. The raise was backdated to Sept. 21, 2008, so Morales received the pay increase over the previous five months, too.

    Thursday, December 17, 2009

    LIFE Magazine 2009 Photos of the Year

    A feast for the eyes!

    Click here.

    Who's in charge at

    Whatever you do, don't confuse the folks at with actual "journalists." And certainly don't make the mistake of calling what they produce "journalism."

    Even after SFDB tipped them off about an erroneous headline on a story posted on their site today, they didn't correct it.

    You'd think someone - anyone - at the station would have caught it by now and corrected it.

    Which leads us to believe that once something's posted there, no one actually bothers to read it.

    Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    How does Sarah Palin really feel about John McCain?

    Sarah Palin's book tour has ended so she did what any sensible person would do given the weather in her home state.

    She headed for the beach in Hawaii!

    TMZ reports that Palin is on vacation in Hawaii with her family.

    The paparazzi snapped some photos of her and TMZ blew one of them up and made an interesting discovery!
    Sarah chose to wear a visor from her campaign -- a visor that was emblazoned with the former presidential candidate's name ... that is, until Palin redacted McCain's name with a black marker.

    Time to help our friends at the Herald

    Yesterday we learned that the Miami Herald has become perhaps the first newspaper in the country to ask readers for voluntary donations to help subsidize its Web site.

    We all know how the Herald and other newspapers got themselves in this predicament so there's no sense in rehashing it here.

    But we're as community-minded as the next person so we're stepping up and doing our part.

    Random Pixels has installed a tip jar in the right hand column of this blog.

    All you have to do is click on the image and you'll be directed to a page on the Herald's Web site where you can make a donation.

    If the Herald goes away we're left with Channel that should be enough motivation by itself to donate.

    It's the least we can do.

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    Tiger's wife still not wearing wedding ring!

    Elin still ringless! / SPLASH NEWS

    Something tells me that this story isn't going away anytime soon.

    This is the actual story blurb on today:

    "For the second time in three days, Tiger Woods' wife, Elin Nordegren, stepped out without wearing her wedding ring."

    McDonald's goes head to head with Starbucks

    First it was specialty coffees, now Mickey D's "will soon start offering free wireless Internet access at its U.S. restaurants as part of the fast-food chain's transformation from its hamburger roots into a hang-out destination," says the Wall Street Journal.
    McDonald's USA Chief Information Officer David Grooms says the decision is part of an evolution of McDonald's into a "destination," where customers see it as more than a place to get a Big Mac and fries. "We're becoming a destination and free wi-fi just naturally fits," he said. "This is another long-term investment that we see helps McDonald's stay relevant as a brand in the marketplace."

    Miami Herald to readers: "Got any spare change?"

    Miami Herald executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal needs your spare change.

    The Miami Herald quietly rolled out a new feature on its Web site today.

    Miami New Times reports that the Herald "is politely asking for donations for online content."
    "....a new link at the bottom of Herald web stories [is] asking for donations. It takes you to a form stating, "If you value The Miami Herald's local news reporting and investigations, but prefer the convenience of the Internet, please consider a voluntary payment for the web news that matters to you."
    Ironically this story was also reported by, which as we all know, would shrivel up and blow away if it wasn't able to steal borrow stories from newspaper websites.

    Random Pixels would like to encourage honchos to make the first donation. After all, it's only fitting that they should pony up a huge chunk of change to help out the folks at the Herald, since they do all the reporting that keeps NBCMiami afloat.

    And Random Pixels would also like to donate something just as long as we get to pick the stories we're supporting!

    We'd hate to see our hard-earned money going to support this kind of crap!

    Friday, December 11, 2009

    Inmate No. 61727-054, one year later

    The Herald reports today that "a year after Bernie Madoff was arrested, a Tamarac neighborhood remains millions of dollars poorer and weary from unending efforts to recover some of their losses."

    Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reports that Bernie is getting used to life at the medium-security prison at Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina.
    He shares an unlocked cell...with a younger man named Frank. He wears khaki prison garb and has been spotted walking on an outdoor track. He plays bocce, chess and checkers. He scrubs pots and pans in the prison kitchen.
    The 71-year-old Mr. Madoff also is salvaging something that disappeared in the outside world the moment his fraud was exposed: respect. "To every con artist, he is the godfather, the don," says an inmate interviewed earlier this week.

    Leonard Pitts and Herald editor testify at trial of racist

    Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. and Dave Wilson, the Herald's senior editor for administration, testified today in the Virginia trial of a neo-Nazi leader charged with making online threats.

    The trial, so far, isn't getting much coverage outside of Roanoke where it's being held.

    Pitts told the federal jury today, "I feel like I have been violated." Pitts was describing his reaction after he received an e-mail in 2007 from avowed racist William A. White.

    Thursday, December 10, 2009

    "The U" premieres in Overtown

    Sports Illustrated cover; June 12, 1995

    Rakontur Films director Billy Corben screened his much-anticipated documentary, "The U," Wednesday night at the historic Lyric Theatre in Overtown.

    Random Pixels was among the the 300 or so invited guests. And of course we showed up with camera in hand to document the fun before the film.

    Miami New Times has posted a slide show of my pictures here.

    New Times writer Frank Alvarado blogs about the evening. reviews the film.

    And Ethan Skolnick of the Sun-Sentinel shares his thoughts on the film here.

    Billy Corben and his talented crew have done a masterful job telling the story of one of the most colorful and interesting chapters in Miami sports history: the story of the bad-ass Miami Hurricanes of the 80' and 90's.

    The film pulls no punches; the good along with the bad is included.

    But die-hard Hurricane fans will love this film.

    And the 'Canes haters - I'm sure there there are many - will no doubt be reminded of the reasons why they hate this team so much.

    The film has no script. Corben lets the players and coaches tell the story in their own words.

    Alvarado recounts one of the funnier moments (there are many) in the film:
    Bennie Blades, one of the dominant voices in the documentary, explains how UM had a deal with Burger King to give away free game tickets with the purchase of a Whopper. But since his family had no money to afford Whoppers, Blades never got any free tickets.
    Note: "The U" - premieres nationally this Saturday, Dec. 12, 2009 at 9PM on ESPN

    Monday, December 07, 2009

    Good news and bad news at One Herald Plaza

    First the good news: The Herald's parent company, McClatchy, is lifting the wage freeze imposed on the Herald and other McClatchy papers in Sept. 2008.

    The bad news: The Herald is losing Jack Dolan, one of the paper's most dogged investigative reporters, to the L.A. Times.

    Herald metro editor Jay Ducassi tells newsroom staffers in an email that Dolan, (left), was recruited by the Times.

    Dolan, along with Herald staffers Matthew Haggman and Rob Barry, recently won an award for a series on shoddy regulation of the state's mortgage industry.

    Dolan was also one of the Herald reporters who recently exposed the globe-trotting at taxpayer expense by Miami-Dade commissioners.

    Dolan tells friends that the Times made him an offer he couldn't refuse.

    Dolan will be working in the Times Sacramento bureau.

    Friday, December 04, 2009

    Random Pixels presents 'Right Wing Psycho Talk'

    Alaska's former Quitter-in-Chief, Sarah Palin, continues to criss-cross the nation selling books and giving interviews to anyone who'll listen.

    She's also raising a little holiday cash by selling photos of herself taken with people who show up at her book signings.

    And today we learn that she'd still rather stir up crap rather than offer up real solutions to the problems that the country faces.

    In a radio interview she said that she said thinks that questions about Barack Obama's citizenship are fair.

    And now comes Arlington, Tennessee mayor Russell Wiseman, who, in a post on his Facebook page, offered his opinion on why Barack Obama chose to give his Afghanistan speech on Tuesday night: Obama wanted to block the Christian message of the "Peanuts Christmas Special."

    Said the mayor:
    "Ok, so, this is total crap, we sit the kids down to watch 'The Charlie Brown Christmas Special' and our muslim president is there, what a load.....try to convince me that wasn't done on purpose.
    The mayor is also pissed that one of his 1600 Facebook friends forwarded his post to the newspaper.
    "It's ridiculous for someone to send my Facebook post," Wiseman said. "You guys are trying to make a mountain out of a molehill."
    The mayor has learned the hard way - like Tiger Woods - that those seemingly private, random acts of stupidity, don't remain private for very long.

    Thursday, December 03, 2009

    Signs your husband may be a "cheetah"

    In the wake of the Tiger Woods debacle, The National Enquirer has posted on its Website a list of signs that a husband may be a "cheetah."
  • His car is different. The passenger seat has been moved, the radio is tuned to an unusual station or there are unknown hairs inside.

  • Watch for new cell phone patterns. A cheater turns his phone off when you're together because "she" might call.

  • He sometimes gets middle-of-the-night calls, and may leave the room to have a phone conversation. If you have access to his telephone bill, check it for repeated unknown numbers.
  • We now return you to regularly scheduled programming, already in progess.

    Wednesday, December 02, 2009

    Merry Christmas; you're fired!

    The Miami Herald has pink-slipped another 24 full-time employees...just in time for Christmas.

    Broward New Times blogger Bob Norman Lisa Rab reports:
    The Miami Herald is cutting 24 jobs throughout the company and reducing the hours of workers involved in printing and delivering the paper, publisher David Landsberg announced in an email this morning.

    Seven people will lose their jobs in the Herald newsroom: an assigning editor, two copy editors, two designers, a photo editor, and a part-time librarian. El Nuevo Herald will lose one-and-a-half editing positions, according to Herald executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal. The affected employed were notified this morning, Gyllenhaal wrote in a email to the staff.

    For a newsroom of 200 staffers, and a media company with about 900 employees, these cuts are not enormous. But they come after two years of painful job hemorrhaging at the Herald and its competitors, the Sun-Sentinel and the Palm Beach Post.

    In 2008, the Herald eliminated more than 370 jobs through layoffs and buyouts. This March, 175 more jobs disappeared, followed by 16 more in August."
    If there's any good news in all of this it's that no reporters or photographers are included in this round of cuts.

    Herald Publisher David Landsberg sees a silver lining. In his memo this morning he wrote, "The move is part of our ongoing effort to ride out this unprecedented period of economic turmoil. While we are seeing some signs of improvement on the horizon, we expect operating conditions to remain challenging through much of 2010."

    One Herald staffer sees things a little more realistically, "It's over; this business is finished."

    An editor whose department is among those affected says that this is the fourth time in the past year and half that she's been in danger of losing her job.

    And another staffer whose job is in jeopardy posted this on her Facebook page:
    "In my department, 2 positions are being eliminated. I have the least tenure, so I'm likely out if no other designers step forward for a voluntary buyout. They have until the 14th to opt for one. My last day of work will likely be Jan. 4. As such, I am officially starting my job search today. Hire me. I'm awesome."
    In other news, the Circle of Barely Trained Monkeys aka the Miami-Dade County Commission, reminded us yesterday why a strong and viable Miami Herald is essential to this community.

    (Over 14,000 U.S. newspaper jobs have disappeared in 2009.)

    Monday, November 30, 2009

    Mike Huckabee's 'Willie Horton problem'

    "If [Mike] Huckabee were a liberal and a Democrat, he would be a punching bag for right wing blowhards an example of clueless, soft-on-crime politicians at their worst. Fox News would be stalking him, as they have others responsible for letting criminals out early." -New York Times blogger Timothy Egan

    What's that flushing sound?

    That's the sound of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's chances of being elected president in 2012 going down the toilet.

    We're learning today that Huckabee, while governor of Arkansas in 2000, commuted the 95-year sentence of Maurice Clemmons, the man suspected of shooting and killing four police officers near Seattle on Sunday.

    But in typical Republican fashion, Huckabee is blaming everyone but himself.

    In a statement posted on his website, he says that "Should [Clemmons] be found to be responsible for this horrible tragedy, it will be the result of a series of failures in the criminal justice system in both Arkansas and Washington State."

    Huckabee never mentions that is he who helped Clemmons go free.

    And while governor of Arkansas, Huckabee sprang more than one violent felon from jail.

    Here he is in 2007 trying to obfuscate the issue regarding his involvement in the release from prison in 1999 of a rapist.

    So I'm guessing right now Huckabee might be starting to get a sense of how Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis felt in 1988 when the Republicans smeared Dukakis after they dug up info on the weekend furlough of a Massachusetts felon named Willie Horton.

    The Republican attack on Dukakis was engineered in part by a media consultant named Roger Ailes who now runs the Fox News Channel, and where - irony of all ironies - Huckabee now has a weekend program!

    Saturday, November 28, 2009

    First pics of Tiger Woods' hot girlfriend

    We've never been much interested in golf here at Random Pixels.

    But that could change. Quickly.

    As of last count there are about a jillion stories on the web about Tiger's....ummmm...."car crash."

    And we're now learning that there is a woman involved in this story.

    A very "hot" woman.


    Her name is Rachel Uchitel and she's being alternately described as a "9/11 widow" or a "New York City party girl" depending on what website you visit.

    Her name is already fast becoming one of Google's hottest search terms.

    But you didn't come here to read that stuff!

    You came to see the hot pics of Rachel Uchitel. Right?

    Well just click here.

    You're welcome.

    Final thought: We're pretty sure that the American public really doesn't need another story with a "sleaze quotient" that this one's sure to generate; but we're solidly behind anything that will deprive Sarah Palin of one more minute of airtime.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    Late night ballad...Tuesday edition

    John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, "My One and Only Love."

    El niño milagro

    A photograph I shot of Elián González and his great
    uncle Delfín González, shortly after Elián's arrival in Miami.

    Pick up any newspaper on the day after Thanksgiving and you're almost certain to find a story chronicling the start of the holiday shopping season.

    Ten years ago this week, on Friday, Nov. 26, 1999, the Miami Herald's front page carried the obligatory "holiday shopping" story.

    And there was a story on the start of the criminal trial connected to the 1996 Valujet crash and one about the Miami Dolphins' humiliating 20-0 loss on Thanksgiving Day to the Dallas Cowboys.

    There was also a story about three Cuban migrants found clinging to inner tubes in the Atlantic Ocean on Thanksgiving day.

    The three were the only survivors of a group of 14 migrants whose 17-foot aluminum boat broke apart and sank after leaving Cuba.

    One of them was a five-year-old Cuban boy named Elián González.

    The Herald's 1600 word story on page one that Friday mentioned Elián just once.
    "Rescued off Fort Lauderdale, the boy, Elián González, was listed in stable condition."
    But in the days and months following his rescue, the saga of "el niño milagro" - the miracle child - would dominate the Herald's news pages.

    Speculation about his future would fill hundreds - perhaps thousands - of hours on TV and radio station news programs and talk shows.

    Elián's story captivated not just South Florida, but the nation and the world.

    An angelic young boy fleeing a country ruled by a ruthless dictator is plucked from the ocean on Thanksgiving day and delivered to grateful Miami relatives who want him to live in freedom.

    "God wanted him here for freedom and he's here and he will get it." Marisleysis Gonzalez, Elián's cousin was quoted as saying.

    But a few days later, Elián's sweet story of freedom turned sour when his father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, and the Cuban government demanded the return of the boy.

    And soon, Elián's plight would divide Miamians like no other story before it as it morphed into one of the more bizarre events ever connected with the Miami-Cuban diaspora.


    Given custody of Elián, his Miami relatives wasted no time in showering the boy with all that capitalism had to offer: Happy Meals from McDonald's, a Nintendo game, gold jewelry, designer clothes, sunglasses, a puppy, and of course, a pre-Christmas trip to Disney World. They also enrolled him in a private school.

    Two months after his arrival in the US, he landed on the cover of Time magazine.

    Before he was returned to Cuba, he would be on Time's cover two more times.

    On January 5, 2000, U.S. officials told Elián's Miami relatives that the boy belonged with his father in Cuba. That edict touched off a 3-month tug-of-war between various federal government agencies and the Miami family.

    In the meantime, the street in front of the relative's home at 2319 N.W. Second St. turned into a staging ground for local, national and international media.

    And soon they would be joined by hundreds of supporters who kept a 24 hour vigil vowing to block any attempts by the government to seize the boy.

    The jousting between the Miami family and Janet Reno's justice department would continue until the early morning hours of April 22, when immigration officials arrived and snatched the frightened boy from the house in a raid that took just a little over two minutes.

    The effects of the Elián saga would continue to touch some, even after his return to Cuba.

    In the 2000 presidential election, angry Cuban exiles abandoned Al Gore and voted 80 per cent for George W. Bush, which helped to deliver his 537-vote margin of victory in Florida despite his defeat in the national popular vote.

    In 2001 the Miami Herald would win a Pulitzer Prize for its "coverage of the pre-dawn raid by federal agents that took the boy."

    Photographer Alan Diaz would also win a Pulitzer for his amazing pictures of the actual seizure of Elián.

    Photographer Alan Diaz at the home of Elián Gonzalez

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    For Sale: Rare and out of print photo books

    Selling many rare and out of print photography books including:

    Tulsa. by Larry Clark. Lustrum Press, 1971. Orginal limited edition paperback in very good condition...This is not the Grove Press reprint! Rare-book dealers sell copies of this book for more than a thousand dollars. -$600.00

    Andre Kertesz, Diary of Light, Diary of Light, 1912-1985. Photographs by André Kertész. Foreword by Cornell Capa. Essay by Hal Hinson. Edited by Susan Harder with Hiroji Kubota. Aperture, New York, 1987. 206 pp. First English edition limited to 3000 copies. Clothbound with photo-illustrated dust jacket. Folio. 152 black-and-white tritone reproductions. Includes detailed chronology. Dust jacket is scuffed; but cloth cover and book are bright, fine, and very clean copy. A truly magnificent book. -$550.00 (a copy of this book sold for $950 five years ago.)

    Bullock, Wynn Bullock, 1971, Scrimshaw Press. 1st Edition. VG cond. with clear mylar dust jacket -$200.00

    Ansel Adams-Yosemite and the Range of Light, New York Graphic Society, Little Brown TIME/LIFE books Date of Publication: 1981 Binding: Hard Cover, Signed by Author ,Ansel Adams, SIGNED special edition with signature of photographer on Bookplate with date 1981 Carmel, California -$250.00

    Edward Weston, Fifty Years, by Ben Maddow, New York , Aperture, 1st, 1973, Book: Very Good, no DJ, 284 pages, beautifully reproduced plates of the photographer's work. Large format -$150.00

    Naked City, by Weegee, Essential Books, 1945. Original printing, hardcover, no DJ. Very good cond. tight binding, clean pages. A classic! Rare. -$150.00

    SOLD! Hurrell - Hollywood Photographs 1928-1990. By Hurrell, George, hardcover 1st US edition 1992 St. Martin's Press. ISBN: 0312082207. 200pgs, 140 duotone photographs. Large hardback/Dust Jacket FINE/FINE -$150.00

    Conversations with the Dead - Danny Lyon - 1970 - 1st edition - Holt Rinehart Winston paperback. Cover starting to separate. Otherwise Good clean pages, unmarked, no tears. Oversize paperback. Good, clean copy of scarce title. -$125.00

    Self Portrait USA by David Douglas Duncan, Abrams 1969, hardcover. Turquoise cloth binding with political symbols on frontboard in gold. Title on spine in gold. Photo illustrated endpapers and text pages are crisp and clean. Double page photo illustrated title page. The 1968 Republican convention in Miami and Democratic convention in Chicago are covered by a legedary phototojournalist. A classic example of political photo reportage. Over 325 fantastic photographs. Nice tight binding. -$125.00

    Mrs. David Bailey, by David Bailey (photographer) Rizzoli 1980. Black and white photographic tribute by a legendary fashion photographer to his model wife. DJ. Good tight binding. $40.00

    Helmut Newton, Work, Taschen, 2001, hardcover. Like new. $65.00

    Helmut Newton, Portraits, Pantheon, 1987, 1st American edition hardcover in excellent condition, dust jacket clean and intact. -$80.00

  • Email me for more info!
  • Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    Wednesday night "blues break"

    Two versions of Fats Domino's "Blue Monday"

    Was it murder or suicide?

    As layoffs and downsizing continue to take a toll on newspapers and related media, one question keeps cropping up again and again: "Did Google kill newspapers?"

    Ken Auletta, author of "Googled: The End of the World As We Know It," tells CNN's Campbell Brown, "this is a story much more of suicide than it is of murder." (@2:56 on video)

    Monday, November 16, 2009


    Bob Schieffer, CBS News chief Washington correspondent and host of "Face the Nation" on Sarah Palin's new book:
    "She came under this intense criticism all during the campaign and now she's giving her version of why she didn't succeed as a candidate.

    "It's kind of like a baseball player going into a slump and blaming the manager or blaming the bat boy or blaming the fans or something. You know, it makes for provocative reading, I think she'll sell a lot of books, but I don't think it's going to help re-establish her as a political candidate.

    "My guess is she's not ever going to run for anything and I think if she did, I don't think she would get very far."

    Saturday, November 14, 2009

    Thursday, November 12, 2009

    A sneak peek at Sarah Palin's new book

    This just in!

    Sarah Palin's new book has chapters!

    Five of them!

    In a nod to her constituents, Sarah Palin restrained herself from writing a lengthy book. Or one that might be considered cerebral.

    Time Magazine's Mark Halperin reports that there are just five chapters in Sarah Palin's new book, "Going Rogue."

    "But they are very, very long," says Halperin.

    Expect to hear much more about Palin's book starting next Monday. That's when Oprah's interview with Palin will air.

    I'm wondering if Oprah - or anyone in the media - will eventually get around to addressing the supreme irony of a woman allegedly "writing" a book, who, a little more than a year ago couldn't even come up with the name of a single newspaper or magazine that she reads regularly.

    Friday, November 06, 2009

    Friday night ballad

    Recorded by Frank Sinatra on March 25, 1959 for the Capitol album "No One Cares."

    Half a century old and it's still better then the crap they put out today!

    Better late than never!

    "When U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at the Port of Los Angeles opened a shipping container bound for the Netherlands, they discovered a 1965 Volkswagen bus stolen in Washington state 35 years ago."
    "It looks like it's brand new," said Mike Maleta, an investigator with the California Highway Patrol.

    Tuesday, November 03, 2009

    Some people just don't get it

    Stumbled upon this show over the weekend.

    The show features a lot of 19 year-old college boys, - who, after consuming about three beers - think they're smarter and tougher than everyone else.

    And the kid in this video reminded me of a certain South Florida blogger who always wants to blame his misfortunes on someone else.

    Pay attention to the cop who tells the kid, "I'm not doing this to you, you did this to yourself."

    video via TruTV

    Monday, November 02, 2009

    Halloween on Lincoln Road

    Miami New Times has posted a slide show of pictures I shot of the Halloween Freak-travaganza on Lincoln Road Saturday night.


    Hockey match breaks out in Washington Post newsroom!

    Former Miami-based Washington Post reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia

    So this reporter calls the editor a "sword swallower" and that's when things started to go downhill!

    Okay, so he used another word that means "sword swallower."

    Want to know how tense things are getting at newspapers?

    They're now throwing punches!
    "Washington Post executive editor Marcus Brauchli found himself in the middle of an altercation Friday evening between [former Miami-based Washington Post] reporter Manuel Roig-Franzia and editor Henry Allen, but will not say whether the two have been reprimanded by the paper.
    "Roig-Franzia, also working a story with Hesse that ran Saturday, told Allen not to be such a “c—sucker."

    "Allen swung twice, with one punch hitting Roig-Franzi, according to sources. Next, staffers on the 4th floor —including Brauchli, who’s office is temporarily across from the Style section — jumped in to break up the altercation."
    More here and here.

    Friday, October 30, 2009

    Random Pixels says goodbye to South Beach

    I've left South Beach.

    It wasn't too many years ago that just the thought of spending an hour on South Beach would cause me to have a major panic attack.

    So you can just imagine what six years of living here has done to me.

    But I moved this week.

    I got tired of being around people who embrace a criminal lifestyle, ghetto lifestyle, the drug lifestyle and the lifestyle that says it's ok to let your dog sh*t on the sidewalk everyday.

    That combined with two stolen bicycles, incompetent landlords and general overall rude and inconsiderate behavior made the decision to leave so much easier.

    I've arrived at the belated realization that South Beach is a great place to live if you are homeless or if you can afford to pay $3,000 a month in rent.

    If you fall somewhere in between; you're screwed.

    I'm was in the middle...stuck between a rock and what was once an elegant art deco building that had seen better times.

    The first couple of places I lived in weren't all that bad.

    But my last apartment on 8th Street near Meridian was roughly the same size as a cell on Florida's death row with about the same ambiance.

    I had only planned to stay six months.

    I ended up staying two years.

    The first year and half or so was OK.

    But the straw that broke the camel's back was some of the building's newer tenants.

    There was Luis who moved in above me back in March.

    He was an Iraq war veteran with PTSD, 100% disability, a $2600 a month government check and a heavy dependence on drugs.

    Lots of drugs.

    He partied 24/7.

    There isn't a mind-altering substance that hasn't coursed through this guy's body.

    When I told him that his partying was keeping me awake he responded by asking me if I wanted something to help me sleep. Luis had a drug for everything!

    After a couple of calls to Code Enforcement and few more to the Miami Beach cops, he was gently convinced that he'd be happier living elsewhere.

    A couple of months ago one guy moved in on the third floor.

    In retrospect, he was the ideal neighbor: you never saw him or heard from him. He didn't have loud parties and he never knocked on your door to ask to borrow anything.

    The only problem with him was he didn't pay rent.

    He was just a homeless guy who took advantage of an open window one day and stayed a month.

    After he left a couple of drug dealers moved in down the hall. Their activities were so obvious and blatant that even Stevie Wonder would have caught on.

    One night at 2:30am there was a tap-tap-tap on my door. When I asked who was there, a voice on the other side said, "It's your neighbor, let me hold your cell phone."

    A few days later the cops came in and marched everyone out in handcuffs.

    And I started looking for a new place.

    I placed an ad on Craigslist and within a week I'd signed a lease on a new apartment.

    A good friend helped me move the bulk of my stuff this past Monday and Tuesday.

    And with another ad on Craigslist I found a guy with a Ford F-150 to help me move the last load for $60. And he even hooked up my DVD player.

    The new place isn't that far from Miami Beach; but it seems like a million miles away.

    And compared to South Beach it's like Mayberry RFD. Really!

    I cut the last tie to South Beach today when I called FPL to have my electric service moved.

    However my sunny disposition was temporarily darkened when the guy taking my information asked me if I'd like to have the Miami Herald delivered at my new place!

    But give me a few days and I'll get over it.

    Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    Herald turns to perky boobs to revive sagging circulation!

    Monday, Oct. 26, 2009--Figures are released that show the Miami Herald's circulation plunging 23% over a year sgo.

    Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009--Miami Herald features boobs on front page.

    Probably just a coincidence.

    Image via Newseum.

    Monday, October 26, 2009

    Miami Herald circulation plummets again

    Editor and Publisher magazine reports today:
    "Circulation at many of the country's largest newspapers continued a steep slide as the Audit Bureau of Circulations Monday morning released the latest figures for the six months ending September 2009.
    "The Miami Herald reported a daily circ decline of 23% to 162,260
    [compared to Sept. 2008]. Sunday fell 14.6% to 238,613."(The Herald's web site, by comparison, continues to post gains.) [Miami-Dade County, according to the latest census figures, has a population of 2,398,245.]

    The state's largest newspaper, the St. Petersburg Times, "saw a 10 percent decline in average weekday circulation from last year, down to 240,147 (Sunday circulation was down 5 percent to 370,050)."

    In 1981 - when Miami-Dade's population was an estimated 1,732,000 - the Herald's daily circulation was 421,236 according to Time magazine.

    Saturday, October 24, 2009

    It's official: National park bears prefer minivans

    In case you didn't get your fill of bear news yesterday, here's another item we ran across today.

    According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Stewart Breck, a research biologist with the National Wildlife Research Center has co-authored a study on the vehicle preferences of black bears that inhabit the Yosemite National Park.

    The study, with the catchy title, "Selective Foraging for Anthropogenic Resources by Black Bears: Minivans in Yosemite National Park," was published in the October issue of Journal of Mammalogy.
    "They target minivans," said Breck. "They will pop open windows, peel open a door, rip out back seats. They can do a lot of damage.
    "Minivans were the first or second preference every year, accounting for 26 percent of all the break-ins. That's despite the fact that they make up only 7 percent of the vehicles parked in Yosemite Valley."
    You've been warned!

    Friday, October 23, 2009

    The best worst campaign ad ever?

    That's what the Herald's Naked Politics blog says about this piece of cinematic artistry touting Miami mayoral candidate Joe Sanchez.

    You decide.

    One thing I do know...while the ad might not be the greatest, at least Sanchez never raised money for a terrorist.

    Ice skating bear files a grievance with his boss

    "A circus bear killed one person and injured another during rehearsals for an ice-skating show.

    "The bear, which was part of the Russian State Circus, killed Dmitri Potapov, 25, a circus director who was visiting the show in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. An animal handler who tried to stop the attack suffered bruising to the brain and lacerations to his scalp.

    "It is unclear why the bear, which was wearing ice skates at the time, attacked Mr Potapov."
    Previous Pissed-off Bear Gets Revenge story here.

    He's tanned, he's fit, he's relaxed....very relaxed!

    What's up with Republican governors and work?

    They're either out hiking the Appalachian Trail or resigning.

    And what about Charlie Crist?

    He's not quitting or hiking but he's not exactly working himself to death either.

    Marc Caputo and Shannon Colavecchio, of the St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau reviewed Crist's schedule and found that, "since campaigning three years ago on a promise to work hard for Floridians, Gov. Charlie Crist has scheduled the equivalent of almost 10 weeks off annually."
    "Of his 1,027 days in office, there were a maximum 651.5 work days, not including weekends, holidays nor 22 days of annual leave given to state workers."
    Read the results of the Herald/Times review of Crist's work habits here and here.

    Destitute photographer shoots First family snapshot...

    (Official White House Photo by Annie Leibovitz)

    ....that looks just like your family snapshots!

    Not the usual mega-produced, impeccably lit work we normally get from Annie.

    And all this time you thought your family snapshots sucked big-time. But using this as a guideline, you've been doing everything right.

    Don't you feel better about your pictures now?

    The caption says the photo was taken on Sept. 1, 2009; the week Annie had other things on her mind.

    photo via White House Flickr page