Saturday, February 28, 2009

Herald writer has a memory lapse

Miami Herald federal courts reporter Jay Weaver

The Miami Herald's federal courts maven Jay Weaver penned a short item for today's paper on the selection of former U.S. attorney Kendall Coffey to a "statewide commission in charge of recommending candidates for top federal prosecutor jobs and judgeships."

Kendall Coffey

But nowhere in the story does Weaver mention Coffey's resignation in 1996 as U.S. attorney after a run-in with a stripper named "Tiffany."
"Ejected from [a strip] club after his failed attempt to kiss the stripper ended with him biting her instead, he used a credit card to pay the $900 bill. Later he sent his father to the bar to buy the credit-card slip back at a premium price of $1,200, which tipped the irate stripper and her even-more-irate husband off that they'd been dealing with someone anxious to conceal his identity. Their complaints eventually attracted an investigators from the office of the U.S. Justice Department's inspector general, and Coffey was soon toast."
Questionable behavior and attempts to cover it up which got him thrown out of the U.S. attorney's office; Yup, that's the kind of guy we want picking our judges and prosecutors!

As with many online Herald stories, you can only get the full story by reading the reader comments.

C'mon Jay, you can do better than that!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Sun Post...DOA?

Kyle Munzenrieder at Miami New Times is reporting that the Miami Sun Post is out of business.

We're not surprised. We reported back in August of last year that things were looking grim for the weekly paper. Back then checks were bouncing, names were disappearing from the masthead and the paper had slimmed down to 32 pages an issue.

Still no confirmation on this from anyone at the Sun Post but a disconnected phone is not a good sign!

Supreme sacrifice

Photograph by Todd Heisler/Rocky Mountain News

From yesterday's NY Times:

WASHINGTON — In a reversal of an 18-year-old military policy that critics said was hiding the ultimate cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the news media will now be allowed to photograph the coffins of America’s war dead as their bodies are returned to the United States, but only if the families of the dead agree.
The story goes on to say that defense secretary Robert Gates was “ 'never comfortable' with the ban, [and] tried to have it overturned a year ago. But he said he encountered resistance in the Pentagon, and so he 'demurred.' ”

Some want the ban kept in place.

In 2005, a newspaper photographer and reporter "chronicled a year in the life of Major Steve Beck, a Marine casualty assistance officer, as he guided several families through the grief and ritual of saying goodbye to loved ones lost in Iraq." They were awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for their work.

The images, in my opinion, are some of the most searing, powerful and dignified photographs ever published in a newspaper.

You can read the story here and see the images here.

The reporter who wrote the story was Jim Sheeler and the photographer was Todd Heisler.

Both worked for the Rocky Mountain News, which published its final edition today after serving Denver for 150 years.

The Herald and bloggers

Back on Jan. 6 I asked why the Herald was ignoring South Florida bloggers.

I know that many people at the Herald read my blog.

But just to make sure my question didn't go unread I sent a link to my post to the Herald's Rick Hirsch who is the Herald's Senior Editor for Multimedia.

The next day Rick sent me an e-mail asking if I'd like to meet him for coffee to discuss a few things they were working on.

Apparently I was reading some one's mind at the Herald when I made my Jan. 6 post.

When we met Rick informed me that they were moving ahead with adding a blog aggregator feature to the Herald's website that would look something like this page on the website of the Knoxville (Tenn.) News.

I asked Rick if it would be OK to post the news but he told me they were still working out the details.

A few weeks later I asked him for a progress report and he told me they were still working on contract specifics and set up.

Well, this morning we get word from the other Rick at SFDB the the Sun-Sentinel has rolled out a feature called the "Blog of the Day." And it looks like the Sun-Sentinel is putting together the "Ultimate South Florida Blogroll."

I've always liked some of the features of the Sun-Sentinel's website so I'm looking forward to seeing how this shapes up.

In the meantime I dropped Rick Hirsch at the Herald another note and asked him how the aggregator was coming along.

He responds:
"Thanks, Bill. Still moving forward on the blog exchange, by the way. really is going to happen."
To be fair, the people at the Herald have a lot on their plate.

Parent company McClatchy has ordered another round of company-wide cuts and many Herald staffers are just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

So blogs and blogging probably aren't at the top of their list of concerns right now.

UPDATE: In what some may call a natural extension of blogging, the NY Times is launching two websites Monday that will feature "local citizen journalism."

Bloggers or citzen journalists. Doesn't seem like there's a whole lot of difference to me!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The latest from Val Prieto

Apparently overthrowing a dictatorial tyrant, while satisfying, doesn't pay a whole lot!

Val Prieto at shares a tale of woe with his loyal readers. Seems his trusty Nissan Pathfinder just refused to start one day. Also seems that Val wasn't exactly flush with cash.

But leave it to his homeboy Roger at Sierra Auto Service - 3695 SW 7th St. **thankyouverymuch** - to come to the rescue!

Val saves the best for last. Seems he's so broke he can't afford a haircut either!
"Oh, and just above that new ad [for Sierra Auto Service] is the donation button, please consider dropping a few bucks in the old till. It would sure help me out right now to be able to afford stuff like, say, a haircut. I haven't had one since December and I'm looking a lot like Link from the Mod Squad."
I admire Val's desire to rid Cuba of Fidel, but I doubt that donating to Babalublog is going to do much to hasten his demise.

In Val's world it's OK to donate money so he can get a haircut but just don't send any of that money to Cuba or you'll be branded as a loser!

But here's a thought. Why not stop getting your hair cut until Fidel dies? Or just try Supercuts! Only 15 bucks!

In any event Val - in the words of Bill Clinton - "I feel your pain!" Literally.

The best column in the Herald today....

...wasn't written by a Herald staffer.

Channel 10's Michael Putney - who wrote for the Herald in the 70's and 80's - pens a column today that proves he's still got game.

Putney looks at the riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma that is Gov. Charlie Crist.

Putney told me by phone today that he decided to write the column after interviewing the governor last week. "It dawned on me that even though I've known Crist for 20 years, I really don't know him," said Putney.

One thing you can always count on when you read a Putney column is that he'll throw in a few of those 50-cent words that make you run for the dictionary. Today's word: éminence grise.

Some of my favorite lines:

"He's also eternally cheerful and almost depressingly optimistic."

"His glass is not just half-full; it's always two-thirds full..."

"Is Charlie the genuinely concerned Republican moderate/populist he professes to be (``I work for the people, they're my boss'')? Or is he a slightly ditzy, disconnected lightweight who has succeeded on the strength of great political instincts..."

"And yet I'm not sure I really know him. He is at once ubiquitous and hard to pin down, simultaneously transparent and opaque. He seems to be exactly what he appears to be, but then will disappear for a moment into an otherness that's hard to pierce."

Hey Joe...your 15 minutes are almost up!

Washington Post reports today that Republican party dashboard bobble-head doll Joe the Plumber sauntered into a D.C. bookstore Wednesday to sell his book.

Eleven people showed up to hear him.

Washington Post writer Paul Farhi sums up Joe's waning celebrity status:
"Now, only a few months later, he's kind of like a vestigial tail, a leftover artifact from a forgotten time. He's Clara Peller, Willie Horton or Gennifer Flowers -- names that are the questions in a "Jeopardy!" category called "Presidential Campaign Distractions." To his credit, Wurzelbacher is hip to the audacity of hype: "I get e-mails all the time from people asking me when my 15 minutes is going to expire," he grinned after his talk. "Sometimes they just write, '15 . . . 14:59 . . . 14:58 . . .' "
Sounds to me like Joe has kinda known all along that he's a fraud. Unlike his followers over here and here.

Farhi also reports that Joe's appearance, which was scheduled for 3 hours, was over in 55 minutes. Total number of books sold: five.

Say goodbye, Joe! Some guy named Bobby Jindal is waiting in the wings!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Coming soon to Miami Beach, red light cameras!

A source tells Random Pixels that Miami Beach officials are moving forward with plans to install ten red light cameras at intersections throughout the 7.1 square mile city.

The City of Aventura raises $1 million annually from four red light cameras.

A Herald story last Jan. 25 said that Aventura was considering "levying fines not only on red light runners but on those who ignore flashing red lights in the wee hours as well. Aventura contracts with American Traffic Solutions."

Here's how the Miami Beach cameras will work.

The cameras will detect movement in an intersection after a light turns red. The images will be transmitted to the red light camera company the city has a contract with.

The company will forward the images to the police department. Police officers will then review the images and determine if a violation occurred based on the information in the photo.

If they rule that a motorist ran the light, the motorist will receive a bill from the red light camera company. The company and the city split the money.

Municipalities throughout the country have turned to this method of enforcement because, they say, it increases safety.

However at least one study appears to refute that claim.

Exactly when the Miami Beach cameras will be installed is unknown.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Things are tough all over!

In case you've missed a car or mortgage payment in the past few months here's a little item that may make you feel better.

The New York Times reports today that celeb photographer Annie Liebovitz - who makes more money than God - has, in essence, hocked a home and three townhouses and all of her photographs in return for two loans of over $15 million.

The Times reports:
"For her $5 million loan, Ms. Leibovitz put up as collateral a country house in Rhinebeck, N.Y., three town houses in Greenwich Village and all “copyrights ... photographic negatives ... contract rights” existing or to be created in the future, according to a loan document filed with the City Register’s Office in December. That month, Art Capital granted her an additional $10.5 million loan, which was to consolidate the existing mortgages on her homes, according to loan documents."
Things might be bad for Annie but something tells me she won't be applying for food stamps anytime soon.

Great ledes I have known - Part II

I was talking with someone at the Herald today about the lack of really great stories in the paper lately. And the possibility that great writing will become even more scarce if the latest round of cuts at the paper materialize.

The person reminded me that the Herald's always had great writers but they haven't always given the freedom or time to produce great stories.

He reminded me of this great story -- and lede -- that appeared on the front of the local section almost 8 years ago.



The Miami Herald - Saturday, June 9, 2001

The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there was no greater punishment than futile and hopeless labor.

- The Myth of Sisyphus, by Albert Camus.

Jack cleans the Miami River .

There may seem no more futile and hopeless labor than sifting a river 's floating detritus, but this is Jack 's chosen mission - not a punishment inflicted by the gods - one rejected or ignored by both government and environmentalists.

One man with 91/2 fingers on two grimy hands performs this distasteful chore on their behalf.

The result is an expanding trash pile on the muddy north bank of the Miami River under State Road 836. Jack says someone in authority told him that it will be hauled away. He's been waiting for months.

It's unclear who's responsible for that particular stretch of the river and its shoreline.

``We'd probably consider that area an orphan,'' said Pat Hanson, the Army Corps of Engineers' operations manager for the Miami River .

It is ``one of the ugly areas,'' concedes David Miller, managing director of the Miami River Commission.

Miami-Dade County once had a boat called Miss Cleanup, ``which was almost like a front-end loader with a catchment basin,'' according to Miller. But ``that was discontinued. . . . I guess [ Jack ] has taken over.''


Jack began cleaning the river last winter. He didn't have much else to do. So one day, he waded into the muck and started snagging trash.

``It was messy,'' he said.

Now the garbage heap is bigger than an SUV, though not as tall. Jurors, witnesses and lawyers bound for the Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building park in lots a few steps away, near Northwest 12th Avenue and 12th Street.

The few who stray toward the water glimpse a fleet of grimy strollers and supermarket carts. A moldy office chair. A sodden wardrobe of jeans and T-shirts. Sufficient sneakers to stock a sporting goods store. Scores of cans, bottles and boards. Horseshoes. Beach balls. Poultry.

Jack often overnights at the site on a salvaged sleeping bag. In the morning, he finds dead chickens scattered among the rotting flesh and bleached bones of their sacrificial ancestors. Sometimes he spots a martyred parakeet in the mud, like those sold in botanicas.

Jack could be in his 60s. Or maybe 70s. It's hard to say, given how the elements and his protective instincts obscure the usual indicators.

``Too old to cut the mustard,'' he jokes.

He prefers to live ``outside,'' the bucolic euphemism that homeless people use to describe their logistics. He says he has four kids and 13 grandchildren in Maine who would welcome him, but he doesn't want to burden them.

In an unmistakable New England accent, he says he's a Navy veteran who retired from the Scott Paper Co. with a pension. He's divorced and has spent part of every year in South Florida since 1981.

Jack has bright blue eyes and conventional manners. He is amiable and coherent, if deliberately nonspecific about certain details - like his last name.

Some days he's relatively clean, diligently scrubbing his sneakers with half a lime - it cuts the grease, he explains. Other days he's gritty from his submersion, dirt etching the deep lines in his face. He's apologetically reluctant to grasp a clean outstretched hand.


Miller, of the River Commission, is amazed that Jack isn't sick, at least visibly.

``I've heard members of [the Department of Environmental Resources Management] talk about the fact that there are high levels of sewerage . . . and high levels of fecal coliform,'' a bacterium, Miller said. ``That's why there's no swimming in that area.''

Though he said some people seem to think that nearby Wagner Creek, a tributary, is a ``solid waste dump,'' Miller explained that most of the river garbage originates far from that penultimate destination.

``It comes from 69 square [surface] miles where storm sewers drain into the river . Every plastic cup and cigarette butt on the ground washes into the storm sewers when it rains,'' he said.

And yet the river is ``much cleaner than it used to be - believe it or not. But we need continuing education of the population not to litter.''

Whether Jack 's mound constitutes a festering rebuke to a disposable society's thoughtlessness or evidence supporting a littering citation could depend on the humanity of the municipal bureaucrat who ultimately authorizes its disposal.

That probably will be someone from the city of Miami's Solid Waste Department.

``Technically,'' said one city official who asked not to be named, Jack could be ticketed for illegal dumping - no matter his altruistic motives.

``If someone was enforcing the litter laws, he has created an eyesore in the community,'' the official said.

But Adrienne MacBeth, the Solid Waste Department's assistant director, doubts authorities will hard-nose Jack .

``I don't think all of that came out of the river ,'' she speculated, after eyeballing the mound. ``Some of that is his stuff. But I don't think anyone is out to do anything to the homeless.''

You have already grasped that Sisyphus is the absurd hero. . . . At each of those moments when he leaves the heights and gradually sinks toward the lairs of the gods, he is superior to his fate. . . . The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.''

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hey commish, dummy up means just that!

Last night at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival's $1,000-a-plate dinner for the King and Queen of Spain at the Biltmore, several F-bombs were dropped in the presence of the Royal Couple according to the Herald's Lydia Martin.

Now a source tips Random Pixels to another embarrassing international incident that unfolded here on Miami Beach sometime around noon Friday and that may culminate with Spain declaring war on the Beach.

Miami Beach city officials were in a reception line for the King and Queen of Spain at the Wine and Food Festival.

Before the event, the city officials were briefed on proper royal etiquette which included what to say and what not to say, and above all the officials were told that under no circumstances were they to touch their Royal Highnesses.

In other words, to paraphrase Archie Bunker, "dummy up!"

Fast forward -- King and Queen moving along reception line greeting city officials when Miami Beach commissioner Jonah Wolfson - dressed in a "raggedy t-shirt and jeans" - reaches out and touches Queen Sofia's arm and asks her, "Hey Queen, can I get a picture?"

A security man quickly intervened and corrected the commissioner, "Please address her as Your Highness or Señora."

Needless to say the commish didn't get his Kodak moment!

No word on the current whereabouts of the Spanish armada.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Great ledes I have known

It was just a short, four-word sentence that appeared on page 1B of the local section of the Miami Herald on March 17, 1985; a mile away from the important page one stories.

Funny thing is that no one remembers any of the stories from the Herald's front page on that St. Patrick's Day.

But they still talk about that four-word sentence on the "local front" some 24 years later.

Newspaper editors and veteran reporters tell young reporters about the sentence. College journalism professors build classes around it.

The sentence I'm talking about is Miami Herald reporter Edna Buchanan's "lede" for her story about an ex-convict who caused a ruckus in a fast food joint after being told there was no more fried chicken. Striking an employee and fleeing the store, he was shot by a security guard:

"Gary Robinson died hungry."
Actually this is the entire lede:
"Gary Robinson died hungry.

"He had a taste for Church's fried chicken. He wanted the three-piece box for $2.19, plus tax.

"Instead he got three bullets..."
"Lede" is newspaper jargon for the first few sentences or paragraphs of a story. Many newspaper reporters know how to write good ledes and do it every day.

Only a few are able to write ledes that are remembered 25 years later.

Pulitzer Prize winning former NY Times reporter Rick Bragg, who is now a professor of writing at the University of Alabama - and a good friend - wrote one of the great feature ledes of all time.

Bragg was assigned by the St. Petersburg Times to write a story about a wild bobcat that attacked a pet chicken named Mopsy near Clearwater in 1989.

Mopsy has looked into the face of death, and it is whiskered.

Mopsy is a pet chicken belonging to Wini Bauman.

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

Hot on Mopsy’s tail feathers was a bobcat.

‘I couldn’t believe my eyes,’ Mrs. Bauman said. Mopsy made it to the house safely.

The bobcat, feathers in its long whiskers, slinked into a nearby orange grove. Mrs. Bauman called the law.
Bragg wasn't all that crazy about being assigned a story he thought "kind of comical."

"A newspaper assignment is just that; an assignment. It's not a suggestion," Bragg told me today by phone from his office.

"I wrote that lede on deadline but some ledes on feature stories have taken me days and days to come up with."

I asked Bragg if he had a favorite lede by another writer.

Without hesitation he said, "Sure. It's from the St. Petersburg Times, October 4, 2002."

"TARPON SPRINGS -- When they heard the screams, no one suspected the rooster."
That lede was written by Kelley Benham, also of the St. Petersburg Times. Her story was about a rooster that went on a rampage, attacking a two year-old girl.

I asked Bragg how he was able to come up with the exact wording and date of Benham's lede so quickly.

"Easy, it's right here on my desk. I teach it to my students."

Meanwhile some say that Benham's rooster lede has eclipsed Bragg's Mopsy lede. I think they're both good.

I emailed the Miami Herald's Ace Crime Reporter David Ovalle today and asked if he had a favorite lede. I also asked if it was easy or difficult for him to come up with a good lede.

Ovalle: "Usually they pop into my head right away.

"This story took me just an hour or so to write after I had done the interviews. Once I talked to [the] mom, I knew I wanted to use the victim's name in the top. I couldn't believe the editors allowed me to write it but I'm glad they did. And Meshach's mother thought highly of the approach."

"This time, God did not save Meshach.

"In the Bible, an angel rescues a true-believing youth named Meshach after he is hurled into a furnace.

"In Liberty City last weekend, another Meshach -- Meshach Boges, 15 -- met his fate outside a yellow-orange market:

"Somebody shot him dead."
Ovalle's story was about a 15-year-old named Meshach Boges who was killed two years ago while hanging out at a Liberty City market.

Finally I asked Channel 10 politick-meister Michael Putney if he had a favorite lede.

Putney, who once wrote for the Herald - and who's no slouch when it comes to wordsmithing - got right back to me with his favorite: "Maureen Dowd----before she became a columnist for the NY Times----wrote this lede about Bill Clinton’s visit to Oxford University back in the ‘90s,"

"President Clinton returned today for a sentimental journey to the university where he didn't inhale, didn't get drafted and didn't get a degree."
Added Putney: "Beautiful, no? And snarky!"

I agree Michael...beautiful indeed!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Irene Marie modeling agency closes UPDATED

UPDATED at 2:20pm, Thursday afternoon: The Herald updates the story today. Included in the comments that go with the story is one from an actual South Beach modeling industry insider who lobs a charge at the Herald writer who wrote the story.

Caroline Gleason, of Caroline Gleason Management on Lincoln Road, says in response to her being quoted in the story:
"Obviously the Miami Herald needs to hire new writers !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The article clearly represents a one sided story and taking IM’s side !

Yesterday I was called by the “The Miami Herald’ and was asked various questions in regards to the closing of Irene Marie. First of all I never made the statement;

'Think of all these poor young guys and girls, who don't have a place to stay now and have nowhere to go but their parents' couch.''

I have no idea who said this and where the reporter came up with this ridicules [sic] quote.

Here is one of the questions I was asked and my answer;

Do you feel that the overall economy is hurting the modeling industry on South Beach?

We still have many clients shooting here, there were 16 castings this week alone!!!!

So please don’t blame the closing of IM on the economy when your overhead is too high and you can’t afford to have 8 bookers ! Keep it small and pay your models on time !!!!!!!!!! It’s not that hard !!!!!!!!!

Wow! Just what the Herald needs: another dissatisfied reader.

Random Pixels contacted Ms. Gleason via email and asked her if she'd like to elaborate on the state of the South Beach modeling industry.

She responded: "Hi Bill: Honestly I am tired of talking about it so sorry I really don’t want to comment. Thank You - Caroline Gleason."

Hmmmm, I guess she's all talked out after talking to the Herald.

Footnote: Another interesting and current detail the Herald story missed is the fact that Bar Refaeli, the Israeli model who graces the cover of the new Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, got her start with Irene Marie.


UPDATED at 7:35pm. -An automated message at the Irene Marie number says that "talent" may pick up their portfolios and promotional materials at the agency on Thursday Feb. 19.

Models with last names beginning with A thru M may pick up materials between noon and 3pm. Models with last names beginning with letters N thru Z may pick their stuff up between 3pm and 6pm according to the message.

Irene Marie is located at 728 Ocean Drive on the second floor above Johnny Rocket's.

A South Beach modeling industry insider tells Random Pixels that Irene Marie may not be the only South Beach agency to fall victim to the economic downturn. "There are several other agencies that are top heavy and as a result may find themselves in the same fix as Irene."

The same source says that part of Irene Marie's problem may have been her attitude. "Irene always made me feel like I should have used the service entrance to get in the building."


This just in! The Miami Herald has finally posted a story on the closing of the Irene Marie modeling agency on South Beach. The closing is being blamed in part on the economic downturn. It's unknown if fashion models are eligible for any stimulus money.

(Random Pixels broke the story last night.)

Irene Marie has been in business since 1983 and has been in the same location on Ocean Drive since 1989.

The Herald story says that the agency will "re-open its doors for limited hours on Thursday and Friday, for models to get their materials."

That should be an emotional and chaotic scene!

The story also says that Marie may file for bankruptcy. According to the Herald story "a bankruptcy filing is being considered, said Joel Tabas, a Miami bankruptcy attorney who represents the agency.

'We're fielding calls and e-mails from talent and trying to get the lay of the land on the financials and send some letters and account statements,' Tabas said."

Joel Tabas, the attorney quoted in the story, has offices at 14 N.E. 1st Avenue, in downtown Miami.

One question the Herald story doesn't answer is why Marie put on a lavish party last December when she knew as far back as Jan. 2008 - according to the Herald story - that business was bad.

Former Irene Marie models are encouraged to leave comments below and fill in any gaps in this story.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Irene Marie modeling agency closes

UPDATE: Channel 10 has a story with more info here and a video report.

Irene Marie, the iconic Miami Beach modeling agency, has shuttered. A friend of mine also confirms this after he stopped by the agency's Ocean Drive offices today and found the doors locked.

Irene Marie occupied a second floor office in a building at 728 Ocean Drive that was once the Sunray Apartments. The famous chainsaw scene in the movie "Scarface" was filmed there in 1983. Irene Marie moved into the building in 1989.

According to a 2200 word profile in the Miami Herald two years ago,
"Marie 's most famous find...was Pembroke Pines supermodel Niki Taylor, whose mother started sending the agency pictures of her 11-year-old, still in braces. When the girl was 13, Marie brought her in. Fort Lauderdale photographer Scott Teitler remembers Marie telling him, "I just discovered the baby Cindy Crawford.
"Marie 's multimillion-dollar agency, which employs 18, represents roughly 1,500 faces around the world -- about 850 are full-time models -- and some 1,800 clients, ranging from magazines to advertising agencies."
What's interesting about this story is that no one in the local media, including the Herald, has written a word about the closing despite the fact that Irene Marie was a major influence in making South Beach's modeling industry what it is today.

From the Miami Herald crime files

I was poking around in the Herald's story archives today when I came across this classic example of crime reportage from 1982 by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Edna Buchanan.

No one - before or since - told a crime tale better than Edna. This one has several delicious only-in-Miami twists that Edna excelled in digging up.

The story, loaded with detail - a hallmark of Edna's reporting - reads like a Miami Vice script.

I'm posting the entire article here because it's too good not to share.

I'll do this from time to time, or until I hear from the Herald's copyright attorneys.
Author: EDNA BUCHANAN Herald Staff Writer

The execution-style mass murder of four Latin men Wednesday in a well-kept and quiet Miami apartment building apparently was drug related, police said.

None of the victims, aged 25 to 35, lived in the fourth- floor apartment where they died.

They were bound, gagged and face down on the chocolate- colored shag carpet when somebody shot each one of them in the head.

It is the first quadruple murder city of Miami police have investigated this year.

Investigators usually complain of a problem finding witnesses who will admit hearing shots. That was not the situation Wednesday.

Everybody in the five-story building heard shots -- morning and afternoon.

Most of--and perhaps all--the shots heard by tenants at the attractive 70-unit apartment house at 665 NE 83rd Ter., were fired by William Fries.

They had nothing to do with the mass murder.

Fries, 26, of Metro Fire and Safety Inc., busily was installing brand new shiny fire extinguishers on each floor, a total of 20 of them. He used a powerful cartridge-powered nail driver. Shots fired by the tool, a Hilti DX 400, startled residents all day.

They even startled jumpy homicide detectives who arrived to investigate the murders shortly after 2:30 p.m.

Fries did say that when he installed the new fire engine red extinguisher on the wall near Apt. 406, he heard movement inside, behind the peach-colored door.

It sounded like someone who was startled, scrambling about to see the source of the sharp, cracking sounds from his nail gun.

Most of the neighbors came out to watch Fries at work. No one emerged from Apt. 406.

At about 2:30 p.m., Samuel Torres, 45, an unemployed truck driver and the listed tenant of Apt. 406, arrived home. He did not have his key.

And no one answered the door.

He had left four men there -- two of them friends -- at 5:45 a.m., he said later. Torres went to the first floor and asked the manager, Manuel Munoz, 34, for a pass key to enter his one-bedroom, $330- a-month apartment.

Torres returned "crying and confused," Munoz said.

"I came back and I found all my friends dead," he told a neighbor.

Munoz said he "opened the door and [saw] four people."

He called police.

Two of the bodies were "neatly laid out in the middle of the living room, side by side," Officer Juan Santos said. Another lay in the corner of the room, the fourth in an opposite corner. Chairs were overturned.

Three were identified by police, who withheld their names until their families are notified. At least one of the victims is Colombian, Homicide Sgt. Dennis Downey said. None had extensive arrest records, police said.

Torres, described by the manager as "a quiet tenant, never a problem," was taken to headquarters for questioning.

He told police that during the night he answered a knock at the door of his sparsely furnished apartment and admitted four visitors. Two were friends, he said. They had been drinking, he said, and asked if they could stay.

He agreed, left the key with them, and went job-hunting he told police.

When discovered, all four were bound hand and foot and gagged.

A package containing about a pound of white powder, possibly narcotics, was found in the apartment, police said.

"We're still putting the pieces together," Homicide Detective Nelson Andreu said, "but the evidence tends to indicate that the motive was drug related."

Police speculated on a possible connection to a Coral Gables murder early Wednesday.

In that case, neighbors also heard shots, at 1:30 a.m.

They were the real thing. When police arrived, in the 400 block of Cadugua Avenue, they found a Colombian man, bound and gagged and dead at the side of the road.

The caliber weapon used in both cases "is similar," Homicide Sgt. Mike Gonzalez said.

The apartment house where the bodies were found Wednesday overlooks single-family homes and duplexes and is shaded by towering umbrella trees. Tenants say that by 10 p.m. the building is quiet and peaceful.

A man fatally wounded by Hialeah police when he tried to flee a narcotics arrest Friday, however, lived next door, at 671 NE 83rd Ter. It is unknown whether Henry Parra, 23, was acquainted with any of Wednesday's victims.

Munoz, manager of the building where the mass murder took place, said Wednesday that the owner will beef up security.

In March, two men and a pregnant woman were slain in an unsolved, drug related slaying at a posh private home five blocks from Wednesday's deaths.

In South Dade last year, six Colombian men and women, were murdered in a swanky housing development protected by a guardhouse. And in Miami, in 1980, four Latin men and women were killed in an apartment. Those slayings, all unsolved, also were drug related, police said.

Edition: FINAL

Section: LOCAL Page: 1B

Miami New Times editor sanctions graffiti

Miami New Times editor Chuck Strouse has posted an item on Riptide 2.0 today that contains some double-speak I thought only the Herald was capable of.

Commenting on the defacing of a sign on I-95 Strouse writes:
"Now El Jefe is no fan of graffiti generally and we know it takes a lot to clean up...but this is very cool. Get on the highway to see it before it's gone. And we salute you Buck 50."
Damage from graffiti costs an estimated $12 billion damage in the U.S. annually.

That's cool? Perhaps your brain has gone soft after taking that 10% pay cut earlier this year.

So if any of you taggers are looking for a place to unleash some spray paint, might I suggest Chuck's $800,000 crib in the Shores?

Maybe he'll invite you in for a drink after you get finished painting his house!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Blogging 101...things I've learned this week

I'm new to blogging. I've only been doing this for a year or so.

But there are a few things I'm pretty sure of.

First, as I've said many times, no one ever changed a thing by blogging.

Ditto for changing any one's mind.

People, I believe, tend to frequent blogs that reflect their views. I watch Keith Olbermann and someone else listens to Rush Limbaugh.

Second, I'm guessing the great majority of computer owners never even visit a blog. In the grand scheme of things bloggers and blog readers are a minority.

Third, unless you are a very skilled writer, things you post on a blog may not come across to the reader as you intended them. I don't claim to be a skilled writer.

Fourth, I've found that people tend to see only what they want to see in a written piece to the exclusion of everything else. Like those inkblot tests; blog posts are open to different interpretations on occasion depending on the reader, no matter how clearly the post was written. One person sees an elephant, another sees a cockatoo.

Lastly, while I'm not apologizing for anything - or retracting one word - I've written in the past week, I think that a few people need to lighten up a bit.

I've written several thousand words on the Babalu/SFDB contretemps, but the only words a few unenlightened readers have focused on are "bomb thrower and anthrax mailers."

One person posted this on another blog: "I’m not sure accusing someone falsely of several crimes publically [sic] is protected by the first amendment - is it?

“bomb-throwing, anthrax-mailing, ”

That’s the part that Random Pixels will probably lose the case on. Considering the fact that Babalu can point to quite a few citations in credible news sources they probably have a pretty good case for defamation."

Please! If one goes back and carefully re-reads my posts, one can see that I'm using a bit of hyperbole with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Remember what I said about people seeing only what they want to see?

I don't forsee this ever going to court, but if it does I'll vigorously defend myself.

The folks at Babalu planted the seeds of hate long ago. And this week they have reaped what they have sown. A quick visit to Babalu will confirm the old adage: "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."

And the person who threatened me with a lawsuit probably expected me to buckle. However, just like any bully, he didn't count on me standing up to him.

Don't mess with dog lovers!

LA Times columnist gets complaints and hate mail after writing this tongue-in-cheek column about a dog show.
"Why would you assign a writer that clearly knows nothing about dogs in general or dog shows specifically to write 1,000 words about the most prestigious dog event in this country? Assigning a person who apparently doesn't even care about dogs is like asking a principled Vegan to cover a bullfight!"

Lock and load!

UPDATE: "Cigar Mike" tells me that he didn't actually spend over 3 hours perusing my blog. Rather, he says, he probably left the page open in one of his Firefox tabs. Shucks!

Looks like we may have to go to war here at Random Pixels aganst the infidels and non-believers.

This afternoon the stat counter for my blog showed this visitor entry. Click on the image to enlarge.

Someone at the law firm of Rothstein And Rosenfeldt in Ft. Lauderdale spent over two hours 3 hours, 44 mins, 7 secs on my blog this morning and this afternoon. Doing a little pre-filing research for the big lawsuit I guess!

Coincidentally, Rothstein and Rosenfeldt is the same law firm that employs one Michael A. Pancier who is also a contributing writer at the Babalu blog.

From time to time Mike will take a break from the tedium of the legal world, and under the nom de plume of "Cigar Mike," compose brilliant opuses like this on Babalu.

If his posts on Babalu are any indication of his intellectual capabilities, then I am definitely looking forward to this.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Fighting Castro...Babalu style

Val Prieto is the "founding editor" of the Babablu blog, a vehement anti-Castro website.

He and the crew at the Babalu blog are on a mission!

They're out to kill blogging him to death.

Years ago the same kinds of people who write at Babalu, tried to kill Castro by hitting him where he lives, right here in Miami.


They blew up lots of stuff, including a WQBA talk show host who disagreed with the hard line extremists.

Now the hardliners have a blog and they're out to silence anyone who disagrees with them.

Last Monday I wrote about the hypocrisy of the Babalu fanatics and the irony of them censoring anyone on their blog who disagrees with them. And the fact that they are now blocking any blog that links to their site and that contains content that criticizes them.

Rick's South Florida Daily Blog was the first to be blocked by the Bababluers.

And tonight I've learned that I have also joined that exclusive club!

Any links to Babalu from my blog will take you here.

So congratulations to Val and the rest of the bombers. You've done the unthinkable.

Using the tools of the dictator to fight the dictator! Castro would be so proud!

I know I am!

The Geniuses at Babalu blog

Until earlier this week I'd never paid much attention to "Henry Louis Gomez," one of the bomb throwers and cyber-terrorists over at

Henry also runs a blog called Herald Watch that he doesn't bother to update much and as a consequence no one bothers to read.

Henry, it appears, isn't very well liked outside of his little circle of sycophants at Babalu.

And, no wonder.

Here's a guy who seemingly can't write anything without it looking like the obscenities scrawled by some pre-pubescent boys in the bathroom at a junior high school.

(You gotta love those guys at Babalu. They actually think that are hastening Castro's demise with their little tree-house, backyard Mancamp blog. One of the ways they do that is by not capitalizing Castro's name when they write about him. Take that Fidel!)

But take a look at how carefully Henry presents his point of view here in a post on Babalu. Note his careful choice of words and the calm, dispassionate manner in which he lays out his argument. With geniuses like Henry arguing the plight of exiled Cubans, is it any wonder that those arguments are received with suspicion or indifference outside of South Florida?

Last Tuesday Henry stopped by Random Pixels to leave some rodent droppings in response to my post the hypocrisy at Babalu. Some of Henry's ramblings:

"Dude, do your really think that that argument holds water? Or you just being douchie douche's do boy? Do you think your "you guys are just like fidel" argument is original? Please.

Your unoriginality belies your illogic.

Are we just like fidel because we enforce the rights to our own space, the space we pay for (not get for free from blogger) the way we see fit?

If I were fidel, I'd come to your house with a gun, break down your door and take you out back and have you shot. But I have no interest in doing so because despite your dumb accusation I share nothing with fidel.

We're free Americans acting freely. Apparently that's not good enough for you. In order for me to enjoy my rights they have fall into line with your worldview. I must accept that f**khead Rick is linking to us. Well you're wrong sweetheart.

The constitution does not guarantee Rick or you or anyone a right to link to Babalu or any other blog.

Oh you can link but once that link hits our server we have the right to send you anywhere we want. Don't like it? Change the f**king channel. That's freedom.

I have no obligation to accept links from people who openly hate me. I'm not a glutton for punishment like Rick who doesn't feel alive unless people are hating his guts.

By the way, you may be some sort of photographer but your photoshop skills are terrible. No wonder you had to steal a banner from Babalu."
"By the way, when c**ksucker Rick deletes my comments because he doesn't like being called what he is, doesn't that make him "just like fidel"? Everybody is a little fidel, right?"
Hard to believe that a grown man wrote that. Brilliant Henry! Stop by more often!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Those wacky guys at Babalu....

...have done it again!

It seems that whenever you click on a link to their site at Rick's SFDB you're directed to the George W. Bush Presidential Center website.

After I clicked on the link, this is what I found.


I wonder if this is what the boys at Babalu had in mind?

click on image to enlarge

Worth reading!

"One loyal friend is worth ten thousand relatives."
~ Euripides

Just catching up on some of the things that other South Florida bloggers have posted regarding my clash of words with the "bomb throwers" and fascistas.

Below is a list - by no means complete - of some of the things that South Fla. bloggers have posted.

All chicken, no eggs: from bark bark woof woof

Ybor City Stogie

Hyperventilation, South Florida Style: from The View from the Docks

Babalu v. Everyone: from Dolce Miami

Buildings and Food

From Lola's Lips

In Defense of the Constitution of the United States: from Man or Maniac

Babalu blog - Will sue for attention: from Miami Nights

In other news: I'm putting together the graphics for a new, soon-to-be-launched Random Pixels feature that will highlight past pearls of wisdom from Babalu's Val Prieto.

I'm thinking of calling it something like "Daily Affirmation With Val Prieto" or "The World According to Val"

Rick at SFDB has done a great job of shining a light on these clowns and exposing them for the hypocrites they are, but I think it's time for RP to enter the fray with something slightly different.

After all, Babalu is treasure trove of material that's too rich for just one South Florida blogger to mine. Because if vitriol, bigotry, lies and slander were gold, the Babalu blog would be the Fort Knox of South Florida's blogging landscape.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Random Pixels Legal Update

Thanks to everybody for their support in my fight against the fascist Miami bomb-throwers!

A little update: Yesterday after Val Prieto at Babalu blog warned me that he was going to sue me, I spent a considerable amount of time curled up in the fetal position crying like a drunken sailor.

Seriously though, I'm not worried about this one bit!

If this ever made it to court, a judge would take one look at his claims and laugh him not only out of court, but out of town.

Val and his lunatic fringe have always tried to control the dialogue in this town for years. Before there was a Val Prieto there was a Jorge Mas Canosa and before him there was another tyrant.

But there have always been legions of unsung heroes who stand up to the thugs and we will prevail in this "fight."

Quite frankly, I don't think this thing will even make it to court because Val knows that he'll have to put up or shut up. And that requires courage, something Val and his merry band of sycophants lack.

I just got this note from Frank Alvarado at Miami New Times:
"I was actually thinking of going all out and posting an item proposing a charity box off between Rick and Val, and then me and Henry as the undercard. That guy really gets under my skin because he can't have an intelligent debate without cussing you out and challenging your manhood...but go ahead quote me. ;-)"
Thanks to all for your support!

And it goes without saying; a special thanks to Rick at SFDB for his extraordinary support!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

"The Godfather," the lost images

photograph by Steve Schapiro via

I pretty much thought I'd seen it all when it comes to "The Godfather."

I've seen the movie countless times. I consider it one of the greatest American films of all time.

But this month's issue of Vanity Fair magazine has a story on the behind the scenes intrigue that took place during the making of the movie.

And on the website there's a slide show of rare photos taken by photographer Steve Schapiro.

You can see all of the photographs if you're prepared to shell out $700 for a book containing over 400 behind-the- scenes images.

Miami Herald (sort of) takes a stand on censorship

The Herald's very own "Some Cranky Guy."

If you read the Herald cover-to-cover on Tuesday, you may have noticed an interesting - if somewhat out of place - column on the op-ed page.

I'm referring to Glenn Garvin's column bashing the ACLU for daring to stand up to censorship in the Miami-Dade School system.

For a minute I thought I was reading another disjointed rant by the Some Cranky Guy guy or a column in the far right New York Post!

Garvin blasted the ACLU with somewhat overheated, over-the-top and very purple prose for daring to challenge a decision by the school board to remove the book "Vamos a Cuba" four years ago from school library shelves.
"But don't worry. Now that I've brought it to their attention, I'm sure the ACLU will be down at the federal courthouse sometime this afternoon securing the rights of Miami-Dade kids to get stoned, spout racist gibberish and blow things up, all on the taxpayer tab.
It was an interesting choice of subjects for a first column by Garvin - who will write a bi-weekly column on the op-ed page - in a newspaper that has always stood up against censorship and the radical right-wing element in Miami, a stand which some say has cost the paper subscribers.

I thought perhaps that the Herald had finally gotten someone at the paper to write from a conservative point of view on local issues; something the Herald sorely needs.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

A source at the Herald warned me this morning: "Don't pigeon-hole Glenn Garvin. The only thing predictable about Glenn is that he's not predictable. He has the potential of becoming the most interesting columnist the Herald has."

My source continued: "Glenn has always stood up against management when he thought they were wrong on things. He's not afraid to take an unpopular stand."

Indeed, a few years ago Garvin revealed that he is an atheist.

However, with all due respect to Mr. Garvin, I think that censorship in any form is wrong. And providing young children with only one point of view on a subject is considered brainwashing in some circles.

Or as the New York Times put it so beautifully in an editorial in Wednesday's paper: "If the [Miami-Dade school] board wants to oppose the totalitarianism of the Castro regime, banning books is an odd way to go about it."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Here's your "Feel Good Story of the Day"

Injured deer runs into - of all places - a Petsmart store, and "once inside, the female deer lay down on the floor as blood dripped from her left hind leg."

Read the entire story here.
"Of all the places to run into, a pet store that has vets in it," marveled [store manager Trudie] Urie, adding with a laugh: "If it would have went into a Bass Pro, it would have been a different story."

Monday, February 09, 2009

Blinded by hate

“Well, if everyone could travel any time they wanted, you can’t imagine the traffic-jam there would be in the skies.” -Cuba National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcón at a January 19, 2008 forum responding to a student questioning Cuba's limitations on freedom of travel.

I despise Fidel Castro and everything about his "revolution."

Castro has enslaved and deprived an entire nation of hope, democracy and freedom for half a century.

I despise all that he is, just as I despise all dictators.

Imagine living in a country where every basic freedom is denied and the state decides at every turn what's good for you and what's not good. (See quote above)

On a very basic level you could say that I am on the same wave-length as the guys over at the Babalu blog who write daily about the evils of the Castro regime. We both despise the dictator.

But that's where the similarity ends.

While the people who run Babalu blog say they hate Castro and all that he stands for, one needs only need to spend 20 minutes or so on their blog before it becomes clear that have morphed into the very thing they despise about Castro.

Dissent and opposing views are not tolerated on their blog. Just like it's not tolerated in Cuba.

Try posting a differing point of view to their rabid screeds and you'll be shouted down with epithets and if you persist and you'll be banned.

If you write about them on your blog and link to them to show their hypocrisy and bigotry, your links will be blocked....just as they they do in Cuba and Communist China.

One South Florida blogger learned that last week.

Some in the media bestow legitimacy on these bigots by writing puff pieces. Or calling them every time they need a quote.

The Babalu folks oblige and in turn they've have deluded themselves into believing that anyone cares what they think. They actually believe their own press clippings.

The reality is that Babalu is really nothing more than a fringe group of bomb-throwing, anthrax-mailing, loud-mouth fanatics gone high tech.

Loud mouth fanatics are nothing new in Miami.

Babalu posted dozens of hate filled missives against Barack Obama during the campaign in an effort to link him to Muslim fanatics and and a failed 70's "terrorist."

But what the folks at Babalu forgot to mention is that they court and embrace the fanatic fringe that has been has been a source of terror for decades right here in Miami.

So while the Babalu people had plenty to say about Obama and his ties to a "terrorist" just try finding any criticism on their blog of the terrorist Luis Posada Carriles. Good luck!

The Babalu blog and the people who post there are another version of the viejitos who line up daily in front of the Versailles restaurant...frustrated old men who bury Castro every day only to wake up the next and find that he's still alive.

When inevitable finally happens - perhaps as soon as April 10 - when Fidel Castro finally leaves this planet, one truth will stand out above all else.

And that is that not one word that has been spoken or written here in Miami over the past 50 years - of all the hundreds of millions of words - will be what caused him or his regime to lose power.

And the stark reality is that nothing that's been written on the Babalu blog has moved Castro one centimeter closer to the grave.

They claim to abhor Castro. But they've become so blinded by their hatred for Castro that they can't see that there isn't much difference between them and the thing they claim to hate.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Tabloid headline writing at The Herald

The Herald served up a little New York style tabloid headline writing on its front page today. However the result was a little tepid in my opinion.

The boys at the NY Daily News show us how it's supposed to be done!

front page images from

Street scene...Lincoln Road

click to enlarge

Took a few pictures today as this parenting mini-drama played out in front of the Starbucks on Lincoln Rd. and Meridian Ave.

The dogs were actually better behaved better than the kid!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Rumors at The Herald

In his memo yesterday to Miami Herald staffers, publisher David Landsberg addressed the inevitability of more staff cuts:
"Unfortunately, it is already apparent there is no way to avoid the elimination of staff positions. We are exploring several alternatives to help limit the number of layoffs."
Rumors are circulating in the newsroom that one of the alternatives to limiting the number of layoffs will be to ask remaining staffers who still have jobs to take pay cuts.

Or following the lead of other papers, staffers may be asked to take unpaid days off.

Stay tuned.

Looking for something to do this weekend?

Check out the Antique Market on Lincoln Road!

South Beach-USA tells you what to expect.

But as anyone who frequents Lincoln Road on Antique Market Sundays knows, there's no better place in Miami-Dade to people watch.

And then there's the great restaurants.

More than 100 vendors offer everything from vintage one-of-a-kind clothing to old hard-to-find magazines and books, jewelry and all manner of tchotchkes.

Miami skyline from South Beach ... Friday, 4:45pm

“You must not blame me if I do talk to the clouds.” ~Henry David Thoreau

Limited Edition Miami Herald Commemorative Front Page

Like a lot of of Americans, I made sure that I bought copies of a newspaper (NY Times) the day after Barack Obama won the presidency and the day after his inauguration.

Like many, I saw Obama's win as a victory, not just for African Americans, but for all Americans.

Hundreds of American newspapers - large and small - reprinted the front pages heralding Obama's election. In some cities customers lined up outside newspaper offices to buy multiple copies.

However a few of our fellow Americans just couldn't comprehend why newspapers would want to print extra copies of newspapers. Or why anyone would want to buy them.

One conservative blogger asked, "Maybe I just don't remember -- did newspapers sell stuff like this after Bush won in 2000 and 2004?"

The same blogger went so far as to say that newspapers that sell Obama memorabilia are "propaganda arms of the Democratic party." Really?

Here at Random Pixels we always strive to be inclusive and embrace all political ideologies.

Keeping that in mind, I worked up this little commemorative front page tribute to George the XLIII's departure from Washington that should please our right-wing friends.

It's another Random Pixels EXCLUSIVE!

Click here to enlarge image.

For those of you who were sorry to see Bush leave, please feel free to print it out and frame it and cherish it for years to come!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

No parking? No problem! UPDATE

Today, one day after my post about chronic parking violations at the Starbucks at West and Ave. and 10th Street on the Beach, three Miami Beach parking enforcement officers showed up and started writing tickets.

The sudden appearance of three parking enforcement vehicles sent several Starbucks patrons scurrying to move their cars.

Did they show up because of my blog? No, not really.

It took a polite call to the parking enforcement complaint desk to get action. The officers arrived within 10 minutes.

One officer explained to me that they call areas like this "hot spots;" locations where numerous violations occur.

Now if we can just get a little enforcement against guys like this who park their cars in the middle of West

Avenue while they go into the stores that line the block.

This guy was parked in the middle of the street for at least 15 minutes while he retrieved his dog from the veterinarian.

The irony of all this is that there isn't a shortage of parking on West Avenue.

The building that houses all of the shops on West Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets, also contains a secure muti-level public parking garage that's just steps away from stores and restaurants. It costs an astronomical $1 an hour to park there.

Of course that's an inconvenience to the "The rules don't apply to me" crowd.

They'd rather break the law.

More bad news at the Herald!

"In other words, it's a huge sh*t sandwich, and we're all gonna have to take a bite." -Lt. Lockhart in the film "Full Metal Jacket."
The one thing the folks at the Herald don't need right now is more bad news.

But it looks like they're going to get some.

The McClatchy Company, the Herald's parent, announced today that "fourth-quarter earnings from continuing operations fell to $21.8 million, or 26 cents a share."

The company also announced that it's "developing plans to lop another $100 million to $110 million from its operating expenses -- including, possibly, more layoffs."

Herald publisher David Landsberg was a little more direct in a memo sent out this morning to the Herald newsroom: "Unfortunately, it is already apparent there is no way to avoid the elimination of staff positions. We are exploring several alternatives to help limit the number of layoffs."

His memo pretty much mimics language in memos being sent out by publishers at other McClatchy papers.

From: Landsberg, David - Miami
Sent: Thu 2/5/2009 9:37 AM
To: .MIA All Herald Users
Subject: McClatchy Announcement
To: All Employees
From: David Landsberg
Subject: McClatchy Announcement

Date: Feb. 5, 2009

This morning, McClatchy announced that it is freezing its pension plans and temporarily suspending the company match to its 401(k) plans, effective March 31. McClatchy also announced that it will cut an additional $100 to $110 million in expenses over the next 12 months. The press release is available at McClatchy will send more detail on the retirement changes to you directly, both by e-mail and information mailed to your home.

Here at the Miami Herald Media Company, we have seen an unprecedented loss in advertising revenue, with quite a few of our retailers and auto dealers going out of business or leaving the area. In addition, employment advertising revenues continue to drop to all-time lows and real estate remains very weak.

These challenges are clearly driven by a deepening recession that is hurting our economy.

We are still developing our plan to address this extraordinary economic challenge. We are committed to completing this work as quickly as possible, and to communicating details to you as soon as they are final.

Unfortunately, it is already apparent there is no way to avoid the elimination of staff positions. We are exploring several alternatives to help limit the number of layoffs.

We understand that today's announcement is especially discouraging given all the cuts made in 2008. We had hoped that previous cuts would be sufficient to see us through the sharp revenue declines affecting our industry. Instead, we find ourselves facing a deepening financial crisis that threatens not only our industry, but all kinds of businesses, both locally and across the globe.

The decisions we now need to make are difficult. However, we are moving deliberately to position our newspapers to compete and succeed in a demanding, competitive, more integrated media environment. We will remain the community's most comprehensive source of news and advertising.

As in the past, we will work quickly to notify employees who may be affected by staff reductions. As mentioned above, these plans are not finalized, so you may not hear more on this for a few weeks. Employees whose positions are eliminated will be provided with a transition package that will include severance pay and benefits continuation. We will do everything possible to make this transition as smooth as possible.

There's no way we at Miami Herald Media Company would be able to manage through today's difficult environment without the talent, innovation and dedication of our staff. I know we have asked a lot from you, and I thank each one of you for what you have done and are continuing to do.
The grim reality is that South Florida is a little closer today than it was yesterday of losing its daily newspaper.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Some amazing images!

Vertie Hodge, 74, weeps during an Inauguration Day party near Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in Houston on Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009 after President Barack Obama delivered his speech after taking the oath of office, becoming the first black president in the United States. (Houston Chronicle photo, Mayra Beltran)
I'm a little late with this but The Boston Globe's The Big Picture blog has posted some powerful images from the inauguration.

Miami Herald to Fidel: "Die already!"

"The problem is that just when you get attached to them, they die on you." -Fidel Castro on why he once declined to accept a long-lived Galapagos tortoise as a pet.

The Herald has big plans for the day Castro dies. Who knew?

What does Miami's most prestigious information source have in store for the day that Fidel croaks?

Anders Gyllenhaal, the Herald's executive editor tells Editor and Publisher:
"There is no other story like this. What happened in Cuba, in many ways, built Miami."

Gyllenhaal declined to offer too many specifics for the plan, other than to say a special section is likely and possibly an extra edition: "depending on when the news comes out."
Manny Garcia is the Herald's Senior Editor for News revealed in a column Sunday that he travels everywhere with what he calls " 'the Cuba plan,' a three-ring binder with every possible scenario for when Fidel dies. Calling-tree diagrams. Bank accounts. Satellite phones. Fixers. Fast boats."

Hey Anders and Manny, here's a tip: Don't make any plans for next April 10!

Damn, it's cold!

West Ave. and 9th Street, Miami Beach, Wednesday at 4:52pm
The bad news: "The National Weather Service issued a South Florida wind-chill warning from 1 to 8 a.m. [Thursday morning]."

The good news: "It should be the last frigid morning, for now, with no more cold fronts on the radar."

No parking? No problem!

So there you are stuck in an office downtown or on Brickell Avenue contemplating your drab and tedious existence.

You're bemoaning the fact that there's almost no excitement in your daily routine and your life has become mind-numbingly dull.

Last week you watched "Bonnie and Clyde" on TV and now you're thinking "wouldn't it be great to just chuck it all and take the wife and go on a cross-country crime spree?"

But then there's the prospect of getting caught and spending all your money on lawyers and the next 30 years in jail. If the idea of breaking the law appeals to you but the idea of getting caught doesn't, there is another option.

Just jump in your "Beamer" or "Benz" and drive on over to the Starbucks on West Ave. and 10th Street on Miami Beach.

Directly in front of the coffee shop you'll see three restricted parking spots. One is a handicapped spot. Another is marked "NO PARKING - COMMERCIAL LOADING ZONE." And the third is marked "NO PARKING ANYTIME - TOW AWAY ZONE."

Just pull into any of the three spots and waltz into the Starbucks and grab your favorite hot brew.

The beauty of this is that you'll be breaking the law but you'll never get caught.

All day long the "I'm more important than you" crowd shuttles in and out of these three spaces; knowing that they'll never get ticketed.

Sure they're lawbreakers. But instead of carrying guns and wearing ski masks, they wear Manolo Blahniks and carry Chloe handbags and Blackberries and drive very expensive automobiles. And they're way too important to pay attention to "No Parking" signs. Besides they're only going to be there a minute.

(By the way, the blue BMW in these pictures was there at least 20 minutes.)

In all the years I've been going to this Starbucks I've never seen a Miami Beach police officer or parking enforcement officer issue a citation to illegally parked cars at this location. Ever!

So if it's excitement you're looking for and if you want to flout the law and get away with it, Tenth and West is the place to be! Just be prepared to circle the block, after all these "spots" are always full!

And if by chance a cop does write you a ticket, just run outside and tell him "Hey, I was only going to be a minute!"