Sunday, August 30, 2009

Carlos Alvarez is a big, fat liar!

The Herald's Myriam Marquez nails Mayor Carlos Alvarez in today's column:
"Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez's lame explanations about granting pay raises to a cadre of his closest advisors -- as he was telling taxpayers we would all have to sacrifice in these tough times -- begs the question.

"I prefer to think he's clueless, which is dangerous enough in this fiscal crisis. "
And on the Herald's front page, reporters Jack Dolan and Matthew Haggman reveal that the mayor's claim that he eliminated jobs as a part of a reorganization of his staff was all just smoke and mirrors:
["M]any of the executives whose jobs disappeared are still working for the county, in some cases at higher salaries -- raising questions about how much the cutbacks have saved taxpayers."
Isn't it about time we recall this clown?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

'Burger overdose

Ever wonder what would happen if you ate nothing but hamburgers for two months straight?

Wonder no longer.

The food writer for Chicago Magazine has suffered so you won't have to.
"Long before Super Size Me, the 2004 documentary about a McDonald’s binge, I knew that a steady diet of hamburgers would systematically destroy my heart, my liver, my cardiovascular system, and my sex appeal. But no movie or medical study could prepare me for what it would do to my brain.

For 65 days this summer, I ate basically nothing but burgers."

A shortage of ideas at the Miami Herald

Click on the homepage of the Miami Herald today and take a look at the box that lists the most popular stories.

Coming in at number 5 is a story about a toilet paper shortage in Cuba.

The story first appeared on the Herald's web site last night.

(Reuters reported this story back on Aug. 7 which Miami New Times duly noted a few days later.)

Among the story's "revelations:" when toilet paper runs short, Cubans use "day-old copies of the Communist party's newspaper Granma."

When I read it my first thought was, "how much more deprivation can the Cuban people endure? Thank you Juan Tamayo for opening my eyes to yet another indignity forced upon the Cuban people by the ruthless, dictatorial Castro brothers."

And then I started digging.
  • Miami Herald, December 21, 1987, CHRISTOPHER MARQUIS Herald Staff Writer

    "Let's put it this way," said Tulio Quirantes, whose father and uncles own seven Ortopedia Quirantes supply stores. "I have relatives in Cuba and when we write to them, we write with very big letters. Because after they finish reading the letters, we want them to be able to use them as toilet paper."

  • Miami Herald, April 21, 1991, LIZETTE ALVAREZ Herald Staff Writer

    "Most newly arrived Cubans still lambaste the country's 32- year-old system of repression. But widespread shortages of food, fuel, clothing and toiletries are the main culprits forcing them out.
    "They tell of crushing wild herbs to use as soap, using the official Communist party newspaper Granma as toilet paper, and spending the little money they earn to buy stolen clothing and food on the black market."

  • Liz Balamseda writing a story on gossip in Miami beauty parlors in Tropic, June 1991

    "It is here, between the mirrored walls, amid the hair dryers and curling irons and wafts of acetone, that the regulars catch up on the details of daily life in Cuba . They discuss the food shortages and lack of toilet paper while America gives them French manicures. "

  • Miami Herald, June 17, 1991, MIMI WHITEFIELD Herald Staff Writer

    "Food isn't the only thing that's in short supply. Among the most coveted and scarce items are soap, laundry detergent and toilet paper (some people buy the newspapers mainly to use as toilet paper)."

  • Miami Herald, March 10, 1993, PETER SLEVIN Herald Staff Writer

    "Buses come late, maybe not at all. Office and school cafeterias shut down. Shops are short of shoes, meat, eggs, milk, soap, writing paper, toilet paper, tampons."
  • One day, perhaps soon, the Cuban people will be freed from the yoke of Communist tyranny and they'll be able to get all the toilet paper they could ever hope for.

    And maybe, just maybe, there will come a day when story ideas will no longer be in short supply at the Miami Herald.

    One can only hope.

    Wednesday, August 26, 2009

    Liberty City is like Paris

    "Liberty City, together with its families, opened its arms to me with my camera, just like Paris once did. And now they've both become for me, the City of Love. -Bruce Weber, photographer

    A post on the South Florida Daily Blog this morning reminded me, once again, why we need blogs and why blogs are here to stay.

    Yes, we still need the Miami Herald. And the New York Times and its Baghdad bureau.

    But blogs fill in the gaps.

    This morning, Rick posted an item on fashion photographer Bruce Weber's new short film, "Liberty City is like Paris."

    I'd never heard of this film until I read Rick's post this morning. I did a search and couldn't find a thing written about it in the Herald.

    (To be fair Miami New Times mentioned the film three weeks ago, even if staffer Kyle Munzenrieder was a little too quick to dismiss Weber as just a shooter of black and white soft porn.)

    Weber, who has a home in Golden Beach, which is about as far removed from Liberty City as any place can be, shows us in his new film that beauty is all around us.

    He's never forgotten the lessons he learned in Paris as a student in the early 70's when he says, "learning about photography was as easy as walking down its boulevards with my only busted up Nikon."

    Weber now turns his lens on Liberty City and shows us that there's more to this wonderful Miami neighborhood than drive-by shootings and shooting galleries.

    It's not the first time that Weber has drawn inspiration from - or used South Florida's sometimes forgotten neighborhoods as a backdrop.

    In 1986 he shot a Calvin Klein Obsession perfume campaign on the roof of the Breakwater Hotel on Ocean Drive.

    Back then, Ocean Drive was a collection of run-down, seedy hotels that had seen better days.

    But "that [shoot] captivated other photographers and helped spread the word in the tightly knit fashion industry that Miami and South Beach have a certain allure for the camera," the Herald wrote two years later in 1988.

    So thanks to Rick for his post. I guess the Herald will get around to writing about this sooner or later. But until then, we've still got the blogs!

    Tuesday, August 25, 2009

    Unveiling a new Random Pixels feature

    From Miami Herald executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal's Twitter page:
    "What a gift when yr college-bound, endlessly busy 18-year-old , full of plans and ideas, stops to have a leisurely dinner with boring dad."
    Boring? He said it, not me!

    WWE cleans up its act

    The Los Angeles Times reported today that World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. has turned vanilla.

    Chairman Vince McMahon "doesn't even like the word 'wrestler' anymore. He prefers 'performer' or 'superstar' or 'diva' to describe his stable of talent."
    Gone is much of the sexual innuendo, over-the-top trash talk, blood-splattering bouts and scantily clad female wrestlers that fueled the WWE's "Attitude Era" of 10 years ago when the company was locked in a death match with Ted Turner's rival wrestling outfit, World Championship Wrestling, which McMahon eventually bought out.
    Why am I telling you this?

    Because it gives me an excuse to post some great shots (see above) I took few years ago right here on Miami Beach of one of the WWE's stars - Maria Kanellis - before she got famous in the WWE....and naked for Playboy.

    The Times says of Maria:
    "Kanellis, one of the WWE's 'diva' wrestlers, used to perform in lingerie but these days tries to dress "a little more sophisticated" for her matches.

    'The guys miss it, but that's how it goes,' she said.

    Monday, August 24, 2009

    17 years ago...

    Seventeen years ago today Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida.

    The Herald's Pulitzer Prize winning coverage of Andrew's aftermath is now behind a pay wall.

    But the South Florida Sun-Sentinel has archived the stories here.
    (Published Aug. 25, 1992) The lucky ones lost only a tree or two. The less fortunate lost their roofs, their homes or their lives.

    Hurricane Andrew arrived in South Florida on Monday morning with 140-mph winds and departed seven hours later, leaving behind more than a dozen dead, thousands of destroyed homes and a million-plus without electricity.

    Near Homestead in south Dade County -- where the eye of storm landed -- it was as bad or worse than the most dire predictions.

    At least 11 people were killed in Dade, and whole neighborhoods in southwestern Dade were flattened. Homes were blown away, a lifetime`s possessions destroyed and lives changed forever.
    And the St.Petersburg Times' special report on the aftermath 10 years later, 1n 2002, can be seen here.

    Lawyer channels long-dead Founding Fathers to defend anonymous blogger

    This is amazing!

    The lawyer for the formerly anonymous blogger, Rosemary Port, author of "Skanks in NYC" blog, has defended her actions by reading the minds of the founding fathers.

    Port called a model a "ho" and a "skank" on her now defunct blog.

    Her lawyer, Salvatore Strazzullo, says the Founding Fathers knew that one day there would be anonymous bloggers.

    OK, so he didn't actually say that.

    But he did say: "I'm ready to take this all the way to the Supreme Court. Our Founding Fathers wrote 'The Federalist Papers' under pseudonyms. Inherent in the First Amendment is the right to speak anonymously. Shouldn't that right extend to the new public square of the Internet?"

    I wonder if the Federalist Papers say anything about posting cheerleader pictures on blogs?

    Sunday, August 23, 2009

    The Herald's "ambitious new Internet project"

    UPDATED at 5:15pm: Jim Mullin emails Random Pixels to say that one of the Herald execs involved in this project contacted him by phone this morning to ask - belatedly - if he'd "be interested in participating."

    You may have missed it, but Miami Herald executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal penned a somewhat interesting column for Sunday's Issues and Ideas section.

    In his usual dry-as-sawdust prose, Gyllenhaal talked about a meeting Herald execs had five months ago with an "unlikely group of South Florida editors and publishers" to, in Gyllenhaal's words, talk about "an ambitious new Internet project involving The Miami Herald and a cross-section of partners from traditional papers and start-ups, print and online sites."

    Gyllenhaal describes the project: "The idea is to mix the long-standing traditions of community journalism -- neighborhood news, schools reporting, municipal coverage, profiles, columns and letters -- with growing modern digital tools. Most importantly, this string of online sites hopes to make full use of the exchange with readers that modern journalism is becoming."

    I was curious which newspapers were invited - since Gyllenhaal didn't name names - and as the Herald has long ignored many of South Florida's alternative and community papers in the past ... except when it wants to "borrow" story ideas.

    Random Pixels asked the editors of three of Miami's most widely read and influential papers if they attended the meeting.

    Here's what I found:
  • Jim Mullin, editor of the monthly Biscayne Times told me by phone yesterday he was not invited. When I asked him what he thought of the snub he responded: "I'm not sure what to think."

  • Chuck Strouse, editor of the alt-weekly Miami New Times replied jokingly by email: "The bastards never invite me anywhere. Maybe it's my breath?"

  • Michael Lewis, editor of the weekly Miami Today responded by email: "[I] did not attend. I honestly don’t remember being invited, but I might have been. Memories are short."
  • So there you have it. Looks like the Herald's "ambitious new Internet project" is off to a great start.

    You can hear Gyllenhaal talk about the project in the video below.

    He's tanned, he's fit, he's ready!

    Looks like the Herald's Manny Garcia can put the ""Cuba Plan" on the back burner for a while.

    from Reuters: Cuba publishes photo of fit-looking Fidel Castro
    By Marc Frank
    HAVANA (Reuters) - An official Cuban newspaper on Sunday published a photograph of 83-year-old former President Fidel Castro apparently in good health and meeting visiting Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa.

    The photograph of Castro, covering most of the front page of the Juventud Rebelde newspaper, showed a fit-looking Castro standing and wearing a white, short-sleeved shirt in his meeting with Correa, who began a private visit to Cuba a few days ago.
    It is a bit of a stretch however, for Reuters to report that Castro is "apparently in good health," on the basis of a single photograph.

    Here's the official story from Juventud Rebelde

    Project Runway... The lost episode

    Seen this afternoon at Taste Bakery on South Beach.

    How did "Miami Social" miss casting this guy?

    We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming, already in progress.

    Saturday, August 22, 2009

    Why can't the Miami Herald figure this out?

    At least one well-meaning but misinformed Random Pixels reader left a comment on yesterday's post that concerns my dust-up with the Miami Herald over the posting on my blog of a couple of low res photos from a Herald slide show.
    "Want to write a blog? Shoot your own pics. Write your own stories. Or link back to the herald instead of copying."
    "Matt" apparently doesn't read that well.

    If he had looked at the post in question carefully he would have seen that I posted two Herald photos - from a 42 picture slide show - along with my own commentary. That's called fair use.

    I also included a link to the Herald's slide show page.

    What "Matt" doesn't understand - and Herald executives and lawyers choose to ignore - is the fact that those links drive traffic to the Herald's site.

    Below is a screen shot of the exit link activity for this blog. The log shows that 20 readers clicked on the link for the Herald photo galleries.

    Click image to enlarge

    The exit link drill down page (not shown) shows that the activity was over the past three days.

    Not a lot.

    But those 20 pairs of eyeballs my blog directed to this page on the Herald's web site also saw several ads in addition to the slide shows.

    Instead of harassing me, the Herald should thank me. A maybe send a nice check?

    Kinda makes you wonder if anyone in charge at One Herald Plaza has any idea what this Internet thingy all about and how it works.

    Friday, August 21, 2009

    Odds and ends

    If you're just joining us...I'm being sued by the Miami Herald!

    The Herald's lawyer alleges that I am stealing Herald content. He also alleges that I derive income from ads on my blog and that using Herald content helps drive traffic to my blog.

    A Random Pixels reader shot that argument down in short order:
    The HERALD can't even earn money from their articles, what makes them think Random Pixels can?

    Seriously, bill, that's what's behind all of this: the herald (misguidedly) thinks you are taking advertisers away from them. How many of your advertisers run ads on the Herald's site?
    South Florida Lawyers - a widely read blog authored by a real lawyer - offers an attorney's perspective on all this:
    This is one of those examples where, as a lawyer, you have to talk to your client. Is it in your best interests to go after some local blogger for posting a picture? Is that really what you want your resources and attention focused on? Even if you had a colorable argument, is it a fight that is in your best interests to pursue?
    What really puzzles me is why the Herald, all of a sudden, decides that they want to stop me from posting a few pictures and old stories, when they've known about this practice for some time.

    I never heard so much as a peep after posting this item almost a year ago.

    Is there an underlying motive?

    Are they trying to silence me?

    I do know that what they have succeeded in doing is quadrupling my traffic. Thanks guys!

    Finally, here are some helpful numbers and email addresses if you'd like to show your support for me and this blog.

    If you feel the Herald is right, let them know that also.

  • Anders Gyllenhaal, Senior Vice President/Executive Editor (305) 376-3790

  • Rick Hirsch, Senior Editor/Multimedia (305) 376-3504

  • Suzanne Levinson, Director of Site Operations (305) 376-4676

  • David Landsberg, President and Publisher (305) 376-2515

  • Subscriptions: to start or stop a subscription 800-843-4372
  • Thursday, August 20, 2009

    The Herald fires the first shot at Random Pixels

    Greenberg Traurig Attorney Ian Ballon
    The Miami Herald is still trying to bully and intimidate me over my (fair) use of a couple of their photos.

    I just received this letter from the Herald's law firm, Greenberg Traurig.

    It appears that the attorney, Ian Ballon, has done some sloppy research.

    There are several factual errors in his letter.

    Ballon accuses me of posting photos in a "large size, rather than in a smaller size."

    In an email to the Herald's Suzanne Levinson, I pointed out that the photos in question were reduced substantially from the larger size posted on the Herald's web site. Ballon apparently doesn't communicate with his client.

    Ballon also says that my blog has "many advertisements." My blog has a grand total of three local paid advertisements. The income derived from those ads wouldn't cover Ballon's latte bills at Starbucks for a week.

    Ballon accuses me of "reproducing complete Miami Herald articles." He's partly right. I have posted older articles from the Herald archives. I contend that these articles (some 20 years old) are historic artifacts.

    I do not cut and paste current Miami Herald articles.

    If Mr. Ballon really wants to see an example of "cut and paste" blogging he need look no further than his client's web site!

    Kyle Munzenrieder at Miami New Times emailed me a link to the Miami Herald's political blog where writer Lesley Clark has cut and pasted substantial portions of a National Review article with out so much as a link.

    (The Orlando Sentinel's political blog goes Clark one better.) It appears that cut and paste is alive and well on newspaper blogs!

    Click here to enlarge.

    Click here to enlarge.

    Q: Does the Herald believe in "press freedom?" A: It depends on who's got the press

    "He wanted to squish us like insects." -former Miami New Times editor Jim Mullin on a Herald executive's reaction to a 1993 story in New Times

    Former Miami New Times
    editor Jim Mullin

    If you have a Miami-Dade County library card there's a wealth of information available to you at your fingertips.

    If you go to the library's website and click on Databases & More, you'll be taken to page that has links to hundreds of research resources including encyclopedias and newspapers.

    And of course there's a link to the Miami Herald. Within seconds you can look up any article in the Herald archives dating back to 1982.

    So, let's say you're interested in reading stories the Herald's published on freedom of the press. If you type in the search phrase "press freedom" - as I did this morning - you'll find that the Herald publishes hundreds of articles with that contain that phrase every year. In 2008 there were 317 stories with that phrase and in 2006 there were 468.

    You'd be led to believe that the Miami Herald takes press freedom very seriously.


    Well, the answer to that is a little more complicated than a simple yes or no.

    Consider former Miami New Times editor Jim Mullin's experience 16 years ago this month when his paper published a "light-hearted" spoof titled "The Secret Script" that poked fun at Herald humorist Dave Barry and a new CBS TV sitcom based on his life.

    The piece contained phoneyed-up documents, scripts and memos that lampooned Barry.

    But Barry and some Herald executives didn't find the piece at all funny.

    So they struck out at Mullin and his paper. Writes Mullin:
    We have learned that at least one honcho, after perusing last week's issue, was so livid he could hardly contain himself. He ranted. He raved. He wanted to squish us like insects.

    Eventually a message was conveyed specifically to me, though it arrived indirectly: I should talk to an attorney.

    Think of it. Someone in a position of power at Miami's media giant threatening to drag this poor little free weekly into court over a good-natured lampoon. Now that is funny.

    But what high-ranking executive could possibly be so dumb and so hilarious at the same time? Who would have the authority to instigate legal action?
    Happily, those in power at the Herald never pursued legal action against Mullin. They didn't need to. Their message was clear: "Don't eff with us."

    Well, that Miami Herald Corporate Stupidity has reared its lovely head again: yesterday, I received an email from Herald executive Suzanne Levinson demanding that I remove a pair of Herald photos from my blog. "Please remove these photos and any other Miami Herald content present on your site immediately. Please reply with confirmation of action taken within 5 business days or this matter will be forwarded to the McClatchy Company's legal department for further action."

    Now the Herald was threatening me with legal action....just like they did with Jim Mullin.

    I was stupefied.

    Here was a newspaper executive, who probably makes a six-figure salary, and a newspaper, that by all accounts struggles mightily just to get out a paper everyday, wringing their corporate hands over a few low-res photos posted on a silly blog.

    Good Lord; is it any wonder they're failing?

    Immediately after I posted my response, I received a call from McClatchy General Counsel Juan Cornejo. Juan insisted that I remove all Herald content from my blog.

    But his main concern seemed to be an unflattering photo of Levinson I posted on my blog.

    He accused me of "getting personal."

    Imagine that; an attorney for a newspaper company getting annoyed because someone posted an unflattering photo of one of their executives. Newspapers publish unflattering photos of people everyday. What's wrong with this picture?

    A few minutes after receiving Cornejo's call, I got another call. This time it was Levinson's husband, who also complained about the photo of her I posted. He was clearly upset. He asked that I remove the photo...which I did.

    As the afternoon progressed, I checked the stat counter for my blog and started noticing a considerable spike in visits, divided evenly between McClatchy HQ in Sacramento and the Herald's newsroom in Miami.

    Once again, here's a newspaper newsroom on deadline owned by a media company that's sinking fast, and they're worried about what I'm writing on my nickel and dime blog.

    I called Levinson this morning and had a pleasant conversation. But she's sticking to her guns....and so am I.

    For the record, I feel that the posting of some Herald photos is protected under the fair use doctrine.

    And it could be argued that the old archived stories that I post are now historic documents and are "public domain.

    So, does the Herald really believe in "press freedom?" Or is it just a catchy phrase they like to print? The jury is still out on that one.

    Wednesday, August 19, 2009

    Executive at failing newspaper tries to intimidate local blogger

    "Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." -
    A. J. Liebling

    You'd think that the people who run Miami's number one daily newspaper would have enough on their hands just keeping things from imploding at One Herald Plaza. Enough so that they wouldn't have time for much else.

    But guess again.

    There's one executive at the Herald who's apparently so satisfied that everything is running smoothly that she took some time out of her busy day to fire off a threatening email to Random Pixels over a few Miami Herald photos I posted yesterday.

    Suzanne Levinson, whose title is Director of Site Operations for the Miami Herald, sent me an email this morning with the ominous subject line, "Use of Miami Herald photos on your blog‏."

    Here's part of her email:
    It has been brought to our attention that the web page located at has content reproduced from The Miami Herald and

    Please remove these photos and any other Miami Herald content present on your site immediately.
    [We] do not allow reproduction of complete stories or full-sized photos.
    Please reply with confirmation of action taken within 5 business days or this matter will be forwarded to the McClatchy Company's legal department for further action.

    My first reaction was "what took you so long?" My second was to ignore her.

    But after thinking about it a bit more I responded that I didn't use full-sized photos; rather I resized them. I also pointed out that because the post was meant as a parody, it was in my opinion, protected under the fair use doctrine, an area of the law that many lawyers can't agree upon.

    I also pointed out that my blog is a non-commercial blog with a limited audience and I didn't see how posting a few small photos posed a threat to the business interests of the Herald.

    I usually try to avoid cliches: but the irony here is so thick that you can cut it with a knife.

    First we have newspaper - that should be the first South Florida entity to safeguard free speech - trying to censor a piss-ant blogger.

    Clearly my post made fun of the editorial judgment that allowed those photos to run on the web site.

    But why didn't I get an email after I posted this?

    Wait. I think I know the answer.

    It's because if you say complimentary things about the Herald, then everything is just fine. But if you criticize us...then you'll be hearing from our lawyers! Can you say hypocrisy boys and girls?

    More irony. Those of us who've been in South Florida for a while know about the Herald's penchant for "borrowing stuff."

    Those who read this blog regularly know that I take numerous shots at the Herald. But I apparently touched a raw nerve with yesterday's post.

    But if you're going to dish it out, shouldn't you be big enough to take it?

    Especially when free speech is at stake.

    A few weeks ago a Washington Post writer stirred up a hornet's nest on the blogosphere when he complained that the New York City blog,, "stole" his stuff after it posted four sentences from a story he'd written for the Post.

    Some at the Post reasoned that if this "thievery" continued, blogs would soon put all newspapers out of business. Bullsh*t!

    Gabriel Snyder of Gawker wrote:
    "Blogs are killing newspapers. But it's not by mindlessly cutting and pasting from newspaper web sites. Gawker would go out of business if that's all we did.

    "The bigger threat is that blogs say the things that hidebound newspaper editors are too afraid to let their reporters write."
    Random Pixels has no intention of putting the Herald out of business.

    We're just here to have a little fun...and say a few things that the Herald is afraid to say.

    But it's clear from this morning's email, that some at the Herald have no sense of humor.

    And that's too bad.

    Tuesday, August 18, 2009

    Random Pixels recognizes....

    .....two Miami Herald photographers for a couple of fine photographs shot Monday night at Land Shark Stadium during the Dolphins/Jaguars match up.

    First we'd like to salute Miami Herald staff photographer Charles Trainor, Jr. for resisting the temptation to keep his lens focused on the field for the entire game.

    And for that Trainor was rewarded with this fine shot of a nameless Miami Dolphins cheerleader drying off "after a third-quarter rain shower."


    And an honorable mention goes to Herald staffer Joe Rimkus, Jr. for not only a fine photograph but also for crafting a splendid caption.

    Miami Dolphins cheerleaders shake their pom poms in the first quarter of a preseason NFL game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Monday, Aug. 17, 2009 at Land Shark Stadium. JOE RIMKUS JR. / MIAMI HERALD STAFF PHOTO

    Images via Miami Herald photo galleries

    Monday, August 17, 2009

    The art of the "perp walk"

    Viola Lorenzo kicks at reporters after her arrest in drug sweep in New York City, Aug., 1988. NY Daily News photo by David Handschuh

    Last week, the manager of a Broward County Taco Bell restaurant was the victim of a particularly vile and disgusting crime; one that managed to shock the sensibilities of even the most cynical South Floridian.

    Police say that two brothers robbed and stabbed to death 39-year-old Tikkitress Johnson. All this after she gave them soft drinks before the restaurant had opened.

    Police quickly arrested the brothers.

    One of them - Tesfaye Ritchie - was paraded for news cameras at BSO headquarters Friday.

    As "perp walks" go, it was pretty uneventful. Ritchie was walked in handcuffs and shackles to a waiting police car as news cameramen filmed him.

    Veteran newspaper photographer, Mike Stocker, of the Sun-Sentinel was there with both a video camera and digital 35mm camera.

    Stocker tells Random Pixels that these days he finds himself shooting more video than still pictures at news events. This time would be no different.

    Stocker had asked his assigment desk if they wanted video or stills and was told to shoot video for his paper's website and TV partner, WSFL.

    So if this "perp walk" unfolded like the scores of other "walks" Stocker has covered; he'd have just one chance at getting Ritchie on tape. And probably no still pictures.

    As Ritchie walked towards the police car, Stocker shot from the far side of the car - away from the other TV photographers - "for a different angle."

    As cops were putting Ritchie in the car, Stocker ran to the other side to get more footage of him.

    But before Ritchie got in the car, the cops removed his leg shackles.

    And as an officer stood there with the empty shackles, Stocker saw that he had time to make a still picture also.

    Raising his 35mm camera, Stocker fired the shutter and captured the image. Stocker told Random Pixels that he only had time to for a "couple of shots."

    But in doing so, Stocker preserved a moment that might be one the more memorable "perp walk" images we've seen in a while. Including my own!

    Sun-Sentinel photo by MIKE STOCKER

    Sunday, August 16, 2009

    The way we were

    Saks Fifth Ave at 701 Lincoln Road.

    CAPTION: Main entrance to Saks Fifth Avenue dept. store.
    Location: Miami Beach, FL, US
    Date taken: February 1940
    Photographer: Alfred Eisenstaedt

    Location is across from what is now the Nexxt Cafe.

    Image via Google's LIFE photo archive

    The latest look at the Julia Tuttle bridge-dwellers

    Pulitzer Prize winning St. Petersburg Times feature writer Lane DeGregory takes yet another look at the colony of sex-offenders living under the Julia Tuttle Causeway....and the man who helped put them there.
    The state, the city and county, the Department of Corrections and the ACLU — none of them wanted to shove these people under a bridge. Even the man who got Miami to adopt stricter laws against paroled sex offenders says he is surprised at what he has wrought.

    "It's a terrible situation for everyone, for the public and all those people living out there in third-world squalor," says Ron Book.

    Book, a well-known lobbyist, is a walking contradiction. As the father of a girl who was molested years ago by a nanny, he's a fierce advocate for tougher laws against sex offenders. But as the chairman of Miami's homeless trust, he's supposed to look out for the people he helped put under the bridge.

    "Those people out there know how I feel about them," he says. "But I've got to put my own emotions in check and figure out how to deal with all this.

    "We didn't anticipate how big this problem could get."
    DeGregory is the latest writer to focus on the bridge-dwellers since Isaiah Thompson of Miami New Times broke the story a year and half ago.

    Saturday, August 15, 2009

    9 years ago in the Miami Herald

    image via Miami New Times

    From page 1A, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2000
    Tuesday, August 15, 2000

    Former Miami City Manager Donald Warshaw conceded Monday that a city-funded children's charity paid more than $15,000 of his personal expenses, including clothing, hockey tickets and other entertainment.

    Warshaw sent the charity, called Do The Right Thing, a check for $18,632, which his attorney said included reimbursement plus interest.

    Warshaw also resigned as treasurer of the charity, which he helped found a decade ago.

    The Herald reported July 9 that Do The Right Thing had paid for some of Warshaw's expenses on the charity's American Express credit card from 1995 to 1997 while he was city police chief. The charges were classified as routine business expenses on the charity's books and Internal Revenue Service filings.

    The FBI is investigating. Warshaw has denied any wrongdoing.

    Friday, August 14, 2009

    Your souvenir newspaper headline of the day: Michael Vick signs with Eagles

    It's official: South Beach modeling scene is DOA

    That's what Hilary Lehman of the Associated Press is reporting: "the models aren't coming anymore."
    Models and agencies in Miami Beach, which owed its 1980s resurgence in part to the glamorous image created by the fashion industry, say they have been edged out of the community they helped rebuild. Photo shoots here are no longer cheap. "For Rent" signs appear in windows once part of agencies. Art deco buildings that became mainstays in photo backgrounds have disappeared behind cement highrises.


    Irene Marie, whose agency closed [last February], said the waning of Miami's modelling isn't wholly unexpected. Fashion is fickle. The newest fad location only stays hot for so long.

    "As in fashion, trends change," Marie said. "So that really is what happened to South Beach."
    Kyle Munzenrieder at Miami New Times is hitting the panic button: "If the models and their agencies keep dwindling, is Miami Beach in for a serious culture shock? I mean, who are they going to fill their VIP rooms with? Normal people? What is this, Fort Lauderdale?"

    Thursday, August 13, 2009

    Woodstock remembered

    I already posted the obligatory Woodstock post a few weeks ago, but after stumbling upon this classic NY Daily News tabloid headline from back in the day, I just had to share.

    This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the uhhhh....Hippiefest!

    via NY Daily News Photo Archive

    Camera on timer + cute squirrel = priceless shot!

    Vacationing couple at Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park, Canada get the shot of a lifetime when a curious squirrel decides to steal the show!

    Large version at

    Wednesday, August 12, 2009

    Garrison Keillor on "The tragedy of the Internet"

    Garrison Keillor has written a brilliant column that looks at the rise of the Internet and the rapid decline of newspapers.
    [T]he new media age also means is that there won't be newspapers to send reporters to cover the next war, but there will be 6 million teenage girls blogging about their plans for the weekend. There will be no TV networks to put on dramas in which actors in costume strut and orate and gesticulate, but you can see home video of dogs and anybody's high school graduation anywhere in America. We will be a nation of unpaid freelance journalists and memoirists. This is not necessarily a bad thing.


    Nobody who compares newspaper writing to the swashbuckling world of blogging can have any doubt where the future lies. Bloggers are writers who've been liberated from editors, and some of them take you back to the thrilling days of frontier journalism, before the colleges squashed the profession.

    The Internet is a powerful tide that is washing away some enormous castles and releasing a lovely sense of independence and playfulness in the American people. Millions of people have discovered the joys of seeing yourself in print -- your own words! the unique essence of yourself, your stories, your jokes, your own peculiar take on the world -- out there where anybody can see it! Wowser.

    Unfortunately, nobody is earning a dime from this. So much work, so little pay. It's tragic.

    20 years ago in the Miami Herald

    From page 1A, Saturday, Aug. 12, 1989
    Saturday, August 12, 1989
    by TED REED, Herald Business Writer

    Eastern Airlines stopped hiring pilots Friday, saying this week's surge of union pilots across the picket line has filled the company's needs.

    "I guess this announcement is Eastern's way of saying they've won," said Louis Marckesano, an airline analyst for Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

    Eastern spokesman Robin Matell said the recent crossovers -- called "crawlbacks" by some -- enabled Eastern to fill its quota of 1,700 pilots.
    And from page 1D of the Sports section
    Saturday, August 12, 1989
    by GARY SHELTON, Herald Sports Writer

    Yes, linebacker John Offerdahl should be in Dolphin training camp. But not for the reason the Dolphins believe.

    There are those who will tell you that Offerdahl should be in camp because his contract has an option clause for one more year.

    Wrong. Offerdahl should be in camp because of this: He has been so embarrassingly underpaid that the Dolphins should have taken care of him two years ago.

    They should have called Offerdahl in, ripped up his contract and given him a huge raise. They should have shaken his hand and told him this: "You've been outstanding, John, and when our players are that outstanding, this is what happens."

    Had that happened, Offerdahl would be in camp.

    Tuesday, August 11, 2009

    No more free lunch?

    News item: Boston Globe ponders charges for online content
    BOSTON — The Boston Globe is moving toward charging readers for online content, while its parent, The New York Times Co., explores a possible — but not certain — sale of the newspaper.

    "Nothing is absolute, but we are heading toward some sort of consumer pay model," for its Web site, Globe spokesman Bob Powers said Friday.
    Many other publications have developed online subscription models or are considering doing so as the industry tries to recover from the one-two punch of readers — and advertisers — abandoning print versions for the Internet and the recession that has further weakened ad sales
    About a year ago, I had an email conversation with an Arkansas newspaper columnist that started when I couldn't access a column he'd written. I asked him why his paper, The Arkansas Democrat, charged for online access to the paper's Web site.

    His response:
    As for the pay--per-view, I have just about come around to our owner's thinking. From the git-go, he said he wasn't going to give away the print content. He has been a lone voice, and I thought he was wrong.

    But this is the only publisher in the history of American journalism to run Gannett out of town, which he did after a bloody and expensive war in the late '80s and early '90s.

    (We're still a family-owned, privately held company.)

    Our circulation has remained steady, our penetration is the highest in the country.

    Profit wise, things are tight, but we haven't laid off any body. So what do I know?

    best regards,
    I am a news junkie. I get my daily fix from half a dozen or so newspaper Web sites. For free.

    All of my newspaper Web site browsing would come to a rather abrupt halt if all of those newspapers started charging for access to their Web sites.

    And why shouldn't they charge?

    They have to pay reporters, photographers and editors to gather the news and put it in the paper.

    But as print advertising and reader subscription revenues shrink, newspaper publishers are looking towards their Web sites to pick up the slack.

    So while I enjoy reading news (for free) on dozens of newspaper Web sites, I've never understood why newspaper publishers thought it was a good idea to give away their content for free and then charge for the same content the next day in the form of the printed product.

    But the end of the dead tree version of newspapers is coming; and sooner rather than later.

    Here in Miami, the Herald's print circulation has steadily declined over the past few years.

    When new circulation numbers are released sometime this fall, the Herald's daily circulation will probably dip below 200,000.

    The Herald, like other newspapers, is trying to figure out how to make as much money from their Web site as they once did from their print versions. So far no one has.

    One estimate says "Industry-wide, newspapers pull in 7 percent of their ad revenue from their Web sites. For the New York Times, the figure is 11 percent."

    You don't need a PhD in economics to figure out that newspapers are going to have to look for other sources of revenue if they are to remain viable.

    And to do that they may have to start charging for content they once gave away for free.

    (Newspapers aren't the only business taking a hit because of free online content. The LA Times reports today that the adult entertainment business is suffering: "A growing abundance of free content on the Internet is undercutting consumers' willingness to pay for porn.)

    In addition to the Globe, its parent company the New York Times, is also considering a $5 monthly fee for access to the newspaper’s Web site.

    Rupert Murdoch, owner of the Wall Street Journal, has also announced plans to start charging for online news content by July 2010.

    There's no evidence that the Herald - or its parent company McClatchy - are considering charging for access to their Web sites. Yet.

    But if you woke up tomorrow and learned that the Herald was going to start charging for access to its Web site, would you be willing to pay?

    Cast your vote below.

    Monday, August 10, 2009

    The death of photojournalism?

    Back in the day, if you enjoyed looking at pictures, there were but a few places to see photojournalism.

    Before television, there were movie house newsreels.

    Newspapers printed pictures every day from far away places. But they were mostly fuzzy, black and white and grainy wire photos.

    LIFE magazine - started in 1936 by Henry Luce - brought the world in pictures to your mailbox, once a week...all year long. Printed on slick magazine paper, the pictures were alive and vibrant.

    And anyone who aspired to be a photojournalist, looked to LIFE photographers as role models. They had the most coveted jobs in photojournalism.

    And who wouldn't want to be a photojournalist? After all, they traveled the globe and got paid for it.

    LIFE folded in 1972.

    But the profession of photojournalism survived.

    Legions of freelance photographers traveled the world shooting for hundreds of magazines that continued to thrive despite television.

    But no more.

    The New York Times reports today on the death of photojournalism.
    Newspapers and magazines are cutting back sharply on picture budgets or going out of business altogether, and television stations have cut back on news coverage in favor of less-costly fare. Pictures and video snapped by amateurs on cellphones are posted to Web sites minutes after events have occurred. Photographers trying to make a living from shooting the news call it a crisis.
    The good news is that there's still a lot of photojournalism being done and places to see it.

    Pictures that used to take a week or two to be printed in magazines are now available within hours of being shot.

    The Boston Globe's Big Picture has dozens of images of Typhoon Morakot that hit mainland China today.

    There will always be a market for photography but photographers will have to get used to more competition and smaller paychecks.

    To illustrate a cover story on "The New Frugality," TIME magazine ironically chose a stock photograph for its cover it bought for $30!

    The New York Times article quotes photojournalist Dirck Halstead, To be a photojournalist today, he wrote, “You have to be crazy.”

    But some photographers are forging ahead and finding new ways to tell stories with pictures.

    And for those who can't cut it there's this advice from Miami Beach freelance photographer Brian Smith: "Starbucks offers excellent health benefits and their coffees come from many of the same countries that photojournalists used to frequent..."

    Channel 10 News Director responds to Random Pixels

    UPDATED below....

    Channel 10 news director Bill Pohovey responds to my recent post suggesting that he and former anchor Charles Perez iron out their differences over a beer...or two.
    Dear Bill,

    Thank you for your email concerning Charles Perez.

    I’m always anxious to attend a beer summit.

    I can promise you that no discrimination took place at WPLG. While we can't go into great detail about the events surrounding Charles' departure, I do want to share the statement we released to the newspaper. Only a portion of the statement was printed, so I want to make sure you have the entire thing.

    WPLG is a leader in this community with proud history and a diverse work force.


    Bill Pohovey
    Channel 10's Statement

    WPLG is disappointed that the actions of Charles Perez left us no real choice other than to terminate his employment contract.

    WPLG emphatically denies Perez’ claim of discrimination. The document he is circulating is filled with misstatements and untruths.

    VP and News Director Bill Pohovey said “This is an outrageous accusation. As a gay man myself, I can safely say the Station does not discriminate against gay people. Charles’ claim that the Station discriminates against gay people is untrue and offensive. In my view, Mr. Perez continued to make false and outrageous accusations in an effort to force the station to give him back his former work schedule. Like all businesses, we do not respond to intimidation and threats from employees. His false claims should offend all people-- including those of us in the gay community. It appears he is bent on waging a public relations campaign to destroy the hard earned and long standing reputation of the station as a community leader and an employer of a diverse and inclusive workforce. ”

    The changes he complains about are simply schedule changes and they were not made as a result of the publicity surrounding Charles Perez’s breakup with his partner. In fact, his transition to weekend anchor started months before that publicity. His gender or sexual orientation had nothing to do with the Station’s decisions. Charles has been open about his sexual orientation and it was known to the Station at the time he was hired.

    As a result of these changes, Charles was moved to Saturday and Sunday evening newscasts. The fact that the Sunday 11 pm newscast has the largest audience of any of WPLG’s late newscasts is simply not consistent with Charles’ claim that the Station was uncomfortable with his sexual orientation.

    Like most businesses, local television stations have been negatively impacted by this severe recession in the economy. To help offset the sizeable loss in revenue, stations across the country like WPLG have been working to reduce their expenses and their staffing levels. The Station has had to make difficult decisions which have impacted a number of WPLG’s staff, including Mr. Perez.

    The Station will bring the facts out in the appropriate legal forum and fully expects to be completely vindicated.

    UPDATE: Charles Perez goes national with a column on The Daily Beast with the provocative title, "Why I Committed Career Suicide.
    "I’ll probably never work in the news business again. Honestly, who’s going to hire a newsman, as good as he may be, who litigates against his employer? It’s not exactly a career builder."
    Something tells me that all the beer in the world won't solve this problem.

    Sunday, August 09, 2009

    35 years ago...

    The beginning of the end
    5 Held in Plot to Bug Democrats' Office

    By Alfred E. Lewis
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, June 18, 1972

    Five men, one of whom said he is a former employee of the Central Intelligence Agency, were arrested at 2:30 a.m. yesterday in what authorities described as an elaborate plot to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee here.

    Three of the men were native-born Cubans and another was said to have trained Cuban exiles for guerrilla activity after the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion.
    The end
    Nixon Resigns

    By Carroll Kilpatrick
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, August 9, 1974

    Richard Milhous Nixon announced last night that he will resign as the 37th President of the United States at noon today.
    How the Washington Post brought Nixon down

    Where even the shantytowns look good

    David Adams of the St. Petersburg Times reports on the depressing state of the Cuban economy.
    A dead rat lies in the middle of the dirt track leading to a cluster of wooden shacks. Young boys — barefoot and shirtless — play a lively game of marbles in the dried mud. It could be a scene from any of the notorious shantytowns that pervade Latin America. But this is Cuba, the self-proclaimed socialist paradise where a revolution 50 years ago promised to eradicate the social inequalities rampant in the Third World.
    The hillsides around are dotted with dozens of these ramshackle settlements, known as "llega y pon" (meaning loosely "arrive and build"), which are home to tens of thousands of Cubans. When they began appearing more than a decade ago, the government tried to eradicate them by sending everyone back to their home towns. But they continued to grow, accelerated by Cuba's increasingly dire economic crisis.
    It's hard to see how the Cuban state can solve the island's housing problem. More than 500,000 homes were damaged by three devastating hurricanes last year. Of those, some 330,000 homes still need repairs, the Housing Ministry reported last week. That is on top of a backlog of 70,000 unfixed homes from previous storms. Because of drastic budget cuts, the government can only afford to build 32,000 new homes this year, a 32 percent cut from last year.
    Adams' report is punctuated by staff photographer John Pendygraft's compelling photographs and video.

    Saturday, August 08, 2009

    Memo to Channel 10 News Director Bill Pohovey...

    Click image to enlarge

    ....and former anchor Charles Perez.

    Sorry to hear about the recent unpleasantness at the station.

    But do you really want lawyers getting involved?

    They're so damned expensive. And they're really not very nice people.

    May I suggest an alternative to lawsuits and court fights?

    You can thank me later.

    Friday, August 07, 2009

    Dwight Lauderdale tosses to Charles Perez

    Here's a video, that viewed through the lens of the past few days, takes on a whole new meaning.

    Dwight Lauderdale's last newscast on May 22, 2008 as he turns over the reins (at about 8:20 in the video) to Charles Perez.

    via Steve Rothhaus' blog

    That's why it's called "kitty porn"

    Man claims his cat downloaded child pornography!
    Griffin told detectives he would leave his computer on and his cat would jump on the keyboard.

    When he returned, there would be strange material downloaded.
    This is why I refuse to let my cat use the computer.

    The Ansel Adams of the Everglades

    Jeff Klinkenberg of the St. Petersburg Times has written a great profile of Florida legend Clyde Butcher, a photographer who might be considered an oddity in 2009 because of his aversion to digital cameras and motor drives. Clyde takes pictures the old-fashioned way.
    In Florida environmental circles, all you need to say is "Clyde'' and everyone knows about whom you are talking. Clyde is the bearish man who takes giant black and white landscapes that harken back to the time before paved roads and mosquito repellent. With his scraggly gray beard and weathered hat, he could be Walt Whitman's long lost cousin.

    Even his camera, a huge box on a tripod, looks as if it last saw service on a Civil War battlefield. Actually, his trusty Deardorff was manufactured in 1942 — older than he is by a year.

    The camera takes black and white photographs, one sheet of film at a time, each sheet about the size of a book. The digital photography revolution passed him by. He often has to build his own equipment.
    If you've never visited Clyde's galleries, then I highly recommend a weekend day trip to see this master's work.

    Thursday, August 06, 2009

    Carlos Alvarez and the Kodak moment UPDATE

    Miami New Times pit bull-in-residence, Frank Alvarado has filed a preliminary update on who stays and who goes from the executive suite at county hall.

    You'll recall that last month Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez announced that because of an anticipated $427 million budget shortfall, approximately 1,700 of the county's 30,000 employees would lose their jobs.

    Alvarado says: "I submitted a public records request asking for the positions Alvarez is eliminating from his office and from County Manager George Burgess's office. I also requested a list of all the county executives earning six-figure salaries who report directly to Alvarez and Burgess."

    Alvarado has learned that "only two out of 19 individuals earning six-figure salaries will lose their jobs."

    You can read the rest of his report here.

    One thing in Alvarado's report caught our eye: "No more staged photo ops for the mayor now that he gave his photographer, Ricardo Garcia, who earned $76,000 a year, the boot. Garcia is one of seven employees in the mayor's and manager's offices who will lose their jobs."

    So I guess that means Miami-Dade county residents will have to muddle through their daily lives without great photos like this.

    You may recall that Random Pixels humbly suggested last month that Alvarez fire his "personal photographer."

    So while we're not taking credit for the axing of the mayor's photographer, we do know from the Stat Counter that tracks this blog's traffic, that that particular post was widely read at county hall.

    Wednesday, August 05, 2009

    More staff cuts at Miami Herald

    Battle Vaughan, far left, top row

    Broward New Times blogger Bob Norman reports that Miami Herald publisher David Landsberg has announced another round of layoffs at the troubled paper.
    To all Herald employees:

    Today we are announcing reductions affecting 34 positions, part of our ongoing effort to weather the economic uncertainty that continues to affect our market.

    The reduction plan includes open positions and attrition and will result in the separation of 16 FTEs (full-time equivalents), which is less than two percent of our workforce. Divisions affected are Advertising, operations, HCP/Aboard, Interactive and both Miami Herald and El Nuevo newsrooms. The affected employees will be notified immediately and will be entitled to transition packages.
    Among those affected are full-time newsroom staffers; some of whom have been offered part-time positions.

    Random Pixels has learned that one of those staffers is veteran Herald photographer Battle Vaughan.

    Vaughan has been at the Herald 43 years and has more seniority than any other Herald photo department staffer.

    Vaughan reportedly was offered a part-time position but opted instead to take a severance package.

    In his 43 years at the paper Vaughan has covered every conceivable kind of assignment: fires, floods, hurricanes, riots.

    In the 70's and 80's Vaughan shot more than 100 color covers for the Herald's now defunct Sunday Magazine, Tropic.

    And Vaughan also appeared as a model - more than once - in the pages of Tropic.

    Long-time Herald staffer Marice Cohn Band fondly recalls the time she photographed Vaughn - who was not known for being a snappy dresser - for a Tropic magazine feature, complete with his plastic pocket protector.

    "I photographed him many times," says Cohn Band. "He's was a great character actor and always got into the part."

    And Cohn Band describes Vaughan as a "scientific genius." If he needed something and it wasn't available "he'd make it."

    In 1983 when he couldn't find a computer desk that fit his needs - he designed and built his own according to a story he wrote for the Herald at the time.
    The whole project began when we bought a home computer. The computer's main selling point, I told my wife, was that it was compact. "Just folds up like a portable sewing machine when you're finished," I said. "It won't get in the way at all."

    This is a major point for those of us in three-bedroom houses with kids, pets and years of accumulated impedimenta.

    The only problem was the peripherals. The printer, for instance, doesn't fold up like a sewing machine. Besides, my kids are into computers and they are never finished with it.

    Then there's the monitor, which is the size of a small television set. And several yards of assorted cables. And disks. And reference books. For some reason, no book tells you what you want to know. It takes several.

    Anyway, it was time for another piece of furniture. The question: Make it or buy it?
    In the mid-80's Vaughan started shooting less news when he took over the duties as a photo department administrator in charge of keeping things running smoothly. One staffer recalls that "Battle was the go-to guy if you needed anything taken care of. He knew it all."

    One former Herald staffer who joined the Herald in the 80's says, "When I arrived Battle was essentially running the photo department."

    In the past few years Vaughan had returned to shooting.

    But instead of still pictures, Vaughan started shooting and editing video for the Herald's website.

    He "re-invented the wheel" says Cohn Band.

    Video by Battle Vaughan

    A lot of great journalists have worked at the Herald. Only a few deserve the title "legend"... Edna Buchanan, Arnold Markowitz, Gene Miller to name a few. As far as we're concerned, Battle Vaughan also belongs in that group.