Friday, February 26, 2010

Miami Seaquarium embarrasses itself

In what has to be one of the most disgusting and callous acts of self-promotion in its long history of disgusting and callous self-promotion, the Miami Seaquarium Thursday capitalized on the death of the Orlando killer whale trainer by cranking out a press release inviting the South Florida media to do a puff piece on the Seaquarium's killer whale, Lolita, which the whale's trainer insists is a happy camper.




According to the Miami Herald's Curtis Morgan:
In response to media inquiries, Miami Seaquarium management invited reporters to watch Lolita delight crowds of oohing, ahhing tourists, and to defend the treatment of its performers and safety of marine mammal shows.
Morgan balanced his piece by including quotes from animal activists who believe keeping large animals like Lolita in captivity is tantamount to animal cruelty.
[Russ] Rector, who has long campaigned to shut down the Seaquarium, spent years trying to force the attraction to expand Lolita's tank but federal officials rebuffed his effort. He also alerted Miami-Dade County code enforcers to electrical and other code violations at the aging facility. The Seaquarium eventually spent $4 million on renovations.
Lolita, writes Morgan, has lived in a tank for 40 years.

NBC Miami went a step further and reported in its online story:
Lolita lives in a tank about one-tenth the size of those at SeaWorld and has no interaction with other killer whales. She swims in the smallest killer whale tank in North America.
Robert Rose, Lolita's main trainer also said the size of the tank is not an issue.

"Lolita's happy," he said.
But activist Rector disagrees according to the Herald's story: "Lolita is coming to the end of her captive life span," he said. "She is going to hurt or kill somebody if they're not careful."

Time will tell who's right.

Q: What's bugging Sarah Palin today?

A: What day of the week is it?

Writer Vicki Iovine nails the quitter-in-chief in a marvelous piece for the Huffington Post.
Does Sarah wake up every day, reach for her specs, slip in her "Bumpit" and begin snorting around the media outlets like a truffle pig in search of the juicy fungus of persecution? It's like an itch that she scratches so often it has become a tic. Every slight is personal in the All About Me Universe of Alaska's Governor, Interrupted. Nothing is too random or private or just plain irrelevant for her to rush to Facebook with her righteous censure.

Just in case it wasn't clear from her book, Going Rogue, her skin is so thin that it's practically transparent. Nothing is her fault or worthy of private reflection. Let's face it folks, she and her family are pretty broad targets. If it's not her, it's her husband, her baby son or one of her daughters. None of us has a family above a dig here or a joke there, nor are we consistent examples of righteousness, but we are infinitely more relaxed about our imperfections. She wouldn't beg for a wedgie every time the class clown walked by if she weren't so delusional about her own perfection. Who can avoid, intentionally or not, taking a swipe at such a humorless and bitter prig? And who can fail to be bored blind (oh, God, I hope she doesn't take this as an attack on her own optical disability!)
Life is short, Sarah. It is delicious, shocking and flawed. It's your choice: Revel in it or bitch it to death. But if you insist on choosing the latter, please, keep it to yourself. Nothing personal.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Manatee insanity

There's probably no native Florida species more closely associated with the state than the manatee. Wildlife officials estimate there are only about 5,000 of the marine mammals living in Florida waters.

This winter an estimated 200 manatees have perished due to record cold temperatures.

The manatee - which was placed on the first endangered species list issued in 1967 - has "stirred curiosity and passions for more than a hundred years.

"They are Florida's most famous endangered species, as well as its most controversial. Manatees appear on hundreds of license plates, attract hordes of tourists, and expose the uneasy relationships between science and the law and between freedom and responsibility like no other animal."

If this piques your interest and you want to learn more about the manatee, your wait is over.

My friend Craig Pittman, (left) who covers environmental issues for Florida's largest newspaper,

the St. Petersburg Times, has written a book that will answer all your manatee questions, and more.

"Manatee Insanity" is scheduled to be released by the University Press of Florida May 9.

Pittman described his book in an email to me today:
My new book is called "Manatee Insanity: Inside the War Over Florida's Most Endangered Species." It's non-fiction, but it has a lot more comedy in it than my last book, "Paving Paradise" (which comes out in paperback this spring, btw).

The book's wacky cast of characters includes Miami Herald writer Carl Hiaasen, O.J. Simpson (who once paid a $130 fine for speeding through a Florida manatee zone in a 30-foot powerboat), Gloria Estefan, Bob Graham, Jimmy Buffett, Jeb Bush, Will Smith, Miami-Dade commissioner Natacha Seijas and a federal law enforcement officer who once went undercover as a gorilla. A lot of the action in the book takes place in and around Miami. In fact, the cover shot, an aerial photo of a boat clobbering a manatee, was taken in Biscayne Bay.

The story about the Miami-Dade manatee protection plan takes up the first part of the last chapter. It brings the book back full circle to the action in the first chapter (which takes place along the Miami River in the 1880s and 1890s) and also sets up the second part, which is all about the famous Snooty, the oldest manatee in captivity. Although best known as Manatee County's official mascot, Snooty was born at the old Miami Aquarium in 1948. The aquarium was in an old clipper ship on the bay front, where the Miami Heat now play.
Pittman also sent me a couple of excerpts from the prologue to the book and one of the chapters.

In the prologue Pittman explains how he arrived at the title for the book.
As the sun dipped low over the Gulf of Mexico on December 2, 2002, a chill wind rippled across the Caloosahatchee River. Gusts swirled through the streets of downtown Fort Myers, past the city’s riverfront convention center.

Near the convention center’s doors, a crowd of about three thousand milled around, waiting for showtime. Some in the crowd waved signs that proclaimed “Don’t Tread On Me!” “Don’t Give Up the Ship!” and “Save Our Jobs!” One man, dressed from head to toe in red, white, and blue, toted a large white cross labeled “Property Rights.”

There were skinny teenagers and white-haired retirees, scruffy sailors in tattered jeans, businessmen in sharply creased khakis, even one blond-haired woman in black leather pants, clacking around on impossibly high heels.

What brought them together on this cool evening was a white-hot anger. They were angry about new rules that they believed would hamper their livelihoods and lifestyles, rules designed to protect a homely marine mammal that had been classified as endangered for thirty-five years. One man in the crowd, a burly dock builder from Cape Coral named Mike McCartney, summed up the crowd’s feelings with a homemade T-shirt: “Stop the Manatee Insanity!”

Three local television stations parked their satellite trucks out front and dispatched roving reporters to interview people in the crowd. One of the people they interviewed was the blond woman in the leather pants. She turned out to be a local real estate agent named Kimberly D’Agostino, who would later complain, “This creature is infringing on my habitat.”
And in one section of the book Pittman goes into detail about about Miami-Dade County's attempts to rewrite its manatee protection plan to allow more boat docks to be built:
The push for a rewrite of the plan came from county commissioners who had a reputation for being unfriendly to the environment in general and manatees in particular. One commissioner made this very plain—to the point where South Florida television commentator [Jim DeFede] dubbed her “the Cruella De Vil of Biscayne Bay.”

“I am not a lover of manatees,” Miami-Dade commissioner Natacha Seijas announced during one meeting. She complained about manatees swimming in the canal behind her house. “As dumb as they always are,” she said, “they keep floating back and forth.”

Seijas said she wanted DERM employees “to come and pick them up,” although she offered no suggestions about where they should be relocated. She added, “I want to know how big that herd is, because if that herd is way too big, it is time to find something else to do with it.”

And during a discussion about taking steps to protect manatees in Biscayne Bay, Seijas said, “I don’t see why we need to be creating an environment so they can continue.”
Among the committee members the commissioners chose—in fact, the one picked by Seijas—was someone with more than a passing acquaintance with the laws governing manatee protection. He had a personal experience with them, sort of like Ron Bergeron’s experience with the laws protecting alligators.

Dick Bunnell built docks for a living. In 2005—the year before he was tapped to sit on the manatee protection plan committee—a federal judge fined him $150,000 for building docks in manatee habitat without getting permits from the Corps of Engineers. The judge also sentenced him to fifteen hundred hours of community service and five years of probation.

While Bunnell was building the illegal docks, which lasted from 2001 to 2004, DERM staffers repeatedly warned him that he would need federal permits for what he was doing, but he ignored them.

Needless to say, Bunnell had some strong opinions about what was wrong with the county’s manatee protection plan.

“There’s way too much restriction and resistance to docks and boat ramps and boat slips, and that’s a segment of our economy that’s so strong in South Florida,” he said...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Grasping at straws

Seems like conservatives will come up with any premise - no matter how ridiculous or trivial - to prove their point that Barack Obama is not fit to be president.

Evidently they think if they whine enough about him he'll just throw up his hands and throw in the towel.

Over the weekend, one conservative after another took jabs at Obama for his use of a teleprompter. But as a CBS News blogger points out, "All of these remarks, however, were delivered with two teleprompters sitting in front of the podium."

Another favorite complaint making the rounds? He puts his feet **gasp!!** on the furniture!

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann tackles that one!

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Miami Subs is back

The other day, Rick at SFDB expressed surprise that fast food chain Miami Subs was still in business.

That was pretty much my reaction up until a few weeks ago when I noticed a sign on a storefront on Harding Ave. in Surfside. The sign announced that a "new" Miami Subs was opening soon.

For years I'd enjoyed visiting Miami Subs because of their varied menu. But in the past few years it became harder to find a store. The two that were on South Beach closed and I assumed the chain was out of business.

Not so.

Last week the new store at 9476 Harding Ave. finally opened. I stopped in and within a few minutes I'd decided on a Chicken Philly sub. With fries and a drink, my order was less than $6.

The new store is bright and clean and features flat screen TVs and easy-to-read digital menu boards.

As I ate I noticed there were people running about putting the finishing touches on the store.

One person asked me how I liked my order.

Turned out he was an executive with Miami Subs.

I told him that I thought the company was pretty much finished.

"On the contrary," he explained. "The company is under new management and we've got 38 stores in the tri-county area."

He went on to tell me that Miami Subs had made some changes.

Some stores now offer delivery he said.

And the chain has added breakfast items to the menu and some stores now serve pizza in addition to their famous Chicken Kaiser sandwich, seafood platters and Greek and Caeser salads and Gyros.

There's enough on that menu to keep me going back quite often.

Anders Gyllenhaal fesses up

Miami Herald executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal

In a column in the Miami Herald Sunday, executive editor Anders Gyllenhaal told readers that the paper was ending its two-month experiment that solicited voluntary contributions from Web readers. Said Gyllenhaal:
"Finally, a brief note to let you know we've ended our experiment with voluntary contributions from Web readers. The project taught us a lot about online reactions, but it's unlikely to be an important part of our approach going forward.

"We think this is a time for constant experimentation, not all of which will work. So you can expect a variety of steps in providing news, launching fresh features, trying new things."
All very nice, but as is typical with Gyllenhaal, his explanation leaves readers with more questions than answers.

Today, Gyllenhaal revealed the "real" reason the Herald shelved the tip jar program. He told an industry blogger that "the paper felt the request for reader donations conflicted with a campaign for Haiti earthquake relief that has raised more than $1 million." So, why couldn't he have said that Sunday?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Filmmaker's advice to UM students: Switch your major to marine biology

"The U's" Billy Corben

Billy Corben is pissed!

Corben, a University of Miami graduate and the producer and director of the highly acclaimed documentary, The U, was invited to screen the film on campus Tuesday as part of UM's Communications Week.

But according to Corben, "They invited us and then went out of their way not to promote the event." Corben says only about 20 people showed up for the screening.

Corben posted this note on his Facebook page today:
Tired of being disrespected by the buffoons @univmiami. We come out there, least you can do is promote it. I feel like the Canes in the 80s.
It's not the first time that Corben has been dissed by his Alma mater.

The university refused to cooperate in any way with Corben in the making of The U. The Miami Herald's Barry Jackson wrote last November:
But Corben said UM refused to participate and would not allow the filmmakers to interview coach Randy Shannon, former athletic director Paul Dee or former president Tad Foote, though old sound bites from Foote appear in the film. According to Corben, former coach Dennis Erickson and several former Hurricanes players said they disregarded UM's request that they not grant interviews.

``It upset me to no end,'' Corben said of UM's resistance. ``I felt disrespected and unappreciated by my alma mater. Early on, [UM athletic department spokesman] Mark Pray told me, `You should rethink even doing this project.' It was a display of rudeness, disrespect and ignorance. UM has a persecution complex about that era.'' As a result, Corben said he resigned from UM's Citizens Board, which supports the university's philanthropic efforts and promotes UM's programs.
But Corben is having the last word.

He updated his Facebook page with this broadside:
The usual foolishness. They invite us to screen THE U then deliberately do ZERO promotion for the event: purposefully don't mention us in their press releases, twitter, etc.

This is a University that only cares about the next check you give them. They do not care about their students, alumni, or athletes. It's a big mistake to give them a dime -- especially tuition for a sub par education and useless degree that renders you unemployable in any field but marine biology.
And in what might be the ultimate "eff U," Corben and his crew at Rokontur are beginning pre-production on what they're jokingly referring to as The U 2: 1992-2002.

Corben plans to pick up the story of UM's football program where the first film ended: From 1992 to 2002 starting with the Pell Grant scandals.

This afternoon I asked Corben for more background. He emailed me:
I don't mince words on Facebook, Twitter or anyplace else for that matter; I calls it like I sees it. We really do feel like the 'Canes football players of the '80s: totally disrespected by the University of Miami.

Dia Kontaxis, the director of the motion picture department at the School of Communication was kind enough to invite us to screen the extended cut of the movie as part of their Communication Week events and we graciously accepted. I really love the Cosford Cinema on campus, ever since I took a film history class in there many years ago; it's a great venue and I always enjoy screening our movies there. Then, they deliberately don't promote the event anywhere.

They leave us off their press release, don't Twitter about it, nobody on campus knew anything about it.

Hilariously, they had the temerity to kick-off Communication Week with a seminar on public relations with one of UM's media relations people. That's absurd on its face. UM has the most inept apparatus for public, media and alumni relations of any university in the country. It's Clown Town over there. Amateur hour.

About the sequel: We just had our associate producer, Evan Rosenfeld, start pre-production on our sequel to "The U." He's doing preliminary research and reaching out to people to see who's interested in doing interviews.

We're going to cover 1992-2002. Maybe we'll drift a bit further to cover high-profile stories like the 7th Floor Crew and the arrest of Sports Information Director Rick Korch for having child pornography on his work computer. I've got a half a mind not to do it at all and give UM anymore free publicity. But really it's for the fans and the players who deserve to be recognized after decades of being dissed by our own alma mater. Maybe we should hold out and only do the movie after they replace Mark Pray with John Routh. John would definitely spend less time futzing on his computer playing solitaire and surfing eBay. Plus he knows and loves UM's sports programs as much as anyone on the planet.

The working title is "The U 2," but that's very temporary. The other night at a dinner for the University of Miami Law School's Entertainment & Sports Law Society, Paul Dee asked me if the movie was about Bono and The Edge. We've got time to come up with some different ideas; in fact we're even asking for help on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

WLRN ready to name new Evenin' Jazz host

UPDATED: Erik Maza at Miami New Times has now updated his earlier post and reveals that WLRN's new "Evenin' Jazz" host is Tracy Fields.

Sources tell Random Pixels that WLRN is ready to name a new host for its long-running "Evenin' Jazz" program that has been hosted by Len Pace for over 30 years.

A few weeks ago Miami jazz lovers learned that Pace was planning to retire from his marathon gig at the end of February.

Miami New Times reported at the time that Pace would be replaced by an "automated feed."

Today New Times is reporting that station managers have backed off plans to replace Pace with a computer.
The station hasn't chosen a replacement for Pace yet, but "it has a pretty good idea," [programming director Peter] Jay says.
However, Random Pixels has learned that 'LRN honchos have indeed picked a replacement for Pace.

They plan to name his replacement during an extended edition of Joseph Cooper's "Topical Currents" program on Wednesday that will air from 2 to 3pm and that will pay tribute to Pace.

Jay hosted "Evenin' Jazz" last night and at one point told listeners that the station had picked a replacement for Pace but that the decision was not yet "official."

I've learned who the replacement is but I'm holding back on revealing the name at the request of the source. I can say that the name of the new host will be instantly recognizable to WLRN jazz fans.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Farewell to Len Pace

Random Pixels has learned that the folks at WLRN are planning a special send-off for jazz DJ Len Pace on Wednesday, Feb. 17 at 2pm.

Peter J. Maerz, Radio Programming and Operations Manager at WLRN tells me that the send-off will be a part of Joseph Cooper's "Topical Currents" program which airs weekdays at 1pm.

Cooper's show, will be extended an hour on Wednesday from 2 to 3pm, and will feature a look back at Pace's more than 30 years at WLRN. Pace will appear in-studio with Cooper and other guests.

Pace's last day at WLRN is Feb. 26.

WLRN is using substitute hosts to fill in for Pace on his "Evenin' Jazz" show as he uses up his accrued vacation time.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Killer snakes on the loose!

Some wildlife experts believe it's just a matter of time before Floridians will have to fight daily, pitched battles with invader species - like pythons and iguanas - over the last remaining scraps of food.

Okay; so I made up that up.

But many biologists agree that the proliferation of exotic, non-native species in Florida is a problem that's only getting worse.

The National Geographic Channel tried to put the problem in perspective this past week with its excellent documentary, "Python Wars," which airs again tomorrow.

My friend Jeff Klinkenberg, who writes about Florida for the St. Petersburg Times, wrote about Florida's iguana problem last summer.

My first encounter with an invader snake was over 20 years ago when I photographed wildlife trappers Todd Hardwick and Joe Wasilewski with a 20 ft. long reticulated python they caught under a house in Ft. Lauderdale.

Back then that capture was played on front pages around the world. It was big news. Twenty years later, captures like that are commonplace.

And if all of that isn't enough to scare you, Animal Planet will be airing another killer snake documentary with a scary title next month.

"Killer Aliens" will premiere Sunday, March 14 from 8 to 10 p.m.

The press release describes the program this way:
The Sunshine State is being overrun by lethal Burmese pythons, feral hogs, Nile monitor lizards, and Gambian rats the size of cats - all non-native species that have been imported by humans. These foreign invaders are wreaking havoc on the ecosystem and natural species are being thwarted. With no natural predators, their populations continue to spread rapidly throughout the state, spreading disease, destroying vegetation and crops, preying on native species and in the worst cases harming humans. It's a race against time to fight this ecosystem nightmare.
You've been warned. Now run for your lives!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Miami Marine Stadium update

image via sphereboy's Flickr feed

Last week the Miami Herald's Andres Viglucci reported that the "cost of repairing the historic but deteriorated Miami Marine Stadium could be substantially lower than previous estimates, according to a new engineering study."

image via sphereboy's Flickr feed

The structure, which was completed in 1964, has sat idle since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Many old time Miamians attended concerts, speedboat races and religious services at the stadium before it was closed.

Last year Viglucci reported that the stadium made the New York-based "World Monuments Fund's list of endangered places for 2010 -- along with Macchu Picchu and the gingerbread houses of Port-au-Prince."

The Fund thinks the stadium is worth preserving because, "it defined a significant shift in American architectural style from staid civic buildings to exuberant structures reflecting changing tastes and a desire to project the city as a forward-looking place."

"The 7,000-seat stadium was also given historic status last year by the Dade Heritage Trust," and its restoration is a chief priority for Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado's administration according to the Herald.

The stadium, designed by Spillis Candela DMJM, is often cited as an example of a style of architecture that saw buildings constructed with "exposed raw concrete, great blocks of it, precast or molded into severe geometries or swooping," Viglucci wrote in the Herald in 2007.

Anyway, all of this gives me a chance to post some black and white pictures I shot back in the mid-80's (exact date unknown) of a Tony Bennett concert.

Also posted here are some great shots that show the stadium in 2002 from Robert's (aka sphereboy) Flickr feed.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Now everybody has one of those 'Palm Pilots'

Watch CBS News Videos Online

A question for Republicans

What does it say about the state of your party and your hopes to take back the White House in 2012, when every time your "brightest star" appears before the cameras, she looks like she's in a Saturday Night Live skit...playing herself?

And is it just me, or did Sarah Palin bear a striking resemblance - in more ways than one - to Lily Tomlin's character, Edith Ann, as she sat in that big chair in Nashville last Saturday night?

So, who thinks Palin would make a great president? Click here to find out!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Here we go again!

Miami "photographer" Carlos Miller, - who admits on occasion to being an a**hole (says so right there on his blog) - was up to his old tricks again this weekend.

Miller, who calls himself a "photojournalist," was out on Lincoln Road when he spied a booth offering free cigarette samples. Miller took it upon himself to confront the people manning the booth - who were probably making all of $10 an hour - because of a sign that prohibited the taking of photos.

More on that later.

Miller was born and raised in Miami some 42 years ago. A few years ago he did everyone in town a favor and left.

But unfortunately he returned to Miami....crawling out of a sewer somewhere with a major chip on his shoulder.

Miller celebrated his return by getting himself arrested almost three years ago. Not for breaking any real law; but for being an a**hole.

Miller, who says he's worked as a police reporter, has apparently never heard of the old saying, "You can beat the rap, but you can't beat the ride [to jail.]"

Did Miller learn from the unpleasant experience of spending hours in jail, going through an unnecessary and costly trial and spending thousands of dollars on a lawyer?


He got arrested again on Miami Beach last year during Memorial Day weekend for virtually the same thing he was arrested for three years ago.

Miller has some unexplained yet powerful compulsion to prove what many of us already know: People in authority sometimes abuse power. We get it Carlos. But you just go right on and keep getting arrested to prove your point! Attaboy, you da man!!

After Miller's last he was sitting in the prisoner van in handcuffs, the arrest report says he told the cops, "I just wanted to see how far I could [push you.]" He found out.

This past weekend, Miller was out strolling on Miami Beach's Lincoln Road, again looking for trouble.

He found it in the form of a Camel cigarette booth that bore a sign saying, "NO PHOTO OR VIDEO."

Miller blogged about the incident and in doing so revealed a heretofore unknown factoid about himself: Apparently his camera is an extension of his penis! (Not unlike some men who carry a gun to make up for their...**cough cough** shortcomings!)
And to my surprise, they both walked towards me as if they were going to physically stop me from taking these photos.

Then they stopped in front of me, perhaps realizing that a physical confrontation wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do.

I asked them where they got off on ordering people not to take photos from a public sidewalk.

They replied that they are “just asking people not to take photos.”

I told them that didn’t appear to be a mere suggestion but a direct order. And I asked them what they had to hide besides the obvious; which was the fact that they were trying to entice young adults into a lifelong habit of smoking cigarettes.

Situations like this make me realize that I desperately need to get the Canon 5D Mark II which would allow me to switch immediately from still photos to video in less than a second to fully capture the intimidation tactics.
Miller's attempt to shoot video of the "intimidation tactics" was stymied by his lack of a camera with a video function.

But then he goes on to say,
"The Camel thing itself is a joke. If it were really a big deal, I would have snapped their photos and I would have pulled out my small video camera.

Instead I took the photo to make a point, then kept walking."
Don't fret Carlos. I'm not sure about that video mode but I do hear that Canon has designed special a camera for photographers just like you!

Click image to enlarge

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Set your radio dial....

I've been going back and forth by email with Rosalin Luetum, a publicist at WNYC Radio, who wants all my readers to know that The Takeaway, a national morning drive new program, co-produced by WNYC and PRI, in collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times and WGBH Boston, started airing in Miami this week on 91.3 WLRN from 9-10am weekdays!

I missed the first few shows. But Rosalin tells me that Thursday's Miami guest is Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat.

Friday’s guests are Miami Herald photographer Carl Juste and Luis Rios, former Herald director of photography, discussing the tangled relationship of Haitians and Cubans in photos.

Tune in or miss out!

But don't fret. If you miss a show, you can listen to a past show or segment by going to the show's site. For instance, today's show is archived here.

Marc Sarnoff is a big, fat idiot!

You'd think that the folks who sit on the Miami city commission would have their hands full just keeping the wheels from coming off the wagon over at City Hall.

Just today we learn that, according to the Herald, "Miami employees spent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars using city credit cards on DirecTV for a vehicle, binoculars to keep tabs on employee activities, even on a pink metallic dog collar."

It's an understatement to call Miami a Banana Republic.

Miami is so corrupt that on some days it makes the government of Somalia look positively functional by comparison.

But don't tell that to Commissioner Marc Sarnoff.

He's busy burnishing his image. Because, for a Miami politician that's a full-time job.

But let's start at the beginning.

The other day, the guy who publishes a blog called Coconut Grove Grapevine, posted an item about the ongoing debate that's taking place in the Grove surrounding a push by some to extend bar closing times from 3am to 5am.

(Commissioner Sarnoff apparently believes that if people can't get shit-faced enough by 3am, then they shouldn't be drinking in the first place.)

One of the blog's readers - calling himself "Marc Sarnoff" - posted a comment that took a shot at the real Sarnoff. The comment was clearly satirical, which should have been evident, even to someone as intellectually challenged as Sarnoff apparently is.
Dear City of Miami,

I fully support drinking and driving after 3am even if it claims the lives of others as long as your drunk driving does not take place in my neighborhood,


Marc Sarnoff
What did Sarnoff do?

He did what any lawyer would do. He hired another lawyer, who in turn, fired off a threatening letter to the blogger.
On behalf of Commissioner Sarnoff, I demand that you remove and formally retract the defamatory and libelous statements immediately.
(We here at Random Pixels have seen these kinds of mountains-out-molehill letters from attorneys.)

Apparently Sarnoff - who is an attorney but who isn't gay - and his high-priced lawyer Jay Solowsky, didn't attend class in law school on the day the First Amendment and free speech were discussed. If they had, they would have learned that satire and parody are protected forms of speech, no matter how crude and outlandish. At least that's what the Supreme Court said. I assume you've heard of them Mr. Sarnoff?

Sarnoff could have done the sensible thing and contacted the blog owner and politely asked him to remove the offending comment.

But no! He had to come on like an a**hole; getting lots of richly desrved attention in the process.

Gus Garcia-Roberts at Miami New Times is also doing his part to make sure the pot gets stirred as much as possible.

In a post today on Riptide, Garcia-Roberts invited readers to "to do your best Marc Sarnoff impression in this comments section."
Marc Sarnoff says:
What are Boy-Shorts?

Posted On: Wednesday, Feb. 3 2010 @ 10:09AM
Way to go Marc! Now everyone knows that you're a total loser!