Sunday, October 31, 2010

The "Queen of Crime" gets hitched

The bride had a familiar name. The groom had a common name.

Click to enlarge

Edna Buchanan, the legendary former Miami Herald crime reporter, has quietly married. So quietly in fact, that details - or lack of them - are just now coming to light almost 6 months after the marriage ceremony last May 9.

According to information on the Website of the Miami-Dade County Clerk of the Courts, a marriage license was issued on May 4, 2010 and Buchanan was married five days later.

The groom is listed as Thomas M. Smith of Miami Beach. Buchanan and Smith share the same birth date - March 16 - although Buchanan is older than Smith by five years.

Some Edna trivia: I first met Edna when she interviewed me after one of my neighbors was gunned down on the lawn of his home after returning from shopping one rainy night in the late 70's.

In the mid-eighties, one of my first assignments as a freelance news photographer was to take a picture of Edna for a St. Petersburg Times profile. The editors thought it would be nice to have Edna pose near the Dade County jail. When I told Edna, she agreed and used her considerable influence to get us inside the jail.

Edna covered the cops beat for the Herald for 18 years and in 1986 won a Pulitzer Prize for her work. She left the Herald a few years later to write books full-time.

Her most famous book, "The Corpse Had a Familiar Face", was published in 1987. Today it's considered a Miami crime classic. She's written three other non-fiction crime books and 14 crime novels.

Edna also penned one of the most famous first lines ever written for a newspaper. "Gary Robinson died hungry," wrote Edna in a 1985 Miami Herald story about a man who was shot dead by a restaurant security guard for causing a ruckus after he was told there was no more chicken.

However, in 1986 New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin weighed-in with his favorite: "I'm rather partial to the Edna lead on a story last year about a woman about to go on trial for a murder conspiracy: 'Bad things happen to the husbands of Widow Elkin.'"

Veteran Herald photographer Tim Chapman remembers a particularly graphic description of death in one of Edna's stories.

In Sept. 1977, Chapman and Edna were sent to the Miami Serpentarium, a tourist attraction on South Dixie Highway, to cover the grisly death of a six year-old boy who had fallen into a pit that was home to an 1,800 pound Nile crocodile.

In the paper the next day, Edna wrote that "horrified tourists said they could hear the crunch of bones as the crocodile bit into the boy." Chapman recalls that many Herald readers wrote letters of complaint.

Of course that was exactly the reaction that Edna wanted. Edna told Calvin Trillin that her "idea of a successful lead is one that might cause a reader who is having breakfast with his wife to "spit out his coffee, clutch his chest, and say, 'My God, Martha! Did you read this!'"

Whatever your favorite Edna line is, one thing's for sure; you'll never see that kind of writing in the Herald again. Ever.

One Herald staffer told me, "The kind of stuff Edna used to write would never see the light of day in our paper today."

Friday, October 29, 2010

Late nite jazz classic

From 1969 - pianist Les McCann and saxophonist Eddie Harris perform "Compared to What" for their album, Swiss Movement. Recorded live at the Montreux Jazz Festival.

The Random Pixels 30 second guide to the Miami Media Food Chain

Ever wonder how your favorite TV station or website reports a story and delivers it to your TV set or your computer?

Here's a quick primer.

Oct. 21: WPLG Channel 10 learns about an apparent hookworm infestation on certain parts of Miami Beach and inaction on the part of the Miami-Dade Health Department to deal with the problem.

Oct. 27: Channel 10 follows up on the story.

Oct. 28: A week after their first report, Channel 10 reports the "Miami-Dade County Health Department said Thursday that tests confirmed the presence of hookworm on Miami Beach, and officials called the situation an outbreak.

Oct. 29, 8:46am: Eight days after Channel 10's first report, NBC Miami's crack Investiagtive Team swings into action and a story is finally posted on the station's website. NBC Miami doesn't bother to mention that WPLG has been all over the story for a week. (Actually NBC Miami doesn't have an I-Team. They just steal stuff.)

Oct. 29, 1:16pm: Kyle Munzenrieder at Miami New Times posts an item on the hookworm infestation after apparently reading it on NBC Miami's Website. (I'm going easy on Munzenrieder however. After all, he did catch the Miami Herald linking to a hard-core porn site today!)

And where is the Miami Herald on this story? Nowhere to be found. They're busy putting together the Big Thanksgiving Turkey-Palooza Issue.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Miami New Times is moving

Miami New Times is moving.

Editor Chuck Strouse announced today that the paper is moving from its present location at 2800 Biscayne Boulevard to a building a mile north at 4500 Biscayne.
"After more than 15 years at the same joint, Miami New Times is moving next week. It's not a big change. We are just rolling our stuff a mile north to a pretty little building at 4500 Biscayne Blvd., where we will occupy the second floor.

"The space is larger than our current operation at 2800 Biscayne. Technology will be a bigger part of the new place, with flat-screen TV sets everywhere and website numbers raining down upon us."
However, in an exclusive interview with Random Pixels, Strouse said the move to to the 4500 Biscayne Blvd. address affects only the New Times sales staff.

"The editorial staff is moving to a newly remodeled mansion near the Venetian Causeway," said Strouse.

"The mansion," Strouse told me, "had been used as a location for high-end porn films for the past year. They stopped shooting there six months ago and the owner made us an offer we couldn't refuse."

"The mansion is a perfect fit for us," says Strouse. "Producing pornography and journalism involve very similar processes."

Strouse said the paper's distinctive logo will grace the top of the mansion. "It won't be gawdy or garish," said Strouse. "It will be very classy, just like everything we do at New Times."

Strouse continues: "We've renovated the interior to look like a top-tier strip club. We chose a decor that brings us more closely in line with our advertisers and our paper's core values."

Strouse will edit the paper and conduct business from a 1,500 square foot bedroom/office.

Miami New Times editor Chuck Strouse's new office

"I got the inspiration from Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner," says Strouse. "Hef never left his bedroom for the first 10 or 15 years following the founding of Playboy. In that sense, Hef and I are alike; all my best work is done in the bedroom."

Strouse told me the paper's editorial meetings will be held in a space that's been designed to look like a gentlemen's club VIP champagne room. "It will be a fully functioning newsroom by day and at night we'll use it to party."

Miami New Times editorial conference room

"We're very excited about the move," said Strouse. "We believe the new, relaxed atmosphere will allow us to continue to produce the quality journalism that Miami has come to expect from us for all these years."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Miami Herald alienates loyal reader

In five or ten years, when newspapers have completely disappeared, someone will write a book that will list the reasons for their demise.

Newspaper executives like to blame the Internet and Google for their troubles.

Well, no one forced newspapers to give away their content.

Those same executives have come up with another idea to hasten the death of their industry.

They are now charging readers extra to read ads.

Believe it or not, there are people who still get a newspaper delivered to their homes. Old habits are hard to break.

Look at this email I received last night from a Coral Gables woman who says she's a regular Random Pixels reader and who's also been subscribing to the Miami Herald for 30 years.
In the mail today, I got a colorful oversized postcard from The Miami Herald with a big illustrated turkey and the headline: The Miami Herald has BIG PLANS coming your way this Thanksgiving Day!

The copy goes on to say: As a Miami Herald subscriber, you can look forward to our LARGEST EDITION OF THE YEAR on Thanksgiving Day. You'll get the latest news, sports, business and lifestyle coverage as always. PLUS your paper will be STUFFED full of valuable coupons and sales circulars from all your favorite retailers. With Black Friday deals to kick off the holiday shopping season!

Odd, I think... why promote the obvious, everyone knows the Thanksgiving paper is filled with ads, even in a down economy.

And then at the bottom in small print it says: An additional $1.00 will be assessed to all subscribers for the increased size and value of the Thanksgiving Day Nov 25) edition. If you have any questions, please call us toll-free at 1-800 THE-HERALD.


I will call them, again, and ask the same question I ask every so often when there's a boneheaded idea: Can you remind me why I should continue subscribing to this lame newspaper?
In a follow-up email she says:
I come from a family who always subscribed to the paper. But my sister said she cancelled six months ago (after 30 yrs) and hasn't missed it. I keep subscribing because their website is worse than bad. And yes, i pay for online subscriptions when they're worth it.
I don't know if this is the first time the Herald has charged extra for the paper on Thanksgiving Day.

But last year, the Kansas City Star - which like the Herald, is a McClatchy paper - tried the same thing.

Note that the wording in the Star's sales pitch is similar to the one received by the Coral Gables Herald reader: "The Kansas City Star has BIG PLANS for your Thanksgiving Day edition and holiday shopping.”

The Herald's print readership continues to decline. Recent figures show "daily circulation dropped 6.9 percent daily [down to 151,612], with Sunday circulation sliding by 9.9 per cent [down to 214,891 copies]."

Geez, I wonder why?

Even most politicians know that it's not wise to alienate your base.

And that makes me wonder if Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez has taken a part-time job giving advice to the folks in the Herald's circulation department.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Random Pixels Facebook pic of the day

Posted today on the Facebook page of Miami mayor Tomas Regalado.

The mayor poses with with boxing promoter Don King. King once did a stretch in prison for the brutal beating death of a man in 1966.

But that's apparently water under the bridge for Regalado, who once raised money for a terrorist.

Writer finds douchebags galore at South Beach nightclub!

Matt Meltzer, writing for, has just posted a shocking expose in which he reveals that South Beach nightclubs are "riddled with rip-off artists and rampant douchebaggery," as Rakontur's Billy Corben so aptly puts it.

Matt's piece is as close to the velvet rope as I'll ever get! But it's allso one of the funniest thngs I've read about South Beach in a long time.
Since the VIP host seemed to have this pet peeve about people calling him, I instead called a promoter who said he could get me a reservation utilizing my card. He came recommended, and when I showed up at the club he was there. He ushered me inside, where the girl at the door immediately asked me for my Privilege Card.

“You all haven’t mailed it to me yet,” I told her. “I applied two months ago and you haven’t sent it to me. But you do email me, so I thought you would honor the email.”

“I have to scan the card,” she told me. “There’s nothing I can do.”

“Ok then,” I said. “We’ll go elsewhere.” With that, she went inside, conferred with a manager, and came back out saying they could honor the deal. He just needed an ID and a credit card. Since I was the “host,” like a sucker I again gave them both.

We were escorted to our table on what used to be the dance floor of a South Beach megaclub, now converted to a douchebag staging area. Our waitress immediately came over and showed me a menu. I had no use for her menu.
Read the full piece here.

Miami Herald gets new executive editor; Gyllenhaal promoted

Click image to enlarge

UPDATED @ 6pm with EXCLUSIVE first look at tomorrow's front page of the Miami Herald!

from the Miami Herald:

The Miami Herald has a new executive editor: Aminda ''Mindy'' Marques Gonzalez, a career South Florida reporter and editor who grew up in Hialeah and covered key events in the region for nearly 25 years.

Marques Gonzalez, 46, replaces Anders Gyllenhaal, who has been promoted by The Herald's corporate parent, McClatchy Newspapers Inc., to be its vice president for news and Washington editor.

Miami Herald publisher David Landsberg announced Marques Gonzalez's promotion Tuesday in The Herald newsroom. Gyllenhaal's promotion was announced at the same time to journalists in McClatchy's Washington, D.C., newsroom.
Sources at the paper tell me that this morning's announcement - which was cloaked in secrecy - took staffers by surprise. Gyllenhaal, who has been described by some at the paper as "hard to read" and "aloof," apparently won't be missed.

An email was sent out at about 10:45am alerting reporters and editors that there would be a meeting at 11am in the newsroom. Marques Gonzalez's promotion was then announced to shocked staffers.

The Herald's parent company McClatchy issued a press release in which company CEO Gary Pruitt praised Gyllenhaal calling him "forward thinking" and "one of the nation's leading editors."

Pruitt apparently doesn't read Random Pixels.

Meanwhile, Marques Gonzalez has her work cut out for her. Her challenge will be to put out a newspaper with a diminshed staff, dwindling resources and a shrinking news hole. Just this morning the Herald rolled out a business section that's no longer a separate section. It's now combined with a slimmed-down Metro section.

One former Herald staffer posted this note on his Facebook page: "Congratulations Mindy. Steer the ship away from the iceberg!"

She may be up to the task. Miami New Times editor Chuck Strouse worked with Marques Gonzalez in the eighties at the Herald Neighbors bureau in Doral. Strouse remembers Marques Gonzalez as a fearless, twenty-something reporter who swore like a sailor. That alone sets her apart from the staid and reserved Gyllenhaal.

Marques Gonzalez first shows up in the Herald archives starting in 1986. Her byline tops stories about pig farms, a doughnut shop owner, rent hikes in Hialeah and bar mitzvahs.

Writing as Aminda Marques - her first story appeared in the Herald on May 25, 1986. In a story barely more than 200 words, Marques wrote about five feet of missing road in Hialeah Gardens:
Royal Palm Road is missing five feet and the culprit is a power house that is part of a new shopping center, said a former member of the Hialeah Gardens Planning and Zoning board.

At the Hialeah Gardens Council meeting Tuesday, Leo Meekins told members the shopping center developers had built a five- foot power house on the 50-foot dedicated road and the structure did not appear on the plans.

"You help the builders out more than the people," Meekins said.

Council members said they were not aware that a power house was being built on the side of the road. Councilman Bruce Nordhagen said he didn't remember ever discussing it.

The building houses electric transformers to provide power to a shopping center under construction at 103rd Street and Okeechobee Road.
Attention in the newsroom will now focus on who will replace Marques Gonzalez as managing editor. Some of the names being mentioned are multi-media editor Rick Hirsch and Metro editor Jay Ducassi.

And another unanswered question: Will Gyllenhaal find himself a new bluegrass band to play with in D.C.?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Random Pixels recognizes...

...Miami Herald staff photographer Charles Trainor Jr. and Associated Press photographer Alan Diaz for their great page one shots of "The Fumble."

Trainor's pic of yesterday's controversial fumble appears on the front page of this morning's Herald and Diaz made page one of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Congrats to both!

I'm sure today on Miami sports talk radio, this play will become the most talked about, dissected, analyzed and picked-over play in Dolphins history.

By the end of the day this play is sure to become pro football's equivalent of the hanging chad.

Perhaps we can get this guy to rule on "The Fumble."

( Click here)to see more shots from yesterday's Steelers/Fins game.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The way we were

48 years ago today....

from the Miami News, Oct. 23, 1962

Fascinating snapshot of Miami as it stared down the barrel of a Miami News columnist John Keasler. (Click images to enlarge)

Random Pixels guest columnist

Today's guest columnist is Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Last night on CNN's Parker Spitzer during a discussion of what Google knows and doesn't know about its users, he offered up this fascinating insight:
There's a reason why private thoughts were invented by generations before us. The fact that teenagers blog any internal thought now retained on the Internet for the rest of their lives is not a good thing.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Memo to TV advertisers

from the Random Pixels home office:

-Remember that you are a guest in my home, so please conduct yourself accordingly.

-Also remember that I can make you go away as fast as you appeared. Use catch phrases like "It's my my money and I want it now," or "Activ-on, apply directly to the forehead," and you're gone!

-Classy and tasteful presentations work best.

-Beautifully photographed commercials with impossibly cute animals are always welcome in my living room.

-Bonus points go to commercials with great soundtracks! (see below)

Lincoln Road Antique Market this Sunday

The second Lincoln Road Antique Market of the season is this this Sunday.

The weather outlook is great!

See you there!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blues at midnight

Big Joe Turner - Low Down Dog (1965)

Stuff we like

A well-done political ad is a thing of beauty.

Just this week, Florida gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink released an ad that attacks Rick Scott. The makers of the ad use Scott's own words to make him look deceptive.

And now, California's Jerry Brown has released a brilliant ad that attacks opponent Meg Whitman. No mud slinging here either. Meg Whitman implodes under the weight of her own words ... and those of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Let's open the Random Pixels mailbag

This morning I received an email from Miami Dade County mayor Carlos Alvarez's director of communications, Vicki Mallette.

Mallette, who once worked in various positions at WPLG Channel 10 - including a stint as producer for Channel 10's senior political reporter Michael Putney - has had her hands full these past few weeks defending her current boss, Carlos Alvarez.

Apparently part of her job requires her to monitor what's being said about the mayor in print and electronic media and what's posted on blogs.

She started off her email by telling me that she was always available in case I had any questions about the county budget. And then she wrote this: "I would particularly like to address any instances where you think the Mayor has lied. While people may certainly disagree with the policies and proposals of the administration, words like liar, crook, etc. are unfair."

I was aghast!

Had I actually referred to the mayor as a liar? The same mayor who won election on a promise to reform county government?

Well, yes I had. Once.

Last year I followed up on an August 30, 2009 Miami Herald story headlined: "Downsized Dade execs still make big bucks." Herald reporter Matt Haggman wrote:
"Under fire for delivering double-digit raises to his closest advisors during a budget crisis, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez has defended himself by saying the perks were part of a broader staff reorganization that eliminated jobs and saved money.

"But many 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."
I posted on link to the story on my blog the same day it appeared in the paper. The title of my post was "Carlos Alvarez is a big, fat liar."

Alvarez is fighting for his political survival because of a recall drive headed up by auto magnate Norman Braman.

Alvarez's current term ends in a couple of years. After he's gone he'll collect a big, fat pension and probably take a job as the head of a top echelon security firm.

But until then, he'll be dogged by the press. And more than a few bloggers.

So now might be a good time to check up on those reforms the mayor has instituted and see who might be playing fast and loose with the truth.

But first let's get some insight into the mayor's thinking from CBS4 reporter Jim DeFede. DeFede knows Alvarez as well as anyone outside county hall.

A long-time supporter of Alvarez, he wrote a column last year that laid bare Alvarez's political psyche:
Five years as mayor and Alvarez still thinks like a cop. When his back is against the wall he will stiffen, not bend. Never has that been clearer than in the firestorm surrounding the raises he gave his staff.

Let me say at the outset the raises were stupid. Incredibly, horrendously, mind-blowingly stupid. In fact they set new standards for stupidity.
The raises, however, have come to epitomize the public's feeling that government is out of touch with the world around them. The raises give credence to a larger belief that government is inefficient and bloated.

And Alvarez's insistence to stand by those raises has come to represent the arrogance of government. It is why in the latest CBS4 News/Miami Herald poll he has lost the trust of the people.
He is politically tone deaf. It is one thing not to be obsessed about public opinion it is another to ignore it completely.
DeFede ended his column with this: "Since [Alvarez] became mayor there hasn't been a single story or scandal about politically connected friends of the mayor winning sweetheart deals from the county. The timing of that sentence was unfortunate.

Three months after DeFede wrote those words, on Dec. 9, 2009, the Miami Herald's Matt Haggman reported that Alvarez allowed "his chief of staff Denis Morales to moonlight as a police trainer in Panama."

In the same story Haggman revealed that: "Alvarez handed Morales a double-digit raise in March, just weeks after the speech foreshadowing deep budget cuts and layoffs of hundreds of county workers. Morales' annual salary went from $185,484 to $206,783, making him higher paid than White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel. The raise was backdated to Sept. 21, 2008, resulting in a March 8 bi-weekly paycheck of $17,281."

Morales was demoted in Jan. 2010 and sent back to the Miami Dade Police Department.

This year the mayor had to deal with adverse publicity surrounding his lease of a luxury car paid for by taxpayers in the midst of the budget crisis. "We have reduced the budget of the county executive office by upwards of $2 million. Anyone mention that? I mean, two million, and we focus on the mayor's BMW," Alvarez told CBS4.

Last August, Alvarez remained silent when it was revealed "that a county audit found high-ranking members of the Miami-Dade Police Department, one of whom is close pals with county Mayor Carlos Alvarez, abused trust funds meant to fight environmental crime."

And there's the ongoing controversy over the fact that "each of the 13 county commissioners will get $814,000 [office budgets] to spend as they please, despite having demonstrated that they do not need it."

And let's not forget the outrage over the Marlins Stadium.

Alvarez, the tone deaf mayor, won't defend himself. That's Vicki Mallette's job.

I left a message at her office and she called me late this afternoon. We spoke for about thirty minutes.

I told her that I had only called her boss a liar once and explained why I felt it necessary to use that word.

Mallette politely and patiently explained how decisions are made at county hall.

Towards the end of our conversation, I read these lines from a December 2009 Miami Herald op-ed piece to her:
Miami-Dade County has had ... ethics training for years -- with mixed results.

Looks like the mayor and his chief of staff need a refresher course after Denis Morales spent a week in Panama working as a police consultant while still receiving his generous county paycheck. There's a word for that: Double-dipping.

The mayor, who values loyalty above all else, at first defended his right-hand man, Morales , who earns $206,783 a year -- more than White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, not to mention the vast majority of wage-earners here.

The mayor eventually told Morales to take personal vacation time, not county time, for that Panama trip, and not to do it again. That's the right thing to do, but why was Morales allowed to do it in the first place since he was so "indispensable" to the functioning of the mayor's office in a time of financial crisis?

Who's running the show up there on the 29th floor of County Hall?
Who wrote those lines?

They were penned by Mallette's former Channel 10 colleague, Michael Putney.

The way we were

from the Miami Daily News, Apr. 23, 1929

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rick Scott, in his own words

New ad released by Alex Sink today.

Rick Scott wants to be Florida's next governor

In this morning's Miami Herald, staffer Marc Caputo continues to shed light on Florida gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott's complete lack of morality. Scott is, quite possibly, the most corrupt person ever to run for the office of governor.

In this morning's paper, Caputo writes of Scott's fuzzy memory and outright obfuscation "in a series of sworn depositions he gave in lawsuits against his former hospital company."
TALLAHASSEE -- Rick Scott the candidate promises voters ``the unvarnished truth.''

But Rick Scott the witness offers little but murky testimony.

In a series of sworn depositions he gave in lawsuits against his former hospital company, Scott appears to be the polar opposite of the straight-talking Republican candidate for governor in his television ads.

Under oath, Scott displays a poor memory and a penchant for parsing words. He answers a lawyer's questions with questions. Smirking or shrugging his shoulders, his darting eyes survey the room in a video deposition in an anti-trust case brought by Orlando Regional Healthcare System against Scott's former company, Columbia/HCA.

Caputo does a great job of documenting Scott's selective memory.
He doesn't remember much, such as signing letters at the center of the Texas case in which a physician successfully sued on the grounds that Columbia damaged his El Paso, Texas, medical practice by secretly luring away his partner.

``I sign letters all the time that I have not read,'' Scott said.

Jack Ayers, the plaintiff's lawyer, pressed Scott to describe what he meant in the letter by saying they had an ``understanding.''

``What is it?'' Ayers asked.

``It's a letter,'' Scott said.

Ayers: ``What does it say?''

Scott: ``It says these words.''

Ayers: ``And what does that mean to you? If you were to characterize that?''

Scott: ``I would characterize it as a letter with these words.''

But how bad is it when someone like Rick Sanchez manages to make you look sleazy?

Monday, October 18, 2010

The death of a newspaper

More evidence today that the once mighty Miami Herald continues to die a slow, painful death.

Featured on the Herald's website this morning - and labeled "Breaking News" - is a story about a Miami Gardens firm that has racked up some 2,000 Better Business Bureau complaints.

However, the story was first reported by the Palm Beach Post's Susan Salisbury and posted on the Post's website last Friday.

I guess I'm old fashioned, but shouldn't the Herald have learned of this first?

The Herald does a great job covering Haiti.

But, it might be nice if those who run the paper could find some way to devote one-tenth of the energy it takes to cover an island more than 700 miles from Miami and focus on issues that actually affect lives here at home. After all, Miami Gardens is just 10 short miles from the Herald.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Random Pixels Sunday afternoon arts and crafts class

Newspaper pressrooms used to be noisy, filthy places. The men who worked in them made paper hats out of newspapers to protect their heads from flying ink.

But, no longer. Pressmen now work in glass cubicles and man control panels that look like something you might see at NASA's Mission Control.

Innovation - unfortunately - has turned newspapers and the pressman's paper hat into ancient relics.

But before newspapers disappear altogether, on the next rainy day, why not teach the kids how to make a pressman's hat?

Just follow the directions in the video below and get ready for non-stop fun!

Click here for a diagram.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Are you prepared?

While discussing a Sarah Palin speech this morning on MSNBC, Morning Joe co-host Mike Barnicle poses this question (at 1:15 on the video): "Are you prepared to listen to this tone of voice for four years?"

Never mind that when asked a simple question on whether or not Palin is qualified to be president, members of her own party can't even bring themselves to say if she is or isn't. Or that every poll shows that most Americans can't stand her!

All that aside, are you prepared to listen to that for four years?

I'm not.

Recall Carlos Alvarez

Here are the locations where you can add your name to the petition to recall Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Alvarez.

Open from Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m., 2020 NE 163rd St., Suite 201, North Miami Beach.

Open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., 1673 SW 27th Avenue, Miami.

Recall Carlos Alvarez website

Recall Carlos Alvarez Facebook page

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Miami Herald sportswriter punked by two hoops fans with bad Russian accents

UPDATED @ 7:15pm: As a Miami Herald sportswriter was trying frantically to reach Pavel and Yuri to confirm that they are not Russian, Random Pixels was conducting a phone interview with Pavel's alter-ego, Bradley Springer. (Springer says he borrowed the name Pavel from Chicago Blackhawks star Pavel Vorobiev.)

Springer says that he and his friend, Jonathan Taylor, (Yuri), had no intention of fooling anyone when they went to American Airlines Arena Tuesday night.

But after being interviewed by Russian TV - after telling the crew that they were Russian but had forgotten how to speak it - the Miami Herald's Linda Robertson then approached the duo and asked them if they were Russian. When they said yes, "her eyes lit up," Springer told me.

Robertson interviewed the pair for over 15 minutes and never sensed she was being punked, Springer told me.

As Springer and Taylor left the arena, one of them checked the Herald's website on an iPhone and learned to their astonishment that they were included in Robertson's column.

Asked if he felt bad that Robertson had fallen for their prank, 18 year-old Springer said, "I really do, I don't want her to get in trouble."

But Springer is not ruling out future appearances by Pavel and Yuri.


Back in the Cold War-era Soviet Union, if a member of the politburo ran afoul of the leadership, punishment was swift and permanent.

First he was shipped off to Siberia and then all traces of his existence was "edited out of books and airbrushed out of photographs." Forever.

Yesterday, editors at the Miami Herald practiced a little Cold War Soviet-style censorship after a couple of "Russian brothers" got the better of Herald sportswriter Linda Robertson.

Deadspin reports that Robertson "fell for a fun little prank [Tuesday] night, as the Heat took on CSKA Moscow. Two Floridians decked themselves out as CSKA fans, played the part of Russians, and wouldn't you know: the Herald made them the lede." (Click here to see a pic of Robertson interviewing the "Russians.")

Robertson not only made the pranksters the lede of her column, she devoted a good part of her story to the two "Russians."

Tim Elfrink at Miami New Times picks up the story:
The pair painted their faces and put on their best Borat-esque accents for Tuesday's Heat vs. Moscow game, intending to "just mess with people." But then the Miami Herald interviewed them and ran with their wild tale of Russkie basketball love all the way to the front page of the sports section. "This thing really escalated quickly," Springer tells Riptide.
[Using the names Pavel and Yuri,] Springer and Taylor, who is a junior at the Benjamin School, ended up in a tiny cheering section for fans of Moscow's pro basketball team. A Russian television crew quickly descended.

"They asked, 'Do you speak Russian?'" Springer says. "I was like, 'No, no, I move here long ago.'"

They interviewed him anyway. That's when Robertson moved in.Springer and Taylor decided to keep the charade going [in character as Pavel and Yuri.]

Herald reporter interviewed them for 15 minutes while Springer described Russia's love of Britney Spears, the NBA culture in Moscow, and even invented a Russian rapper named Don Zagru allegedly fond of wearing LeBron jerseys.
But after 15 minutes and lots of clues, no alarm bells sounded for Robertson. Not even when the "brothers" hit her with these lines - "The NBA is the new vodka in Russia. Of course, Russia is usually about five years behind the United States. Britney Spears is very popular right now." - Robertson just kept scribbling.

Yesterday, when it became evident that the brothers weren't really "Russian," the Herald, in some Cold War, Soviet-style sleight of hand, removed the column from its website.

But does anything really disappear from the Internet? Thanks to the magic of Google, no.

Today, the Herald issued, what New Times calls, the "world's lamest correction."
A column that ran on page 1D of Wednesday's sports section might have included incorrect information from two men claiming to be Russian. There's just no sure way of knowing.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Obama tries Cuban cuisine this time

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

The last time President Obama was in South Florida, he stopped at Jerry's Deli on Miami Beach. A few days later, state inspectors paid a visit to Jerry's and found 26 critical violations.

Obama was in town Monday for a fund raiser at Alonzo Mourning's Coral Gables crib and on the way back to MIA he stopped in at El Mago de las Fritas at 8th Street and 58th Avenue.

(For you gringos, Burger Beast offers up a primer on the "frita" - which is what Cubans call a hamburger.)

Hopefully the state won't be paying a similar visit to El Mago as they did with Jerry's. El Mago's last inspection was August 28th and they fared pretty well.

The owner of El Mago, Ortello Cardenas, was apparently just a little surprised when a phalanx of Secret Service agents invaded his eatery tonight.

What did Obama order? An account on the LA Times website says he was seen with a Coke. According to the AP, "Obama ordered a Cuban hamburger, which is made of Spanish sausage and topped with french fries. He jokingly warned reporters not to tell his health-conscious wife, first lady Michelle Obama, about his order."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Today's random question

How is it that a company that's a little more than 10 years old can develop a car that drives itself, but a newspaper that's more than 100 years old still hasn't figured out how to post a simple story on the Internet without turning it into a disaster?

In the backyard...

After what seemed like an eternity of 90-feels-like-100-degree temperatures this summer, it finally cooled down a bit a couple of days ago.

As the sun set, I ventured out in the backyard with a camera and looked for the abstract and beautiful. (Click images to enlarge.)

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Rick Sanchez...still playing the part of the victim

Former CNN anchor Rick Sanchez kicked off his rehabilitation tour Friday by giving two interviews to ABC.

Sanchez appeared on Good Morning America and then again on Nightline.

Sanchez was fired by CNN on Oct. 1 after telling a radio interviewer the day before that Jon Stewart was a "bigot" and implying that the media is controlled by Jews.

But true to form, Sanchez wants everyone to know that he's the real victim.

Sanchez attributed his "inartful comments" on everything from "exhaustion" to "my daughter had a softball game I desperately wanted to go to" and the fact that he still carries a chip on his shoulder because he's experienced discrimination.

In the Nightline interview, (above), Sanchez told ABC's Ashleigh Banfield that he suffered discrimination growing up in South Florida's "barrios."

"You gotta go back to who I am, the way I grew up, the way I have been raised, " said Sanchez in hushed and reverent tones,

Sanchez told Banfield that as a child once he helped his father move furniture to the home of a wealthy woman in Boca Raton.

Sanchez said after their work was done he asked the woman, "Can I have a glass of water? And she said 'no, you cannot have a glass of water, you have to drink outside from the spigot.'"

From the spigot, "Where the dogs were drinking," said Sanchez. "In a strange way I was feeling like Jon Stewart wasn't respecting me, the way that lady didn't respect me." Sanchez continued, "And that's why I lashed out."

Sanchez still has trouble understanding that Stewart mocked him because he's a buffoon; not because he's Cuban.

To those of us in South Florida, Sanchez's complaints and excuses are familiar.

In December, 1990, as Sanchez was leaving Joe Robbie Stadium, he struck a drunk man who darted in front of his Volvo.

Sanchez later left the scene of the accident - to go home and get his license he says - and was ultimately charged with DUI after tests showed that his blood-alcohol level was .10.

The man Sanchez hit was 32-year-old carpenter Jeffrey Smuzinick. Police ruled that Smuzinick shared the blame for accident.

Immediately after the accident, according to a February 1991 Miami Herald story,
"several Metro-Dade officers smelled alcohol on Sanchez 's breath, but none of them thought he was acting drunk.

"Sanchez told officers he had not taken a drink that night, police said. [Later] Sanchez said he couldn't remember if he had been drinking, or what he had to drink."
According to a 1991 Miami New Times story, "eyewitnesses claim the anchorman ignored the injured man and loudly told police and bystanders that blood tests were pointless, and would hurt his public image."

Also according to New Times, Sanchez's attorney said that when Sanchez left the scene of the accident to go home and get his license, it was there he had "a couple of drinks to calm his nerves."

The Herald's February 1991 story quoted Sanchez as saying, "he prays for Smuzinick every Sunday. 'It's horrible. But I know in my heart that I didn't do anything wrong on that night.'"

Almost 11 months to the day of the accident, on Nov. 7, 1991, Sanchez - who had cut a deal with prosecutors - entered a plea of no contest to a charge of DUI. He was sentenced to "six months of probation, suspension of his driver license for six months, a 15-hour course for drunk drivers, 50 hours of community service, a $250 fine and $100 in court costs," according to the Herald.

Following his plea, Sanchez told reporters, "My Dad told me when we were growing up to always take responsibility for my actions. I'm going to take my Dad's advice, and I'm willing to take the consequences for this."

However the prosecutor, Blair Carr, had a slightly different version of the events.

According to the Herald,
"Carr had offered Sanchez a plea bargain in March [1991]. But the anchorman decided to take the deal only after [Judge Marc] Schumacher denied a defense motion to throw out the results of his blood-alcohol test.

"If it is a sincere plea of no contest that is motivated by a feeling of responsibility or a feeling of guilt, it usually comes shortly after the incident itself," Carr said.

"However, in this case, [Sanchez''s] no contest plea came after 11 months of media posturing and after all his pretrial motions were denied. He was worried that a guilty verdict after a trial meant a jail sentence."
But Sanchez told reporters the reason he took the deal was "that he wanted to avoid a DUI trial scheduled to begin Nov. 18 because he was afraid the Miami media would turn it into a "three-ring circus."

The ringmaster of Channel 7's "If it Bleeds it Leads News Hour" was worried about the media turning his story into a circus! Now, that's chutzpah!

In the days following Sanchez's firing last week, I heard him described by various commentators as egotistical, a blowhard, self-centered and narcissistic.

In Miami, it's impossible to find anyone in the TV business who likes Sanchez.

And it's hard to imagine any TV executive anywhere who is considering giving Sanchez another chance.

But in case there are any, let me offer these paragraphs from a story by the late Sean Rowe that appeared in Miami New Times in August, 1991:
He was one of these guys you see on Friday afternoon at the 7-Eleven, stocking up on beer for the weekend, maybe buying some Lotto tickets, then piling into a battered van with his buddies and cranking up Zeta-4 on the radio.

It would be nice to say his skills as a carpenter were renowned at the swank enclaves of Williams Island and Turnberry Isle where he worked. In truth, the people who live in the houses he built never paid much attention to Jeffrey Smuzinick.

And these days they don't even see him. A friend recalls that Smuzinick used to put down his hammer at midday and speed into town for legendary lunches -"a dozen oysters, ten chicken wings (hot), fish sandwich (plain), and an order of French fries." Now, in a South Dade nursing home, the 32-year-old Pembroke Pines man is learning to drink pureed spaghetti through a straw.

[A]fter two months in a coma, Smuzinick has regained consciousness and is making slow improvement. His right side remains largely paralyzed due to massive brain damage, but he can move his left arm and leg and sometimes hold his head upright. Using hand signals, he can answer yes or no to simple questions. Doctors last Friday removed a feeding tube from his trachea, and Smuzinick can now eat liquid foods.
Left partially paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, Smuzinick died in a Pennsylvania nursing home in October, 1995. He was 36.

Sanchez, through a Channel 7 spokesman released a statement that read: "My thoughts and prayers are with the family of Jeffrey Smuzinick ."

The Miami Herald noted Smuzinick's passing with a 290 word story that ran on page 4B.

Friday, October 08, 2010

An open letter to Anders Gyllenhaal

Dear Anders:

Thought you might like to know that things have gotten so bad at your paper that I now have friends calling from out of town to alert me to strange things on your paper's website.

I'm referring to your coverage of the ongoing rescue at the Hollywood water tower.

A friend called just a few minutes ago and said: "I've read the story three times and I still don't know what's going on. It took three writers to confuse me," she said, referring to the three bylines on the story.

This is a story that's being played out on the cable news channels and the facts are pretty simple. Two workers fell into the water tank when scaffolding broke. One has been rescued and rescuers are working to get the other man out. I know this because I read it in the Sun-Sentinel's story.

But here are the first two grafs of the Herald story:
A delicate rescue operation is going on 150 feet in the air over Hollywood to save two rescue workers who fell into the giant water tank that looms above Interstate 95.

About 2:45 p.m., hours into the ordeal, one man was being pulled out of the bottom bowl of the tank. Rescuers were giving oxygen to the two injured men
Your writers have two rescue workers falling into the tank and one being rescued and then "Rescuers were giving oxygen to the two injured men."

See for yourself.
Click image to enlarge

As I write this at 4:45 pm, the lede has been rewritten but it's still a jumble of confusing facts. Reader comments below the story bear me out.

As I write this, both men have been rescued and hopefully they'll recover.

However there is one unanswered question. Who will rescue the Herald?

This Just In! Rick Sanchez blames meltdown on his daughter!

Unemployed anchor Rick Sanchez gave his first post-meltdown interview to ABC's Good Morning America this morning.

Sanchez said he was "exhausted" when he made anti-Semitic comments on a radio show and besides "my daughter had a softball game I desperately wanted to go to."

During the interview, Sanchez plugs his book...twice.

Sanchez, who last week called Jon Stewart a "bigot," now says that Stewart "is the classiest guy in the world."

Sanchez also uses the interview to make himself out as the victim by dredging up a story from childhood.

Miami PD left speechless

The Miami Police Department has a public information unit that's not normally at a loss for words.

But yesterday's revelations by Miami New Times that someone at Miami PD posted images of rapper Jay Z looking like a gang banger on the department's website has left the public information office speechless.

Despite the fact that the story has received national attention, no one in the PIO is talking.

Some really bad Photoshop fakery got them into trouble. And perhaps some bad Photoshop can save them.

One reader of the website Gawker came up with this fix.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Lincoln Road Outdoor Antique Market this Sunday

They're headed for the Antique Market!

Just a reminder that the first Lincoln Road Antique Market of the season is this Sunday.

The weather should be fabulous!

See you there!

The Miami Police Department has some 'splainin' to do [UPDATED x2]

UPDATED: The Miami Police Dept. has removed the images of Jay Z from their website.

UPDATED: Story appears on NBC Nightly News tonight

Rapper Jay Z - a guy who clawed his way out of "one of the worst housing projects in Brooklyn" - is worth close to $320 million. He's on the cover of this month's Forbes Magazine posing with gazillionaire Warren Buffett. Fortune Magazine calls him "America's Hippest CEO."

But someone at the Miami Police Department thinks Jay Z looks like a gang banger.

Miami P.D. already has an image problem that dates back decades. And the department is now struggling to explain a rash of recent police-involved shootings in the 'hood.

But Gus Garcia-Roberts at Miami New Times has turned up, what may be, the ultimate case of racial profiling on the part of the department.

While doing some research yesterday on the Miami P.D's website, Garcia-Roberts saw a banner that calls on the public to "report gang activity."

Garcia-Roberts thought that one of the people depicted in the banner looked suspiciously like rap mogul Jay Z. So he started poking around on Google and turned up an image that looks like the inspiration for the guy in the center.

And a New Times reader also found another image of Jay Z on the Internet that looks like exactly like the figure on the left-hand side of the banner.

Click here to see the images that appear to be the inspiration for the images portrayed on the banner.

The Fortune magazine story says that Jay - as friends call him - is "protective of his image." So, given the fact that $320 million buys a lot of legal advice, we're going to go out on a limb and predict that the Miami P.D. may be hearing from Jay Z's legal team very shortly.

Garcia-Roberts called the police but they want to investigate further before commenting.

When the cops call back, Garcia-Roberts has another question for them: "Couldn't they have found a photo of a real gang member on which to base their art? [After all] they are the police."

Look for this story to go viral very soon.