Sunday, July 31, 2011

In case you missed it....

Nice story and layout in Saturday's Miami Herald on Miamian Mario Renteria, who last May 16 set out on a 4,279 mile bike ride through 11 states to San Francisco.

Spoiler alert: The story has a happy ending.

Things I learned while watching TV news

The IBM Selectric typewriter is 50 years old today.

Arguably the most popular typewriter ever, the Selectric is turning 50, having been introduced to the world on July 31, 1961.

Journalism so powerful it needs a warning

Some powerful, unflinching reporting and photography on the front page of the Virginian-Pilot today.

From Charles Apple's blog:
This note caught my attention this morning. It was stripped across the very top of page one of the Virginian-Pilot.

And right away, readers can see the reason for the disclaimer. This incredibly powerful picture of a gravely injured soldier in Kandahar fills nearly the entire top half of the page.

The photograph by Pilot staffer Ross Taylor – is of 19-year-old Eddie Ward. He was nine years old when the war in Afghanistan started, writes the Pilot‘s Corinne Reilly.

Read part one of Corinne Reilly's story here.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Random Pixels Saturday night commercial rewind

Commercial for a Siemens washing machine sold in Denmark. The skydivers spell out the name of the machine and the price, 4,999.00 DKK, or about $900.


Humpback whale "thanks" rescuers after being saved from netting

Did a humpback whale "thank" its rescuers after they freed her from some nylon netting in the Sea of Cortez off Baja California?

You decide.

Oprah hopes Miami Beach's Rosie O'Donnell can help save her cable channel

And now for some Oprah Winfrey news:

St. Petersburg Times TV critic Eric Deggans is reporting that Oprah Winfrey is turning to Star Island resident Rosie O'Donnell to help her "save" the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which was launched just 7 months ago.
Critics know there are two things Winfrey's network has lacked most: Her presence as star and chief creative visionary, and blockbuster programming that will draw more than the most devoted Oprah-heads.

Even as she assured critics she was now "focusing on the unity of (her production company) HARPO and OWN" -- announcing plans to reformat the more than 4,500 episodes from her blockbuster daytime syndicated show into a learning-focused program hosted by her called OWN Your Life: The Oprah Class -- Winfrey laid the responsibility for blockbuster programming at the biggest name creating an original program for her network -- onetime daytime TV goddess Rosie O'Donnell.
According to O'Donnell, her new show will feature one celebrity in each 60-minute program, going in-depth with them, along with behind-the-scenes material and comedic openings featuring her considerable humor chops.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Classic Don Wright cartoon from July 29, 1986

I've posted the work of former Miami News cartoonist Don Wright on this blog quite a few times.

The two-time Pulitzer Prize winning Wright, is arguably, one of the finest newspaper editorial cartoonists ever to put pen to paper.

The message of this classic Wright cartoon, published 25 years ago today in the Miami News, is as relevant and fresh today as it was on July 29, 1986.

Click to enlarge

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dog Runs Marathon, Raises $17,000 for Cancer Research

From ABC News.
Dozer the Goldendoodle was the only pup left in the litter.

"He was the last of the bunch," said Rosana Dorsett, Dozer's owner. "He was the dog no one wanted ... but he's got a great heart."
But wait, there's more. And it's the Random Pixels feel-good story of the day!

Jon Stewart Blasts Fox News

Jon Stewart had a little fun (again) Wednesday night at the expense of the pinheads conservative victims of liberal bullying at FOX News.

But then, poking fun at FOX News is much like shooting fish in a barrel. It's not very sporting: The fish just swim aimlessly in circles covering the same territory over and over again...much like the talking heads at FOX News.

Best moment: A clip of Gretchen Carlson complaining that “Christians feel lonely at Christmastime.”

“Gretchen,” Stewart advised, “if you ever feel alone at Christmastime, head over to a Chinese restaurant.”

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rick announcer?

The Miami Herald is reporting that former Channel 7 and CNN anchorman Rick Sanchez will be a color analyst on radio broadcasts of [Florida International University] FIU football this season on the fall.

Jorge Sedano, of 790 The Ticket, confirms the news in a tweet to his followers: "FYI: I will not be doing FIU Football this year. They'll have Rick Sanchez on broadcast this year. It was fun. Thanks to the guys there!"

South Florida TV viewers have fond memories of Sanchez's portrayal of a gritty TV reporter who prowled Miami's mean streets in the 90's for a nightly segment called "Crime Check" on Channel 7, WSVN.

Upon hearing the news, one local Miami TV news insider said simply: "What a fall from grace."

Sanchez has connections to FIU. His son is/was a student there and in October 2009, Sanchez broadcast his CNN show from the FIU campus.

Late this afternoon Sanchez confirmed the news on his Twitter page.

Random Pixels salutes....

....the Atlantic Beach Hotel, 3400 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, which came in at #6 on's list of 2011's Top 10 Dirtiest Hotels in the U.S.

The rankings are based on TripAdvisor's reader reviews.

One reader said of the Atlantic Beach: "Probably more sanitary to sleep in the bathroom of the room."

Another said: "This place should not be open for business. Granted you get what you pay for but I believe after staying there we paid too much. The first room we stayed in flooded and damaged our things which we were not reimbursed. The second room was FILTHY. Bugs all over the room, food left from other guests and the staff was NOT pleasant to say the least. I would have been more comfortable sleeping on the boardwalk."

So, congratulations to the Atlantic Beach Hotel and its owners, Pegaso Hotels of Key Biscayne on a job well done!

Footnote: The Parisian Hotel at 1510 Collins Ave., Miami Beach made the list last year and it appears that it's still a pretty awful place to stay! One reader calls The Parisian,  "a disgusting crack den."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Clevelander on South Beach...where you can party 'till the sun comes up!

From the Miami Herald: The snapshot speaks volumes: Two Miami Beach police officers in uniform, one smiling, the other making a face and mugging for the cameras, posing with five young women out partying at a South Beach night club.

The photo, released by Miami-Dade prosecutors Tuesday, now will be evidence against former Miami Beach officer of Derick Kuilan, who investigators say took one of the women on a predawn joyride on his department-issued ATV and promptly plowed into two beachgoers hanging out to see the South Beach sunrise.

The accident left the two victims with severe injuries, one still hospitalized.

“It is mind-boggling that they felt comfortable enough to do something like that,” said Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega, after Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle announced Kuilan’s arrest Tuesday on felony drunk driving charges with serious bodily injury.

"South Beach; a ghetto in the sun..."

Thanks to Rick Auchter for calling my attention to this incredible piece of local TV news history..

Below is part 1 and part 3 of a 1974 WPLG, Channel 10 documentary called "Momma lives on Miami Beach."

The film offers some fascinating glimpses of what life was like for many on South Beach over 37 years ago. A South Beach that was shunned by tourists. A South Beach before it became a magnet for models, photographers and beautiful people.

In one part of the film, investigative reporter Clarence Jones talks to an elderly woman who manages to live on just $35 a month after she pays $100 for rent.

It would be six more years before some of the people in this film would be terrorized by a wave of newly-arrived Mariel refugees.

And if any of those seen in the film lived another 10 years, they were probably forced out of their cheap, cramped apartments when investors bought many of South Beach's crumbling art deco buildings and turned them into trendy, boutique hotels.

Jones' film also shows elderly shoppers fighting for loaves of stale day-old bread at a Washington Avenue market.

Highlight: Watch at the 2:10 mark in part 1 as the camera shows Ocean Drive in mid-morning from 7th to 8th Street with lots of empty parking spaces. There's a glimpse at 8th Street of the buildings that would eventually become Wet Willie's and the News Cafe.

Part 1

Part 3

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Miami Herald ♥s the Marlins Stadium

Question: Has anyone else noticed that the Miami Herald's coverage of the new Florida Marlins Stadium has been a little one-sided lately?

Five weeks ago, Herald sportswriter Greg Cote told his readers that better days were ahead for the Florida Marlins and South Florida sports.

In his column, Cote promised his readers that no matter how big their problems, they would all magically disappear once they got a glimpse of the Miami skyline from the new Marlins ballpark.
The new ballpark on the old Orange Bowl site is 70 percent complete, as a Thursday media tour verified — and the sight from home plate will be a panorama of the downtown skyline.

Standing at home, the view is of better days ahead — as hard as that might be to fathom at the moment.
-June 17, 2011
Exactly one month later, the Herald editorial board sang the praises of the new Marlins Stadium.

The writer of the editorial apparently forgot that a majority of the paper's readers had just fired the politician responsible for saddling them with this monstrosity.
Whatever your view, the Marlins Stadium going up in Little Havana has brought a decidedly new and exciting look to the Miami skyline where the Orange Bowl once rose. -July 17, 2011
Today, it was Herald sportswriter Barry Jackson's turn to kiss some Marlins butt.

He didn't disappoint.

Jackson penned a wonderful piece of fiction titled, "Marlins’ new stadium brings jobs, new business opportunities."

On his Facebook page, Miami filmmaker Billy Corben called the piece a "staggeringly one-sided pro-team article riddled with misinformation."

Corben posted a link to the "Field of Schemes" blog, which offered some thoughtful rebuttal to Jackson's piece.
Of course, we still haven't gotten to the "business opportunities," which come down to ... um, a guy with a food cart who's been selling burgers and churrasco to the construction crew, and says he's "hoping to stay when the stadium opens."

The real point of the article, needless to say, is to let [Marlins VP Claude] Delorme go on about all the stuff that will be available at the new stadium (Cuban sandwiches! Cuban pastries!). Save your time, and re-read the six big lies about the Marlins stadium instead.
So, here's a suggestion for those in charge at the Herald: If you're going to continue to run one-sided puff pieces on the stadium at regular intervals between now and Opening Day 2012; why not drop any remaining pretense of objectivity?

Just come out and tell your readers not to expect any more honest journalism when it comes to the Marlins.

Of course you'll need to rename and re-design the paper.

With that in mind, I've come up with a makeover that mirrors the paper's new editorial slant.
Click to enlarge.

NASCAR pastor thanks God for "smokin' hot wife"

The best sports invocation you'll ever hear.

Pastor Joe Nelms of the Family Baptist Chuch in Nashville, delivered a "Talladega Nights" inspired pre-race prayer before NASCAR’s Nationwide Series Auto Parts 300 in New Hampshire this weekend.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Carlos Gimenez's Kodak moment

"So remember, every picture tells a story don't it." -Rod Stewart

I love this picture.

Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado posted it on his Facebook page this afternoon.

Regalado is posing with Miami-Dade mayor Carlos Gimenez.

The photo was taken today at the City of Miami's 115th birthday celebration at Mary Brickell Village. 

To the casual observer it might just look like another boring picture of two politicians.

But, there's so much more going on.

Let's analyze it.

The first thing that jumps out at me is how closely Regalado is standing next to Gimenez.

I've photographed quite a few weddings over the years and I don't think I've ever seen any of the newlyweds standing this close together. (Legal note: In 27 states and the District of Columbia, it's illegal to do with your left hand what Regalado may be doing in this picture.)

In a gallery of pics from the event that are posted on the Miami Herald's website, it appears that Gimenez was more successful in avoiding being photographed in close proximity to Regalado.

Now, look at their smiles

Regalado is grinning like a Cheshire cat, obviously pleased that Gimenez would even consider posing with him.

Gimenez, on the other hand, can only manage a weak smile and he looks like he'd rather be somewhere else. Certainly anywhere but here; joined at the hip with Tomasito.

Now, let's look at the positioning. It looks like Gimenez is trying his best to hide behind that tower of cupcakes.

Who can blame him?

I wouldn't want to be photographed with Regalado either. After all, this is a guy who has more baggage than the arrivals carousel at MIA.

Anyway, a little advice for Mayor Gimenez. Be careful who you pose with in the future.

Pictures are forever...and they can come back and haunt you. Just ask the guy on the far left.

The way we were...Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders

Wayne Cochran

In the 60's, Wayne Cochran and the C.C. Riders appeared at a place called The Barn on the 79th Street Causeway in Miami. Some called him "The King of Blue-eyed Soul."
So, they built a place on 79th Street Causeway in Miami called "The Barn". We played soul music, rhythm and blues music with horns. They called it the "Home of Soul". That became our home base.
In a January 1966, Miami News article, Cochran called the eight members of his band, his "home boys." Cochran was ahead of his time in more ways than one.

From the Miami News, Jan. 15, 1966. (Click to enlarge)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday night blues with Amy Winehouse

Stronger Than Me, Live On Jools Holland

Teach Me Tonight, Live on Jools Holland

No Greater Love

Gone too soon - Amy Winehouse dead at 27

When I heard of Amy Winehouse's death early this afternoon, I immediately thought of Janis Joplin, who died in 1970, also at the age of 27.

(The Daily Mail has the latest on Winehouse's passing along with some photos taken earlier this month).

There are others who died at 27.

Other talented celebrities who left this world, too soon, before the age of 30. The list is too long.

Jim Morrison, 27, 12/8/43-7/3/71

Jesse Belvin, 27, 12/15/32-2/6/60

River Phoenix, 23, 8/23/70-10-31-93

Freddie Prinze, 22, 6/22-54-1/29/77

Ritchie Valens, 17, 5/13/41-2/3/59

Heath Ledger, 28, 4/4/1979-1/22/2008

Aaliyah, 22, 1/16/79-8/25/01

Kurt Cobain, 27, 2/20/67-4/5/94

James Dean
, 24, 2/8/31-9/30/55

Jean Harlow, 26, 3/3/11-6/7/37

Jimi Hendrix, 27,11/27/42- 9/18/70

Buddy Holly, 22, 9/7/36-2/3/59

Frankie Lymon, 25, 9/30/42-2/27/68

Otis Redding, 26, 9/9/41-12/10/67

Selena, 23, 4/16/71-3/31/95

Sharon Tate
, 26, 1/24/43-8/9/69

Hank Williams, 29, 9/17/23-1/1/53

Tupac Shakur, 25, 6/16/71-9/13/96

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The way we were: Miami in the 1980's...Mariel, murder, crooked cops and cocaine

TIME Magazine, Paradise Lost, Nov. 23, 1981:
Anglos tend to work the marijuana trade, while the cocaine market is controlled by Colombians and Cubans. No matter what their specialty, the illegal entrepreneurs can be easily spotted. Young Anglos wearing scruffy Levi's and T shirts, gold Rolex watches and ropes of gold chain sit around the marinas waiting for the next call from a mother ship. Current pay for one night's work piloting a "cigarette" averages $50,000, while the wages for unloading the bales are $5,000 to $10,000 a night.

Cuban dealers favor Mercedes Benzes and bodyguards dressed in dark suits and carrying two guns (one under the coat and one strapped to the ankle). José Medrano Alvero Cruz, nicknamed El Padrino, always travels in a Rolls-Royce protected by cars full of bodyguards. Alvero, who is fond of listening to the theme song from The Godfather on his car stereo, never talks on the telephone and keeps himself insulated from any drug deal through relatives and friends. Nevertheless, he was recently convicted for tax evasion.

The Colombians
are the most secretive of all, preferring to keep the business in the family. Officials estimate that there are from 50 to 150 top Colombian traffickers in South Florida, with another 200 or so middle-level managers. Wives, brothers, sisters and children all help out. That is one reason why narcotics agents have failed to break any of the big coke rings in the area. "Say I have 75 pounds of coke that has just come in," explains "Bena-vides," a Colombian-born drug dealer who lives in Miami. "Who am I going to trust better than my brother? I take it to his place. After all, I am paying the rent."
A clip from the classic documentary, "Cocaine Cowboys," by Billy Corben and Alfred Spellman.

Miami Herald photographer Al Diaz has a blog

photographs by Al Diaz

Belated congratulations go out to long time friend, Miami Herald photographer Al Diaz on the launch of his new photography-related blog, Al Diaz Photo.

Al Diaz
Al has been with the Herald for over 28 years and in that time he's covered thousands of assignments. In short; he's seen it all and done it all.

What sets Al apart from a lot of veteran photographers is that he's got the same enthusiasm for his craft today that he had when he started at the Herald over 28 years ago.

But he also knows how to keep things in perspective.

Recently, I called Al on the phone to talk about something inconsequential.

Al patiently listened to me ramble times interrupting to ask a polite question. After about 5 minutes and as I was getting ready to say goodbye, Al said to me in a matter-of-fact voice, "I just shot an assignment while you were talking to me." Al is very serious about what he does, but not too serious.

Al assures me he'll be updating his blog on a regular basis with photo tips readers can use to improve their photography.

Also, to celebrate the launch of his blog, Al is running a contest. To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on his blog's first post. Read the post for more details.

You can see much more of Al's work here.

A few minutes with the Marlins' Jack McKeon

In case you missed it...

On Wednesday, the CBS Evening News profiled Florida Marlins manager Jack McKeon.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Jon Stewart takes a look at the News of the World scandal

Tuesday night's Daily Show covered the phone hacking hearings..and in the process took the time to note some FOX News hypocrisy.

From Mediaite:
Stewart turned to the coverage on Fox News, finding several instances of Fox News personalities downplaying the scandal and complaining that other entities were “piling on.”
Speaking of piling on, Stewart went a bit back in time to see how Fox News handled a media scandal involving another media empire: NPR.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Old guys do it better

The CBS Evening News led the broadcast tonight with a 3 and a half minute report on what everyone was talking about today: the phone hacking hearings in London.

But it really wasn't necessary to watch the entire thing

In his lead-in, anchor Bob Sheiffer managed to sum up the day's events in three beautifully written sentences that made at least one veteran newsman sit up and take notice.
"Well, Rupert Murdoch called it the most humbling day of his life, and he said he was sorry but it wasn't his fault and he wasn't resigning. Then, someone hit him with a cream pie. That about summed up the Parliamentary hearing..."
From Tallahassee, former Miami Herald staffer Marty Merzer wrote on his Facebook page: "You don't hear that kind of writing anywhere on TV anymore. And you rarely see it in print. A shame."

I agree Marty.

All you cub reporters out there, listen to the old guys...they know what they're talking about.

Unlikely heroes of the day

Don't piss off the wife of a billionaire ....or for that matter, a chihuahua!

Wendi Deng Murdoch fights off man who attacked her husband, Rupert Murdoch with a pie.

Rupert Murdoch was accosted during today's [phone hacking] hearing by someone with a plate of shaving cream.

Twitter is reporting the assailant is someone named @JonnieMarbles of UK uncut.

He didn't get very far before Murdoch's wife Wendi Deng leapt up and bitch-slapped him. AMAZING.

The Telegraph's Jame Kirkup was in the room and writes:

First, she swung a slap at her husband’s attacker. She followed up by picking up the plate and trying to strike him with it. And then she moved back to her husband. Sitting on the table before him, she started to clear the foam from his face, sometimes embracing him, holding his bald head in her arms.

Meanwhile, in a somewhat related news story, a barking, crime-fighting Chihuahua named Paco, chased off robbers at the Ace Smoke Shop in Altadena, Calif. earlier this month.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Stuff we like

The crew at 2D Photography in Toronto comes up with a Rube Goldberg Photo Machine.

In case you're wondering, it took six months to put this together.

h/t to Michael Froomkin

Bill Maher goes off on Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann

Bill Maher has let loose on Republicans Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann in a tirade on his latest HBO show that some are calling over the top and sexist.

But Maher has never been one to play it safe. Besides, much of what he says about the two is absolutely true.

I'm sure that the talking heads at FOX News will spending a lot of time this week analyzing this while the rest of the cable channels are discussing the meltdown of Rupert Murdoch's empire...something they aren't discussing on FOX.


At least Maher is consistent. Here he is going off on Palin and Bachmann a few weeks before the 2008 election.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A year in the wild

12 months. Four seasons. One revolution of the sun.

That's how long Banff National Park's remote wildlife camera project has been going and to celebrate, we've assembled a year's worth of images from one single location into a short Wild Images video timelapse.

Have a look -- you'll be amazed by how much goes on. And it all happened a short two-and-a-half-hour stroll from the hustle and bustle of downtown Banff!

It goes to show how alive the woods are and, if you get into them, what you might be lucky enough to see!

For more Wild Images from Banff National Park, check out

h/t: SFDB

Miami Herald to readers: 'Sure you're getting screwed. But why not relax and enjoy the view?'

Click to enlarge.

"If [rape is] inevitable, just relax and enjoy it"
-Texas gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams in 1990.

After reading the above editorial in today's Miami Herald, I am compelled to ask one question - with apologies to Barney Frank - of Myriam Marquez and her colleagues on the editorial board: "On what planet do you folks spend most of your time?"

Miami-Dade voters just fired an incompetent mayor, county unemployment is hovering at around 13% or more, the new mayor is cutting back on vital services while grappling with a $400 million budget deficit and you offer readers this drivel?
When the sun hits the silver dome just right it can look like a gigantic spaceship hovering over Miami.


Whatever your view, the Marlins Stadium going up in Little Havana has brought a decidedly new and exciting look to the Miami skyline where the Orange Bowl once rose.


A recent tour of the ballpark, now almost two-thirds complete, showed off the modernistic design with a fabulous view of downtown [Miami]. From the pool that will be dug behind the left field wall for fans to splash around in to plazas on the east and the west, which will be open for neighborhood use daily, the stadium captures the imagination. With time, it may just capture residents’ hearts.
On his Facebook page today, Miami public relations executive Seth Gordon  posted a link to a Wall Street Journal story that he calls "a real world counterweight to the fluffy Valentine to the Marlins Ballpark deal in today's Miami Herald."

And, in an obvious reference to the editorial's flowery prose, Gordon adds: "Somehow all the stupidity and deception gets washed away if the place is pretty and offers nice views of downtown."

Miami-Dade library execs make big bucks

"It's a huge sh*t sandwich, and we're all gonna have to take a bite." -Lt. Lockhart, in Full Metal Jacket, 1987

News item: Seeking to close a $400 million budget gap, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s budget proposal, which includes a laundry list of cuts, features one particularly tough measure: shuttering 13 libraries across Greater Miami.


The reductions would save about $18 million, while eliminating 191 jobs in an overall plan that eliminates 1,292 positions countywide.


“This is one of the most difficult things any of us have had to do,” said Library Director Raymond Santiago. “But it is a tough time, and tough choices were made.”
-Miami Herald article, July, 14, 2011
Library director Santiago is correct; these are tough times.

The cutbacks will be painful for many of the library system's patrons. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of library users - many of them from low income families - will have to adjust.

Some will travel a little farther to find a library. Hopefully when they get there, it will still be open. Some library hours will be shortened because of the cutbacks. And some patrons will have to wait a little longer to use a computer.

Library patrons are not the only ones affected.

The Herald story says that the mayor's plan calls for 191 jobs to be cut in an overall plan that eliminates 1,292 positions countywide.

Painful, to be sure.

But, will the pain reach those those in library management?

The most recent figures show that there are 13 people in the county library system who make over $100,000 a year.

Library Director Raymond Santiago - who spoke so eloquently to the Herald of "tough times and tough choices" - earns slightly less than $200,000 a year.  In addition, he receives almost $10,000 a year in "executive benefits" and a $6,500 annual car allowance.

In all, the library system's top earners take home a combined $1,660,357 a year according to the most recent figures available. (See chart below)

Their executive benefits total almost $42,000 a year. And the total for their car allowances is $16,250 annually. 

Tough times...for some, but not all.

Maybe some of those losing their library jobs can work at the new Marlins Stadium. Just a thought.

Click chart to enlarge.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pitbull vs Kitten...the shocking, uncut video!

Spike an American Pitbull Terrier and Visa, a 2 month old cat get it on.

Quite possibly, the best cat vs dog video ever!

Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!

Miami Beach police chief Carlos Noriega is in trouble again.

Noriega heads a department where he most recently had to dismiss two officers after they drunkenly raced around a darkened strip of beach on police ATV's that ended with one of them crashing into a  couple on the sand.

Add to that the beating of a gay man and arresting a witness and seizing cameras from bystanders following a Memorial Day shooting by cops.

Now Noriega is being forced to recall honorary badges and ID cards he's given to friends; including one issued to a man once arrested on charges of impersonating a Miami Beach cop.

That's what the Miami Herald's David Smiley is reporting in a jaw-dropping story in Saturday's paper.
The honorary Miami Beach police badge and identification card, two of the most esteemed honors a police chief can bestow, are by definition given to a select group of exemplary activists, philanthropists and police supporters.

But facing questions about why a badge went to a man who was once arrested and charged with impersonating an officer on South Beach, Police Chief Carlos Noriega quietly called for the return of the special awards last month — citing concerns about police impersonators.
I made mention of Noriega's practice of handing out the badges in a July 4 post on this blog.

What's most astounding about this latest lapse of judgment by Noriega - a veteran cop with decades of experience - is his admission that after reading a newspaper story, it suddenly dawned on him that the police badges might be misused.

"Noriega decided on his own to recall the honorary badges and identification cards and place them on plaques after reading a June 11 Sun Sentinel article that raised concerns about police imposters," writes the Herald's Smiley.

Had the chief been a regular New York Times reader, he would have learned of the rash of police impersonation cases in South Florida two weeks before the Sun Sentinel article appeared.

Noriega Letter

Friday, July 15, 2011

They shoot jaywalkers, don't they?

Eighty-six years ago, at least one Miami cop took a rigid, zero-tolerance stance when it came to jaywalking in the downtown area.

On Friday afternoon July 10, 1925, Officer L.M. Johnson spotted two men walking against a red light at West Flagler and N.W. 2nd Ave. After they ignored his orders to stop, he fired four shots, two into the ground and two in the air. One of the bullets struck one of the men.

Johnson retreated to the police station, followed by an angry mob of witnesses to the shooting, anxious to press charges.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

And the Random Pixels award for the most asinine statement of the week....

....goes to Alyce Robertson, Executive Director of the Downtown Development Authority, (DDA).
“As new restaurants open up, there’s really not a need for street vendors.” -Robertson of the DDA as quoted by the Miami Herald speaking in support of a proposed ban on street food vendors in the downtown neighborhood surrounding the AmericanAirlines Arena.
Seems that Robertson, along with her buddy, DDA Chairman Marc Sarnoff, won't be happy until they've swept everyone who makes less than $100,000 a year, off the streets of downtown Miami.

It was Sarnoff, you may remember, who won some dubious national recognition a while back when he pushed for a city ordinance that "would prohibit, with a fine of $300, unauthorized people and groups from giving food to the homeless."

What Robertson - and Sarnoff - don't realize or refuse to accept is that not everyone can afford the overpriced food sold in the AmericanAirlines Arena or at DDA approved downtown restaurants.

Many downtown food vendors eke out a living selling food, not only to Arena-goers, but also to cab drivers, deliverymen, students and tourists.

But the DDA is doing its best to make the already difficult lives of food vendors, even more difficult.

(The irony here is that while the DDA wages war on the homeless and street vendors, the Miami Heat and the Triple-A are two of the biggest freeloading entities in downtown Miami. Last May, CBS4's Jim DeFede reported that "in the last eleven years, Miami Dade County has not received a single penny from the Miami Heat under the revenue sharing provision of their arena contract.")

video by Marc Caputo, Miami Herald

So, congratulations Alyce Robertson of the Downtown Development Authority....your elitist and cynical attitude has earned you the Random Pixels Asshole of the Week award!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bob Norman knows Broward!

Last April 29, WPLG Local 10 scored a coup of sorts in local television circles when it lured veteran investigative reporter Bob Norman away from the weekly newspaper, Broward-Palm Beach New Times.

Channel 10 then shipped Norman off to a  reporter boot camp in Texas where they show newbies how to walk and talk while holding a mike.

They did a good job.

Bob's been filing regular reports on all sorts of stuff in Broward.

About a month ago, Bob went on the air with his first report on a brand new, $25 million Broward County School Board bus depot that sits empty on the edge of the Everglades.

In the report, Bob can be seen walking through an unlocked door and strolling through the unoccupied building, unchallenged by any kind of security. Fascinating stuff to be sure.

But, did Channel 10 realize that when they hired Bob they'd be getting half a reporter?

What's that you say? You've been watching Bob's reports and he looks like he's all there.

Well, that's the problem. He's all there Broward County.

Bob, it seems, has no idea there's anything worth reporting south of the Miami-Dade/Broward County line.

Since Bob started filing his reports a little over a month ago, he's done nothing on Miami-Dade. And that's strange since he works for a station that gets 50% of its viewership from south of the Broward County line.

Now I'm pretty sure Bob reads the paper and watches his own station.

And if he does, he knows that Miami-Dade is ground zero when it comes to corruption and waste in government. After all, we've got stuff going on down here that makes Broward County seem like Mayberry by comparison.

Hell, down here in Miami we erect monuments that celebrate corruption.

They're building a monument to corruption right now on the site that used to be occupied by the Orange Bowl. You may have read about it, Bob. It was in all the papers.

It's called the Marlins Stadium.

Anyway, Bob, I know you're busy up there in Broward and haven't had time to check up on things down here.

And, maybe you're also a little leery of venturing down I-95, what with all the crime and stuff. Miami can be a very scary place to someone from the sticks.

So, let me save you some time and help you out a bit by showing you some places you might want to check out when you're able to free up your schedule.

Below is Miami City Hall. You wouldn't believe the stuff that goes on inside this building. Miami has been called a banana republic for a lot reasons. Most of those reasons start right here in this building. Need I say more?

Next up, the 31-story Stephen P. Clark Government Center.

This is where our new mayor and county manager work and oversee more than 27,000 county employees and manage a budget of billions of dollars. Surely you can find something worth reporting on here.

Now if any Random Pixels readers want to tip off Bob about graft, corruption or nefarious activities, go for it.

But, Bob is obviously very busy up there in Mayberry Broward.

So why not send those tips here to me here at Random Pixels? I'll sort through them and prioritize them forward them to Bob. It's the least I can do.

Oh, one more thing Bob. When you do decide to finally come down....make sure you bring your passport.

Raymond Scott, Source Magazine co-founder, arrested on Miami Beach with big-ass gun

Click document to enlarge

Raymond Scott, co-founder of The Source magazine, was arrested last Friday by Miami Beach police for reckless driving and "threats against a public servant."

The Source is a magazine that covers the hip-hop music scene.

Scott, who also goes by the stage name Benzino, was arrested July 8 by police at 9th Street and Euclid Avenue.

Raymond Scott aka "Benzino"
The police report says that a FN Five-seveN handgun was seized from Scott at the time of his arrest.

Scott made news in 2006 when a jury awarded former Source editor, Kimberly Osorio,  a $15.5 million judgment against Scott and Source co-founder, David Mays.
During the trial in U.S. District Court, Osorio's attorney, Kenneth Thompson, told Judge Jed S. Rakoff that Scott -- who is also a professional rapper known as Benzino -- shouted "Coward! Chump! Uncle Tom!" at him as he walked to the men's room during a recess. Scott denied the charge. The judge gave Scott the choice of staying in the courtroom or being escorted out of the building by a marshal.
This is not Scott's first run-in with Miami Beach police.

In 2001, Scott leveled charges of racism at Miami Beach police after being arrested following a traffic stop.
The co-owner The Source magazine, who was arrested this week on a variety of charges, among them reckless driving, marijuana possession and battery, accused the Miami Beach police officer who took him into custody of racism and brutality on Friday.

Raymond E. Scott, 36, who appeared at an afternoon press conference with a cane -- which Scott's advisers said he needs because he was injured during a police-administered beating -- won't discuss the incident directly on the advice of his attorneys. But his business partner, Source founder and CEO David Mays, said the Miami Beach Police Department is guilty of "blatant police misconduct, racial profiling and what we perceive is an attempt to discredit The Source as we come out of a successful hip-hop week."

Monday, July 11, 2011

The way we were

Coral Gables calls itself "The City Beautiful."

But over the years it's also earned itself the unofficial nickname of "Moral Gables."

In 1949, the city passed an ordinance banning "crime comic books."

In 1970, the city tried and failed to ban the showing of the movie, "Woodstock."

In 1972, the Coral Gables city commission was urged to ban the movie, "Last Tango in Paris," because the theater scheduled to show it was near a school.

In 1974, a Gables cop was suspended for shacking up with his  girlfriend.

And, at one time, video games were banned within city limits.

As late as 1987, the city commission passed a ban on beer sales at a Miracle Mile outdoor street festival. One commissioner justified her vote by saying, "drugs and alcohol are linked together."

Twenty years ago, the city spent over $130,000 of taxpayer money trying to "outlaw Miami New Times' brightly colored newspaper boxes" on the city's sidewalks.

Starting next month, Coral Gables residents, once again, will not be able to park pickup trucks in their driveways or on city streets from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Last month the Miami Herald reported the city was resuming  enforcement of the "controversial law because ... the Florida Supreme Court decided not to consider an appeal by Lowell Kuvin, who sued Coral Gables in 2003 after code-enforcement officers cited him for parking his pickup truck on a residential street."

But, The Gables - it turns out - wasn't always so "moral."

In the 1920's, if you wanted to gawk at naked ladies, all you had to do was drive on over to the Coral Gables Golf and Country Club.

The staid country club, it seems, featured nude dancers.

But for some reason, in 1927, the club changed course and decided to give "dancers with a wardrobe a chance."

Said the club's managing director Fred E. Mann, "Not that we are opposed to dancers au naturelle, but we believe the patrons of the club have had sufficient of the terpsichorean endeavors of the young women who eschew clothing in their act."

From the Miami Daily News, March 4, 1927

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Great moments in Miami history

News item:
10 hurt, no gorings: Spain's running of the bulls
Sunday, July 10, 2011

PAMPLONA, Spain — Thousands of thrill-seekers ran with the bulls on a crowded fourth day at the San Fermin festival in Pamplona on Sunday. Ten people were injured but no one was gored.

Several runners tripped, fell and were trampled as crowds raced alongside the massive bulls of the famous Miura breeding estate, founded in 1849.
So what does any of this have to do with Miami history? you ask.

Well, believe it or not, 31 years ago, a minor Miami official floated the idea of staging a running of the bulls right here in Miami.

In 1980, Aida Levitan, who was the City of Miami's information director, proposed a smaller scale version of the Pamplona insanity where bulls would run amok on Calle Ocho.

Levitan insisted no one would get hurt because they would use "baby bulls."

And said Levitan, "everybody will have a great time because we'll do the running of the bulls more efficiently and better than they do it in Spain." (Insert your own punchline here.)

Needless to say, Levitan's idea went nowhere.

from the Miami News, July 21, 1980

Friday, July 08, 2011

The Random Pixels Friday Night Commercial Rewind

A couple of classic Bartles and Jaymes wine cooler commercials from 1985.

Bartles and Jaymes as a topping for ice.

One year ago today: 'I'm going to take my talents to South Beach...'

One year ago today, LeBron James uttered these now famous words: "In this fall, this is very tough, in this fall I'm going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat."

So, tell me, because I haven't paid much attention since then..."we" won the championship, right?

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Q: Why do people work for the TSA? A: Because McDonald's isn't hiring.

Nelson Santiago-Serrano
Until a few days ago, Nelson Santiago-Serrano was a TSA agent at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

While his fellow agents were busy touching and groping airline passengers' junk at security checkpoints; Santiago-Serrano kept himself busy in the baggage area stealing the passengers' sh*t.

From CNN:
A Continental Airlines employee Monday caught Nelson Santiago-Serrano, 30, stealing an iPad from a suitcase in Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, according to the Broward County Sheriff's Office.


Over the past six months, Santiago-Serrano told authorities he stole $50,000 worth of computers, GPS devices and other electronics from luggage he screened, took pictures of them to post for sale online and sold the items often by the time his shift ended.

Time lapse of Shuttle Atlantis' last trek to liftoff

Now if I only had an iPhone....

-via Photojojo

Buy the The iPhone SLR Mount at the Photojojo Store!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Miami Herald editor: 'We did not apologize...for Glenn’s review.'

I recently sent several email queries to Miami Herald executive editor Mindy Marques regarding a controversial Glenn Garvin review. Today Herald managing editor Rick Hirsch replied:

Mindy forwarded this my way, and I wanted to clarify what is a somewhat misleading tweet.

We did not apologize in any way for Glenn’s review.  [Emphasis mine]. We did express regret for the tone of an email exchange with the group.

The "email exchange," I've learned, was between Garvin and a reader who forwarded them to Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy.

Doroshow told me tonight by email that people who saw Garvin's emails, "were quite disturbed by Mr. Garvin's nasty and sarcastic tone." Doroshow said her group then forwarded the emails to Herald editors.

Arizona dust storm captured in time-lapse video

Phoenix photographer Mike Olbinski says, "No words to describe this [video]. I've lived in Phoenix for 35 years and seen tons of dust storms.

"This was something else entirely."

(More dust storm videos on YouTube.)

The Phoenix Haboob of July 5th, 2011 from Mike Olbinski on Vimeo.

Lucky squirrel has close call with a Lamborghini

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

From the Random Pixels 'Photography is not a Crime' desk

Rhonda Hollander
Where's Carlos Miller when we need him?
Broward County traffic magistrate Rhonda Hollander accused of taking pictures of man in bathroom


A female traffic magistrate was accused of following a man into a courthouse bathroom, taking a picture of him with her cellphone as he stood at a urinal, and then trying to bite the finger of a deputy who questioned her about it, according to an arrest report.

Rhonda Hollander, 47, was arrested Thursday [June 30], after a brief physical struggle with the female deputy at the West Regional Courthouse, according to the report obtained Tuesday from the Broward Sheriff's Office.


According to the arrest report, a man named Willie Jackson Jr., of Tamarac, said Hollander snapped a picture while he prepared to use a urinal in the courthouse at 100 N. Pine Island Road in Plantation. She took a picture of another man as he entered the bathroom, according to the report.

When Broward Sheriff's Deputy Darlene Harden confronted Hollander a short time later, the magistrate admitted taking a picture but refused to turn over her phone, arguing that it was a public restroom and she was not violating any laws, according to the report.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Fred Karlton wants you to leave him the hell alone!

Fred Karlton
In case you missed it, there's a great story by the Miami Herald's David Smiley in today's paper. Something about a Miami Beach rich guy who's tired of all the white trash weekend boaters using the lake behind his $7 million home as a playground.
Miami Beach homeowners and boaters clash over secluded Biscayne Bay waters

By David Smiley

Boaters, beware: Fred Karlton pays a hefty price for his slice of paradise. And armed with a floodlight and stereo, he will defend it.

A well-heeled property investor who dabbles in local politics, Karlton lives on the east bank of Miami Beach’s idyllic Sunset Lake, a secluded section of Biscayne Bay wedged between the main island and four small residential islands just south of the Julia Tuttle Causeway. The quiet body of water is surrounded by some of South Florida’s more lavish homes — such as Karlton’s $6.8 million abode and the house Anna Kournikova listed on the market for $9.4 million — and at sunset is the type of backdrop that graces postcards and lures gawkers to splurge on $30 boat tours.

Not surprisingly, the placid waters have gained a cult reputation among the international boating community as one of the sweeter locations to drop anchor for a few days, or heck, even weeks.

“Very nice spot,” Dave Campbell, of Plymouth, Mass., wrote last year on the boating forum “Except for the homeowners.”

Thing is, while recent changes to state law almost entirely stripped local governments of their ability to regulate the navigation of waterways within their jurisdiction — rendering moot laws like the Miami Beach ordinance that caps a boater’s stay in the city’s waters to one week — homeowners on Sunset Lake are making it clear that their waterfront backyards are not a Holiday Inn.

“I’ve been a boater for 35 years and I certainly understand what it is to want to camp out,” Karlton said. “But there are lots of other places to do it than by sitting in peoples’ backyards. There are times that literally it’s a shantytown out here.”

Fred Karlton's crib.
The view from Fred Karlton's pool.

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Are Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega's days numbered?

Just when it looked like things couldn't get any worse for Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega, they have. From the Miami Herald:
A Miami Beach police officer who authorities say struck two people with his department ATV Sunday morning on the sands of South Beach was allegedly drinking on the job and joyriding with a woman at the time of the crash.

Miami Beach Police Chief Carlos Noriega said the officer involved in the crash, which happened in the dark about 5:15 a.m. near Fourth Street, was supposed to be patrolling the beach Sunday because of a recent spate of thefts.


“This is a complete abandonment of common sense,” said City Manager Jorge Gonzalez, who said Noriega told him Sunday morning that investigators were awaiting the results of blood tests to determine whether the officer was drunk.

“We’ll see what the statements say, but I find it hard to find legitimate reasons why an on-duty officer would be doing whatever he was doing at The Clevelander if it’s an accurate allegation. And there’s no reason why anybody should be driving anybody on an ATV anywhere.”

Mayor Matti Herrera Bower said “I’m very upset about it. This is not something that should have happened. They’re supposed to be protecting the beach, not drinking.”

Gonzalez said both officers have been on the force for several years. “They haven’t been on my radar screen as far as problem officers,” he said.

He said the man and woman hit on the beach were “tourists or visitors to Miami Beach.”

Noriega said the officer involved in the crash has been relieved of duty pending the results of the different investigations into the crash. Noriega said he will move quickly — “I’m talking the next couple of days” — to punish either officer if investigators find they violated any department policies Sunday.
This may be the final straw for Noriega.

The chief and his department are already facing criticism for the May 30 fatal shooting of a man by a dozen police officers who fired over a hundred rounds on a crowded street.

A week after the shooting, the Miami Beach city manager's office was so frustrated by the lack information forthcoming from police headquarters, that they took the unprecedented step of issuing their own unsigned press release.

And more than a month after the Memorial Day shooting, Noriega has yet to give a complete explanation why his officers seized a television camera from a WPLG-TV photojournalist who was covering the incident.

But all of this may be the least of the Noriega's worries.

There are rumblings within the department over reports that Noriega has been handing out official police badges to select civilians. Stay tuned for more on this.