Monday, December 31, 2012

The 45 Most Powerful Photos Of 2012

The 45 Most Powerful Photos Of 2012 as compiled by Buzzfeed.

Ramoncito Campo kisses his wife Hernelie Ruazol Campo on a flooded street
during a southwest monsoon that battered Manila, Philippines, in August. The newlywed
couple pushed through with their scheduled wedding despite severe flooding that
inundated wide areas of the capital and nine nearby provinces.
Photograph by Ramoncito Campo / Reuters

See all 45 images by clicking here.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Your lunch hour time waster

2012's best TV news bloopers.

And, yes...a local Miami station made this reel. (@11:10)

Stick with video until the very end for a truly embarrassing local TV news moment.

Caution: Some language NSFW.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The True Meaning of Christmas

A film by Zack Conkle via the New York Times:
Jeffrey Wright uses wacky experiments to teach children about the universe, but it is his own personal story that teaches them the true meaning of life.

h/t Chuck Fadely

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Random Pixels Sunday Page One Sampler

After you've finished with your local Sunday paper, you might want to check out these interesting stories that made the front pages of Sunday newspapers in the rest of the country:

San Francisco Chronicle: Gun sales booming in Nevada
by Justin Berton
Reno -- A customer inside Mark Hessler's crowded gun shop in Reno pointed to the few remaining AR-15 rifles on a display wall and asked Hessler if he'd sent President Obama a thank-you card for hinting at a ban on assault weapons.

Hessler almost had to shout over the din of bustling salesmen, credit cards snapping on glass countertops and cash registers that spat out receipts.

"Obama is the best gun salesman since Bill Clinton," Hessler said, drawing laughs from his audience. "Every time a liberal opens his mouth and says something stupid about guns, I sell a gazillion of them."

As the Newtown, Conn., massacre sparked a national debate about gun control and the availability of assault weapons, gun sellers in Nevada enjoyed booming sales.

Lakeland Ledger: Sales of Assault Weapons Rise After Conn. Killings
by Scott Wheeler
LAKELAND | A bell hangs from the entrance of The Gunshed, heralding each customer's arrival with a small ding.

It played a rapid melody this week to a stampede of customers who had their eyes trained on a row of tall, black assault rifles leaned upright in a corner, their muzzles to the ceiling.

The rush began quickly after the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre.

The day of the killing left employees numb.

"You feel a sense of helplessness," said Alex Wold, manager of the store at 1704 E. Edgewood Drive. "The idea of getting killed is awful."

Suppliers had a shortage of weapons and ammunition after the shooting, he said, and store workers taped signs on every shelf of bullets telling customers they were limited to five boxes.

Since then, The Gunshed has been able to replenish its stock of assault rifles. The long brown boxes stood behind a counter Friday. One sat open with a brand new rifle resting inside.

Louisville Courier-Journal: Downtown Louisville arena struggling to meet debt payments
by Marcus Green
It was supposed to be a reliable way to help cover the cost of a new downtown arena: The building’s events would bring throngs of people downtown who would eat, drink and shop nearby. Their sales taxes would be captured to help pay for the KFC Yum! Center.

But the arena hasn’t added as much to tax revenues as expected during its first three years — producing less than one-third of the amount originally projected.

Arena officials have scraped together cash to deal with the shortfalls, nearly emptying a building renovation fund and notifying Louisville metro government that more city money may be needed as early as next spring.

The troubles have captured the attention of the bond market, with rating agency Standard & Poor’s lowering its confidence in the authority’s ability to repay the project’s debt to “negative” from “stable” over concerns about the sales tax revenue from the arena neighborhood.

Meanwhile, arena debt payments are scheduled to rise, totaling more than $800 million over the next three decades — in some years exceeding $30 million, compared with about $19 million now.

St. Paul Pioneer Press: IntoxBox lets potential drunken drivers see their 'score' before they drive
by Marino Eccher
If you have to ask the box how drunk you are, Shamrock's bar co-owner Ted Casper figures, "you already know it's time to get a cab."

But for some, a reminder might not hurt.

The "box" is the IntoxBox, a commercial device that measures blood-alcohol content when someone blows into it. It has made its way into about two dozen Twin Cities bars.

Its Eden Prairie-based makers bill it as a combination of entertainment and public safety designed to make potential drunken drivers think twice.

"It made sense to try to give people a resource at the point of decision to know when they should and shouldn't be driving," said Ryan Walden, co-founder and president of Walden Innovative Resources.

Walden, 24, got the idea while he was a student at Cornell College in Iowa. A friend went tailgating at a football game, stopped drinking for hours and left the game certain he was under the legal limit for driving, Walden said. But he still got pulled over for drunken driving.

Walden saw a niche for a product that could turn the guesswork on blood-alcohol content into a firmer answer. He explored existing devices but didn't find them appealing -- or accurate.

The Wichita Eagle: Recovering from stabbing, loss prevention officer recounts attack
by Amy Renee Leiker
Chase Camarena gingerly placed his palm over his chest and grinned.

“I have two weird scars,” the soft-spoken 26-year-old said, tracing an “x” over his right pectoral.

One is from the knife blade that pierced his skin that Saturday night, he explained.

A tube doctors used to drain blood from his right lung left the other.

At times, Camarena laughed as he spoke of an attack that left him in a Wichita hospital fighting critical injuries for eight days.

He joined the J.C. Penney loss prevention team a little more than a year ago. A tax preparer by day, Camarena decided to pair his degree in business administration with a bachelor’s in accounting. He needed money to pay for more schooling.

Working part time as a loss prevention officer — hired by retailers to recover stolen merchandise — added excitement to his otherwise orderly work day.

But on Nov. 10, following a confrontation with an armed shoplifter, he lay in the parking lot of Towne East Square, unsure he’d live to see Nov. 11.

Hartford Courant: Dawn Hochsprung's Devotion To Family, Sandy Hook School Never Wavered
by Alaine Griffin
Dawn Hochsprung kept politics out of her professional life.

But after the November election, Hochsprung, a registered Democrat, couldn't help sounding off to her Facebook friends in an exuberant post using the pseudonym "Dinna Fash," a term for "don't worry."

"Happy for my daughters, whose right to make decisions about their own bodies are preserved for four more years. Just happy."

Five weeks later, the president would hold Hochsprung's 6-month-old granddaughter, Alyson, and pinch her little cheeks during a meeting with loved ones of those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

"She was the biggest Obama fan," Hochsprung's daughter, Erica Lafferty said in an interview with The Courant on Tuesday night. "That would have been the highlight of her life."

Family and friends gathered Thursday for Hochsprung's funeral in Woodbury, where she lived with her husband, George. The hilly Litchfield County town of nearly 10,000 residents is about 15 miles from the Newtown school where she and 20 children and five school staff members were killed Friday.

Tuesday night, solemn mourners holding burning candles stood in pouring rain on the town green in Naugatuck, where Hochsprung graduated from high school in 1983, to remember the Sandy Hook Elementary School principal's life — 47 years marked by a string of both personal and professional milestones.

Loving daughter. Hard-working student-athlete. Passionate, award-winning teacher. Admired school principal. Devoted wife. Dedicated mother and grandmother.

And someone who ran toward the gunfire instead of away from it, an act worthy of acknowledgment by the president of the United States.

"We know that when danger arrived in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school staff did not flinch, they did not hesitate," President Obama said in a memorial service last week in Newtown.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

2012: The Year in Photos

From The Atlantic's In Focus photo blog...

The Year in Photos [Part 3]

Newly re-elected President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle are showered with
confetti after his acceptance speech in Chicago, on November 7.

(Reuters/Philip Andrews)

Mitt Romney delivers hs concession speech in Boston, on November 7.
(Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

[Part 1]

[Part 2]

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The First Annual Random Pixels Year-end List

It's that time of the year. Year-end list time.

I'm pretty sure I've never done a year-end list before.

But I figured this might be a good time to do one....for no particular reason.

What follows is a list of my favorite posts this past year. I didn't use any criteria in picking them...other than I enjoyed writing them. Maybe you'll see one of your favorites. Enjoy!
January...Photoshop is fun! Proof that Fidel Castro is still alive!

February...the post that almost got filmmaker Billy Corben sent to jail. Billy Corben is on jury duty

March...So Fla's most interesting TV reporter gets into a little scuffle. WPLG Reporter Bob Norman assaulted

April...a look back at a fun assignment at Federal Court. Sept. 22, 1988: Just another day on the job

May...a lot of people have forgotten about Sergio Pereira. I haven't. Corruption in South Florida: Here to stay

June...why does Aventura need a S.W.A.T. team? Aventura S.W.A.T. to al Qaeda: 'Bring it on!'

July...Miami Herald believes its mission is to bring South Floridians together. Here's a look at a headline that did anything but that. And now for some Kumbaya...brought to you by the folks at the Miami Herald

August...a clueless Miami politician forgets what happens when City Hall tries to tell Hollywood how to make movies.  'Burn Notice' producers remind Marc Sarnoff that TV explosions are fake

September...Republican Paul Ryan stops by the Versailles to drink some Cuban coffee...but as we learned last month, it didn't help him or Mitt Romney one bit. Stop me if you've heard this one before

October...the Miami Herald's Marc Caputo is one of the most persistent reporters...ever. After watching Marc Caputo question Sen. Marco Rubio, I'm convinced Rubio is guilty of something

November...a post I've been meaning to write for a few years. Isn't it time Miami named a street after Sam Cooke?

December...stumbling upon an old Miami Daily News story about Al Capone's first visit to Miami was like finding gold! The way we were...Jan., 1928: Al Capone visits Miami for the first time...It's 'warmer than California'

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A Classic Don Wright cartoon from 25 years ago

Dec. 15, 1987: Colorado Sen. Gary Hart re-enters the Democratic presidential race, seven months after withdrawing in the wake of revelations by the Miami Herald that he was carrying on an affair with Miami model Donna Rice.

Dec. 18, 1987: Miami News editorial cartoonist Don Wright pokes fun at Hart and the Miami Herald.

Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Calvin Hughes has a lot of grey suits (Part II)

Click here to enlarge image.

Local 10's Mr. Excitement, Calvin - Fifty Shades of Grey - Hughes, wore some kind of grey suit on Tuesday night's late newscast. That is all.

Your lunch hour time waster

Useful Dog Tricks performed by Jesse the Jack Russell Terrier.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Bal Harbour's embattled police chief Tom Hunker now even more 'embattled'

Tom Hunker, left, and Alphonse Capone.
The Village of Bal Harbour, Florida is a little more than a half square mile in size. And only half of that is land.....the rest is underwater.

But while Bal Harbour is small, the tiny town's Bal Harbour Shops is ranked as the No. 1 most productive retail property in the country.

Bal Harbour's police force is also tiny. It has fewer than 30 officers and is headed by a retired Miami Beach Police narcotics detective named Tom Hunker. According to the Miami Herald, Hunker's base salary is $141,959.80 a year. The town also provides him with a car, health insurance and a pension plan.

So, why did Hunker, a police chief best known for running revenue-generating speed traps on A1A, become the target a federal investigation that's looking into allegations that his department - at his direction - misspent millions in drug money seized from criminals?

That's a question the Miami Herald's Daniel Chang has been trying to answer since last October with a series of eye-opening reports.

Yesterday, Chang reported that Hunker's department...
... Flush with millions of dollars seized from drug dealers, [...] financed a freewheeling spending spree: $3,200 for a Miami-Dade police chiefs golf outing at Miami Shores Country Club; $1,000 for two nights’ stay at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico; and thousands more in sumptuous meals at Carpaccio Restaurant in the Bal Harbour Shoppes.

There were trips galore to Home Depot and Party City, for items such as cooking fuel and folding tables and chairs; to Publix and BJs Wholesale Club for food platters, dessert trays and picnic supplies; to BrandsMart USA for a flat-screen TV, a microwave oven and other appliances.

What did these expenses have to do with the department’s duty of serving and protecting Bal Harbour?

Little to nothing, according to the findings of an investigative report released last week by the U.S. Department of Justice that slams a Bal Harbour police task force that traveled the country picking up drug cash and laundering it during undercover investigations. The Justice Department said the task force laundered more money for criminals than it seized, and made no significant arrests or prosecutions — but spent the cash it did seize lavishly on salaries and benefits for officers, exceeding government spending guidelines with first-class flights, luxury car rentals and posh lodgings during undercover operations.

Even when police were not working undercover, they tapped federal forfeiture funds to buy hundreds of dollars worth of pizzas, sodas and snacks for Mothers Against Drunk Driving events or Crime Watch meetings, and they pulled out all the stops for DUI checkpoints, which frequently became occasions for catered cookouts for the cops, according to Bal Harbour credit card statements.

Expense records show Bal Harbour police routinely spent hundreds and sometimes thousands on party supplies and other items that had little to do with actual law enforcement, such as $1,500 worth of Apple iPads and accessories purchased at the Aventura Mall in August 2011 for a drug-prevention event.
Chang also reports that according to U.S. Department of Justice findings, Bal Harbour's drug task force "operated like a rogue unit," and  the department's "detectives made no arrests related to money laundering, and never presented a case for prosecution for money laundering, according to the Justice Department. The unit produced no investigative reports."

Click here to read Chang's full report, "Bal Harbour cops spent lavishly with seized drug loot."

Other reports in Chang's series include:

Feds probe Bal Harbour Police Department over seized millions

Feds to Bal Harbour: Hand over seized drug loot

Bal Harbour leaders stand by embattled chief

Bal Harbour police chief suspended amid new allegations of misconduct

Hunker ‘pushed the envelope’ with methods, ex-Gables chief says


US Department of Justice investigation of Bal Harbour PD

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Saturday Night Live Pays Tribute to Victims of Connecticut School Shooting

-via TIME:
The New York City Children’s Chorus, dressed in matching red robes, sang the popular Christmas hymn “Silent Night,” with the particularly apropos refrain, "Sleep in heavenly peace."

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Saturday night Sinatra

Sinatra and Louis Armstrong - Birth of the Blues

Frank Sinatra - Fly Me To The Moon (Live 1964)

The Way You Look Tonight

For Once In My Life

My Way

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thursday, December 13, 2012

12 Days of Miami Christmas

-via Hialeah Haikus

Calvin Hughes has a lot of grey suits

Introducing an exciting new Random Pixels feature!

Click here to enlarge image.

Last night, Local 10 anchor Calvin Hughes wore one of his many grey suits, accented with a white hankie and a tie of indeterminate color. Exciting!

Check back here often as we try to determine just how many shades of grey suits Calvin owns.


Jan. 8, 2012: Channel 10's 'Nowhere Man'

March 23, 2012: THIS JUST IN! Local 10's Calvin Hughes survives 'grueling' trip to Cuba!

March 25, 2012: Local 10's Calvin Hughes is ready to 'throw back' some mojitos

March 30, 2012: Because it's all about you, isn't it, Calvin?

Your lunch hour time waster

The SPCA in New Zealand wanted to prove that rescue dogs are smart.

How smart?

Well, they taught "Porter" how to drive a car! Can your dog do this?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

'I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!'

2012 headline:

FBI investigating Miami cops in bookmaking case

At least one Miami police officer has been relieved of duty in connection with the federal probe, and arrests of several officers are expected in January.


At least a half-dozen Miami Police officers have been targeted by the FBI for their alleged roles in providing protection for a Liberty City sports gambling operation that was uncovered more than a year ago, according to authorities familiar with the case.

At least one Miami officer has been relieved of duty in connection with the investigation into the bookmaking business, which has been shut down, authorities said.

The initial probe by the FBI, which has been assisted by the police department, evolved into a broader investigation involving some of the officers. Arrests of at least six Miami officers — and possibly more — are expected as early as January, according to authorities.

1949 headlines:

May 8, 1949.

May 8, 1949.

May 9, 1949.

Miami Daily News, May 9, 1949.

May 11, 1949.

May 19, 1949.

May 20, 1949.

May 20, 1949.

From the Miami Herald, Aug. 3, 1986:

by Marc Fisher

Gambling and South Florida have gone together since Henry Flagler built tony gambling casinos alongside his hotels from Palm Beach to Miami, where the pioneer developer opened the Seminole Club beside the old Royal Palm Hotel at the mouth of the Miami River.

Throughout the first half of the century, illegal gambling prospered openly in Dade County mainly because, as one-time Miami Herald columnist Jack Kofoed wrote, "Even pious people were nudged by a conviction that a resort city cannot survive without betting."

Within a few years after the city was born, gambling joints thrived on Miami Avenue, in the area called the Tenderloin, a wild and wide-open cut of what is now downtown. A Miami grand jury reported in 1923 that in much of the city, tourists and residents alike could find "numerous slot machines, punchboards and other gambling devices that even little children may play without being molested."

From the start, Dade's gambling was more than a back-alleys sideshow. Even Miami's most honored pioneers sanctioned gambling: Games abounded in Flagler's hotels and at the Tuttles' family home.

Miami Beach developer Carl Fisher was considered an anomaly for insisting that casinos attracted the wrong crowd. Fisher managed to keep casinos off the Beach for a time, but that attitude dissipated as South Florida boomed. (Indeed, even Fisher -- or at least his mansion -- came to be part of the gambling scene. In the '30s, the pioneer's home became the Bath and Tennis Club, a high society casino.)

Before long, there was the Palm Island Club, later known as the Latin Quarter, and the Brook Club in Surfside, combination casinos and nightclubs that offered the biggest names in entertainment: Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, Sophie Tucker.

Big Bill Dwyer's Palm Island Club set the pattern for South Florida casinos. Opening in the late '20s over the protests of the swank island's residents, the club was primarily a nightspot, a showcase for top-dollar stars and semi-nude chorus girls. Of course, to pay the bills, the club had a casino. And to keep the peace, Dwyer's boys delivered "ice" -- cold cash -- to the police, city officials and others who might have thought about ruining some swell's night on the town.

Ice became part of the local routine. By the late '30s, payola at the Royal Palm in downtown Miami came to $25,000 a week, chickenfeed compared to the casino's nightly take of $200,000 and even an occasional $2 million.


World War II crimped the casino trade. Like most large buildings in South Florida, the casinos were used to house soldiers. The Colonial was home to an Army Signal Corps unit: Enlisted men lived in the gambling room. After the war, the casinos reopened, but business wasn't the same. Politicians, once protectors of the casinos, began to change their tune. In 1948, the state attorney's office closed down the Colonial. Most other casinos disappeared soon thereafter.

But the bookmakers of the S&G Syndicate continued to operate in the open, with no pressure from police. Like any thriving business, the syndicate had offices, at least six of them scattered around the heart of Miami Beach, control points for a network of, by one count, 314 bookmaking operations.

Sam Friedman and Jules Levitt ran one office in a Washington Avenue apartment building. Another operated out of the Mercantile Bank building. In each office, employees who had been through the S&G's bookmaking school sat with telephones at long tables divided by boards into stalls. On the wall, a blackboard was filled with entries and odds of all the U.S. race tracks then running.

Miami Beach police not only failed to enforce anti-gambling laws, but they protected the S&G from competition. When New York gambler Frank Erickson paid the Roney Plaza Hotel $45,000 for a three-month bookie concession, Beach police raided the place and sent Erickson packing, returning the hotel to S&G control.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Miami Herald: Still struggling with the Internet and covering the news

Click here to enlarge image.

In a little more than a week, the Miami Herald will launch its paywall.

According to a Nov. 14 email from Herald publisher David Landsberg to the newsroom staff, "...users of [the Miami Herald's] websites and apps will have access to a limited number of stories every month. When they reach their limit, they will be asked to subscribe to the new digital package or consider a print subscription that includes the digital package."

In that same email Landsberg also told his staff that, "We have transformed our business to become 24/7 information specialists, with the ability to deliver breaking news through a variety of digital platforms in addition to our print newspapers."

But, as I noted a week ago, the Herald still has a way to go before they can call themselves "24/7 information specialists."

And they drove that point home today.

Below is a screenshot of a six sentence story rewrite of a Miami Police Department press release - along with its embarrassing headline - that's been on the Herald's website all day Monday.

Click to enlarge.

Apparently the editors at the Miami Herald believe that the stories of crimes against the residents of Overtown and Miami Gardens aren't worth more than four or five sentences.

And while the Herald did its best to not cover a horrific crime in Overtown, a Herald reporter and a photographer spent all day at Miami City Hall covering a hearing on whether or not the Herald building should be classified as a historic landmark.

How's that for priorities?

And remember, next week you're going to be asked to pay for stuff like this.

Your feel-good video of the day

Little boy, out for a walk with Watson, a 12 year old Sharpei, decides he wants to splash in a puddle.

Watson patiently waits while the boy does his thing, and then the two continue their walk.

Ths is why the Internet was invented.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Is 'Zero Dark Thirty' 2012's Best Film?

-via the Washington Post:
NEW YORK — Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” continued to gather awards momentum as the National Board of Review named the Osama bin Laden hunt docudrama the best film of the year.

The board is the second notable group to name “Zero Dark Thirty” best film, following the New York Film Critics Circle. The two early awards suggest the film may be the Academy Awards frontrunner, four years after Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker” triumphed at the Oscars.

LA Times: 'Zero Dark Thirty' hunts for Bin Laden -- and more

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The day Zorita and her snake slowed traffic to a crawl in downtown Miami

Miami Daily News, Feb. 22, 1939.

Wednesday, Feb. 22, 1939: A 21 year-old exotic dancer named "Zorita" takes her snake for a noon-time stroll on busy Flagler Street in downtown Miami.

A large crowd gathers to watch the spectacle, spilling into the street. Traffic soon slows to a crawl.

The cops are called and Zorita and her snake are on their way to police department.

"The only way we could disperse the crowd and free traffic from a snarl was to bring her and the snake in," one of the cops told his bosses.

The Miami Daily News quotes a few veteran cops as saying, "The whole thing smacks of a publicity gag."

Publicity? No way, says Zorita, "We only were taking the morning breeze."

Two days later, this ad runs in the back pages of the Daily News.

Miami Daily News, Feb. 24, 1939.

That ad in the News was just the first of hundreds of ads for Zorita and her snake that would run in Miami newspapers over the next four decades.

Miami Daily News, May 27, 1955.

Miami News, Dec. 14, 1958.

Zorita died in 2001 at age 85.

From the Miami Herald, Nov. 14, 2001:
Zorita started dancing professionally when she was 19.

Her daughter Tawny Petillo doesn't know where her mother got the name Zorita. "She told me a lot of stories, but she never told me that one. She liked to sound exotic," Petillo said. "All I know is it had a `Z' in it, and you could make it into a snake ."

In her signature, Zorita would put a little curve on the ``Z'' so it looked like the head of a snake with a little line, like a tongue, coming out of it.

"When she first started, she was on the road an awful lot. She did a lot of shows in Baltimore and Chicago, California, Panama and other places," Petillo said. "Once I arrived, she sort of settled into the Miami Beach area."

Zorita still traveled for some shows, but she was based in Dade County and danced at places like Miami's Gaiety Burlesque and Martha Raye's Five O'Clock Club before she opened her own nightclub, Zorita 's Show Bar, on Collins Avenue and 176th Street in Sunny Isles Beach in the 1960s.

Zorita wore long, sequined gowns and lush fur wraps as well as her boa constrictor wrapped around her body.

"She may have been an exotic dancer, but she was very, very classy," Petillo said.

And it seemed as if she was always on exhibit with her snake . Though people probably did not know she had two snakes , Oscar and Elmer, which she alternated in her routines. Zorita also had a snake handler that would care for and feed them.

A regular at Roberts Drugstore on Flagler Street in Riverside (now East Little Havana), she used to eat breakfast at 3 a.m. with her snake in a basket beside her. She fed it crumbs. She once walked the snake on a leash like a pet down Collins Avenue and was quickly arrested. It was what she wanted, her daughter said.

"She'd do almost anything for a little publicity," said Petillo. "She raised quite a few eyebrows."

Monday, December 03, 2012

Loose Talk

A random collection of quotes in the news today:

"It was an interesting enough series, but it wasn’t a good image at all. It was all shooting and blood." -Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower, quoted in the Financial Times on the impact "Miami Vice" had on Miami Beach's image. (-via rakontur)

This is NOT a scene from "Miami Vice."


The parents of 8 year-old Jillian Thomas let her feed a wild animal at Orlando's Seaworld and then are shocked when it acts like a wild animal and bites Jillian.
"Everyone just imagines dolphins as smiling, non-biting animals with knobby teeth. You forget these are wild animals." -Jillian's mother, Amy Thomas, quoted in the Orlando Sentinel.

This is NOT the dolphin that bit little Jillian:


And finally, Ocean Drive magazine arts editor Brett Sokol, writing in the New York Times, nullifies celebrity author Tom Wolfe's depiction of Miami in the novel, "Back to Blood."
"In the end, they [Florida voters] rejected every one of the most eyebrow-raising proposals — from property tax breaks for snowbirds, to restrictions on abortion, to, yes, further tightening of the embargo on Cuba. That kind of patient thoughtfulness may not make for as exciting a headline as anti-Castro demonstrators, or celebrities behaving badly. But for those of us who actually live in Miami — who don’t merely parachute in to deliver glib verdicts — it’s reason to be hopeful about the future."

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Miami Herald Deathwatch (cont.)

December 18, 2012.

If you depend upon the Miami Herald's website to get your news, that's an important day.

Miami Herald publisher David Landsberg says that's when the paper plans to start charging readers to access its website.

In a November 14 email to the Herald newsroom, Landsberg proudly proclaimed: "We have transformed our business to become 24/7 information specialists, with the ability to deliver breaking news through a variety of digital platforms in addition to our print newspapers."

So, with less than three weeks to go before the Herald starts charging you to read their stories, you might be wondering how the "24/7 information specialists" at the Herald are gearing up for the transition.

I'm here to report they're not even close to being ready.

Here's a story that's been on the Herald's website all day Sunday. It's about a Miami-Dade corrections officer who was shot and killed in Miami Gardens a little before 8pm Saturday night. 

But the "24/7 information specialists" at the Herald didn't post a story - if a four sentence rewrite of a police press release can be called "a story" - until just before 9am Sunday morning...more than 12 hours after the murder occurred.

In the meantime, another "man was shot and killed at a Miami Gardens gas station," Sunday afternoon according to Local 10.

Which means the "24/7 information specialists" at the Herald might have something posted on their website by Monday morning. Or, maybe not.

And remember, in less than three weeks, you're going to be asked to pay to read crap like this.

miami-dade corrections officer shot miami gardens, Andrew Johnson, corrections officer, miami gerdens

The way we were...Jan., 1928: Al Capone visits Miami for the first time...It's 'warmer than California'

Al Capone visits Miami for the first time and comments on the weather....
"Miami's climate is more healthful than Chicago's and warmer than California - that's why I'm here."
...and the real estate market....
"I believe now is the time to buy down here and I'm thinking of going into the market rather heavily. I don't believe there will be any sensational climb in values [...] for five years, but I'm contented to wait that long."

From the Miami Daily News, Jan. 10, 1928.

Click here to enlarge.


Curbed Miami: Al Capone's house

Miami Archives: Al Capone and the St. Valentine's Day Massacre

Miami Archives: Al Capone on the brink of death

Miami Archives: Al Capone's Palm Island home - Then and now

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Stuff we like

Check out this curious 25-second time-lapse/composite video that shows every airplane that landed at San Diego International Airport on Black Friday a week ago between 10:30am and 3pm. The giant planes whiz by overhead as if they’re part of a fighter jet squadron heading off to battle — not something you’d expect to see with commercial planes at an airport. It was created by photography and film professor Cy Kuckenbaker.
Make sure you stick with the video until the end for a visual surprise.

Landings at San Diego Int Airport Nov 23, 2012 from Cy Kuckenbaker on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

President Obama is coming for your guns. No, really, this time he's serious!

The other day Fox News hottie Anna Kooiman interviewed a New Jersey gun shop owner who attributed a recent spike in gun sales to Hurricane Sandy and Barack Obama's re-election.

(The best part of Kooiman's report is the sound of gunfire obliterating every other word of her stand up. Personally, I think Fox News should use this device more often.)

And while the reporter doesn't follow up on the gun shop owner's thinly-veiled claim that Obama's re-election might be a threat to Americans' second amendment rights, the implication is unmistakable.  But, isn't this something we've heard before?

Anna Kooiman, fox news, Anna Kooiman hot, Anna Kooiman guns

Cat does a TV weather report walk-on

The folks at Univision's West Miami-Dade headquarters have always looked out for the cats that live in the network's parking lot.  (My first cat was given to me by a Univision receptionist.)

And, as they explain on their YouTube page, "sometimes [the cats] make it into the studio."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Herald and the Marlins Ballpark, a response‏ from the Miami Herald's Andres Viglucci

What follows is an email I received tonight - which I'm posting unedited - from Miami Herald staff writer Andres Viglucci....which I'm assuming he sent in response to posts on my blog like this and this.

Viglucci also sent the mail to two other Miami bloggers.

Full disclosure: I've known Andres for almost 30 years, dating back to when he was a young Associated Press staffer in the Miami bureau and I was a freelance photographer there.

Thanks for the email, Andres. I wish more of your colleagues would take the time to write when they disagree with me. By the way, did you also send this to New Times...or should I do that? Love ya, man!
Guys, c'mon.

You want to take on The Miami Herald for its Marlins ballpark coverage, we're fair game. But do it fairly then. Which of course you don't.

I'm getting really tired of your grievously reductive assessment of the newspaper's handling of the stadium issue, which seems to focus almost exclusively on the edit board and a sports columnist or two. Fine as far as that goes. But surely you know better. There's a lot more to this than you all let on, but then that would spoil your tidy black-and-white storyline.

Andres Viglucci
The sometimes implied, sometimes explicit claim that the reporting staff was in the bag or disengaged or whatnot is absolute, one-sided horseshit. And I've just gone through dozens of clips in our archive (yes. it's publicly available) going back several years because I am royally pissed off on behalf of my hardworking colleagues in the newsroom.

The reason everyone knows the Marlins deal was not a favorable one for the public, down to the decimal point, is through extensive in-depth reporting and analysis done before the contract was approved, and afterwards, too, by Chuck Rabin, Jack Dolan, Adam Beasley, Matt Haggman and others who laid bare the financials, the questionable assumptions and claims and their consequences in excruciating detail.

Not to mention numerous columns by Fred Grimm (who took the Herald edit board to task, in print, in early 2009: "Magical thinking was not just confined to county commissioners or Marlins fans. The Miami Herald's editorial page seemed to ignore the hard work of its own reporters to embrace the dream.'') and sports columnist and consistent stadium skeptic Linda Robertson (OK, she's my wife), and assists by others (including, not patting myself on the back since my contribution was minor, me, who wrote a long time ago that the stadium would do absolutely nothing for economic development in that neighborhood).

Be glad to provide you chapter and verse if you're all too far up your own asses to look it up.

So to write that our reporters somehow dropped the ball when the truth is the exact opposite is unjustifiable, not to say unfair to the beat people who did loads of original reporting -- matched by one else in this town, by the way -- by going through hundreds of pages of contractual crap, financial statements and so on to dig up facts, talking to experts, confronting bureaucrats and politicos, etc etc., i.e., doing their damn jobs.

So, do yours, too, dear bloggers, if you're going to claim some blogging mantle of all-knowing superiority.

And please note that I write this as someone who considers at least one of you a friend, reads you all regularly and to a great degree respects what you do. Except when you fuck up. Which you've done here.

Cheers to all,

Andres Viglucci
The Miami Herald

Facebook Law for Idiots

I hope none of you fell for that stupid Facebook hoax that was making the rounds yesterday.

But, if you did, here are some helpful tips to help you avoid making a fool of yourself in front of the entire world next time around.

Monday, November 26, 2012

And now, it's time for another installment of....

To: Aminda "Mindy" Marques, Executive Editor, Miami Herald
Rick Hirsch, Managing Editor, Miami Herald
From: Bill, Random Pixels

Hi guys!

Hope you all had a restful and enjoyable Thanksgiving.

The reason I'm writing is to ask about Sunday's page one story on the hunt for the "Man-eating Croc."

Did you guys hire a headline writer from the National Enquirer? Because that was my first thought when I saw it. Either that or someone wrote the headline as a place-holder and then forgot to change it before the paper went to press.
Or maybe you guys got punk'd!

I couldn't believe it myself when I first saw it. I hope you don't mind, but I put together a little parody and posted it on my blog. (You know me and my sense of humor.)

But some aren't laughing. Someone - and I suspect it may be someone from the fifth floor - left this comment on my post:
[When] I saw that piece in the paper this morning and then the photo on the website, I thought, 'THAT'S the man-eating croc?' It speaks volumes about what's left of the Herald - not the sensationalism but the sheer fact that no one at any level in what's left of the newsroom said, 'Wait a minute. Let's not run THAT photo - not if the story is taking THIS approach.'

It's profoundly saddening and embarrassing to see the Herald do what it did today (and far too often) while its circulation craters as other newspapers pass it by with better and smarter...everything and, consequently, less loss of readership.
Oh, and just today, the American Copy Editors Society blog singled out the headline for a special mention.

By the way, I thought I'd mention that while your people were scaring the hell out of the readers with that headline, a couple of other papers in Florida actually had some journalism on their front pages yesterday.

Did you guys happen to see the Palm Beach Post story yesterday on how the Republican Party of Florida conspired to suppress voter turnout?

And did you catch the excellent story in the Tampa Bay Times on Florida's vanishing springs?

Both are examples of top-notch journalism.

You guys at the Herald should try doing some of that again. Like you used to do many years ago.

And leave the tabloid stories to the Star and the National Enquirer.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Miami Herald tries its hand at tabloid headline writing

Did you see the front page of today's Miami Herald?

Click to enlarge.
(Image via The Newseum)

That's right! We're all in danger of being eaten by Man-eating Nile crocodiles! And there's not a damn thing you can do about it.

The Herald's Curtis Morgan reports that South Florida wildlife biologist Joe Wasilewski recently caught a four-foot long Nile crocodile at the Redland Fruit & Spice Park in South Miami-Dade.

But wildlife officials believe there is still at least one Nile crocodile still living in the wild.

Morgan writes that the beast is "infamous for its appetite for humans and savage attacks on wildebeest and other large animals along African rivers and watering holes."

Morgan also says that "U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took the unusual step of authorizing a state shoot-to-kill" order for the man-eater.

At this point you're probably asking, "What does this killer croc look like? I'd like to know so I can protect my family." Unfortunately, Morgan's story doesn't offer any tips on how to do that.

But the paper did run this photo.

Joe Wasilewski with the Nile crocodile he captured.

Man-eater? That thing looks like it would have trouble devouring a large order of Chicken McNuggets.

But according to one expert, "It's disturbing that a very large animal that can and does attack and kill people in its native range somehow got in [South Florida's] canal system."

That's the opinion of FWC Everglades Region Biologist Dennis Giardina. But, he didn't tell that to the Herald. His quote was part of a less sensational story that ran on the front page of the Key West Citizen last Wednesday.

Why did the Herald choose to go with such an alarmist headline? Page views. Right now, the story of the "man-eatng croc" is the most-viewed story on the paper's website.

And while the Herald's page one headline is the most sensational I've ever seen in the paper, it didn't go far enough in my opinion.

Here's what today's front page would have looked like had it been up to me.

Click here to enlarge image.

Florida's Vanishing Springs

Craig Pittman covers Florida's environment for the Tampa Bay Times.

On his Facebook page he offers up this tongue-in-cheek description of what he does for a living: "Any job where you get paid to go out and ride around in a boat every now and then is a good job in my book."

But, in this morning's Times, Pittman tackles a very serious subject: Florida's Vanishing Springs.
Deep beneath the ground we stand on, below the strip malls and the condos and the lush green of the golf courses, runs a river of water that makes life in Florida possible. The underground aquifer rushes through Swiss cheese caverns, its hidden flow bubbling up to the surface in Florida’s estimated 1,000 springs -- the greatest concentration of springs on Earth.

A century ago Florida’s gin-clear springs drew presidents and millionaires and tourists galore who sought to cure their ailments by bathing in the healing cascades. Now the springs tell the story of a hidden sickness, one that lies deep within the earth.

• The water in many springs no longer boils up like a fountain, the way they have for centuries. The flow has slowed. In some places it has even stopped or begun flowing backward.

• The water that does come out is polluted by nitrates.

• The pollution fuels the growth of toxic algae blooms, which are taking over springs and the rivers they feed and putting human health at risk.

• Finally, the fresh water coming out of many springs is showing signs of a growing saltiness, according to a study by the Florida Geological Survey.

All of it — particularly the saltiness — is a dark omen for the future of the state's water supply.

"It's the very same water we drink that's coming out of the springs," said Doug Stamm, author of the book Florida's Springs. "When they start to deteriorate, that's the water we drink deteriorating too."
Read the rest of Pittman's story by clicking here and read other articles in the series here.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Isn't it time Miami named a street after Sam Cooke?

We've all seen the signs on Miami-Dade county's streets. They're everywhere.

I'm talking about the South Florida streets and avenues that, in addition to having a numerical designation, are also named after a person. To bureaucrats and politicians they're known as "street co-designations."

There are the obvious ones: a street and a causeway are named after two early Miami pioneers: Henry Flagler and Julia Tuttle.

Some streets are named after personalities who have left some kind of mark on South Florida. A stretch of NW 10th Ave. starting at 14th Street is called Bob Hope Road. Miami Beach's 41st Street is also called Arthur Godfrey Road; named after the 50s radio personality who broadcast his show from Miami Beach during the winter months.

Others are named after business leaders, police officers who have died in the line of duty, politicians and sports figures. Scores of avenues and streets are named after various Cuban patriots.

And some are hard to figure... a two-block stretch of Bird Road is called Bob Arbetter's Way, named for the late owner of a hot dog stand.

But if you think you have to die before they name a street after you, think again. A 72-block stretch of NW 12th Ave. is named after Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle.

But naming a street after someone who's still alive can be dangerous.

A section of SW 132nd Avenue was once named for  a Cuban-American developer who later did time in federal prison for running a massive drug-smuggling operation.

After that debacle, a few embarrassed county commissioners proposed an ordinance that would have limited the naming of streets to those who had been dead for at least five years. The proposal was quickly shot down. (There's still a boat ramp on Miami Beach named after former Florida State Representative Barry Kutun who pled guilty to having sex with an underage girl.)

Earlier this month I requested a list of co-designated street names from the county's public works department. A few days later, a public works official sent me a 50-page list of streets and their co-designations. According to the list, almost 800 streets in Miami-Dade County are named after someone or something.

But, as far as I can tell, there's not a street in Miami named after Sam Cooke. And that's a shame.

Sam Cooke, of course, was an R&B, gospel and pop singer and songwriter who died in 1964.

So, you're probably asking, why should we name a street in Miami after Sam Cooke? What did he do to deserve a "co-designated" street name?

Click to enlarge.
Well, on a Saturday night in January,1963, Sam Cooke showed up at the Harlem Square Club at N.W. 2nd Ave. and 10th Street in Overtown to record an RCA album tentatively titled "One Night Stand."

Cooke performed several shows and left town. Neither of Miami's two daily  newspapers made any mention of his appearance.

And, for some reason, the tapes recorded that night sat untouched in a vault in New York City for 22 years, until an album - "Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963" - was finally released in 1985.

Why did it take 22 years for RCA to release the album?

In 1985, shortly after the album became available in music stores, Miami Herald reporter John Dorschner went looking for some answers.

In a masterful and memorable July 21, 1985 Tropic Magazine piece Dorschner wrote:
The reason why the album was so long in being released, said [Allen Klein, Sam Cooke's manager,] was that RCA had always wanted Sam to be another Nat King Cole, and the company had him crooning little ballads like "Mona Lisa" and "Hey, There." Right after his first hit single, Cooke had tried to play to white audiences, performing in the Copa, the big New York nightclub. The audience hated it. The critics hated it. Sam Cooke hated it.

From then on, said Klein, even as the hit singles kept piling up, Sam Cooke stuck to the Chitlin Circuit, performing in front of the people who liked him when he was just being himself.

And that's what you hear on the Harlem Square tapes - Sam Cooke being Sam Cooke. But back in the '60s, RCA couldn't stand it. Several months after Cooke's Miami appearance, he was once again booked into the Copa, doing a controlled, top-40, white kind of show. The Copa tapes became a live album; the Miami tapes went to the vault.
Today, the album that was forgotten for 22 years, is considered by some to be one of the greatest live R&B albums ever recorded. Rolling Stone magazine included it in a list of the "500 Greatest Albums of all Time."

In 2005, an reviewer wrote:
Here he was, IS, soulful, GRITTY, sweatin up a storm, steppin' out of his "Eisenhower" threads, crooning, RASPING his way through songs, HIS songs. Talkin', testifying, workin' the crowd, laughing; joking around like he was the greatest ENTERTAINER that ever was.
But Sam is the whole package. And while you feel like you are there, it's not enough, you WISH that you were there. His voice here is silk and satin mixed with grown-up grit. Those wonderful, sweet G-rated hits now have a new ingredient, and it's a knowing R-rated attitude, no profanity, just a healthy sexual swagger permeating songs not only of the heart and mind, but of the body and soul as well. One of the greatest live albums ever recorded and a true portrait of the artist as a grown-up man.

On January 12, 2013, it will be 50 years since Sam Cooke made music history and recorded one of the "greatest albums of all time" ...right there on NW 2nd Ave. in Overtown. 

And that, it seems to me, is all the reason we need to name a street after him.