Thursday, January 31, 2013

16 Years, Two Fatal Crashes, One Common Link

Karlie Tomica, the 20 year-old part-time bartender and self-described "party princess" who's facing charges following Monday's hit-and-run crash in South Beach that left a hotel chef dead, worked at Nikki Beach Club, a night spot that began as a tribute for the victim of a 1997 DUI-related crash.

Click to enlarge.

In a 2009 interview with, Nikki Beach owner Jack Penrod recounted how his popular Ocean Drive club got its start:
I don’t like to talk about it, because the reason for opening Nikki Beach is very personal. My young daughter, Nicole, died in a car accident in [1997]. In order to deal with my emotional situation, I created a garden for her at Penrod's Beach Club in South Beach. She would have loved the garden by the sea. I had no intention of making a business out of it, but one day two young guys showed up who wanted to have a Monday night party there. At first, I said no, but they were the same age as Nicole, so I gave in.
I decided that my personal tragedy shouldn’t consume me, but that I should pay tribute to the life she lived, a commitment to celebrate life. There’s a picture of Nicole in every place we open.
From the Miami Herald, March 16, 1998:
A pickup truck driven by a plumber rammed into the rear of a Toyota 4-Runner 10 months ago, killing Nicole Penrod , 18-year-old daughter of millionaire club owner Jack Penrod.

Now Marcel LeDoux , 41, is charged with two DUI counts, one for manslaughter and the other for causing serious injury to passenger Jennifer Ireland, 19, a University of Pennsylvania freshman. The impact broke her neck. LeDoux is also charged with marijuana possession. Police found pot, a scale and about $1,400 cash in his truck.

LeDoux's blood-alcohol level was 0.19, more than twice the legal limit, says Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Gonzalo Pena. The driver of the 4-Runner, Gina Canoniga, took a blood test that night. Negative for alcohol, but positive for marijuana, Pena says.

She received immunity from prosecution, her lawyer Roy Black says. ``A tragic accident, but it wasn't Gina's fault,'' says Sherry Ireland, Jennifer's mother.
In 1999, LeDoux was sentenced to 10 years in state prison. He was released in 2008.

While Tomica is only charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in a death, more charges could be filed when the results of toxicology tests are learned.

NBC Miami reported on Tuesday,
The good Samaritan who followed and helped officers find the driver who struck and killed a man in Miami Beach said the woman appeared to be 'really drunk,' according to 911 calls released by police Tuesday.
Officers and witnesses said Tomica had slurred speech, an odor of alcohol on her breath and was unsteady on her feet, the [arrest] affidavit said. She refused field sobriety tests but a blood sample was taken and the results are pending, the report said.
Today Miami Beach Police spokesperson Sgt. Bobby Hernandez told the Huffington Post that investigators are not looking into whether or not laws were broken at the club.
"Our investigation solely is the hit-and-run accident," Hernandez said, adding that prosecutors may later try to establish whether or not Tomica was drinking at the club.
Tomica is free on $10,000 bond. She's scheduled to appear before a judge on Feb. 27th.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Why I do what I do

A couple of weeks ago, a long-time friend asked me this question: "Why do you blog? What do you get out of it?"

At the time I gave him the short answer: "I enjoy writing."

But here's another reason.

Two days a ago I wrote about the hit-and-run crash on South Beach that left a father of two dead and a 20 year-old "party princess" charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

The crash, which happened in the early morning hours of Monday, was covered extensively by all of Miami's TV news outlets.

Originally, I hadn't planned to write about the crash.

But all that changed when I saw the the jail mug shot of the woman charged in the case.

As I gazed at the tear-streaked face of Karlie Tomica who's now charged with hitting a man and leaving him to die in the street, it suddenly occurred to me that here was a single image that perhaps made a more compelling argument against driving drunk than a dozen, slickly-produced anti-DUI public service announcements.

The next morning, as I scanned the stats for my blog, I noticed that I was getting a number of referrals from a website that specializes in coverage of Miami's night club scene. 

In a post titled 'Party Princess' kills father of two in a hit-and-run, the author copied and pasted a single quote from my post and provided a link to my blog. His post, so far, has been viewed more than 500 times and has elicited 53 comments. (My blog post has been viewed more than 2,100 times in less than 48 hours.)

Today, when I visited the site, I noticed something I hadn't seen before.

At the top of the forum was an animated banner with a simple, direct and unmistakeable message.

Curious, I clicked on the ad thinking I'd be directed to the website of Mothers Against Drunk Driving or a Miami Beach cab company.

Instead, I was directed to my blog post about the crash.

I usually try to avoid using clichés in my writing.

But I'll relax that rule and say that if just one person sees that banner and then reads my post and it convinces them to call a cab after they've had too much to drink, then it will make what I do here worth the effort.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The First Super Bowl Ad Controversy of 2013

Volkswagen is out with its first Super Bowl 2013 Game Day Commercial...and it's stirring up a bit of controversy.

Some are even calling it "racist."

But, I think the reader comment below from the Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog rebuts the criticism very nicely.
“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, but the highest form of intelligence,” – Oscar Wilde. Scientific proof has emerged in the past few years that understanding sarcasm requires social intelligence lacking in people who’ve suffered damage to a section of the right brain. So I must conclude that any “controversy” regarding this advert must be attributed to right brain damaged individuals. As a born and bred “Yard Man” now living in the USA, all of unoo (You plural) need fi relax and hol’ (hold) a meddi (meditation) … in other words “Chill Winston”

Monday, January 28, 2013

Lives destroyed [UPDATED 1x]

UPDATED at 11:55pm: Tomica bonded out of jail shortly before 11pm Monday evening. Scroll down to bottom of post for video report.

Pictured above in the large photo is 20 year-old Karlie Tomica as she was being booked into the Dade County Jail shortly after 4pm this afternoon. Less than 12 hours before police say she struck and killed Stefano Riccioletti at 18th Street and Collins Ave. on South Beach, leaving him to die in the street.(The smaller inset photo shows a much happier Tomica as pictured on her Twitter page.)

Thanks to a good Samaritan who followed Tomica after the crash, police later caught up with her at her apartment at 56th Street and Collins Ave. and arrested her.

Riccioletti, a 49 year-old father of two, was the executive chef at Terrazza at the Shore Club on South Beach.

Looking at her booking photo, it's obvious Tomica is distraught; but chances are she's not grieving for her victim. The self-described "Party Princess" is probably thinking only of herself and that life as she knew it is over for a very long time.

Click to enlarge.

Riccioletti's wife, also distraught, must now tell her two kids that their daddy won't be coming home tonight...or ever.

Click here to enlarge.
Tomica told police that she's a part-time bartender at Nikki Beach. Police suspect that she was driving under the influence. After the toxicology reports come back, police say more charges could be added if it turns out she was intoxicated. But if it turns out she wasn't drunk, a legal source tells me that had she stayed on scene all she would have received was a traffic ticket.

Tonight, Tomica sits in jail, charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in a death.

And when she beds down in her jail cell, perhaps it will finally start to sink in that her callous and cruel actions this morning destroyed more than just one life.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

They said it...

Click to enlarge.
Miami Marlins Have Become Baseball's Most Expensive Stadium Disaster

For starters, the [Marlins] stadium’s financing scheme means there will be some $3 billion in interest expenses on the construction loans that will be paid by city and county taxpayers. Worse for taxpayers there is no incentive for Loria to put a good team on the field because the city and county must pay the bondholders regardless of how the team performs. Moreover, a small but quirky part of the bond financing has turned a $91 million loan into a $1.2 billion liability for taxpayers. And to add insult to injury the Marlins are nickel-and-diming taxpayers over capital repair costs.
The Marlins stadium is looking like the worst shellacking taxpayers have ever gotten from a baseball stadium.

-Mike Ozanian,

Another boondoggle in the works

Here’s all you need to know about the Miami Dolphins’ outrageous scheme to publicly finance renovations at Sun Life Stadium:

Donald Trump thinks it’s a great idea.

The team features a quote from the ubiquitous gasbag in a big advertisement touting the football stadium makeover.
[Miami-Dade County] mayor, Carlos Gimenez, has been instructed to commence negotiations with the team. Gimenez, who won office because of his staunch opposition to the Marlins project, has vowed not to let the Dolphins obtain a similar deal.

There’s only one way to make sure that won’t happen: Put it on a ballot.

Then let the Dolphins deploy Trump as their campaign spokesman.


-Carl Hiaasen, in today's Miami Herald

Saturday, January 26, 2013

LeBron tackles Heat fan who hits $75,000 hook shot

MIAMI (AP) — A 50-year-old computer technician from McHenry, Ill., made a half-court shot to win $75,000 and a hug from LeBron James.

As part of a contest sponsored by James' foundation, Michael Drysch hit a hook shot from midcourt between periods of Friday's game between the Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons.

James watched from the bench, and when the shot swished in, he happily sprinted toward Drysch and embraced him, and both tumbled to the court.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Q: Who's in charge at Miami-Dade Transit?

Miami-Dade Transit: "Enjoy your trip with us!"
Click here to enlarge.

A: No one, apparently.

On his blog, Miami photographer Carlos Miller says "I have a history of getting assaulted and harassed by 50 State [Security]."

50 State is a security company that Miami-Dade Transit has hired to provide security at its Metrorail stations.

Prior to last Sunday, Miller had been attacked or accosted by 50 State guards on three separate occasions while trying to take pictures at Metrorail stations. On one of those occasions, security guards told Miller and another photographer they were "banned for life" from riding on the Metrorail system.

Last Sunday, some 50 State security guards added another notch to their belt.

As Miller and a friend waited for a southbound train on a nearly deserted platform at the Metrorail Government Center station, the two passed their time taking snapshots of the old Dade County courthouse - an activity that Miami-Dade Transit’s Chief of Safety and Security, Eric Muntan admits is not prohibited.
[Muntan] explained that while commercial photography on Metrorail property is prohibited without a permit, there is no such prohibition against photography that is personal, journalistic, or, in his words, “Johnny Tourist” photography. When I asked him how his officers distinguish between commercial photography and personal photography, he said, “If you tell us that you’re not using the pictures for commercial work and they’re (for) personal use, at that point in time the security officers, and/or the MDT representative should feel that his question is answered and at that point you’re free to take pictures until the next train comes or whatever.”
But, as the duo took their pictures, according to Miller, "A 50 State security guard announced on the loudspeaker to stop taking photos. He then came out to confront us."

What happened next can best be described as one of those "Only in Miami" moments:
They then told me I had to leave the Metrorail because I was drunk and I refused because I had not done anything illegal. I just wanted to take the train home.

And I wasn’t drunk. He didn’t notice I had been drinking until he got close to me and he smelled something.

But as they started crowding me, I started walking towards the escalator.

At the top of the escalator, one of them shoved me hard as if to push me down the escalator, which is when I shoved back.

Then three of them piled on top of me, including one choking me where I couldn’t even breathe, leaving me gasping for air.
Watch video of the incident here or here.

If you've never heard of Carlos Miller; after watching him interact with the security guard on that video you might reach the conclusion that he's a jerk. You won't get an argument from him. He admits that he "can come across [as] abrasive, arrogant and condescending to authority figures who spout unlawful orders about photography in public places."

But that's no reason to handcuff someone and deprive them of their liberty.

If it were, more than half of Miami's residents - and most of the area's lawyers - would be doing life plus 20!

Miller already has one lawsuit pending against 50 State. There's no doubt he'll be filing another one.

Maybe all of this might have been avoided if the 50 State guard hadn't tried to cite a non-existent "law" against photographing Metrorail tracks. (Perform a Google search and you'll find there are dozens of pictures of Metrorail's tracks and trains on the Internet.)

Perhaps the 50 State security guard wouldn't have cited that non-existent "law" had he been given the proper training.

So, that brings us back to the original question with which I opened this post: "Who's in charge at Miami-Dade Transit?"

And taking that a step further: After three run-ins with Miller and one lawsuit, why haven't the people in charge of Miami-Dade Transit given the 50 State security guards a clear set of guidelines regarding passengers with cameras?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

People who record history are reminded not to throw away any of it

Miami Herald,
May 23, 1980
The countdown clock is running.

In a little more than three months, the Miami Herald hopes to be operating out of its new home in Doral.

A few days ago, Herald editor Dave Wilson sent out this email to the newsroom staff:

I know many of you have been waiting for the word to start cleaning up for the move to Doral. Here it is. We'll start Monday in the newsrooms.

Here's the drill:

1) Recycle newspaper only in the tall, rolling racks. There's one at the north end of the main hall, one in Neighbors and we'll put one outside the View Lounge.

2) Recycle plain paper that doesn't have any sensitive information on it in the blue bins already scattered around the room.

3) Put any paper with sensitive information (signatures, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, etc.), in the rolling blue bins with padlocked tops located outside the View Lounge. Do not put file folders in this bin. Just pages with sensitive material. What goes in this bin will be shredded.

4) Pile unused electronics (working or not) in the empty double cubicle across the aisle from Mimi Whitefield's desk.

5) Take any office supplies you don't need but others could use (unopened packs of paper, pens, staplers, etc.) to the Wire Room.

6) Toss anything else in one of the many rolling, gray garbage bins that will be scattered around the room.

The gray bins will be emptied every morning, so we can start fresh every day. We'll do this again in three or four weeks but please make the most of this opportunity and toss at least a little bit every day.

Then today, someone at the paper decided that people whose job it is to record history, probably shouldn't be throwing away any of it:


As we follow Dave Wilson's instructions to throw away as much as we can for our upcoming move to Doral, we have a historical request.

We ask that instead of throwing away old items that in some way capture the history of the Miami Herald at this building, you rescue them.

It could be Knight-Ridder stationery, or the knick-knacks we used to give away to readers, like the ones Mimi Whitefield found in her desk; or old issues of Tropic magazine, like the ones Hannah Sampson had treasured, or the Rolodex used by Action Line that was headed for the trash bins.

If you plan to throw these items away, please take a minute to turn them in to Luisa Yanez or Alex Mena. The items will be kept in one place until their fate is determined.

Thank you,

Alex and Luisa

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The idiots among us

“Oh my God. It was awful. Cars were cutting each other off. I was stuck for more than 15 minutes before I was able to loop around and head north on U.S. 1 and then get onto I-95 to avoid the mess. I’m never taking this bridge again.”

-Key Biscayne resident Therese Gagné, talking about the terrible inconvenience of being stuck in traffic after the Brickell Avenue bridge jammed in the up position. -via the Miami Herald.

Former Mayor Carlos Alvarez has been getting busy in the gym

Almost two years ago - in March of 2011 - Miami-Dade County voters recalled Mayor Carlos Alvarez. The final count: 183,652 voted to kick him out and 24,796 voted to keep him. It was the most lopsided vote tally in county history.

"I lost by this much."

Since the recall, Alvarez sightings have been few.

But the former mayor, who retired with a big fat pension, didn't spend any time sitting at home sulking over the loss and gorging himself on pastelitos while watching novelas.

Miami New Times has uncovered some pics that show Alvarez competing last November in a body building competition.

Yes, you read that right: a body building competition.


Looking at the photos, the first question that comes to mind is: Are they Photoshopped?

At least three Miami journalists have told me they'd heard rumors that Alvarez had been hitting the gym and that he had become "huge."

And a Random Pixels reader told me this morning that she saw Alvarez at Milam's Market in Coconut Grove a few months ago wearing a t-shirt and shorts. She thought it odd that Alvarez's legs appeared to have been shaven.

miami dade mayor carlos alvarez body builder, carlos alvarez ripped, pictures, photos, video posing

Monday, January 21, 2013

Your lunch hour time waster

From Saturday Night Live:
With the new Starbucks Verismo machine you can enjoy the wonderful taste of Starbucks, and lovely customer service, in the comfort of your home.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Great Liberty City Gun Buyback of 2013 [UPDATED x1]

UPDATED Sunday at 2:40pm: The Herald finally posts a story on Saturday's gun show at about 2pm on Sunday.


The Miami Police Department held the first of three scheduled Gun Buyback Operations in Liberty City yesterday.

A police press release said the buyback was an effort "to reduce gun violence and unnecessary injuries to our citizens."

So, was it a success? That depends on where you look for answers.

The Miami Herald sent an eager young intern to cover the event.

Here's the lead sentence of her report:
Miamians flocked to Liberty City to trade their guns for supermarket gift cards and Miami Heat tickets on Saturday.
Wow! They "flocked" to Liberty City! How many "flocked?" How many guns were "traded in?"

The Herald quotes Miami Police Sgt. Freddy Cruz as saying that "50 to 60 people returned 129 guns" on Saturday.

One of those "flocking" to the event was 82 year-old Myrtle Boyd who turned in a "22 caliber handgun she’s had for more than 45 years." 

However, the Herald's cheery story fails to mention that gun violence in Liberty City doesn't exist because 82 year-old grandmothers are packing heat. It exists because there are hundreds of young thugs who terrorize their neighbors on a daily basis with AK-47s, Uzis, and whatever else they can get their hands on.

The Rev. Jerome Starling attempted to address that issue, telling Local 10, "You have a chance today ... to bring in a gun, to bring in an AK-47, to bring in an Uzi or to bring a handgun that may be laying around the house."

The Herald story doesn't mention whether or not any Uzis or AKs or other military-style weapons were turned in.

One man did tell NBC6 that he turned in his brother's Mini-Mac.

By now you're probably wondering what else the Herald left out of its story.

For that answer, we turn to  WSVN:
Gun enthusiasts lined up by the hundreds for a gun and knife show in Southwest Miami-Dade. The show drew record crowds on Saturday as thousands lined up for hours, before the doors opened.
CBS4's Jim DeFede attended the gun show and tweeted this picture of a line of people waiting to get in at about 2pm. DeFede told me by phone that organizers of the event told him that about 800-1,000 people an hour passed through the doors on Saturday.

WSVN's reporter termed the Liberty City buyback crowd "decent," but added, "it didn't compare to the crowds that came out to buy all kinds of weapons [at the show.]"

video WSVN-TV

So, to sum up: In one part of Miami on Saturday, Miami cops bought 129 rusty, useless guns. In another part of town people turned out by the thousands to snap up new guns and ammunition.

Is Miami a safer place? Maybe, maybe not. But one thing is certain: you won't find the answer to that question in the Herald.


The Daily Beast: Gun Buybacks Mostly a Waste of Time and Money, Experts Say

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rick Scott does a 180

Florida Gov. Scott - who cut early voting days - now says more early voting days are needed

Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Gov. Rick Scott — who slashed early voting from 14 to 8 days, then defended the decision in court — now says he thinks returning to 14 early voting days is a good idea.

The first-term Republican said in a statement “we need shorter ballots. We need more early voting days, which should include an option of the Sunday before Election Day. And, we need more early voting locations.”

In 2011, Scott signed an elections bill that cut early voting from 14 to 8 days and eliminated the Sunday before Election Day — one used by many black churches for get-out-the-vote drives — as an early voting day. The state was criticized last fall for six-hour-long voting lines, though Scott then defended the law.

He said Thursday the changes will ease long lines and delays in counting ballots.

Your lunch hour time waster

Bad Lip Reading...the NFL Edition.

Thanks to Marty for posting this on Facebook, along with a warning: "If you're in an office, keep at least one hand available to muffle your laughs and/or watch this with the boss."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

President Obama is coming for your guns

Whose guns?

Everybody's guns!

Norman Braman: Sun Life Stadium plan is 'Welfare for a multi-billionaire'

Click to enlarge.

Via CBS Miami:
MIAMI (CBS4) – Miami businessman Norman Braman would like nothing better than to become the deal killer for a proposed plan to renovate Sun Life Stadium using tax dollars.

Braman, who fought a losing fight against the Marlins Ballpark, has harsh words for Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

“This is welfare for a multi-billionaire,” Braman told CBS4′s Eliott Rodriguez. “People have been struggling to keep their jobs and their homes, and here’s a guy who’s worth $4.4 billion and he’s asking for welfare to remodel his stadium.”

Hear the entire interview below or click here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Are you ready for some football??

Click to enlarge.

Here we go again!

From the South Florida Business Journal's Oscar Pedro Musibay:
Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross announced Monday that he is prepared to pay half of the $400 million in proposed improvements to Sun Life Stadium, with the rest of the money coming from non-local revenue streams like tourist taxes.

Ross said the changes would create more than 4,000 jobs in South Florida and be ready for the 2015 season. For a fly-through of the new stadium, click here.

"I bought this team because I love this town,” Ross said in a statement. “I went to high school here and built much of my business here. Like most Miamians, I believe no other community in America represents a better destination for blockbuster events. My goal is to secure the future of Miami-Dade and the Dolphins so we can remain a global competitor for sports and entertainment for at least another 25 years.
The Miami Herald also covered the stadium story, which dominated much of the paper's front page.

The prominent play given to the story shoved aside a much more important story of the apparent death of another South Florida child at the hands of the Florida Department of Children & Families.

But, hey! What's more important than our beloved Dolphins?

So...Ladies and Gentlemen...from the folks who helped Jeffrey Loria screw over South Florida's taxpayers and baseball's Phase One of the Herald's push to ram Stephen Ross's "plan" down our throats.

A plan that will "employ" 4,000 people, turn Miami into "the home of international soccer" and even protect Dolphins fans from the effects of global warming. Something for everyone. What's not to like?

Click to enlarge.

But, if anyone in charge at the Herald had any cojones, here's how today's front page might have looked:

Click here to enlarge.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Even dogs can't stand to be around Gov. Rick Scott

Gov. Rick Scott and Reagan, in happier times.
(Photo by Michael Egger)

What's the deal with Republicans and dogs, anyway?

After 2010 campaign, Gov. Rick Scott gave back dog Reagan
By Lucy Morgan, Tampa Bay Times Senior Correspondent

TALLAHASSEE — Shortly after winning the GOP nomination in 2010, Rick Scott announced to the world through Facebook that his family had rescued a Labrador Retriever.

And, with help from his Facebook friends, Scott gave it a name: Reagan.

"The Scott family is proud to announce that the name (chosen by you) for their newly adopted pup is Reagan! Thanks to everyone who participated in the fun contest,'' read
Scott's announcement on his Facebook page.


But where is Reagan today?


Asked last week what had happened to the dog, Scott's current and former communications directors refused to answer.

Brian Burgess, communications director during the campaign and for more than a year after Scott took office, now holds a similar position for the state GOP. When a Times reporter asked him where the dog is, Burgess said he thought it "weird'' that two Times reporters would contact him six minutes apart with questions dating back to the 2010 campaign.

But he wouldn't say where the dog was and accused reporters of "surfing some old Facebook or website pages.'' At one point an exasperated reporter asked Burgess if he had killed the dog, and Burgess denied ever killing a dog, but still wouldn't say where Reagan was.
Turns out Reagan - like most humans - couldn't stand to be around Scott.
Scott said Reagan never bit anyone but "scared the living daylights'' out of people at the [governor's] mansion....

So the Scotts gave the dog back to his prior owner, Scott said, about a month after the family moved to Tallahassee. The governor's office on Monday told the Times it was trying to find Reagan and its new family.
Good doggie!

Read the complete Tampa Bay Times story by clicking here.

Not just another police chase

Jason Lee was sitting in his Inglewood CA home Sunday night when he heard police sirens.

He grabbed his video camera and ran outside to witness a police chase with the object of the chase going around in circles, with cops in hot pursuit, for the better part of an hour...all right outside his house.

That hour apparently gave Lee "ample time to run back inside his house, turn on this television set and record [the news] clip."

With his camera, Lee then videotaped the police chase news clip off his TV before panning over to the actual chase taking place outside his window.

The result: Instant YouTube classic.

H/T: Carlos Miller

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Jan. 12, 1963

A Night Out With Sam Cooke: 'Harlem Square' Turns 50

Fifty years ago [today], Sam Cooke stepped onstage at a club in Miami. He'd come a long way to get there.

Cooke began singing in a church choir on the South Side of Chicago, and went on to join the Soul Stirrers, one of the country's biggest gospel groups. When he struck out on his own, he hit it big with a mainstream audience, singing popular songs that struck gold. By 1962, his record label decided it was time for a live album.

Someone picked out a warm Miami date in early 1963: Jan. 12 at the Harlem Square Club. It was a small downtown nightspot, and that evening it was packed with some of the singer's most devoted fans from his gospel days. The result was loud, raw, artful and raucous — but it wasn't the Sam Cooke the label was looking to sell to mainstream audiences. RCA decided to tuck the Harlem Square Club recording into its archives.

Cut to 1985, when a record executive named Gregg Geller discovered those recordings and quickly released Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963. It's now considered one of the greatest live albums ever recorded, though Geller says he understands what gave his predecessors pause.

Click here to listen the above story as it aired this morning on NPR's Weekend Edition.


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

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Joe Carollo: Still crazy after all these years

"Crazy" Joe Carollo, Nov. 6, 2001.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." -George Santayana, Spanish philosopher


Well, that didn't take long.

From the Miami Herald:
Former Miami Mayor Joe Carollo began his term as Doral’s latest city manager — the third to hold the position in just five weeks — by suggesting his predecessor, Merrett Stierheim, was biased against Hispanics.*

“Apparently, what he thought is that Hispanics can’t govern themselves and that we need someone like him, that he considers himself the ‘great white hope.’ He is very mistaken,” Carollo told El Nuevo reporter Enrique Flor in an interview Thursday at Doral City Hall.


Miami Herald
Wednesday, October 31, 2001

The Miami mayoral race is like that famous circus act where a midget car speeds into the tent and clowns start piling out.

This year, 10 candidates have emerged from the city's metaphorical midget car to amuse us before next week's election.

* The most colorful of the pack is incumbent Joe Carollo , fondly known as Crazy Joe . He's ruthless, paranoid, demagogic, divisive and unabashedly bankrupt of conscience.

We love him. If journalists alone were allowed to vote, Carollo would win in a landslide because he makes our jobs so easy.

Miami Herald
Wednesday, May 3, 2000

Welcome back, Crazy Joe !

Deep down, we knew you hadn't really changed. We knew it was just an act - behaving like a semi-sane and responsible person all those months while Miami was on the brink of financial ruin.

But, hey, it worked. You kept the governor from seizing control of the city government. You convinced the financial oversight board that you were vaguely in touch with reality.

People were actually talking about the new, ``mature'' Joe Carollo , the one who selflessly put the well-being of the community above his own petty political appetites.

You were slick, Joe. You really had 'em going.

But deep down, we knew you were still the same paranoid fruitcake you've always been. We knew it wouldn't take much to unhinge your wobbly brainpan and, sure enough, the Elian episode did the trick.

Your indignant assertion that the police should have tipped you off in advance of the INS raid is so marvelously preposterous that we want to thank you, Joe. Thank you for making us laugh out loud again after so many grueling, heart-wrenching months.

And then, to target the two most convenient Anglos* - Police Chief William O'Brien and City Manager Donald Warshaw - well, what can we say? It was a special moment, Mr. Mayor. It was then we knew for sure that you'd never really left us at all.

You were back to being your old lying, back-stabbing, vote-grubbing self. No one could be more elated than your future opponents in next year's election, including ex-cuckoo Mayor Xavier Suarez.

Another happy camper is Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas. Thanks to your antics, Joe , people might finally stop talking about Penelas's flaky pre-raid ultimatum to Janet Reno, which brought him national scorn and more than a few embarrassing mental-health inquiries.

It's no contest, Joe . You're the king of the crazies.

Miami Herald
Monday, October 2, 1989

Somebody Up There must love newspaper columnists because an amazing thing has happened.

He's baaaaaaack.

Joe Carollo . Popping out of his manhole like a jack-in-the- box. To run for the Miami City Commission again!

Thank you, God. Things had gotten so dull lately -- we needed to be reminded of the bad old days, when city government was a circus and Joe was the head clown. Sure, there's still back-alley politics, but today it's all so tame and . . . civilized.

In a sick way, we missed Carollo . He was such great copy, guaranteed to say something indefensibly dumb, paranoid or just plain crass.

Joe claims he's mellowed, but don't bet on it. In this new campaign he's challenging the city's only elected black commissioner, and already Carollo has gone on Spanish-language radio likening his opponent to a common street looter.

Vintage Joe . This is the same sensitive fellow who once compared a black city manager to Idi Amin.

Ah, what memories.

Carollo saw spies and counterspies and Communists everywhere, and claimed to have a dashboard bomb detector in his car. He once offered to tell a Senate committee how Fidel Castro's agents had infiltrated the Miami Police Department.

Another time, Joe torpedoed a big Sister Cities convention planned for Miami after learning that a few of the participants came from Eastern bloc countries. Reds!

Not that Carollo didn't have a warm spot for some foreign visitors. Miss Universe contestants, for example. Joe nearly tripped over his agenda in a rush to pose for snapshots with visiting beauty queens.

And when Sheik Mohammed al-Fassi and his wealthy entourage blew into town, Joe tagged along like a drooling puppy, offering the key to the city and (not incidentally) the services of his own private security firm. Any normal person would have been embarrassed, but not Joe.

Who can forget that gloriously despicable double cross of Maurice Ferre during the 1983 mayor's race -- Ferre, calling a press conference to trumpet Carollo 's endorsement, only to watch Joe trash him mercilessly in front of the assembled media. Poor old Maurice looked like he'd swallowed a bad clam.


The Miami News, Nov.11, 1983.

Your lunch hour time waster

Fast Food Drive Thru Invisible Driver Prank.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Your lunch hour time waster

People Becoming Paparazzi Photogs in the Presence of Celebrities

For those of you who can’t stand what paparazzi photographers do with their cameras, know this: it’s not just the professional celebrity photographers who do such things. When a celebrity is spotted in public, ordinary people all around pull out their cameras and do exactly the same thing.

The video above shows what happened recently when Tom Cruise and his daughter Suri tried to watch a show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.

People all around wanted their own photograph of the Cruises. Even though most of them were capturing exactly the same image, and though there are plenty of photos of Cruise online, everyone wanted a personal piece of photographic evidence that they saw the man with their own two eyes.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Checking up on the Miami Herald's '24/7 Information Specialsts'

It's been about 3 weeks since the Miami Herald erected a pay wall on its website.

So, let's check up and see how the Herald's crack team of editors, reporters and "24/7 Information Specialists" are doing as they strive to "deliver breaking news through a variety of digital platforms."

Oh, darn! Would you look at this? Here's a screen shot from the Herald's website captured just hours ago.

A "woman's body" has been "found dead" inside her home! That sounds serious!

Click to enlarge.

OK, maybe not that serious.

Instead of sending a Miami Herald "24/7 Information Specialist" to the scene to report the story, someone at the Herald did what they've been doing a lot of lately...they copied and pasted the information from CBS4.

OK, let's see what else is going on.

The Herald also has a story about a woman who was "fatally shot" in Liberty City Monday night.

Every TV station in town had the story on their websites first thing this morning.

But the Herald's "24/7 Information Specialists" didn't get around to posting a story - written by an inexperienced intern - until Tuesday afternoon.

Alright, anything else?

Here's a story headlined, "Man run over by construction equipment in Miami-Dade."

OK, so it's not really a's just two sentences. Two sentences that look as though they might have  originated here. 
A man died in a construction accident Tuesday in Southwest Miami-Dade.

The man, who hasn’t yet been identified by Miami-Dade police, died after he became trapped under a piece of Bobcat construction equipment at about 11:40 a.m. at 15351 SW 208th Ave.
A note at the bottom of the "story" - which was posted on Herald's website at 3:45pm - advises, "This report will be updated as more information becomes available." Yeah, well....we'll be waiting breathlessly for that "update."

Check back often as we keep tabs on the Herald's quest to become South Florida's source for news, "24/7."

Happy Birthday, Elvis!

"If Elvis Presley is really alive and hanging out at Burger King, as the Weekly World News once claimed, then he's 78 today. Ever wonder why everyone used to go nuts over Elvis? Look at this incendiary clip from his '68 comeback special. You'll know." -Tampa Bay Times environmental writer Craig Pittman via Facebook

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Miami Herald Deathwatch (cont.)

Last Wednesday I wrote about the Miami Herald's sleazy and borderline unethical practice of copying and pasting stories from CBS4's website where stories can be read for free; and re-posting them on the Herald's website which is not free..

Well, they're continuing the practice. They're just hoping you won't notice.


Here's a story as it appears on CBS4's website today...

SUV Sideswipes Road Ranger Truck in Miami
(Click images to enlarge.)

....and here's the same story - copied and pasted from CBS4's website - as it appears on the Herald's website without a byline or any indication of the story's origin.

Two Road Ranger vehicles involved in Interstate 95 crash

Friday, January 04, 2013

Lincoln Road Antique Market this Sunday

Just a reminder that the first Lincoln Road Antique and Collectible Market show of 2013 is scheduled for this Sunday, Jan 6th.

Come and look for a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry, item of clothing, collectible poster, out-of-print book...or whatever.

And of course, Antique Market Sundays on Lincoln Road make for some of the best people watching around.

A complete list of 2013 dates can be found in the blue box at the very top of the right hand column of the blog.

See you there!

Thursday, January 03, 2013

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

Click here to enlarge image.

Local 10's Calvin Hughes apparently did not get any new suits for Christmas.

On Thursday's early newscast, Calvin, looking every bit the somber funeral director, wore a somber, dark grey number and an equally somber tie with stripes in varying shades of grey. **yawn**

Click to enlarge.

On a bright note, it appears that Calvin is donating his old suits to his less fortunate colleagues. We spotted Todd "Send Us Your Amateur Video" Tongen at the top of Local 10's newscast, wearing this ill-fitting, grey (of course) suit.

Well played, Calvin. Well played.


Earlier: Calvin Hughes has a lot of grey suits

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

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

About that DUI Checkpoint on the MacArthur Causeway last Friday evening

The cops threw up a DUI checkpoint on the MacArthur Causeway last Friday night. Not at 11pm. Not at midnight....or 1 am, or even 2am, which is when I'd schedule one of these things if I was a cop and serious about nailing drunk drivers.

In a post on his blog, Miami criminal defense attorney Brian Tannebaum reported, "Last Friday night (12/28/2012), in the middle of the holiday vacation season, there was a DUI Checkpoint on the way to Miami Beach. When I say 'on the way,' I mean at about 6:30 p.m."

Tannenbaum adds:
Miami is full of tourists, mostly visiting family for the holidays and the bowl game crowd is trickling in. It's the Friday before New Year's Eve. Dinner reservations are made, people are on their way to South Beach hotels to see family and friends, restaurants and bars await the big crowds with money to spend. It's 6 p.m.

I had dinner reservations on South Beach at 7:15 p.m. I knew about the checkpoint, so even though I had not consumed any alcohol, I took the north causeway to the Beach. No problem.

When I got to the restaurant, I saw the angry tweets and other postings from those who were turning around and advising others "don't go to Miami Beach tonight."

Did the city leaders know about this? Did the police sit down and say "we're going to basically stop traffic to the city on Friday night as people are on their way in?"

I doubt it. I assume the police just set up their checkpoint and if the merchants had to suffer a few lost customers on a holiday weekend due to the necessity to let the world know that you can't drink and drive, the hell with it. If people decide not to go to the Beach that night or turn around, at least the point was made.

[It] just seemed like a stupid idea.

So, at this point, you're probably asking: "How many DUI arrests did the cops make last Friday?" 

Today, I asked a local enforcement source that very question, and he sent me the complete stats from Friday night's checkpoint.

Miami Herald Deathwatch (cont.)

Here's a question for the decision-makers on the fifth floor at One Herald Plaza: 

If you're going to be charging readers to access content on your website, shouldn't you be assigning reporters to cover stories rather than copying and pasting stories from a TV station's website?

A TV station website, where, by the way, one can read the story for free

The Miami Herald wants you to pay to read this story on

...a story you can read free of charge on CBS4's website.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Celebrities speak out against (insert name of your favorite cause here)

Haiti Earthquake Relief, Darfur, Land Mines, End World Hunger, Cure AIDS, Fight Global Warming, Save the Whales, Save the Baby Seals, Save the Spotted Owl, Save the Snail Darter, Save the Lowland Gorilla...pick one of world's ills and/or an endangered species and a celebrity, or group of celebrities has probably cut a public service announcement demanding an immediate end to: fill in the blank (_________________.)

The latest celebrity cause? "Demand A Plan to End Gun Violence."

Two groups, one calling itself Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and the other,, have produced a PSA that calls on Americans to "demand that President Obama and Congress step forward with a plan to end gun violence."

Watch the celebrities and their "Demand a Plan" video by clicking here.

Now, watch a version of the video that's been edited to include violent scenes from movies starring just about every celebrity who appears in the PSA. They all seem oblivious to the fact that they work in an industry that glorifies gun violence.

Maybe their next project should be one the calls for an end to "celebrity hypocrisy."