Saturday, March 23, 2013

New York Times travel writer searches for 'classic, uncool' Miami

Liesel Schillinger.
Back in  February, the New York Times sent a writer named Liesel Schillinger to Miami to write a 2900 word travel piece....or as she calls it, "My love song to the uncool but classic Miami."

Schillinger says she's been coming to Miami since 1991 and that she's "returned a dozen times over the past two decades."
For 22 years, I’ve been trying to get Miami right. It’s my personal “Groundhog Day”; the place where, with each successive trip, I try to fix something that went south on a previous visit or add a new element to my Florida rotation.
Schillinger's strategy to "fix" whatever had gone wrong on previous visits included a plan to immerse herself in “classic, uncool” Miami. "It’s the uncool stuff that’s cool about Miami," writes Schillinger.

A friend who alerted me to Schillinger's piece, added this note:
The NYT goes to Miami to find the real Miami…and discovers Joe's Stone Crabs, Puerto Sagua AND EVERGLADES ALLIGATORS!!!!!


The writer also ducked in to Club Deuce AND spent $80 on "two drinks and eight marshallow-size [sic] lumps of raw fish" at Juvia.

Psst: she mentioned this cool place on Ocean Drive called The News Café. Maybe the next time I come to Miami we can meet up there, but I don't know if I'll be able to find it.

I guess that's why they're the gold standard of American Journalism: always finding those out of the way, unusual things to write about.
And while Schillinger's story will appear on the front page of the Times' Sunday travel section, it's not really a travel piece about Miami.

It's all about her.

Here's how a journalist friend summed up the piece:
Oh, yawn. This is what I call a "watch-me-write" piece. All about me, me, me and my attempts at clever turns of phrase. Too much travel writing is exactly that. I don't care about your K-Mart sandals and sweeping generalizations. Really, I don't. There is precisely no useful information here.
So, if you're reading this, Liesel, here's a little advice based on more than a half century of living in South Florida:
  • Stay away from the Espanola Way restaurants/tourist traps and airboat rides at Everglades "alligator farms."

  • Forget about the "outrageously expensive new restaurant or louche dive bar ... being buzzed about by your Northern foodie" friends.
  • Instead, before your next visit, do some actual research that doesn't involve getting recommendations from your hipster friends.

    A good place to start would be picking up and reading anything by Jeff Klinkenberg of the Tampa Bay Times. (His latest book is the surprisingly charming, "Alligators in B-Flat: Improbable Tales From the Files of Real Florida.")

    Another good source for finding things that aren't "touristic" is the Miami New Times Best of Miami issue.

    And, next time you come down, if you want to see alligators and snakes, avoid the cheesy airboat tours and snake farms. Those places are strictly for tourists. Instead, shoot me an email and I'll hook you up with South Florida's most knowledgeable wildlife biologist, Joe Wasilewski.

    And, who knows, you might actually turn in a travel piece that doesn't mention the News Café or read and sound like every other travel piece the New York Times has published in the last 20 years.

    1 comment:

    1. More importantly, form an editorial view, there never was a Kmart on Lincoln Road. She must be talking about the Woolworths that used to be on the corner of Lincoln and Washington.


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