Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mayer and Weinsier - 40 years of filthy restaurants

Local 10's Jeff Weinsier, 2012.
"There's a dog in your kitchen."

On paper it doesn't seem like a great idea for compelling TV: Give a reporter a stack of restaurant inspection reports and send him out to confront the managers of the eateries about the cleanliness of their establishments.

And then there's Local 10's Jeff Weinsier. Several times a week, Weinsier swoops down on unsuspecting restaurant managers in Miami-Dade in Broward to ask then about their latest inspection results. The reports he brings back are anything but boring.

TV reports on restaurant cleanliness are nothing new in the Miami TV market.

In 1973, a young WTVJ reporter named Bob Mayer shook up Dade County's restaurant industry with a three month series of reports he called "Not on the Menu."

WTVJ's Bob Mayer, 1973.
"A clean restaurant has nothing to hide from a camera."

Mayer's reports prompted the county commission to pass new laws on restaurant cleanliness. 

Fast forward 40 years.

Local 10's Weinsier has picked up where Mayer left off, with an ongoing series he calls "Dirty Dining."

But that's where the similarity ends. Their styles couldn't be more divergent.

Mayer in 1973: Colorful polyester jackets with wide lapels. Big hair. Big sideburns. No concealed weapon permit.

Weinsier in 2013: Thinning, grey hair. Slight paunch. No jacket, no tie. Concealed weapon permit.

In 1973, Mayer accompanied restaurant inspectors as they made their rounds. Weinsier uses completed inspection reports to help him decide which eateries to profile.

Mayer's reporting style was non-confrontational and polite. He never entered a restaurant with his camera without first getting permission.

Weinsier? Well, check out his latest report see for yourself.

Pugnacious? Yes. But, then again, Bob Mayer never got a flustered restaurant manager to admit that "all restaurants have rodents" or got footage of a dog in a kitchen.

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"Not on the Menu" reports with Bob Mayer from 1973.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hey, David Landsberg...your pants are on fire!

Miami Herald Publisher David Landsberg.

Miami Herald publisher David Landsberg sent this email to newsroom staffers on Thursday.

From: Landsberg, David
Date: Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 4:46 PM
Subject: 2nd Half Furlough
To: MIA All Herald Users

To all Herald staff:

Today we are announcing a one-week furlough program for most full-time employees who work a regularly scheduled 40-hour week, including all executives and senior managers.

Details about the program can be accessed by clicking on this linkto HR Forms on HeraldHub. Employees will have until December 29, 2013 to complete their furloughs. Each division will manage its own process for sign-up and scheduling furloughs.

While we continue to make a profit, we are still experiencing year-to-year revenue losses. We are committed to generating new sources of revenue and new products to help bridge some of the losses. We know this is a hardship for everyone, and want to thank you for your continued understanding and hard work.

Landsberg has lots of experience writing these emails announcing furloughs. He's been sending out two a year since 2009....just like clockwork.

But it appears he's running out of ways to say essentially the same thing.

Thursday, he wrote: "While we continue to make a profit, we are still experiencing year-to-year revenue losses. We are committed to generating new sources of revenue and new products to help bridge some of the losses." Translation: "We're making money, but it's not enough. "

Last January, this was his spin: "Please know that we are seeing some positive results in our new revenue initiatives despite the uneven economic environment."

In a January 25, 2012 email, Landsberg wrote, "We remain committed to generating new sources of revenue and new ideas to help offset the difficult economic environment."

And in an August, 2011 email to his staff, Landsberg wrote: "the company’s efforts to develop new revenue streams aren’t enough to offset prolonged revenue declines."

By now, Herald staffers are used to getting these kinds of emails. The company first instituted the furlough program in March, 2009... at the same time it cut 19% of its workforce.

The recurring theme in Landsberg's twice-yearly emails is the line where he talks about "generating new sources of revenue and new ideas."

Presumably, one of those "new ideas" is the not-so-new concept of a newsroom that runs 24/7.

Last November, when Landsberg announced that the Herald would be erecting a paywall on its website, he wrote, "We have transformed our business to become 24/7 information specialists."

Of course, saying you have a 24/7 news operation and actually having a 24/7 news operation are two entirely different things. (Copying and pasting information from TV station websites doesn't mean you have a "24/7 news operation.)

So, for the foreseeable future, it appears that furloughs are a permanent part of life at the Herald.

But when you're running an alleged 24/7 news operation, forcing the people who gather the news to take unpaid days off doesn't seem all that innovative.

As one of this blog's readers pointed out a year and half ago, "Laying off reporters to save money makes as much sense as an airline cutting the engines off of a jet to save fuel."

Related: Miami Herald parent company McClatchy spends $164,643 to move Kansas City Star publisher to Sacramento

Friday, June 28, 2013

The way we were...The Great Orange Bowl Pageant Fix of 1949

1950 Orange Bowl Queen, La Dene Van Wagoner.
(Photo via

La Dene Van Wagoner, a 23 year-old blonde stewardess for National Airlines was chosen as the 1950 Orange Bowl Queen in late December 1949.....back when these sorts of events were really big news in Miami.

How big?

The Miami Daily News sent four photographers and a reporter to cover the festivities at the Coral Gables Country Club.

And that was a good thing. Because as it turned out, Wagoner's selection wasn't without a hint of scandal.

Minutes before her selection was announced, copies of a Coral Gables newspaper appeared on tables at the club - "as if by magic" - trumpeting the news.

How did the paper know Wagoner would be picked?

The paper's managing editor explained - apparently with a straight face, "We parlayed a hunch into a scoop."

Miami Daily News, Dec. 29, 1949.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Miami Herald executives borrow a page from the Communist Party of Cuba's playbook

The Miami Herald's Armando Salguero is missing.

Salguero, a sportswriter who covers the Miami Dolphins, hasn't had a story in the paper in over a month.

Where is Armando?  

Herald bigs aren't talking.

Here's a timeline of events leading up to Salguero's "disappearance."


Following his May 7 column that accuses various local and state politicians of "crushing" the Dolphins stadium upgrade referendum, Armando gets into a heated email exchange with a reader named Billy Johnston. 

Johnston insults Armando, his family, and his Cuban roots. Armando returns the favor by denigrating Johnston's service in Vietnam. (At some point, Johnston complains to Herald executive editor Mindy Marques about Armando's emails.)

Armando's last piece in the paper appears on May 22.

Three days later, on May 25, the Herald's Marques writes an email of apology to Johnston.

The following day - May 26th - I report on Armando's exchange with Johnston on my blog.

Two days later, Armando emails an apology to several local websites, including my blog.

But it's not until June 12 - a full 3 weeks after his last piece in the paper - that Armando posts an explanation for his absence on his blog, saying he's on "vacation." The time stamp on Armando's blog post is 12:39 pm

Readers start leaving comments.

Everything is fine until shortly after 2 pm when one reader mentions that Armando may have been suspended. Less than 2 hours later, at 3:52 pm, another comment is posted. And then someone at the paper pulls the plug on further comments.

As of this writing, it's been more than a month since Armando's byline appeared in the paper.

Ten days ago, I emailed executive editor Mindy Marques and several other newsroom leaders in an effort to find out what really happened to Armando.

I also asked why comments were shut down on Armando's blog post, writing, "closing comments on a blog post smacks of Soviet-syle censorship. And what makes it doubly ironic is that it's the kind of censorship that editors at Granma engage in to this very day in Cuba."

No one answered my email.

My sense is that the Herald honchos are relieved that this nasty incident didn't get any national attention.

But, just to be sure, they made Armando, ummm, "disappear" for a while.

And, like the editors at Cuba's Communist Party rag, Granma, Herald editors are keeping readers in the dark and stifling any kind of open discussion about Armando's fate. They've previously said they're handling the matter "internally."

Perhaps the Herald's party bosses should think about a re-design of the paper that's more closely aligned with its sister publication in Havana.

Here's my suggestion.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Miami Herald needs your help

Another Miami Herald editor gave notice late last week that she intends to leave the paper.

But, if you read the paper closely, it's evident some staffers are working without the benefit of an editor. And have been for some time.

Fabiola Santiago is one of those staffers.

Check out the gag-inducing tripe she managed to sneak in the paper this weekend.

“I’m LeBron James from Akron, Ohio, from the inner city. I’m not even supposed to be here. That’s enough.”

I hope every kid in this country heard those words.

They were spoken in the euphoria of a stunning win, when James could’ve easily talked basketball, but instead chose to honor the community he came from, words of gratitude for the road traveled that make him the beloved champion he is in Miami today.

“Every night I walk into the locker room, I see a No. 6 with James on the back, I’m blessed.”

I hope everyone in this country heard the clanking of pots and pans from Hialeah to Homestead, the cheers accented in Spanish, Creole, Portuguese, and the “Woooh! Wooooh!” of victory horns echoing like a runaway train.

But, there's hope.

You can help insure this kind of bad writing never again sees the light of day.

Won't you contribute to the Fabiola Fund?


Click to enlarge.

Friday, June 21, 2013

And the Award For the Most Asinine Performance By a Miami TV Reporter During the NBA Finals....

...goes to Ben Kennedy of Local 10.

This week the producers at Local 10 managed to transform their station into a 100% News-Free Zone.

Each and every segment of the station's news programming contained elements of a carnival side show and a bad car wreck.

And just like that car wreck, I knew I shouldn't have been watching, but I couldn't tear myself away.

Here's Local 10's Ben Kennedy reporting yesterday on whether or not LeBron James would wear his headband in Game 7.

Note to Ben: This is not how Peter Jennings and Walter Cronkite got their start.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rolling Stone says Miami will be underwater by 2100 [UPDATED x1]

Rolling Stone, July 4-18, 2013.


UPDATED @ 1:00pm: The Miami Herald's Curtis Morgan reported on the problem of rising sea levels in South Florida last March 10.

Biscayne Times reported this story in its Sept. 2012 issue.


The latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine is out and if you plan to be around in South Florida for the next 40 or 50 years, you may want to pick up a copy.

In an article titled, "Goodbye, Miami," contributing editor Jeff Goodell writes that by the year 2100, much of South Florida will be submerged and Miami will be abandoned.

Flooding at Alton Road and 9th Street - June 5, 2009.

I was driving with Harold Wanless through Miami Beach one day when the sun suddenly disappeared and the skies opened up. When it rains in Miami, it's spooky. Blue sky vanishes and suddenly water is everywhere, pooling in streets, flooding parking lots, turning intersections into submarine crossings. Even for a nonbeliever like me, it feels biblical, as if God were punishing the good citizens of Miami Beach for spending too much time on the dance floor. At Alton Road and 10th Street, we watched a woman in a Toyota stall at a traffic light as water rose up to the doors. A man waded out to help her, water up to his knees. This flooding has gotten worse with each passing year, happening not only after torrential rainstorms but during high tides, too, when rising sea water backs up through the city's antiquated drainage system. Wanless, 71, who drives an SUV that is littered with research equipment, notebooks and mud, shook his head with pity. "This is what global warming looks like," he explained. "If you live in South Florida and you're not building a boat, you're not facing reality."

Click here to read the entire article at

Or you can read the piece the old-fashioned way by stopping by your local newsstand and buying a copy of the magazine.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Old Stuff - Overtown in the 1970s

Here are a few more images that I found in my files as I continue sorting and organizing almost 50 years of prints and negatives,

These were shot in Overtown in the 1970s.

Capitol Theater at 322 N.W. 14th Street, Overtown.
(Click all images to enlarge.)

Shotgun shacks in Overtown.

Vicinity of N.W. 4th Ave and 12th Street, Overtown.
(Dixie Park Pool is at end of street in upper right-hand
corner of photo.)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Introducing This Summer's Hottest New Dessert Sensation!

Meghan stopped by the Random Pixels World News Headquarters this weekend and dropped off a slice of her soon-to-be-famous "Secret Recipe Key Lime Pie."

I'd heard she'd baked up a batch of five of these beauties for Daniel Serfer's Blue Collar Restaurant. When those ran out, she baked five more.

And while Key lime pie is my favorite dessert, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get down to Blue Collar in time. So Meghan offered to bring me a slice. (Is this a great country, or what?)

You can get Key lime pie just about anywhere in South Florida. But not like this.

So what makes Meghan's so special?

Well, for starters, the recipe is one her mother passed down to her. A recipe that calls for real, fresh-squeezed Key lime juice. No bottled stuff in this pie.

And that gives this dessert a creamy, semi-sweet tartness that's pretty damn close to perfect.

I called the Blue Collar this afternoon and asked Daniel if he had any pie left. Nope. All gone. But he told me he'd be calling Meghan for more.

So, if you'd like a slice of Miami's best homemade Key lime pie, hit up the Blue Collar on Twitter or Facebook and ask when they expect to get in that new batch of pies.

You'll be glad you did.

        Blue Collar Restaurant
        6730 Biscayne Blvd,
        Miami, FL.
        (305) 756-0366

Your lunch hour time waster

Little Richard sings "Long Tall Sally" and "Tutti Frutti." (From the movie "Don't Knock The Rock," 1956.)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Classic Don Wright Cartoon from 31 years ago

June 15, 1982: Falklands War ends as Argentines surrender to British.

Miami News cartoon by Don Wright, June 15, 1982.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Random Pixels Quote of the Day

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Victoria Sigler in court yesterday issuing an order to attorneys for Miami Beach requiring them to turn over crime scene photographs taken following the 2011 Memorial Day weekend shooting that left 22-year-old Raymond Herisse dead.

"May they be color, may they be black and white, may they be moving, may they be still, maybe they exist on CD, maybe they exist in the old film negatives -- I don't care what you call them, if somebody took a coloring book and colored some pictures of Mr. Herisse as he lay dead in the street, it is your obligation to turn them over now."
-via Local 10


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Republican Party of Florida pulls some slimy sh*t (again) and spokesperson Susan Hepworth is clueless

Last year, we learned that the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) paid a Texas company tens of thousands of dollars to manage Florida Governor Rick Scott's Facebook account.

That fact came to light after the company phonied-up a Miami Herald front page. Herald executives were not amused.

"The posting of a fraudulent front page of the Miami Herald is unacceptable," [Herald managing editor Rick] Hirsch said. "Not only is it a fraud on the public, but it is trademark infringement for use of our masthead in a fake edition, and copyright infringement for those portions of the front page that were not fabricated."
So, you'd think that experience might have taught the RPOF folks a lesson. But you'd be wrong

Now, just in time for the NBA Finals, the RPOF is up to its old tricks, rolling out an even sleazier version of last year's trademark and copyright infringement episode. And, apparently they're hoping no one will notice.

Early this afternoon, someone at the RPOF's Facebook War Room posted this status update on Gov. Scott's Facebook page.

Screen shot taken from Florida Gov. Rick Scott's
Facebook page
on June 11, 2013.

The message is harmless enough. But what caught my interest was the accompanying image.

The photo was shot by a Getty Images photographer. An un-cropped version can be seen here on Sports Illustrated's website.

It appears that someone at the RPOF took some liberties with the image, turning it into a Rick Scott campaign poster.

Click image to enlarge.

To be precise, the RPOF has used an image that it stole didn't license from Getty Images as a campaign poster, compounding the crime by adding RICKSCOTTFORFLORIDA.COM at the bottom of the image. And then to make matters worse, the RPOF's Photoshop Wizard slapped a (trademarked) Miami Heat logo on Getty's (copyrighted) image.

I called a Getty Images sales representative in New York this afternoon.

The rep - who asked that I not use his name - said it was hard to offer an opinion without seeing the image, but he added, "I can state emphatically that Getty does not license images of NBA players for use by political parties. The NBA is very strict when it comes to licensing these kinds of images."

Next, I called Susan Hepworth, the RPOF's deputy communications director.

I asked her how the image came to be used on Scott's Facebook page.

She logged onto the governor's Facebook page, looked at the picture and then told me she'd have to get back to me. But before hanging up she said, "My best guess is that this is an image that is in the public domain."

Wrong answer, Susan...and an astounding statement coming from a professional spokesperson for a major political party. Images shot by professional photographers one day do not become public property the next day. Got it, Susan? You might want to check with some intellectual property lawyers on that point if you don't believe me.

Hepworth has yet to get back to me with an answer, despite the fact that I've called her numerous times since our initial conversation.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Jonathan Wright is in jail...again. But, this time he'll be there for a while.

Jonathan Oneal Wright

Over the past nine years or so, Jonathan Oneal Wright has been on a very fast track towards becoming a career criminal. Since 2004, the the 28 year-old Wright has managed to get himself arrested on various charges ranging from burglary and trespassing to possession and sale of drugs to car theft to battery on a pregnant female. But for one reason or another, he's walked free every time.

Yesterday, his luck ran out.

Today, he's sitting in jail, charged with some serious crimes, including attempted premeditated murder, use of a weapon in the commission of a felony and resisting arrest. He's being held without bond.

On Sunday, shortly after 3pm, Miami-Dade cops noticed Wright walking down a northeast Miami-Dade street and attempted to stop him. He took off on foot and ran into a house on 110th Street.

This time, cops were determined to get him.

Before long, police sealed off both ends of the street and a police helicopter was flying in circles over the house.

More units arrived, and guns were drawn. 

And, then the cops awaited for their secret weapon to arrive.

Miami-Dade police K-9 "Rusty" was called in  to "convince" Wright to surrender.

I'm told that Miami-Dade's SWAT team was also called out. But once cops told Wright that "Rusty" would be sent in the house to convince him to give up, he came out on his own.

Your lunch hour time waster...Dog Lovers Edition

God made a dog.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

The Old Stuff

There are two types of professional photojournalists.

There are those who have never given much thought to what will happen to the (pre-digital) images they've shot. Everything they've ever shot on film has been thrown in a box and stored in a garage or unused room of their house.

Then there are those who have meticulously cataloged every negative and slide and can find any image at a moment's notice.

I fall somewhere in between.

I've managed to save pretty much everything I've ever shot from the time I first picked up a 35mm camera in 1965 while serving in the Army in Germany.

Some of my images are sleeved and in binders. Others are stored haphazardly in envelopes, still waiting to be sorted and cataloged, decades after being shot.

I've got the pictures I shot during my Army service. Pictures from my three years in New York City where I lived in the late 60s and early 70s. Then there are the thousands of negatives I shot in the 70s, 80s and 90s in Miami. They all need to be sorted and organized.

I have decided that the time to get this done - finances permitting - is now.

And as I do, I'll be posting a small selection of those images on this blog from time to time.

And, sometime in the next few months, I hope to be able to announce what I plan to do next with the tens of thousands of images I've created over the past 48 years. Stay tuned for that.

But now, here are a few images I made while serving with the 25th Infantry Division in Cu Chi, Vietnam in 1966 and 1967.

Click all images to enlarge.

Your Sunday morning time waster

Caffeinated Owls by Dave Mottram.

Click here to enlarge.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Are Justin Bieber's 15 minutes up yet?

Justin Bieber.

So, I'm still trying to figure out what kind of look pop star Justin Bieber was trying to pull off Monday night at the Triple A.

I'm stumped.

But filmmaker Billy Corben tweeted, "Did Birdman just take a dump courtside? No wait. That's Justin Bieber."

Yesterday, I asked Frank Alvarado at Miami New Times to describe the look. "Internet gangster," he told me.

Lesley Abravanel, the Miami Herald's Gossip Maven Extraordinaire said it appeared to her as though Bieber was "the love child of Vanilla Ice and pleather."

Palm Beach Gossip Extra guru, Jose Lambiet was amused by Bieber's bizarre get-up, telling me, "He's obviously trying to appear older, but he doesn't even shave yet for God's sake."

But even more bizarre than Bieber's choice of wardrobe, was his behavior, especially towards some photographers.

Look at what happened when Miami Herald photographer Al Diaz stood up during a break in the action to take a picture of Bieber.

Photograph by Al Diaz/ Miami Herald.

What's the possible explanation for that kind of reaction to a news photographer simply trying doing his job?

And at one point during the evening, Bieber tried to prove his manhood by telling his "bodyguard" to ask a Channel 10 photographer to delete a photo he'd just taken of Bieber with this cell phone camera. The photographer told him that wasn't happening.

And Lambiet reported Wednesday that Bieber‘s bodyguards allegedly roughed up "a paparazzo taking photos of Bieber skateboarding near a North Miami recording studio."

It's time to send this little pr**k back to Canada. 

Thursday, June 06, 2013

45 years ago...June 5 and 6, 1968

Miami News, June 5 and 6, 1968.

Miami News cartoon by Don Wright, June 5, 1968.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

For Sale on eBay: Miami Herald's history in photos

1975: Miami Herald sportswriter Ed Pope waits in line at
the Orange Bowl to buy Dolphins tickets.

In case you missed it, I've written a post for the Miamu New Times blog, Riptide, 2.0.

Click here to read "The Miami Herald's History Is For Sale on eBay: Here's the Best, Worst and Weirdest."

Your lunch hour time waster

What happens an early morning TV news anchor and a weather lady despise each other? 


(Or it could be just an act.)

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Today's classic Don Wright cartoon

25 years ago this week....

Miami News, June 2, 1988:  A Miami federal judge, who refused early today to release Orlando Bosch pending deportation hearings, cited more than 700 pages of secret government documents accusing Bosch of anti-Castro terrorism even after his release from prison in 1972.

Miami Herald, June 3, 1988: The ruling was followed by a bomb threat, which forced INS district director Perry Rivkind to evacuate the district office building at 7880 Biscayne Blvd. At 9:05 a.m. Thursday, a caller to El Nuevo Herald said the Alliance of Intransigent Cubans has determined the office was "ready to be destroyed."

Cartoon by Don Wright.
Miami News
, June 6, 1988.
(Click to enlarge.)

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Miami Herald Deathwatch (cont.)

Un-retouched photo of Real Housewives of Miami
cast member and Twitter Queen, Lisa Hochstein. 


Further proof this morning that the Miami Herald probably has about a year, or less, before it goes out of business.

Here's an actual story headline on page 3B of Sunday's paper: "HOUSEWIFE TAKES TO TWITTER AFTER PARTY."

Here are the first two paragraphs of the "story":
Real Housewives of Miami cast member Lisa Hochstein [see photo above] took to Twitter to send Miami Beach preservationists “a message and the middle finger,” after they complained about a party she recently threw.

Hochstein and her plastic surgeon hubby, Leonard “The Boob God,” hosted a gangster-themed soiree at their 42 Star Island mansion last week — the same home the Miami Design and Preservation League has been fighting to have declared historic before the couple can tear it down.

Note to Herald reporter Christina Veiga: Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward DID NOT - repeat DID NOT - win a Pulitzer by writing garbage like this.