See you later, alligators

I think the first place to close down that truly broke my heart was Castle Park. They tried to rename it Malibu Grand Prix, but it wasn’t the same. My childhood memories of playing arcade games and crashing a go-kart into a stack of tires without a helmet was only associated with the original, not the imitation.

Miami’s landscape has changed dramatically since then. And so did my hobbies, as I traded soda for vodka and mini-golf for dancing. Along the same lines, I became saddened by the closings Circa28, Transit Lounge and even further back in time…what was the name of that place in the Design District that had four floors and just one exit…Power Studios!

Of course. Oh it was glorious. It had five performance stages that featured salsa, hip-hop, jazz, and rock musicians; a gourmet restaurant; an art gallery; and an outdoor film space, but the whole thing could go up in flames with just one miscalculated butt of a Marlboro Light.

It’s been all downhill since then, especially with the deaths (more like outright murders) of Van Dyke Café and Zeke’s. From the demolishing of the Miami Herald building to the relocation of Score, more and more of my geographical landmarks have been taken away. Now when I give directions I have to start with, “Make a right at the corner of where that place we loved used to be, but is now a yoga pants store.” Somehow Tobacco Road has been confined to live aboard a cruise ship, while Jerry’s Famous Deli and Wolfie’s are just condemned to live in my memory. As of late, I bade farewell to the iconic Cameo and Finnegan’s River, which wasn’t that heartbreaking because as a woman you could expect to be finger-fucked on your way to the bathroom in either establishment.

cameo
No. Thank you.

The latest rumor is that Yuca Restaurant is about to go and that’s just one bridge too far. Gloria Estefan once shut down Lincoln Road for an album release party, and I saw the whole thing from Yuca. Yuca, where Albita Rodriguez used to perform before she won a Grammy. Yuca, where members of the aging lesbian mafia can light up a joint and order Goat Cheese Croquetas without any judgement.

So, it is with deep sadness that I share with you my Miamian Resignation Letter.

see ya
I’m taking my talents to Skid Row.

Dear Miami, 

It is with deep regret that I inform you of my departure, effective two weeks from this letter.

This should come as no surprise, given your complete lack of attention to my interests. You refuse to have a gayborhood. You don’t offer well-paying jobs. You have done everything in your power to block the film industry and medical marijuana from taking residence here (is this somehow related?). And you hate live music for some reason. I should clarify that last point, live music as in sounds made from a band made up of real people playing real instruments at a bar and/or lounge, not a tween-aged DJ standing behind a laptop blaring out the Pitbull Pandora station.   

Perhaps that was too harsh. I’m sorry Miami. But, the truth is I’m mad at you.

I’m mad I can’t take my favorite parts of you in my suitcase, like the view from the Julia Tuttle and the entire menu from Soyka. I’m mad that people will ask me about my accent. I’m also mad that they will ask me about alligators because Miami happens to be in Florida. Bro, that’s so annoying. 

I’m also nervous.

I’m nervous about living in a city where Cubans are not the ruling class and where the mayor speaks perfect English. Will anyone know who DJ Laz or Pepe Billete are? Will the people that live there really have an uncle named Luke and not see the humor in calling him up and saying, “Capt. D Coming, Capt. D Coming, Capt. Coming,” and then hanging up? 

These jokes are going to fall flat in Los Angeles. Oh. Right. That’s where I’m going. 

I know what you’re thinking Miami, “OMG the traffic. If you would only wait until 2018 when we finish the Palmetto, then you are going to regret moving to LA.” And then you’re probably following up that thought with, “Pero, what’s wrong with you? The earth shakes there.”  

To answer your questions, yes, I know all of these things. I’ve also watched every episode of 90210 and Melrose Place, which, as I understand it, is nowhere near where I’m going to be living and is also not very current. But I can’t just stay here forever, Miami. I already gave you my youth, my money and in some corners of South Beach, my vomit.

I think the time has come to give each other a little space. Enough breathing room to actually miss each other. Because, in all seriousness, I have loved no other city like you. And although I’m really excited about starting a new life in L.A., you will always be my number 305. 

Con mucho, mucho amorrrrr,

Mari

 cc: Pitbull

Marriages and misdemeanors

On the second floor of Miami Beach’s old city hall, there is a rectangle-shaped room where, if you sit long enough, you may end up committing a felony to expedite your wait. But felonies aren’t handled in this room. No, this is the place for marriages and misdemeanors.

As I walked in, the first person I laid eyes on was a bride in full veil and train speaking in Russian, or something like it, to her future husband through a translator. The groom, his body in full suit and his head in full hair gel, then turned to his family to discuss what was said in Spanish. “The perfect marriage,” I thought.

Now Serving...
Now Serving…

I went on to collect my ticket, which indicated that I was the seven-hundredth and twentieth person in line, and glanced around the room to find the most comfortable seat possible. Perhaps one where I could rest my back against the wall and also be closest to the exit, in case that Russian bride went full-Bridezilla.

Unfortunately, an Argentinean national was taking up all of the prime real estate. Well not her personally, but her beach umbrella, which she placed upon an entire bench. I know I could’ve said something, but there was something off about her and I didn’t want to get into it.

There were two young black men that also didn’t want to get into it with her and they commandeered folding chairs, which they placed in the center of the room. They looked incredibly comfortable while discussing the discomfort of bureaucracy. I had no choice but to eavesdrop on their conversation all about the injustice of parking tickets, and found myself nodding along to all their valid points.

With only three windows open and numbers being called out in 15 minute intervals, I realized that I too was destined for a parking ticket. I had erroneously estimated to be there an hour. One single, joyous hour, where I, together with my partner of 13 years, was going obtain a somewhat-legal marriage license.

This is not what I had envisioned at all.

There were not a couple of Queen’s Guards opening the door to the courthouse for us. (Mainly because we were in the United States).There was not an enthusiastic host, much like one from a TGI Friday’s or Chili’s, that welcomed us and showed us to our seats. There was definitely not a short wait. And Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not sitting behind the glass to administer our oath.

After 53 minutes of full regret – not about getting a marriage license, but about getting our marriage license there – our number was called.

This prompted us to look at each other in that way those long-time couples only can. In that split second, only using our eyes, we said we loved one another and that what we were doing was ridiculously exciting. More exciting than we ever thought it would be. And just as heart-exploding as the moment I realized she was proposing and had not just fallen on the floor. As we made our way to the window, I flashed my half grin at her and she replied with her staple gorgeous smile, and right as we took our seats in front of the glass…

that fucking Argentinean lady and her malparida umbrella squeezed herself between us and the glass partition to speak to the attendant, disregarding the fact that it was clearly not her turn.

This prompted us to look at each other once again. And without saying a word, we agreed not to get married there and to find that bitch’s car and…

well, just find her car.

Art Basel: The bourgeoisie and the rebel

It’s that time of year again. When I dust off my old Art Basel post and refresh it with new nonsensical information to help non-Baselers get through Miami Art Week.

art_basel_2014_todolist-copy1

To be clear, this isn’t a post for novices attending the fair for the first time. There is no information in here that will coach you about what to wear (obviously, everyone knows to wear plaid Capri pants with a knitted hat) or how to act (every single piece you see must impress you). I will not be previewing the best pop-up Miley Cyrus concert or the secret experimental brunch exhibition. No. This post is for people who will not be attending any Art Basel related event, but may feel inclined to fib about it on Monday when everyone at work is talking about what they saw over the weekend.

So, without further ado, dear people of Kendall, the first thing you should remember is that Wynwood, the Beach, Midtown, the Design District, Omni, Downtown, and Park West are off limits until next week. Otherwise you may find yourself sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours, before finally finding a parking space in an abandoned lot that costs thirty-five dollars an hour, and when you get to the bar that you customarily frequent, you will be asked for a cover, but don’t worry, you’ll have plenty to drink with a mandatory two-bottle per person minimum.

You'll be in traffic for as long as this guy is standing.
You’ll be in traffic for as long as this guy is standing.

Instead of putting yourself through that ordeal, choose to catch up on that television show that everyone references, but you never cared to watch, like Seinfeld or Lost. Combined, those two shows have six bajillion hours of entertainment to keep you indoors. And if you absolutely must leave the house for some recreation, make sure it does not require deviating off of the Palmetto Expressway. Do not veer into the abyss of 836. Do not take the curve toward the unknown of I-95. Stick to visiting family members in Hialeah, shopping at Dadeland Mall and dancing at La Covacha.

In other words, fill your weekend with activities that are too shameful to share on social media. This way, come Monday morning, your Facebook won’t rat you out when you’re plainly lying to that twenty-something-year-old in your office (who will not only judge you for missing out on Basel, but will also equate you to their parents if they realize that you have no interest in art).

Erwin Wurm, I Farted While Working Out At The Gym; 2008
Erwin Wurm, I Farted While Working Out At The Gym; 2008

So, take a deep breath. Now, exhale through your nose. With my easy-to-follow five-step plan you’ll get through that uncomfortable Monday morning conversation like a champ.

STEP 1

When asked, “Did you go to Basel this weekend?” respond with any of the below non-answers and let the other person take over the conversation.

  • Oh my God, the traffic!
  • My feet are pounding!
  • So many people!
  • Wynwood is so much better than the Beach!

STEP 2

In the event that you are asked a follow up question like, “Which fairs did you visit?” Respond by choosing any three of the following:

  • Blip
  • Score
  • Plus
  • Dot
  • Smack
  • Taste
  • Splash
  • Zero

You can also create your own, as long as you stick to single words that could double as names of gay bars.

STEP 3

Update your social media accounts with random photos of “art.” Don’t worry about quality. I mean, it doesn’t have to be “real art,” by any means. The more random, the more believable. Walk around your house and snap a photo of dust bunnies under the couch, the spoons in your drawer or yogurt in the fridge. In case this task is too daunting, I’ve provided you with a few examples you can use:

so realistic.
“Hanger/Untitled” OMG so realistic.
"Lifeblood/Untitled" my faves.
“Lifeblood/Untitled” This was my faves.
"Tears of a Clown on LSD/Untitled" was really moving.
“Tears of a Clown on LSD/Untitled” Really moving.

STEP 4

Inevitably, someone will ask you about the Basel parties. “So, did you go to any of the pop-ups?” To make it through this final gauntlet of face-saving, you will need to incorporate all of the above techniques into a 30-second monologue of nothing.

Start with your non-answers:

  • Oh my god the traffic! And the people! It was crazy! Wynwood is so much better than the Beach!

Create new names for gay bars:

  • We ended up at (choose one of the following) Silent Sound, Spray, Cherry Lips

And then drop names of celebrities:

  • You know who I saw? I saw Daniel Arsham! I know right? Hold on. It gets better. And he was with Usher. I almost died. Let me show you a picture <INSERT BLURRY NIGHT PHOTO>. That’s them in the corner! Crazy right?

Feel free to use this photo or create one of your own:

That's me in the corner next to the Hammer.
Crazy right?!

STEP 5

Whatever you say. Do not. Repeat. Do not mispronounce Basel and call it Art Basil.

Art Basil.
Art Basil.