Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Miami Nice: Jan 23-26, 2016

With the Canadian dollar under 70 cents to the Yankee greenback, Miami was only meant to be a 3 day pitstop between Mexico City and Barbados. 

5 million  ppl board these floating hedonist palaces each year in Miami, making it the world's busiest concentration of ppl named Ethel and Fred.

Miami Beach is a city and island separate from the City of Miami. The former was essentially a sandbar and swamp created in 1915 by the wealthy, for the wealthy, attracting civic role models like Al Capone.
A hurricane in 1926 wiped out much of the area but the reconstruction took place at the height of the Art Deco period. 

Nowadays it's the world's largest concentration of such buildings with more than 800 constructed in the unique Miami Art Deco style with features such as:
•3 distinct sections ( left, centre, right) and usually 3 floors. 
• a zig zag roofline
• symmetry and geometry --- the left half mirrors the right with ample use of clean, straight lines and or curves and round windows in a nautical theme
•short ledges above windows to enhance cooling

Most hotels were originally white. But ....

....in the 1980s Don Johnson blazed into town on that studly tv show, Miami Vice. The world watched and many hotels highlighted their architectural elements and painted walls in pastels...so essentially the whole town became a movie set, got it, Crockett?

The area known as Wynwood only 8 yrs ago was a down and out inner city hood. Then artists and gallery owners moved in and whaaaala! Gentrification. Now it's a maze of steet art, galleries, hipster hangouts and the only ppl down and out are those who can't find parking.

Miami is a melting pot of the Hispanic world as more than sixty percent are Hispanic. The majority are of Cuban descent, such as these old anti-Castro warriors playing dominoes in Little Havana.

We Couchsurfed in a condo by Little Havana with two superb hosts, Dairo, a public health planner from Colombia, and Tanya  a pianist protégé from Russia. Thanks to them we got chauffeured around and loaded up more culture than anticipated. This included an unbelievable concert by her friends (one of whom will play for that swollen head, Pinchas Zukerman).

This purplish Russian concoction is a tasty mayo, salt fish dish that Tanya made. 

However Tanya's magnificence is best heard, as she's going to be a renowned  pianist. 

Perez Art Museum....of modern wtf is this supposed to be art? With many notable exceptions eg this Gerhard Richter

Our fav however was this piece.
Spotted oven plates reminded the artists of stars and are counterpointed by blackened baseball bats. Their blackness and the darkened cotton are suggestive of the south and racial strife but the artist dude (whose name we've shamelessly forgotten) thinks the cotton represents healing. Whatever.

Definitely not in the guide book, Marlins Park where Dairo and I hit a grad ceremony of 200 former street people who'd gotten their lives together. The unmistakable born again Christianity theme abounded. Except for the lack of alcohol, I'd say they have more fun than the Catholics.

Miami Beach 
Miami and environ oozes money. Some old, real old. And some young, like Miami Beach (aka SoBe, aka The Beach) where a phalanx of condos average $2.35 million US, and rent out at14k monthly..., if you can find one. 
The beach itself is 10 miles long and unnaturally widened in order to protect the island.

A blizzard further north feather touched Miami with the coldest winter in some time. Not being beach ppl, a they have to work real hard to win us over, especially here where the sand is now trucked in.
While it beats shovelling 2 feet of snow, it's kinda meh, if you ask us.

Next: Barbados


For Wayne Ng's latest travel adventures and book " Finding the Way: A Novel of Lao Tzu ," please go to his website and blog at...