Saturday, November 19, 2016


by QMS, Miami Beach on a 12-hour layover en route to Caracas, October 2016

Marvelous Miami! Miami is better at night, mostly because you can't see as well in the dark. It is a city built for nighttime. The lights disguise the prevailing shabbiness.

Seen from the air its truth is revealed. It is a city of squares. It is a flat city. Even its skyscrapers are flat. Even its voluptuous sexuality is flat and square, in the sense that it is designed and destined for billboards and screens, made in the image of the image.

Miserable Miami, stumbling towards oblivion in the reckless pursuit of happiness. When I mention my final destination, my taxi driver bemoans the terrible things that the socialist government is doing to people in Cuba. To challenge his attitude would be as useless as explaining how much the music sucks in the clubs on the beachfront. Culture is concrete. The conservative politics of this place are as solidly entrenched as its physical infrastructure. To speak to this working class man about inequality or imperialism would be like trying to talk to its commercial real estate developers about climate change. Both the attitude and the infrastructure are invincible, centimeters above sea level.

Hard to overstate or underestimate just how sketchy the motherfuckers who run this town must be. The hardworking women redeem it every day, but they are no match for the storm surge.

From the air the city already looks half underwater. When the tide comes in the attitude and the politics, along with the sexy parties, will flounder helplessly and pitifully and desperately. The revenge of the everglades will be silent and soaking. It seems only seconds away.

Of all the cities which climate change will wipe off the map, Miami will be among the least mourned, and its disappearance will be among the most geopolitically progressive.

But in the meantime it reigns supreme. Far too many beautiful women to refute with mere reason. Far too much money pouring in to think about alternatives.

Murderous Miami, what does it know about the Seminoles? What memory remains after centuries of bad architecture and music and politics, of the ancestors who gave their lives to prevent this kind of nightmare? Forget the Seminoles, what does Miami know about its homeless, chewing each other's faces off under the highway overpass?

This corpulent calm conceals corpses. I sip my Panama water and swallow my oversized paella, and wonder what I or anyone is supposed to do.

Magnificent Miami; multicultural and toned, having fun and seeming so free, even if it is so expensive. But this paella is making me sick, and my churning stomach reminds me that I am surrounded by water and a wasteland of flat squares and flashing neon. The marvelous has never been so miserable. Death has never disguised itself as something so alive. The execrably expensive has never been so cheap.

What I'd like to explain to the taxi driver, and to the infrastructure, and to the pretty hostesses, and to the whole culture, impossibly, is that it's not too late for humanity and history.

Here at the extremity of the American dream, the pursuit of happiness attains a seductive and protracted climax. You can walk away, though. If you can recognize how miserable this place is, then you are in on a secret about the whole modern world. You can invest your your busqueda, your buildings, and your beauty in a place with more memory and less mendacity, more depth and fewer squares, farther from the shore line and closer to the heart of all things.

The light of the world isn't neon. The cup of life isn't frosted.

Let Will Smith keep on going to Miami. Let's go to Caracas.

1 comment:

Gringoyo said...

Love this piece. Although in August my airline cancelled a flight and sent me to a hotel, and it involved a long cab ride from Ft. Lauderdale to the Miami Airport. I had a fantastic conversation with my driver, who was from Rumania, had a cautious but sympathetic attitude towards projects to create true socialism, and who compared Trump to the deceased dictator Ceaucescu.