Ocean Drive Magazine arts editor Brent Sokol took a little space in the New York Times yesterday to defend Miami from the stereotypes propagated by Tom Wolfe's "Back in Blood."
To be sure, Miami isn’t in danger of becoming a tropical Mayberry anytime soon. But its glaring problems — from endemic political corruption to an infrastructure literally sinking into the Atlantic Ocean — are looking less and less uniquely “Miamian.” Indeed, these are the same civic issues facing a host of anything-but-exotic American cities. So how to address this mess?You were saying, Mr. Wolfe?
A good start would be to dispense with old paradigms. Journalists clinging to the past might sigh over last month’s Election Day chaos in Miami. Taking stock of the voters stuck in sprawling lines, waiting hour after hour to cast their ballots, they’d shrug and mutter a Spanish version of “Forget it, Jake — it’s Chinatown.”
Shrewder analysts would look at the ballot itself, which reached 12 pages in some parts of the city, packed with 11 proposed state constitutional amendments, thanks to Tallahassee-based legislators hoping to push through radical changes. Miami’s voters gamely waded in, slowly reading through all the convoluted legalese despite the resulting backup this caused at the polls.
In the end, they rejected every one of the most eyebrow-raising proposals — from property tax breaks for snowbirds, to restrictions on abortion, to, yes, further tightening of the embargo on Cuba. That kind of patient thoughtfulness may not make for as exciting a headline as anti-Castro demonstrators, or celebrities behaving badly. But for those of us who actually live in Miami — who don’t merely parachute in to deliver glib verdicts — it’s reason to be hopeful about the future.