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Monday, April 11, 2011

Yeah, I'm from Miami, what about it?

You know I can't stand it when people knock my hometown.  I know it's not perfect, but it's perfect for me and the 2.5 million people who live here.  I recently went to a neighboring city and got a grimace from someone when I mentioned I was from Miami.  I know what he was thinking: "ewww Miami", like it was "ewww lima beans".  

Miami is beautiful and sexy.  It's one of the world's great cities, ranked 33rd in global cities according to Foreign Policy Magazine. They place us comfortably between Geneva and Bangkok. It's influence far outweighs its relative size, with just 2.5 million residents in Miami-Dade County. São Paulo, by comparison has 18 million residents and ranks 38th in global influence according to that survey.

What those numbers really tell us is what anyone who has ever slept with a Cuban in Miami already knows: that it's not all "hablando mierda" some things just have to be experienced to be understood. Miami's influence radiates far and wide in terms of culture, business and politics. I mean have you ever met anyone who has not heard of Miami?

I think of all the great cities that I've been to, New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong, San Francisco and Mexico City, they all have one thing in common: they have a sense of place.  Each exudes a confidence of identity. Paris might be the beautiful aloof girl, New York the rich, smart girl and San Francisco the quirky hippie girl wearing a sundress with no underwear, but Miami is the beautiful Latina who won't speak to you until you're formally introduced by her hot Cuban brother.  When she let's you in, Miami becomes whirlwind of salsa, Latin cuisine, Spanglish and cafecitos at 3AM. 

No, it's not the friendliest place in the world.  That doesn't stop 9.5 million people visiting every year. I'm convinced  that people who come here want to be treated bruskly by the hot 20 something hostess/model . They come to Miami to explore their masochistic fantasies and don't realize that all the "safe words" are in Spanish. So the abuse get's piled on, they go back to Kansas and tell their friends how bad the service was, and sure enough, those friends show up for the same treatment.  

You know I could go on about all the beauty here, the beaches, architecture, everglades. I could tell you that the people from each ethnic group contributes something unique to the city's makeup.  I could say that the fact that everyone does business in English but feel emotions in Spanish is what adds to it's unique character. Of course it's this and so many other things that make it so interesting, crazy, fun and exciting. 

Miami is a place where people have made something out of nothing. There was nothing here when my Great Grandfather arrived here from Alabama. Cubans arrived with little more than the few possessions they could carry in their bags, Haitians even less. Like magic, Miamians have created global success out of a swamp, a beach and an airport. It's the magic city.