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Friday, November 23, 2012

Enemies

Yes, of course you're fat, as a gay man I cannot lie.
You know at some point in your 40's, and I'm at the halfway point, you collect enemies.  My enemies are generally people I've insulted after a few drinks. By insults, I generally told them a truth, which they found too hard to take and then when I tried to apologize they lashed out in anger....and hence became my enemies. The hard part of the group I just mentioned is that I still have to deal with them on more than one occasion. Some of them have been mentioned in this very blog. (http://miamiafter40.blogspot.com/2011/01/is-fat-the-new-fuck.html).

There are other enemies too, people who've hurt me along the way through cruelty, mental illness or maliciousness. Those enemies come to me at weak points, where their humiliations, put downs or anger come to me on restless nights, low points or days when I've forgotten to renew my prescription for Xanax. Usually those enemies are just in my head and have long since move out of my life.  But they haunt me because I ceded the battlefield to them and spend a lifetime trying to let go, forgive and forget.   (http://miamiafter40.blogspot.com/2009/12/descent-into-madness.html)

You might think the enemies in the first group would be the harder to deal with. After all they are still in your life and thus you must constantly try not to engage them. Sadly, most of my enemies are women, or gay men and you can read into that what you want.  Another thing I want to state is that very few of my enemies are fat (with one exception) and one has put on a lot weight recently, which makes me happy. The German word is schadenfreude which means joy in someone else's failure. Fat is a failure folks. All of my enemies are white, since we white folks (today my Anglo side is speaking) and I hate like white people.  

Did you steal my wedding gifts?
How white people hate:  Condescension. Unlike my Latin side, which is all heat,emotion and passion, my white side hates like ice.  It’s the kind of cold that if you touch it will damage skin. It's a narrow squint in the left eye that just stares unblinkingly.  It's a passive aggressive hate which leaves short, well timed phrases guaranteed to stir doubt about your enemy among those who associate with them. Whispered comments like "she sure like's her gin" and "she just can't quite seem to get it together."  It's the "oh how nice to see you," with your nose scrunched up like somebody farted. It's addressing your enemy only when they're seated and you're standing, that's condescension. Be aware when a white person says "oh don't get up," high ground gives advantage.  White enemies don't forget, we nurse past slights and wait for occasions like Thanksgiving to throw them into the mix. I'm still waiting for that apology from my stepmother for accusing me of stealing her wedding gifts 20 years ago.....at some point I'll bring it up....but the right moment has come up yet...

I said: BRRR it's cold in here!
I don't really have any advice to give. I often hear "move on, forgive". Yes, forgive and forgive, whatever.  Enemies come with life, like wrinkles and grey hair.  In some cases you hold them close because you know they keep your life interesting. Other times they are a burden and weigh you down.  You might think you don't have any enemies.....but you do.  Out there are people who don't like you, not just a passive dislike....but a "I will CUT her" kind of dislike.  It might be someone you hardly know or a wicked stepmother. In any case they are yours....and enemies make you stronger, more interesting. If they don't.....find better enemies. 















Thursday, November 8, 2012

Can You See Us Now America?

Yeah, but they vote as we learned on Election day. 
As a bi-cultural person, half white, half Latino, the first thing I notice about white people in general is that they don't see brown people.  Really, they don't.  Kinda the way that you don't see, maids, or doormen or refrigerators, or toasters on kitchen counters.  White people see black people.  There is a mix of emotions that whites have for blacks, fear and guilt being part of that mix, whatever. But my white friends and relatives outside of Miami really don't see Latinos beyond Mexican lawn men. White people also get upset at Latinos who don't want to be lawn men. One day my Cuban husband came home upset one day because during a board meeting, as a joke, the company VP pointed to the gardeners working outside the conference room and said to him: "You're lucky you're not out there with them." Everyone in the meeting laughed. He just happens to be a nuclear chemical engineer. 

But blacks and whites really don't see Latinos. Until this Election Tuesday. For years smart white politicians like Jeb Bush, John McCain and Marco Rubio have been saying, ignore Latinos at your own peril.  Well the old white men who run the Republican party just opened their eyes and saw brown for the first time. White men could always look to Miami Cubans and say "hey, but the Cubans vote for us!"  But two days ago, 47% of Cubans voted for the incumbent http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/11/07/3086875/cuban-american-support-for-obama.html.  I think Cubans, like all other Latinos can read between the lines about things like "self-deportation" and laws that are passed to make Latino looking people walk around with "proof of citizenship."

When I say I was born in Honduras, to a Honduran mother, they say, "you're not Latino, you have blue eyes!"  Well, in all honesty, Hondurans say that too.  Yet my point is, that my heart is very latino, and that all brown people are not lawn workers and maids. That we do not all come from Mexico. That we are diverse, we are beautiful in our shortness, our browness, in our Latinoness.(Yeah, we can be tall and blond and blue eyed too.)  We are a hard-working, growing group in these United States. We got this President elected, same as we will the next one.

Can you see us now America?



Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Taking Our Country Back! or are we?

"We're gonna take our country back." I've heard this phrase from several friends, colleagues and crazies in the last few months.  I know America is in election mode and among "fellow travelers" this phrase provides some kind of comfort, that after the election we'll return to that safe familiar dream of our country as we would have it....in our fantasies. 

June had a sharp look....rock the pearls!
While I understand that the idea behind the phrase is about winning, but to me it's about so much more, and not in a good way.  It's presumptuous and assumes that the side that's not in control of the House, Senate or White House is a loser and that this country has been "taken back" from them.   While I may disagree wholeheartedly with many of the policies of the opposition, they are supported by my co-workers, friends, family and neighbors.  Those opinions help them organize their lives and worldview, and in there are wishes for a simpler, easier time. This conservative idea to "take back" America to some wistful fantasy that only existed in Leave It To Beaver. Do we want to go back to the man in the gray flannel suit? Although I admit, June Cleaver could rock those pearls and cashmere. 

Take America back to this?
For Liberals it may have been the late 70's, when the sexual revolution was at it's peak and women and minorities were breaking out of traditional roles and escaping stereotypes. They were building on the foundations of the civil rights movement that had occurred a little more than decade before. But really, does anyone really want to go back to bad 70's fashions?

When you ask about "taking back" America for yourself  what does it mean? To me there are these ideals of America that we learned in citizenship class in 1st or 2nd grade: fairness, opportunity, strength, equality. Then  the personal America: Personal success, optimism, family, love, national pride, achievement through hard work.   

Yet despite these great ideals there is the my ambivalent or cynical view of America: guilt about homelessness, world hunger, poverty, violence, drug use, racial inequality, gender inequality, wealth inequality. A sense perhaps that my second grade ideals don't match up with the reality and promise of America and that I'm not doing my part to make my country a "more perfect union".

So no, I don't want to "take America back". I'm thinking that I want to take America forward. Work on things my friends, neighbors, colleagues, can agree on. Perhaps reduce homelessness or hunger? Figure out real solutions to end poverty, like keeping kids in schools. Maybe just trying harder to be a better neighbor and pick up after my dog more. I don't know, but I know it must start on a small scale.....and then maybe we can take America forward.....together. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Politics of Defriending (it's not you, it's me, but maybe it's you)

So here we are just weeks away from the Election and I have only defriended ONE person.  Which is amazing for me because I do go through rabid defriending binges at least once or twice a year. However in this political season I'm proud to have only defriended one person for political reasons.

Now I realize that with 350 friends, there are a few Republicans in there, and they would would be loathe to put their party propaganda on my page, and I thank them for not doing so.  However, there is one group of Republicans I have disdain for: Log Cabin ones. 

But it leaves such a bitter after -taste
Sigh, Log Cabin Republicans.....as a gay man I should embrace all the diversity of the rainbow flag: Black, Latino, Asian, gayness in its myriad forms. To the effeminate man who collects Lladro, and the big muscular leather queen, I should embrace you. I should welcome all of my brothers into the big bear hug of gayness. I should be inclusive and tolerant.  I want to think that we all have common cause in our struggle for equality.

Yet alas, I can't feel that way about Log-Cabin Republicans.  Don't get me wrong,  I have no problem with other Republicans. The heterosexual housewife in Houston, the banker, even my real-estate agent are all dyed-in the wool Republicans and embrace many values that I wholeheartedly disagree with.  I find I can be accepting and loving of all of them.  Yet, no matter how hard I try, I cannot fully embrace a Gay Republican.

I don't know why, but they just make me feel icky. They spout off about "waiting our turn" for equal rights, or "it's not time yet." Worse they tell me, and use religious language about how wrong gay-marriage is. Really?  These are guys who advocate "acting straight" and "try to fit in."  You know acting straight and fitting in is a form of oppression I don't embrace.  Uncle Tom's Log Cabin if you ask me. 

Then they get all hurt and say "what about your Liberal tolerance? You're supposed to love my gayness." I may be liberal, but I don't have to tolerate assholes gay or non-gay who don't agree with my hope to be an equal citizen someday. Especially assholes who should be embracing myself, my relationship and my family.  There is no evidence whatsoever that gays in the GOP have made a single iota of difference in the anti-gay stance of the Republican party.  To me it seems self-hating. 

Yeah, argue about smaller government,entitlements and less regulations all you want, you can do that as an Independent, Libertarian or even as a Democrat. The anti-gay measures and rhetoric in the Republican party indicate some form of self-shame, Mr. Log Cabin Republican, but also shame of the gay part of me as well. No, I don't think we can be friends and I'm not sorry. 

You know what? I don't have to give a reason, it's my Face Book page. Defriended. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Miami Lesbians.........No Degree of Separation.

Being the gay man about town, some people ask me about what's up for lesbians in Miami. To be honest I have no real idea what lesbians really do. I put down my own observations (based on limited personal experiences). 

"Why did you put her in my lane!?!" the athletic lesbian swimmer said to me, "Don't you know she's my girlfriend's ex!?!" I should have consulted the Miami Lesbian Ex-girlfriend chart before I put two sisters of sappho in the same lane together.    Yes, I should have known, because in Miami there are only about 30 lesbians altogether, maybe there are 50, but I'm sure there are less than 75. Also, at some point they were all girlfriends with one another. No, not "we went out on a few dates," not "yeah, we met at a party and hooked up."  No, a full fledged 3 week relationship that included countless hours on the phone, texting and processing with each other. In each case it ended badly and all that was left was bitterness and "now she's just somebody that I used to know."

I am no expert on the state of sapphic affairs in this urban paradise, but I know a few girls who wear sensible shoes in my town and I think Miami offers a different take on girls who like girls.  It's not quite what you'd expect.  Plus there are some lesbian poseurs in Miami which often fool you into thinking there are more grrrls out there than there really are. So I thought I'd drop a few hints how to separate the women from the womyn. 

1. First, all Miami lesbians know each other. If you want to discreetly find out if a local girl is a lesbian, just drop the name of another lesbian and ask her if she dated her.  Start simple: "Do you know Ingrid or Belkys?" If the answer is "yes" she's a lesbian. 

2. Yoga is a lesbo magnet. More than four classes a week: Lesbian. Unclogging chakras is just a euphemism for cunnilingus.

3. Latina lesbians are fierce, no really they're fierce, they will cut you. Just ask Ingrid from question one.

4. There's a joke in the lesbian community: how many break-ups does it take a lesbian to move on? Answer: move on? we're not done processing yet. 

5. Miami lesbians do not adhere to any particular lesbian uniform outside of the yoga studio.  They are lipstick, I've never seen any Miami lesbian in Birkenstocks or Doc Martens. 

6. The tragedy of the lesbian community in Miami is that there seems to be so few, and most them just blend in with the rest of us.  There doesn't seem to be enough to create a critical mass to maintain a club or gathering place where they can all meet....so they're left just dating "somebody that I used to know" that they met at a lesbian pot luck. 

Aquagirl: "who's gonna buy me a drink?"
7. Or girls can wait for the big once a year Aquagirl party week.  Womyn who love women come to Miami  from all over the world once a year for bacchanalia and portable relationships which can be processed via text and cell. You go grrrls!

Mostly lesbians just blend in. In Miami There are no lesbian ghettos, or even areas with a higher concentration of them.  I remember when my husband and I were raising our son in West Dade.  We were surrounded by many Lesbian moms. No one even noticed...but they always remembered the "gay dads".  In suburbia they are just another housefrau doing errands. Which is probably the way they want it. 



Thursday, August 30, 2012

Please Don't Go!!! The Heartache of Being Miamian

People often tell me it's hard to make friends in Miami, I might tend to agree.  One of the greatest heartaches about living here is that people move.  So as a Miamians we tend to guard our hearts to the newcomers. You see the newbies, with their Spanish phrase books and their fresh Midwestern corn fed faces.  Agonizing at the Publix Deli and trying to order in English.  Only to have Spanish spit back at them at a rapid fire pace.

Rubia in a "baja y chupa"
You see them in gatherings in the break room, smiling in a clueless way as the girls laugh at the receptionist's Casual Friday outfit that includes skinny jeans and a "baja y chupa"*.   They grin politely after the business meeting is over and all of a sudden the English stops and the Spanish begins, feeling very, very left out. But over time they learn about "pastelitos" and the 3:00PM colada.  The Spanish chatter ceases to bother them and they even learn a few key phrases to drop to make their colleagues laugh.  They're beginning to settle in, maybe even like the exotic.

Of course, we all know as Miamians that fresh faces, and blue eyes are in short supply. So if the person is single....they fall in love with their first Latino...or Cuban.  The whirlwind passion, the great kisses, the great sex, the parents in Westchester....Miami bliss. At last the Miami honeymoon has begun. If you have blue(light) eyes you start getting introduced as "rubio" or "rubia" which literally means "blond".  

Then the heartbreak. He cheats, she cheats, he stops calling, she went to back to her ex named Jorge.  Then then that Midwesterner becomes bitter, and every word in Spanish reminds him or her about that hot Latin lover. The Publix deli lady rubs salt in the wound that they never really did understand a word of Spanish and then, fuck it. They leave Miami.  

The other scenario is that they can't find a job because they can't speak Spanish, regardless of superior educational background or experience.   

Adios Miami!!! Goin' back to USA!
In either case we are left here, Miamians, as our friends leave broke or heartbroken, but more fabulous for the experience. 

Sorry guys, we'll miss you.  



* strapless halter top (literal translation: drop and suck)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cleaning Ladies Save Marriages and Other Relationship Advice.


I recently celebrated my 17th anniversary together with my husband.  Of course, that got me thinking about what are the key ingredients that has made our relationship work all this time. I've also been asked how we make it work.   I kind of wanted to go down to some basics that get us through the day to day issues which over time start to build up.  I think half of the break ups are due to the big stuff: incompatibility, cheating, money and non-supportive families. The other half is the small stuff: socks on the floor, flatulence, poor toilet aim, not knowing left from right when giving directions.  So I guess I really want to cover a lot of the small stuff,  because that what makes the big stuff seem so much worse.

My first piece of advice is to fall in love with the least annoying person you can imagine yourself being with.  If he annoys you in the beginning, that's not going to change. Hence I suggest dating for at least one year before you move in together.  That way you'll know if he's a farter, nose picker, snorer, funny laugher, has some kind of a tic, or wears his underwear in the shower.  These qualities may seem endearing, but over time you'll grow to hate them.  I have been fortunate in my choice of mate, since he does most of these things when I'm not around. 

So our first challenge moving in together was our different cleaning styles.  I agree that housekeeping is the first big challenge for most relationships.  I tend to be a "night cleaner" letting the detritus of the day (or week) accumulate until right before bed then I sweep through house and put things in some semblance of order.  My hubby has a "gatherer-hunter" mentality. He gathers up my mess all day and hunts me down to tell me what a pig I am.  Clearly we want the same thing: a clean house, but getting there was never easy.  So after six months together I convinced him we needed a cleaning lady, fortunately I knew one with severe OCD and the first stone of the foundation of our relationship was put down.  Maria (not her real name) is worth her weight in gold and has saved us thousands of dollars in couples therapy.  Really, $15 an hour for a housekeeper is a lot cheaper than $150 an hour for a therapist. A fresh, clean toilet is worth at least 10 Xanax. Sometimes I think I stay in my relationship because I'm not sure if she would pick me if I left my hubby.  She has been cleaning up after me, off and on for the last 25 years. 

I guess my other big piece of advice is to create a life together outside of the house. A shared hobby that you can do together and alone makes life interesting.  If it's a hobby that requires both of you, it's limited. It's something you share, but it could be done without the other present. Sports, church, fitness, gardening, politics, volunteer work are all things that are as much fun alone as together. So if either one of you is away or not in the mood, they can still connect with you on that shared activity.  It also makes them miss you more because they weren't there to share it with you. 

The third piece of advice is try have sex at least twice a month, even if you're not that into it.  I've found, that once you get started, it's like hey, now I remember why I enjoy this so much with you. It may seem routine, but I've found that if you talk about "spicing it up" while you're having sex, it's easier to do when you're not. So if you're having your normal  session on Saturdays between 11:06 and 11:26 at 11: 17 you might say, "hey this is hot, but what would really turn you on?"   Then at 11:28 you can go back to sleep. 

Of course with respect and communication, hopefully rest of the stuff just works itself out. 



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My first Chest Pains and it's off to Havana General Hospital(Mercy Hospital)

Ah, my first chest pains, like puberty for the middle aged.   So I was selling my medical software to some nurses and casually mentioned some pains in my chest. They "casually" suggested I check myself into the hospital.  I pooh-poohed the idea thinking it was indigestion or cramps or whatever.  The pains continued for the rest of the day and just figured they would work themselves out. 

Jen, oldest and dearest friend came over and I told her about my chest pains. We joked about dying and told her I wanted "Luke and Laura's" theme at my funeral and she promised me that her sister Amy would wail and throw herself on my open casket at my funeral. We laughed drank some more Pinot Noir and took a distasteful picture of me in a funereal pose with the dog on my lap. I wrote RIP on the pic and everyone thought the dog died.  Of course my hubby would call this "llamando miseria" (calling misery) or just plain old fashioned crepe hanging. 

So Jen left and I was left alone in the house with the dog, my husband was away. My anxiety peaked, my chest pains came back so I went online to read about heart attacks. Of course as I Googled the symptoms I realized maybe it was a good idea to go to the E.R. and get myself checked out. Google said call 911, do not drive yourself to the hospital.  Of course if I dialed 911, they might take to a hospital that I don't like, which happens to be the one closest to me. I realized they need a Travelocity for hospitals to see which is the best choice.  Of course I have some basic requirements for hospitals: they should be by the water and free parking.   Mercy Hospital it is. 

So I arrived at 8PM on the dot. I had showered and had clean underwear on. I parked and walked in and waited about 25 minutes in the waiting room.  To my very gay delight, two extremely muscular, hot, orderlies came out and escorted me to my berth in the ER. They assisted me in disrobing.....so sweet.They preceded to apply sensors to my legs, abdomen and chest. There was pleasant oohing and ahhing over my very pronounced veins, I was sooo flattered.  I was almost ready to fake choking so I could get some mouth to mouth.  The very gay male nurse (really, are there any other kind?) took my medical history and through some gaydar and nitroglycerin I basically got his life story. Once the word got out there was a gay patient, a parade of cute young (gay?) male nurses paraded into the ER to check out my "vitals".  I was wondering why I hadn't had chest pains sooner. 

The ER doctor was cute, a "Jewish-Cuban" guy. Older, distinguished and handsome in a nerdy kind of way. We talked about swimming, I mentioned I was on a swim team and all the nurses and ER staff came in and watched Michael Phelps win his 20th Olympic Gold Medal with me. They asked me about strokes and swimming and I invited them all to join me at Nadadores.org for a swim. 

So after about two hours I was admitted to my room. A very cute male nurse came and took my vitals again. Asked my medical history, again.  The hospital bed AMAZING, it would change to reduce pressure so there was no need to toss and turn. So nice. I slept soundly. Nurses and aides would soundlessly come into my room check my vitals. 

In the morning I could see a beautiful sunrise over Biscayne Bay. I had luckily snagged a private ocean view room, sweeet. From my bed I could see sailboats flitteing about Biscayne bay as I read, texted and napped throughout the day. The only sour note were the calls for a Padre Jorge, and apparently the anger when I said I wasn't Padre Jorge,  I was about offer confession...but hung up after saying "no speako Spanish" just to be left alone, Garbo style.  A few friends popped in to say hi...so sweet. A very hot cardiologist came in and told me I was fine. I was told at noon I would be discharged at 3PM so I called the beauty salon and had a manicure and pedicure. A very nice procedure in a hospital bed.  Sweet. 3PM came too soon. At 5:00PM free of angina....I was off to my business trip in Sarasota.  Best mini-vacation ever.  (except for the food.)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Miami Geography: Being Here Changes You.



You know the study of geography is more than just maps. It's about human interactions with the lands they live on. Where you live changes you. Living in Miami changes you a LOT. From your clothes, to how you work and how you relate with others. Since we're talking about local geography, let's define it. When we talk about Miami we mean Miami-Dade County.  No, I'm sorry Hollywood, Hallandale, North Key Largo do not count. I also mean the "unique" communities of Coral Gables, Aventura and Hialeah, they are Miamians even though they may not want to be, or some of us would prefer they were in another county.  I know some people as far north as Ft. Lauderdale might say they're "Miami", but that would be unfair, since they're in a whole other country. 

"So sorry I'm late, it was just too hot outside"
I know when I'm in Miami I feel sexier, more confident, less motivated to work, because I'm so confident and sexy. I mean I only need to "look" successful which in turn means I "could" be successful but you won't know, because in Miami few people talk about their work.  I often wonder about all the material success I see around me: expensive cars, houses and boats, but I don't really see an economy that can sustain that wealth.  Where do all those people in Mercedes Benzes and Beemers go every morning to make money? 

One of the first things that happens here is that "it's hot so I need to be 15minutes or five hours late." The heat excuses everything. Like a harsh northern blizzard, the heat makes it impossible to ever be on time. I notice this is the first thing to change in the newcomers, punctuality. Miami is where punctuality comes to die.  The heat is like this barrier to quickness, like stepping in molasses while wearing sandals; no....energy.....to....be...on...time.....! 

These bright, tight clothes are so Miami!
Miami changes your style. The first thing you notice is snatches of color entering your wardrobe. Reds and blues at first, bright orange, then finally lilacs and purples. Tropical colors and nobody looks twice, not an eyebrow raised.....could fuchsia be right around the corner? Tightness? Yes tightness. Tight clothes are more comfortable in the heat. They wick away the sweat from your body and dry quickly in the air conditioning. Loose shirts and blouses sag all day with the sweat and humidity, fitted clothes still look okay at the end of the day.  Next thing you know, you're visiting your WASPY parents in Wisconsin wearing those "revealing" clothes. You're thinking "cool"(style and temperature wise), Northerners are thinking "slut or whore".

as many times as we've made love...
What else changes?  You feel sexy around sexy people in a sexy locale. If you're young and single you become sluttier, if you're older you're just hornier.   The hot sultry nights require hot sultry company. Sweating and dancing to tropical music, with cold drinks just makes you want to be naked, make love....then jump into a cold shower, pool or ocean.  I've never felt sexy after a day in a snowstorm....but after a day at the beach, or on the boat....I can hear Barry White now. 

I love Miami.......

Monday, June 25, 2012

"Please Don't Act So Gay, You're Embarrassing Me."

When I was much younger there was this guy I was dating who said "I don't know how you do it, being out and still have a successful career? I mean, you're so GAY!"   It was one of those baffling comments in my life.  I mean how else can I be? I don't know how to be "less gay."  Why would being "out" preclude failure?  How would I be less "gay"? Would mean sleeping with men less? Or sleeping with women more. Maybe just saying "no" to penis or just closing my eyes should one come within my field of vision. 

Recently I was volunteering at very gay event, and a fellow volunteer, a young acquaintance, said to me "Please don't act so gay, you're embarrassing me." Lately, I seem to be encountering this attitude among many of the gays under 30 that I know.  There seems to be a fetishism among them for "straight acting men" or "masculine men". In my opinion, masculine is anyone who has a penis (or wishes that they do). But whatever, if you think a guy who grabs his crotch and spits tobacco is "masculine" you're free to ask him out on a date. However, I refuse to fit into some adolescents view of what masculinity is about. 

What I do have a problem with is the active, vocal disdain they show for those of us who are "too gay".  The active discussions online about "how those fairies at gay pride embarrass all of us." and "how straights will never accept us if some of us act like women and wear drag."  You know, there will always be people who for whatever reason cannot or choose not to conform to societal standards.  Trust me they are fully aware that they do not "fit in" to our societal norms of masculinity, gender or heterosexuality.  This idea, that if we're all "good little boys" wearing Banana Republic khaki's with polo shirts, with freshly scrubbed faces and a pair of oxfords, that all of sudden gay people will stop getting bullied and we'll be welcomed into society as "normal" people.   

I have lived my life out in the open since it was safe to do so after high school.  I am not the most masculine guy in the world, nor am I particularly effeminate, (not that there's a problem with that.) What I am, and what most people understand after they meet me is that I'm a big GAY.  Not in an in-your-face kind of way, but in an accept-me-as-I-am kind of way.  I work hard, I am a professional, but I do not hide who I am in order to achieve status in my career or in my community.  So to have some 20 somethings think they can take us all back to some defeatist, loser high school mentality is absolutely ridiculous.  

"If we look like them and imitate them they'll accept us." Well, trying to look and act like "straight" men is a self-defeating tactic. At the end of the day, whether your dress in drag or not, straight people will see you as gay and will act according to their own judgments and biases. This idea of trying suppress those of us who fall outside normal gender norms to make heterosexuals more comfortable is really just another type of closet, and just as unhealthy and suffocating. 

Come on people!  Gay is about the "fabulous".  It's about being in the know about things that make our lives better: art, food, friends, culture, travel. It's about living outside societal norms and shopping at funky stores instead of buying furniture at Rooms-To-Go. It's not about a pair of Bass Weejuns but a John Varvatos Chukkah.  Why would I want to be like straight guys with their wrinkled button downs and surfer shorts? Why would I want to be like my oppressors?  Gay is about the freedom to "be" without having to carry the stifling baggage the straight guys have to.  As gay men we can choose whatever gender role we want and never have to prove our  masculinity.  We are masculine because we define our own masculinity whether it's wearing khakis, leather or glitter wings.

On a final note: what difference does it to you make if I act too "gay"? I have earned my rightful place in my community.  I watched a generation of men die because of government indifference. I have been arrested for being just being "gay." I have been told by a majority of fellow Floridians that "you cannot marry the one you love."  So don't tell me I need to be less "gay."  I am going to the biggest, homo around, and I'm going to love all my gay brothers in all of their rainbow varieties!  If you don't like it, I'm sure Rooms-To-Go can make a very boring closet for you. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Afro-Cuban deities are swirling all around you and you don't even realize it.

So I am sitting in the office of a potential client and a casually look at shelf above the cubicle and notice two little statues and a wine glass half filled with water.  Now it would be disingenuous of me to to say I didn't recognize Santeria when I saw it. While I was not entirely clear whether I was looking at Santa Barbara(Chango) or La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre(Ochun), what was weird was that I found it completely normal to see these deities in their Catholic disguises. Just chalk it up to another day in Miami. 

As you live and work in Miami there are small signs of Santeria everywhere. Last night at the gas station in Coral Gables, I saw man dressed entirely in white linen. Young, handsome, Latino, stylish? No. Not stylish but a Santero in a new Lexus celebrating the summer solstice. How could I tell? Stylish guys can wear all white....but the white shoes will always give a Santero away. The rule my grandma said about white shoes: no matter what outfit you wear them with, even naked, all they'll remember are the white shoes. 

Do NOT Eat, it's for Ochun!
You can breezily live in Miami and not see the signs of Santeria everywhere: walk along almost any sea wall along Biscayne Bay and look into the shallows. Chances are you'll offerings to the saints in the form of plates, filled with coins, candles, and silverware. By Mercy Hospital it looks like the china set of the Andrea Doria washed ashore, along with the coins from the penny arcade. I've been tempted to refill my coffers with the money offered to the saint since the money is cast directly behind the Ermita De La Caridad del Cobre, 3609 S. Miami Ave. She is the patron saint of Cuba and another guise for Ochun: the Yoruba Lady of Love, Beauty, and Sexuality, and Spirit of Fresh Water.
These are not paperweights.
There are little rituals you may notice: a dead chicken with candles on a sidewalk in Coral Gables, a person sprinkling rum and blowing cigar smoke in a new accounting office on Brickell or an 8 foot statue of San Lazaro (Babaluaye) in the foyer of a McMansion in Doral.  In Miami you see these things, process them and move along.  Initially, when I took my son for a sleepover at house mentioned above, I mentioned to my husband, "how sweet, they have a statue of Joseph in the entryway. They must be good Catholics." I got a kick in the shin and the sleepover ended at 11PM. 

In any case, we Miamians are often accused of superficiality. That we are a city of "bad values" raising up material goods above those of the soul. That we are city of sinners and sexual libertines. That god wears Gucci here. But I can guarantee, in many corners of our homes, offices and public spaces the Yoruba gods are watching over us. They are Miamians and blessing us with beauty, sunshine, love and happiness. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Run Gurl, it's a Hurricane, not a Cannibal.

Ok, I know we're obsessing over cannibals and zombies and stuff and I'll admit those weren't part of my emergency preparedness plans. However, hurricane season is decidedly early this year and a few of my friends who have moved here recently have asked whether they should really be prepared for a storm. They ask whether hurricanes are really a "big deal".

I just want to say in one word: yes. But not for the reasons that 'hurricane virgins" might expect.  

Hurricane virgins picture themselves strapping themselves to palm trees in hopes of not washing away by the massive storm surge and super-powerful winds that promises to scrub the sand of those evil sinners on South Beach. 

Those of who have experienced actual hurricanes understand what they really mean: a load of discomfort and headaches. Discomfort in the idea that there is no potable water,  electricity, TV, cable, internet, cell phones, A/C, fresh food, or ice anywhere from a day to several weeks after the storm.  In some cases your neighborhood has been so altered that you can't find your own home because of the destruction. In a worst case scenario you have no home to come back to.  I know that doesn't compare to being eaten by a cannibal on South Beach but it pretty much sucks. If you become a zombie, then I think homelessness is just part of the job description. 

So I have a few suggestions about hurricane survival.

1. Traditionally, in areas that were swampland prior to development, i.e. New Orleans and Miami, the oldest neighborhoods are tend to have the most height above sea level.  Hence, Downtown, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, City of Miami, and Miami Shores.  These areas are also, surprisingly, the wealthiest areas. It seems also that the oldest homes tend to fare better in hurricanes. So my primary advice is: MAKE A FRIEND WHO OWNS A BIG OLD HOUSE IN A WEALTHY OLD NEIGHBORHOOD. This usually applies to anybody who lives a southern coastal area threatened by hurricanes. 

2. Spending a week with a wealthy friend in a lovely Coral Gables Manse is nice. Make sure that friend you choose is not annoying.  Because if they're the slightest bit annoying with power and water, imagine them without A/C and hungry. DO NOT SHELTER IN A HOME WITH AN ANNOYING PERSON. 

3. If you find you don't have a local option. Find a friend in a nearby area that is not in the "cone of probability".  Learn about the "cone of probability". Basically LEAVE TOWN and stay outside the "cone".

4. OK, if you think the idea of sleeping in a cot (if you're lucky) in a high school gymnasium is your idea of a good time by all means evacuate to a local shelter.  Be fully aware that nursing homes, the incontinent, people with no friends, annoying people, smelly people, will all be there. I promise you it's no party. When the storm hits, you get locked in and there is a sheriff there to keep you there until "the emergency has passed".  You are on lockdown for a minimum of 12 to 48 hours. FIND A BETTER PLACE TO STAY THAN A SHELTER.

5. Easiest thing to do: STAY IN A BIG HOTEL IN ORLANDO.  The turnpike is wide open and there are no tolls charged during an evacuation. Relax, get a massage and go to the buffet.  I hear the Country Bear Jamboree plays right through most storms.

Good luck people and hope all the storms just head on up to South Carolina or Alabama (they have God to protect them.)


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

He Shot Him Once, But Kept On Eating the Man's Face

I know there must be some kind of Miami metaphor there, man eats off another man's face.  As usual the concurrence of events, thoughts and national trends lead us right here to our own backyard.  I had to ask myself why does this story have such traction? Why has it caught national attention for more than just one news cycle? I gave it a lot thought and this is what I came up with:

1. The "South Beach Cannibal" story (BTW it happened quite far away from South Beach) of course associating cannibalism with a place where celebrities come to stay is a great way to catch a readers attention. As if another man chewing off a man's face wasn't enough....the media had to add some kind of geographic hyperbole.

2. The Zombie Zietgeist.  As the Twilight series fades, zombies are always just in the background waiting to emerge as the horror-du-jour.  Shows like Zombieland, Resident Evil and AMC's Walking Dead feed into our national paranoia about zombies.

3. Zombie Apocalypse.  Survivalists, the NRA and makers of axes and expensive kitchen knives are anxious for some kind of apocalypse, why not a zombie one? Hurricane supplies........nah apocalypse supplies!

4. National craze for plastic surgery! I recently went to a party with a group of "women of a certain age". I could swear that they could use someone to eat off all that excess junk placed in lips and cheeks. Don't know when the "monkey face" look became popular with aging Caucasian women, but it looked bad.  Why not get your insurance company to pay for that nose job.....lay down under a bridge, wake up with a new face.  

5. Nudity: Any crime committed in the nude, cannibal or otherwise will make national headlines. 

6. No fat people were involved in this story. 

7. What are those crazy kids sticking up their noses today?  Bath Salts....wow...Calgon take me away.

So those are my theories why this story has "legs".   Hmmm, I'm feeling peckish..... 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations*

"Well son, don't even try. I'll always be better."
You know it doesn't matter how old, successful, rich or fabulous you become, a single well constructed phrase by a septuagenarian parent can make you revert to that frustrated little child who couldn't catch the ball when it was thrown at him.  It wasn't that I couldn't catch the ball, it's just that I didn't see the point of it. I was the kind of kid who liked to climb rocks and trees and wear his mother's make-up. While I still climb rocks and trees, make-up lost it's allure a long time ago.  

Yet on some level, I still seek my father's approval, or maybe his acceptance, or even praise.  My father is a very charismatic, interesting, fun individual: and therein lies the problem. He's all light and energy but still knows how to show you he's the dad.  While he charms you with his stories of his travels in Spain, or regales his life in the glamorous travel industry, he's waiting. He's  looking for a moment to make a turn of phrase intended as a casual aside. A short phrase that makes it clear that whatever you accomplish in life, he'll make sure that it doesn't equate to anything he's done. It will be a comment that is missed by the entire party, an offhand remark directed at you that says "I'll always be better than you".

This weeks phrase: "Oh, you work for a company? I thought you just went out and knocked on doors to sell your product. Like a an independent contractor." Basically, my successful run in software sales has just been reduced to a Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman or the Fuller Brush Man. 

When I realized I was gay, I felt I "opted out" of my parents expectations.  That I would be free to chose my own path because being gay erased all expectations that my parents might have had for me. Yet here I am at 44, just like when I was 14 torturing myself about what I had to do to meet his expectations. I realize now, he never really had any expectations of me, only that I do not eclipse him, in any way. 

Why when I leave any gathering with my parents that I have to remind myself that I am happy, successful,  have great friends, and a wonderful husband and family. I'm not defined by work, but I do a good job earn more money than I ever hoped to earn. I spend a week giving myself affirmations. I recall that my only real goal in life was not to be fat. 
44 years into this relationship with him, I realize that we could never be friends. I know this because I know him, I've been watching him for 44 years. Yet, we're family and family is about forgiveness and acceptance.  I'm sure I've got a few more years to work on that.....




*I chose the title from a phrase coined by Micheal Gerson used extensively by President George W. Bush. I chose this phrase because I think Bush is an asshole. You can extrapolate that into the current state of my paternal relationship. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Straight Men, I Salute You.

I never realized how hard it was to be a heterosexual male until this week. The burdens they carry, the patience they have, the strength they develop.  Don't get me wrong, as a Gay man I love women. However, as a gay man I can love women "in theory" or "in small doses". I don't live day in and day out with one.   So while I respect and adore the feminine sex, I can do it from a safe distance. 

That is until I decided to take my mother and aunt to Spain with me for a week. I'm not complaining, their company was extremely enjoyable and the two of them were quite content to "do their own thing" most of the time. Also, because they were "women of a certain age" they went to bed shortly after dinner(12AM by Spanish standards) which allowed my husband and me to enjoy Spain's nightlife without a Maggie Smith type nearby. 

So I started the week of my vacation in Sevilla, Spain. As we walked though the cathedrals and museums I began to notice a few things about the men around me, not the gay ones, but the straight ones. The first thing I noticed as the day progressed, is that at some point, the woman had handed over her purse, "so she could tie her shoe" or "adjust her skirt". The man, being a gentleman, initially held it like a smelly fish. As the day progressed, I would notice that the purse had found itself held snugly in his armpit while the wife/girlfriend would become unencumbered and begin to accumulate more.  At that point I was a proud gay man and thought, "geez, I'm glad I don't have to lug one of those around."(purse not wife)  The guys became completely indifferent to the purse. In fact, I almost expected guys to go up to each other and say something like "I love the bag, where did you get it?"

The second thing I noticed about hanging out for long stretches with women is this compulsion to shop. This excitement when one approaches a small shop full of bright things, don't get it. I don't understand the need to go into every single store. Worse, was the need to show the guy "the cute thing for aunt Mary" and his fake acknowledgement that it actually was cute. He doesn't really care does he? I mean I'm GAY and I don't care. 

The constant flow of information, judgments and critiques of every woman around them. "She's fat, look at that outfit, I love\hate her shoes, outfit, etc. etc.".  Men are invisible at this point. I mean, the straight guys are scoping out the women and the women are too. It's simply exhausting.  

Finally, the constant lugging. Women are incredibly adept at acquiring and then just asking "can you hold this for a minute" and two hours later you're carrying her purse, the shopping bags full of crap, leftovers whatever. You're loaded down, and you're expected to carry it, even over your objections. 

So at the end of the week I found myself carrying a purse, listening to the endless flow of communication of feelings, fashion sense, and physical complaints, looking at gewgaws, and lugging luggage that grew heavier by the purchase. I could only salute my heterosexual brethren in their duties to their women. Because, being a straight guy with a woman is a lot of work. 



Monday, May 7, 2012

Military Eavesdropping in Miami

For five years I lived in San Diego, California.  San Diego is unique in that the entire area is dotted with military bases. Military life infuses the culture, the way of life, the soul of the city.  Anywhere you live in the city, it is very likely one or more of your neighbors is either active military or some kind of military contractor.  Hence the sensitivity you acquire for the challenges military families face and an appreciation of what they do and the service they offer to the country.

The military presence in Miami is small, with the exception of the Southern Command in Doral, you can sometimes see the soldiers jogging shirtless along 36th street during the lunch hour. Not a bad sight. Of course there's fleet week....but that's more of a Lauderdale thing.  

Anyway, I was having breakfast at La Carreta on 8th street this morning and as I was being seated I saw this extremely attractive young man sitting at the table behind me. He may have been in his mid to late twenties. He was with an older gentleman, father perhaps, and he was talking about is experiences since returning from Afghanistan.  I could only catch bits and pieces of his conversation but he became very emotional about his "homecoming".  The one thing that struck him, were his experiences in college since he returned. He said: "people don't thank me for my service, the first thing they ask me about my experiences in Afghanistan was how many people I killed." His handsome brow wrinkles in frustration. " I mean I can understand a 10 year old asking that kind of question, but adults?" His eyes mist, he excuses himself and goes to the restroom. 

At that point I teared up too. I could see this young man in pain, that he could be my son, or anyone's son. He  volunteered his life, freedom so that we could have ours.  How have we as a society, become so insensitive to the sacrifices that our veterans, which walk among us in our own tropical urban jungle, make for us.  I can't remember feeling such shame for my fellow Americans who have caused this guy so much pain. 

There is an etiquette for asking people about their military service.  It's simple: Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your service. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Hurray. Gentrification is here. Mid-Century Modern meets the next century.

Well, I guess it was just a matter of time before it got here. Like a warm breeze creeping up from downtown. sweeping away adult bookstores, prostitutes and dive motels, gentrification has finally arrived to the area between 50th to 79th streets on Biscayne Boulevard.  The vanguards of this movement Starbucks, UVA 69 and Starbucks all seem very established now, less hipster, more chic and middle age. 

The coolest part of the living here is the diversity. Haitians, Anglos, Argentinos and Jewish families all seem to dot the area. Brazilians, Europeans and New Yorkers are moving in at a rapid pace. The area is friendly by Miami standards.

I guess the first clue that the neighborhood was changing were the older white people. Not the usual homeless types, but spry ones, taking morning constitutionals and evening strolls to the cafes and restaurants up and down the street. Another sign were the chic young mothers with strollers, not waiting for the bus, but power walking to Baywood, Legion and Morningside Parks.  Then I knew it was just a matter of time. 

Of course with the gentrification there is construction and demolition. Slowly, old structures are coming down. A new bank is planned for 69th street and a new shopping plaza is going up on 62nd. (Rumor has it that Michelle Bernstein and Steven Perricone are opening up a new place there.)  Motels are renting spaces to restaurateurs such as Blue Collar in the Bayside Inn and Red Light in the Motel Bleu. Fancy food and rooms by the hour....an evening of fun.  Of course the gays want a say too, Eros is the new gay bar and so on.   

The usual suspects of gentrification are in play. Gay men who resurrected the neighborhoods of Morningside and Bellemeade from severe urban decay in the mid 80's have long since cashed out of those neighborhoods and have been replaced by very affluent couples who can afford private schools and want a short commute to downtown. In both neighborhoods old Miami mansions are sprouting wings as the wealthy vie for limited waterfront property that is just 10 minutes north of downtown. To accommodate the new bourgeoisie Cushman School has bought up several blocks adjacent to the school on 61st street and closed down the liquor store. 


Still there are some remnants of  the bad old days.  Hookers still ply their trade day and night and the motels still seem to be hotbeds of iniquity, which is usually a plus for any area that claims it's gentrifying. These are always going to be touchstones of what came before.  So when you see same old hookers working the street you remember the "bad old days" hanging out at the liquor store on 61st or picking up a porn at the adult video store that used to be on 71st.  It's good to keep a little of the old grit to remind us that we were once young and carefree. 

Despite all the change, the Mimo district still has quaint tree lined neighborhoods with Spanish and Mediterranean revival homes. Small bodegas still sell cafecitos and lottery tickets. There are still plenty of poor. Just remember if you move into the area, don't complain if a hooker is using your bushes for "business". 





Thursday, April 19, 2012

Want A Good Restaurant Review in the NYT? More Wonder Bread Please.

Classy
Full disclosure: I am not a real foodie. Another disclosure: I actually serve a Velveeta dish at least once year.  So granted I'm probably not one to go out there to places like Red Light, Micheal's Genuine and Sra. Martinez and tell you that this is the epicurean ideal. Who am I to challenge what a New Yorker might say about the eating establishments in my home town?http://travel.nytimes.com/travel/guides/north-america/united-states/florida/miami/67063/michaels-genuine-food-drink/restaurant-detail.html

Those who know me well, know my favorite restaurant is Hooters for three reasons: 1. I really love chicken wings, 2. It's actually a true Florida establishment. 3. I'm waiting for the day that nylon shorts over pantyhose come back into style for all.

That being said I'd like to say I've been to the restaurants that were being critiqued in the travel section of the New York Times and I can say with all honesty that the food tasted good. I mean not awesome, but as good as anything you might eat at Shuckers(http://shuckersbarandgrill.com/,) but served by and prepared by people who don't seem "local".

The first restaurant reviewed was Michael's Genuine, now I've been there three times and the clientele is decidedly, to coin an 80's term: "Yuppie".  Yuppie in it's worst forms, lawyerly, pretentious, what have you...obviously people there to be seen. Fine, I'm there too.  So this cute "ginger" girl server comes up to the table: "Hi I'm Sue from Portland, I'm your server." she rattles off the specials and goes into excessive detail about the wholesome ingredients, and the free range chicken, etc. etc.....  Don't you think it's ironic that somebody would care about free range chickens, but not about the fact that their iPhones were made in Chinese sweatshops where people kill themselves?  Truthfully, I the few times I ate there, I was not that impressed....but as a former yuppie myself, should I be?

Red light, food was was not memorable, but the lousy service was. Been there twice, never again. I did like the location on the Little River was cool. Served by Bill from St. Louis. 

Okay what did I think these restaurants had in common?  White people.  Yeah, the front of the house in these restaurants are full of young, attractive white people, who are feeling empowered to talk, and engage.  I mean I love it when a Hooter's girl just plops down in the chair, flirts and takes your order.  But the whole, "Hi I'm Stan, I'm in college and I'll be your server tonight" thing to me, is very Bennigan's circa 1987.  You know "I don't care Stan, because I'm about to drop $100 on this meal, and I'm here to share it with my husband, not with you. Now please bring me something with Velveeta melted on it." Yeah, I find the whole white folks in front, brown ones in the back kind of annoying. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe the pretty blond was an Argentinian or Mexican who had managed to pay for accent reduction classes.  Or the surly blue eyed bartender was lying when he said he was from Hoboken, he could actually be from Holguin.

Yeah, when I eat at the restaurants mentioned in the NYT article, I feel like I'm in New York, or Seattle or Portland or Kansas.  Faux friendly staff with who want to "share".  All that's missing is the right amount of "flair" on suspenders.  I guess that's fine for some folks, but I'll take a surly South Beach model named Jorge as my server any day.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Miami Beach Gay Pride....or Gay Shame?

On this Pride Sunday I am a little bitter this year.  For the last four years I've participated in the Gay Pride Parade on Miami Beach.  I just assumed it was every gay man's fantasy to wave at crowds from an elevated moving platform.  I mean, who doesn't want to be in a parade, and better yet a parade in your honor?  So this year I was shocked and disappointed when the gay organization I am involved with showed absolutely no enthusiasm for this event.  

Granted the organization has changed a bit in the last year, the members are younger, straighter and more "corporate" than in previous years.  Several excuses ranged from "it would affect my job" to "I'm job hunting right now" to just a curious apathy about Gay Pride in general.  I remember once a story about a guy who went to Gay Pride in New York and was watching the parade from the sidewalk. He had been enjoying the parade until a news crew came up to him and asked his opinion about the event. He saw the camera and ran away...for  blocks.  Personally, I don't think that employers really scour social media to look for what people do in their private lives.  Secondly, would any gay man want to work somewhere that did? 

So I keep asking myself the question why are these guys so reticent to get up on float and show their pride. They are leaders in a gay organization. They are openly gay. Is it internalized homophobia or simply that because they've grown up in a more accepting world where gays are more integrated that they don't seem to think they need things like pride parades or organizations that fight for their civil rights. 

So why have a gay pride parade at all?  I'll tell you why. Because we were marginalized to the point of invisibility until 30 years ago. We are not allowed to marry. We are not allowed to take care of our families like heterosexual couples. We are still targeted and investigated by law enforcement in the places we gather. Our standard bearers, like Ellen DeGeneres, are attacked for simply representing a national retail chain. Because talented young men and women are afraid to represent on a float in a parade because of a perceived fear (real or not) that they wont get that next promotion, security clearance or that dream job. Because children are bullied to the point of wanting to kill themselves.

Gay Pride is a poke in the eye of all of those who hate gays. It's a protest that shows all our feathers, craziness and sexual rebellion.  That drag queens, who started that rebellion walk in the daylight and say : I am here, I am real, I am human. Pride says "you may not like me, but I will not be silenced or marginalized again."   So Happy Miami Beach Pride.  I will be marching today. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

"Tio, mira ese carro loco" (Uncle, look at the crazy car)

The first time I took my nephew for a ride in my new car he screamed from his window: "mira ese carro loco" or "look at the crazy car."  He was actually describing the Chevy Impala parked on the side of the old Police Museum building on Biscayne.  I just figured he was talking about all the carro locos that I see whenever I drive around Miami.  

Now I can say without hesitation that Miami has a car culture.  To a large extent you are saying a lot about who you are by what you drive. As we all know, us Miamians are not exactly about "understatement".  As self-centered as we are, we know that opening the door of that late model import says, "ago ergo sum" I drive, therefore I am.  In Miami it's more like: "ago carus pretiosa, ego sum melius quam." Which I believe using internet translations means:" I drive an expensive car therefore I am better than you."

Aside from any car snobbery.....or car affinity that Miamians may have, we still have developed a distinct driving style that tests patience, challenges souls and has an outcome that would be respected by those participating in the hunger games. Local driving is not for the feint of heart. I thought I'd add some simple guidelines for newcomers and new drivers. A Miami driving style, not unlike it's cooking, influenced by a hint Argentinian arrogance, heavy dollops of Cuban can-do and dash of Haitian frustration, pour it over some Anglo repression and you have what I call a wonderful driving South Florida souffle. 

Let me start with turn signals. Don't.  Why would you want anyone to know ahead of time what you plan on doing? Would you tell a thief the combination to your safe?  No. Would you tell someone in poker what's in your hand? So why would you tell another driver that you are about to take away the real estate right in front of them?  Signals are your way of announcing what you are doing, now.  Like when a small kid goes to the bathroom....I'm pooping NOW...in front of you.  The job of the other driver is to react through resignation, rage, slamming on brakes, horn, what have you. Blinkers in Miami are your way of saying "I win!"  Not like in other cities where blinkers say in wimp language "can you please let me in?"  
Licence and registration please.
Speed. To be honest,  I don't know one person who has gotten a speeding ticket on 95 in Miami-Dade, ever.  I've seen some pretty cool car races, spectacular accidents, but never seen a car ever pulled over anywhere on I95. Please speak up if any of you have. So to me it means that it's basically a stretch of highway that has been ceded over to the lawless masses. A stretch of road in poor repair except for the "luxo-lanes" that rich white people use to get from the Broward County Line to Downtown without having to share the lanes with the rest of us folks who may have a residence or business in areas between downtown and the county line. There are four places in Miami-Dade where you will get definitely get speeding tickets: Virginia Gardens....only fools speed on 36th street between 63rd & 67th avenues. Second is the town of Medley(hamlet of) the two police officers are waiting for you just off that bridge that crosses from Okeechobee Blvd. How a trailer park actually became a town is a mystery to me. Bal Harbor: speed or ride a bike on the sidewalk at your own peril. Any school zone in Miami Dade. Yeah the school zones are where the cops get that "speeding quota" that they claim they don't have. Otherwise speed at will.

Most annoying driving thing to me: the abuelita en la Corolla. I am sure the Toyota Corolla is a great car, however every abuelita or Haitian granmè drives one.  The Haitian one will be white. Haitians as a rule only drive white cars or vans, and typically they drive very, very, very, very slow....with their hazard lights on. 

And that brings me to point of hazard lights. They are for hazards, like when you break down in the middle of the street and you're too lazy to wave down someone to push your vehicle three feet so it's out of traffic. You don't need put them on when it rains, you shoulds put your lights on when it rains.  Hazard lights are good when you're pulled over, not for driving on a busy interstate at 15 miles an hour in a torrential summer storm. Hazard lights won't help you when the semi, who is driving sixty, slams into your rear, hazard lights or no. 

So go out there fellow "carros locos". Miami roads are calling. Honk, speed, cut off, curse...because we are free creatures on the roads (except on the 836 in Sweetwater around the first of the month, FHP quota time). Tickets? Who cares, there's the Ticket Clinic!  We are city of refugees....who by nature are people on the move, spirits fleeing tyranny, seeking liberty, drive Miami, drive! Ago Ergo Sum!