Thursday, December 19, 2013

Miami at Sunrise

Venetian Causeway just before Sunrise
So for safety's sake I've been waking up early to ride my bike.  By early I mean between 5AM and 5:30.  The reason I ride so early is mostly to avoid car traffic, and be a considerate cyclist who feels that taking up a lane, alone, at 5AM should no big deal to the 4 other cars on the road at that time.  I try stick to main thoroughfares like Biscayne, Flagler, Collins because they're well lit and well paved. Also, if I should fall at 5:15 AM on a main thoroughfare, odds are that a good Samaritan might actually stop and help.  The few times I've fallen in the last 25 years of riding, someone has always stopped within seconds to inquire and help if needed. Yes, that is Miami too.
Miami is pretty cool between 5AM and 6:00 AM.  The streets are well lit, but empty, sometimes it's still too early for the kitchen and housekeeping staffs to arrive at the bus stops.  A few lone cyclists ride along these stretches sometimes well-lit with blinking lights front and back, sometimes they are pedaling away just using streetlights as their only illumination. Sometimes I ride along with those unlit guys sometimes because I feel I'm doing them a service with all my blinking lights on my helmet and bike.
The things you notice at 5AM:  Surprisingly, roads are in good shape.  Miami is not a city of pot-holes, however Miami Beach is.  Miami is very well lit, its buildings, neighborhoods, landscaping is all lit up to highlight it's fantastic architecture and greenery.  There are few cars on the road and in some cases the traffic lights blink yellow.

Legion Park, sunrise
Things start to change at 6AM though.  Traffic increases. The dog walkers emerge.  The bus stops start to fill up with the working class, maids, cooks and construction.  The construction sites start to come to life at this time. Food trucks, and the hard hat men start to stream into the new buildings going up on the beach and downtown.  The smell of marijuana wafts from the areas where the construction workers park.
7AM is when the joggers and walkers emerge. Crack of dawn. By this time I hope to be riding my bike in Hollywood or Miami Beach along the paths that line the ocean.  The age of the walkers/joggers/runners vary by location, but trend younger as you head south towards Miami Beach, older (and more Canadian) in Hollywood and Dania Beach.   Collectively everyone stops riding, walking, whatever to stop and watch the sunrise. For about five minutes everyone who is awake stops watches the sun poke up in glorious reds, pinks, and blues from the ocean.  Regardless of age, or predicament in life, I think  they smile and welcome the day. I mean, watching the sunrise, on a beach, in January.....what's not to smile about?
Then a sprint home to beat the traffic.
South Pointe Park 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

50 shades of middle class grey.....

So yesterday as I was driving up Biscayne Blvd and noticed a brand new Lamborghini that had apparently hit an immovable object, like a curb, or a curb and a lamppost.  Its lovely sheet metal torn back to reveal it's frame. Both wheels were bent at abnormal angles. All I could think was "shit must happen to rich folks too."   Sometimes it's hard to live in Miami, with all this out-of-town wealth floating around. While my household income puts in us in one of the higher tiers of earners, I realize it doesn't matter, because, in Miami's retail market, I'm always a second-class citizen.
I recently went to a luxury dealer here to purchase a vehicle.  Firstly, I did not want a run-of-the-mill sports sedan.  Secondly, I actually have to finance or lease the vehicle. Thirdly, I did not want a "50 shades of grey" car.  When I told the salesmen this I could see the consternation on his face.  You want to finance? You want to negotiate? You want color?  Apparently the wealthy don't finance, don't negotiate and pay cash. If you have money, the high end models come in a rainbow of colors.  There wasn't any room to "negotiate" on a car that cost just $50K, I was told I could have the grey run-of-the-mill luxury vehicle or nothing at all.
In fact, grey, black and white were the only cars they had in stock, on 3 floors of a parking lot in Mid-town. The only cars that came in colors were the super expensive ones, or the "base" models.  Everyone else can have white, black or grey. Silver was an option too.  This is where my frustration kicks in. I don't want a grey car. I don't want something that everyone else drives. Isn't the whole point of having a status symbol is to be different?  Why do I have to "go down market" for a cute car, pants, shirt that has a bit of color in it?  Why do I have to go upmarket for nice car, pants, shirt, or shoe that has some panache?  In Miami it's Target or Nordstrom's and everything else in-between is grey. Macy's, Banana Republic are overwhelmingly grey and beige. 
Retailers must think if  you're should have bright colors...from Kia, Fiat, to Target, everything is a happy color because shit, it's hard enough being broke you should be allowed some color in your life.  Retailers must also think if you're rich...well, you deserve it don't you? I mean you fleeced your countrymen back home and since you can't flaunt all that wealth back there, why not do it in Miami, your plan B exit strategy. 
So where does it leave Miami's local middle class? In shades of grey and beige....and even don't think about, you, average middle class person!