Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Miami's "Walking" Neighborhoods

After my stint raising a kid in suburbia, I promised myself I would move back into "town" to a neighborhood where I could walk to stores, restaurants and parks.  A neighborhood that had a "street life" that went beyond retail, that included a pedestrian culture of strollers, dog walkers, bicyclists, joggers and the like.  A place near parks and landmarks.  Miami, until recently, has very few neighborhoods that fit that description. Thankfully that is quickly changing. There was a time where these neighborhoods were so few, that developers, investors and retailers were quick to overdevelop them and destroy their original character.
Coconut Grove: Perhaps Miami's original "walking" neighborhood.  Once known as a funky hang-out for hippies, bohemians and Bahamians the area was famous for its bars like the Hungry Sailor.  UM students would hang out and party. Then it developed into a nightlife scene and was overrun with shopping centers and hotels. The scene died with the arrival of South Beach and there are a lot of empty storefronts.
Still, it is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Miami. Located in a hardwood hammock along Miami's "silver bluff" oolitic limestone ridge, "the grove" gives that hot tropical vibe that is Miami. Shrouded in live oaks with lianas creeping up them you get the feeling of a village ensconced in jungle greenery.  The dense tree canopy filters the sun onto the sidewalks giving you respite in the shade on hot summer days. There are still great eateries and hangouts in the business district. A walk from Miami's City Hall along the Marina and Peacock part and the historical Barnacle state park makes for a pleasant afternoon stroll.
South Beach: There are very few places in the world where you can live, work and play within blocks of each other. South Beach is truly one of the best "walking" neighborhoods in the world. The efforts of the preservationists were rewarded and the Art Deco District showed that lovely old neighborhoods can pay off a lot more than tearing everything down and putting up maga-casinos. In the 80's South Miami Beach was slated for the same treatment as Atlantic City. A few visionaries saved the Art-Deco buildings from demolition and South Beach was born.
South Beach has done a good job of preserving the old character of the area, however you can see where developers are anxious to capitalize on it with huge retail and condo developments all around it. Some of it is good, some of it is schlock all of it increases an already crowded area with more people. But again, a long walk from South Point Park to Lincoln Road will put you through beautiful beaches, parks and people.  Art Deco buildings punctuate the landscape like so many pastel cupcakes.
Newer "Walking Neighborhoods" in Miami:
Wynwood:  Wynwood originally was a small Puerto Rican barrio and warehouse district. It is proof that art can change an entire neighborhood. Punctuated with galleries and restaurants, the area is crawling with hipsters and bohemians anxious to see the latest art offerings, murals and restaurants.
Mimo District: MiMo, for Miami Modern, district was a run down area north of downtown. Once known more for it's hookers than for it's architecture the area is close to being defined as "gentrified" other than "gentrifying".  Strong neighborhood associations in Belle Meade and Morningside have managed to keep most developers at bay by demanding height restrictions on new buildings.  (3 stories only)  Still the area is bustling with several top notch restaurants and a rapid increase in diverse retail especially apparel and furniture.
Design district/Midtown: Mostly an area known for retail, there a few quaint neighborhoods along the periphery.  Developers have recently demolished a lot in favor of uber-high-end retail like Prada  and a Wal-Mart. Why not? It's Miami.
Mary Brickell Village: Once a quaint collection of restaurants adjacent to Miami's financial center, a massive influx of high rise buildings and Argentinians give the area the feeling of a Buenos Aires with palm trees and tropical forests. Here the sing-song Spanish of the porteƱo is heard more often than the rapid fire Cuban. Still it's very much a newly developed shopping area catering to yuppies that have moved into the newly built high rise condos nearby.....good food and eye candy, but lacking in charm.

Monday, January 13, 2014


So I've been fascinated by the recent backlash against gay social hook-up sites by young plus-size men and men of color.  They bemoan the rudeness of the medium, the racism, the looksist, ageist and demeaning nature of the actual profiles posted in hook-up sites such as GRNDR, SCRUFF and the like. Genuine anger and angst that the perfectly toned, perfectly muscled, perfectly coifed white boy on the hook-up site is not interested in having sex with anyone who is not perfectly muscled, coifed and white as well.
First, let's be honest.  You're on a hook up site because you're lazy.  Like buying an item on because you're too lazy to go to the store yourself and buy it.  You want just point and click and by the magic of the internet the man of your dreams is just going to show up at your door. The problem is that the supposed "man of your dreams" spends a lot of time in the gym trying to make himself look awesome to potential sex-mates. He eats healthy, maybe takes steroids, works out and works out and works out. He's aged 23 to 27 and looks awesome.
That leads me to my second point.  The biggest whiners have admitted they are "heavy", like Huff Post's Mathew Rodriguez admits to being a "queer Latino man of size."     They complain they can't get the gym bunny into bed.  I am sorry, but being overweight says a lot about you. Firstly, it shows you're not into being fit.....unlike the guy in the previous paragraph.  If you want to sleep with the hot men, hot men are usually in shape, you should be too. They know it takes work and dedication and the reward is clear: more sex, more options for mates, higher self-esteem, better job opportunities, get invited to better parties etc. etc. The research is there, trim, fit people get more of everything.   Know the competitive landscape you're in and adapt to it.  You can say "why can't they love me for my personality?"    You want to stay fat and have a hot boyfriend you can do two things: make a lot of money, or be the best at something amazing, like photography or sky diving or competitive math.  Because being a "winner" at something is totally sexy. However, it won't mean shit to the guy on GRNDR though.
So here's my third point and possibly a fourth one.  First, I am not sure if personal sexual preferences rise to the level of racism.  I mean yes, it sucks to be a man of color and see "whites only" on lots of personal profiles.  However, that guy who only sleeps with a narrow band of the human race, might be an HR manager that hires people of color every day, its just that his penis just might not subscribe to EEOC rules and regulations.  Studies are also showing that what is put on the internet is a version of our true if a guy won't sleep with an Asian/Black/Latino and actually writes it down  in his's highly possible he's a rude jerk.  Also there is no rule in social media hook-up sites requiring hot men to sleep with you just because you sent a "hi" to their profile.  I know in a perfect world male hotness should be as available as a tub of Ben&Jerry's Chunky Monkey ice cream. But it's not gurl, and really at the end of the day, empty sex with a hot man, is just about as satisfying.
Finally as any formerly single person interested in hooking-up or getting hitched will tell hard to find the right mate.  Dating is a discouraging and time consuming business.  And you don't get an award just for "showing up". There are winners and losers, there is heartache, but there is joy and fun and friends to be made in the process.  However, thinking that the process will be as easy as sitting on your couch trolling hook-up sites for Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now, gurl.... you're going to be single and horny for quite awhile.