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DAVE BARRY, Herald Columnist Our traffic problems are getting worse, according to a recent study by the Institute of Discovering Things That Make You Go "Duh." How bad is our traffic mess? Consider these alarming facts: FACT: Commuting by automobile now takes so long that many workers have no time to do any actual work. When they reach their place of employment, they grab a cup of coffee, spend a few minutes discussing the previous night's episode of The Apprentice with their co-workers, and immediately start the long commute home, unaware that their jobs were outsourced to Asia months ago. FACT: In the past year alone, commuters whose car radios were tuned to "classic rock" spent an average of 347 hours - more than two weeks - just listening to the song Takin' Care of Business, by Bachman Turner Overdrive. The statistics are even more chilling for Black Magic Woman. FACT: Gridlock is so bad that as many as 15 percent of women drivers now pass the time by picking their noses. (The figure for men remains steady at 100 percent.) FACT: In greater Los Angeles, the only documented instance in the past two decades of anybody actually getting anywhere by car is O.J. Simpson. FACT: Traffic is now a problem even in rural areas such as North Dakota, where this year, for what is believed to be the first time in the state's history, two motorists arrived simultaneously at the same intersection (North Dakota has six). They were stuck there for several days, each motorist gesturing, in friendly Heartland fashion, for the other to go first. Ultimately they both had to walk home. FACT: Bachman Turner Overdrive was originally named "Brave Belt." Clearly, we have a serious traffic problem. The question is, what can we do, as a nation, to get motorists off the roads?
One obvious answer is to allow them to drive on the sidewalks. This is the system used in Greece, where the entire motor vehicle code consists of a single law: No stopping. This law requires Greek motorists to use a loose interpretation of the term "legal right of way, " which in Greece is basically defined as "Greece." I learned this while I was in Athens for the Olympics, and on two occasions a moving taxi made direct physical contact with me while I was sitting at a cafe table. The second time the contact was pretty firm, so I gestured at the taxi driver to indicate "Excuse me, sir, but your taxi has struck me, " and the driver shouted something that I assume was Greek for, "What do you expect?! You're SITTING AT A CAFE TABLE!!" But the point is that, without a bunch of "red tape" laws requiring motorists to stop or yield or avoid humans, traffic in Greece moves quite freely everywhere, including inside the Parthenon. If we adopted such a system here, we could speed up our traffic flow, and as a side health benefit really perk up the average pedestrian pulse rate. Another possible solution to our traffic problems is "car pooling, " which is when a group of people ride together in one car, saving gasoline, inhaling each other's bodily emissions and arguing over which radio station to listen to ("Hey leave it! I LIKE Black Magic Woman!") So we can rule this solution out. A far better solution is mass transit, which has been proven to be effective in Boston, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C., all of which have excellent mass transit. (They also all have really horrible traffic, but I am asking the jury to disregard this.) The problem is that mass transit is very expensive. Washington, for example, would never have been able to build its superb subway system without billions of dollars generously provided by federal taxpayers like you. Most cities - probably including yours - don't have that option. So what can you do? The answer is surprisingly simple and affordable: You can steal Washington's subway! I don't mean the whole thing, of course: That would be illegal. But if everybody in your city were to visit Washington as a tourist, and each of you just happened to take a Phillips screwdriver, and you each took just a few minutes, between visiting monuments, to unscrew a small piece of the subway and bring it home, before you know it, guess what? That's right: A large
" Mind? Ha ha! MIND? Of course not. of San Jose. Whatever traffic solution we decide on. chasing after selected boys and trying to kiss them. but of course we wanted desperately to be selected. I suggest you go to a good hair stylist to give you a new and better hairdo.. we need to get out of gridlock and start takin' care of business. when the Kissing Girls first swung into action. THE HAIR APPARENT DAVE BARRY Herald Columnist I have a letter here from Mrs. The boys who were selected had wavy hair. who feels I should get a new hairdo. and I did not have it. we need to do it soon. Mrs. because as a nation. This would ease highway overcrowding. Belle Ehrlich of San Jose! As a journalist who seeks to inform his readers about topics of vital concern to the nation and the world. decent and sensitive man. Calif. to say the least. . perhaps I am a bit sensitive about my hair. but your hairdo in your photo sure looks DATED and NOT at all flattering or becoming. I hope you don't mind my criticism. but unfortunately he had no more fashion awareness than a baked potato. You should know that my father was a fine. every day! Takin' care of business.sector of your city's population would be in prison. To quote her directly: "I enjoy reading most of your columns . Belle Ehrlich. He would have worn the same . every way! Please shoot me. Wavy hair was big back then. I had straight hair. His idea of really el snazzo dressing was to wear a suit jacket and suit pants that both originated as part of the same suit. I have been sensitive about my hair since second grade. I welcome insulting remarks about my hair! OK. If you are still sporting that awful hairdo. . You probably had Kissing Girls at your elementary school too: they roamed the playground. and it did not help that my father cut it. And I almost never was.just a suggestion. We boys carried on as though we would have preferred to undergo the RedAnts-Eat-Your-Eyelids-Off Torture than get kissed. it's nothing personal -.
you should have seen me in eighth grade. I was a mess. or some kind of radiation victim. So the way he would cut my hair is. trying to even me up. well before it happened to me. in photographs taken back then. And it also did not help that I was a Late Bloomer. in fact I think it was all on the same day. with hairy arms. As it was. and I would be over by the record player. and sometimes I think I never really caught up. and all I can say is. then he'd walk around me and attempt. and he'd start cutting hair off one side of my head with the electric clippers. thank heavens they had a little plastic guard on the electric clippers so that you couldn't make the hair any shorter than a quarter-inch. It also did not help that in third grade I became the first kid in the class to get glasses. and you can just imagine how betrayed I felt when it started happening to the other boys. who about two years earlier had very suddenly. but if you really wanted to see insecure. I needed something to do at parties. you get a Mister Peepers effect such that everybody assumes the child must be a Goody-Two-Shoes Teacher's Pet science-fair-oriented little dweeb.grade child. he'd put me on a stool. a short radiation victim in horn rimmed spectacles.tie to work for 42 consecutive years if my mother had let him. especially one with a comical haircut. and I think: Does this mean I'm not done with puberty yet? I realize I sound insecure here. would have started shaving off slices of actual tissue until eventually I would have been able to turn my head sideways and stick it through a mail slot. The other boys. playing 45s and making jokes to . the boys who had wavy hair and reasonable hormone-activity levels. because otherwise my father. to make the other side of my head look similar. relying on memory. We wanted to catch up to the girls. and I have yet to develop hair on my arms. I was ready for puberty. Isn't that supposed to happen. and he'd keep this up for some time. That was why I developed a sense of humor. with the best of intentions. Which of course he could never quite do. pubertywise. shown up at school a foot taller than us and with bosoms and God knows what else. I look like an extremely young Marine. So I was definitely looking forward to puberty as the Dawn of a New Era in the looks department. in puberty? I see men much younger than myself. and we are talking serious 1950s horn rims of the style that when you put them on a third. even boys whom I had considered my friends. All of us boys were. They got ahead of me then. would be necking with girls. I am 38 years old now. so he would head on back around to take a stab at Side One again.
And I think to myself: Right. So anyway. But back in the eighth grade. and you always say: A Sense of Humor. and I will definitely see if I can't find a good hair stylist. and I have finally come to think of myself as very nearly average in appearance. Because now that I'm grown up (except in terms of arm hair) and have contact lenses. Now that I'm grown up. what you wanted was puberty. And I am not even going to mention here that for several years my hands were covered with warts. Mrs.entertain the 10-year-old brother of whomever was holding the party. I keep reading magazine articles about these surveys where they ask you women what you really want most in a man. NOW you want a sense of humor. Great. . what I'm trying to say here is: Thanks. I can handle this kind of helpful criticism. Belle Ehrlich of San Jose. This is assuming that I ever leave my bedroom again. back when it really mattered. Sure. thanks a million for taking the time to drop me a note informing me that my hair looks awful.
it would have been the kind of hilarious and spontaneous televised moment that they save to show on The Best of The Tonight Show. like the time Ed . No.H-E-E-E-E-RE'S BARRY! DAVE BARRY My biggest fear about going on The Tonight Show was not that I would throw up in front of 40 million people. that would have been fine. In fact.
"In this next segment. all of whom I had pretty much obligated to stay up late and watch. much more worthy of being on The Tonight Show. on a Thursday. past even Ed McMahon. and I went on a local TV talk show to plug it. we could see part of your leg!" That was my biggest fear. The Taming of the Screw. trying to be nice. and of course I said yes and called my mother.Ames (I think it was Ed Ames) threw the hatchet at the plywood human silhouette and hit it square in the crotch. surrounded on the plane by ordinary mortals who were not going to be on The Tonight Show and thus were able to read magazines rather than just sit there and develop armpit stains. I was taken from the Los Angeles airport to my hotel in a limousine driven by a man who struck me as being much funnier and more relaxed and entertaining than I am. she called up and asked if I wanted to be on The Tonight Show the next Tuesday. as opposed to a Well Known Personality. sit down in the primary-guest chair. and turn to Carson expectantly. shake hands with everybody. putting me. Then about two months ago. Dave!" they'd say. What I was worried about was that I would get up there. and then everybody pretty much forgot about it. introducing it. "You were great. called me up and asked me a bunch of questions about home repair to see if I would give funny answers. "watch the hilarity that ensues when a guest trying to plug an obscure book launches his lunch all over Dick Cavett. and the publisher sent a tape of my appearance to The Tonight Show. down where you have to set off marine flares if you want to get a word in edgewise. which is supposed to be a humorous parody of do-it-yourself books and which is no longer available in bookstores anywhere. "During some of the repartee. They'd repeat the tape of my appearance for years to come. So he'd suggest that maybe I'd be more comfortable in one of the chairs down at the far end." Johnny Carson would say. and suddenly it would dawn on him that somebody had made a terrible mistake. who is what they call a Talent Coordinator for The Tonight Show. Then I'd have to go home and face my wife and friends and neighbors and mother. * The way I got on The Tonight Show was that I wrote a book. I flew out to Los Angeles Tuesday morning." So that was not what I was worried about. But it was available last fall. Then about six weeks ago. and . waiting for the first question. and Carson and Cavett would go back to having witty repartee. on the show. Shirley Wood.
disapproving of it. and Mrs. "Don't be a wise-ass. Mr. and he seem surprised. back there with the phone and the bar and the color television. but I'm afraid your son is a wise-ass. I spent the next hour or so on the phone with Shirley Wood. and she knew exactly what she wanted. which means I got a room next to the pool and they brought me a basket of fruit. "I'm nobody. a couch." he said. "I'm a page. I would say this was the low point of my entire life. I was really feeling awful now. "Too long. She also told me. When I was born. It was clearly intended for someone with far more elaborate limousine needs than I have.m." My dressing room had a television. We'll do that." said the chauffeur. They tape the show at 5:30 p. This limousine was even bigger than the first one. if she liked something. She had done this a million times. because I have always been a wise-ass. she'd say something like. if she didn't like something. "Nah. referring to me. a dapper. "Okay." I asked this person who he was." By the time we were done. for God's sake. the doctor pulled my parents aside and said: "I'm very sorry. It whisked me to the studio's Artists' Entrance. It wasn't nearly as nice as the page's suit. because I already had my suit on.he was just the limousine driver. She told me I should talk slowly. Not funny. In the desk were some notes for jokes that I figured out had been written by Joan Rivers. "I have Mr. Barry" and gave me this little card that said I was to receive Distinguished Customer Service. maybe a dozen times. Dave Barry. witty. confident. a desk and a bathroom." She never actually laughed at anything I said." It is my distinguishing personality trait. and at 4:30 a limousine came to the hotel for me. Barry. where there were lots of other limousines and several guards. I didn't do any actual dressing in there. It had a color television." she'd say. and here was a talent coordinator for The Tonight Show. In the studio. none of it seemed even remotely funny to me. a bar and a telephone." This worried me greatly. Maybe they stuck me . going over the questions that Carson might ask me and the answers that I might give. for The Tonight Show. articulate. The hotel people called me "Mr. handsome person in a suit greeted me and escorted me past dressing rooms that said "Dick Cavett" and "Jimmy Brogan" to one that said "Dave Barry..
Doc Severinsen was in there. Shirley Wood gave me typed notes listing the questions Carson would ask me. even though I was too tense to actually read it. Watching the show from home. It was very reassuring to hold this piece of paper. I'm sorry I can't give you a more detailed description. a kind and motherly sort. so just for the record: It's a non-green room with two televisions in it and some sofas. and then Carson himself walked in. who turned out to be. which is where guests and hangers-on wait for their turns. no-nonsense phone manner. McMahon started warming up the audience. I had always had the impression that the audience is a late-night crowd of Los Angeles sophisticates. despite her tough. but it's actually an afternoon crowd of tourists and honeymooners from places like Iowa. He winked at me on the way by. so I didn't spend much time in there. took me to the backstage bar and gave me a large glass of wine. They knew this was high praise. mainly Californians by the look of them. and off at one end are some guys who are on the telephone all the time. They laughed . At 5 I went across the hall to Makeup to have a makeup person smear my face with a cosmetic substance that people used to call "flesh. Wood told me that until it was time for me to go on. tanned and healthy from avocado consumption.you people sound like a Friday night crowd. Mostly I wandered around backstage. "but you people -. but at the time I didn't realize it was such a famous room. reading the paper. That was my only contact with him. looking very sincere. I could sit and watch the show in the famous Green Room. wearing jeans and looking very lean. I imagine they had some reason for being there.and I mean this with all my heart -. and they have to be warmed up.in there because they wanted me to do some more dressing. and the things I'd said in our telephone conversation that she liked. which was crowded with people. After I was made up. and Heeeeeeeeeere's Johnny! A dense knot of Californians gathered backstage to watch the monologue. which I drank the way football players drink Gatorade on commercials.colored" back before the discovery of minority groups. other than on the actual show. but most of them just stood around and watched the show. At about 5:20. It also helped that Wood. And then it was 5:30." The crowd went nuts." McMahon told them. "I know it's a Tuesday night. A surprising number of people have asked me what the Green Room is like.
about 500 people. After the monologue. and some folding chairs where high-level staff such as the producer and director sit. and there I was. turning the notes into jokes. heard but not seen. Just before the commercial ended. this helped calm me down..violently at everything. which is very good and plays during commercials. with a photograph of Los Angeles at night behind it. cracking jokes about newlyweds ("If you need any advice. But he was wonderfully professional. out there shaking hands with Johnny and Dick and Ed. then she disappeared to take her seat in front of the set. Shirley Wood grabbed my arms. Next they had Jimmy Brogan." Then the commercial started. sound and production people. It was his first time on The Tonight Show. he did not once lean over and confide in me what he is like. there was a commercial. along with the talent coordinator who coordinated whatever talent is performing at the time. the band started playing. and he let me have the laughs. not the camera. the ones where Carson winds up making a joke out of the fact that the joke bombed. The band. and he makes it look easy. during which he talked a bit with the audience. he walked by us and said "I am so glad that's over. What everybody asked me later was: "What's Carson like?" The answer is: How the hell would I know? In the entire seven minutes during which I sat next to him on national television. The audience. They loved it. wished me luck. The set where Carson and his guests sit is off to the side of a large stage. Carson introduced me. He didn't . even the jokes that bombed. The main thing I remember about Cavett was that he said you can rearrange the letters in Spiro Agnew's name to spell "grow a penis. and I was next. told me to talk slowly and talk to Carson. a man held open the curtain. When Brogan finished his act. too. who stood up and did comedy. I will tell you that. is off in the darkness. Carson sat down at his famous desk. Shirley Wood came looking for me and led me to the curtain you wait behind while Carson introduces you. He set me up for all the jokes. The first guest was Dick Cavett. a standup comedian. is on the other side of the stage. Right in front of Carson are a half-dozen camera.") and thanking them for coming. As he was finishing his act. who came on and had about 25 minutes of repartee with Carson.. The jokes come from brief notes on pieces of cardboard in front of him. The commercial ended." For some reason.
So after the first minute I realized I was in good hands and it was going to be fine. For the next 25 minutes. I know that you know these questions. From time to time other motorists would pull up next to us and look inside to see if I was Somebody. and by the end of the show I was actually enjoying myself. I mean. but I don't know anybody in the Burbank area. right up until I threw up on Dick Cavett. I would have made a phone call. he could have said: "Dave. I kept interrupting his questions. I thought. Maybe on my next appearance. The hell with them. So anyway. and my limousine. and my color television. Just kidding. in my eagerness to answer him. this is my scotch. riding around in this enormous luxury vehicle." But he didn't. then they'd see that I wasn't. . but it's conceivable that some members of the audience may not know them. inasmuch as you and Shirley Wood discussed them for an hour today via telephone. after the show I got back into the enormous limousine and poured a large glass of scotch and turned on the color television to watch the Celtics play the Lakers with the sound turned down because the chauffeur had bet $100 on the Celtics and couldn't bear to hear the game in progress.get the least bit annoyed when. and they'd move on.
No! Wait! What I meant to say is: Like any drug. It is inhumane. they do not tolerate waiting in line while some dilettante in front of them orders a hazelnut smack-a-cino with cinnamon sprinkles. YOU TREND GEEKS. Meanwhile. there is growing impatience among those of us who just want a plain old cup of coffee so that our brains will start working and we can remember what our full names are and why we are catching an airplane. caffeine can have serious side effects if we ingest too much. and. Specialty coffees are very popular these days. in my opinion. which makes us alert. attracting millions of consumers. These consumers are always ordering mutant beverages with names like "mochaalmond-honey-vinaigrette lattespressacino. back in the line. The reason some of us need coffee is that it contains caffeine. I bet that when serious heroin addicts go to purchase their heroin. And you just know there are plenty of people who would. to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity. " beverages that must be made one at a time via a lengthy and complex process involving approximately one coffee bean. I bet this kind of thing does not happen to heroin addicts. This fact was first noticed in ancient . We want to strike the lattespressacino people with our carry-on baggage and scream "GET OUT OF OUR WAY. every single one of whom is standing in line ahead of me whenever I go to the coffee place at the airport to grab a quick cup on my way to catch a plane. it is a lot of fun. AND LET US HAVE OUR COFFEE!" But of course we couldn't do anything that active until we've had our coffee. Of course it is very important to remember that caffeine is a drug.DECAF POOPACINO BY DAVE BARRY I have exciting news for anybody who would like to pay a lot of money for coffee that has passed all the way through an animal's digestive tract. three quarts of dairy products and what appears to be a small nuclear reactor. like any drug.
that's why I'm a columnist. and wound up constructing the pyramids. He sent me an invitation he received from a local company to a "private tasting of the highly prized Luwak coffee. The invitation states: "We wish to pass along this once in a lifetime opportunity to taste such a rarity. is one of the most expensive drinks in the world. But I came to need that coffee.the coffee beans -. " which "at $300 a pound . The beans are then gathered.Egypt when a group of workers. I was expecting the beans to look exotic. I had to stay awake while writing phenomenally boring stories about municipal government." Or. (I can't do anything useful afterward . roasted and sold to coffee connoisseurs.come out of the luwak intact. began drinking Egyptian coffee. . and that I was being ripped off. There really is a Luwak coffee. all three liquids squirted out of a single tube." The invitation states that this coffee is named for the luwak. but they looked like regular coffee beans.50 for two ounces of beans. considering where they'd been. Tragically. which is very strong. when.. I know because I bought some from a specialty-coffee company in Atlanta. washed. a "natural fermentation" takes place. and they tasted pretty much the same." I first thought this was a clever hoax designed to ridicule the coffee craze. who were supposed to be making a birdbath. for a moment I was afraid that they were just regular beans. I myself developed the coffee habit in my early 20s. a "member of the weasel family" that lives on the Island of Java and eats coffee berries. I got my coffee from a vending machine that also sold hot chocolate and chickennoodle soup. Pa.) But here's my point: This specialty-coffee craze has gone too far. I paid $37. . . In fact. and the berry seeds -. it is not. as a "cub" reporter for the Daily Local News in West Chester. as Bo Bishop put it: "They're selling processed weasel doodoo for $300 a pound. either. and even today I can do nothing useful before I've had several cups. I say this in light of a letter I got recently from alert reader Bo Bishop. as the berries pass through the luwak.
let's briefly review the history of Miami. I ground the beans up and brewed the coffee and drank some. I recalled reading somewhere that one-quarter of the murders in Miami are committed with automatic weapons.in short. its joys. when you're really skeptical about something. its people. way better than you would have thought possible? This is not the case with Luwak coffee. but then you finally try it. because it's expensive. although you might want to give some thought to the killer toads. tastes like somebody washed a dead cat in it. in my opinion. but that was really all I knew. which is an indication of a highly technological society. its sorrows -. its very soul. So I want all you potential tourists out there to ignore what you've heard about the murder problem. let me stress that in the entire time I was in Miami I never saw anybody murdered in any way. None of them had ever been to Miami either. They figured I would need three days. First. I had never been to Miami. You know how sometimes. so before I left Philadelphia I did extensive research in the form of talking to several of my friends. One of these days. Luwak coffee. But I predict it's going to be popular anyway. Now before the Chamber of Commerce gets angry at me for mentioning murder so early in this story.Then I thought: What kind of world is this when you worry that people might be ripping you off by selling you coffee that was NOT pooped out by a weasel? So anyway. its history. . But more on them later. I'm thinking of switching to heroin NAKED CITY: DAVE BARRY EXPOSES MIAMI DAVE BARRY It was the kind of assignment that journalists dream about if they lead fairly limited lives: The editors at Tropic wanted me to fly down to Miami and become intimately familiar with every aspect of the city--its culture. you discover that it's really good. the people in front of me at the airport coffee place are going to be ordering decaf poopacino.
particularly those varieties that can kill you. sending them to Oklahoma." The Indians were the principal inhabitants until the early 19th Century. I didn't know this word. but by that time it had become illegal to send people to Oklahoma without just cause."Miami" is an Indian word meaning "place where Indians no longer live. this angered the whites. and the only sentence I remember is Vamos al cine ("Let us go to the movies"). and today Miami is a marvelous mixture of different races and cultures. because alligators mainly eat dogs. I listened a lot to the Spanish radio stations. Cubans and Haitians. Nobody knows for sure how many alligators live in the Miami area. southerners. I never did get the hang of Spanish in my three days in Miami. I figured my first task was to familiarize myself with the incredibly complex varieties of plant and animal life that make up Miami's ecosystem. let's say there are three million. when white settlers began to arrive. which I believe was calliamenterrenialitocentramamanosarrrrrrrrria. but just for the sake of having a figure that everybody can cite from now on. I would have asked him to the movies. ("Will the last Indian to leave Miami please bring the totem pole"). but I tried to look grateful. although occasionally they said something in English. poison frogs. I started with alligators. living together in peace and harmony in different sections of the city. so I pulled off the road to get directions from an elderly man. used mostly long words. so I could get a rough idea what was going on: NEWS ANNOUNCER: Mediocayuagarillacentro Nancy Reagan hermanacitollinatalamolitanarrio Bert Parks agunamenteillorrrrrrrrrrentijinallamente Jolly Goat Motel. tourists. On my first night in . This is not as bad as it sounds. I took several years of Spanish in high school. which is fine with me. except that my Spanish teacher always paused for four or five seconds after each word. which gave me an opportunity to brush up on my Spanish. The first thing I did after I got my rental car at the Miami airport was get lost. so they all stayed. but they. but I didn't want to run the risk of getting murdered with an automatic weapon. The Indians reacted to the white influx by making jokes. and the elderly man spoke in what sounded like one long word. but I figured it would all come back to me in a jiffy. After the whites came other influxers: northerners. worse. too. who responded by killing the Indians or.
a famous local swamp. The Herald's file contained one other interesting frog story (I am not making this up. nobody seems to know what happened to the killer frogs. It does say that the venom from a 1-inch frog can kill "scores of people. probably because of the general excitement over the construction of the Metrorail system. The file also had a series of stories about a poison-frog robbery back in 1968. at which point I strode briskly back to the car loudly humming My Girl by the Temptations. because of their concern about poison frogs and toads. but I don't think it's anything to worry about. Miami also has killer toads. Today. but is dangerous only if you bite it. I pulled off the road.A giant frog with a mouthful of teeth has vanished from its home and may be wandering the streets of western Detroit. After I had left all signs of civilization behind (except the one that said "FROG CITY 3/4 MI"). Killer toads mainly kill dogs. turned off the motor." This led to efforts by local and federal legislators to enact tougher frog control laws (I am not making any of this up). I drove out the Tamiami Trail to the Everglades. scheduled for completion around the time the Earth establishes permanent colonies on Neptune." I quote this story for the benefit of those potential tourists who. either): "DETROIT -. This is a tough town for dogs. hoping to spot an alligator. I know this because I read The Herald's file on frogs and toads. when somebody broke into a pet store-. The only other major natural killers in Miami are hurricanes and palmetto bugs. completely unnoticed? The story doesn't say.Miami has pet stores the way other towns have hot dog vendors-. which is: How did the thieves make their getaway? Did they just saunter off down the street. and as far as I am concerned anybody who bites a toad deserves to die.Miami. although anybody who vacations in Detroit is probably too stupid to be able to read anyway. . my reasoning being that an alligator would be unlikely to mistake a person humming My Girl for a dog. This leads to the obvious question. decide they should vacation in Detroit rather than Miami. but eventually the public lost interest in this issue. now that I am back in Philadelphia. got out of the car and crept stealthily down the bank to the water.and stole 200 deadly South American frogs. The killer toad (code name "Bufo Marinus") secretes a deadly venom. until it occurred to me that I might actually spot an alligator. which is probably the most extensive such file of any newspaper in the free world. poison frogs bulging from every pocket. although I think the palmetto bug danger may be somewhat overrated.
they put on mainly symphonies and operas. exterminators.The Tropic staff claimed palmetto bugs grow to the size of toaster-ovens. now for its economy. This is no way to attract Americans. pet stores. It's nearly a hundred degrees out there for the 17th straight day. Jim. the sun beats down on it until it reaches a critical temperature. Bob Weaver. which is why Miami recently held the New World Festival of the Arts. The economy has been slumping lately because tourism is down. but when I got there the only one they could produce was about an inch long and was dead and missing a leg. First. Unfortunately. so that even if large numbers of tourists had shown up. Bob offers a number of useful hints as to what to do in a hurricane. except maybe to dogs. at which point it explodes into 400 small businesses. Lizards are bursting on the sidewalks like . People are dropping from heat stroke all over the city.. we had another classic southern Florida day today. despite the fact that it has a road named after Arthur Godfrey. The other major mistake was that the festival was held in the summer when Miami is very hot. I strongly suggest that all you Miamians rush right down to your local Burger King. each of which has a liquor license.. So I doubt that palmetto bugs are really all that dangerous. I think Miamians do not realize how hot their city is in the summer. such as protect yourself and stay tuned to Channel 4." written by Channel 4's weatherman. The idea was that people would flock to the festival from all over the country. etc. and pick up your free copy of "The Hurricane Handbook. If a major hurricane were to hit Miami. and we look forward to another. This is because of the climate. the festival organizers made two serious mistakes. which is apparently responsible for hurricane preparations. it would delay completion of the Metrorail system. ANCHORMAN: Wait a minute.. One of the major reasons Americans fought so hard in World War II was their fear that if the Germans and Italians won. Every time they build a large office building or factory. probably because the television weathermen are very defensive about it: ANCHORMAN: And here's Thad Thorson with the weather forecast. most of them would have died anyway. then realize that South Florida is a very cultural place. Hurricanes are worse. Miami's economy is mostly small businesses--pet stores. WEATHERMAN: Well. everybody would be required to listen to symphonies and operas. Thad. That takes care of Miami's natural environment.
this juxtaposition creates great tensions at times yet." If you tell me one more time that it beats freezing. If you were to show this object to 100 persons chosen at random on the street. for God's sake? And don't tell me "It beats freezing. I think my findings on the people of Miami are best summarized by this conversation on the street: ME: Tell me.000 degrees? But Miami is more than just weather. True. many races. Every day. The betting system is very complicated. but it's not a rabbit." A dog that can be tricked into chasing this object night after night could have no more than eight brain cells. flee into the streets of Miami. When will it end. Miami is also people. the others. that's terrific. I swear to God I'm going to shoot you right in your plaid sportjacket with a semiautomatic weapon. I did meet some actual Miamians at the dog races. really--people of many ages. what are Miamians really like? MIAMIAN: Well. The greyhounds deserve to have stupid names. WEATHERMAN: Jim. but I got a rough idea . the breeders take a batch of hopeful greyhounds out to the track and let them go: The ones that chase the object become racers. ME: Hey. do you realize that the average daytime temperature on the surface of Mercury is over 1. they would all say: "I don't know what it is. paradoxically. thousands of them. where they would be a major problem if it weren't for the alligators and toads. businesses and dangerous reptiles. because night after night they chase an object that could not possibly look less like a rabbit. What's your name? MIAMIAN: I don't have one. You just made me up so you could get a good quote without having to get out of your rental car and talk to a bunch of people who carry open umbrellas when it's not raining and might try to shoot you with an automatic weapon. Jai-alai is a fast-paced game in which players try to avoid being injured by a small. which is why greyhounds are bred for stupidity.little brown balloons. violent ball while people bet on them. Another place where Miamians gather at night is the jai-alai fronton ("fronton" is a word from another language). but they were unable to give me any major cultural insights because they were busy cursing at greyhounds with stupid names. and the only way to get to know the people of a city is to get out of the safety of the air-conditioned rental car and rub shoulders with them as they lead their everyday lives. it is also what gives the city its great vitality. I would say they are a juxtaposition of many peoples. many cultures.
MAN (peering at slip): Oh. to medium guns that you might use to repel an intruder.) Leon demonstrated how the various guns worked (in most cases. I went on a tour conducted by Gene and Leon. Thank you. This was to prevent these deer from needlessly starving to death.. If he ever is attacked. There was no clear-cut way to tell. And how do. I don't WANT six in there. On my second day in Miami. dammit.. I got EIGHT and three.. Our first stop was the Tamiami Gun Shop. With this explanation in mind. The Tamiami Gun Shop also sells back issues of Soldier of Fortune magazine. so it's really OK to own a lot of crossbows and machine guns with silencers and wear Army- . ME: I see. which comes out only once a week. so I can't lose.. And how. FRIEND OF MAN WITH SLIPS: You ain't got no eight. from small guns that you might use to shoot a palmetto bug. (In fact.. "We Aim To Please. I got six and three (waves slips at me). although so far none has done so. but I don't think it won. probably because Leon is the size of a Quonset hut. whose motto is. who work for Tropic magazine. dammit. to large. the kind of alligator that could write its own ticket if it ever decided to get into terror movies. You got six (holds up slip). Wait. that very day the state had decided to permit hunters to kill half the deer in the Everglades. see. MAN (peering at slips): Wait.of how it works from this actual conversation with a man clutching several betting slips: ME: Could you explain how this game works? MAN: Well. ME: I see. ME: I see. I can't lose. Get six out of there.. Leon is familiar with guns. semiautomatic guns that you might use to repel the North Korean army or vaporize a deer. a bullet comes out of a predesignated end of the gun at a high rate of speed). I bet on team six in the next game. it will have to be by a major alligator." This is a store that can meet all your gun needs. which is must reading for anyone who needs clarification on the question of why people in a major city need semiautomatic weapons. which is why Gene and Leon have a lot of time to drive around Miami. Come on six. because he goes camping a lot and needs a gun in case an alligator tries to attack him. dammit. The guiding philosophy behind Soldier of Fortune is that you must be prepared at all times to defend your freedom and your freeze-dried food.
As far as the Miami Beach hotels go. I realized that although there are many differences between these two groups. All in all. and may feel I've been harsh. but bear in mind that I didn't even mention the drug problem. It was a leg.shirts bearing pictures of Erwin ("The Desert Fox") Rommel. such as walking canes that turn into swords and T. to the extent that you can wrestle a reptile whose sole goal in life is to escape back to the safety of the muck. green dog. we went to Miami Beach and saw the historic Art Deco Historic District. and I highly recommend them in hopes that if I ever come back they will give me a room for free. then was considered very ugly for a number of years. and the people who live there now. when all is said and done. which means it's only a matter of time before they are considered ugly again. I really liked Miami. who were the first residents of Miami.style clothing in your basement even if you live in a subdivision house with lawn ornaments. Art Deco is a kind of art that was very popular in the '30s. It was very much like watching a man trying to bathe a large. But it did give me an opportunity to reflect on the contrast between the Miccosukee Indians. But now it is considered attractive again. I realize some of you Miamians are sensitive to criticism. reluctant. in the end. with prose such as this. I went back out into the Everglades to watch an actual Miccosukee Indian wrestle an actual alligator. from the August issue: "We quickly raised our heads enough to see something plop heavily down in front of us midway between us and the woodline. Illustration: illustration: guy with popcorn and guy with gun . After we left the Tamiami Gun Shop. Soldier of Fortune advertises many fine products you would need to fight for your freedom. they both have profound problems with mosquitos." I urge all of you who are seriously interested in preparedness to pick up an issue of Soldier of Fortune after you get your Hurricane Handbook at Burger King. and the Art Deco buildings in Miami Beach are being restored to their original condition. It also has articles by men who were fortunate enough to get into actual wars. On my last day in Miami. they are all superb.
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