Urine‐stained “Pissing Wall” at 9th Street and Washington Avenue on chic South Beach 

“This Ain’t Miami, Bitch” December 6, 2011 By David Arthur Walters THE MIAMI MIRROR MIAMI BEACH—“Hey, Mister Mister, look at my new video, ‘Welcome to South Beach’, starring The Masturbator,” said Manny, beckoning me to his computer in his shop. “I’m going to run it on the Internet.” “Good grief, don’t publish this,” I said after watching the video with the star shuffling around the corner at 9th Street and Washington to the strains of ‘Welcome to Miami’ and ‘You’re in Miami, bitch,’ culminating in a masturbatory scene in the little public parking lot in front of the stores, with semen visibly squirting into the air and landing on the man’s filthy T-shirt. “Why? He was making a public display of it. He knew what he was doing in public was wrong. I could tell when I went over there and gave him hell for it.”
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“It’s not privacy law I’m worried about but the pornography laws. You’ve got him playing with himself in broad daylight. It’s disgusting. You should call the cops,” I recommended. “The cops do nothing! They never have and never will. This has been going on for years now. Look at the corner, the King is there as usual.” Three men were sitting behind some low bushes near the sidewalk, sharing drugs. The bus shelter was full as usual, with alcoholics openly drinking beers. Two drunks, white men in wheelchairs, from Oceanside Extended Care nearby, had joined them. The huge black man called the King of the Corner was presiding from his wheelchair as usual: “Give me a dollar!” he ordered passersby. If his demand was ignored, he muttered after them, “F—k you, a--hole!” He reminded me of that monstrous plant in a movie, the carnivorous plant that was always saying, “Feed me!” And the King was regularly fed with beers; especially from youth staying at the hostel down the street, proving true the claim of the city commissioner who objected to passing new panhandling laws that would never be enforced anyway, saying that tourists actually come to South Beach to see such colorful people. Nonetheless, most tourists and residents, and all merchants nearby, were disgusted by the degenerate scene on the corner of 9th and Washington, which was a sort of capitol for what was going on up and down Washington Avenue. A more commercial center of degeneracy could be found on Lincoln Road, running from Washington Avenue all the way to the beach, particularly around Walgreens, which is said to have the highest consumer sales per square foot in the nation. The wealth had by the guests of luxury hotels in that area, which is a bus system center as well, attracts bums and thieves from all over Miami-Dade County not to mention the world. Now I had seen pathetic sights in the cities I had lived in, having lived myself on the streets of New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, and New Orleans, but South Beach was supposed to be a glamorous retreat from all that. Three days after I arrived in South Beach in 2004, I was appalled by the presence of derelicts everywhere, by drunks, crack heads, and bums, and then there were the mentally ill, and the hopeless homeless who just had nowhere else to go that they knew of, or were too apathetic to do anything at all but eat and sleep, including the woman who slept under a blue tarp and ate cat food with her fingers out of the tins. I saw a woman stretched out across a sidewalk, blocking pedestrian traffic. A stream of urine was running from under her hiked-up dress all the way to the curb. A police officer in a white shirt stepped over her and kept going. A city bus stopped there, in the middle of the block; the driver got out and waited. A police officer arrived, went into the bus, and out came The Masturbator. He had a handsome face, but otherwise his appearance and his smell were repulsive. When the officer left, he went into the Internet Café there; within three minutes, all the guests fled. Now that occurred on the same block of Washington Avenue where I more recently called 911 about a woman who had taken up residence in a doorway next door to a luxury hotel; she was convulsing, probably with the DTs, but perhaps with something else. The bellhop told me she
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had parked herself there for several days, and had been convulsing for several hours. The 911 operator said nothing could be done about her because people have a civil right to recline on sidewalks and in doorways if they want to. I persisted, asking the operator if she wanted to be identified as the operator whose refusal to respond to a call resulted in the death of someone’s mother or daughter. “What if this were your mom? Would you want her convulsing in a doorway on Washington Avenue?” A police officer was sent over, and the woman was eventually taken away in an ambulance. She was back in the same place three days later, and then disappeared for good. “Manny, I’ll tell you what I’ll do, I’ll have some local photographers I know who complain about the vagrants and bums everywhere send me photos. I’ll make a collage, with photos of the riffraff framing pictures of the mayor, the city manager, and the police chief, and put that with music on the Internet” “Better not do that. You’ll get your apartment broken into and trashed, like that guy who posted the movie of the trash on the beach.” “Nah, they wouldn’t do that—that’s the Parks Department, they’re a bit rude.” I received numerous photos of South Beach riffraff and took some of my own, but I did not want to publish them, at least not the ones with faces, as I am not entirely without sympathy for human beings when they get in bad straits. If their behavior disgraces the race, I believe intervention is mandatory. As for professional panhandlers, I have little sympathy for them and look upon them as worse thieves than bank robbers. I happen to know what homelessness is: I left “home” shortly after I turned thirteen, and I have been houseless several times, but not once did I panhandle as I was too vain, too proud to do that, although if someone volunteered a hand up without making me swear on a bible I would take it and do my best to deserve the assistance. I kept myself and my two sets of clothes clean and smelling good, and I begged for work, started out bussing tables and washing dishes.

Assistant Police Chief Raymond Martinez and Mayor Matti Bower

I sent some of the photos over Assistant Police Chief Raymond Martinez, who had always been helpful whenever I contacted him, and to Mayor Matti Bower, who has a reputation for helping the poor but has never been responsive to me. The Masturbator was “reached out” to, meaning he
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got a shower, a new T-shirt and pants, and was back on the street forthwith. I do not know if it was my fault, but soon thereafter police officers conducted a mopping up operation on 9th and Washington, beginning with the King.

Several patrol cars and an ambulance pulled up to the corner. The King screamed bloody murder and violently swung his arms as a half-dozen cops got him from his wheelchair into the ambulance. Residents stood by approvingly but sympathetically because we sensed this was his last stand, so to speak. His legs looked gangrenous, and I wondered whether they would have to be amputated. Another panhandler, who worked Lincoln Road, and had tourists push his wheelchair across the road, affording him the opportunity to ask them for money, would not go to the hospital for help with his legs because he feared they would be amputated. We have not seen him for some time; nor have we seen El Stinko, whose odor was so bad people would cross the street or get off busses when he embarked. Police officers returned to that corner regularly for quite some time. Some loiterers there had drugs on them, were armed, were fighting each other with knives, were wanted men, and so on. The King was gone, the cops had cracked down, the corner was no longer the magnet it used to be, although a few were still around, and the wall between the little parking lot and the bank next door, known as the Pissing Wall, was still frequented often enough that people who park their cars complain of the stench. And a few people are still disposed to pass out or sleep there. I happened to momentarily stop by the wall to dial a number on my cell when a man walked up, said “Excuse me,” and proceeded to urinate right next to me. At the same time, I spotted Manny in back of the parking area, furiously washing the area around his store with bleach. “People do not even bother to use the wall! The city spends hundreds of thousands of dollars to put parking meter machines around the parking lot when they are not even needed, but they do nothing about these people.” “What people?” “The people peeing all over the stores and the walls and the people asking for money on the corner! “But there are not so many bums on the corner.”

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“The police come and run them off, and they come back. Okay,” he said after reflecting a moment, “it is not like it used to be.” “Can I use your computer? I shall suggest to Captain Causey that he recommends that some lights and video cameras be put up along the wall with warning signs, and that the city come in there every day to wash the area down until people stop stinking it up.”

Capt. Mark Causey and retiring Police Chief Carlos Noriega

“Who is Captain Causey?” “He is a police commander for our Entertainment District and head of the Honor Guard. He is helpful to residents and tourists. I think he would be a good police chief because he’s held all sorts of jobs at the police department and has a great attitude. Did you notice what his officers were doing at Washington and Collins corners at Lincoln Road, making the police department visible, helping tourists with directions, running off the bums?” “I saw that. It was a good thing, but it did not last long.” “They probably did not have the budget for it, maybe it was Obama money, but come to think of it, the cops have been doing a better job, have been trying to clean South Beach up, so we should give them some credit instead of keep saying they just do nothing.” “We’ll see.” “Yes, we shall see, hopefully.”

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