Friday, March 03, 2006


Never-Ending Ruminations of a Subliminal Mind...

Lincoln Road, 1964 (Courtesy of the official Miami Beach website):

...ok, ok, a year behind the times, but who knows what'll come out of me by the time post-Oscars 2006 Monday rolls around?



In preparation for Oscar Night, 2005 I could have done one of several things: 1) completed my list of pre-Oscar viewing “must-see” movies; 2) attended the South Beach Wine and Food Festival; 3) both; or 4) neither. Opting for an odd-lot combination of 1) & 2) led to a series of bizarrely inspirational, and – several times, at least – subliminal events.

Awaiting the opening of the envelopes with baited breath:


Yes, I’d decided to go to South Beach. Hopping on the McArthur Causeway, I had to slow to a snail’s pace as I approached Palm/Hibiscus Islands. What was going on, I wondered, at two something in the afternoon?

And then I remembered: the Food Festival. Was this what lay ahead of me: miles and miles of traffic? Fortunately, by the time I hit the Alton Road exit, I’d begun to slither along. Whew! Not everyone was headed up Alton, at least not at the same time.

As I was headed to the Regal South Beach Cinemas, at the corner of Alton and Lincoln Roads, I figured I’d park in the theater’s lot, get my ticket validated, meander up and down Lincoln Road Mall – one of the holdouts in my 1960’s memories of a not-now recognizable Miami – and catch the pre-dusk showing of The Sea Inside, the Spanish nomination for Best Picture. How apt: Amenabar’s latest being my holdout, that I would soon be viewing awash a sea of memories inside of what used to be, yet is no longer… with the possible exception of the Lincoln Road pavement. Or has that changed, too, I wonder?

Would I miss the lot? Inching up Alton, I looked to the right. Yes: there was the sign for the lot. Not a huge sign, it’s no wonder I’d missed it during earlier Beach forays. Gently swerving to the right, I began to crawl forward again, up and up, into the inner chambers of the snail-like lot. After anxiously looking out the window at every rounded curve, I found myself wondering, how much higher will this thing go? Will I find a spot?

Well, of course I did: on the fifth level. Breathing a sigh of relief, I parked my car, and, without a care in the world, set forth on my final pre-Oscar Hunt adventure. My first stop: the Tasti D-Lite. Non-fat, cholesterol free, sugar-free, lo-carb Tasti D-Lite: popular with kids, adults, straights, and gays, alike. Popular with the Sex and the City gals, this emporium has one other very important thing going for it: a clean restroom. Very important, indeed: worth the price of admission.

Having availed myself of the equally clean facilities at Don Pan on the way down Eighth Street, where I had nibbled on the crust of an elongated crescent roll and downed a coffee, all I had to do today was taste – everyone enjoys a sample or two, right? – and order. Fluffer Nutter Fudge was a no-brainer.

Beginning to enjoy my tasty treat, the first bizarre incident of the day occurred: a crazy lady muttered something to me about Jesus as I was on my way out. I couldn’t get away fast enough.

A tiny bit anxiety-stricken, I wondered if she’d follow me outside the store, where I decided to settle down at one of their little tables, in one of their – as it turned out – extremely comfortable chairs. Well, she didn’t. As a matter of fact, next time I looked for her, she was gone. Had I imagined her, I wondered? I’m still wondering.

Let’s put it this way: I was on the verge of sitting down at one of their tables. As if from nowhere, a “Granola Bunch” consisting of one male, two females, and two male children plopped themselves down where I was about to park myself. I had no choice but to but out.

Perhaps they’d beat me to it by a hair: no matter. And heavens knows Mr. Granola had a beardful. What the heck: the crazy lady was still on my mind, so I couldn’t help bringing her up to them. They looked at me as if I were the strange one. So that was that.

But then the real fun began… With a quickly melting dish of Fluffer Nutter Fudge in one hand, and pen and a slip of paper in the other, I began to watch the world go by. After all, I was sitting on my new-old Lincoln Road, on DA BEECH.

And of course I had to begin with The Granola Bunch. Strange, isn’t it, but only the males of the bunch were wearing hats? I’d almost say they were Orthodox Jews, except the women weren’t what I would term “modestly” dressed. Any way you slice it, they – and by they, I mean the men, here – were exercising their own version of “feminine protection.”

Looking out onto the mall, I then beheld the following:

1) A Paris Hilton clone/wannabe – with the hair, the pancake-flat belly-button baring bottom, the glittery purse, the cell phone: aah, the cell phone… until she said something about being down for a week, and then going back on Spirit Airlines. I don’t think the real Paris Hilton has to worry about flying only when the Spirit moves her.
2) An older man with a little blonde in a white miniskirt, knee-high pink boots, and a matching pink purse. I think they were speaking Russian. I understand they – and by they, I mean Russian men who run casinos, here – are very fond of handy panties
3) A “normal” person – an older, skinny guy with glasses – sauntered in and out holding a Books and Books bag in his hand. At least he reads. Perhaps Arthur Miller, or Henry James, or Henry Miller?
4) A very pregnant woman, with a poori-shaped belly button, strolled by with a champagne-colored Labrador on a leash. A good contrast with the Paris clone/wannabe, if nothing else.
5) Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of York’s clone/wannabe: yes, a woman who really, truly resembled Fergie. Twice.
6) On the verge of my departure, a lady speaking loudly into a cell phone began to describe Tasti D-Lite’s non-fat, cholesterol free, sugar-free, lo-carb characteristics to someone. Was she planning on taking out, I wondered? I sure wouldn’t recommend it, given how ephemeral fluff of any variety truly is.

See what you started, Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and, yes, even you, Samantha?

Moving on, here. On the fly back to the theater, I entered Fly Boutique, a small,
reasonably priced vintage store. Leave empty-handed? Never. Well, almost never. For a while now, I’ve been becoming The Incredibly Shrinking Woman: my increasingly narrowing shoulders make almost any jacket resemble a crumpled sack.

Not if they’re from the fifties or sixties, though. I all but bubbled out of the store, dashing, dashing away with my latest find: a sixties sky-blue jacket with a gray mink collar. As long as there are little old ladies who settle down here from the North, I chortled to the well-informed – and wry – proprietor. There always will be, he said.

So then I saw The Sea Inside. Not intending to write a review, I did, of sorts. And my fellow writer published it:
Georgina’s Reviews
The Sea Inside: Poignant; pointed; understated; screaming with intensity, pathos, and feeling. Euthanasia may have won in the end, but, by golly, this movie makes you want to LIVE... Javier Bardem was nothing short of magnificent, given that his handsome, putty-like face serves as the panorama for the bulk of what transpires. There's a love story, too. Several, actually. More than several. I wanted to see it for several reasons: 1) to be super-prepared for Sunday; and 2) because my mother -- as a doctor -- believed in euthanasia. Worth my time.
Worth my time, indeed: at one point, I felt as if both my parents were present. Almost holding my hand, as I had felt my mother and my grandfather had been doing when I’d seen Sunshine for the first time.
Too good: the afternoon had been just too good for me not to continue it into the evening. Les Choristes (The Chorus) was also supposed to be very good, so I said to myself, why not? Running up to the fifth chamber of the snail-like parking lot, I placed my Fly purchase in the trunk, and duly noted I would have been ineligible for the validated parking fee, anyway, as my four hours were up. Why not, indeed?
With about an hour to kill, I decided to look for a top to go with my new jacket. I’m still ruminating as to whether to pair it with a black or navy blue skirt. When do I ever stop ruminating, anyway?
Where should I turn? I asked myself, and proceeded to try: Anthropologie? No – too gimmicky. Banana Republic? Still too… Ann Taylor Loft? Several possibilities. The Gap? Well, it was their salesperson who convinced me to follow my gut, the more I described the dressy tank tops I already had at my disposal.
However, it was at French Connection that I – let’s just say – perked up? I’d been meaning to poke into their store for a while, because… either my eyes had been deceiving me, or their logo’s a dirty word. FCUK.
My curiosity split wide open: Do you know what this spells out? I asked the salesgirl. Amusedly, she said French Connection United Kingdom had adopted these four letters – obviously – as its logo several years ago. And why hadn’t I asked about it before, she wondered.
Did I blush, or shrug? I don’t remember. Eyeing the T-shirts that read Love Hate FCUK one more time on my way out, I do remember saying this much to myself: Oh, yeah?
Oh, yeah. And then I sat down in a darkened theater again, to be charmed, entranced, and swept away by Les Choristes (The Chorus). A sublime – not subliminal – French Connection, this one.
At 9:30 p.m. or so, I was floating on air. With not much more than that delightfully tasty Fluffer Nutter Fudge in me, I began to amble down the avenue that had been such a special treat for me when I was a child. And what did I behold on this particular Friday night?
Restaurant after restaurant, with waiters and maitre d’s all but hawking their wares. People, sitting al fresco, enjoying their drinks (more often than not, sour apple martinis), speaking with their friends either in person or via their cellular appendages, in a cacophony of tongues. Parents pushing their baby carriages. Many people with dogs, of all breeds and sizes. Older children frolicking about, including among the fountains that I myself had dipped my chubby fingers into when I was little. Adolescents skateboarding, rollerblading, taking a drag on their cigarettes, doing anything they could to appear “cool.” And, of course, speaking into their cell phones.
So these are the people who, like me, decided not to attend the South Beach Wine and Food Festival tonight, I mused to myself.
Famished, I finally settled in at Tiramesu, where I’d eaten back in January. Ensconced at a table inside, all I really craved was a small platter of their sublimely al dente pasta, but big eyes steered me toward a carpaccio, first. Adequate enough; too much shaved Parmesan for my tastes. The pasta turned out to be not as perfect as the first time I’d had it, but I still tasted the garlic, two days later.
When the waiter brought me the bill, I perked up, yet again. What in the heck is a Resort Tax, I asked him. I unraveled that one for myself: Miami Beach is a resort, isn’t it? Somehow going across the McArthur Causeway doesn’t resemble going across a chasm.
And yet it is: a chasm across time and space. A chasm called, memory.
I made it back home Friday night, more satisfied than I’d been in a long time.

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