"the" Mrs. Astor

Saturday, March 29, 2008

In about thirty minutes The Ultra Music Festival will begin, celebrating their tenth year anniversary. 70,000 dance and music-happy people with gyrate from noon to midnight. It is across the bay in Bicentennial Park because Miami Beach long ago decided the last thing it wanted was a large group of high-spirited (and just plain high) dancing machines. It not just made up of kids, either; the whole rainbow of Miami is represented and there has seldom been any problem. It simply becomes a huge pagan dance ritual with the Gods being DJ's and their music.
The City of Miami Beach has never recovered, mentally, from the riots during the hip-hop Memorial Weekend--the so-called Urban Festival--of six years ago. Since then The Commission shudders any time a request for a music festival is brought up and, if it has to do with youth or popular culture, you know what the answer will be. Little by little--by taking away the small, moderate-priced hotels and issuing permit after permit to turn them condo, by denying the right to hold a City-approved street festival, and even the pursuit to turn back the closing times of clubs--The City is strangling the Industry of Having Fun. And while city officials ponder every possible way to hassle businesses with draconian laws, most of them on on the take one way or another. Last week three more department heads were arrested for taking bribes; one even had the developer stuff money in a City Hall toilet paper dispenser from where he would soon retrieve it. Others took lavish gifts in exchange for the almighty approval every action needs. Nothing new here, but the saddest part is that most of the officials and police don't even live here. They travel in from their family lives in the suburbs and pass out judgements to a community they don't understand or like while milking it relentlessly.
I could get my soap box out and start ranting, but cocktail hour begins a 1 PM. The preferred place for The Court in Exile has become--for the time being--Twist with its 8 hour long happy hour seven days a week.


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