Do not be alarmed; Miami isn't so weird
Posted on Sun, Jan. 28, 2007
Welcome to Miami, Super Bowl visitors! You are going to have a wonderful time, from the moment you arrive in our magical city, until the moment you discover that your wallet is missing.
I'm kidding! You'll be fine, probably! Because the truth is that Miami is a terrific place, despite the criticisms you may have heard from ignorant yokel blowhards who shall remain nameless, such as U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo.
Back in November, Rep. Tancredo, who represents suburban Denver, ruffled some feathers down here when he called Miami ``a third-world country.''
For the record, that charge is unfair: Miami is WAY better armed than any third-world country. Miami is also a world-class party city, which is why the Super Bowl is being held here for a record-tying ninth time. Compare that with -- to pick a city at random -- Denver, which has been selected to host the Super Bowl a total of, let's see, the '60s, nope, the '70s, nope, the '80s, nope, the '90s, nope, the 2000s, nope . . .
Gosh, it seems that Denver has NEVER, not one single time in over four decades, been selected to host the Super Bowl. I'm sure there's a good reason for this, such as that the Denver area has too few hotel rooms, or too many xenophobic dimwits representing it in Congress.
But enough about Tom. Let's get back to Miami, and how you, the Super Bowl visitor, can get the maximum possible enjoyment from your stay here, with the fewest possible sucking chest wounds. We'll start with:
Chances are you'll arrive -- Lucky you! -- at Miami International Airport. Here you will find a spacious, modern, convenient, well-designed, passenger-friendly, state-of-the-art facility depicted on murals showing what the airport allegedly will look like if they ever finish it. This is unlikely to happen in the current century because the airport is under the control of Miami-Dade politicians, who traditionally fall into one of three categories: (1) incompetents; (2) criminals; and (3) incompetent criminals.
I have lived here for more than 20 years, and for that entire time the airport has been under construction, with almost all of the visible progress taking the form of larger and better murals.
At the airport, you will notice that many people are speaking Spanish; this is often true in Miami. It is not a big deal.
Most Spanish-speakers speak some English; in fact, many of them speak it far better than -- to pick a xenophobic dimwit at random -- Rep. Tom Tancredo.
Nevertheless, you may find it helpful to learn a few basic Spanish phrases, such as:
``Disculpe, dama o caballero.'' (``Excuse me, lady or horseman.'')
``He estado esperando mi equipaje dos días.'' (``I have been waiting two days for my luggage.'')
``Sí, es un mural atractivo.'' (``Yes, it is an attractive mural.'')
``¿Usted piensa que conseguiré mi equipaje a tiempo para el tazón estupendo?'' (``Do you think I will get my luggage in time for the Super Bowl?'')
``¿Dónde está el Rep. Tancredo?'' (``Where is the toilet?'')
Miami boasts a modern light rail and ''people mover'' system that cost hundreds of millions of dollars and serves an average daily ridership of nearly eight people. This system was conceived of and built by basically the same political leadership responsible for the airport, so needless to say it does not go to the airport.
It also does not go to many other places that many Miami residents would like to go, which is why most of them do not use it. To them, the Metrorail train is a mysterious object that occasionally whizzes past over their heads, unrelated to their lives, kind of like a comet.
The point is, you need to rent a car. Do NOT be afraid to do this. You may have heard scary stories about driving in Miami, but the truth is that you will be perfectly safe, as long as you remain within the rental-car lot. Beyond that, you are on your own.
If you do venture out on the roads of Miami, here are some rules to bear in mind:
• Never stop for a yellow light unless you want to be rear-ended.
• Ditto for a red light.
• In fact, as a general rule, never stop.
• In Miami, signaling a turn is viewed as a sign of weakness.
• If you find yourself stuck behind a slow-moving car that does not appear to have a driver, that car is in fact being operated by a senior citizen approximately the height of a Pepsi can, but with worse eyesight. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PASS THIS CAR. At any moment the operator could suddenly decide to change lanes without warning. Just be patient, and within a mile the car will drive off the road, often into a canal or building, and you can pass safely.
• Whatever else you do, do NOT get on Interstate 95. If, by mistake, you DO get on Interstate 95, whatever you do, do NOT get off.
About parking: In Miami, it is acceptable to park pretty much anywhere, including on sidewalks, lawns, and slow-moving pedestrians. There are also some legal parking spaces; if you find one, you're supposed to pay for it at one of the electronic machines located around the downtown area, which you can identify by the clot of people cursing at them, because they never work.
Parking is trickier in Miami Beach, where the last available space was taken in 1997. If you go over there, you will have to leave your car with a valet, who will park it somewhere else. Haiti, for example.
Here are some useful Spanish expressions for getting around Miami:
``Salga de mi camino, usted Rep. Tancredo.'' (``Get out of my way, you stupid idiot.'')
``No dispare, por favor.'' (``Please do not shoot.'')
``¿Está el Océano Atlántico por aquí?'' (``Is the Atlantic Ocean around here?'')
``¿Dónde está la playa con la gente desnuda?'' (``Where is the beach with the naked people?'')
``Discúlpeme, pero usted ha parqueado en mi pie.'' (``Excuse me, but you have parked on my foot.'')
Here are some of the ''must-see'' attractions in the Miami area:
• The Everglades: If you like vast featureless expanses of grass growing in rotting muck, you will love the Everglades.
• Hot Women: They are everywhere down here. I'm not saying there are no attractive women elsewhere; I'm just saying that, compared to Miami women, they are Labrador retrievers. When male friends of mine come to Miami from other cities, they constantly must drop to their knees and feel around with their hands to locate their eyeballs, which have ejected themselves from their sockets in an effort to get a better gander. I myself do not have this problem because my wife (Hi, honey!) is a total babe.
• The Forest of Cranes: Miami boasts the world's largest outdoor collection of free-range construction cranes. Some of them are being used to construct unsold condominiums -- a major industry here -- but many of them have no apparent purpose other than to screw up traffic. There seem to be more of them every day. We suspect they are having wild crane sex at night.
• The performing arts center: If you want to see arts being performed, this is the place for you to go. Maybe you could do this the same day you visit the Everglades.
• The Two Comically Close-Together Arenas: In 1988 Miami built a new arena for $52 million. Then in 1999 Miami spent $175 million to build ANOTHER new arena just four blocks away. Then we sold the first arena for a tidy profit of minus $24 million. That is the kind of savvy financial-mastermind political leadership we have. It's only a matter of time before we build a second light-rail system.
• South Beach: This is the heart of the action, a happening scene where supertrendy people gather to valet-park their cars and go to clubs with names like ''Moisture'' where they join other supertrendy valet-parkers to listen to music loud enough to liquefy brain tissue while drinking watery cocktails at upwards of $18 a pop. Sound like fun? Then head on over to SoBe, where friendly club bouncers will welcome you inside, provided that you are a woman with a hotness quotient of Scarlett Johansson or higher. If you are a normal human female, or God forbid a male, you may have to wait outside in the Ugly Person Line until (a) the bouncer decides you have been sufficiently humiliated, or (b) Easter, whichever comes later. Maybe you should pencil in a second visit to the Everglades.
• Fort Lauderdale: Don't miss it! There is plenty of parking.
• Joe's Stone Crab: Miami has many great restaurants, but Joe's is the king of them all, and for a very good reason: You can't get a table. This makes it highly desirable. People have been known to spend their entire Miami vacation waiting for a table at Joe's, and yet they always come out happy, because the stone crabs are that good, plus they contain (Don't tell anybody!) heroin.
In fact, you can avoid the long wait for a table at Joe's, provided that you know the correct procedure for dealing with the maitre d'.
First off, you do NOT simply walk up and hand him money like some clueless tourist dork (or, as we call them down here, ``Tancredo'').
Instead, you let the maitre d' know, subtly, that you will grease his palm on the way out. It also helps if you can convince him that you are either a regular customer, or an important celebrity such as Cher or the pope.
To help you visualize this procedure, here's a sample dialogue between you and the Joe's maitre d':
YOU: I'd like a table for four, please.
MAITRE D': Name?
YOU: Either a regular customer, or an important celebrity such as Cher or the pope.
YOU: Don't worry about money, because on the way out I will be greasing your palm with some.
That's all there is to it! While you're waiting for your table, you can enjoy a drink, or perhaps another visit to the Everglades.
But in any event, I hope you enjoy your meal at Joe's, as well as the rest of your stay here in the Miami area. And we look forward to seeing you back here in 2010, when we will be hosting the Super Bowl for a record 10th time.
In between, it will go to two other cities. Neither of them, for the record, is Denver.
We saw this very funny but truthful article in the Miami Herald about Miami that we would like to share with our out of town guest.  Enjoy!!