Miami Beach Commissioner and Mayoral candidate Jerry Libbin has a plan for Miami Beach
By Michael W. Sasser
Commissioner Jerry Libbin has plans for Miami Beach and wants voters to support him as the city’s next mayor to help institute those plans.
Libbin has been a commission fixture since first elected in 2005. He was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2009 and has been involved in many of the City’s high-profile initiatives over the course of his tenure. He currently chairs the Sustainability Committee, is a member of the Neighborhood Community Affairs Committee, as well as the Land Use Committee, and is very involved with the Finance Committee as an alternate member.
Libbin has long been active in the community. He was the executive director of the Miami Beach Jewish Community Center for eight years, and was president of the Normandy Shores Homeowner’s Association. He also was a member of the city’s Budget Advisory Committee and the Planning Board, where he helped create “Neighborhood Conservation Districts” that give residents more power over zoning decisions.
A former financial planner, Libbin has been the president and CEO of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce since 2010. During his tenure at the Chamber, Jerry has concentrated on providing greater economic opportunity and more jobs in the city.
Libbin is married to Raquel, his wife of 27 years, and is a father of two college students, Sari and Moshe.
Wire Magazine discussed qualifications and platform with Commissioner Libbin as part of our ongoing Election 2013 coverage.
Michael W. Sasser: What is your strongest motivation for running for mayor of Miami Beach? Jerry Libbin: I love our city and want to make it even better. I have proven that I can get things done during my 31 years of hard work and community service in Miami Beach.
A Libbin administration will lead Miami Beach to the next level. I want Miami Beach to be a truly great city. That means well-maintained residential neighborhoods that are pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly, has great arts and cultural institutions, a modern mass transit system, addresses the horrible flooding problems we face once and for all, has excellent public schools and a diverse economy.
MWS: What do you consider your top issues/priorities in this campaign? JL: Restore accountability and trust in government. A Libbin administration will continue finding innovative ways to root out corruption and mismanagement. I initiated a “duty to report” measure that requires all city employees to come forward if they suspect wrongdoing. I also am spearheading a “Whistle Blower” ordinance that will protect city employees and the employees of city contractors who report corruption or mismanagement.
Enhance neighborhoods. The Libbin plan means completing the beautification and infrastructure enhancements we’ve started in each of our neighborhoods. My plan also addresses our current flooding problem, which is an extensive, costly and complex problem. To develop the best solutions I’ve reached out to the same experts who are helping in New Orleans and New York. I will be traveling to The Netherlands to consult with those experts in July, with no expense to the taxpayers in Miami Beach.
Reduce traffic congestion. As your city commissioner, I have insisted that we add parking inventory. The Libbin plan ensures we are making our neighborhoods more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly while developing transportation alternatives. My plan focuses on improving public transportation for Mid and North Beach and includes a working transit plan to connect Miami Beach to the mainland.
Strengthen our local economy. Our city’s future economic vitality depends on the modernization of the Miami Beach Convention Center. I stand with the almost 70 percent of the public who voted to support moving forward with this project. Modernizing the Miami Beach Convention Center will create jobs and bring thousands of upscale conventioneers every year that will spend an average of $300 per day in our hotels, restaurants and shops. My plan of action calls for measures to diversify and strengthen the local economy on Miami Beach. I have already taken action to support a Visa Waiver program from Brazil, and sponsored seminars on doing business with Brazil.
Supporting arts and culture. Building a world-class cultural campus on Miami Beach was a campaign promise I made when I ran for office in 2005. The Libbin plan means continued focus on the development of outstanding arts and cultural programs in our city, such as Art Basel, expansion of the Bass Museum, the development of a new art show this past December called Untitled Art, along with the development of a new UNESCO-sponsored art camp that will once again bring international attention to our city as a true champion of the arts.
Investment and support for public education. My plan means continuing to improve the quality of education and strengthening of ties with the public schools on Miami Beach. [It includes] getting nurses in schools where there presently are none and expanding on the International Baccalaureate Program. Our children must and will always remain a top priority in my administration.
Continue to further our city’s sustainability. I’m proud to have been the pioneer of the City’s sustainability movement. As your mayor, our city will focus on becoming more energy efficient, continue to develop alternative transportation options to help deal with the traffic and parking and will continue our focus on our most precious natural resource, our beaches.
MWS: Why do you think you are better qualified to be elected mayor than the other candidates asking voters to elect them?
JL: No other candidate can boast a record of 31 years of civic involvement and public service in Miami Beach. I’m the candidate with the most substantial track record of producing meaningful results on issues important to our residents.
I protected residential neighborhoods by creating neighborhood conservation districts while serving on the Planning Board and provided support for the arts as the leading voice on the commission in support of the New World Symphony and Soundscape Park. I have been a staunch advocate for the children of our public schools, funneling and raising tens of thousands of dollars into scholarships for seniors in high school and in teacher training (in the International Baccalaureate Program). I have led the fight to keep our beaches clean with my “no litter, no butts” campaign, which has led to increased environmental awareness on Miami Beach. I developed the Ronald W. Shane Water Sports Center in North Beach, which in partnership with the University of Miami has brought national acclaim to North Beach and provided high school seniors a fantastic scholarship opportunity at many of this nation’s Ivy League schools.
I have a plan, passion and vision for making Miami Beach the greatest city in America!
MWS: How would a Libbin Administration differ from the Bower Administration?
JL: I respect Matti’s leadership and her decades-long commitment to our city. I have made a promise to her that I will build on her legacy of supporting public education, historic preservation and the LGBT community. As your next mayor I will continue this work while focusing attention on flooding, traffic, arts and culture, the economy, sustainability and the environment.
MWS: How would you work toward polishing up the City’s image in the wake of recent scandals in city hall?
JL: I believe in public service that is not tainted by corruption or improper conduct. That is why I initiated a “duty to report” measure for all city employees that requires them to come forward if they suspect wrongdoing. And it’s why I am spearheading a “Whistle Blower” ordinance that will protect city employees, residents, and the employees of city contractors, who report corruption or mismanagement. A Libbin administration will not tolerate corruption.
MWS: What accomplishments are you most proud of during your tenure as city commissioner?
JL: I worked very hard to ensure that the New World Symphony campus is the world-class facility it now is, fulfilling a 2005 campaign promise to develop a world class cultural campus in the heart of our city. I helped ensure that we added more parking inventory, and offered more transportation options, to mitigate our traffic woes with my support of the Deco Bike program, a car sharing program and the development of smart parking apps to help guide folks to available parking spots.
In 2006 I began our City’s focus on sustainability, which has evolved into a movement and led to the production of a sustainability master plan for Miami Beach. I have championed improvements in our residential neighborhoods by shifting the initial focus of our capital improvement program from the parks to the neighborhoods.
I am also very proud of the establishment of our Human Rights Commission which I proposed and designed to provide employees an opportunity for a hearing on issues of discrimination.
MWS: The City’s union contracts/pension obligations are often cited as a long-term challenge to Miami Beach. Do you believe you have a plan to address this issue?
JL: They are not long term challenges — they are immediate. The current system is not sustainable. That’s why I voted against the largest pension package, which my colleagues approved. My pension reform plan would shift more of the burden to city employees, who are paid by the taxpayers they serve.
MWS: Where do you see the historic role of the LGBT community in the development of modern Miami Beach?
JL: The LGBT community has been instrumental in our city’s development into a world-class destination that is thriving and vibrant. They have been pioneers in the areas of art, culture and historic preservation. They are a critically important creative and business class in our city.
MWS: Do you feel the City of Miami Beach policy and practices do enough to help the LGBT community achieve equality or are there other initiatives you would support?
JL: I firmly oppose discrimination in all forms. I always have and always will. It’s why I sponsored and proposed the City’s first Human Rights Commission. I will always support equality measures, including the Paycheck Equality ordinance that will reimburse city employees in domestic partnerships for the federal tax liabilities they incur because they are not allowed to legally marry.
MWS: What do you think of the recent U.S. Supreme Court hearings related to the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Prop. 8; and what do you think the effects would be in Miami Beach if one or both are declared unconstitutional?
JL: These cases have the potential to strike down discriminatory State and Federal law, if declared unconstitutional; they pave the way for real and increased equality in America. The legal ramifications are unclear, however I believe it will improve the quality of life for all members of the LGBT community — even those who aren’t fortunate enough to live in Miami Beach.
MWS: Do you believe that the Miami Beach Police Department provides adequate screening and training for officers to prevent anti-gay violence such as has occurred in the not-too-distant past?
JL: We can always do more to ensure that police — and all city employees — treat everyone with respect and professionalism. As mayor, I will expect that all our employees adhere to strict standards of behavior.
MWS: Is there anything else you would like to share with Wire Magazine readers?
JL: I am proud of the work I’ve done the last 31 years to make Miami Beach a better place for all of its residents. I firmly believe that together, under my leadership, we can create a modern 21st century City of Miami Beach to be proud of while strengthening our economy in a responsible and sustainable manner. As your next mayor, I will work directly with you in your neighborhoods to empower our residents and businesses. I will expand and enhance our mass transit system and work to bring an end to our dangerous flooding problems once and for all!
I have real plans to modernize our infrastructure and reduce traffic while preserving/sustaining our city’s historic natural resources, beauty and character. As mayor, I will remain focused on making our city truly world class. Please visit my website for more information at, www.JerryLibbin.com, and join the campaign to move Miami Beach forward together.
This article was originally published in Wire Magazine Issue #19, 2013
The Skin You’re In
(Photo Credit: Dale Stine)
By Antwyone Ingram
In decades past, a man’s skin care inventory generally consisted of an aftershave. Increasingly thorough research and development surrounding skin care, however, has men scrambling for the “perfect” skin regimen. Our skin is the largest organ we possess, not only protecting us against the elements and providing overall temperature control of the body, but also revealing a great deal about our hygiene, general health and diet. Taking care of one’s skin extends far beyond simple grooming; it’s an investment in your overall health and is particularly important in a city like Miami, where the sun puts in overtime. While you may think washing your face with hand soap and slapping on .99 cent sunscreen will suffice, it may be time for a skin care intervention for clumsy product choices. Wire caught up with Chad Richter (Manager, Retail Sales) of Kiehl’s Since 1851 to get further insight on how to kick-start your skin care regimen. With 15 years in the business (9 of those with Kiehl’s, which has been formulating products with the finest naturally-derived ingredients for 160 years) no question went unanswered; here’s what he had to share.
What do you think is the biggest error men make in caring for their skin? Forgetting to use sunscreen and shaving or washing their face with a bar of soap are the two that surprise me the most! Ouch!
In Miami, a city where sun can do tremendous damage to the skin, what do you suggest aside from sunscreen? It’s funny how often people think that because they don’t live in Miami they don’t need to protect their skin from sun. I hear it all the time. “I don’t need sunscreen because I don’t go in the sun,” or “I live in London, we don’t get sun.” If that was true, wouldn’t skin cancer and premature aging only happen in warm, sunny climates? The truth is ultra-violet rays are present all the time and in Miami can cause serious damage even on those cool, cloudy days. Using the Kiehl’s Facial Fuel UV Guard protection for everyday use will do the trick. Ninety percent of premature aging and damage to the skin is caused by the sun, so once we get that down the next suggestion would be to use a moisturizer with a powerful antioxidant ingredient.
What ingredients should one look for in products that are supposed to reverse aging effects? The most beneficial is going to be a stabilized Vitamin C. Kiehl’s has two, depending on your concern. If it’s lines and wrinkles, the Powerful Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate is a must. It has 10.5% of the good stuff and delivers it continuously since it’s in a waterless formula. If your main concern is brown spots and sun damage the choice is Clearly Corrective with Activated C that Kiehl’s has the patent on. This works fast not only to lighten existing spots, but also works on those you can’t even see that are making their way towards the surface.
Seeing as men’s skin is 20% thicker than women’s, products that really penetrate the skin are critical. What do you suggest as far as a cleanser and moisturizer? Men’s skin is different. We actually have 25% more collagen, which is why men need products, especially moisturizers that can penetrate the skin. Men’s skin is also oilier and sweatier so you’re right on with asking about cleansing too. We may age slower at first, but we display deeper and more pronounced wrinkles later on. The Facial Fuel Energizing Face Wash is a great cleanser that also helps wake up tired and dull skin using caffeine and citrus extracts. We are also excited about the upcoming Heavy Lifting moisturizer that gently exfoliates dead skin cells, which allows the formula to effectively penetrate skin’s surface layers and smooth out roughness.
For sensitive skin, what type of facial is ideal for those who don’t want to irritate or dry out the skin? If you are going for a facial and it’s your first time or you are very sensitive, I’d probably avoid using any strong acids or peels. What you really want to achieve is a healthy skin barrier. Our approach is to keep in your natural oils and moisture, which in effect gives you a strong skin barrier and won’t allow irritants into the skin. Kiehl’s makes all of our products with sensitive skin in mind, but as a general rule, it’s always recommended to do a patch test prior to applying a new product all over your skin.
What natural food/ingredients aid in the revitalizing and restoration of the skin, and which are problematic for skin? I don’t think we need to overcomplicate this one. We all know what foods are good or bad for us. It’s in our face every day in South Beach and is really about choices. Three to four servings of fruit and veggies a day, plenty of fiber, water and low saturated fats seem simple enough, but we often get pulled into diets that don’t give us all the nutrients we need. Fried foods and overdoing the sweets not only can show up on our skin but in our energy levels. I know this one first-hand since I travel so much for work and it’s really an everyday battle because I love food. One good tip I’ve learned is to buy frozen fruit so you always have some available at home.
When it comes to wrinkles, do you feel the benefits of injectables outweigh those of natural approaches or vice versa? It’s a slippery slope when you go the route of injections, especially when you are still young. I prefer doing what you can to avoid damage and to take care of your skin.
What part of the body is most overlooked in reference to skin care and what recommendations can you make about that portion of the body? I’d say the eyes. Many people think a face cream can do it all, but I think it’s really worth the investment to buy products with ingredients that address the more delicate area around the suborbital bone and eye area.
How does one’s age affect what products one should seek out? What’s most important is skin type and concern. Age alone won’t give us the information to select the most efficacious product appropriate for you. Instead, when shopping for skin care, come prepared to talk about how your skin feels - is it dry, does it get shiny early in the day, do you have problems shaving, do you have concerns with lines, acne scars or sun damage, do you like light-weight textures, etc. Stress and lifestyle play a big role in how our skin looks and feels too. I’d recommend coming in to try the new Skin Rescuer. Kiehl’s chemists have formulated the first antidote for stress-prone skin that limits the release of stress signals, prevents inflammation, protects the skin barrier and provides instant comfort and relief to cool and calm. If you are unsure of where to start or how to pick a regimen, you can make an appointment for a complimentary skin care consultation and facial where a Kiehl’s representative can help.
Shaving is probably the biggest issue for men when it comes to skin irritation. What ingredients should one look for in pre-shave and post-shave products? It’s amazing how many men think it’s normal to have irritation or problems with ingrown hair. They just learn to live with it until they find out there is a solution. I think the main issue is that some men don’t use a shaving cream that allows the blade to glide and get a smooth shave the first time. They apply too much product and shave quickly in every direction and really do a number on their skin. If you can time it right, I’d use a facial scrub prior to shaving to remove the dead skin and help lift the hair before the shave. For men with really thick beard growth, pre-shave oil will lubricate the razor and help with more glide and less cuts. My favorite is our White Eagle Shaving Cream spiked with menthol, a natural cooling agent obtained from peppermint. A paper-thin layer gives you a great comfortable close shave.
What are the top 3 skin essentials you feel every man should have in his inventory? We have to cleanse, shave and moisturize so my top choices would be Facial Fuel Energizing Wash, White Eagle Shave Cream and the Facial Fuel Energizing Moisture Treatment with SPF. Of course I’d try to sample you on an eye cream since I know you’d come back for it after trying it!
Is there anything else you would like to share with Wire Magazine readers about skin care and Kiehl’s? It’s a pleasure to be able to speak to your readers about skin care. I really love what I do at Kiehl’s and appreciate being able to speak about products that really make you feel and look better. I’d like to thank Wire Magazine and our community for their support. I meet people all over who tell me about the products they love and the difference the products have made for them and I hope if you haven’t tried our products that you come in for a consultation and a sample today.
This article was originally published in Wire Magazine Issue #18, 2013
FLIX: A SILENT SNOW WHITE
By Kevin Wynn
Once upon a time there was a man named Walt Disney. He lived in a magical place called Hollywood and made miracles with ink and paint and celluloid. So astonishing were his moving pictures that they mesmerized the whole wide world and brought Walt Disney riches beyond his wildest dreams.
Walt’s story has a happy ending, the kind we Americans, an optimistic people, like – especially at the movies. But not everybody feels that way.
Take Pablo Berger, writer/director of Blancanieves, a new Spanish film based on the Grimm Brother’s story of Snow White. Where Disney’s version of the tale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (1937), is a musical, Blancanieves is silent. Snow White is as bright and colorful as Technicolor itself. Blancanieves is expressive and ravishing – in black and white. Snow White is merry, forward-looking, bursting with buck-up optimism. “Whistle while you work!” “Someday my prince will come.”
Blancanieves – not so much. Berger’s Snow White is Carmencita (Sofía Oria), a little girl who comes into the world amid terror and trauma. After her father, a matador, is gored in the bullring, her mother dies in childbirth. Her invalid father snared by his greedy nurse, Encarna (Maribel Verdú), Blancanieves is left with her adoring grandmother (Ángela Molina). But the grandmother dies and the girl is sent to her father’s estate, where Encarna treats her like a slave and forbids her from seeing her father.
So far,it’s “Snow White” meets “Cinderella” – darker than Disney, and more richly textured. Blancanieves is beautifully wrought; its silence lends credence to its fairy tale plot. Berger seamlessly combines silent movie conventions and contemporary technique and the actors are just right, notably Verdú, who tears into her evil stepmother role with the hunger of a Tasmanian she-devil and the élan of Coco Chanel.
Carmencita grows into womanhood and escapes Encarna’s murderous grasp, and Blancanieves takes a whimsical turn. Joining a troupe of bullfighting dwarves, Carmen gets in touch with her inner toreador and before too long she’s a star of the bullring. When the act plays Seville, Encarna determines to destroy Carmen forever – and once Carmen takes a bite of Encarna’s poisoned apple, Blancanieves takes a hard left turn into Tod Browning territory.
Browning, best known for directing Dracula (1931) with Bela Lugosi, a slew of silent films with Lon Chaney and the infamous Freaks (1932), matched a master’s touch for the macabre with a fascination for the glistening dark underside of show business. The sideshow and the flea-bitten one-ring circus are Browning territory, and in Blancanieves’ outrageous, jaw-dropping ending, Berger goes right there. It’s an astonishing coup de théâtre, bitter and inventive.
And it’s something that dear old Walt Disney could never imagine.
Blancanieves opens April 12 in Miami at the Coral Gables Art Cinema and Frank Theaters Intracoastal Mall and in Broward County at Frank Theaters Sunrise 11, Regal Shadowood 16, Regal Delray 18 and Frank Theaters Delray.
Kevin Wynn is a film critic; feedback is encouraged at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was originally published in Wire Magazine Issue #14, 2013
Rafa’s Cultural Picks
April 6, 8 p.m.
John S. and James L. Knight Concert Hall
Adrienne Arsht Center
1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
World-famous, two-time Tony Award-winning tap dancer, choreographer and actor Savion Glover is stomping his way to center stage of the John S. And James L. Knight Concert Hall at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts for his new production, titled SoLe Sanctuary, honoring tap dancing greats of the 20th century such as Jimmy Slyde, Sammy Davis Jr., and Glover’s mentor Gregory Hines, who described Glover as “the greatest tap dancer that ever lived.” This will be an astonishing, one of a kind performance. Tickets range from $50 to $125.
Taylor Swift RED Tour
April 10, 7 p.m.
American Airlines Arena
601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
Taylor Swift’s RED Tour, said to be one of the most-anticipated musical events of 2013, comes to Miami April 10. Acclaimed singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran, whose duet with Taylor from her RED album, “Everything Has Changed,” has already reached the No. 1 position atop iTunes all-genre Top Songs chart, will be a special guest at all of the shows on the tour. Taylor’s live shows are renowned worldwide for bringing her music to life with what Billboard has hailed as an “overwhelming experience… that blended the pacing, the music and the artist’s personality in a way that transfixed.” During the course of every show, Taylor plays a variety of instruments and performs her biggest hits and fan favorites from her four albums. “I didn’t think I could be any more excited about my Red album, but then I start thinking about how I’m going to put the new show together for The RED Tour,” says Taylor.
This article was originally published in Wire Magazine Issue #14, 2013
A Scrumptious Good Deal in Wynwood for Lunch
By Rafa Carvajal
(Photos courtesy of Cafeina)
If you are looking for a delightful and affordable place for lunch, look no further than Cafeina in the Wynwood Arts District. I recently stopped by to try their lunch menu and discovered very appetizing offerings crafted by chef Diego Pasqualicchio, plus a Lunch Special menu for $10.99.
For lunch I particularly enjoyed the Pan Roasted Crab Cakes ($12) with lump blue crab, cilantro avocado cream, and baby arugula; the Boneless Crispy Baby Back Ribs ($12); and Coffee Semifreddo ($5), a velvety Colombian coffee parfait with chocolate cream, for dessert. I also considered other mouthwatering alternatives including the Beef Sliders ($9) with crunchy onion ring, pancetta crisp, and aged Gouda, and the Grilled Chicken and Goat Cheese Salad ($11) with summer greens, char grilled corn, bacon, Portobello mushrooms, and cilantro-lime vinaigrette. Yummy!
Cafeina is also celebrating its three-year anniversary by introducing a beautifully redesigned Mezzanine inspired by a 1920s speakeasy with a new menu featuring handcrafted cocktails by master mixologist David Boxwill and Latin-infused tapas by chef Pasqualicchio, the launch of its boozy Sunday brunch series titled “RETOX” on Sunday, March 31, and an official three-year anniversary party on Thursday, April 4 at 10 p.m. hosted by owner and founder Ivette Naranjo — that will feature gratis cocktails, burlesque performances and music by DJ A-Train.
This article was originally published in Wire Magazine Issue #13, 2013
Dining: Delicious Fresh Seafood on the Bay
(Photo Credit: Zak Mann Photography)
By Rafa Carvajal
I love fresh seafood, so I remember it like it was yesterday when I visited Casablanca and Garcia’s on the Miami River to find the freshest catch of the day. Today, you can enjoy this same fresh seafood prepared for you at the new Casablanca Seafood Bar & Grill in the Doubletree By Hilton Grand Biscayne Bay – with beautiful views of the Bay and the Sea Isle Marina.
The majority of Casablanca’s seafood arrives fresh every day right up to the same dock where diners are enjoying the sea’s bounty. Chef Joaquin Perea crafted a very diverse menu that offers more than 50 dishes. The menu includes starters such as Mahon Beer Mussels, Roasted Tomato & Red Pepper Ceviche, Conch Fritters and Shrimp Escargot; plus entrées such as Seafood Zarzuela, Casablanca Signature Stuffed Lobster, Crab Stuffed Jumbo Shrimp, Pan Seared Salmon, Whole Fried Yellowtail, Fresh Halibut, Stone Crabs, Florida Lobster, Grilled Pork Tenderloin, New Zealand Lamb Chops, and Buccattini Carbonara, just to name a few.
As appetizers I particularly enjoyed the Crispy Coconut Shrimp served with orange sweet chili glaze, the Crabcake served with cole slaw and corn salsa, and the Grilled Octopus with Aji Amarillo aioli and roasted cherry tomatoes. For entrees I chose to enjoy the Surf and Turf, a 14 oz. Ribeye steak grilled and served with a broiled lobster tail, crispy onion rings and Casablanca’s famous Grilled Parrillada, which includes tiger shrimp, bay scallops, calamari, oysters, mussels, clams and grilled fish fillet, served with onions, tomatoes and cilantro aioli, to which I added a 7 oz. broiled lobster tail. I also loved the view of Biscayne Bay and the marina at night!
Casablanca On The Bay
1717 N. Bayshore Drive. Miami
This article was originally published in Wire Magazine Issue #12, 2013
Pride And Progress
(Photo Credit: Dale Stine)
Can Miami Beach elect a gay mayor?
By Michael W. Sasser
When Michael Gongora first sought a Miami Beach City Commission seat in 2006, he made it clear that he was not running as a “gay candidate.”
“In that first campaign it wasn’t something I would bring up,” Gongora said. “I was actually ‘outed’ on the radio by an opponent. It was brought up in a negative context to try to use as a negative against me.”
Despite his desire to run and to serve as a candidate and official who happened to be gay – as opposed to a “gay candidate” – Gongora said that first campaign demonstrated some of the challenges that LGBT candidates continue to have in election campaigns. In Gongora’s case, he said that materialized in the shape of a whisper campaign.
“There were whispered rumors that I was a gay party boy,” he said. “They tried to link a D.U.I from law school to paint an image.”
However, the initial Gongora campaign also demonstrated limitations in the effectiveness of anti-gay gossip efforts. The brash – some might say cocky – young lawyer was elected to the city commission to become the first openly gay individual to win a Miami Beach city election, has been subsequently re-elected to the same body, and has tossed his hat into the ring to compete to supplant Matti Bower as the next mayor of Miami Beach later this year. There, at the very least, he will face fellow Commissioner Jerry Libbin, who demographically resembles the prototypical Miami Beach mayor.
While even those who remember the days when Miami Beach was less receptive to the LGBT community recognize the city has made considerable – and laudable – social progress, the question remains: just six years after the city’s electorate came out in support of its first openly gay commissioner, can Miami Beach elect a gay individual to the center seat in the body’s dais?
Gongora believes that things have changed in recent years and that it is entirely possible.
“I think that in 2006, people looked a little more at things like ethnicity and orientation and religion,” Gongora said. “Miami Beach is one of the most diverse, loving communities in the world. I’ve had the opportunity to travel and I think that the mix of people we have here is one of the great reasons people live here.”
Gongora pointed to Miami Beach Pride as an example of the city’s progress. He added that just recently he was in Belgium, cementing Miami Beach as the first-ever U.S. host of the World Outgames in 2017. He also said that even older, long-time Miami Beach voters who might have previously been inclined to vote in demographic blocs might be more open to change today.
“I think older voter blocs have heard the message of diversity and inclusion and reacted to it,” Gongora said. “I hope I’ve helped people become more tolerant and loving of one another.”
Outgoing Mayor Matti Bower is a veteran of Miami Beach politics and points to her own election and successful re-election campaigns as signs of the city’s progress.
“A lot of people didn’t think I could get elected – a Hispanic, elderly woman,” said Bower. “I think it’s more about who can get the job now than what it used to be.”
Bower said she believes a gay man or woman could be elected in Miami Beach. “I think Miami Beach is a very forward city. I think when voters look at candidates, they don’t so much see Hispanic, female, gay, etc., but instead they see what is good for the city. Our voters are very intelligent. We’re a very diverse city now and have all kinds of people. Although I think there are still voting blocs, voters do look at the personalities and views of candidates.”
One longtime political observer who was previously involved in Miami Beach campaigns echoed the sentiment. However, “It depends on who the individual is,” said the political insider, speaking on condition of anonymity. “The city of Miami Beach would elect a giraffe if it was in its best interest. Race, gender, ethnicity, orientation don’t matter that much. Voters ask one question: what do I get out of it? Voters in general, and particularly those in Miami Beach, are sick of things as they are. But they also do some stupid things.”
Some have questioned Miami Beach’s vaunted gay-friendly reputation, and for sure, it has not always been an untarnished image. A police officer involved in what appeared to be a random act of violence against a gay man in 2009 was given a slap on the wrist, thanks to police union protection. Complaints of similar police harassment continue to circulate despite very visible steps by the Miami Beach Police Department to build bridges with the LGBT community. Friction between the MBPD and the gay community has a long history. It’s been just two decades since high-profile police raids on Miami Beach gay clubs observing New Year’s Eve prompted cries of prejudice and abuse heard around the international LGBT community.
“I remember that there were like no valid arrests,” said David Kelsey, president of the South Beach Hotel & Restaurant Association and longtime community activist. “They really didn’t get anything to speak of. It was an embarrassing thing for them to do at a time we were trying to attract gay business.”
Kelsey said the raids included one on a club by officers in ski masks and bulletproof vests and armed with automatic weapons. “It couldn’t have been worse as far as our image was concerned.”
Those and subsequent smaller-scale allegations tarnished the reputation of the city in the eyes of many gay men and women around the world. However, the MBPD has engaged in a considerable effort to build bridges with the local gay community with notable successes – and lapses.
Interestingly, Gongora’s relationship with the community evolved after his initial election. Going into the mayoral election, Gongora said his perception of his role in the LGBT community has changed. “Once I was elected, I heard the voice of the people and of the media, and have really felt an obligation to the community to do a good job, to be well-read and well-informed and to represent the community well. I’m proud of my supporters – gay and straight, Christian and Jewish. That’s what I think equality is all about. It’s not voting for someone because of identity, but rather because they’re the better candidate.”
Long-time North Miami Councilman Scott Galvin knows a little something about navigating Miami-Dade politics as a gay politician. He was elected in the sizable bedroom community in 1999, and re-elected in 2003, 2007 and 2011 – in the latter case, with 86 percent of the vote. In 2004, he came out publicly in the pages of the now-defunct LGBT newspaper The Weekly News (TWN), believed to be the first time in local history an official came out while in office, and has been a high-profile member of the community since, joining fewer than a half dozen openly gay elected officials in Miami-Dade County. Like Gongora, he has regularly faced whisper campaigns intended to stunt his career.
“There was some sign vandalism in my 2010 (unsuccessful) congressional race, but mostly it has been whispering and spreading rumors,” said Galvin. That included an ugly whisper campaign that emerged slightly in local media during his 2011 re-election campaign – the year, he pointed out, that he carried almost 90 percent of votes cast.
“Because North Miami doesn’t have a real whole gay community, those issues aren’t on the forefront. I imagine a lot of my constituents don’t even know I’m gay,” Galvin – who is actively involved in LGBT issues at the local and national level – said. “North Miami has no Pride event, for example. If there was a push for that, there might be some blowback. But things are changing fast, just as they are changing fast nationally, and two years ago, I could see some blowback if we tried something like that. Now, I don’t know.”
Galvin said that even though serving in a city generally considered less progressive than Miami Beach, his orientation and it being public have not been a detriment to his political career.
Gongora’s resume is impressive without even considering his groundbreaking political success in Miami Beach. Prior to his election, Gongora was a long-term community activist, having chaired the Environmental Coalition of Miami & the Beaches (ECOMB), the Miami Beach Latin Chamber of Commerce, the Miami Beach Bar Association. In 2007, as the president of the Miami Beach Bar Association, he was able to successfully re-open the North Beach Pro Bono Law Clinic. Gongora is also on the board of directors for Council Towers – the first Beach commissioner to sit on that body. Council Towers consists of two affordable housing buildings for the elderly and are located in the heart of Miami Beach. Gongora is also a well-known advocate and speaker on environmental causes, having created and chaired the City of Miami Beach’s Sustainability Committee. He is currently the chair of the Miami Beach Land Use and Development committee, a member of the Miami Dade Film and Entertainment Advisory Board and the board of directors for the Miami-Dade League of Cities representing Miami Beach. He is also a current member of the Coastal Ocean Task Force representing Miami Beach. In 2003, SunPost newspaper named Gongora as one of the “Power 50 of Miami”; and in 2006, South Florida CEO Magazine selected him as a Next Gen Leader. In 2009, Gongora was selected as Florida Trend’s Florida Legal Elite. In 2011, Gongora was a recipient of the Emerald Green City Award from ECOMB.
Gongora’s decision to run for mayor was not based on his quest to continue making headlines in the press or to blaze new trails for LGBT politicians. “It’s about Miami Beach’s needs,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about what’s in the best interest of Miami Beach,” he said. “It’s been a difficult year or two and I think new blood is needed. I think the city needs cleaning up. We need to bring in people who can take us in the right direction. I was sitting back, watching things and I thought about the possibility. Then residents reached out to me, which was important, and I had to talk to my family. Campaigns are a lot of work.”
Gongora’s chief campaign issues address several of the city’s current challenges: restoring residents’ confidence in the public processes, and infrastructure improvements such as the convention center development and “rebuilding the city from the ground up,” he said, are two objectives. The third goal he cited might be the trickiest one of them all.
“I want to focus on our long-term fiscal health,” Gongora said. “We have an unsustainable pension plan and someone needs to straighten it out. And it might just take a gay mayor to do that!”
This article was originally published in Wire Magazine Issue #11, 2013
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Rocking It Paula Style!
By Rafa Carvajal
Photos Credit: © Troy Robertson, © Michael Pisarri
“Our food revolves around fresh and seasonal. We work with a lot of farmers in Florida that are growing and raising amazing products and delivering right to our kitchen.” - Paula DaSilva
Last year I wrote a cover story in issue 7 about two of Miami’s superstar chefs that would amaze you – visit www.wiremag.com and click on the past issues tab to read it. One of the chefs was Paula DaSilva, Executive Chef at 1500°, the only Florida restaurant featured in food critic John Mariani’s annual Esquire magazine “The Best New Restaurants in America” in 2011. So when I heard that Paula and her team had introduced a new menu and new cocktails I had to stop by for an update.
My dining experience was simply outstanding. I had an opportunity to enjoy a wide range of Paula’s menu items and the ingredients and flavor combinations were both delicious and prepared to perfection. I loved the House-Smoked Duck Breast Salad, the Smoked Fish Dip, the Grilled Octopus, the Palmetto Creek Farms Pork Belly Tacos, the Grilled Black Grouper, and the Florida Grass Fed Wagyu Ribeye Steak and all the fresh accompaniments to each one of the dishes.
Please tell Wire’s readers who may have not dined at 1500º about your restaurant and the type of cuisine your offer?
Our food revolves around fresh and seasonal. We work with a lot of farmers in Florida that are growing and raising amazing products and delivering right to our kitchen. We are constantly evolving out rustic style of cuisines to bring diners a new experience every time.
What was your inspiration behind the new menu and new drinks?
We are always inspired first and foremost by the product. My team and I also dine out and read about what is happening in the culinary world. Our food and cocktails seem simply done, however, this allows the ingredient to come through in both the food and drink.
What are your most popular items from the new menu and new drinks? Why do you think so?
I think some of our most popular items right now are the House Cured Duck Breast Salad with baby kale and pomegranate vinaigrette. The Grouper has also taken on some new garnishes which include pickled eggplant and vegetables from Swank Farms and a coconut curry sauce. The Ruby Fizz and the Berry Rosemary seem to be some really big hits because of how refreshing and light the combinations are together.
Why would you recommend that our readers consider taking their significant other out for a nice Valentine’s Day dinner at 1500º?
This year we are keeping our regular a-la-cart menu available to those diners who want to go out for that special dinner, but don’t want to be stuck paying a high ticket price and being locked into a tasting menu.
What can our readers expect when they dine at your restaurant?
They can expect friendly and engaged service, great cocktails and great food.
Give us an update on what else is new at 1500º.
We are always trying to keep this interesting; so if you were here two or three months ago, more than likely you will find some new food and drinks to taste.
1500°. Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach. 4525 Collins Avenue. Miami Beach.
Amazing Young Artists: YoungArts Week 2013
by Rafa Carvajal
I love the arts and wholeheartedly support any initiative that encourages young artists to reach their full potential. It fills my heart with joy to know that Miami, my hometown, is where The National YoungArts Foundation is based. Formerly known as the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, this amazing organization was established in 1981 by Lin and Ted Arison to identify and support the next generation of artists, and to foster the artistic development of talented young artists in the visual, literary, and performing arts. Emerging artists are provided life-changing experiences through mentoring by world-renowned mentors, scholarships, national recognition, and additional career opportunities. The 32nd annual YoungArts Week will take place Sunday, January 6 to Saturday, January 12 in Miami. 152 YoungArts finalists representing the top 1.5 percent of all applicants, including some of the nation’s most outstanding arts students, will participate in a week of intense master classes and workshops with internationally renowned artists. The 2013 finalists are 15 to 18-year old emerging artists who represent 29 U.S. states. Finalists will also showcase their talents every evening in performances, readings, exhibitions and screenings that are free and open to the public. Furthermore, as part of YoungArts Week, this year the Adrienne Arsht Center and Larry Rosen will present a special performance: Jazz Roots: Jazz and the Philharmonic, hosted by modern dance icon and YoungArts Alumnus Desmond Richardson, featuring the UM Frost School of Music Henry Mancini Institute Orchestra and several YoungArts All-Star Masters and alumni – including Richardson, Bobby McFerrin, Chick Corea, Terence Blanchard, Shelly Berg, Elizabeth Roe, and many others. YoungArts Week will culminate in an Affair of the Arts Performance and Gala on January 12, 2013 celebrating the 2013 winners with an alumni performance, an awards ceremony honoring Debbie Allen, Joshua Bell and YoungArts alumnus Adrian Grenier, dinner and dancing.
I sat down with YoungArts Executive Director Paul Lehr to learn more about YoungArts Week 2013.
Explain to our readers what YoungArts Week 2013 is all about and why it is so important.
YoungArts identifies and supports the next generation of artists in the literary, visual, and performing arts, by giving them life-changing experiences including master classes and workshops with renowned arts masters, performance opportunities at the finest cultural institutions, and access to significant scholarships and monetary awards. Out of 10,000 applications from across the nation, 685 emerging young artists were chosen as 2013 YoungArts Winners. From these Winners, 152 finalists (including 11 local Miami young artists) will participate in YoungArts Week. These finalists are the top 1.5 percent of YoungArts applicants and are some of the most outstanding artists in a wide range of disciplines in the visual, literary and performing arts. We’ve found that YoungArts Week is one of the best ways to fulfill our mission and encourage young artists to pursue a career in the arts.
During YoungArts Week 2013 YoungArts Finalists will work with approximately 25 world renowned master teachers including Plácido Domingo, Adrian Grenier, Bill T. Jones, Lourdes Lopez, Bobby McFerrin, Debi Mazar, and Marisa Tomei in rigorous master classes and workshops. The young artists will also have the opportunity to share their work with the public through free performances, readings, exhibitions and screenings produced in partnership with some of Miami’s leading cultural institutions including The New World Center, Miami Art Museum, and the Adrienne Arsht Center.
Throughout this life‐changing week, finalists will be further adjudicated to determine additional award levels including monetary awards up to $10,000. YoungArts is also the exclusive nominating agency for the U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts, the highest honor that can be awarded to any artistically talented young artist. Twenty of these Finalists will go on to become Presidential Scholars in the Arts and receive an award from the President at the White House and perform on the stage of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, or exhibit their work at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
www.youngarts.org/youngarts-week-2013 provides a schedule of events open to the public.
Why do you feel it is essential to give these young artists the opportunity of a lifetime?
They understand and learn from the experience that they really are among the best in the nation in their particular artistic disciplines. Many of the young artists say that their experience at YoungArts Week is what solidified their conviction, or gave them the confidence and encouragement to pursue their dream of having a career in the arts. And of course, many of them have gone on to become the most accomplished artists of our time. Just a small sampling of the 16,000 YoungArts Alumni who have gone on to become leading professionals in their fields include actresses Vanessa Williams, Viola Davis, and Kerry Washington; four-time Tony Award nominee Raúl Esparza; Executive Director of American Ballet Theatre Rachel Moore; recording artists Nicki Minaj and Chris Young; musicians Terence Blanchard, Eric Owens, and Jennifer Koh; choreographer Desmond Richardson; visual artist Hernan Bas; and internationally acclaimed multimedia artist Doug Aitken.
What do you want the selected young artists to take away from their experience during YoungArts Week?
Our goal is to provide opportunities for the participants to grow, learn and explore their art form and work, in the hopes that they will pursue a career in the arts. We also are very proud that colleges and universities and scouts around the country offer scholarships and other life-changing opportunities to the YoungArts winners.
How do you narrow it down to 152 of the country’s most outstanding young talents and what are the criteria?
Applicants are adjudicated by nationally and internationally renowned artists within each of the disciplines in the visual, literary and performing arts. The criteria for each specific discipline are set forth in the application, and generally require the artist to submit a broad range of material within their specific discipline. Once they are at YoungArts Week, the panel works with the young artists throughout the week, giving them assignments, interviewing them, and working with them to determine the subsequent award levels and Presidential Scholars in the Arts designations.
What influenced your decision to honor Debbie Allen, Joshua Bell and Adrian Grenier at An Affair of the Arts?
These individuals are leaders in their fields and champions of the arts. An Affair of the Arts celebrates the accomplishments of our amazing alumni such as Adrian Grenier, and honors individuals including Debbie Allen and Joshua Bell who are making meaningful contributions to the arts. The work of these great arts leaders show our next generation, here for YoungArts Week, that they too can become a part of the continuing artistic tradition in American society.
How did you select/recruit the 2013 YoungArts Week Master Teachers?
We carefully select our master teachers; just because you’re well known doesn’t necessarily mean you work well with teaching young artists. We look for artists who are not only outstanding in their field, but who also are passionate about working with young artists. Most of the master teachers walk away just as inspired as the young artists.
Why is a master teacher of the caliber of Plácido Domingo willing to participate in YoungArts Week 2013? What will he be teaching?
Plácido Domingo is one of YoungArts Artistic Advisors, and he, like Mikhail Baryshnikov and Frank Gehry and Bill T. Jones and others who regularly work with the YoungArts winners do so because they want to help teach and shape the next generation of artists, and because they, in turn, are inspired by these talented young artists. Plácido will work this year with a YoungArts alum with whom he has already worked, and his master class will also include all of the other YoungArts winners from this year in classical voice.
Aside from YoungArts Week, in what other ways does the National YoungArts Foundation benefit and empower young artists?
In addition to the YoungArts Weeks that are held in Miami, New York, and Los Angeles, YoungArts continues to support and provide opportunities to its alumni throughout their artistic careers. First, YoungArts helps to facilitate tens of millions of dollars in scholarships annually for its young artists. Additionally, YoungArts integrates our Alumni into our national and regional programs and events, including multiple YoungArts performances each year at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. We also support Alumni projects and work with the Alumni to promote their artistic endeavors.
YoungArts alumni participate in the Emmy‐nominated HBO Series YoungArts MasterClass, in which masters teach and mentor young artists. Season 1 featured Edward Albee, Jacques d’Amboise, Plácido Domingo, Olafur Eliasson, Frank Gehry, Bill T. Jones, Julian Schnabel, Michael Tilson Thomas, and Liv Ullmann. Season 2 will feature, among others, James Rosenquist, Renée Fleming, Robert Redford, John Guare, Bobby McFerrin, Patti LuPone, Bruce Weber, Joshua Bell, and Wynton Marsalis. In conjunction with Columbia University’s Teachers College, YoungArts also has developed a Study Guide based on its YoungArts MasterClass series which is distributed free to schools nationwide to help increase arts education and awareness.
Now that the YoungArts Foundation has expanded and acquired the historic Bacardi building, what’s next for the foundation in 2013?
We are very excited not only about strengthening our ties to Miami but also expanding our efforts around the country.
As for our programming in Miami, YoungArts acquired the historic Bacardi buildings and 3.5 acre campus in Miami in October 2012 to serve as its first national headquarters. World-renowned architect Frank Gehry has been commissioned to design the master plan which will include a multi-disciplinary arts complex and park with spectacular sound and video projection capabilities. The new YoungArts campus will support our local and national program expansion, helping to give life-changing experiences and support to a greater number of young artists. Planned activities at the new YoungArts campus include master classes and forums with renowned arts leaders; multi-disciplinary performances and exhibitions with emerging and established artists associated with YoungArts; screenings of our Emmy-nominated HBO program YoungArts MasterClass, exhibitions in our entry-level art gallery, and other year‐round programming for the South Florida community. To assist with the development of these new initiatives, YoungArts has appointed Frank Gehry, Plácido Domingo, and Bill T. Jones as artistic advisors.
In an effort to offer the YoungArts Week and other life-changing experiences to a greater number of deserving young artists in the visual, literary and performing arts, YoungArts is establishing regional programs throughout the country to provide YoungArts Weeks around the country, beginning with Miami (April, 2013), greater New York (May, 2013), and Los Angeles (February, 2013). All winners from these regions will participate in YoungArts Weeks held in their geographic regions, enjoying the rare opportunity to take master classes and inter-disciplinary workshops from world renowned artists, including Mikhail Baryshnikov, Bill T. Jones, James Rosenquist, Marisa Tomei, and other masters, and to exhibit and perform at the finest venues. These opportunities are in addition to the recognition, monetary awards and college scholarship opportunities that all YoungArts winners receive, as well as continued support and artistic development afforded to them as YoungArts Alumni throughout their artistic careers.
How can someone contribute to the YoungArts Foundation?
They may visit the “Support Us” page on our website www.youngarts.org/support-us. They can make a donation online or by mail, become a sponsor or attend one of our special events. Every contribution, regardless of the amount, will make a difference! As a non-profit organization, YoungArts relies greatly on the contributions of generous individuals, corporations, foundations and philanthropic institutions.
Is there anything else you would like to share with Wire Magazine readers?
To date, YoungArts has honored more than 16,000 young artists with over $6 million in monetary awards; facilitated in excess of $100 million in college scholarship opportunities; and enabled its participants to work with master teachers who are among the most distinguished artists in the world, such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Jacques d’Amboise, Plácido Domingo, Bill T. Jones, Quincy Jones and Martin Scorsese.
Miami Beach Unmasked: Why Was a Gay-Bashing Cop Fired & Rehired?
By Michael W. Sasser
Photo Credit: © Laszlo Halasi | Shutterstock.com 2012
All great cities have around them a number of myths that define them – or illustrate their color – over the course of years. There are the subterranean semi-human subway tunnel dwellers in New York. There are ghosts all over London and Boston. And Philadelphia is the city of brotherly love.
Obviously some of these myths are more believable than others. Over my many years circulating in Beach circles, I have had an occasion to wonder many times whether or not Miami Beach as a gay safe haven, a gay residential mecca of sorts, is one of it’s defining characteristics or if it’s as much a myth as subhumans inhabiting New York (Anthony Weiner notwithstanding).
Some readers might be too young or too new here to remember the vaunted raids by Beach police on gay clubs 20-something years ago, when the city was still a slum and gays were just beginning to create their footprint here – a footprint that inevitably and inarguably led Miami Beach to being the great city it is today. Those were horrible moments – bigoted, anti-gay, anti-business and reflective of the worse eras of Miami Beach history.
There are other examples from the city’s developing days. I know gay businessmen who were harassed for their overtly gay businesses on Lincoln Road and elsewhere – back before Lincoln Road looked the same as every other central visitor district in the world. And there were always, always, reports and rumors of gay visitors being abused, returning home and subsequently rarely making an issue of their poor treatment at the hands of either criminals or cops. Just since the 21st century dawned, I was personally confronted by a perennial Beach political candidate who assured me that “they” might tolerate one gay person on the city commission but that “they” would never tolerate more than one.
A few times, media has dared to point out problems gay tourists in particular have faced on Miami Beach. Each time, media has been attacked for daring to imply the lack of integration perfection on Miami Beach. On that general issue, I don’t have a position. I don’t believe any city is a safe haven for gays – or any other minority. Bigots abound everywhere and often in positions of power. Still, recent events in Miami Beach give this gay writer moment to pause – and they should do the same for all gay men and women.
The issue is, of course, the reinstatement of Miami Beach Police officer Eliut Hazzi. Hazzi, of course, was one of two officers involved in an overt gay bashing incident dating back to 2009. Hazzi and another officer were involved in an incident in which not only were they sighted by a passer-by beating the daylights out of a gay victim not ever convicted of any crime, but when Hazzi and buddy realized they were being observed, they proceeded to beat the daylights out of the witness while using hate speech. Oh and the story was corroborated by someone with whom the witness, a former Beach resident, was on the phone.
In the real world, both officers would never see the outside of a jail cell. Instead, they were treated with the usual double standard for dirty cops and the establishment’s perspective was that there was not enough evidence. Understand: you or I would never leave prison again if we committed this obvious crime. Instead, though, the city – rightfully – fired Hazzi. Hazzi demonstrated he has neither the intellect nor the moral integrity to possess a firearm, much less represent the public whose representatives fired his bigot ass. Case closed, huh? No room for that kind of thing in Miami Beach. Right? Wrong.
Enter the union. Now I am sure there was some time a century ago when unions were the good guys, battling exploitative industrial employers. Today, though, unions are why racist cops are on the streets, why pedophile teachers sit at home making more than you and I, why states are going bankrupt and why our children can’t be bothered to learn to read or write. Unions’ primary job is to continue the flow of union fees so union leaders can live large and be big players in politics. Unions don’t give one tiny bit about the public and – to be fair – they really aren’t supposed to. They exist to make sure people who shouldn’t have jobs, do have jobs – generally paid for by the people they don’t serve. Hey, it’s a weird world, right? So with union support an independent arbitrator, of course, let Hazzi off the hook and he has been reinstated. Gays on Miami Beach should fear the police today more than they ever have. Cops who batter gays have free reign thanks to the unions.
It isn’t just LGBT Beach residents who are furious. So are city leaders. “I can’t believe it, it’s disgusting and it makes me sick,” Mayor Matti Bower told me this week. I believe her. I’ve known Matti for 20 years, since long before she held office. And she is sincere. Her voice conveyed her revulsion and frustration. She went on to rail against the number of disgraced cops who have been reinstated by a system that doesn’t seem to care one bit about the safety and welfare of members of the public who don’t work for the MBPD, citing case after case where bad cops have been returned to the streets. “I’m beside myself,” Matti told me. “I am so upset. It’s just incredible to me. I want to read the transcript to see how this could happen and I am going to look into it.”
Matti has always been a friend of the gay community and, more than that, she is a mom and grandmother. Her politics reflect that. The last thing Matti wants is gay visitors to the Beach being brutalized by city police. Hell, the last thing Matti wants is anyone to be brutalized at all, so abuse at the hands of employees of the government clearly and rightly sticks in the good lady’s craw.
Commissioner Michael Gongora also ponders the incident. Michael is, of course, the city’s first openly gay commissioner. But he is more than that. I met Michael before he was ever elected and witnessing his emergence as one of the city’s best all-time leaders has been a pleasure. He isn’t just “our” commissioner, he is also the best young attorney elected to office in my tenure in Miami Beach. However I feel his measured response is a sign of the power of the police union, and that worries me.
“I was not surprised to hear that Officer Hazzi had prevailed in his arbitration, especially since [the passer-by witness] was not called to testify and it is my understanding that former police chief Carlos Noriega’s testimony was favorable to Officer Hazzi,” Michael told me. “In any case, current police chief Ray Martinez advises me that Officer Hazzi is currently in retraining. He has been out of work for 16 months and before that had been on desk duty for over a year, so it has been roughly 2 1/2 years since he has been out on the street. Officer Hazzi will receive sensitivity training and police retraining before returning to regular patrol. This unfortunate incident will stay on his record and the Arbitrator did rule that Officer Hazzi should receive a written reprimand.”
“At this point we have to use this entire situation as an opportunity to improve attitudes towards the LGBT community,” he continued. “It is my great hope that Officer Hazzi and all officers have an opportunity to meet members of the LGBT community and be sensitive to the diversity of Miami Beach residents. “I do not foresee a situation like this happening again in Miami Beach, at least not while I am part of the Commission,” Michael concluded. I believe Michael, I believe he and others will make sure this situation doesn’t recur. However, both the Mayor and I have wondered why the seminal witness was not part of this arbitration. Had he been, I believe the results would be different. Or at least I’d like to think so.
The victims in this case were searching for a lost dog collar and having a look at a former residence allegedly. Other old-timers like myself will note that neither crooked cops nor crooked unionistas accused the victims of behavior at the park that has caused problems in the past for others. So how safe do you feel in our city? Do you feel Miami Beach is a haven for gays? Do you feel safer here than other cities with less reputation for being gay-friendly? Should you? You decide. I just know that the many, many good cops on Miami Beach are seeing their reputations tarnished because of a cadre of bigots and criminals with badges. I feel for the good police of the city. I worry for gay and lesbian brothers and sisters whether they live here or come to visit our beautiful city. I feel for leaders like Matti and Michael who are let down by city employees immune to discipline thanks to the power play of sleazy unions with no interest in the general welfare of the public.
And the next time I see police lights in my rear view mirror, I fear for my life and safety. Does that sound like a haven to you?
Photo Credit: © Rafa Carvajal
WIRE’S GUIDE TO NEW YEAR’S
by Antwyone Ingram
Monday, Dec. 31, 8 p.m. – 12 a.m.
301 North Biscayne Blvd., Miami
Join Tony the Hitman at the largest FREE dance party in South Florida as you countdown with “La Gran Naranja” (formerly the Big Orange), as it ascends on the face of the Intercontinental Hotel leading up to midnight, followed by a spectacular fireworks display over Biscayne Bay.
The Betsy Hotel
Monday, Dec. 31, 8 – 11 p.m.
1440 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
If sumptuous dining and live entertainment in a chic atmosphere is how you wish to ring in the New Year, The Betsy Hotel is where you will find it. Enjoy a five course dinner with wine pairings ($415), or simply without the wine pairings for $250. Reservations are required in advance; formal attire is optional.
The Catalina Hotel & Beach Club
Monday, Dec. 31, 8 p.m.
1732 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Miami nightlife legend Gerry Kelly along with The Catalina Hotel present a Studio 54 New Year’s Eve Extravaganza. A Studio 54 re–creation will transform the 3 unique venues within The Catalina while bringing you live DJs and entertainment. Enjoy a decadent raw bar, lavish dinner buffet, gourmet sushi and passed appetizers. Bring in the New Year with a performance by local favorite, Spam Allstars and a midnight champagne toast.
Monday, Dec. 31, 10 p.m. – 4 a.m.
3251 North Federal Highway, Pompano Beach
Make your way to Size Matters for the GRAND OPENING of the biggest New Year’s Eve party at a sprawling gay complex. featuring 3 rooms, 4 superstar DJs, megashow, free champagne, hors d’oeuvres, and no cover before 12:30 a.m. Let DJ Paul Coals (SALVATION London), DJ Maximus 3000, DJ Mark Demarko (Black & Blue Montreal), and DJ Bill James help you ring in the new year.
Monday, Dec. 31, 9 p.m.
1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Bring in the New Year with singer, songwriter and producer Santigold with a complimentary champagne toast at midnight. General Admission ($150).
Saturday, Dec. 29 & Dec. 31 11 p.m.
950 NE 2nd Ave., Miami
Join downtown’s largest gay dance party on Saturday Dec. 29 for Blast Off 2013 as DJ Miik, DJ Jarrell, and DJ Carlos G help you dance into 2013. For a New Year’s celebration like no other, join DJ Renn on Dec. 31 for open format, a champagne toast, party favors, fireworks and a special show stopping production at 2 a.m. by Stephanie St. Lords and cast. Special Guest Ms. Coliseum Maite West. Open bar at 2:30 a.m. Doors open at 11 p.m., no cover all night. Afterhours follows at 4 a.m. with music by Carlos G.
Sunday, Dec. 30, 10 p.m. – 5 a.m.
1532 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
SUPERMARTXE PORNO STAR: Madrid’s hottest party is ready to make its debut in South Beach. The event will feature USA male porn stars from RandyBlue.com, beautiful dancers from all across the globe, and specialty acts. International DJ/Producer Hector Fonseca will lead the night with his signature sound and infectious beats.
Monday, Dec. 31, 9 p.m.
8201 Biscayne Blvd., Miami
Eros Lounge celebrates 2013 with a sense of excitement and renewal for the Phoenix Rising New Year’s Eve event. $10 cover (non-members) includes a complimentary glass of champagne at midnight. Eros Lounge is the perfect combination of a sexy lounge with a mix of fun and vibrancy. Bring in the new year with friends and avoid parking hassles and high prices. Special DJ to be announced. Free parking.
Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Monday, Dec. 31, 9 p.m.
4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Canadian recording artist Drake, who has taken the world by storm for his collaborations with such artist as Nicki Minaj and Rihanna, will be hosting a NYE celebration poolside at the Fontainebleau alongside DJ Kayper. Premium open bar from 9 p.m. – 12 a.m. Champagne toast.
Kill Your Idol
Monday, Dec. 31, 11 p.m.
222 Espanola Way, Miami Beach
Dustin Reffca presents New Year’s Eve at Glitter Box Mondays, South Beach’s hottest Monday night party with sparkling guest appearances, DJs Smeejay, FR8-O & Maximus 3000. $1 PBR Beer, $2 Jell-O shots & $4 vodka all night! No cover, party at 11 p.m. 222 Española Way.
Friday, Dec. 28 – Jan. 1, 2013
4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
One of Miami’s most notorious hotspots where celebrities often dwell, LIV has yet again confirmed a stellar New Year’s Weekend line-up. Italian DJ and record producer Benny Benassi kicks off the weekend (Dec. 28), Swedish Duo, Dada Life follow (Dec. 29), Scottish superstar DJ Calvin Harris will rock the house on New Year’s Eve, and Afrojack will bring the weekend to a close on New Year’s Day.
Monday, Dec 31
2345 Wilton Drive, Ft. Lauderdale
Bring in the New Year in an exotic way as The Manor presents A Night In Bangkok, featuring DJ David Knapp. Enjoy a live Times Square remote telecast, balloon drop, champagne toast at midnight and so much more! Guests will be delighted by a NYE production by Erika Norell and company. Liquor will be served until 4 a.m. and dancing until 6 a.m. No cover!
Saturday, Dec. 29 – Jan. 1, 2013
1235 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
Dutch progressive and electro house DJ Hardwell will heat things up in preparation for the acts to follow on Dec. 29, while British legend DJ Carl Cox will bring in the New Year at Mansion with a 3 hour premium open bar. For those looking to keep the party going into 2013, Tracy Young will host her annual marathon circuit event Genesis X from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 31
1625 Michigan Ave., Miami Beach
Toss back a few of MOVA’s delicious signature handcrafted cocktails as the New Year approaches. The lounge, a favorite among locals will ring in the New Year with a free champagne toast at midnight; $50 Smirnoff and $100 Stoli bottle specials.
Monday, Dec. 31, 11 p.m.
1921 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
The 2013 edition of New Year’s Eve at Mynt will host an exclusive Cristal champagne event with resident DJs Julian Ingrosso and Rascal, with special guest Mz. Poppinz. Enjoy a variety of Cristal packages to suit the needs of large parties or purchase general admission tickets for $200, which includes a premium open bar 11 p.m. – 1 a.m.
Saturday, Dec. 29, 10 p.m. – 5 a.m.
1 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
For New Year’s Weekend, SALVATION is moving to Nikki Beach where thousands of guys (and a few girls) will dance in one of SoBe’s most iconic clubs, right on the beach at the start of Ocean Drive. DJ Abel will take you on an uninterrupted musical journey from start to finish in a bigger SALVATION venue on SoBe for the first time in nearly a decade! Escape the hot and steamy dance floor and walk upon the sand while enjoying the cool beach breeze and moonlight. Discount tickets available at www.miamibeach2013.com
Monday, Dec. 31 – January 1, 2013.
1200 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
Bid adieu to 2012 at Palace Bar with their fabulous New Year’s Eve 2013 Extravaganza. Enjoy performances by Noel Leon, Tiffany Fantasia, Missy Meyakie LePaige, TP Lords, Poizon Ivy, Tlo Ivy, Melissa Hilton and Sasha Lords. DJ Cindel will be helping guests bring in the New Year with his signature beats. Palace will be offering 3 packages to accommodate guests: The Palace (one glass of Moet & Chandon champagne paired with three courses, $69), The Deluxe (one bottle of Moet & Chandon champagne per couple paired with three courses, $119), and The Imperial (one bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne per couple, paired with three courses, $169.) Seatings will begin at 9 p.m. Continue the celebration with a New Year’s Day Edition of both the popular Brunchic & T–Dance. One seating at 2 p.m., followed by T–Dance with DJ Pride.
Dec. 28 – January 1, 2013
21710 US Highway 98, Dade City
“America’s First Gay Community” will bring guests First Night: 2013 Celebration Weekend featuring a spectacular line-up. Expect performances by Frenchie Davis, star of American Idol, The Voice, Dreamgirls on Broadway, and RENT. Meanwhile, The Sawmill Divas will present La Cage Aux Folles “where it’s NYE in Paris and the girls are pulling out all the stops.” Enjoy music by celebrity guest DJs with nightly high-energy parties alongside nightly beer bust for $10. A NYE Gala Dinner will bring patrons a first class dinner for only $25 prior to the big NYE blowout featuring a complimentary champagne toast and party favors. Make your reservations today for a guaranteed sell out party of the year at www.flsawmill.com
Thursday, Dec 27 – Monday, Dec. 31.
727 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach
Score’s Deco New Year’s Eve 2013 will transport guests back to the stylish 1940’s era for an Art Deco-inspired celebration. Special guest DJ Nina Flowers, known for being a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, is also a talented DJ and accomplished visual artist. Score will provide guests with a open bar 10 p.m. – 11 p.m., complimentary champagne toast at midnight and a non-stop party that will go to the wee hours of the morning.
Saturday, Dec. 29 & 31
34 NE 11th St., Miami
Miami’s staple mega venue most notable for its roster of world renowned dance music acts will bring Nicky Romero to the Terrace on Dec. 29th, while Marco Carola & Friends will present Music On Miami on New Year’s Eve.
Wednesday, Dec. 26 – January 1, 2013
136 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
STORY (formerly Amnesia) will unleash a bevy of the world’s best EDM DJs leading up to New Year’s. This will also mark the epic opening weekend of the new venue. The week begins with two members of Swedish House Mafia; Steve Angello on Dec. 26 and Axwell on Dec. 27. Swedish EDM sensation Avicii will follow on Dec. 28, and the third member of SHM, Sebastian Ingrosso on Dec. 29. The legendary dance force that is Tiesto will descend upon STORY on Dec. 30 leading up to the climax of NYE. Kaskade will host the official New Year’s Eve party pre an unprecedented finale featuring none other than deadmau5 on New Year’s Day.
Monday, Dec. 31, 1 p.m. - 7 a.m.
1057 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach
Start your NYE celebration early at TWIST. Enjoy 2-4-1 prices on everything all day from 1 - 9 p.m. in the Video Pub. The remainder of the club will open an hour earlier at 10 p.m. with two floors, seven different interconnecting bars, and 3 dance floors with VIP seating available. Bring in the New Year with a complimnetary champagne toast and video countdown with fireworks at midnight, viewable from TWIST’ garden or upper observation deck. The party will go on util dawn as TWIST will offer extended hours and will be open and serving until 7 a.m. Dozens of the hottest men in Florida will take it off on two Gaiety stages running simultaneously till dawn, DJ Mika’s infectious house beats, VJ Nathan’s Pop in the Video Bar, and Aquilles’ Latin Beats in Bar5 will keep you dancing into the New Year. Never a Cover - Always a Groove, even on New Years when neighboring venues charge well over $100. Avoid the line and get to TWIST early!
W South Beach
Saturday, Dec. 31 WET 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. | WALL 11 p.m. – 5 a.m.
2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
The W will host two of the biggest names in electronic dance music with a double NYE celebration. Up close and personal, WALL will host Swedish DJ and producer Otto Knows, while WET will host 21-yea-old Swedish EDM sensation Alesso, poolside. Open bar 9 p.m. – midnight.
660 at the Anglers
Monday, Dec. 31 Seatings: 6 & 9:30 p.m.
660 Washington Ave., Miami Beach
Join guitarist Alex Escandon, The Medina Band and DJ Martino as The Anglers will host its 2013 New Year’s Eve Gala. Enjoy a decadent meal to ring in the New Year. Seatings at 6:00 p.m. (3 course, $100) and 9:30 p.m. (5 course, $150).
Monday, Dec. 30 Seatings: 6:30 p.m – 10 p.m.
2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
The Dutch will bring a truly extraordinary dining experience to guests on New Year’s Eve. Chef Andrew Carmellini will provide guests with his special oysters and caviar on-hand while offering a five-course menu featuring a creamy risotto with tallegia and white truffle, a Prime NY strip garnished with whipped bone marrow and parsnip puree. Dessert will feature a seasonal selection of pastries. Two seatings are available at 6:30 and 7:00 p.m. ($150), and 9:00, 9:30, and 10:00 p.m. ($200), all of which feature a champagne toast. Unlimited wine and champagne is available for an additional $70.
Monday, Dec. 31 Seatings: 6 – 8 p.m. & 8:30 p.m.
432 Arthur Godfrey Road, Miami Beach
Enjoy selections prepared by Chef Dewey LoSasso for New Year’s Eve dinner at The Forge. Two seatings will offer guests a choice of a three or four–course meal. The first seating runs from 6 – 8 p.m., while the second will take place at 8:30 p.m. and include a bottle of Veuve Clicquot per couple with music and dancing. $95 – $350.
Monday, Dec. 31 Seatings: 6:30, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m.
4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Indulge in the culinary artistry of Chef Alfred Portale at Fontainebleau’s AAA Four Diamond Award Winning Gotham Steakhouse while enjoying such dishes as applewood–smoked salmon rillettes with crème fraiche, pork belly with green apple, ivory lentils and foie gras, mesquite grilled filet mignon with lobster butter, truffle and white asparagus, and roasted banana and caramel ice cream. Seatings at 6:30 p.m. (four–course, $195), 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. (five–course, 295).
Seatings: 6:30 & 9:30 p.m.
4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Bring in the New Year in a spectacular setting with an Italian meal at AAA Four Diamond Award Wining Scarpetta. Two seatings will allow guests to choose from four or five–course meals featuring the NYC bred cuisine of Chef Scott Conant. Seatings at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m.
Monday, Dec. 31, 7 p.m. – 2 a.m.
2001 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
For a truly elegant experience, join the Setai for a New Year’s Eve celebration like no other. Culinary artistry prepared by The Setai’s award–winning team of international culinarians and keepsake gifts designed by fragrance specialist Roja Dove will be provided for guests. The New Year’s Eve dinner will include a Welcome Reception with Taittinger and canapés alongside a contemporary six–course gourmet menu. Following dinner, Brazilian dancers will lead guests into The Courtyard for a champagne countdown into the new year and dancing with a live big band and DJ, from 12 – 2 a.m. $850 per adult and $425 per child. Black & White tie attire required.
Monday, Dec. 31
Seatings: 7 & 9 p.m.
100 Chopin Plaza, Miami
Enjoy a sensational blend of Pan Latin styles and flavors with a four–course plated dinner with family–style appetizers and desserts, as well as all you can eat rodizio service. Two seatings are available; the first from 7 – 9 p.m. (adults $95, children $47.50) while the other will take place at 9 p.m. (adults $125, children $62.50).
Ahoy! Modern Luxury on the High Seas
By Rafa Carvajal
Images Provided by Celebrity Cruises
PortMiami has been known for a long time as the “Cruise Capital of the World.” Our port is also expected to experience significant growth over the next 12 months as a host of new cruise brands and newly built ships, considered to be among some of the most innovative vessels in the world, make Miami their home. One of those ships is Celebrity Cruises new Reflection – a true modern luxury hotel that travels on the high seas while providing the best the cruise industry has to offer in terms of lodging, dining, entertainment, and art.
Jesse Spencer, Associate Publisher of Wire Magazine, and I sailed on Reflection for its inaugural voyage in the United States after the ship traveled from its birth-site in Germany to Miami.. If you like the finer things in life, the Solstice Class ships from Celebrity Cruises that was named “Best Cruise Ships” by Frommer’s 2011, and Reflection, in particular, offer a modern luxury vacation unlike any other cruise line I have ever been on. This year Celebrity Cruises was also named “The Most Gay-Friendly Cruise Line” from the Meet Me Onboard annual Members’ Choice Awards. I consider this the perfect staycation because we did not have to go very far to enjoy an amazing vacation. The beauty of this type of staycation is that the hotel happens to float on the ocean and goes to many beautiful ports of call before bringing you back to our Magic City a few days later.
Little did I imagine during my five months at sea as a young Coast Guard Academy cadet, that one day I would experience my love of sailing on the high seas in such luxury as Reflection. Long gone were my sailor days sleeping in cramped bunk-beds, washing dishes, cooking in a hot galley, polishing brass fixtures, or scraping paint. They were replaced by a spacious, luxury cabin with mouth-watering fine dining alternatives, first-class entertainment, cocktails, gambling, spa pampering, and stunning art throughout the ship. Reflection was designed with very roomy, stylish interiors, delightful and artistic dining experiences, personalized service that includes a guest-to-staff ratio of nearly 2:1; and many unexpected, trendsetting activities onboard that will make for a very unique vacation experience. I’d like to share some of what you can look forward to when planning a fantastic modern luxury vacation on a brand new cruise liner.
There are two great alternatives to cruise on Reflection. The first one, during the winters of 2012 and 2013 is a seven-night Eastern Caribbean itinerary with ports-of-call that include San Juan, Puerto Rico; Philipsburg, St. Maarten; Basseterre, St. Kitts; and Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. If you prefer to travel across the pond and sail in Europe, you can choose a 10 and 11 night Eastern Mediterranean cruise during the summer of 2013 with a roundtrip out of Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy. The Mediterranean ports-of-call include Santorini, Athens (Piraeus), Rhodes and Mykonos, Greece; Istanbul and Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; as well as Sicily (Messina) and Naples, Italy.
Our AquaClass stateroom was very modern, luxurious, and spacious, with an oceanview balcony, and a very roomy bathroom with a full size shower that included water jets. I have vacationed on several cruises before and this is by far the best stateroom I have ever stayed in. If you prefer to enjoy the “Suite Life,” Reflection offers three new, unique, and very luxurious suite categories. At the very top of the heap is The Reflection Suite: a two-bedroom, 1,636-square-foot suite with a breathtaking view from its 194-square-foot wraparound veranda and a distinctive all-glass shower extending out over the edge of the 3,030-guest ship. This stunning six-guest suite is nestled in a private area of the ship’s 14th deck with exclusive cardkey access, over the bridge and bow, along with the new Signature Suites – giving you amazing forward views of any port of call. The five Signature Suites offer a 441-square-foot stateroom area and 118-square-foot veranda, with floor-to-ceiling windows and veranda doors, and amazing views of the sea. Each suite accommodates up to four guests, and includes luxurious 24/7 butler service – a hallmark of every suite across the Celebrity fleet. The AquaClass Suites are spa-inspired staterooms that take the onboard spa experience to the suite level with 300-square-foot interiors and spacious 79-square-foot verandas. They include all the amenities associated with Celebrity’s luxurious suite treatment and its AquaClass accommodations, including exclusive and complimentary access to Blu, Reflection’s Mediterranean-themed specialty restaurant.
All these suites also offer some very sweet dreams with the Reverie® Dream Sleep System™ premium mattress that allows guests to customize the firmness of their beds with exclusive technology that enables Apple products equipped with the Reverie Remote app to act as a remote control that operates massage features, adjusts the elevation of the mattress and turns your suite’s appliances that are connected to a power outlet, on or off. You can enjoy this innovative technology with the iPad provided in each of the suites, which also can be used to control your TV and lights.
I love fine dining, so I particularly enjoyed the broad range of fine dining experiences that Reflection has to offer – along with very high quality regular dining that far exceeded the dining experiences I had on other cruise vacations. Several restaurants were created by world-renowned designer Adam Tihany, and I particularly enjoyed Reflection’s specialty restaurants offering unique menus and diverse dining experiences. Qsine is a one-of-a-kind restaurant featuring a “uniquely unordinary” approach to dining with food that is artfully presented. It was also the world’s first restaurant to have its menu and wine list presented to everyone on iPads. Murano offers a delectable, multi-course meal featuring a blend of classic and modern continental cuisine, with many selections prepared tableside for a truly spectacular experience. Tuscan Grille is a sophisticated steakhouse and specialty grill experience restaurant that provides the ultimate cruising grill experience. We also dined at Blu, as it is open to AquaClass stateroom guests. The menu featured fresh, flavorful and lighter fare in a stunning setting that reminded me of the true luxury on the high seas. I particularly loved the Creamy Pea and Morel Mushroom Risotto with mascarpone cheese and chervil; Pan Seared Australian Sea Bass with crispy artichokes, smoked tomato coulis, arugula and garlic confit; and Crispy Tulip Basket low-fat frozen yogurt with fresh berries for dessert.
The Lawn Club Grill is an outdoor, interactive grill venue overlooking the beautiful, lush lawn area and surrounding sea. You can relax topside with a casual lunch menu that includes a variety of high-end burgers; you can also attend cooking classes on pizza making, grilling secrets, marinades and more. You have the choice of top-quality meats to grill yourself side-by-side Celebrity’s chefs or have them grilled to order – a truly unique foodie experience. We particularly enjoyed a very special dinner on the Lawn Club Grill prepared by Jeff McInnis, Executive Chef of Yardbird in Miami Beach. This was one of the best dinners I’ve had in my life. Highlights included the Flatbread with smoked chicken, artichoke, grilled baby leeks, collard green pesto, and housemade ricotta; Tomahawk Rib Eye, carved tableside with YB-1 steak sauce, grilled Trumpet and Hen of the Woods mushrooms; Shrimp ‘n’ Grits with Florida shrimp, crisp Virginia ham, and Adluh South Carolina stone-ground grits; Truffle Mash potatoes with Parsnip, celery root, and potato puree; and Chocolate Mississippi Mud Pie for dessert.
A few other dining and libation choices you may enjoy include the Bistro on Five vibrant creperie; the Molecular Bar serving handcrafted cocktails made with foams, ice spheres, and liquid nitrogen by Junior Merino, The Liquid Chef, a master of the art of Molecular Mixology – with a musical mood that is fresh from lounge to house; the ice-topped Martini Bar, featuring a selection of chilled, top-tier vodkas, paired with Crush, a VIP-like lounge area that is perfect to hang out at with friends or that special someone; the Enomatic wine bar with a state-of-the-art, Italian-designed wine serving system that allows you to select and serve wines of your choice by the glass at the touch of a button; and the ‘cool’ Café al Bacio and Gelateria, where we enjoyed some delightful cappuccinos and gelatos.
If you enjoy the best in spa service and fitness, Reflection has a lot of offer. You can be pampered in their beautiful spa with a wide array of world-renowned services that range from Bamboo Massages and 24K Gold Facials to a full Medi-Spa and acupuncture. The enhanced AquaSpa by Elemis allows you to create your own circuit of sensory experiences by moving from room to room and experiencing hot and cold, wet and dry, and peace and tranquility. The spa’s expanded 883-square-foot Persian Garden offers curved, heated tile beds where you can relax with a view of the ocean. Some of Celebrity Reflection’s new spa experiences include: The Hammam, where you can enjoy a cool, calm and quiet space designed to loosen muscles and joints; Infrared Sauna, where the heat deeply penetrates your joints and surrounding tissue to increase blood flow, reduce inflammation and decrease pain; Aromatic Steam Room, where steam and aromatherapy are combined to eliminate muscle tension and toxins, relax the mind and leave the body feeling rejuvenated; the Cold Room, where you can literally chill out in an icy cold (52° F) environment designed to tighten pores; the DIY Scrub and Salt Bar where you can experience a custom-made experience by creating “body cocktails,” or scrubs from an array of salts, sugar and herbs; the Sensory Showers where you can select from a choice of warm, tropical rain infused with mild, fruity fragrances, or an arctic-cold mist enlivened with eucalyptus essences accompanied by soothing sound, scent and light; “Rhythm and Bliss,” which is a rhythmic rubdown conceived and choreographed by the New York brand Bliss to give your tense spots a ‘tune-up,’ while you tune out with noise-canceling headphones playing your choice from four music mixes; “Acupuncture: The Point of Well-being,” which can help you deal with chronic symptoms ranging from severe muscle and joint pain to insomnia; and Keratin Complex Smoothing Therapy.
If you want to continue your fitness routine while enjoying a vacation, the ship offers state-of-the-art fitness facilities and classes that range from boot camps to indoor cycling. You can also build strength, flexibility and body awareness with comprehensive yoga, Pilates, and body-sculpting classes taught by certified instructors. Top of the line fitness equipment includes Life Fitness® Engage treadmills, cross trainers, upright bikes, recumbent bikes, summit trainers and rowing machines. Each Life Fitness Cardio unit comes with integrated touch-screen TV, iPod music/video, a virtual trainer and 18 language options. The “Home Gym” has new TechnoGym equipment made-for-home fitness and designed to resemble designer furniture. If you prefer a private work out area, the “Fitness Reserve,” exclusive VIP suite for up to two guests, is available fully equipped with TechnoGym equipment and optional personal training for a fee.
Reflection has a stunning, thematic art collection that must be admired as you move about the ship. Just as the art collection across all of Celebrity’s Solstice Class ships, Reflection’s relates to a theme based on the ship’s name. As International Corporate Art’s Mariangela Capuzzo says, they “intentionally present an alternative to the ‘white cube’ museum surroundings in which most of us have become accustomed to experiencing art, and seek to inspire both the guest and the artist by allowing for greater creative possibilities in all of the ship’s spaces.” The upper Grand Foyer of Reflection, with its own living tree, has become an iconic symbol of every Solstice Class ship. The tree – the metaphorical heart of the ship – lives in a stunning artist-designed vessel suspended mid-air in the ship’s atrium. On Reflection, Bert Rodriguez’s “Reflections” – crafted of steel, fiberglass and paint with LED lights – has metallic roots that seem to draw life as well as give it, while merging with the ship’s gorgeous architecture.
In the dining corridor you can admire Anthony James’ “Birch” sculpture with a never-ending vision of birch tree trunks, Albano Alfonso’s “From the Forest Series,” where the reflective properties of the murals mirror shapes as if walking through the very forest you are viewing, Mary Tsiongas’ video, “Vanish #3,” that adds mystery to your surroundings, and Dutch designer Jurgen Bey’s “Tree Trunk Bench” which allows you to sit upon a tree trunk and experience this unique space in a very tactile way. The Ensemble vestibule was designed by artist Carlos Betancourt and Alberto Latorre with a dreamlike photographic collage of mixed media, stainless steel and sound. The floor tiles, ceiling, furniture and sound element composed the magical art piece “The Celestial Garden,” created by the artist. There are many other stunning, thematic artworks on Reflection that include: Jeff Koons’ stainless steel “Mirror Flower” sculpture, highlighting the point at which mass-produced kitsch and contemporary narcissism intersect; Ann Veronica Janssen’s gilded “Venetian Blinds”; Thomas Simm’s cartoony “Big Bloom,” sculpture of polyurethane and red carpet in the Oceanview Cafe; and the huge “The World is a Looking Glass” by Austrian Norbert Brunner, featuring two pair of mesmerizing eyes with the quote, “the world is a looking glass so be certain you are smiling,” that captivates you while you relax in the ship’s beautiful library.
Reflection also offers an extensive, first rate entertainment program that includes live stage productions ranging from Vegas and Broadway-style shows to circus-style shows, live music by Jazz bands, classic trios, contemporary party bands, guitarists, percussionists, DJs, and very funny comedians. We particularly enjoyed a fabulous Broadway-inspired review of the Great White Way’s best shows, and a Cirque-du-Soleil-like rock music extravaganza that kept me on the edge of my seat as aerial performers and acrobats thrilled the audience. If you are looking to do something unique and different during your vacation, Reflection and its sister ships offer you Celebrity Life – a wide variety of unique, enriching and entertaining activities.
The Celebrity Life specialty programming brings modern luxury to life through onboard hands-on experiences in culinary arts, learning, wellness and entertainment. You can enjoy “Champagne High Tea” in the afternoon with impeccable service, fine bone china, and a string quartet playing in the background. You can attend the “Star Chefs Cooking Competition,” where two Celebrity chefs and guests from the audience put their skills to work for the best-chef honors of the day. If you are interested in “chef-inspired” bartending and mixology or wine activities you may enjoy “Mixology 101,” and “Molecular Mixology,” “Wine Appreciation 101,” the “Riedel® Comparative Wine Crystal Workshop” and the “Food and Wine Pairing” hosted in Cellar Masters. You can also take a “Celebrity iLearn,” custom-designed course featuring Apple software or attend a “Beyond the Podium Speaker Series” featuring Smithsonian Journeys on select sailings. Rosetta Stone language lessons are offered in 13 different languages, shake your booty at the “Let’s Dance” series, or attend hands-on art classes and lectures at The Art Studio on the top deck – taught by two artists-in-residence from The ArtCenter South Florida, including jewelry-making and painting.
Be sure to stop by the “Lawn Club,” an outdoor venue reminiscent of a country club that features a lawn of real grass where you can practice your putting skills, play lawn games like croquet and lawn bowling, or simply relax under the sun and stars. You can also enjoy the first Hot Glass Show at sea, presented in collaboration with The Corning Museum of Glass, which features professional glassblowers working in a custom-designed, outdoor glassblowing studio. In addition, Celebrity Reflection offers a new, whimsical “Game On” venue that features six 32-inch touchscreen tables with structured tournaments with a variety of interactive games designed to engage memory, attention and creativity using the latest technology. You can sing karaoke by choosing from over 1,700 songs or enter casino tournaments and lessons featuring blackjack, slots, poker, roulette or craps. You can also play interactive video games that include virtual bowling, tennis, boxing, darts and more or play outside sports, including basketball, golf putting and ping pong.
So remember, if you are looking for a modern luxury vacation you don’t have to go to far. PortMiami and Celebrity Cruises’ Reflection are just around the corner. Ahoy! Sail away…
A Modern Day Nutcracker
by Rafa Carvajal
Image Credit: Michael Brosilow
“The show is very much an adventure story. It surrounds a family who is having a hard time during the holidays.” - Tommy Rapley, Director and Choreographer
“We wanted to create a world entirely of our own – something that felt nostalgic, but more contemporary than the ballet – timeless in its way.” - Tommy Rapley, Director and Choreographer
The holidays are here, so The Nutcracker is coming to town. This year the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts presents the famed House Theater of Chicago’s The Nutcracker, A Magical New Play in the Carnival Studio Theater of the Sanford and Dolores Ziff Ballet Opera House through December 30. This is not your typical Nutcracker performance at all. Time Out Chicago noted, “the ingenious reimagining of traditional characters makes this production significantly more engaging, story-wise. The stakes are higher, the magic more intense!”
This original play was written by House company members Jake Minton and Phillip Klapperich and features original music by Jefferson Award-winning composer Kevin O’Donnell. It has been described as a “riveting reinvention” of the E.T.A. Hoffmann’s beloved holiday classic that takes place in an in-the-round set that is perfect for an up-close, lively, and enchanting theater experience. This modern day Nutcracker is a story about a loving family’s recovery from a terrible and surprising loss that centers on young Clara’s journey to save Christmas and bring her broken family back together. It is a contemporary, spellbinding holiday theater experience with riveting dialogue, amazing puppetry, and original songs.
The Nutcracker, A Magical New Play is directed and choreographed by Tommy Rapley, a House Theatre of Chicago company member who has directed and/or choreographed 24 works (The Sparrow, The Valentine Trilogy) of original theater in the last 10 years. We asked Tommy to tell us about this unique version of a timeless holiday classic.
Can you describe what the show is about? The show is very much an adventure story. It surrounds a family who is having a hard time during the holidays – their beloved son, Fritz, who they expected home from the military last Christmas, was lost in battle. The central story picks up a year later when Great Uncle Drosselmeyer delivers a present for Clara – a Nutcracker doll that looks exactly like her brother. Fritz, as well as Clara’s other toys, suddenly spring to life to help Clara save Christmas by battling with the Rat King and his evil Christmas-hating minions. In the process, Clara forces her family to deal with their tragic loss head-on, ultimately bringing her family together again to honor old traditions and make new ones.
What influenced you to stray away from ballet, when reinventing the classic Nutcracker? I danced the ballet for an entire decade of my career, and though I could tell you all the plot-points, I’m not sure I could say what it was about exactly. When we were looking at adapting a holiday classic for The House Theater of Chicago, I wanted to imbue the characters we knew and loved from the ballet with a sense of Story with a capital “S.” Our goal was to introduce real people dealing with real issues at the holidays to our audience.
We also wanted to create a world entirely of our own – something that felt nostalgic, but more contemporary than the ballet – timeless in its way. A completely new score with five original songs and dialogue woven with physical storytelling that is not necessarily ballet, but fits neatly in the realm of dance-theatre.
Are there any similarities between the ballet and the new play? I wanted to ensure that we were providing the audience with a new perspective on the story by including similar characters, images and situations that are contained in the ballet – something that grounds them in what they know, then turns it on its head. For example: it snows in our play. There is a big Christmas party. Uncle Drosselmeyer is there with an eye-patch and he makes toys for Clara. Clara seems to shrink in order to do battle with the Rat King. A nutcracker arrives and becomes life-size. And so on. Those things are very much a homage to my experience as a dancer – I do love the ballet.
How was the show first perceived when it debuted a few years ago? When we premiered the show at Steppenwolf in 2007, it was perceived as a very dark, psychological exploration of Clara that was wholly original, but still needed work. We did not produce the show in 2008 or 2009 in order to flush out our original concept and refine the symbols at work in the play (as well as some of the armchair psychology). I’m pleased to say that the premiere in 2010 at The Chopin Theatre (our current home-base in Chicago) came off like gangbusters. We completely re-designed the show to be in the round. The rats got funnier and scarier at the same time. And Clara truly became the hero of her own story by saving both her family and Christmas.
What message do you want audiences to take away from this holiday story? That the best way to honor those that can’t be with us is to continue the traditions we built with them; that we have a choice to let grief divide us or to let it bring us closer together.
Is the show intended for a younger crowd or a more mature audience? Honestly, the show is 100% family theatre. It is absolutely wonderful to see the children so engaged with the toys, playing in the snow at intermission, delighting at the opportunity to eat cookies in the opening number and laughing at the hilariously-dumb British rats. But the darker, deeper elements of the play can fly over their heads and land neatly in the laps of the adults in the audience. I’m proud to have made a play that truly has the power to unite families at the holidays – you can bring your 8-year old daughter, 60-year old grandmother, 30-something cousins and even that antsy 15-year old nephew to the show, and there is something for everyone to latch on to and have a great time.
When directing/choreographing The Nutcracker, A Magical New Play, did you pull any inspiration from any of the 24 works you have done? Of course, in some ways my last ten years of working with The House has been my graduate degree in directing. I have refined a voice as a very physical storyteller, and that certainly makes its way into The Nutcracker. Also, the use of puppets, music and dance are common elements in my work.
What do you feel is the strongest element of the show? (i.e. cast, music, design) The cast is excellent. And at The House we put a real effort on giving each design element of the show equal weight in the storytelling – be it music, dialogue, puppetry, lights, dance, etc. But I think the strongest element of this particular play is the spirit that surrounds it. That sounds a little hippy-dippy, I’m sure, but it’s the truth. This show requires everyone to believe that “Saving Christmas” is life or death. It is a mission that could easily become hokey or cheesy, and taking that mission seriously requires a deep belief in how well that symbol might serve our audience. If we truly believe that saving Christmas will save this family, we have an opportunity to reach deeper into the hearts and imaginations of our audience.
How did you put together the cast for the show? We held auditions in both Miami and Chicago for the show. I was excited for the opportunity to engage some artists from the Miami community in our work, and of course wanted to bring some actors from Chicago who could lead the charge on some of the more unique aspects of our theatre company – talking to the audience directly, mingling with them before the show, the very live sense of play we try to put on stage, etc.
How does it feel to represent the highly acclaimed House Theatre of Chicago? Truly wonderful, I’ve been a part of the House for 10 years now, and this is by far one of my favorite plays we’ve ever produced (excuse my bias). I think it is incredibly on-mission for us as a company, and I’m so pleased to be able to bring it to Miami for the holidays. It’s a lovely little Christmas-present for the whole family.
Is there anything else you would like to share with Wire Magazine? What a wonderful host the Arsht Center has been to us. This is our third production to bring to Miami, and our friends at the Arsht continue to blow us away with their support, generosity and belief in our work as a theatre company. Miami is very fortunate to have an organization that is looking not just to bring new and interesting things to the city, but also hoping to create a cultural exchange with those artists that inspire everyone and builds national artistic bridges. Thank you for having us Miami!
If Vas Bet’s TWIST Walls Could Talk
by Antwyone Ingram & Rafa Carvajal
Images by Rafa Carvajal
If you’ve ever spent an evening at TWIST, there is a chance the murals have caught your attention, or reminded you of traveling to a beautiful rainforest when spending time in Bar 5. Have you ever wondered who painted the vivid zebra print, leopard print, and “Latin Jungle” that surrounds you? Wire Magazine catches up with Vas, the artistic mastermind behind TWIST’s most picturesque artwork.
Q: Tell us about the murals you created within TWIST and what kind of feel you were trying to accomplish with each.
A: It all started over three years ago when I was introduced to Richard Trainor, one of the owners of TWIST. He told me that every year at least one of seven TWIST bars goes through a complete makeover. Fairly soon I was asked to paint a zebra-skin motif, I thought it was a great idea, very fitting for a nightclub. I took time to meditate, to internalize the rhythms - and painted it all in one long night. I like to paint fast, allowing images to flow through me, I enter into a kind of trance, I relax and try not to think too much - it feels like the best work results from attaining and holding a state of effortlessness. Naturally, it takes work and concentration to reach this state. The next was a leopard skin bar that ended up spilling all over the walls and ceilings, filling the space with loosely interpreted tiger stripes in different scales and colors. Finally, there was my dream project. Richard came up with the theme “Latin Jungle” and when I heard it, I was close to levitating.
It was a serious challenge: two and a half thousand square feet of walls and ceilings in a nightclub with an opening date set and fast approaching. Then, during preparation I also thought of designing light fixtures, and sconces in the shape of Monstera leaves. More excitement, more work. I chose dark grey as background and painted vegetation stepping out of the darkness as if around a campfire at night in the woods. Then I went totally over the top with highlights - it’s a nightclub and the Jungle is “Latin.”
Q: What is the meaning of the murals you painted?
A: Pantheism, Pagan sense of wonder, the dazzling sexiness of the tropics and the curiosity about what is hidden from view. For me, forests and jungles were the first cathedrals of humanity.
Q: What influence has living in London, Rio De Janeiro, and finally Miami made on your work?
A: Immense. My world opened up, I was immersed in diverse cultures and languages; for me it is impossible to overstate the benefits. Moscow was a great springboard, Rio was an effective cure for London’s winters - and Miami seems profoundly agreeable to me. Aren’t we quite lucky to have a mixture of everything here?
Q: To date, what is your favorite creation and why?
A: I love painting murals in private homes and I have done many that I will always remember with tenderness. There was a sliding door with a view painted on both sides, night view on one side - same view in daytime on the other side. That was fun, as was working with UV activated pigments and lighting effects that turned a mural into a 24-hour cycle. As to my favorite - at the moment it is TWIST’s “Latin Jungle.” It was unusual, challenging and tremendously enjoyable. I did not want it to stop, I went on adding to it for six weeks after the opening night, then I painted two tables at home in a similar manner - my wife was very pleased!
Q: Which mural took the longest to paint and where is it located?
A: I have done large-scale work in two shopping malls in Rio, two sports clubs and a number of casinos, but the TWIST jungle is probably the one that took the most time and effort to-date. My other murals can be found on-line at www.art2good.com
Q: How/Why did you end up painting the murals at TWIST?
A: It all happened because of wonderful ideas of Richard Trainer and the trust he had shown me.
Q: Did you have any interest in art prior to studying architecture at the Minsk Architectural College?
A: I consider myself lucky; I knew I was an artist very early. As a child, I often used to stop and draw with my finger in the air, just for a few seconds at a time. I remember well how it felt - a sudden intense desire to give form to a specific shape, a rhythm - seconds later I was free to resume playing.
Q: What made you choose art versus going into architecture?
A: Office politics. I enjoyed making paper architecture as a student, but the prospect of becoming an architect never really appealed to me. Before graduation I went through three months of practical training. I learned about the importance of office politics as well as my lack of enthusiasm for it. On another level, I always wanted to study painting, but in the Soviet Union it was one of the most sought after professions. This might sound strange to Americans. Studying art and then being an artist was seen as one of the few ways of escaping the drab reality of rigid state control in most aspects of life. I was urged by my family not to waste time - they were certain I stood no chance of getting in. But after graduating as an architect, I realized, I would never be happy unless I tried; It took me five years and it was worth it. I was ecstatic for months and years; finally I was studying art in a great university, it was exhilarating!
Q: What is your favorite work of art and why?
A: Quantum mechanics. It’s utterly fascinating.
Q: Was there ever a moment in your life that changed your perspective of art?
A: There were many. When I saw Chagall’s canvases, when I read 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and when I heard Penderecki’s “The Demons of Loudun.”
Q: Do you feel it is harder for an artist to survive solely on his/her art in this day in time?
A: I rather do. Though my point of reference is unusual. 25 years ago it was really easy to live as an artist in the old Soviet Union. I had a job painting propaganda posters; it took me on average two days to do all that was required of me in a month, and I was paid as if I worked every day. I had more free time than I knew what to do with. And in the ‘80s there was a lot of creative freedom. One could indulge, study obscure subjects, have endless conversations - I don’t think many Americans know the taste of freedom that comes from having lots of free time. Yet we thought of ourselves as somehow oppressed. Real freedom was to be found in the West.
Q: Do you have any upcoming major projects or murals that you are working on?
A: I am always looking for projects. When there is nothing concrete on the horizon, I invent my own projects, I paint some canvases, I potter around in the garden, I go fishing - but there are always visual ideas, turning around in the back of my mind.