I was trying to explain this last night to friends; I have a love-hate relationship with Miami. It has tons of culture and a thriving arts community, cool architecture — art deco, Mediterranean, modern…certainly some of their newer buildings around Miami-Dade county are more visually appealing than some of the boring boxy glass towers Broward has let get thrown up — funky signage, diversity of people and activities… There’s a lot to see and do and experience and a vibrancy you can feel. It’s also full of the most insane traffic this side of L.A., terrible drivers, illogical parking — when you can find it, — rudeness and entitlement stemming from that sort of obsession with hyper-coolness I can’t begin to understand.
And thus, I spent yesterday between two worlds down there. To start, I headed down to the Miami Pen Show. Yes, there’s a show for pens in case you didn’t know such a thing was possible.
I was cranky when I got down there. It was hot and I’d taken my husband’s truck, which doesn’t feel like a meandering adventure so much as the kind of a “destination-focused” ride. It’s big, with an expansive front and equally huge interior and it just feels like what you’d drive if you need to Get Somewhere. (This is opposed to my old Wrangler, which is the sort of car you have to mellow to drive. You need to be extra-vigilant and focused driving my Jeep — none of that eating and calling and whatnot — but because you’re absorbed in the task, it doesn’t feel so goal oriented. Irony, maybe.) I was hungry. I had to pee. There was no parking. Grr…Miami.
So, I stopped at Publix, used the restroom, picked up some Krazy Glue I needed to fix a couple of mugs, got a plastic ruler in hopes that 69 cents will mean my old metal ruler reappears. I also ate some lunch in the car because I’m a big fan of bringing my own food places.
I found parking over at Downtown Dadeland. (Prorated for the time you’re there instead of the $19 flat valet fee the Marriott wanted. Someone mentioned later that day parking at the Marriott was $8, but no one at the valet stand seemed to know about that. Besides, I hate valet and I ended up only paying $5. Someone else told me just to park at the Publix, but they have giant tow zone signs and trying to get a car out of a tow lot in Miami is on no one’s list of fun things to do.)
No sooner do I get home and make dinner for the husband and I than our friend texts him and asks if I want to go with her to Art Walk in Wynwood. (They used to work together, so her texting him first isn’t as odd as it sounds.) By the time she and he and her and me all text back and forth and she texts back and forth with her other girlfriends, I end up with about ten minutes to fluff my hair, fix my makeup, grab some shoes and drive fifteen minutes away.
The Wynwood Art Walk has been going on for years now and it’s grown like an unwieldly amoeba all over that area of Miami. There’s no real parking – dudes with signs offering the use of vacant lots they don’t own, fighting over street spaces with people who never learned parallel parking, sketchy lots on dark streets. (I mentioned that parking in Miami is a pain in the ass, right?) The galleries and warehouses and restaurants and clubs operate in some state of quasi-organized chaos and while the area where the food trucks were parked appeared to have been planned by someone, it wasn’t exactly like figure out what was going on without three hipster friends and a half dozen hashtags.
To contrast, the FAT Village Art Walk up in Fort Lauderdale has grown a lot since it spun off from Wynwood years ago, from a single block of warehouse galleries to most of Flagler Village, the park, Mass District, etc. Now, it’s possible Fort Lauderdale’s chaos seemed more organized because I know the right hipsters and hashtags for that one, but they also have a trolley, free parking at a lot on the edge of the area (with trolley pickups from), and more streetlights. Yes, I said streetlights. It just feels easier to figure out what’s happening when you can see it.
Back to Miami where the girls had printed tickets for something called “Secret Garden,” the website of which said it was free before 10pm. After a lot of standing in line, pushing and shoving with the entitled “I don’t wait” crowd, and paying $20 (at 9:45) because “free before 10” apparently means “free if you printed this thing before 10” if you speak the language of we-generated-mild-buzz-so-we-can-do-whatever-the-fuck-we-want. I actually wonder if the organizer of the event didn’t just get his or her friends to go make a line so the thing looked more popular than it should’ve been since everyone knows that Miami is a bit like 80s-era USSR in that they will stand in the longest line at McDonald’s because they think that means its’ the best – yet in Miami they will also skip and line jump and shove their way to the front even if there are three other open registers just because not waiting is a badge of honor.
Inside, we saw some cool clothing designs, a dude painting a wall, some random art (by which I mean it failed the gallery requirements of being properly displayed, well lit, not in the middle of traffic flow so drunk people run into it, and centered around some sort of artist or theme no matter how fleeting or tenuous that theme. Oh, and no air conditioning. If you’re charging people $20 after making them stand in line, get some air conditioning. The fashion was awesome, what I could see of it with the truck high beams pointing at nothing blinding me. I’d like to have been able to see the dresses and jackets better. The three random photos were okay. Interesting. Maybe not my thing. The paintings on the wall in the back I saw better on Instagram because to get to them at the time we passed through seemed to require running an obstacle course. The metal Deadmau5 head was…was exactly that is what it was.
Outside, it was vendors and a DJ and porta potties. The porta potties were relatively nice for portable toilets, so there’s that.
Look, in a gallery – especially the warehouse sort where there isn’t a lot of overhead (like, you know, air conditioning or proper lighting) – I want to see some art. I want to be able to see the art (which means lighting and a plan for traffic flow, sorry hipsters) and I want to be intrigued, inspired, interested, etc., even if it’s not really my favorite style. A spectacle is one thing, but if it’s all spectacle with no substance, and the spectacle itself feels forced, false, then it’s all just so much meh. Which is unfortunate because again, the fashion and the paintings seemed like really cool things and for $20, I feel cheated that I couldn’t really see either of them. And that drunk dudes annoyed the shit out of us while we waited to pee.
On the way back to the car, we paused near the food trucks to finish our drinks only to be accosted by three more drunk idiots, one of which could not stop getting into our faces and touching us and yelling about healing me with his psychotherapy. Dude, if we’re not in an office where your degree is hanging on the wall and I’ve come there voluntarily, don’t go telling me you’re providing therapy. And if someone says, “don’t touch me,” DON’T FUCKING TOUCH HER.
We ended up at an Asian fusion place watching the kitchen staff make udon Bolognese while nibbling on a bunch of small plates. Well, they nibbled on a bunch of small plates and I ate some eggplant because vegetarians don’t eat brisket buns.
Like I told them, I love the stuff Miami has to offer, I just don’t generally want to have to talk to anyone while I’m down there.