Monday, February 24, 2014

Dear Miami, I'm Breaking up with You

"Dear Miami, this is tough for me but...I uh, gotta break up with you. Now-now wait a minute...don't get upset. It's not you, it's me....well...really, it's mostly you."

!KA-POW! - to the back of my head and a quick !BITCH-SLAP! to my right cheek.

"I'm sorry, I don't hate you or anything I just can't live with you anymore." 

One more !SLAP! to my other cheek.

"Okay let me explain..."

After living my entire life as a proud Miamian, I have grown to realize how things have obviously changed in this young-girl of a city. Rampant development, a lot of it positive and much needed improvements to what was always just a seasonal destination. Locals in the service industry used to have to wait for "season" to make any real money because the rest of the year it was pretty much dead and summer being the worst time of the year, it would become a veritable ghost town. Season would usually descend upon our playground city as soon as it would cool down and the snowbirds landed, sometime after Halloween and run until about April. Now, "season" has pretty much spread to most of the other parts of the year even the traditional summer drop in business is no longer noticeable.

I refuse to join the ranks of the mass of "Miami-haters" scattered around the globe and that bad-talk Miami for so many reasons but as a Miamian, I have slowly realized that something has changed with our magic city in the process of her being a big girl. 
I wil always be grateful to Miami. She has nurtured me in her bodacious bosom and I've had too many remarkably fun and hedonistic moments that my brain can remember. She has opened my mind with her eccentricities, feeding my addiction to her nightlife. 

When you compare 100 year old (about) Miami with other cities that have centuries more years under their belts, she doesn't compare with the diversity, depth and sophistication of the grande dame cities like San Francisco, New York and Chicago. They hold the allure and inspire as say, a Marilyn Monroe or Brigitte Bardot kind of lady.

Miami is like the girl that just turned 18 and just learned how to wear makeup and walk in heels, showing off her hot new body. The minute she gets into the club with her fake ID, she has a magnetism about her that grabs everyone's attention. All the guys want to sleep with her but that's as far as it goes. That is all she has to offer, for the moment, after all she is only 18.

After years of hearing, "That's so Miami" and wondering what these people really meant, I eventually discovered it wasn't a compliment. The top criticisms of Miami I have collected over the last couple of years (from locals and non-locals) have been: 

"Well, you know Miami people are not that educated and things go slower there." 

"People in Miami don't know how to carry conversation. They only keep it on the surface." 

"If you aren't attractive, you are ignored." 

"That place is super fake and the people are flaky."

"Welcome to Miami, a sunny place with shady people."

"People in Miami are too pretentious for no reason."

"When people from Miami come in to our restaurant in New York, we always seat them in the back because they are loud and obnoxious."

Yeah I know, it hurts to hear it. All this time I thought I was pretty cool to be in such a down to earth city where the world comes to party and the people really tell it like it is. The overly expressive latin mentality gives us permission to be brutally honest, so much so that there a lot of people who are just, well Dicks. 

But aside from that, when you compare Miami to all the other cities, it is the most colorful, esthetically appealing, fun and has the best weather this side of Los Angeles. Yeah, all those things count and that puts her at the top for destination cities, gaining her ranking alongside New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The problem is not with our city, mother nature made her just right. It is a virtual paradise almost every day of the year, it's a very comfortable life. You can survive with less here than other big cities. The problem is with her "people". 

Miami has evolved into a type of new Havana where the locals with their wits about them and ability to leave, all emigrate out as soon as they can. Why do they leave? They are looking for more affordable housing, better paying jobs, a more progressive, calm lifestyle that isn't as "crazy" or stressful and after your 30's if you aren't partnered up, it can get boring. 

The ones that migrate to Miami are looking for exactly that. They want color, craziness. They want to sow their oats, and sip on the sexy, spicy, latino gazpacho under a beach umbrella with a hot ocean breeze caressing their faces. 

The problem is when a city caters to that type of tourism or residents, it changes the dynamic of the city and the locals are left feeling like the city has turned into a place not of their making. Miami is a city that never slows down and is addicted to hedonism 12 months out of the year. There never seems to be a time to slow down and reflect. Miami doesn't afford time to it's residents for respite. There is always a festival or event to rush to get ready for. 

While i'm not absolutely sure when the disconnect that exists today first occurred or what changed the air here but I do have a theory. It happened some time between the release of Will Smith's cheesy "Welcome to Miami" video and when someone dropped a hot, steamy dump inside the fitting room of the Kardashian's Dash store on their equally shitty show; The Kardashians Take Miami. It was those two events that sealed our fate and when the subterranean, asshole magnet was turned on. 

From that point on, the "asswhole invasion" began. Douchebags from around the world started to come in droves driving their douchey sport cars, yachts and private jets and with their trophy wives or mistresses in tow.

Developers started building overpriced, high-rise condos that no local salary could afford and baptizing them with egomaniacal names like; Quantum, Icon or Epic that could easily double as names for a condom brand. 

As a result of this "asshole invasion" the people that weren't assholes ended up acting like them so they wouldn't feel left out of this apparent, new normal. This is what I like to call "AAD" or Asshole Affective Disorder. As a result, of the mass AAD epidemic with South Beach at it's epicenter, the rest of Miami has seen it's good people turn into zombies walking around as if they were on a never ending fashion show catwalk with their blue-steel gazes and nonchalant, poker faces acting as if their milk shake is better than anyone else's. 

If you attempt to break rank and connect eyes or dare to greet one of these zombies with what is normal in other cities, with a simple "Hi", you will be guaranteed a quick roll of the eyes or a turn away as if you were a paparazzi trying to take their picture. 

I know it sounds like an exaggeration but the next time you are in Miami, give it a try. 

Is Miami really the coolest place to live as it's sold to be? The only way to answer is to go to other cities and really look at how people treat each other and what the vibe of a place is. 

After feeling like my home was no longer home, and no longer blaming myself for the alienation I was feeling, I decided to believe the old adage; when things no longer go right, it's time to go left. I made the painful decision to break with my hometown to shift gears, exchanging the partying life of molly for an earthy-crunchy, granola, zen existence on the "other coast" in the more gracefully matured city of San Francisco. 

After all, it is in my genes to migrate to find a better place. My parents emigrated to Miami escaping Cuban communism to get a piece of the American pie. I am blessed with a less painful option to emigrate and try another city inside this diverse and still beautiful country. We enjoy the freedom to explore other cities, to burst out of one bubble and plug into another. Sometimes home isn't where you are born but where best suits you at any given time.

"Now Miami, I ain't hating, i'm just telling you, if you're gonna play with the big boys, you're gonna have to be able to take some constructive criticism to be a real, big city one day. Don't hate me for this but it's adios for now, I hope you'll miss me when i'm gone. 

I'll probably fall back in love with you and chase you down one day, after you get over this weird, growing phase thing. For now, I am fulfilled with the eyes of kinder, warmer strangers greeting me with good mornings and hello's. Instead of an eternal tan, I enjoy basking in a softer sun and the crispy-cool pacific breeze of "fog city". 

My only hope is that in your rush to get noticed and become a big girl, you don't forget what makes a city great is not only it's great clubs, buildings or infrastructure but it's charm, sense of peace and humanity. 

Without that, you'll just keep attracting the wrong kind of people into your life."

*Tips on how to avoid and clear infection from Miami's AAD.

*A recent New Times profile of Miami's socially conscious change makers. They are the finest examples of the resistance to the invasion. It's people like these that just might save her.


Anonymous said...

Awesome!!! I left Miami and went North to NYC. Everyone needs to go through changes like the one you are going through. Good luck in San Fran!!! JMA

Anonymous said...

I wholeheartedly agree, that's why I live in Manhattan, had to escape the insulated bubble of Miami. Yes Will Smith is singlehandidly responsible for its demise.

Lisa said...

I love this! There's a little part of Miami that will miss you. I'm happy you guys broke up... This bitch is brutal!

Anonymous said...

You're moving to San Francisco to get away from assholes and high property values? Good luck with that.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. It's unfortunate that I completely agree with you, but I love the way you compare his city to a girl coming of age. It's exactly right. Miami is hot and beautiful, but still stupid and culturally bereft. In a city full of different cultures, we are lacking humanity and the desire to be better people.

Moving to San Fran is the best thing you could do. I left Miami also, but eventually came back. I was born and raised here, and I have tried to learn a new side of our not-yet-great city. My thoughts are, what kind of city will she grow up to be if all the good people get up and leave instead of taking a stand to make it better? It's up to our generation, and the next, to make Miami what it should be. To get an education and bring that back here to serve a purpose. My choice was to come back because I love this city and I want to make it a better place. I try to do so every day, even when people don't say "hi" back to me or don't let me go ahead in traffic or don't pay it forward as I wish they would. But I made up my mind to never stop trying.

Anonymous said...

I've lived in Texas, Georgia, the Carolinas, and central Florida. I've spent time in several other states and countries. It's not the city you are running away from, it's the people. What is easier is to find people you like and surround yourself with them - they are called "friends". And with "friends" it doesn't matter about the geography. I live in a quiet neighborhood in Miami that I can afford on my own. I have dozens of friends I can count on no matter what. I love Miami - particularly the weather and my friends (none of which are plastic, young, or go to clubs on S. Beach). What you described is such a small part of Miami, and like any big city, including Chicago and San Fran., they all have these types of people and areas. You can't base a city on a song and a TV show - that's not reality. Don't run away from home for a different life. Stay and make your life here different. It's like escaping a communist country - stay and fight the good fight and change what you don't like. Don't just give it up to those bent on destroying your way of life. With that being said, San Fran is fun - but very cold and often depressing and congested and full of snobby people. So enjoy.... but you'll be back, I promise.

Anonymous said...

Your post is definitely the best! Thank you for caring enough to stay!

Anonymous said...

You must be living in my neighborhood! LOL! I love it here too, can't think of anywhere in the world that is "Perfect". Best of luck to them while they search!

Anonymous said...

I will miss you and I understand your pain but as another comented, it's about genuine friendships or as we like to say "the village". That holds. Us together and keeps us sane,

Anonymous said...

Don't agree with this as I person who grew up in Miami, went to a Christian High School, graduated at Florida International University as a double major and developing my career in Coral Gables I can say that I have accomplished lots. Working a full time job at a tourist channel AND working for 6 different publications as an events photographer, helping non-profits, am in a relationship, and FULLY paying all my bills I can say that one can accomplish their dreams if they set their minds to it. Who says if you are not partnered up then your life is boring? WRONG! I surround myself with people of my peers, people who work hard like me, people who are cultures. Those "fake and arrogant" people that you mention in the column, yeah they exist but guess what? I don't hand around with them!!! There are intelligent, hard-working, professional people in Miami like myself who get together and have intelligent conversations and have fun in a safe environment. Like I said a while back in a different post, If you already don't like living Miami anymore, then YOU JUST DON'T GET IT!!!

Eric Vasallo said...

I get it. And I'm not the only one that feels the way I do. If you read my blog you will notice how many times I say it's a perfect city. It's the lack of civility and kindness that is lacking. Your comment and agressive tone only serves to prove my point. I want my hometown and I know it can. If it can only find its heart again.

Eric Vasallo said...

I'm not lo looking for perfect. I'm looking for far in San Francisco, I've found it so far. The people are wonderful and are nice without any agenda. There are more progressive and evolved places than miami. Miami can do better if it can just let go of the attitude. Peace.

Eric Vasallo said...

Yeah thanks for the well wishes. So far I found a great rent control apt in Hayes valley for less than I'd pay in a decent part of miami. (Rent control is sorely needed in miami). And so far all I've met are more than nice people. Definitely no one with the sarcasm you express here. Peace.

Johnny Diaz said...

Dear Maine,
Want to go on a date? Call me or text me.