Looking back, this quickie piece from early 2007 is especially amusing given that, A) in a show of resignation to the fact that it really is an inescapable black hole, I'm actually spending quite a bit of time in Miami these days, B) City Commissioner Tomas Regalado has just become Mayor Tomas Regalado, and C) Castro did, in fact, outlive the Orange Bowl.
"Miami: Putting the 'Fun' In Funeral" (Originally Published, 1.29.07)
This coming weekend my hometown of Miami will clear the dead bodies from the streets, kill as many of the man-eating cockroaches as possible, spray a little extra Windex on the glass case covering the giant statue of San Lazaro out in front of the Elian Gonzalez Memorial Crappy-Old-House and Museum, and of course, beg its twitchy population to please not shoot the tourists -- all in preparation for Super Bowl XLIXCCBMWNAMBLA. South Florida will once again serve the purpose for which it's suited best -- namely as an ultra-hip place to go for a weekend of drunken debauchery, followed by a quick departure lest you eventually find that your name has somehow turned up on 327 absentee ballots in favor of electing Raul "Chucho" Pajon as mayor of Hialeah in the next general election.
Make no mistake: Miami shines up real nice and it throws a decent tailgate party. This is important to keep in mind being that the city is now planning, quite literally, the ultimate bowl bash.
Call it the "Castro Bowl."*
Like someone who's escaped a cult and now devotes his life to making others aware of the secret torture he was at times forced to endure, I've more-than-once mentioned the irrepressible lunacy that accompanies my hometown's obsession with Fidel Castro. I've also reacted to controversial statements made by Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo, who called Miami a "Third World country." The fact is there's nothing "controversial" about it; Tancredo's kind of right -- even if he is an idiot. But now there's this: a story in today's Miami Herald detailing a plan by city leaders to throw a giant "Castro Death Party" in -- oh, this is beautiful -- the Orange Bowl. In keeping with the aging Cuban exile community's long-standing tradition of class and restraint, its leaders -- in particular, city commissioner and unparalleled dingbat Tomas Regalado -- are recommending that Miami's legendary football stadium be the central location for a massive festival of brassy music, salsa dancing, fried food, t-shirt stands, ass-grabbing by teen hoodlums, and no doubt anything else they can think of that will reinforce the worst kinds of Hispanic stereotypes.
So far most of the city's leaders are on board, however in a rare and stunning moment of lucidity, Cuban-American activist Ramon Saul Sanchez is warning that a giant party celebrating the death of a Third World dictator might not do much to help Miami shake its image of actually being part of the Third World. Sanchez also brings up an obvious point: The death of Fidel won't mean the death of a communist government in Cuba; Castro's equally ruthless brother Raul will simply take the reins and it'll be business as usual. Rejoicing in the death of Fidel is like celebrating the resignation of George W. Bush -- sure it may be fun for a few minutes, but then, well, Cheney.
So as you're watching this weekend's Super Bowl(TM), remember to give your travel agent a call and let him know that you want to be there for South Florida's real bowl party. Just make sure he knows that the dates are subject to change. This is Castro we're talking about. He may seem sick now, but the man will likely still be alive long after the Orange Bowl has crumbled into dust.
*Sponsored by Gus Machado Buick, WQBA, Westland Mall, Alpha 66, Marisleysis's Hair Salon and Elian Separation-Anxiety Psychotherapy Center, the Gloria Estefan Plastic Surgery Fund and Zapatos de Hombre of Little Havana