A monthly column from Martin Crossland

Welcome to my newsletter!
Current Miami Temperature: 82°F 28°C balmy degrees
Current Miami Beach Surf Temperature: 86°F 30°C degrees

2008 Miami Spice is Hotter Than Ever!
Miami Spice 2008 is a mouth-watering summer restaurant promotion showcasing the very best of Miami cuisine.

During August and September, Miami's top restaurants offer three-course meals (Lunch US$23, Dinner US$36) featuring signature dishes created by world-renowned chefs. Discover the tropical fusion of ingredients that makes Miami dining so wonderfully out of the ordinary.

An epicure's paradise awaits you in Greater Miami and the Beaches!

An epicure's paradise awaits you in Greater Miami and the Beaches! Click here here for more details.

Solar power's day has dawned
Finally, solar power seems to be gaining traction in Florida, where the rooftops ought to be blanketed with this hugely promising technology. Florida Power and Light has announced plans for three new solar power plants.

Germany has become a world leader in solar energy despite lots of cloudy weather. Rooftop photovoltaic systems, which convert sunlight into electricity, have boomed because of a law requiring utilities to pay solar producers a big premium over the market rate for their energy.

A good plan for Florida might be to phase in a solar rooftop requirement for homes and businesses as part of building codes, using subsidies and other incentives to attract producers of solar equipment and cut its price until sales volume works it wonders.

There are economically sensible ways to stop wasting so much of the colossal amount of solar energy that hits Florida every day.

State regulators on Tuesday will consider Florida Power & Light's request to build three solar plants that would include the largest of its type in the world.
Published by Fort Myers News-Press

Kate Moss in Miami
Kate Moss is featured on the cover of this month's W Magazine. The shoot, which features her and several other models, took place at The Standard Hotel on Miami Beach.

W Magazine has a very revealing photographic and video report on this event. Be forewarned, there is some nudity. When Kate models shoes, it's just shoes!
See the fashion shoot here.
Thanks to PlumTV Miami Beach for this snippet.

Gala Choruses reports success from Miami Festival 2008
Excitement and fun was had by all last week by the over 5,000 attendees of GALA Choruses Festival 2008 in Greater Miami. Over 130 choruses from around the world performed center stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

Opening and Closing ceremonies were held at the James L. Knight Center highlighting GALA’s 25th Anniversary. Special parties were held at Jungle Island and Nikki Beach.

GALA Choruses is the leading association committed to serving the GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) choral movement in the United States and abroad.

Art Deco Welcome Centre has a new location: 1200 Ocean Drive
The Miami Design Preservation League's Art Deco Welcome Center (now called the Art Deco Gift Shop) has a new look and a new location. The Art Deco Gift Shop is now located at 1200 Ocean Drive, on 12th Street just west of Ocean Drive in Miami Beach. The spacious new Gift Shop features all kinds of Deco paraphernalia, including posters from past Art Deco Weekends, T-shirts, books, vintage jewelry, custom lampshades and much more!

Art Deco Walking Tours will now depart from the new 12th Street location at 10:30 a.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday; and at 6:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Art Deco Gift Shop hours are 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Florida Everglades
Development plans to build a huge Lowe's "Do-it-yourself" centre near the Everglades were shot down by the Florida Department of Community Affairs.

Earlier this year the Miami-Dade County Commission approved plans to build past the Urban Development boundary, which is set up to protect the Everglades. Environmental groups gathered 2-thousand signatures in less than a month asking Florida Governor Charlie Crist to intervene.

Damien Filer Works with Progress Florida, the group that fought the development and hosted the petition signing, and said his group couldn't have stopped the development without help from Floridians. "People made their voices heard, they said we already have over a hundred Lowe's in Florida, we only have one Everglades, it's a national treasure and we want to protect it."

Filer expects Lowe's to appeal the decision so Filer set up a link on Progress Florida's website directing people to send an email to the president of Lowe's. So far hundreds of people have participated.

If you ain’t with me you’se agin me!
A T-shirt controversy in St. Johns County has prompted critics to question the actions of Sheriff David Shoar.

The controversy began when the sheriff donated several T-shirts at a gathering of military veterans. However, the slogan on the shirts upset some anti-war protesters.

Mary Lawrence said she never wins anything, so she was very happy when she won a gift bag at a veteran's event. "I took it home and later that night, when I opened it, I discovered the shirt and my head just exploded. I couldn't believe the sheriff was passing out this shirt," Lawrence said.

On the front of T-shirt there is an image of a marksman aiming a rifle. The back of the shirt states, "If you can't stand behind our troops, do us all a favor and stand in front of them."

The sheriff said the intention of the shirts was not to upset people but to help veterans.

Fear not, St. John’s County is a loooong way from Miami!

Grey Highways
Florida’s driving population is getting older. By the year 2025, one in four drivers will be over the age of 65. As Whitney Ray tells us, AAA says the state’s not prepared to handle more senior drivers.

Sharon Moses just turned 65. She’s still driving but knows someday she may have to hang up her keys. “I can remember my mother when she was still driving at 82 and it scared me to death and we finally had to take the car keys away from her,” says Moses.

Florida’s senior population is growing. About one in seven drivers is over the age of 65 but they’re responsible for about 15 percent of all fatal accidents.

In Florida people can renew their driver’s license through the mail until they turn 80, after that a vision test is required for renewal. Not all seniors are against more testing.

Lucky You!
Florida's biggest lottery payoffs look like chump change now.
Powerball -- the multistate-lottery game known for its megajackpots topping US$300 million -- is bouncing into Florida Lottery retailers, the state announced Wednesday.

Florida is the 30th state to join the game, along with Washington, D.C., and the Virgin Islands. A US$1 ticket buys a chance to match five white balls and one red ball drawn Wednesday and Saturday nights -- and a possible nine-digit payoff.

As for winning an instant retirement, you still have a better chance of being struck by lightning, bitten by a shark or maybe both at the same time. The odds of winning Powerball's top prize: 1 in 146 million. By contrast, chances of taking the Florida Lotto grand prize are 1 in 23 million.

The politics of sanctity
Henry Flagler reinvented Florida long before Walt Disney reinvented Florida.

Flagler came south in the waning years of the 19th century and began building railways and fancy hotels all up and down our long, skinny peninsula.

The politicians loved his generosity of ... er ... spirit.

Let's just say Flagler collected pols like a mail-order Sears Roebuck suit collected lint. Florida and Flagler were born for each other. A state on the make, and a tycoon here for the take.

One thing, though. Flagler left behind him in New York a wife who was, not to put too fine a point on it, insane. He wanted a divorce so he could marry a younger woman, and he expected his newly reinvented state to give it to him.

Alas, Florida law didn't deem insanity grounds for divorce. Right! On April 9, 1901, a bill was quietly introduced in the Legislature declaring that "incurable insanity in either husband or wife shall be a ground for dissolution" of marriage.

On April 25, Gov. William Sherman Jennings signed it into law without fuss or fanfare. Sixteen days! Had to be a record! "Nobody is sure how many legislators Flagler purchased wholesale, but the vote on what everybody except those in state government called 'the Flagler Divorce Bill' wasn't even close," Diane Roberts wrote in her marvelous book about Florida, "Dream State."

One lawmaker who voted for it was Napoleon Bonaparte Broward, a sometime gun runner turned populist. Flagler got his divorce. And Broward got himself elected governor. Whereupon, Roberts writes, Broward had the Flagler divorce bill repealed "with a maximum of righteous table-whacking and rococo speeches from legislators about the sanctity of marriage."

Welcome to Florida, the Sometime Sanctity of Marriage State.

I only bring this story up because it helps to remember where we've been when we think about where we're going. Part of Florida's charm is that it was built by rascals. An unending succession of con men and land speculators, rum runners and gamblers, scallywags and politicians of easy virtue. Politicians who would serve up quickie divorces to billionaires with one hand while pounding the bully pulpit about the sacred status of marriage with the other.

So now we're fixing to undergo yet another round of "righteous table-whacking and rococo speeches" about the sanctity of marriage in Florida. This time said sanctity allegedly being undermined, not by a ruthless land baron, but by the imminent threat of gay marriage. What's that you say? It's already against the law for gays to get married in Florida. Oh pshaw. On any given day the bleeding heart liberals who run the legislature and the courts could legalize gay weddings. Just like they've outlawed guns, abolished the death penalty and shoved secular humanism down our throats. Gotta nip that sort of thing in the bud.

That's why we're all going to get to vote on the Florida Marriage Amendment in November. Before some latter-day, gay Henry Flagler comes down here and buys himself a bunch of politicians so he can get legally hitched at sunset on the dock in Key West.

Wait a minute! Is this campaign really necessary? What's the real agenda here? Here's a hint. Mathew Staver, chair of the conservative political action group Liberty Counsel, predicts that a "tsunami of voters" will turn out in November to support the gay marriage ban. In other words, the Florida Marriage Amendment is less about protecting the sanctity of marriage than keeping Florida firmly in the "R" column.

"Let's call this proposed state constitutional ban on gay marriage exactly what it is," said an editorial in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, "unneeded, divisive and a transparent attempt to get the ultra-conservative vote."

The thing is that this is a monster election year. And the "ultra-conservative vote" isn't all that excited about the prospect of a John McCain presidency. And this makes Republicans in the legislature and Florida's congressional delegation very nervous indeed. What if the evangelical vote elects to stay home on election day? What if Barack Obama has coat-tails in Florida? What if W's dismal approval numbers sink even lower? Floridians might do the unthinkable and start electing Democrats again. Hence the Florida Marriage Amendment. A little red meat to throw at the true believers. A little something to coax them off their pews and into the voting booth.

Florida politics have a tradition of dividing us against one another for maximum advantage. Sidney Catts got elected governor by demonizing Roman Catholics, and more than one of his successors held on to power by demonizing blacks. Back when they put the "English Only" amendment into the state constitution it served the useful purpose of capitalizing on public resentment against the influx of Hispanics. This being before Hispanics became an influential voting bloc in their own right.

The thing is, we are running out of easily demonized groups in this presumably more enlightened era. Gays may be the last easy target of opportunity left. "Confusion to the enemy," Ed Ball, another wheeler-dealer who reinvented Florida after Henry Flagler but before Walt Disney, used to say as he knocked back his whisky. Ball having had to go all the way to the Florida Supreme Court to secure his own divorce.

But make no mistake. The "enemy" that most worries promoters of the Florida Marriage Amendment isn't the gay who dreams of shoes and rice. It's the Democrat who dreams of turning a red state back into a blue state.

Ron Cunningham is editorial page editor of The Gainesville Sun. Read his blog, Under The Sun.



7/24/08 – 8/17/08

Slava's Snowshow

7/25/08 – 8/17/08

Miami Libre - World Premiere


Summer Ballroom Cabaret Series

7/30/08 – 8/3/08

7th Miami Salsa Congress


CGCC Summer Concert Series - Mark Kosower

8/1/08 – 9/30/08

Miami Spice Restaurant Month

Through 11/2/08

Excavating Egypt: Great Discoveries from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

Through 1/25/09

Interama: Miami and the Inter-American Dream



Cosecha 2008 Concert Series: Aquiles Baez - La Patilla

8/2/08 – 8/3/08

Salsa Bootcamp


The Children’s Trust Family Expo


CGCC Summer Concert Series - Ellis Marsalis

8/23/08 – 11/2/08

20th Century Spanish Drawings from the Fundación Mapfre Collection


CGCC Summer Concert Series - Brubeck Brothers Quartet

8/29/08 – 8/31/08

International Gem & Jewelry Show

8/29/08 – 9/2/08

Miami Home Design & Remodeling Show

8/29/08 – 9/14/08

XIII International Ballet Festival of Miami


Cosecha 2008 Concert Series: Luz Marina

8/30/08 – 8/31/08

Championship Club Series – Motorcycle


August issue of Visit Florida