Friday, October 24, 2003


This will be my last dispatch until I get home on Sunday night, as this appears to be the only internet cafe in this town and it's not open on weekends. While I'm having a great deal of fun, I don't like everything about this place. Too many cars for one thing and although there aren't a lot of highrises, it's not quaint and pretty like most beach towns, the architecture is uninspired and there's no beautifully landscaped cottages around. I guess that should be expected, it's not really a town after all, but a beach city. Still I walked around some of the nearby neighborhoods a few blocks away from the beach and absolutely everyone's front yard is a parking lot. Even what appear to be single family homes have at least six spaces. Not attractive.

Still, there is much to like. For one thing the Goodyear blimp has been buzzing the beach and the immediate neighborhood since yesterday. It's really low and moving slow. My friends know that it's been a lifelong dream of mine to get a ride on that blimp. Somehow watching it hang over my neighborhood last night, so close it felt like you could touch it, made that dream feel a little closer. I was tempted to shout up and ask for a ride, though they weren't really low enough to hear me.

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The local real estate agency next to this cafe has the greatest collection of Beatle's memorabilia I have ever seen. No one seems to ever be in the office, but there's signed poster in the window and the whole room is filled with rare items. I can't believe he leaves it out like that. It looks to be worth a significant amount of money, enough to tempt a smash and grab thief. I may call the guy before I leave to get the story.

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This whole town seems to be a pick-up joint. I can't believe the number of times I've been hit on here. Last night's offer for a one night stand came from Jim, obviously a rabid Marlins fan, he was dressed in the team uniform and extremely drunk. He was sitting with Austin, a street person he had just befriended and brought into the restaurant so he could sell his handmade palm frond roses. Austin doesn't like it here. He says the rich people are mean to the beach vendors and he is just trying to get his life back together enough to get a room and a regular job. I liked his honesty, he was totally guileless. I bought a rose for two bucks.

Jim was so drunk he was nearly incoherent so I never did figure out what he did for a living but he said he had a huge boat and that spending a day fishing on it would be the dream day of a lifetime. He wandered off as soon as I declined. I was chuckling over it as I made my way to the Pumping Station to watch the ball game for a while. I like that place. The people are very friendly, everyone talks to you and no one has tried to get me into bed there. Plus they have the cheapest beer in town.

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Having made it to bed early I got up in time to have breakfast at Louie's Diner. I love diners in general and this one although it was housed in a storefront instead of a diner car, was the quintessinal mom-and-pop establishment. I assume Louie was the cook and he was a maestro of the short order grill. My eggs were perfect and I watched him turn out batch after batch of equally perfect orders, including perfect poached eggs which you can't even usually find.

Clearly a local joint, almost undiscovered by the tourists although only a block off the main tourist track. Louie takes his food seriously. He noticed one of diners had not eaten their pancakes and checked with them to find out why. He seemed genuinely concerned that they enjoyed their meal. Charming joint, if you're in Lauderdale, forget the tourist traps on the beach that give you huge plates of mediocre food, eat at Louie's.

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Another thing I really like about this town is the newspapers. I have a new respect for the Miami Herald. I still don't necessarily believe what they say but I'm impressed with the scope of their coverage, particularly on international news, it's huge and it only costs a quarter. Makes my local rag that costs twice as much and is lucky to hit 28 pages total, look even more pathetic.

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Well that's it for the weekend kids. For those of you who are going into drug war news withdrawal, I leave with this link to the DRC newsletter which is the first to arrive this week. Be sure to check out their corrupt cop of the week section.


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