I have heard songs about the alluring characteristics of Miami, mostly by rappers, but for some reason I really had no idea what I was getting myself into by going to that wretched conglomeration of dwellings, businesses and humanoid like beings.* Miami is like a crappy reproduction of Las Vegas, which itself is a reproduction of all of the other actual interesting places in the world, and all soul, familiarity, and class has been progressively lost in the process of making these copies. It reminds me of the hit comedy Multiplicity, when Michael Keaton's clone clones himself, and the result funny in theory, but says things like, "I want to eat dolphins."
There is none of the Southern hospitality that I have grown accustomed to here- attractive lanky blondes talk to you on the street to try to lure you into garishly decorated overpriced restaurants and clubs, and Cuban gangsters drive next to you for blocks asking if they can take you somewhere and why you do not want to be their friend. This kind of superficial interaction is highly disconcerting.
Here are two excerpts of conversations I overheard between women in Miami:
In Spanish, about boyfriend trouble, "Yeah, I know it's bad, but he bought me a Coach purse."
In English, in response to a compliment from a male friend, "I look good? What, only now? I didn't look good before?"
I think you get the point. I stayed in the Deco Walk Hostel, which had ocean views over South Beach and was very stylish, but not even friendly Argentine staff, a cheap lobby bar, a roof terrace, and very low rates could make me want to stay in Miami for more than 24 hours. While there I was adopted into a party of ten wealthy conservative Ohioans who insisted I eat an inordinate amount of sushi with them, but even partaking in an enormous lobster roll and sake bomb buffet could not negate the detrimental effects of almost being forced to join a Latina gang of some kind at a music show** later that night.
(Castle? Museum? No, probably a corporate criminal's summer home)
The next day I rode a bike everywhere in the region, and while some of the architecture was stunningly beautiful and the waterfront properties were gorgeous, the historic art deco neighborhood was very disappointing and rather rundown. Other than along a few manicured pedestrian malls filled with designer stores there is no way at all do get around safely without a motor vehicle, preferably a Mercedes Benz.
(I finally found a cool old theater, but it was converted into condos, of course)
In Miami it seems that everything is trying to be something else. The hotels all look like giant cruise ships run aground, the homes look like gaudy Barbie mansions***, the bike lanes look like terribly paved gutters indeterminate from car lanes, the stores look like museums, the restaurants look like exclusive nightclubs, and the people all look like murderers who have tanned themselves to a crisp and gotten various plastic surgeries to disguise themselves from law enforcement.
The good thing about Miami is that they have an efficient regional public transit system to get one out of Miami as quickly as possible. After about 19 hours there, I was ready to take the MetroRail and a very scary county bus directly to the Everglades Hostel, which would prove to be the perfect place to recover from the psychological damage I suffered in Henry Flagler's Frankencity. ****
*I will not degrade the word by calling this place a "city."
**That billed itself as Jazz but was actually improvisational Latin Funk and intermittent rapping at a club called Jazzid. Jazzid? What does that even mean?
***I know, I owned one when I was 10. The mortgage was astronomical.
****Yes, I know that Frankenstein was actually the Doctor, but you get the point.