Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, government, public policy, sports scene and pop culture of Europe, Sweden, the U.S. & South Florida. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura.
Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Gone were the topless women, and the teens who raced and stumbled across the tops of portable toilets, pelted with beer cans as they went."

Preakness, I barely knew ye.

While this Washington Post article is a little more
pronounced than some of the negative articles I've
been reading the past few months in the Baltimore
Sun on the dismal horse racing scene in Maryland,
it's a bigger part of the overall pattern.
The problem is that the patient is in critical care
and the doctors are running out of options.

Actually, compared to the tangible dynamic energy
and history of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill
Downs in Louisville, a place I love, and the first
race of the Triple Crown -always a huge getaway
weekend before the final end of school for nearly
everyone I knew at IU, due to the short distance
between Louisville and Bloomington and the fact
that SO MANY PEOPLE were from there-
The Preakness at Pimlico during my 15 years
in the Washington, D.C. area was noteworthy for
little more than the fact that the public drunkeness
there was such a neverending and embarrassing
spectacle for all concerned, not least, the State
of Maryland and the parents of the kids who
annually made a menance of themselves.

It was like a 1950's film on juvenile delinquincy
but one not lensed lovingly by Baltimore's own
Barry Levinson, and there in the track infield,
every other kid looked like a future low-life
convict that would prey upon the community,
including the longtime pals from Levinson's
Diner, which I watched again this past week.

How do you not know where to put the
Charlie Parker album, Beth?

Listening to D.C. and Baltimore media people
go on every year about it, most especially,
hearing The Sports Junkies recount crazy
stories they personally experienced or heard
about, was like hearing a trusted friend go on
and on about an old relationship with someone
whom you never met and for whom there
are no extant photos of.

You try to put it together in your head,
and keep waiting for the part of the story
where you hear what the initial attraction
was, met cute, before it wound up so
horribly, horribly wrong.

But that part never ever comes, it's always
just the seamy underside of the relationship
that gets continually discussed.

That's The Preakness!

Coming soon: discusssing the many, many
problems over at Gulfstream Park Racing
& Casino, complete with lots of photos.

Trust me, there's literally a mountain of stuff
to talk about on that subject, not just the
actual racing or the Village at Gulfstream
angle or...
And that's not just my opinion.

I just happen to be in an unusually-close position
to observe it and share my opinions, which many
people across the country have written to me
about over the two-plus years this blog has
been operating.

One thing is certain, people are tired of being
disappointed by it and the customer service
experience, over and over.

At Troubled Preakness, a Sobering Attendance Drop

By Lisa Rein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 17, 2009

BALTIMORE -- The future of Maryland's storied horse racing industry might be a matter of debate, but one thing was clear yesterday at the yearly race that has been the state's biggest sports event for more than a century: The Freakness is gone.

The usually crammed infield at the Preakness Stakes, which earned that nickname because of drunken fighting and other forms of debauchery, was far from full as post time neared. Gone were the topless women, and the teens who raced and stumbled across the tops of portable toilets, pelted with beer cans as they went.

To restore civility to what had become little more than an all-day party, officials at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore banned spectators this year from bringing their own beverages, including beer, onto the infield. The move contributed to a 30 percent drop in attendance, and it drew plenty of complaints.

"I'm here, but I'm not happy," said Chad Jones, 35, a mortgage broker from Baltimore. He was among a smattering of fans on an infield that ordinarily draws 60,000.

Those who stayed home forfeited the chance to see Rachel Alexandra become the first filly to win the Preakness in 85 years, holding off Kentucky Derby victor Mine That Bird by one length and Musket Man by 1/2 lengths.

Rachel Alexandra had drawn all the pre-race attention after her victory in the Kentucky Oaks the day before the Derby, and she did not disappoint yesterday as she led the all-male field for almost the whole race, covering the 1 3/16 miles in 1:55.08.

That so few people turned out to see the race was the latest blow to Pimlico and the Preakness, the second race in the coveted Triple Crown.

Attendance dropped 7.5 percent last year, to 112,222, and it fell yesterday to 77,850, track officials said. A referendum legalizing slot machines in Maryland has produced no money for the state's ailing horse racing industry. And Magna Entertainment, the Canadian conglomerate that owns the Preakness, is in financial straits.

The company filed for bankruptcy in March, saying it would put Pimlico up for auction. It relented only after Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and state lawmakers threatened to seize the track by eminent domain.

O'Malley, on a tour of the stables before post time, repeated his pledge to "do everything we can" to keep the Preakness at Pimlico.

"I look forward to seeing it run for another 134 years," he said in a nod to the Preakness's first race at Pimlico, in 1873.

Tom Chuckas, president of the Maryland Jockey Club, which operates Pimlico, said he expected the ban to cut into ticket sales this year and next. Even so, he said, the infield -- a world away from the dresses and heels, linen suits and fedoras worn by some in the grandstand -- needed to change.

"We're trying to elevate the experience for everybody," he said. "Sometimes a short-term loss turns into a long-term gain."

Beer and black-eyed Susans, the event's signature drink, still could be had. But thousands of racing fans -- and fans of one of Maryland's wildest parties -- could not be consoled by a 16-ounce plastic cup of Budweiser for $3.50.

"We're missing about 30,000 people right now," said Sean Robinson, a track employee who was checking coolers to ensure that no beverages were smuggled in.

In an effort to keep the infield crowd, ZZ Top performed, and a bikini contest was held. An 8-11 a.m. breakfast bash featured $1 drafts of Bud Light.

None of that was enough to bring back Ryan Goff, 24, a Baltimore resident who works in media marketing and started one of many Facebook groups that protested the change. "What's the point of going?" someone wrote on one of the pages. "As if there's some reason to be there other than drinking and partying."

Reached by phone, Goff said, "For them to make this change was ludicrous for a struggling racetrack."

For all the criticism, the new policy also drew some new spectators. Mark Lennon, 30, who works at the University of Baltimore Law School, said he had stayed away from the infield for years because of its rowdy reputation.

"I was hesitant to come," Lennon, of Baltimore, said. "I'd like the day to be about the actual event, which is horses."

Reader comments:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hallandale Beach Blog is where I try to inject or superimpose a degree of accountability, transparency and insight onto Florida and local Broward County government and public policy issues, which I feel is sorely lacking in local media now. On this blog, locally, I concentrate my energy, enthusiasm, anger and laser-like attention on the coastal cities of Hallandale Beach and Hollywood.
If you lived in this part of South Florida, you'd ALREADY be stuck in stultifying traffic, paying higher-than-necessary taxes and continually musing about the chronic lack of accountability among not only elected govt. officials, but also of city, county and state employees as well. Collectively, with a few rare exceptions, they couldn't be farther from the sort of strong results-oriented, eager work-ethic mentality that local residents deserve and expect.
This is particularly true in the town I live in, the City of Hallandale Beach, just north of Aventura and south of Hollywood. There, the "Perfect Storm" of years of apathy, incompetency and cronyism are all too readily apparent.
Sadly for its residents, HB is where even easily-solved, quality-of-life problems are left to fester for YEARS on end, because of myopia, lack of common sense and ineffective supervisory management. It's a city with lots of potential because of its terrific location, yet its citizens have become numb to its outrages and screw-ups after years of the worst kind of mismanagement and lack of foresight. On a daily basis, they wake up and see the same old problems that have never being adequately resolved by the city in a logical and responsible fashion, merely kicked -once again- further down the road.
I used to ask myself, not always rhetorically, "Where are all the enterprising young reporters who want to show that through their own hard work and enterprise, what REAL investigative reporting can produce?" Hearing no response, I decided to start a blog that could do some of these things, taking the p.o.v. of a reasonable but skeptical person seeing the situation for the first time, and wanting questions answered in a honest and logical way that citizens have the right to expect.

Hallandale Beach Blog intends to be a catalyst for positive change. If there's one constant gripe in South Florida, regardless of your age, race, nationality or political persuasion, it's about the fundamental lack of PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY here among Florida's state, regional and local govt./agency officials. Hallandale Beach Blog aims to be a small step towards regaining some of that needed accountability, whether it's thru simple public scrutiny, or requires a degree of follow-up investigation and public exposure of incompetency, cronyism or simple negligence -South Florida's usual governing style.
Unless otherwise indicated, all ORIGINAL photos appearing here were taken by myself. © 2014 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. The use or modification of original photos or original images appearing on this blog WITHOUT the written permission of the author is expressly prohibited. DO NOT modify or alter any original photo/image on this blog and use it in any other media, whether for commercial advertising, marketing purposes, political campaign advertising, or on any Social Media platform or digital media forum. Do NOT modify or alter the photos or use them in a confusing way that suggests sponsorship or endorsement, or in a way that seeks to confuse Hallandale Beach Blog with another blog. This includes but is not limited to sites such as Dipity, Facebook, flickr, MySpace, Pinterest, Posterous, Topsy, Twitter, YouTube or VIMEO. Original photos and images also can NOT be used as avatars or icons on website forums.
Some older elements and building blocks formerly seen at Hallandale Beach Blog, such as photos, graphics and videos have been moved into cold storage. Visit them again or see what you've missed at: http://hallandale-beach-blog.blogspot.com/

New this year: you!

New this year: you!
Close-up photo of the cute head-turning window display at the Apotek Hjärtat -Sweden's largest independent pharmacy chain- located at Ringvägen 113, near the Skanstull T-bana in Södermalm, Stockholm. Sign reads, "Årets nyhet: du! Ett helt nytt och obrukat år är här. Just nu känns det lite lättare att välja om, förändra vanor och bryta gamla mönster. Vi hjälper gärna till. Du vill, du kan, du törs!' (New this year: you! A brand new and unused year is here. Right now it feels a little easier to choose, change habits and break old patterns. We're happy to help. You want to, you can, you dare!) Sounds like good advice that I ought to be following, too! January 12, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Paradise Lost? South Florida

Paradise Lost? South Florida
TIME magazine of November 23, 1981: Paradise Lost? South Florida . Click photo to see original article.

A fish rots from the head down, and so does local government in Hallandale Beach, FL

A fish rots from the head down, and so does local government in Hallandale Beach, FL
City of Hallandale Beach Municipal Complex, 400 S. Federal Highway. The City of Hallandale Beach Municipal Complex: If it's true that a fish rots from the head down, so it does in local government in Broward County, FL. This monument sign on the west side of the intersection of U.S.-1 and S.E. 5th Street, across from Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and the Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex, alerts you to your proximity to HB City Hall and the HB Police Department HQ. It's a place and culture whose very own words and actions have made clear to taxpayers of this city -regardless of age, race or income- that it holds itself apart from and above from the very citizens it's supposed to serve, often acting like they don't have to follow the same laws that govern everyone else in the state of Florida and the U.S., whether of logic, reason or contracts. (More to the point of this blog, the Florida Statutes on Sunshine Laws and Public Records.) City employees in Hallandale Beach routinely refuse to answer perfectly reasonable questions posed to them by taxpayers, and as I have found out myself and witnessed, are not above berating you for even having the nerve to ask! As it happens, it's also not a very safe area, despite who operates here, and over the past nine years, the public parking lots have often been pitch-black for 6-9 months at a time, including in front of the HB Police Dept. HQ. Then-Police Chief Thomas Magill even shrugged his shoulders at City Comm. meetings when told about this a few times. As if they couldn't make a worse first impression, at one point, even the spotlights shining on this sign didn't work at night for over FOUR YEARS, either. October 13, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Palm tree, Stars & Stripes

Palm tree, Stars & Stripes
Palm tree obstructing the sun at Hallandale Beach City Hall, May 28, 2012 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and Village at GP retail complex, Hallandale Beach, FL

Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and Village at GP retail complex, Hallandale Beach, FL
Entrance monument to Gulfstream Park Race Track & Casino and The Village at Gulfstream Park retail complex on U.S.-1 & SE 3rd St. Hallandale Beach, FL. October 5, 2010 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Hallandale Beach Water Tower, looking east from State Road A1A/South Ocean Drive; May 2009 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved

Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard)

Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard)
Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard) wearing the teal-colored Miami Dolphins cap I gave her in January 2013 (in Stockholm) while recording her 2nd album, "The Grazing Grounds" at Sandkvie Studios in Visby, Gotland, Sweden. Also pictured here are sound engineer and co-producer Linus Larsson and musician/DJ/co-producer Mats Jönsson, April 12, 2013.Click the photo to see her videos, read my blog posts and Tweets about her and learn more about this dynamic and original talent with personality to spare!

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers
Before I was a Hoosier, I was an NMB Charger, Class of 1979.

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation
"In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation." -South Beach Hoosier, 2007.

Let's end the 28-year NCAA title drought!

Let's end the 28-year NCAA title drought!
IU All-American and U.S. Olympian Steve Alford on the cover of the 1987 Indiana University basketball media guide, months after IU won the NCAA basketball title.

The NCAA Championship Banners

The NCAA Championship Banners
Assembly Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. I was there in 1981 for NCAA Title #4 vs. North Carolina. Click on photo to go to the IU Basketball homepage.

Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot

Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot
Like longtime U-M fans everywhere, including me, Sebastian the Ibis, the U-M mascot, hasn't had very much to cheer about lately, given the general state of mediocrity and underwhelming performances coming from the Hurricanes. Isn't it about time for fans to finally see some tangible signs that the new AD is moving things in the right direction? Where are the signs? I'm NOT seeing them. The woeful U-M Women's program is largely composed of teams that are NOT even close to being competitive for NCAA titles like their ACC competition, and they don't even field Women's Lacrosse or Field Hockey teams. It's embarrassing! Click on Sebastian for retrospective photo gallery of The Orange Bowl


The welcoming party that greeted me at the luggage carousel at Arlanda Stockholm Airport in January of 2013 was... ABBA. As seen in my May 7, 2013 blog post. Click photo to see that post!

Congratulations Sweden - 200 years of peace! Solveig Rundquist (@RundquistS)


Hej #STHLM, jag saknar dig, hejdå. So wish I was there RIGHT NOW!

Using a map of Stockholm and my Samsung mobile's Latitude app to find out where some friends and contacts in Stockholm were before I called to let them know I'd arrived from Arlanda Airport and had checked into the B&B in Södermalm. If only it had been an OpenStreetMap! January 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved; Click the photo to see OpenStreetMap's amazing map of Stockholm and a whole world of useful maps you never even knew existed

Solrea - Sveriges bästa resesök

Solrea - Sveriges bästa resesök
The colder and snowier it got in Stockholm, the more this simple ad seemed like genius. Sometimes, you don't have to reinvent the advertising wheel. When you're a travel agency and it's cold and snowing, make your target audience think of summers and traveling to an inviting warm beach. Above, one of the many Sistaminuten.se display ads I saw on the side of pay phones throughout Stockholm. This one was located on Ringvägen, across the street from the Åhléns Dept. store (with the Hemköp grocery store in the basement that I frequented) west of busy Götgatan and the Skanstull T-bana, the southern commercial heart of trendy and fun Södermalm. January 11, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. I used this photo in my April 22, 2013 blog post titled, Tourism game-changer for South Florida travelers & Fort Lauderdale-area businesses -but only if they're smart and start planning now. Ruminations on the upcoming Norwegian.com flights b/w Ft. Lauderdale and Oslo, Stockholm & Copenhagen, and the need for Broward's hospitality industry to take full-advantage of the opportunity; @Oslo, @norway, @stockholm, @sweden, @copenhagen, @denmark. Click photo to see that post

More travel advertising in Stockholm

More travel advertising in Stockholm
Speaking of advertising, only two blocks from the wonderful 4trappor B&B I stayed at in Södermalm, Stockholm on my trip -and also located on Ringvägen- were two more display ads promoting travel. The one in the distance is for SAS, Scandinavian Airlines Systems, which I flew on to Stockholm, and the one in the foreground, on a public telephone booth, is the "Holiday is where the Heart is" ad campaign for VING. January 12, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. Click the photo to see their TV ad!

Risk för snöras, istappar

Risk för snöras, istappar
One of the many such warning signs that I saw on buildings and on sidewalk barricades while in Stockholm in mid-January 2013, alerting you to the possibility of falling snow and ice, often by men shoveling it off roofs. This one was spotted on a residential building in the Södermalm area of Stockholm, on Ringvägen, while I was walking over to the Åhléns Department store on Götgatan. It wasn't until I was walking back later to the B&B that I noticed the inflated Santa that some resident had intentionally placed outside of their window, so it looked like Santa was falling! January 13, 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier.© 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden
Poster display on Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden. January 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. The Affischplats plan in Stockholm, while not perfect, strikes me as a pretty good compromise in helping cultural and civic groups catch the public's eye in a way that's better than a free-for-all of groups plastering posters on the sides of buildings and utility boxes, and watching as the weather makes a mess of them. The tangible effort the city makes to get the public involved in a genuine and meaningful conversation about what is going on long-term for the city as a whole, or in a particular neighborhood, is very impressive, and made me wishful that the local government employees and planners where I live and write about regularly in my blog and in conversations with other concerned civic activists did even one-third of what Stockholm's planning employees seem to do as a starting-point.