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.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Media-generated lists of merit, awards, magazine covers and always seeing what you want to see -classic absurd Leonard Pitts Jr.

Today I have the latest case of some Classic
Leonard Pitts, Jr. behavior, wherein not
actually knowing the facts in a situation isn't
a barrier to his having an opinion.

As predictable as the sun-rise in the East,
Leonard Pitts, Jr.
of the Miami Herald sees
race, rather than simple laziness, cronyism,
cliquishness, brown-nosing or any other other
motivation to explain away results about a media-
generated list he doesn't particularly care for.

Not that he could be bothered to actually look at
the list:
"The fact that the list is (from what I've heard,
I still haven't opened the links) lily white only

See the rest of the post at Richard Prince's blog,
Journal-isms at the Maynard Institute.
The institute is named for the former Oakland
editor Robert C. Maynard, who became
quite well-known for his frequent TV appearances
on ABC News' This Week With David Brinkley and
' MacNeil Lehrer Report, under a post titled
Black Pulitzer Winners See Media Lists as


As an aside, please try to think of an African-American
reporter, columnist or editor from west of Chicago
-not named Clarence Page- that you frequently see
on the three Sunday morning network TV chat shows?
Or even an Anglo reporter.
No, really, go ahead.
I'll wait.

And for the record, throw into the mix the fact
that both Denver and Dallas have already had
Black mayors while supposedly-sophisticated
Miami and Fort Laudedale have... well, you know,
NEVER have.

Meanwhile, the Usual Media Suspects & Guests
from the East Coast continue to dominate that
Sunday morning public policy niche despite rarely
if ever bringing anything new to the party to discuss.

And yet, that pattern merits not a squeak in
newspapers here or elsewhere from the likes
of Pitts.
Just saying.

I hate to be the one to break it to you all,
but as has been the case for years and years
in American society, in places large and small,
lists are not complied and awards are not given
based entirely on merit.

For instance, consider the case of the NFL's
Pro Bowl selections for the past forty years or
People magazine's annual 50 Most Beautiful

Neither is very realistic or objective, as in the '70's
and '80's, the same offensive linemen were honored
year-after-year, even in down years, while players
at other positions were honored in a more honest
fashion, based on their individual sack stats and,
frankly, whether they were seen on national TV a lot,
and could be seen, which always explains why more
Cowboys get honored than seems mathematically

It's simple -they get more exposure.
And it's no accident, either.

In that era, certain players were mortal locks to be
named even before the season started unless they
got injured during the season and missed large chunks
of playing time, while a few rare others, like Dolphins
center Dwight Stephnson, were mortal locks
precisely because they actually were that superior
to their competitors, as evidenced by the fact that
the Electors at the NFL Hall of Fame voted him in
during his first year of eligibility, 1998.

I don't know whether it's true or not but I have
heard a story that when Stephenson first became
Hall eligible, Edwin Pope of the Herald spoke on
his behalf at the annual meeting of select pro football
correspondents and past Hall enshrinees, stood-up
and said simply, "Gentlemen, Dwight Stephenson."
Then he sat down.

There wasn't anything else Pope needed to say because
Stephenson was so self-evidently a dominant player
of his era, and maybe the best ever at that position.

Likewise, People's annual best-seller is built to a large
extent on the opinions of a handful of powerful Talent
Agencies and publicists pushing -"strongly suggesting"-
clients of their who have a new film, album, exhibit
or something consumer-oriented coming-out that
the editors at People know will have some built-in
consumer interest or buzz.

They want to capitalize on that so that everyone in
the interaction is happy: agent, publicist, star and
editorial staff.

And that goes double for all popular Women magazines
that you see no mater what sort of store you go into,
whether Target, Publix or 7/11, like Vogue.
It's not journalism that decide who's on the cover,
it's strictly marketing.

Above, longtime South Beach Hoosier favorite Rachel
McAdams on January's Vogue magazine in time to
promote her new Sherlock Holmes film.

At Vanity Fair magazine, http://www.vanityfair.com/
they've long taken a much-more political and provocative
sensibility on these matters, by consciously choosing to
have a great editorial mix, with inspired and talented
journalism from the likes of Bethany McLean,
formerly of FORTUNE magazine, and someone who
really knows how to tell a story involving business,
as I've written here before.

But they still want to sell lots of magazines!

Which is why actresses Abbie Cornish, Kristen Stewart
and Carey Mulligan are on the cover of March's issue,
as seen at top, Mulligan being an Oscar-nominee.

(See October 9, 2009 Los Angeles Times,
'An Education' Carey Mulligan glows with a girl's innocence and
insight and inhabits the role of Jenny in a way viewers will never forget
http://articles.latimes.com/2009/oct/09/entertainment/et-education9 )

Plus, sometimes, the magazine editors throw in that sentimental
wild card to remain on good terms with someone who has
been out of the spotlight, for whatever reason.

Like any group of people responding to questions about
a list, or even a survey, some people take it very seriously
and try to be meticulous in their responses, while others,
if the subject is more mundane, answer whimsically
or even in a way intentionally designed to get away
from what the original intent of the list is, and highlight
someone or something else, to prove a point.
Our old friend -the wild card.

I know that, you know that, but not Leonard Pitts, Jr.

I used to see that a lot when I was younger and read
the Village Voice and saw their annual musical picks
for best this and that, their Pazz and Jop Poll, since it
seemed like every reporter and columnists doubled-down
on wild cards.

If enough self-selected people play the new wild card,
often enough, at some point, everyone else in media
is talking about the wild card because they don't want
to be left out of the conversation.

Who are they?
What have they done?

Who are they represented by? (William Morris, ICA, Gersh?
Are they connected to anyone we already know?
Are they the new "X"?

(X being anything from the media's pick for the next
Paul Newman (Matthew McConaghey) to the next
Italian sex-bomb (

The question never asked is "Are they actually talented
or a coming fad?
That's entirely beside the point.

At some point, the wild card overshadows the people on
the list that everyone agrees on, i.e. a Charlize Theron
vs. Shania Twain fight never materializes at People
because they're mortal locks.

Fearless prediction: Whenever the fabulous Shania Twain
is ready to come back to the public with a new CD ,
People magazine will be there, ready, willing and able
to give her a cover story where she looks amazing.
(It's just that in her case, she's already amazing looking.)
Because if they aren't, US will be.

The real fights come over the low-hanging fruit, since they
are in the business of getting consumers to purchase copies
of the magazine and reading the ads and patronizing the
advertisers, not deciding whether Leighton Meester
is more deserving of inclusion than Ashley Greene in
being in the Most Beautiful People issue.

At their level, it's whoever has the buggest project coming-up.

Like any media-generated list, it's as weak as the persons
making the list.

And in the case of Pitts, a totally-predictable
Herald columnist who uses phrases like "so-called"
more than all the paper's other columnists combined,
someone who never brings anything new to his
rhetorical soap box battles, that lazy cruise-control
of his has reached the predictable point where his
NOT knowing the facts involved in a particular
situation doesn't preclude him from weighing-in
with his cliched comments, his admission in the case
above that he never even saw the list but comments
anyway, being proof positive of my point.

"res ipsa loquitur" over at One Herald Plaza!

Video: Bethany McLean on the Hedge Fund Era
Story at:

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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.
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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.