Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida, Europe and Sweden. 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 me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

North Miami Beach in the World Series -Steve Nicosia makes sure the first time's the charm! NMB High grad Steve Nicosia was the first Charger to play in the World Series, on the victorious Willie Stargell-led "We Are Family" Pirates team of 1979; @Pirates, #NorthMiamiBeach

With the World Series slated to start tomorrow night between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals, i wanted to share a little bit of information I know and have been keen to post about for quite some time, and that time is now, since it's World Series-related and a local South Florida angle.

The first North Miami Beach High School grad to ever play in baseball's major leagues was also the first former Charger to ever play in MLB's World Series, catcher Steve Nicosia 
of the victorious Willie Stargell-led "We Are Family" Pirates team of 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates in 1979, against my beloved Baltimore Orioles, whom I grew-up loving, and was a mini-season ticket holder of when I was living and working in the D.C. area 20 years later, and going to about 20-25 Oriole home games a year at Camden Yards.

I watched every pitch of those painful 7 World Series games from the packed TV room of Briscoe Quad, while I was at IU my freshman year, back when only the affluent -esp girls- had a TV in their own dorm room. Trust me, I knew exactly which of my friends had a TV and what their favorite programs were, but some things need to be watched in large groups.
Even if they're Pirate fans, as most of the people in that room were.

(Did I ever mention to you dear blog readers how many people from the greater Pittsburgh area went to beautiful Indiana University in Bloomington? 
Trust me, it's huge, in part because it's only about 410 miles east of Bloomington -a day trip. The most-famous IU grad from Pittsburgh this far is Marc Cuban, @mcuban.

Nobody I met at IU from Pittsburgh was a better advertisement for what a great school IU was or better company to be around than my friend, Laura Seitz. Laura was a freshman when I was a sophomore, and she lived on the same floor at Briscoe Quad where I already had a LOT of close female friends, and eventually we met and became friends because our personalities really meshed well. Among my male friends, Laura was renown for always turning so many heads when she combined her sporty good looks with her shiny red adidas IU Swimming sweat jacket whenever we went to see a movie or met in-between classes over at the Student Union, or went to an IU soccer game at the-then new Armstrong Stadium, two blocks away from Briscoe. Laura was such a charmer and so honest and level-headed! The sort of friend you can confide in and trust in any kind of situation, no matter how upsetting or awkward, and genuinely feel a great weight lifted off of your shoulders after you've shared the news with her. I always thought she'd make a great psychiatrist, esp. in Left Coast Hollywood, as opposed to the one here north of Hallandale Beach. Just a great friend to have in good times and bad.)

So getting back to the main point of today's post, just to give you some helpful context, Steve Nicosia, who still lives in South Florida with his family, was about six years older than me when he was in high school at NMB, while yours truly was doing my thing over at Fulford Elementary, in 5th and 6th grade his last two years at NMB, when he was such a phenom.

This was back when NMB High School, on the north side of the street from the then-very prosperous 163rd Street Shopping Center, was spanking brand new and had absorbed kids whose older siblings (and parents) had gone to either North Miami or Norland,
depending upon where in Northeast/Northwest Dade their families lived.

So in a rapidly developing area with lots of well-established family and school loyalties and traditions comes a new school into the mix in NMB with neither, and located in an area of the city that was hard by the side of a huge retail complex and on another side, apartments for mostly senior citizens, a demographic which seemed almost of the city at the time.
Not exactly a target-rich environment to develop school tradition!  

What made it controversial from the start, as if that wasn't enough, was its in-vogue educational approach that most parents weren't so crazy about -no letter grades, just passing and failing.
It's hard to get into really good schools with that siort of subjective thing, obviously, regardless of tests scores, so parents and high-achieving kids were not down with the way things were being done

It's hard to imagine now in 2013, but there was no high school in Dade County north of N.E. 135th Street and east of I-95 -or Aventurauntil NMB showed-up in 1971 and shattered that longstanding reality of life.

Yes, that's the sort of reality I can still recall, since I walked with my mother and two younger sisters on our way to 163rd Street Shopping Center thru the future NMBHS when it was merely a willowy field, from the nice apt on NE 170th Street I lived in while going to Sabal Palm Elementary for 2nd grade.

When it opened and while Nicosia was there, NMBHS was an "experimental" school, a bit of a fad that the Dade County School Board decided to try out with kids from NE Dade as guinea pigs, as if the fact that it was a gigantic two-story building with no windows wasn't enough of a tip that it wasn't a regular high school, though with cool air conditioning and carpeting everywhere.

(I wrote a fact-filled description of NMBHS in the early years about 6-7 years ago on Wikipedia, an entry that really put some meat on what was then present there, which I regarded as a paltry and unappealing description of the school.
Unfortunately, over the years, the "helper bees" at Wikipedia have taken a knife to the facts I added and turned it into a bland stew last time I checked it two years ago, removing about 75% of what I'd posted, though some scraps remain.
I'll try to remember to re-post that Wiki description I wrote here in the future, which you still sometimes find on the Internet when looking for NMB-related news of the 1970's, esp. re the 163rd Street Shopping Center.)

By almost any reasonable measure, Steve Nicosia was South Florida's most-celebrated HS baseball player between 1972 and 1974.
A result of that was that he was regularly featured on the front pages of the Herald and Miami News sports section, back before there was a Heat, Panthers and Marlins to easily distract everyone from the primacy of high school sports, and people actually going to games to support the kids even if they didn't have kids at the school, because that's what you did.
Just as is true in so many communities outside of South Florida right now.

I know about all those newspaper articles because I cut out every article on him that made it into print, since I was already a news junkie then, reading both papers every day, even when in elementary school at Fulford(Cutting out newspaper articles -how very old-school!)

Here's a more recent piece on him, from 13 years ago, though the article greatly undersells how big a deal he was down here.

The first thing about him that jumped out at you when you looked at him was that he was very un-NMB-like in appearance, in that he resembled nothing so much as a miniature Joe Mauer, a catcher who was just more naturally athletic than anyone else on the field, something that was readily-apparent the moment he was in a position to affect the flow of the game.

He was, as I recall it, a "Natural" in every sense of the word, smooth and completely in-charge on the field and quick with a bat in his hands.
To my mind at least, he was the progenitor for everything that happened later with A-Rod in HS many years later in Miami, with the constant media attention.
If the Internet or USA Today or ESPN had existed back when Nicosia played...

Allen Park, the same City of NMB baseball field next to Fulford Elementary that I played Optimist football, soccer, Little League and Pony League on, was also the field where Nicosia played American Legion ball for NMB Post 257, back when that was really huge down here.
The stands would routinely have a half-dozen MLB scouts taking notes, stop-watches at the ready.

Me being me, I'd naturally try to size up the crowd and figure out who the scouts were and then try to matter-of-factly sit near them and eavesdrop on any baseball scuttlebutt, hoping
that one might be with the Orioles. If only...
It never was on the nights I was there.

I dug up this article on the Internet which was THE best article on him for the longest time.

Miami News
May 25, 1973
The scouts can't stay away
All eyes are on NMB's Steve Nicosia
By Jeff Klinkenberg

Make sure you see the great photos above the article!

I must've stared at those photos for 5-6 years in the manilla folder I kept with all his clippings,
plus the one I cut from the extra copy of the paper I bought and then taped on my bedroom wall. 
To me, what made that black and white photo of him awesome was that because in the original that appeared in the Miami News, you could see all the sweat on his forehead and on the tops of his right shoulder coming out thru the jersey.
That was really something and people always commented on what a great photo it was

Back then, because of the novelty of the whole thing, people who didn't even live in NMB, esp. knowledgeable middle-age baseball fans, would routinely come from all over the area to the games at Allen Park.

They'd come over-and-over and even recognize me, because they'd come to gawk at him because of what they'd read, and then seen for themselves, because he was, literally, like a man-among-boys.
Trust me, that was the one-and-only time something like that EVER happened in NMB!

Chaz Stevens at his popular must-read blog, M.A.O.S. recently mentioned me in relation to my knowledge and love of baseball, which was nice of him, but the truth is that I had to reveal to Chaz recently that I was actually able to go the whole 2013 baseball season without watching a single inning of Miami Marlins baseball on TV, or listen to an inning on radio, even though I really do like their announcers.
Yes, my personal boycott of David Samson & Jeffrey Loria has remained in place since last year's team break-up, and I do hereby declare victory.

As I told many people in my original email about Nicosia, my pre-playoffs pick was the Pirates playing the Red Sox in the World Series, a rematch of the 1903 World Series, Pittsburgh vs. Boston, Cy Young over Honus Wagnerhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1903_World_Series

Other NMB grads whom you may have heard of who came after I graduated in 1979 and my sister Linda graduated in 1982, include Facebook COO and recent author Sheryl Sandberg, actress Garcelle Beauvais and best-selling author Brad Meltzer.

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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, Hollywood and Aventura.

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. But seldom if ever see...

This is particularly true in the Broward County city I live in, the City of Hallandale Beach, north of Aventura and south of Hollywood and right on the Atlantic Ocean. Here, the "Perfect Storm" of years of apathy, incompetency and cronyism are all too readily apparent. Sadly for its beleaguered 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 tremendous potential because of its terrific location and well-educated populace, yet its citizens have almost become numb to HB City Hall's frequent outrages and screw-ups, the result of YEARS of the worst kind of mismanagement and lack of foresight. On a daily basis, residents and Small Business owners 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 for others to solve in the future.

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 of my own that could try to do some of these things, taking the p.o.v. of a reasonable-but-skeptical person seeing the situation for the first time with fresh eyes, 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 in public policy and goivernment engagement. 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 of Florida's state, regional and local govt./agency officials, elected and otherwise. Hallandale Beach Blog aims to be a small step towards regaining some of that needed accountability, whether it's thru shining some well-needed public scrutiny on the issue or pol, or requires a higher degree of follow-up investigation and public exposure of the incompetency, cronyism or negligence -South Florida's usual governing style.

Paradise Lost? South Florida

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

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.


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!


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

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!

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 29-year NCAA title drought!

Let's end the 29-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

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.

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

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden

Ringvägen, Stockholm, Sweden
Poster display seen on Ringvägen, in Södermalm, Stockholm, Sweden. January 2013 photo by South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved. Here's snapshot of the poster featuring the ubiquitous St. Erik, whose crowned head is the City of Stockholm's coat of arms. 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.

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

Which European country has the most attractive citizens?

As seen in my July 31st, 2013 blog post titled, "Which European country has the most attractive citizens?" Sweden won in a landslide with almost four times as many votes as second-place France, with Spain third and Norway fourth. Yes, seeing is believing!; Norwegian.com's non-stop flights from Fort Lauderdale to Oslo start in 4 months! :) http://hallandalebeachblog.blogspot.com/2013/07/boredpandacom-poll-of-europeans-asked.html