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 and Europe, especially the UK 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. Photo in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A, September 2008; March 2018 photo below of HB's North Beach and southern Hollywood Beach, looking left-to-right, looking north, HYDE Condominium, Etaru Japanese Robatayaki restaurant, and Hollywood Beach in the distance, with umbrellas. All photos by me, © Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

My Muhammad Ali update, with great insight into him from two longtime favorites of mine, Roy Firestone and Maureen Dowd; @RoyFirestone @NYTimesDowd

#MuhammadAli thru prism of an avid, teenage sports fan in 1970's #Miami. #transcendent #SoFL

I have seen and read so many great and inspiring things about Muhammad Ali since my initial blog post of June 3rd about him and my memories of him from the 1970's while I was growing-up in Miami and South Florida, where he spent so much time -inc. the time I actually received an award from him- that I initially thought I'd have a lot of trouble deciding what to be sure to include in any update I ever did.

In the end, though, I decided to keep it simple, something that I don't always do here on the blog.

I decided to include the contributions from two hyper-observant people that I've both long admired and have come to know to a small extent over the intervening years since first leaving South Florida for college in Bloomington and my life thereafter.
Each person, uniquely, with their own personality clearly shining through, shares some insight and reflections about Ali and what to me made Ali such a unique character in American and world history: Maureen Dowd and Roy Firestone.

I really encourage anyone who has NOT read my earlier post to do so first, since they'll gain some very useful context on me and my observations about Ali that I think will well serve you to better appreciate the three of them. Trust me, you'll be glad you did!

That June 3rd post of mine also includes a great video of Roy talking about Ali that as I have said and written elsewhere, has the great advantage of not only being funny and sweet, but 100% true.
#perceptive doesn't even begin to describe it.
I've posted it below, too.

Ironically, as it happens, I also once shared an early film review of Will Smith as Ali with Maureen Dowd in the lobby of the NY Times Washington bureau, where she works as a columnist.
That's the same lobby where for SO many years during the 15 years I lived and worked in the D.C. area, until 2003, that I used to spend a LOT of time after work with friends who not only worked upstairs at the Times, but also well-informed media-centric friends who worked nearby in downtown D.C., right around the corner of the Baltimore Orioles team store, another longtime haunt of mine.

(For those of you who are new to the blog, the Orioles store is where, on 9/11, hours after it happened, I first saw video of the Twin Towers coming down, after my colleagues and I were ordered to evacuate earlier that morning from our office, then located across the street from the FBI and Dept. of Justice on Pennsylvania Avenue, due to growing concern about the exact location of a "missing" airplane. The airplane which we subsequently came to know and grieve for which carried the very brave passengers and crew of United #93. 
Knowing that one of the planes that hit the Twin Towers that morning had originated out of Boston had filled me with dread all day because... on 9/11, one of my former Arlington housemates was a flight attendant who worked out of Logan Airport, so...) 

There in the lobby of the Army-Navy Building on Eye Street is also where, as I have blogged about previously, Maureen Dowd and I picked up our respective copies of Variety's Daily Gotham edition, Monday thru Friday. That edition is the one seldom seen in 99% of the country, and has the green masthead on the top to differentiate it from its much-larger weekly edition with the red masthead.

Even in a large and important city like D.C., there was a very tiny delivery window for the handful of people who subscribed to Daily Variety and could get it hand-delivered on a same day basis, at no extra cost, and luckily for me, 1627 Eye Street was one of them.
It helped enormously that the Motion Picture Association of America, MPAA, the U.S. film industry's trade association has its lobbying HQ in D.C. just down the block on Eye Street, which is how it came to be so many times over my 15 years there that I saw and even had a chance to talk sometimes to its iconic leader Jack Valenti, often while he was making his way down to the nearby CVS.

Sometimes, in her haste to get upstairs, depending upon who swung by the concierge's desk in the lobby first that particular morning, Maureen would grab my copy by mistake, so I'd have to take the copy with her name on the mailing label.
Which, as I've remarked here previously, occasionally, got me some pretty quizzical looks on my Metro ride home later to Arlington. :-)

Roy Firestone remembers Muhammad Ali on Good Day LA. with hosts Steve Edwards and Maria Sansone. He talked about his first interview ever, and it was interviewing Muhammad. He was only 21 years old.
FOX 11 Los Angeles YouTube Channel video, Uploaded on June 10, 2016

Muhammad Ali's Procession
The New York Times YouTube Channel, Uploaded on June 10, 2016

Muhammad Ali's Funeral
The New York Times YouTube Channel, Uploaded on June 10, 2016

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Remembering Muhammad Ali thru the prism of an avid, teenage sports fan in 1970's South Florida. To me, for so many reasons, Ali truly was "The Greatest"

As a kid with a Sports Illustrated subscription starting when I was ten in 1971, I can definitely say today, just as I could ten years ago, that this is my favorite Sports Illustrated cover -EVER.
December 23, 1974 Muhammad Ali, Sportsman of the Year

Remembering Muhammad Ali thru the prism of an avid, teenage sports fan in 1970's South Florida. To me, for so many reasons, Ali truly was "The Greatest"
This has been a very sad day for me that I've been dreading for a very long time.

Since at least the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, when Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic Torch, and so many Americans who hadn't thought of him or seen him in years, suddenly saw how Parkinson's Disease had begun to rob us of a transcendent and uniquely American personality who was both the source of so many shared joyful moments, as well as the subject of so many heated political arguments over kitchen tables and airwaves from coast-to-coast for years.

Muhammad Ali, Miami came of age together in the 1960s

Growing-up in South Florida in the 1970's, because of my interests and personality, I was fortunate enough through circumstance and by taking full advantage of opportunities I created to be able to talk fairly regularly to South Florida sports reporters and columnists of the era, many of whom spoke to and interviewed Muhammad Ali regularly whenever he was in Miami, especially those times when he was training at the Fifth Street Gym on South Beach, which was later named for another native of Kentucky who left her positive mark on Miami, Elizabeth Virrick.

A 1982 photo of Elizabeth Virrick and Muhammad Ali in a gym named in her honor.

The following video is a combination of genius and heart and will make you laugh AND cry!

(As some of you readers know, I've long thought that Roy Firestone was a genius, but then, I'm biased on that score. I first met Roy when I was a twelve-year old kid in 1973 at the Bob Griese-Karl Noonan boys summer sports camp in Boca Raton, the first of my three summers there, when Roy was one of my camp counselors while still attending the University of Miami, later becoming a friend and common sense sounding-board of sorts.
Roy is someone I've long been planned on writing about here on the blog, with several great anecdotes including a few of the "Only in Miami" sort that South Florida residents can especially appreciate! 
Roy is also the first person to ever explain to me what makes the the film The African Queen magical, before I saw it for the first time more than forty years ago in Boca Raton. 

Years later, when he was doing the Noon and Weekend sports at Miami's WPLG-TVthe ABC-TV affiliate in South Florida, before he left for LA, when it came time for me to consider where to go to college, Roy urged me to go to Syracuse instead of Indiana University, where I eventually went, or USCwhich I had always planned on attending all throughout my days at North Miami Beach Senior High School. That is, until Christmas of my senior year, when the reality of the gap in money needed for making that trip across the country to USC and my dreams of living and networking in LA, an unreachable goal. :-(
Roy suggested Syracuse in part due to the growing prestige and dynamism being attached to what was going on at the Newhouse School of Communications there, which in 1979, was before many of the more-recent but well-known grads there were actually attending. 
Perhaps if I'd gone there, I'd personally know all the very annoying Syracuse grads we all see at
ESPN and the nets, the ones who always want to tell you about how they used to make audition tapes when they were kids. Yes, we know, we know!)

What those journalists shared with me always stayed with me over the years, but I often was able to tell them a thing or two that they didn't know or were unwilling or unable to publicly acknowledge about the reality of the South Florida we lived in, as well as share Ali anecdotes that ABC Sports TV sportscaster Howard Cosell had written about in his own books, which I'd read over-and-over so much that I could practically quote entire paragraphs, to the eternal frustration of my friends and family. (Cosell's account of his times is still great books to read, all these years later.)

But then for people my age, it was hard to think of Muhammad Ali without also immediately thinking of Howard Cosell, the most popular TV sportscaster of his era, to the chagrin of many print reporters and his detractors, but the one person that well-informed sports fans like me could always count on to have the ability to make an #event a #happening -and later tell you why.

I still recall how over-the-top and angry the Miami supporters of the Nation of Islam (NOI) were regularly portrayed by the South Florida news media -esp. Miami TV stations- in ways that would 
be considered completely unacceptable now, even if what they reported then was factually true.
There'd be lots more use of "allegedly"!

It seems like a couple of times a year I'd hear my Dad, a longtime Dade County police officer, say something to the fact that they'd heard some rumors about the NOI Mosque on 7th Avenue & 53rd Street -the Mosque that Ali worshipped at when in Miami- and it was seldom something positive.

Though the powers-that-be in Miami may well deny it now, the truth is that there was always LOTS of concern among the Police and the Miami Establishment of the time that something bad would happen to Ali whenever he was in Miami, due to the myriad NOI personality/turf/power wars, which were generally acknowledged by people who knew the facts, though NOT for public attribution, of course.

My understanding was that very possibility, however remote it may seem now to us from a distance, really ate at some people within Metro Police who had to think about such things, and be prepared to deal with it. As if that were even possible.
Given Miami's unique and unfortunate history with riots, and its multi-ethnic populace's complete willingness to take to the street at the drop of a hat without waiting for all the facts to come in on a situation, something I have been witness to myself, you can well understand why that was a concern.

There were also always plenty of rumors sprinkled with facts about the NOI's involvement with organized crime, their curious easy access to weapons, as well as concern about how frequently NOI members in South Florida seemed to manage to get out of trouble at the last minute, just like in a film, where the audience always knows something the Police don't.
There were, therefore, concerns about possible "leaks" within Metro Police, which were not nearly as unfounded as you might imagine, given the facts-on-the-ground at the time.

In 1975, when I was in Eighth Grade at JFK Junior High in North Miami Beach,  one Spring night, just a few months after the Sports Illustrated cover above, I was surprised to receive a Dade County (Junior High) Track & Field Championships ribbon -Second place- from Muhammad Ali at a Dade County Schools sports award ceremony in downtown Miami, where Ali's appearance came as a complete thunderbolt to everyone -especially the kids! 
And my Dad, who drove me there.

People were, quite literally, in hushed tones in that small auditorium all night, anxious that they would not miss anything Ali said or did, and it will probably not surprise you to learn that the number of the people in the auditorium only increased at the night went on, as word about who was there, in-the-flesh, continued to circulate.
Pre Cell phone, pre-Twitter.

Trust me, if I'd known in advance that Muhammad Ali would be there, me being me, I'd have made plans to have LOTS of photos of that moment! 
Even if by now they were largely faded Polaroids! 

Every year in August on my way to the Cream and Crimson of IU in Bloomington, I'd drive and drive and drive by myself from Miami north to the Midwest, but no matter how much I knew to expect it, every time I first saw the highway signs letting me know that I'd soon be near Muhammad Ali Boulevard in Louisville, it always caught me by surprise.
I'd immediately think back to that surprising and amazing moment in 1975 when I met him in person for the first time, and shook his hand.
Calm when I did it, but slightly abuzz once back in my seat.
Just like all the other kids there, but probably the only one there who, pre-VCR, could name whom Ali had fought and where going back for several years, since retaining information and trivia of that sort was seemingly hard-wired into my brain.
Still is, if you hadn't noticed.

Muhammad Ali , coming and going...

#MuhammadAli #transcendent

Thursday, June 2, 2016

That curious news re pro #Jeb, pro #amnesty, anti #Trump Miami TV host Helen Aguirre Ferré getting hired by the RNC sounds very, well, Dolphins-like. And when has that been good for fans or anyone since 2000?

That curious news re pro #Jeb, pro #amnesty, anti #Trump Miami TV host Helen Aguirre Ferré getting hired by the RNC sounds very, well, Dolphins-like. And when has that been good for fans or anyone since 2000?
Wow! Where to even start with this bit of curious news I could have never predicted.

So, pro #Jeb, pro #amnesty, anti-Donald Trump Miami TV host Helen Aguirre Ferré's 
longstanding public criticism of Trump counts for little with the powers-that-be at the RNC these days, as they've now hired her for a task that she seems particularly ill-prepared for, and even worse, will make a bad situation worse, if possible.
It's like hiring a run-oriented head football coach when you have a young, healthy Dan Marino as your QB. A #disconnect.

The story has gottten lots of traction in the national press, but so far, has stirred little public notice or critical commentary in South Florida where Ferré and her frequently condescending attitudes were not just tolerated but embraced, in large part because her Conventional Wisdom attitudes almost always were 100% in sync with those of the Miami Herald Editorial Board & the perpetually misfiring Downtown Miami Biz community's. :-(

That's why despite a mountain of self-evident facts that would show objective readers how true my criticism of Ferré and her style is, it's hardly surprising that Ferré, thus far, has received almost complete kid gloves treatment from many in the community and press who know better, including former Miami Herald reporter Beth Reinhard, now of the Wall Street Journal.
Reinhard is someone whom I have long criticized on this blog over the years for some very sound reasons about basic fairness, bias, clarity, context and accuracy, as anyone taking the time to check the blog's archives for past posts on Reinhard can discover for themselves.

See all the tweets about Helen Aguirre Ferré's hiring here, inc. the Reinhard tweet

Honestly, over the past dozen years, Helen Aguirre Ferré may've been the single most-over-rated and over-praised woman in all of South Florida, in or out of public policy. 
And for a TV show on a PBS affilate in Miami like WPBT-TV that 
a.) hardly anyone watches, including even me, and that 
b.) has often seemed more like a not-so-funny sketch comedy parody of a TV chat show, because of how often she and her guests are in almost complete agreement, regardless of the issue.

If Helen Aguirre Ferré was doing a good job, wouldn't I have mentioned the show more than once in the past nine years of doing this blog?
It's not been a show to take unpopular positions or inform and enlighten the South Florida electorate so much as it has often seemed to exist merely to hearten true-believers in whatever line the South Florida Establishment's status quo had taken, so Ferre could echo it like a cheerleader.
Usually against meaningful government or political reform of the sort that the South Florida Establishment was afraid of, regardless of party affiliation, geography, race or nationality. 
And forget about Ferré talking out-loud in detail about how truly awful the caliber of the South Florida media has become the past dozen years in simply covering local govt./issues/politics fairly and accurately, and why that was so. 
No, a truth-to-power, straight-talker Helen Aguirre Ferré is NOT.

That's why to me, her show has always seemed so terribly underwhelming, frustrating and disappointing, especially compared to what it could have been -and should have been for the part of the South Florida populace that actually wants to be well-informed, which to be sure, has never been a majority.

Ferré's hiring by the RNC seems destined to just draw more more media attention to her own personal track record in the public eye and her condescendning political attitudes, instead of the task at hand, which was not an easy one.
That is surely NOT what the RNC needs the next five months going into November's election.

Frankly, Ferré's hiring by the RNC has the feel of any of a hundred awful personnel moves the woebegone Miami Dolphins have made the past 15 years, to their fans' dismay:-(