The death toll across the American Southeast after a reported 137 tornados barreled through with hellish fury on Wednesday evening stands at about 300, with most of the deaths recorded in Florida’s western neighbor, Alabama. In a conference call with reporters, FEMA administrator W. Craig Fugate would not estimate the number of dead for fear of floating an embarrassing lowball. While the full effect of the infrastructural destruction across the South has no dependable estimate as of yet, it is safe to predict that thousands of Americans are newly — and suddenly — homeless and scores of public schools no longer exist.
So what’s leading the homepage of the Miami Herald? “Royal watchers celebrate historic wedding”, with a photo of Prince William, in royal-blue sash and gold-embroidered epaulets, kissing his new bride, looking lovely in a wedding dress no doubt valued at several times the cost of the FEMA trailers that will no doubt arrive woefully late to those Alabamans whose homes have just been razed to the ground by the breath of Mother Nature.
The Herald is not alone in its journalistic malpractice. Locally, the Palm Beach Post is also leading with William and Kate’s wedding (in its “Celebrity Stalker” section), while the Sun Sentinel has the NFL draft featured under an eye-catching red banner promising live video of the Royal Wedding. Farther north, the many-times decorated St. Petersburg Times is featuring a photo of two middle-aged women from the Bay Area watching William and Kate on a large flat-screen television while dressed up as royalty in Wal-Mart brand tiaras. Tampa Bay, incidentally, is only a few roads and a few hundred miles from Tuscaloosa, Al., where the tornado death toll stands at 36.
It took 40 years, but Jim Morrison can now rest in peace. Earlier today the Florida board of clemency voted unanimously to grant the Lizard King a pardon for his 1970 convictions on misdemeanor indecent exposure and open profanity charges following the infamous “Miami Incident” at The Doors’ 1969 Dinner Key concert in Coconut Grove. There is a long backstory — we wrote about it at length HERE — but suffice it to say that Jim found himself in the middle of a sensationalist media frenzy (starring the Miami Herald) and at the mercy of a suspect judicial system for allegedly whipping out his you-know-what on stage in front of 13,000 Miami youth.
Now, nearly four decades after he died in Paris with an appeal of the ruling pending, the record has been set straight. Over at the Miami Herald — whose article makes no mention of the paper’s own ignominious role in the “incident” — plenty of commenters are griping about the pardon being a waste of taxpayer dollars and taking potshots at Governor Charlie Crist for having nothing better to do. Yes, rectifying an injustice is usually expensive, and of course the pardon would never have happened were not all of the members of the clemency board (Crist, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Attorney General Bill McCollum, and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson) on their way out of public office. But that doesn’t make it any less right, and I’m not for sweeping historical embarrassments under the rug.
So I’m happy about the pardon, which, by the way, is little credit to Crist but a triumph for the handful of people who never gave up the fight to clear Jim’s name and petitioned multiple Florida governors on Mr. Mojo Risin’s behalf. Call ‘em Riders on the Storm.
Here are my ten favorite posts in the Miami blogosphere last week. I tried to read them all, but I’m sure I missed a few and maybe some good ones. If you think I’ve left a worthy entry out of the list, link to it in a comment. I plan to do a Top Ten Miami Blog Posts list every Sunday, so please contact me if you come across a must-read.
1. In a momentous week in American politics, Miami bloggers rose to the occasion with several great election-centric pieces. The Reid Report’s Nov. 6 “Alex Sink: Meet The Mirror” takes top honors for its incisive look at why and how Florida Democrats suffered near total annihilation on election day. (Eye On Miami also offered solid post-election analysis, and SFDB deserves kudos for hosting an interactive forum on election night. Transit Miami offered a bleak assessment of green transportation policy under Governor Rick Scott.)
2. Commendably, Night Drive Miami got threatening in compelling its readers to buy tickets for the Javelin show at Awarehouse this Saturday. “I wouldn’t miss this if I were you!!!! AND I’ll say this again for all of those who don’t know anything about JAVELIN…. don’t kick yourself in the ass when you hear the band’s music 1 week after the show.”
Lebron James snubbed New York when he chose to take his talents to South Beach. Now, on the eve of the Miami Heat’s season opener, the New Yorker has exacted a measure of satisfaction by covering the Miami Herald and WLRN King James poetry contest with brows raised customarily high. The tone of the Ben McGrath piece isn’t overtly condescending, but, considering the New Yorker’s historic role as a gatekeeper of American poetry, I can’t help reading it through Eustace Tilley’s haughty monocle. (“O Lebron, My Lebron” appears in the precious “Dept. of Iambs,” for Naismith’s sake.)
I’m sure New Yorkers, still smarting from the King-sized rebuff, will be snickering in the subways as they read McGrath’s piece. To them, I offer the following six lines (the maximum length of contest entries):
On April 30, 1976, prominent Miami radio host Emilio Milian left the WQBA station in Little Havana, got into his station wagon, and turned on the ignition, detonating a bomb under the hood. Standing ten feet away, Rosa Delgado witnessed the explosion.
“There was dark smoke and flames,” she told the Miami Herald. “I tried to open the door but it was too hot. I told him to help me help him. His eyes were full of pain.”
Later, at Jackson Memorial Hospital, doctors amputated both of Milian’s legs below the knees. He would undergo many operations after the bombing and ultimately survive.