Saturday, August 25, 2012

Bread Lines

photo by Matt Degraff

photo by Matt Degreff

I owe a bunch of my friends an apology. They warn me that with the way that things are going, I shouldn't be surprised if people end up in bread lines again. I argue with them, hoping that things will not deteriorate so badly, but alas, they are right -- sort of.

Much to my surprise, I have seen this happen repeatedly at the Green Market in Pinecrest. For the last several months people have lined up patiently waiting for their bread. In a time where people fight desperately to claim and gain the status of victim, this is the ultimate irony: the bread is organic and the people lined up are from the -- forgive me -- upper crust. The cause of all this misery is a young fellow known as Zak the Baker.

There seem to be no breadlines for the privileged that I can recall, but Zak the Baker causes a ruckus among the gifted at this Farmer's Market. Every Sunday morning, a line begins forming before 9:30 near the caramel corn stand. One of Zak's apprentices cuts a loaf which, immediately after sampling, creates a sort of mysterious instant addiction, especially for those patrons who have ever visited Europe. Clearly, Zak is harming the community by offering addictive sourdough breads baked under the cover of darkness in a secret location somewhere west of US 1. He is an artisan, but witness the lines, and you make think he is a magician, shaman, or charlatan. 

Zak hypnotizes those who queue up by playing jazz on a little throwback phonograph. The daily offerings -- olive and za'ater, cranberry walnut, multigrain, and whole wheat -- are thoughfully carefully wrapped in plain brown paper. Returnees to the line looked hopelessly hooked and spaced out in the moist summer steam -- give us today our daily bread they seem to say.

Zak the Baker’s website ( is a thing of beauty. Frankly, the video made by Matt Degreff is medal-worthy. With all the, forgive me, cheesy crap that passes us posing as art, these few minutes are aesthetic and inspiring. What you hear and see makes you feel, and what you feel makes you want to eat. It defines perfectly what Zak is doing, and it seems, what he is thinking. Please let me in on the longer length documentary, brothers! 

If you want go to the Green Market and avoid the bread lines because you somehow have come to feel guilty about the economics in America which now makes the wealthy have to stand in the sun just to get their favorite staple ingredient, the good news is that Zak is sold out, wrapped up, and on the road before your teenaged kids wake up. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

An Eye for Beauty Part 1

Miami has been endowed by its creator with some extraordinary beauty. The sky, the clouds, the sea -- as Wesley Snipes once said to Angela Bassett -- absolutely splendid. For me, there is nothing more lovely than a stand of oak trees. On the other hand ...

Miami's southern suburbs are a monument to bad taste. The monstrous mansions and spacious gardens are built and maintained by the very immigrants that the (Republican) voters who own the obscene spaces would like to evict from the country. I'm not sure how long one's string trimmer or hedge cutter has to be in order to reach Pinecrest from Mexico, but I suspect that local churches might want to avoid screening A Day Without a Mexican to avoid a widespread panic in the pews.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Coral Gables Art Cinema

When it's hot, the Arts take a back seat to things like those one can do inside a nice cozy air-conditioned space. With this in mind, I thought I'd skip the August art walks and in order to fill my need for something creative, gave a shout out to the Coral Gables Art Cinema where the good people there hooked me up with tickets to see Woody Allen's To Rome With Love. To make a long story short -- good move.

I love this theater from top to bottom; considering that it is connected to a several story high parking garage, it is big from top to bottom. Most of what they screen is profoundly well-received by its devotees; this Woody Allen film was on its 6th week. In the art house world, this is an eternity. Big respect to the theater for extending it and extending it, because it was hilarious. I don't think I'm exaggerating; the audience madly loved this film. Furthermore, I would love to write about Woody Allen's latest venture; however, this is about the Coral Gables Art Cinema.

About two years ago, this theater opened, screening year-round, daily films unlike those found at the mall. The website says programs will be "vibrant, diverse, multicultural and multilingual." So far, so good. I've seen a handful of films there; it's a great place. Moreover, there are events held often -- lectures, discussions, wine tastings, etc. The Cinema is a non-profit, so you can contribute and become a member, and I suppose help raise funds like for WDNA and WLRN. Film, Jazz, NPR -- all good things to me.

Cinema Director Robert Rosenberg has good taste, and though I realize that this is both debatable and pithy, there are such things as quality and expertise. Chefs know more than kids about food. Eric Spoelsta knows more about basketball than fans. Democrats know more about birth certificates than Donald Trump. Robert Rosenberg knows more about good film than my son. 

Summer in Miami can be unforgiving. We all know this. Shallow as it sounds, as one whose "favorite" all-time film is Cinema Paradiso, I have had a long long love affair with film, art house in particular. Going to the movies is particularly enjoyable here in the rainy season. When it's hot, the Coral Gables Art Cinema always has something cool to offer.

If you don't agree and you would like this column to be yours, try a hostile takeover. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Pawns Happy About Crumbs

It’s tax free shopping time in Florida, and as always, the people who are saving pennies on the dollar are unable to see the picture before them. One young lady proffered her receipt happily showing how her $83 receipt saved her $113. The Channel 7 reporter on duty at the Dolphin Mall let it slip by.
If I have my information correct, public schools are being sliced up like tomatoes on cable at 3 o’clock in the morning. Teachers are being laid off, class sizes grow like wastelines, and arts and sports programs are deemed unnecessary.
Lots of people complain about their taxes being too high. One party wants to extend the tax breaks -- the Bush tax cuts -- to the richest members of American society. Theoretically, taxes provide services. Parks, roads, the green strips west of my curb, FIU, Miami Dade College, Florida Memorial, high schools, middle schools, elementary schools, police, firefighters, buses, Metrorail, the beach, garbage pickup, the US mail all depend upon tax revenues. So does my social security.

Ben Franklin talked about being penny wise and pound foolish. Being excited about saving $7 on the $100 may feel good for a spell as one gets to spend the spoils on Chick-fil-A or some other newsworthy place, but perhaps tax-free incentives like Florida’s are simply some sort of tricky gimmick aimed to deceive a foolish population.

In any case, what I think doesn't matter. All over the state, Florida citizens are ecstatic about the "savings" they have incurred this weekend.