My relationship with Miami can be broken down, to make this inappropriately Biblical, into two testaments.
First, there is the Old Testament, which takes place between 2004 – 2009. This is the era when my girlfriends and I would group ourselves into packs of five, rent one South Beach hotel room for all, create a shower schedule, and see which promoters could keep us sufficiently inebriated at Shore Club and Mint. From there on, every woman was free to create her own journey into sun, fun and promiscuity, to be instantly forgotten once our plane hit JFK turf. Here, I learned the key canons: Miami runs on sex and money; the rest is irrelevant.
The New Testament commences sometime around 2010, when my parents decided to retire in eternal sunshine and moved to Miami’s Russian enclave of Sunny Isles. Here, I discovered the joys of shopping at Bal Harbor and tanning next to pregnant Russians and Latinas, strategically sent to Miami to await the arrival of their American offsprings. A blissful existence, really, if you never leave the “Russian Riviera” and cap it at about three days.
Because, like a leopard doesn’t change its spots, Miami doesn’t change its true essence. Despite the emergence of a sliver of an arts and culture scene, driven by the likes of Art Basel, it remains true to its inherent values. It is still the same adult playground that it was in 2005, when I first stepped foot on Ocean Drive and checked into a hotel that I later learned could be rented by the hour. It is still the “tropical capital,” once described by Joan Didion as “long on rumor, short on memory, overbuilt on the chimera of runaway money.” This was Miami in the 70’s, this is Miami today.
Except that, today we have malls! And tacky designer clothes! And Instagram! And all the other things that make judging Miami even more fun than before! Having recently overstayed my welcome by one long month, I am bustling with novel observations.
Age is not “but a number” – it is but a deadly enemy
..to be defiantly combatted via the ammunition of the country’s entire Botox supply! Not only do most women in this city end up sharing faces with all their girlfriends, they also share wardrobes – and lifestyle choices – with their teenage daughters, which makes it completely impossible to ballpark their age. Are they in their 30’s? 40’s? 50’s? Are they married? Why do they all go to clubs? I have so many questions.
Nudity is a sartorial code
You know when you pass by the Hervé Léger section at a store and think, “Who the hell still wears that?” I have your answer: women in Miami still wear that. They also wear Giuseppe Zanotti and Christian Louboutin and all the “seductive” brands of yesteryear, conveniently stocked at Bal Harbour mall. Key sartorial goal: simulate semblance of nudity and ostentatious wealth, preferably simultaneously.
To reach said goals, outfits in Miami must incorporate at least 3 identifiable designer items, or meet at least 3 of the following requirements:
- Offer preview of vagina (ex. b)
- Offer preview of what breasts would look like if propped up on a tray (b) and/or covered with thin strips of lamé fabric (a)
- Match skin tone (c)
- Come in toddler size (d)
- Consist of one narrow stretch of black fabric, which I believe in Miami is called the “little black dress,” although I think “little black stocking” is a better way to describe it.
- Lack one key clothing item (i.e.pants paired with dressy bra, long t-shirt with over-the-knee boots)
See! Looking almost-naked is a science!
Chauvinism is alive and thriving
Blame it on mobster culture or hot-blooded Latino heritage, but men in Miami like to show you who (they think) is the boss. They drive fast, catcall loud, and are always on the prowl for their latest conquest, earning themselves a reputation as “sharks.” They also hold women up to the same standards as Barbie dolls, expecting them to sleep in silk teddies and grocery shop in stilettos. Curiously, even the best of the bunch retain this quality. I have met two educated, intelligent Miami-bred men who defy every cliché – other than that their taste in women, which still veers towards all things plastic-fantastic. In fact, both expressed grave disappointment that I don’t make more “effort,” given that I have so much “potential.”
Dinners are a very serious endeavor
Since life in Miami is mind-numbingly slow and about 50% of its residents don’t have day jobs, people here are quite passionate about their social lives, i.e. their dinners. Dinners serve a multitude of purposes, from showcasing one’s latest Bal Harbor purchase, to nonchalantly spreading all the gossip one may have picked up at Bal Harbor, to stocking up on fresh gossip. (Did I mention that this place has the drama levels of a telenovela?)
That said, restaurants must be chosen strategically, as not to let one’s current event awareness wane. Here are some recommendations.
- Casa Tua to pay 500 bucks to listen to the Desperate Housewives of Miami (details below)
- Carpaccio at Bal Harbor to Dbag-watch while you shop. (And socialize! To try on your next Rolex! And get a fur vest at Saks for the three days the temperature drops!)
- Milos to eat the most expensive Greek salad created by mankind.
- Faena for some papi action, or just to reenact my date with Papi Mezcal.
- Mr Chow, BLT Steak, Zuma – none of which I have frequented, but all of which are iconic for their douche factor.
- Soho House, 27 or select spots in Downtown Miami to encounter the aforementioned “sliver of cool.”(Or you can come hang with me in the Russian Riviera!)
Instagram culture is alive and thriving
Ever notice those girls with superhuman curves who occasionally pop up on your discovery feed? Well, I have a sneaking suspicion that a large majority of them reside in Miami. Which makes sense, as it provides them with all the necessary professional amenities: a year-round scenic backdrop, plastic surgeons, and clientele. (Yes, you naive souls, these “influencer platforms” are, for the most part, merely storefronts for escort services!) Speaking of escorts, you can meet one at dinner! At the club! At Publix! But, hey, at least they work – the rest of the city just takes selfies for fun.
The conversations can cause visceral reactions
Or inspire one to apply as a Desperate Housewives plot writer, which I might! If I sound mean, this is because I am bitter after having my recent “romantic” dinner at Casa Tua MUTILATED by a neighboring table of twenty women (and two men, who I assume were their silent benefactors). Throughout the entire evening, they did not stop a – taking selfies and b – squealing out observations on the following topics:
1. Breast implants (“touch mine!” one shrieked over her risotto)
2. Penises (those of their sex partners, former sex partners, benefactors?)
Probably the husband’s
3. Nightclubs. On that count, please note that every one of these women appeared to be well in her forties ageless, which leads us back to square one. Who are these people? What do they do? Can somebody please explain?!
Everything is for sale
Yes, I realize that this is old news. That this is not just Miami, but, generally, the way in which the world turns. And yet, this does not stop me from being surprised every time I see yet another 80-something papi walking into a restaurant with a group of women my age, or another douchebag makin it rain freshly laundered cash. In Miami, you don’t apologize for your money like you do in Paris; you do not intellectualize it like you do in New York. You just wear it openly, with no pretenses or apologies, wherever you like it – on your wrist with a blinged-out Rolex, on your arm with a blinged-out bimbo, in your butt with implants the size of my head (and I have a huge head). And, in a world full of hypocrisy, I suppose there is a certain beauty to that.