New Restrictions Threaten to Decimate Cuban Skateboarding Scene

Categories: Culture, Sports

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Photo by Chris Miller
Cuban state media recently announced new customs restrictions on the amount of items allowed in the country through commercial travel. While the government says that the new rule is intended to cut down on a growing black market that undermines recent economic reforms, many fear unintended consequences. For example, the fledging Cuban skateboarding scene relies on skateboards and gear brought in from the outside world. Skaters on the island feel that the new rule may change their way of life. This is the first of a two part series on skateboarding in Cuba and its direct Miami connection.

It happened at 23 y G, an intersection in Havana, Cuba. It's nothing much really. Just a few small benches spread out among scrawny trees that offer scant protection from the sun's glare. But for one scrawny kid that day some 12 years ago, the humble parcel of land seemed like Eden.

At age 13, Fernando Verdecia Maseda finally found some other skaters. Maseda would go on to become one of Cuba's greatest skaters - but he had to emigrate to Miami to find widespread respect for his skills.

See also: Skateboarding Cuba

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Miami Icons: The Miami Tower, Colorful Chameleon of the Skyline

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Photo by Karli Evans
San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge. St. Louis has the Arch. Las Vegas has its retro welcome sign. It seems like every city has an iconic structure to represent itself to the rest of the world. Every city but Miami, that is. The Magic City is full of architectural gems, and maybe that's why no one building has come to define it. But that's left this town without a symbol of its own. In our Miami Icons series, we're aiming to fix that. Today, writer Travis Cohen argues that the Miami Tower's changing colors and eye-catching design make it the perfect symbol for the city at large.

When you think of Downtown Miami, there's no shortage of images that your mind might conjure up. From the American Airlines Arena to the big, bold letters of "BAYSIDE" to wandering crackheads meandering between the shadows and the bright purple lights that glow along the underside of the bridge to the port of Miami, Downtown is an undeniably interesting arrangement of strange layers of sights and sounds and scenery. But more than anything, what you can't help but see when you hold Downtown in your mind's eye is that splendid, sprawling skyline.

It's a majestic sight, that skyline, and whether you take it in from the arching lanes of the Julia Tuttle or the seawalls of Watson Island, it's a vista composed of some truly stunning pieces of architecture. Some of them are gaudy and gauche, some are decorated with gigantic gyrating strippers made of light, some are classical stone monoliths of Roosevelt's America, and some are resplendently modern megastructures with skins of glass. And while nearly every one of these buildings are beautiful in their own right, not a one can claim to be more iconically Miami than the old CenTrust Savings and Loan building at 100 SE Second Street, better known today as the Miami Tower.

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New World School Grads Hope To Create TV Sitcom About Being Haitian In Miami

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Photo courtesy of Edson Jean.

For Edson Jean and Joshua Jean-Baptiste, the true story of Miami is made up of a million small vignettes of daily life that come together to create our collective reality.

The two New World School Of Arts graduates are Haitian Americans who want to tell a uniquely Miami tale of youth, sex, and technological obsession on television. And after a modest Kickstarter campaign success, the duo are well positioned to make their dream a reality.

"I feel like Miami is in a weird, almost adolescent phase where it's trying to find itself, alongside artistic relevance," Jean-Baptiste said. "This city has always been an escape for other people from other places, leaving the actual natives in the shadow."

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Miami Icons: The Freedom Tower Welcomed Cubans to America

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Photos by Karli Evans
San Francisco has the Golden Gate Bridge. St. Louis has the Arch. Las Vegas has its retro welcome sign. It seems like every city has an iconic structure to represent itself to the rest of the world. Every city but Miami, that is. The Magic City is full of architectural gems, and maybe that's why no one building has come to define it. But that's left this town without a symbol of its own. In our Miami Icons series, we're aiming to fix that. Today, writer Rich Robinson argues that the Freedom Tower represents the best of Miami's history and culture.

The Freedom Tower in downtown Miami deserves to become the global symbol of our fair city. Its history mirrors that of Miami itself: built during the real estate bubble of the 1920s, offering help to Cuban refugees in the 1960s, and contributing to today's cultural renaissance. It sits in the center of downtown, along the main vein of Biscayne Boulevard, like Miami's own beating heart.

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Remembering Jumbo's, and Five Other Miami Institutions We've Loved and Lost

Categories: Culture

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Photo by Ken Hawkins
Say it ain't so! Jumbo's, one of Miami's historic restaurants and historic landmarks, is closing for good. The Liberty City institution announced last week that it would shutter its doors. Bobby Flam, who became the manager of the restaurant in place of his father, Isadore, in 1966, has sold the restaurant, which sold shrimp, fried chicken, and conch 24 hours a day. The restaurant is now in the hands of a developer planning to build housing on the corner of NW Seventh Avenue and NW 75th Street.

Jumbo's was at the forefront of Miami's desegregation in the 1960s and also weathered the storm of the race riots in the 1980s. It has been part of Miami's changing times and culture. With its secured place in local civil rights history, Jumbo's will certainly live on in memory. But unfortunately, it's now joined the graveyard of other popular and historic Miami locales that have closed or changed hands. Here are five Miami institutions we've loved and lost.

See also: Liberty City Icon Jumbo's, The Temple of Fried Shrimp, Set to Close After Sale

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Sound Garden to Bring Ambient Tunes to Bayfront Park

Categories: Culture

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Philip Pessar Flickr/cc
Bayfront Park
Music makes everything better. And adding ambient tunes to the clamoring cacophony of downtown might just lower the stress levels of countless Miamians teetering on the brink.

That's the idea behind Sound Garden, an outdoor music lounge planned for Bayfront Park as part of the Miami Foundation's Public Space Challenge.

See also: Bay Skate Mondays to Bring Hot Wheels-Style Roller Rink to Bayfront Park

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Miami Shores Council Rejects Gay Marriage Equality Resolution

Categories: Culture

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Kevin Goebel/Flickr
The sleepy village of Miami Shores has long been seen as a suburban haven for LGBT people, and is a reliable liberal bastion in elections. But this past Tuesday, the village council voted 3 to 2 to reject a resolution supporting marriage equality in Florida. The vote came on the heels of a contentious and bizarre session of public comments that showcased the passions on both sides of the debate.

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"Selfie Toaster" Lets You Eat Yourself

Categories: Culture

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Windell Oskay/Flickr
This toast was created by an artist. Selfie Toast can be created by you.
Remember when a piece of toast that vaguely resembled the Virgin Mary sold on eBay for $28,000? Here's some news that might make you nostagic for those days: A company in Vermont is selling personalized toaster that'll burn your selfie into a piece of bread.

That means it's only a matter of time before one of your friends "ironically" orders one. This is, after all, the city that set a Guinness World Record for selfies just a few short months ago.

See also: Miami Breaks the Guinness World Record of Most Selfies Taken in One Hour

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Analog Art Returns With a Vinyl Art Showcase in Little Haiti

Categories: Art, Culture

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Courtesy of Yuval Ofir
'Simian and Garfunkel' by Robert Jimenez
Art has never been confined to canvas alone. Just ask those brave souls who first painted on cave walls, or the guys who designed those street chickens on Calle Ocho. (Oh yeah, they are in the same category, for sure.)

Art happens wherever it wants. That's one of the main forces behind the second annual Analog Art showcase happening Saturday at Yo Space in Little Haiti. Using vinyl records as their canvases, over 40 artists are expected to present their best work.

See also: Analog Art Show: The Fusion of Art, Music, and Community

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Why Has Liberal Talk Radio Failed in Miami?

Categories: Culture

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Photo by Taylor Wray
Political liberals are almost everywhere in Miami. They're lining up for pro-Obama rallies. They're filling up our college campuses. And they're sure as hell showing up at the ballot box. (Yes, even the Cuban ones.)

But there's one place you won't find left-leaners in South Florida: on the radio.

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