Stories from my 14-month study abroad in Buenos Aires, my 16-month post-college move to Miami, and my get-me-the-hell-out-of-Miami move to Denver

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

South Beach vs Miami Proper Personality Differences

April 27, 2011

One of the things that worried me before moving down here was that I read a lot about all these obnoxious, steroid-infused macho type guys and "I only care if he has money" girls. I wasn't looking forward to meeting these people, and luckily, I haven't. Why, you ask?

Because I don't live in South Beach. Plain and simple.

Given, I've only been here for a three months, but almost all of my experiences with people who live in Miami Proper have been good. Decent people from all walks of life, and all parts of the country, who've decided to live in Miami. Many of my coworkers are genuine Miami denizens, all having some Hispanic blood in them, be it Cuban or Puerto Rican.

The same does not go for my experience with people I've met who live in South Beach. Like my below post, the people, in my opinion, who live in South Beach, are in a league of their own, and not in a good way. This is where I've run into the jacked-up dude roaming the streets and the "if he's rich, I'm in" girls. But, these people aren't from Miami, and I wholeheartedly believe that they embarrass the true citizens of Miami. It's a shame that this city is mostly known for that small 20-square-block neighborhood.

So, to all you people out there planning on moving, and living, in Miami. Don't worry. People are nice here. They're genuinely interested in where you're from and why you chose to live in their city. Many completely understand the immigrant story of leaving your home for somewhere new. Don't believe what you've read about the "Miami" type. This type is, unfortunately, based on that sect of people who've infiltrated South Beach, not the great people who fill up the rest of South Florida.


January 22, 2012: My opinion of Miami has thus changed. Please see newest post.

Response: Day Off Bike Ride

DustinSBranham said...
Its awesome that you see so much of Miami by bike. Forty miles must be a chore in that heat, too. Miami trees seem to grow longer horizontally than vertically. Seems strange from a nontropicalist's perspective. Awesome post. I really like to see the pictures, esp since they aren't the same postcard scenes we have all seen of Miami and Miami Beach a thousand times before. ------
Thanks for the positive input Dustin. If you ever make it down this way, be sure to give me a shout. I'll give you any inside knowledge I've acquired.

First and foremost, riding is the best thing that has happened to me. I can see and explore this city in ways that would be impossible any other way. I don't care if you're a marathon runner, you're not going to run for the scenery. No one running ever looks happy...whereas I'm smiling the whole ride. Nothing, even moped riding, comes close to the scenic value of a road bike and open road. The only things I heard for 90% of this ride were my tires over gravel and birds in the trees.

On a nice road bike, 40 miles really isn't that hard. Figure, I average at least 10mph, at my slowest, so it's only a 4 hour ride. It's the fast rides that really burn the legs.

It is a chore, but it's a great chore. You create a breeze by biking, so that keeps you cool, but once you stop, the sweating starts....a lot.

I'll keep posting pictures.  Glad you enjoy them! There is so much more to this city than South Beach. I'm still amazed by the people I meet who live there and haven't been off the island yet. Besides the beach and some architecture, SOBE is quite boring, visually. So many good finds throughout the city, and I haven't even gotten up to the far north or deep south yet.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

SOBE: Sadly Overrun By Eccentrics

For the record, I JUST invented that acronym. I really hope it catches on, because when it does, this blog will give me dated proof that I created the term.

A coworker of mine recently quipped, "All the assholes of the world gravitate towards South Beach. That's a small area for so many people." I don't completely agree, but he made a very good point.

South Beach is the area south of 20th Steet and, I'd say, from Washington Avenue to the to east. Half of the southern peninsula of Miami Beach is a nice, quiet residential neighborhood. The other half is what has become known as South Beach, or SOBE.

South Beach is known for its wild club scene. Lots of house and techno music, pretty girls dancing in bikinis, the usual. It's right up there with Ibiza as the place to make a name for yourself in the clubbing community. That being said, everyone and their brother comes to South Beach to try to make it. The same goes for New York, but New York is HUGE, South Beach is TINY. All these eccentric personalities are dispersed among all the common New Yorkers. Those same personalities are saturating South Beach, with no locals in the mix to thin out the mixture of eccentric to regular.

Let me explain:

The following personalities all go to South Beach to make a name for themselves:

-Club DJs
-Music Producers
-Go Go Dancers
-Club Promoters
-Drug Dealers
-Porn Stars

All of these people are squeezed into the tiny tip of Miami Beach.

That said, spending time, for me, in SOBE, can be very trying on my mental health. Everyone you meet is extremely attention deprived and doing anything possible to get people to look at them, be it driving in decked out cars with loud music, screaming in the streets, freestyle rapping on a corner, sexually harassing you as you walk by a strip club, offering you drugs, etc. Everyone is trying to be more extravagant than the next. If one guy has his radio at volume level 10, the next guy has to crank is to 20, just to get people to look his way. Well look, here comes guy #3, and you better believe he'll turn his up louder. And so it begins.

The fact of the matter is that you can't put all these people in the same confined space, and expect a normal society to function. It's impossible. Most people I've met have told me they got burned out on SOBE after living there for a few months. You just can't be surrounded by so many wannabes for that much time, it takes its toll.

I've come to realize that you don't see these people in Miami proper. Most, if not ALL, of these SOBE personalities never leave their little sanctuary of sin. Few of the people I have conversed with even know where the Design District, my neighborhood, is. And my neighborhood is considered the most up-coming neighborhood in Miami. These people are just so content in their bubble, they never leave. Which, for all intents and purposes, is great, because I'd rather not see them in my part of town.

I'll be writing about the difference in Beach vs City personalities tonight, and dispelling the myth that Miami natives are unfriendly people.

Day Off Bike Ride

Remember how I said I was going to update the blog on my day off on Saturday, well, I went for a LONG ride, probably around 40 miles, and when I get home, I was done. I laid on the couch and didn't move a muscle until the next morning.

The thing is, it wasn't supposed to be a long ride. I just felt like going for a spin, getting some Cuban coffee along the way, and enjoying the nice weather. However, I got into South Miami and the Coral Gables neighborhood, and the beauty of the neighborhood took over and I just kept riding. Every single time I turned a corner, I was greeted by another gorgeous boulevard, house, park, etc.

Unfortunately, I didn't follow my first rule of traveling...always carry your camera. After my year in Argentina, I learned that it's always wise to have a camera present, because you never know what daily occurrence might be photo worthy.

Fortunately, I had my Palm Centro cellphone, which has a camera. It's not the best, but I took as many pictures as I could, and I hope you can somewhat get a jist of just how beautiful this last ride was.

Chris, my roommate Julie's boyfriend, and I are going to go for a ride in another scenery-laden neighborhood today or tomorrow. It's down South, of course, and this time I'll remember my camera.

Coral Gables Street

 I have a strong fascination with houses covered in foliage

My bike path 

 Along with my "houses in foliage" fascination, I also LOVE Mangrove trees

 I stopped at a Home Depot. Only in "Northern Cuba" would they sell domino tables at HD :)

 Classic 1970s concrete public housing project. Neighborhood didn't seem to sketchy though

13th St SW, called Coral Way

Concrete Barrier Wall protecting a neighborhood. Don't know too much about these yet 

House, foliage, need I say more? 

 Lots of gorgeous canopy-covered streets in Coral Gables

The Historic Biltmore Hotel from afar 

At the front door 

Those same barrier walls from before

Mangrove trees...again. I never get sick of seeing them.

This picture doesn't nearly do this house justice. Just amazing up close

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Finally Have a Day Off: Updates Tonight

I've been working the past 8 days, long shifts, so I haven't felt much like blogging once I got home. Tonight will be a night of posts.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Response to Latinos (Cubans) Run the Show in Miami

DusinSBranham asked:

Does this go for getting good jobs, as well, or is it just relevant if you are running for public office? I've always wondered if a white guy like myself could get ahead in the MIA.

Hi Dustin,
I have no direct experience in answering your question, since I've yet to enter the business community in Miami, but I'll answer it based on what I've seen.

When I'm downtown in the financial/business districts, you hear a lot of Spanish being spoken by old Hispanic men dressed in very nice business suits. Formal lunch meetings being held in Spanish. In my experience as a Northerner, I'd never seen this before. Spanish is the language of the manual labor community of the North.

That said, I believe it's safe to conclude that many important business positions in Miami are held by Latinos. Will they give a White guy a shot to make it to the top? Yes, maybe; if that white guy is a great worker. Will they give a young, up and coming Cuban that shot? Yes, for sure. Your interviewer might empathize for that young Latino, because she/he remembers how hard it was when she/he first arrived in the States, and wants to give this potential new employee a chance to succeed.

On the contrary to the above thought processes, I've only been warmly welcomed by the locals, but I believe this is mostly due to the fact that a very white, English-looking guy, is speaking Spanish with them, of the Argentine variety. At first they can't seem to figure out just who I am and where I can from, but are all impressed that I learned their language. Do you speak Spanish?

However, I still think you can get ahead down here. I've seen lots of non-Latinos driving expensive cars, wearing nice clothes, and eating at fancy restaurants. Just let it be known that the Cuban Community watches out for its own.

Addendum: My roommate, who is half Cuban, concurs. She said the Cubans are very tightly knit and family oriented. She also said that in some cases, the less smart Cuban employee will get the job over their more intelligent, non-Latino peer. I'll ask my friend who works in Corporate America Miami, and see what she says.

Any other questions?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Looking for a Job No More

Remember how I said I was going to get a job to make friends?


Look up SugarCane Miami. It was rated in the Top 10 new restaurants in the USA.

It's 4 blocks from my house, and I've been training for 5 days now.

This is just a teaser post. I'll write more about the difficult, but rewarding training process, and the pages of material I need to memorize before I'm allowed to serve on my own.

Either way, I'm pumped. Super cool kitchen staff. Fun, and mostly youngish servers. Really close to my house. All positives.

Latinos (Cubans) Run the Show in Miami

Someone from the north recently asked me about how Latinos are represented in the city. This, coming from a Northerner, is a very normal question. In Minneapolis, the majority of Latinos have low paying, manual labor or restaurant jobs. It's a known fact that the majority of Minneapolis restaurant kitchens, excluding the super fancy ones, are staffed by Latinos. Everyone who's ever worked in a restaurant or sports bar knows that you learn all the street *read dirty/vulgar* Spanish words from "the cooks." Tell me, what casual family restaurant, be it run by Greeks, Albanians, Americans, Chinese, isn't primary staffed by Latinos?

Miami, my friends, is MUCH different.

Latinos, or should I be saying Hispanics*, run the city, and by city, I mean every aspect of the city.

*- I'm actually serious with this question. I'm unsure which is better to use, Latino or Hispanic. I hear both being used by all different kinds of people, so I'm kind of torn. I'm more curious than anything, since I despise being politically-correct for the sake of it.

Back on topic.

If you want to ascend to a position of power in Miami, you MUST speak Spanish and have Cuban blood running in your veins. Why, you ask? Because of the vote. I don't have numbers, and I'm too tired to look for numbers, but I can assure you that the majority of the population that actually votes in Miami is of Cuban descent.

Now I'm not saying that people vote primarily for their own nationality/ethnic group/race, wait, actually, I am. Cubans vote for Cubans, plain and simple. Cubans therefore have the most power in the city. The same reason why 4 of the past 5 Baltimore mayors have been Black. Constituents vote for their own. You need to be Cuban in Miami to be in power.

The past five mayors of Miami:

Willy Gort
Xavier Suarez
Joe Carollo
Manny Diaz
Tomás Regalado

Guess what they all have in common?

(long pause)

You're right...they were all born in Cuba.

Please don't read this post in the wrong way and think I'm a racist and I hate Miami for being "run by Latinos." I am in no way upset about this. I actually think it's very cool. Furthermore, I have absolutely no aspirations of running for public office. If I did, however, Miami would not be a wise location for me.

All in all, I find the whole Latino Power side of Miami very interesting. Coming from my hometown of 4,000 people, where maybe 25 people were immigrants, it's cool to be on the other side for once; I immigrated to Miami, which is, for all intents and purposes, its own separate country.

I, Patrick Jones, a White, 4th Generation, English-speaking American, the majority in the Continental US, am the minority in Miami, and I love it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bringing the Blog Back to Life

I recently received two messages from people I don't know telling me that they've been reading my blog, and they hope that I haven't abandoned it. Who knew people besides my family had already found the blog and were enjoying it?!? Add onto that having my uncle tell me he's a reader, and I've come to the conclusion that I won't let the blog die.

To me, I was having a hard time thinking of interesting things to say, because things were were becoming normal to me. I was always trying to think of an interesting story about something, but I wasn't really having any success. I didn't want this to become my personal journal, because I really dislike that type of blog. However, things that I started to consider as normal, like the 20,000 sharks that migrated past South Beach last month, are quite unusual for people who don't live here.

So, long story short, I'm going to try very hard to keep writing interesting and relevant articles about the city, and about what I'm doing down here that might interest someone moving here, living here, etc.