Twas Nochebuena in Miami and all through la casa 

            sounds of dominoes echoed and songs of azucar;

Papa picked up the lechon from west Hialeah 

            that Abuelo helped kill and put in Caja China; 

Cousins and friends and strangers were gathered

            and all were disturbed when they heard a loud clatter;

A fight had broke out between two cousins named Jorge,

            over a woman named Mary, a recent divorcée;

“I called her, she’s mine!” said Jorge the realtor

            “But I saw her first!” said his cousin (also a realtor);

The fight ended quickly over cups of coquito,

            and soon we all danced and sang ‘Mi Burrito’;           

Glasses were raised and bottles uncorked,

            and we all screamed with glee as they cut through the pork;

“This is so delicious! A feast for the season!”,

            said all at the table except Vera the vegan; 

The tias helped clean while the tios just sat,

            our abuelos told stories, we’re so thankful for that;

So we sat through the night and enjoyed their old tales,

             of a  life long ago, long before came Fidel;

But our eyes soon grew weary and our stomachs grew piqued,

            so we said our goodnights and all kissed on the cheek;

Then we all left the house with leftovers and gifts,

             some insisting they drive, some in Ubers or Lyfts;      

What a great Nochebuena, a thought so sincere,

            one that will never be topped, unless Raul dies next year.    

Merry Christmas From the Plantain

Is that?…. Could it be?… Oh, my God, Jean-Paul, it is…that’s Michael Tilson Thomas!If you’re anything like us, and you’re not, then you too have found yourself in the unenviable position of spotting Michael Tilson Thomas, the devilishly handsome artistic director of the New World Symphony, in public without being quite Howard Shore to approach a man of such class, charm, and erudite sophistication in order to ask for a selfie or some other bullshit.
Well, readers, it’s time to stop Haydn behind a plant hoping MTT doesn’t see you fanboying over seeing him in public. The Plantain offers this Howard Shore-fire (it’s not lame if we use that joke twice, shut up) Listz of suggestions on how to best Handel meeting your musical and sexual idol with respect and grace.
Step 1: Congratulate yourself for knowing who Michael Tilson Thomas is and recognizing him by his ageless face. You are a member of Miami’s intellectual elite, which is probably saying something, albeit less than it would in other cities Michael Tilson Thomas frequents.
Step 2: Don’t be nervous! Michael Tilson Thomas is more afraid of you than you are of him. The classical music enthusiast community in Miami is very small, so being approached by someone who recognizes him that he does not already know may put Michael Tilson Thomas on edge. Accordingly, approach Michael Tilson Thomas slowly with open palms to assure him that you mean no harm and aren’t a process server or something.
Step 3: Assess the situation. There is literally no situation in which it is inappropriate to approach Michael Tilson Thomas. Whether he is sitting alone at a table working on a composition, at the airport Karajan a complete set of Bottegga Veneta luggage, chatting with a group of well-dressed Europeans, or sneaking off for a Shake Shack hoping no one recognizes him or, if they do, mistakes him for Jeff Goldblum, you should feel free to approach him.
A common question people like you often ask is whether it is appropriate to approach Michael Tilson Thomas if he is in the bathroom. The answer is it would be perfectly acceptable, however, Michael Tilson Thomas has not “used” a bathroom in a conventional sense since the early 1980’s and, even now, the only time he has been seen inside a bathroom is while on a private architectural tour by his good friend Frank Gehry.
Step 4: Dress appropriately. While there is no exact style guide to approaching Michael Tilson Thomas, experience dictates that the color blue calms his nerves and the color orange sends him into a sexual rage.
Step 5: Know what to say: Michael Tilson Thomas is a renowned conversationalist who can speak masterfully on nearly any topic. But he isn’t going to want to waste all of his wit and charm on any old schmuck. Show him you are worthy of his attention by name-dropping a classical composer or two, but make sure it’s not someone basic like Beethoven or Mozart. Pick someone a little more obscure and less Austrohungarian like Alexander Scriabin or Maurice Ravel to let Michael Tilson Thomas know you are one of him.
Step 6: Let him know you are a fan. From its days in the backroom of an H&M to its present location at Soundscape Park, the New World Symphony has entertained thousands of underdressed patrons over the years. Let MTT know you were one of them by complimenting a performance you’ve enjoyed. If you can’t remember any specific performance, that’s okay, since they sort of run together for him too. Just make sure you don’t bring up those “PULSE EDM” nights because he doesn’t much care for them and only begrudgingly allows them at the insistence of the NWS Board.
Step 7: When in doubt compliment his poodles. Michael Tilson Thomas can nearly always be seen towing around a few dogs. When approaching the star while he is accompanied by his dogs bend down and say “Who’s the pretty boy? Who’s the pretty boy? You are! Yes, you are! Yes, you are!” a few times before turning your attention to the poodles. Doing this will put MTT at ease because he will know that you think he is a very pretty boy, yes he is, yes he is.
Step 8: Don’t take up too much of his time. Michael Tilson Thomas appreciates his fans, but also has a call with Tokyo in about 3-minutes and really has to go. He hopes you understand.

No one likes Art, a study finds. Not a single god-damn person. A surprising revelation given the seemingly immense worldwide popularity of Art and the millions of people attending Art Basel in Miami this week. A survey among Art Basel attendees released today found that despite over 98% of them responding “Yes” to the generalized question of “Hey, do you like Art?”, 100% of those respondents confessed upon additional questioning that they thought Art was stupid and boring and that they just use Art Basel as an excuse to dress-up and go somewhere. “Art is sort of gay,” said David Rubenstein-Smith of his bisexual cousin Arthur Totorro. “And he and I always talk about how awful attending someone’s gallery exhibit is.”

The study found that despite universal hatred for Art, attendance at Art Basel is at all time highs because attendees like the secondary benefits of attending Art events, particularly: exuding the impression of being cultured, European accents, drugs, not feeling like all you did this week was watch twenty episodes of Get Shorty, the possibility of sex, complaining about traffic, selfies, and also drugs. Those, as well as the chance of running into Adrian Brody, the study found, are the only reasons people attend Art Basal every year. Not because they enjoy Art, which they don’t, because Art is stupid.

When confronted with the results of the survey, 24-year-old Christina Delmonico rejected its conclusion, stating that she “always loved Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” as well as other pieces she could totally name but doesn’t want to, but quickly conceded that Art is sort of overrated and pretentious and that she only went to a couple of satellite Art Basel exhibits so she could say that she was doing something when people asked her if she was doing anything for Art Basel.

One of the events Ms. Delmonico attended was the “Overlord Hempmaker” exhibit at the Euphoric Gallery/Café/Clothing Store on Collins. The gallery featured original (but highly derivative) street-inspired collages by “Overlord Hempmaker”, an up-and-coming local artist better known as Daniel Schwartzman, son of real-estate developer Hershel Schwartzman, who owns the Euphoric Gallery.  “The pieces are meant to speak to the struggle of being a minority in this country,” explained Mr. Schwartzman as he vaped. When asked what inspired him to become an artist, the 27-year-old said that he always felt the need to express himself, but mostly he liked all the drugs and women that come from being a famous artist. 

The Plantain asked Art historian Barbara Dunkin whether people always hated Art or if it was a new cultural development. “People never really loved Art, but they certainly liked it a little more before TV and the internet came along. Before 1950, you have to remember, the only activity people were allowed to do was stare at Art or die of Typhoid Fever.” As more and more better options for entertainment became available, the world stopped having to pretend that staring at a painting for more than 10 seconds was fun or emotional, which she admits it never was. “But people have always loved drugs and having people think they are cultured, so Art continues to maintain a veneer of popularity.”

The art scene is in a tizzy over a 200,000-car traffic jam throughout Miami Beach that many believe is a conceptual art installation by world-renowned artist Banksy. “I think it’s like super brilliant and also like thebomb.com that Banksy is in Miami now,” said local Victoria Melendez as she took a snap of the mass of unmoving cars that surrounded her on Alton Road. “#Blessed to get to experience a @Banksy! #ArtBasel2019,” the 23-year-old tweeted to her 56 followers.

The authenticity of the mysterious art installation is being questioned, however, after the City of Miami Beach issued a press release that the traffic jam is not art, but rather just the natural consequence of a million tourists that are better looking and richer than you (yes, you) interacting with the decades of poor planning that is Miami’s transit system. The City warns locals to avoid high-density traffic areas (including everywhere) during Art Basel and asks residents forced to go to the Miami Beach not to take or pose with the traffic jam on account that doing so would contribute to the congestion and also make you look like a real idiot.

Art critics, however, are unconvinced by the City’s assertion that Banksy had nothing to do with the traffic, arguing that having the City deny his involvement is the exact sort of thing Banksy would do. The Plantain spoke to a bespectacled Jeff Goldblum-type from New York about his thoughts on the traffic jam who called the exhibit “an irreverent attack on our tech-centric culture that forces society to embraces the literal contradiction of how scientific advancements can offer a shelter for our own humanity,” that is “thought-provoking, blissful, and maddening. Like all of Banksy’s work.”

University of Miami Professor of Taxonomy Devin Rohan announced yesterday that his team had reclassified Senator Marco Rubio from a human to an invertebrate. The decision comes following what Professor Rohan says is further irrefutable proof that the Senator completely lacks a spine or the higher-level decision-making functions associated with the human race.

Speaking before his Taxonomy 101 class, Professor Rohan explained his finding: “As we have seen this week from Senator Rubio’s statement that he has not even paid attention to Trump’s impeachment, the man lacks a backbone and human empathy,” he told his class before eliciting questions from the students.

“Professor, how will this reclassification impact the marginal tax rate?” asked freshman Ian Lorber who had intended to take the similarly-named Taxation 101 course and was still a bit confused.

“So what you’re saying is Senator Rubio is a snake?” asked another student, drawing a wave of laughter from everyone in the classroom except Ian, who was trying to figure out whether a fox could claim a domestic dog as a dependent since they are in the same taxonomic family.

“No, no, no,” said Professor Rohan. “Snakes, contrary to what many people think, are vertebrates and have backbones. Marco Rubio would better be classified in the Mollusca phylum alongside snails and slugs since he both lacks a backbone and also has a tendency to get slime everywhere.”

The Plantain has confirmed that Michigan tourists Dennis and Julia Redgrave are safe and have been returned to their hotel after a day of attending the Calle Ocho Festival in Little Havana.

The couple was in South Florida for the weekend and had planned to explore Miami before leaving for a cruise to Haiti, St. Barts, and the Bahamas on Monday. “We looked up things to do in Miami and thought the Calle Ocho Festival looked real fun,” said Dennis. “The only problem is the website didn’t say what street it was on!”

The Michiganders spent most of the morning trying to find the festival, a task that took longer than anticipated after Dennis asked several locals for directions and was either just shrugged at or purposefully given incorrect directions.  After several hours, and an inadvertent trip to Hialeah, the couple reached Eighth Street and even found parking after they paid a few children $40 to park in what they said was their parents’ lawn.

After several minutes of trying on hats, awkwardly dancing to La Vida Es Un Carnaval, and avoiding plumes of cigar smoke from very short men, the couple became separated from each other after Dennis was lured into what he thought was a friendly domino game and Julia accidentally enrolled herself in the festival’s croquette eating competition.

“I thought it would be fun, but I guess the competitive spirit got the best of me,” said Julia, a type 2-diabetic who became briefly comatose after devouring 91 ham croquettes in 8 minutes to take home the women’s eating title.  As she sat unconscious on the floor, her husband was losing the keys to his rental car, several thousand dollars in traveler’s checks, and the new hat he just bought to a group of 80-year-old domino sharks.

After awakening from her stupor to find that her shoes had been stolen, a barefooted Julia tracked down Dennis and traded the $30 Valsan gift certificate she won for eating over 16,000 calories worth of croquettes to an on-duty cop in exchange for him calling an ambulance to take the occasionally still convulsing woman to the hospital for observation. 

After several hours of observation, Ms. Redgrave was released. The 64-year-old retiree said she and her husband have canceled their cruise and plan to return to Michigan as soon as possible for some much-needed rest.

“She lucky to be alive,” said Julia’s physician Dr. Norman Babo.  “It isn’t safe for a Midwesterner to eat that many croquetas. Or anyone, for that matter.”

Motivational speaker and human Hulk Tony Robbins was honored by the City of Miami with an appointment to the City’s Women’s Health Advisory Board. “TONY HAPPY!” said the motivational speaker, “TONY KNOWS BEST FOR WOMEN!”

The appointment comes following accusations that Mr. Robbins committed sexual misconduct against women, but a spokesperson for the City said those accusations were not considered.

“Those women are probably lying,” said a City spokesperson before sending out an invite to David Beckham, Derek Jeter, and Pitbull to the ceremony honoring Mr. Robbins. When asked whether it was appropriate to honor such a problematic celebrity, the City representative said it was part of the City’s core management principles. “Taking pictures with famous people is a core part of how the City operates,” said a City representative, adding “we stole the idea from the Scientologists.”

For his part, Mr. Robbins denies the allegations, stating “TONY GOOD. TONY NO HURT WOMEN. TONY LOVE WOMEN!” and threatening to sue outlets taht report on his alleged misdeeds. The Plantain accosted Mr. Robbins as he was talking to his legal team and asked what type of advice he had related to women’s health. “STAY AWAY FROM TONY!” he said as he pushed me away. We agree.

Wearing a light jacket and a really cute knitted beanie she’s had since high school, Jessica Rodriguez stepped out of her Downtown Miami office, took a deep breath of the cool air, and for a moment was able to put the fact that the world was so damn awful outside of her mind. “The weather is so nice today,” said the young architect to herself just before an elderly man screamed at the second-generation Cuban-American to go back to Mexico.

Brushing off the vituperative stranger, Ms. Rodriguez walked a few blocks to her favorite local cafe for a hot chocolate, but it had closed down. “Commercial rent increases really do make it difficult for mom and pop stores to stick around,” she thought to herself before remembering the wonderful weather. There was an Au Ban Pan several blocks away so she headed there instead.

“One soy hot chocolate, please”, said a smiling Jessica to a 35-year-old barista with a nose ring who rang her up but otherwise refused to acknowledge her existence. Undeterred, Jessica swiped her card and flashed the barista a kind smile. “Yo, you need to insert the chip,” said the barista curtly in response. “Oh, of course,” Jessica responded as she inserted the chip. After she paid she gave the barista a $2 tip. “He needs it more than me,” she thought to herself and then waited 15 minutes for her drink to arrive. 

As she walked back into the pleasant outdoor breeze, Jessica sipped her hot chocolate and realized it was not made with soy after all. She briefly considered asking for a new cup, but thought better of it because diarrhea can be nice sometimes and she really didn’t want to have another rude interaction with that barista. The hot chocolate was delicious though.

Jessica enjoyed the several block walk to the Miami-Dade County Book Fair. Along the way she almost got hit by a car only twice and was very happy to have had her headphones in so she could politely ignore the many homeless people who begged her for money. Pretending not to hear or see them, she saw one in an ill-fitting military uniform, which she figured must be fake. “Our government wouldn’t let real veterans live on the street,” she thought. Another had literally no nose and held a sign identifying himself as “Cancer Bob.” “Well, at least those people get to be outside on this gorgeous day,” she told herself as she tucked her purse under her arm and looked down at the sidewalk as she passed Cancer Bob.

When she arrived at the Book Fair, Jessica admired the vendors selling old copies of books and perused them knowing full well she would not buy any. She hadn’t actually read a full book since high school, and even then it was just the Cliff’s Notes of Brave New World.

She passed by a WLRN booth and was asked if she would be interviewed. She excitedly agreed and was asked what her favorite book was. “Brave New World,” she said trying to recall the name of the main character, which she couldn’t. “And why is it your favorite book?” asked the interviewer, to which Jessica nervously replied, “It just really was ahead of its time and is super inspiring” before adding “I do have to get going, though. Thanks! Bye!”

Walking through the fair, she then saw David and Gail riffling through a pile of old books at the Booklegger tent. “OMG! So good to see you!” she said to her friends, who she didn’t actually know too well or particularly like. 

“Isn’t the weather just amazing?” she asked.

“Yeah, it’s nice. I guess. Did you hear the Trump is getting impeached?” said David.

“Oh yeah, I saw something about that. That’s bad, right?” sighed Jessica.

“Are you kidding? He was conspiring with Ukraine for his own domestic political agenda,” said David.

“It’s not like Biden wasn’t also using Ukraine to advance his interests. What about Burisma?” said Gail.

“Yeah, totally. Anyway, I love the Book Fair, I just was interviewed about my favorite book: Brave New World. It was pretty cool,” said Jessica, pivoting the conversation to a more pleasant topic.

“That book is crap,” said Gail, herself changing subjects to a backed drain pipe down the block that was sputtering sewer water into the street. “It’s going to be a Brave New World in a few years when this whole shithole is underwater,” she said and she lit up an American Spirit. “Climate change is a real problem. It’s why the housing market down here is crashing again. It wouldn’t be surprising if we had another recession I mean, he picked a climate change denier to lead the EPA,” said Gail as she flicked her cigarette into the street. “This is why we need to elect Tulsi Gabbard.”

“Yeah, anyway, I got to get going,” said Jessica, her stomach beginning to rumble from the whole-milk hot chocolate.

Jogging desperately toward a McDonald’s to use a bathroom, she was told by another old man to get out of the Country. When she finally made it to the McDonald’s it was filled with dozens of black teenagers. “They really shouldn’t be eating this crap,” she told herself as she limped toward the bathroom. There were three teenage girls waiting in line ahead of her, each casually staring at their phone and occasionally taking Snaps and playing with the filters.

It took about 10 minutes for the girls ahead of her to cycle through. When she finally arrived inside the bathroom and depants she pulled out her phone so as to occupy her mind during the act. “Fuck, only 4% battery,” she said to herself but nevertheless started to scroll through her Facebook page.

After several minutes a teenage girl started drumming on the door for her to finish, but she wasn’t close. As she scrolled through her newsfeed she saw story after story about what was going on with the Trump administration and the people he was picking to help run the Country.

The drumming on the door got louder.

“Hey, you taking a shit in there or something? I gotta pee, bitch,” laughed a young voice from outside.

As Jessica strained to finish, she read several posts about the god awful state of the world, the impeachment hearing, Taylor Swift’s feud with Scooter Braun, mass shootings, and Walter Mercado’s death.

“This wasn’t supposed to happen,” she said to herself, farting. This is supposed to be a happy time of year. The weather is finally nice,” she said to herself when her phone ran out of battery.

As she sat there in silence, with no distraction, she could hear the girl outside the door making fun of her. “She’s been in there forever. Someone better call the health inspector.”

As she finally finished she wiped and stood up to walk outside. The sink in the bathroom was broken. Typical.

Jessica left the bathroom and passed the group of snickering teenagers.

“Ain’t she going to even wash her hands, damn!” said one to her friends.

As she walked out of the McDonald’s she recoiled from the smell of oily fries and tried to once again put all of the awful things she had been hearing and reading about out of her mind

“Is the world really this bad,” she asked herself. As she stepped outside the nice breeze once again smacked her. “No, it really isn’t that bad,” she thought, readjusted her knitted beanie, and said out loud, “I love Miami in the Winter.”

It’s that time of year, when Miami’s #filmmakers emerge from their smoky dens to gift Miami with their…ahem…art.

In honor of Borscht, that amazing institution that birthed Moonlight and probably other things, the Plantain presents its Official Borscht Guide, which is really just a drinking game. So grab a shot and fucking drink it every time you hear the following:

Moonlight – Did we mention Moonlight was born at Borscht? No? Oh, well this one time a few years ago…

If anyone mentions “Moonlight” or The Oscars, take one sip. Three sips if you read coverage about Borsht in a press outlet and they mention Moonlight, and five sips if someone tells you they are personal friends with Tarell Alvin McCraney, Barry Jenkins, or Andrew Hevia and are thinking about collaborating.

Death – Any reference to death, Borscht dying, funerals, or Rebirth, (i.e. “Miami Must Born Again,” the forward thinking theme of this year’s Borscht), take two sips.

Diapers/Underwear- If a grown man (or woman) wearing a diaper or tighty-whiteys crosses your path chug your drink. If he or she is guzzling from a gallon jug of milk, chug two. You’ve now entered the Twilight Zone, and the only escape is further inebriation.

Alligators/The Everglades – Nothing says Miami like alligators, airboats, or the Everglades, and the Miami-born or Miami-imported artists putting out art this year are only too aware of that fact. If you see an alligator, a man in an alligator costume, an airboat, a speedboat, or a man hunting iguanas, take two sips.

Violence – At Borscht’s 2017 edition, Trina danced in an old bank vault and a melee broke out. If fisticuffs arise again (we put the odds at about 50/50), chug your drink (and run).

hashtag ART – Spot an unnecessary hashtag? One sip. We’d suggest more, but we don’t want to put you into the Hospital.

New World School of the Arts (NWSA) – Exactly Zero Tarell McCraney’s went to Krop or Coral Reef High, and exactly one Tarell McCraney went to the “Juilliard of the South” (per NWSA’s Marketing Materials). Take four sips if anyone mentions NWSA, the public magnet school responsible for birthing Billy Corben (Step-Monster, Cocaine Cowboys), Alex Lacaimore (Hamilton), and of course, “Moonlight/””David Makes Man” scribe-turned-Head-of-Yale-Dramatic Writing, writer Tarell McCraney.

Body Odor – Three sips. Overcome with the musk of an artist who is at least four days removed from a shower? Three sips for you, friend!

Incomprehensibility – If you find yourself shamefully scratching your head because you just can’t decipher what the banana pile on top of a Kirby doll or the painted green man in a cage means, then take two sips – intoxication is the secret ingredient to understanding Borscht’s art, which lives just out of sober intellectual grasp.

Good Luck. Don’t Die. But if you do die, don’t worry, you will be Reborn (Again).