Dennis Redgrave’s Miami vacation was ruined when the Michigan City resident mistook a cheek-kiss from his cousin’s Venezuelan fiancé as a sign of sexual interest.
Kendall, Miami’s restaurant-studded enclave that rose in popularity in the 1980’s and 1990’s as an affordable housing solution for the burgeoning Yuppie community, has been voted The Number #1 Suburb in America to Raise a Family. But residents see it differently.
Rosita Juana Eserbas, 84, says, “I’d say a more accurate designation is ‘The Number One Place to IGNORE Family.’ After my husband died, my son moved into my 3-bedroom house with his wife and kids, telling me that I should live with family and didn’t need all this space. The next thing I know, they moved me out of my own home into this tiny condo, and now I never see any of them.”
Kendall area high schools have reported to the Miami-Dade School Board that in recent years the number of kids seeking meetings with school guidance counselors has risen, 63% in the last year alone. And what do the counselors report as the main reason for seeking sessions with them? Attention. “These kids are basically living alone,” reports Cantlissa Ennimore, a guidance counselor at Kendall West High School. “Their friends are always on their phones. Their teachers—also on their phones—assign them work requiring internet research and intranet-based learning modules. Both of their parents work and their siblings are locked in their rooms playing video games. These kids are starving for human contact and attention.”
Kendall’s Number #1 ranking came from a study released Thursday from The Wellsley Berpshire Institute on Family, touting Kendall as being the idyllic, ideal suburb. A recent episode of the TV series This Old Townhouse also mentioned Kendall as a haven for the bargain-shopping DIY multitudes due to the vast numbers of run-down cookie-cutter condo community units available for purchase, remodeling, and flipping for a quick buck.
Residents declare that Kendall is nothing but a bunch of people jammed together in a box-like, rat maze, with lots of great restaurants, a couple of movie theaters, and some stores.
Uber Eats driver, Haspo Usten, 36, says that the majority of his business consists of making deliveries from Kendall restaurants to customers often just around the block from the dining establishment. “Half the time, I don’t even see the people I deliver food to—I just see a hand sticking out of the townhouse door reaching for the bag of food. It’s not hard to steal French fries or a half a sandwich from a hand,” Usten says, wiping his mouth with his sleeve.
There is a general consensus among those living in Kendall, that—if it wasn’t for rush-hour traffic jams on work days—there’d be no way of knowing just how many people do live in Kendall. As for the rest of Miami residents, they never go to Kendall and mostly ignore the whole area.
By Lisa W. Hopper , a freelance journalist and staff writer for The Plantain. After writing this article, she stopped having her meals delivered, has taken a vegan cooking class, and now prepares her meals at home. She lives in north Dade County and has only ever gone to Kendall to interview residents for this article. She plans never to go there again—the traffic was terrible.
Did you even just make plans?
Miami has seen its fair share of escape room themes come and go, but nothing screams “there’s no way out” like your bosses’ niece’s Quinceanera.
*The Plantain Goes Undercover to Bring the Shocking Truth to Light**By Lisa W. Hopper*
I wasn’t sure I’d survive the night. The duct tape around my ankles was way too tight. I asked myself, How had I gotten here?
Over a year ago, I decided to go undercover to report on this story by becoming a frequent patron at Miami’s well known slum-bar in order to get to the truth: who owns Churchill’s Pub.
I had long suspected that, with his face emblazoned on the building’s exterior, it was The Man, The British Bulldog, Winnie, Winston Churchill himself. I was about to get to the bottom of this. I had been warned by many that this wasn’t going to be an easy story to report on.
Fumbling into the Light of Truth
My first step in investigative reporting took me to Google, where I discovered the actual address of the pub, 5501 NE 2 Avenue, a location in the heart of Little Haiti. After hours more of internet research and discerning that I would not actually have to buy a plane ticket to Haiti, I Ubered it over to the establishment, a long-standing dive for the down-and-out that only recently turned happening-hipster music and stand-up comedy venue.
>###I was going in, and going in too deep.
After several nights of guzzling cheap beer and chancing on the pub grub, I sidled up to long-time bar fly and Churchill’s old timer, Rusty Mecregans. It cost me several beers, but soon his stories began flowing like beer from a tap. Rusty, gray-bearded and deeply malodorous, has been going to Churchill’s since its grand opening—he couldn’t remember the date or who owned the bar. He suggested that I check outside in the dumpster for clues.
After eight pints, I was FUBAR—fucked up beyond all reason, a bar term for wasted out of your mind. I wasn’t even sure that I would be able to maintain my journalistic bias any longer. I was going in, and going in too deep.
A Fruitless, Fateful Night
Against the recommendations of many, I decided to follow this lead into the alley. I approached the dumpster, which hadn’t been picked up in six days, with hesitation and more than a little aversion. As a precaution against roaches, I duct-taped my pants legs down. I entered the dumpster with much trepidation. I began to dig, finding no useful information—but I will say that fish and chips are good cold after a bender no matter what anyone says. That’s when it happened: I fell asleep.
I was awaken to the obnoxious beeping of the trash truck signaling the necessity of a rapid dumpster egress. The duct tape around my ankles was too tight, but had done its job. However, failing to tape my sleeves, I found roaches in my bra. How had I gotten here? My need to know the truth had pushed me nearly to the brink of destruction. I chocked it up to just another fruitless night of journalistic reporting.
Following a tip-off from a well-meaning bag lady who frequents the dumpster, I decided to see if the local government could provide any answers.
History Provides a Clue
Checking the annals of Miami Dade’s Local Business Occupational Licenses, I discovered that Churchill’s was opened by a guy named Dave Daniels. I tracked him down and asked him point blank if he inherited the bar from Winston Churchill. “No, I opened the bar in 1979,” he said, a hint of British accent in his voice. His sleeves were rolled up revealing elbows well-calloused by years of bar propping. Daniels stated that he was no relation to Winston Churchill, who died in 1965, and that in 2014 he sold the bar to Mallory Kauderer, also no relation to The British Bulldog.
No Questions Remain Unanswered
I am reminded of a quote from Winnie, “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” I had researched the issue with true gritty journalistic reporting integrity and had the malt vinegar stained pants to prove it. I had looked into the maw of FUBAR and returned. And I had gotten to the heart of the issue and revealed the truth to the concerned masses: Churchill’s is not owned by Winston Churchill. My job here was done. I was going home.
Before this article went to press, The Plantain was informed by one of the bartenders that some of the paint had peeled from the exterior of the building of Churchill’s pub. However, this has not affected patronage of the establishment.
Lisa W. Hopper is a freelance journalist and guest staff writer for The Plantain. She can be encountered at the Little Haiti AA meeting house on Tuesdays at 7 p.m.
_The fruit sections of Miami’s grocery stores sometimes have fruit flies. Click here for a first-person account of a trip to Sedano’s Supermercado by reporter Lisa W. Hopper._
“This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.”—Winston Churchill
Residents of Downtown Miami Are Subjects of Science Experiment Gone Awry####By Lisa W. Hopper
Miami residents have been unwittingly participating in a large-scale science experiment. The water systems along the Biscayne/Brickell Boulevard Corridor have been laced with formic acid and a secret chemical that is slowly converting the residents of that area into ants. This is the belief of many who offer this justification–how else could residents continue to move single file in an orderly fashion through the lagging city infrastructure that was never meant to support such numbers of commuters?
Masterson Biyou, a worker at the Pawal Chemical Plant in Homestead, the maker of EFE-45, short for Experimental Formic Carbonycyclinethylpop Version 45, informed, “I’m coming forward because I don’t think it’s right. I’ve seen the photos. I can’t do that to another human being.” He is referring to the Pawal Chemical Research & Development Top Secret Photo Files. “When I saw the photo of that little girl accosting those picnickers at Miami Circle Park because they had a sticky sweet cake—one of those panatela borracha cakes—it was just awful. She tore them apart with her massive jaws.” Mr. Biyou also described a 20-year old young man with antennae as long as his arm and the same massive, crushing jaws. “Where is he going to get a job looking like that?! The poor boy! Maybe a bodyguard or a bouncer. Maybe….” Mr. Biyou trailed off, obviously deeply disturbed by the images.
>###How else could residents continue to move single file in an orderly fashion through the lagging city infrastructure never meant to support this many commuters?
The targeted area for the experiment is Downtown Miami, a 2.1 square mile area which includes zip codes 33128, 33130, 33131, and 33132, and which is home to approximately 200,000 men, women, children, and—now—ant people.
The Plantain Investigates
The Plantain attempted to reach the CEO of Pawal Chemical Company but was redirected to the legal department. Acting as the spokesman for the company, Berand Slotzmeyer, Esq., stated, “Pawal has a strong community outreach component. We really care about the local community. A couple of weeks ago, we insisted that our employees volunteer their free time to pick up the trash on our sponsored stretch of road, the block in front of our plant. Keeping the community safe and clean is what Pawal is all about. Last year after Hurricane Irma ravaged Homestead and greater Miami, we offered counseling to employees who had been previously traumatized by Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Once they were identified as emotionally broken, we fired them but continued to pay for their next three therapy sessions as an act of goodwill. We have many such community and employee-oriented programs.”
Another Pawal employee who wished to remain anonymous reported that the hub of the area most greatly affected by experimentation lies within the concentric circles and byways leading to Brickell City Centre, referred to among Pawal employees as “The Ant Farm.” Brickell City Center manager, Fatima Rostas, explained as she scratched her thorax, “No, I haven’t heard of that term and it has nothing to do with the fact that we have revamped the dining venues at The Center to dessert-only establishments. We have many fine apparel stores, too, such as Banana Republic, Hormiga Hombre, Exoskele—to name a few. And home furnishing purveyors—Colony and Socialite. There’s something for anyone.”
Some Are Happy Being A Part of the Experiment
Other positive stories abound. One resident and frequenter of The Ant Farm is pleased with his new physique. Melvin Backshell told The Plantain, “I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. I stopped juicing up with ‘roids. I can lift many times my body weight now, so I got a job with Waste Services–I lift twenty-five hundred pound dumpsters and empty them into dump trucks.”
Although Pawal continues to deny any knowledge of “ant people” or their part in creating them, a trip through Downtown Miami will quickly remove all doubts in the observer and leaves one with a feeling of having walked onto the set of the black and white classic horror film “Them” (1954, Warner Bros.) in which giant ants have taken over the city.
Lisa W. Hopper is a freelance journalist and guest staff writer for The Plantain. She lives just outside of Downtown Miami in zip code 33137.
By Dirk O’Dowel####Land Dispute Sours Sweetwater
In a shocking turn of events, the disagreement between the Miami-Dade Youth Fair and Florida International University (FIU) has reached levels of violence unheard of over small land disputes. It’s no secret that both harbor ill feelings, as FIU has sought for many years to expand into the land commonly used by the Youth Fair.
Tensions came to a head yesterday when FIU security guard Anthony Jacobs was gunned down as he was leaving the university campus after completion of a work shift. The gunman is unknown. However, nailed to Jacobs’ chest were several leaflets for the Youth Fair, an indicator of who may have been responsible. One of the Youth Fair’s representatives, Tony Gulachi, told The Plantain, “I don’t know nothing about that security guard–but seems to me we live in very dangerous times. You know, when certain organizations feel threatened, they act out. Can’t be helped. Maybe if the university wasn’t so keen on taking what’s ours, stuff like this wouldn’t happen. Who knows?”
> “You fuck with us we come back tenfold!”
The news has become a heated issue at FIU with many calling for retaliation. “Those cocksuckers think they can do this and get away with it?!” said Elizabeth Bejar, FIU Vice President of Academic Affairs. “This is motherfuckin’ FIU. You fuck with us we come back tenfold! I pray to god the cops don’t get to the killer before we can–because this is personal. Blood has been spilled, and this shit ain’t over ‘til we spill some of theirs!”
Clearly relations between the two Miami institutions are strained, yet local residents seem oddly oblivious to it. Prior to his strange disappearance, The Plantain spoke with local homeowner Ricardo Miro who stated, “Are you people crazy, are you trying to get us both killed?! I didn’t hear anything! I didn’t see anything! Do not use my name! Okay?! Do not use my name!!”
It seems the two sides cannot find a compromise, as FIU is insistent on claiming the land the Youth Fair has used since 1971. “We get what we want. It’s just a matter of time,” said FIU President Mark Rosenberg. “What happened to Security Guard Jacobs was….unfortunate. It will be dealt with, I can assure you. His family, in the meantime, will be taken care of—FIU protects its own. I’m sure the Youth Fair thinks this was a wise choice, but they will learn what a mistake it was…a very grave mistake. You see, the Fair is the past–they’re over. We are the future–and you can’t fight progress.”
Authorities have cautioned residents of Sweetwater and Westchester to stay clear of the university and the fairgrounds after dark until further notice, and to try to ignore the sound of gunshots.
Lighting the Way to a Brighter Miami with Cuban Candles####By Lisa W. Hopper
City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (Rep.) wants to tackle Miami’s unemployment problem as one of his first important initiatives since taking office, seeking, in part, to wow those who felt that his only mayoral qualification is that he’s “daddy’s little boy”—daddy being Cuban-born Xavier Suarez, corrupt former Miami Mayor from 1985 to 1993 and 1997 to 1998, nicknamed “Mayor Loco.”
In a press conference held earlier this week, Francis Suarez announced his plans to have 10,000 trabajo candles sent from Cuba utilizing Agencia66 Envios a Cuba, a Miami-based shipping business owned by his sister.
Trabajo Candles On the Way
Employment spell candles, or trabajo candles, as they are called in Miami’s Hispanic community, are 9-inch votive candles found in a shop called a botanica, which literally means “herbs.” This name because the shops not only carry candles, but also other items—herbs, anointing oils, bath salts, incense, animal skulls, bones, and perfumes—associated with a brand of spirituality bordering on the superstitious, brought to the Americas from Africa along with the New World’s other great affliction, slavery. These pseudo-religions are called Santeria in the Latin community and voodoo in the Haitian neighborhoods, and their high priests, operating out of churches or botanicas, are colorful characters offering incantations, readings, and special concoctions. The candles ordered by Mayor Suarez are green, a color associated with luck and money; the glass exterior has a silkscreened print of “San Jose”—Joseph, the patron saint of workers.
Haitian botanicas offer work candles called travay vodou chandelle.
For the less adventurous, trabajo candles may be found in one of Miami’s 28 locations for Navarro Pharmacy, only just recently purchased by CVS Pharmacy. Based in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, CVS headquarters Public Relations Manager Janice Watson says, “We tried to remove the magic candles from our Navarro shelves in an attempt to move Miami from the ignorant Dark Ages to the present, but the locals were having none of that. Priests from Santera Local #452 Hialeah went ballistic–they left coconuts and dead chickens in front of our stores until we promised to put the candles back on the shelves. We did.” Almost fired for mishandling this incident, Ms. Watson admitted to lighting a job candle and placing a white flower in a glass of water in order to save her six-figure salary position with CVS.
>###… they left coconuts and dead chickens in front of our stores…
Yoboluja Castro-Pena, Santera, and purveyor of the Saguesera Botanica and Pet Shop located in Little Havana, explained, “You canna make Babalu angry. Babalu is powerful god. If you give to Babalu—maybe a flan o bocadito, Babalu will give to you. Also San Jose will answer your petitions if you pack in a lunchbox lonchero a sanwish de queso.”
Help for the Unemployed
There are 2,668,200 nonfarm employees in the South Florida tri-county area; however, Miami’s current unemployment rate hovers around 4.5%, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. A spokesperson for Mayor Suarez’s Cuban Interests Office, Ricalada Espinoso, said, “These aren’t just any candles. These candles are specially-prepared by real Cuban santeras. They contain tobacco, a valueless Cuban peso, and like 5 tubs of lard.”
Funding for the candles is provided by the City of Miami Children’s Lunch Program. Once the candles arrive in Miami, there will be an Official Lighting Ceremony hosted by Mayor Suarez. Jobless persons arriving at either the Unemployment Office or Palacio de los Jugos will be handed a frita and a candle. “This will resolve Miami’s unemployment problem,” says Mayor Suarez.
Lisa W. Hopper is a freelance journalist, which means she doesn’t have a real job; however, by burning a trabajo candle she was able to snag this guest staff writer position with The Plantain on a probationary trial basis. Her priest and great friend told her, “Mwen pral limyè yon travay vodou chandelle pou ou. Moun sa yo ki bataards bon mache yo pa pral peye ou yon bagay.”
“I remember when the candle shop burned down. Everyone stood around singing ‘Happy Birthday.’”—Steven Wright
Miami bath salt zombie victim five years later–click here for reporter Lisa W. Hopper’s interview with ex-homeless man Ronald Poppo, dubbed Mr. No Eyes Without A Face.
By Daniel JimenezSources close to The Plantain have reported that local Lyft driver, Lance Sanchez, is currently mulling over all the mistakes he made in life that lead him to eat at the Cici’s Pizza located off of 117th Avenue. “I don’t understand how this is the news? Are you guys really a newspaper? I’m not sad about eating here so often, why would I be sad?” said Mr. Sanchez in between bites of his eighth slice of pizza.
Management informed The Plantain that Mr. Sanchez frequents the buffet, despite their best efforts. We talked with one of the busboys, Gabriel Smithe, who told us, “We’ve tried to help him–suggested maybe he eat somewhere else, or try going to night school. We pointed out there is a salad bar—it’s not for display purposes. He’ still young–he could get a nursing degree. But no matter what, he always comes back here. I feel like I’m watching him slowly die. I can understand the people that come here every so often…hell, even the people that bring their kids. I just can’t imagine what he’s been through that makes him eat here every day of the week.”
> “A guy can eat at a pizza buffet as long as he wants! Stop trying to make it sound sad!”
An attempt was made to get more background on Mr. Sanchez; we contacted his parents and past friends. Both his parents were shocked he was still alive, saying they hadn’t spoken to him in fifteen years. The last time they spoke, they said, Lance was starting a job selling steak knives. Then he just ceased all contact. “Please, tell my boy we still love him. We don’t care what mistakes he’s made. He can come home,” said a tearful Mrs. Sanchez. The Plantain was unable to find any friends. Lance Sanchez stated himself that he is still feuding with his former War Hammer guild, and after the Bethany incident is no longer allowed at the Arby’s just a few blocks away.
Normally, reporters at The Plantain try to have a sense of detachment from stories, in order to maintain journalistic integrity. But after hearing Lance Sanchez’s story we were moved enough to offer him a job cleaning our offices. Unfortunately, he refused saying, “I’m fine, okay! I just like eating here, what wrong with everyone? A guy can eat at a pizza buffet as long as he wants! There’s no law against it. Stop trying to make it sound sad!”
Since the writing of this article, Cici’s Pizza has obtained an injunction to bar Mr. Sanchez from eating there, claiming it constitutes self-harm.
Daniel Jimenez is a staff writer for The Plantain.
By Lisa W. Hopper#### Ineffective Gay-Stop Therapy Banned in Broward and Palm Beach Counties
This January, both Broward County and Palm Beach County passed legislation banning conversion therapy seeking to cure LGBT minors suffering from same-sex orientation and confused gender identity. This controversial therapy works by taking a person’s gayness and replacing it with religion, self-hatred and like, a lot of suicide. Miami-Dade County rejected the ban in October 2017 in a 7 to 4 vote by commissioners. Here in South Florida, with a population of 6.7 million, That’s a lot of lost gayness.
Knerst Flagbord, who fled Denmark because he says, he “grew tired of gay-infested Scandinavia” stated, “I agree wid dee now deceased—God rest his soul—Pastor Fred Phelps of Kansas’s Westboro Baptist Church in his anti-Muslim, anti-Jew, anti-U.S. soldiers and politicians, and-especially—his anti-homo progrom and his war cry—‘God hates fags’. That’s why god punishes dee gays by making dem slaves to high standards in dee arts and fashion.” Mr. Flagbord, dressed in short shorts, flip flops, and a T-shirt imprinted with a bow tie and the Tequila Baba logo and slogan ‘Tie one on with TB’ was protesting outside the Fort Lauderdale Courthouse, upset by the recent ban. “If I find one of my kids is a homo, I’m going to fight like hell to fix dat. Now I’d have to drive all dee way across dee county line to do dat.”
> “God hates fags!”
Conversion Therapist Catsum Waller, whose gender identity could not be determined, of The Perversion Conversion Center of Boca Raton says banning the therapy is providing a disservice to troubled LGBT youth. “Teens have a right to be able to talk to me about their sickness when their parents pay me to make them stop being gay. And I have a right to practice as an unlicensed therapist as only I know best. This is an outrage!”
> “Teens have a right to be able to talk to me about their sickness when their parents pay me to make them stop being gay.”
Miami-Dade County practitioners are satisfied with Palm Beach and Broward’s decision to ban conversion therapy. “This is great news indeed! Finally, a move to even the playing field. Now all the gays that want to get fixed will be driven into Miami for our conversion immersion shock therapy workshops, driving up our client base. Fabulous! Absolutely fabulous!” said Babs Vera of Vera and Vera Counseling Services.
Not everyone agrees though. Phyllis Watson of People Resisting Incredibly Dumb Endeavors (PRIDE) says, “’If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’—that’s our viewpoint. Being gay or lesbian or bisexual or transgender has been accepted as normal in most of the civilized world. Hell, the mental health book hasn’t listed homosexuality as a psychological disease since 1973!” Ms. Watson is referring to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), a manual used in mental health care services for diagnosing diseases of the mind.
A nineteen-year-old gay boy wishing to remain anonymous said, “My parents sent me to anti-gay therapy. They tied me to a chair and made me watch straight sex how-to videos and porn. I vomited profusely. I went right out afterward and (explicative) my boyfriend. It’s all just so senseless, you know?”
Langston Welles agreed to be interviewed regarding the success of his conversion therapy. “Yes, the Church of Mormon was offering $10,000 to anyone completing their conversion program. Oh, yes, honey, it worked. We used that $20,000 as a down payment on this penthouse with sweeping views of the Intracoastal Waterway.” He sashayed across the room to retrieve a candelabra he says was given to him by Freddy Mercury just before his death. Jonathan, his platonic housemate, clad in a fetching satin bathrobe, declined to be interviewed regarding the effectiveness of his Mormon conversion therapy provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Miami-Dade County Commissioners will be putting off a meeting to vote again on the issue for as long as they can.
Lisa W. Hopper is a freelance journalist and guest writer for The Plantain.
The Gay8 Festival takes place in Little Havana on February 18, 2018, celebrating LGBT Latinos and Friends from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Calle Ocho.