Seven year old aerospace engineer child Timothy Richardson is very concerned about the plastic frowning ghost decoration in his neighbor’s lawn. “Mommy, did he die?,” the MIT Graduate young boy asked his mother as she secured him into his car seat. “No, of course not sweetheart. Like I told you yesterday, it’s just a bad joke my love. Now sit tight in your big boy chair so we can get you  to school,” said Leslie Richardson before kissing her son for a little too long on his forehead.

Mrs. Richardson, a 38-year-old helicopter mother who runs a popular “Mommy Blog” called “Take the Mommy and Run”, contacted The Plantain’s editor several times last week to express her concern about the emotional impact her neighbor’s Halloween decoration was having on her son. I was sent to investigate.

“When I first saw Timothy cower at the site of that terrible plastic frowning ghost I realized that it was my duty as his mother to protect him from such ghoulish imagery. It is just so cruel how our society treats children around Halloween. Being exposed to ghosts or spider webs is just not good for their mental health,” said  Mrs. Richardson  before adding “It’s a modern day lynching,” a comment she quickly regretted and asked me not to print.

For the last several weeks Mrs. Richardson has been on a crusade to eliminate every ghost, skeleton, and monster from Coral Reef Elementary School where her son teaches attends. “It has been so difficult to get the school to agree to take down all of its Halloween decorations and cancel its annual charity costume contest, but my perseverance paid off.”

“She threatened a lawsuit against me, the School District, and Timothy’s teacher Ms. Monica for intentional infliction of emotional distress,” explained Coral Reef Principal Henry Wilkinson. “We just didn’t think it was worth the fight.” Recognizing her threat may appear drastic to some, Mrs. Richardson justified it as necessary for her child’s protection. “It’s no different than a child with a peanut allergy expecting his school respect his anatomical differences. My son is allergic to scary things.”

This reporter asked Mrs. Richardson to allow Timothy to sit for an interview outside of her supervision, but was denied the request on the basis of Timothy being “a little scared of red heads. You understand.”

Never one to allow a finicky mother to get in the way of my journalistic integrity, I arrived at Coral Reef Elementary to confront Timothy in front of his peers to find out why Halloween decorations scare him so much and what he thought of his mother’s efforts.  As I, a grown and unshaven man, approached the young child sitting alone in the lunchroom we locked eyes. “Hey Timmy, can I ask you a few questions about Halloween?”

“Could you not? I’m- I’m trying to eat my lunch!” shouted Timothy as he ran off into the bathroom to finish his tuna fish sandwich alone in the handicapped stall. Left sitting alone at the undersized lunch table I was approached by an elderly woman who asked, with appropriate suspicion, who I was. “I came here to talk to a young child about his deepest fears,” I told the woman without blinking.

“I think you ought to go,” she said nervously. As I stood up to leave I grabbed the Ziploc bag full of homemade trail mix that Timothy left behind when he ran away from me. There were peanuts in it – a violation of Coral Reef’s snack policy. God, Mrs. Richardson is such a hypocrite.

As I left the lunchroom I noticed the elderly lady that confronted me staring suspiciously while on the phone with someone; likely the police. 

I attempted to reach Mrs. Richardson again for a follow-up interview but was informed by her attorney that any further contact would result in my arrest. As I became more obsessed with the details of this story I disregarded my editor’s advice and drove through the Richardson’s community and noticed it had been ridded of all Halloween decorations, with the exception of the single plastic frowny ghost that still hung from the Richardson’s neighbor’s home.

I approached that home and spoke with its owner Javier Colon. When asked why he had kept the frowny plastic ghost when it looked like all of his neighbors had acquiesced to Mrs. Richardson’s requests, the man seemed confused.  “Who’s Mrs. Richardson?” he asked, explaining that no one had asked him to take down his decorations.

“Your neighbor…Leslie Richardson,” I explained pointing to the Richardson’s home. “She has a son named Timothy. He’s a shy, nervous boy.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. That home has been empty for years. The family that lived there died 7 years ago. Come to think of it, they died on Halloween.”  

Panic filled my breath and I began recounting the last several days and all of the time I had spent with Mrs. Richardson and Timothy. Had any of that been real? I began to hyperventilate and grasped my head wondering if I had imagined it all or if I had somehow encountered the ghost of a family that died years ago.

“Bro, bro…” interrupted Mr. Colon. “I’m just messing with you, man. The Richardsons live next door. The mother asked me to take down the ghost, but I told her no. That kids got to toughen up.”

I thanked Mr. Colon for his time and walked back to my car. As I was about to drive away I looked up at the Richardson’s second story window and could see Timothy frightfully peering through his curtains and staring at the frowny plastic ghost that, for whatever reason, made him so scared. 

“Mom! The reporter that attacked me at school is outside,” shouted a petrified Timothy to his mother. 

“Get away from the window!” responded Mrs. Richardson as she ran toward the shotgun she kept in her closet.

By 

It was 29 years ago this week that Hurricane Andrew touched down in South Florida, leaving a wake of destruction in his path that impacted a generation of South Floridians. “Andrew was one of the most important moments in South Florida’s history,” said your friend’s mother unsolicited on Facebook.

But 29 years later, Andrew has retreated from the spotlight and is no longer the powerful storm of his youth. Now, the embattled gale finds himself in a tropical depression after years of missed opportunities and poor decisions.

In an exclusive interview with the Plantain, Hurricane Andrew detailed his journey from a once great windstorm, heralded by many as the “Storm of the Century”, to an unemployed and highly disorganized storm system living back in his childhood bedroom.

“After I hit it big in Miami in 1992, I decided to test my luck and move in a north-westerly direction toward Louisianna with the ultimate forecast of reaching New York,” said Andrew. “I never came close.”

“Andrew makes a mess out of everything in his path,” said his father, Dr. Lawrence Appelbaum. “I told him he would never make it to New York. But he went anyway and ended up calling me and his mother a few days later to pick him up from Tennessee. When we arrived he was covered in blow and in hysterics. He’s been living here ever since.”

Hurricane Andrew says he is uninterested in following his father’s career in orthopedics, or pursuing any career for that matter. “It’s not like I can just go and get a normal job at CVS or something. I’m Hurricane Andrew, everyone knows that. It would be humiliating if somebody saw me bagging groceries or working in a hospital or something,” said the storm. “I just need to focus on myself a little more before I’m ready to make a comeback and move out.”

Although he maintains he is not prepared to join the workforce, Hurricane Andrew acknowledged the strain that his lifestyle has put on his relationship with his father. “We’ve grown pretty distant, sure, but I know he loves me. I guess I just wish I felt he loved me for something besides just being his son.”

When asked to respond, Dr. Appelbaum was dismissive of his son’s concerns, noting the large amounts of money he has spent on him over the last two decades and suggesting that his son earn his love and respect by working toward building a future for himself.”He was a category 5! A 5! Now what is he? He’s nothing.”

“Andrew has no ambition. None whatsoever,” continued his father. “Not like his sister Sandy, who made landfall in NY where she was accepted to Julliard to study dance. Now she’s married to a congressional staffer from Far Rockaway,” said Dr. Appelbaum with aplomb. “They wrote about their engagement in the New York Times!” he gushed.

“I know some will look at me and think I’ve wasted a good opportunity,” said Hurricane Andrew. “Maybe I have. But I’m going to get back on my feet. I know it.”

When asked where he saw himself in the future, the once great storm smirked to himself before answering: “Anywhere the wind blows.”

Versailles unveiled a uniquely Cuban take on the popular Pumpkin Spice Latte, a “Mamey Spice Latte“, which owner King Louis XIV of France believes will attract a younger and more diverse group of customers to Miami’s landmark restaurant.”We were terribly upset by the recent real report that Miami was only ranked the eight best coffee city in the Country by ~~The New York Times~~ Wallethub.com, falling behind well known coffee shit holes like Washington D.C. and Chicago,” said Louis XIV. “We realized that Miami’s problem isn’t that the coffee is bad, it’s that unless you are one of the elderly cigar smoking men who stand outside of our ventanitas all day to discuss right wing politics and comment on the bodies of every woman who approaches, the Miami coffee experience isn’t very friendly.”

In an effort to create a more inclusive coffee culture, Versailles will redesign its building to create a separate female ventanita, a third coffee window for English speaking tourists, and a fourth window for people asking directions to the nearest Starbucks. They will also be offering free wi-fi (although most websites will be blocked) and several new menu items designed to attract younger coffee enthusiasts, such as the Mamey Spice Latte and the Cafe Con Almond Milk.

“The Mamey Spice Latte was fantastic,” said tourist Becky Wiltowner of Grand Rapids Michigan. The 22 year old said that she was drawn to Versailles because she was looking for an authentic Cuban experience while in Miami, “but not like too authentic, you know.”

According to Louis XIV, the effort to modernize Versailles seems to be paying off, but not everyone is happy. “This is a disgrace,” said 83-year-old Ernesto Santiago through a plume of cigar smoke, who, although angered that his beloved cafeteria is changing, noted positively that many of the young ladies attracted to Versailles by the new menu were very attractive.

“Mira ese culo,” said the octogenarian to himself as he sighed to himself, appreciating the passage of time.

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.”

Rabbi Mordechai Shalomberg-Deckchair of Temple Beth Um told his congregation that reports of iguanas raining down from the sky is indeed a sign that the people of earth were experiencing a new plague from god.”What many so-called “scientists,” mostly goyum, say is just a consequence of the cold weather freezing the cold blooded reptiles’ central nervous systems into immobilization is actually, according to the Talmud, evidence that Hashem is very angry at us and wants us to repent.

“Aw, come on!” said synagogue attendee Benja Saferstein, who only went to this morning’s services because he’s visiting his parents from his home in San Francisco. “What could god be so angry about again? The guy has everything?”

Rabbi Shalomberg-Deckchair contemplated the young Juden’s question for a moment before responding, “Mostly the shellfish, Benja! As they say at Yeshiva, ‘If you eat shellfish, you’re being selfish!”, said the Rabbi to his congregation who chuckled politely.

Rabbi Shalomberg-Deckchair said the apocalypse is expected to last a few more weeks, with high chances of dead oxen, boils, and several nights of intense darkness. He said that some of the more nasty plagues may be avoided through a healthy donation to the Temple’s B’Nai Brit Youth Drive.

Miami-Dade government suspended all government operations this morning and announced it would do so until the weather reached at least 70 degrees. “It’s just too damn cold to do anything,” said Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava from underneath three blankets in her bed while The View played in the background. The Mayor says once the Government reopens, she plans to enact legislation that would prepare the County for future cold fronts by providing educational services to the community to teach people how to dress for the weather and how to use their home’s heater. 

Residents around South Florida are reacting to the cold weather change by shivering uncontrollably. Except Dave, who insists he isn’t cold and even wore shorts to work today to prove the point. “It isn’t so bad. I don’t know what people are complaining about,” said Dave as he brought a cup of iced coffee to his blue lips. 

It’s GIVE MIAMI DAY! This means you’re being pressured to donate your hard-earned money to a bunch of charities and non-profits who want to selfishly spend it on making the community you live in a better place. Those jerks. 

Last year, Give Miami Day raised over $14.4 million for local non-profits, and this year, the communists behind that plot expect to raise even more. To get to the bottom of this, the Plantain searched through the more than 900 nonprofits raising money through Give Miami Day to find the worst ways you can spend your money: 

1) Zapatos para pata sucios – Established in 2014, this non-profit shovels money to popular Miami nightclubs and less popular gas stations, and provides shoes to pata sucias. “This is like a super important issue,” said a bunion on the bottom of a very attractive redhead’s left foot as she stumbled across Alton Road at 1:30 AM. 

2) Tyler’s Herros – This organization goes into high-income areas of Miami and replaces old Lebron Heat Jerseys with bootlegged Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro jerseys. “This is great, I really needed a new jersey,” said Insurance broker Xavier Alvarez from the Miller’s Ale House in Pinecrest. “Thank you so much, this really helps our family,” added his wife, Camilla, telling us privately that the Lebron jersey didn’t actually fit Xavier anymore on account of all of their trips to Miller’s Ale House.

3) Sweaters for South Florida – This nonprofit was established by your coworker who insists anything under 77 degrees is “sweater weather.” Founder Luca Johannson says that though SFSF will do absolutely nothing at all (so don’t even ask) to help reduce South Florida’s homelessness problem, they will make sure that all of the homeless people that line South Florida’s streets are balmy and never even the slightest bit cold.  

4) The Gloria Estefan Medical Fund – The Miami Icon and Stage-4 Conga survivor has set up a fund to help those diagnosed with the fire of desire turn the beat around and get back on their feet. 

Want to donate? Great! Head to the Give Miami Day Nonprofit Finder and find the one you’d like to donate to.

We promise the ones we mentioned are totally in there. You can’t find them? Keep looking. Actually – go make some coffee – there are over 900 nonprofits participating in Give Miami Day 2020, so this might take a while.

DONATE TO GIVE MIAMI DAY

Abigail Braman woke up Monday morning at 7:45 AM and spent several minutes staring at the ceiling contemplating her life decisions before preparing herself for another day of work. Wiping the sleep from her eyes, she reached over to grab her cell phone from her nightstand and deleted the seven to 40 pieces of junk mail (mostly from Williams Sonoma and the Democratic Party) that accumulates in her inbox every night. After doom-scrolling through the President’s latest effort to steal the election, she noticed something unusual. “Oh my god!” said Ms. Braman out loud to herself as she stared at her home screen. “It’s sweater weather!”

The 27-year-old paralegal jolted out of her bed and ran outside to see if it was true. As soon as stepped outside, the crisp air smacked her face. She took a deep breath before getting nervous and putting on her mask. Still, she enjoyed the sounds of birds chirping. Had they always sounded so beautiful? It was 71 degrees in Miami. Today was going to be a wonderful day.

Ms. Braman could hardly contain herself as she searched for the perfect outfit. As she reached toward the back of her closet to search for her winter clothing, she thought about how bad this year had been. The election and the pandemic was bad enough, but Miami also had six months of unbearable heat that brought a deluge of feminine dampness, hair frizz, and mosquito bites with it. But not today.

Abigail dressed in a sleek black long sleeve thermal from Banana Republic that she layered with an opened red flannel jacket from H&M and a green camouflage army jacket, also from Banana Republic. Before she left for work, she grabbed a gray checkered scarf a knitted American flag beanie she bought several years ago for a “girls trip” to New York. As she took one last look at herself in the mirror before she left, she smiled. “You look cute!” she said to herself before taking a selfie of her outfit and texting her mother in Virginia.

On her way to work, she stopped at a Starbucks for a celebratory Peppermint Hot Chocolate. It was 75 degrees. Abigail stood in line and admired the very expensive Canada Goose jacket worn by the woman in front of her. “Starbucks always tastes better in a red cup!” she posted to Twitter while she waited an unreasonably long time for her drink. They had forgotten to put peppermint in it. She considered asking them to remake it but didn’t want to be difficult.

When she arrived at her downtown Miami office at 9:00 AM, it was 79 degrees. The lawyers in the office had been allowed to work from home since March, but since she was only a paralegal she was still required to come to the office.

“Can you believe this weather?” asked a lightly sweating Abigail to the office assistant Nancy Randazzo as she removed her scarf and beanie.

“This is why I live in Miami!” said Abigail through her mask before returning to her desk and pondering, as she often does, whether she should have moved to California with Heather and David after college. “What’s so great about San Francisco anyway?” she thought to herself before scrolling through Heather’s Instagram for 11 minutes. 

At noon, Abigail joined Nancy and Javier, one of her firm’s office service workers, for lunch at a nearby Greek restaurant across. They had agreed that the three of them would be a “pod” so they could eat together, but Javier didn’t seem to be taking his pod responsibilities seriously and had developed a sniffle. Still, Abigail didn’t want to be rude and say anything.

During lunch, Nancy gave Abigail and Javier a comprehensive update on the difficulty she was having homeschooling her son and Javier gave a detailed account of the latest infection rates before coughing for several seconds into a napkin and blaming it on his allergies.

The restaurant itself was decent, although more expensive than anticipated. They charged for soda refills, which Abigail felt should have really been mentioned at some point. As she, Nancy, and Javier walked back to their office, it was 84 degrees. “Still sweater weather,” she said to herself as she wiped away a few beads of sweat that developed on her upper lip.

For the next several hours, Abigail alternated between proofreading a long brief for one of her firm’s partners and scrolling through Pinterest for pictures of architecturally significant gingerbread houses. At 3:15 PM, she received a phone call from a lawyer named Steven who asked that she leave the office to pick up a docket of files from the Circuit Court. She redressed in her winter outfit and began to walk the six blocks to the Court. It was 88 degrees.

When she arrived at the courthouse steps, she was out of breath and could feel sweat dripping down her back. Entering the Clerk’s office, she removed her beanie to reveal a mess of oily hair that was half tamped to her head. By the time she left the Court for the return trip, it was 91 degrees. It started to rain down on her when she was a block away from her office. 

The rain had dampened the papers she had retrieved from the Court. When she returned to her office, she had a message from Steven: “Abi, it turns out the files were online so I didn’t actually need you to go,” said the message without a thank you or apology. As she settled back at her desk she noticed her own smell. Luckily, she kept a travel-size bottle of baby powder to combat groin sweat, a remedy she was worried may cause cervical cancer but willing to risk it today considering the odor that had developed.

At 5:00 PM she left her office. The temperature had dropped to 89 degrees. As Abigail sat in traffic, she started to once again thumb through Heather’s Instagram. “I can’t believe she didn’t ask me to be a bridesmaid,” said Abigail to herself as she turned her car’s air conditioning higher. “It’s so god damn hot,” she defeatedly admitted. 

After an hour and fifteen minutes, Abi arrived at her home. She removed the soaking thermal and flannel she had on all day and placed her jacket back into her closet. As she resigned herself to her couch for the night, she started watching a documentary about the murder of JonBenet Ramsey before deciding to see what The Walking Dead was all about. After two episodes, she didn’t see the big deal and put on a TBS marathon of a Friends re-runs. She fell asleep about halfway through “The One Where Joey and Rachel Kiss with a lollipop in her mouth.”

She woke up at 1:45 AM. aAfter washing a few dishes, she returned to her bed at 2:20 AM. She briefly considered showering but was too tired and decided she would just wash her armpits, neck, thighs, and knees with a wet terrycloth in the morning.

As Abigail Braman plugged in her phone for the night and laid back in her bed she checked the next morning’s weather report:

Low of 87 degrees/High of 92.

“Fuck.”

The Wynwood Walls attraction, a long-time focal point of Miami’s art district that features murals by some of the world’s, but not Miami’s, biggest artist will close next month and be replaced by a mixed-use condominium that features a Walgreens and Capital One Cafe as its anchor tenants.”Wynwood has finally gotten to the point where developers don’t need to maintain the independent, artistic elements of the community that originally attracted attention to the neighborhood,” said the property’s new owner Whocares Fakename who plans to develop six luxury condominiums around the neighborhood in the next year. “Sure, people like art, but they will love our terrace views of Panther Coffee, custom granite counter tops, and doorman who used to live two blocks away but now has to live in Miami Gardens and commutes.”

Urban planning specialists refer to this stage of municipal development as the “deculturalization” stage.

“Independent theaters and gathering places are great and all, but people really want to live in luxury condos in Wynwood. What am I supposed to do? Not build them and make lots of money?” said Mr. Fakename. “All these new residents are going to need a corner store, and that’s why I’m so excited about our partnership with Walgreens.”

The Wynwood Walgreens will feature a pharmacy and be open 24-hours. “We want to honor the neighborhood’s history, so the inside of our Walgreens will feature a custom graffiti of those same goddamn aholsniffsglu eyeballs he’s been putting on everything for a decade. People love those eyeballs. It’s hip and anti-corporate,” said Walgreens corporate manager Melissa Howard.

Reed Paulson, the CEO of an as-yet-to-be-developed Blockchain business who has lived in Wynwood for two years said that while he was sad to see Wynwood institutions like O-Cinema close, he is excited for what it means for his community.

“Independent theaters are great and all. I mean, Garden State is so deep, but if we get 10 highrises along NW 2nd they’re legally required to build a Whole Foods. That would be huge for property values.”

A group of food rights activists have filed a complaint to the State’s food safety board panning the practice of many Miami-based bakeries and delicatessens of pressing their sandwiches as firmly as possible, claiming the act disrespects the integrity of the bread.

Holding signs with slogans like “Free Gluten!” and “Not all Sandwiches!”, a crowd of baked goods gathered outside of Little Haiti’s Versailles Restaurant to protest the practice. “We don’t want special treatment. We just want to be treated like every other menu item. Don’t put extra pressure on us just because we’re bread,” said organizer Juan Cuban Sandwich, a recently constructed mojo-flavored roasted pork butt and smoked ham Cubano with Swiss and mustard oozing from its side. “Just treat us equally. It’s the yeast you could do,” he added before being attacked by hungry onlookers.

The activists say their protest is necessary given the increasing amount of pressure placed on all bread items throughout Miami. “This is no longer just a problem for the Cuban Sandwich community,” said Adele Bagely, a Garlic and Chive bagel pressed so hard that cream cheese covered the parchment she was then wrapped in, creating an uneatable mess. “This impacts us all.”

The protest is reportedly funded by bearded James Beard award nominee Zak the Baker, whose Kosher delicatessen has a strict “no press” rule. The Plantain asked to speak to the bucher, but were told by a spokesperson that the new Kosher delicatessen has a strict “no press” rule.

Undeterred, this reporter went to the Zak the Baker’s new Wynwood deli to speak with him directly, but upon arrival was corralled into a 45-minute long line to purchase an $18 Tongue Sandwich which, although very good, required me to press down on the sandwich in order to fit it into my mouth, an act that drew critical side glances from the restaurant’s other diners and an irate Mr. The Baker.