The City of Miami has initiated a novel solution to its affordable housing problem: Low Income Housing Benches.The initiative marks the first time the City has publicly acknowledged that it is in the prongs of an affordable housing crisis, and that maybe it should do something about the every person in the city who cannot afford to live here, a reversal of the City’s longstanding plan of doing absolutely nothing but make it easier for developers to build more unaffordable luxury high-rises for Latin American investors.
At a press conference Monday, recently fired then rehired City Manager Daniel Alfonso announced the implementation of the “Low Income Bench Program,” an initiative the City Manager hopes will attract millennials who embrace the “tiny home movement” and want to live without bourgeois amenities like “bathrooms” or “shelter from the elements” to Miami. “These benches are great, and in fact, I plan to live on one after I’m fired from this job again,” said Mr. Alfonso shortly before being fired from his job again and then unfired about 20-minutes after that. “I can’t live with this uncertainty,” said a quivering Mr. Alfonso before retreating to a nearby bench for a nap.
“These versatile housing benches are located throughout the City and provide enough room for a comfortable sleep for one average sized person. The benches can also fit two malnourished children with plenty of room for their single mother to stand over them as she weeps,” said Janelle Goldrich of Miami’s Housing and Urban Development administration.
Ms. Goldrich claims the Low Income Benches program will cost taxpayers very little because the City can simply designate existing benches as a “Low Income Bench.”
The Plantain spoke to some Miami residents who have already signed up for the program, like 9th grade English teacher Steven Hill, who said his new bench home was “pretty convenient because there is one right outside of my school in the park. I just got to get there by five or Crazy Ernie takes it, and you don’t want to mess with him.”
Other residents have not responded to the programs so warmly: “I’m not an animal! I deserve to sleep inside somewhere, is that too much too ask?” said local delivery man and father of four Rupert Juarez. “I just want a place to live. You try looking your kids in the eye and telling them that they’re sleeping on a park bench the one weekend a month you have custody!”
While the program has some detractors, it is ironically being looked at as a model for developers who plan to install luxury bench units throughout the Brickell and downtown area. We spoke to Louis Nyman of Goldman Properties who says it plans on building 10,000 bench units throughout the City by 2018. The benches will start at $700 a month and will be painted by well-known street artists and come with amenities such as the ability to brag to your friends that you can afford to spend $700 a month on a park bench.

The Plantain is live from Washing D.C. this week and has discovered that there are almost no Colombians in the entire District of Columbia. In fact, most of the people here are white. And not even interesting white. Just regular white. Indiana white. I’ve been told that there are also black people here, but the white people keep telling me to avoid the areas of town where they live…so right now that’s just a rumor.I flew into town Saturday afternoon from Miami to cover the celebration surrounding Trump’s 100th day and the surprising lack of nuclear war it has brought so far. I was feeling pretty beat upon my arrival (I flew United) and tried to make my way to my hotel, but got caught up behind a crowd of science marchers taking pictures of their signs for Instagram and decided to walk instead.
The first thing you notice when you start walking around D.C. is how the weather is terrible and the people are unpleasant. It’s always just a little too damp or cold to allow you to get comfortable, but not enough to allow you to adequately prepare yourself. That description applies to both the climate and the people that live and work in the District. At any given time the streets are filled with hordes of balding government workers or crowds of camouflage wearing tour groups from the Midwest. All of these people are Republicans—even the Democrats, if you know what I mean.
There is an air of ambition present throughout the District that causes everyone to walk just a few paces faster than necessary. Coming from Miami, where ambition and punctuality are highly discouraged, it can be a bit jarring to see so many people, most of whom are wearing bow ties, impatiently darting across the streets to get to a meeting on the Hill, which is where everyone says they are going, even when they aren’t.
The second thing you notice while walking around D.C. is that all the buildings look the same and you can’t find the fucking metro. Washington D.C. must have been designed by a drunk Sim City player because every building is a replica of the last one, which makes it very difficult to figure out whether you are any closer to your hotel since you thought you already passed the Supreme Court, but it turns out that it was just the National Archives.
Being in D.C. is frustrating. You can’t escape the fact that the President works here, that he is terrible, and that his being terrible has inspired you to think of some very funny jokes about him that you know you can’t post on the internet without coming under a federal investigation. “He’s right there!” you keep thinking to yourself as you pass the White House, sort of unimpressed by it.
D.C. is perhaps most frustrating because you are always only about 3 hours away from New York, which is a much better city with a lot more to do tonight. There are probably at least two Hannibal Buress shows happening in NY, plus your cool, artsy friend from college who has just been sort of squatting in Brooklyn since graduation is there, and she is always fun. Your friends in D.C. are less fun and they always have work the next morning. Plus, the City seems to just sort of close down in the late afternoon anyway, leaving you to wander around at night with nothing to do beside look for Andrea Mitchell to throw bread at.
Coming from Miami, I know how obnoxious it can be when someone comes to my town for a few days to criticize it for lacking in culture or sophistication. D.C. has both. It is a sophisticated and cultural City, and if you’re interested in waking up early and seeing some archives or touring museums all day, you are in probably the 18th best place in the world for that.
But D.C. is a reserved city that lacks the heart that I have grown accustomed to living in Miami, a City which, for better or worse, wears its emotion on its sleeves. Now, don’t get me wrong, Miami is a shittier place than D.C. But it wears it’s shit with pride and embraces it in a way that makes it pretty exciting.
The District of Columbia is grandiose but boring. This criticism is absolutely a result of the stunning lack of diversity that can be found throughout the District. It is a City created by and for white folks who look like they are from Indiana, and the lack of other culture’s influence in the City’s planning makes D.C feel sanitized and boring.
The Plantain gives the District of Colombia 1.5 Stars because the Newseum is pretty cool and it is only a short train ride to New York.

As thousands of scientists and their supporters gathered at the “March for Science” in Washington D.C. and other cities on Saturday to show support for the sciences, a contingent of about 1,000 Miami science supporters accidentally misread an Eventbrite invite and showed up to a “March for Scientology.”The “religious organization” held their “march” in celebration of its newest “church”, located on a full city block on “US1”.
The Scientology march began inauspiciously enough, with only about a dozen vested church workers in attendance at 11 AM, most of whom just stood outside of the new church building smoking cigarettes and complaining about how the media lies about them. By noon, however, hundreds of pro-science marchers showed up having mistook the March for Scientology’s Evite with the “March for Science” being held at the same time downtown.
“Is this the Science march?” asked Javier Jose Ramirez upon his arrival, to which one of the Scientologist quickly flicked away his cigarette and said “you are in the right place!” and offered him a free lemon square.
As the church’s staff made its way through the crowd of science supporters asking vague questions like “have you ever felt inadequate” or “do you think there is anything holding you back” or “Isn’t Leah Remini the absolute worst,” senior Scientology members administered free personality tests and gave out lemon squares to the confused science supporters.
After about an hour most of the marchers had been brought inside the church for coursework and could each be seen leaving several hours later carrying dozens of books authored by Scientology’s founder L. Ron Hubbard and thousands in debt administered by the church’s staff.
When asked by the Plantain whether it was proper to proselytize to the pro science supporters that showed up at the church, a senior church member said that it was because Scientologists are very pro-science. “We are so pro science we aren’t even allowed to have a conscience.”
The Plantain spoke to science supporter Javier Jose Ramirez as he exited the building and asked him about his experience inside what we assume was the den of a terrifying cult:
“They were all very nice,” said Mr. Ramirez, who had crumbs of lemon squares all over his mouth.
“Is that all you have to say?” we asked, frankly expecting a little more juice given all of the media reports about how Scientology is evil and kidnaps and enslaves people.
“Look, they believe in some crazy things, for sure. But most of the people in there seem pretty nice and are just looking for some happiness, so who am I to criticize. What they believe isn’t any crazier than what Catholics or Jews or Muslims believe.”
“So what was it like in there?”
“I just sat and they played me a few videos.”
“What type of video?”
“Mostly just clips from Cocktail actually.”
The 31-year-old computer engineer said he decided to buy 1 book from the Church for $20, mostly as a thank you for all the lemon squares he ate, but also to figure out exactly what it was these people believe. “It’s one book,” said Mr. Ramirez, “what’s the worst that could happen?”

A decade late to the party, 36-year-old Sara Yousuf has decided to give up a life full of contentment and meaningful friendships and join Facebook. 

Sara was thrilled to find the airbrushed faces of childhood-friends and mom’s friends.   “It’s like having all of life’s reunions all at once.”

Well-known in the field of astrophysics, Sara was surprised to find herself posting selfies captioned with inspirational quotes within the hour.  

“Any minute now,” she exclaimed.  “Approval.”

Sara surprised herself with how much she savored peeking-in on her struggling exes, all of whom were now assistant managers at Best Buy for some reason.  

Still new to the platform, Sara strained to understand whether her posts about T.J. Maxx’s draconian return policy were being liked ironically or ronically. 

Sara was particularly startled by the column of banner ads appearing to the right of her newsfeed that mocked her with items she had the self-control to remove from her Amazon cart that morning.   

Within 3 days, Sara averaged 25 Facebook logins per day, time formerly dedicated to enjoying the company of loved-ones and practicing basic self-care.  Resolved to residing in a new crowded-but-lonely brainscape, Sara exhaled, “Facebook is easy, but happiness is exhausting.”  

After several months of vocally thinking of getting “back into shape” local man Javier Soto-Smith announced that starting Monday he is going to begin eating right and working out every day.

The 29-year-old is excited for the lifestyle change and has already purchased a new Apple Watch to track his steps and watched several documentaries on Netflix about the food industry and the benefits of clean eating.

“Oh that’s just wonderful. You are an inspiration to us all” is what Javi would have liked to hear when he announced his upcoming lifestyle change to his coworkers, who had a much more muted response:

“Great. Hey, do you know when you’ll have the markup of the draft to me?” asked his boss Lidia Balana of the announcement. Javi promised to have the report to her by the afternoon and then pivoted to explain to his disinterested supervisor that starting Monday he will start eating clean and will also run a few miles every morning before work. “So can you have it to me by 3:00?” asked Lidia, who didn’t really care about Javi’s workout plans and, in any event, had her own eventual plans to get into shape she was thinking about focusing on.

 “I think I may also do a cycle or two of P90X and join a cross-fit gym,” said Javi to the clerk at 5-Guys later that night after ordering a cheeseburger and a large fry (which is enough for 4 people) for dinner. “Starting Monday things are definitely going to be very different.”

Jonathan Best was arrested at a Pollo Tropical Saturday afternoon after filling his free water cup with 3 oz of Coke (the cola). He now faces potential life in prison for his crime, a punishment many believe is well justified. 

“Finally, my taxpayer money is going to be put to good use!” said frequent Pollo Tropical patron Grant Davis-Pena-Sanchez. “Nothing angers me more than purchasing a large fountain drink, only to find there isn’t any Sprite left because a gang of thieves ran it dry with their water cups. Those degenerates are criminals and socialists, piggy-backing on the rest of us working class people, and I’m happy to see the police are committed to keeping them off the streets.”  

“There’s always a sense of distrust whenever a customer requests a water cup,” said Pollo Tropical employee Sara Velasquez. “Most of the time they end up plugging it with lemonade or whatever, just to save them a couple of bucks. I mean, I know that times are hard and all, but it still hurts being manipulated like that. I guess I’m just tired of feeling betrayed.”

“I’m still trying to understand what the big deal is,” Mr. Best told reporters after his arrest. “This was at best petty theft, so why were the SWAT teams necessary? One moment I’m at the soda fountain, and the next I’m being tackled to the ground by SWAT officers repelling from the ceiling and asking to see proof of citizenship and the receipt for my meal. Are they just running out of things to arrest people for?” 

At Mr. Best’s sentencing, Judge Mitchell Benestad unflinchingly handed down the stiffest allowable penalty. “I never thought I’d hear of such a deplorable act of human indecency,” said Judge Benestad, who was so flustered after the trial he had to go home and do 3 oz of coke (not the cola) just to take the edge off. “This is definitely worse than the countless cases I’ve encountered involving illegal downloads of movies off the Internet which, until now, I thought was the worst act anyone could commit.” 

In addition to his sentencing, Judge Benestad ordered that Mr. Best would not be permitted to drink anything other than water for the duration of his sentence. “Ugh, I hate water,” said Mr. Best as he was carted off to his cell.

Andre Bolourian, The Hoot 

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.”

“Moonlight has put Liberty City on the map!” says Arthur Klapenberg, a real estate investor from New Jersey who purchased a collection of Liberty City apartments as an investment in 2009. The 66-year-old says he has spent the last several days entertaining offers from developers hoping to cash in on Liberty City’s enhanced profile following Moonlight’s unexpected Best Picture win.  

“As a developer, you couldn’t ask for better buzz than Moonlight,” said Juan Casablancas, V.P. of Growth for Satellite LLC, an investment company that hopes to develop the “Moonlight Square Apartments” in what is now Liberty Square.

“Liberty Square could become the next Wynwood, or even the next next Little River Haiti,” said Casablancas, who says he has already spoken to a number of big box retailers that see Liberty City as Miami’s next hotspot. “I don’t want to say too much, but Whole Foods is very interested.”

“We see this development as absolutely fantastic for Liberty City,” said Miami-based commercial real estate Leslie Gronk-Hart, who though she has never visited the community described it as “charming.”

Visitors and locals are looking for an authentic experience,” said Ms. Gronk-Hart. “I think Moonlight showed the world that Liberty City is all about authenticity. It just needs to become a little more polished in order for it to truly shine. Just look at Wynwood. Before 2007 there was literally nothing there. Nothing. Then we started painting some murals and reaching out to luxury brands, increasing security, keeping locals on their side of the street, and now everyone is enjoying a really fantastic return on investment.”

But what do Liberty City residents think of the proposed development? We didn’t ask any. But Juan Casablancas says that he is going to do everything he can to honor the local community.

“We understand that ‘gentrification,’ whatever that means, can be seen as a negative sometimes, but we are very committed to making sure that Liberty City remains Liberty City,” said Mr. Casablancas, who noted that he would be offering Liberty Square residents a right of first refusal for his new Moonlight Square Apartments, which start at $599,000.

 By Chiron “Little” Black

Key West police pulled over a car bounding erratically across U.S. 1 on its way to Miami from Key West. The police officer pulled over the vehicle after observing it veer suspiciously. Upon inspection of the vehicle, police uncovered 311 iguanas, hundreds of geckos and other large reptiles, as well as dozens of snakes, and one cranky mid-sized crocodile alligator. 

The officer asked for back-up from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, who collected over 700 of animals from the car, which is far more reptiles than the average Florida driver has on them at any given time. The owner of the vehicle said he had no idea the reptiles were in there, insisting that they must have snuck in when he wasn’t looking. 

It turns out animal stowaways are far more widespread than most would believe. Reptiles tend to get in through holes left from rusty floorboards, as well as extra spaces left by customization work done on vehicles used in drug trafficking. Some lizards are simply let in by the elderly or others who take too much time in closing their doors.

Once inside, reptiles can wreak havoc on the vehicles, and can pose a serious safety risk if they pop out and scare the drivers. Many frightened drivers slam on brakes or execute what visitors have dubbed ‘the Miami veer.’ The discovery of the animals frequently leads to accidents. 

“It’s a bit like that scene in Jurassic Park, the one where Newman discovers a spitting dinosaur snuck into his SUV,” remarked the FWC official. Other times, trespassing reptiles can square off against another animal or small children in the car. The official recounted fights between iguanas and geckos, lizards and mice, rats and snakes, and on one occasion a tegu was arrested after attacking a black lab on his way to the vet.

“We’re going to see more of this,” the FWC official noted. “Miami’s highways are a moving menagerie.”

Sean Goforth

A proposal in the State House to regulate the size and length of “man buns” is gaining bi-partisan support and is expected to pass next week. The law, sponsored by Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez (D-Bald), requires men to have at least 11 inches of hair before they are permitted to wear a man bun in public, a regulation aimed at stopping a recent trend among young, short-hair men of tying up the most minuscule little tuft of hair into a “bun.”

“This regulation is necessary for the health and safety of our community,” said Rep. Rodriguez who noted that miniature man buns have contributed to several accidents of motorists who, after catching a glimpse of someone walking down the street with that stupid thing on their head, crash their car into a tree, either from distraction or just not wanting to live in this world anymore.” 

Oh I think this is a fantastic rule,” said literally every woman in the State in unison. “It’s the stupidest looking thing I have ever seen,” said all of em, again, at once.

But not everyone is happy with the new regulation. “Aw man!” said 24-year-old David Jefferson as he pulled off the rubber band holding about two inches of hair together in a paintbrush like cluster on the back of his head. “I genuinely thought I looked cool,” said the man despondently as his girlfriend unsuccessfully tried to hide a growing smile. 

“Can I still wear a tank top all the time no matter what the weather or formality of the occasion?” he asked.