Barbidoesmiami

How to Stay Sane in the City of No Shame


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Biebered

Everything happens in Miami. Just as I’m not looking. Like last night Justin Bieber drag raced below my bedroom window (relatively speaking on the scale and probability of the entire universe, so don’t start outing me with comments that it was several blocks south).

He was nabbed by the Miami Beach police and resisted arrest. They say. But thats what they always say. If you’re not falling into their arms yodeling that you’re sorry, they write on your arrest form that you “resisted arrest.” Hey Bieber was lucky that they didn’t tase him with their favorite gotcha toy ( used on young males of any color, tourists included).

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This happened at 4.13 am (note the 13 and not 10 or 15, that’s one sober cop) and by the time America brushed its teeth and poured its milk into its cereal a mega media story had been launched.

Baby Bieber’s mugshot was on every TV channel, every tweet, FB post looking like someone had told him it was a shoot for Teen.com, or better still a casting call for a cute new lesbian on Orange is the New Black. Smile! And hysterical news casters (inc. the likes of Anderson Cooper) came in their panties analyzing what could possibly have led to the downfall of the young role model to millions. Psychiatrists, lawyers, political analysts and weeping fans were interviewed and their conclusion was, with much head shaking: Bieber suffered from “Impostor Syndrome” and it was merely a cry for help! And where were the Bieber parents? Really, and how could they let this happen?

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Meanwhile Bieber sat in his cell (surrounded by Miami clubbers arrested at LIV for trying to enter the VIP zone) and wondered where his friend God was. After all the credit he’d given to God for his success, tagging him in every tweet, had God really forsaken him in his hour of need? His much needed need to act his age and gender and be invisible while racing a rented Lamborghini on Miami Beach, while just a tiny teensy bit intoxicated?

God? God!

I bet God didn’t even notice. I mean as soon as God focusses his attention on Miami Beach, like sits on a cloud somewhere over South Florida, he sees nothing but yellow (or red) Lamborghinis driving @ 60mph. And when he bothers to zoom in (think Google Earth or Godle Earth),  he sees young testosterone pumped up with performance enhancers like alcohol, codeine and pot (he calls it marijuana, and planted it as an afterthought late on day six, and only for medicinal value) and too much time and money, everywhere.  Like Everywhere. Especially at 4.13 am.

So I imagine God shrugged, made a mental note to send the Devil a text later, asking him to go easy on the young Bieb, and turned his attention back to Chris Christie.

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Meanwhile, we, those who live in Miami Beach, smile and shrug the shrug of knowledge. Like man eats man’s face off? Like tasing a teen artist to death for tagging graffiti? Like a celebrity arrested for acting out? Of course! What do you expect? This is Miami!

And when I drove home last night, yes along Pinetree Drive enjoying its 15 minutes of fame (paparazzi are still hanging out – you know, for when time goes backwards and they’re the first on the scene), I looked over at the trophy wife in a black SUV right next on me. As per habit we stepped on it, raced for the orange light at 41st Street, speedometers hitting the 56mph mark, and made it, perfectly timed, just through red.

What?

What do you expect? This is Miami!

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Stupid Model in Paris is now available on Amazon :

http://www.amazon.com/STUPID-MODEL-Paris-Barbara-Vries-ebook/dp/B00HZ1GH8Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1390686886&sr=1-1&keywords=stupid+model+in+paris

 


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Don’t Tase the Messenger

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photo: Heather Bozzone

If Channing Tatum is the poster child for Abercrombie then Israel Hernandez is the poster child for Miami Beach.

Israel was handsome, young, beachy (see above far left), worked in the fashion/model biz, a boarder, an artist and an entrepreneur who was launching a line of skate boards. He was only 18 years old when he was tased and killed by Miami Beach police. He still wore braces.

photo: Heather Bozzone

photo: Heather Bozzone

Miami has been working hard on re-branding its image over the past few years.

It introduced Art Basel Miami and Design Miami to give the city a hipper, cooler, younger image and get away from its drug violence, retiree, Cage aux Folles party image of the nineties. Starchitects have been brought in to build international press-worthy public buildings like the New World Symphony by Frank Gehry, 1111 Lincoln and the PAMM ( Art Museum Miami) by Herzog deMeuron, and  several more headline grabbing buildings  by Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas and Richard Meyers are in various stages of construction.

Part of this revamp has been the creation of two different creative districts; the Design District and Wynwood. During Art Basel Miami these are the two “new” areas of Miami where millions are spent on international publicity. Wynwood is the  area that is brought to the international travel market for its “world class galleries that represent young local artists.”  To illustrate this the city and property owners, inspired by the success of Keith Haring in eighties Soho, “give” abandoned and other buildings over to graffiti artists to use as large and free canvasses to express themselves fully and freely. These buildings look like abandoned warehouses somewhere near Detroit airport before, and a lot more interesting after they have been made over with multicolored spray cans in the hands of aspiring Banksys.

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Wynwood as a celebration of local graffiti talent is a must see destination  headlines scream all over the world in their travel copy on Miami.

Even in the luxury branded Design District the main investor and developer of the area, Louis Vuitton, brought in graffiti artist Retna to express his art on their facade, which opened with all the champagne and red carpet A-listers that are expected from Miami and this French luxury brand.

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Shepard Fairey, he of Obama poster fame, did many walls at Wynwood’s Central block – The Wynwood Walls. When a Banksy mural  was stolen from a London neighborhood it predictably showed up, all thousands of pounds of concrete, at a Miami art auction house.

Are you getting my drift?

Miami is touting its graffitied walls  like they are the fucking Eiffel Tower of the American south!

So.

Where does that leave young, ambitious Miami artists?

Guess what platform, canvas, form of expression, medium, they use….

Guess who encourages them to do so by GIVING them walls, by rewarding them with money and fame, by honoring art school students with Awards of Excellence and Most Promising?

The City of Miami and its developer buddies!

And guess who did not get the memo….

Their own pumped-up police department!

So.

Lets get back to Israel Hernandez. Beautiful, talented, ambitious, kind, young and a bit naive,  willing to please in order to succeed Israel Hernandez. He was trying to be everything we, parents, expect our kids to be. Everything the creative culture tells our kids to be. Including just a little bit reckless. A little bit on the edge. A little bit challenging.

Israel Hernandez tagged an abandoned Mc Donalds on the corner of 71st and Collins. I know it well. Its next to my local ATM machine. It has been graffitied and tagged and vandalized over the past year. He left a small R for his street name Reefa.

The Miami Beach Police caught up with him and tased him. He died soon after.

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Our culture needs kids like Israel Hernandez. We need them to remind us what it is to be young. To make a difference. To be noticed. Did we not all at some point stand up to authority and held the mirror in its face?

Come on Miami, look in this mirror now, and take responsibility for the life of this young and promising young man. Miami YOU set the bar. You held up the carrot. You cast the die by glorifying graffiti and its artists. So why keep quiet now, when your own police tases and kills your messenger? The messenger you recruited and sent out there… the messenger you need to send your new cool brand identity out into the world.

Come on Craig Robins,  Matti Herrera Bower, Robert Wennet, Goldman Properties, Carlos Gimenez, Jorge Perez, etc. Do the right thing. Speak up, speak out. Get the memo of your plans for Miami’s global marketing out to everyone, including the MBPD. Start an art endowment in Israel’s name…

Do what it takes to recognize Israel as a child of your own….

Link to video with interviews with two eyewitnesses

art for Slap by Jane Simmons

art for Slap by Jane Simmons

‪#‎ripreefa‬   #‎justiceforisraelhernandez‬ 

Footage of protest/rally on Saturday August 10th from 1-5 at 71st & Collins.


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The BlackBerry Diet

The epilog of the BlackBerry Diet reads like this:

(oh, and it might sound familiar)…

– 100 –

I’m writing this from my twenty-fifth floor apartment in Miami.

Below me is the beach scattered with tiny figures and the endless ocean dotted with cruise-liners and container ships stretches ahead of me.

I’m surrounded by white, turquoise, and deep blue.

I’m definitely not in the Catskills anymore.

The kids are in school.

We moved a month ago.

News from Upstate is that snow came early this year, before the leaves had even fallen. It’s sunny here and in the mid-eighties.

I’m not homesick.

We rented the farm to friends, a gay couple who hope we’ll never return. But it’s too soon to tell. I try not to think too far ahead. I’m being here now, in the moment.

Finn has changed.

Almost losing me made him grow up, like he could finally celebrated his family.

Soon after I came back from Paris he sheepishly told me that he’d been invited to go on another PR junket.

Oh sure, I said.

They’re opening a new restaurant at the Fontainebleau in Miami.

Cool, I said, this time I’m coming along.

The girls stayed with Emma.

It was easy and to my surprise I loved Miami.

After going to Paris I’d fought not to slip back into my old habits. It was so hard. My life worked in a set way, and I didn’t know how to change it. I tried too hard to please Finn and then I was resentful. I could go from being loving and sweet to a screaming maniac in a nano-second. Finn stood by. Guilty like he deserved my wrath. I hated myself. I considered a separation after all. We talked about it, but Finn refused.

How about we take a year away from our old life, he said one day. And try a fresh start.

Going to Miami was a risk worth taking.

I do miss Emma and Manon.

Emma is on a book tour. Her book is selling well and it’s being turned into an off-Broadway play. Manon moved back to the city. The country was too lonely for a stunning Amazon like her. She loves New York and is dating a Dutch pediatrician.

I adore Miami women. Like my new friend Rio who dresses up for everything like taking the kids to school, shopping for groceries, sitting on the beach, walking the dog, or going out for dinner. I copy her. I no longer wear sweats and my roots never show. The only pills I take are vitamin pills, I swim every day and I’m even contemplating going to the gym.

I’ve started designing a new collection.

Finn and I are partying.

I go with him to every restaurant review and last Saturday we went to a crazy gender-bender Halloween ball.

We danced till two in the morning.

We have the best sex.

He thinks I’m hot.

He says he fell in love with me all over again.

I love him back.

Carefully.

I’m still exploring the place where he begins and I end.

He ends and I begin.

****

Doing my Barbi does Miami blog has been  a lot like writing the BlackBerry Diet, its about real life but also about knowing what to play up and what to play down, about being genuine, irreverent and open. I had to be honest, completely honest with myself when I wrote the the BlackBerry Diet. I crafted a narrative using my own life, adding highs, lows and tension. To be able to do this I created another persona called Katja, a husband called Finn, three daughters, and a parallel universe that expressed mine…

Now, after writing this blog for nine months I might be ready to serialize and  incorporate the BlackBerry Diet into this blog.

Whatya think?



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every day is earth day

It’s Earth Day. Today.

Its also take your kid to work day. How did they get the two on one day? And who is they anyway? Like who allocates them? Mother’s day and Father’s day and Valentine’s day and Secretary’s day and Ocean day? My mother used to say, before my father ran off with her best friend, “every day is father’s day”. Personally I think every day should be Mother’s day. And Earth day and Earth Mother’s day and Mother Earth’s day. Really! We have, like, ozone holes and vanishing rainforests and melting ice, and oil spills and mountain top removal and fracking and extinct species, and air pollution and clean water shortage and now all that plastic in the oceans that kills everything from whales to birds to fish and eventually us, and all we have is ONE day! Only one day a year that is Earth day….

What bullshit!

One Day To Feel Good About Ourselves and the Environment Day is what today should be called, so tomorrow we can go back to our old ways of buying bottled Evian, forgetting to bring cloth bags to the market, leaving the lights on, driving instead of taking our bike or walking.

BUT

Maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe its arrogant to assume that we, as just another, be it rather pernicious species, have to assume the position of “saving the planet” when its only us who’s making the mess in the first place. Its a bit like beating your wife and then helping her with the ice packs and band-aids. Take a look at the last tsunami, the earthquakes, the volcano just last week and its easy to see that we the people, are, after all, pretty powerless, and that Mother Earth may just have her own plans  to save herself.

And I don’t think she calls it  “Human Species Day”.

What WE need is a Human Species Day. Atonement Day. Reflect humbly on who and what we are and correct our ways to save ourselves and each other.

(All of above said in the words of Michael Jackson: with the love…with the love…)

plover eggs and beach plastic