SOUTH BEACH - JANUARY 2013
No mice, no lice, no spice.
All the plays on the title of the TV show Miami Vice I had been hoping to adopt in writing about Miami Beach, came to nothing.
Miami Gripes was the best that I could do. And there were so many. Oh, so many. The dreadful music, the rudeness, the darkness, the service, the dirt, the runners, the cyclists, the internet connection, the rip-off merchants, the motorists, the shouting . . .
I could go on. And will. But let’s start with the positive. The Atlantic Ocean: a perfect aqua: white waves meeting equally white sand and an empty beach before breakfast.
And now back to the gripes. Because, once you have taken in the beauty of the ocean, what you are left with is Ibiza on Sea.
I had gone to Miami to escape the January winter in Cardiff, and friends offered me a good deal on their apartment. Having fixed up to write a travel piece, too, along with the host of my favourite US TV show, Judge Alex, it was almost cheaper to go to Miami than to heat my Cardiff house for the month.
But I quickly discovered that Miami Beach is right up/down there (depending on your viewpoint) with the least sophisticated parts of the Spanish coastline.
If I didn’t get killed there, it was entirely likely that I would have turned killer. There was just too much hair, and women tossing their manes with absurd regularity, seemingly intent on taking out one of my eyes in their efforts to invade my personal space and take it for themselves. First comes the hair, then the lit cigarette, brandished with equal carelessness. I had a choice between either being follicled to death, or burnt.
And another thing . . . They’re all gay (well, it seemed that way)! Now, I have nothing against gays, male or female; loads of my friends are gay. In fact, most of my friends are gay. And while I have zilch interest in finding a partner, a little flirtation doesn’t go amiss. In South Beach, this was about as likely as a mole getting a suntan.
I was definitely the only non-gay in the village. On board the Virgin flight over, I had stood at the bar next to two men and tried to make conversation, but they had eyes only for the two men on the opposite side, who had eyes only for each other. We were joined by two women who, I quickly discovered, had been an item for two years. Suddenly, I regretted boarding a flight to Miami.
“What did you expect?” friends asked, with incredulity, when I returned. “It’s Miami.” Yes, I knew that. But I was expecting beefy coppers, muscled personal trainers . . . Not that gays can’t be either, but I’m a sucker for what I see on the telly.
Then there were the people who I never knew were gay or not, because they were too busy trying to kill me as they jogged along the boardwalk. Those that weren’t jogging were whizzing by on upright two-wheelers; others were on bikes. The boardwalk is apparently the empire of the outdoor enthusiast, and you risked your life if you paused to look at the ocean. I could see my autopsy report already: “Killed in the path of oncoming jogger”.
So why, in March, did I find myself back in the place I swore never to go again?
It's coming up in part two very shortly, when I have recovered from the trauma of my pre-take-off, claustrophobic panic attack on the American Airlines flight back to LA.
Long story. But let's just say: don't put a five foot tall Welsh woman next to an 84 stone Virginian knitting a sweater for her 60 stone daughter, drinking from an eight gallon cup of Pepsi and blocking your entrance to the inflatable slide (which she would burst anyway) with her leg.
Like I said. All in part two.