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Introducing Miami

Little known fact: on the Eighth Day, God shook all the eccentrics of America into the nation’s Southeast corner pocket. And They Became South Florida. And It Was Weird.

Here’s how it works: cruise down I-95 from the northeast corridor and at some point, near Richmond, you cross the invisible line separating the North from the South. Now go further, all the way to America’s tip. Somewhere around Orlando, you crossed another line, separating the rest of Florida from reality. Here in Miami, the Everglades and the Keys, things are a little Alice in Sweaty Wonderland. It’s the weather, y’know; all the humidity and hurricanes drive everyone a little crazy. And the alligators. And the mosquitoes, goddamn them. And the people, of course.

What was once a citrus farming town is now a pan-American mosaic, the most Latin city in the world north of Mexico. Throw in enterprising Caribbean immigrants, Jewish Holocaust survivors and their children, a fantabulous gay party scene, mad rednecks, the cast-off spawn of the dinosaur age cruising local waterways, and a South Beach celebrity scene that would make OK! magazine wee itself in joy, and, well…Look guys: it’s weird here. And beautiful. Think of those clean lines slimming down a deco hotel on Miami Beach. The impossibly sexy people lining up at a Fort Lauderdale club. That pale full moon making love to the Everglades on a dank, sweaty night.

Which isn’t to say modern Miami lacks problems. This international city has both the cheerful energy and hungry Third World edge of the Caribbean and Latin America. Economic inequality is rampant, and the grandiose spirit of American capitalism has mixed with Miami’s Latin/Mediterranean flair, making the gulf between the haves and have-nots here seem particularly vast.

But that shimmering mirage of wealth and sex is also what makes this town so fun and fast. ‘The World is Yours’ was the iconic catchphrase of Scarface, a movie that captured the highs and lows of Miami’s hyperextravagant 1980s, and the citizens of this town have taken that motto to heart.

West of here is the Everglades, possibly the most unique ecosystem in North America, a flooded wetland that feels like nature’s own musty womb. To the north, Fort Lauderdale sips a martini by its yachting fleets. Down south stretch the mangrove islands and sultry sandbars of the Florida Keys, islands of both exile and refuge for those nonconformists who are too out there for even South Florida’s misfit mentality.

Sounds good? Come on down. The air feels like a silk kiss and the beach smells like lotion and hormones. Welcome to Miami. The party started five minutes ago. You gonna dance?

Ready to go?

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