Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

December 9, 2009

Greetings from Miami Beach

Filed under: Miami Beach — louisproyect @ 9:03 pm

Miami Beach art deco

Here I am in sunny Miami Beach, Florida staying with my wife in the Clevelander Hotel until Sunday. She’s down here to give a paper at a political science conference at the Royal Palm Hotel and I am along for the ride.

In general, the unrepentant Marxist does not travel very much. Outside of trips to Nicaragua and East Africa with Tecnica and one to see my good friend Mark Jones in London before he died, I wouldn’t dream of staying in a hotel. I made an exception in this case because I really love the art deco architecture of South Beach, the section of Miami Beach that most hotels are located in, as well as having an affinity for the locale of two of me and my wife’s favorite TV shows: Miami Vice and Nip-Tuck.

The hotels are really strikingly beautiful to my eyes. They have the same pastel colors as the Necco candies of my youth as well as the Tums I now take in my old age to cool off chronic heartburn. They look good enough to eat. Yummy.

When Miami Vice was airing on NBC from 1984 to 1989, South Beach was in disrepair. The local bourgeoisie made the wise decision to turn the area into a tourist attraction by channeling funds into the remodeling and renovation of over 100 hotels in about a two square mile area. By contrast, the resort hotels of my youth in the Catskill Mountains of upstate NY went down the toilet. In both areas, the hotels were owned by Jews but in Florida they seemed more committed to diversity as the people hated by Walter Benn Michaels might put it.

The Clevelander Hotel is on Ocean Drive, which is a stone’s throw from the beach. If you walk along Ocean Drive, you will be accosted by the maitre de’s of all the restaurants on the ground floor of hotels like the Clevelander who try to thrust post card sized circulars in your hands advertising half-price deals on chicken fingers and Mojitos. The general effect is a cheapening of the restaurant as if you were being lured into a whorehouse in the Red Light district of Amsterdam.

Late last night we stopped in at an upscale version of one of the joints, a place called Proof that is close to the Royal Palm where my wife will be giving her paper on economic crisis, a topic perhaps relevant to the hustlers on Ocean Drive and the panhandlers we have run into as well. We were sitting there drinking high-priced martinis and sharing an even higher priced Caesar’s Salad when the ex-basketball player Dennis Rodman showed up with his entourage. They took a table about 15 feet from our own where Rodman, a colorful personality to say the least, held court.

It turns out that our good friend Michael Yates stayed briefly at a sublet a block from the Royal Palm some years ago when he began the first leg of a pilgrimage described in “Cheap Motels and Hot Plate”. He gave us some suggestions on a walking tour that will take up.

The Clevelander is a block from a mansion that was once occupied by Gianni Versace, the Italian designer who was murdered by Andrew Cunahan in 1997, a serial killer. The place is overdecorated, like the man’s silk shirts in my opinion. South Beach seems to draw such personalities like Versace and Dennis Rodman who had and has a reputation of promiscuity that exceeds Tiger Wood’s. Of course, in Rodman’s case this was not likely to lose him lucrative contracts with major corporations since he did everything he could to flout middle-class convention to start with.

All in all, I am enjoying myself thoroughly and will have more to report in the next day or so.


  1. Glad to hear you’re enjoying Miami Beach. As to your comment RE: Amsterdam – next time stay away from the Red Light District. Instead, go to the Yab Yum on the Single. Bring a lot of money with you. For more details ask jjmarlin.

    Comment by Richard Greener — December 9, 2009 @ 9:27 pm

  2. So, do you think you could make more money fixing up Miami Beach or the Catskills? I’m thinking it’s capitalism, not diversity, that matters where you’re staying. Heck, some people would say the capitalists of Miami were much better at cultural appropriation* than those in the Catskills. Still, Benn Michaels can use the shoutout. Also, enjoy your holiday!

    * Which I say as a huge fan of cultural appropriation. I hope you’re getting some great Cuban food while you’re down there.

    Comment by will shetterly — December 9, 2009 @ 9:51 pm

  3. Re: “The local bourgeoisie made the wise decision to turn the area into a tourist attraction by channeling funds into the remodeling and renovation of over 100 hotels”– don’t know that was a decision made by the local bourgeoisie channeling funds as much as it was driven by drug money, and capital flight from countries in Latin America looking for a laundromat, Lou.

    Comment by S. Artesian — December 9, 2009 @ 10:53 pm

  4. Louis, There was a hotel on Ocean Drive called Hotel Victor that had a “vibe manager,” whose job was to make sure the hotel’s vibe was going strong! At night on Ocean Drive young somehat provocatively dressed women sell cigars and all sorts of lighted trinkets. They make quite a sight. There is a good little museum in south South Beach (what is called SoFi for south of fifth street). The docent was telling us bout the virulent anti-semitism in Miami Beach. One hotel advertised “Always a view, never a Jew.” Developers hired architects who were Jews, but they usually didn’t know this. So the irony is that many of the buildings Miami Beach is famous for were designed by Jews for antisemitic owners. There are lots of Cubans in Miami Beach but Argentines make up a very significant group. Two things struck me as very interesting about Miami Beach. First, the beach in South Beach (Miami Beach below about 20th street)is really beautiful, at least when toursits aren’t trashing it. And second, not a single physical feature of Miami Beach is original,not even the sand.

    Go down to the tip of the island and watch the great container ships. Wave to the fools on the cruise ships. If you see those gusanos Gloria Estefan or Andy Garcia on the beach, trip them.

    All told, we have lived in Miami Beach for nine months.

    Comment by michael yates — December 10, 2009 @ 4:53 am

  5. Louis, you have to check out the show ‘Dexter’. It centers around a guy who is a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department by day and a serial killer by night. You really have to start with episode 1 of season 1 because all the story arcs build on each other so much. I think they can be rented at Blockbuster or found through Showtime on Demand. Great show. Hours of mindless entertainment.
    Enjoy the vacation.

    Comment by tim — December 10, 2009 @ 5:15 am

  6. It must be nice to sip high price martinis in a posh restaurant. At the very least you don’t have to deal with the panhandlers for a while, right?

    Comment by amte — December 10, 2009 @ 7:23 am

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