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Miami

Illustration by Marc Aspinall

But I’ve Got Ovid

After thirty years of disaster with men and fresh from a spanking-new heartbreak, I’m back in Miami, back in my dilapidated condo in paradise, to decide if it’s time to retire from love.

Even my mother thinks I should. When I called to tell her of the latest disaster, she sighed and said, Maybe, darling, you should give up on all that. Maybe it’s just time.

Okay, I’ve got other loves, after all. My broken-down mother. My blind old cat. A love poet who’s been dead two thousand years whose words I’m being paid to translate. A friend or two via text.

What Some Other Guys Can Call The Byron Story: Miami, 1996

For twenty dollars, this dude named Byron promised to beat the crap out of you. That’s pretty much what the flyer said, and the flyer was all over the neighborhood. The first one we noticed was up high on the half-dead palm tree in front of that kid Ricky’s house—this was a few years back, before the city widened the streets and got rid of the palm trees altogether—and after that, for at least the next three days, we saw those flyers everywhere, on every pole and tree for blocks, all the way to the strip mall and back.

Vultures Rising

On a recent October afternoon in downtown Miami, the same week the robo-signing scandal triggered a nationwide moratorium on foreclosures (a brief reprieve for homeowners, a vindication for their attorneys, and a harbinger of economic paralysis for pundits), I met up for a Sunday drive with Peter Zalewski, a condo-slinger whose company, Condo Vultures, has been feeding on the remains of Miami's real estate implosion. The day was mild, a spotless sky, mythically blue, with a sea breeze brushing the air—the climate around which an entire economy was invented. We drove along Brickell Avenue in Zalewski's Hyundai Sonata, the sunroof peeled open for a better view of the towers that loomed behind the palms along the street. You could see the bay in flashes in between the architecture.

(All photographs by Paul Reyes)

Opportunity Knocks


This is Rameau seizing the moment: hunting down houses left idle by the banks, or by the city, so that he can take them over. Rameau contends that everyone, no matter what, deserves a home, and he considers the surplus of empty, deteriorating foreclosures a gross waste of a precious resource. “For me, personally,” Rameau says, “it’s about provoking a contentious debate.” And if breaking into a bank’s neglected inventory is the way to get that conversation started, then so be it.