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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

One October afternoon in downtown Miami, 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. “This is the pit,” he said. “New York City, Chicago—they have their trading pits. This is our pit, this is where we get to trade. I’m buying or I’m selling, that’s all it is. You want to trade pork bellies, go to Chicago. You want to trade Fortune 500 stocks, go to New York. You want to trade real estate, come to Miami.” He sucked on his cigarette. “I mean, what’s the difference between a condo and a pork belly?” he asked, then shrugged. “Not that much.”

 

(All photographs by Paul Reyes)

Opportunity Knocks

This is Max Rameau seizing the moment: hunting down foreclosed 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.