Friday, February 20, 2009

Beach Reading

The NY Times Book Review arrived in my inbox moments ago and the lead review, by Carl Hiaasen, couldn't be more timely. As I head down to Miami Beach for Graphics of the Americas on Sunday, I think I've found my airplane reading:
Players, Poseurs, and the Culture of Excess in South Beach
By Steven Gaines

Most people don’t go there for intellectual enrichment; they go for the sex, dope and parties. [Not printing presses? How odd. --RR]

That wasn’t exactly the original idea. Back when the mangroves were razed and the sand was dredged from the ocean bottom — yes, even the beach is fake — the developer Carl Fisher envisioned the place as a respectable winter getaway for well-to-do Northerners, an American Riviera.

As it turned out, gangsters also prefer sunny climates over snow. By 1928, Al Capone and other thugs had discovered Miami Beach, and organized crime was taking over the town.
The GoA Gala is being held at the Fontainbleu Hotel, which apparently has a bit of a checkered history (I confess I know very little about Miami Beach other than what I remember from The Godfather Part II):
Gaines sees symptoms of social dysfunction in architecture, like the garishly emblematic Fontainebleau Hotel on Collins Avenue. It was the product of a tumultuous collaboration between an obstinant developer named Ben Novack and the architect Morris Lapidus. The two couldn’t stand each other, and went to their respective deathbeds claiming sole credit for the design of the massive, weirdly curved structure, which was built in less than a year.

Maligned by critics, the Fontainebleau instantly became a lively hangout for card sharks, mobsters and movie idols.
And what do you know: I also got a 40% off coupon from Borders today, too. What are the odds they'll actually have it?

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