What I Know (I use the term "know" very loosely)
Having been a resident here for over 4 years now, I know that there is no more aesthetically beautiful subtropical American paradise (Hawai'i aside). This enigmatic Caribbean metropolis is abound with transient, socially complacent people with aggressively mediocre work ethics. The source of that cultural phenomenon is debatable (a debate I'm not going to engage in). Conversely, The Magic City is also the land of refugee entrepreneurs, celebrity vacation homes, and some the of best beaches in the United States with the potential for year-round visitation. Miami Beach is one of the purest expressions of the totality of the American Dream.
Miami Beach Milestones
1915 - Birth - March 26
1926 - The Great Miami Hurricane - Destroyed what had been built up to that point
1930's - 40's - Art Deco - An era of rebuilding in a new style born of the Paris Exposition Internationale des Artes Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes (later shortened to Art Deco)
1950's - 60's - Cubans flee the regime of Fidel Castro and arrive in massive numbers
1970's - Haitian refugees begin to find their home in the Miami area
1980's - Riots, murder capitol of America and the Cocaine Cowboys
Late 1980's - Rebirth of Miami; Premier retirement destination and Miami Vice
1990's - Emerging center of gay and lesbian culture
2000's - Modern Era, Spring Break destination,
2010's - Lebron comes; Lebron goes
What I Learned
Holy poop!! Miami Beach can throw a party!
In collaboration with Hard Rock International, the City of Miami Beach managed to build a full concert venue right on the sand that would have even impressed the Cocaine Cowboys. The week of events was capped off by a concert that was officially billed as "Hard Rock Rising - Miami Beach 2015 Global Music Festival" (with ACT Productions serving as the Executive Producers). The concert kicked off with "The Maestro" Andrea Bocelli, who was musically the most impressive act of the night and offered the greatest live vocal I have ever heard in my life. The night time event also featured the first ever Latin Music crossover, John Secada as well as Barry Gibb, who taught me that singers should retire their falsetto after the age of 60. Nicole Henry blessed the event with an inspiring rendition of the Star Spangled Banner and the late night artists Wyclef Jean and Flo Rida rounded off the night to the delight of the demographically transient crowd (many departed after Gloria Estefan and made way for a younger crowd to move forward). Ultimately, no one moved the audience like the aforementioned Miami music legend Gloria Estefan. Perhaps no music represents Miami Beach and its people over the past 30 years more than that of The Miami Sound Machine. There were so many conga lines moving in every direction that police halted their efforts to contain the crowd (I even used the conga line as an opportunity to re-approach the stage after a rude police officer kept removing me from the press area, despite my credentials) . While vocally, her better days are behind her, Gloria Estefan emoted an intangible passion that was relished by the largely Latino crowd.
Exactly how many people attended? Somewhere between 10,000 - 20,000 watching both inside the venue and on nearby satellite screens.
Other events celebrating the Centennial included:
- Centennial Fashion Show by Funkshion (I didn't cover that event but wish I had)
- A Centennial Wedding for 100 couples
Let's Get Astrophysical - a performance and presentation by Fiorella Terenzi, an Itialian-born astrophysicist from FIU who is best known for taking recordings of radio waves from far-away galaxies and turning them into music.
A Tennis Centennial Celebration featuring top players such as world’s #6-ranked Raonic and world’s #8-ranked Tomáš Berdych
Drag of Ages - a centennial drag show that took one on a entertaining retrospective of female impersonators from 1915 to 2015.
What I saw