Friday, 25 April 2008


As the number of retirees in the state attest, getting into Florida is usually a one-way trip. I was able to book a train ticket to Miami freely, but find myself unable to get out for a week. So I'm in a hotel 100m from Miami Beach for seven days. Could be worse.
The train from Philadelphia took about 24 hours, and I was seated beside an attorney from Manhattan who would normally fly. Talking to her, it made me think about how I've traded bourgeois respectability for an awkward middle-class bohemianism. Compromising all my elitist dreams for a tolerable existence on the edge of the societal abyss was a strange little accident which happened, as Lennon said, when I was busy making other plans.
After navigating through the United Nations of cabbies outside the Amtrak station in Miami, I waited at the bus stop with an angry black man and two Korean girls blinking in the bright sunshine. The interminable ride took us through the most dilapidated, ravaged and forgotten urban wasteland in America not caused by an act of God. Then we crossed over the bridge and soared into the stuff of American dreams; palatial hotels, wide avenues, palms of every description, white beaches, restaurants and cafes of all stripes. The country wipes its feet when entering Miami Beach.
I missed my stop by several hundred metres and walked along the deserted sidewalk of the six-lane street. Corvettes u-turned and accelerated furiously; Humvees coasted with impervious smugness; neutral-coloured rental cars were everywhere. My hotel was mainly Spanish-speaking, betraying its low market position in this nosebleed-high region. They upgraded me to one of the many empty rooms, and I feel myself a king of infinite space. I'm not paying much more here than I have anywhere else in the States, but now it seems like I'm actually on holiday.
Most holidaymakers bring things they may, at some point, need. I am without shorts, sandals, a towel, or even any utensils. I challenge anyone to eat a meal handling nothing but a tiny plastic lid in their left and a one-inch blade in their right hand while retaining their dignity. The food objects. The mouth objects. The fundamental laws of physics object. And this is all before my mind begins to work on it.

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