The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida on April 1, 1993 · 522
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The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida · 522

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Miami, Florida
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Thursday, April 1, 1993
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522
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THURSDAY APRIL 1 1993 INTERNATIONAL EDITION THE MIAMI HERALD 11B Southeast Overtown area gains a new sense of neighborhood PIONEERS FROM 12B action is” says Richard Petras 53 who lives in the soaring 31-story Biscayne View apartments Petras is disabled with a heart condition but he walks wherever he can — to the library downtown to Bayside If he gets tired he’s always a $2 cab ride from home He grew up in Pennsylvania and he says Northeastern transplants understand city life They aren’t startled by homelessness and they learn to spot strangers who don’t belong on their apartment floors “It’s more of a challenge than living in areas where it’s too easy” he says The architects of the city’s Southeast OvertownPark West Redevelopment Plan were counting on people like Petras when they pumped millions into the ambitious effort to lure residents downtown They gambled that proximity to downtown offices college classes and hospitals would counter the drawbacks of the neighboring poverty’s unsightliness and perceived dangers Beginning in 1989 developers opened Arena Towers apartments Biscayne View apartments and Poinciana Village condominiums To a degree the city’s gamble has had its price Both the 355-unit Arena Towers and 463-unit Biscayne View defaulted on their mortgage payments because of low occupancy last year Both have also had management changes sparked by tenants’ complaints about security and maintenance “We had a little bit of a bumpy road there in the beginning” says Jack Luff Miami’s development coordinator But since then occupancy has climbed steadily topping with the housing crush after Hurricane Andrew Now the buildings are nearly full Residents pay between $550 and $1150 a month to live there Even the 40 condominiums of Poinciana Village are sold out The starting price has risen from $63000 to $68000 and a three-bedroom condo on the fourth floor costs $90000 Indian River Investments of Miami which built Poinciana Village hopes to finish 24 more units by the end of the year and 90 more by 1994 “We love the neighborhood We don’t care if our friends and neighbors don’t want to visit We’re going to build it” says Alina Green who moved to Biscayne View with two teenage daughters to be closer to Miami-Dade Community College where she studies speech pathology “There’s a lot of us putting a lot Unless you crave comedy rip-offs vou can live without Opposite Sex By JACKIE POTTS Herald Staff Writer The Opposite Sex and How to Live With Them sounds like one of those self-help tomes you’d find on a bookstore shelf between Men Who Won't Commit and the Women Who Want Them Committed and People With Problems Far Worse Than Your Own But instead of trendy advice this insipid romantic comedy offers yet more evidence of the selective amnesia that seems to be rampant among some up-and-coming filmmakers Directed by newcomer Matthew Meshekoff this movie is a flagrant rip-off of a slew of earlier dating-is-hell comedies Examples? Try this See if you can guess what 1980s film the following plot summary describes: Hip single guy David (Arye Gross) meets attractive independent-thinking Carrie (Courteney Cox) in a Boston bar They date and move in together to the disgust of their two nutty best friends Eli and Zoe Eli (Kevin Poliak) is a sexist loudmouthed Cro-magnon man who defines a lesbian as “any girl who won’t put out” Zoe (MTV’s Julie of energy down here 1 hat’s what we need” At Arena Towers managers are planning a bicycle trip to Key Largo and organizing a basketball league Biscayne View managers are planning a May Day celebration on the palm-lined Ninth Street Mall to follow up a Mardi Gras party they co-sponsored for Black History Month Soon residents will have more of the comforts they’re accustomed to: A Cozzoli’s pizza restaurant and a convenience storedeli are scheduled to open in Biscayne View in the next two months But other entrepreneurs are still skittish says Luff the city development coordinator “It’s like everything else when you develop an inner city You scrape it away you start from scratch and from there it’s pioneering” says Luff “That first settler who comes in is always the toughest one” The problem in part is Overtown Overtown boasts one of Miami’s most colorful histories — once home to a thriving black middle class Its hotels drew Ella Fitzgerald Sammy Davis Jr and other stars But through neglect Overtown became one of Dade’s most blighted neighborhoods Community splits The doctors moved away The hotels closed Urban renewal gobbled up black homeowners’ property in the late ’50s then Interstate 95 sliced the community in the 1960s Today Overtown’s streets are lined with low-income apartments It’s wandered by the homeless It’s where Miami police officer William Lozano shot motorcyclist Clement Anthony Lloyd spawning the 1989 civil disturbances The two communities the old and the new are literally separated by railroad tracks Having the upscale developments in Overtown says Arena Towers resident Jaime Padro “is like having Disneyland in the middle of New York City” The area also has pluses all nearby: Metromover and Metro-rail stations Miami Arena Omni International Mall Bayside Still the nearest Blockbuster video store is in South Beach across the causeway The nearest Publix is at Biscayne Boulevard and 48th Street dozens of blocks northeast Few people who get the munchies at midnight feel safe enough to wander outside to search for an Overtown corner market Poinciana Village resident Gregory Gay likes visiting People’s Drugstore which sells barbecued ribs He can smell the grill firing up a block away But MOVIE REVIEW THE OPPOSITE SEX (R) Cast: Arye Gross Courteney Cox Julie Brown Kevin Poliak Director: Matthew Meshekoff Producer Stanley M Brooks Robert Newmyer Screenwriter Noah Stern Cinematographer: Jacek Laskus Music: Ira Newborn A Miramax release Running time: 86 minutes Vulgar language adult themes sexual situations Playing at- area theaters Brown) is an oversexed acid-tongued fashion victim (In other words Julie Brown as herself) If you answered About Last Night the fluffy but honest 1986 film starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore congratulate your-self Like About Last Night The Opposite Sex invites you to crawl into bed figuratively speaking with David and Carrie by sharing intimate details about their sex lives that most of us probably wouldn’t tell our best friends Do we really care if David is selfish in the sack or which sexual act is Find out what's playins on the silver screen in The Miami Herald's International Edition Capsule reviews by movie critic Bill Cosford separate the blockbusters from the bombs so you'll know what's hot and what's not the city planner and his neighbors had to complain loudly to convince a major pizza chain to deliver to their building after dark Most of the time the streets are deserted after dark Then on nights when the Heat plays or an artist performs at the Arena streets are jammed Residents have to learn shortcuts to get home and parking for guests is nearly impossible to find “During the day you can walk During the night you have to think twice” says Melvin Rosado a mechanical engineer who lives at Biscayne View Liking city life Still Rosado is there So is Padro a Hialeah teacher who has lived at Arena Towers for four years After work he bats a tennis ball against the wall on his building’s rooftop recreation area which has tennis courts a basketball court a volleyball net and a jogging track “Once you drive through the guardhouse it’s just a different world” he says As for the streets outside he doesn’t mind city grit He grew up in cities in Puerto Rico He doesn’t panic when the homeless approach to ask him for money “Those homeless help you lead a Christian life You do your charity You can give them a quarter” Padro says Biscayne View resident Claudia Clunis goes a step further: She started a nonprofit company called Hearts to Hearts which collects clothes and food for the homeless Through her employer Greyhound Hearts arranges to send homeless people back to relatives When she moved in three years ago Clunis says she had a choice between the south view facing downtown Miami or the west view facing Overtown She chose Overtown Her three children watch people passing on the train and point out seagulls flying overhead They also see the homeless pushing shopping carts with plastic bags slung over their shoulders “They know a lot of them” says Clunis 30 “I don’t hide that from my children I feel the only way they’re going to know is to learn with me And I don’t ever think I’m above anyone” Her children ages 6 to 10 attend a neighborhood elementary school Clunis has concerns about discipline there but she works closely with their teachers and goes to school meetings City life she says has been a tough adjustment for her children Clunis herself is from Trinidad although she grew up in New York City and remembers her excitement when the trains passed and made the buildings Carrie’s least favorite? Although Gross ( Hexed) and Cox (Mr Destiny) both seem earnest and personable the script doesn’t allow them to plumb any real emotions Instead they’re a couple of walking talking singles cliches The movie also expects us to laugh at overworked stereotypes such as these: women go to baseball games only to leer at the players men who drink light beer are wimps yuppies throw boring parties (Ha ha groan) And Eli and Zoe’s cutesy play-by-play commentary on David and Carrie’s relationship registers new highs on the gag-me-meter Although there’s nothing remotely original about The Opposite Sex Meshekoff does show a hint of style in his directing (his previous work has consisted mostly of Joe Isuzu commercials and some noteworthy Saturday Night Live sketches) His sly nature mock-umentary about the mating habits of sea lions for example nicely mimics the courtship of David and Carrie Perhaps his next project will better showcase his potential AT BISCAYNE VIEW: As a resident walks his dog Melvin Rosado reads entrance of Biscayne View apartments shake Her children grew up in West Kendall surrounded by greenery Son Dave 6 has a BMX bicycle he isn’t allowed to ride outside He has to ride in the building’s sixth-floor recreation area “She used to plant vegetables in the back yard That’s what I miss” says daughter Claudia 10 “I like it where we used to live I wanted to stay there” About 200 residents rented apartments after the hurricane and they have their own complaints about city life Some have decided to stay some can’t wait to leave once their suburban homes are repaired Three (acoustic) Unplugged trend is a fashion worth following By LEONARD PITTS JR Herald Pop Music Critic If you’re a child you’ve heard it If you’re a parent you’ve said it: “I don’t care what all the other kids do If they decided to jump off a building are you going to do that too?” In the music business the answer would be a resounding yes That’s because music for all its pretensions to rebellious individualism is very much an industry of monkey-see monkey-do Is gangsta reggae the new thing? Presto-chango Here come 10 gangsta reggae acts Did someone just get a hit with a heavy-metal opera? There go Placido Domingo and Ozzy Osbourne Follow the leader Anything you can do I can do better Usually this is not praise But now the biz has finally come up with something worth following Or haven’t you checked out MTV Unplugged? Three years ago the popular show was just a novel notion Inspired by Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora who gave an acoustic performance at the network’s video music awards show MTV muckamucks huddled and said “Ya know maybe we’ve got something here We could do a whole series of shows where we invite major stars to perform in an intimate setting No mondo arena No bank of synthesizers more complex than the dashboard of the space shuttle We’ll go back to basics Just a performer a small audience and acoustic music” If you build it will they come? Initially “they” weren’t interested in coming at all But the folks who book talent for MTV aren’t very good at taking no for an answer “They basically make hit lists and go after certain acts” says Joel Gallan former executive producer for the show That they have — with gusto And the Unplugged phenomenon has mushroomed Eric Clapton Paul McCartney Mariah Carey Neil Young REM John Mel-lencamp Sting and Paul Simon are among the rock royalty who’ve left their amps home to perform unplugged Look for the movie pase every Saturday in The Miami Herald And next time you're in Miami don't forset to pick up The Herald for listinss and showtimes at local theaters INTERNATIONAL EDITION Sljeiirtatni Herald “I don’t think it’s a place for kids like us to be because there’s too much going on here” says Ebony Peters 15 who still travels to Southridge High School in South Dade each day Her house in Goulds is being rebuilt and she expects to move back there next month City life isn’t for everyone concedes Sharon Peniston who opened a small bakery and newsstand on the ground floor of Biscayne View a month ago She calls her place Ms Sassy’s named for jazz singer Sarah Vaughan Residents stop in to buy dime candies or her homemade brown Rappers unplug On Wednesday Grammy Award winners Arrested Development the most critically acclaimed rap act since Public Enemy was to add their names to that list If you want to know what all the fuss surrounding this band is about you’ll never have a better chance to learn The show which was to air at 10 pm is a buoyant showcase of all the things Arrested Development is: spiritual smart African Southern retro-’60s hip It is a celebration awash in color and dance — a performance you should not miss If however you missed it — Wednesday’s show or any of the inevitable repeats — don’t sweat it Word is the Arrested Development performance will be coming soon to a CD player near you And that’s probably the best aspect of the Unplugged movement: It is making itself felt in the pop mainstream Two of last year’s highest-pro-file successes were Unplugged albums — from Clapton and Carey Before that came McCartney who also released his MTV appearance in album form Later this year Boyz II Men and Rod Stewart will join the rush with Unplugged albums of their own What’s it mean? Maybe noth: ing Maybe everything Hopeful trendlet No I’m not trying to be coy It’s just that it’s way early to call this a major direction-changing trend If you must call it anything call it a hopeful little trendlet a trickle running counter to the prevailing current That current is made up of the same gimmicky machine-tooled overproduction that’s been with us since we first heard the dreaded ping of a syndrum on a ’70s disco record Problem is the music industry has never grasped the concept of less is more In the biz more is more and less means you should’ve argued for a bigger budget And so with the notable exception of the folk movement of the 1960s the pop mainstream has never been particularly hospitable to acoustic music Yes there’s an occasional breakthrough A few years ago the California rock band Tesla had an acoustic hit with Signs In ’91 heavy-metal bad boys Extreme pulled the plugs and scored a major success with their ballad More Than Words But those were the exceptions And so for that matter are folks MIKE 8TOCKER Miami Herald Staff a newspaper by the front ies and chili With her help children count out their pennies She knows their names and passes messages to their parents Anyone who’s short can have credit and they always pay her back she says That’s the way she remembers city life in Newark That’s what’s different about living in an apartment building in close quarters instead of secluded behind four walls in the suburbs “It’s easy to adapt to an apartment if you’re not afraid of your neighbors and you learn how to say hello” she says “Everyone is trying to make a commitment to downtown” cheers like Clapton Simon and Carey — the trickle that runs against the current In my most optimistic moments though I can see that trickle turning to a flood Not that acoustic music will dominate the industry that’s not going to happen and isn’t desirable in any case No my hope is simply that the industry will rein in its unfortunate preoccupation with its electronic toys Synthesizers run amok Because over the last 20 years or so the damn things — synthesizers sequencers samplers etc — have invaded and conquered pop like creatures from a sci-fi flick In the beginning they were a benign and helpful presence Stevie Wonder praised them for allowing him to create sounds he had previously been able to hear only in his head But somewhere in there pop ceded more and more control to the machines Bigger and bigger compromises were made It became OK to have a song with a malnourished lyric because the machines would drop in some wild sound effect that blew everybody away — and made the lyrics superfluous From Ring My Bell by Anita Ward in the ’70s to (Gonna Make You Sweat) Everybody Dance Now by CC Music Factory in the ’80s And then the ultimate betrayal: It became OK for a performer to have no talent because the machines could rescue an off-pitch voice or cobble together a piano solo for a player who was incapable of playing one herself And this trend begat New Kids on the Block Tisha Campbell and of course the ultimate expression of emptiness Milli Vanilli the duo that wasn’t Some of us began to wonder: If the machines could do all that for the performer what the heck do we need the performer for anyway? Maybe others have begun to wonder as well Maybe that’s why we’re seeing this spate of Unplugged albums Maybe those that can have decided to do You can only go back to basics if you have the basics to begin with Once you pull that plug there’s no place to hide You have to stand and deliver That’s what I love about this Paula Abdul Unplugged? With apologies to Homey D Clown I don’t think so Leonard Pitts Jr’s column appears Thursdays in Living & Arts f v

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