SOUTH BEACH HEMINGWAY POLITICS
An Impromptu South Beach Moochers Club Meeting
By Special Request of a Miami Beach Commissioner
“Whew, the Bay stinks like shit around here thanks to Bill Divine’s pumps,” observed Bob Gunner with a wrinkle of his nose as he lounged with Arthur Davidson under a tree behind a condominium building on South Beach Baywalk.
“What a two-bit SOB that fast-talking hustler is. If he’s elected governor he’ll stink up the whole state and turn it into one big traffic jam.”
“That’s not fair,” Arthur said, and took a swig from the bottle of Booth’s yellow gin on hand.
Arthur fancied himself an artistic author given his name. He was often distracted by current affairs from writing novels, taking up journalism instead. As a self-made journalist he was dedicated to the notion that his reporting should be more fair and balanced than the political propaganda that appears in what Miami Beach residents call “the ass-kissing Herald.”
“So he’s not a SOB?” asked Bob Gunner, a large-framed, red-faced man who made his living the gun trade. He was shirtless, exposing an enormous hairy belly.
“He’s a jerk, alright, but the pumps were not his idea. The residents pushed them on the last administration.”
“Yeah, but they’re pumping pollution into the Bay.”
“But scientists say the Bay is safe,” Arthur said. “I would rather have the shit run off into the Bay than to wade around in it when it floods. The new thing is the road-raising.”
“Ah, those huge roller-coaster bumps on the road and water running off into people’s businesses and homes!” rejoined Gunner. “Well, the selfish bastard did all that in a hurry to protect his own properties and get some gratitude from the contractors.”
“Hey, what’s up, Art?” asked Jacob Ratner as he sauntered up with his sidekick, Jon Weasel. Ratner, a disbarred lawyer known for passing out in doorways, was sporting an Aloha shirt below his disheveled mop of hair. Weasel, a tall, mousy, balding man, was drunker than a skunk as usual.
“I noticed Arrogante Carriola publicly insulting you on social media last evening,” said Ratner, “calling you a caveman, or an ‘Injun’ who should live in a teepee because you recommended a moratorium on new development.”
“Well, people were complaining about rampant development and the bond proposal. I observed that the Divine gang had run the city and its finances into the ground during good times. I have my post to him right here, on my phone.”
Arthur pulled up the post and read:
“You scoff at the idea of a moratorium on development, which would help to mitigate the population density even more than FAR regulations, and you rely on cliché’s and hackneyed phrases to insult me for mentioning the moratorium extreme, inferring that I have some sort of caveman mentality, that I am a coward who fears change, even that I am virtually illiterate for recommending moderation and the deposing of misleaders who waste the taxpayer’s money while driving businesses and into bankruptcy and the city into a deficit despite good times. That is because of the prevailing mindset, that property is everything, that growth is good, that GNP must go up every year and the more the better, that no amount of wealth is enough, and that anyone who disagrees should be damned by trolls from hell. Good luck with that approach, because not everyone wants to be a welcome mat for YOUR kind of change.”
Weasel had wet his pants. He stood up for a moment, started to say something, forgot what he was going to say, plopped back down, then remembered something.
“Arrogante Carriola is a rotten, a rotten, rotten…”
“Filthy phony?” added Ratner. “That’s what he thinks of everyone who disagrees with his fascist opinions. Actually, he’s a big grown-up boy. He’s a businessman. Can’t you recognize a big businessman?”
“I recognize a copyright violation,” Art intervened. “That’s right out of Hemingway’s Islands in the Stream. Carriola recommended Hemingway.”
“I saw that on Facebook.”
“Cubans have a thing for Hemingway because he had a house on the island. The exiles don’t seem to realize he was a communist sympathizer. He supported Castro, contributing through a front man on the island.”
“Viva la revolución!” exclaimed Weasel with clenched fist raised.
“Maybe Carriola likes the fascist in Castro,” Arthur smiled. “Right or left doesn’t matter when you’re a dictator. That is why he was so tight with Divine. Money spoiled the both of them, but Carriola has a Cuban elitist sort of arrogance. He attacks and humiliates anyone who disagrees with him, especially females. He’s likely to get a slap upside the head someday if not a kick in cajones.”
“Oh, there’s more to it than that,” said Ratner. “The both of them went to Cuba to set things up with the junta, and then they tried to create a Cuban consulate here.”
“Lansky must be laughing his ass off.”
“He was a fool to criticize your writing. We know how you are with critics. I remember he said you are too wordy. He said he couldn’t figure out what, why and how you write.”
“I have a computer, that’s how, and I write to free people from foreshortened brains. They believe nothing is worth doing if there is no money in it. If wealth is not the ultimate subject, they’re illiterate. The consumers understand Carriola enough. It is no accident that he and Divine made their fortunes in the consumer relations business yet are such assholes. You know where they keep their money, in their bungholes.”
“He has to think you are a big fat slob, yourself, a faker, a phony and rotten writer. You know, you sound like a socialist. Maybe you do talk too much.”
“That’s why Sam said he would not hire me for the Outfit when I was a kid in Chicago, that I should be a writer like Dreiser…. At least I was brief enough when I said ‘underfunded overdevelopment’ to describe what Carriola and his pal Divine did, leaving Miami Beach in shambles. It’s just a big traffic jam full of harassed, unfriendly people now.”
“Carriola is an asshole, plain and simple,” declared Gunner. “He should grow up. He has a childish habit of personally insulting and trying to publicly humiliate anyone who disagrees with his pet projects. That girlfriend he shares with Divine is even worse, goes around attacking people on social media.”
“Yeah, Janet Troll, she’s hell on wheels, but Carriola writes the nasty stuff for her to post, I think.”
“Not a gentleman, no way,” said Weasel, slurring his words. “He was busted for pawing a woman who drank a lot because she couldn’t stand him….”
“Nah, you gotta get a girl drunk to take advantage. We can’t depend on sober girls to propagate the race. Anyway, she admitted he laid his hands off when she said no, so nobody got laid, there was nothing to it, he would not know what a friend is really for.”
“Hey, Arthur, look at what I got here.” Gunner opened a duffel bag at his feet.
“What is that?”
“It’s an iMortar. It’s got a nifty liquid sighting system. We can get the drop on it.”
“Drop on what?”
“Divine’s office building. Carriola is having a press conference with him right now.”
“What the hell?” Arthur balked. “Count me out of your ‘we’.”
“Come on. I got the perfect angles from here to lob a few and scare the shit out those arrogant assholes.”
“Hey, stop, you could kill somebody.”
“Don’t worry. These little blue babies are smoke bombs, the red ones are flares, not HEs, and they make a scary bang. It’s almost dark. We’ll be out of here by the time anyone figures it out. ”
“All right!” exclaimed Weasel.
“You’re talking felonies,” Arthur got up and backed away. “You could start a fire, cause an accident….”
“Don’t worry. I practiced.”
“You need a forward observer,” Arthur observed. “Hey, don’t you fire that damn thing!”
Gunner had put one end down on the ground and was looking at the sighting mechanism.
“Fire!” yelled Weasel.
Arthur and Ratner hastened away in opposite directions, leaving Gunner and Weasel with the mortar and an almost empty bottle of yellow gin.