on the rocks
In my cheap, moldy hotel room with the bathroom window that opened onto the ixora hedges I watched neighbors come and go from the Malibu Apartments on 77th Street. The week I arrived in Miami at the end of February 2020, CNN was almost exclusively covering the recent Democratic presidential debates and a robust win for Bernie Sanders in the Nevada Democratic Caucus. I watched “Rocky IV” as many times as it played, and passengers of a quarantined cruise ship were allowed to begin disembarking in Yokohama, Japan.
I’d smoke cigarettes on the back steps of the hotel with a mangy black cat and have Colombian breakfasts and Colombian lunches at the place nearby that was always showing La Liga on TV.
I walked for hours alone, back and forth along Harding Avenue photographing the boxy, rundown apartment buildings, marveling at how many different ways there are to be boxy and rundown, and sat on the beach with red and purple warning flags out (High Hazard and Dangerous Marine Life, respectively). I walked to the grocery store for cookies and hummus in a sunny drizzle and watched a teenage soccer match in Little Haiti after dark.
A local friend took me to the Evening jai alai games up in Broward—a room full of the very tanned and the very elderly. The wheelchair section was packed and raucous. I think about those folks now. We made a lap around the casino (“The Loosest Slots in Broward County”) watching tepid dance lessons in one corner and in the furthest, darkest corner, live greyhound races broadcast from Orange Park up near the Georgia border. The dogs that night had names like Cheap Motel, Summer Sun, My Eyes Adore U, Nobody’s Perfect, Love Me Sexy.
By midnight we were having the usual at a dark and loud strip mall dive with a not-unexpected nautical theme and business hours that only close the doors for three hours a day. In the morning, we walked to breakfast at a diner so crowded you’d think it was the only restaurant in town.
Things changed, of course, like a lightning strike. That week, spent making images for this book as well as for others, is suspended in my mind as something so breezy and innocent it can bring me to tears.