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Seven Observations About Miami From Author Tom Wolfe

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Mark Seliger

More than a quarter of a century after Tom Wolfe's novel The Bonfire of the Vanities looked at race relations, class divisions, greed and ambition in New York City, the influential writer has shifted his focus to the Magic City.

On his recent trip to Miami, Wolfe sat down to chat with WLRN's Alicia Zuckerman about his new novel, Back to Blood.

At one point during the interview, Zuckerman pointed out that Miami is just about the only place in the country where Wolfe can wear his trademark white suits without sticking out.  To which Wolfe replied, “What actually DOES stand out is the necktie.”

Here are some other observations about Miami from the guy in the white suit:

  1. “Miami is very unusual in that it is the only city in the world where people from another country, with another language, of an entirely different culture have taken over politically through the voting regime in a metropolitan area.  Of course, I am talking about the Cubans.”
  2. “There are a lot of Haitians here.  A lot.  Understandably, they resent the fact that the Cubans can come in no matter how they get here . . .  it’s a very exceptional thing.”
  3. “The police force in Miami is slightly over 50-percent Cuban, 70-percent Latin, 18-percent black and 12-percent Anglo.”
  4. “I had no idea what Hialeah was like.  And today it’s the REAL Little Havana now.  I’ve been to Little Havana – but really, Hialeah is the place.
  5. “In Hialeah, there are countless front yards of concrete.  They’re not very big – and so a lot of people, rather than fussing with grass, just pave over the front yard.  In the morning, the women would come out and hose down the concrete.  A man must not be caught doing this – you lose status by doing that.”
  6. “Even the strip clubs are very different here.  There are 143 in the metropolitan area.  One-hundred and forty-three!”
  7. “The place [Miami] is absolutely fascinating.  And the way I work, it gets more fascinating because I don’t have an agenda.”

Okay . . .
Wolfe’s not a Miami resident.  If you are, we want to know if you think Wolfe is on the money about Miami – or off the mark.

And what would you add to this list?

Please post your comment below or Tweet us @WLRN.