Undercurrents

Glossy regional magazines often shill for the communities they write about. But last month's issue of Miami Metro definitely raised the bar for shameless self-promotion with its cover promoting "The City's Hottest Morning DJs."

Front and center was Paul Castronovo, one of three Zeta (WZTA-FM 94.9) DJs who get rock 'n' rollers through their miserable daily commutes. He was flanked, on the magazine's cover, by Bo Griffin of Power 96 (WPOW-FM 96.5) and Y-100's Jade Alexander (WHYI-FM 100.7). Inside, the accompanying story described Castronovo as the "loud-mouthed-yet-congenial-maestro" who has "cashed in" on his celebrity status by launching a blues band and a line of cigars.

No problem there. But discerning Miami Metro readers might have noticed that Castronovo is listed on the magazine's masthead as a contributing writer. The editors at Miami Metro could have chosen from dozens of other South Florida morning DJs. So why promote someone who actually writes for the magazine?

"He has one of the highest-rated shows in South Florida," offers Felicia Levine, Miami Metro's executive editor. "And we thought it would have been wrong to exclude him."

In that spirit we'd like to suggest the topic for a future Miami Metro cover: "South Florida's Hottest Editors." The cover shot: a glossy photo of Ms. Levine.

When Broward and Palm Beach bartenders gaze across the mahogany and see a bona fide rip-roaring drunk, they know exactly whom to call.

Since 1983, Sal's Towing has responded to countless saloons and tiki bars and picked up drunks and their cars, then taken them home and dumped them safe and sound. The free shuttle service occurs quietly and frequently -- as many as 900 to 1000 times per year.

"Every other towing company told me I was crazy," says 54-year-old Sal Bellassai, who operates a fleet of 35 trucks based in Oakland Park. "Nobody else would go along with it."

Bellassai says he has no idea how much it costs him to run his Save-A-Life program (add up the acronym). But for nondrunks he charges $40 per hookup, plus $2.50 per mile. So why give it away for free?

"Especially back in the '80s, all you ever heard about towing companies was bad -- outrageous bills, rude employees, that kinda thing," Bellassai says. "At the same time, we were showing up at an incredible number of drunk-driving accidents. Then I had a girl working for me that had a baby that got killed by a drunk driver. I said, 'We gotta be able to do something.'"

Bartender Cathy Marceno figures Sal can take at least a little credit for the fact that drunk-driving deaths have hit a 20-year national low. Marceno, who pours drinks at Kim's Alley Bar and has authored a barroom joke book, says there's a humorous flaw in Sal's system -- sneaky tipplers who use the Save-A-Life service over and over again as a free car ferry.

"Yeah, we get guys that call almost every weekend," says Sal's operations manager Bob Zangara. "We don't bother trying to weed 'em out. If you're drunk, you're drunk.

 
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