Tailpipe

Scraping Bottom

In the Corner Pocket

Dave Lovik, who was playing pool the other day at the Cloud 9 bar in Davie, described Ed Heeney, the former Broward County resident who's now running for state representative in Palm Beach County, like this: "He's one of those guys you can't wait to stay away from."

Robin McKinzie Darville sings for sister Miriam Oliphant.
Sam Eifling
Robin McKinzie Darville sings for sister Miriam Oliphant.

All right, so maybe Lovik, a self-described ne'er-do-well who once played on a competitive pool team with Heeney, just has a thing about pushy, scene-making loudmouths. But what do you say when Heeney's own political party seems to cringe at the sight of him? Tailpipe says that maybe Heeney the politician missed his calling. This is one person who doesn't leave a lot of good will in his wake.

Heeney, straight, white, and middle-aged, a real estate agent in his professional life, got some national attention last month on Comedy Central's The Daily Show, when he told a reporter that militant gays forced him from Broward. "I'm not homophobic," Heeney said. "I'm homo-nausic. I'm sick of them."

Heeney's remark sprang from an incident at the Cloud 9 last year. During a Gold Coast Pool League game, Heeney jabbed a woman with the butt of his cue while lining up a shot. Words flew. The woman's boyfriend was upset. So was the other team's captain, Roxanne Andrews, an imposing Hollywood contractor with a pumice handshake. Heeney told reporters that he was suddenly surrounded by hostile, lesbian pool players. In a 13-page letter of complaint to the league, Heeney claimed that Andrews tried to get at him, "swinging her big arms over her head threateningly."

"It's an injustice for someone his age to have the mentality he does," an amused Andrews said recently. Heeney didn't respond to messages asking for his side of the story.

Andrews was chatting last week with Tailpipe between games on ladies pool league night. Bar owner Dietra Fischer was passing out loaner copies of such books as Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Folks at the bar were wondering: Why tab Heeney as the guy to try to take on Democratic State Rep. Susan Bucher? He doesn't even live in the district. (Heeney ran unopposed in the Republican primary on Tuesday.)

Ask Sid Dinerstein, the party's chairman in Palm Beach County, about Heeney and he looks pained. Heeney volunteered to run where no one else would, Dinerstein says. There are almost twice as many registered Democrats in the district as Republicans. Though he originally admired Heeney's energy, now he feels this way about Heeney's comments: "It's insulting, it's inappropriate, it's offensive, and it in no way represents anything about what we do."

Politics 101

Pert, amiable Susan McDougal is in town to attend the local premiere of The Hunting of the President, Harry Thomason's documentary about the right-wing conspiracy to bring down Bill Clinton. If anyone was lastingly harmed by the plot, it was McDougal, who did two years in various jails and hellholes rather than tell lies about the president and some ill-advised Arkansas land deals.

In a telephone conversation with Tailpipe, McDougal turned her world-bitten wisdom to more current events. "The attack ads on John Kerry and Vietnam -- that's just the opening volley," she said, with a touch of the Arkansas country girl in her voice. "It amazes me that, after the 2000 campaign, people still don't get it. Politics is a very mean business.There's nothing people won't do when there's all that money involved. In the words of P. Diddy Combs, 'Just follow the Benjamins. '"

It's a bitter lesson that even the voters are beginning to learn, she says. "When I first started talking about the things the Office of the Independent Investigator was doing, I couldn't get two Democrats to believe me," she says. "It was, 'Now let me get this straight -- you're telling me that Ken Starr is trying to get you to lie?' But you tell people nowadays that there are folks willing to come out and tell lies for a presidential campaign, they'll say, 'Oh, yeah.' I think people are a lot more skeptical."

McDougal says the new skepticism will work in Kerry's favor. "I think they're going to have a harder time of it just throwing out accusations the way they did with Clinton and have people go for it," she says.

The movie opens Friday, August 27, at various venues, including Sunrise Cinemas at Mizner Park, the Gateway, and Sunrise 11.

They Can't Get Started

The Palm Beach Post blundered into another imbroglio with Gov. Jeb Bush with its August 20 front page.

The problem came from an article claiming that the governor had authorized voters to send in ballots by fax from hurricane-ravaged counties. Problem was: The story was dead wrong. The Post corrected the gaffe in a front-page story the following day: Bush had given the right to vote by fax for National Guard troops only.

On the bottom right of that same Friday front page, the Post acknowledged that the governor disputed another of its articles. That one, about proposed sites for the Scripps Research Institute, explained that the governor claimed that the Post had misquoted him a day earlier. Oops.

The Bush-Post feud goes back at least to December, when the guv shut the paper out of a year-end interview because its Tallahassee bureau chief had cursed at Bush spokeswoman Jill Bratina. For her part, Bratina says the errors won't heighten the feud. "We speak with any number of reporters on a daily basis, including the Post," she said. The governor doesn't always like their editorials, Bratina says, but that's the job.

Tom Giuffrida, the Post's publisher, says there's little the paper can do. The dispute really comes down to the fact that the Post has aggressively reported on school vouchers, Giuffrida says. "It's just something that happens in the business."

Hutless in West Palm?

West Palm Beach's Quonset hut studios, a Flamingo Park icon where artists and musicians practiced and performed for a decade, are about to disappear. Owner Alan Patrusevich seems to have lost his long fight with the city to keep the dilapidated World War II-era barracks on Kanuga Drive. City officials have ordered them to be demolished, likely within a week or so.

A cadre of city employees descended on the studios August 24 after a neighbor complained that as many as 30 artists regularly slept there. The huts' bohemian feel has long irked some neighbors.

Inspectors found signs that the huts have seen far better days. The electrical wiring was so bad that the city ordered the power turned off immediately. The structure has been patched with odd pieces of metal and wood that's now rotting. The city inspectors feared that a hurricane (or, Tailpipe suggests, a loud fart) could easily turn the studios into a very abstract pile of rubble. "At this point," says Neil Melick, the city's director of construction services, "these buildings are more of a risk to other properties than they are worth saving."

The city ordered the buildings demolished immediately, a decision Patrusevich will likely appeal -- and an appeal he'll probably lose.

Patrusevich, a Vietnam vet who makes a living by renting out space in the huts, still hopes he can save a section. The 80-foot-long front half of one of the barracks is still in good shape, he says.

But city codes would require him to bring that section up to current building standards. Patrusevich has allies in his fight. A few local lawyers, well-known artists, and renowned architect Michael Docsh are helping him try to negotiate a treaty with the city. But Patrusevich acknowledges that the huts are likely doomed. "It'd be a bitch to be homeless, out of business, and to owe the city for the pleasure to be demolished," Patrusevich says. "It's like paying for my own funeral."

Vamping for Votes

In the slim, shadeless strand of brick median separating westbound from eastbound lanes of Broward Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, a 46-year-old woman in a white-on-pink T-shirt reading "Everybody Loves a Baby Girl" waggles her hips and jiggles her ample booty at the bawling traffic.

"Ah-lee-FAH-AHNT, Ah-lee-FAH-AHNT, Ah-lee-FAH-AHNT," Robin McKinzie Darville sings.

She twirls slowly, sweating, shimmying, waving a campaign sign for her big sister, Miriam Oliphant, the deposed supervisor of Broward's elections, who's running for the same position this fall. A couple of women in a silver Camry stop and catcall. "Hey!" she hollers, "watch me bust a move!" She hops in a circle on one foot. The women clap and snap photos with a cell phone. Horns honk. People laugh. Darville keeps shakin'.

"I didn't plan on it being a big joke," she says of her campaigning. "I thought people'd be throwing cans at me."

It's a grim, wearisome season, with hungry pols spreading the same bad air Tailpipe disperses. Give Darville credit. Watching a grown woman waggle in a public street is beautiful. Darville, who describes herself as "the black sheep of the family," took up the two-sided sign -- for Oliphant and their brother Robert McKinzie, a candidate for the District 7 County Commission seat -- because she wanted to chip in.

"They love me," Darville says of the drivers. "One woman said, 'I'm voting for her, just because of you. '"

-- As told to Edmund Newton

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