By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
Superman dat Song
They're doing it at Dolphins games. They're doing it at house parties. They're doing it at middle school talent shows. They're doing it everywhere. It's the latest dance sensation.
Fort Lauderdale real estate agent Jane Snyder says she first saw the Superman dance at a talent show at Sunrise Middle School, where her daughter attends the eighth grade. Two boys got up and danced to Soulja Boy's "Crank That." The dance involves a lot of light-footed, back-and-forth jumping and some swimming motions with the arms, all rather pleasing to the eye.
"The guys were really tall and considered handsome," Snyder says. "All the girls in a pack were oohing and aahing."
What struck Snyder, though, was Soulja's refrain, "Superman dat ho," repeated over and over, hypnotically, with the last word extended: "Superman dat hooooo." Ho is not a term Snyder approves of.
"Referring to a girlfriend or a woman as 'dat ho,' that in itself is enough to offend me," she says.
But what about this Superman-as-verb business? Snyder says none of the kids she knows could tell her what it means; it's just something in a song, they said. Then she heard local radio morning show hosts Paul and Young Ron talking about the lyric. "They said what the phrase means is so bad they couldn't say it on the radio. There were parents calling in, and they'd put them on hold so they could tell them what it means."
Finally, somebody directed Snyder to urbandictionary.com, where Superman the verb is said to mean — Tailpipe is softening the language somewhat — putting bodily fluid on the back of a woman when she's sleeping, so that when she awakens, the bedsheet is stuck to her like a cape.
Snyder says that she and other parents called Sunrise Principal Rebecca Dahl to complain that songs such as "Crank That" are played at school activities (more than one website renders its lyrics with the phrase "Watch me super soak dat ho"). Dahl has not responded yet, Snyder says. She did not respond to messages from Tailpipe either.
Soulja Boy, who's from Atlanta, is part of the Dirty South hip-hop movement, where the language is raw, the beats are funky, and the ranks include Young Jeezy, Trina, and Trick Daddy, the last two from Miami. 'Pipe suspects Dirty South's appeal is more in the beats than the lyrics, which often are arcane, with messages that must fly over the heads of young dancers.
When Tipper Gore was so shocked by the lyrics of Prince's Purple Rain that she lobbied to have the record industry put warning stickers on some records, back in 1985, 'Pipe jeered. When in doubt about singers and songs, laissez faire is the way to go. But if Soulja Boy really meant to celebrate squirting the backs of sleeping women, that's where the 'Pipe just might draw the line.
Charlie Don't Surf
Tailpipe trekked up to Roosevelt Elementary School in Cocoa Beach last Tuesday to witness a rather unusual meeting of the minds: Kelly Slater — eight-time world surfing champion, frequent arm candy of supermodels, professional pitchman, and star of the videogame Kelly Slater's Pro Surfer — was hobnobbing with Charlie Crist. The reasons for the powwow were twofold. First, Crist, a mere governor in the presence of surfer royalty, was signing Senate Bill 1472, a measure to protect public access to beaches, pushed through the legislature by the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation. Two: Slater was accepting a nomination to the Governor's Council on Physical Fitness, a group designed to promote healthy living and stop obesity among kids.
Slater had plenty of impact just by sticking around to chat with every boy and girl who approached him for autographs. Meanwhile, the governor was asked to sign exactly zero videogames.
Slater presented Crist with a surfboard, a new, partially biodegradable biofoam board made in part of soybeans, while lamenting that surfing isn't a greener sport. "I get about 100 boards a year," he said. "As a surfer, that's great. But when you think of all the toxic chemicals and the waste and the fumes [that go into surfboard construction], I'm not the most environmentally sound person."
He signed the new surfboard "Let's go surfing!" Crist signed "Why not?"
Slater assessed Crist: "I want to get him in the water!" he said.
'Pipe was wondering whether Crist might be more popular if he posed in trunks on a board — and then he remembered John Kerry, who posed while windsurfing in the final days of the 2004 presidential campaign and shot himself in the foot.
"I've only done it once," Crist said of surfing. "Here in Cocoa Beach. It didn't turn out so well."
So when Slater gets Charlie into the waves, you can bet the news boys won't be invited.
Pact With the Devil
Three and a half years of prison has a way of persuading a guy to give up on the system.
After insisting since 2003 that he was innocent, Donald Baker — seemingly a victim of police brutality and wrongful incarceration — chose freedom over fighting.
Until his appeal came up last week before Judge Michael Gates, he was hunkered down at Appalachee Correctional Institute in Sneads, Florida — full of crazies, if you ask Baker.
"You go out in the prison yard and not only are inmates stabbing one another but people with psychological problems are stabbing themselves," he says. "On a full moon, people think they're possessed by demons and stuff."
Baker took a plea last week and walked out rather than continuing to insist — with video evidence seemingly supporting him — that his assault on the Hollywood cops came after they brutalized him.
The debacle started on a street corner in Hollywood on April 18, 2003. Baker was talking with a couple of homeless guys who happened to be wielding open beers when the cops showed up. Baker, who has a way of finding trouble, got pulled in because there was an outstanding warrant for his arrest for failure to pay a $25 fine on an open-container violation.
Then, at the Hollywood Detention Center, where the arrestees were being processed by the cops, an argument broke out between Baker's two buddies. When the cops stepped in to break it up, Baker allegedly interceded, yelling "Fuck off, asshole!" at Officer Francis Hoeflinger and punching him in the back. Hoeflinger and Officer John Graham then "subdued" Baker, a fragile-looking chain smoker of Kool cigarettes. The officers dragged a bloodied Baker to a holding cell and filed a charge against him of battery on a police officer.
The grainy, soundless, black-and-white surveillance videos that recorded the incident tell a different story. They appear to show Graham throwing a punch at one of the homeless men. Then, after Baker appears to say something, Hoeflinger punches him twice, and Baker hits the ground. Hoeflinger puts his finger in Baker's face, and Baker grabs it, then pushes Hoeflinger to the ground. Then comes Graham, fists clenched, at Baker. That's when the tape "leprechauns," as Baker describes it. Suddenly, Graham disappears and reappears five steps away.
Baker insists the tape was edited by the Hollywood Police Department to implicate him. A video expert, inexplicably not called to testify by Baker's former lawyer, Madeline Torres, agreed. Gates sentenced Baker to five years.
In his hearing last week, Torres was again called to the stand, this time as a witness. The case seemed to turn on whether Torres knowingly and incompetently chose not to call the video expert. Melissa Donoho, Baker's current lawyer, says Torres claimed in a deposition that she would admit on the stand that her counsel was ineffective. But when Torres got up there, she denied wrongdoing. To put that information before the judge, Donoho would have had to step down as Baker's lawyer and become a witness to the perjury.
There were other problems. The prosecution's newly appointed video expert, former BSO employee Marla Carroll, said that the video, even with missing frames, gave an accurate enough account of the incident. When evidence videos are transferred from analog to digital for use in court, it's not unusual for frames to be dropped, she asserted — a claim that left Donoho agape with disbelief.
With postponements inevitable and the outcome uncertain, prosecutor Scott Raft offered time served as long as Baker dropped his appeal. It was a bargain with the devil. Baker couldn't turn it down.
"My primary concern was to come home and get back to work and acclimate myself back into society," says Baker, who is living with family now and employed as an electrician.
But walking out on the criminal case won't affect the civil case he intends to file against the Hollywood cops, the State Attorney's Office, and maybe even BSO, he says. "I want everybody's ass."
First time Tailpipe saw the Sign Boat, he was driving down A1A in Fort Lauderdale, and he almost had an accident. There was a 40-foot trawler churning through the water about a hundred yards from the beach. On its deck was a huge electronic sign, flashing messages about a sports bar. The converted shrimp boat was just low-tech enough as it lumbered through the waves to suggest momentarily that it might be the vanguard of a military invasion by boat people.
But no, this was about floating ads.
The idea came to Joe Thompson, a marine contractor from Cocoa, two years ago. Some folks marvel at waves and Technicolor sunsets. Thompson kept seeing a blank canvas ripe for advertising. He was watching Good Morning America when he saw flashing LED signs in Times Square. "I thought to myself, 'Why couldn't someone do that on the water?' In this part of the country, so many people gather near the water. But at night, the ocean disappears — it's just a big, black nothing."
He called the Coast Guard, whose brass said they hadn't heard of anything like it but they weren't opposed as long as the boat was operated safely and didn't harm swimmers. "They told me it sounded a lot safer than the speedboats and parasailers out there," he says.
Thompson bought a $50,000 boat named Gulf Dreamer near Panama City and sailed it to Port Canaveral, where he refurbished it, adding a hydraulic base to the deck. Then he bought a 160-square-foot, 2,000-pound electronic sign from a casino in Branson, Missouri. "We had to make sure the boat could hold a sign that heavy and hold it up straight," Thompson says. The sign, which is operated from a remote laptop, can spin 360 degrees, making it visible from the coastline no matter which direction the ship is going.
Thompson hired a captain and launched the boat last March. It travels at 2 knots (about 2 miles per hour) from Fort Lauderdale to Miami Beach and back, through the Intracoastal and along the beach. For $250, a potential advertiser gets a hundred 30-second spots (usually spread over two days) on the roving, 20-foot-wide sign. It can display anything that any computer or television can play, Thompson says, "just much, much larger." So far, he's sold ads to artists, travel agents, bars, restaurants, and an Elvis impersonator. He's also used the sign to display the photos of America's Most Wanted criminals and birthday wishes.
He says he is not concerned that the boat might distract motorists and cause accidents along A1A. "There's so much to look at along the beach already. People should go slow there anyway."