Tally Against the Machine

Come Back, Mara. Noooooo.

Stepping into the dimly lit polling place in Hollywood last Tuesday, Tailpipe could almost hear the whirring of a film reel as a montage of Mara Giulianti played through his frontal lobe.

Would this be the election that finally toppled the Giulianti regime?

In the little chamber, the 'Pipe went back, back, back, like a bad movie, with pages of a calendar riffling backward in a wind, the hands of a big wall clock spinning crazily. The memories crowded in, blurred, wavering, drunken, then slowly coming into focus. There was Mara, short, obstreperous, refusing to answer questions from a New Times reporter, then taking the City Commission dais to deliver a withering critique. For a moment, Tailpipe pictured her in a commanding pose, one hand thrust into her jacket like Napoleon.

Then there was Mara in a hardhat, wielding a spade for one of those condo groundbreaking photo ops. There were enough of those to wallpaper Hollywood City Hall.

And the emails. Even as an emailer, Mara had been an imposing, echoey presence. With her heavy doses of capital letters and exclamation marks, Tailpipe could almost hear her bellowing through the monitor.

The 'Pipe's ears still rang from the time he was summoned to Mara's office to listen to a diatribe about the way Mara was treated in the press. No, she didn't care what reporters thought. That was what she kept saying. She had this vision for her city, and it didn't matter what reporters did or said. The towers would go up.

At the voting place, the 'Pipe punched the button for one of Mara's competitors, got his "I voted" sticker, and stumbled out of the polling place.

In the sunlight, though, he was struck with — how else to describe it? — voter remorse.

What a fool the 'Pipe had been! Does a banker vote against money? Does the priest reject prayer? The old gas-emitting car part had just voted against one of South Florida's greatest newsmakers. As long as Giulianti was around, Tailpipe was never low on inspiration, never doubted his purpose. With Mara in City Hall, he was never wracked by existential crisis. He turned back, tempted to run screaming into the polling place and demand to be allowed to revote.

But, no, it was late. Much too late.

Hollywood would have its Peter Bober now, a commissioner who had cast votes for some of the same glad-handing developers that Giulianti had favored. How was he going to clean up a City Hall run by insiders? When asked, Bober got weasely, like he was saying read my lips as Commissioners Fran Russo and Richard Blattner looked on complacently. The 'Pipe read his lips. They seemed to say same old shit.

That night, after the votes were counted and the Era de Mara officially came to an end, the 'Pipe swirled a glass of scotch and thought about Hollywood and its murky future. He wondered whether Hollywood could really change for the better and, if not, what Tailpipe would write about now that the curtain was coming down on the region's finest political theater.

E.T. Does Marathons

You may have seen him huffing up and down Las Olas in his combat boots and jacket — even midsummer. You might have seen him downtown, jogging in dress shoes, or at the beach, running barefoot. That's Coatman, a SoFla character. He's practicing.

Coatman, also known as Dennis Marsella, a 57-year-old Victoria Park resident, has run in more than 100 marathons. Every year, he competes in events from coast to coast, and he does it in a peculiar way: Coatman runs in tie, heavy jacket, and wingtip shoes, carrying, waiter-style, angel food cake with apple cider vinegar. He usually finishes in the top 25 percent.

No, he's not crazy, he insists. "It's part of my long-term research into what I call 'human potential.' "

Coatman thinks "the bell curve of human life" should last about 120 years. The first 40 years are just ramping up; the next 40 years are the prime window for human capacity. Then there are the years on the other side of the bell. "I'm seeing what I can do to basically stop aging," he says.

On slow days, he runs ten miles. At the peak of his training, he may do 23 miles in a day. He runs several full marathons (26.2 miles) a year, and right now, he's getting ready for the Fort Lauderdale marathon on February 17.

Every morning, Coatman spins himself around ritualistically 16 times. "It realigns your pituitary," he says. "When I run, I breathe in a special way. I infuse my system with super amounts of oxygen and photon light... The way I breathe, combined with the running, creates neuro-plasticity."

This is where he starts to lose Tailpipe, who begins to edge away.

Coatman has reached a metabolic balance he calls "stasis." "If you reach stasis, you're basically in a hold pattern. Your electrons spin, and your metabolism freezes."

Coatman says the money he saves not eating meat — about five bucks a day — pays for him to travel to marathons around the country. He'll run for about 40 more years, he insists.

Maybe Coatman has figured out the secret to extending human life.

"Maybe I'm an extraterrestrial," he says.

Or maybe he is nuts.

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