Ah, a busy gas station. The perfume of high-octane fuel in the air, the steady ding-ding-ding of the pumps, and the profane mutterings of motorists lined up at the curb. This is Tailpipe's favorite hangout. There's no spot more auto-addictive than the BP station at Oakland Park Boulevard and NW 21st Avenue in Oakland Park.
Of course, like everybody else, the 'Pipe has watched the rising cost of gasoline with a twinge of regret. In retrospect, was it rash to snap up a 12-miles-per-gallon Hummer H2 in the triumphant days after Dubya's "Mission Accomplished" proclamation three years ago? Maybe. But wasn't a liberated Iraq supposed to be a cheap-gas Iraq? Whose bright idea is $3 a gallon?
Still, there's that rush with the clean, fragrant, flammable brew pouring out of the pumps, like water in a desert, at a station that's rumored to be the cheapest in the neighborhood.
The 'Pipe's favorite BP seems almost impervious to whatever obscure capitalistic forces govern the worth of sweet crude. If a gallon of regular costs $2.99 in nearby Wilton Manors, it's likely coming out of the BP's 16 pumps for a dime or so cheaper. Whims of the day or hour notwithstanding, the station's gas is either the cheapest in Broward or it's damned close. (Tailpipe isn't about to quote any prices in this febrile gas-pricing environment. Run your own analysis at miamigasprices.com or gaspricewatch.com.)
With the heroic 2 to 3 percent discount come hordes. The 'Pipe watched amazed on a recent weekday afternoon when 20 vehicles wedged into lines for gas. On Oakland Park Boulevard, where drivers are used to zipping along at 40 and 50 mph, cars slooooowed to squeeze their way into the lot, which is so small it doesn't include any actual parking spaces. Some customers walk the few steps to the trailer-sized food shop to buy roadmaps and Parliaments from attendants in a bulletproof booth. Most, though, simply roll up, swipe a debit card, and suckle from the petrol teat before backing out past the next Explorer in line.
The pace of activity puts the owner, Jay Weinstock, on edge. Sure, he wants to sell his product, but he's not happy about the mob. When the 'Pipe reached him, he asked that any coverage not sound as though he's looking for publicity.
"I've never advertised," he says. "The only advertisement I have is a gas-price sign." The traffic has caught the attention of nearby residents, who just want a little peace and quiet. Praising Weinstock might entice more drivers... and more snarls. "Just say, 'The gentleman's trying to be the fairest he can be. He's trying to do the public a service. '"
Tailpipe hears now that experts are predicting a downtick in gas prices this week, after the U.S. Energy Department reported a mysterious increase in the gasoline supply (following talk on Capitol Hill of a strict new anti-gouging law). So it goes, at least until this little muddle in the Middle East clears up, and we go back to gas-guzzling, buck-a-gallon bliss.
The Miami Herald's star columnist, Carl Hiaasen, has worked for the paper for 30 years. Since the early '80s, he has also published 17 fiction and nonfiction books, including Hoot, which was just adapted for the big screen. On the day it hit theaters last week, the Herald ran this hangdog correction for a story the previous day:
"A story about Florida's film industry misspelled the name of author Carl Hiaasen. An accompanying photo caption misspelled the name of singer Jimmy Buffett."
It sounded a bit like a correction that appeared just a month earlier, in the April 4 paper: "A photo caption misspelled author Carl Hiaasen's name on Page 4A in some editions on Monday."
Apparently it's a problem that goes back a few years. A database search also turned up this nugget, labeled an Editor's Note, from the Herald's feature section in June 1996:
"We wondered: How many times have we misspelled Carl Hiaasen's name? Thirty-five times since 1983, when The Herald put in a computer database. The most common misspellings: Hiassen and Hiasen."
Even Dave Barry once wrote it as Hiaassen. He's a big name, that Hiaasen, but not that big.
The Way We Were
Way out west, where only hordes of blood-thirsty mosquitoes and scaly alligators once frolicked, the Weston Historical Society dug deep to come up with a back story celebrating the city's tenth anniversary. For a town that's still wet behind the ears, Broward County's farthest-flung neighbor has little in the way of "old" or "quaint." But that hasn't derailed plans for the society's dedication ceremony next month.
The ghost of Arthur Vining Davis, founder of the Arvida Corp., which eventually cleared enough land for hundreds of big, bulky, indistinguishable homes, will be on hand for ribbon-cutting.
Don't miss the interactive exhibit called "Weston's First Starbucks," which details the perilous, ill-fated missions to bring beans and baristas to the Everglades frontier town. It culminates with a diorama depicting the final, triumphant arrival of a franchise in 1998, plus a free venti decaf latte. Heirlooms and artifacts, like Jebediah J. Weston's first riding mower and pioneer-village landmarks like Ye Olde Circle K, await visitors. There's a full-scale replica of a bathroom of the Marino House, which was the first McMansion designed with an active DSL port in literally every room.
A monument marks the spot of Weston's first murder, which is where 20-year-old Bobby Kennedy, subject of the film Bully, was killed. Technically, the crime happened in 1993, a full three years before Weston was incorporated, but that shouldn't stop you from making time for the short film, Time to Drain the Monster, which documents exactly how that useless, boring old swampland was slowly filled with dirt and, later, people.
Tailpipe can't wait for the opening of the time capsule. The 'Pipe has it on good authority that its contents include a Bob Dole bumper sticker, a cache of O.J. Simpson memorabilia, and Dan Marino and Wayne Huizenga's matching friendship bracelets.
Don't Go, Ricky
There is a place for Ricky Williams on a South Florida football team. The Florida Frenzy, which played its second home game last week at the Hard Rock Live, says Ricky can play all the football he wants right here in Broward County, and those NFL fussbudgets can sit in a skybox and suck their thumbs.
The Frenzy is in its inaugural season as part of the National Indoor Football League. At their home opener on April 9, the players wore mismatched uniforms. An assortment of teachers and fitness instructors (nobody's giving up his day job), playing for $200 a game, the Frenzy is hungry. Mostly, the team is hungry for attention.
At the Hard Rock venue last week, the crowd was as sparse as the hair follicles of Terry Bradshaw's scalp. But the guys had gotten their matching uniforms together. The Frenzy scooted around the 50-yard field in green and navy spandex like a contingent of Aquamen (though they weren't spiffy enough to beat the Charleston Sandsharks, who edged the Frenzy 48-46).
"It would be awesome if there were another 500 people here," one spectator said. Added another fan, talking about the Frenzy's prospects: "It sounds like a good way to lose a shitload of money."
Owner Howard Leonhardt, 44-year-old founder and CEO of Bioheart Inc., envisions the Frenzy picking up business, after he makes a few additions to the roster. This week, the Frenzy holds tryouts for female placekickers "We're trying to confirm whether this would be the first female professional football player in a men's league ever," Leonhardt says. "We've invited the top soccer players in South Florida to try out."
But the Williams gambit that would be golden. "We've contacted his agent and let him know that we think it's better for him to stay in South Florida and play indoors rather than go to Canada," Leonhardt says.
Leonhardt might even consider stretching that $200 salary cap.
Williams couldn't be reached for comment.
Kane Ain't Able
Jim Kane is a highly regarded pollster and lobbyist, editor of Florida Voter, consultant to megadevelopers, and a big wheel in local politics. For more than three decades, he's been one of a handful of go-to experts on local elections. But, sheesh, Kane needs a consultant. Tailpipe thinks Kane should stop hanging with the rough crowd and find a good matrimonial matchmaker.
Last month, Kane signed a prosecution affidavit against his wife of five months, Elizabeth X. Kane, after a nasty domestic violence incident. According to the Fort Lauderdale Police Department report, the Kanes got into a heated argument that ended with Jim bruised and bloody from his wife's fists and fingernails. In the midst of their spat, Kane told officers, an intoxicated Elizabeth picked up a patio chair and threw it through a window in the front of the house. The window happened to be in the bedroom where Jim Kane's 10-year-old son, Conner, was trying to sleep.
Poor Conner. He's had his troubles sleeping at his mom's house too. Neighbors of Jim Kane's ex-wife, Pamela, told Tailpipe last fall of her own hurricane-season battles with the bottle, which often occurred while her son was home. A year ago this week, Conner made a midnight call to police from the house on SW 14th Court; the incident report dismissed it as a "parent/child discipline matter with no physical violence involved."
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After a reported warning from her boss, Pamela Kane's profanity-laced tirades, often played out on the sidewalk in front of her Flamingo Park bungalow, have reportedly ceased.
"She's a nice enough neighbor," a nearby resident said, "when she's not drinking."
Elizabeth Kane, originally from the Cape Verde islands, has worked as a youth counselor with the Broward Sheriff's Office for the past 18 months. Pamela Kane is a government employee as well an attorney for Broward County. Once Jim has cleared the marital decks, Tailpipe has a sweet young Starbucks barista he wants to introduce him to.
As told to Edmund Newton