Monday, October 16, 2006

Slumming

DH and I spent our anniversary paying bills. Tres romantic. The weather was meh Saturday, so we put off celebrating until yesterday, and jaunted to Miami and Bayside, where we absorbed Latin music while sucking back alcohol and then took a boat ride that loops around Star Island.

We saw Puff Daddy’s digs, shrouded by a healthy canopy of palms and foliage, Rose O’Donnell’s quaint little multi-million $$ cottage and Shaq’s little shack that cost him ONLY (cough, cough) $14 million. There’s an adorable foot-high statue of the Miami Heat star on a piling, in case you thought the boat captain was lying about the location of Shaq’s home. Next door there’s a mansion for sale; where they filmed Scarface. Remember that famous line? “Say hello to my LITTLE FRIEND!”

If you have $20 million in spare change, the Scarface mansion is yours, complete with 2 guesthouses, three fountains, etc. etc. Plus you get Shaq as a neighbor. I think they may also toss in a Japanese gardener who trims the grass with a nail clipper. Real estate being slow as it is down here, it wouldn’t surprise me.

I told DH that even if I had more money than Bill Gates, I wouldn’t live on Star Island. No privacy. Shaq’s place is cool, and the Scarface mansion is big enough for all our trains, but I’d like to lie out on the lawn reading and not have tour boats passing every hour, with gawkers like us. I’d be tempted to moon every one, and that’s too many times to show my nekked ass.
“Say hello to my little friend!” I’d scream.

Plus you probably don’t’ get a lot of kids trick-or-treating on Star Island. I adore Halloween. Each year, but for last when everyone was too busy eating Spaghettos out of cans thanks to Hurricane Wilma, we get lots of kids in our ‘hood. I put up the gate, the dogs rush up at the blare of the doorbell and the kids pause for a nanosecond in their candy harvesting to admire the “doggies” before rushing up to snatch up more stuff to rot their teeth. This year is Tia’s last Halloween, and I’m hoping we get lots of kids at the door.

Yet it was fun seeing Star Island and seeing how the other half live, especially since to leave Miami’s Bayside we had to tour through a city street where dozens of homeless people were lying on the sidewalk. What a sad, sad contrast.

I’ve always wanted to travel to exotic locales for book research. Visit fascinating places, hey, like Egypt. Would be nice. Take notes, ride a camel, do all the things the characters do in my books (except have sex on the sand, gahhh) and live the life of an Author Doing Research. Then when someone asks, “Where were you?” I could reply, waving my hand in languorous indifference: “Dahling, I was hobnobbing with the camels and pyramids in Egypt.”

Judith Gould is one of those Traveling Authors. “She” (a.k.a. authors Nick Bienes and Rhea Gallaher),
tells all about “her” adventures on her website. “Gould” Visited Miami for one book. Visited, my stress on the capital “V”, instead of doing what I do, visit, which means parking at Bayside and running amok for a few hours, because I still have two loads of laundry to do and the dogs are crossing their legs and once they get done peeing all over the nice dry sheets hanging outside, they want to be fed and I have contest stuff to mail out because I can’t get it done Monday as the day job calls.

Anyway, on Gould’s website s/he says of its Miami visit to research The Greek Villa, “I had to make yet a third trip to Miami to investigate “In” clubs like Kiss. And, since Tracey’s fiancĂ© has a sleek high-performance yacht, and to get a really close look at Star Island, where his family has a waterfront mansion, I actually chartered a yacht and in the process studied that super-exclusive billionaire’s enclave from Biscayne Bay. Bonuses were getting a good view of the house used in the remake of the film, Scarface, which starred Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer—and zipping down and seeing Vizcaya and its stone “galleon” from the water—all magical angles most people never get to see, and for which I thank my lucky stars.”

Gould charters a yacht to see the Scarface mansion. DH and I paid $17 each to see it while seated next to an annoying couple who guzzled down Coors, burped loudly and left cans strewn in the back of the boat. Some day, maybe, I’ll be like Judith Gould (although hopefully not too much as I have no desire to morph into two guys with beards who sip fruity drinks, although I’m green with envy over their
gardening proficiency, check out the flowers in those photos!) and rent yachts and travel to glam locations to research my books. For now, I’m just a midlist author who’s an armchair daydreaming researcher with lots of Egypt books in my cases.

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