Miami is an amazing place for so many reasons. It’s amazingly chic, amazingly tacky, amazingly modern, and amazingly stunted all at the same time. Many parts of it are like a small European city, running about 12 years behind the rest of the world. You can sit at an outdoor cafe eating a very expensive meal next to a woman with a Maltese pup hanging out of her Gucci bag, but then a 15 year old kid who looks like he’s been backpacking around the world going to raves for the past few months rides past on a skateboard and throws some promotional post cards into your bread basket.
Upon landing in Miami yesterday with my sister to enjoy the week of fun that is Art Basel Miami Beach, we carefully examined our priorities and determined that Step One would be to promptly walk ourselves over to Lincoln Road for a big bowl of pasta. Sitting at our outdoor table we couldn’t help but try to dissect the oddness that is Miami. On one hand, it’s a very diverse place. Influences from Cuba and Latin America pop up in everything from the language (primarily Spanish) to cuisine, music, and style.
It’s really more like a small Italian riviera town that’s been somewhat stuck in the previous decade but is pretty fabulous nonetheless, than it is like any other American city: the weather obviously provides for an outdoor culture in which generations of people set up camp on the beach to eat, play, hang, whatever; the game of the sexes is totally out in the open and clearly enjoyed, with women walking to lunch in straight-from-the-club outfits and men outwardly ogling them à la guys in Rome; it’s not uncommon to spot a woman with a Cartier Ballon Bleu wrist watch, Hermes Birkin bag, and her sun-speckled decollete hanging out of a really quite cheap bedazzled and be-rhinestoned caftan (so grandma in Saint Tropez); hostesses at restaurants stand outside with a stack of tacky promotional cards asking (read: trying to strong-arm) passersby if they’d like to try grilled squid (very Florence). It’s a city of bargaining, flattery, trying to forward while obviously loving the days of old, g-string bikinis on overweight women, Speedos on overweight men, Elisabetta Canalis swarmed by paparazzi on the beach (as happened two years at the Delano), Ricky Martin’s unbuttoned shirts, and toddlers in Ed Hardy hats. All sooo Riviera tacky, so Riviera fabulous.
With this craziness in mind I couldn’t be more excited to have landed in this weird place for a week of openings, parties, dinners, events, tours, lectures, meetings, panels, booth-hopping and shopping that will be Art Basel Miami Beach and the seemingly hundreds of satellite fairs.
My one word of advice to, well, myself, is to take everything in Miami with a grain of salt. Especially the margaritas.