In my first-ever post
, which I think about nine of you have read, I talked a little about what life is like in Dade County
. Not “Miami
,” mind you, but Dade County
. I am not going to get redundant here as I made this point very clear in my opening post, but the idea all of you non-Miamians have about “Miami” in your head, and what is, in real life, Dade County, are totally different. Well at least they are if you venture west of I-95.
East of the Interstate is South Beach. Also contained there are Bal Harbour, Brickell, Downtown and just about every other part of the city the Dade County Board of Tourism and CSI want you to see. But none of that is really Miami. Sure, it may be the city you see on TV or in rap videos, but it is about as much Miami as The Strip is Las Vegas. I had a conversation with a girl who had moved to Dade from some shithole in the Midwest or Rocky Mountains or something, and she said she absolutely loved it here. Shocked that a year-relocated white person would still be touting the virtues of our fair city, I asked where she lived, and she told me somewhere in the Beach. Apparently she rarely if ever ventured West of I-95. Well, OF COURSE you love Miami, sweetheart, you don’t fucking live there. You live on the Travel Channel.
Are there life-long residents who live out there? Sure. Are there people from West of 95 who prefer to live east because it’s nicer? Of course. But I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the transplants who claim to have moved to Miami but are really living in our version of Disneyland. They think Miami is full of beautiful models and sandy beaches and charming art-deco apartment buildings when, in fact, it is really more full of slightly-overweight Hispanic girls with back tattoos, man-made lakes and track homes. But they wouldn’t know that if they’ve never driven on the Turnpike.
West of I-95 is Dade County’s version of Flyover country. Aptly named, since most people who come here fly over it on approach but never set foot there except for their trip to the Rental Car counter. It is flat and ugly and where the bulk of our population lives. While it gets no real media attention, it is the home of large, influential numbers of people that are largely ignored when Hollywood comes to town. It is the blue-collar Cubans, the blacks, middle-class Hispanic families and what’s left of White Dade. It is the people that make this city what it is, both good and bad. It is Miami’s heartland and it’s the Miami nobody ever sees. If the words “Palmetto Expressway” don’t immediately send you into a fit of crying rage, you don’t really live here. If you can go a whole day without being forced to speak Spanish, you don’t really live here. If you’ve never sat on US-1 and thought “Would it have been so fucking hard to extend 95 to Homestead?” you haven’t really lived here.
I do not claim to be some hardened local, becasue like many who live here I too am a transplant. But what I am not is a permanent tourist. What I am not is someone who came down here for the weather and the beaches and refuses to leave my little tropical paradise bubble. If you have never lived in a place that did not end in Beach, or Coral Gables, you get no Dade cred. You’re just a step above a snowbird and 2 steps above a tourist. Before you go off touting the greatness of Greater Miami and The Beaches, think about where you live and what you do. If you don’t go west of I-95, you don’t really live in Miami, you live in a fantasy world.