By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Miami update: More of the same in Miami —or, as it is better known, the Big Easy Proof That Money Can't Buy You Class—with riots, tear gas, angry Cubans, threats and a kidnapped 6-year-old. In most towns, this would be called a civic crisis; in Miami, it's called Thursday. At the beginning of this week, little Elian Gonzalez was still being held captive by his drowned mother's relatives and the Toys R Us catalog. After the Immigration and Naturalization Service ordered the boy returned to his father in Cuba, locals got a temporary delay by getting U.S. Senator Dan Burton (R-Indiana) to subpoena the lad. Local Cuban-Americans said they were doing this for the boy's sake. They proved it by showing up at the house where Elian is being held and demanding he be brought out to gawk at while they argued among themselves about who had spent more time as a political prisoner in Cuba and therefore was entitled to a better gawking position. All of this was wearing on the family, who were mindful that former Miami prosecutor Janet "Just Give Me a Reason" Reno desired the child be returned to Cuba. Representatives for the family met with Reno. Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas said the attorney general "took diligent notes . . . I think that gives us hope." Translation: "We beseech thee, beneficent Reno, do not smite this house or those that dwell within, or bring upon it the black helicopters and tanks and incendiary devices or thy jackbooted minions and FBI shadowmen in thy mercy." Given that, it could not have been good for the family's peace of mind when demonstrators showed up carrying "Janet Reno is a man" picket signs. You smell smoke?
Jacksonville update: Meanwhile, in the northern part of the state, the big news was that Jacksonville was going to get a new area code and some people thought that was a good idea and other people weren't so sure. To quell tensions, the Seattle Police Department immediately dispatched most of its force to the area with orders to shoot to kill. Reno was said to be "monitoring" the situation.
Draw play: Many Cuban-Americans were angry at what they claimed were staged demonstrations in Cuba demanding the return of Elian, pointing out that demonstrators were carrying mass-produced signs. Thank heavens that here in America we're free to engage in spontaneous demonstrations whenever the TV cameras are on. To say things like "Hi, Grandma!" while waving our handmade "Janet Reno is a man" and "Castro is an old fag" signs as well as Cuban flags bought from the guy on the corner for 2 bucks. "Some of these people don't even know why they're here," said Eugenio Rolando Martinez, who described himself as a "moderating influence," though you may know him better as a "convicted Watergate burglar."
Piling on: Okay, as you've probably guessed, Jacksonville doesn't really exist. But a few miles to the west in the state capital of Tallahassee, one of them Bush boys—the irrepressible Jeb—was strong-arming the state Legislature into shortening the appeals time for death-row inmates, or, as they are known outside Florida, black people. Jeb has made it clear he wants to catch up with brother George's Texas, which annually executes the most people of any state in the Union. Following his big brother's lead, Jeb also seized the opportunity to flash his "compassionate conservative" credentials by changing the way inmates are executed —from electrocution to lethal injection. So they've got that going for them. Which is nice.
Consensus: Besides being hot, humid and miserable, Miami is a city torn, with increasing numbers of its non-Cuban populace believing that Elian should be returned to Cuba. That feeling pervades the country, which just goes to show that, 40 years after the fact, Cubans still have the cutest (bayofpigs) little habit of picking (bayofpigs) the absolutely wrong fight (bayofpigs) at the wrong time (bayofpigs). Jacksonville? What's not to like? No, really, I'm asking. Anything? Well, go Jags. . . . I guess.