There can be no doubt now, we are living in the damn future.
People on Miami Beach were shocked earlier today when they saw a scene straight out of Back To The Future.
While we are working to confirm what exactly it was that scores of people witnessed on the beach, it looks similar to a product called the Flyboard Air.
We are freaking out right now.
Hoverboards are an actual thing now.
NOW WATCH: This Is The Oldest Building In The Western Hemisphere. We Bet You’ve Never Heard Of It
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About the AuthorRich Robinson is the CEO and publisher of Rise News. He is also a journalist and a native of Miami. Robinson graduated from the University of Alabama and can be followed on Twitter @RichRobMiami.
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Miami’s Shame: Little Farm Trailer Park Sinks Into Slum As Chinese Land Owners Ignore Resident’s Plight
The closest that most of the world has come to the Little Farm was during the pilot episode of HBO’s original series Ballers.
In the show, retired NFL player Charles Greane works as a salesman at the very real Tropical Chevrolet car dealership (8800 Biscayne Blvd) before Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson swoops in to convince him to get back on the field.
But three blocks away at the Little Farm trailer park in El Portal (8500 Biscayne Blvd), the HBO cameras wouldn’t dream of going. No luxury to be found there. Just unspeakable despair.
There, one of Miami’s former great working class neighborhoods has been turned into a slum by years of bad landlords and poor governmental oversight.
The Little Farm is not talked about much- mostly because few people seem to know about it and even fewer care.
There’s lots of poor people in Miami and the area’s middle class is somewhat used to the idea that poverty is close to home.
Homeless men and women are a ubiquitous site at most I-95 off ramps in the area, meaning that it is near impossible to avoid the thought of abject poverty on your daily commute.
And yet, we ignore it and go home to our comfortable lives filled with Netflix and minor inconveniences.
But the Little Farm is different.
I’ve lived six minutes away my entire life and didn’t know about it until a few months ago when one of our reporters wrote about it.
And even then, I didn’t fully comprehend what was happening there until I got off my ass and drove into the development last week.
“They Didn’t Tell Us Nothing”
Clairmise Blanc is fed up.
A youthful looking Haitian woman in her early 70’s, Blanc is the defacto point person for outsiders to the Little Farm. She also lives right next to a burnt out trailer that stinks to high heavens.
“My husband died on April 22, 2011 and left me here alone,” Blanc said to me, causing me to pause and offer my condolences. “I’d like to live here. But there’s no future in this. Everything is down, especially at the nighttime. Too many people are drug addicts here. I don’t like it no more. I’ve tried to find other places to go.”
Born in Haiti, she moved to the United States in 1981 and has lived at the Little Farm for eight years. She owns her own trailer, but it is poor shape, with holes in the windows and a sagging look to it. She also pays $450 a month for the trailer to sit on her small plot.
At one time, hundreds of trailers dotted the 17 acre property, but after a Chinese company bought the property last year, people started getting evicted. Then came the buy out offers– $2,000 to up and leave.
If you didn’t take the deal, it wouldn’t matter much because you had to leave under the terms of a deal the Village of El Portal signed with the Chinese company- Wealthy Delight.
From a Miami New Times report on Little Farm a few months ago:
“One day last February, everything changed. Little Farm was sold for $14.25 million, and Wealthy Delight, a company based in Coral Gables but whose owners are difficult to trace, took over. Soon it became clear the Village of El Portal had agreed to forgive more than $8 million in liens on the site if the new owners paid $575,000 and razed the mobile home park.”
Many people took the buy outs and soon their trailers were razed.
Legal action has delayed the complete eviction of the remaining residents at Little Farm, but only around 40 people remain according to Blanc. And they will all certainty will be pushed out in the coming months.
“They didn’t tell us nothing,” Blanc said. “They’ve tried to push us away. It’s not fair.”
According to multiple witnesses, a fire broke out in a Little Farm trailer on the evening of February 19th.
“It was a mother, son and a daughter was living in there,” Blanc said.
While no one was hurt, the fire was intense and devastating.
The family living there had to move- one less eviction for Wealthy Delight to conduct.
Blanc’s trailer sits less than 15 feet away from the burnt out trailer. Nearly two months after the blaze, little has been cleaned up and the smell is starting to become unbearable for the remaining residents in the area.
“I’m tired of that smell, it just stinks,” Blanc said. “I want them to clean this thing. It is a mess. People can’t live like this.”
I start to cough after the breeze picks up and I notice how disgusting the burnt out remnants really are.
“That’s the office right there,” Blanc said while pointing towards the land lord management building across the road.
The burnt out unit is directly in front of the office, which means that the land lord would have to see it everyday as they arrive for work.
“They don’t care,” Blanc said of Wealthy Delight. “You think if they cared, they would have cleaned it a long time ago. But it’s been two months now. If they cared, they would have cleaned it because people are living here.
I ask her if she thinks the trailer hasn’t been cleaned up as a way to get her to move.
She demurs and says that in order for her to leave they are going to have to fork out more money.
El Portal Village Manager Jason Walker told RISE NEWS that he had not been aware of the fire but that it was the landlord’s responsibility to clean it up.
A representative for Wealthy Delight refused to answer questions on the phone and asked for questions via email, which they have also not answered.
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All Photo Credits: Rich Robinson/RISE NEWS.Post Views: 161
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A gay couple was physically separated from each other Saturday night by a bouncer working at a Boca Raton, Florida bar.
Joseph Raia, a 22-year-old Florida State University graduate and Miami native, said on his Facebook that he and his boyfriend were singled out because of their sexuality.
Raia’s social media post quickly went viral after he blasted Blue Martini Boca for the treatment he said that he received at the bar.
“The bouncer was paid to remove us from the bar because the men who ordered the bottle service did not want us there anymore because we were gay.”
“For the past four years I have been openly gay and extremely fortunate to have never had a problem, felt threatened, or been discriminated against because of who I am until Saturday night, Raia wrote on the social media site. “I am proud and happy of who I am but unfortunately I experienced how hateful homophobia can be at Blue Martini Boca.”
Raia said that he was dancing with his boyfriend within a group of four other friends when he was grabbed and separated from them.
“The bouncer had pulled me off saying ‘We can’t have this here, you two can’t be here, you need to stop it and leave,'” Raia said. “I was genuinely shocked and did not understand why or where it was coming from. I kept asking why this was happening, what was his reason for attempting to kick us out.”
Raia said that he knows the reason for the physical treatment he received.
“A friend had come up to us to see what was going on and said he had witnessed a man who had ordered bottle service give the bouncer cash, thinking to himself that it was weird, but now making sense,” Raia said. “The bouncer was paid to remove us from the bar because the men who ordered the bottle service did not want us there anymore because we were gay.”
Another bouncer at the bar came over to Raia and apologized about the incident and said that the bouncer who touched Raia would be “reprimanded.”
“The manager on duty had said the same thing, that Blue Martini does not stand for this, and gave us $100 gift card to use when we return. I said I would never be coming back and we had spent much more than that, having a great night until that point but he would not let us leave without taking it,” Raia wrote on Facebook. “We left upset, hurt, and threatened since we did not know if the men would become physical towards us. I have never in my entire life felt wrong for being who I am and after the support from friends and family now realize that we were not wrong for dancing with each other.”
In an interview with Rise News, Raia said that he thinks the bouncer who got physical with him should be fired.
“As for the bouncer that tried to eject us, I would like to know that he has been removed from his position. The manager said there would be an investigation and then he would be reprimanded, but a slap on the wrist isn’t enough of a consequence for his illegal act of discrimination and bribery,” Raia told Rise News. “In our shock and being upset, we did not file a police report l, which we should have. At the time all we wanted to do was leave before someone got physically hurt.”
Raia said that he was fearful that the men who ordered the bottle service would turn physical toward he and his boyfriend.
“I am unapologetically proud of who I am and who I have become and I will not change because of pressures from someone else.”
“The men who ordered bottle service did not directly speak with us, only the bouncer,” Raia said. “They just stared at us, which was why the second bouncer suggested us to move.”
Rise News has tried to reach Blue Martini Boca for comment numerous times. A manager on call Wednesday evening said that she did not know who the on-call manager was on Saturday, and had not heard about the incident. The general manager of the bar could not be reached for comment before publication of this story.
Raia said that he would not be returning to any of the 12 Blue Martini locations.
“It is true that the actions of one man does not represent the actions of the group, but all the locations look the same. I would not feel comfortable being in the same environment that the incident occurred in,” Raia told Rise News. “As it stands now, I feel like I have to watch my back while walking down the side walk with my boyfriend. I know there is a time and place to show affection freely but I stand by my belief that we did nothing wrong.”
Raia ended his viral Facebook post with a poignant message.
“Our love is the same as anybody else’s love,” Raia said. “I am unapologetically proud of who I am and who I have become and I will not change because of pressures from someone else.”
Rise News will update this story with additional information as it becomes available.
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Cover Photo Credit: Joseph Raia/FacebookPost Views: 187
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By Brian Martin
In the cutthroat world of book retailers, there are many brands that compete with each other to win consumers over.
Outlets like Barnes & Noble offer deals and memberships in order to incentivize book enthusiasts to sign up and buy their products.
Books & Books is among them, but with its mission of providing avid readers top quality books and creating a community of readers.
It began as a dream that flourished into a reality.
“It started in 1982, I started it, I had been teaching [in high school for a few years] and I had always wanted to be in the book business,” Mitchell Kaplan, owner and founder of Books and Books said in an interview with RISE NEWS. “It had started in Coral Gables, in a small space in about 500 square feet, and that’s how it came about.”
In this era of Amazon dominance, Books & Books has carved out a unique model in order to grow.
It offers memberships that ensure discounts on all purchases and a community feel at the various locations.
Its mission is to attract the most loyal readers in the book community.
“I think from the beginning, we decided that really what we were all about was to provide a community gathering place,” Kaplan said when discussing Books & Books’ mission of creating a community for readers to join. “I don’t think it so much differentiates us [from other booksellers like it did years ago], but it did then. And we also decided to have lots of book events, so we have a lot of authors coming in right from the beginning when we opened the bookshop.”
Holding book events is one way that Books & Books tries to keep its customer base from diminishing.
It is also a co-founder of the Miami Book Fair and is heavily involved with it.
Another advantage is Books & Books’ multitude of locations across South Florida, saving it from being limited to only Coral Gables.
“And the other thing that differentiates us a little bit is that we have more than one location,” explained Kaplan. “We now have now six or seven different locations in South Florida and abroad. And the other thing is that each one of our stores is very distinct and unusual from one another.”
Staff dedicated to providing top quality service to shoppers also maintains each Books & Books location.
Although every Books & Books store is unique in structure, they all share the same services nonetheless, such as a café at every store.
This helps if customers wish to sit down and have a nice meal.
But while Books & Books is on a steady roll with its success, one can only wonder on how it is able to be successful in the book market with different competitors trying to win customers over.
One such competitor would be Amazon, which has recently started opening bookstores in certain locations around the US.
Each store sells books while also providing Amazon-related products on display as well.
However, Kaplan does not believe believe that his business is doomed.
“Well, Amazon has been operating now for over 20 years and of course [they’ve been very successful],” Kaplan said. “So I don’t think it’s going to have that much of a greater effect.”
Books & Books is not even slightly worried about the creation of Amazon brick and mortar stores.
“We’ve already been affected by Amazon, so the decision to open bookstores probably won’t make that much of a difference,” said Kaplan.
Books & Books is the ideal place for those looking to find the next big book to read while also being with a community full of ardent readers.
Its mission is one that celebrates literature and helping those who are fond of the medium to gather and share their literary interests.
“I would say ‘come on in and take a look,’” Kaplan said. “If you’re a book lover you’ll be very surprised.”Post Views: 75
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