Miami River, Divination Zone 02
Jose Marti Park
Miami River Lobster and Stone Crab
Garcia's Fish House
Southwest 1st Street
East Coast Fisheries
West Flagler Street Bridge
Northwest 7th Avenue Bridge
Greg Ulmer on The Soothsayer
We shall therefore star the text, separating, in the manner of a minor earthquake, the blocks of signification of which reading grasps only the smooth surface. . . . The tutor signifier will be cut up into a series of brief, contiguous fragments, which we shall call lexias. It will suffice that the lexia be the best possible space in which we can observe meanings; its dimension, empirically determined, estimated, will depend on the density of connotations. . .The text, in its mass, is comparable to a sky, at once flat and smooth, deep, without edges and without landmarks; like the soothsayer drawing on it with the tip of his staff an imaginary rectangle wherein to consult, according to certain principles, the flight of birds, the commentator traces through the text certain zones of reading, in order to observe therein the migration of meanings, the outcropping of codes, the passage of citations. The lexia is only the wrapping of a semantic volume, the crest line of the plural text, arranged like a berm of possible meanings under the flux of discourse: the lexia and its units will thereby form a kind of polyhedron faceted by the word, the group of words, the sentence or the paragraph, i.e., with the language which is its natural excipient (Barthes, 1974: 13-14).
While we are interested in discourse, our text includes an actual place, a rectangle cut out of the map of Florida, a place that has earned the status of wound: the Miami River. We will consult this site in the manner of the soothsayer, as a zone of reading. We encounter here a major twist in the meaning of "consultancy": we consult the zone; the zone tells us what we need to know.
The choice is not arbitrary, however, but rather this place is already marked by the media as a scene of public concern; specifically, as a problem placed on the agenda for solution. Once on the public agenda, such a site is a target of policy formation.
The zone we have marked out is an information space. Rather than remarking the flights of birds, we trace the path of newspaper stories associated with our zone. From a certain accumulation of such stories emerges an "image" whose signifiance it is our task to read. For example:
It was not the stuff of which Florida tourism commercials are made. Thousands of people packed into a suburban shopping mall in the predawn hours of a cool Friday, but only a thousand got the privilege of jamming into the Button South rock club for a breakfast of bad taste and loud guitars, courtesy of the novelty rock band Dead German Tourist. When he band came on stage, the crowd chanted "Dead German Tourist, Dead German Tourist." A German Television Crew was on hand to record the event. "It's a lousy band, but they';ve got good publicity," said a bystander. Miami City Commissioner J. L. Plummer led the charge to stop the show, saying he respected their freedom of speech but: "All I ask is consideration for a community that is still hurting from a tragedy--the deaths of two German tourists." The Hallendale City Commission unanimously agreed to condemn "the performance of a rock group with such an insensitive name," but the resolution had no effect. The Hard Rock Cafe in Miami said it would not allow a local radio show to broadcast there if a band named The Dead German Tourist is allowed to perform. "The name of this group goes against Hard Rock's philosophy and strongly offends many individuals, including those in the city of Miami, the state of Florida and tourists worldwide," according to a statement issued by cafe management.
Associated Press, The Gainesville Sun
MIAMI--More than 150 undocumented Haitians jumped from a freighter into the Miami River Tuesday and were chased into and around riverfront businesses by U.S. immigration agents and police.. "We had a lot of policemen running in and out with their guns drawn," said Este Garcia, owner of Garcia's Seafood Grill. "They were in the restaurant, jumping into the water. It was a madhouse. A couple of them hid in trash cans."
At least 86 people were captured and many were ordered to sit against the wall of a warehouse near the river, which is frequented by small freighters from the Caribbean and the Bahamas. Forty teen-agers were among the Haitians who jumped from the green-and-white freighter named Rose-Marie Express as it pulled into dock, police said. Some of the passengers ducked into waiting cars and escaped while others hid under the docks.
"At first I thought it was gangs because I just saw kids running and Immigration with guns. I think it went a little overboard. They were pushing them and roughing them up," said Garcia's waitress Lisette Rivera.
A U.S. Customs agent raced to the dock after receiving a call that a ship might be off-loading drugs, said U. S. Customs assistant special agent in charge Mark Bastan. Garcia said some immigrants were stumbling around as they tried to escape. "They were disoriented. they've been on the water for three or four days."
The freighter set out from Cap Haitien on Haiti's northwest coast about four days ago, according to a volunteer from the Haitian Refugee Center. The U.S. Coast Guard in July began banning wooden freighters such as the Rose-Marie Express from entering Miami River because they are not considered safe.
Evan Perez, Associated Press, Gainesville Sun, May 13, 1998.
We need to collect these passages and learn to recognize the patterns they trace.