Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I haven't posted in a while because I've been making preparations to go to Chile. This involves making sure everything here is "secure" before I leave and the empire - my bread and butter - doesn't fall apart while I'm gone.

As of Saturday I should be posting regularly from there.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

No Really... This Actually Happened.

CSI Miami, the CBS detective show starring David Caruso, is a crappy show. My favorite part of the show is the first segment, setting up the story-line, where Caruso does his profile stance and says some cheesy line. I usually laugh at the far-fetched dramatics on CSI, reminiscent of an 80's Schwarzenegger flick.

Well folks... here's another story, ala CSI Miami, for the "Only In Miami" journal (if anyone is keeping one).

Yesterday, as I was heading out to attend my Sommelier Certification course (no really... I'm actually taking that course), I was loading up my books and laptop in the truck, when one of the kids in the neighborhood strolled casually by. "Hey, wassup?", he asked. "Not too bad" I responded, "Wassup wit' you?".

Then he very casually said, "Someone set a tree on fire."

"What do you mean?" I replied.

Now let me stop here and set up the scene. I live in a small community in Miami, surrounded by lush native landscape. I live on a large pond, fed by the Florida Everglades water system. It was a beautiful, windy South Florida afternoon, around 4:00pm.

Back to the story.

"What do you mean?"

"A palm tree. Someone set it on fire." It was like he was still casually saying hello. There was barely a hint of concern.

"Show me.", I said. We walked around back and sure enough, across the pond, a large Areca Palm tree, surrounded by dry brush and on the edge of the lake, was on fire. About 10 feet from the palm tree, another house with nobody home.

I ran towards the scene of the fire, dialing 911. The wind was picking up. As I spoke to the 911 operator, the wind was fanning the flames intensifying the fire (no really... this actually happened).

The operator told me to stay away from the flame, but I knew this fire was going to spread quick if I didn't do something about it. I grabbed a hose from the house next to the tree and sprayed a stream of water, but the stream wasn't really hitting the fire. I saw some large empty pots lying on the ground, so I grabbed one and went to the lake and proceeded to scoop up buckets of water and throw them on the flames. The wind was blowing lit ash into the air and into my face.

Some neighbors started coming out and watched curiously as a I continued trying to control the fire. One neighbor was yelling something at me as I was scooping the water from the lake, my feet immersed in the water and muck.

"Hey!", she yelled.

"What?" I yelled back.

"Be careful. There's an alligator there!"

No really... this actually happened.

About 50 feet away, I saw the head of a medium sized alligator. He wasn't staring at me or anything, but there he was.

I finally controlled the fire. There was still a branch smoldering out of reach.

At this point the fire department showed up. 4 fire-fighter guys casually strolled up to where I was, standing there smelling like ash, feet covered in mud, panting heavily. The alligator looked on curiously.

"Wassup?", said 1 of the fire-fighters, Oakley sunglasses neatly placed over his tanned face. I noticed his hair was bleached blond, and carefully gelled up. He was a big dude, and obviously spent a lot of time on himself judging by his chiseled features (No really... this actually happened).

I proceeded to tell them what happened, as they listened to me with great disinterest, no doubt bummed out that there weren't any babes around to impress with their presence. Thankfully however, they brought a small canister with which they squirted that last branch I couldn't reach with the dirty pond water I was splashing around and on me, and saved the day.

I advised them of the young man who had told me of the fire, and pointed out that I found drug paraphernalia on the ground, indicating that someone may have been smoking there. I also showed them the young man, who never once came over to help me put out the fire, but watched on from a safe distance. I told them how a neighbor came by and told me he had seen that young man and other neighborhood boys hanging out around that tree possibly taking drugs. They stared blankly at me. So did the alligator.

The firefighters walked bravely back to the truck, checking their hair in the reflection of the car windows as they walked by. They looked at the kid, who waved at them and smiled, looked around one more time for any babes, got in their truck and left.

Finally I went back home, washed up, and went to my class. I told my instructor, who commutes from Cambridge, Massachusetts to teach this class, what happened. She just looked at me, not sure what to make of it. She stared blankly at me too, but wide-eyed.

I sat down to learn about the distillation process of Belgian beers.

No really... this actually happened.