Dave Barry

All Together: Moolah over Miami


Money makes the world go around for these modern-day '49ers searching a manhole.
Money makes the world go around for these modern-day '49ers searching a manhole. MIAMI HERALD FILE PHOTO

Originally published Friday, January 10, 1997.

Finally, some GOOD NEWS for Miami!  I'm talking about the Brinks truck that overturned on I-95 Wednesday, dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of actual cash money onto the streets.  This is a good thing. This is a thing that we can point to with pride when the international news media start carping about how Miami is broke and corrupt and crime-ridden. We can say, ''Oh YEAH, international news media? We may be broke and corrupt and crime-ridden, but we also offer an element of city life that very few so-called 'upscale' urban areas can offer; namely, the element of sacks of negotiable U.S. currency raining down from our overpasses.''

And that is not the best part: The best part is the way the citizens responded. They did not riot; they did not become violent; they did not engage in narrow-minded acts of petty retribution; they did not indulge in the kind of shrill hate-mongering, name-calling and finger-pointing that have characterized this wounded community for far too long. Instead, they came together , local residents and passing motorists alike, working toward the common goal of snorking up as much of the money as possible.  Here's an amazing quote from The Herald story: ''Men joined forces to open manhole covers and check the sewer pipes for spoils.''

If you, as a South Florida resident, can read that sentence and not get a lump in your throat the size of a conch fritter, then I'm sorry but you are not human.

People working together! For a common cause! In Miami! I have not been so proud of this town since we joined together and decided to go ahead and build a second or third arena. (Speaking of which, here's an idea for how we can cheaply get rid of the OLD arena: We have the Brinks people crash a money truck into it. I bet the whole structure would be gone within hours.)

Tourism bonanza

I think this thing could also be a tourism bonanza. I am picturing a TV commercial that begins by showing a European tourist family arriving at Miami International Airport and renting a car. They pull out of the rental-car lot, and, following the many helpful direction signs, immediately become lost. They're in a not-so-great neighborhood, and they pull to the side of the road to consult a map. As they sit there, some unsavory-looking characters approach them . . . coming closer, closer, closer . . . until suddenly, WHUMP, a big old sack of money falls out of the sky and breaks open, sending unmarked $20 bills flying in all directions. Plenty for everybody! Festive music plays as all the characters race around grabbing the cash and working together in international harmony to move manhole covers.

A big boost

Yes, if we handle this the right way, it could be the biggest boost Miami has received since the heyday of Miami Vice , which showed the world that Miami is not just a city of people shooting at each other; it is a city of people shooting at each other from really nice cars . I'm convinced that this Brinks thing could be just as positive; when word gets out that there's money spilling onto our streets, the tourists will flock to this town like palmetto bugs to an unguarded Hostess Twinkie. 

So we need to do two things: 

1. Arrange with the Brinks people to periodically crash money trucks on randomly selected Miami streets.

2. Try to keep Miami's political leaders away from these crashes.

Because there wouldn't be a nickel left over for the amateurs.