Remember when dad would come home from his interior decorating job and heal people with his psychic powers? Yeah, neither do we. But former GQ managing editor Philip Smith does, and he wrote about it in Walking Through Walls. Hear for yourself when he reads at the Book Fair on Sunday, November 16, at noon.
Restaurant where you’d like to have your last meal: I love the view from Red Fish Grill at Matheson Hammock. When I was a kid, that coral rock building used to be the snack bar where my mother would take me to get a hamburger on our days at the beach. The floor was gritty and sandy and the place smelled of stagnant water and fried food. For my other last meal, I’ll have the Hog Fish at Oceanaire, which is the best fish I’ve ever had. For my other last meal I’ll take arroz, frijoles negros y plantains at any counter in the city. Nowhere on earth (including Cuba) are the black beans as good as they are in Miami.Oh, and I’d like to have my really last meal at the Sand Dollar bar on Key Biscayne, but since it’s not there any more thanks to zealous overbuilding, I guess I’m not going to be having that last meal after all.
Best quintessential “Miami” story: Many, many, many years ago a friend was down from New York and suggested we go out for a drink. He took me to a bar, a shack really, in Overtown called the Red Pig Pub, which had a pool table and an old wooden bar and that was it. Let me make this really clear: This was not a gay bar. The bar was filled with construction worker types. After a couple hours someone turned on a radio. Then someone turned over one of those big plastic buckets of spackle and it became a mini stage. One by one these construction worker guys would stand on the bucket and do a sort of strip tease to the music on the radio. They would get down to their underwear and shake their hips a bit and then that was it. I have no idea what was going on and whether or not they did this every week or what, but it was fascinating.
Favorite Spanish phrase: El diabolo empuje.
Miami wouldn’t be Miami without: the warm, buttery light, slow drifting clouds and a breeze that kisses you all day long.
Miami really needs: A thousand less condos, people who know how to drive and some basic public civility.
Event you look forward to every year and why: Summer. That’s when I used to ride my bike around late at night and steal mangoes off of neighborhood trees. But it’s not just the mangoes, it’s the lychees and the watermelon and everything else about the hot, languid atmosphere of Miami that makes it Miami. I wish everyone would turn off their air conditioning and use the fans. Life is much more real that way.
Favorite hidden gem: Venetian Pool. What a vision in the middle of a residential neighborhood. I like to go there in the middle of the week during the winter when no one is there and just imagine…
Best night in Miami you’ve ever had took place where: My favorite night was always on the way home from a black tie event. I’d stop at my mom’s place, take off my suit and tell her all about the evening. She wanted to know who said what, who wore what and who I talked to. Her comments made the evening. She always observed people and their characters with X-ray vision. Priceless.
Where you can typically be found on a Sat. night: I’m usually home working because I don’t like dealing with traffic or parking. If I really want to do something, I like to go up to those laundromats on West Dixie highway and watch people do their laundry. That is the best show in town. If I was a reality show producer I’d strike it rich with my hit show, West Dixie Wash.