Miami Beach looks very much like you imagine it would, even if you've never been there: like a city made out of sugar cubes and fondant and ice cream cake. It's an Art Deco phantasm carved out of stucco and seemingly shaped by a spatula, painted in colors completely made up by man. It's been revived and restored and dressed up, and it's just odd enough that the exclusive and expensive and inaccessible is balanced out by its accessible weirdness. And everybody can swim in the ocean.
We drove the hour south today to go the Bass, a beautiful art museum carved out of coral. I needed to see the miniature work of Charles LeDray in person, an artist I had, until very recently, known nothing about. I'll write about this later - I haven't seen work this individual, this painstaking, this mysterious in a long, long time.
Across the street from the Bass are Deco buildings less impressive than the celebrated hotels that line Collins Avenue, places you know were not designed to shelter a Rat Packer. They were probably meant to be where your great-aunt went for two weeks in the summer and came back leather-brown, or apartments for snowbirds when they actually retired this far south. I like them better for this, their link to the north and my own family's history. But because they aren't celebrated places, they're victims of their own modesty - the pale pink Adams Hotel for sure, an asymmetric eye-browed ruin that was destroyed by a fire, and is rapidly devolving from a Hotel to a Hote.
Can you imagine what it was like, back before it became a resting place for take-out condiments? It's always easier to animate the empty shells, fill them in with our own stories of matching luggage and men zipping up the backs of their wives' linen shifts. This make-believe is strangely more satisfying than accepting Hotel Management Groups' elegant hybridization of places like the Delano and the Fontainebleau, their insistence that they belong to our generation. In the Adams, there's a black hole of time lost in the empty eye-sockets of its broken windows, and in its peeling broken skin. It's not of our time, and so much isn't, and this is something it needs you to know.
(This is what it looked like once, here)