Best-laid plans of vice and me often go astray
I had the hottest ticket in Miami in my hand: rapper/hip-hop Pitbull’s New Year’s eve concert, titled “What happens in Miami, never happened” — a play-off of Vegas’s famous “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” I didn’t know until the day before my interview at Miami Subs headquarters the Friday before the concert that I actually had two tickets waiting for me. I thought because I was covering the concert for this month’s cover story, I would be part of a group. Which is why I showed up in Miami without a date. Never assume, people. Ask.
I have to admit there’s nothing more pitiful than a slightly-older-than middle-age woman alone at a Latin hip-hop concert on New Year’s Eve. To blend in, I stood in front of my seat at American Airlines Arena waving my tri-colored, lighted foam noodle at the warm-up act, a DJ in a Star Wars stormtrooper costume, outlined in neon. And, yes, I danced. It’s physically impossible to hear a Pitbull song and not dance.
Out of curiosity, or perhaps compassion, the couple seated next to me struck up a conversation. When the man went to get yet another drink, the young woman explained he was having trouble coming to grips with his young daughter starting to develop. At least I think that’s what she said, the music was pretty loud. But alas, they disappeared at 11, and I was left to dance solo. I waited for the New Year’s countdown, watched the flames erupt from the four corners of the stage and then made my exit out onto the mean streets of Miami where the outdoor celebration of horns and fireworks filled the airwaves. I was back at the Sofitel by 12:35.
The days leading up
Nothing went the way I had intended on this trip. I had insisted I meet Mr. Worldwide, as Pitbull is known, in person to interview him about his equity position in Miami Subs’s comeback. Because of the holiday, I had to interview the CEO of Miami Subs on Friday at their headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale and then attend the concert in Miami on Monday. When you do the math, you’ll see I had a weekend in between the two events. I invited my youngest daughter, the one with the free airlines passes until December 31, to join me, but a big snow storm in the East delayed flights, which meant no empty seats for her to snag.
I also reserved a car at the Miami airport, and Advantage Rent a Car wasn’t able to make that happen, either. My plane was delayed in Atlanta, so I arrived too late to claim my car—but not until I already had made the seemingly 10-mile trek through the airport to get there. I kept looking for the lauded “People-mover,” which I had envisioned as a whole lot cooler than a moving sidewalk with a tram at the end of it. Sometimes a cigar is a cigar, Miami, and a tram is a tram.
The next day when I returned to the airport for my car so I could drive to Miami Subs headquarters an hour away, hundreds of people were ahead of me in multiple lines, angrily demanding their vehicles. I was told I could put my name on a list and in two to three hours a car might be returned. Fortunately, Miami Subs found a private car for me and I made it to my appointment almost on time. For some reason, people flock to Miami’s South Beach for New Year’s. OK, so that’s not really a news flash.
I don’t fault Miami Subs or its crackerjack public relations team for failing to deliver a personal interview with Pitbull: He’s hot right now. He’s rapping on music videos with the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony and Enrique Iglesias. Not to mention performing the theme song from “Men in Black 3” on the Today show. Watch a football game and he’s the guy hawking Bud Light. Dr. Pepper fan? He’s promoting the soft drink, as well. He’s an owner in the low-calorie vodka, Voli, which you’ll see being poured in his music videos. And he’s a partner with a company producing a dissolvable energy strip — a product his lifestyle must require.
The CEO, staff and equity partner I met with at The New Miami Subs Grill were charming and fed me a wealth of information, as well as great food from the new menu. And then I returned to Miami where I became an inmate at the Sofitel, waiting for Pitbull to call me. My next event, the concert, was still two days away. Every morning I had chai tea and a croissant. Once my fresh, flaky French croissant had been consumed, the best part of the day was over. I exercised. I did some work. I read. And I was alone with my own thoughts way too much. Each night, I went downstairs and sat overlooking the pool and the bay, kept company by a glass of wine and the complimentary snacks. I was warned several times about the hotness of the wasabi peas—by the same person. I probably shouldn’t have changed my clothes each day so he would have recognized me.
I did go into South Beach, but the cab rides were so expensive, I couldn’t bring myself to do it every day. If only I had thought to bring yarn and knitting needles, I could have had a sweater to show for my time.
Finally, Monday night arrived. I shared a cab on the way to American Airlines Arena with a couple from Georgia who had flown in just for the concert. She was the Pitbull fan and he was the one who wanted to keep his second wife happy. I sent my daughter a picture of me standing with Pitbull in the lobby. In full disclosure, my next text explained that he was actually just a cardboard cutout. “Oh, I thought he always floated on top of a Budweiser sign,” she texted back. Apparently sarcasm runs in the family.
After talking to several cab drivers about him, I think I understand Pitbull. He’s a verbal fighter who turned his less-than-optimal childhood into fast-talking literature. One quote I thought my Republican friends would enjoy was: “More money means more solutions...if you pay more taxes that means you earn more.”
I asked him—on the phone—if he ever worries that his easier lifestyle will impair his creative insights. “Life is never easy,” he replied. I hear you, Pitbull, but you’re singing to the choir. I just spent three days holed up at the Sofitel in Miami, which caused me to miss my annual New Year’s Day 5-K in minus-11 degree weather back home. Sigh. If only I could rap about it.