As much as nostalgic nightlifers would love to see the return of Liquid, some will also be elated to hear that the somewhat shortlived Snatch Rock 'n' Roll Bar housed in the same space from 2006ish to 2008ish will be returning, only this time it's taking over the dingy, divey and for some of us, ahem, beloved space formerly known as Studio, the karaoke bar in the belly of the Shelborne. As for what you can expect in the new and improved, er, Snatch: "signature debauchery and true rock 'n' roll," says Vanessa Menkes, senior VP of communications for The Opium Group, yep, that one of Mansion, SET, Cameo and Mokai DNA. The same company for whom Snatch creator Mark Lehmkul works. And while the original Snatch had a mechanical bull, it became more famous for being the place where mechanical, animatronic insta-couple Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes made their Miami debut as a couple. Such fun was had with those headlines! Expect the new and improved Snatch to open sometime in the Fall. We can't hardly wait for the puns and games.
August 02, 2012
Snatch makes a comeback on South Beach! Nightlife vet Mark Lehmkuhl resurrecting randy rock 'n' roll bar
May 24, 2012
As Michael Corleone once said, "Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in." Chris Paciello can relate. Variety reports that New Line is developing a script “based on the life of famed Miami nightclub owner Chris Paciello.” A subject we thought was as over as Paciello’s former night club Liquid and as relevant as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles remake, apparently Atlas Entertainment (The Dark Night, The Dark Knight Rises, Man of Steel) thinks the resurrection of Miami nights past is still celluloid-worthy and has tapped Emmy winning writer Adam Mazer, author of HBO’s acclaimed Kevorkian biopic, You Don’t Know Jack, to come up with an original screenplay.
As for Paciello, who works as a marketing consultant at the Delano overseeing the restaurant Bianca and watering hole FDR among other things, he's been leading a sort of low keyed life with the exception of a, er, DUI bust back in February. "I'm happy and humbled to finally have the right opportunity to tell my story," Paciello told us. Let the casting games begin. Leave your suggestions on who should play Paciello and co. in the comments section. As for his ex, Sofia Vergara, we have a feeling she'll pass on this one. And for the record, for everyone out there, a little fact checking: Paciello never, ever dated Madonna.
September 26, 2011
Ever since we broke the news that old school South Beach club guy Chris Paciello was returning to his old stomping grounds and possibly reuniting with his former partner Ingrid Casares in the nightlife biz, the reactions have been as polarizing as the Tea Party vs. the Democrats only, instead of tea, it would be vodka. On one side you have the champions, cheerleaders and aging club kids who can overlook his past and subscribe to the Nostalgia Party (there's already a Chris Paciello Fan Club and "Chris Paciello, The King Is Back" page on Facebook), while on the other side you have those who say it's just wrong to glorify the return of someone with a criminal past---we'll call them the Concerned Party. Both sides will argue back and forth over this until the lights come on in the new Light Group-sanctioned Delano hot spot, so there's really no end to the debate.
Some say people are jealous or nervous that the reunion of the team some say made South Beach the nightlife capital it once was will ruin their own businesses, and others say that people are downright nervous in general, not for business purposes, but for reasons involving personal safety. It's no secret Paciello had a violent past, for which he has served time in prison. It's no secret that he had enemies, some who still live and work on South Beach. We spoke to nightlife veteran Gerry Kelly, currently serving as marketing and nightlife operator at Trio On the Bay, who worked with Paciello and wasn't exactly BFF with the guy back in the day. "I was surprised to hear he was returning to Miami," Kelly admitted. "I do believe we all learn from our experiences in life. Miami's nightlife and entertainment culture has changed so much since the late 90s that we all have to adapt and change to keep up with the never ending new trends. The city is definitely big enough for everyone and I wish him the best."
Not everyone, however, was willing to go on the record for this post, but one person told us, "Some people ratted out Chris to the police back in the day and now they're afraid he's going to come after them." Friends of Paciello's, however, say he's a changed man. Casares hasn't said much. In fact, she isn't even 100% onboard yet. The club fixture-turned-mother seems pretty content in her life as such and doesn't seem to be jumping on any bandwagon just yet. Money talks, however, so who knows. Don't be surprised if Casares passes on this one.
And while Casares has moved on and Paciello may be a changed man, they aren't the only ones who have changed. Times have changed. Nightlife has changed. Some of us remember when they tried to reopen Studio 54 in NYC in the 80s. That was a failure. Unless you're a set designer it's impossible to recreate the past. As scientists have recently proven, time travel's impossible. But some refuse to believe that. Many people are expecting miracles from him and that's a lot of pressure. Time can't rewind, but it can and will tell. So stay tuned.
This blog has sporadically covered Paciello since his release from prison back in 2006. For all of that coverage, click here.
March 19, 2010
Beleaguered author Gerald Posner was at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens last night on the premise that he'd speak about his book-in-question, Miami Babylon. The Miami New Times, of course, was there to capture what could have been just an awkward book reading. Instead, it turned uglier than a drag queen detoxing from makeup and stimulants. At least according to the New Times, it did. Apparently there was an altercation between Posner and Lera Gavin, the fiancee of Frank Owen, author of Clubland: The Fabulous Rise and Murderous Fall of Club Culture, from which Owen alleges Posner plagiarized. We also heard from Owen earlier this week via email in which he sent us his account of word thievery as seen on the New Times blog.
After Posner caught wind of the blog this morning, he fired back at the free weekly with a letter (forwarded to us afterwards) to Tim Elfrink, the author of the blog's post, and to the newspaper's editor, Chuck Strouse, calling them out for posting without giving him a chance to comment first. In the letter, Posner says he received a note for comment three minutes after New Times posted the blog. He also says he wrote back saying he never saw comments made on Owen's personal Facebook page because, well, Owen defriended him.
Here they are: The real sparks came after the reading when Lera asked Posner "Are we still going out for a drink to discuss this?" Posner exploded. His plastic face turned red: "Yeah, I'm a thieving cocksucker." "Yes, you are a thieving cocksucker," Lera replied. And then an elderly lady came running towards them: "This is a botanical garden. It's a peaceful place. Can you please take it some place else?"
According to Posner, a lawyer who once worked at New York's Cravath, Swaine and Moore, the New Times account of the incidents in the garden is false, fictional and defamatory. He also says that Owen wasn't present during the altercation and cites Elfrink's friendship with Owen as affecting the quality of his reporting.
In Posner's account in a second letter to Strouse, he said he was disapponted by the way Owen had gone about all of this and told his fiancee he has apologized twice to which she replied, "It's not enough because you haven't admitted it's intentional plagiarism." Posner said it wasn't and the debate went on. "None of us, including Lera, ever raised our voices. But my impression was that somehow Frank, who strangely didn't come up to me to talk, was somehow enjoying all the publicity he's engendered. . . This isn't a game. It's not a matter of "gotcha" or fireworks" or vulgar mud slinging. When I called you on that remark last night, after you introduced yourself to me, you said, 'Oh well, you know Frank.' Actually, I don't, and the more I learn, I'm glad I don't."
While some are crying foul, others are introducing the pot to the kettle, and, somewhere out there, an old peacenick lady may still be traumatized, the jury is on spring break on all accusations. In the meantime, we asked both sides, really, what's going on here, to which Posner replied:
"A reporter accepted a second hand account of what he called 'real trouble' without getting comments from anybody who was actually there . . . And the reporter's friendship with Owen, my accuser, raises ethical questions of whether he is unbiased in his reporting. That is because the same reporter had a few days earlier posted on Owen's Facebook page that "I expect an invite for the fireworks," referring to my talk before the Miami Beach Historical Association. It raises questions about whether the reporter hoped for 'real trouble' to write about in the New Times, and was so anxious to publish what turns out to be a false account, that he cut corners."
As for Strouse, he posted Posner's letter online in its entirety and sent us an email statement saying "Tim Elfrink's reporting on the Posner situation, which was followed by the New York Times, Gawker, and the Miami Herald, has been professional and ethical. On the other hand, after resigning in disgrace from the Daily Beast amid plagiarism charges, Mr. Posner acknowledged that "already published sources [got] through to a number of my final [works]."
Elfrink also sent us an email saying: "If a Facebook 'friendship' is the mark of being too close to a source these days, we're all in big trouble. I'd never met Frank Owen before Thursday night. I Facebook friended him earlier this week after learning that he felt Posner had plagiarized him. It was the easiest way to contact him for his phone number. . . I'm not sure why posting Gerald's account counts as 'first-hand information about what happened, while posting Lera's account is 'second-hand' just because she posted it on Frank Owen's Facebook wall first . . .Interesting that Gerald is blowing up over all these minor complaints at the same time he's admitting his second major act of plagiarism in just over a month. Why, do you suppose, is he trying to shift the conversation?"
Gavin's own account of the incident is posted on her Facebook page. In it she writes, "Gerald Posner wouldn't know the truth if it bit him in the ass," and goes on to recreate the scenario as she saw it, refuting a few things in the process, saying, "The idea that Gerald made me uncomfortable is ludicrous. If he had come any closer, I would've flipped him on his Ken-doll ass, Staten Island style. As for the notion that either Tim or Frank has behaved unprofessionally, that's rich coming from an admitted serial plagiarist like Gerald Posner."
After our post went up, we also heard from Owen, who emailed us a statement saying "First, Tim Elfrink is not a friend. This is a flat-out lie from Posner. The first time I talked to Tim was Monday when I sent him the same email I later sent you. The first time I met him in person was last night. Secondly, calling Tim 'unprofessional' is ludicrous, especially coming from an admitted serial plagiarist like Posner [ed note: similarities between the affianced is not plaigiarism--LA]. Thirdly, saying that I'm doing this solely for publicity is equally ludicrous--especially coming from a media whore like Posner. I offered to settle the matter earlier in the week . . . if he gave a full and frank apology for stealing multiple passages from my book, a fact Posner doesn't deny. Instead, he resorted to lawyerly evasion, first claiming that a Miami Beach policeman he interviewed must have read 'Clubland' and repeated passages from the book to Posner, which is how chunks of my book ended up in his book. Yeah, right. Then he tried to blame his wife Trisha and his two assistants who helped him on the book. Real classy. Blame the help. Now he's blaming a new system of 'trailing footnotes' he instigated for Miami Babylon. Now he says he copied and pasted bits of my book and just forget where they came from. Eight examples of plagiarism--half of them full paragraphs, plus five stolen quotes. This is bullshit beyond belief. He's delusional if he thinks anybody buys this nonsense."
Our apologies for this long post. As the wise prophet Judge Judy once said, "If you want the facts, you go to a therapist. If you want the law, you come to court."
November 02, 2009
We were at Prime Italian, across the street from Prime 112, before Tom Brady and very pregnant wife Gisele Bündchen made their very flashy exit amidst gawkers, stalkers and assorted drunk folks in Halloween costumes. We Tweeted about it the following day and had no idea how big the news really was. From Boston to Brazil, the news of the couple eating steak on South Beach created quite the buzz. After dinner, the duo headed back to the Ocean Drive penthouse of Ed Razek, Chief Marketing Officer of Victoria's Secret, where they stayed during this brief jaunt to the Beach. They left yesterday and the media storm continues and for that, we thank The Brady family as well as Mark Shanahan and Meredith Goldstein at The Boston Globe for the very nice ink. Come back again soon, y'hear?
October 14, 2009
There wasn't an Eames chair to be had last night at Design Within Reach where Miami Babylon author Gerald Posner spoke before a packed house at his Books & Books signing that was peppered with lots of familiar faces. We saw and heard ex mayor /inmate Alex Daoud, who applauded Posner's "courage to write this book," and noticed publicist Tara Solomon, who said nothing, but her presence spoke volumes, especially after the whole Page Six party pooper incident. Also there: current beach mayor Matti Bower, artist Carlos Betancourt, legendary designer and Biba brainchild Barbara Hulanicki, modeling mogul Irene Marie, real estate heavyweights Kevin Tomlinson and Monica Harvey, and, of course, party fixture Merle Weiss. Missing from the action, however, were a few players, including Michael Capponi and Ingrid Casares, who, incidentally, Posner, told the crowd was his most difficult interview, and who took to Twitter this morning to write the following statement: "Gerald Posner's book... is complete fiction..maybe all those facelifts clouded his memory..pathetic." She also contacted us this morning with an official statement, saying "I've been through this before with authors writing books about me but never once did I do an interview with them. I was referred to [Posner] by my friends Nick D'Annunzio and Tara Solomon. I figured if I told [Posner] my side--a few things, not all of it---I would at least get quoted correctly. From the few things I read, he quotes me saying I had nothing better to do than taking drugs and being a sycophant. Not only would I not describe my disease of addiction that way, I would never describe a friendship with Madonna of 20 years as me being a sycophant. How ridiculous. A person who my son and I spent last weekend in New York with. He is a lame excuse for an author and has [screwed] over a lot of people who worked very hard to make this city what it is today."
To that, Posner, who also quoted yours truly twice in the book, replied, "The book has 37 pages of source notes. Ingrid should check the source note for the quote about being a sycophant. It's not from her interview with me. It's cited Clubland: The Fabulous Rise and Murderous Fall of Club Culture by Frank Owen."
Capponi contacted us last night and said he, too, wanted to give a statement, saying the few parts of the book in which he is mentioned are also false. "Miami Babylon is filled with overwhelming falsities and inaccurate quotes," he says. "It is a shame that I, like many, let this author into my home only for him to misconstrue my words. A perfect example is cited on page 327 where it states I was present at Chris Paciello's bail hearing on the verge of tears, consoling his mother. I never attended any trials or preliminary hearings nor had I spoken to Chris for at least seven years after his arrest." Capponi cites another passage where Posner quotes him as saying, "I decided to be an addict," and refutes it, saying, "Not only is this a complete misquote, but it is extremely offensive to people like me and others who once suffered from the disease of addiction. No one decides to be an addict. I lost many years of my life to this addiction and for the last thirteen years, I have never touched a drug and do not plan to do so again."
Finally, he also offers some advice to future authors who plan to write a book on our fair city, saying, "I would encourage publishers to do more fact checking . . . I do not feel as if I was personally attacked in this book, but I feel it is my responsibility to stand up for my rights and all of the other people who Gerald Posner has trashed in this book. I am also standing up for my city. Miami is not a city built from nothing, as the author said, but is a city built from the sweat, creativity, and vision of a multi ethnic community of which I am very proud to be a part of. It is clear to me that this is just a cheap attempt to make money."
In response, Posner said "[His wife] Trisha and I spent hours and hours with Michael Capponi and he told us in great detail his own story and what he thought about others. It's all on tape. He often said he was telling us things that he had not told any other reporter. If he's upset, I can only imagine that it's either second thoughts about being so frank, or that he's distressed at not being a main character in a book about the Beach." As for Casares's Twitter comments, Posner faces them head on, laughing, "I guess I should take it as a compliment that Ingrid thinks I've had 'facelifts', although she's sure to be disappointed to learn I've never had any. Maybe she lives in a world where cosmetic surgery is the answer for someone looking good for their age. I just call it clean living." Meanwhile, Casares didn't only Tweet her ire, she also dropped Posner as a Facebook friend several months ago, an action which, while some may consider the social equivalent of the fatwa declared on Salman Rushdie, is one the author will hardly lose sleep over. "It's so bitchy and childish," laughed Mrs. Posner. But even if Mr. Posner did have trouble sleeping, he could always try counting the number of books sold in the wake of all this hype.
October 09, 2009
While some people may be worried that their covers will be blown in esteemed author Gerald Posner's new Miami expose, Miami Babylon: Crime, Wealth and Power. A Dispatch From the Beach, the best part about it is all the on-the-record stuff that people are saying about each other. Snap! We scored an advance copy and have picked out some of our faves:
Thomas Kramer on his short lived partnership with developer Jorge Perez: "We did a lot of party and pus*y."
Kramer on banning gays from his short lived club Hell: "I have nothing against faggots, but I wanted a club with beautiful women and men like me."
Kramer on the accusations he molested a little boy in a NY bathroom whom he claims was horsing around and bumped into him at a urinal: "[I told him] If you don't stop this, I will rip this off [grabbing the child's crotch.] And then the little mother*ucker ran off to his mommy to say I molested him."
Ex Miami Beach mayor Niesen Kasdin on Kramer: "Kramer was like watching a train wreck in slow motion."
Ingrid Casares on teaming up with so called club kingpin Chris Paciello in the night club biz: "I needed a substantial profession to prove I was more than just a drug addled sycophant."
Paciello on whether he'd return to Miami: "Most people in Miami respect me. Who knows if I'll end up back there one day. Miami wouldn't be the same without me--and I don't mean that as an ego statement."
Former promoter/club owner Gary James on Paciello's unlikely return to Miami: "Chris seems ready to reclaim his glory. I'd advise him to do it in Los Angeles where he's a new face. No matter what he thinks, South Beach isn't kind to yesterday's stars."
Developer Craig Robins on fellow developer Don Peebles: "His legacy in Miami is not particularly meaningful."
Peebles on Miami: "Miami is just not comfortable with blacks. I don't acquiesce. I am married to a white wife, I make a lot of money, and my problem is that I don't know my place."
Robins on Lincoln Road developer Michael Comras: "Comras is parasitic, not a visionary."
July 13, 2009
As we reported a few days ago, the soon to open at the W South Beach Mr. Chow is suing Philippe at the Gansevoort South for 33-pages worth of reasons. We just received an official statement from Stratis Morfogen, partner in Philippe, who said the following:
"Their complaint is that we’re confusing the customer. When we first opened, we went out of our way to take the extra steps and safeguards to make sure we were introducing our brand as something completely different than Mr. Chow. We don’t want to be associated with Mr. Chow. Obviously there are similarities in the dishes because the chef came with us and went after the American Dream and went on his own. He’s been cooking this way for 27 years. It all comes back to the fact that I don’t agree with the customer experience at Mr. Chow. They’re bright lights, we’re dark. They do not give a menu, we do. They do orders for one, we do it for two or family style. They do not have a lot of music in the house, we have music in the house. We wanted a complete turnaround from what customers were experiencing there. I was going there for seven years and I’d always eat the same thing and get a different bill. Fact of the matter is Philippe is a very respected brand, we treat our customers right, they come back and enjoy the experience we offer them, they know what they pay for, they see a menu and they know what they get, that’s more then I can say for some of our competitors.
Mr. Chow does not own the words Beijing chicken or Peking duck or lettuce wrap or chicken satay or crispy beef. They’re in a hundred Chinese restaurants. For him to say he has a trademark means Burger King should be wiped out because McDonald’s has a trademark on the hamburger. We’re not calling it the Whopper, or “Mr. Chow’s chicken satay.” Thirty percent or 40 percent of our menu is dishes that Michael Chow does not have. Keep in mind, Michael Chow is not a cook. It’s fine if Michael Chow wants to say that I’m just an amusement-park owner or whatever, but let’s be clear: Michael Chow is not a chef. He’s lived off other people and other chefs.
To portray him as a chopper is comical. That hurt him, because he put 27 years of his life in there. When I was introduced to him by managers, waiters, and staff, they called him Chef Philippe, Chef Philippo, Chef Philippa — always Chef. In his office there are pictures of him and celebrities photographed in the middle of the dining room in a full chef’s outfit. Our lawyers will tear this apart because his whole complaint is contradictory. It’s almost laughable. Actually, when Philippe said he was leaving, Michael Chow offered him a couple years' salary not to open a new restaurant. Why would you make that kind of deal with a “chopper?” And if you want to clear up this thing about him being the chef, why don’t you do that the first week we open so that we don’t have any momentum?
Our decision is to stay away from Mr Chow. We signed the Miami deal before his deal and opened a year and two months before he opened. I don’t understand how he says we went where he was. I’ve been offered a dozen different locations in Beverly Hills and I’ve intentionally stayed away from all of them.
In Google we bought the word Chow — we bought different words like “Chinese food” because that’s just good marketing. Why shouldn’t we get the word Chow when our chef’s name is Chow? There are one million people in the world named Chow! You know what’s funny? Philippe Chow’s birth name and his American name are pretty similar — they’re both pronounced Chow. Michael Chow’s birth name has nothing to do with Michael or Chow. This is borderline egomaniacal! The world does not revolve around Michael Chow.
Fact of the matter is Philippe is a very respected brand, we treat our customers right, they come back and enjoy the experience we offer them, they know what they pay for, they see a menu and they know what they get, that’s more then I can say for some of our competitors."
Survey says? Jury's out until Mr. Chow opens for biz. Until then, we'll just say chow--er, ciao, to the matter.
July 10, 2009
The tension between enemies and soon to be neighbors Philippe and Mr. Chow has gotten a lot more serious than we thought. According to a lawsuit filed yesterday in Florida Federal Court by Alan Kluger of Miami-based law firm Kluger Kaplan, restaurateur Mr. Chow is chop-suing nemesis Philippe Chow, whose eateries---including South Beach's Philippe--- Mr. Chow contends are a rip-off of his menus and his trademarked good name. Michael Chow, the original Mr. Chow, has been furious with Chak Yam Chau ever since the former "food chopper" for Chow resigned in 2005, changed his name to Philippe Chow and opened restaurants in New York, according to the trademark-infringement lawsuit. According to Kluger, the final straw came in 2008, when Philippe opened a Miami outpost at the Gansevoort Hotel, 100 yards from a long-planned location that Mr. Chow will open next month at the W on South Beach. Said Kluger “Simply put, Philippe is just not who he says he is! When Philippe resigned from his job as a food chopper (he was never a chef) in 2005, he signed his resignation as Phillip Chau. He now goes by the new name Philippe Chow. Furthermore, Philippe has purchased sponsored links on Google for "Mr. Chow" so that when the real MR. CHOW is searched for, Phillippe's name and link comes up as Mr. Chow. Philippe is a fraud!” Our request for a comment from the Philippe side of things has yet to be fulfilled.
Here's a link to download the 33 page complaint--a legal Chinese menu of sorts-- filed on July 8: Download M0648488
November 03, 2008
We hear that R&B star Usher, who is the sole musical headliner at the much anticipated Victoria's Secret fashion show at the Fontainebleau on November 15, tried unsuccessfully to get into Miami doctor Lenny Hochstein's Sunset Island Halloween party Friday night because it was so packed. According to a spy, "It was such a madhouse at the door and Usher couldn't get in." Spy also tells us that if Hochstein knew Usher was there, of course they would have let him in. Or perhaps it was just someone in a really convincing costume?