Not every 40 year old man has fucked up so bad that he actually has the freedom to take a stab at a brand new and lucrative career of helping people unmarry eachother, go bankrupt or avoid jail time for DWI & tax fraud. Well, I am such a fuck up and I recently had that very experience.
St Thomas University was kicked out of Cuba when Castro came in, not for being a Catholic School in an atheist country, but for sucking. So they moved 90 miles north and kept on sucking in the USA, a country that loves and accepts mediocrity. The campus reminds me of nothing so much as the destroyed city from the second half of Full Metal Jacket. You remember, where Cowboy buys it? Yeah, thats the place. The "first round" of "development" was in the early 1960's, a particularly harsh period when boxy ugly low ranch type buildings prevailed. Frank Lloyd Wrong designed this place. Sprinkled in here and there are some nice new buildings that any campus would be proud to have, so St Thomas has made sure that no roads lead to any of them and kept them off all the signs and maps. I guess so no one steals them? I mean, its hard to see behind all the dead trees and the hissing water mocassin anyway, but the idea of not building roads or not putting the buildings that would put your campus on the map on your actual campus map is pretty fucking stunning.
I called the cafeteria "The Turtle Head Cafe" for reasons obvious to anyone who saw Goldmember. They served substandard fare that was sent back from the local jail because it wouldve caused a full on riot. No kidding even when the food was edible we all were sick to our stomachs within hours. Among my favorites; "Hot Dogs & Spaghetti" or better yet the fish sandwiches everyone passed on at lunch in a cheap disguise of sauce and cheese for that nights dinner. It was like they put the Groucho glasses on them. Appropriate as the joke was on me.
What does a school do when it's dean refuses to comply with the ABA, the only sanctioning body for law school accreditation ? Well first they drop 35 places in the standings and looks to only take on people who were the best possible bar exam takers, not good lawyers. Because the ex Dean got a golden parachute for treating the ABA survey like a Baseball Hall of Fame ballot and protest voting everyone else is fucked. They are out all the cash they gave him and presumably a lot more to hire someone with enough prestige to unfuck the last guys mistakes and cover them with enough glory to save the schools accreditation. Thats right for several weeks the people who had spent 3 years there were not even going to get a crack at the bar. So the atmosphere there is one of overt fear/tension/ mutual disdain between all.
Approaching the beautiful new building i was in the road took you past the dumpster. No shit. The most accessible entrance is adorned with a dumpster that couldve been put literally anywhere...like say 30 feet away where you wouldn't ever see it... alas my feeble ideas were not in the mix to the architects of these kudzu covered walls.
The neighborhood around the school is Opa Locka, a far cry from their claim of Miami Gardens, which despite its name is not in miami and is a really scary drug neighborhood where everything was familiar. Especially the outside of the jail (right across the parkway!) and the local police cars... BECAUSE ITS THE HELL HOLE GHETTO FROM THE SHOW COPS!!! think I'm kidding? Watch the First 48, thats filmed there too. Prague is another city that seems somehow familiar because of all the filming done there. This was NOT the same feeling.
I found this great video on youtube where they talk about how the Police were going to save the neighborhood and take it back. Like the other 3 police departments that cover this same jurisdiction, they have zero effect on how dangerous the neighborhood is. In fact in this clip from the local news they couldn't even get through the story without someone getting murdered in sight of the new Police HQ. Don't believe me? well see for yourself. Oh and the most famous alumni at this place is Dom Irrera, Fat Tony from the Simpsons. you really should check out the news story. I'll be blogging more about it when i recover from my flight... which likely will be part of my next blog