Miami, Florida A Healthy Fear of Carnivorous Invertebrates

Hello, Hotlanta.

First stop: World’s largest aquarium. Home of the world’s largest saltwater tank, which houses the world’s largest fish.

I am a sucker for these things.

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The four whale sharks on display in the Atlanta aquarium inspire my deep ambivalence. They are magnificent. They are also much too large for that sort of captivity. I try to ignore it and just marvel at their grace and proximity, but the circumstances are profoundly dodgy and it spoils the fun.

The octopus on the other hand. Wow.

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I had a run-in with one a few years ago off the Seychelles Islands. I accidentally cornered it in a trench. Finding no easy avenue for escape, the creature disappeared in front of my eyes, more or less like the second half of this video.

I’ve seen octopi in aquariums, but never one so gregarious. I could not stop taking pictures.

Octopi are sadly misunderstood. Most people seem to think they’re just mildly creepy and delicious. In fact, they are hideous monsters from the deep, waiting for their moment to rise up and take over the planet. They’re basically evil superbrains with legs — far too many legs.

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Example: in the above image, I assure you, the tentacled beast is pondering nothing but how it can most efficiently get the little boy’s head into its razortooth-lined maw.

Don’t believe me?

Fear them.

Also, zombies.

We couldn’t get approval for the spot I wanted to dance at in Atlanta; the Olympic Fountain in Centennial Park. I don’t know the city too well, so we went with a nearby back-up called Woodruff Park.

Woodruff Park turned out to be not such a good idea. It’s kinda sorta one of those parks that has been ceded to the homeless population. Nothing wrong with that, just not the kind of place you want to gather a bunch of people to dance badly.

Nevertheless, the invites had already gone out, so…

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CNN is in Atlanta and they wanted to do an interview a few minutes before the shoot. I suggested meeting in Olypmic Park. The CNN camera crew got shut down very quickly by park security. This led to a protracted conversation with the guard about why I couldn’t dance there.

The conversation resulted in the guard going to ask his boss. Miracle of miracles, they softened up and relented, giving us permission to shoot.

I ran over to Woodruff Park, rounded everyone up, marched them a few blocks, and shot a beautiful clip of us all getting soaked inside the fountain.

This drama would be far more riveting if I had a representative photo handy.

…UPDATE…Thanks Jordan and Laurie.

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Sadly, I don’t. But I should be posting a nice clip of it in, oh, about 9 months.

Off to Miami.

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Smallest group we’ve had so far. This enabled some more involved choreography.

Johanna, bottom right, had the idea of jumping out from behind me. I stole this idea and had everyone line up behind me and jump out all at once. Surprisingly, it kinda worked.

Again, no representative photo. But this one is nice.

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We had to hire a security guard to keep an eye out during the shoot. As things wound down, Marilyn offered the Stride folks and I a ride back to the hotel. On this ride, we learned far more about Miami than we wanted to.

As we passed each hotel on the South Beach strip, Marilyn would say, "Oh, I don’t like that one. Don’t like it at all."

"Really? Why?"
"Lots of robberies. No good. And this next one. I don’t like that place either."
"Robberies again?"
"No. A guest was raped in her room last week. The good news is we caught the guy. He left fingerprints on the balcony door."
"…!"
"So where are you guys staying?"
"The Days Inn on 21st."
"Oh, I REALLY don’t like that place."

Just ate at a Brazilian restaurant called Mango’s. They dance on stage while you consume colorful drinks with hyperbolic titles. The hostess’ outfit would make a stripper blush. Had to take a camera phone photo of the menu.

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Sgt. Pepper’s Skanky Heart’s Club Band.

Tomorrow, New Orleans. Never been. Very excited.

I’m past the halfway point of this trip. I was exhausted by the time I hit New York, but I feel my second wind now. Only four cities left.

13 Responses to Miami, Florida A Healthy Fear of Carnivorous Invertebrates

  1. jdhoskinson

    Yecccch…I’ll add octopi to my list of things never to pet. Cracked me up about Mango’s – I went there a year ago and was wowed by the whole atmosphere. I kept waiting for the smoking hot Latin waitresses to finish the strip show they had obviously started. Friendly waitresses, too. One of them leaned across the bar just to give my buddy a kiss hello. He claims he didn’t know her. I cringe at the thought of that night’s bar tab.

  2. Rich

    That Octopus video was madness! I had no idea!
    What a nice, friendly looking bunch of people you danced with. :)

    Thanks for warning me about the zombies too. I knew they were trouble, but I’ve never seen any while I was swimming. I think I’ll get out of the water if I do, they seem pretty slow on land. In the water they are almost as fast as regular humans! Oh, and I guess it makes sense that they don’t need scuba stuff, dead people don’t have to breathe! I bet you sometimes wish you were a zombie so you wouldn’t have to worry about air tanks?

  3. Mike K.

    I wish I could have made the video shoot in Atlanta. I am VERY glad you got it at the centennial fountains.

    Oh, and just fair warning. Most people in Atlanta will gladly pummel you for saying “Hotlanta”, the cheese factor is too high and makes most of us groan when hearing it. Not sure, but think the pummeling is a new law somewhere.

  4. judith

    Got to dance with you in Atlanta. Thanks for the invite-it was a lot of fun. Did not get the e-mail to be prepared to get wet! oh well, it’s just water. I dried out on the walk back. Just wanted to say “thanks!” and sooo glad you were able to get the “rings”. Had fun, bye.

  5. Kelly

    Both of those octopus clips were fascinating. Thanks for the nature lesson. Hope you plan to dance when you get back to Seattle…

  6. Carolyn

    I just finished reading the Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks and says that zombies do very well indeed walk underwater on the ocean floor. And here we thought our waters were safe from these ghouls =P

    PS: Have you ever been to Puerto Rico? I was just there and I was thinking there are many beautiful locations on the island where you can do your dance.

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