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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our fifth calendar year
    PCR #228  (Vol. 5, No. 32)  This edition is for the week of August 2--8, 2004.

LA FLORIDIANA
Book Review: “Cadillac Beach” by Tim Dorsey
 by Will Moriaty
THIS WEEK'S MOVIE REVIEW
"The Manchurian Candidate"
 by Mike Smith
ODDSERVATIONS
Oompa Loompa doompa-da-dee! I got this photo of John Ker-ry!....Getting Cramps....The Reaper - Cream Anyone?....Goodbye Eugene Roche
 by Andy Lalino
COUCH POTATO
Patriotism or Big Brother?....Remembering Barbara Stanwyck....Couch Potato Picks
  by Vinnie Blesi
THE OGRE
Social Snobbery of the Rich....The Blockbuster Video Incident
 by Clayton Smith
MATT'S RAIL
Stupid Is As Stupid Does....Bush Speak
 by Matt Drinnenberg
MIKE'S RANT
Did You Go To Plant?....Happy Birthday....I'm Like A Leprechaun, Only I'm Not Drunk....Interview....Are You Talking To Me?....The Challenge....Meet The Beatles, Part 28
 by Mike Smith
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Cadillac Beach by Tim Dorsey Book Review:
“Cadillac Beach”
by Tim Dorsey
2004, 339 pp., William Morrow

This is the sixth and latest offering by Tampa Florida noir author Tim Dorsey.

As with the previous five novels, "Florida Roadkill”; “Hammerhead Ranch Motel”, “Orange Crush”, “Triggerfish Twist”, and “The Stingray Shuffle”, fictitious Florida Folk Hero and all around Florida history buff and psychotic killer when he’s not on his meds Serge A. Storms is once again the central character in this uniquely synchronous book.

Although the story features Florida locales such as Chattahoochee, Orlando, Tampa, Pompano Beach and Tallahassee, the primary story fixates on the Miami Beach of today and the Miami Beach of 1964 when Serge was a little boy and became best of friends with his maternal grandfather Sergio. As the reader discovers, many of Serge’s obsessions, weird quirks and idiosyncrasies were inherited or acquired, or both, from this man.

“Cadillac Beach” is not as hilarious a romp as some of his previous novels, but Dorsey nevertheless writes a fluid, lyrical and at times evocative story, which has become a trademark of his depth and quality as a world-class wordsmith.

My own favorite passages from his book that capture Dorsey’s inimitable sensory force include the following;

Lenny Lippowicz: “Why do you like Miami so much? You didn’t grow up there.”
Serge Storms: “That’s the point. I grew up in West Palm Beach. Miami was the shining city on the hill, like Oz; I-95 was the Yellow Brick Road. I saw this thing on CNN where some tourists in Italy got faint and go into “art shock” when they see all the statues and ceiling paintings. That’s what Miami does to me. Whenever I cross the Broward line, I get all jelly-like inside. And just forget about the grove or the Gables. If I’m walking the Miracle Mile and come upon a building made of coquina rock, you could lose me for hours. I’ll just stare at one of the walls about three inches from my nose, slowly caressing the fossilized texture with my fingertips, reading the permanent biological history in the imprints of tiny sea organisms from long ago, imagining their thoughts and dreams.”

Wow, heavy-duty stuff - - been a little bit guilty of such behavior myself. Or there’s also the following:

Lenny Lippowicz: “Our car seems to be slowing down, or someone put PCP in my dope”
Serge Storms: “Fort Lauderdale International’s coming up. I’m decelerating to time my pass.”
Lenny Lippowicz: “That jet is sure low,” he said watching an inbound Northwest DC-9 drop its landing gear and clear ten lanes of interstate traffic, then the highway fence, touching down on the main runway with twin puffs of black tire smoke. “Looked like the wheels were only a few feet above the cars.”
Serge Storms: “I like the jets to fly right over the car to make me feel alive.”

Just imagine watching that from a yellow 1967 Cougar!

Boy, do I know that feeling... I remember in the early 1980s parking along the Interstate 95 limited access chain link fence on the frontage road of the Fort Lauderdale International Airport and watching Delta DC-8-71’s, Eastern L-1011’s and Chalks seaplanes barely clearing over the roof of Greg Van Stavern’s 1980 white Trans Am with the blue firebird symbol on the hood as the planes flared out to Runway 9.

The most incredible sight I saw there was in October 1998 when the last of the operable four engine piston aircraft still flying went thundering down Runway 27 laden with a load of freight. The Douglas DC-6 barely cleared the threshold over the frontage road and I-95 and as it receded in the western horizon it barely cleared a row of Australian Pines by a height of 200’ to 300’ about a mile away. But I digress.

“Cadillac Beach” is a wonderful study that puts together more pieces of the complex puzzle known as Serge A. Storms. Especially noteworthy is the colorful narrative of the Miami Beach of forty years ago - - a Miami Beach that many will claim was the true zenith that this Riviera of the Americas ever attained. A Miami of grand hotels such as the Fontainebleau and the Eden Roc (both designed by architect Morris Lapidus, a true Florida folk Hero); of personalities such as Jackie Gleason, Dave Garroway, Flipper, James Bond, Cassius Clay and the Beatles; tail finned Cadillacs, Hudsons and De Sotos and the introduction of the Ford Mustang.

You’ll even get to meet Serge’s federally-endangered pet mouse, “Mr. Vonnegut", whom he releases back into the Everglades in Serge’s own mouse restoration effort.

The result of the effort is as surprising and as unexpected as anything that you would ever come to expect in the high-octane, Florida fuel-for-thought prose that this gifted writer is so adept at. As you will come to learn, the mouse incident is but one of a myriad surprises awaiting you in “Cadillac Beach”.


"La Floridiana" is ©2004 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.