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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Community Voices Appearance

Appearance on "Community Voices" radio with host Cheryl Mizell, to discuss fall 2010 primary races in South Florida.
video

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Hollywood Homicide

Wish that title was about a movie.

But this one's about a murder that took place on Halloween eve in Hollywood, FL.

I've covered lots of homicides as a reporter, and I've seen some pretty terrible crime scenes.

This story, though? One of the worst, for no other reason than the brutality.

You can check it out here.

Since the article first posted, yesterday, I've been bombarded by email with the inevitable questions: "Should the son (the killer in this case) be executed?" "Do you think he was (legally) insane?" "Doesn't this prove that some people should be hospitalized and not imprisoned?" "Is this guy evil, or what?" "Is this guy, crazy, or what?"

Those were just a few of the questions I received. But only the last two on that short list grabbed my attention.

Since I'll be covering this story as the case against the killer proceeds, I can't and won't offer any opinions about it. But even if I could, I don't believe I know how to answer the latter two questions.

My answer in the form of a question might be: Is it possible that they're both right? I know "crazy" is not a medical term. But on the assumption that the reader who emailed me meant "mentally ill" instead of "crazy," isn't it possible that while the act itself and the results are bad/evil, the killer is mentally ill?

Just asking, 'cause I've covered homicides where long after the fact, when I was able to offer an opinion, I expressed concern that the killer was downright evil. Others I wondered if the killer was mentally ill. And still others didn't seem to fit solely in either category. Maybe because the other circumstances encompassed a little of both characteristics.

Anyway, follow me, please, at twitter.com/jamesburnett.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

I'm Baaaaaaaack!

What's crackin', friends and frienemies?

For the past couple of years, the Burnettiquette Blog has been hosted on a blogging platform operated by The Miami Herald/MiamiHerald.com, my "day job" employer.

Alas, I haven't blogged much over the past six months or so (even though I say once a month, "I swear, I'm going to start blogging daily again!). Sorry, been busy - chasing articles, building up my weekly column in the Miami Herald, dealing with stuff at home (no worries, happy stuff!), etc.

So as the Herald revamps its blogging setup, Burnettiquette won't be a part of it. Sad, I know. I plan on holding a candle light vigil, along with other colleagues whose blogs are being put out to pasture.

But I really do plan to start blogging again on a daily basis...most of the time. There'll be times the contraints of work and life itself will prevent me from blogging daily, but I'll do my best.

A colleague and friend is building a new home for Burnettiquette, as I type. So blogging at this old/new address is temporary. Still, until that new home's ready I'll be hitting you right here with All the news opinion that's (not) fit to print.

My first substantive post will go up some time between today - Oct. 29th - and Monday.

Welcome back.

JB

Monday, May 12, 2008

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED!

Here's the new address: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/burnettiquette.

If you need it, here is an explanation for the move.

See you over there.

JB

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Friday, May 09, 2008

Burnettiquette is Moving

No worries. I'm not going underground. I'm just becoming a bigger tool more formal part of my newspaper's blogging efforts.

For those of you who don't know, in my day job I'm a reporter for the Miami Herald, thus the giant banner across the top of this page encouraging you to visit MiamiHerald.com...and subscribe...or check the weather in South Florida.

In an effort to make for smoother connections between staff-written blogs, etc., the bosses have nudged those mavericks among us who have stubbornly clung to Blogger to come into the fold and join the rest of the family on TypePad.

I'm OK with it. My voice won't change. My tone won't change. My 'tude won't change. All that'll change will be the address and look of my blog. And the current look was getting stale anyway. So it's all good.

So, starting Monday morning, my new blog address will be http://miamiherald.typepad.com/burnettiquette/. Please make the switch on your blogrolls. I'll be moving all of you...as well as some new folks who've been visiting Burnettiquette-land lately to my new address over the weekend. So if you're not already on my blogroll and want to make sure you get on it at the new address, post your address and blog name in the comments.

Don't offer to help me unpack yet though. I've gotta walk around and kick the walls and make sure I like my neighbors first ;>)

I'll be reminding you guys of this move again throughout the weekend. But don't abandon this address quite yet. I've got another new post or two to do here, before Monday.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Don't Fake the Funk

That phrase used to puzzle me.

My Uncle Wimpy used to say it all the time. Wimpy was a cool cat. He's still alive. He's just not cool anymore. He won't mind me saying so. In his words, he has "aged gracefully out of coolness."

But back in the day Wimpy was cooler than the other side of the pillow. Maybe that's where I got it from...ahem.

Anyway, Wimpy wasn't a wimp at all. He was actually a tough guy, and intimidating at 6-foot-7. He was a master carpenter, always with a heavy tool belt around his waist. He used to walk around with two big-assed growling, slobbering Dobermans named Kunta and Kinte, after the character from Alex Haley's masterpiece Roots. And he drove a white '72 Cadillac convertible with fuzzy dice hanging from the rear view mirror.

For years I understood almost everything about Wimpy, except that phrase. Then I finally got it in my senior year of high school.

In a scene reminiscent of the movie A Bronx Tale, where Chazz Palminteri's gangster character gives dating advice to Lilo Brancato's teenager-in-love character, Uncle Wimpy told me at a pre-prom barbecue at my grandma's house "Jamie?" Yes? "Don't fake the funk." It hit me all at once that he was simply - in his cool way - telling me to just be myself and don't pretend to be something I'm not, especially not a "baller," 'cause pretending to be a "baller" never impresses a smart woman.

For the record, I realize if you were raised in certain parts of the country and born before the 1960s, "baller" may have a sexual connotation. But in my generation it's a reference to a flashy person - the guy who has cash to spare, a nice car, a hot wardrobe and all the girls.

So why I'm I doing all this reminiscing? Mrs. B and I were just at the beach and I saw a guy showing off for couple of young women. And I thought it was funny. He was young, and he was trying. I give him credit for that. He was pretending to be a baller, but with self deprecation. So I guess it was OK.

As we left I cracked a joke about people faking the funk and pretending to be ballers. Mrs. B didn't fully get it, so I said I'd point out a better example next time I saw one.

We stopped at the grocery on the way home. And during our brief stop we had the "pleasure" of ending up several times behind a really annoying, really in your face, flashy couple. He was as cavalier as one of the Three Musketeers, gesturing wildly as if telling his girlfriend she should grab anything she wanted, 'cause he was the man. Reminded me of the guy in the bar who loudly announces that he's buying drinks for the two women next to him, 'cause he's cool like that and wants everyone to know. One item after another, this young woman snatched things off the shelves and tossed 'em in their cart. With each item she looked adoringly at this god among men with the apparently bottomless appetite and fat wallet. It seemed like they were shopping for a huge barbecue - not for food to feed starving babies or anything. By the time they ended up at the checkout counter their cart was loaded up like the Clampett's pick-up truck. And once again, we found ourselves in line behind them.

It took the cashier and the bagger 10 minutes to ring up and pack up that car-sized pile of groceries. The braggadocious boyfriend grew cockier and jauntier, and the girlfriend looked more and more adoringly at him. They groped each other like two preacher's kids on a first date.

And then the cashier announced the total: three hundred seventy-something dollars, if I remember right. No problem. Boyfriend handed her a credit card.

One minute. Nothing. Two minutes. Nothing. "Sorry, but it didn't go through," the cashier said.

As a courtesy she ran the card through again. Nothing. The boyfriend tried it himself. Nothing.

The braggadocio came down a notch. Just a notch. The adoring, yearning look faded to one of slight confusion.

A second card. Same result.

Finally, the bagger pushed aside the overloaded cart, and the boyfriend walked away on his cell phone, a credit card in the other hand. I assumed he was talking to the card provider or something. The girlfriend, looking fully confused and a little taken aback at this point, reached for the grocery cart and said something to the effect of "I'll go ahead and take these. He'll be right back." The bagger, bearing a slight smirk herself, shook her head and held the cart with a vice grip. The girlfriend sheepishly stepped back and folded her hands.

As Mrs. B and I got outside finally with our two little bags, the boyfriend was gesturing angrily at an ATM machine that had just rejected his request for cash.

Swagger almost completely gone, he strolled back toward the entrance, presumably to retrieve his girlfriend and go away quietly.

I predict that was a cold evening on the romance front. He faked the funk.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Moments in Education to be proud of

A substitute teacher in the Tampa area says he was fired earlier this year, because a middle school student and the student's dad complained to school officials about the teacher.

Did they complain that the sub touched the kid? Nope.

Or that he told the kid dirty jokes? Nope.

Or that he pimp-slapped the kid? Nope.

The teacher performed a "magic" trick, in which he made a toothpick disappear.

Just so you know, the toothpick didn't disappear 'cause the teacher sat on it and squeezed it between his butt cheeks or anything. It was simple, sleight-of-hand.

So this kid freaked out and after school ran home and told his dad he believed his substitute teacher was some kind of sorcerer and had performed wizardry at school. Wizardry.

What does the dad do? Pimp-slap the kid and say "quit being silly; go do your homework!" Nope.

Say nothing, but go into the kid's room and gather all his Dungeons & Dragons parphernalia and burn it? Nope.

Tell the kid he's been reading too much Harry Potter? Nope.

Use the kid's paranoia to his advantage and tell him if he doesn't do his chores Dumbledore will come and get him in the middle of the night? Nope.

The dad got angry with the teacher and complained to the school and to district administration.

What did the school officials do? Tell dad and son to get a life and get bent? Nope.

They fired the teacher, because he scared the kid...with his wizardry.

To offer both sides, the school district says they dumped the teacher 'cause of bad habits in the classroom.

I don't know why, but my cynical side believes the teacher.

And moving right along to "higher" education, a Dartmouth professor is suing some of her students for violating federal discrimination law. The alleged discrimination? They sometimes failed to pay attention to her, they complained to her supervisors about her teaching style and alleged that she refused to accept contrary opinions and would lower the grades of students who openly disagreed with her.

This all makes me wanna consider homeschooling when we eventually have kids. Even for college. Probably cheaper ;>)

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