Miami is either your modern dream or your modern nightmare of Southern Florida — the final stop in an endless line of human services and mini-malls that make up the Southeast corner of this state. I never used to like Miami, but when my girlfriend (it’s her birthday today, altogether now: HAPPY BIRTHDAY CONNIE) moved here a few years ago I started visiting regularly, and I’ve begun to see the appeal. It is both a fast-paced and slow-moving city, locked in the hustle of art and industry but softened (particularly in the spring and summertime) by an oppressive heat and the constant ocean winds. And it’s also not a bad place to ride.

Thomas Horell moved here a few years back as well, and yesterday he took me for a tour of the port of Miami, along with our friend Stacks (Danny Martincak.) Thomas has become quite the Miamian, Miamiite, Miami dolphin – I don’t know what you call them. But anyways, he’s got some serious Miami pride now. He won’t eat anything anymore that isn’t offered with yellow rice. And he is especially indignant this week because the Super Bowl is in town.

“Holy shit! I can’t freaking believe that … look at that!” he exclaimed, as we passed by what is usually one of South Beach’s most famed art galleries, but has been temporarily turned into a “Super Bowl Super Store” for the week. I’m not kidding.

Anyhow, we got over it and moved on to Stacks’ house, who loaded up his boat behind his new (old) truck called the Gravedigger. We hit the water and swung by Thomas’ friend Jesse’s place to pick her up. Jesse used to live and work at the Wakeboard Camp many years ago, but now she has moved into an apartment in the backyard of what used to be Al Capone’s house. No lie. I think she actually lives in what used to be his pool house. She said that everyday, about 10 times a day, tour boats pull up right outside her window and give the story about how Al Capone died of syphilis in the house – first in English, then in Spanish.

After that we hit the bay right next to the cruise ship terminals that run along I-395. Thomas rode for about two minutes, nailed about five hard tricks (including a frontside big spin) without a bobble, and then got in the boat and popped open a Corona. An impressive dream come true for a kid whose biggest ambition growing up was probably to win a blue ribbon in the Polk County Fair.