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Editorial: Is This Our Future?
Back from a month in Miami. Yep the weather was warm, even the rain (lots of rain) was warm. But it's a shock to the system. Not just the price of everything (reflecting on just how little the pound buys these days) but the rapid changes to the last time I was there in 2018. There's a whole host of new high-rises and the huge Brickell Mall development is impressive. If you stay downtown there is the added benefit of free transportation on the Metromover and for the last two weeks of December all trains and trolleys and busses were free! And full.
Photo: Downtown Sunset Miami © Sam Hawksmoor 2024
Which possibly explains how I got so sick with what felt a lot like covid again. A cough that wouldn't stop and an endless cold. Gargling with salt helped a bit. My sister caught it too and it has developed so much she is now in hospital in intensive care back in the UK. Going to hospital in the USA is too scary - even with insurance. (Those prior infections are an easy way for them not to pay up).
So what has changed? Maybe last time I wasn't so aware of just how Latin Miami has become. Ask a question in English and they'll shake their heads 'non comprende'. Spanish only. Once America was the land where everyone joined the melting pot and learned one unifying language 'American'. Not anymore. And you have to think, with hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants pouring into New York and Chicago right now, that Spanish will quickly become the dominant language there too. Trump is playing on this fear and generating so much anxiety for the 'white' population that sees him as a Christ figure, you can see why he is the front runner for nomination.
* 3 Million South Americans crossed the border in 2023 and await admin or for Trump to round them up and deport them as he has promised.
The big secret Uber doesn't want you to know abpit Miami is there is a train from the airport to downtown! My hostess, my niece Em, didn't even believe it exists until I made her get on it. It quickly delivers her only two blocks from her home. Also the Brightline train is now operating and this will take you at 130mph all the way to Orlando via West Palm Beach. (You can easily get to the station from South Beach if staying there on the 100 Bus. Still $2.25c and yes they still take cash (for now)).
But the saddest thing for me is the absence of decent coffee shops. If in doubt choose one of the many Italian cafes. (I recommend IT on Lincoln Road in South Beach for pizza (Italia Trattoria). However, and this is big, you can no longer buy newspapers in Miami. I mean none! You can read online of course, but it's just not the same with your coffee and croissant. I weep for all the jobs that have been swept away with it. Printers, distributors, journalists, editors ... The billionaires who bought all the major news titles such as The Washington Post are all losing millions as people no longer read in print or even on-line it seems or shy away from subscriptions. No one seems to miss the Miami Herald it seems but it is still there but their influence is much diminished I think.
Then I tried searching for a bookshop. The only one I could find open was in Coconut Grove but get this, titles aren't organised into categories or alphabetically by author. Serendipity is all very well but daunting to say the least. Staff seem affronted if you ask for any specific author that they don't care for. Luckily there is a rare Pain Quotiden next door for coffee. But my god, the air con is so cold everywhere it's crazy. It was only 20c outside. You don't need aircon at all but hey ho, seems being energy conscious is not a thing there.
If you haven't rented a car you can get there from Miami by Metrorail train and then either walk to Coconut Grove or catch the 27 Bus. We walked, going via the delightful Virginia Street and it was so nice to be in a lowrise neighborhood with lots of charm (a little bijou home there will cost you $1.5 million minimum). A bit of history this is where the Pan Am Seaplanes launched their regular flights to South America (see Flying Down to Rio with Fred Astaire) from 1931 to 1945. The Terminal building is now Miami City Hall.
Miami is very 'safe'. You can walk anywhere and if you have a 'service' dog you can take it into any shop or restaurant (as long as you pick up the poop). There are a lot of cops in Miami. A lot. They don't get out of their cars much but they seem to be on every corner watching. It's reassuring but unnerving and must cost a fortune to the city. There is no litter either. But yes there are many homeless people in doorways outside redundant buildings awaiting demolition.
Images: Banyan Tree Vizcaya/Perez Gallery Miami © Sam Hawksmoor 2024
I'm pretty sure most people eat out - all the time. But if you are health aware - you will be shocked at the amount of salt and sugar in all the food you eat. You look at all the packaging for healthy breakfast food and the sugar and salt content it is plain madness. In Whole Foods I found one packet of sugar and preservative free musli. One! Same in Publix (the biggest grocery chain). America leads the world in cardiac problems and this is entirely laid at the salt and sugar content of the nutrition-free food they are eating (As the writier Paulo Bacigalupi coined). Special interests by food manufacturers actively prevents people from finding out what is good for them. (Organic fresh fruit and vegetables if you don't know).
One terrifying event I'll skip over was when my niece and I were in the Marriot Westin hotel in Cape Coral and got into an elevator with 17 others on the tenth floor and suddenly the brakes started to grab and slip between the 7th and 6th floors and it stopped between floors finally. We were all trapped, oxygen depleting rapidly and probably my niece didn't appreciate my remark 'Now will you do your will?'. We were rescued quite swiftly after about 30 mins but it was a worrying moment. Never get into a crowded lift is my takeaway.
I worry about a society that doesn't read papers or books (no one I spoke to, and that's quite a number of prosperous people, read fiction or balanced news online (Fox news if their first call for 'news'). It's scary but entirely normal for them. Republicans might be banning and burning books elesewhere but this is one place where they don't have to. I heard a rumour there was a bookshop in the airport but didn't see it. This is relevant because when you see best-seller lists one needs to question who the hell is still buying books or going to the movies for that matter. We saw the award-winning and interesting 'The Holdovers' in an empty cinema. Perhaps everyone is downloading their fiction and non-fiction and I just happened to meet people who don't read but I worry as a whole way of life is quickly disappearing.
Wynwood Graffitti and Em and Gracie on Sanibel Island © Sam Hawksmoor 2024
So that's my gut reaction. This is a glimpse of the future where there are no alternate views and somehow, in a space of five years, no one even cares to even think about what they have lost, it is as if they have collective amnesia. I guess this will happen here in the UK soon enough. The young certainly don't read papers or watch national news. They trust what they see on Tik-Tok or other sites and don't care to even debate veracity.
* My thanks to Em and Gracie for inviting us and taking care of us in Miami and I apologise for being ill for half the time. ** My sister is even more ill and now hospitalised.
Catch up with James Campion's thoughts on the Iowa primary here.
*December 9th: Sara Troy interviews Sam Hawksmoor on Self Discovery Wisdom
© Sam Hawksmoor January 21st 2024
Editor and author of We Feel your Pain & The Book of Ashes
*Sales of these books help keep Hackwriters going - hell gift one for someone you don't like. I'm not picky...
The Book of Ashes
New from Sam Hawksmoor
Hammer & Tong - print and kindle
'an immensely satisfying story' -
Walli Leff on Goodreads.
'a fun read with unique elements ... exemplary in its voice and style'
'Judge, 10th Annual Writer's Digest E-Book Awards
An extract from the Book of Ashes
|The Book of Ashes -
Some secrets are meant to be kept forever
Delaney and Asha run their own investigation company now. Hired to find a writer who stiffed a client of $10,000 - things go bad pretty fast.
"This was supposed to be a simple track and trace job. Find the writer, bank the money. Now it's a horror show."
|We Feel Your Pain –
So you don’t have to.
Delaney (42) and Asha (22) run the Office of Berg City Oversight. Their role is to expose the scams, keep the city safe from unscrupulous people. When something looks too good to be true – it’s a scam, right? But what if the scam works? What kind of scam is that?
how far will you go to save one life?
Gerry is convinced aliens are going to attack on Millennium Eve - Y2K night. Everyone else is preparing for the end of civilisation. That night only Gerry notices aliens land. He and his spacenut pals Jolene and Kali race to be the first to greet them...
'Climate change, lost alien civilisations, adventures in deep space. Great fun with endearing characters'. Kitty Thomas
The Sam North Novels - still available to order Amazon or Lulu
*Keeping Hackwriters archived is supported by sales of our books - so do buy, print or kindle, we aren't picky.
Magenta - A chilling story of kidnapping, burning and strangeness set in the wilds of Lincolnshire
** The Heaviness, & The Repercussions of Tomas D - 'best time travel WW2 story in a long while'
The new edition of 'ANOTHER PLACE TO DIE: ENDTIME CHRONICLES
By Sam Hawksmoor & Sam North
There's no safe place to hide from a lethal pandemic
Print & Kindle - Q&A interview with the authors here
A city gripped by fear. People are petrified of being thrown into quarantine. Best friends Kira and Liz once parted are scared they will never see each other again. Teen lovers, Chris and Rachel, prepare to escape to the islands.
a taster here The Last Ferry
Review from the First Edition:
'Beautiful, plausible, and sickeningly addictive, Another Place to Die: Endtime will terrify you, thrill you, and make you petrified of anyone who comes near you...'
Roxy West - Amazon.co.uk
|Girl with Cat (Blue) - Shortlisted for the Rubery International Book Award
'a funny, bloody, colorful narrative that never fails to surprise the reader. Girl with Cat (Blue) provides great entertainment'.
* Screenplay a quarter-finalist in the Creative Screenwriting competition 2023
'This book was amazing! I was hooked from the first few pages and couldn't put the book down.'
26th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. - Honorable Mention
|J&K 4Ever - A post-apocalypse love story
Sixty years after the end of everything the city of Bluette survives, controlled by a malignant sect. A place where men rule, girls receive no education and are matched at 16 to the highest bidder. No one is ever permitted to leave the city and outside is a murderous wasteland of despair. Orphans Kruge and Jeyna have been devoted to each other through all the years of terror in this harsh regime and sworn never to be parted. But the beautiful Jeyna has been betrayed by the Warden. Kruge has been swiftly banished to the Scraps, under the control of the Keeper. Jeyna is heartbroken; she will not accept her fate and escapes to find Kruge.
'A genuine romance in a bleak but plausible and terrifying setting'.
|MARIKKA- exclusively on Amazon Print and kindle 2
Based on a tragic real life event, Marikka flees from an arson attack on her home to the sea, where she meets Starfish boy – a runaway working for Jackson, a scarred man hiding a sinister secret from the world. Meanwhile her real father searches for her with the aide of Anya, ‘the girl who can read objects’. More about the writing of this book
‘Long after my tears dried, my heart stayed with Marikka, Starfish Boy and the strange girl who reads objects.’ CT
You will smile, and you will struggle to read the words through your tears. Gemma Williams - Amazon.co.uk
|Spy/Romance thriller set during the Blitz in WW2 - Kindle download
The Repercussions of Tomas D
A Hero? Or Englands Greatest Traitor? USA Paperback here
'Disturbing and very poignant YA love story that presents a chilling alternate future for an England that lost the war.' Marcel d'Agneau
'A brilliant imagining of living in the Blitz, well researched.' Amazon UK
'This is Man in the High Castle for teens and scarily plausible '
*download the Kindle version or buy the paperback from Hammer & Tong
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