Destination: Miami

Revealed: Robert Frank’s Elevator Girl

The previously unknown woman in Robert Frank’s photo “Elevator—Miami Beach,” the woman Jack Kerouac singled out in his introduction to Frank’s book, “The Americans,” has revealed herself. She’s Sharon Collins. At the time of the photo she was working the elevator at the Sherry Frontenac Hotel. 

Kerouac described Collins as “That little ole lonely elevator girl looking up sighing in an elevator full of blurred demons.” In an interview with NPR this weekend, Collins said Kerouac’s description of her was “pretty close.”

He saw in me something that most people didn’t see. I have a big smile and a big laugh, and I’m usually pretty funny. So people see one thing in me. And I suspect Robert Frank and Jack Kerouac saw something that was deeper. That only people who were really close to me can see. It’s not necessarily loneliness, it’s ... dreaminess.

Here’s the iconic photo.


Miami International: Off to the Races?

One corner of Airworld could get a lot weirder. There’s a proposal in the works to build a horse racing track in the parking lot at Miami International—apparently, a working track is a prerequisite for the real objective, slot machines at the airport.

Hey, I can see the slogan now: Win back your checked baggage fees!


Visit America Pageant

Contemplating and celebrating the world of travel

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My Worst Hotel Rooms

My Worst Hotel Rooms Photo by Pear Biter via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by Pear Biter via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Lists are in the air lately, so I decided to get in on the action. Herewith, my four worst hotel rooms, lifetime. I won’t name names, because I’m a gentleman. And also, because the parties in question might hunt me down and throw tiny bottles of shampoo at me.

Singapore: I was at the edge of Singapore’s Chinatown, which, as it turns out, is also the edge of Singapore’s red light district. Not that I caught on—I thought all the scantily-clad women peering out from cracked front doors were zealous about saving the environment and keeping that AC indoors. My hotel room here was easily the darkest I’ve ever stayed in: a deep red and purple color scheme lit by one dirty window overlooking an airshaft. The only outlet was in the middle of the wall above the bed. 

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Eight Great Travel Stories About Food

Eight Great Travel Stories About Food iStockphoto

To mark World Hum's eighth anniversary, we've collected eight favorite stories from our archives that explore the sweet spot where taste meets travel

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A Day at Cruise World

A Day at Cruise World Photo by Tom Swick

Contemplating and celebrating the world of travel

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From ‘CSI’ to ‘Castle’: Traveling the World, One Crime Show at a Time

From ‘CSI’ to ‘Castle’: Traveling the World, One Crime Show at a Time Photo by aturkus via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo by aturkus via Flickr (Creative Commons)

We’ve written before about crime novels being a prime source for vivid place-based writing. But how about traveling vicariously through the now-ubiquitous crime show? I’d argue that television travel can be just as effective and enjoyable.

Of course, a forty-four minute episode doesn’t allow for the same richness and depth of detail as you’d find in a book, but you can pack a lot of local color—both sights and sounds—into even the briefest street scene. Think of the all-powerful CSI franchise: from the juicy opening shots of the Las Vegas strip or the Manhattan skyline—sorry Miami, I just can’t handle Horatio—to the plot lines often derived from existing local traditions, quirks or trends (think the original CSI’s frequent tributes to Vegas’ wild mob-ruled past), each of the shows is deeply rooted in its host city. And while the main story lines are certainly glitzed up and sensationalized (not to mention acted out by improbably attractive law enforcement officers), you can still pick up a lot of legit local detail from them: I first heard of narcocorridos in a CSI episode about the Mexican community in Las Vegas, and saw handball played for the first time in an episode of CSI: NY—now, walking around Queens during my stay here, I see the game being played daily.

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What Not to do When Late for a Flight

The best thing not to do, when it’s clear you’ve missed your flight, is to pretend to be an air marshal.


Tweet Revenge: The Tale of Gary Vaynerchuk and the Mondrian

Tweet Revenge: The Tale of Gary Vaynerchuk and the Mondrian South Beach at Night by wyntuition via Flickr (Creative Commons)
South Beach at Night by wyntuition via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Is there no quadrant of the web untouched by internet impresario Gary Vaynerchuk? In a video posted to his site on Wednesday, Vaynerchuk (host of Wine Library TV and a new media keynote guru, for those of you who haven’t heard of him) told a cautionary tale about the Mondrian in South Beach. In short: Gary Vee went to the hotel’s bar expecting to party—because the Mondrian has a party rep—and the house turned on the lights around 1:30 a.m., booting Gary (and friends) upstairs to their rooms. Normally, the tale would end there, but Gary’s pal tweeted the event, and someone immediately responded that they were not going to stay at the Mondrian after hearing the tale of woe. The power of Web 2.0! Right?

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Morning Links: Skycar, Disney Shanghai and More

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Dinner With Tibor

Contemplating and celebrating the world of travel

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Cuban Exiles Recall Flights to U.S.

For the 265,000 Cubans who fled their homeland on U.S.-sponsored “Freedom Flights” from 1965 to 1973, the emotional 45-minute flight to a new life remains etched in memory.  Now, a Miami Herald series on the 50th anniversary of the Cuban revolution has given Cuban-Americans a chance to share photos and memories of their “Freedom Flight” experience, in conjunction with a database that makes names and arrival dates of refugees available to the public for the first time.

In reading through the online recollections submitted by exiles who were children at the time, I was struck by how many remember their first taste of the U.S.—a coke, a ham sandwich, a pack of Wrigley’s gum, many handed out in box lunches at Miami’s airport. Others recall the tense days leading up to their departure, and the clothes, jewelry, and dolls left behind. 

With the recent publication of Rachel Kushner’s novel, Telex from Cuba, and Tom Gjelten’s Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba: The Biography of a Cause, along with the much-anticipated release of Steven Soderbergh’s Che next month, it seems Cuban history remains a hot topic in the U.S. Kudos to the Herald for rounding out that history with an important public record.


Smuggling Cinnamon Rolls

Smuggling Cinnamon Rolls Photo by Frank Murray

Terry Ward packed a couple of tubes for a trans-Atlantic flight. Then she encountered airport security.

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Bollywood Comes to Miami

Well here’s a new twist on an old theme. Instead of a Hollywood movie exposing American travelers to new and exotic locations (say, New Zealand, Colombia, or… Wyoming), it looks like Bollywood is set to launch some of its legions of fans towards a domestic tourism hotspot: Miami. The newest Indian blockbuster, Dostana, was shot entirely in South Florida, and the Greater Miami tourism bureau is calling it “one big postcard” for the city.

The movie follows the story of two men who pretend to be a gay couple so they can move in with their landlady’s (predictably stunning) niece. Singing, dancing, juicy beach shots, and plenty of intense gazes ensue. (And yes, we’ve got video after the jump.)

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Eating Cuban on Miami’s Calle Ocho

The cultural heart of Cuban life in Miami is, naturally, Little Havana. And in Little Havana, the main drag is Calle Ocho—8th Street. It’s on Calle Ocho where old men in elegant guayaberas gather to play dominoes, and it’s on Calle Ocho where a number of fine Cuban restaurants have been serving up strong espresso and garlic-infused fried pork for years. For Americans who want to experience authentic Cuban culture without violating U.S. laws with a clandestino trip to Havana, Miami’s Calle Ocho is the place to start.

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