June 27, 1999




The results of Dave Barry's Miami-Dade Design-A-State Contest are in. We have a flag, a motto, a reptile, and a citizenry that isn't taking its medication.

A few weeks ago, we asked you, our readers, to help us design a new state - the state of Miami-Dade. You responded magnificently, sending us many, many ideas, including some that we can actually print in the newspaper.

One of the things we liked about your responses was that, despite Miami's reputation for hostility and discord, so many of you seemed to agree on certain key aspects of our new state, such as that the Official State Reptile should be Rick Sanchez.

Today we are pleased to present the results of the contest. In most categories, we've listed both winners and runners-up. Everyone listed will receive a T-shirt depicting the winning design for the official state flag. The winners and their dates will also be invited to the first-ever Official Miami-Dade State Reception, hosted by me and my editor, John Barry. After that they will never be heard from again.

We chose the winners based on originality and various intangibles that we cannot explain here because we don't know for sure what they are. That's why we call them "intangibles." In some categories, where the winning entry was nominated by dozens of people, we have not declared a winner, because we don't have enough T-shirts.

We'll start with the winning design for the:

Winner: The winning design, submitted by Marsha Matson and Dan Raz of Miami, is a pair of palm trees forming the vertical lines of a dollar sign. We like it because it's simple and elegant, and - this is the most important quality in the flag of a sovereign state - it looks cool on a T-shirt.
Other Notable Entries: Not surprisingly, we received a great many proposed flag designs that involved guns, bullets, bullet holes and targets. Other very popular themes were hands giving the finger, mosquitoes, alligators, pit bulls, mosquitoes shooting guns, pit bulls giving the finger, etc. A number of people also thought the flag that would best represent the spirit of Miami-Dade would simply say "This Space For Sale."

Winner: "Don't Sweat On Me" (Rose Lyn Jacob, Miami)
Other Notable Entries: We got MANY variations of "Se Habla Ingles, " "No Hablo Ingles, " etc. We also got many votes for "Que?" Some others were:
* "Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid" (Carol Arrigoni, North Miami Beach)
* "Seriously, It Looked a Lot Better before the Hurricane." (Mitchell Garnick, Okinawa, Japan)
* "Where the Sea Meets the Swamp" (Michael O'Neill, Miami)
* "Semper Contra Fidelis" (Roberto Llamas, Pinecrest)
* "One Man, 20 Votes" (Richard Standifer, Miami Beach)
* "You Are NOT in Kansas Anymore" (Mario Roman Jr., Miami)

Winner: "Streamline government by abolishing positions of all elected officials and paying their salaries directly to the five sleazy lobbyists who control everything anyway." (John Askins, Miami)
Other Notable Entries:
* "Beepocracy: The one with the loudest horn gets to go first." (Marian Mendez, Hialeah)
* "Representative Autocracy: You elect us and we tell you what to do." (Marsha Matson and Dan Raz, Miami)
* "Just make the Renaissance Festival official. Give all participants desks, cars, cell phones and gas allowances. In case of disputes, there is always jousting." (Mary Fenna, Miami)
* "Elect a large number of candidates, and the ones who win acquittal can run things." (L.V. Ferreira, Miami)
* "The honor system" (Constance Gabrielli, Miami)

Winner: We had no choice but to go with the slogan that we believe best expresses the spirit of neighborly cooperation on our roadways: "WILL SHOOT FOR PARKING SPOT" (Maria Feldman, Miami)
Other Notable Entries:
* "ONE MAN (picture of coffin) ONE VOTE" (Dennis and Judy Jones, Miami)
* "I HAVE A LOJACK" (Jennifer Morar, Pembroke Pines)
* "IT'S MY RIGHT TO BE IN THE LEFT LANE" (Kurt Bullard, Miami)

Winner: This one was obvious: Livin' La Vida Loca (Suggested by MANY people)
Other Notable Entries:
Smuggler's Blues (Also suggested by many people)
Luis, Luis (Martin Zaremba, Tamarac)

Winner: Dan Marino (Mitchell Garnick, Okinawa, Japan). We realize that Dan is not a Miami-Dade resident. But he plays for the Miami Dolphins and performed many historic feats in the historic Orange Bowl and the semi-historic Formerly Joe Robbie Stadium.
Other Notable Entries: Many people suggested the Miami Circle, the Golden Glades interchange, Miccosukee bingo, Tobacco Road and Mount Trashmore. Other strong contenders were:
* "The two square miles of Everglades that are left." (Mary Lou Doepker, Miami)
* Bob Weaver (David Ivy, Hollywood)

Winner: Plastic surgery (suggested by many people)
Also notable: "Watching tourists try to follow the Sunburst symbol." (Kurt Bullard, Miami)

Winner: Kickbacking (suggested separately by Wayne "The Booger King" Brehm of Coral Gables and Jude Bagatti of South Miami)
Other Notable Entries:
* "Left turns from the right lane, no signal" (Paula Steadman, Coral Gables)
* "Snow skiing in Colorado" (Gus Calleja, Coral Gables)

Winner: The Shrinking Palm. This one was also suggested by many people, who were making reference to the hundreds of now-legendary palm trees purchased by the county, for hundreds of thousands of dollars, from a politically plugged-in South Dade grower. When the trees were measured, they turned out to be several feet shorter than what the county had paid for. The explanation offered by the grower was that the trees had shrunk. That's correct: shrinking trees. Even the rules of botany are different here!
Other Notable Entries: We received many variations on the "palm" theme - the greased palm, the outstretched palm, etc. We also got several votes for the strangler fig. Others we liked were:
* The bulldozed sapling (Michael Lopardi, Miami)
* The Jeb Bush (Tom Andrew, Fort Lauderdale)
* The dead Christmas tree (submitted separately by Michelle Okeck of Miami and Jim Kaufman of Miami)
* Newly installed tree being held up by 2x4 (Denise Faraday, Miami)

Winner: Daisy Fuentes (suggested by many people)
Also Notable: "The one you're shamed into buying when you're out on a date" (Alex Chapunoff, Coal Gables)

Winner: The wiretap (Jim Kaufman, Miami) Get it? The wiretap is a "bug!" Ha ha!
Well, we thought it was creative.
Other Notable Entries: We got a lot of predictable suggestions, including many for the termite, the mosquito, Palmetto bug and virtually every local politician. Other state insects we liked were:
* The SoBee (Heather Roth, Pembroke Pines)
* The atheist mantis (Hugh Williams, Hollywood)

Winner: Rick Sanchez (suggested by many people). We yield to the overwhelming public clamor on this one, although we personally have loved Rick since he first hatched.
Other Notable Entries: We got plenty of votes for Thomas Kramer, Joe Gersten, Humberto Hernandez, Drew Rosenhaus, lawyers in general and virtually every local politician. Pam Brudno of Hollywood voted for "my ex-boyfriend." In fact, there were very few votes for actual reptiles, except:
* "Those pale, red-eyed lizards that run through your kitchen when you turn on the light." (Renee Byrd of Hialeah)
* "Any snake in custody" (Douglas Zargham, Miami)

Winner: "The flying road debris" (Kim Werner and Larry Williams, Miami Springs)
Other Notable Entries: We received many votes for the mosquito, the vulture and the courthouse buzzard. Others we liked were:
* The loon (submitted separately by Estelle Green of Miami and Masha Adaryukova of Austin, Texas)
* The stray bullet (Kevin Keeler, Miami)

Winner: The square grouper (suggested by many people). For the benefit of those of you who are new to the area, we should explain that this is a slang term for the bales of banned substances sometimes found floating in our waters and washing up on our beaches.
Other Notable Entries: We got many, many votes for the land shark, the loan shark, etc. There were also quite a few for the gefilte fish, lox and sea lice. Others we liked were:
* The six-pack holder (Martin Zaremba, Tamarac)
* Chum (Carol-Jane Gottfried, Miami)

Winner: "Dress like a tourist and walk around for a day" (Kristen Wood, Hialeah)
Other Notable Entries: There were many variations on the theme of being forced to drive on, or walk across, I-95. Other good suggestions were:
* "Being strapped to a chair and forced to listen to the Miami Dolphins fight song in a perpetual loop." (Ellen Soldo, Hollywood)
* Being forced to renew your driver's license (submitted separately by Graham Martin of Hollywood and Kurt Bullard of Miami)
* Voting (Ed Deitrick, Hollywood)

Winner: Gefilte-conch con leche (Dorothy Dawn Card, North Miami Beach)

Winner: The Dadeland parking lot (Steven Ecker, Pinecrest)

Winner: "But it was a loan!" (Edward Barberio, Miami Beach)

Winner: Madonna (by an overwhelming majority)

. . . to all of you who entered our Design-a-State Contest. Many of you were very creative (we are using "creative" in the sense of "weird"). We are thrilled to be living in the same community with such creative people, as long as we have a good home-security system.

Thanks especially to our winners, who we believe have designed a state that truly captures the essence of Miami-Dade. Now that we have a precise blueprint of how our state will work, all that remains is to take whatever legal steps are necessary to separate us from the rest of Florida. We urge you to contact your elected political leaders and ask them to please tell you the names of whatever lobbyists they work for, so that you can contact them and get the ball rolling.

Meanwhile, we at The Herald will do our part by holding the first Official State Reception for our contest winners. We promise that it will be a fittingly dignified event. At least until we settle on an Official State Beverage.

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