By Carlos Miller
It’s been four days since blogger Rick shut down his Stuck on the Palmetto blog, yanking its entire contents off the Internet, leaving many in the South Florida blogosphere theorizing, analyzing and criticizing his abrupt decision.
Even The Miami Herald wrote an article about SOTP’s sudden disappearance, indicating that the mainstream media is beginning to take this blog stuff seriously.
The gist of the discussion is occurring on Critical Miami, which has emerged as South Florida’s most popular blog judging by the more than 100 comments regarding SOTP’s demise. Kudos to Alesh, who earned his blogosphere credibility more than a year ago when his blog cost him a dream job.
The discussion about SOTP even brought some old-time Miami bloggers out of the woodworks, including White Dade, best known for his Gringo in Miami blog.
Like Rick, White Dade also stubbornly held on to his anonymity until ego and notoriety forced him to admit he was a 27-year-old aspiring writer named Matthew Meltzer, who insisted he didn’t really hate Hispanics. He just wished there weren’t so many around.
Posting under his first name but linking to his still existing but neglected blog, Meltzer offered perhaps the most interesting speculation about Rick’s place of employment.
“And for some reason I always thought Rick worked at Southcom.”
Southcom is short for the United Stands Southern Command, a Miami-based military command center overseeing all military intelligence in Latin America. It falls under the Department of Defense, which means all its workers are tax-funded employees.
In its own words, “it is responsible for providing contingency planning, operations, and security cooperation for Central and South America, the Caribbean (except U.S. commonwealths, territories, and possessions), Cuba and the Bahamas, and their territorial waters; as well as for the force protection of U.S. military resources at these locations.”
It should be noted that Southcom is based near NW 87th Ave. and 36th St., which is less than a mile from the Palmetto Expressway, the jam-packed thoroughfare that Rick named his blog after and that one would take to get to Pembroke Pines, where Rick apparently lived.
If it is true that Rick was employed by Southcom, spending his days bitching about the Ricky Ricardo Cyber Brigade and reminding us all to support our local police, then one can understand the simmering outrage in Bob Norman’s Daily Pulp post, which lead to Rick’s decision to shut his blog down.
“So I’m not going to lie and say my eyebrows didn’t raise a notch when I found out what Rick does for a living. It crossed my mind that all that Palmetto time might be better spent doing his actual job, which is not an unimportant one at all.”
Norman, an investigative journalist for the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, has yet to publicly reveal Rick’s occupation although you know he’s dying to. So far, his only response to all this upheaval was a few lines in a blog post where he quickly moved on to other topics. However, for some reason, it is not possible to view the six comments on that post as of this writing.
Even before White Dade speculated that Rick works at Southcom, a poster named Anonymouse suggested that now that Rick has decided to go back to work, he may be dangerous:
Am I the only one who is kinda creeped out by the fact that this Rick character had access to your information through your IP address? If anyone of you ever posted a comment contrary to his opinions, you know how the guy got all crazy and bitchy, right? Well, this dude working on law enforcement, had a lot more access to IP addresses info than the regular one that sany other blogger gets. For example, if I have a blog and someone anon-comments on it, I can trace the location (ie Miami Beach, FL) of said poster, thats about it. Maybe if I suspect an acquaintance I can check their e-mails ip and match them etc. People who work in law enforment have much more access to more specific info about the IP holder including Address name etc. I recall that Ricky guy berating commenters for leaving anon comments on his blog and in fact often made weird comments about these commenters, like “I doubt thats who you are” etc.
This prompted Ms. Calabaza, who was a regular on SOTP but also a frequent critic of Rick, to write the following:
Rick actually told us his job title in a meme a few months after he started his blog. It was “Intelligence something-or-other” – I forgot. When I re-read this last week (before he deleted everything) my thoughts were yours exactly – I wonder how much more digging he was able to do? Not a big deal, really because no one really engaged in any criminal behavior but thought provoking nonetheless.
And now that they mention it, Rick did have an issue with anonymous bloggers posting on his blog. He frequently would inform anonymous posters that they were not as anonymous as they believed.
There was always some issue about a fellow named Longfellow, who apparently would come back under different names to take jabs at Rick and Alex, but this conflict stemmed back to before I even knew about SOTP, so I didn’t really pay it much attention.
In one memorable moment, after Rick and Alex argued with a right-wing Cuban American from Seattle named El Chino, who had a habit of calling everybody who did not agree with him a communist (including myself), Rick posted a screen shot of his IP information, ridiculing him for spending so much time on SOTP.
A few SOTP loyalists, of course, jumped on the bandwagon and started piling on El Chino, calling him a freak and a weirdo for the ungodly sin of spending too much time on SOTP (how’s that for irony?).
But a few others, including myself, mentioned that perhaps it wasn’t the most relevant post. After all, most of us in the blogosphere are guilty of spending too much time online.
To his credit, Rick fully apologized the following day, removing the post and admitting he had made a mistake. But I’m sure I’m not the only one who was left thinking I should invest in software that would disguise my IP tracks.
Then there is Manuel A. Tellechea, an egoistical Cuban American who runs a blog called Review of Cuban-American Blogs, but has spent the last week criticizing Rick, Alex and everything about SOTP.
Tellechea is maintaining that Rick is guilty of thousands of copyright violations because he deleted all the posts that anybody had ever left on SOTP. He proudly admits that he has saved every post he had ever left on SOTP, which I’m sure he will repost on his blog one day.
Tellechea, who never fails to give himself credit for SOTP’s success, accuses Rick of being anti-Cuban but he himself is at odds with every Cuban in the blogosphere, including the Viva Bush crowd from the Ricky Ricardo Cyber Brigade as well as Alex from SOTP, who is part of the newer, more liberal generation of Cuban Americans in Miami.
The Ricky Ricardo Cyber Brigade is actually the Babalu Blog, one of Miami’s longest running blogs and perhaps its most famous. They even have their own radio show where they sit around and discuss how much they hate Rick.
Founded by Cuban American Val Prieto and named after the 1940s Desi Arnaz song, the blog has grown to where there are more than ten contributors who remain dedicated to winning the Cold War. Thanks to this blog, the whole world is able to see what we in Miami have known all along; that some Cuban Americans are as intolerant to opposing views as Fidel Castro.
Back in August, the Babalu Blog ended up scooping the mainstream media when they reported that Fidel Castro has died. But the mainstream media has been too busy pursuing Britney Spears to even notice.
Meanwhile, Alex of SOTP is being urged by many to start his own blog. Alex is known for his “Vamos a Cuba” series where he wrote detailed, insightful posts about growing up on the communist island. Thanks to Google’s cache feature, I am able to provide a couple of samples here and here, the second being one of my personal favorites.
Some suggest that he might even join his rivals over at the Ricky Ricardo Cyber Brigade, but that would mean they would end up deleting his posts because he has the unique ability to write about Cuba without politicizing it.
One poster even invited him to take over her blog, which caters to the female romance writers crowd. FerfeLaBat is run by a woman named Cindy Cruciger, who describes herself as a “controversial author”.
However, she is quick to inform readers that all comments will be screened and moderated.
And there you have it. A day in the life of the South Florida blogoshphere. I can’t believe I spent more than an hour writing this. I need to get a job.
I wonder if Southcom is hiring.251