Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Moscow on the Intracoastal

“Florida is a giant bug light for crazy people.” ~Phyllis Smallman, Sleuthfest 2014

It’s no surprise to any author living in Florida that some of the craziest stories we can write are actually inspired by true events in our sunshine state. Join us in exploring a different side of Florida than the travel bureau promotes with our first Blog Hop sponsored by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.
Read on, click the links below to read another member’s view of crazy Florida, comment, share your favorite stories, and enter the contest to win a Kindle Paperwhite.

A1A in Sunny Isles Beach
The first time I saw Cyrillic writing on a storefront in South Florida I was baffled. москва видео: Moscow Video?
The tiny video rental store was in a run-down group of shops at the eastern end of the 163rd Street causeway, which links the mainland to the barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway.
Sandwiched between the tattered blue awnings of Bikini City and a run down Miami Subs, Moscow Video didn’t last long. The entire block of shops was knocked down for a huge high-rise complex with ocean views. The neighborhood was incorporated as the city of Sunny Isles Beach, and as I traveled through it, I began to see more and more businesses that catered to a Russian clientele.

Russian Sodas
Here’s what Biff Andromeda, the hero of GENIE FOR HIRE, knows about the area: “There was a sizable Russian community in Sunny Isles Beach, just over the causeway from his office, a Little Moscow without the snow, the art-filled subway system or the communist legacy. You could buy Russian-language DVDs, read the news in a newspaper printed in Cyrillic characters, eat borscht and pelmeni, or hire a Russian-speaking escort from a selection on Craig’s List.”

In my teaching job, at Broward College, I began to see more Eastern European students, often with names like Boris and Natasha. Maybe those names will be familiar to you – if, like me, you grew up on Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons. Boris and Natasha Badenov were the villains, always trying to “make beeg trouble for moose and squirrel.” I also had those Eastern European accents in my head, courtesy of my great-aunts, great-uncles and grandparents, born in Lithuania, Russia and Poland.

A Russian Deli
So it was easy for me to slide into this world, even creating a squirrel sidekick for Biff named Raki. Biff’s case begins when a Russian-born photographer employs him to retrieve some stolen digital files – boudoir shots of the wife of a Russian mobster. I loved the research, including this: “Because he couldn’t resist, Biff stopped at the Crimean Sea bakery on Collins Avenue and treated himself to a kartoshka, a chocolate-covered pastry that looked like a potato.”

Biff discovers a sunny society that’s built on dark crime – my favorite kind of contrast. I hope readers will enjoy the trip.

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Visit our Other Contributors and win more prizes:

 Victoria Allman, Gator Bites, http://www.victoriaallman.com/blog

Miriam Auerbach, Bonkers in Boca, http://www.miriamauerbach.com/bonkers-in-boca

Gregg E. Brickman, Crazy South Florida—How it got to be home, http://www.GreggEBrickman.com/blog.html

Diane Capri, Fishnado!, http://www.dianecapri.com/blog

Nancy J. Cohen, Characters Too Weird to Be True, http://nancyjcohen.wordpress.com

Joan Lipinsky Cochran, The Million Dollar Squatter: Crazy in the Land of Coconuts and Bagels, http://www.joanlipinskycochran.com/blog.htm?post=952677

jd daniels He Did What? http://www.live-from-jd.com

Joy Wallace Dickinson, “In Florida, It's Great to Be a Cracker”, http://www.FindingJoyinFlorida.com

Linda Gordon Hengerer Crazy Treasure on the Treasure Coast, http://footballfoodandfiction.blogspot.com/

Vicki Landis, Eavesdropping 101, http://www.victorialandis.com

Sandy Parks, Keep your eyes to the Florida skies, http://www.sandyparks.wordpress.com

Johnny Ray Utilizing Google Plus Air to Facilitate Author Interviews, http://www.sirjohn.us

Joanna Campbell Slan, Honey, You'll Never Guess What Rolled Up in the Surf http://www.joannaslan.blogspot.com



sandymoffett said...

Love the Rocky and Bullwinkle analogy. Interesting to learn about the Eastern influence in Florida.

Linda Gordon Hengerer said...

I remember Rocky and Bullwinkle - was Frostbite Falls their home, or was another cartoon locale? Love this story, and the contrast between tasty treats and what they hide.

Victoria Landis said...

I didn't know that about Sunny Isles. Very interesting (said in that Boris & Natasha accent).

Joan Cochran said...

Hey we've got a really good Russian market here in Boca. Am going to Russia this summer and I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to wrestle my husband to the ground so he won't ask every Russian he meets to say
Boris and Natasha as he giggles. We're huge fans of Rocky and Bullwinkle... have the whole first season on DVD.

Nice blog.

Joan Cochran said...

Hey we've got a really good Russian market here in Boca. Am going to Russia this summer and I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to wrestle my husband to the ground so he won't ask every Russian he meets to say
Boris and Natasha as he giggles. We're huge fans of Rocky and Bullwinkle... have the whole first season on DVD.

Nice blog.

Miriam Auerbach said...

Fascinating local color! Biff Andromeda and his sidekick Raki the Squirrel are a hoot!

Nancy J. Cohen said...

You did a wonderful job in your highly entertaining story of incorporating these Russian elements. I'd had no idea such an enclave existed in South Florida.

Joanna Slan said...

Neil, you just have too much fun doing your research. What a hoot.

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