There are some things that happen here that are just so Miami, whether random gunfire on New Year's Eve, third world architecture, insane church carnivals, Spanish-only flea markets, or Sundays spent on a sandbar.
To be fair, we're sure there's other parts of America where people shoot guns in the air at the slightest celebratory provocation, but no other place -- not a one -- owns the combination of it all like the Magic City. Here, kids see things peers in gated suburbia can't even dream up, barred windows are our wallpaper, and the beat of the city is made of untz, a salsa step, and the high, keening whoop of a squad car siren.
That infuriating yet somehow beautiful mixture was captured at last year's Borscht Film Festival by Miami native Marco Ramirez. His short film 'A Toast' layered a nostalgic sheen on all the peculiarities of growing up in this place, from his first white girlfriend's pretty blue eyes, checkout ladies who'd be Playboy material but for hairy upper lips, fat kids with Darth Vader backpacks, Casio watches, Nochebuena pigs, Honda civics, bad fathers, smacks from abuelo, and everyone's ability to find a special brand of magic in a city that normally serves it up only for black Amex-carrying club-goers, wealthy by means no one asks about.
Some people weren't that enthusiastic about "A Toast" at last year's screening, but by the time it got around to Udonis Haslem's Miami back tattoo, we were ready run through a plaster wall. And fortunately, the Borscht Corp. crew just uploaded all four minutes to Vimeo, where we can swell with pride or get our Ebert on, all over again.
Here's to you, Miami, and to the filmmakers that live among us (warning: strong language):