Editor's Note

Make it Make Sense - A Letter from the Editors

Grazie & Ginevra
November 14, 2023

Nothing so resembles Miami like an attractive woman, chronically miscategorized as stupid—if only because she is stupid fun, and stupid hot. Miami has little in the way of public intellectual performance; even its nerds are required to be social, casual, suntanned, verbose and exuberant, even while oppressed, and heartily sexed, too, not least because that is what editors up North would like them to be in their fiction. There is not much of a literary scene you can point to with accusations of elitism, because while Miami is a richly cultured city, its residents appear disinterested in making this their leading identity and fact. Everyone in Miami may have a pretense—a rented Lambo, a designer jacket—but we are not pretentious. We are sweaty maximalists who, in the world of ideas, insist on playing cool. Probably because we are by nature Existentialists. There is nothing so hypocritical as discoursing about life without actually going out and living it. We are exaggerators, storytellers, not liars. But it would be nice to have a center for ideas too.

A scene.


Part of the reason that Miami has been unable to stick credibly in the national consciousness is that, in the eyes of the rest of the country, it has never had a theory of itself.  By that, we mean a broadly comprehensible sketch of the city’s soul, what living here evidences about you, and even what one might do here, except for the myriad activities associated with Spring Break. Of course, plenty of people do actually live in Miami. It infuses them, makes them walk a certain way, laugh at some things, but not others, inoculates them against the shock of excess, yet leaves them vulnerable to scams. How? Why? We lose something in our incomplete understanding. The real Miami, the stable Miami, is fragmented into dozens of communities, all of which have their own stories for why they came here, where they left, and why they are never going back. Miami is Latin, Jewish, conservative, promiscuous, the best place to raise a family, gay, a lifestyle city, a haven for hustlers, desperately trying to become American and yet the only major city that refuses to assimilate into the national monoculture. Miami is diverse, criss-crossing the whole spectrum of human experience. But in the sense that word now means “progressive,” it isn’t. While Miami struggles mutely in the fragments, other cities lend themselves to one-sentence descriptors. Boston is for graduate students; LA the empty-headed. London is leafy, reserved, oligarchical. Paris is for lovers. San Francisco was once for frontiersmen, and now their 21st century tech bro equivalent, trying and failing to lasso the future. A few years ago, a bunch of them came to Miami for a little while, which means… something.

If Miami has a commonality, it is that it takes smart people who either have nowhere else to go or the good judgment to go nowhere else. Smart is a broad term; we don’t discriminate on intelligence. Sometimes, being smart can mean knowing, in a single moment, that you are never going to make it in the big city, never going to get the golden parachute, so you give up and move to the beach. Other times, it means knowing “making it” is an illusion, a fraud that nevertheless has real effects on your heart health, libido, wrinkles. And then some people are just smart. I don’t want to live in Cuba anymore. Now you live in America, and your kids do too. Isn’t that simple? Isn’t it great?

Miami may be full of retirees, but it is the rest of America that has a memory problem: every few decades or so, the rest of the United States rediscovers Miami, marvels that a certain portion of the national population has decided to move there, subjects it to analyses, and concludes, finally, that Miami does indeed have something relevant to say about American life, even if that something is pronounced with a Latin or Caribbean accent. Take the twenties, when demand for South Florida land blew up like a balloon, before the 1926 Miami Hurricane, building supply blockages, and well-founded suspicions of scam popped it. Or the forties and fifties, when G.I.’s and holidayers flocked to Miami Beach, along with Holocaust survivors and Frank Sinatra. We had a summer of love, in 1967, but then chose lust, cheating, monogamy. We had a crime problem in the early eighties, but then Miami Vice made that crime cool. Tech bros and New York exiles, in 2020, found heaven, if you ask them, and if you ask locals: well, hell, if bad traffic, skyrocketing rents, and crypto discourse are what await us in the underworld. Every iteration of transplant congratulates themselves on their good taste. They are all the first, they think, to grasp the merits of living on the water. They are not. As a writer, pitching pieces about Miami nevertheless comes easiest on the tail of a hurricane, or an election, when no one can seem to understand why certain uber-religious, one-issue populations voted one way, and not the other one.

What’s the writing scene like in Miami? It is a question we often receive, and we know what the asker is really wondering. If a writer writes in the mangroves, is he really writing at all? Without an ecosystem of agents, rivals, colleagues, parties, to acknowledge his existence, discuss it amongst themselves? He is, but the logic of scenes tell us that, without one, one’s work loses something of its meaning. In a scene, each participant confirms the realness of the other. You would not be a reader, at this second, without this magazine. We would not be editors. You can’t have sandwiches without bread; dentists without teeth; popular girls without less popular ones. We need each other. If life is a little shelf in space, scenes—the surf scene, the party scene, the arts scene—are the decorative boxes we go into to reassure ourselves against the vacuum just below, and the randomness of where we have landed. It’s OK. It’s fine. You are a rocker, he is a gamer, she is a goth. We all just want to know where we belong.

Such insular logic explains why so many scenes are oriented around the ultimate project of self-description: making magazines. A magazine enables a cohort of people with something in common to constantly decide, refine, articulate, in writing, who they are and what they would like to become. Magazines write the zeitgeist into existence, and on a molecular level, they create subcultures and their sensibilities. There would be no Existentialism without Les Temps modernes; no Dada without Dada; no Warholian New York without Interview Magazine; no Harajuku without FRUiTS; no punk without Sniffin’ Glue; no Pre-Raphaelites without The Germ; no Modernism without The Little Review; no Goth without Propaganda and its eyeliner. And often these magazines are attached to cities, because that is where subcultures live and meet and publish themselves into the cultural imagination. The Sunday magazine of the Miami Herald, Tropic, stopped publishing in 1998. The Miami Rail did in 2018. What’s a scene to do, without a magazine to make it?

We have called this magazine a “serious magazine about an unserious city,” and it is worth explaining what we mean. A serious magazine is intellectually rigorous, of course. It is honest, in that it resists propaganda, and all manner of proxy war (we are politically and committedly Purple). And in the meantime, our city, Miami, is unserious in that it asks, nay, demands of its residents a healthy appreciation for the absurd. Miami refuses to cohere. It has dozens of realities crashing into each other, good and bad, yacht parties and board meetings and fertile families coming out of church, Orthodox Jews and orthodoxical drug takers and cat calls and gentlemen and madonnas and putas. 60% of our residents were born outside the country, and yet, or perhaps because of this, we are one of the last major cities to still believe being an American is cool. We are an art town; where hedge-funders go to retire; a fount of opportunity for the mami-and-papi business owners who would like to skip college, nevertheless do well, pay cash under the table. We are punishingly traditional, but sexually permissive, in the sense that we go out, get it together in the morning, and judge those who do not. The sex trade here is worth over $200 million annually, but in the last ten years, we are the only county of its size in the nation to have actually grown more religious. At the same time, we are a gay capital—just ask the drag queens. Plus there is so much skin everywhere, taut, gleaming, beautiful skin, not only on the beach but also in the carpool pick-up line. We like big butts and we cannot lie. So we are sexist (Miami, not our magazine), but at least men will still open the door for you here, which is more than other cities can say. In Brickell, tech bros and Only Fans models tend to live in the same buildings. We are supposed to be among the first towns to go underwater, but everyone still wants a house on a canal. Make it make sense! It never will. In this magazine we will be throwing lots of darts at a board and consistently missing the bull's-eye. If we do this enough times, and then draw again and again a circle around them, perhaps we will have described Miami.

Now, onto our name. The Miami Native. Why have we chosen such a name, and what do we mean by it? The magazine is “native” in the sense that our goal is to write about Miami from the inside—not what it represents to us in some wayward moment of indiscretion we forever associate with Ocean Drive. So much writing about Miami takes a gawking, voyeuristic view. Instead, Miami is our background noise, no matter how loud. We drank underage in Coconut Grove; got guilt-tripped by immigrant grandparents; fell in love with rowers; totaled our parents’ cars on I-95. We came into the world here, came of age here, learned what “normal” meant in the most abnormal place of all. Does that make you native to a place? Probably not, but the bar is low.

Of course, some people really are from here. The Tequesta tribe had a village in what is now called Miami Circle, by Brickell Point. Then came the Seminole Tribe—the only tribe in the country who never signed a peace treaty—and the Miccosukee. But for the rest of us living here, non-indigenous, being a “native” of the city is like a promotion that you only get when someone new moves in, and you move up the ladder of belonging. And that brings us to the sense in which we are absolutely tongue-in-cheek. Everyone who was an interloper ten years ago is outraged at newcomers today; it is an obnoxious rite of passage. Like the iguanas that come to eat the blossoms off your flowers, impossible to catch, belonging in Miami is often a moving target. The iguanas themselves are an invasive species. They probably slunk onto cargo ships, or were imported by exotic pet dealers, and yet there is no symbol of the “real” Miami more perfect or enduring. The iguanas are still, technically, unwanted; city officials consider from time to time putting bounties on them to keep the population down. But you haven’t lived until you have taken a frozen iguana home in December, thinking it dead, and then watched it reincarnate once it warms up, slithering wherever you left it. You certainly haven’t grown up in Miami. Miami without iguanas is like Los Angeles without reality stars, New York without the Empire State.

What can you expect from us? Longform essays. Short articles, interviews, reviews. Playlists, astrology. Chisme, or gossip, which amounts to a lifestyle here. An openness to miracles, curses, sunscreen stains if you read us on the beach. Implausible stories that are more honest than things which are technically true. A closedness to pearl clutching or the culture wars or probably what would get us the most clicks if we cared about that. Little sarcasm, lots of sincerity. Writers from Miami, or who live in Miami, or have done so at some point, or in the Caribbean and other countries nearby. This latter rule we will probably break, because such is the spirit of our city, and so you should expect rule-breaking also. Above all, actually new writers, with marvelous voices who have never published before, because it just never occurred to them. They were too hot, too happy, too busy. Can you imagine?

So sit back, grab a magazine—paper, ideally, although we don’t judge—and enjoy the show. Life may be a joke, but we are going to wait for the punchline with a Mojito.


Grazie & Ginevra

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