When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch
eyes on the U.S.

Lexus Man: Dark Thoughts On Miami's Miracle Mile

A Latin American writer describes a single moment in time in Miami, where the sad contradictions of American culture were on full display.

Miami Beach, Florida
Miami Beach, Florida
Ricardo Brown


MIAMI — The other day I saw a Lexus stop at the intersection of Miracle Mile and Ponce de León in Miami. For those unfamiliar with Miami, it’s one of the city’s — nay the world’s — wealthiest districts. High-end boutiques such as jewelry stores displaying Rolex and Cartier watches are all over this district. Furniture stores here sell couches that are more expensive than a condo in Marbella.

There is an enormous Barnes & Noble bookshop here, always full. These days, some books die alone for lack of readers, but the Barnes & Noble on Miracle Mile is flourishing. And while a book store is not necessarily a symbol of material prosperity, in this Barnes & Noble customers buy a lot of art books — you know, the ones that cost hundreds of dollars each.

There are restaurants with outlandishly expensive menus. Pedestrians are well dressed, men in the sharpest suits and ties, and women with both the budget and taste to make them look like they belong in Vogue magazine. Many of these people work in law firms or with multinationals whose U.S. headquarters are here, in Coral Gables.

Sometimes you’ll see someone walking his dog, always a thoroughbred like a French bulldog or Maltese. Elitist dogs owned by elitist people. That’s the environment here. It’s a kind of Beverly Hills in Florida, without the occasional film star but not without women pretty enough to be in Hollywood. And yes, as I was saying, there was the Lexus man.

The traffic light was red. The Lexus driver was an older man, driving alone. He wore a dark suit. He suddenly takes out a hamburger and practically devours it an instant – two ferocious bites, like a giant shark gulping down a seal. He then lowers the driver’s window and throws out the wrapper and more paper from his favorite fast food chain.

The wrapping falls onto the road — all this in the short time before the traffic lights change to green. A few seconds, definitely less than a minute. When the light changes, the man steps on the gas and speeds away like a bullet train on Miracle Mile.

Inexplicably, I feel sorry for the man. He is in a hurry. Life is hurried in this country, and desperate. I recall Henry David Thoreau’s adage that most men live lives of quiet desperation. I don’t recall the context of that remark, but it may be irrelevant. I imagine the Lexus man to be desperate. He eats fast food in a luxury car, while rushing to some place.

I don’t understand why I felt such compassion for this stranger in a Lexus. Perhaps I see in his haste a sad reflection of my own frenetic, crazy lifestyle. Then I see the greasy food wrapper left on the road. I don’t understand why I find fast food wrappers so repulsive. I seem to find them more unpleasant than the junk food itself. Especially when I see them thrown onto the road like that, then squished or whipped about by cars driving by. Flying from here to there.

I am suddenly disgusted. The inexplicable compassion for the Lexus driver has faded as quickly as it came. Oh, who am I kidding? I hope he crashes into a street light, without injurying anyone. Just to wreck that piece of shit Lexus.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


How Brazil's Evangelical Surge Threatens Survival Of Native Afro-Brazilian Faith

Followers of the Afro-Brazilian Umbanda religion in four traditional communities in the country’s northeast are resisting pressure to convert to evangelical Christianity.

image of Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Abel José, an Umbanda priest

Agencia Publica
Géssica Amorim

Among a host of images of saints and Afro-Brazilian divinities known as orixás, Abel José, 42, an Umbanda priest, lights some candles, picks up his protective beads and adjusts the straw hat that sits atop his head. He is preparing to treat four people from neighboring villages who have come to his house in search of spiritual help and treatment for health ailments.

The meeting takes place discreetly, in a small room that has been built in the back of the garage of his house. Abel lives in the quilombo of Sítio Bredos, home to 135 families. The community, located in the municipality of Betânia of Brazil’s northeastern state of Pernambuco, is one of the municipality’s four remaining communities that have been certified as quilombos, the word used to refer to communities formed in the colonial era by enslaved Africans and/or their descendents.

In these villages there are almost no residents who still follow traditional Afro-Brazilian religions. Abel, Seu Joaquim Firmo and Dona Maura Maria da Silva are the sole remaining followers of Umbanda in the communities in which they live. A wave of evangelical missionary activity has taken hold of Betânia’s quilombos ever since the first evangelical church belonging to the Assembleia de Deus group was built in the quilombo of Bredos around 20 years ago. Since then, other evangelical, pentecostal, and neo-pentecostal churches and congregations have established themselves in the area. Today there are now nine temples spread among the four communities, home to roughly 900 families.

The temples belong to the Assembleia de Deus, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and the World Church of God's Power, the latter of which has over 6,000 temples spread across Brazil and was founded by the apostle and televangelist Valdemiro Santiago, who became infamous during the pandemic for trying to sell beans that he had blessed as a Covid-19 cure. Assembleia de Deus alone, who are the largest pentecostal denomination in the world, have built five churches in Betânia’s quilombos.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest