… The traffic is jammed as I inch my way through industrial North Miami. I’m taking a detour to see what is probably one of the most important recording studios on the planet. When I finally steer into the tiny parking lot, it’s not much to look at. But this nondescript building on NE 149th Street is hallowed ground, where many of the greatest rock musicians have laid down their biggest hits. Think The Eagles, Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, The Bee Gees, Fleetwood Mac, AC/DC, Allman Brothers Band, Rod Stewart, Lenny Kravitz, Bob Marley and tons of more current names in the pop, Latin and rap worlds. The list is ridiculously long and luminous. And here I stand in the burning sun outside Criteria Recording Studios, barely able to see over the privacy fence but feeling the vibes nonetheless. A geeky musician thing this is, but wow, what a historic site, what a fertile creative nexus for rock royalty.
… After walking two hours in the heat of Miami Beach, I spot a small Mexican restaurant just off Espaniola Way. I’m seated by the window and craving tacos and a cold Pacifico. “Hi, I’m Pablo and I will take care of you,” says a very tall, skinny young man with braces on his teeth. He is kind and attentive and brings five different kinds of salsa for my chips. “My favorite is the green one,” he says. It’s the spiciest for sure. I ask him how long he’s been working here and if he likes it. He says he just started waiting tables after months in the kitchen and bussing tables, avoiding customers because his English wasn’t good. “I’m from Argentina,” he says proudly. I tell him he’s doing a great job and his English seems fine to me. “Thank you. Thank you. I feel good about it.” He’s all smiles and quite an asset to this restaurant. And the tacos are freaking amazing.